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Archive for November, 2010

A good fight!

November 17th, 2010 No comments
The consumer group supported four(4)candidates to the Board of Directors of CASURECO 2. The election was conducted in Calabanga, Canaman, Milaor, and Tinambac/Siruma. In the end, two candidates emerged victorious.

Much can be said about the election process. Be that as it may, the challenge is again in the continuing struggle for consumer empowerment.

But first, gratitude must be expressed to those who supported the campaign. A lot was accomplished although a lot more remains to be done.
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Christmas v.2010

November 14th, 2010 No comments

Yesterday, I was in my room, turned the radio on and I heard the first Christmas song. This season will be really new. Christmas used to be spent with my family, in Naga or in Manila. But this year, I'll be away.
I think I'll miss eating ham at home, Iwonder if I could get the famous Binondo hams thisyear. I think I'll be working this Christmas - but not Christmas eve.
This afternoon, pa nga, the grinch peeked her head. But unlike the real grinch we're looking forward to this year's celebration. Whether home or away, we're gonna make this one a season to remember!

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Christmas v.2010

November 14th, 2010 No comments
Yesterday, I was in my room, turned the radio on and I heard the first Christmas song. This season will be really new. Christmas used to be spent with my family, in Naga or in Manila. But this year, I'll be away.
I think I'll miss eating ham at home, Iwonder if I could get the famous Binondo hams thisyear. I think I'll be working this Christmas - but not Christmas eve.
This afternoon, pa nga, the grinch peeked her head. But unlike the real grinch we're looking forward to this year's celebration. Whether home or away, we're gonna make this one a season to remember!
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Embed Sopcast or Not!

November 11th, 2010 No comments
The Pacquiao vs Margarito Fight.

This is not sopcast :(

http://show-sports.com/
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Embed Sopcast or Not!

November 11th, 2010 No comments
The Pacquiao vs Margarito Fight. This is not sopcast :(http://show-sports.com/
Categories: Blogs, Personal Tags:

Will size matter?

November 9th, 2010 No comments

Size would be the most obvious come November 14 at Texas even Pacman is 2-0 with men exaggerately bigger than him yet pundits are entitled to their say.  Experts say motivation could change the fight  as the disgraced Tijuana Tornado has tons of it with nothing to loose and everything to gain.  In boxing just like any other contact sports  the first man to get hurt would likely to fall first but superior conditioning is a factor (second wind).  Manny Pacquiao achieving many titles in many weight classes where no other modern day boxers will not surpass sees by some experts this fight could tarnished his stellar career.  Is he up for Jr. Middleweight?  His last fight  with Clottey has shown how size is an advantage, after his 12 round conquest he looks more beaten than the native Ghanaian and Margarito is like a bull with heavy hands.  I would hate to see a Z Gorres but it’s the price you pay for fame and fortune and we love to see the Pacman fight and win because he’s the more complete fighter of the two but it’s not just Pacman –  the global attention ‘Pinas is getting as well.  Some fearless forecast has already summed it up and I can see Pacman (5-1 favorite) $15+ million richer.  Conditioning coach Ariza in 24/7 has doubts with his fighter strength and power after all the distractions.  Come Sunday, if the Pacman looses, a rematch would surely be one hell of a fortune maker.  By far, this is his toughest test. For Nagueños who wants to see the fight live, avoid suffocating commercials over TV, cannot afford the pricey tickets, do not fret, LBC with LGU Naga is sponsoring a free showing in four(?) big screens of the pay-per-view at the city coliseum on Sunday 8a.m., a titillatingly intense day for Pinoys.


Filed under: Ginisa Mix Tagged: Pacman
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Bunso 4

November 8th, 2010 No comments
(Ika-apat na luwas, Noviembre 8, 2010)

Dara can labi-labing enthusiasmo na nag-eeroc sa joven na lawas, mas maricas an pagdalagan pauli cumpara sa pahali. Siguro por dahel sa claro an padudumanan asin igwang magayagayang consuelo an paulion na dalan. Dae co pa nasasabutan ini, alagad an dalagan co ngonian pauli mas desidido na cun may mapugol saco, enda co cun ano cacaluwasan. Pero binayaan co an imaginacion na yan sa isip co.

Mantang sibot an bitis asin camot sa pagdalagan, sinisibot man an isip. Ginigiromdom co cun saen co nawalat o naibugtac o nawara an pad na may 100 na grado.

Harani na aco sa harong. Naenot na si bambi saco na nasa tungod mi. Pagsacat co sa harong, dagos dagos aco sa bag na yaon lang sa sala. Binutbot co an laog. Hanap an pad.

Harus iniluwas co na mga gamit co casabay an mga hangos na garo nilalapag nin rungaw na ayam. Nabasa na an iba por dahel sa turo can ganot. Can dae co nacua an pad sa bag, saca co lang narisa an casibutan sa cuarto. Nagcacapirang familiar an navocesan sa cuarto.

Ini an nagtulod saco para magsirip sa laog.

An enot cong naheling sa laog, iyo na an pad na natutongtongan. Nagduloc pacamang sa laog. Can harani na, harus dacmaon co na lang, naheling co si Darling na niraranggayan can mga nacapalibot saiya. Garo hiniheling man aco asin nag-ngirit ini.

"Oh, Bunso! Ano ginigibo mo jan?" hapot ni mama na nacahilay cataid si Darling.

"Digdi ca daw sa cataid co. Haloy ta ca nang dae na nacacataid."

Insigida an pagbuhat co. Mayo nang parapagpag sa tuhog. Nagsacat sa cama asin nagtaid ki mama sa tuong lado.

Yaon sa cuarto an duwang matuang tugang co asin tiyaon caibahan an aki nia na pinsan co. An tiyaon co palan an nacatungtong sa pad co.

"Hamag na 'yan, dae co pa nacua an pad co." Alagad comfortable aco sa cataid ni mama. Ogma aco na inapod asin pinataid saiya. Ini misqui mayo nin 100 na grado.

Nagsucsoc aco sa tagiliran ni mama asin kinugos an abaga caini. Napapirong pati aco sa pagmate asin pagtaid giraray sa mama co.

"Hoy, mapasuso na si mama mo. Hale na daw jan!"

Napabuclat aco. Sa tiyaon co an voces na idto.

Si mama, nagtagilid asin nagtalicod saco. Harus tinalicuran man aco nin kinaban.

Ahhhhh.. Haen si pad co.


(Subaybayan giraray sa sunod na semana).

Enot na luwas - Bunso 1

Ikaduwang luwas - Bunso 2

Ikatolong luwas - Bunso 3
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Bunso 4

November 8th, 2010 No comments


(Ika-apat na luwas, Noviembre 8, 2010)

Dara can labi-labing enthusiasmo na nag-eeroc sa joven na lawas, mas maricas an pagdalagan pauli cumpara sa pahali. Siguro por dahel sa claro an padudumanan asin igwang magayagayang consuelo an paulion na dalan. Dae co pa nasasabutan ini, alagad an dalagan co ngonian pauli mas desidido na cun may mapugol saco, enda co cun ano cacaluwasan. Pero binayaan co an imaginacion na yan sa isip co.

Mantang sibot an bitis asin camot sa pagdalagan, sinisibot man an isip. Ginigiromdom co cun saen co nawalat o naibugtac o nawara an pad na may 100 na grado.

Harani na aco sa harong. Naenot na si bambi saco na nasa tungod mi. Pagsacat co sa harong, dagos dagos aco sa bag na yaon lang sa sala. Binutbot co an laog. Hanap an pad.

Harus iniluwas co na mga gamit co casabay an mga hangos na garo nilalapag nin rungaw na ayam. Nabasa na an iba por dahel sa turo can ganot. Can dae co nacua an pad sa bag, saca co lang narisa an casibutan sa cuarto. Nagcacapirang familiar an navocesan sa cuarto.

Ini an nagtulod saco para magsirip sa laog.

An enot cong naheling sa laog, iyo na an pad na natutongtongan. Nagduloc pacamang sa laog. Can harani na, harus dacmaon co na lang, naheling co si Darling na niraranggayan can mga nacapalibot saiya. Garo hiniheling man aco asin nag-ngirit ini.

"Oh, Bunso! Ano ginigibo mo jan?" hapot ni mama na nacahilay cataid si Darling.

"Digdi ca daw sa cataid co. Haloy ta ca nang dae na nacacataid."

Insigida an pagbuhat co. Mayo nang parapagpag sa tuhog. Nagsacat sa cama asin nagtaid ki mama sa tuong lado.

Yaon sa cuarto an duwang matuang tugang co asin tiyaon caibahan an aki nia na pinsan co. An tiyaon co palan an nacatungtong sa pad co.

"Hamag na 'yan, dae co pa nacua an pad co." Alagad comfortable aco sa cataid ni mama. Ogma aco na inapod asin pinataid saiya. Ini misqui mayo nin 100 na grado.

Nagsucsoc aco sa tagiliran ni mama asin kinugos an abaga caini. Napapirong pati aco sa pagmate asin pagtaid giraray sa mama co.

"Hoy, mapasuso na si mama mo. Hale na daw jan!"

Napabuclat aco. Sa tiyaon co an voces na idto.

Si mama, nagtagilid asin nagtalicod saco. Harus tinalicuran man aco nin kinaban.

Ahhhhh.. Haen si pad co.


(Subaybayan giraray sa sunod na semana).

Enot na luwas - Bunso 1

Ikaduwang luwas - Bunso 2

Ikatolong luwas - Bunso 3
Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Peripheral yet Central: Notes from a 20-Year and Going Urban Democracy Project in the Philippines

November 6th, 2010 No comments
Presented on October 5, 2010 during the Second General Assembly of the IFP Philippines Alumni Association (IFPPAA) at the MMLDC, Antipolo City.

WHEN we were about to get our degree from the Department of Land Economy in Cambridge in 2004, a Cypriot classmate, who is an expert in real estate finance, asked me what my plans are after graduation.

I asked: How about you?

He said he will probably work for one of the leading London-based property conglomerates. At that time, I really had no doubt he will succeed. An indication that it came to pass is the fact that he used to sponsor one of the annual student awards at the Department in honor of her grandparents.

For my part, I said then I will go back to my native city, where I think I stand a better chance of making a difference.

Looking back at that brief conversation, I think that on the whole, my decision to go back to the city government of Naga after completing my IFP fellowship turned out to be a good decision. But to say that the outcomes of that decision was a clear example of an either-or proposition – economists like Assad Baunto would love to call it a zero-sum game
totally misses the point. Which should nicely lead me to a discussion on the dilemmas we face as IFP alumni.

A Good Decision
But before I do so, allow me to explain why I believe it was a good decision. I will highlight three points:

1. Professionally, going back to Naga enabled me to make good use of my schooling. My graduate work at the Department of Land Economy focused on planning, growth and regeneration. Today, my work as head of the city’s planning and development unit enables me to apply the theories and principles on urban planning to Naga’s development.

For instance, the way Philippine local governments today conduct their planning has been revolutionized and rationalized, aided by a study conducted by UP SURP and enshrined in a joint memorandum circular issued by the DILG, DBM, NEDA and DOF issued in 2007. While we are taking measured steps towards delivering these documents, I can fairly say that we have a better handle of the process, thanks to stuff I learned from my Cambridge professors and the English experience with the so-called “urban planning machinery” that drives housing and urban development.

Almost a month ago, I was gratified to hear a high-ranking functionary of the DILG speak about the need for greater civil society participation in generating baseline LGU performance indicators in its flagship Local Governance Performance Management System (LGPMS).

This was precisely our experience and realization several weeks back during our planning workshop in crafting Naga’s comprehensive development plan that used LGPMS data. Essentially, it boils down to the fundamental weakness of the system – which has to do with its self-rating nature. Without outsiders actively engaged in the process, there is that temptation to window-dress data driven by the urge to make one’s locality look good. But this of course comes at the expense of truth telling, which is a basic requirement of good planning.

2. Personally, going back to Naga enabled me to raise my family, and see my children grow before my very eyes in the same city where I work. This was the single biggest problem I faced when doing graduate work in Cambridge: a Ph.D title appended to my name would have sounded fine, but the best university in the world (according to the 2010 QS World University rankings) was simply not the best place for a homesick father of five (at the time) and faithful husband to his wife.

As an IFP fellow exposed to the comforts and opportunities of a First World society, I must admit staying put in the UK – regardless of what the PSSC and the Ford Foundation will say – crossed my mind. I am sure all of us, one way or another, had to face this temptation. But every time, the family card would trump all possible permutations where benefits outweigh the cost of leaving them behind.

So for me, it matters less that I am earning Philippine pesos and not British pounds; what matters more is that when I rise every morning, I get to wake up beside my best friend of 18 years, cook for and eat breakfast with my children, and drive them to school before I go to work. Yes, it is definitely a challenge to make the most out of a government worker’s salary, which often requires foregoing many comforts and luxuries that come quite easy for OFW families in our neighborhood; but these are tradeoffs I have learned to accept in exchange for the sheer pleasure of growing up with my children.

3. Psychologically, staying in the City Government of Naga actually brought me immense self-satisfaction. In my own little ways, I am making a difference.

For instance, the quality of local decision-making has improved because of my department’s newly acquired capability to do evidence-based policy analysis. Take for instance the currently raging issue of whether City Hall should raise rental rates at our newly rehabilitated public market. The study we did, in response to a directive from the Sangguniang Panglungsod committee on market affairs, has crystallized the available policy options to both the executive and the legislative. And to a great extent, the numbers behind those options have shaped the ongoing debate, in the process tamping down heated passion that used to carry the day.

Then, there’s also our enhanced capability to come up with trailblazing local initiatives. Just two days ago, we formally launched the Naga River Revitalization Project, a multisectoral effort that seeks to finally reverse the decline and degration of the city’s major waterway. In May, when I submitted it to a pioneering training program for local governments jointly sponsored by the World Bank and the Singaporean government, even my city hall colleagues were not convinced, thinking there were other more urgent matters that the city government should respond to.

But after a highly successful 10-day stint at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore last July, where we developed an action plan to implement the Naga River project under the supervision of WBI and LKY faculty, the World Bank has apparently decided to adopt riverfront development as the overarching theme for its second round of training. If things hold up, we will most probably be invited back to share our experience to the next batch of Asian cities chosen to participate in that event in July 2011.

There’s also that ongoing effort the come up with a new joint memorandum circular to govern the use of the Special Education Fund (SEF) by Philippine local governments, which is central to my work on and abiding interest in Local School Boards. Of course, it helps that my former mayor is now the acting secretary of the DILG (for how long, I don’t know). But I find it truly fulfilling to have been invited to actively comment on the several drafts of the JMC, and with some of my recommendations actually being adopted – at least in the most recent version I saw. With all the mishaps and missteps attending P-Noy’s young administration, I am not sure whether that JMC will actually see the light of day – and I really pray that it does. But whatever happens, my experience shows that it is entirely possible to do good work in the periphery sufficient enough to impact central policymaking.

Finally, there’s of course the 2009 Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award accorded to our Public Service Excellence Program (PSEP) Team, of which I am the deputy team leader, at the Naga City government. Our team is primarily responsible for bringing about three editions of the Naga City Citizen’s Charter, the pioneering effort of the Naga City Government to empower its citizenry by promoting transparency and accountability in service delivery. England, by the way, has a long tradition of promoting services charters.

Naga’s Citizen’s Charter, the first of its kind in the country, predates by seven years Republic Act No. 9485, more popularly known as the Anti-Red Tape Act (ARTA) of 2007” that requires all national and local government agencies to come up with their own service charters. RA 9485 only came into effect when it was signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on June 2, 2007.

In recognition of this, the Civil Service Commission accorded to us that award, the highest recognition “conferred on an individual or group of individuals for exceptional or extraordinary contributions resulting from an idea or performance that had nationwide impact on public interest, security and patrimony.”

Dilemmas
But coming home to one’s country armed with a degree made possible by our fellowship, which should make Mareng Winnie Monsod proud even if we are not her students at the UP School of Economics, is not all bed of roses. Truth of the matter is, we are faced with two formidable dilemmas:

One, was it worth my while? Correct me if I’m wrong, but from what I sense from our Yahoo e-group, a good number are having difficulty finding jobs that pay well, not so much psychologically but financially. This, to me, is a gut issue, and we don’t have to invoke Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to make it so.

Compounding the problem are the raised expectations that come with completing that fellowship, both from our end and from others. From our end, the fellowship is the nearest thing to being an OFW: in my case, I am able to set aside some money that I regularly send home to support my family. But it was only as good as it lasted; homecoming meant going back to the real world, warts and all. And then there’s the unwarranted expectation from others, especially from relatives, that having a degree from a university abroad is the “Open Sesame” that automatically unlocks the door to fabulous riches described in the stories of the Arabian nights.

Secondly, with the uncertainties of the future, did I really do the right thing? Doubts about the wisdom of coming back to the country starts to creep in when our current realities – that is, the opportunities supposed to come with our schooling – do not match up with expectations. This is exacerbated when one begins to compare himself with better-off OFWs who are actually doing well financially, and they did not have to go through the rigors of what we went through, starting from the pre-academic trainings mandated by PSSC down to the thesis and dissertations we had to submit as requirements of the our degree!

A Way Forward
While these dilemmas can be very unsettling at times, I never fail to derive inspiration from one movie I recently saw and enjoyed with my family, so much so that my children would watch it over and over again.

I am referring to the 2009 Bollywood hit entitled “3 Idiots,” a highly engaging 2-hour 44-minute comedy – which incidentally illustrates the huge gulf separating Indian and Philippine cinema.

The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) website describes the movie’s storyline as follows: “Two friends embark on a quest for a lost buddy. On this journey, they encounter a long forgotten bet, a wedding they must crash, and a funeral that goes impossibly out of control.” This, of course, does no justice at all to that movie, so I suggest that you take time downloading a copy on your favorite bittorrent application and watch it yourself.

There are, however, two memorable quotes from IMDb that I would want to share:

“Today my respect for that idiot shot up. Most of us went to college just for a degree. No degree meant no plum job, no pretty wife, no credit card, no social status. But none of this mattered to him, he was in college for the joy of learning, he never cared if he was first or last.” – Farhan Qureshi

This, I think, goes at the very heart of our motivation for pursuing higher education. The typical perspective, represented by Farhan’s, is that getting a degree is merely a means to achieving higher ends – a good job, financial security, a happy family, a higher standing in society.

But there is that other perspective represented by Rancchoddas Shyamaldas Chanchad aka “Rancho” – the joy of learning is by itself a worthy end, and everything else is secondary: the icing on our cake, the gravy to our chicken.

“Pursue excellence, and success will follow, pants down.” – Rancho

This second quote, I think, is the movie’s central message. To me, this is a powerful response to problems created by the two dilemmas I outlined above. Its effectiveness in resolving these issues in our own individuals lives will pretty much depend on ourselves.

And my little experience of staying put in Naga shows that one can choose to wage his battle even in the periphery, outside of the power center that is Imperial Manila; yet by pursuing excellence with passion, he can do enough good work as to impact society at various levels, from the grassroots to a town or city, from a province to a region and even the nation itself – and make a difference.
Categories: Blogs, Personal Tags:

Peripheral yet Central: Notes from a 20-Year and Going Urban Democracy Project in the Philippines

November 6th, 2010 No comments
Presented on October 5, 2010 during the Second General Assembly of the IFP Philippines Alumni Association (IFPPAA) at the MMLDC, Antipolo City.WHEN we were about to get our degree from the Department of Land Economy in Cambridge in 2004, a Cypriot classmate, who is an expert in real estate finance, asked me what my plans are after graduation.I asked: How about you?He said he will probably work for one of the leading London-based property conglomerates. At that time, I really had no doubt he will succeed. An indication that it came to pass is the fact that he used to sponsor one of the annual student awards at the Department in honor of her grandparents.For my part, I said then I will go back to my native city, where I think I stand a better chance of making a difference.Looking back at that brief conversation, I think that on the whole, my decision to go back to the city government of Naga after completing my IFP fellowship turned out to be a good decision. But to say that the outcomes of that decision was a clear example of an either-or proposition – economists like Assad Baunto would love to call it a zero-sum game totally misses the point. Which should nicely lead me to a discussion on the dilemmas we face as IFP alumni.A Good DecisionBut before I do so, allow me to explain why I believe it was a good decision. I will highlight three points:1. Professionally, going back to Naga enabled me to make good use of my schooling. My graduate work at the Department of Land Economy focused on planning, growth and regeneration. Today, my work as head of the city’s planning and development unit enables me to apply the theories and principles on urban planning to Naga’s development.For instance, the way Philippine local governments today conduct their planning has been revolutionized and rationalized, aided by a study conducted by UP SURP and enshrined in a joint memorandum circular issued by the DILG, DBM, NEDA and DOF issued in 2007. While we are taking measured steps towards delivering these documents, I can fairly say that we have a better handle of the process, thanks to stuff I learned from my Cambridge professors and the English experience with the so-called “urban planning machinery” that drives housing and urban development.Almost a month ago, I was gratified to hear a high-ranking functionary of the DILG speak about the need for greater civil society participation in generating baseline LGU performance indicators in its flagship Local Governance Performance Management System (LGPMS).This was precisely our experience and realization several weeks back during our planning workshop in crafting Naga’s comprehensive development plan that used LGPMS data. Essentially, it boils down to the fundamental weakness of the system – which has to do with its self-rating nature. Without outsiders actively engaged in the process, there is that temptation to window-dress data driven by the urge to make one’s locality look good. But this of course comes at the expense of truth telling, which is a basic requirement of good planning.2. Personally, going back to Naga enabled me to raise my family, and see my children grow before my very eyes in the same city where I work. This was the single biggest problem I faced when doing graduate work in Cambridge: a Ph.D title appended to my name would have sounded fine, but the best university in the world (according to the 2010 QS World University rankings) was simply not the best place for a homesick father of five (at the time) and faithful husband to his wife.As an IFP fellow exposed to the comforts and opportunities of a First World society, I must admit staying put in the UK – regardless of what the PSSC and the Ford Foundation will say – crossed my mind. I am sure all of us, one way or another, had to face this temptation. But every time, the family card would trump all possible permutations where benefits outweigh the cost of leaving them behind.So for me, it matters less that I am earning Philippine pesos and not British pounds; what matters more is that when I rise every morning, I get to wake up beside my best friend of 18 years, cook for and eat breakfast with my children, and drive them to school before I go to work. Yes, it is definitely a challenge to make the most out of a government worker’s salary, which often requires foregoing many comforts and luxuries that come quite easy for OFW families in our neighborhood; but these are tradeoffs I have learned to accept in exchange for the sheer pleasure of growing up with my children.3. Psychologically, staying in the City Government of Naga actually brought me immense self-satisfaction. In my own little ways, I am making a difference.For instance, the quality of local decision-making has improved because of my department’s newly acquired capability to do evidence-based policy analysis. Take for instance the currently raging issue of whether City Hall should raise rental rates at our newly rehabilitated public market. The study we did, in response to a directive from the Sangguniang Panglungsod committee on market affairs, has crystallized the available policy options to both the executive and the legislative. And to a great extent, the numbers behind those options have shaped the ongoing debate, in the process tamping down heated passion that used to carry the day.Then, there’s also our enhanced capability to come up with trailblazing local initiatives. Just two days ago, we formally launched the Naga River Revitalization Project, a multisectoral effort that seeks to finally reverse the decline and degration of the city’s major waterway. In May, when I submitted it to a pioneering training program for local governments jointly sponsored by the World Bank and the Singaporean government, even my city hall colleagues were not convinced, thinking there were other more urgent matters that the city government should respond to.But after a highly successful 10-day stint at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy in Singapore last July, where we developed an action plan to implement the Naga River project under the supervision of WBI and LKY faculty, the World Bank has apparently decided to adopt riverfront development as the overarching theme for its second round of training. If things hold up, we will most probably be invited back to share our experience to the next batch of Asian cities chosen to participate in that event in July 2011.There’s also that ongoing effort the come up with a new joint memorandum circular to govern the use of the Special Education Fund (SEF) by Philippine local governments, which is central to my work on and abiding interest in Local School Boards. Of course, it helps that my former mayor is now the acting secretary of the DILG (for how long, I don’t know). But I find it truly fulfilling to have been invited to actively comment on the several drafts of the JMC, and with some of my recommendations actually being adopted – at least in the most recent version I saw. With all the mishaps and missteps attending P-Noy’s young administration, I am not sure whether that JMC will actually see the light of day – and I really pray that it does. But whatever happens, my experience shows that it is entirely possible to do good work in the periphery sufficient enough to impact central policymaking.Finally, there’s of course the 2009 Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award accorded to our Public Service Excellence Program (PSEP) Team, of which I am the deputy team leader, at the Naga City government. Our team is primarily responsible for bringing about three editions of the Naga City Citizen’s Charter, the pioneering effort of the Naga City Government to empower its citizenry by promoting transparency and accountability in service delivery. England, by the way, has a long tradition of promoting services charters.Naga’s Citizen’s Charter, the first of its kind in the country, predates by seven years Republic Act No. 9485, more popularly known as the Anti-Red Tape Act (ARTA) of 2007” that requires all national and local government agencies to come up with their own service charters. RA 9485 only came into effect when it was signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on June 2, 2007.In recognition of this, the Civil Service Commission accorded to us that award, the highest recognition “conferred on an individual or group of individuals for exceptional or extraordinary contributions resulting from an idea or performance that had nationwide impact on public interest, security and patrimony.”DilemmasBut coming home to one’s country armed with a degree made possible by our fellowship, which should make Mareng Winnie Monsod proud even if we are not her students at the UP School of Economics, is not all bed of roses. Truth of the matter is, we are faced with two formidable dilemmas:One, was it worth my while? Correct me if I’m wrong, but from what I sense from our Yahoo e-group, a good number are having difficulty finding jobs that pay well, not so much psychologically but financially. This, to me, is a gut issue, and we don’t have to invoke Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to make it so.Compounding the problem are the raised expectations that come with completing that fellowship, both from our end and from others. From our end, the fellowship is the nearest thing to being an OFW: in my case, I am able to set aside some money that I regularly send home to support my family. But it was only as good as it lasted; homecoming meant going back to the real world, warts and all. And then there’s the unwarranted expectation from others, especially from relatives, that having a degree from a university abroad is the “Open Sesame” that automatically unlocks the door to fabulous riches described in the stories of the Arabian nights.Secondly, with the uncertainties of the future, did I really do the right thing? Doubts about the wisdom of coming back to the country starts to creep in when our current realities – that is, the opportunities supposed to come with our schooling – do not match up with expectations. This is exacerbated when one begins to compare himself with better-off OFWs who are actually doing well financially, and they did not have to go through the rigors of what we went through, starting from the pre-academic trainings mandated by PSSC down to the thesis and dissertations we had to submit as requirements of the our degree!A Way ForwardWhile these dilemmas can be very unsettling at times, I never fail to derive inspiration from one movie I recently saw and enjoyed with my family, so much so that my children would watch it over and over again.I am referring to the 2009 Bollywood hit entitled “3 Idiots,” a highly engaging 2-hour 44-minute comedy – which incidentally illustrates the huge gulf separating Indian and Philippine cinema.The Internet Movie Database (IMDb) website describes the movie’s storyline as follows: “Two friends embark on a quest for a lost buddy. On this journey, they encounter a long forgotten bet, a wedding they must crash, and a funeral that goes impossibly out of control.” This, of course, does no justice at all to that movie, so I suggest that you take time downloading a copy on your favorite bittorrent application and watch it yourself.There are, however, two memorable quotes from IMDb that I would want to share:“Today my respect for that idiot shot up. Most of us went to college just for a degree. No degree meant no plum job, no pretty wife, no credit card, no social status. But none of this mattered to him, he was in college for the joy of learning, he never cared if he was first or last.” – Farhan QureshiThis, I think, goes at the very heart of our motivation for pursuing higher education. The typical perspective, represented by Farhan’s, is that getting a degree is merely a means to achieving higher ends – a good job, financial security, a happy family, a higher standing in society.But there is that other perspective represented by Rancchoddas Shyamaldas Chanchad aka “Rancho” – the joy of learning is by itself a worthy end, and everything else is secondary: the icing on our cake, the gravy to our chicken.“Pursue excellence, and success will follow, pants down.” – RanchoThis second quote, I think, is the movie’s central message. To me, this is a powerful response to problems created by the two dilemmas I outlined above. Its effectiveness in resolving these issues in our own individuals lives will pretty much depend on ourselves.And my little experience of staying put in Naga shows that one can choose to wage his battle even in the periphery, outside of the power center that is Imperial Manila; yet by pursuing excellence with passion, he can do enough good work as to impact society at various levels, from the grassroots to a town or city, from a province to a region and even the nation itself – and make a difference.
Categories: Blogs, Personal Tags:

The Social Network

November 4th, 2010 No comments
I say we replace one word and this movie is still the same, you don't get to 500 million dollars without making a few enemies.

I was really pumped for this one being a coding enthusiast and a David Fincher follower (the resume is impressive: Zodiac, The Game, Se7en, Benjamin Button and of course Fight Club). This is what Pirates of the Silicon Valley should have been: an ocean of character development, a hollywooded non-fiction script, and capable actors.

Dare I say, Movie of the Year or better yet an Oscar? Yes, I do!

The Plot:

Based on/actually inspired by the talented lives of Mark Zuckerberg and his dorm room friends from Harvard who founded Facebook. The story evolves on the friendship of Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin and their falling out during the life and triumph of Facebook. Sandwiched in between is truant Napster founder Sean Parker, wonderfully played by Justin Timberlake who comes in between their friendship and the eventual success of Facebook.

The Good:
1. The three amigos: Eisenberg, Garfield and Timberlake. The main protagonists who played the film are perfectly cast that you could not put in another actor to play them.

Jesse Eisenberg plays and looks the part of a talented but brutal programmer who cares anything less but the recognition. This is captured in one scene when he is talking to Saverin announcing that they have made it as he looks on his group partying and drinking with his face speaking out that "nothing interests me here," look.

Andrew Garfield is the school boy who captures us with his innocence. This is best seen in one scene during the trial where he is accused of animal cruelty which could have tarnished the image of the company. His character was more concerned of what his father would think than the implications in the case. And his boiling out breaking the laptop scene makes us all drool of a complex Spiderman. Way to go for the new webslinger!

Justin Timberlake is the wild card and he actually gives me the best scene. A morning after one night stand and a girl asks her, "bet you do not know my name?" He musters a "Stanford?", obviously referring to the Stanford panties and in a minute goes on a tirade of all the girl's info. You have to see the scene to laugh out loud. Justin the boyband is no more, all hail the new asshole Justin.

2. David Fincher. We all knew he is an able director from shots though key holes in Panic Room to slow-mo fight scenes in Fight Club but he displays a skill here that other directors have yet to master. The boat chase scene is so intense that it looks and feel as if you are one of the rowers in the race.

3. The Story and the Dialogue. Enough said. This should have a minimum of five nominations alone: Best Actor (Eisenberg), Supporting (Garfield), film, direction and adapted screenplay. The pace is superb and you would not even notice that two hours have been eaten up.

I am always critical of how movie closes that I am happy that it did it that way. In the end we get a scene of Zuckerberg refreshing every second to see if he got the friend request from the girl who motivated him to make Facebook. It is really what the movie is all about, this one man's yearning for acceptance and the hardships he had to go through to prove his worth.

Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

The Social Network

November 4th, 2010 No comments
I say we replace one word and this movie is still the same, you don't get to 500 million dollars without making a few enemies.
I was really pumped for this one being a coding enthusiast and a David Fincher follower (the resume is impressive: Zodiac, The Game, Se7en, Benjamin Button and of course Fight Club). This is what Pirates of the Silicon Valley should have been: an ocean of character development, a hollywooded non-fiction script, and capable actors.
Dare I say, Movie of the Year or better yet an Oscar? Yes, I do!
The Plot:
Based on/actually inspired by the talented lives of Mark Zuckerberg and his dorm room friends from Harvard who founded Facebook. The story evolves on the friendship of Zuckerberg and Eduardo Saverin and their falling out during the life and triumph of Facebook. Sandwiched in between is truant Napster founder Sean Parker, wonderfully played by Justin Timberlake who comes in between their friendship and the eventual success of Facebook.
The Good:
1. The three amigos: Eisenberg, Garfield and Timberlake. The main protagonists who played the film are perfectly cast that you could not put in another actor to play them.
Jesse Eisenberg plays and looks the part of a talented but brutal programmer who cares anything less but the recognition. This is captured in one scene when he is talking to Saverin announcing that they have made it as he looks on his group partying and drinking with his face speaking out that "nothing interests me here," look.
Andrew Garfield is the school boy who captures us with his innocence. This is best seen in one scene during the trial where he is accused of animal cruelty which could have tarnished the image of the company. His character was more concerned of what his father would think than the implications in the case. And his boiling out breaking the laptop scene makes us all drool of a complex Spiderman. Way to go for the new webslinger!
Justin Timberlake is the wild card and he actually gives me the best scene. A morning after one night stand and a girl asks her, "bet you do not know my name?" He musters a "Stanford?", obviously referring to the Stanford panties and in a minute goes on a tirade of all the girl's info. You have to see the scene to laugh out loud. Justin the boyband is no more, all hail the new asshole Justin.
2. David Fincher. We all knew he is an able director from shots though key holes in Panic Room to slow-mo fight scenes in Fight Club but he displays a skill here that other directors have yet to master. The boat chase scene is so intense that it looks and feel as if you are one of the rowers in the race.
3. The Story and the Dialogue. Enough said. This should have a minimum of five nominations alone: Best Actor (Eisenberg), Supporting (Garfield), film, direction and adapted screenplay. The pace is superb and you would not even notice that two hours have been eaten up.
I am always critical of how movie closes that I am happy that it did it that way. In the end we get a scene of Zuckerberg refreshing every second to see if he got the friend request from the girl who motivated him to make Facebook. It is really what the movie is all about, this one man's yearning for acceptance and the hardships he had to go through to prove his worth.
Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

November 4th, 2010 No comments
MTV of the 80s addicts, Nintendo boys tie your shoelaces, bring on your rock guitars and get ready to jam with Scott Pilgrim!

Yes, I get it, only a few will quite get the attention deficit, frame turning life of Scott Pilgrim. One minute it ventures into realism, the next minute you're transported into an out of this world comic book. Yes, it is literally a moving graphic novel, complete with the kapow! and kabaam! This what makes it special. More on this later.

The Plot:

Scott Pilgrim, young bassist player for a band based in Toronto, Canada, finds the girl of his dreams but to conquer her he has to defeat her seven evil exes. See, it is as simple as that!

The Good:
1. Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Yeah I said it, she was the driving point for me personally since I always had this schoolboy crush on her. From the sweetiee damsel in distress in several slasher films, MEW transforms into this pained broken character whose spontaneousness is a mystery. She changes her hair color once every one a half week for no reason at all and she has this poker faced look that still puts out a warmth that I can't explain.

2. The Seven Exes. A wide range of great actors to choose from here, there's Captain America himself in Chris Evans in one exhilarating skateboard from the top trick, the Man of Steel himself in Brandon Routh who is oddly enough is still a Vegan with powers and Jason Swchartzmann who reminds me of his obsessed self in Slackers.

3. The Soundtrack. The songs used in the film are original and catchy. I hope to download the album illegally over the next few days. Even the logo of Universal has very cute monotone to it.

The Bad:
1. Made for a crowd film. This will not appeal to people who have not grown up with MTV and Nintendo games cannot actually appreciate the 1-up and coins gained references. And some viewer may be lost in the shuffle of this attention deficit film. And yes, it is unreal, which to some point is tiresome and predictable.
Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

November 4th, 2010 No comments
MTV of the 80s addicts, Nintendo boys tie your shoelaces, bring on your rock guitars and get ready to jam with Scott Pilgrim!
Yes, I get it, only a few will quite get the attention deficit, frame turning life of Scott Pilgrim. One minute it ventures into realism, the next minute you're transported into an out of this world comic book. Yes, it is literally a moving graphic novel, complete with the kapow! and kabaam! This what makes it special. More on this later.
The Plot:
Scott Pilgrim, young bassist player for a band based in Toronto, Canada, finds the girl of his dreams but to conquer her he has to defeat her seven evil exes. See, it is as simple as that!
The Good:
1. Mary Elizabeth Winstead. Yeah I said it, she was the driving point for me personally since I always had this schoolboy crush on her. From the sweetiee damsel in distress in several slasher films, MEW transforms into this pained broken character whose spontaneousness is a mystery. She changes her hair color once every one a half week for no reason at all and she has this poker faced look that still puts out a warmth that I can't explain.
2. The Seven Exes. A wide range of great actors to choose from here, there's Captain America himself in Chris Evans in one exhilarating skateboard from the top trick, the Man of Steel himself in Brandon Routh who is oddly enough is still a Vegan with powers and Jason Swchartzmann who reminds me of his obsessed self in Slackers.
3. The Soundtrack. The songs used in the film are original and catchy. I hope to download the album illegally over the next few days. Even the logo of Universal has very cute monotone to it.
The Bad:
1. Made for a crowd film. This will not appeal to people who have not grown up with MTV and Nintendo games cannot actually appreciate the 1-up and coins gained references. And some viewer may be lost in the shuffle of this attention deficit film. And yes, it is unreal, which to some point is tiresome and predictable.
Categories: Uncategorized Tags:

Basilica Stained Glass 3

November 4th, 2010 No comments

jpibay posted a photo:

Basilica Stained Glass 3

Categories: Flickr, Multimedia, Pictures Tags: