Archive for January, 2007

Wire thieves!

January 31st, 2007 No comments
UPDATE (7:07am, Feb 2): Last night's episode of TV Patrol Bikol reported on a similar incident in Legazpi City. That's around 100 kms away from us, which means these incidents are not some random acts of thievery.

JUST when I was getting a hang of the restored phone and internet service at home, opportunistic wire thieves struck either late last night or very early this morning at Km 7 near the Pacol-Ateneo junction, sawed off the newly repaired fiber-optic Bayantel cable connecting Grandview, and apparently took off with a bronze wire connector.

Thus, when I tried logging on at around 5am, our 2-day old phone line was dead again. When my son and I passed by the area, the huge black cable was dangling almost at
mid street. A little past lunch, two Bayantel personnel were already doing the required repair work. One of them has climbed up the pole and was patiently reconnecting the 100 or so wires inside the cable.

I have a hunch that bronze connector is already in the hands of some sleazy junk shop operator in the city. The police better arrest the perpetrators and the junk shops in cahoots with them. Otherwise, this incident will certainly not be the last.
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My poor Demio Mazda

January 30th, 2007 No comments
??watanabejiko 001

I'm alive after this car accident happened last Dec. 27th on my way to work. I thought I will die but with God's will, I'm well.

??watanabejiko 002

My 2003 model demio mazda is totally scrapped. I've 10 stitches but I'm alright. The drunk driver who caused this accident changed my car as it was his 100% fault. But I am still scared of driving.
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Return to normalcy

January 30th, 2007 No comments
I'VE TAKEN down today the Tabang Naga graphic that used to be in the left column, to signal that normalcy has finally returned to our life, particularly in our little community in Pacol.

As my previous post showed, my internet access at home -- courtesy of Bayantel -- is back since yesterday. So no need to motor down to the city when I need to send emails at night, either from my workplace or through an internet cafe. Avenue Square is out of the question: my notebook PC has refused to boot up for more than a week now, and needs to sent to Manila for repair.

But the recent mornings had been very tough, with extraordinarily cold temperature making my motor trips to the city center and back quite miserable. Data from the city profile showed that in 2002, the lowest recorded temperature reached only 20.3° C. But the graph above -- nicked from Mike Padua's website -- shows we already surpassed last January 25 (at 18.7° C) the coldest temperature registered in February 2006.

And we've yet to enter February, which historically has been the coldest month in Naga.
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January 29th, 2007 1 comment
IT'S ONLY after checking my Technorati link yesterday that I found out, belatedly, that I've been tagged, courtesy of Urbano. So, to celebrate the return of dialup internet connection at home, courtesy of Bayantel's crew which worked on Grandview over the past week, I am indulging myself with the following:

1. Names

Like Urbano, his classmate and fellow blogger Juned, Gabby Bordado, Metro PESO chief Florencio Mongoso, and many other people nicknamed Jun, I am my father's junior.

To most friends, colleagues and acquaintances, I go by my nickname Willy. Only my childhood friends back at Sagrada, Pili call me Larry or Larion -- after my late paternal grandfather Hilarion.

Variously, I am also Nonoy to my mom; 'Nyor to my elders in the family; and Pa, Pappy or Ama to my kids. But I'm leaving my wife out of this.:)

2. Date of Birth

Except sharing the birthday of former Finance Secretary and University of Nueva Caceres (UNC) founder Jaime Hernandez, Sr. -- my alma mater celebrates its Founder's Day every July 11 -- I don't usually give it much attention, owing to the fact that Jehovah's Witnesses do not celebrate this occasion.

But to satisfy my curiousity after seeing similar posts on the subject, I had to google the date, leading me to this Wikipedia entry. Some fascinating findings:

(a) John Quincy Adams (as portrayed by the incomparable Anthony Hopkins in Amistad), Yul Brynner (no further introductions needed for movie buffs like me) and Michael Rosenbaum (the
übercool Lex Luthor of Smallville) were also born on the same date as I was. Give it a decade or two, I will most probably be sporting the same bald pate.

(b) July 11 is the World Population Day, according to the UN. Wickedly unfunny, for one who had become a father two times over than the average Pinoy.

3. Education

Nothing much here, except that my schooling was financed partly or wholly by other people's money. (My parents accounted for the daily expenses of sending me and my two brothers to a private school up to college, which was definitely not easy.)

I finished elementary at Anayan-Sagrada Elementary in Pili, Camarines Sur in 1981. Went to UNC for my high school and college degrees (AB Math, where I met Lynn in a Physics class) from 81-89. A Civil Service scholarship sent me to the Bicol University in Legazpi City from 93-95 where I earned a master's in management. A decade later, a fellowship from the Ford Foundation sent me here, where I earned a second master's degree.

4. Work Experience

In my final year in college, I proofread, and later wrote news articles, for Vox Bikol, a Naga-based weekly, earning my spurs under the tutelage of the late Boboy Ordas and publisher Joe Narvadez, editor Joe Obias and now RTC judge Junet Ayo. Save for some unforgettable humongous gaffes, like misspelling "Luciano Maggay" as "Luciano Laggay" -- authored by the naughty Linotypists at the defunct Balalong Printing Press
along Blumentritt -- I thought I did a decent job.

Right after graduation, Frank Mendoza recruited me to join Vanguard, official publication of the Camarines Sur provincial government which was being edited by the irrepressible Doming Alarkon. I stayed there for one and a half year, before joining the Naga city planning staff in 1991, again taking Frank's cue. Thus, if there is a common denominator in the careers of those in the top echelons of City Hall -- from Mayor Robredo down the line -- it is that we worked for former governor and now 2nd district congressman Luis R. Villafuerte at one point in time.

While studying at BU, I also spent time with the regional office of NEDA in Legazpi as part of the mayor's three-man Naga-based Regional Development Council staff (consisting of Francis Soler, myself and our driver Sandy Zantua). Robredo and the elder and younger Villafuertes all became RDC chairs; in fact, L-Ray is the incumbent chairman since 2004. For those interested, the NEDA staff can be an unbiased source for a comparative study of their respective leadership and management styles.

When Francis went private from 1996-2001, I also joined him and it enabled me to see the air cargo and passenger business up close through the Aboitiz, Air Philippines and Asian Spirit brands. At roughly the same time, I did consulting job -- mostly on urban governance -- under technical assistance projects (notably the Governance and Local Democracy or GOLD project) of the USAID, ADB and the World Bank through alphabet soup third-party outfits like the PBSP and ARD. When the business encountered rough sailing after the Asian financial crisis, I rejoined City Hall in 2001, handling the school board project among others.

5. Hobbies and Pastimes

In my youth, I played basketball and was a PBA fan (Toyota and then San Miguel when the former folded up, avidly following the exploits of Allan Caidic, Samboy Lim, Yves Dignadice and Hector Calma through the pages of the now defunct weekly Sports Flash). I ditched the PBA -- actually a second-rate, trying hard copycat -- when I discovered the NBA, got mesmerized by the Magic Johnson-Larry Bird, Lakers-Celtics rivalry, and marveled at the superhuman feats of Michael Jordan and his Chicago Bulls. When Jordan retired, I lost zest but in the process diversified my interest, although I don't play the games for obvious reasons -- including American football (am a Green Bay-Brett Favre fan), F1 motor racing (I like the recently retired Michael Schumacher), tennis (Boris Becker and Martina Hingis) and golf (Tiger Woods, of course).

I like to read, but not the really heavy stuff. During the recent Christmas break, I gave the Harry Potter books we have another go -- from Sorcerer's Stone up to the Half-Blood Prince -- in anticipation for the final installment in Jo Rowling's series.

So, having played the game, let me tag Kristian Cordero, Maryanne Moll and Frankie Peñones, for reasons I explained here; and Dave Oliva and Irvin Sto. Tomas -- Bikol bloggers all.
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January 29th, 2007 No comments
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Young Busker

January 29th, 2007 No comments
I was on my way to hope church when I saw a large crowd along the busy Orchard Road. I can hear someone playing the drums with a Christian Music (Hillsongs Music) accompaniment. Since it was a large crowd, I did not see at once the one who was playing but as I can already say it was actually very good. So I tried sneak into the crowd until I finally can see who was playing. To my surprise, he was just a little boy! His name is Ethan Ong, Singapore’s youngest busker at age 7.Photo grabbed from Ethan Ong Website.
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Good News and Bad News

January 26th, 2007 No comments
Good news is, as I watch Pinoy Dream Academy “top six” as they perform at Homeboy over TFC, I started to have a high regard for the Filipino talents especially when it comes to singing. I also started to appreciate ASAP. I also remembered Lea Salonga when she performed the closing song at 15th Asian Games Doha. Yes, Filipino talent is well known to our Asian brothers and this makes me proud.

Bad news? Oh, just watch the news. I mean, come on…

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I didn’t know that!

January 26th, 2007 No comments
I was on my way to church last sunday when I saw Republic Plaza from Chinatown. It was the only visible building from Raffles Place as seen from Chinatown. I thought to myself that the building where I go in everyday is quite tall. So I did some research and I was surprised to find out that it was actually one of the three tallest skycrapers in Singapore and the 50th over-all. Hmmm... Now, I know.
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For a merchant-free Plaza Rizal

January 26th, 2007 4 comments
I DON'T know if people close to Camarines Sur Gov. L-Ray Villafuerte read this blog. But early this morning, as I passed by on the way to Atlantic Bakery to get our usual fill of pandesal after driving my eldest to school, I was pleasantly surprised to see Plaza Rizal finally rid of the "filth" I talked about here.

I'm not sure this situation will last, because there are reports the stalls that had been desecrating Plaza Rizal disappeared because their contract with the provincial capitol lapsed already. Which means they can easily move back if a new contract is signed, pending resolution of a case filed by the city government that is conveniently gathering cobwebs at the Court of Appeals.

But I think there is a message there somewhere, because Governor Villafuerte could have opted to renew the contract if he wanted to -- and in so doing continue to spite Naga and its government in the process.

But I hope it does, not only because it reinforces the reported split between an outraged father and his "prodigal" son, but because Naga deserves a plaza that, by law, is beyond the commerce of man. As I've said before, L-Ray is bound to score a measure of goodwill, not to mention political points even if Nagueños do not vote for provincial officials. By keeping Plaza Rizal free of merchants, he is differentiating himself from his estranged father who is admittedly well-known but certainly not well-loved like, say, the late Raul Roco.
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Be Fair

January 24th, 2007 No comments
For the past few days I used to commute, rather using my car for my traveling activities. I have noticed that the price per liter of the gasoline dropped to 2 pesos. While in a jeepney traveling going to UNC, I was thinking of the roll back both transporation and consumables in the market.

However, my expectations became into hopeless when I noticed that transportation fare are still the same as before last week. In the market prices for every poduct have been increased for almost 5-10 Pesos.

I just felt like these people involved are "numb". They don't even realized that, we, the Bikolanos are in the process of recovery, after a devastation or economic problems came into our lives. They must consider the .50 - 1.00 Peso roll back for the transportation fare with or without an official memorandum.

Also, merchants must not use the issues and problems we are facing today, to impose a new price increase. Let's help one another and be fair!
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Be Fair

For the past few days I used to commute, rather using my car for my traveling activities. I have noticed that the price per liter of the gasoline dropped to 2 pesos. While in a jeepney traveling going to UNC, I was thinking of the roll back both transporation and consumables in the market.However, my expectations became into hopeless when I noticed that transportation fare are still the same as before last week. In the market prices for every poduct have been increased for almost 5-10 Pesos.I just felt like these people involved are "numb". They don't even realized that, we, the Bikolanos are in the process of recovery, after a devastation or economic problems came into our lives. They must consider the .50 - 1.00 Peso roll back for the transportation fare with or without an official memorandum.Also, merchants must not use the issues and problems we are facing today, to impose a new price increase. Let's help one another and be fair!
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DIVISORIA SA PLAZA Kristian S. Cordero An pagdaku…

January 24th, 2007 No comments
Kristian S. Cordero

An pagdakul kan mga billboards asin mga streamers na nag-aanunsyo kan satuyang mga kapangganahan nagpoon sa mga simpleng lawanit na mahihilingan kaidto nin mga pandok nin babayeng alas, lalaking tuko, sirenang nagkakanta asin iba pang mga ekstra-ordinaryong nilalang na pigdadalan sa karnibal. Sa ngonyan mahihiling ta pa man ini sa sosyodad na gabos na inaako, gabos na binabakal, gabos pigkakawartahan, gabos nakasalalay sa biswal na kapangyarihan kan sarong bagay. An paparaning eleksyon, siyertong magiging okasyon tanganing butasan an kwarta kan mga pulitiko asin padalaganon an mga imprenta. Sa ngonyan palang ngani nagpakuriyat na na garo udo nin damulag asin ido an mga streamers na ini saen man kita magkiling poon sa badong pigpapabakal sagkod sa mga pulitiko tang nanggana sa mga prestiyosong vanity contests. Saro digdi an nakakua kan sakuyang atensyon asin nakapagirabo sako kan mahiling ko an tataramon na heroes sa sarong streamer sa may harani kan satuyang Plaza Rizal na mas marhay pang apodon na sanang divisoria nin huli sa kadaklan kan mga paratinda na nakapalibot digdi. Kaidto pa an isyung ini alagad mayo man nagiginibo nin huli ta ini saro sa mga pigdudulakan kan satuyang mga pulitiko. Sa sarong syudad na arog kan Naga na kipot an kadaklan sa mga tinampo sa sentro, an mga pangyayaring ini mas orog na nakakapabuntol kan trapiko asin orog sa gabos bako ining dapat sa satuyang plaza na dapat saro sa mga sagradong lugar sunod sa satuyang mga simbahan (kun baga kita mga maka-Dios). An Plaza saro sa sa lugar kun saen pwedeng magduman an mga tawo tanganing magpahingalo asin maging lugar man nin libreng pagpapahayag. Sa mga plaza sa Pilipinas, mas dakul an inginaran sa pambansang bayani na si Jose Rizal minsan dai man ngani ini pinag-aasikasong gayo sa satuya. Napipinturahan sana kada Rizal Day o kaya may mga importanteng okasyon na mananambitan an ngaran ni Lolo Jose. Sa satuya digdi sa Naga, an Plaza Rizal an saro sa pinakauslang pagpahayag kan konsumerismo laban sa kun ano an dapat na itaong paggalang sa lugar. Dai ini dapat ngalasan nin huli ta an pulso kan panahon na ini iyo an pagkawara asin pagkapara kan mga bagay na dapat kutang sinasaray, pinapakarhay, pighihiling na sagrado. Asin dai digdi libre an arog ni Rizal na simbolo kan satuyang pekeng pagiging nationalist daa. Ini an sarong trahedya kan pagiging bayani sa mga tawong sa ibong na pangpang nakahiling asin bako kun ano an kayang gibohon sa sadiri. Ano an pwedeng gibohon sa Plaza Rizal sa Naga? Pabayaan ta na sana gayod nin huli ta herak man kan mga tawong naghahanap man nin ikakabuhay kisa magharabon pa iyan. Mayong laban an syudad ta sa probinsya iyan. Ini an pwedeng mga reaksyon na madangog niyato alagad saen baga talaga an dapat? Paano ta ilulugar sa tama, an parehong marhay na motibo an pakatabang sa kapwa asin an malinigan, matawan nin magkakanigong respeto an monumento? Sa sakuya kilometro an rayo kan sarong Divisoria sa kun ano an Plaza kun an sarong plaza magin Divisoria, garo man sana ini si templong piglinigan ni Jesus kan panahon na an mga paratinda yaon na sa laog kan sagradong lugar.
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Rudy Olaño on FoxNews

January 24th, 2007 No comments
Nice to see you again sir! Only this time on TV! ..or rather over the internet!

It’s been over 10 years since I have last seen Sir Rudy. He was my first college professor in Computer Science in UNC before he left and settle in the United States. I remember Sir Roel Lirag used to say to us about him, “If you have any questions about computers, ask Sir Rudy, He can answer you anything even if he’s asleep!”

Well, computer is his thing. In this FoxNews feature, Mike Straka of FoxNews gets help from “Friendly Computers” to fix his laptop by replacing busted capacitors. I wonder… Ted Litana of EDP Naga could have done just the same… I bet he is eligible to be on FoxNews, too!

Thanks Sandee for providing the link!

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Screwing the best laid plans

January 23rd, 2007 No comments
IT'S a cardinal rule in communication not to write anything while you are mad. I've always tried to religiously follow this rule, and it has served me well. But I will make an exception with this one.

In the Naga school board, we have more or less identified the problems facing public schools. A progress report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Bicol, which took much of my time last December, in fact highlighted one of the major problems: the weak holding power of our public schools.

We have no problem with school children entering Grade I. Our problem lies in ensuring they complete Grade VI. As of last year, only 77 out of every 100 reached Grade VI (cohort survival) and 66 eventually completed elementary (completion). And as a result, we are failing in Goal 2 of the MDGs -- which is to ensure universal access to primary education. Of the 30 or so indicators used to measure these MDGs, it is only in cohort survival and completion that Naga did not do well. (I'll blog about its highlights in a future entry.)

Now, we have come up with a program that precisely seeks to address this gap. Called the Quality Universal Elementary Education in Naga (the QUEEN initiative, for short), it has been adopted and allocated funding by the School Board. A multisectoral effort, the board's role here is to help cover the school and miscellaneous fees of financially distressed households.

And this where the problem starts. Invoking a stupid memo-circular that allegedly limits the activities can be funded out of the Special Education Fund (SEF), the city accountant would rather resort to some complicated sleight-of-hand accounting tricks rather than confront the problem head on.

So, the QUEEN project is hanging, the Board's first resolution of the year effectively waylaid, and 30% of our school children will continue to drop out of school on account of poverty -- simply because some short-sighted bureaucrats are choosing to strictly follow the letter of the law instead of letting its spirit guide government and make it more responsive.

Tonight, I'm writing the mayor a more diplomatic memo. But the long and short of it is: the ball is in his hands.
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Just a few things and links…for now…

January 22nd, 2007 2 comments
Finally, I am back in front of the laptop blogging after a busy week of many many hours of sitting in high-level and oftentimes ebullient meetings, brainstorming sessions, and strategic planning huddles for Avenue Square. However, my head is still not yet anywhere above this current pile of works yet to be accomplished and I am just taking this short break as a chance to be able to work on one of my newest interests, and that is, of course, blogging.

Awhile ago, I met John Michael Rico - whom I suspect to be one of the rising stars, if not a stalwart already, of this overachieving Robredo administration that, for many years now, has been behind all these innovative and multi-awarded programs of the city government - who videotaped and interviewed me, albeit impromptu, for a certain project he and his team are currently working on. Said project, as I was told, is anchored on the "Proud Ako Nagueńo" ad campaign of the city of Naga. For your convenience, hereunder is the video and the music that have been very familiar already to all of us here in Naga nation.

Mike is a longtime friend. I remember working with him - and having a good time - as a fellow writer in The Democrat in college and if my memory serves me correctly right now, in The Trailblazer in high school at the University of Nueva Caceres (UNC) where I finished secondary school and took up my first academic course before seeking respite from that arduous life of a self-supporting student-cum-scholar and eventually, transferring to the Ateneo de Naga University for my Development Communication degree. We are also fellows (organization-mates/'brothers'), both being alumni-members of the Society of Junior Fellows, an honor organization based in UNC. (Another fellow who remains to be another important fixture at the city hall is no other than highly regarded blogger Willy Prilles).

In our quick chat that ensued after that interview, I told him that I get disoriented every time I read about him being referred to as a graphic artist when I have always known him to be a prolific writer and an eagle-eyed editor. I teased him about being able to successfully 'diversify' and reinvent himself over the years.

He just flashed a smile and moved on with his business.

I am happy for the man, as I am happy for all those whom I have known in the past, especially those who got to have a share of the bad times, and who are now doing pretty well in their present lives. I believe we all deserve some ray of light.

To cap this story about him, I found out that Mike has already built a 'house' for this new passion of his.

Meantime, you may want to check these --- I came across this article in the Inquirer that foretells a Filipino revolution in the blogosphere and connects me to another article of the same author who believes that bloggers and journalists are not one.

Hmm, what do you guys think?

Also, are you interested in some late Nineteenth and early Twentieth century music? If yes, check this out!

Amazing, isn't it?!

My time's up.

Let's continue to be happy and proud of ourselves, our passions, and our heritage!

Have an awesome week everyone!
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