Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Typhoon Season

The month of May is almost over. Time really flies when one is having fun. Rain comes almost everyday now in Manila, mostly in the late afternoon to early evening alleviating the heat we have during the day. But of course, these late afternoon rain is also a signal that the weather is changing from dry to wet. A college friend, now based in Canada, stated once in an e-mail that Canada has only three seasons: pre-winter, winter and post-winter. Coming from a tropical country, I could just imagine what it would be like to be in a climate like that. Here in the Philippines, cold weather always makes me sluggish and sleepy. If I were in Canada, I might experience perpetual hibernation if it were possible for humans. Kidding aside, I love the rainy season. The temperature drops to a comfortable level (at least for me), plants and trees start to sprout new leaves, everything begins to smell fresh and life begins anew. The only thing I don’t like about the rainy season is that it is also the typhoon season.

Typhoon season in the Philippines is from June to early November. Typhoon (Bagyo) is given four storm signal categories based on the strength of the winds they bring. Signal Number 1 carry winds from 30-60 kph. Signal Number 2 carry winds from 60-100 kph. Classes from the secondary level down are usually suspended. Work suspension announcements vary upon the affected areas. Signal Number 3 packs 100-185 kph, strong enough to blow down trees and houses made of light materials. Classes in all levels are suspended, and work suspension are announced depending on the severity in affected areas. Storm Signal Number 4 is commonly rare. But they blast winds above 185 kph. These super typhoons are called “super-bagyo.” With winds that strong, one will be foolish to venture out of a fortified house. The strongest recorded typhoon to hit Manila was Typhoon Yoling, international code name “Patsy” in November 17-20, 1970, packing winds of 200 kph and claiming 611. But so far, the worst storm to hit the Philippines was storm Uring, international code name “Thelma.” It only packed wind speeds 95 kph but claimed more than 8,000 lives in Tacloban in November 2-7, 1991. I pray storms of this magnitude don’t come this season.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

In The Heat of the Moment

Ang init! These two words has been reverberating in my head at the start of the summer season. I noticed in the last several years, summers here in the Philippines have become somewhat hotter. I looked it up and indeed I was right. Compounding the problem is the high humidity we have in this country.

The heat was not a problem back then when Fort Bonifacio was a closed Fort. We had lots of trees literally peppered all over the place. My father's uncle happened to be the first Camp Commander of then Fort McKinley before it was renamed Fort Bonifacio in honor of Andres Bonifacio. It was hot during the summer months alright but once you step in the gates of the old Fort Bonifacio, one will feel the refreshing cool breeze brush up against your skin thanks to those wonderful acacias. Now they are all gone. No thanks to the BCDA which came into being by virtue of Republic Act No. 7227, or Bases Conversion Development Act of 1992, which was signed into law by President Corazon C. Aquino on March 13, 1992. Technically speaking, all military bases within the Luzon area are now up for sale. This started the development of the Subic Economic Zone some 15 years ago. But that didn't stop there. During the time of President Fidel V. Ramos, Sangley Point in Cavite was also put up for sale. Camp John Hay in Baguio, Villamor Air Base in Pasay, and then Fort Bonifacio through the Fort Bonifacio Development Corporation (FBDC). FBDC is a joint venture between Bonifacio Land Corporation (BLC) and the state-owned BCDA.

Incidentally, Fort Bonifacio (Makati) is now more popularly called the Bonifacio Global City (Taguig). What used to be my safe playground when I was young is now a rising city with first class amenities. Several condominium edifices rose like mushrooms after a lightning storm. To name a few, there rose Pacific Place, Essensa, One McKinley Place, The Fort, Market Market, Serendra, High Street, etc.

And because of these changes, the quiet Fort Bonifacio was reborn. And accompanied with this changes we lost the once moderate temperature we had back then. Oh well that's progress for you. More on this topic later on as Global City further develops.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Philippine Elections 2007 Part 2

On the eve of Election Day, May 13, 2007, my friends and I were discussing what time we will go to the polling place to cast our "boto" (vote). I told them that I will make sure that I will vote early so as to avoid the rush of voters like the one I experienced back in 2004. Although I made it a point to go early, lines were slow moving, it being the Presidential Elections. Everyone was anxious to exercise their right of suffrage. Naturally, there were a multitude of voters. And we all know how that election turned out notwithstanding "the mother of all tapes" and the "Hello Garci..." hoopla and subsequently leading to the "I am sorry" speech which left me and probably the nation and the world wondering what the speech was about since nothing was admitted other than incurring a "lapse in judgment" for talking to an unnamed COMELEC Commissioner.

(Photos courtesy of the web)

The "barkada" insisted that we all go together. I just shrugged it off knowing full well that they are late risers. "Basta maaga ako bukas" (I will go early) was all I said to them while sharing my stock of beer bought from our neighbors "sari-sari" store before the liquor ban. Hey, we knew it was illegal to drink that night and the day after that, but come to think of it, it was only a minor infraction as against those violating the gun ban. In any case, we were at the comfort of my own home and not doing it in the street like the other "tambays." Besides, we needed, nay, deserved, the break from the continuous bombardment of political advertisements in print, radio, television, walls, trees, shrubs, the neighbors "batalan" (outhouse), electric posts. Not even my neighbors dog house and dove house was spared. I whimsically thought, had these "politicos" decided instead to convert these voluminous posters to campaign toilet paper, their smiling faces, slogans and promises might have been put into better use after we use the best seat in our homes. Laughing silently to myself, wouldn't it be grand having one politicians' ad wiping our backside and instead of "itanim sa senado" (plant in the senate), "itatanim natin siya sa poso negro" (We will plant him in the septic tank). Just think how many trees were sacrificed just to produce the paper needed. And some of them even labeled themselves, "makakalikasan" (nature lover).

I was surprised the next morning upon hearing my mother calling out to my niece, "halika na" (come on). It was 7:30 AM. I immediately got out of bed and went out of my room as my mother was locking the front door. I told her that I will just catch up with them since I just got out of the delta state. I proceeded to the bathroom to use the toilet and take a quick shower. I smiled to myself when I saw the toilet paper... what if we had one of them as a human bidet instead? I know, I know that's sick, but after all they say that they are doing this for public service, di ba? They want OUR VOTE to put them IN SERVICE, to be called HONORABLE and to have access to the billions of OUR TAX PAYED PESOS for the next six years. Heck, if there's a payback for all of that, I guess my price is fair. I can't and won't be bought by a few hundred or even thousands they dish out during the campaign. Just a thought...
It's hard on my budget to rent a van to take the whole family to Laguna or even Baguio for a holiday and yet we have a candidate who rents planes at US$3,000 AN HOUR to make it to his campaign sorties and even had the audacity to announce on nationwide television that "sulit naman" (worth it). At US$3,000 an hour, it better be. As far as I am concerned, I needed only a P7.00 Jeepney ride to get to the polling center to elect 12 honorable senators, 1 congressman, 1 mayor, 1 vice mayor, and 1 party-list.

Being the mid of May, the heat was almost intolerable and it was only 8:30 AM. I was perspiring profusely when I got to the polling center and found out that I needed to climb four flights of stairs to reach my precinct. When I finally got there, I was literally drenched and parched. Thank God I still have the full normal use of my lungs and legs that I was able to make it despite the number of cigarettes I puffed the night before. Blessed be... No Lines. The number of voters was outnumbered by the number of watchers in and out of our precincts three to one. The process done by the teachers was precise thanks to the COMELEC'S computerized voting list. Score one point for COMELEC. I was in and out of there in less than five minutes. I saw my mother, niece and aunt waiting for me outside. It was that easy to locate each other using the lists posted on the hall outside the precincts.

With right index finger dripping of indelible ink, literally splashed on by "Ma'am" to ensure I won't be able to vote again. I approached them so we may go home together and back to our "normal" lives. Curiosity got the best of me and so I turned back to look at the list again. Right there in plain sight, written in dot matrix, were the names of some neighbors and relatives whom I know are already deceased several years back. In one page alone, there were two or three of them in my precinct alone. I wondered how many more there are in the other precincts? They announced earlier that they already "sanitized" the voter's list on a nationwide scale. Given this fact, one wonders just how "sanitized" is the COMELEC'S "sanitized voting list? It would be understandable to find the name of a recently deceased person on the list, say, one who passed on that very day to six months back or maybe even up to a year, the time they claim, they started to clean the list.
BIG OOOOPS! Deduct two points from COMELEC. If there is an average of two to three dead people still on the list, multiply that by the total number of voting precincts all over the Philippines, we would still have a million, give or take, dead people still eligible to vote. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't that figure more than the actual number of registered "absentee" voters both local and abroad combined? Ay yay yay! Having satiated my curiosity, I no longer bothered to check all the pages since the heat was getting to me. Not to mention all the hi's and hello's from neighbors about to cast their own ballots and those who have already done so and the discussions about who they are voting/voted for. Best to get out fast lest we would still be there with the heat and all these people until the poll closes at 3:00 PM and be asked in a survey by Trends or Pulse Asia for the exit polls.

As I stepped out of the school building that served as our voting precincts, I can't help but wave at the camera of a leading network television stationed right outside it's lobby. It's my way of telling the nation, "Hey look! I have done my civic duty! See this indelible inked finger? Oops, wrong finger." Now that we have done our part. I just hope whoever wins in this circus keeps even half of their promises. As one candidate who wants to be planted said, in his accent, "Matotopad ang pangarap mu!" (Your dreams will come true) and another stating "Pag bad ka, lagot ka" (If you are bad, you're screwed), I just hope if they get elected they will not be the only one's whose dreams will come true and if they turn out bad, "malalagot sila talaga" (they will be skewered for being bad). I hope that there won't be a need to call on that old woman in another candidates' ad saying "...ipagdarasal kita" (...I will pray for you) . After all this, and nothing positive emerges for the country, I might decide to vote for Ogie Alcasid's character "TUKMOL" in the next elections come 2010. The nerve of one candidate declaring in the papers, now that the 2007 elections has passed, the race for 2010 has begun. Well he better start racing dupers now since as of last count, he still has to make it to the top twelve unlike his wife who has a commanding lead over her opponents for Governor of their province. "Ito ang korek" (this is correct)

As I looked at the sample ballot littered street and posters stuck to the walls, trees, posts and what have you, I still feel sorry about the amount of paper wasted in this elections. I still think they could have opted in using all that for toilet paper. Sayang (what a waste). Incidentally, now that it is finally over, who will clean up all the mess? Hmmmmm.... Probably we should call on those who said they are "malinis" (clean) and "walang bahid" (without a speck) to look after all that junk. They could make a killing if they sell all those paper by the kilo in the junk shops. A good way to start recouping loses during the campaign and help clean out the environment at the same time don't you think? People will definitely remember you being true to your word and maybe, just maybe, be elected and given the privilege to be called "honorable" should you decide to run for a seat next time around.

However, I am sorry to state the unique quality of Philippine Election, NOBODY LOSES GRACIOUSLY, expect the list of suits and counter-suits alleging massive "dagdag-bawas" (add-subtract), "pandaraya" (cheating) in the upcoming days ahead. Let me rectify my statement that nobody loses graciously. At least in this election, we have one candidate who has already conceded defeat and we are not even halfway in the counting process. Ironically, that candidate happens to be one of the principals of the
"the mother of all tapes" and the "Hello Garci..." hoopla which subsequently led to the "I am sorry" speech. Hay naku! I just hope that by this gesture alone, Bukidnon's sugar crops come harvest time, will be sweeter and plentiful.

The Philippine Elections 2007

First posted on the Coconuter Site of David Eric Poarch

Very well said.

I can say for a young man and young father, you have captured the general but silent sentiments of this coming Philippine Circus called National Elections.

Let me just add that most of these candidates, Administration and Opposition alike also call themselves the sole "pag-asa" (hope) of the people.

I am fond of watching old Filipino movies, those in black and white which they rarely show now in Philippine television. there were a lot of movies done about the Philippine Elections since the 50's whose titles escape my memory as of this writing. The gist is, the situation they had back then are what we see on the broadsheets and tabloids, radio, and on television today.

So what has changed? Back then, issues range from vote buying, massive cheating, killings, etc. The only positive change that we have as of now is the massive access of candidates of Tri-Media which candidates back then didn't have. But of course one has to have a vulgar amount of pretty pennies to spend to "SELL" oneself to be given the privilege to be called "HONORABLE", no matter how inappropriate, in this beautiful country of ours.

“I would rather have a Philippines run like hell by Filipinos than a Philippines run like heaven by the Americans” — Manuel L. Quezon

Half of this statement of the first Philippine President of the Commonwealth still holds water today. The Philippines is being run by Filipinos who call themselves makabayan, makatao, maka-Diyos, Pag-asa. Indeed the country is being run like hell and I don't need to expound on that. You can see and feel the results today, thanks to the efforts of our "honorables" in the Philippine Senate. But of course, the second part of that statement was due to the fact that the Philippines was under the Americans back then.

It is just a big puzzle for me that some countries younger than the Philippines have risen above others with their limited resources. As a Filipino, I refuse to believe that we have no future other than what these candidates dish out on us. If that is the case, we should have risen for the benefit of the people a long long time ago. As a Filipino, it hurts me to be labeleled as one coming from a third world country. What does that mean? Have you ever heard of a second world country? Who are they? First World? Amuse me, name them.

All eyes of the world was on the Philippines when we had EDSA I. No one has accomplished a task like that except maybe for Mohandas Gandhi. The only difference is that all of society was in on it, the class barriers was not an issue. We had our chance for genuine change and we squandered it The spirit of what is EDSA is no more, that is a reality. Even EDSA was prostituted by unscrupulous people who have personal interest to protect their "interests" have labeled that what they are doing is for the people. And because of that, EDSA DOS came, then EDSA Tres? Geesh.

Positively speaking, we Filipinos are a very resilient people. The only thing disagreable with this fact is that, fellow Filipinos exploit this. Ouch! How callous can one get. Tama ka pare. Crab mentality is a culprit!

To sum it all up, the Philipiines has a future, and we are IT. We need to grow as a people and we need to grow now!

Whatever the coconuter is experiencing during his soul searching is part of it. Nothing is insignificant. Everything is connected. We just have to understand that we are all part of one grand design and we have to find our niche. And when we do, Let's make it worth it and function for the betterment of us all.

Moving Out & Moving On

Today, December 15, 2006, Friday, I went to work in a collarless shirt, denim shorts and sandals with an orange and gray Dunlop backpack borrowed from my sister. My borrowed backpack contained a change of shirt, cologne, a hand towel I found in my room cabinet (salvaged from last years Christmas presents), a pack of my Marlboro Lights and my digital camera. Not a proper attire for an Information Specialist, like yours truly, you might say, to wear at work, in the hustle and bustle of the elite Makati crowd. But I don’t care. This attire will do for the singular task I need to do today. Pack all my things, we are moving out.

It has only been several days when out of the blue, our boss announced to us that we are moving out of our office in Telecoms Plaza to move to Pacific Star located a few blocks away from our current base of operations. At first, I just brushed it off as nothing but another one of his impulsive remarks and ideas that we know him for. There have been occasions in the past wherein this same announcement was made only for him to backtrack and cancel everything. To paraphrase our beloved HR officer “hay naku, haste makes waste talaga…” Well what the heck! I've been working with this man for almost 11 years. If I don't know even his smallest whims and pet peeves by now, then I must have been abducted by aliens and deposited back only to this dreadful day, staring at the cardboard boxes left by the movers the day before, for us to fill with 11 years worth of papers and stuff. Almost eleven years worth of memories. Sheets and stuff, some well thought of to be produced perfectly, only to be disapproved upon presentation for review and approval. Some done in a haphazard manner without emphasis on efficiency but duly approved only to be held back for one reason or another.

The sudden realization of this reality flashed before my eyes as soon as the guard opened the door for me with his usual “Good morning sir…” Was it just my imagination that his usual greeting lacks the customary prompt and snappy manner? Or was it because he was just taken aback by the get up I’m wearing, or was it my waxed finger combed hair?

I need not dwell on that, but it maybe because something he had for breakfast didn’t agree with him and he needed to relieve himself, PRONTO! Eeeeeew! But here he was, opening that glass door for me! That door which accepted hoards of people over the years, from bill collectors, delivery men, government officials, politicians, lawyers, police, military, ex-military, our friends and family members, etcetera.

To some, it may just be one of those things that companies do especially the growing ones, for them to put up that facade of progress or any other reason one might be able to think of. I just wish it were the same for us. No, we are not in the red. The company is still okay in spite of all that’s been happening to us lately. But that is not my concern. Not this day. No, definitely not today.

I have very deep memories in this edifice. For me, it has really been more than 11 years. From the day the first stone was turned for the groundbreaking ceremonies to the very first time my father brought me in the building. There were days when I needed to use resources to finalize reports for school, days that I have no place better to go to but here. Never have I imagined that one day, I would be part of this building as one of its daily inhabitants. A member of its workforce. Friendships were made, old ones enhanced. Professional and personal turmoil were overcome within the confines of this chocolate brown building I consider my second home.


As I stare at the boxes now filled and secured with packing tape, I took to myself and thought of all the good and bad things I have had here on this very floor, this exact spot where I am at. I stare as the movers carefully stacked the sealed boxes and tables. I can’t help but feel a slight pinch somewhere within. It is really happening.

We are really leaving. There is no turning back now. I can’t help but feel that I am leaving a dear friend behind. A friend I saw rise from the ground while I was Cimg0122growing physically and mentally as well. A friend who has nurtured me and protected me from the elements all these years. The confines of its walls, ceiling and floors filled with memories both good and bad.


I can’t help but feel nostalgic as I sat and puffed on my third cigarette within the hour and between sips of instant coffee. I uttered a silent prayer in my head while snapping pictures for posterity of the controlled chaos we are in at the moment. Pictures that I will keep like my father did of all his memories within this building. I extinguished my cigarette butt and lapped up the last drop of my coffee. Enough with nostalgia for now. It’s time to move on.