Changing the country’s name? Seriously? 

On the day we celebrated the 119th year of our independence, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano filed a resolution calling for the changing of the official name of the Republic of the Philippines. This is to, according to him, demonstrate our independence from colonial powers. 

Yet, not everyone is receptive with this idea, considering the potential costs, practicality, and the person filing the said resolution.

The person has tried to file an impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte barely a year within his 6-year term, and when that was junked by the House Justice Committee, turned to the International Criminal Court along with his colleague and nagger-in-chief Senator, or should I say, President Antonio Trillanes IV. [sarcasm] (according to critics of the said resolution, how will you demonstrate the country’s full independence from colonial powers when you are employing the aid of international institutions to unseat a sitting president when you have exhausted all the legal possible means permitted by our laws i.e. impeachment, unless of course you want to pull off something similar to Oakwood or Manila Pen which seemingly is your only tangible achievement so far and seem to be proud of.)

As for the name change, in case this pushes through, how can you come up of a name acceptable to everybody from the Tagalogs, Ilokanos, Cebuanos, Aetas, Cordillerans, Taugugs, Ivatans, and others, as there was no common identity yet among the peoples of this archipelago, unless of course you want to trigger centuries-old animosity among the different ethnic groups in this country.

And there are more pressing matters to attend to, like infrastructure development, poverty reduction, among others, and for Magdalo, focusing on soldiers’ welfare and strengthening our maritime defences considering your military backgrounds. 

So stop pretending to be principled crusaders of good governance (with your failed coup attempts and nonsense Congressional and Senate hearings) when in fact you’re also a part of the much disguised political elite. 

The name change resolution is just an attempt of yours to remain relevant when in fact you’re not. (The political system in this country in general is a joke. The Magdalo is only a visible part of it. Face it, Trillanes, you’ll never be president.)

The name Philippines has become a very huge and integral part of who we are as a country and embrace it, cherish it for the years to come. 

Debunking hoaxes 

As we monitor Facebook pages and groups dedicated to Philippine television and radio, it is unavoidable that we will encounter hoaxes, such as this one: 

(name of the person withheld as to protect his identity)

First of all, there is no truth to these and will largely be impossible in the real world setting. 

  • Viva is mostly unlikely to return to free TV as it has a strong partnership with the established major networks
  • Any attempt by Sony or Fox International Channels will likely violate existing laws and regulations regarding media ownership unless partnering with a local content provider (which is still highly improbable)

We have refuted this, yet there are still people who are bound to believe this, and posts like these are being shared, sadly, by those kids with special needs with a keen interest in media.

In light of these, there has to be a mutual effort to avoid the spread of hoaxes like these by:

  • Parental guidance: the parents must control those kids’ access to the internet or computers and reminding them of consequences of their actions
  • Vetting of posts for moderators of threads and pages
  • For those on the verge of believing the hoax, remind them these are not true
  • Ask them to stop without resorting to bullying

These are among the solutions we can think of, but this will be a long term effort, an exercise of responsibility in a world cluttered by fake news, toxic debates, among others.

Our Cebu experience

(My screen capture of Metro Cebu skyline from Harolds Hotel’s 12th floor.)

We spent a total of six days in Cebu from May 4-9, and I must say with no second thoughts, Cebu is way better than Manila. The ambiance in Metro Cebu is very much like Metro Manila (where I was born, raised, and where I study), but more orderly, no usok, no kaskaseros. The streets are clean. There’s also traffic, but absolutely no unahan or overtaking typical of a Manila gridlock.

At the same time, I have seen for myself how unequal development is with respect to areas outside of Luzon. For example, it takes four hours from Cebu City to Bogo City in the north (when you can build an expressway when it’s roughly the same distance as Manila and Clark Freeport Zone) and another hour to Bantayan Island by ferry (when you can build a bridge). No matter why people down south always refer to Metro Manila as Imperial Manila.

I have spotted no tricycles unlike in Metro Manila though the use of Grab is prominent, despite relatively near distances (we stayed in Harolds Hotel in Gorordo and Grabbed through La Vie Parisienne, Vibo Place, the Iglesia ni Cristo chapel in Gen. Maxilom), though in some cases distances could be very far like going to SM Seaside Cebu, SM City Cebu, the Mactan-Cebu International Airport. Which explains why Metro Cebu also needs an LRT system. (I’d prefer a tranvia-like system or subway so as not to destroy the city landscape. And by the way, MCIA is better than NAIA.)

I was not able to see most of the sights in Metro Cebu and going south to Oslob after spending an overnight in Bantayan Island though I was able to see the following:

  • The Taoist Temple in Lahug
  • Fort San Pedro
  • Plaza Independencia
  • Magellan’s Cross

Also some sights which captured my attention:

  • Marcelo Fernan Bridge
  • Maayo Medical in Mandaue City
  • A parked DOST bus in Mandaue City
  • The abandoned Cebu International Convention Center
  • Colon Street
  • SM Seaside Cebu
  • Cebu IT Park
  • and much more

The food selection is also wide. I tried a teriyaki burger over at Patty Pie in SM Seaside Cebu, Jonie’s and Zubuchon in SM City Cebu, and of course Lantaw and 10,000 Roses over at Cordova where you could see a good view of the skyline of Metro Cebu.

While eating at Lantaw, I saw a beautiful girl (there are many in Cebu). I initially wanted to initiate small talk with her but she was with her whole family, so I held back. She was soft spoken but heard her curse loud when what she was eating fell on the ground. I could have practiced Cebuano but I held back. I may not have been able to talk to her but at least I knew my limits. But I’m certain, if I’ll ever marry in the future I’d prefer a Cebuana (the other ethnicities in my list are Kapampangan, Ilocano, Ilonggo, and Bikol).

And oh, I’m already starting to learn Bisaya, after a friend told me that I once I return back to Manila, which I am now doing, hehe. I even bought myself a Visayan dictionary to help me and started practicing my Cebuano, though I’m stil having difficulties and I have to ask some friends what to say and what the person I’m talking to meant. I remember having to ask the hotel staff and salesladies what to respond. I also remember having to ask “naa ba’y wifi diri” (Is there WiFi here?) or “unsa man og password” (What’s the password?) whenever in a public space. Despite having some difficulty I do hope I get fluent in Cebuano (also other Philippine languages as well. It’s not a dialect, okay? Let’s get rid of that Imperial Manila thinking.)

That said, my convictions for federalism and multiculturalism, as well as equal development in this country were strengthened by this experience. I also came to think to myself how Cebu is faring in comparison to Metro Manila, which has become in such a sorry and cancerous state. And now I knew where the Cebuanos are coming from whenever they refer to Imperial Manila. All development is brought to Metro Manila at the expense of the regions and then wondering why overcrowding is such a problem.

I look forward to repeating this experience, returning to Cebu to travel and probably live a life there. I also look forward to visiting more places in this country, study their languages, and to further widen my view. That I can safely say I’m truly for federalism, because if you want it for the country, start with yourself. Learn their languages, explore their places, acquaint with people.

And in my opinion, maybe the Spaniards shouldn’t have moved the capital to Manila and perhaps stayed in Cebu. It’s much more livelier than Manila.

Next stop, Batanes, Davao, Zamboanga, Ilocos, etc.

Daghang salamat kaayo!

On Turkey and Mongolia’s ASEAN bid

During President Rodrigo Duterte’s attendance at the China-initiated One Belt, One Road Forum held in Beijing, he set bilateral meetings with Mongolian Prime Minister Jargaltulga Erdenbat and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and something absurd came out: their intention to join the 10-member ASEAN bloc.

We have to put the following into consideration:

  • The Association of Southeast Asian Nations was formed to promote regional unity among the countries of Southeast Asia on the basis of consensus and mutual respect, peace, and common cultural links
  • The bloc has struggled to find a common ground vis-a-vis Chinese activity in the South China Sea, with much of the countries in ASEAN (Vietnam, Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia) among the claimants
  • The Philippines has the chairmanship of ASEAN for the year 2017, and with attention over the country increasing due to Duterte’s brand of populism, intentions to break away from the traditional US alliance, and the publicity coming from the drug war, earning the ire of human rights groups, international organizations, and some Western countries
  • Due to this, at the height of the North Korean crisis, Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump seeking advice from us as head of ASEAN over what to do.

With the Philippines’ increasing role in the international sphere, it is imperative that we begin seeking new friends in the region which we can have good economic, cultural, and political relations. To be fair, Turkey and Mongolia can be dialogue partners, as we have with China, Japan, South Korea, the European Union, Russia, India, the United States, among others,  but membership is already out, considering geography (as Myanmar State Counselor Aung San Suu Kyi pointed out) and geopolitics, despite Duterte’s openness to such.  Mongolia can be a good dialogue partner or even an observer, as it is sandwiched between two heavyweights, Russia and China, and has sought to counterbalance relations with both.

As for Turkey, it is dangerous in my opinion. Considering that Turkey has somehow alienated much of its neighbors and allies in their region (the European Union’s bid suspended due to tense relations with countries within the bloc) and Erdogan’s increasing authoritarian tendencies following the failed coup in July 2016 and the April referendum giving him more powers and concerns that Turkey’s founding secular values are at danger. Add to that Turkey’s rumored links with moderate jihadist groups in Syria, this could complicate matters with our efforts at defeating terrorism.

Back at our own neighborhood, another thing raising eyebrows is that it could potentially be put forward even as East Timor’s bid is still pending.

In light of these, we hope sensible heads prevail and Duterte must think before giving this any serious consideration. In the end, this will remain my opinion and it’s up to them to decide.

Life as a Filipino aspie

Lately, I’ve been posing this question to myself: is it really necessary for me to tell people what my “condition” is?  Is it some kind of a curse or should I use it as an asset and take pride in having it? Maybe perhaps in this country we have a stigma when someone has some sort of a mental disorder you could be crazy.

However, I have already accepted who I am and now preparing to take on the challenge to use this to the best of my ability to inspire people like me and show the world that we can do remarkable feats which can make the world a better place.

What exactly is the condition I am having?

I have what you call Asperger syndrome, named after Austrian pediatrician, medical theorist, and medical professor Hans Asperger. This is part of the wider autism spectrum disorder, which means a person having this is not having autism but could be having symptoms of autism. This can be further complicated by similar disorders like ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and others, depending on diagnosis. It is also a type of high-functioning autism, where children or adults with this kind could be having potentially high IQ levels and could excel in areas such as mathematics, reading comprehension, or others, depending on the person.

What are its symptoms? How am I coping up with this?

A brief introduction

In 1944, Asperger observed four children with common traits: lack of empathy or understanding what people might feel, physically clumsy, social awkwardness, and lack of nonverbal communication skills. He called these children “little professors” because of their obsessive interest in one particular area. For easier understanding, please refer to the infographic below. These can be mitigated by social skills classes (in groups with kids of similar traits), speech therapy, or occupational therapy.

6fdca81c0e94e0a74b8f0a4e2e8729de

Source: pinterest.com

 

On coping up

I was made aware of this since I was around 3 years old. Even with a young age, I’ve had a particular obsession with broadcast media (especially television) and politics which I further developed as I grew up. This is the reason why I chose communication as my course.

Growing up, I’ve had a particular problem with socialization, struggling with the feeling that I have to be left alone or the need of someone to talk to. Coming with that lack of socialization is the exposure to sorts of bullying. I worry a lot that I might be doing something inappropriate or unacceptable to norms or expectations. You may even think we’re angry most of the time because we speak in a monotonous manner.

There’s also this curiosity which compels me to do the most stupid of things, though I try my best to control myself. I also feel that whatever pops to my head, I must share just for the sake of giving myself peace of mind but perhaps I am just making things worse.

I am thankful however because along the way there are friends and family who helped me along the way.

Acceptance

College life has given me the freedom to be myself, although along the way I also learned how to know my limits, which of course an area with problems because I get excited most of the time.

Acceptance is a two-way process. For my part, I already accepted who I was, even my flaws. The only thing I can do is embrace them and use them as tools to better improve myself. For the rest of the world, we need you to accept us. Because of that lingering stigma you may feel you have to do everything in your power to make them “change”, “behave”, make them “normal”. But is that necessary? Based on my experiences, I think not. We do acknowledge we won’t be able to control other people’s feelings, emotions, or what they think about us but this is what made us, us. You don’t have to make us “change”. Just accept us for who we are, and help us cope with the challenges of living in this world. Help us be equipped. When we make “mistakes”, let us be. That’s how we learn, by experience.

May this help each and every single kid or adult with special needs, may this inspire the teachers and parents who shower us with love, acceptance, and affection, and may the world see through our eyes and embrace us into this world. We’re different in our special way.

Proposals for a federal government

(image courtesy of CNN Philippines)

With the Duterte administration yet to fulfill its promises of shifting to a federal system, and the never-ending debates on whether we should initiate such a shift, please let us lay out own proposals for reform.

A ceremonial presidency with some reserve powers

The president will remain the nominal head of state. The president will be elected to a six-year term with no limits. He will remain to appoint judges, cabinet members, and other officials, sign bills into laws, and grant pardons. He will also remain commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The president will set his agenda through the state of the nation address. 

The presidency is largely ceremonial but will largely maintain some emergencg powers including the imposition of martial law (to be approved by parliament) and states of emergency, rebellion, or others. 

A strong premiership

The president will appoint a prime minister which shall come from the largest party forming the majority. The prime minsiter has an indefinite term limit but could be removed by a no-confidence vote, a replacement appointed by the president, or direct elections.

The prime minister makes sure the agendas set by the president are carried out and responsible for the inplementation of government policies. The prime minister will have the power to recommend the state budget to the president. 

He will also make sure there is a proper coordination between the federal and state governments. 

A bicameral legislature

We envision a bicameral Batasang Pambansa to serve as our legislature. The lower chamber (Batasang Bayan or assembly) will be selected from the constituent states and representatives of various sectors. They will be responsible drafting bills which if passed will be recommended to the speaker, then the prime minister, then the president. 

The upper chamber (Sanggunian or Council) will be responsible for decisions for the federal level (national defense, taxation, foreign policy, and other matters). It will be made up of the 18 leaders of the different federal subjects, with a rotational chairmanship.

Federal subjects

The Philippines will be divided into 19 co-equal federal subjects (or if you may, republics):

  1. Metro Manila Special Administrative Region (composed of Metro Manila and Rizal)
  2. Ilocos
  3. Cordillera
  4. Sierra Madre and Batanes (Cagayan Valley)
  5. Central Luzon
  6. Southern Tagalog
  7. Bicol
  8. Mimaropa
  9. Panay
  10. Negros (both Negros provinces and Siquijor)
  11. Cebu (composed of Cebu and Bohol)
  12. Eastern Visayas
  13. Caraga
  14. Davao
  15. Cotabato
  16. Northern Mindanao
  17. Zamboanga
  18. Bangsamoro
  19. Federal Capital Area (Baguio City shall be the new capital)

They will have their own legislatures and own laws or systems but at the same time federal law shall remain supreme.

Court system

The court system will largely remain the same: Supreme Court, Ombudsman, Sandiganbayan, Court of Appeals, the Regional and Metropolitan Trial Courts, and others, but initiate reforms to make it more effective and less prone to corruption.

Other areas of reform

There will be a federal police force, federal armed forces, progressive tax system, a new public broadcaster, making the major languages of the Philippines (Tagalog, Cebuano, Hiligaynon, Kapampangan, Tausug, Bikol, Waray, Pangasinan, Ilokano, Chavacano, etc.) official alongside English and Spanish, among others. There are many areas where the Philippines has to reform but these are the most fundamental, basic reforms we are proposing. In the end, however, it is still up to them to decide.

Ang nakakairitang telco system sa Pilipinas

Ano mararamdaman mo kapag nakaranas ka ng sobrang bagal na internet at sobrang bagal na customer service? Tapos yung ikaw na ang naperwisyo ikaw pa ang pagbabayarin? Nakakainis diba? 

That exactly was our experience. Common knowledge naman sa atin na ang internet sa Pilipinas ay isa sa pinakamabagal sa Asya pero isa rin sa pinakamahal. At marami sa atin ang nagtitiis na lamang sa free data no wonder kung bakit nagkalat ang mga kung anu-anong bagay na nakakasira ng utak. Yung feeling na pinagtutulung-tulungan tayo ng major telcos (Smart, Globe, PLDT, Sky)

Noong 2014, nagswitch kami sa SKYbroadband dahil nabagalan kami sa internet ng PLDT. So far so good naman ang speed, kahit minsan bumanagal din. 3mbps for 999. 

Fast-forward at ito na ang major turnoff. February 2016 nang magdecide kami na pag-isahin na lang ang cable and internet connection namin para isahan na lang. Upgraded pa ang cable plan namin para at the same time nakakanood kami in HD (Super Saver 1299 siya noon, 2mbps na net at free 549 cable plan).

Hanggang noong December 2016, biglang nawala ang internet namin. Dun na lang namin nalaman na may utang daw kami. P10,711 ata yun. Paano nangyari yun? At bakit namin babayaran yun? Huli na raw kami nagbayad noong Dec. 2015 pa daw. Supposed to be pinuputol na within 2 months. Eh nakapag-internet pa kami hanggang nung December ng isang taon? Makakapagmura ka talaga ng malutong. 

Yung isa pang nakakainis yung follow-up ka ng follow-up pero wala namang nangyayari. Isang buwan na huy! Tapos malalaman mong hanggang sa hindi “settled” ay di nila aayusin yun? Sila na nga tong nakaperwisyo sila pa maninigil? Rebate naman dyan oy. 

Sobrang naiinis ako halos itsa-itsahin ko na ang router at napapagalitan na ako ng nanay ko dahil baka madagdagan ang bayarin dahil nasira. At sa kakapa-follow up ko ay pati pangalan ni Duterte nahihila na dito. (Lopez may-ari ng SKY diba? And SKY is a sister company of ABS-CBN. Lagot!) Ewan ko na lang sa mga Globe at PLDT users dyan baka ganyan din experience niyo.

Di lang dito natatapos kalbaryo ko. Ngayon nagtitiis na lang ako sa tig-50 na load ng SMART. One day, 40 mb. Ang kunat. Tapos ubos na agad.

Dagdagan mo pa ng sobrang kunat na tig-30 minutes na free WiFi ng Globe. Sa SM o sa ibang lugar free 1 hour. 

Yung ang bagal-bagal na nga, ang kunat-kunat, mahal pa babayaran mo (sa Singapore nga P1,500 50GB na eh). Tapos kapag nagkaproblema, aabutin pa ng isang buwan.

Pag di pa nagbago sitwasyon dito, ay ewan ko na lang. Pero di ako magrarant ng ganito kapag ok pa internet namin eh ano? Wala eh, inano kami ng billing eh. Akalain mo, paano ka magkakautang ng ganun kalaki eh di naman lumalabas sa bill? Tas para i-reconnect pababayaran sa inyo?

Kainis na ah. Ang tagal.