I honor the food in you, which is also in me

Friends, critics, and readers, would you, for a moment, lend me your ear?

For some of us a year ago, it was a season for contemplating the political calculus. It was a period of uncertainty. For some, especially those who would step into the ring and aim for the various positions open, it was a matter of war.

We are here now, a year later. Wiser, I hope.

What differentiates this year from the last is this great weight that has been lifted. No matter the troubles the nation continues to face, and will without doubt have to live up to in the days, months and years to come, there is a general feeling of hope. Cito Beltran put it this way. The President’s popularity is more about us, than it is about him. In many ways, he is correct.

For all the faux pas of the past half year, for all the missteps, and setbacks, this continues to remain. It is an imperfect world. It is a country that is unequal. In many parts, it is unstable, and we have a democracy that at times would seem, unsustainable.

And yet, no matter how cynical our pragmatism could get, the President’s inaugural address continues to resonate, and with good reason, “Now we can dream again.” It is the call-to-arms that no matter how imperfect, this generation now has breathing room to begin, to build.

It can wait a few more days because, whatever your color, whatever the stripe of your conviction, whether you believe in a savior who was born some 2,000 years ago or not, perhaps we can agree that this holiday, we take a step back. It is a moment that there are no colors. There are no lines that divide us, no bitter rivalries. We all contemplate; renew our spirit surrounded by friends, family, good food and tasty drink.

“I came to the conclusion long ago…” Ghandi said, “that all religions were true, and also that all had some error in them, and whilst I hold my own, I should hold others as dear as Hinduism. So we can only pray, if we are Hindus, not that a Christian should become a Hindu… But our innermost prayer should be a Hindu should be a better Hindu, a Muslim, a better Muslim, a Christian, a better Christian.”

My point is, “I honor the Spirit in you which is also in me.”

I honor the food in you, which is also in me.

Put it another way, Food coma time!!!!

On behalf of the men and women— our writers, our creatives, and technical volunteers, and our Core Group, we wish you all our warmest Happy Christmas, and a most Merry Holiday.


Photo credit: Some rights reserved by [casey]

TIME Magazine reveals The Best of 2010

A woman being pulled out of rubble after the Haiti earthquake, crude oil washing on the shor of Grande Terre Island, a video image of 31-year-old Chilean miner Florencio Avalos, and soldiers of the Virgina National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment are some of TIME Magazine‘s best photographs of 2010.

True to what has now been an annual tradition for TIME, the magazine released the world’s highlights for 2010, in its “Best of 2010” issue dated December 20, 2010.

Aside from photographs, the Top 10 movies, books, and music were also given recognition. Here’s a sneak peek:

Top 1 and Top 10 in Movies

#10: Four Lions (Chris Morris): Nominated for the 2010 British Independent Film Award and the Grand Jury Prize of the Sundance Film Festival, Four Lions didn’t make it to the Philippines–and, perhaps, for good reason. It depicts the adventures and misadventures of “a group of British jihadists who push their abstract dreams of glory to the breaking point.” (Definitely not for the Philippines, right?!) According to TIME‘s resident film critic, Richard Corliss, Four Lions is “the blackest, ballsiest political comedy since Dr. Strangelove.”

"Toy Story 3" | Photo from TIME.com

"Toy Story 3" | Photo from TIME.com

#1: Toy Story 3 (Pixar): An animated movie as TIME‘s Number One? Why not? Corloss writes, “Why are Pixar films so often at or near the tip of our 10-best lists? Because nobody these days makes better movies… The movie’s most important lesson is for Hollywood: Watch this and see how it’s done.” Do you agree?

P.S. Guess at which spot The Social Network lies? 🙂

Top 1 and Top 10 in Books

#10: Faithful Place (Tana French): A quick online search in the Philippines’s two online bookstores revealed that the title is not yet available in the Philippines, but it seems to be a murder mystery of Vizconde-like proportions. Frank Mackey is a detective who has been called on to the case of a 20-year old murder mystery that has suddenly become hot topic again. The victim was his girlfriend, and according to TIME’s Lev Grossman, “to do that, he has to go back to his no-hope neighborhood in Dublin and face everything he left behind.” There seems to be yet another parallel between the Irish and the Filipinos besides the religious stronghold, ‘eh?

#1: Freedom (Jonathan Franzen): Again, what TIME has deemed compelling, Philippine bookstores are not selling. According to Grossman, Freedom is another work of author Franzen at his best: “There is no one like Franzen for writing that is high-res and 3-D: the money, the sex, the bitterness, the music, the drinking, the birds–you see and hear and smell it all.” Then again, do we need more money, sex, bitterness, and drinking in the Philippines?

P.S. There’s an interesting title on #8: How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe. 🙂

Top 1 and Top 10 in Music

#10: Teen Dream by Beach House: Writer Claire Suddath says, “Beach House’s third album is a pleasant mix of lazy, hazy pop songs that will make you want to lie in a hammock and watch the clouds float across the sky.”

#1: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West: “Jackass” or not, Kanye West emerged a winner in TIME’s Best of Music list. Suddath writes, “Instead of a simple somersault, Kanye delivers the musical equivalent of a one-handed back handspring… That something is probably going to be played at every bar and dance party you go to for the next six months.”


Of course, it’s not just movies, books, and music that rock our world. In TIME’s “Top 10 of Everything”, you’ll get the lowdown on this year’s best (and worst)–from world news stories and gadgets, to Facebook stories and Twitter moments.

Time honors The Facebook Nation

Time Magazine announced,

For connecting more than half a billion people and mapping the social relations among them; for creating a new system of exchanging information; and for changing how we all live our lives, Mark Elliot Zuckerberg is TIME’s 2010 Person of the Year.

Six months ago, Zuckerberg melted at D8, the technology conference for CEOs of the biggest tech companies in the world.

Now Time has given him an honor, but really it is the sign of our times.

Facebook has in fact created a nation. 500 million strong. It is the new Microsoft. Recently, it received a US$50 billion dollar valuation at SecondMarket.

At the heart of the company, really isn’t an innovation, not in the classic sense of inventing something new. What Facebook has done is to put the classic tools and wove it into a different iteration. It created a gated village, a walled garden on the Internet. And is this walled garden eventually a danger? The father of the world wide web seem to think so.

Philosophical questions aside, Mr. Zuckerberg has certainly earned this distinction. But what world are we eventually creating here?

This post republished from Cocoy Chronicles.

Photo credit: Jason McELweenie

The Pro Pinoy Project wins Best History, Politics and Society Blog at Philippine Blog Awards

photo from bloggermania.com

The Pro Pinoy Project is an idea composed of many things, and made up of diverse people, all volunteers, and scattered around the world. The mission is to take the President up to task for his promised Accountability, and support Transparency in the Philippine government, and to challenge the government where it is wanting, and when it is wavering.

The Pro Pinoy Project recognizes that that is only half of the equation.  At the heart of that mission is a deep seated belief that we the people have a responsibility in nation building.  Just as we take to task the President and the government, We the People must also be held Accountable for our Country.  It is our dream that our piece of the web would be a thriving agora, a 24 hour Athenian-inspired democracy, where people can engage ideas, and be inspired.

It is a crazy idea, isn’t it?

It is an idea made possible by so many people from across the world. Betty is our graphic designer. Mells, and Roy who provide technical support.  Clare Amador, Caitan Tanner, and Jim Paredes who were gracious enough to guest write for us.  This success is because of Ana, who writes sex and sensibilities; Flow for his advocacy; Clariz’s youthful enthusiasm. Boom for his wisdom, and humor; Doy our resident policy adviser; Mike who was one of those who started the Project.  Our contributors: Alexa, Ben, Carlo, Kim, Kay, Marck, Ria, and of course, Toni.  It is they, that you honor. This idea is just the beginning.  Our best is yet to come.

On behalf of the men and women of the ProPinoy Project — no words could ever express our gratitude for this honor. “Thank You!” to our blogging peers, friends and readers. Without you, there would be no Pro-Pinoy Project. Because you are the Pinoy, you are the ones who will make this project fly, this nation soar. Salamat po!

– – –

Other winners of 2010 Philippine Blog Awards

Best Blog in Advocacy Category – Web Safety Philippines by Sonnie Santos
Best Blog in Beauty and Lifestyle Category – The Reluctant Stylista by Alexandra Lapa
Best Blog in Business Category – Ready to be Rich by Fitz Villafuerte
Best Blog in Culture and Arts – Anik-anik Love by Mitch Mauricio
Best Blog in Entertainment Category – Without Wang2 by Nickie Wang
Best Blog in Food and Beverage Category – Happy Foodies by Ferdz Decena
Best Blog in Gaming Category – Back 2 Gaming by B2Gamers
Best Blog in Hobby and Recreation – Back 2 Gaming by B2Gamers
Best Blog in Home and Parenting Category – iMom by Chats Siao
Best Blog in Humor Category – The Professional Heckler by Loi Reyes Landicho
Best Blog in Lifestyle – The Creative Dork by Robbie Bautista
Best Blog in Literature / Literary Category – City Buoy by Nyl Lim
Best Blog in Personal/Diary Category – Yoshke.com by Yoshke Dimen
Best Photoblog – Gerryruiz Photoblog by Gerry Ruiz
Best Blog in Social, Politics and History – The Pro Pinoy Project by The Pro Pinoy Project
Best Blog in Sports – Filipino Boxing Journal by Kenneth Ragpala
Best Blog in Technology Category – My Silly Point of View by Richard D. Feraro
Best Blog in Travel Cateogry – Just Wandering by Nina Fuentes
Best Blog in Video and Podcasts – Pinoy How To by Buddy and Yael Gancenia
Best Blog Design – The Reluctant Stylista
Bloggers’ Choice Award – CHKSLG
Readers’ Choice Award – Green Archers
Best Filipiniana Blog – My Sarisari Store
Top Blog Post for 2010 – Do They Read Blogs in Heaven? by Yoshke.com
Top Posts for 2010
EXCLUSIVE: GMA Breaks Her Silence by the Professional Heckler
Sometimes We Are Lost by I am Fickle Cattle.
Fireworks, Hormones and this Blog Post by Yoshke.com
Top Photo Posts for 2010
A Solo Traveler’s Photo Story of Backpacking in Palawan by Ambot Ah!
Pahiyas Festival by Biyaheng Pinoy
Top Video Posts and Podcasts for 2010
Krimmy Couple: Of Bad Words and Saranghae by My Korean Boyfriend
Podcast 6: Being Friends with the Ex by Ria Jose
Krimmy Couple: The Korean Eats Balut by My Korean Boyfriend

A delayed reaction to the thief who stole in the night

Ako lang ba, o kumulo din ba dugo ninyo sa simula ng SONA ng bagong Pangulo?

Let’s itemize the anomalies PNoy started with:

  • in the first half of the year, the government spent more than it earned
  • national deficit has increased to nearly Php 200B (can someone make an accounting of how much the Arroyos spent on their trips and houses?)
  • we were short nearly Php 24B in tax collections
  • we exceeded Php 45B in spending
  • the 2010 budget is Php 1.54T, and just passing the half-year mark, only 6.5% of this budget remains for us to spend
  • we just entered typhoon season and already, Php 1.4B (70%) of the Calamity Fund has been spent (…on what?!)
  • of this 1.4B, 108M was spent in Pampanga
  • of 108M, 105M was spent in a particular district in Pampanga (take a guess)
  • …while Pepeng-ravaged Pangasinan province received only 5M for the damages from Typhoon Cosme, which happened in 2008
  • that particular district in Pampanga received those funds during election season, a full 7 months after Ondoy-Pepeng

With me so far? Let’s continue.

  • MWSS employees received more than Php 211M in 2009
  • payroll amounted to more than Php 51M
  • they were also awarded Php 160M in allowances and benefits (ano ito, Wall Street?)
  • that makes 24% salary, and the rest bonuses
  • members of the MWSS Board of Trustees get Php 14k per meeting attendance
  • that can reach Php 98k each per month, plus grocery incentive
  • they have mid-year bonus, productivity bonus (?!), anniversary bonus, year-end bonus, not to mention Financial Assistance, their Christmas bonuses and an additional Christmas package (while many Filipinos don’t even get a simple paycheck!)
  • that amounts to Php 500k per year per board member, excluding cars and loans
  • they get this while their retirees are fighting for the pension funds

I’ll stop there, although PNoy mentioned many more (not the least the surplus rice bought with taxpayer money that was left to rot while people were starving! What shame and what waste!)

Sabi nga naman ni PNoy na mashoshock tayo sa mga revelation niya sa SONA. But shocked as I was, I thought, well, what did we expect? That the corruption scandals against Gloria that we had already known about were the only anomalies? Who are we kidding. Personally I am elated that there is a government body looking into the misappropriation of public funds, not only to justify the “protest vote” that won PNoy the presidency in the first place, but because, very simply, to solve a problem you have to be able to identify it. It’s not just “corruption.” That’s an abstract idea. What are the forms of corruption and how are the corrupt corrupting?

I will echo what PNoy said in expressing my hope that if those who have abused the system have any shame left, please, resign. If you’re not caught now you’ll be caught later. The era of impunity is at a close.

The second half of the SONA cooled my blood a bit, although I suffered a few spikes in blood pressure with mentions of the shoddy state of our nation. Where are our taxes going, seriously. Thirty-two boats for an archipelago of 7,000 islands? What am I missing here.

But I particularly appreciated the new contracts being negotiated – if true – would rake in millions of dollars for our overly emaciated budget without spending a peso. We need to better learn how to take advantage of what we have and make money off it. Marunong na tayo noon e, implementation lang ang kailangan. After all, only Pinoys can turn Fun Chum basura into bags that sell for 25 pounds sterling in a London market. (I also recently saw lacquered bowls made of clippings from a Pinoy daily bashing FG being sold at a chi-chi “Oriental gifts” store in Amsterdam for 50 euro a set!) The same goes with resources at our disposal that we have not tapped for lack of ingenuity, or lack of investors.

The day before the SONA I had a discussion with a former colleague who, despite being English, is more Asian than I am, and is planning on retiring somewhere in Asia. I asked him why not the Philippines, you love it there. He says past business experiences in the Philippineswere not good. Why, I ask. “The people are great, the labor is reasonable for both parties, life is good. It’s the corruption I can’t stand. Maybe Hong Kong.”

A Belgian friend on the other hand, congratulated me (being Filipino) on the Aquino win when I saw him a few weeks ago. He was rooting for PNoy to win. He told me it’s because he wants to open business there, and is now making more concrete plans with his partners in Manila. I was happy to hear this.

A Filipina living in Holland told me she only sent money to her family. Are you building a house? She has plans but isn’t acting on them yet. Do you want to go home? “I really do,” she tells me, “Pero anong gagawin ko doon? Gusto ko magtayo ng business, pero masgugustuhin ko sa abroad. Ayokong maipit sa Pilipinas.”

We have to get our OFWs to invest at home. Otherwise, the dollars coming in that keeps our economy afloat – it’s not sustainable. It’s a temporary measure for our OFWs until they can bring all their families abroad. We need to make them want to come back home.

I hope the new Press Office opens its doors soon and will deliver on their two-way communication promise. I hope the Witness Protection Program improves, and that the Whistleblower’s Bill is passed. There was no mention of the Freedom of Information Act on the SONA, even if PNoy had mentioned some time ago, after the impasse at Congress, that it was one of his priorities. All these, plus a heightened awareness by the citizenry will keep the windows open, fresh air, sun shining in, and more investment money pouring in. While we need financial aid, we shouldn’t rely on them. Aid breeds corruption and dependence, and we lose the incentive to find sustainable solutions on our own. Nation building is a task for us, and we get nowhere by moping, complaining and playing the blame game. The next time you do that (or are tempted to do that), stop and ask yourself: Have I done something that could have prevented this situation I am whining about? And then ask yourself, Am I whining within reason? Chances are you’re not. You wouldn’t be whining if you’re being reasonable. you’d be proposing alternative solutions instead.

I end with something PNoy said in his SONA:

Tungkulin po ng bawat Pilipino na tutukan ang mga pinunong tayo rin naman ang nagluklok sa puwesto. Humakbang mula sa pakikialam tungo sa pakikilahok. Dahil ang nakikialam, walang-hanggan ang reklamo. Ang nakikilahok, nakikibahagi sa solusyon.


“Contrary to the rumors you have heard, I was not born in a manger. I was actually born on Krypton and sent here by my father Jor-El to save the Planet Earth.”  – Barak Obama in a light moment

I showered and dressed early last Monday. It was the SONA and I didn’t want to be late. Only the vice president has the privilege of arriving late.

I started my preparations for the SONA a week ago.  I had my physical therapist work on my neck and arms for the inevitable rubber-necking and elbow-rubbing that I expected to do at the Batasan. I visited my Binondo herbalist for a special tea that would suppress vomiting in case I caught sight of certain politicians.

And so I seated myself, one hour before the SONA, in front of my television. I did not get a ticket for the show. The House protocol office said they were tapped out, all seats taken, no standing room allowed. I told them they were liars, that I knew Cong. Gloria Arroyo’s high chair was available.  They said my only chance was for vice president Binay to arrive late again, in case, this time, his motorcade is stopped for running through a red light.

I heard Gloria skipped town because she feared arrest after the SONA. I guess nobody told her that the cops surrounding the Batasan were not a posse. They were there for security and crowd control, to restrain lynch mobs. Anyway, newsclips showed that she left for Hongkong in the company of her husband Mike and Mike Defensor.

Watching the SONA on TV is not all that bad. One can smoke, drink, snack, and even go on a bathroom break. But it has a drawback: TV anchors and on-scene reporters who tell us what we just saw and heard. They remind me of sports announcers who never made the shift from radio to TV.

Now the post mortem with pundits is okay. There are some things that do need a little explaining. Besides it’s fun to watch pundits pretend objectivity and intelligence. But it’s the post SONA interviews that provide true comic relief.

Senator Loren Legarda was asked about her reaction to the SONA. She said she liked it. And then she used the rest of her time talking about herself.

By the way I liked her new hairdo. It took years off. But that’s what prompted a friend to comment – “Parang bagong hiwalay (recently divorced).” I raised my eyebrows so she explained that Loren’s reaction to her electoral debacle, adopting a new younger look, is typical of scorned middle-aged women.

Former Agriculture secretary Yap claimed he was surprised by the President Aquino’s mention of over-importation by the National Food Authority. He said why blame him and Gloria when the decision on import volumes was done by collegial bodies.  Too bad his interviewer was sharp. She asked him who chaired those bodies.

I liked the SONA. It was what I expected of a chief operating officer, a presentation of facts followed by plans and courses of action. But I was disappointed there was no mention of the Freedom of Information Bill (FOI). I presume the president thought there is no need for it now because he will have nothing to hide. But the FOI is not personal. I hope one of these days Aquino realizes that the bill is the antidote for the culture of opacity and impunity.

Finally, ANC, the news channel, totally distracted me with an inset at the bottom left corner of the screen. What was a magician performing hand tricks doing in the SONA?