Saturday, December 15, 2007

When it is not black or white it is grey. But is there really a grey area?

I am perpetually amazed by this opinion maker's penchant to be more popish than the pope. My presumption is that he is losing his grip on the ratings game because he pretends to be the only person on earth who is right and the others are all wrong. In other words his listeners have started to turn their backs on him since he only looks at life either as black or white. No grey area.

One night, I had coffee with two close media buddies in Davao. Our conversation drifted towards the question whether there is such a thing as "grey area". When asked, I answered in the affirmative with the thought that only people like the broadcaster I earlier described do not believe on the existence of a grey area.

Yet, it struck me when one of the two respected Davao journalists pointed out that "there is only right and wrong, nothing in grey area". My writer friend stressed that "if it is not right then it is wrong".

After that coffee talk, I started to scan the web for more insights on the meaning of "grey area". I stumbled upon the word "moral relativism". In sum in means morality is relative to the cultural, social, personal or historical background of the person.

As a Catholic I acknowledged the existence of a Divine Being. I believe God is "the way, the truth and the life. He who believes in Him shall never die". So, in the back of my mind, I know there is only one truth and that is God. But, as a public relations practitioner I am subjected to many truths (Is there really many truths?) This has led me to become a little relative about what is the truth. (I am not trying to point out here that I peddle lies as truth that is why I have become less judgmental about the truth.)

As a communicator I always try to be more understanding to both sides. In my struggle to please others I fool myself into believing that there is indeed a "grey area" when there is none.

The plain truth is that there is only right and wrong. When you are wrong you are not right and when you are right you are not wrong. Nothing in between. Just like there is only an absolute God. One true God.

My only reason that I would like to believe that there is a “grey area” is that I don’t want to be judgmental. I would rather that man be allowed to use his free will whether he is right or wrong.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Trillanes failed "power grab", Makati standoff now lost in translation

The overriding message of the Makati standoff led by Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and Brig Gen. Danilo Lim was CHANGE.

There is moral bankruptcy in each and every social stratum. Corruption is in epidemic proportion in our country.

It is time to call for an honest to goodness moral revolution. It must start from each and every one of us, Filipinos. This moral revolution is not just for politicians, businessmen, church leaders but also for those in the middle class and the downtrodden.

The Philippines is in dire need of CHANGE. There is a "social volcano" waiting to erupt. If nothing is done about it, chaos will ensue. A civil war might not be farfetched.

Unfortunately, Trillanes, Lim and their cohorts the Magdalo group, former Vice President Teofisto Guingona, Bishop Julio Labayen, Fr. Robert Reyes and former University of the Philippines president Francisco Nemenzo Jr. garbled the message of CHANGE when they holed up at the Manila Peninsula to demand the resignation of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

When the police rammed the entrance of the plush hotel with an armored personnel carrier and hauled journalist covering the failed "rebellion", the media too lost its focus. Instead of homing in on the message of CHANGE, opinion writers and commentators are now talking about how their colleagues were manhandled by government forces out to restore law and order.

The message of CHANGE was lost in translation. We all failed to clearly process the situation because self interest came into play. The supporters of President Arroyo came up with there own message. The opposition also had their own message. The media too talked about their own predicament.

The crux of the matter here is that there is an unseen but clearly felt social unrest. This is because of the fact that our country is hounded by massive corruption and moral bankruptcy.

While we all whine over a decadent society, the businessmen who are experiencing economic stability, the middle class who are able to make both ends meet, the politicians who are recipients of "grease money" all refuse to rock the boat.

We should all focus on CHANGE. It must start from within.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Churchmen, CBCP shut up! Lead by example instead of just criticizing Arroyo

I think Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's presidency is hanging on the balance. I would like to believe that she is hard working and is doing a pretty good job in the economic front. But the lady president's administration is morally bankrupt. No question about it.

What is disturbing is the way the opposition and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) are behaving amidst the possibility of an eruption of a "social volcano".

Instead of providing a beacon of hope and encouraging the country to unite, fight moral bankruptcy and even poverty, the opposition and the Catholic church is setting the stage for a bloody revolution. They are inciting Filipinos to hate and become overly angry against the present administration.

"To start this moral revolution, I must cease to be dishonest, unjust and unfair to my fellow Filipinos. I will tell and act on the truth that I confess or affirm. I will return what I have unjustly and deceitfully acquired. Only then can I ask pardon from God and the people I have wronged," GMANews.TV, quoting the blog of CBCP president Angel Lagdameo.

But, Lagdameo was not speaking for himself, he was directing his statement to President Arroyo. "As a response to the state of moral bankruptcy in public life, of probably irremediable loss of credibility and trust, a call has been made for 'moral revolution.' If only to stop our country from continuing to become a 'social volcano' (Heaven help us!), we support the ideal of a 'moral revolution' — moral transformation, moral renewal, moral reform. The CBCP has proposed it before in many ways through the years. And we would like to say it again. Nothing new, but the resolve may be," he further stated.

"These are not purely socio-economic issues. The Church's social doctrine insists on their moral connotations. The relationship between morality and economics and poverty is necessary, intrinsic and reciprocal," he said

Look who's talking. A leader of the Catholic Church in the Philippines would only go as far as lambasting the present government. He would only go as far as criticizing the moral bankruptcy of the administration of President Arroyo.

But, Lagdameo and the CBCP are not ready to accept part of the blame. Please, we the laity have seen upfront and personal the excesses of the leaders of the Catholic Church. Some priests are reportedly involved in sexual abuse cases. There are bishops who we are told live a life of luxury. Even owning mansions and riding on SUV's while their flock could barely eat a square meal a day.
What did Jesus said when the Pharisees brought to Him a woman who committed adultery? He who has not sinned cast the first stone. I am sure the CBCP and the tongue-lashing Catholic Church leaders fully know this teaching of Jesus. But, what strikes me is that they don't seem to live by the words of Jesus. What abhors me is that they don't seem to practice what they preach.

Our country is in a cross road. We can choose as a nation to fight together the war against immorality, indecency, corruption and poverty. When I say together, I mean all of us and not just the politicians and Malacanang.

Or we can decide to heed the words of Lagdameo and the Catholic Church and even the opposition, to be angry and hateful at President Arroyo and her cabals. To look the other way amidst the callousness of the Catholic Church leaders as they live a life of comfort and luxury.

I hope we make the right choice.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Is media fickle minded?

As the lamp post controversy hit fever pitched months before the May 2007 polls, the media in Cebu were like savage beasts.

It relentlessly attacked government officials accused by a bidder who lost a contract at the height of the ASEAN summit preparations.

Like a hungry pack of wolves, the media in Cebu went for the jugular and slit the throats of government bureaucrats and politicians who were perceived to have pocketed millions.

The public, enraged by what they were made to believe as the mother of all corruption in Cebu would not settle for less until heads rolled down Mount Olympus. And so it happened, two mayors and their deputies, several DPWH men were placed in preventive suspension.

Six months after the controversy broke; one of the two Hizzoners was again accused of alleged corruption. This time the business community rallied behind the accuser.

The losing bidder who exposed the alleged lamp post overpricing publicly complained that he never got the same support that another whistle blower received from the financial sector.

Immediately after the public whining by the lamp post whistle blower, the Cebu media accused the guy of having a hidden agenda. The Cebu press began to question the person's credibility. They castrated the man for doing an expose without hard evidence.

But, if you will look back during the lamp post brouhaha, the media never questioned the credibility of the losing bidder, instead hailed the guy as a local hero. The members of the fourth estate practically took the person's statements like gospel truth then.

A few weeks ago, the media took the government to task for the "suicide" of a poverty stricken 12 year-old girl from Davao. A national broadsheet even labeled the girl as a "poverty saint".

A new twist to this story surfaced. The girl might not have committed suicide. Instead, she could have been murdered.

And so a hard hitting columnist of a Manila newspaper led the media to start beating their breast in mea culpa for coming up with ferocious statements against the failure of government to fight poverty.

Judging from these two separate media events, I am starting to ask the question whether the press is fickle minded. Are they?

Thursday, November 15, 2007

(Next Page) That suicide in Davao of a 12 year-old poverty stricken girl

Since the story of Marrianet Amper hogged the news headlines, we have been beating our breast in utter shame and even disbelief. We were awakened from a deep slumber of indifference to the fact that poverty is still staring us in the face. A national daily even went as far as branding the despondent teen as a "saint of poverty".

While her death sent shivers down our spine and eventually moved us as a nation into becoming more aggressive in our fight against destitution let us not parry the fact that depression, a mental state, can cause suicide.

"Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for teens. Girls try to commit suicide more often than boys. The important thing for you to know is that it doesn't have to happen. It is also important to know that suicide is not a heroic act, even though sometimes media images can make it seem so. Often, a person who is thinking about attempting suicide isn't able to see that suicide is never the answer to problems. Remember, there is always help – as well as support and love – out there for you or a friend," according to a respected medical internet site, WebMD.

We have become engrossed with media reports that Mariannet's suicide could have been triggered by her being mired in poverty. This can be gleaned by what she wrote in her diary detailing their impoverished state.

But there is another side to this melancholic tale. That, "many young people face high levels of stress and confusion, along with family problems. When you throw in raging hormones, it sometimes seems more than a teen can handle. Perhaps it’s not surprising that teen suicide is increasingly common...If you want to prevent suicide, it's important to understand depression. Depression is often used to describe general feelings of helplessness, worthlessness, and hopelessness. When teens feel sad or low, they often say they are depressed. While most of us feel sad or low sometimes, feelings of depression are longer lasting and often more serious."

It is not only when a teenager is dirt-poor that he is prone to suicide. Many young people who come from rich families are also apt to attempt suicide.

Here is a quick look at depression and suicide from WebMD:

"Depression and suicide sometimes go hand in hand, but it is important to remember that suicide can be prevented. In most cases, there are warning signs that an individual is considering a suicide attempt. The most effective way to prevent suicide is to recognize the warning signs, and respond immediately.

Some warning signs of suicide include the following behaviors:

  • Talking about suicide
  • Frequently talking about death
  • Talking about feeling hopeless, helpless, or worthless, saying things like "It would be better if I wasn't here" or "I want out"
  • Individual exhibits signs of depression, including deep sadness, loss of interest, trouble sleeping and eating
  • Abrupt change of mood, from extreme sadness to happiness or calm
  • Risk-taking behavior, e.g. driving too fast
  • Person exhibits loss of interest in things he used to care about
  • Person calls or visits people to say goodbye
  • Person seems to be putting affairs in order (e.g. changes will) ,

Along with these behaviors, a person is at higher risk of attempting suicide if he or she has a chronic or terminal illness, is separated or divorced, is underemployed or unemployed, or has a family history of suicide."

As we continue to mourn Marrient’s death, let us also focus on our youth and their mental state. Let us not take any chances. If you think there something is psychologically or emotional bothering you that might lead to suicide don’t waste time tell someone close to you or seek professional help.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

That suicide in Davao of a 12 year-old poverty stricken girl

The suicide of Mariannet Amper, a 12-year-old Filipina who lives in Davao is just the tip of our country's social iceberg. Despondent over the harsh reality of their family's poverty, she reportedly decided to end her own life by hanging herself inside their makeshift house.

It's a fact that many of our brethren our mired in abject fortune. But despite the political noise that has continued to reverberate in our nation, there are also many of us who are slowly getting out of the financial rut.

According to a survey, self-rated poverty has been on a decline. The Social Weather Survey stated that it ranged between 55 and 59 percent from December 2005 to June 2006. Now it’s in the vicinity of 47 to 53 percent. By all indication it is still on the high side, but if there is any consolation, it is going down. Meaning there is hope.

The problem is that our media is milking our penchant for underdogs for hideous profit consideration. The broadcast media in particular the giant television and radio networks come out with storylines that portray poverty as a valiant way of life that has to be lived.

Just watch the soap operas on prime time TV or listen to the afternoon drama on radio. Catch how Willie Revillame on Wowie induced people to cry as he dangles the prospect of getting 500 bucks. Listen to the emo music played over the airwaves and sang on karaoke bars. These music suggests suicide as an option.

Worse, many of us have this victim mentality. We brag about our dire strait, subconsciously preferring to stay poor if only to feel good inside. Nauseating, but evidently true.

Notice how PUJ drivers insist on changing their flat tires in the middle of the road for all to see even if it will cause a traffic jam. Go to a politician's house and see the long line of people asking for anything under the sun even bringing with them fake doctor's prescription to ask for money.

It's hypocritical for us to complain and lay blame solely on government and our corrupt politicians.

In the end, we are all to blame for the death of that little girl. Her blood is in our hands because either we choose to ignore the poor or we would rather want them to stay poor for our own pathetic interest.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The fault is yours and yours alone

Do not allow a golden parachute to fall to the ground without hanging on to it to heal the wounds of your past.

In your lifetime there will be several life changing moments that would come your way. It could be in the form of a family crisis, a loved one who without warning becomes terminally ill or it can be a broken vow.

As you stroll to the present, you leave behind moments of time that will haunt you in the future. It is not impossible to leave a trail of your bastard past. You are only human and as such prone to commit tempestuous acts.

And when your past finally catches up with you and it always will, you will experience
deep-seated emotional, psychological and spiritual anguish.

In turn, this will affect your relationship with the people around you, your friends, relatives and more particularly your very own family. Most unfortunate, you will not even realize that your haunted past is destroying you and tearing your world apart. Often you will blame others except yourself.

Luckily, the universe where you revolve, although often belatedly, will start to get their acts together to help you keep your balance. They will strive to help you restore your sanity and give you a priceless memento - peace of mind. You will resist for a time, but pray that soon you will see the light of day.

As these unfold, the people around you will also stitch the emotional, psychological and spiritual wounds that happened in their own past.

And so true healing occurs. You will someday be freed from the pain of yesteryears. Your loved ones will also benefit from the process.

Except that there are some of us who perennially misses to capture the golden moments of healing that usually stares us in the face. It is either by willful action or just plain inaction.

In the end, the fault will be your and yours alone.

Monday, November 05, 2007

The sins of our fathers

I have read about a prostitute whose mother was at one time in her life was also engaged in the flesh trade. I have read about an alcoholic father whose son later became hooked on alcohol.

I have also read about a pious mother who has a daughter now serving a life sentence. I have also read about a hardworking father who has a drug dependent son.

More often than not, a renegade parent begets a problematic child. But what surprises me is how a God-fearing mother or a father who is a good provider can have a child who is the exact opposite.

This goes to show that there is no assurance of what your child will become. But I have this theory.The sins of our fathers are the root cause of why there are children who as adults become a bane to society. But to blame the sins of our fathers as the reason why there are children who as adults create chaos is grossly unfair.

The sad reality is that the sins of our fathers are the result of the sins committed by there fathers before them. And so a vicious cycle is created.

I am not talking here of sin in the spiritual sense. But rather I refer to sin here as a parental failure or mistake that is unintentional. Or if I may point out more clearly, a parenting act that is born out of lack of understanding about being a parent.

Parenting is the most difficult job in the world. Yet, there is no curriculum anywhere in the world that teaches parenting. If you want to be a builder you have to take up a five year course in engineering. If you want to heal the sick you have to study medicine for up to ten years. If you want to hear confession and say mass you have to enter the seminary and become a priest.

But if you wish to become a parent all you have to do is find a partner and the next thing you know is that you have a child. I don’t know of any curriculum in the world that will prepare you to become a father or a mother to your child. Yet, parenting is considered by many as the most important work in human society.

Despite the lack of parenting skills, not having undergone a parenting course since none is available anyway, there are still so many more children who become adults that live a life fulfilled.

This is because there are also so many parents while ignorant about parenting have consciously made it a point to connect emotionally with there children. Emotional connection is a very important ingredient in bringing up a child who will become at peace with himself as an adult.

A child who lives in fear, a child who is insecure, a child who feels unloved can grow up disturb and unstable. A child who is praised more but sometimes put to task for a mistake committed may soon understand that life is kind but not perfect.

You are a product of who you were as a child. Who you are today is the sum total of your past. So if you are who you are now probably sad, angry or depress there is no one to blame except you. For what you will become tomorrow is how you live your life at the present.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

What's emo and the youth of today?

While walking with friends along the sugar beach of boracay on a moonless night, I was eavesdropping on a conversation between a teenager and a lifestyle editor. It was the first time I heard the word emo to describe a genre of music. A week later I heard my son described being alone as "emo". While I was choosing a theme for my multiply site, I saw several designs by young artists labled as "emo".

So I finally decided to "wiki" the word emo and this is what I found: "Emo is a style of rock music which describes several independent variations of music with common stylistic roots."

"Emo is also sometimes associated with a certain fashion. Emo clothing is characterized by tight jeans on males and females alike, long fringe (bangs) brushed to one side of the face or over one or both eyes, dyed black, straight hair, tight t-shirts which often bear the names of rock band (or other designed shirts), studded belt, belt buckles, canvas sneakers or skate shoes or other black shoes (often old and beaten up) and thick, black horn-rimmed glasses."

"As certain fashion trends and attitudes began to be associated with "emo", stereotypes emerged that created a specific target for criticism. In the early years of the "third wave", the criticism was relatively light-hearted and self-effacing. In ensuing years, the derision increased dramatically. Male fans of emo found themselves hit with homosexual slurs, largely a reflection of the style of dress popular within the "emo scene" and the purported displays of emotion common in the scene."

My understanding of "emo" is simple. It's the shortcut for the word emotion/emotional.

When I was a teenager I learned that being emotional is only for women. But a June 2006 article by the Reader's Digest entitled "Big Boys Don't Cry stated that "new research reveals that a man's emotional life is a complex and rich as a woman's, but often remains a mystery - both to him and to her. Although emotions have long been considered a female trademark, men report feelings as often as women, and describe their experience of emotions similarly.

It is only recently that the human race has started to accept the fact that men have emotions too. Except that they always have kept it in check because showing it was considered a sign of weakness.

Since the world is now more ready to see men show their emotions, the modern day teens have coined the word emo to describe the act of expressing emotions. In this way, the blog and social networking generation is trying to make the word more fashionable and acceptable. In this way, when men expresses emotion it becomes trendy. What do you think?

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"Measure of a Man"

"I am who I am, and whenever I am treated in a way that I feel is contrary to how I hold myself, I will defend myself by improving myself," he says. "The more I improve myself, the more of a man I become, the more of a humane person I become."

This was what Sidney Poitier told millions of audience who watched Oprah Winfrey Show one day. It was "The Dinner of a Lifetime with Sidney Poitier"..."It was an event months in the making—the dinner of a lifetime for one of Oprah's heroes, Sidney Poitier.

Enthralled with Sidney from the time she was 10 years old and saw him win the Academy Award® on her black-and-white television, Oprah set out to create a magical evening with Sidney and seven lucky readers of her book club selection The Measure of a Man."

After watching that episode, I could not stop thinking about what Sidney Poitier said during that dinner interview. I rushed to find his book in National Bookstore. Since I could not find one, I decided to search Oprah's website hoping to find excerpt of that interview.

Luck was on my side. I found the entire interview, the conversation among guests. It was transcribed and posted on Oprah's website. And so I now have the exact quote that I was looking for.

As we reached adolescence, we start to search for our very own identity. Unfortunately, many of us end up hooked in drugs or become alcoholic for the very simple reason of failing to answer the question, "Who am I?".

This has got to do with how people around us help create for us our sense of who we are. This has got to do with how people criticize or praise us. As a social being we want to belong. When we live a life of too much praise or abundant criticism, we begin to lose our personal identity. We no longer could not answer the very important question, "Who am I?".

I know who I am. I know my strength and my weaknesses. Everyday I am bombarded with contradicting statements about who I am from people I meet and from persons close to me. Like Sidney Poitier, I have learned to fully understand who I am. If I am told that what I think about me is not what others think of me then I step back, remind myself of my identity and work hard to strengthen my being.

I strive to become who I always want to become while conscious of the fact that I am only human born to do what's right but bound to commit mistakes.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Land Bank Robs Customer of Self Worth

One day, I accompanied my Mom and Dad to a Land Bank branch in Cebu City. As usual, line in this government bank is long. What with slow poke tellers. So having to wait a long time for your turn in this bank is not abnormal.

My dad who is almost a septuagenarian needed to go to the rest room. To his horror the security guard led him out of the bank since he is not welcome to use the rest room inside.

So my dad had to go out and look for a comfort room to answer the call of nature. He had to pay 20 bucks to avail of the service from an establishment just near the bank.

As my dad went out of Land Bank, another old fellow approached the security guard of the bank to ask where the men's room was. To my shock the security guard led the man outside of the bank where there teller machine used to stand. He was told that's where he can relieve himself.

Angry at how my dad was treated, rather humiliated, my mom approached the bank manager to report the way my dad's self worth was broken into pieces. The bank manager profusely apologized but her slip showed when she explained that the use of there bathroom is on a case to case basis because of security reasons. She went on to explain that the location of there comfort room is very near the bank's vault. In sum it's a security risk.

Clearly, the security guard was just doing his job. He was just following orders. Clearly, the error is not of the lowly paid guard but how this bank treats there customer. Imagine, placing a rest room very near the bank's safe. Its not hard to imagine that such layout is indeed a security risk.

But, the executives of this bank should have thought that while the location of there comfort room is a security risk, they are robbing there customer blind by having to shoo them out of there branch when nature calls.

I hope that after you read this you will pass on this blog until it reaches the president of Land Bank. They cannot just continue to rob there customer of there self worth.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Jousnalist at Work

Shooting to kill
September 28th, 2007, filed by David Viggers

In this Reuters picture reproduced on newspaper front pages all round the world today, Japanese videojournalist Kenji Nagai lies dying in the street, still trying to record the scenes of violence after he was shot through the chest when soldiers fired live rounds at protestors in Yangon yesterday.

Kenji Nagai of APFKenji Nagai of APF

It is a chilling image and yet another reminder, as if any were needed, of the risks faced by the thousands of journalists whose job it is to bring us the news from areas of conflict and instability. At least Kenji Nagai had chosen to be there. He lost his life putting faces to what without pictures are just numbers.

My condolences to Kenji Nagai’s family, friends and colleagues.

Long Live the Internet

Myanmar forces swoop on protests in two cities, Internet cut

28/09/2007 15h54

Monks and their supporters run as police crack down on demonstrations in Yangon
©AFP/Moemaka Media/File

YANGON (AFP) - Security forces moved to crush protests in Myanmar's two biggest cities Friday, unleashing warning shots and baton charges, and cutting Internet access in the third day of a deadly crackdown.

The Internet blockage severely reduced the flow of video, photos and first-hand reports of the violence, which has left at least 13 people dead, galvanising world opinion against the ruling generals.

Up to 10,000 demonstrators surged onto the streets of the main city of Yangon Friday, playing a deadly game of cat-and-mouse as they repeatedly confronted police and soldiers.

In the central city of Mandalay, thousands of young people on motorbikes rode down a major thoroughfare towards a blockade set up by security forces who unleashed a volley that witnesses believed could have been rubber bullets.

Intent on quelling the biggest anti-government demonstrations in 20 years, the ruling junta has also mounted an offensive against the Buddhist monks who have led nearly two weeks of mass rallies.

With dozens of monks arrested, beaten or confined to their monasteries, the mantle has now been taken up by student groups and youths who dominated Friday's rallies.

Images of Burmese clashes. Duration 00:30
©Democratic Voice of Burma
"The monks have done their job and now we must carry on with the movement," said one student leader in downtown Yangon.

"This is a non-violent mass movement," he shouted as demonstrators tried to move towards the Sule Pagoda, one of the focal points of the demonstrations.

At a separate protest in Yangon, around 500 people marched in the streets, singing the national anthem as thousands applauded them from the sidewalks.

Monks, revered figures in this devout Buddhist nation, helped transform what began as a scattershot series of protests over a hike in fuel prices into the stiffest challenge to the junta's military rule since 1988.

But since the crackdown was launched Wednesday, at least three monks have been killed and hundreds arrested, including eight more on Friday in Yangon and Mandalay.

At least two monasteries were raided Wednesday, including one in Yangon's northeastern satellite town of South Okkalapa, where about 100 Buddhist monks were arrested and eight people shot dead after protesting the action.

In the wake of the violence, which shocked Myanmar people who hold monks in the highest regard, western diplomats said they had received information from several sources about "acts of insubordination" within the army.

Armed troops take position in the streets of central Yangon

"We heard that some soldiers have refused to obey orders and that others were even willing to stand alongside the demonstrators," one Yangon-based diplomat told AFP.

A telecom official confirmed that the nation's main link to the Internet was down, but blamed the problem on a damaged undersea cable.

Security forces have also smashed cameras and cellphones, and beaten people who were carrying them. Several newspapers in the country, which was formerly known as Burma, are no longer operating.

The official tally of dead and injured has been impossible to confirm. State media confirmed nine people were killed this week, but insisted that only 120 protesters turned out on Friday.

The Australian ambassador to Myanmar, Bob Davis, told Australian radio that the actual death toll may have been several times higher, according to witnesses who had seen significant numbers of dead bodies.

A Japanese journalist was among those killed Thursday, and Japan's Fuji Television showed footage which appeared to show him being shoved down by Myanmar troops and then shot at close range.

A street is littered with blood and sandals from protesters in Yangon

US President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown renewed their call to the Myanmar junta to end the violent crackdown, after discussing the crisis Friday.

The 47-member UN Human Rights Council decided to hold a special session on October 2 to examine the unrest in Myanmar.

And the Association of Southeast Asian Nations issued an unusually critical statement on its fellow member Myanmar, expressing "revulsion" over the use of force against demonstrators.

UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari was in Singapore on Friday, headed to Myanmar in a bid to convince the junta to open dialogue with democracy activists.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

What is Love to a Four Year Old Boy?

The past few weeks, I noticed my four year old son kept telling me “I love you, papa”. I would reply “I love you too, Rigo”.

So one day I asked him an adult question. I knew before lodging the query that it would be unfair to him. I was confident that he knew the answer except that he could not blurt it out since his fragile mind is still in the process of maturing.

Anyway, I proceeded to asked him, “Rigo when you say I love you papa, what do you mean by love.” In my effort to communicate to him in the language he understands I rephrased the question over and over again. I could not seem to say it in the words he will comprehend.

So I stuck to my earlier question and asked him what he meant by love. Rigo then blurted out “love is kiss girl” then he gave me a sheepish smile along with a wily giggle.

I was taken aback. For one I know he knows what love is. I know because he has lots of it from the people around him. He feels it and he expresses it. I also know that he could not explain it to me yet.

But to answer me “love is kiss girl” showed that he has other concepts of love, the one that I usually call the “Hollywood love”.

Ever since, my thoughts on love have always been a far cry from the romanticism that we see on television and the movies. I stand that love comes from the WILL and not a product of the EMOTIONS.

If you use your will to love then it would be easier or harder to fall out of love, depending on how mature your will is.

If you use your emotions to love then you will be more dependent on external factors such as looks, smell or attitude. Any slight external change by your partner can precipitate love lost.

So, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways”.

In Defense of Press Freedom

Just when journalists wrote 30 on this year’s Cebu Press Freedom Week, a lawyer dropped a bombshell that sent shockwaves throughout the media industry.

Nestor Archival, lawyer of Senior Insp. Jose Liddawa Jr. “whose car collided head on with a pick-up of ABS-CBN last week and figured in an altercation with the news crew” turned the tables on the giant network.

He said contrary to the news report over channel three in Cebu, Liddawa was “the real victim” and that the broadcast news report did not tell the entire truth.

He pointed out that at the end of the story, ABS-CBN footage showed Liddawa “collapsed on the ground.”

According to The Freeman, Archival “was able to gather witnesses who can testify that the TV crew mauled his client and not bystanders.”

The “lawyer said that just like the statements of the witnesses, who were owners of stores near the site of the accident, the ABS-CBN insider told him that it was (Ramil) Paican, (Joel) Noel and the crew’s driver who mauled his client and not the bystanders as the network earlier reported,” The Freeman further stated.

As a public relations practitioner my initial reaction to the lawyer’s statement was that it was a very clever spin. It was enough to create reasonable doubt. But, after giving it much thought, I got very much worried about the allegations made by Liddawa’s defense attorney.

It was a mouthful. To accuse a news organization, a giant network at that of peddling a lie or reporting half truth is very serious. The statements by the lawyer could be tantamount to an affront to press freedom.

I always believe that there are two sides of a story just like there are two sides of a coin. So, it beckons upon ABS-CBN to conduct a thorough investigation to ferret the truth. I am confident that ABS-CBN will do what needs to be done to protect its credibility.

It is also incumbent upon the media to ensure that there will be no whitewash so that the credibility of the Cebu press, which up to now is held on high esteem, is firmly protected.

The public deserves no less.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

How dare you accuse Erap Estrada!

Over six years ago, former Vice President Teofisto Guingona who was then a member of the Philippine Senate delivered his “I Accuse” speech. The verbal attack cloaked with the veil of immunity against lawsuits such as libel or slander ignited the flame that would turn the life of former Philippine President Joseph Estrada into an inferno.

Erap, as he is fondly called by the millions of Filipino masses that voted him President was charged for receiving hundreds of millions of pesos from the illegal numbers game, jueteng.

Sensing public outrage against Erap, Senate President Manny Villar who was then House Speaker and political ally of Estrada railroaded the impeachment proceedings in the Lower House.

It started a full blown impeachment trial against a sitting president, a first in Philippine history. The hearing came to an eerie end when allies of Estrada in the Senate opposed the opening of the second envelope, which was widely believed to have contained damning evidence against Erap.

People power II ensued after the public, who were glued on there television sets for weeks to watch the impeachment trial unfold, saw Senator Loren Legarda shed crocodile tears.

She wanted the Filipinos to see that she was deeply moved by what many thought was a heroic act of Senator Aquilino Pimentel, then senate president. Pimentel stepped down as head of the senate after Erap’s men in the upper chamber successfully stopped the opening of the second envelope.

Even Senator Panfilo Lacson who was then Estrada’s PNP top honcho turned his back on his commander in chief after seeing millions of people in Edsa demanding for Erap’s ouster.

After being booted out of office by a popular revolt, Erap was criminally charged. He faced six years of court trial. As the hearing drag on people who played a key role in the ouster of Estrada like Guingona, Villar, Legarda, Pimentel, Lacson sang a new tune.

Nauseating as it may seem, these people together with advocacy organizations like Plunder Watch and cause-oriented groups who helped install Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as Erap’s replacement are the same political figures who now consider PGMA as public enemy number one.

So they have been trooping to the rest house of Erap where he is, for all intent and purposes, under house arrest. As the saying goes, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”.

The ouster of Estrada benefited politicians like Guingona. He was named vice president by PGMA when she assumed the highest post of the land. Villar ran and won as senator under the ticket of President Arroyo. These two political figures sealed Estrada’s fate.

Days before the Sandiganbayan announced its guilty verdict against Erap, Plunder Watch and several cause-oriented groups were rooting for Estrada’s acquittal. These were the very same groups that went out to the streets six years ago to demand Erap’s resignation.

How dare you accuse Erap Estrada!

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Erap’s conviction is PGMA’s indictment

This morning, the Sandiganbayan found former President Erap Estrada guilty of plunder, a capital offense punishable by life imprisonment or even death. Days before the judgment day some quarters started to become jittery because of fear that a guilty verdict might open old wounds and induce Erap supporters to go to the streets to seek redress.

When the guilty verdict was announced none of the worst case scenario thought of by the present administration happened. But, it’s too early for our nation to heave a sigh of relief.

Despite being booted out of office six years ago through a popular revolt, Erap without a doubt, continues to wield tremendous power among the masses. Surveys show that his popularity and acceptability rating remains in the double digit zone.

Judging from initial news reports on television and news sites on the web, several high profile anti-Arroyo leaders are one in saying that the conviction of Erap for plunder is an indictment of the present administration for much worse crimes.

If the advisers of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will commit the same strategic blunder that led to the failed May 1, 2001 mass revolt, she could face the same angry mob all over again.

The ominous signs are clear. The mass protest showing support for Erap fizzled out fast. But, there is a growing sentiment among the people that, while Erap deserved the guilty verdict, PGMA must be the next leader of the land to face a court trial. There is an ocean of thought that PGMA has committed far greater crimes than her predecessor.

This is scary. If this growing sentiments is not handled well it might spell trouble for the present administration already in a survival mode.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Pain as an emotional anesthetic

All along I thought tonsillitis was only for children until at 38 I was hit by it. I could hardly talk. I could not even swallow my own saliva. Just before midnight of the third day of suffering what was clearly an acute tonsillitis, my wife prodded me to see a doctor. So off I went to the nearest e.r.

The doctor who saw me told me to thank myself for making the right choice of seeing a physician just before my inflamed tonsils would have fully covered my trachea giving me difficulty in breathing.

For one week I suffered intense discomfort. I had to force myself to eat so that I could take my medications. I was warned not to take my pills with an empty stomach. I had to prod myself to drink water if only to swallow my antibiotic.

At every instance I tried to lull myself to sleep so that I would not feel any physical pain.

Fourteen days after my bout of tonsillitis, I suffered from bicipital tendonitis, an inflammation of the tendons. For a few days it was very difficult to move about because any bodily motion would trigger intense pain on my injured left shoulder.

My left arm was on a sling so that the swelling will heal faster. I had to endure two weeks of having to use only my right arm.

As I was subjected to intense physical ache I was also undergoing extreme emotional pain.

Belatedly, I realized that physical pain can be a form of emotional anesthetic. As I suffered severe physical discomfort I became emotionally numb. I was so engross in battling my physical hurt I could not feel any emotional displeasure.

When my bodily pain was long gone and my emotional ache was healed I tried to choose what’s more bearable if I have to suffer any of it again.

I think I will choose neither of the two intense experiences. I know someday one or both kinds of pain will come back to disturb my peace. But I will be consoled by the thought that I have been through it before and that I will be able to weather the storm.

Worst Case of Unfriendly Customer Service

Last week I was singing hosanna to Shangri-la Mactan’s superb customer service.

This week I experienced one of the worst cases of customer service by a computer store in Cebu.

I bought a second hand computer last June 27 from Fast Win Computer Enterprises located in Mandaue City, Cebu.

When I brought it home, the computer would hang no end. So I had to return it for them to check what’s wrong. A few days later they informed me it was due to a defective motherboard.

They replaced the motherboard and then I had the PC picked up from there store. Another problem cropped up. This time they replaced the sound card.

Just when I thought the computer was fully okay, it cannot connect to the wi-fi. I had to bring it back to there store for yet another check up. They advised me to change my wi-fi card saying that it’s defective and it is the cause of all the glitch.

Since I had an extra wi-fi card I had it replaced. I was hoping they would test the replaced part before they give back my PC so that I don’t have to bring it back to them if it doesn’t work. Unfortunately, they said there wi-fi connection in there store is fully utilized that they cannot get a signal so that I had to do the testing in my house.

These entire problems happened in the course of one month. Meaning, the computer was not being used for a month after it was bought.

Exasperated, I called up a computer technician friend who is also in charge of maintaining our office computer network for help.

My friend hesitated to open the CPU since doing so will void the warranty. He advised me to call Fast Win and request the store to allow him to open the CPU and check the problem without voiding the warranty. He even told me to point out to Fast Win that since I bought the computer a month ago it has not been used because of the several glitches. Despite there effort to repair the problems they have not succeeded.

So I called the store and related to them the problem. Since the person who answered my call could not decide on my request, she asked me my contact number so that her manager can discuss it with me. A week has pass, I have not received any call.

Finally, I gave up waiting for that call from Fast Win. I decided to risk voiding the warranty so that my computer technician friend can start fixing it. At last the computer is up and running. All it took was for me to buy a brand new sound card. Adjustment in the bios and CPU settings were also implemented.

If not for my computer technician friend, I would have continued to bring back and forth the CPU to Fast Win for repairs and who knows it could take eternity before it gets fixed.

Customer service is the new ball game in business. Sadly, Fast Win Computer Enterprise, while selling high tech products is still low tech when it comes to customer service.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Jomarie of Shangri-la Mactan

Over a week ago, I suffered, what my physiatrist termed bicipital tendinitis. In short it’s an inflammation of the tendons. So my left arm was placed on a sling. It will be on a sling for another week. This is not the first time that I had this kind of injury. According to my medical records I had the same problem four years ago. But, it was my right arm then that suffered intense pain.

Poor Samantha, my Doberman is being blamed as the cause of my injured left arm. I regularly walk her to give her the exercise that a sporting dog needs.

Actually, it is I that needs to do 30 minutes of walking regularly. My dog has given me the will to persevere in walking for 30 minutes at least three times a week.

They say a tired dog is a happy dog. So I make it a point to walk her regularly. In seeing to it that my Dobie gets her daily dose of exercise I too am able to maintain my weight, keep my blood pressure in check and live a healthy life.

A few days ago I had dinner with two of Cebu’s most respectable journalists and Globe Telecom’s corporate communications head at Cowrie Cove, Shangri-la Mactan.

Since it was a Thursday, dinner was buffet. It was a spectacle of fresh sea foods from lobsters, tuna to prawns. Since I’m allergic to lobster and I want to enjoy the restaurants excellent house white wine, I decided to forego eating lobster so that I don’t have to take an antihistamine.

The mouthwatering prawns looked irresistible. I was toying with the idea of asking a waiter to serve me some prawns with its shell taken out. I decided not to bother anyone.

Since my left arm was on a sling, I decided to limit myself to all the other sea foods that would not cause me any allergy.

Lo and behold as I was feasting on the fresh bounty of the sea, Jomarie, Cowrie Cove’s outlet in charge walked towards our table with a plate full of prawns. He went near me and told me that he knows I would have loved to eat prawns except that it would be a big hassle because my left arm is on a sling.

So he said he brought in a plate full of prawns with shells cut and ready to eat so that all I have to do is use my right arm and with a fork enjoy the sumptuous prawns.

Eating in a restaurant is a way of life for me. As a public relations practitioner, I usually talk things over with clients, the media or stakeholders in a restaurant.

But, it was only in Shangri-la Mactan did I experience service extraordinaire. Jomarie of Cowrie Cove did not only make my evening it also surprised my companions.

Many times over, like a broken record I always remind my eldest son, now 13, to think of others. What Jomarie did that night was an epitome of thinking of others. Kudos to Jomarie and more power to Shangri-la Mactan.

Silence is deafening

I live in the city all my years. Sunset is not an ordinary sight for me to behold. But I always love the sunset. It does not signal the end of the day but the coming of a new tomorrow.

When we were young, my grandparents and my mother use to bring us to Banatayan Island specifically in Suba, Bantayan to the family house of my grandfather. My mom once told me a simple anecdote about my great grandmother, the mother of my grandfather. My great grandmother was once asked why she had no TV in her home.

She replied, I don't need a TV. Just look at how beautiful the sunset is and you will never need a television to give you the visual pleasures your heart desire. The vista is more than what a television can give you. In all humility, she pointed at the sunset, a big fireball slowly descending from the sky above. It silhouettes the several islands scattered along the vast sea that is facing the ancestral house. It also provides a beautiful orange ray on the small boats parked by fisher folks as they await the evening to head off to fish another day.

Every time, we stayed in Suba where we numbered around 100 relatives during Holy Week we can never stop to marvel the sunset. New visitors who join us during Holy Week won't hesitate to finish whatever film they brought for the holidays just to get the best shot of the sunset. (There were no digital cameras then in the late 70's.

When I had the chance to stay in Balicasag Island, off Panglao Island in Bohol last Holy Week, I could not stop using my Sony Ericsson K610i. I first took pictures of the hut without anybody inside it. Then I asked my brother to stay put inside the hut as I clicked on the shutter until my hands numb in utter excitement. Then when the sun was at its lowest, I requested my eldest son to sit down with his uncle and pose for me and for the SE K610i I was using.

My son and my brother sat there mincing no words, all they did was face the sunset. But the silence grew so loud that my ears could hardly take it. I wondered where the sound came from. I looked around and all I could see were few people walking on the beach just marveling the sunset.

At first I could not make sense of what I heard. It was like a sonic boom of a passing jet plane, and then it sounded like a rouge wave about to devour the entire island. Only later did I realize that the sound came from my heart and my soul.

Suddenly, calm beset me. I fully understood what the sound was all about. In the stillness of that afternoon, when the sun was setting, I was told that life is not going to be over. That it was just about to begin when the sun rises in the east the day after.

As we watched the sunset, we usually wax melodrama in our heart and soul fearing the coming of December. That April will long be gone and the coldness of the night will induce us into an everlasting slumber.

Fear not, for sunset is the ultimate gesture that there is tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Journey Along

I can go on and on and yet I am not anywhere near my destination. But I know I am not lost. I am certain I am not wandering either.

After frolicking with politics for almost three years the circumstance brought me back to the corporate world.

First thing I noticed my blood pressure has normalized. I am able to drive back home before sun down when before I get home as darkness envelopes our little abode.

My teenage son no longer has to suffer listening to the news or radio commentaries. I also get the chance to dialog with him as I negotiate the after work traffic.

As soon as I arrive home around late afternoon or early evening I change to exercise attire. My four year old son rides his bike while I walk my doberman around the neighborhood.

While my routine has changed, while my energy and creativity is now solely used inside the board room I have not really waved the white flag on politics. Except that it is now in the back burner.

Before I immersed myself in the world of politics I get easily upset with how politicians run government. I was in the impression that politicians should not lay claim to the word public servants. I shuddered at the mere thought of politics.

These entire notions about politics and politicians have changed when I had the opportunity to work for a family of true-blooded public servants. I saw how they gave up there personal space to accommodate the needs of the populace.

Unfortunately, they were sorely misunderstood. I don’t blame the people who chose not to understand them. Like the rest of humanity, I too had the same assumptions before I dabbled with politics.

As I wandered along memory lane, I realized that it is us, the people being served who needs to change if we want change in the first place. There is nothing wrong with politics and politicians.

They entered the game with the intention to be good public servants. But, we the people cajole them. We seduce them. We coax them to do things the way we don't want it done.

Think about it as you journey along.