By RODRIGO S. VICTORIA, PIA 8
Only when lives are
lost and properties are damaged due to disaster that our thoughts are
disturbed what really caused in all these things from happening.
recurring as well as our search for answers that we end facing a blank
wall of whose to find fault and whose to put the blame in these
sufferings brought by what we considered as “the wrath of nature” to
We never learned our
lessons from mistakes committed in the past as we still continue to
travel the same road ahead without looking back on what should be done
to correct the past.
One of the factors
that point us Filipinos from being indifferent in times of disaster is
our insensitive culture toward it.
We demonstrated it by
taking for granted things like building homes, offices and other
structures in hazardous and disaster prone areas. No matter how scary
the warning may be, but still we continue to risk our lives and
properties in living in high risk places which are considered
Another sad picture
that adds to our being indifferent to disaster is the lack of
political will and absence of resolve governance of some local
government leaders. Instead of looking after for the welfare and
safety of the constituents, we often hear and see elected government
officials evading their responsibility in saving the lives and
properties of the constituents in exchange for one’s political
That reality happening
in local governance is aggravated by the lack of plan and vision of
local leaders to map out a long term plan on disaster risk reduction
and management so that the loss of lives and properties will be
minimized if not be avoided.
The values of taking
notice only to disaster when considerable number of lives and
properties are already gone and when hapless people are crying and
craving for one’s shoulder to cry on that we realize to extend our
hands for help.
What is there to help
when houses are already swept by flashfloods and when people are
buried in mudslides? What else can we offer but our grief from the
misfortunes they suffered or if there is a remaining one that is a
little offering of prayers and flowers for the untimely death of our
Filipino brothers and sisters.
recur simultaneously with natural calamities and disasters and the
only best way to prevent it from happening or perhaps putting and end
to it is to do what should and must be done.
Let’s be sensitive
enough as a citizen to the plight of the victims of these natural
disasters and calamities, let’s be proactive as a people as to these
fatal natural eventualities and let’s be responsive as leaders in the
respective community we governed so that at the end of the day we can
all see a disaster and calamity free country where everybody is safe
from any occurrence of natural disasters and calamities.
Romancing the streets
of mega Manila
By BONG PEDALINO
A line from an old
song by the Hotdogs bears timeliness for a neophyte visitor like me:
simply no place in the world like
For exact territorial
correctness, I was not able to step in the soils of Manila, for as far
as public and commercial vehicles that I had ridden in my four days’
stay there last week, I had been to Pasig, Mandaluyong, San Juan, and,
of course, Quezon City.
But such perfect
territorial description does not matter, because for a “promdi” (slang
for “from the province”)
Manila is a generic term, encompassing the environs of a modern
metropolis that can also be viewed as an urban jungle.
As soon as our plane
touched down at the tarmac of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA),
I can feel the smell of a concrete forest, where people and high-rise
buildings and vehicles – thousands of vehicles – competed for space.
The distance from the
airport to our assigned hotel was about under twenty kilometers, but
we reached there in solid two hours, from
8:30 pm because of bumper-to-bumper traffic – a scene I only saw on TV
was unfolding right before my eyes, backlights of vehicles in glowing
red illuminated like flickering fireflies.
And so in the next
four days, my eyes feasted on sights of roads twisting here and there,
the overpasses, underpasses, shallow tunnels, seamless curves, with
matching blaring whistles of taxicabs, jeeps, service cars, buses, and
was passé, for in its place was the skywalks where people move like
ants in opposite directions, either for a leisurely stroll or on the
way to work, after alighting from the stations of the Metro Rail
Transit (MRT) and the Light Rail Transit (LRT).
The malls, whose
structure are so huge they defy comprehension for starters, were
always filled with people buying anything until exhaustion, which made
me wonder that malls should also be covered by surveys to determine if
people really have gone bottom poor, eating only twice a day – a
situation you cannot believe happening when you observe lavish
lifestyles in these cool shopping centers.
however, offered a different scenario: cramped houses standing side by
side as children frolic unmindful of whistling, passing motorcabs.
“Hangang dito na lang po tayo,” said a taxi driver as he stopped by a
station of waiting motorcabs. “Binato ako dyan ng pumasok ako minsan,
at akoy gumasto ng P18,000 para sa repair sa mga nabasag,” he
incident, no doubt. But reminders for reckless drivers also abound in
bold letters beneath the hard columns of overpasses. “Pumagitna po
tayo, makakarating din tayo,” one sign reads, referring to the
unwanted overtaking and sudden, out-of-lane insertion.
Then there is this
ubiquitous instruction, which is self-explanatory: “Follow your
lane.” And still another: “Dahan-dahan po tayo, may namamatay na dito,“
obviously referring to past fatal accidents that hopefully would no
longer be repeated.
Yet everyday on prime
news we hear accidents after accidents happening. Were those warning
signs not read or were they just become simple routines that no longer
Still, I cannot help
but be filled with awe and wonder, as life goes on in crowded highways
in this bustling metropolis. “Iyan ang EDSA shrine,” the taxi driver
told me as we passed by yet another wondrous structure of a road named
after a historic figure.
And EDSA itself, the
long stretch of a street, was no less historic, for it was here when
people once converged in a show of strength and power that not even
tanks were able to get through.
I can relate with EDSA
even as I did not live there, because I was part of those glorious
moments in spite of the fact that I was far away from the so-called
Imperial Manila. There was this inner sentiment that somehow I
The Hotdogs had the
same feeling. “I walked the streets of San Francisco,” the lyrics of
their song “Manila” goes. “Traveled around in Disneyland. Dated a
million girls in Sydney. Somehow I feel that I don’t belong.
Ang ingay mong kay sarap sa tenga. Mga kotse mong nagliliparan…“
For me, my discovery
of the streets in Manila has just began.
It was like a
By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
IT’S good that there
is a growing sense of connectivity that is now palpable these days.
One just has to look around and realize how the steady crawl of
linkages among persons and entities in different levels of society is
Technology, for sure,
has a lot to do with it. The mobile phone, the Internet, the social
network systems, etc., are quickening the pace of communication. With
them, we can get in touch with practically anyone in any part of the
In a way, these modern
means of communication have an equalizing effect on the people. That's
because even if there are several grades and levels involved, the fact
remains that they have a much larger coverage than previously known. A
lot more people are drawn into the communication loop now than before.
Together with this
technological angle is, of course, a growth in the sensitivity of
people, especially the young ones and even the old, retired ones,
toward the need to communicate.
I’m amused to see both
my very young nephews and nieces and my rather elderly aunties,
already pushing 80, quite adept especially in the social network. I
suspect they are the ones that keep the lines abuzz, or the cyberwaves
clogged. All of sudden, the world has become much smaller, and more
people, despite distance and age, get close to each other.
In schools, young
students are continually taught the many possibilities of the new
technologies. Innovations keep on popping up, providing people with
still more ways to communicate.
Obviously, the big
guys are also happy with these developments. Those in business and
politics, those trying to monitor social and cultural changes, etc.,
derive great benefit from these novel things.
And it’s truly
heartwarming to note that not only the pace but also the quality of
business and politics is improving. That’s because with these gadgets
the potentials of participative government are unleashed. Both
politicians and citizens, businessmen and consumers, are now more
sensitive to the requirements of the common good.
Let’s hope this trend
goes on, without forgetting that there is also a need to be vigilant
over abuses and other bad effects, usually unintended, that can spoil
this development. We have to remember to practice some kind of
restraint and moderation in the use of these new gadgets. They can
lead us to some info overload that would not be healthy to us.
In this regard, it
might be helpful to remind ourselves that the real and proper motor to
drive and guide us in this new waters of communication is charity.
Let’s not disparage that truth, again considering it as something
irrelevant to our current state of development.
Charity can never
become obsolete nor useless. It cannot and should not be held as
something so other-worldly that it can have nothing to do with our
earthly, mundane affairs. In fact, the opposite is true.
Charity is the very
soul of our life and everything in it – our thoughts, words and deeds,
our business, politics and all kinds of human dealings. It is what
brings all these things to their proper foundation, their proper end,
and to their proper ways.
We need to disabuse
ourselves from the erroneous mentality, sadly quite common these days,
of considering charity as impractical. This is actually the main
problem we have now. We tend to view things almost exclusively from
the practical point of view, as if everything depends on practicality.
Charity demands more
things from us precisely because we are not mere animals who happen to
be rational and who are just ruled by the law of practicality. We are
persons and children of God, meant to enter to a real communion of
life and love with God and with everybody else.
Charity tells us more
things about what we need to communicate and how to do it. It equips
us with a greater sensitivity that lets us fathom deeper things in
persons and events. It enables us to understand and to take advantage
of sufferings in this life, and of the many negative things that can
come to us – our mistakes and failures, our sins, etc.
Charity links us
ultimately to God, our last and final end.
incapable of doing these things. It tends to treat us not as persons
but as objects to be used. We have to be wary of this tendency that
seems to afflict us these days like a sweet poison that we gladly take
It’s time that we
sit down and make a serious inventory of the requirements of charity.
By JUAN L. MERCADO, email@example.com
Aquino signed into law his first national budget. He stitched in
“mandatory postings” provisions. Are we on the cusp of a
good-governance initiative? Or a big bust?
Like it or not,
legislators must upload on Department of Budget and Management’s
website, “details about their pork barrel spending,” chairman of House
appropriations committee Rep. Joseph Abaya told Inquirer. The
P1.645-trillion budget requires publishing data on fund releases, bid
provisions and awards, etc. Budget Secretary Florencio Abad added.
Will fugitive Senator
Panfilo Lacson be allocated P200 million in pork, despite a pending
arrest warrant? Will Pampanga Representative Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
heed “mandatory provisions” on her beneficiaries?
As President, she
vetoed last March, a similar transparency clause stitched into her
P1.41-trillion budget. “Vetoes against measures to curb theft by
greater transparency stud the Arroyo record,” noted Viewpoint (PDI / Sept
28, 2010). Congress stapled ‘A Right to Information’ clause into the
2007 budget. The lady vetoed that one. Last year’s rewrite slammed
into a repeat veto".
Arroyo allies, like
Speaker Prospero Nograles and Rep. Pedro Romualdo (Camiguin) derailed
the Freedom of Information bill. If approved, that’d have allowed
citizens access to data from the P600-million Macapagal Boulevard
overprice to the $328-million ZTE broadband deal.
Pork is deodorized by
an official template: “Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
In the 2011 budget, 24 senators and 283 congressmen may slurp from
the pork trough. There are notable exceptions. Senator Joker Arroyo
never dipped into his pork allotments. Deputy Speaker Erin Tanada
aligned his pork barrel to support Millennium Development Goals,
notably on curbing maternal and infant death rates.
But many treat pork
slabs almost like personal checks. Too much “goes for roads that led
to nowhere,” former National Treasurer Leonor Briones frets, “or
waiting sheds that wait for no one.”
Taxpayers never get
accounting on how pork is divvied-up. Major scandals provide the
exceptional window. The Maguindanao murders led to audits that ripped
down curtains on how the Ampatuans fritted away pork and heftier
Internal Revenue Allotments.
administration … inserted transparency and accountability measures
into execution of the budget,” concluded former NEDA chair Solita
Monsod. She sifted, with usual thoroughness, through the draft budget
late last year. “(These can] ensure that expenditures don’t get
diverted or wasted.”
The Department of
Interior and Local Government spearheaded this “open-books” drive DILG
already pastes its budget, contracts and expenses on the Net. Go
transparent, DILG Local Secretary Jesse Robredo directed attached
agencies, from Philippine National Police to
As six-term mayor of
Naga, Roberdo made transparent that city’s financial data. He met
stiff opposition – but won accolades from Magsaysay Award Foundation
to World Bank. P-Noy’s first budget now casts a wider net.
About 20 centavos of
every taxpayers’ peso is cornered by crooks. So, we’re pleasantly
surprised this PNoy reform proposal got this far. Usually, such
changes would be mugged early on.
for transparency measures enabled Malacanang to mask, for some time,
that the lady burned P940 million for globe-trotting, just in her last
year as president. That’s 400 percent more than the P244.6 million
authorized by the budget.
The 2011 budget rules
“are a little more stringent now”, a key committee chairman
explained. "We're surprised by the marked difference. And nobody is
So far, that is.
“Rain wets a leopard's skin,” the Ghanian proverb says. “But it does
not wash out the spots.”
Led by Senate
President Juan Ponce Enrile and Speaker Feliciano Belmonte, the new
Congress approved mandatory posting. That is overdue – and welcome.
It does not mean both now preside over an assembly of once certified
rouges who’ve had a mass “Damascus
provisions will buttress the Government Procurement Reform Act. That
mandates posting of annual procurement plans, bid invitations and
winners. Outlets include the Internet, newspapers and bulletin boards.
Bad habits die hard,
however. Officials in many provinces and cities, like Congress, are
spoiled by sustained spending with sparse accounting. All sorts of
dodges will be used.
window-dressed it’s massive foreign debt by using outdated exchange
rates. COA rapped the knuckles of then mayor, now Congressman Tomas
Osmeña. On its official website, Congress posts it’s budget – of 2008.
clamor for transparency and a Freedom of Information Law. These are
powerful inducements, Robredo says. True. Even if not deliberately
smudged, mandatory postings are not self-implementing. They provide
data at most.
action must channel that clamor. Social Watch Philippines is a good
example of a citizen watchdog over the taxpayer’s peso. Universities
can focus their research on the budge impact on their environs.
Examples can be multiplied.
can help citizens ask those who spend their money the tough questions
“What (funds) have you got? Where did you get it from?” as British
Labor Party’s Labor’s Viscount Stangate (Tony Benn) would snap. “In
whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And
how do we get rid of you?”
God is not dead!
By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA, firstname.lastname@example.org
NOT only not dead. Nor
is he simply alive and kicking. He is actually intervening in our
lives every step and moment of the way. This is the fundamental truth
we need to disinter from the graveyard of our memory.
He is at the very core
of our being. He is in everything that exists around us. As St.
Augustine once said, while to know where he is may be difficult, it is
even more difficult to know where he is not. He is in the air, in the
light, in the darkness, and both outside and inside us. He is
While he is infinitely
supernatural to us, a hard reality worsened by our human condition
weakened and damaged by sin, there is always in us a flicker of a
divine longing, precisely because a link vitally exists between
Creator and a creature made in his image and likeness and adopted as a
child of his.
No matter how broken
that vital link may be, we can still manage to see glimpses of God’s
presence and power, his wisdom, his goodness and providence in the
most unexpected circumstances of our lives. Our consciences, no matter
how torn, cannot totally muffle God’s guiding voice for us.
The mystery of God
that is made more mysterious by our sinfulness should not be a
hindrance in our belief in God’s existence. If ever, that liability
could and should be turned into an asset, and later on, hopefully a
capital we can use to feed our continuing awareness of God’s presence.
That mystery should
not stop us from dealing with God. On the contrary! It should spur us
to ever look for him, believing in what Christ told us that it is in
asking that we shall be given, in seeking that we shall find, in
knocking that the door shall be opened to us.
It’s our choice to
make, of whether to live by faith, a divine gift that binds us with
God, or by our own reasoning, our own estimations and devices. Let’s
hope that we know what to choose, and not be confused by some
problems, difficulties and failures.
The other day, a
friend theorized that perhaps it’s not good to be very serious about
religion. He said that a number of supposedly good and holy men turned
out to be monsters. They personified the wolf in sheep’s clothing.
He mentioned not only
a string of very embarrassing scandals involving priests in many
countries found to have molested children. He pointed to the most
painful discovery that a founder of a religious group known for
religious conservatism and orthodoxy was later discovered to have
committed ugly crimes.
He fathered children
by different women, and worse molested his own son. Could God really
exist with these anomalies in high and holy places, he asked. Are we
not just making things up?
The observation is
truly a painful fact and we cannot deny it. But once I heard it, my
thoughts turned to the gospel truth of Jesus choosing among his
disciples one who would betray him, and Christ is supposed to be God
who knows everything.
It’s a mystery that
defies the most elevated level of our human logic. I know that God
respects and lets himself to play along with the twists and turns of
human freedom. I also know that we can be most vulnerable to the most
heinous kind of crimes when we let ourselves be spoiled by God’s
precious gifts to us.
But why should such
things happen? Could not the almighty God, in whom nothing is
impossible, not prevent it? The Catechism answers this question by
“God can sometimes
seem to be absent and incapable of stopping evil. But in the most
mysterious way God the Father has revealed his almighty power in the
voluntary humiliation and Resurrection of his Son, by which he
conquered evil.” (272)
It’s still a mystery.
But then again, the mystery, if handled with humble faith, actually
helps us to see God and to feel and experience is constant
interventions in our life.
It’s with faith that
we can get glimpses of God in the simplest events of our lives. It’s
the kind of faith that asks, that seeks, that knocks. Not the kind
that simply waits for miracles, since miracles happen only when we go
to Christ begging and confessing that we are nothing without him.
Let’s believe then,
so we can see God. Let’s not get entangled with our reasonings.
By RONALD O. REYES
December 21, 2010
Announcer 1: What’s the new theme song for teachers this Christmas
season? Radio Announcer 2: “Ang Pasko ay suma-bit!” (Christmas got
Funny or not, the
recent development hounding the teachers in the country is a stark
manifestation of how the government is taking our so-called “heroes”
Not only stalling the
releases of their much-anticipated Productivity Enhancement Incentive
(PEI), the government is also lying on its teeth when they announced
into the public, as being reported in national media, that said PEI
had been “readied” in advance so as to “make it up” with the teachers
when it also made a “delay” in the distribution of the same type of
remuneration in the past.
A delayed release of
PEI also means “denying” teachers an appreciation or even a gratitude
of their efforts to nation building. It seemed to this writer that
teachers are only “attractive” to the national government when there
is an election (and government short-changed them during this period,
has been “stereotyped” as low-profile, less-compensating, and socially
unappealing career in this country. The news on delayed releases of
their PEI worsen their already badly-cropped image.
Also, it seemed to me
that the national government has been into its “usual crime” of
demeaning the teachers, reducing them into beggars and potential
victims from “loan sharks”, and worst, stepping into their rights for
equal welfare and protection among other state workers.
In Tacloban city
alone, teachers would “salivate” when they would hear that its local
administration had reportedly distributed rice allowances and some
Twenty-five thousand pesos (P25,000) as its bonus allowances to its
many employees. And I don’t want to mention how much money the
personnel and officials from other big cities and our government-owned
and controlled companies (GOCCs) were receiving last week during their
annual Christmas parties as I don’t want to completely “break” the
hearts of our teachers this season. Likwise, the “pork barrel” and the
incentives received by our politicians.
I am always thinking
that our government is “short-changing” the teachers because they are
anxious or even feel bad of the big amount they owed to them. With
around 556,971 reported number of teachers both from elementary and
secondary plus their school heads, the government must have a
difficult time on how to deal with them “financially”, as PEI would
eventually caused the government coffer a whopping P5.57 billion. The
same story on how the government resorted to “installment basis” in
the increase of teachers’ salaries.
And if such is the
case, then the government must do the same thing to all government
agencies, or might as well stop this costly annual “bonus habit” of
The issue is not
whether the teachers from Luzon (and how I wish they should be the
last considering their proximity to national offices) who got the
first “share” of this year’s
PEI compared to those from Visayas or
Mindanao (here we go
again with our Philippines-is-Manila Region-Syndrome).
The issue is always
about why the government is prone of lying and financially limping our
hardworking teachers when we all know that they don’t deserve that
kind of treatment.
Over DYDW-Radyo Diwa
station in Tacloban city, two radio announcers raised the arguments on
why the distribution of P10,000 PEI is being delayed: First, so some
people in “DepEd” hierarchy would allegedly earn interest from its
depository bank; Second, profiteers and loan sharks (I personally knew
one in the regional office, too) allegedly operating in various
departments of DepEd throughout the country would find time to rake
their “interest” from the PEI proceeds of their loan borrowers.
So this is how our
teachers are being treated in this country. Yet, we seldom see or hear
teachers marching on the streets, protesting and demanding for their
Our teachers are
always like this. No wonder, many people and agencies are prone of
abusing them. (Comments @
About the writer:
Ronald O. Reyes is a freelance journalist
based in Tacloban City.