Tuesday, July 24, 2007

State of the Nation 2007 (Philippines)

I was feeling a bit under the weather yesterday, Monday, July 23, 2007, due to so much heat, so I opted to stay home and sleep it out. I have mentioned in one of my blogs that I didn't like taking medicines, owing to the belief that I want my body to recover from the illness and reserve the use of artificial medication only when my body truly needs it. So I dozed on and off, only getting up to drink more liquid or go to the toilet. Around 4:00 PM, I turned on the TV, lo and behold, the president was on in a "recycled" red "terno" in front of the joint session of the Senate and Congress. What the....? Oh yes, she was about to deliver another state of the nation address. Her seventh.

As she began her opening spiel, I quickly scanned the channels for other broadcasts only to find the major networks are all glued on her. Why wouldn't they be? She "is" the President after all.

What surprised me was the presence of Congressman Jose de Venecia sitting as Speaker of the House along with Senator Manuel Villar as the Senate President. As it turned out Congressman de Venecia was still hot being voted only a few minutes before the SONA as the Speaker of the House. Interesting. Very interesting. I'm sure we will hear various oinking about this in the next few days.

Setting all pessimism aside, I listened to her speech taking note of the various points she raised about the year that was under her administration and the years about to come. I was impressed by her knowledge of Philippine geography and the development that are underway or have been done. You are right Honorable Senator Chiz Escudero, that was one hell of a geography lesson.

The more I listened, I can't help but feel a slight chill slowly creeping up my spine. Most of what she delivered are a rehash of what she has already delivered a few SONA's back much like the "terno" she was wearing for the occasion. Some are way incredible (but not impossible) one will wonder, where are we going to get the money to finance them?

During her speech she mentioned an airport down south, crediting its construction as financed by an "honorable" of that province. However, she failed to mention it came from the pedestrians taxes. She called it a "pork that gave good cholesterol." Whoa! Even the President acknowledges the use of or lack thereof of the majority of our "honorables pork barrel." Well, I just hope they all follow suit and finance the President's programs for all of our benefit both administration and opposition alike. If they all do this within the next three years, the President's vision will come to fruition, and we will all reap its rewards. After all, isn't the "pork barrel" called the "Countrywide Development Fund?" These funds are given to Senators and Congressmen which are discretionary in nature. Meaning to say, our "honorables" has the option which projects to fund for the "development" of their area of constituency. Each Senator gets P200 million a year (24 X P200,000,000 = P4,800,000,000) while each Congressman gets P70 million (224 X P70,000,000 = P15,680,000,000) or a grand total of P20,480,000,000 in pork alone. "Wala pa yung sweldo nila diyan" P35,000 per month plus P2,000,000 each a month operational expenses of their offices, P760,000 per month foreign travel allowance. Add to that another P1,000,000 per month for committee membership per committee. Goodness, that's a lot of pretty pennies. Just imagine, if all the honorables use this money for it's real purpose, the government will not have to penny pinch other priority projects, raise taxes, or heaven forbid, "borrow" from outside sources. Our soldiers fighting the insurgents in the plains of Luzon or the mountains and jungles of Mindanao will not have to pray that their equipment will not fail them in their time of need. Just think. But unfortunately, most of them just carry their pork and cry "wee wee wee all the way home."

All in all, kudos to the President who says that she is "...always as strong as she can be." Who says that now, based on her vision, ..."she would rather be right than popular." She continuous on saying that, "... Fine, I stand in no ones (political) ambition, but I ask no one to stand in the way of the people's well being." Lofty statements indeed but timely. I just hope that these statements will be heeded by all starting with the President herself and down to the Barangay level. Only then will I truly believe her last statement, "The State of the Nation is Strong."

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Expectations and Aspirations

We all have aspirations and expectations in life no matter how minutely inane and insignificant that may be to our other fellow pedestrians. Most of the time, we inappropriately laugh, or plain outright ridicule at the simple dreams of some of us. If you ask your neighborhood "magbabalut" (duck egg vendor) on the spot while you are buying a "balut" or two what his aspiration at that moment is, he would readily say, "sana mabili lahat ng balut ko" (I hope I sell all my duck eggs). Simple, practical, concise. Then what? You may ask yourself. But before you can utter the words, your "magbabalut" would blurt out a litany of his own need why he has to sell as many eggs as he can. Needless to say he might have too many mouths to feed or one of them is sick and he needed the money to provide that very basic need. One will truly admire a pedestrian such as this one, his voice hoarse by shouting "balut" while lugging a basket filled with his precious duck eggs aspiring to sell and expecting that the return for his effort would be fruitful for the night or day. More admirable than those able bodied muggers and crooks who victimize hapless pedestrians. So much more than those men and women in power whose aspirations is make a quick buck and expecting they can get away with murder because of their privileged status in society.

I have been around with lots of different kinds of people in my life and there are still so much more that I have yet to meet. I have been with the poorest of the poor to the richest of the rich in this country. Yes I have even broken bread with them in their houses and/or places of business. I have been to their parties or sorties. Socialized with owners of the largest malls and hotels and the scavengers that make a living out of the trash from their establishments. These encounters I will cherish for the rest of my life since I learned and still continue to learn than with all the books that I've read and seminars that I have participated in.

Much has been said about the inequalities of society, and the reason why people do what they do depending on which strata or level they belong to. Not all poor people will resort to illegal means to make a living. Not all rich people are on the moral compass just to preserve their social status. Most of us are indifferent on the goings on since each and every one of us have our troubles to attend to. No matter where you belong to, we are all part of society's machine and we all have our parts to play in this stage called life.

It is in our nature to choose to be either good or bad. That is what sets us apart from the lower species. All living beings has the power of choice. But only us humans can discern between good and evil. We unconsciously have the power within us that can change the aspirations and expectations of other pedestrians around us, no matter how rich or poor, depending on the choices we make.

On this note, it is not impossible to think that the lowly "magbabalut" can eventually influence where Henry Sy will put up his next mall or where that mugger will position himself to literally make a killing without being caught. I will discuss more about how this can be possible in my future blogs.

In the end, no matter how young or how old. No matter how rich or poor. No matter what level of educational attainment one may have, we all have aspirations and expectations in life.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

We have 12 (FINALLY)

Last Friday, July 13, 2007, senatorial candidate Aquilino "KOKO" L. Pimentel III's petition for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) was denied by the Supreme Court. So I was not surprised that the 12th Honorable Senator was finally proclaimed by the COMELEC yesterday, Saturday, July 14, 2007 or two months after the May 14, 2007 elections.

"Juan Miguel 'MIGZ" F. Zubiri"

garnered a total of 11,004,099
votes, besting Koko Pimentel
by only a margin of 19,242
votes. who got 10,984,807.

For both candidates, and the nation, it may well be the longest two months in their lives. Be as it may, the COMELEC's performance is dismal in my pedestrian point of view. Per COMELEC data, there are 43,094,640 registered voters in the Philippines. Out this number, only 29,491,488 actually voted or 68.434%. A good turnout actually but forgive me for asking, does this number include the number of dead who voted and the children in Mindanao who "actually voted" as was shown in various news broadcast and exposes?

As expected, the "victory" of Migz sent various waves towards "losing" candidate Koko for his reaction to this latest development. As of this writing, we still have to wait if Koko will finally concede and sing his swan song or are we up for a reprise. Let's wait and see.

For such a small country, this final re
sult is welcomed though not besmirched with a tinge of doubt in the capability of the electoral body. And I am paying taxes to finance this carnival? WOW!

Better luck next time Koko.