Archive for April, 2007

Parish of St. John the Evangelist, Naga City

April 30th, 2007 No comments

Amrei Dizon posted a photo:

Parish of St. John the Evangelist, Naga City

Parish of St. John the Evangelist, Naga City, Philippines

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Parish of St. John the Evangelist, Naga City

April 30th, 2007 No comments

Amrei Dizon posted a photo:

Parish of St. John the Evangelist, Naga City

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Parish of St. John the Evangelist, Naga City

April 30th, 2007 No comments

Amrei Dizon posted a photo:

Parish of St. John the Evangelist, Naga City

Does it look like they tied the knot?

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NPM reflections 1: On privatization

READER and fellow blogger Cris Jugo asks: "In what way would NPM go against 'populist policies'? Couldn't you implement populist policies using NPM?"

Our seven-day seminar on NPM finally ended today, and by way of reflection, I will address the issue of its compatibility with populism beginning with this entry. Which came up again and again throughout the week, precisely because our Latin American participants -- who are not exactly fans of Hugo Chavez and the other left-wing leaders in the region -- assumed NPM is automatically incompatible with populist policies.

That was actually the bone of contention in an exchange I had over lunch with a Brazilian participant who came from Porto Alegre, the city that pioneered the "participative budgeting" best practice and host to several editions of the World Social Forum.

I asked Luis Leonardo, who is an unabashed free market advocate, what he thinks of his hometown's innovation. He vehemently opposes the idea, arguing that some decisions made by the budgeting committees benefited only a few -- like buying a ice-freezing facility for some fishermen within the community.

Why don't they work their butts out so that they will earn enough money to buy the freezer themselves? Leonardo asked.

But what's wrong with a decision arrived at by a community? I argued. Is that not what democracy and NPM is all about, respecting the decision of the majority and allocating government resource to address what customers need?

Our debate extended into our final task later in the afternoon, where our group (comprising Leonardo and five others) was asked to defend privatization of government services against common opposing arguments. One of these had to do with excluding the poor who do not have the money for private services.

While I argued that successful privatization, as in the case of telecommunications and air travel in the Philippines, can actually make these services more accessible to ordinary citizens, it should not be pursued for its own sake. Critical preconditions exist -- such as the existence of private providers who can actually do better than the state in delivering these services.

A good example would be education. While public and private schools exist in cities and leading urban centers, making it possible to offer and implement a voucher system that can operationalize choice and promote competition, the same is not true in the rural areas. This market failure provides a justification for the state to come in and provide the service itself -- through the public school system.

These examples, I think, demonstrate a number of things. One, it is unwise to put our faith wholly on market forces to provide all the goods and services required by society. Two, it is a disservice to NPM to assume that privatization is the only way achieve a lean state; there are other tools that can pretty much achieve the same objective, such as decentralization. Finally, the devil is in the details; there is no one-size-fits-all formula to pursue NPM, and the choice of the most appropriate tools depends on a given context.
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Cologne Cathedral

WE SPENT the entire afternoon of the other day in Cologne, one of Germany's leading cities and the one closest to Gummersbach. Its main attraction remains to be the Cologne Cathedral, which miraculously survived heavy Allied bombing during the Second World War.

All major markings, including the directional sign within the Hauptbahnhof or the main train station as well as the city map provided us by the IAF, referred to this structure as Dom Cathedral, or simply the Dom.

The pictures here were taken using my cellphone. The last two are of particular interest; they were from two adjacent doorways to the church, similar at a quick glance, but there was something evidently wrong.

This reminded me of the first two of Dan Brown's trilogy -- the now famous Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons before that -- and sent my conspiratorial mind spinning. Especially when a black-robed-and-hooded young Goth, with piercings on his face and body, a throwback to the Medieval Age thousands of years ago, descended on the church steps and quickly disappeared into the crowd.
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Our New Albums

April 28th, 2007 No comments

Check out our new albums! It has a whole new fresher look to it! Check out the custom hand drawn illustrations! The fusion of old skool analog art & modern digital art! :)

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Pol & Jacky

April 28th, 2007 No comments

Baguio City

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The Gummersbach BürgerService

NO, THIS definitely is not a fastfood where you get the German counterparts of your Jollibee or McDo burgers; the English translation in our program calls it the Citizens Bureau. Yesterday, we went to the Gummersbach city hall to see it for ourselves.

The Gummersbach BürgerService is strategically located; as one climbs up to the Rathaus ("City Hall"), it is the first government office that greets you. Iris Karras, manager of the Gummersbach BürgerService unit, said it is equipped with the essential office equipment -- computers, internet access, scanners, printers and an automated queuing system -- that enable frontliners to serve their customers efficiently and effectively.

Set up in the '90s as part of the government's response to complaints about the quality of public service, these citizens bureaus serve as a one-stop-shop for the essential municipal services in Germany.

These include passporting and issuance of identity cards; payment of taxes and fees, including the dog tax; ticketing service for concerts, museums and all other cultural activities throughout Germany; and others that municipal governments provide to their citizens.

Aside from pooling staff from existing departments, they had to hire three more personnel to ensure service availability after office hours and on Saturdays, where people are freer to avail these, Karras said.

Leisure services, including sports, actually do not belong to those mandated by the state, Christianne Wenner of the KGSt (Joint Centre for Local Government Studies) explained during our session in Köln or Cologne later in the day. But politicians would save on these mandated services to free up more funds for the former because it helps them get reelected.

Before leaving for Cologne, we dropped and spent about an hour at the BürgerService. There we met the Guado sisters who hail from Zambales. The older of the two married a German and has been here for the last 30 years; her younger sister and her children are vacationing.

She is satisfied with the BürgerService, the former Ms. Guado said. They visited today to fix her sister's visa problem -- she was allowed to stay up to three months, her children only two -- so that they can go home at the same time.

When her number came up, the friendly frontliner motioned them to come over. My colleague Magnolia joined them to actually see how customers are being handled. Everything went smooth and easy; visa concerns are beyond the scope of the BürgerService, they were told. They were then referred to the German foreign affairs office, probably in Cologne, for the appropriate solution.
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April 27th, 2007 No comments

Kadaklan na beses napaghohona an mga signos kun uminagi na an kagadanan o an katapusan kan sarong bagay o tawo, marahay man nanggad na hilingon ta an mga signos kan satuyang panahon na pwedeng maging bitoon sa satuyang kaagahan o kaya pwertahan nin gagamban para sa kagabsan. Dai ko pinagninigaran an pirang pangyayari asin bagay-bagay na pirit na nagtutulod asin nagpapakarhay kan satuyang kamugtakan. Dai ako nawawaran nin paglaom para sa buhay, para sa satuyang banwaan. Alagad an paglaom dai nangangahulugan nin katapusan. Boot sabihon dai kita dapat makuntento sa satuyang mga linalaoman, dapat na ini mahimo asin mapangyari. Sa kadaklan na beses an satuyang mga nilalaoman dai man nangyayari asin napapangyari nin huli sa pagputik, pagdaya asin mga mandatang motibasyon asin intensyon poon pa sa poon. An paglaom garo gadan na nakabayo na satuyang binubuhay sa paagi nin paglatigo. Kuntento na kitang madangog an paglaom sa ngimot kan satuyang mga lideres na ngonyan nagpaparada naman asin nagbabariwas kan saindang mga pandok asin programa. Kun hihilingon, sa panahon kan satuyang eleksyon na ini mahihiling an magkapirang signos na nagsasaysay na madali na an satuyang dagos-dagos na pagruro na kaya sanang malabanan kan pagsabuhay asin pagsararo kan satuyang nilalalaoman.
An eleksyon sa satuya garo sarong karnabal asin ini an makusog na signos kan panahon. Dinadara kita sa sarong pantastikong reyalidad na garo man sana pareho kan eksperinsya nin pagbutas nin kwitis sa kalangitan. Tolong bulan bago an eleksyon, tambak sa proyekto asin pagpapaaspalto kan satuyang tinampo, alagad sa tolong terminong matukaw, dai malagbas sa bilang kan muro an proyektong gigibohon. An signos kan eleksyon na ini nagpapahiling man na an sistema pulitika sa Pilipinas, purog o kaya bansot. Dai ini minalangkaw o kun baga man pira sanang pulgada ta dakulaon nang marahay an mga demonyong inataman niyato, mga demonyong ginibo ta nang salming, mga demonyong dai tang gayo nahihiling nin huli ta mas dapat tang kinukumpisal an pananangbay kan mga agom, pagraway, pag-ikit alagad dai ta ikinukumpisal an mga kasalanan na gingibo ta bilang sarong sosyodad arog kan dai pagbayad nin tamang buwis, pagkuá nin bond paper sa opisina, pagdaya sa kontraktor asin iba pa na mas halawig pa kan listahan niyato sa utang sa Bombay. Dapat ta nang ngalasan kun ano an ginigibo kan satuyang Kristiyanong pagtubod sa katotoohan na kita an pinaka koraptong nasyon sa Asya. Dapat ta nang ngalasan kun tano ta lalong naglalakbang an rayo kan mayaman asin dukha sa satuya minsan sinasabing an simbahan para sa mga nagtitios asin nagsasakit. Alagad sa katukdoan man kan simbahan, bako sana an simbahan an mahihiling tang edipisyo o an mga Obispo asin padi. An simbahan iyo kita na minabilog kan satuyang sadiring pamilya asin parokya. May mga pagtulod man an simbahan alagad ano ta garo dai ini nakakasagom? Kung baga man baka kaipuhan pang mas maging sayod an simbahan sa saindang katukdoan. Sa kaso kan Pampanga, sarong padi an madalagan sa pagkagobernador tanganing tawan nin alternatibong opsyon an mga tawo. Sa sakuya saro ining signos kan panahon na dapat niyatong tawan nin odok na pagmansay. Sabihon ta nang minsan igwang sadiring mga isyung inaatubang an Katolikong simbahan sa satuya, dakul pa man an nagtutubod sa simbahan bilang sarong sandayan, balwarte nin moralidad asin giya sa buhay kan tawo. Kun mismong an mga ministro kan satuyang simbahan na an naglalaog sa pulitika, nangangahulugan ini kan desperado nang sitwasyon kan sistema kan satuyang gobyerno. Saro ining pusuanon na lakdang kan padi minsan ngani dai ini uyon sa katukdoan kan simbahan na nag-orden sa saiya. Alagad bako ining moral na isyu na dapat gamiton laban sa padi o sa simbahan na saiyang kinakaayonan. Saro ining makatakot na signos na pundohon ta na an pagpili nin mas sadit na demonyo laban sa mas dakulang demonyo. Dai dapat maging opsyon an karatan, an korapto sa satuya. Radikal na pinipili an katotoohan na minsan makulog, minsan nagrurumpag kan status quo na nag-oripon na sa satuya, an katotoohan sana an makakatao satuya nin tunay na kapanoan nin buhay. An lakdang na ginibong ini kan sarong padi sarong signos bako sana sa gobyerno kundi sa parehong simbahan na kinakaayonan niyato gabos.
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I just want to share this one…

"The Filipino Spirit is Rising"
Antonio Meloto
2007 Commencement Exercises
Ateneo de Davao University

Today, I feel intelligent. Not only am I addressing some of the brightest minds in Mindanao, but I am also being honored by this prestigious university with a Doctorate in Humanities, Honoris Causa. This is the first doctorate that I have received and I am accepting it in all humility and pride as a recognition of the nobility of the cause
and the heroism of the thousands of Gawad Kalinga workers that I represent. Thank you Fr. Ting Samson and Ateneo de Davao for bestowing the highest academic degree on a man who was born without a pedigree-the "askal" (asong kalye) who went to Ateneo and came back to the slums to help those he left behind.

To a person like myself who did not excel in Ateneo in my pursuit of a college degree, receiving this Ph. D. is extremely flattering being fully conscious that my principal role in this movement is to be the storyteller of the many who put in the sacrifice and the hard work and yet have remained mostly unrecognized. It is also exhilarating because it builds on the growing global awareness, triggered by Gawad Kalinga and other movements that have not given up on our country, that the Filipinos can and will build a squatter-free, slum- free and hunger- free Philippines by committing their collective genius, passion and strength towards restoring the dignity and the potential for excellence of the poor, the weak and the powerless.

The Filipino spirit today is rising wherever he is in the world. He is starting to discover that he has the power to liberate himself from being a slave of the past... that he can remove the label stuck to his soul as a second class people from a third world country... that he can correct the scandal of history of being the most corrupt in Asia despite being the only Christian nation, until East Timor, in the region.

In the right setting the Filipino has proven that he can be law- abiding, hardworking, honest and excellent.

Over the years, I have not met a Filipino beggar in my travel to the US, Canada and Australia... not a single beggar that I have seen or have heard of out of more than 2 million Filipinos in the US; many Caucasians, Afro- Americans and Latinos- yes- but no Filipinos. Clearly, it is not the nature of Filipinos to beg if he is in the right home and community environment. The mendicant culture in his native land is man-made and artificial and can therefore be unmade and corrected if we give him back his dignity which is his birthright as a son of God.

In the same vein, we know that the Filipino is not lazy. Time Magazine in its 2006 article on Happiness identifies the Filipino as one of the ethnic groups in America least likely to go on welfare. How many of us
know of friends and relatives who would take on two or even three jobs in pursuit of their dreams for a better life. Hardworking when motivated, resilient when tested- that is the Filipino...that is us. It is no surprise therefore that the average income of the Filipino-Americans is higher that the US national average; the former slave is now richer than the master in his master's home country.

We must believe that we were designed for excellence. World- class Filipino doctors and nurses are healing the sick of America and Europe. Our sailors dominate the seas in every mode of marine transport for
commerce and pleasure providing every imaginable form of service- and often always, they are the best navigators, the best chefs, the best entertainers. Thriving economies in Asia carry the mark of Filipino
managerial expertise in their start-up stage. Filipino CEOs, CFOs, COOs captain top multinational corporations carrying on the proud expat tradition of SGV's Washington Sycip, PLDT-SMART's Manny Pagnilinan,
P&G's Manny Pacis and many others.

Sadly, we are top of the line, cr鑪e de la cr鑪e, the best of the best elsewhere in the world except in our homeland. While the Jews and the Arabs were busy building abundance out of their desert, we were busy creating a desert out of our abundance.

Let us put a stop to our inanity and hypocrisy. Let us stop cracking jokes about our shame and misery. Instead let us celebrate with our hard work and integrity the return of our honor and pride as a gifted people, blessed by God with this beautiful land. Let us honor every great deed, every sacrifice, and every kindness that we extend to our disadvantaged and needy countrymen.

Let us put an end to our lamentation. We have suffered long enough. For 400 years, we have been gnashing our teeth, blaming one another, stepping on each other and yet have the temerity at the end of the day
to ask God why this is happening as if it was His fault. It is now time to hope, to care, to work together and to rejoice.

Yes, we will rise as a nation if we nurture this emerging beautiful spirit of the Filipino and cultivate an intelligent heart. How? When we show our love for God by being our brother's keeper- giving land to the
landless, homes to the homeless and food to the hungry. This is about love and justice in a country where the majority of our people are landless, millions of them living in shanties and slums and 17% of them
experiencing hunger in a rich and fertile land. This is not about charity but about authentic Christian stewardship and nation- building.

We will rise as a nation when rich Filipinos will consider the poor as an heir, like our youngest child, equal in worth and dignity with our own children, deserving an equal share in our children's inheritance. A
beautiful spirit and an intelligent heart consider the poor as family, see the face of Christ in them, and see the paradise that every slum community can become. That is why every GK home is beautifully painted and the standard of landscaping of every GK village is Ayala Alabang or Ladislawa in the case of Davao.

When we build first world communities for the poorest Filipino, we give them dignity and first world aspirations that will motivate them to dream bigger and work harder with support and nurturing. A recent study of GK Brookside, Payatas conducted by the UP Diliman College of Economics revealed an amazing result - the confidence and self- respect of the residents, many of them former scavengers, rose from 17% before
GK to 99% after GK; 93% consider themselves better off in terms of quality of life and 96% believe that their economic situation will improve in the future. Clearly the spirit of the poor is rising because those with the most share their best with the least.

This nation will rise if her sons and daughters abroad will see wisdom in helping not just their relatives, which is an admirable Filipino trait, but also the poor they do not know who need help the most.

Last night, I arrived from a 1- week trip to the U.S. for the world premiere in Chicago of "Paraiso", the Gawad Kalinga movie, and to attend GK events in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The movie was a big hit but the
bigger hit for me was the phenomenal response of our patriots in America to help the motherland by building self-reliant and sustainable GK communities. The UST Medical Alumni Association of America Board was
planning not just building more houses but also hospitals and community health programs through Gawad Kalusugan. USTMAA president Dr. Primo Andres is building a beautiful GK Village for his wife, Sylvia in
Panabo, Davao where she comes from as an expression of his deep affection for her. Another Davaoeno, former Cabinet Secretary Cito Lorenzo, joined me in booming Las Vegas to honor Filipino entertainers and realtors who are investing in the rebuilding of their home country.

Passion for the Philippines was evident everywhere I went. From successful young San Diego businessman Tony Olaes who spoke about sleepless nights in his excitement to help fund 20 new GK villages with
his Filipino business partners to the SouthCal Ancop Sikad Bikers pedaling to build Sibol Schools and the Bayanihan Builders who are retired professionals in Los Angeles repairing homes of neighbors to raise resources to build homes in Bicol, to the 8 nurses in NorCal working extra shifts to fund their individual GK villages. The Filipino exile is waking up and starting to unleash a stream of Patriot Funds that will augment the OFW flow in fuelling the Philippine economy.

Today, I am here to salute the beautiful spirit and the intelligent heart of the people of Mindanao. Many of our volunteers here, like many in other parts of the country, build homes for the poor when they themselves do not own land or home. Christians here starting with caretakers from Couples for Christ set aside fear and comfort to serve our fellow Filipinos in Camp Abubakar and other Moslem GK communities. Your students are going out of the classrooms to learn about life and love of God and country by serving in poor communities. The LGU of
Davao led by Mayor Duterte and many throughout Mindanao are doing massive land banking in solidarity with our conviction that no Filipino deserves to be a squatter in his own country. And many families here are starting to understand that giving a part of their land to give dignity and security to the landless and homeless poor is not only right with God but also builds peace, triggers economic activity, improves land values- creates
a win- win situation for all.

And to you my dear graduates, what can I say? Congratulations of course for finishing what you began and for joining the ranks of the elite few of the Filipinos with a college degree. I thank your parents for their sacrifice and for giving us sons and daughters who will steward this country better than us.

You are entering adult life equipped with a degree from a respected university at an auspicious time in the life of our country. It is your destiny to reach maturity during this great season of hope, this exciting time of awakening, this period of great challenge and heroism.

You have the choice and the opportunity to correct the mistakes of our generation and build a future full of hope in this country. You can be the new breed of political leaders who will gain your mandate through
visible and quantifiable performance, rather than mastery of the art of winning elections through cheating and corruption. You can be the new captains of business and industry who will work for profit with a conscience, expanding the market base by wisely investing in developing the potential of the poor for productivity. You can be the new elite of this country who will not be happy to send your children to exclusive schools and live in exclusive subdivisions if out of school street children are ignored and Lazarus continues to live as a squatter
outside your gates.

Who can stop us from claiming our Promised Land? Spain is not our master anymore. America is not our master anymore. Japan is not our master anymore. Our enemies are not the corrupt politicians, the greedy rich, the lazy poor , the religious hypocrites and other convenient scapegoats. Our enemies are not out there anymore. Our enemies are now within us.

We have compromised our values and tolerated corruption. We have lowered our standard and tolerated poverty. We have sacrificed the truth for hypocrisy. We have chosen convenience for vision, popularity for
leadership.. .and have chosen despair over hope.

Do we fight or do we run? Is there a King Leonides among you who will fight for honor and freedom? Are there 300 Spartans among you who will confront our enemies with extraordinary courage and love? Can you be
the army who will lead our people to victory following the path of peace? Are you the generation of patriots who can shout to the world that no Filipino will remain poor because you will not allow it; that no Filipino will remain a squatter because you will not allow it; that no politician will remain corrupt because you will not allow it?

If you are, then join us in Gawad Kalinga. Together, we can build a great nation, first world in the eyes of God and respected by other great nations.

Godspeed to you our patriots and heroes. God bless our beloved Philippines.
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SATANAS Inihanda ang sentensya sa mga nasasakda…

April 26th, 2007 No comments


Inihanda ang sentensya sa mga nasasakdal:
Yakapin ang grabedad ng pagkakahulog.

Sabik niyang naisip ang eksena—
kung paano lalapag ang kanyang mga paa sa lupa.

Batid nilang hindi na sila maaaring lumingon,
silang buong kampon na piniling magkalaman
ang mga pag-aalinlangan.

Sadyang marahas ang liwanag.
Naiisip niya ang lamig sa dilim.

Hinahasa na ang espada na puputol
sa mga pakpak.

Sa kanilang sugat makikita
ang mapa ng mundo.

April 23, 2007
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The prospects of NPM among Philippine LGUs

April 25th, 2007 No comments
My column for this week's issue of Vox Bikol. GUMMERSBACH – One of the fascinating discoveries I made in the course of the ongoing New Public Management (NPM) seminar I am attending in this charming little German city concerns local governments. In a previous column, I mentioned Civil Service Commission chair Karina Constantino-David saying that Philippine LGUs, notwithstanding of their own peculiar problems, are one of the good news about civil service in the country. In this seminar, our Peruvian and German facilitators mentioned practically the same thing: that reforms along the lines of NPM -- which seek to apply private sector mindsets, processes and tools in the public sector -- have better chances of taking off at the local level. Maybe this shift was impelled by hard realities. No matter how appealing the NPM principles are -- a lean state; separate decisionmaking, with politics deciding the strategic and the civil service taking care of the operative; lean management; a new service attitude; new models of control; decentralization; quality management; and product approach -- resistance to their large-scale implementation and scaling up is just too great at the national and federal levels. There are, for instance, reversals in a number of countries that originally pioneered NPM such as the United Kingdom. The so-called “joined-up governance� espoused by the New Labour party under Tony Blair has effectively reversed efforts to “roll back the state� that Margaret Thatcher introduced in the late ‘80s. So much so that a 2005 study spanning seven “leading-edge� NPM countries jointly conducted by researchers from the London School of Economics and Political Science and Oxford University pronounced it to be dead, arguing that the stage is now set for what they call “digital-era governance.� But success stories from the federal state level downwards have come to the fore. In Brazil, for instance, governors in four of the 26 states were either elected or reelected with a strong mandate on the basis of public sector reforms and modernization. This goes against the grain of populist policies being espoused by the current Brazilian government, as well as the rise of left-wing regimes in Latin America. In the Philippines, Naga of course is a “leading-edge� city implementing NPM, without us even knowing about it. When Mayor Jesse Robredo first became mayor in 1988, he introduced private sector tools and techniques at City Hall owing to his previous work with San Miguel Corporation; these include management by objectives and the Performance Pledge under the Productivity Improvement Program. The Pledge, found in all city hall departments and offices, later became the basis for the development of the Citizens Charter, which documents some 140 or so services of the city government. Now on its second edition, the charter describes the step-by-step procedure in availing each service, the expected response time as well as the city hall staff responsible for each step. Available both in printed and digital format through the city website, a streamlined Bikol version is currently being developed to comprise charter’s 3rd edition. All these innovative efforts happened rather instinctively, part of a process to continuously improve the quality of service delivery, now consciously centered on meeting the needs of its customers. We only came to learn that they are in fact an operationalization of the NPM philosophy when the Friedrich Naumann Foundation in the Philippines invited Mayor Robredo to speak in a seminar it arranged for Philippine LGU officials last year at the AIM. What do these developments mean? One, that NPM tools and techniques are applicable in the Philippine setting, especially in the context of our 15-year decentralization experience. But two, we still have a long way to go, especially in reversing the current situation where “leading edge� localities are more of the exception rather than the rule.
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my impolite colleague

I have this kind of stress at work.

I have this colleague who don't call others as "san". She is a pure Japanese though. Since I came here in this land 20 years ago, I was taught to call others "san" (John san, Suzuki san ) and that is the real practice of most sane and intelligent Japanese. Also "sama" for clients or customers ( John sama, Suzuki sama) or "chan of kun" for younger and intimate or close friends, but if you're at working place, you have to avoid calling others as "chan or kun" even if they're younger than you are. That is a polite way especially when you're in the office.

You're not a student anymore!!

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welcoming a new boss

There is a job-related GOOD news before vacation starts: an email I received just now that the direct boss (one who sits near me, the reason why I became so upset many times since I came in this office ) will be assigned to a different department. Now, he will be replaced by Mr. N. from the head-office. Good!!

I wonder what will happen with the OLD direct boss's monopoly when it comes to his chosen freight forwarders. He used to decide which forwarders for our exports (air and ocean). His college friends? I really don't know but they're all good friends. I remember I questioned him why he chose to stick to one freight forwarding with a very bad service who put our cargoes stucked somewhere else unloaded and unprocessed for the required flight. Now he's leaving the position and most likely, of course, will not be controlling the job anymore.

But I don't want to hate this OLD boss as he became too careful with the way he treated me for the past few weeks. Yesterday, as he is always copied or Cc to most of the emails, he asked me politely if he can answer one email which was sent directly to me.That he has something to say to the sender ( from our regional sales in US). So I thought that he is not that arrogant or bossy afterall.

Mr N who was assigned in Singapore, Australia and other English speaking countries speaks good English. I do comprehend fluent Japanese both written and oral, but it would help a lot if the Bosses can speak the language.

A happy note before our 1 week long vacation.

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Of dogs, death and taxes

AMERICAN statesman and scientist Benjamin Franklin was quoted as saying "In this world nothing can be said to be certain but death and taxes." After listening from Dr. Monika Ballin, our last speaker in the final session that started at 7:30 pm after dinner, I would add Germans do the latter better than most.

Filipinos view dogs as their best friend, which is a paradox considering their liking for dog meat, which we call "karneng aw-aw" in Sagrada, Pili. In Grandview, two of our three immediate neighbors have dogs, prompting my daughter Pep to egg us to bring one of her grandma Yayang's puppies home. In Naga, vaccinating dogs with anti-rabies is one of the key services of the City Veterinarian Office headed by Dr. Junios Elad, Jr., aside of course from their usual dog-pounding chores.

Well, there are still some reasons to be thankful we live in the Philippines. Because in Germany, one of the 35 different taxes and fees a dog-owning citizen has to pay is the dog tax, levied by towns and cities. It dates back a century ago, when cities teemed with dogs that authorities decided to tax them as a means of discouraging the practice. Just like the champagne tax, it stuck ever since.

Although the rate differs by municipality, a dog tag costs 150 euros (about P10,800) for the first dog and 220 euros (about P15,600) for a second dog. Untagged canines will fetch a heftier fine when caught by authorities.

And why do the various levels of the German government need to do this? Because of a welfare system -- increasingly under huge financial stress -- that provides a sort of "full risk insurance" for their citizens.

"Especially by the end of the 1980s and in the early 90s, it became obvious that the overblowing public administration was impossible to be financed, even with increasing debts," Ballin explained. This set the stage for the increasing attractiveness of a "lean state," a central element of the New Public Management (NPM) philosophy.

But even in Germany and other European countries, NPM is not that widespread, especially at the federal government and state levels. Surprisingly, innovations are more pronounced at the local government level, similar to what is happening in the Philippines. I will discuss this in a later post.
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