Thursday, March 30, 2017

Coke ban a mockery of laissez-faire

“Free-market capitalism is a network of free and voluntary exchanges in which producers work, produce, and exchange their products for the products of others through prices voluntarily arrived at.” 
-- Murray N. Rothbard

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- Government, back off.
If it is better for business, by extension it is better for society as a whole.
Under the principle of laissez-faire, a French economic theory, business will be better off if there is less government involvement in free market capitalism.
Politicians in Negros Occidental, Philippines, composed mostly of sugar planters, are up in arms against Coca Cola, a beverage behemoth that manufactures Coke.
No less than Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo Marañon Jr. has ordered the banning of Coca Cola products during the "Panaad Festival" on April 22, 30, 2017.
Taking cue from the governor's bold move, Hinigaran Mayor Nadie Arceo followed suit by issuing an executive order banning Coca Cola products during the “Hinugyaw Festival" on April 20-30, 2017.
Unless Coca Cola will use local sugar instead of High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) as sweetener in its products, the ban will stay, it was reported.


Their message was loud and clear: they wanted to bring Coca Cola down on its knees.
They first signified their strong intention to lock horns with the softdrink company on March 20, 2017 when sugar planters led approximately 6,000 protesters in a rally in front of the offices of Coca-Cola Philippines in the province to denounce the company's use of HFCS, which they said is killing the sugar industry.
The Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) has issued Sugar Order No. 3  which places a cap on the entry of imported HFCS into the country and imposes stiff tariff and duties on the commodity.
Sugar Order No. 3, however, was countermanded by Department of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, who quipped: "I did not ask for the scrapping of Sugar Order No. 3 but simply recommended that it be held in abeyance pending the resolution of the issues raised by Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola which are legitimate businesses operating in the Philippines for so long now."
He added: "I believe that if things could be worked out, the sugar industry could get a bigger share of the sugar requirements of both Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola, thus getting a better deal."


Coca-Cola and Pepsi have heavily relied on the use of HFCS when the prices of local sugar doubled compared to that of sugar coming from other countries for the past five years. 
The underlying beliefs that make up the fundamentals of of laissez-faire economics include first and foremost that the natural world is a self-regulating system, and that natural regulation is the best type of regulation. 
Laissez-faire economists argue that because of this there is no need for the complicating involvement of government. 
Government involvement, according to this economic theory, would include any type of regulation, minimum wage, taxation, or oversight. 
Laissez-faire economists see taxation on companies as a penalty for production.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

My love affair with Big Apple's Central Park

"And the most unusual and surrealistic place in New York City is Central Park." 

"I just want to go through Central Park and watch folks passing by. Spend the whole day watching people. I miss that."
-- Barack Obama

"A great day in New York would be to wake up, get a cup of coffee and head up to Central Park for a nice walk. Then I'd go down to the East Village and stroll around. After that, maybe I'd go check out a museum or catch an indie film at the Angelika." 
-- Emmanuelle Chriqui

"My favorite place is Central Park because you never know what you're going to find there. I also like that when I look out the windows of surrounding hotels, it's seems like I'm looking out over a forest." 
--Haley Joel Osment

"Go for a walk through Central Park and stop at the Met. It's the best way to get a feel for what makes New York so special."
--Ivanka Trump

"It means a lot to be back in New York. Particularly since one of the last senior event scheduled in the States was supposed to be here in New York. We were supposed to play in Central Park right after 9-11 and when 9-11 happened obviously things changed."
--John McEnroe

"If you circle above Central Park at night in a helicopter, you're looking down at the most expensive real estate in the world. It's the American Monopoly board."
--Ridley Scott

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- Everybody loves the Central Park.
State leaders, beauty queens, sports icons, journalists, film makers, students, religious voyagers, rock stars, Hollywood heartthrobs, photographers, gangsters, comedians, ordinary folks.
I also fell in love with the Central Park. It was in the Central Park where I officially played my first serious tournament in chess -- active chess.
It was in the Central Park where I wrote some of my most memorable articles. 
For a while, Central Park was part of my life. I love the trees, the tall buildings that surround the area. I love the birds, the lakes and green grass. I can spend my time in the Central Park any day of the week if I am not busy. 

It was on July 21, 1853 when the New York State Legislature enacted into law the setting aside of more than 750 acres of land central to Manhattan Island to create America's first major landscaped public park; they would soon refer to it as "the Central Park." 
Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the winners of the 1858 design competition for Central Park, along with other socially conscious reformers understood that the creation of a great public park would improve public health and contribute greatly to the formation of a civil society. Immediately, the success of Central Park fostered the urban park movement, one of the great hallmarks of democracy of nineteenth century America.


By the early 20th century, vicissitudes of the social, political and economic climate reportedly threatened the fabric of the Park and caused its first serious decline. 
Robert Moses, park commissioner from 1934 to 1960, reportedly received federal funding for the restoration of many eroded landscapes and crumbling structures, and embarked on massive public programming for the post-Depression populace. 
When he left office, however, there was no management strategy for maintaining those improvements or educating Park visitors in proper stewardship, and for the next two decades the second -- and most devastating -- decline took its toll on the fragile 843-acre Park, the Central Park New York City disclosed.
Physically the Park was reportedly in a chronic state of decay. Meadows had become barren dustbowls; benches, lights, and playground equipment were broken, and the one-hundred-year-old infrastructure was crumbling. 
Socially, the Park bred a careless, even abusive attitude towards the Park evidenced by unchecked amounts of garbage, graffiti, and vandalism. Positive use had increasingly been displaced by illicit and illegal activity. The perception -- and in many cases, the reality -- of Central Park was of a lawless and dangerous ruin. Despite a workforce of over three hundred Parks Department employees assigned to Central Park, there was no accountability. New York City had abdicated their responsibility as Park stewards and, as a result, this national treasure became a national disgrace.
To help remedy this troubled situation, George Soros and Richard Gilder, under the aegis of the Central Park Community Fund, underwrote a management study of Central Park in 1974 by E.S. Savas, who was at that time the Columbia University School of Business, Professor of Public Systems Management. 


It was learned further that the groundbreaking study proposed that two important initiatives be implemented to ameliorate the conditions in Central Park: one, that a Chief Executive Officer be given "clear and unambiguous managerial authority" for all Park operations, and two, a Central Park Board of Guardians be created to oversee strategic planning and policy, thereby instituting private citizen involvement in their public park.
The study's first proposal reportedly resulted in the appointment in 1979 of Elizabeth "Betsy" Barlow (now Rogers), a Yale-educated urban planner and writer, who became the newly created Central Park administrator, charged with overseeing all aspects of the Park's daily operations, in essence the Chief Executive Officer recommended in the Savas study. 
For four years before her appointment, Betsy had been overseeing the Central Park Task Force's program for summer youth interns, eventually becoming the head of that small, private organization, financially separate from the City but existing under the aegis of the Parks Department.
Given her new official status and responsibilities as administrator, Betsy first conceived of and then helped to create a revolutionary public/private partnership with the support of then park commissioner Gordon Davis that would bring private monies and expertise in partnership with the City of New York to manage and restore Central Park. 


In 1980, the two most prominent private advocacy groups -- the Central Park Task Force and the Central Park Community Fund -- merged to become the Central Park Conservancy -- the citizen-based Board of Guardians that the Savas study had essentially recommended.
Under a Conservancy-funded master plan, the gradual restoration of those decrepit landscapes evolved, and success bred success. As the Conservancy showed its ability to protect and maintain its investment, many more private individuals, foundations and corporations put their trust and their money into the restoration of the Park. 
To date, the Conservancy has had three successful capital campaigns towards rebuilding Central Park. The first campaign was launched in 1987; the second, "The Wonder of New York Campaign," was launched when Richard Gilder made a challenge grant to the Conservancy and the City in 1993. 
The work was continued in the "Campaign for Central Park," which ended in 2008, ensuring the completion of the Park's transformation. Most importantly, for the first time in the Park's turbulent history, the Conservancy has created an endowment that will ensure a sustainable green and healthy future for Central Park.
In 1998 a historic management agreement between the Conservancy and the City of New York formalized the then 18-year public-private partnership. With that contract Douglas Blonsky, who began his career in 1985 in the Conservancy's Capital Projects office as a landscape architect supervising construction projects, assumed Betsy's title of Central Park administrator. 
In 2004 he assumed the additional role of president of the Conservancy and CEO, responsible for not only the Park's management but also all fundraising and administrative duties.
Blonsky created innovative management practices to ensure that those healthy new landscapes would have a skilled and dedicated staff to maintain them in a professional manner. 


His clear vision for a well-managed and well-maintained Park took the Conservancy's design and restoration vision one step further with the implementation of Zone Management System, which brought accountability, pride of workmanship, and clear and measurable results to the Conservancy and Parks Department staff under his jurisdiction. 
Under this pioneering system, the Park is divided into 49 geographic zones for managerial purposes, each headed by a zone gardener, who in turn supervises grounds technicians and volunteers.
The Park's restorations gradually fostered important social changes in public behavior that returned the sanctity of public space to Central Park and ultimately to New York City at large. 
The American ideal of a great public park and its importance as a place to model and shape public behavior and enhance the quality of life for all its citizens once again defines the measurement of a great municipality. 
Towards this goal, the Conservancy was first in its demonstration of zero tolerance for both garbage and graffiti. An immediate call to action came when even the slightest sign of vandalism appeared in the Park -- a busted lamppost or broken bench, for example -- and became the tipping point, that turned public opinion of Central Park from one of dire repulsion to one of deep respect.
Today Central Park has never been more beautiful or better managed in the Park's 156-year history, and the Conservancy is proud to be the leader of the Park's longest period of sustained health and beauty. 
To date the Conservancy has raised over $875 million towards the restoration, programming and management of Central Park and is responsible for 75 percent of this year's annual operating budget of $67 million. 
Furthermore, just as Central Park was the leader in the birth of urban parks, so today Central Park, through the Conservancy's innovative care and expertise, is the leader in the rebirth of urban parks, public spaces and the quality of life movement. 
City officials and park professionals from across America and around the world come to the Central Park Conservancy Institute for Urban Parks to learn of its best practices to restore and manage their local parks. 

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Chinua Achebe and our own 'Digong'

"Remember that politics, colonialism, imperialism and war also originate in the human brain."
--Vilayanur S. Ramachandran

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- "You crazies and sons of a whore leave us alone. Don't impose your culture on us."

President Rodrigo "Digong" Duterte's curt message to the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) is also an attack on a lingering colonialism in the criticism of his administration's bloody assault on narcotics by non-Filipinos.
Duterte wanted to emphasize his method to eviscerate peddlers and--to some extent--users of illegal drugs is none of the business of outsiders.
The Filipinos make their own laws, the Filipinos implement their laws.
The piling up of bodies in the streets is a byproduct of Duterte's all-out war against illegal drugs, his campaign promise that earned him 16 million votes in the 2016 presidential elections.
Duterte thus became the Philippines' version of Chinua Achebe. What Achebe is in literature, Duterte is in politics.


A well-known Nigerian novelist and critic, Chinua Achebe has produced numerous novels, short stories, and critical essays over the past decades.
His essay "Colonialist Criticism" is an attack on a lingering colonialism in the criticism of African literature by non-Africans. The African writer writes the text or 'they produce literature, their literature goes to Europeans for analysis. Every African literature has to get thought the grids of European writers.
Born on November 16, 1930 in Ogidi, Anambra and died on March 21, 2013 in Boston, Massachusetts, Achebe's best known critical essay is a discussion of racism in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, which he gave originally as a lecture at the University of Massachusetts in 1975 and is reprinted in Hopes and Impediments.
It evoked both high praise and strong antipathy on the spot and has given rise to further discussion and response as questions of racism and colonialsm have been more vigorously debated.
Given originally as a lecture at a meeting of the Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies at Makerere University, Uganda, it is an attack on lingering colonialism in the criticism of African literature, mainly but not entirely by non-Africans.


The faults of this criticism stem from implied assumptions that the African writer is a "somewhat unfinished European" and that somehow outsiders can know Africa better than the native writers.
These assumptions lead to, among other things, the specious man-of-the-worlds theory of the African intellectual and imply a continued European arrogance
Achebe's principal theoritical point involves his rejection of universalism, represented by critical statements that generalize the particularity out of African literature.
The two problems of universalism, according to Achebe, are, first, that the presumed universality that critics find is merely a synonym for the "narrow self-serving parochialism of Europe" and, second, that every literature must "speak of a particular place, evolve out of the necessities  of its history, past and current, and the aspirations and destiny of its people."


It would seem, then, that if there is to be a concrete universal in African literature it must stem from a much deeper human source than any parochial view can uncover.
But Achebe doesn't say this. Rather, his concentration in on the particular alone, for he puts literature, at least his writings, in service of the need to alter specific things in specific places, especially attitudes.
It is in this context that Achebe defends the "high moral and social earnestness" of Christopher Okigbo (the Philippines' version of Graciano Lopez-Jaena) against the charge of outspokenness.
Achebe's point is that earnestness is appropriate to Okigbo's and his situation and that a certain levity would be inappropriate.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Iloilo businesses can't fire workers yet

"Labor disgraces no man; unfortunately, you occasionally find men who disgrace labor." 
-- Ulysses S. Grant

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- The desire of the man is for the woman, but the desire of the woman is for the desire of the man. Thus was one of Germaine Necker de Stael-Holstein's most famous quotes.
From her detention cell, Senator Leila de Lima continued to actively participate in public discussions involving critical issues in government by distributing hand-written notes to media and other concerned agencies.
De Lima reminds us of Germaine Necker de Stael-Holstein, daughter of the French statesman Jacques Necker, whose dismissal as director of finances by Louis XVI led to the fall of the Bastille.
Like De Lima, Madame de Stael, as she was usually called, was involved in politics through her affairs with famous men, her spirited opposition to Napoleon (which earned her banishment from Paris), and her own writings.


De Lima continued to fiscalize the modern Napoleon--President Rodrigo Duterte--behind bars; she is still very much active in national debates through her hard-hitting hand-written notes.
A child of the Enlightenment, de Stael saw the relation of literature and society as one of mutual influence under the presumption of "the slow but continual march of the human mind in philosophy and its rapid but interrupted progress in the arts.
In her time, de Stael saw the French Revolution produce violence, tyranny, and eventually Napoleon, whom she wrote about critically in Considerations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution (1816).
She remembers first meeting Napoleon: "...when I was somewhat recovered from the confusion of admiration, a very strong sense of fear followed."
Nevertheless, it was de Stael who years later, after Napoleon had exiled her, warned him of a plot on his life.


UNDER the law, Iloilo businesses aren't supposed to lay off workers if the reason is primarily to cushion the impact of the new wage increase, which took effect on March 16.
If the wage increase is under appeal, business establishments can't fire their employees yet.
Iloilo Business Club (IBC) Executive Director Lea Lara reportedly considered as a "heavy burden to businesses" the P15 to P25 daily minimum wage increase for private sector workers in Western Visayas and Negros Occidental.
The National Wages and Productivity Commission (NWPC) has approved Wage Order No. 23, which was submitted by the Regional Tripartite Wages and Productivity Board (RTWPB-6) to the commission on Feb. 15, as announced the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE-6) on March 1.
Because of this, the only way to cut costs and to survive is for employers to lay off at least two in every 10 employees mostly in service-related businesses, Lara stressed.
In the same breath, Lara disclosed that Iloilo businessmen filed an appeal before the RTWPB-6 on March 10.


Under the law, it shall be mandatory for the Commission to decide such appeal within sixty calendar days from the filing thereof.
From March 10, sixty calendar days falls on June 9, 2017.
Art. 123 on Wage Order on DOLE's Conditions of Employment states, to wit: "The filing of the appeal does not stay the order unless the person appealing such order shall file with the Commission, an undertaking with a surety or sureties satisfactory to the Commission for the payment to the employees affected by the order of the corresponding increase, in the event such order is affirmed. (As amended by Republic Act No. 6727, June 9, 1989)"
During the public hearings and consultations, representatives from the workers and the Iloilo businesses had all the chances to demand from the Regional Board to consider some relevant factors in the determination of such regional minimum wages.
These are: The demand for living wages; wage adjustment vis-à-vis the consumer price index; the cost of living and changes or increases therein; the needs of workers and their families.
Also, the need to induce industries to invest in the countryside; improvements in standards of living; the prevailing wage levels; fair return of the capital invested and capacity to pay of employers; effects on employment generation and family income; and the equitable distribution of income and wealth along the imperatives of economic and social development.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Google it, kapitan

"Social media is not about the exploitation of technology but service to community." 
-- Simon Mainwaring

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- We won't be surprised if President Rodrigo Duterte will next invite detained Senator Leila de Lima to dinner after Vice President Leni Robredo.
The President might also invite in the future his chief critic, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, and all those who have tasted real terror from his cussing and threats.
It's another story if they accept the invitation.
After all, Judas dined with Jesus. Voltaire had a sumptuous meal with Catherine the Great.
The President has always been unpredictable. 
Let's give him the benefit of the doubt.
The right had accused him of siding with the left when he allegedly made a "sweetheart deal" with Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Ma. Sison during the campaign period.
But when President Duterte terminated the peace talks with the rebels, their doubts about his being a pro-communist were gone.


LEADERS of the smallest political unit in the Philippines are in the news nowadays now that there is a proposal that instead of electing them in October, President Rodrigo Duterte intends to just appoint 340,000 of them nationwide.
The number includes both the village chiefs or barangay chairs and council members.
The proposed appointment process is facing major legal obstacles, but whether they will be appointed or elected, it's certain, barring unforeseen circumstances, that we will have new or reelected barangay leaders before end of the year. 
We suggest to all those aspiring to become village chiefs to at least study the rudiments of technology.
It may not be mandatory for them to have college degrees, but in this age, they have to be at least technology-literate. Especially those living in urban areas.
Everything is now operated by technology -- communication, transportation, monitoring systems, financial transactions, among other basic necessities and services.
They can expedite their transactions and important messages to their constituents, their mayors, and the police if they are updated with the latest wonders of technology.


Our village leaders will be left behind--and basic services will be delayed and stymied--if they don't even know how to use or operate a smartphone, a mobile phone that performs many of the functions of a computer, typically having a touchscreen interface, Internet access, and an operating system capable of running downloaded applications.
There are instances when village officials can't immediately rely on their secretaries like when a visitor suddenly goes directly to them to inquire about some important information.
With the use of Google in their laptops, tablets, or mobile gadgets, the matter is addressed with alacrity and dispatch.  
It's understandable though that there are incumbent village officials in far-flung barangays, or in places with no electricity and concrete roads, who haven't even touched a computer.

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Mother)

Never marry a man who hates his mother, because he’ll end up hating you.

Only a freak will hate his mother. It’s better to marry a toothless comedian or a cross-eyed circus hooligan than to risk your future sleeping with a freak.

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Communication)

I wish people who have trouble communicating would just shut up.

Without saying anything, nobody will notice our stupidity.

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Mother)

Never marry a man who hates his mother, because he’ll end up hating you.

Only a freak will hate his mother. It’s better to marry a toothless comedian or a cross-eyed circus hooligan than to risk your future sleeping with a freak.

We must always remember this...

WE MUST ALWAYS REMEMBER THIS: Older adults who keep busy with hobbies live longer, happier, and healthier lives. Gardening, nature walks, and all types of dance fuel the spirit and strengthen the body.
God gives us a loving spirit so we can become a whole person, not just gifted with a mind that can understand but with a heart that truly care. 

FILTER IT AWAY. The human body requires at least 1 gallon of water a day. If we are considering stocking up on emergency supplies, let's bear in mind that plastic bottles are thought to leach chemicals into the water if left for a length of time. Let's save space and the environment by stocking up on water filters instead.

WELCOME THE WIND. Many products can cause air pollution to build up in our home, including modern cleaners, which contain strong chemicals. Let's make sure to ventilate our home well, ensuring a through-flow of air to help reduce pollution levels and encourage good ventilation.

ATOMS CANNOT BE SEEN. To show that the world was made of particles a million times smaller than objects visible to the naked eye was so difficult that their existence was not established beyond reasonable doubt until the end of the nineteenth century.

GOLD. The price of gold was first standardized in late 1717 by Sir Isaac Newton, then England's Master of the Mint. In coins and later as backing for paper money, it fluctuated with world crises and market forces. After 1971, when the dominant U.S. dollar was no longer tied to gold, the metal became a freely traded, often volatile, commodity. (National Geographic)

JEWELRY. Jewelry dominates gold consumption. The metal is also critical in electronics as an efficient, noncorroding conductor; gold-backed investment funds are growing. (National Geographic)

STRANDED IN THE SKY . The first animal to join the endangered species list because of climate change was the polar bear. The next may be the American pika. These rabbit relatives spend summers scampering around mountaintop boulder fields, gathering plants to store for winter meals and ducking under rocks to hide from eagles and weasles.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Woman, what do you want?

"The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is 'What does a woman want?'" 

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY – The research made for over 20 years by Evelyn Reed (1905-1979) on Woman’s Evolution, the book dubbed as “an impressive and absorbing reconstruction of human history” by Sociology, will give us a profound understanding why she became a veteran socialist.
Reed takes us on a million-year expedition through prehistory from cannibalism to culture, and covers the world of the ancient matriarchy.
Tracing the origins of the “incest taboo,” blood rites, marriage, and the family, she reveals the leading role women once played. 
By pinpointing the relatively recent factors that led to patriarchal domination, she offers a fresh insight into the issues raised by today’s feminist movement—and refutes the myth that “human nature” is to blame for the male supremacy, greed, wars, and inequalities of modern society.
According to Reed, the early history of half the human species—womankind—has largely been hidden from view. 
“To bring it to light requires a reinvestigation of anthropology, where the role and accomplishments of women in prehistoric society are buried,” she explains. 
Her book is a contribution to unveiling that remarkable record.


She stresses that the resurgence of the women’s liberation movement in the 70’s has thrown the spotlight on certain dubious assumptions and disputed questions regarding the past. 
Foremost among these is the subject of the matriarchy. Reed asks, “Was there a period in history when women held a highly esteemed and influential place? 
If so, how did they lose their social eminence and become the subordinate sex in patriarchal society? 
Or is the matriarchy, as some say, a myth that has no historical basis?”
She contends that the matriarchy is one of the most hotly contested issues in a hundred-year controversy between contending schools in anthropology. 
Reed’s book affirms that the maternal clan system was the original form of social organization and explains why. 
It also traces the course of its development and the causes of its downfall. 
Such partisanship on the side of the matriarchy would alone make her book controversial. 
But it contains other challenges to long-held opinions on prehistoric society.
“Disagreements are to be expected in a field that covers so vast a stretch of human evolution, extending from the birth of our species to the threshold of civilization, and where the available data derived from biology, archeology, and anthropology is fragmentary and uncoordinated,” Reed writes.


Anthropology was founded as a distinct science in the middle of the 19th century. 
Most of the founding fathers (women entered the profession only later) had an evolutionary approach. Reed says Morgan, Taylor, and other pioneers regarded anthropology as the study of the origin of society and the material forces at work in its progress. 
They made brilliant beginnings in illuminating the main stages in human development.
Reed says Morgan delineated three great epochs of social evolution—from savagery through barbarism to civilization. Each was marked off by decisive advances in the level of economic activity. 
The most rudimentary stage, savagery, was based on hunting and food-gathering. 
Barbarism began with food production through agriculture and stock-raising. 
Civilization crowned the development of the ancient world by bringing it to the point of commodity production and exchange.
These three epochs, she explains, were of extremely unequal duration. Savagery is sometimes differentiated into an earlier “primeval” and a later “primitive” stage, both of these rested upon a hunting and gathering economy. Savagery had a span of million-odd years, comprising more than 99 percent of human existence. 
Barbarism began about 8,000 years ago; civilization only three thousand years ago.


The early investigators of savage society, to their own surprise, came upon a social structure totally different from ours, adds Reed.
“They found a clan and tribal system based on material kinship and in which women played a leading role,” she elaborates. 
“This stood out in sharp contrast with modern society which features the father-family and male supremacy. Although they were unable to tell how far back the maternal system went, we propose to show that it dates from the beginning of humankind.”
They made other astonishing discoveries. 
They observed that savage society had egalitarian social and sexual relations, arising from collective production and communal possession of property.
Reed says these features too were at odds with modern society, based on private property and class divisions. 
Thus the maternal clan system, which gave an honored place to women, was also a collectivist order where the members of both sexes enjoyed equality and did not suffer oppression or discrimination.
“Subsequently, these discoveries evoked doubts and resistance from the schools of anthropology that became dominant in the 20th century,” Reed points out. 
“There arose a deep division between evolutionists and anti-evolutionists that has persisted to the present day. It is only through the evolutionary approach, however, that the concealed history of women –and of men—can be uncovered.”


The principle of universal evolution had already been applied to the problem of the genesis of Homo sapiens with the publication in 1871 of Charles Darwin’s book The Descent of Man.
After he demonstrated that the earliest sub-humans, the hominoids, arose out of the anthropoids, the question was posed: How did this transformation come out? In the following decades, biology, archeology, paleontology, and anthropology jointly assisted in the detective work required to clarify this problem.
Reed’s book adheres to the evolutionary and materialist method in utilizing these findings. 
It also presents a new theory about totemism and taboo, among the most enigmatic institutions of primeval and primitive society. 
Anthropologists of all persuasions have held the view that the ancient taboo on sexual intercourse with certain relatives, like our own taboo, arose out of a universal fear of incest. 
Reed’s book challenges that assumption. The ancient taboo existed—but it was primarily directed against the perils of cannibalism in the hunting epoch.


Reed says the elimination of the theory of a universal incest taboo removes one of the most serious obstacles to understanding other savage institutions, such as the classificatory system of kinship, exogamy and endogamy, segregation of the sexes, rules of avoidance, blood revenge, the gift-exchange system, and the dual organization of the tribe. 
It clears the way toward an understanding of how society arose--and why it arose in no other from than the material clan system or matriarchy.
“The question of the matriarchy is decisive in establishing whether or not the modern father-family has always existed. The very structure of the material clan system precluded it,” Reed explains. 
“Instead of being the basic social unit from time immemorial, as most anthropologists contend, it is a late arrival in history, appearing only at the beginning of the civilized epoch.” 

An immense organism

“All through my boyhood I had a profound conviction that I was no good, that I was wasting my time, wrecking my talents, behaving with monstrous folly and wickedness and ingratitude–and all this, it seemed, was inescapable, because I lived among laws which were absolute, like the law of gravity, but which it was not possible for me to keep.” 
--GEORGE ORWELL, A Collection of Essays

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- In a follow up to his ground-breaking book Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, James Lovelock, an independent scientist and inventor, describes, for both scientists and non-scientists, his new theory of evolution.
He explains how the appearance of life on Earth nearly four billion years ago irreversibly changed our planet so that life and the material Earth evolved together as a single system, Gaia, and not separately as conventionally taught.
Lovelock explains his inspirational Gaia theory in detail and outlines the history of the Earth from a geophysiologist’s point of view, from the first signs of life in the Archean to the present day.
He also warns of the damage man is causing to natural ecosystems as well as the physical threats of greenhouse gases and depletion of the ozone layer to our planet.
In a forward note, Dr. Lewis Thomas, editor of The Commonwealth Fund Book Program, emphasizes that “most working scientists have an awareness and respect for the history of the fields in which they labor, but what they generally have in mind is a series of endeavors strung through the volumes of their specialized journals that are still held in the library stacks–not at all the much longer stretch of time and work that professional scholars would require for a proper history of science.”


According to Thomas, it is not that researchers have short memories, but that “they learn and retain only the events that set their fields atremble in the first place.”
“And for most of science these days, perhaps all of it, the great changes that launched this century’s vast transformation of human knowledge began within this century, or at least seemed to,” Thomas explains. “The modern postdoctoral student in a laboratory engaged in molecular biology, for instance, feels no dependence on generations of forebears more than 20 years back.
“The contemporary physics may track their ideas back almost a century, to the beginnings of quantum theory, but it is the concepts emerging in only the past decade that are regarded as the real history. The cosmologists are out on totally new ground, looking in amazement at strange, unanticipated kinds of space and time, making educated guesses at phenomena far beyond the suburban solar system or the local galaxy, even speculating about universe bubbling out at the boundaries of this one.”


The editor believes that “we are, quite literally, in a new world, a much more peculiar place than it seemed a few centuries back, harder to make sense of, riskier to speculate about, and alive with information which is becoming more accessible and bewildering at the same time. It sometimes seems that there is not just more to be learned, there is everything to be learned.”
He points out that “this is far from the general public view of the matter, as reflected in the science sections of newspapers and newsmagazines. The non-scientific layman tends to take technology to be so closely linked to science as to be the center of the enterprise. The progress of science and that of technology seem to be all of a piece–machines, electronics, computer chips, Mars landing, nonbiodegradable plastics, the ozone hole, the bomb, all the rest of what now looks like twentieth century culture.”
What is so clearly seen is the newness of the scientific information itself, the strangeness, and, where meaning is to be discerned, the meaning, Thomas stresses. “There is a great difference between the intellectual product of modern science and the various technologies that are sometimes (nothing like as frequently as the public might guess) derived from that product.”


The books in this series represent an attempt to clarify this distinction, as well as to provide a closer look at what goes on in the minds of scientists as they go about their work, says Thomas.
He concludes: “The book by James Lovelock describes a set of observations about the life of our planet which may, one day, be recognized as one of the major discontinuities in human thought. If Lovelock turns out to be as right in his view of things as I believe he is, we will be viewing the Earth as a coherent system of life, self-regulating, self-changing, a sort of immense organism.
“This is not likely, in my opinion, to lead directly or indirectly to any specific piece of new technology to be put to use, although it may very well begin to influence, in new and gentler ways, the other sorts of technology we might be selecting for use in the future.”

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Who's telling a lie in the Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge project?

"It is not good to cross the bridge before you get to it."
 --Judi Dench

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- It's a white lie.
I have serious misgivings on reports that Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar had "confirmed" to Mayor Eugene Reyes of Buenavista, Guimaras that the construction of the much-ballyhooed Panay-Guimaras-Negros or Western Visayas bridge "will start under the Duterte administration."
If Villar did say this, then he is phony. 
Politician Villar only probably wanted to take fellow politician Reyes for a ride. 
Without a latest feasibility study, how can a project begin?
Can a cart move ahead of the horse?
To add confusion, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA-6) Regional Director Ro-Ann Bacal reportedly said that the construction of the inter-island bridge "is among the priority projects of the DPWH."
The proposed Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge is not among the priority projects of the DPWH this year, madame director.
Therefore, there can be no construction in the radar this year and in 2018.
It's actually back to dreamland.


When Villar lobbied for DPWH's P458.61-billion budget for 2017 before the House Committee on Appropriations in August 2016, the Western Visayas bridge was not among those listed in the country's "most ambitious infrastructure program" Villar enumerated that would benefit from the expanded budget (the amount is P61 billion higher than last year's P397.108 budget.).
DPWH's priority projects are the following: Taal Lake Circumferential Road, San Nicolas-Sta Teresita, Alitagtag, Batangas; Gurel-Bukod-Kabayan-Buguias Road (leading to Mt Pulag, Bulalacao Lakes, Kabayan Mummies), Bokod, Kabayan and Buguias, Benguet; Cagaray Circumferential Road, Bacacay, Albay leading to Misibis Resort and white beaches in Albay; Tatay-El Nido Road, Palawan; Jct (Tagbilaran East Road, TER) Guindulman-Anda-Badiang Cogtong -Road leading to beaches and resorts, Anda, Bohol; Borongan, Llorente Closed Canopy Forest Area, Maydolong, Eastern Samar; and Island Garden City of Samal Circumferential Road, Davao del Norte.
NAIA Expressway; Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway; NLEX Harbor Link, Segment 10; Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3; Plaridel By-Pass Road, Phase II; NLEX Harbor Link, Segment 8.2; Central Luzon Link Expressway - PHase I (Tarlac-Cabanatuan); Cavite-Laguna Expressway; SLEX TR4, Sto Tomas-Lucena; C6 - Phase I, Southeast Metro Manila Expressway; and NLEX-SLEX Connector Road.
Also, Candon City By-Pass Road, Ilocos Sur; Laoag City By-Pass Road, Ilocos Norte; Plaridel By-Pass Road, Phase II; Carcar By-Pass Road, Carcar City, Cebu; Palo West By-Pass Road, Palo, Leyte; Tacloban City By-Pass Road, Leyte; Cotabato City East Diversion Road; Alae By-Pass Road; and Davao City By-Pass Construction Project, Mindanao.
There's no Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge project on the list, which would have eaten up an estimated 30 percent of the DPWH national budget.
Villar did mention, however, that his department was "studying the feasibility of proposed P21.67 billion Panay-Guimaras-Negros Island Bridge Project."


The inter-island bridge project, conceptualized way back during the term of President Fidel V. Ramos, doesn't have a detailed budget yet despite the spirited lobbying of the Regional Development Council (RDC) and almost all congressmen and women.
There's also a misconception that China, which maintains a shaky relationship with the Philippines owing to its repeated intrusion in the Panatag Shoal, will fund the project that could cost up to an estimated P65 billion.
What Chinese Vice Minister Fu Ziying of the Ministry of Commerce and Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez had agreed, and which was covered by a memorandum of agreement (MOA) in their March 18, 2017 meeting, was for the Chinese government to help fund the feasibility studies of at least two of the nine Philippine projects China had pledged to support.
A feasibility study does not commence the construction of any project.
Last year during the Aquino administration, the government had also sought the help of South Korea to fund the project's feasibility study, as revealed by Senator Franklin Drilon, to no avail.


Experts, meanwhile, have cautioned the Philippine government of the scale of risks in the provisions of megaprojects like the 23.19-kilometer-long Western Visayas bridge.
Nicanor R. Roxas, Jr., who drafted the Cost Overruns and the Proposed Panay-Guimaras-Negros Inter-Island Bridge Project, confirmed that the Western Visayas bridge project has been studied by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and DPWH with varying projected costs and designs. 
The costs reportedly range from P53 billion in 1999, P28.5 billion in 2010, and P54 billion in 2011.
"This just reflects the uncertainties in cost estimation for this kind of project. Different designs and alignments have different associated costs, but even if everything has been finalized, there is still no guarantee that costs will not change. Unforeseen problems will be encountered along the way, and together with these problems are unpredicted cost adjustments that pile up resulting in large cost overruns," Roxas warned. 


He added: "The Philippines does not have any experience in constructing a project of such magnitude. Thus, we have no formula for success, just like most of the other failed projects completed in the past."
Roxas explained that "it is easier to enumerate projects that failed than projects which have succeeded. Therefore, it does not look promising and all the more the need to look into the experience of others in megaproject construction. It is clear that the effects of megaproject provision are extensive. If the megaproject construction fails, which is highly probable, other sectors are getting adversely affected."
Roxas, a master of engineering specializing in Transportation Engineering from Chulalongkorn University, Thailand and member of the Transportation Science Society of the Philippines (TSSP) and the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE), further warned that "it does not look promising and all the more the need to look into the experience of others in megaproject construction."

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Kindness)

"A good person knows how to acknowledge kindness and will always pay it forward. Kindness bestowed upon a bad person is also necessary in order to reform and educate him."

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Personal Tragedy)

"When we are unable to come to terms with a personal tragedy, our emotions are ship-wrecked and are not capable of unloading normal signs. We become susceptible."

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Kindness, Generosity)

"We must never abuse the kindness and generosity of our friends and even relatives. Once is enough. Two is too much. Three is catastrophe. We can't afford to lose them."

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Love)

"Love is the sunlight that sparks life to our heart. When we harbor bitterness and hatred, we are asking for dark clouds to hover around us so that our heart will suffocate."

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Adulthood)

"Many adults want to revert back to being children and wish to remain there forever. This is the reason why some of their primary hobbies are collecting negative thoughts, committing mischievous acts when nobody is watching, and engaging in joyless activities where the end game is tears."

Monday, March 20, 2017

HIV test for inmates

"HIV infection and AIDS is growing - but so too is public apathy. We have already lost too many friends and colleagues."
--David Geffen

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- HIV cases are reportedly on the rise once again especially in Philippine jails and rehabilitation centers.
Chito, a "floor manager" in a night club on J.M. Basa St., Iloilo City in the Philippines, once confirmed he was infected with sexually transmitted disease (STD) after a brief stint in a Pavia town district jail.
"I was a victim of sexual abuse by my fellow inmates," confessed Chito, who was nabbed for illegal possession of shabu together with a female friend, a former capitol employee, in Molo district.
Chito confirmed that gay inmates like him "are always in the receiving end when abusive sexual predators strike inside the jail." 
From STD, the likes of Chito could be infected with HIV if not immediately given proper medical attention while behind bars, said the late Dr. Rodolfo Jara-Mesa, an STD specialist.


Chito's case crossed my mind after it was reported recently that a Quezon City inmate died of full-blown Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). 
The victim was reportedly one of the three inmates infected with the deadly virus. The other one had been released from jail, while the third had been transferred to an undisclosed detention cell.
The identities of other HIV-positive inmates have always been kept confidential and even the mayores or cell leaders did not know them.
Because of the incident, jail authorities have distributed condoms to Quezon City inmates. With the help of the Department of Health, other jails are expected to follow suit to curb the spread of the virus among sexually active inmates.
We call on the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) to make HIV testing mandatory for inmates in congested detention cells aside from the distribution of condoms.


Condoms may be considered as "an ounce of prevention", but mandatory HIV-testing could be the most effective means to save the patients before everything will be too late. 
Data obtained by the Philippine Information Agency-Iloilo (PIA-Iloilo) from the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (RESU) of DOH-6, meanwhile, showed that Western Visayas is ranked sixth among all the regions in the country in terms of newly diagnosed cases per region.
Reports quoted DOH-6 Regional Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Nurse Coordinator Christine Mosqueda as saying that "Region 6 registered three percent of the HIV cases in the country."
Mosqueda pointed to a data in Western Visayas in December 2016, where every 19 hours a person was reportedly diagnosed with HIV.


The report added: "Majority of these cases are males with 432, while the remaining 19 are females. A total of 226 cases belong to the age group 25 to 34 years old; 134 cases are under the 15 to 24 years old age range and one case is a child below 15 years old. In the nationwide scale, a total of 9,264 cases were recorded for the period December to January 2016. Of the figure, 1,113 are full blown AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) cases while 8,151 are asymptomatic."
Meanwhile, we laud the National Youth Commission (NYC) for holding a free HIV testing for all youngsters in its central office in Quezon City, Philippines on March 20 as confirmed by Commissioner for Visayas Rhea Penaflor.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Ilonggo solons not (yet) rubber stamps

"Enjoy your time in public service. It may well be one of the most interesting and challenging times of your life."
--Donald Rumsfeld

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- Even members of the Iloilo City Council are getting annoyed and embarrassed that Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog has become the most favorite punching bag of President Rodrigo Duterte each time the president unleashed his irascible wrath against some Liberal Party (LP) bigwigs.
So alarmed and disturbed were the city aldermen and women that they are now willing to help Mabilog collate the city government's programs and/or accomplishments against illegal drugs and make a common stand.
They, too, must be hurting while seeing Mabilog reeling from absurd allegations that the city mayor, ranked No. 5 in the World Mayor two years ago, is a protector of merchants of prohibited substance.
Guided by an impermeable moral compass, the city councilors, led by Vice Mayor Jose III Espinosa, must have felt they could no longer afford to sit down and act like kibitzers while Mabilog was being pounded from pillar to post by a heavy bone-crusher.


We still have faith with our representatives from Western Visayas in the Philippines even if their independence was recently subjected into a microscopic sleuthing by some impatient constituents who thought their unanimous yes votes for death penalty was a tell tale sign of their implied subservience to the Duterte administration.
As if their acid test was not enough, our congressmen and women will again be tested in at least two major issues that will soon be tackled in congress: the impeachment cases versus President Rodrigo Duterte (already filed) and Vice President Leni Robredo (still being floated).
If they reject both impeachment cases (granting that an impeachment case will be officially filed against Robredo), their constituents will never badger them. Life must go on.
Ilonggos are known to always decry any attempt to destabilize the incumbent administration. If any of the two--Duterte and Robredo--will be removed from office, a power vacuum can't guarantee a sustained or immediate political and economic stability. 


If government is on wobbly legs, life for Filipinos will not be normal. 
Nobody would want to have this kind of environment especially if our priority is to provide our children with three square meals a day and send them to school.
If our solons will reject one impeachment and support another, their constituents will suspect that they are playing political favorites and are not taking their mandates seriously.
The Ilonggo constituents will be watching you, Reps. Sharon Garin (Ang Asosasyon Sang Manguguma Nga Bisaya-OWA Mangunguma Inc.);  Atty. Jerry Trenas (Iloilo City); Richard Garin (Iloilo, 1st District); Arcadio Gorriceta (Iloilo, 2nd District); Atty. Arthur Defensor Jr. (Iloilo, 3rd District); Dr. Ferjenel Biron (Iloilo, 4th District); Raul Tupas (Iloilo, 5th District); and Maria Lucille Nava (Guimaras).

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Pure Heart)

Great thoughts and a pure heart, that is what we should ask from God.

Since we are not machines, God will listen if we also ask for our daily bread. However, we should not stop from asking alone. We must move our butts and be creative and productive. The daily bread will only come if we help ourselves first. 

Alex P. Vidal Quotes (Good Life)

Not life, but good life, is to be chiefly valued.

We must, first and foremost, celebrate life as a gift from God. To pursue a good life, our chief aperitif should be to strengthen our moral and spiritual fibers. Our destiny--whether we create it or we let it create us--follows next.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Duterte wants to hurt Drilon, not Mabilog

"I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend."
--Thomas Jefferson

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- It is becoming obvious that in repeatedly tormenting Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog with unfounded accusations that the Ilonggo mayor is engaged in narco-politics, President Rodrigo Duterte's real target is Senator Franklin Drilon.
For the nth time, the president, without any solid proof, mentioned Mabilog's alleged involvement in illegal drugs--out of the blue.
The president also reportedly erroneously referred to Mabilog anew as the "cousin" of slain drug lord Melvin "Boyet" Odicta Sr.
He was actually aware that Mabilog is Drilon's second cousin.
President Duterte must have read Law 46 of Robert Greene's 48 Laws of Power that states: "Never appear too perfect!---Only gods and the dead can seem perfect with impunity."
But in making Mabilog as veritable punching bag, the president unwittingly "violates" the book's Law 19 which exhorts that "Know who you are dealing with---do not offend the wrong person." 


Aside from having been marked as the chief ally of defeated Liberal Party (LP) presidential bet Mar Roxas, President Duterte considers Drilon as a colossal obstacle in the measures and programs that he intends to introduce in the senate.
As one of the most senior members of the minority bloc and a former senate boss to boot, Drilon still has the respect of his peers and wields influence on many of those in the majority bloc.
In the soon-to-be-debated death penalty bill, for instance, Drilon is expected to fight tooth and nail, along with fellow LP and some "independent" senators to oppose it.
The president must be jittery that Drilon, et al could derail or even steamroll his pet bills and other programs once they reach in the upper chamber.
Mr. Duterte appears to have succeeded in transforming the House of Representatives into his toy soldiers courtesy of the iron-grip tactics employed by Speaker Pantaleon "Bebot" Alvarez.


He is also poised, God forbid, to possibly get a ballroom dance with the judiciary with the recent appointments of Supreme Court Associate Justices Samuel Martires and Noel Tijam.
We are not saying though that the president could now solidly hold the courts in the scrotum, but it looks like only the senate has become the Last of the Mohicans.
Aside from Sen. Drilon,  Senators Antonio Trillanes IV, Bam Aquino, Francis Pangilinan, Panfilo Lacson, Riza Hontiveros, and detained Leila de Lima could still give the president a potential migraine.
The same senators did not join the dinner party with the president held in Malacañang on March 14.
A dream grand slam or political coup de grace may be impossible to attain if Drilon, et al are not neutralized.

Suicide a hoax; I'm OK-You're OK

"I need more sex, OK? Before I die I wanna taste everyone in the world." 

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- Before my late friend Edwin's shocking disclosure of Dr. Thomas Harris' alleged suicide came, my philosopher-lawyer friend Ernie Dayot, 84, had already recommended the book, I'm OK-You're OK, in mid 90's in Iloilo City, Philippines.
Edwin was a poetry writer and once did a publicity for future Ilonggo youngest billionaire Edgar Sia II's businesses in Iloilo City.
Dayot, the "Socrates of Iloilo," goaded me to read the book written by Harris and compare the views of Segmund Freud, Somerset Maugham, and Eric Berne (founder of Transactional Analysis) on the impression of human nature, which has been expressed mythologically, philosophically, and religiously.
Meanwhile, I found out that Harris' suicide was a hoax. 
The American psychiatrist from Sacramento, California died of natural cause on May 6, 1995, not of suicide. I failed to correct Edwin, who died in 2008.


Harris translated startling theories into easily-understood language and adapted key ingredients of successful behavior change into practical advice, after helping countless numbers of people help themselves establish mature, healthy relationships.
He observed that there have been many reports of a growing impatience with psychiatry, with its seeming foreverness, the high cost, its debatable results, and its vague, esoteric terms.
"To many people it is like a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat that isn't there," Harris warned. 
"The magazine and mental-health associations say psychiatric treatment is a good thing, but what it is or what it accomplishes has not been made clear. Although hundreds of thousands of words about psychiatry are consumed by the public yearly, there has been little convincing data to help a person in need of treatment overcome the cartoon image of psychiatrists and their mystical couches."


One difficulty with many psychoanalytic words is that they do not have the same meanings for everybody, according to Harris. 
"The word ego, for instance, means many things to many people. Freud had an elaborate definition, as has nearly every psychoanalyst since his time; but these long, complicated constructions are not particularly helpful to a patient who is trying to understand why he can never hold a job, particularly if one of his problems is that he cannot read well enough to follow instructions," he explained.
Harris explained: "There is not even agreement by theoreticians as to what ego means." Vague meanings and complicated theories, he said, have inhabited more than helped the treatment process.
Harris cited Herman Melville's observation that "a man of true science uses but few hard words, and those only when none other will answer his purpose; whereas the smarter in science...thinks that by mouthing hard words he understands hard things."


Harried emphasized that "the vocabulary of Transactional Analysis is the precision tool of treatment because in a language anyone can understand, it identifies things that really are, the reality of experiences that really happened in the lives of people who really existed."
The most important question we will ever have to answer probably is, "Are you OK?" wrote Harris. 
Right now, whether we are aware of it or not, Harris said all the relationships with the most important people in our life "are strongly influenced by a combination of how you feel about yourself (OK or not OK) and what you think of them (again, OK or not OK)."

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Jeepney operators acting like spoiled brats

"People want to see big, escapist fare. They don't want to be challenged to think."
--Harvey Weinstein

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- Because of rapid developments in the countryside, international conclaves like the ASEAN Summit and APEC Ministerial Meet could now be jointly held in thriving Visayas and Mindanao cities like Cebu, Iloilo, Bacolod, Dumaguete, Palawan, Cagayan De Oro, and Davao.
Imperial Manila could no longer claim exclusive domain to host some of the gigantic international events now that infrastructure, traffic and tourism have improved by leaps and bounds outside Luzon.
Some of the world's top hotel conglomerates have also expanded in the countryside, generating employment opportunities for local folks, and helping spruce up the local economy.
In as far as investment and toursim are concerned, this is some sort of renaissance for the hitherto "promdi" territories, which have been perpetually neglected and underestimated by past administrations after the EDSA Revolution.


JEEPNEY operators in Iloilo City should stop acting like spoiled brats and consider the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board's (LTFRB) recommendation of a P.50 jeepney fare hike.
The increase is for the first five kilometers in Western Visayas and Negros Occidental. Another P1.50 will be included for every succeeding kilometer.
The current fare of P6.50 will become P7 if the 50-centavo increase is approved by the LTFRB central office.
But the Iloilo City Loop Alliance of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association (ICLAJODA) and Pinag-isang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON-Panay chapter) are not satisfied.
They want another 50 centavos or P1.
They expressed their stand during the public hearing March 13 at the LTFRB-6 office in Barangay Tabuc Suba, Jaro district.


They were probably inspired by LTFRB's recent decision to approve a P1 increase on minimum fares in Metro Manila and in Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog.
They must be slabbering for a "uniform" increase.
But Iloilo City is not Metro Manila. It is neither Central Luzon nor Southern Tagalog.
The LTFRB, after probably studying the increase's impact on local economy and the capacity of commuters, dangled only a P.50 hike.
Jeepney operators should remember that most of them are also parents. 
They are aware that LTFRB's 50-centavo fare increase will result only in P7 fare for regular passengers of public utility jeepneys (PUJs) and P5.50 for students, persons with disabilities (PWDs) and senior citizens.
Their demand, on the other hand, would mean regular commuters will have to fork out a minimum fare of P7.50 and P6.50 for students, PWDs and elderly citizens.
A 50-centavo difference is still 50 centavos. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Duterte appoints new Iloilo, Negros judges

"I love judges, and I love courts. They are my ideals, that typify on earth what we shall meet hereafter in heaven under a just God."
--William Howard Taft

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- If I were House Speaker Pantaleon "Bebot" Alvarez, I would refrain from further humiliating detained Senator Leila De Lima. 
In his most recent media conference, the former cabinet official of then President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo lambasted De Lima calling her as the "No. 1 drug lord in the Philippines."
True or not, in our culture we don't kick somebody who is already down. 
Especially a woman.
We never heard the same level of vitriol and angry words from past speakers like Nicanor Yñiguez, Ramon Mitra Jr., Jose De Venecia, Arnulfo Fuentebella, and Feliciano Belmonte Jr. 


President Duterte has appointed the following judges for the islands of Panay and Negros: 
-Daniel Antonio Gerardo S. Amular (RTC Branch 35, Iloilo City); 
-Oscar Leo S. Billena (RTC Branch 70 Barotac Viejo, Iloilo);
-Jose E. Mauricio E. Gomez (RTC Branch 71 Barotac Viejo, Iloilo);
-Nelita Jesusa Arboleda-Bacaling (RTC Branch 72 Guimbal, Iloilo);
-Gemalyn Faunillo-Tarol (RTC Branch 76, Janiuay, Iloilo);
-Ernesto L. Abijay, Jr. (RTC Branch 10 San Jose, Antique);
-Josefina Fulo-Muego (RTC Branch 13 Culasi, Antique);
-Phoebe A. Gargantiel-Balbin (RTC Branch 45 Bacolod City, Negros Occidental);
-Edwin B. Gomez (RTC Branch 77 Sipalay City, Negros Occidental);
-Gwendolyn I. Jimenea-Tiu (RTC Branch 60 Cadiz City, Negros Occidental);
-Reginald M. Fuentebella (RTC Branch 73 Sagay City, Negros Occidental);
-Mila D. Yap-Camiso (RTC Branch 74 La Carlota City, Negros Occidental);
-Gertrude Belgica Jiro (MTC Dumangas, Iloilo);
-Kathryn Rose A. Hitalia-Baliatan (MTC Miag-ao, Iloilo);
-Meliza Joan Berano Robite (MTCC Branch 2 Iloilo City);
-Larnie Fleur B. Palma-Kim (MTCC Branch 6, Iloilo City);
-Mark Anthony D.R. Polonan (MTCC Branch 8, Iloilo City);
-Rysty Ann C. Espinosa-Borja (MTCC Branch 9, Iloilo City);
-Joan Marie B. Bargas-Betita (3rd MCTC Malinao-Lezo-Numancia, Aklan);
-Maria Fe Macabales-Taal (3rd MCTC Patnongon-Bugasong-Valderrama, Antique);
-Joevy Paclibar Velnzuela (5th MCTC Sigma-Sapian-Jamindan, Capiz);
-Kathleen Gigante Delantar (MTCC Branch 2 Roxas City, Capiz);
-Jeeli Panaguiton Espinosa (2nd MCTC Buenavista-San Lorenzo, Guimaras);
-Bienvenido B. Llanes Jr. (MTC Pontevedra, Negros Occidental);
-Jose Meno C. Ruiz (MTCC Escalante City, Negros Occidental);
-Jose Manuel A. Lopez (MTCC Kabankalan City, Negros Occidental); and
-Maria Concepcion Elumba Rivera (MTCC, La Carlota City, Negros Occidental).


WE can't blame Mayor Alex Centena of Calinog, Iloilo if his presence has been sorely missed in important gatherings like the League of Municipalities. 
Ever since President Duterte mentioned Centena's name as among those allegedly included in narco-politics, the dashing former chair of the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) during the Marcos years has reportedly refused to join in various social and political events in Iloilo.
"He has become security conscious," noticed a former broadcaster from Cabatuan, Iloilo, who is familiar with Centena's activities during the halcyon years. 
"The mayor stays in his safe house most of the time and his whereabouts can't be ascertained even by some of his municipal staff in regular days and during weekend."


He became reclusive and lost weight, the former broadcaster added.
Centena have reportedly cancelled all his out-of-town commitments and refused interviews with reporters who come to Calinog.
Duterte has threatened to kill those involved in trafficking and manufacturing of illegal drugs, including some local government executives. 
More than 7,000 have been killed nationwide since the Duterte administration launched the "Oplan Tokhang" against known drug pushers and users.
Centena has repeatedly denied links to any drug lord, but admitted slain Iloilo City-based drug lord Melvin "Boyet" Odicta Sr. once visited his house where he maintains a mini-zoo.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Card reading system will eliminate overcharging

"When a company owns one precise thought in the consumer's mind, it sets the context for everything and there should be no distinction between brand, product, service and experience." 
--Maurice Saatchi

By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY -- Back in May 1993 when the Panay Electric Company (PECO) was applying for a 25-year extension of franchise in the Iloilo City Council, among the demands of the committee on public services, environmental protection and committee on ecology, transportation, energy and public utilities from the power utility's top echelons during the public hearings was to put up an accurate meter reading system.
Among the central issues raised against PECO was the "astronomical" distribution and generations fees, and, of course, the "lack of proper meter reading system" that irked so many consumers, including then prominent businessman William Bayani, who filed a case against PECO.
For several weeks, PECO underwent intense grilling from Councilors German Gonzalez, Achilles Plagata, Rolando Dabao, Eduardo Laczi, and Perla Zulueta.
It was agreed that the meter reading system was necessary in order to provide the correct and accurate reading of the power consumed by the consumers and avoid overcharging.


The City Council approved PECO's application for extension of franchise. Under the law, it must get Congress' imprimtur after sailing through the local legislature.
Before PECO got endorsement from the City Council, it was bombarded with multitudes of complaints from various consumers groups in a series of public hearings.
A proposal to turn it into a people's cooperative had been torpedoed.
After 24 years, Councilor Joshua Alim, through a formal resolution, asked PECO  to establish a “meter reading card system.”
Alim wanted to avoid confusion and complaints over the consumers' power consumption.
Alim wants PECO to post a meter reading card system to each consumer’s house where the monthly consumption is reflected and recorded.


The system will help consumers to easily appraise his monthly consumption, make a comparison, and even file the necessary complaint if there are discrepancies before the issuance of a billing receipt.
Alim's ordinance has been referred to the city council’s committee on public utilities chaired by Councilor R Leonie Gerochi after hurdling the first reading, it was reported.
While the issue was being tackled in the City Council, PECO reportedly disclosed that it was actually trying to improve its metering system using the modern Automated Metering Infrastructure (AMI).
“All readings are programmed to go directly to the computers of PECO without any actual meter readers needed on the field. This eliminates the human factor in meter reading and customers can fully rely on the accuracy of the billing,” said Mikel C. Afzelius, PECO’s corporate communications officer.
The first 1,000 “smart meters” will be installed this April 2017.
PECO is expected to again seek another extension of its franchise in 2017 and might again knock on the door of the City Council.