Saturday, November 28, 2009

"Diwata ng Lahi" in Butuan

Balangay Diwata ng Lahi finally arrived in Butuan City today at around noon. Team Balangay docked safely at the PPA port after braving Typhoon Urduja on their way to Cabadbaran from Surigao earlier this week.

My first glance of Diwata ng Lahi

Docking at PPA

A big crowd of mostly students and government employees gathered at the PPA port to welcome Team Balangay. After the welcome ceremony, the team was whisked off to Almont Inland Resort for lunch and a press conference.

Team Balangay

After the press conference

Later this evening, Mama, Kuya and I had dinner with the whole team at Aling Cora. It was a historic day for Butuan!

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Today is Papa's 2nd death anniversary. Too bad Ariel is not around to spend the day with us. We had simple dinner at the Doongan house after mass at the cemetery. We had a bit of a family drama earlier in the afternoon but all is well now. I miss you Papa!

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Butuanon Can!

This is the full text of my letter-complaint against Abelardo Saco, Butuan City Election Officer, addressed to the COMELEC Chairman Jose R. Melo, Republic of the Philippines.

I do not know what will come out of this complaint. At least, I can sleep well at night knowing that I did something about the situation, rather than keep on yakking about it and do nothing. It is my prayer that this small voice in the wilderness will be heard and get results.

I know there are a lot of Butuanons who wish to see change in Butuan. I know we can do it if we exert a unified effort, one step at a time. To those who are far away from Butuan, your prayers will be enough to help this cause. If you know anybody who went through a similar situation, please direct them to me or to ABS-CBN Butuan.

I already contacted the people from ABS-CBN TV Patrol Caraga. They might accompany me when I furnish the copies of this letter to Mr. Saco, the Mayor's Office and the Civil Service Commission - Caraga, this afternoon. At this point, FAITH and HOPE are all we really have. God bless us all!


October 30, 2009

Chairman Jose R. Melo
Commission on Elections
Republic of the Philippines

Dear Chairman Melo:

My name is Jennifer Michelle Flores Navarra-Divinagracia, an overseas worker who is based in Japan since October 2000. I recently came back to the Philippines to have my voter status reactivated through COMELEC – Butuan City. I have been traveling to the Philippines and back to Japan for the last 10 years. The last time I voted was in 1998 but I remember applying for a Voter’s ID when I changed my last name and updated my civil status after I got married in 2003. I would just like to share my grueling experience at the hands of Mr. Abelardo Saco, City Election Officer of Butuan City.

I originally planned to come home on the first week of December 2009 to process my voter reactivation, before the original deadline for registration, which was December 30, 2009. I am one of the many voters who were saddened when the deadline was moved to October 15, 2009. At that time, I was still waiting for my Machine-Readable Passport (MRP) from the Philippine Consulate of Osaka, so I was already losing hope about voting on May 2010. With God’s grace, I finally received my passport around the same time that COMELEC announced the extension of the deadline for registration to October 31, 2009. I immediately booked my flight back to Butuan via Manila from Nagoya. I safely landed in Butuan City last Friday, October 23, 2009.

On Monday morning, October 26, 2009, at 8AM sharp, I went to the COMELEC office in Butuan City and was accommodated by one of the COMELEC - Butuan personnel. I later learned that he is Mr. Abelardo Saco, Butuan City Election Officer. I showed him my previous Acknowledgement Receipt bearing my Application No. 020230000310. I also mentioned to Mr. Saco that I checked my status at the COMELEC website and found out that my status is deactivated. Mr. Saco DID NOT BOTHER TO HAVE MY STATUS CHECKED THROUGH THE OFFICE DATABASE. Instead, he told me outright that since my status is deactivated, I needed to line up outside the office together with the last-minute registrants. I graciously thanked Mr. Saco and went outside the COMELEC office to fall in line.

Outside the COMELEC office, I learned that COMELEC - Butuan is only processing 250 registrants per day. The line outside the office that Monday morning was around 1,000 people, most of whom, were already in line since the previous evening. There was no priority list whatsoever but there was also no rule against proxy-queuing. So, I arranged for somebody to fall in line for me at midnight that night for processing the following day. However, at around 6:30PM that evening, I was informed that the line for October 27 (Tuesday) already exceeded 50 people. Upon hearing this, I was alarmed and immediately asked my proxy to proceed to the COMELEC office to start falling in line. My proxy arrived at COMELEC - Butuan at around 9PM. The people in queue made a head count among themselves and my proxy was already 212th in line.

I went back to COMELEC - Butuan shortly before 8AM on Tuesday, October 27, 2009. At 8AM, the COMELEC staff started releasing the 250 application forms which were to be processed that day. I witnessed first-hand how bad the system was but I had no choice but to trust our good COMELEC staff that they knew what they were doing. Things got worse when the 250 forms were about to run out. There was too much pushing and shoving and the COMELEC people were not able to control the situation. The military personnel at the location could only look on because they really could not start shooting at the unruly crowd. Needless to say, MY PROXY WAS NOT ABLE TO GET AN APPLICATION FORM EVEN AFTER ENDURING 12 HOURS IN LINE WITH NO SLEEP. My heart just broke when I learned that some of the people in queue were there for 3 days already. These are those who lived in the far-flung barrios who were forced to camp out at the COMELEC office just to process their registration. They were already panicking because their food provision was already depleted. I could not bear the thought of these people being forced to endure another day of the same rotten process that I witnessed that morning.

I decided to talk again to Mr. Abelardo Saco and offer my proposal for a more efficient system based on my personal experience with the very efficient town hall services in our area in Japan. I presented to Mr. Saco the easiest and most cost-effective procedure that I could think of under the circumstances which is the use of a priority list. This list is only for the releasing of the application form so that people who come in do not need to fall in line. Instead, they could just write their names on the list, indicate their category of application, and affix their signatures. This list would then be read throughout the day. When their name is called, the registrant will then personally present his/her valid ID, receive an application form, fill it up, and go through the rest of the procedure in an orderly manner. The same process will continue until the office closes at 9PM in the evening. Mr. Saco said that he will discuss my proposal with his subordinates and told me to go back at 1PM. Again, I graciously thanked Mr. Saco and promised to go back in the afternoon. 

As agreed, I promptly returned to the COMELEC office at 1PM. It was then that I was told that my proposal was denied. He did share to me their decision that starting Wednesday (October 28), instead of a priority list, they will release 500 application forms but still, only 250 will be processed that day. Application forms 251-500 will be processed on Thursday (October 29). This means that applicants 251-500 will be allowed to bring home the application forms and go back the next day. There is no guarantee that these people will go back with their tax-funded application forms so, there is already a risk of wasting government resources. The same procedure will be repeated for Friday and Saturday (October 31), which is the last day of registration. I tried to plead with Mr. Saco but he categorically said that the decision has been made by him and his subordinates. For the third time, I thanked Mr. Saco for considering my proposal and told him that I respected their decision.

At this point, I was already exasperated with the situation that I decided to use my humble connections at the Butuan City Hall. I did not want to resort to this because I am not the type of person who tolerates “palakasan” in the government system. Sadly, COMELEC - Butuan’s inefficiency left me no choice but to ask for help from some friends in the office. I only asked for my voter status to be checked through the COMELEC database. It turned out that I was indeed DEACTIVATED for failure to vote in the last two elections but I was already VALIDATED. This means that I only needed to fill up the yellow application form for Reactivation in 3 copies and print my two thumb marks. There was no need for me to line up for the forms contrary to what Mr. Saco told me when I first came to the COMELEC office on Monday morning. I was totally shocked that the whole procedure for my reactivation took less than fifteen minutes. I couldn’t help but wonder why Mr. Saco told me to fall in line and endure the same hell-like conditions of the last-minute new registrants while he was holding my previous Voter’s ID claim stub. He, of all people, being the head of office of COMELEC - Butuan, should know that the white claim stub that he was holding was proof that I already underwent the process of Voter ID registration.

I left the COMELEC office, relieved but still pondering on the possible reasons why Mr. Saco did what he did. I wanted to take everything at face value and consider it as just another case of INCOMPETENCE in the Philippine government system. But in all honesty, I FELT THAT I WAS DISCRIMINATED IN MY OWN COUNTRY.

It is in this regard that I strongly appeal to the good COMELEC Chairman to take disciplinary action against Mr. Abelardo Saco, City Election Officer of Butuan City, for GROSS INCOMPETENCE in the handling of the voter registration process in Butuan City. I could not stomach that the same Mr. Abelardo Saco will sit as Butuan City Election Officer come election time.

Mr. Chairman, please save Butuan City from the abomination that is Abelardo Saco.

Herewith attached are scanned copies of my old and new Acknowledgement Receipts for your reference.

Your very prompt action on this matter will be greatly appreciated.

Very truly yours,

Jennifer Michelle F. Navarra-Divinagracia
805 L.E. Amante St., P1 Ampayon, Butuan City
Precinct No. 0179-B
Voter ID Application No. 0202300000310


- COMELEC - Administrative Services Department
- Civil Service Commission – Caraga Region
- COMELEC – Butuan City
- Office of the City Mayor – Butuan City
- ABS-CBN “Boto Mo, Ipatrol Mo”

Thursday, October 8, 2009

What Type of Facebooker are You?

All of my closest friends should know by now that I'm a Facebook junkie. I am logged on almost the whole day and I find it sooooo hard to peel myself away from the monitor. So, imagine my amusement when I read this article on about the 12 Most Annoying Types of Facebookers. I immediately identified myself on the list. Can you guess which type I am?
The Let-Me-Tell-You-Every-Detail-of-My-Day Bore. "I'm waking up." "I had Wheaties for breakfast." "I'm bored at work." "I'm stuck in traffic." You're kidding! How fascinating! No moment is too mundane for some people to broadcast unsolicited to the world. Just because you have 432 Facebook friends doesn't mean we all want to know when you're waiting for the bus.

The Self-Promoter. OK, so we've probably all posted at least once about some achievement. And sure, maybe your friends really do want to read the fascinating article you wrote about beet farming. But when almost EVERY update is a link to your blog, your poetry reading, your 10k results or your art show, you sound like a bragger or a self-centered careerist.

The Friend-Padder. The average Facebook user has 120 friends on the site. Schmoozers and social butterflies -- you know, the ones who make lifelong pals on the subway -- might reasonably have 300 or 400. But 1,000 "friends?" Unless you're George Clooney or just won the lottery, no one has that many. That's just showing off.

The Town Crier. "Michael Jackson is dead!!!" You heard it from me first! Me, and the 213,000 other people who all saw it on TMZ. These Matt Drudge wannabes are the reason many of us learn of breaking news not from TV or news sites but from online social networks. In their rush to trumpet the news, these people also spread rumors, half-truths and innuendo. No, Jeff Goldblum did not plunge to his death from a New Zealand cliff.

The TMIer. "Brad is heading to Walgreens to buy something for these pesky hemorrhoids." Boundaries of privacy and decorum don't seem to exist for these too-much-information updaters, who unabashedly offer up details about their sex lives, marital troubles and bodily functions. Thanks for sharing.

The Bad Grammarian. "So sad about Fara Fauset but Im so gladd its friday yippe". Yes, I know the punctuation rules are different in the digital world. And, no, no one likes a spelling-Nazi schoolmarm. But you sound like a moron.

The Sympathy-Baiter. "Barbara is feeling sad today." "Man, am I glad that's over." "Jim could really use some good news about now." Like anglers hunting for fish, these sad sacks cast out their hooks -- baited with vague tales of woe -- in the hopes of landing concerned responses. Genuine bad news is one thing, but these manipulative posts are just pleas for attention.

The Lurker. The Peeping Toms of Facebook, these voyeurs are too cautious, or maybe too lazy, to update their status or write on your wall. But once in a while, you'll be talking to them and they'll mention something you posted, so you know they're on your page, hiding in the shadows. It's just a little creepy.

The Crank. These curmudgeons, like the trolls who spew hate in blog comments, never met something they couldn't complain about. "Carl isn't really that impressed with idiots who don't realize how idiotic they are." [Actual status update.] Keep spreading the love.

The Paparazzo. Ever visit your Facebook page and discover that someone's posted a photo of you from last weekend's party -- a photo you didn't authorize and haven't even seen? You'd really rather not have to explain to your mom why you were leering like a drunken hyena and French-kissing a bottle of Jagermeister.

The Obscurist. "If not now then when?" "You'll see..." "Grist for the mill." "John is, small world." "Dave thought he was immune, but no. No, he is not." [Actual status updates, all.] Sorry, but you're not being mysterious -- just nonsensical.

The Chronic Inviter. "Support my cause. Sign my petition. Play Mafia Wars with me. Which 'Star Trek' character are you? Here are the 'Top 5 cars I have personally owned.' Here are '25 Things About Me.' Here's a drink. What drink are you? We're related! I took the 'What President Are You?' quiz and found out I'm Millard Fillmore! What president are you?" You probably mean well, but stop. Just stop. I don't care what president I am -- can't we simply be friends?

Not sure which type you are? Take the QUIZ.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The 37th International Emmy Awards

The nominations for the 37th International Emmy Awards have been announced. This year, the Philippines bagged three nominations:

Best Performance by an Actress
Angel Locsin
The Wolf (Lobo)
ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation

Best Telenovela
Magdusa Ka
GMA Network, Inc.

A Time for Us (Kahit Isang Saglit)
ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation/
Double Vision SDN BHD

Congratulations to the nominees! This is a good day for Philippine television! I hope this is the start of the end of the network wars and everybody will start focusing on how to produce better shows.

Angel Locsin's co-nominees include Julie Walters, who plays Molly Weasley in the Harry Potter film series. Interestingly, South Korea, which also produces popular Koreanobelas, only had 1 nomination.

The awarding ceremony will be held at the Hilton Hotel in New York on November 23, 2009. To see the full list of nominees, click HERE.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Efren Peñaflorida: CNN Hero of the Philippines

I first heard about Efren Peñaflorida from Lea Salonga's tweet on Twitter. Efren is a 28-year old former slum dweller who rose from poverty and formed Dynamic Teen Company, a team of teenage volunteers who teach basic reading and writing to Filipino street children via a "pushcart classroom". Efren is currently featured as 1 of 10 CNN Heroes of 2009. You may read more about Efren Peñaflorida on You may also vote for him as the 2009 CNN Hero of the Year by clicking the link below.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Fall Frency II

As I wrote in my previous post, the month of September saw me scrambling to secure downloaded copies of US TV show season premieres. I checked out 10 new programs, plus 9 of my old favorites that came back for a fresh season. Below is a quick look at each of these returning shows.

"How I Met Your Mother" (Mondays @ 8PM on CBS) is my favorite comedy right now. If you are a fan of "Friends", you would easily warm up to this series and its 5 lead characters. The  whole premise of the show is set in  the year 2030, where lead character Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) narrates to his children how he met their mother. Thus, the title. Each episode recounts these events in flashback. The show is now on its 5th season and loyal viewers still have no idea who the mother is.

"Heroes" (Mondays @ 8PM on NBC) is a science fiction drama that was much compared to X-Men when it first came out. This is not surprising since they both have the same elements - superhuman abilities, good vs. evil, and graphic novel-like stroytelling. The success of "Heroes" is propped by its multimedia campaign. An  extension of the show exists as "Heroes Evolutions" on the internet. Go check it out!

"America's Next Top Model" (Wednesdays @ 8PM on CW) is a modeling reality show which is hosted and produced by supermodel Tyra Banks. Cycle 13 is particularly special because this is the petite model edition, which means all contestants are 5'7" and below. This is also the same cycle where a lot of girls were hurt during a stampede at the New York auditions.

"Fringe" (Thursdays @ 9PM on Fox) follows FBI special agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv), mad scientist Walter Bishop (John Noble), his son Peter Bishop (Joshua Jackson of Dawson' Creek fame), and their team from FBI Fringe Division in Boston. Together, they investigate unexplained events which is part of "The Pattern". This series is said to be a geek's delight, with fans engaging in episode "mini-games" like "Spot the Observer" and "Break the Glyph Code".

"Grey's Anatomy" (Thursdays @ 9PM on ABC) is a multi-awarded medical drama that remains to be one of the most watched primetime shows on US television. However, the show lost some of its viewers last season  and the 2-hour Season 6 premiere was lackluster. Perhaps this was due to the numerous spoilers that spread on the internet about the death of George O'Malley (T.R. Knight).

"Private Practice"  (Thursdays @ 10PM on ABC) is a spin-off of  "Grey's Anatomy". It stars Kate Walsh as Dr. Addison Montgomery, the ex-wife of Seattle Grace Hospital's Dr. Derek Shepherd. The series follows Addison as she leaves Seattle and heads to sunny Los Angeles to join a private practice. Fans of both "Private Practice" and "Grey's Anatomy" enjoyed multi-episode crossovers during the first two seasons. I myself look forward to these crossovers.

"The Mentalist" (Thursdays @ 10PM on CBS) stars Simon Baker as Patrick Jane, a "psychic medium" who serves as an independent consultant for the California Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Simon Baker received an Emmy nomination for his role. This series averaged 17 million viewers during its premiere season. It also stars Robin Tunney as Teresa "the boss" Lisbon.

"Project Runway" (Thursdays @ 10PM on Lifetime) is a reality show which focuses on fashion design and is hosted by supermodel Heidi Klum. I only started watching this show during the season break. I downloaded and watched Season 5 and I was instantly hooked. Season 6 started ahead of all the other shows on August 20.

"Brothers & Sisters" (Sundays @ 10PM on CBS) is a family drama which focuses on the Walker family. The talented cast includes Sally Field, Calista Flockhart, Balthazar Getty,  Rob Lowe, Patricia Wettig, and my favorite, Matthew Rhys. The Walkers are much like the Kennedys and watching the show makes me want to become part of the family.

My other comedy favorite, multi-awarded comedy series "30 Rock", will premiere its 4th season on October 15 @ 9:30PM on NBC.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fall Frenzy

September is over. That means Fall Season TV is officially here. This past two weeks, my favorite TV shows from the US came back on air, as well as other new ones that are definitely worth watching. Here is a run down of the new shows that I watched which premiered in September, in order of their premiere dates.

"Glee" (Wednesdays @ 9PM on Fox) technically premiered in May 2009 but the 2nd episode was not shown until September 9. This show is most often compared to "High School Musical" but it has a wider audience demographic. The show focuses on a glee club or show choir of an Ohio high school. Chris Colfer who plays Kurt Hummel is a revelation. The pilot averaged 10 million viewers and it is the first to be picked up for a full season.

"Community" (Thursdays @ 9:30PM on NBC) is about a lawyer who was forced to enroll at community college after his degree was deemed invalid by the State Bar. I may soon tire of this show but for now, Danny Pudi as Abed makes me laugh.

"Accidentally on Purpose" (Mondays @ 8:30Pm on CBS) stars Jenna Elfman of "Will & Grace". She plays Billie, a San Francisco movie critic in her 30s, who gets pregnant after a one-night stand with a chef named Zack (Jon Foster). I love Jenna Elfman so I'm keeping this show on my list.

"The Forgotten" (Tuesdays @ 10PM on ABC) stars Christian Slater, who also starred in "My Own Worst Enemy", which was cancelled last year after only 9 episodes. The pilot episode of this new series, which is about a group of amateur detectives who volunteer to identify John and Jane Doe crime victims, did not captivate me. I'm watching 2 or 3 more episodes and if I'm still bored, I'm "forgetting" it.

"The Good Wife" (Tuesdays @ 10PM on CBS) has Ridley Scott as one of the executive producers. The "dream team" cast includes Juliana Margulies, Christine Baranski, Josh Charles, and Chris Noth. The story revolves around Alicia Florrick (Margulies), the wife of politician, Peter Florrick (Noth), who returns to her old job as a defense attorney after her husband is jailed following a very public sex and corruption scandal. It's about time for a good legal drama such as this one to come to primetime television.

"Mercy" (Wednesdays @ 8PM on NBC) is a hospital drama which focuses on the nurses of Mercy Hospital. The pilot was my least favorite among the new shows simply because I find it unrealistic to have a show about nurses and not have any Filipinas. Filipina nurses are like signatures on every major hospital in the US! Let's see in the next episodes. I read that this show got good ratings.

"Modern Family" (Wednesdays @ 9PM on ABC) is a mockumentary-style comedy about a quirky family composed of Jay Pritchett (Ed O'Neill), his daughter Claire Dunphy (Julie Bowen), his gay son Mitchell Pritchett (Jesse Tyler Fergusin), and their own respective families. I did not read any spoilers about this show so I was genuinely surprised towards the end of the pilot when it was revealed that the three families are actually part of one big family. Also, the "Circle of Life" bit really got me laughing.

"Cougar Town" (Wednesdays @ 9:30PM on ABC) immediately follows "Modern Family". It stars "Friend" Courteney Cox as Jules Cobb, a 40-year old newly-single mother living in Florida with his 17-year old son. I was not wowed by the pilot but I'm still watching a few more episodes.

"Eastwick" (Wednesdays @ 10PM on ABC) is the 3rd new show on ABC's Wednesday night line-up. It is an adaptation of the novel, "The Witches of Eastwick", by John Updike, which also had a film adaptation in 1987. "Eastwick" is beong compared a lot to "Desperate Housewives" but I think "Eastwick" is slightly better. Maybe it's the magic!

"FlashFoward" (Thursdays @ 8PM on ABC) stars Joseph Fiennes as FBI agent Mark Benford, who ends up investigating a global phenomenon where everybody on the planet simultaneously lost consciousness for 2 minutes and 17 seconds. During the blackout, people worldwide see what appear to be visions of their lives six months in the future. Towards the end of the pilot, a CCTV footage shows a mysterious man walking through a baseball stadium in Detroit while everybody else was unconscious. And so the mystery begins... and I'm hooked.

"The Beautiful Life". starring Mischa Barton, was this year's first casualty. The show, which followed the lives of New York models, got cancelled after 2 episodes. The 2nd episode had a dismal 1 million viewers or less than a third of executive producer Ashton Kutcher's Twitter followers. It's sad because I think it was better than those "90210" and "Melrose Place" rehashes. Oh well, let's see who gets the next axe.

Up next... my favorite returning shows and my take on the premieres. Stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Do The Math

This article was written by Inday Espina-Varona and was posted on Facebook.


One doesn’t need to be a member of Mensa, or a graduate of Harvard or Georgetown universities, or even “just” of the University of the Philippines and the Ateneo, to appreciate the math lessons brought by Typhoon “Ondoy.”

Thanks to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and a number of her aides, we know that national government deserved a pat on the back for topping its disaster-relief effort success benchmark (Katrina, heaven help us). Rainfall in 24 hours -- Ondoy: 455 millimeters; Katrina: 250 millimeters.

By afternoon of September 29, the death toll was at 250, and mounting. Half a million were homeless, 1.8 million affected – their homes intact but valuables destroyed by inundation in filthy waters.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) estimates property losses at P2 billion. (P5 billion as of 7 pm) But NDCC chief and Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro says paralysis of many enterprises, from small neighborhood stores to multi-million-peso manufacturing plants, costs the country hundreds of millions daily.

We’ve also learned that President Arroyo, Vice President Noli de Castro, and all Cabinet officials are donating their salaries for the next two months to help relief operations. The President and the Vice President get P50,000 (P70,000 for the President) a month; Cabinet members, P30,000.

That means the President is giving P140,000 – enough to buy one six-seater wooden banca with engine or three rubber boats (P37,000 each).

I mention boats because these were the missing links in Onday rescue and relief operations.

I still don’t know how many vehicles were blocking rescuers’ paths on Saturday afternoon. I do know that at around 6 pm of that day Teodoro was admitting the mighty NDCC had 25 rubber boats – half without engines. (Of course, the vehicles blocking rescuers were not left on the streets by joy-riding delinquents but by workers and students and other folk who were not told noon would find them in danger of drowning.)

The dearth in rubber boats and bancas meant that people were trapped on rooftops for 12 hours and longer. By afternoon of the 28th, the NDCC said government workers had rescued 8,000 – of the half a million homeless and many more affected. Do the math.

Metro Manila has a 15-million population. It has 1699 barangays (as of June 2008). For every barangay to have one banca would cost the government P169 million. Rizal province, equally devastated, has 188 barangays, another 18.8 million. That’s not even 20% of the price of President Arroyo’s 1-billion dream jet.

Do the math. For P1billion, the government could buy a fleet of 10,000 bancas.

But we don’t even have to talk about Mrs. Arroyo’s Christmas stocking. Let’s just focus on her gustatory delights during a recent US trip.

A leaked report said that while Filipinos mourned the death of former President Corazon Aquino, Mrs. Arroyo and her allies were feasting and drinking at the hoity-toity Le Cirque in New York City, to the tune of $20,000. Another leak said the presidential party also had a $15,000 lunch in a Washington D.C. steakhouse. Still another report said a second expensive dinner had occurred in Le Cirque. If this last dinner cost only $15,000 the tab for all three feasts would have reached P2.45 million.
Do the math: 25 bancas.

Still, those dinners represented just a fraction of expenses in that US trip. A report by quotes Susanna Vargas, Malacañang’s deputy executive secretary for administration and finance, as saying that Mrs. Arroyo’s party spent $66,000 in Washington D.C. and $59,000 in New York for various service tips ( That’s P6 million.
Do the math: 60 bancas.

But even that is just spare change to Mrs. Arroyo’s overall travel expenses, which sparked outrage when a Commission on Audit report showed these had been partly funded by contingent funds – by their very nature, monies set aside for emergencies. Because Mrs. Arroyo, the economist, couldn’t balance her travel budget, some P95 million incurred by the Office of the Press Secretary (OPS) were charged to the Palace’s contingent funds.(See above url)

Do the math: 950 bancas -- more than half of what Metro Manila-Rizal would need if each barangay is appropriated only one banca.

It is said that every peso that goes to the pockets of corrupt government officials is a peso taken from public services. I’m going to ignore the ZTE scandal, which was a preempted scandal, and focus on the ill-gotten wealth of General Carlos Garcia, former Armed Forces comptroller.

The good general is accused of skimming P300 million from the AFP’s budget. Even if you don’t care about soldiers dying because of a dearth in rescue equipment, you can do a different kind of math: 3,000 bancas.

I think P300 million is a very conservative estimate. Garcia’s son, Tim, just posted a “million-dollar bail,” according to an article by Peter Davis for “The Daily Beast” website.
Do the math: 490 bancas.

If Davis’ description of the young Garcia’s Trump Towers hothouse pad and its contents is true, add another $2 million. (Another 980 bancas). No way did his old man stop at P300 million. But you get the math.

The cited cases alone are enough (P550.45 million) to equip each Metro Manila-Rizal barangay with 2 bancas with change left for petrol. Or 14,877 rubber boats.

And we’re not even talking about Mikey or his father.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


My father would have turned 70 today. It has been almost two years since his death and I still miss him. As Kris Aquino said on the death of her mother, "it would take a lifetime for us to be okay." So true. Happy birthday Papa!

Monday, September 28, 2009

How You Can Help the Survivors of Typhoon Ondoy

If you want to help the Filipino survivors of Typhoon Ondoy, you may choose from the following ways to donate.

Cash Donations

1. Philippine National Red Cross - Cash, Check, Credit Card (online), Bank Transfer, SMS, Smart Money, or G-Cash
2. ABS-CBN Foundation (Sagip Kapamilya) - Hotlines: 63-2-4132667/63-2-4160387 (#13 Examiner St. West Triangle, QC.)
3. GMA Kapuso Foundation
3. TXTPower - Smart Money, GCash or PayPal
4. Citizens' Disaster Response Center (CDRC) - Relief goods for typhoon victims being accepted at 72-A Times St., West Triangle, QC. Tel (+632-9299820/22)
5. WorldVision Foundation - accepting donations/volunteers to pack relief goods in QC. For $ donations, BPI: USD acct #4254-0050-08

Relief Goods

Government/Civil Society/Others

1. NoyMar Relief Operations - Clare Amador (+639285205508) or Jana Vicente at +639285205499). Drop off for relief donations is at Balay Expo Center across Farmers Market Cubao.
2. Miriam Quiambao - drop off points: One Orchard Road Building in Eastwood, or message for more details.
3. Philippine Army Gym inside Fort Bonifacio or GHQ Gym in Camp Aguinaldo are now distributing donations for Ondoy Victims.
4. Akbayan - call 433-69-33/433-68-31 to donate or volunteer
5. Move for Chiz is asking for volunteers at Bay Park Tent, along Roxas Blvd., beside Max Restaurant and Diamond Hotel in Manila, or at Gilas Minipark at Unang Hakbang St., Gilas Q.C.
6. Sen. Kiko Pangilinan is accepting donations @ AGS Bldg Annex, 446 EDSA Guadalupe Viejo. Contact Vina Vargas at (+632917-8081247)
7. Operation Rainbow (Zac Faelnar Camara) at Ayala Alabang Village needs Canned Goods, Ready-To-Eat Food, Bottled Water, Ready-To-Drink Milk/ Juice, Clothing, Blankets, contact (+632-4687991)
8. Tulong Bayan hotlines for donations and volunteers are (+632908-6579998) Marilyn, (+632939-3633436) Jenn (+632-9137122, +632-9136254 & +632-9133306).


1. Ateneo de Manila University - Donations can be dropped at MVP Lobby. For inquiries, please contact Gio Tingson at 09178807427 or Kacci Morales at 09279818811.
2. Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan Task Force Noah, a disaster response arm of the Jesuits, is accepting donations. Please drop off at Ateneo Cervini Dorm.
3. Our Lady of Pentecost Parish - 12 F. Dela Rosa corner C. Salvador Sts., Loyola Heights, Quezon City, Tel.#63-2-4342397/63-2-9290665
4. Hillsborough Village Chapel – Water, blankets, shoes, and clothes may be sent to Hillsborough Village Chapel in Muntinlupa City. These will go to families whose houses were washed out in the nearby sitios.
5. La Salle (Greenhills) - for donations and volunteers
6. Xavier School - Please bring donations to the Multipurpose Center (MPC).
7. PLAYSCHOOL INTERNATIONAL in Better Living is open to receive relief goods. Feel free to drop it there for your convenience. No Cash please.
8. Caritas Manila - Jesus St., Pandacan Manila near Nagtahan Bridge (+632-5639298, +632-5639308)
9. Radio Veritas - Veritas Tower West Ave. Cor EDSA (+632-9257931-40)
10. CCF (St Francis Mall, Ortigas) - accepting goods for donation
11. CFC Center Ortigas - now open for donations in cash or kind. Call (+632-7270682 to 87) or text (+632922-2542819)
12. De La Salle University-Manila – The Sagip Metro relief operation will start to accept donation for Ondoy victims starting Monday @ 8:30 am. Please bring goods to the South Gate of DLSU-Manila.
13. De La Salle Zobel - accepting donations at Gym 5 (Near Gate 7 in Molave St.)
14. DLSU Medical Center will accept canned goods, blankets, clothes, water. Location is at Congressional Avenue, Dasmarinas, Cavite. Telephone lines are at(02) 844-7832 and (046) 416-4531
15. St. James Church Multi-Purpose Hall – Drop off point
16. St. Pedro Poveda College is now accepting relief goods. call the Social Action Center 6318756 loc. 121
17. UA&P - Please contact Dae Lee [SEB EVP] @ 09178323533 needs donations and volunteers.
18. UP College of Arts and Letters (CAL) is accepting goods and cash. Donation center at CAL/text 0929-6454102. UP Diliman USC is collecting food, clothing and/or cash. Contact TITUS 09178001909, JOSE 09273056607 and TIN 09154906106

Business/Commercial Establishments

1. Team Manila (Trinoma, Mall of Asia, Jupiter Bel-Air and Rockwell) - accepting relief goods (Canned Goods, Ready-To-Drink Milk, Bottled Water and Clothes) for distribution by Veritas.
2. Aranaz Stores (Rockwell & Greenbelt) - accepting donations of any kind for Payatas communities affected by Ondoy
3. Papemelroti (91 Roces Ave., Ali Mall Cubao, SM City North EDSA, SM Fairview, SM Megamall, Glorietta 3 in Makati, SM Centerpoint, SM Southmall - are accepting relief goods (canned goods / milk / bottled water / clothes – NO CASH pls.)
4. LUCA stores (Rockwell, Shangri-la, Eastwood, or GA towers) - Send your old clothes & donations (no cash pls).
5. RENAISSANCE FITNESS CENTER - “LUZON RELIEF: Volunteer / Donate / Pray” 2nd Floor, Bramante Building, Renaissance Towers Ortigas, Meralco Avenue, Pasig City starting MONDAY (Sept.28) / 9am – 7pm Contact Person: Warren Habaluyas (+632929-8713488) or email at
6. MOONSHINE Boutique in Rockwell - accepting relief good to help Ondoy victims in Marikina and Cainta
7. Manor Superclub (Eastwood City) - accepting goods and other emergency items
8. MINISTOP IBARRA (España cor. Blumentritt, Sampaloc Manila) - accepting relief goods, Food (non-perishable goods only) Clothing, Medicines, Beds, Pillows, Blankets, Emergency Supplies to help Typhoon Ondoy victims.
9. Whitespace - 2314 Chino Roces Ave Ext.
10. Aunt Genie’s Breadhouse in Cebu – 1279 Talamban, Cebu City In front of the Talamban Sports Complex – drop off point
11. Binalot - Greenbelt 1, call Tetchie Bundalian at (+632922-8573277)
12. Brainbeam Events, Inc. - 2/F MB Aguirre Cornerhs Bldg,15 Pres Ave cor Elizalde Sts, BF Homes Pque across the old Caltex in BF. Will accept relief goods.
13. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf - accepting canned goods, water, clothes, blankets, towels, medicine, and emergency supplies (no cash) in all our branches on behalf of the victims of Typhoon Ondoy starting today until Friday.
14. Every Nation (FORT) - will accept donations for Red Cross esp. purified water, canned goods, and infant formula. Location @ 32nd St cor University Pkwy across Market Market.
15. Junior Chamber International Manila Baypark Tent, Roxas Blvd. will accept goods starting Monday.
16. Myron’s Greenbelt will accept relief goods
17. PowerPlant Mall accepting donations for ABS-CBN foundation. Dropoff at admin office, P1 level.
18. R.O.X. Recreational Outdoor eXchange - accepting donation for relief good for Typhoon Ondoy victims. You can bring it in the store located in B1 building Bonifacio High St., Tel. No. (+632-8564638/39)
19. Shell gas stations – drop off point
20. Total gas stations- drop off point
21. Petron – drop off point
22. Jollibee branches in Metro Manila – drop off point
23. McDonald’s branches in Metro Manila – drop off point

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Emergency Numbers for Metro Manila Flood Victims

Metro Manila is under water due to heavy rains brought by Typhoon Ondoy. Here are the key numbers to contact for information, rescue operations, relief services, donations. Thank you very much. (Reposted from "Sour Politics")

Rescue Operations

  1. National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) (+632-9125668, +632-9111406, +632-9115061, +632-9122665) Help hotlines: (+65 734-2118, 734-2120)
  2. Philippine Coast Guard (+632-5276136)
  3. Air Force (+63908-1126976, +632-8535023)
  4. Metro Manila Development Authority (136)
  5. Marikina City Rescue (+632-6462436, +632-6462423, +632920-9072902)
  6. Pasig Rescue Emergency Number (+632-6310099)
  7. Quezon City Rescue (161)
  8. San Juan City Hall Command Post (+632-4681697)
  9. Bureau of Fire Protection Region III (Central Luzon) Hotline: (+63245-9634376)
  10. Senator Dick Gordon (+639178997898, +63938-444BOYS, +632-9342118, +632-4338528)
  11. Senator Manny Villar (+639174226800. +639172414864, +639276751981)

Civil Society/ Media

  1. Philippine National Red Cross (143, +632-5270000)
  2. Philippine National Red Cross Rizal Chapter operations center hotline: (+632-6350922, +632-6347824)
  3. Go to GMA Facebook page & post complete addresses and names of people in need of immediate help.
  4. ABS-CBN Typhoon Ondoy Hotline: (+632-4163641)
  5. Jam 88.3: (+632- 6318803) or SMS at JAM (space) 883 (space) your message to 2968
  6. GMA Kapuso Helpline: (+632-9811950-59)


All calls for help, please help us by filling out information here at the Rescue InfoHub Center.


Rubber Boat, 4×4 Trucks, Chopper Requests

  1. NCRPO (+632-8383203, +632-8383354)
  2. Private citizens who would like to lend their motor boats for rescue
    please call emergency nos: +632-9125668, +632-9111406, +632-9122665, +632-9115061)
  3. You can also text (+632917-4226800 or +632927-6751981) for rescue dump trucks.
  4. For those who are able to lend 4×4 trucks for rescue: Please send truck to Greenhills Shoppng Center Unimart Grocery to await deployment, Tel No. (+632920-9072902).
  5. Petron & San Miguel Corporation are lending choppers for rescue operations, call/text: (+632917-8140655) ask for Lydia Ragasa

Power Supply

  • Meralco (+63917-5592824, 16211, +63920-9292824) If you want service cut off to your area to prevent fires and electrocution.

Relief Aid and Donations

  1. Victory Fort is opening its doors to those affected by the typhoon. Call 813-FORT.
  2. NoyMar relief Operations: Clare Amador (+639285205508) or Jana Vicente at +639285205499). Drop off for relief donations is at Balay Expo Center across Farmers Market Cubao.
  3. Miriam Quiambao drop off points: One Orchard Road Building in Eastwood, or message for more details.
  4. Philippine Army Gym inside Fort Bonifacio or GHQ Gym in Camp Aguinaldo are now distributing donations for Ondoy Victims.
  5. Team Manila stores in Trinoma, Mall of Asia, Jupiter Bel-Air and Rockwell shall be accepting relief goods (Canned Goods, Ready-to-drink Milk,Bottled Water and Clothes) for distribution by Veritas.
  6. Caritas Manila Office at Jesus St., Pandacan Manila near Nagtahan Bridge (+632-5639298, +632-5639308)
  7. Radio Veritas at Veritas Tower West Ave. Cor EDSA (+632-9257931-40)
  8. Aranaz Stores in Rockwell & Greenbelt is accepting donations of any kind for Payatas communities affected by Ondoy
  9. Simbahang Lingkod ng Bayan Task Force Noah, a disaster response arm of the Jesuits, is accepting donations. Please drop it off sa Ateneo Cervini Dorm.
  10. Philippine National Red Crossdifferent ways to Donate.
  11. Red Cross Load Donations: Right now the easiest way to make donations from the seat of your chair is via mobile phone load. The Red Cross Rescue and Relief Operations. Text: REDAMOUNT to 2899 (Globe) or 4483 (Smart)
  12. Ateneo de Manila University is now accepting donations for the victims of Ondoy. Donations can be dropped at MVP Lobby. For those stranded/those who need help: To all students who need help or know of people who need help. Please text the name, location, and contact number to (+6329088877166). ATENEO, which is now an open shelter, accepts refugees. Call (+632917-8952792)
  13. Papemelroti stores in 91 Roces Ave. / Ali Mall Cubao / SM City North EDSA / SM Fairview / SM Megamall / Glorietta 3 in Makati / SM Centerpoint / SM Southmall are accepting relief goods (canned goods / milk / bottled water / clothes – NO CASH pls.)
  14. TXTPower now accepts donations via SmartMoney 5577514418667103, GCash 09179751092 and Paypal
  15. Our Lady of Pentecost Parish (+632-4342397, +632-9290665) per Gabe Mercado, donations are very much welcome. The Parish is located at 12 F. Dela Rosa corner C. Salvador Sts., Loyola Heights, Quezon City.
  16. Hillsborough Village Chapel – Water, blankets, shoes, and clothes may be sent to Hillsborough Village Chapel in Muntinlupa City. These will go to families whose houses were washed out in the nearby sitios.
  17. Greenhills/Mandaluyong/San Juan Area, if you want to help out with the rescue and relief operations, you can drop off your donations (clothes, food, etc..) at La Salle Greenhills Gate 2 tomorrow or volunteer from 9am to receive, sort, repack the donations.
  18. LUCA stores (Rockwell, Shang-rila, Eastwood, or GA towers): Send your old clothes & donations (no cash pls).
  19. “LUZON RELIEF: Volunteer / Donate / Pray”: Donations can be brought to RENAISSANCE FITNESS CENTER, 2nd Floor, Bramante Building, Renaissance Towers Ortigas, Meralco Avenue, Pasig City starting MONDAY (Sept.28) / 9am – 7pm Contact Person: Warren Habaluyas (+632929-8713488) or email at
  20. MOONSHINE boutique in Rockwell also accepting relief good to help Ondoy victims in Marikina and Cainta.
  21. Katipunan Avenue. Contact Erica Paredes at (+632917-4741930) — they need bread, packed juice, sandwich filling (tuna, chicken, anything) You can help her make them, deliver the sandwiches to her house, or help her distribute! Call for more details.
  22. Manor Superclub, Eastwood City will accept goods and other emergency items starting Sunday at 10 am.
  23. Citizens Disaster Response Center (CDRC): Relief goods for typhoon victims being accepted at 72-A Times St., West Triangle, QC. Tel (+632-9299820/22)
  24. MINISTOP IBARRA (Espana cor. Blumentritt, Sampaloc Manila) is also accepting relief goods, Food (non-perishable goods only) Clothing, Medicines, Beds, Pillows, Blankets, Emergency Supplies to help Typhoon Ondoy victims.
  25. Whitespace 2314 Chino Roces Ave Ext as a Mkt drop-off for relief goods.
  26. Tulong Bayan hotlines for donations and volunteers are (+632908-6579998) Marilyn, (+632939-3633436) Jenn (+632-9137122, +632-9136254 & +632-9133306).
  27. AKBAYAN’s taking donations, call 433-69-33/433-68-31 to donate or volunteer.
  28. Worldvision Foundation is also accepting donations/volunteers to pack relief goods in QC. For $donations, BPI:USDacct #4254-0050-08
  29. Xavier School in San Juan is now accepting donations, please bring to Multipurpose Center (MPC).
  30. ABS-CBN through Banco de Oro account number 56300-20111 account name: ABS-CBN Foundation Incorporation
  31. Move for Chiz is asking for volunteers at Bay Park Tent, along Roxas Blvd., beside Max Restaurant and Diamond Hotel in Manila, or at Gilas Minipark at Unang Hakbang St., Gilas Q.C.
  32. Sen. Kiko Pangilinan is accepting donations @ AGS Bldg Annex, 446 EDSA Guadalupe Viejo. Contact Vina Vargas at (+632917-8081247)
  33. Operation Rainbow (Zac Faelnar Camara) at Ayala Alabang Village needs Canned Goods, Ready-To-Eat Food, Bottled Water, Ready-To-Drink Milk/ Juice, Clothing, Blankets, contact (+632-4687991)
  34. Relief Efforts for Pasig at Valle Verde 1 Village Park, contact (+632916-4945000, +632917-5273616)
  35. World Vision partners with Phil Coast Guard and kind individuals for relief distribution to 3k families. Call (+632-3747618 local 242) or text (+632917-8623209) to help
  36. PLAYSCHOOL INTERNATIONAL in Better Living is open to receive relief goods. Feel free to drop it there for your convenience. No Cash Pls.

People Tracker (using your phones, get your friends and family to turn on their finderservice for you)

  • FINDERSERVICE. For Smart, text “wis ” to 386.
  • FINDERSERVICE. For Globe, text “find to 7000.
I got this map from Help “Ondoy” Victims in the Philippines. I can’t help but be amazed at this map made by a private citizen based on news from TV, radio, internet, etc. If he can do it, it makes me think and ask if the government uses these kinds of technology. GIS? I hope they do.

Email the map-maker at if you know Google Maps and want to help update this map.

Email the map-maker at or tweet @flipmozart if you know Google Maps and want to help update this map with the latest information available. Click this photo to view the situation map of Marikina, and nearby places.

NDCC Situation Reports (Click to Download PDF):

CHED, DEPED: Classes at all levels in Metro Manila & Rizal province have been suspended Monday and Tuesday, Sept. 28-29.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The 61st Primetime Emmy Awards

I was glued to the monitor this morning, watching the Emmys. This is the 3rd installation of the awards for this year since the awards for Creative Arts and Daytime TV were already given out last week.

I was rooting for Neil Patrick Harris, Tina Fey and Sandra Oh but they all lost. Tina Fey did win something for other categories - Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy (as Gov. Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live) and Best Comedy Series (30 Rock).

As for Neil Patrick Harris, he did not get an award but he did one hell of a job as this year's host. At least two winners hollered at him for a job well done in this otherwise boring awards night. Neil Patrick Harris was also co-producer of the show.

To see the complete list of winners, click HERE.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Do you have a toxic friend?

I got this from a friend (non-toxic). It might make you want to re-evaluate the friendships that you have right now.


The 9 Signs You’re in a Toxic Friendship
By: Susan Shapiro Barash

1) Your friend is jealous of you. Jealousy is different than envy and the first can be very toxic for the relationship. Jealousy is: "I want what you have and I want you dead or disappeared." Envy is just: "I want what you have." A jealous friend will want to cut you out of her life because she really wants what you have and can’t stand to be around you anymore. An envious friend will want what you have, but will look to you as her inspiration or role model, and compete with you to get in the lead.

2) Your friend is a "doormat": It’s tiring to always be with someone who is so malleable.

3) Your friend wasn’t there for you. It’s sometimes hard to see if a friend is really a true pal until there is a life-changing moment in your life that requires the person’s support. This eye-opening event is called The Inciting Incident, which is when everything is going along fine, until wham! someone gets sick, or loses their job, or gets married or loses a loved one, and you find that the friend you thought would be by your side isn’t there for you at all. She doesn’t celebrate your good news nor does she help you in times of need. For some women it takes an "inciting incident" to finally notice that a friend is toxic.

4) Your friend is draining you: You feel you’re psychologically and emotionally giving all your energy to her and receiving nothing in return.

5) You don’t share the same values or the same world view: It’s a red flag that this isn’t the right friend for you if you don’t respect her for who she is. I interviewed a woman who wished her friend’s husband ill. It made the married woman realize that her friend’s behavior is nothing like her own.

6) You are using one another: This type of toxic relationship develops among socialites. You want to be friends with your neighbor because your children attend the same private school and you can coordinate a carpool. Will the friendship last? Maybe. Is there really a friendship between the mothers or is it just using? Is it worth turning this friendship into anything more than an agreement?

7) The relationship offers no return on investment: This is similar to a friend who is draining you – but this isn’t just an emotional give and take. If you are the one calling your friend to make plans and going out of your way to be with her, but she makes no attempt to go out of her way for you, then she’s not meeting you halfway.

8) Your friend is harming someone else or doing something illicit. Do you want to be associated with someone who is morally unjust? That’s a judgment call on your part.

9) Your friend burdens you with a secret: Your friend trusts you by sharing the details of her affair, but keeping the secret has weighed on you emotionally. You might want to keep your distance. If you’re too close to this woman and the secret is really impacting your life for the worse, it’s time to disengage yourself.

How to Disengage: If any of these signs describes one of your friendships, it’s likely to be a toxic relationship that’s burdensome to not just your sanity but hers as well. You could deliberately distance yourself and let the relationship fizzle into oblivion. If you would like to renegotiate the relationship and improve the friendship, have an honest conversation to reveal how you feel. You’ll risk losing this person, but the reward could be improving the quality of the friendship. Honesty is the best policy.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Korina Sanchez vs. RG Cruz

Unless you're a Filipino who has been living in a cave, you may have already heard about Mar Roxas' withdrawal from the presidential race and of Korina Sanchez' subsequent radio outburst against Conrado de Quiros (PDI columnist) and Sen. Kiko Pangilinan.

It seems that Korina is at it again, this time against ABS-CBN fellow journalist RG Cruz who allegedly posted anti-Korina messages on his Facebook account.

Below is the full transcript of Korina's open letter to RG Cruz and ABS-CBN management about the issue.


(As posted on Marichu Lambino's blog.)


“From Korina Sanchez

“I thought, not too long but hard, about writing this letter about someone who I supposedly work with but hardly know — someone who, should I see along our company corridors, I probably wouldn’t even recognize.

“While some characters would sit back, relax and ignore the nuances and irritants of daily living, some characters such as mine are the types who would see and know, by experience if I may add, that evil prospers when good men do nothing. While there is wisdom in silence, there is nobility to be found in response and courage — as foolish as some might think these to be, given specific circumstances.

“Such was my thought process when I decided to write this letter. As inconsequential to my universe as someone, whose opinion I do not care about at all, is — there is something to be said here and something to consider. It is for the greater good among us who, fortunately or unfortunately, have to work with each other in ABS-CBN for, precisely, the greater good.

“I received the calls and texts to me from longtime co-workers and colleagues at the station recently. They say, “Ma’am, do you know what RG Cruz has been posting on his Facebook against you? Why is the company allowing this? How could he say such things? Do you have some war going on with him?”, the person at the other end of the line sounded so urgent. This is the 3rd person to tell me of the Facebook entries by an RG Cruz within a few days about a “First Lady wannabe …who would eventually be a bad spouse…a queen in her head without a crown… ” and some. We have copies of all of the RG Cruz entries on his Facebook. Suffice it to say that the tirades against who Cruz eventually admitted was Korina Sanchez were as creative as creativity can many times be Borne of spite and utter, utter hatred. It reminds me of the creativity of serial killers from history. Jack the Ripper for instance — who kept the English police guessing and following and analyzing each way the pattern was kept alive with each of his dead, mangled victims.

“I thought hard, “RG Cruz? RG Cruz…Oh…RG Cruz, oh that RG Cruz”. He always wears a long coat much like Keanu Reeves in the movie Matrix. I once thought it to be cute and fantasized my fiancé Mar in one of those wondering, “Hmmm, maybe this outfit would do it for him and give an extra 5 percentage points in the surveys”. Alas, we always have the same reaction to every idea — it is ability, track record, integrity, honesty, diligence, intelligence, compassion and vision that should bring an aspirant to his rightful place in history — stupid. Not long coats!

“Back to RG Cruz. Yes, I remember now. RG is the cute little young guy who I actually kind of like. I thought from his outfit and from watching one anchoring job he did in ANC that this guy has character. We would often walk by each other going different directions in company corridors late at night when I anchor Bandila. Many of those times I try to catch his glimpse to smile but, for some reason, he always has his head down or he would look some other direction. Half of that time maybe it was I looking down and at other directions. In short, and as astonishing as it apparently is, I don’t really know nor have interacted or worked, nor do I ever remember having had conversation with Mr. RG Cruz. And I do not know where his concentrated anger targeted towards me is coming from.

“Skin off my nose. He doesn’t count.

“But here is where we learn some things, yes, even in instances that should seem not matter.

“Sad as it is, it is not surprising that, in my experience of more than 20 years of work in the company, there may always be someone like RG Cruz who will just be the way they are without rhyme or reason. There have been many batches before RG that I have seen, suffered and survived. I guess he represents his batch. My advice is, ignore. And then, when you feel it has become too much, report to our superiors. If the regulations and the law warrants, push for management action, even a sanction, even a lawsuit.

“Logic dictates that, just as we are all bound by regulations and ethics regarding how we relate and treat each other within the company, these parameters encompass treatment of each other that is public, evident, attestable. Facebook, designed as it may be for “friends”, is essentially public. Slanderous comments are, arguably, considered published. “Blind item” lawsuits have been won in Philippine courts as well. As long as more than a certain number of people can identify, without a doubt, the unnamed victim of slander and character assassination, the offense is actionable.

“I, by the way, do not understand why Mr. Cruz would bother to not mention my cherished name in his attacks against me when he outright named another company talent, Mr. Willie Revillame, and attacked him as well.

“In the interest of sound policy covering such misdemeanors to protect its employees and talents and maintain the civility required of us all to achieve company goals — as painlessly as humanly possibly — I have inquired with management and have urged them to take a closer look at the cyberworld as public domain and which is a potent instrument for destruction and unwarranted personal aggravation of its victims, especially in the hands of co-employees.

“Lastly, but most importantly.

“It has been almost 6 days since Sen. Mar Roxas’ abdication of position of standard bearer of the Liberal Party of the Philippines to endorse Sen. Noynoy Aquino as party candidate for the Presidency of the Republic. I’ve seen it and felt it for myself: it is the easiest thing to have an ambition, calculate and run for office. It is the most difficult to want to serve, calculate, invest and then give way. Until you see and be, it would be a task for any jaded journalist to imagine.

“The overwhelming outpour of love, grief, disagreement with the decision, admiration and emulation which followed Sen. Roxas’ example has carved a niche for his good name in Philippine history books this early in his life in public service and governance. I would like to thank many of you who have called to say how they’ve admired Mar’s sacrifice. To those who challenge the integrity of Mar’s sacrifice and may dismiss it as expediency I invite you to a chat as I might enlighten you on things you might not be fully informed about or aware of. I give special thanks to Ted Failon, Julius and Tintin Babao, the people of DZMM News, Joelet Reyes, the other staff of Bandila, Ging Reyes and Charie Villa, Ms. Cory Vidanes and our President Charo S. Concio for their kind and generous words.

“Many of us in the news business have often thought, felt that we are as big or powerful as those we cover. Our indifference and sarcasm say so. And too many times I have, myself, dismissed acts of greatness and sacrifice as just “one of those things”. Having taken this long a leave of absence from my years of work in broadcast for the first time and finding myself participant in something so important to this country, its people and its future I now see even more clearly how small and insignificant each of us is in the much bigger picture affecting 90 million lives. That is, until we think, act, speak and, most of all, do something to become the difference, make a difference for the good and become … bigger. Or do something or nothing to make us even smaller, more insignificant. We might as well just disappear.

“So to you, RG Cruz, I say, I hope that — as your Facebook entry narrated — as you were “eating chocolate” and indulging your gastronomical cravings while events at Club Filipino on the 2nd of September 2009 were unfolding and all you could think of and delight in, as written in your Facebook, are your cruel attacks, pettiness, inanities and insensitivities to the sacrifice of others and, horror of horrors, make these public — you will, henceforth, attempt to save yourself from the very real prospect of disappearing, leaving this world without a trace, no better and even worse than when you found it.

“By the way, did you know that Jack the Ripper loved chocolates, too? Look it up.



I didn't know who RG Cruz was until now. Interestingly, it is Korina Sanchez herself that gave this guy a name via her open letter which is now featured on the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bisaya Medley feat. Beyonce

This video had me laughing. Nice job!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Separated at Birth?

David Archuleta and JC Guapo

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Voyage of the Balangay Update

Team Balangay has finally set sail aboard Diwata ng Lahi towards an epic journey from Manila Bay to Mindanao and later on to Southeast Asia. For more updates from Team Balangay, visit the official website. Lawig balangay!

Note: Diwata ng Lahi will be joined by another balangay once it docks in Butuan City. The balangay construction in Butuan will be paid for by private citizens.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


I created and uploaded this video 2 years ago on Youtube. As of today, it has garnered 144 comments and 101,250 views with a 5-star rating by 144 people. I do not claim sole ownership of the video since all footages were taken from the movie, "The Passion of the Christ" by Mel Gibson. It is a heavily edited music video version with Hillsong's "Worthy is the Lamb" as background music.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Fall TV

September is finally here! For me, that means the start of fall season TV. It is the time of season premieres for most TV shows in the US. Most of these shows ended their previous seasons in May and the 4-month wait is excruciating for TV addicts like me. It does not help that some of these shows left us with cliffhangers that has beem driving me nuts these past 4 months. Like in Grey's Anatomy, any fan of the show must be itching to know who dies in the new season, Izzie or George? Or as in Heroes, what will happen to Sylar/Nathan? These are just some of the questions that needs some answers pronto! Below is the schedule of fall season premieres of the TV shows that I follow (or at least try to follow) and some new ones that I am going to check out.

Sept. 8 9PM - Melrose Place (New Series - CW)
Sept. 9 8PM - America’s Next Top Model (CW)
Sept. 9 9PM - Glee (New Series - Fox)
Sept. 14 9PM - Gossip Girl (CW)
Sept. 17 9PM - Fringe (Fox)
Sept. 21 8PM - Heroes (NBC)
Sept. 21 8PM - How I Met Your Mother (CBS)
Sept. 22 10PM - The Good Wife (New Series - CBS)
Sept. 22 10PM - The Forgotten (New Series - ABC)
Sept. 24 9PM - Grey’s Anatomy (ABC)
Sept. 24 10PM - The Mentalist (CBS)
Sept. 27 8PM - The Amazing Race (CBS)
Sept. 27 9PM - Desperate Housewives (ABC)
Sept. 27 10PM - Brothers & Sisters (ABC)
Sept. 28 9PM - Lie to Me (Fox)
Sept. 28 9PM - Trauma (New Series - NBC)
Oct. 1 10PM - Private Practice (ABC)
Oct. 15 9:30PM - 30 Rock (NBC)

Happy viewing!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

And the Winner is...

Stefania Fernandez, 18, Venezuela! Many pageant fans were surprised yesterday as Stefania Fernandez of Venezuela was crowned Miss Universe 2009. She succeeds Dayana Mendoza who is also from Venezuela. This is the first time in Miss Universe history that a country won 2 crowns in a row. Congratulations Stefania!

On a sadder note, Miss Philippines Bianca Manalo failed to make it to the Top 15. More surprisingly, no Asian made it to the semi-final list. However, 10 of my picks did make it, including alternates. Below is the complete list of the 3 cuts .

Top 15:

1. Puerto Rico
2. Iceland
3. Albania
4. Czech Republic
5. Belgium
6. Dominican Republic
7. Sweden
8. Kosovo
9. Australia
10. France
11. Switzerland
12. South Africa
13. USA
14. Croatia
15. Venezuela

Top 10 (after Swimsuit competition, with scores):

1. Australia 9.264
2. Dominican Republic 9.189
3. Kosovo 8.790
4. Venezuela 8.760
5. France 8.640
6. Switzerland 8.611
7. Puerto Rico 8.533
8. South Africa 8.460
9. Czech republic 8.350
10. USA 8.060

Top 5 (after Evening Gown competition, with scores):

1. Dominican Republic 9.428
2. Kosovo 9.250
3. Puerto Rico 9.050
4. Australia 9.039
5. Venezuela 8.8691

Special Awards:

Miss Congeniality - China
Miss Photogenic - Thaiand

Final Result:

Miss Universe 2009 - Venezuela
1st Runner-up - Dominican Republic
2nd Runner-up - Kosovo
3rd Runner-up - Australia
4th Runner-up - Puerto Rico

Congratulations to the winners! And to Bianca, you will always be the Miss Universe in the Filipinos' hearts.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Miss Universe 2009

I watched the Miss Universe Presentation Show yesterday and I must say that there are a lot of worthy contenders this year. The presentation show is where preliminary judging is done on the swimsuit and evening gown categories. All candidates will then be interviewed privately and 15 semi-finalists will be selected to compete in the finals night. Coronation night will be on August 23, 2009, 9PM ET. Below are my picks for top 16 based on the preliminary swimsuit and evening gown competition:

1. Australia
2. Brazil
3. Colombia
4. Czech Republic
5. Dominican Republic
6. Great Britain
7. Guatemala
8. Mexico
9. Netherlands
10. Paraguay
11. Philippines
12. Puerto Rico
13. South Africa
14. Spain
15. Venezuela

If I could make it top 25, I would include:

1. Albania
2. Curacao
3. Guam
4. Indonesia
5. Kosovo
6. Montenegro
7. Peru
8. Russia
9. Sweden
10. Finland

Considering how Miss Universe works, the following might be given complimentary slots:

1. Bahamas - host country
2. Panama - best national costume
3. USA - they always get into semi-finals
4. Thailand - swimsuit sponsor
5. Japan - they are not the crown sponsor anymore but I still got the feeling that she might get in

Of course, my sentimental favorite is Miss Philippines, Pamela Bianca Manalo. Here she is during the presentation show.

I think she was the best Asian candidate during the preliminaries. Let's see if the judges think the same way. Good luck Bianca!