To Survive, Eat Arts
This is the talk I delivered at the 40th United Architects of the Philippines National Convention last Saturday, April 12, at the SMX, redacted to be read rather than be heard and seen as I had a lot of visual support.
On my 65th birthday in June this year, I plan to launch my own sensual photography book of women. I love taking pictures and I love women in a universal sense, so I thought I could combine the two loves by coming up with a third love, books. There are sixteen women featured in the book, from age 17 to 62. All of them are personal friends, including my wife. Except for one, none of them are professional models. These are strong, lovely independent-minded women who discovered more of their power through the exercise.
Why Nude Women?
Now, if your question to me is how did I convince women friends to shed their inhibition and show some skin, you are out. I think the most essential question at this point is why am I coming out with this book at all. And I say to you: why not? It is a dream. It is a fantasy. So why not go for it?
Less than ten years ago, I was telling people, I would be okay just to live up to 60 years old. But then, I thought, that would be a self-fulfilling prophecy, considering that when we visualize strongly enough, scenes do come true. So when I was about to reach 60, I said, Lord erase, erase, erase! I want to live up to 100.
Climb Your Mountain
I keep seeing and admiring photos of Mt. Pulag, the second highest mountain in the Philippines. They show clouds dancing with the orange burst of dawn. I told myself, I’d want to take such photos myself. Of course, the only way was to climb Mt. Pulag. So I did. It was February and very cold, the air rarified. I was the oldest person in that horde that ascended that day. I wasn’t easy. I have asthma classified as COPD. I almost died. But I got one item on the list, checked.
The questions that beg to be asked are: how safe or how risky are those things-to-do in our list? How far would we dare venture out of our comfort zone? How much pain are we willing to take in for a moment of joy? Having built our career, would we raze it down and rebuild it? Could we be like children? We may patiently construct a Lego castle only for them to kick it down soon after, with laughter. We are born free, curious and expansive. Those of you who have small children or apos in their house will remember how we ourselves acted.
One of my grandchildren, named Jaiichi, is deeply fascinated by keys. He observes how a key is inserted into a knob and a panel opens. He observes how a key is inserted into a slot, and a car starts. It is magic. So he demands for a key and tries them in holes. We had to buy plastic outlet covers to prevent further accident. Because he got jolted by electricity before that and he just gave a sheepish smile. Only for him to try inserting the key again!
That is how we are as children, we explore. We are full of wonderment.
To Be A Child
But as we grow up, we get clamped down by norms and conventions. We start to create our bubble – to protect ourselves from the pain, the embarrassment, the rejection, the disappointments in life. Sometimes we measure our worth by how people rate us, or by the number of likes on Facebook. Sus ginoo. Can’t we be carefree or stupid sometimes? In the creative industry, brainstorming is one of the most liberating exercises. Here, there is no such thing as a stupid idea. A stupid idea could lead to a brilliant concept.
I asked the guests not give any gift but to donate cash instead to an advocacy that I was starting. In the same year, I was gripped by a vision, a vision that obsesses me up to now. And this is: the creative content industry could be a substantial contributor to our economic growth as well as to a robust culture.
Together with some colleagues in the comics and animation sectors, we planned a festival. We had exhibits, drawing competitions, workshops, foreign guests, recognition rights, talks and lectures, the works. But these cost a lot of money and we were working against negative factors. One, we represented two moribund sectors. There used to be a Golden Age of comics and the Philippines was the choice of animation producers. But now these are neglected, exploited sectors. Who would support losers like those?
Walk the Talk
I had to put my foot where my mouth is. So, with the consent and support of my wife, I borrowed money against my insurances. Plus, we mortgaged our property and borrowed from individuals. For something that was non-profit and non-stock – if you are a banker or a finance officer – that was pure madness. What makes the position of creative people in the Philippines difficult is the establishment bias and stereotyping, and not just apathy, against the arts.
We have forgotten that it is innate for man to draw. The caveman not only wanted to record his world and the events that occurred herein, but he needed to comprehend and even beautify his world. So, while he hunted for food and sought protection from the elements, he drew his apprehension and aspiration on the wall. He probably invented primitive pencils first way before the wheel.
But what do we hear? Hoy, ano ba yang pa-art arts mo dyan, makakain ba yan? Early on we curtail the natural tendency of our children to express, which is what art is all about. We try to subdue his right brain and impose the preference for logic over intuition even when management schools teach that when all approaches fail, use your intuition. Blink!
Defining Who We Are
These grown-ups become heads of government and custodians of institutions. That is why we do not have a Department of Culture or a Department of Creative Content, unlike other countries in the world. Our adults think that art is some esoteric pursuit, meant only for street dancing and external beautification, when art is a continuous process of defining who we are as a people. When nurturing art feeds our own rationale for being.
It is a nagging thing. Today, I have called on a larger circle of friends, from television, film, animation, comics, fashion, graphic design, photography, the academe, and yes architecture, to form an organized, united constituency. The ASEAN Economic Integration remains a serious concern. More than the threat to livelihood, what to us is critical is the onslaught of cultural influences. For a nation with a rich reservoir of artists but uncaring supra structure, that is scary. We are in danger of losing our soul, because we have reduced our survival to just our stomach.
To me this is a battle worth waging. If we are given to have one last shot at life, what would be your choice? When said I almost died climbing Mount Pulag. I was not dramatizing. I think I was the first individual to head for the summit of Pulag that early morning. But the oxygen was so thin, My heart was pumping hard and my vision was getting dim. I was gasping for life, my lungs were not expanding, I defecated. It was sheer will that pushed me to reach the summit, the last guy to do so. I was thinking that if it was really time for me to go, it would be comforting that I went trying to realize one of my dreams.
Dentists Can Identify Deadly Disease
The dental chair could be the seat of detecting the early signs of diabetes.
And a dental visit, according to researchers at the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, is an excellent chance to identify unrecognized and pre-diabetes conditions.
It is an excellent opportunity to intervene in the epidemic by identifying individuals with diabetes or pre-diabetes who are unaware of their condition, the researchers say in a study published in the July issue of the Journal of Dental Research.
The statistics add up. Gum disease is an early complication of diabetes, and about 70 percent of American adults see a dentist at least once a year, says Dr. Ira Lamster, the senior author of the paper and Dean of the College of Dental Medicine.
That could be a window of opportunity for dental care to play a significant role in the detection and prevention of diabetes, the incidence of which is increasing here and abroad.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in four Americans affected with type 2 diabetes remains undiagnosed. And those with pre-diabetes are at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes and also for heart disease, stroke and other vascular conditions typical of individuals with diabetes.
The window of opportunity is not wishful thinking because researchers found that only two dental parameters – the number of missing teeth and percentage of deep pockets caused by gum disease – were effective in identifying patients with unrecognized pre-diabetes or diabetes.
The researchers found this out among some 600 individuals who visited a dental clinic in New York’s Northern Manhattan. These individuals had never been told they have diabetes or pre-diabetes.
About 530 patients with at least one additional self-reported diabetes risk factor (family history of diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension or the risk of obesity) received a gum examination and a finger-stick and a hemoglobin A1c test which indicates whether an individual has diabetes or pre-diabetes.
“Early recognition of diabetes has been the focus of efforts from medical and public health colleagues for years, as early treatment of affected individuals can limit the development of many serious complications,” says the study’s lead author, Dr. Evanthia Lalla, an Associate Professor at the College of Dental Medicine.
“Relatively simple lifestyle changes in pre-diabetic individuals can prevent progression to diabetes, so identifying this group of individuals is also important,” she adds. “Our findings provide a simple approach that can be easily used in all dental-care settings.”
The study sought to develop and evaluate an identification protocol for high blood sugar levels in dental patients and was supported by a research grant from Colgate-Palmolive, the College of Dental Medicine says in a press statement, adding the authors report no potential financial or other conflicts.
Sex Doubles Life Expectancy
You probably already know that Broccoli, carrots, and oranges are good for you. Yet it’s rarely mentioned that having regular sex is not only fantastically fun, but brilliant for your health! A study at Queens University in Belfast published in the British Medical Journal tracked the sexuality of about 1,000 middle-aged men over the course of a decade. The study compared men of a similar age and health and showed that men who reported the highest frequency of orgasm lived twice as long as though who did not enjoy sex.
Yoga, treadmills, and weightlifting are all great ways to keep in shape. But the fact that sex is so beneficial to our health is rarely discussed. Every muscle in the body can be worked and toned, particularly the pelvis, buttocks, stomach and arms. Sex has been proven to lower blood pressure, improve cholesterol, and increase circulation. The heartbeat rises from 70 to 150 beats per minute. In fact, people who regularly indulge are half as likely to have heart attacks and strokes than those who don’t have sex at all.
Sex is also wonderful for weight loss since 30 minutes will burn 200 calories! In addition sex calms food cravings because it stimulates the production of phenetylamine, a natural amphetamine that regulates the appetite.
Having regular orgasms is one great way to protect against coughs and colds. Sex saturates the blood with an antibody called immunoglobulin A that is known to boost immunity. At the moment of climax, a powerful chemical called DHEA is released, which also balances the immune system, as well as aids in tissue repair, improves cognition, and promotes bone growth.
Having regular sex can also help beat stress. Oxytocin is a hormone released just before orgasm and helps the body to secrete endorphins, or the inner positivity and chill out hormone. It is a useful remedy for insomniacs, and delivers relaxation to people who are overworked and stressed out. Tension affects the digestive system, so one of the side effects of sex is that the body is able to absorb the nutrients from food more easily.
Several studies have shown that semen just might be a natural antidepressant. Woman who had regular unprotected sex were less likely to be depressed than women who did not have sex or used a condom. One explanation might be that the vagina absorbs all sorts of goodies from her lover’s spunk including zinc, calcium, potassium, and protein.
Sexual stimulation has been proven to be an analgesic. According to the famous professor and sexologist Beverly Whipple, when women masturbated to orgasm, their pain tolerance threshold and pain detection threshold increased significantly from 74.6 to 106.7. This most pleasurable of painkillers is helpful for ailments such as headaches, muscle pains, and menstrual cramps.
Sex promotes the production of collagen, which keeps the skin supple and gives it that peachy glow. As women get older, their juices can dry up. Keeping sexually active is the best cure, as well as the most delicious. Furthermore, sex is one of the best ways to stay young in spirit.
(Sheryl Walters / Natural News)
Agri Dep Ready For El Niño
The Department of Agriculture is ready to carry out cloud seeding operations to induce rain over areas that have not received a rainfall for at least one week as part of its proactive strategy against a feared protracted dry spell, even as the country’s weather bureau said it’s too early to tell the occurrence of El Niño phenomenon this year.
With the country now within the summer season, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said he has instructed all the Department’s regional field offices nationwide to monitor and immediately coordinate with the Bureau of Soils and Management (BSWM) any lack of rainfall for seven to ten days in areas under their respective jurisdiction so the Bureau could mobilize its cloud seeding team in a timely manner.
In fact, as early as mid-March, BSWM has completed 15 sorties equivalent to 17 flying hours across the rain-deprived municipalities of Aglipay, Maddela and Nagtipunan, as well as over Magat Watershed areas. The DA Regional Field Unit II reported said sorties helped induce rain showers and prevented damage on some 4,155 hectares of corn farms around the province, of which 3,490 hectares are in reproductive stage and 665 hectares in vegetative stage.
BSWM is an attached agency of DA tasked to undertake cloud seeding sorties to induce rain above drought-affected farming communities.
“We are taking a proactive stance against the threat of a long dry spell even as PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration) is saying El Niño is not yet in sight,” said Secretary Alcala in an interview on a local television program in General Santos City on Friday.
Apart from cloud seeding operations, the Department also readies other interventions such as the provision of with shallow tube wells and drought-tolerant crop varieties to farmers in any part of the country that will be affected by dry spell episodes.
As part of long-term measures, DA has likewise increased its investments in the repair, rehabilitation and construction of new irrigation systems, as well as in the establishment of small water impounding facilities, to help guarantee agricultural water even during dry months. From 2011 to end-December 2013, the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) said it has generated 128,242 hectares of new areas, restored 90,851 hectares and rehabilitated 453,636 hectares. NIA aims to expand total irrigated lands to 1.9 million hectares by 2016, from current 1.67 million hectares.
PAGASA has yet to issue a formal advisory on the occurrence of El Niño except for precautionary verbal warnings, as quoted in several media reports.
Global weather authorities are likewise cautious at this point in time to declare such a phenomenon happening this year. In its latest monthly advisory released in March, the National Prediction Service of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NPS-NOAA) said there is “50% chance of El Niño developing during the summer or fall (July, August, and September).” NPS-NOAA is expected to issue its April update anytime soon. “ENSO-neutral is expected to continue through the Northern Hemisphere spring 2014, with about a 50% chance of El Niño developing during the summer or fall,” the agency said in its website.
ENSO-neutral refers to those periods when neither El Niño nor La Niña or the “cold” equivalent of El Niño is present. El Niño is a warming of sea-surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific that occurs every four to 12 years.The worst El Niño episode the country ever experienced was in 1997-1998, when more than P8 billion worth of crops was destroyed.
A Healthy Risk? Ancient Answers
By Philipp Gassner
ONE hot summer day in ancient Sicily thousands of years ago, Noble Damocles is guest at a banquet of his tyrant king Dionysius. Surrounded by magnificence, power and authority, Damocles envies the ruler and exclaims: ‘My king, you are truly extremely fortunate’. Promptly, Dionysius offers to switch chairs with Damocles, so that Damocles can taste that very fortune. When Damocles accepts the proposal and sits down in the throne surrounded by every extravagance, Dionysius had arranged a huge, razor-sharp sword hanging above the throne, held only by a single hair of a horse’s tail.
Whereas the ‘Sword of Damocles’ has become a byword for a happy situation overshadowed by danger, risks to our health don’t always have to be as extreme. Of course, there might always be a meteorite on its way to – very improbably – wipe all the life from our green Earth. Yet, everyday life health risks are much more tangible.
Pollution from Pandora’s Box
And air pollution ‘is the single biggest environmental health risk’ with around seven million deaths a year, according to a report the World Health Organization (WHO) issued last month. However, much worse affected than New York is Southeast Asia – now the most polluted region in the world with more than five million deaths from air pollution. Does this pollution stink from Pandora’s box we have opened?
As such evil, the health risk of air pollution can be seen: once freed, it can have persistent and ubiquitous consequences.
Climate Change Oracles
Thousands of years after their creation, people in Greece are often in doubt about important questions in their lives. On such hesitations, the blind seeress Pythia can shed light. She is the most famous oracle and lives in the city of Delphi. One day, a weary king comes to the temple and asks the oracle if he would win the battle. She smiles and tells him a great king would win the battle. That was exactly what he had wanted to hear and he goes away happily. However, when he leads his men into battle, they lose and he is killed by the other king – the great king.
Pythia’s prophecies are enigmatic and ambiguous. They might reveal that a major danger is impending, but they won’t tell how high its probability, severity or distribution might be. The oracle is characteristic for many environmental health risks nowadays, which have high uncertainty with regard to both risk dimensions. Take climate change, already causing an estimated 150,000 deaths annually. These occur, for instance, from more frequent extreme weather conditions, like Typhoon Haiyan, or from affected patterns of food production, impacting on malnutrition.
The same is true for biodiversity loss and the degradation of ecosystems: for many of the world’s poor, one of the greatest environmental threats to health remains lack of access to safe water and sanitation, says the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity. Water resources are replenished and purified by water ecosystems. When they are lost, human health and well-being is undoubtedly put at risk, while exact probabilities, the severity or distribution remain yet unclear.
While sailing home from the Trojan War, the hero Odysseus and his men come ashore to restock their food and water. They are thrilled to find a cave full of sheep, build a fire in the cave, and cook some sheep on a sharpened stick. ‘Uaaagh’, suddenly echoes through the cave and a one-eyed giant appears at the mouth of the cave, swinging a club. Swiftly, Odysseus grabs a sharpened stick and blinds the Cyclops, who is restricted by his one eye. Odysseus and his men get safely away by pretending to be sheep making bah-bah sounds until they crawled to safety.
The Cyclops’ limitation to perceive only one part of reality with his one eye describes also many health risks. When viewing them, only one side can be ascertained while the other remains unsure. It is often the case that risks are greatly underestimated whose magnitude can be grasped but whose probability of occurrence is uncertain or continuously changes.
Prominent examples are vector-borne diseases. Mankind has always co-habited with innumerable other living forms. While many of them support us, some few can transmit infectious diseases between humans or from animals to humans. Such vectors are, for instance, mosquitoes, ticks, flies, or fleas. These benefit from tropical climate, inefficient water management, low priority for health impact in development activities, unplanned urbanization and widespread poverty, but also factors of a changing environment.‘Vector-borne diseases have significant impact on socioeconomic status of communities, and they vigorously fuel the vicious circle of poverty,’ says Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director of the WHO Southeast Asia, indicating the severe effects of such environmental health risks. Nevertheless, cyclops-like, we can’t fully grasp the probabilities of environmental impact. But there is no need to turn to stone.
How to Kill the Beast
In ancient Greece, the world was full of dangers. Some novel phenomena affect people today with the same fear and dread. Instead of turning into stone, however, there are solutions at hand. Remember, Medusa was defeated in the myth with a smart strategy, using a mirror, rather than looking directly in her eyes. Such strategies are emphasized by the World Health Organization (WHO), which is reinforcing the linkages between health and environment. An example is ‘Integrated Vector Management’, promoting greatest disease control benefit, while minimizing negative impacts on ecosystems, e.g., from the excessive use of chemicals.
The WHO works with partners to provide education and improve awareness so that people know how to protect themselves and their communities. But even more important are the conservation of a healthy environment and the mitigation of climate change to minimize the environmental health risks in the first place. On this focuses the ‘Health and Environment Linkages Initiative’ by the WHO and the UN Environment Programme, as does the ASEAN Center for Biodiversity in the region.The Philippine-based Center, supported by the GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) since 2010, coordinating sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity. After all, the best risk management is prevention: Healthy ecosystems for healthy people. Let’s take this wakeup call seriously and avoid Cassandras’ destiny:
Cassandra was a beautiful young priestess at Apollo’s temple, with great ambition. One day, the mighty god Apollo swings by and is delighted by Cassandra. He is fond of making a deal. If Cassandra kisses him, he would give her the gift of prophecy so she could see into the future. Cassandra does not hesitate. As soon as she is able, she looks eagerly into the future. But she does not like what she sees: Apollo is helping to destroy her beloved city of Troy. She spits in his face. Apollo is furious, and since he could not take away his gift, he adds to it. From that time on, Cassandra could see the future, but no one believed a thing she said. Later, when Cassandra warned her people that the Trojan horse was a trap, nobody paid the slightest attention. They laughed at her and widely opened the doors …
Philipp Gassner is a consultant for science and sustainability communication at the GIZ-assisted Biodiversity and Climate Change Project, implemented by the ASEAN Centre for Biodiversity, Philippines.
Cheap 3d Printer Raises $1m On Kickstarter
Micro, an unusually sleek 3D printer, is about to hit $1 million in funding on Kickstarter just a day after it started raising funds. The project hits the sweet spot for anyone interested in 3D printing as it might be the first commercially viable $300 3D printer the world has ever seen.
The Micro printer is notably light, weighing just 2.2 pounds. Micro is also doing far better on Kickstarter than Foodini, the nearly equally slick-looking food-printer that created a pretty respectable media splash, but has raised just under $60,000 so far. It’s possible that the pitch of “printing different shapes to encourage kids to eat healthy foods” needs some fine-tuning, especially in a world where people are clamoring for 3D-printed chocolate.
Micro and Foodini aren’t the only popular 3D printers on Kickstarter, of course. A more industrial-looking printer called RoBo 3D reached its $49,000 goal back in early February and is now cruising toward $650,000. The price of a fully assembled RoBo 3D is more than $500, although the vendors are selling a $475 version of the device that they say is “fun” to assemble yourself.
The success of Micro and RoBo 3D seems to indicate that the market for such devices will only truly take off once their price drops to between $300 and $400, which just happens to be the price of a video game console. These current Kickstarter projects are steps toward the moment when one 3D printer will suddenly become popular and profitable enough to start driving manufacturing costs substantially lower. It is exciting to think that either 2014 or 2015 could be the breakthrough year for the nascent 3D printing industry.
Fellatio and Ingesting Sperm Help Prevent Breast Cancer
Having sex is a physical activity that has many health risks associated with it, especially when had unprotected. Yet there are several benefits that can arise from sex as well. Apparently certain forms of sex can decrease your chances of developing cancer, more specifically breast cancer.
Some throwback health news courtesy of CNN reveals that performing oral sex, fellatio more specifically, and swallowing sperm can stop women from getting breast cancer.
A research team at North Carolina State University collected data from 15,000 women, all of whom were thought to have practiced fellatio frequently and swallowed semen as well within a ten year span. Dr. A.J. Kramer of Johns Hopkins School of Medicine said that positive results from this study should lessen the fears or reservations that women have about performing the sexual act:
“I think it removes the last shade of doubt that fellatio is actually a healthy act,”
Dr. Kramer was not involved in the research but was most ecstatic about what had been discovered:
“I am surprised by these findings, but am also excited that the researchers may have discovered a relatively easy way to lower the occurrence of breast cancer in women.”
Dr. Len Lictepeen hopes that after women gain knowledge about these findings that they will be more willing to engage in this form of oral sex because the health improvements are quite impressive:
“This will hopefully change women’s practice and patterns, resulting in a severe drop in the future number of cases,”
So what did the female researchers have to say about all this?
Dr. Helena Shifteer, a female researcher involved with the study, is all for it, as she said that women should make it a point to squeeze fellatio into their schedule each and every day:
“Only with regular occurrence will your chances be reduced, so I encourage all women out there to make fellatio an important part of their daily routine,”
Because she does it herself:
“Since the emergence of the research, I try to fellate at least once every other night to reduce my chances.”
Researchers and doctors associated with the study or who followed it closely urged, and are probably still urging women to abandon their fellatio fears and anti-swallowing ways for they may be adding some years to their lives by doing so.
Whoever knew performing fellatio on the regular and swallowing sperm could possibly be life saving. (Taren Vaughan/urbanbellemag.com)
Last March 16, at Fort Del Pilar, Baguio City, 222 Philippine Military Academy (PMA) cadets received their graduation diplomas in a somber atmosphere heightened by the academy’s Code of Honor, engendered by separate speeches by Commander-in-Chief Benigno S. Aquino lll, PMA Superintendent Maj. Gen. Oscar Lopez, and newly commissioned 2nd Lt. Jheorge Llona, the class valedictorian. All three spoke about the glowingly sterling asset the academy holds dearest to its heart: The PMA Code of Honor.Although in the three speeches his name was not mentioned, it was clear that the embattled PMA Cadet 1st Class Aldrin Jeff Cudia had failed in his bid for the President’s grant of a “second chance”, after he had been dismissed from the service for lying when he tried to explain why he entered a class late by two minutes. He would have been the 223rd cadet to graduate.
PMA, a Public School
It would later be reported that Aldrin was tentatively allowed to pursue his OJT (which had been aborted by the investigation) in order to qualify for next year’s graduation, pending a review of his case by the AFP Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Emmanuel Baltazar, as ordered by Pres. Noynoy.However, should all “become well and end well” with Aldrin graduating next year, the citizens’ anxieties over the PMA’s worthiness as the country’s prime military training institution would still linger unabated, without a review of the Code of Honor, and of all the curricula and administrative matters that are subject to the powers of the State or, in the ultimate sense: to the authority of the sovereign people of the Republic.It was absolutely wrong for the academy’s authorities and their trainees to pronounce that the Cudia case was an internal matter over which Pres. Noynoy had the last say. The PMA is a chartered institution, meaning: Filipino taxpayers, being its stakeholders, may advance their interests before the proverbial court of last resort in a textbook move, short of resorting to any of a number of drastic sovereign options.
Fight For Justice
As Aldrin’s fate hangs in the balance, social media and the public, those whom PMA authorities and their cadets ignored when they sympathized with the entreaties of Aldrin’s sister, can only disconcertedly speculate: what if a dejected Aldrin had joined rebel forces up in the hills to fight for justice, not for himself, but for the citizenry for whose sake he had precisely enrolled in the PMA, the institution that now appears in his tortured mind to have lost its raison d’ être, or reason for being the people’s sentinel!? His life might have been ruined, indeed, and this might well be his way of rebuilding it.To be sure, Aldrin, born of poor parents who had themselves served the military in their prime, had chosen to pursue the family tradition of serving his country with a commitment to safeguard its interests, including defending it against aggression with his own life. And now he’s told that he has been tentatively expelled for having breached the Code of Honor with a lie, and that any lie of whatever size, “big or small”, would suffice to cause dismissal. Huh? It is bothersome that the PMA does not teach the principle of punishment’s “commensurate-ness” to the offense; a postulate practiced in all religions and legal systems the world over.Appropriately, Aldrin has gone the course of “exhausting administrative remedies”, an avenue where some theorists see Pres. Noynoy as having the final say. But I differ. It is the Supreme Court that will decide with finality if Aldrin’s human rights have been violated in the premises, guided as it essentially is by the interests of the sovereign Filipino people.
The Foible of Narcissism
I was once an ROTC cadet officer of the Model Battalion. DMST was grooming me for Corps Commander, but after the basic two years, I stopped. Reason: I wasn’t really serious in becoming a soldier. I joined the Model Battalion because, with highly specialized training, I would also look smart in a gala uniform, an elitist cut above the field of ornery mortals. That was how most of my fellow Model Battalion cadets likewise narcissistically felt. That is how most PMA-ers likewise narcissistically feel, hence, the urgent need for a re-orientation on PMA’s core values.Transcending the Cudia case is the bigger picture necessitating the academy’s re-examination of its vision and mission, and a determination of how well life has been breathed into them. But this task would be an exercise in futility if there were no clear understanding of the academy’s core values among its authorities and cadets.At this point, the core value of leadership comes to the fore as a timely reminder that: he who leads must be last, and he cannot lead who cannot follow. Valor also comes to mind, as exemplified by the bolo-wielding and barefooted Andres Bonifacio who wore no gala uniform.
[by Ike Señeres]
IN theory, democracy is really supposed to be participatory. The Constitution and its many laws are in place to make that possible, but up to now, the present reality seems to be very far from the theory. Suffice it to say that even if the mechanisms are already in place, a lot of work still has to be done, much of it in the form of advocacies, programs and projects.
In my previous columns, I have already written extensively about participatory democracy in the barangay level, by way of participation in the Barangay General Assemblies (BGAs). In recent news reports, there has been a lot of coverage about constitutional provisions for a People’s Initiative (PI), a process that would allow ordinary citizens to pass a law as if it was also passed by the Congress. In a manner of speaking, the PI process is also a form of participatory democracy.
As the saying goes, “You get what you pay for”. That is akin to the saying “You reap what you sow”. Perhaps that is really the essence of democracy. You get something if you invest something. If you invest nothing, then you get nothing. Even if our democratic rights are vested upon us by the Constitution, we also have the option of disregarding our rights, perhaps even waiving these. That is probably what happened in the case of barangay governance, because the turnout in the barangay elections is only about ten percent.
Unlike the Sangguniang Barangay wherein the members are only those who are elected in the barangay elections, everyone in the barangay could attend the BGAs, and anyone above 18 could vote for or against all resolutions. According to the Local Government Code (LGC), BGAs are supposed to be convened at least twice a year, but there is no limit as to how many times these could be convened within a given year. How much more participatory could that get?
Aside from the BGAs however, the LGC also provides for the creation and activation of Barangay Development Councils (BDCs), a formal body wherein about half of its members should come from the private sector, as represented by members of Non-Government Organizations (NGOs). Again, how much more participatory could that get? Taken together, the BGAs and the BDCs could work very well with each other, each one serving a different purpose. As I see it, all that is needed is to coordinate the schedules and the agendas of these two bodies, and the people in the barangay could practically write their own destiny.
As I see it, the coordination between the agendas of the BGAs and the BDCs is only a matter of scheduling. Even if the BGAs are essentially meant for individual participants, the NGOs could still get involved there as groups, acting on behalf of their individual members. The key to that, I think, are the caucuses that could be convened by the groups of active NGOs, so that they could coordinate their agendas before they go to the BGAs.
Just like any assembly or meeting, the ultimate outcomes are really the formal resolutions that could be approved by the BGAs, sitting as full assemblies. As I wrote in my previous columns, the BGAs are in effect the stockholder’s meetings, and these have greater powers than the SBs that are in effect merely board meetings by comparison. The only action that the SBs could do is to ratify the resolutions approved by the BGAs, and the SBs could not change anything.
For practical reasons, it would be good for the NGO caucuses to already prepare draft resolutions for submission to the agendas of the BGAs, instead of writing these drafts during the actual meetings. This would be too late of an action to do, and it would be a waste of time. In order not to waste time, it would be best to show the draft resolutions to the caucus members ahead of time, instead of showing these to them during the meetings when these are already ongoing.
I believe that it is about time that the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) should allow absentee voting in the BGAs, via internet and mobile means. Although the admissibility of electronic evidence is already provided for in the Electronic Commerce Act (ECA), there appears to be no ruling or legal precedent yet that would allow absentee voting. It may be farfetched, but perhaps it would be possible to try it in one BGA, in order to set the precedent.
As provided for in the LGC, the BDC is just the first layer of LDCs that go all the way up to the Regional Development Councils (RDCs). In theory, all the agendas and resolutions in the lower councils are supposed to go up to the higher councils. What this means is that the agendas and resolutions in the BDCs should actually go up to the Municipal Development Councils (MDCs). In reality therefore, the NGOs or the caucuses of NGOs could always bring their advocacies to the municipal level, if and when they would not succeed at the barangay level.
I recall that there is a popular actress who is said to always get what she wants. Perhaps it is the opposite in the case of barangay residents who could actually get what they want, except that they do not seem to care enough to get it. Meanwhile, many corrupt and incompetent local politicians are having a heyday in lording over barangay governance, perhaps also enjoying the public funds that they are putting into their private pockets.
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PH tops HK Open Memory Tilt
THE Philippines topped the first Hong Kong Open Memory Championships at the True Light Girls College in Hong Kong last September 28-29.
A 20-member Philippine team got a total score of 15,198 in the event, beating representatives from Mongolia, Hong Kong, Japan, China, Indonesia and India.
“The First Hong Kong Open Memory Championships included events, such as names and faces, random numbers, speed numbers, playing cards, spoken numbers, binary numbers, abstract images, historic/future dates, random words and speed cards,” the Department of Foreign Affairs said.
In a news release, the DFA said Mark Anthony Castañeda won the gold with a high score of 5,239.
Erwin Balines won a silver while Johann Randal Abrina won a bronze in the event, it added.
The DFA said the Hong Kong Memory Championships was founded by the Hong Kong Memory Sports Council and is sanctioned by the World Memory Sports Council.
“Memory sport is for everyone. It has become popular among Western countries for some time and is rapidly gaining popularity in Southeast Asia where more people are aspiring to become mental athletes,” the DFA said. #OpinYon #Foreign #Philippines
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