Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sleepless Nights and Samsung S5620

I am a sound sleeper.  I sleep early and wake up late on a weekend and wake up 1 hour before my work time on weekdays.  I went to the mall a few days ago and since then I've been insomniac.  I know what caused it--this Samsung S5620 also known as Monte.  It has a touch screen mobile phone with 3.6 Mbps HSDPA, 3 megapixel camera, Wi-Fi (woohoo!), 2.1 Bluetooth, secondary video call camera and office document reader.  If I can't have Sony Ericsson Xperia X10, this buddy would be my next best option.  What I love about its many features is the Wi-Fi... meaning you can abuse coffee shop or restaurant internet connections using this cellphone.  Oh, the office document viewer is not bad also... I need it to keep track of my freelance works.  This buddy sells between 9,000 to 10,000 in the Philippines--way cheaper compared to the Xperia X10.  I went back to the mall yesterday to cure my insomnia but they do not have a stock.  I still have to wait a few more days before I could get my hands on it.  That means more sleepless nights.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Favorite Photo of the Day: On the Keyboard

I love this photo!  It reminds me of my almost forgotten talent... playing the piano.  When my Mom was still in Saudi Arabia, she gave me a mini piano, it was a Casio, a super mini version of a keyboard.  I would play music without even looking at the notes (I don't even know what notes are), I was about 7 years old, I just play whatever music I hear.  My first self-taught piece was Happy Birthday and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star followed and almost all the nursery rhymes that a kid knows.  My grandma saw that I have this thing about music so when I was in high school she enrolled me for a piano lesson.  I joined two piano recitals then and my pieces were Ballade Pour Adeline by Olivier Toussaint and Paul de Senneville, Vera's Theme, Somewhere in Time by John Barry and Roger Williams and Valentine by Jim Brickman.  I would practice every afternoon after school and my great grandfather would sit on the sofa to watch me practice and he would sometimes fall asleep. 

I suddenly miss my piano.  I miss my childhood.

Even at young age of two, Lance is already showing interest in music but not in playing the piano yet.  He loves to sing, he always hum tunes from his favorite Barney DVDs.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Having No Internet Is Not An Excuse: My Life's Journey in Songs

This is what I have been doing... doing still, even though I do not have an internet connection yet.  Nobody and nothing can stop me from writing about anything.  A sample of what I mean is this blog that I initially had in MS Word.
 **** READ ON ****

 It is night once again, the perfect time for me to be sentimental, hilarious, bitchy—lunatic in shorter term.  I just can’t let a random thought slip through my mind even if I do not have an internet connection.  Read on, cry or laugh with me as I narrate my life based on my music play list.

While playing Spider Solitaire, Windows Media Player is playing Luther Vandross’s Dance With My Father—which is a major tearjerker for me.  I know you knew the song and any son or daughter who’s been abandoned or have lost a father will feel sentimental, too.  I stopped playing the solitaire, I just got bored and annoyed that after 5 deals, I did not win.  I am really not good with playing cards.  I stopped playing (the true reason) because if my son were older, he’d probably be saying the exact lyrics of the song.

Joshua Kadison’s Beautiful in My Eyes is one of the songs that I would listen to, aside from the piano concertos, when Lance was still inside my womb.  He’d response with a kick whenever he hears it.
Soooo, tears start to well now.

Before tears roll down my eyes, I clicked stop and played Clumsy by Fergie.  You might probably think I am a schizophrenic… I am not, just to assure you.  I am not a good dancer but we danced this song during the anniversary of our company.  It was a fun-filled night and many employees showed their hidden talents (although some talents should be kept hidden).  If ever I move on to a new career, the one thing that I’d miss the most would be the parties and celebrations.

Celine Dion’s I Love You Goodbye played next.  The ‘wish I could be the one who could give you love’ thing didn’t happen in my life but the ‘I love you goodbye’ thing well, it happened.  I have loved this person, still love him when I ended the relationship… it was for the best.   This song is one of the saddest songs ever written and one of the hardest songs to sing in the videoke.  I am gasping for air singing this. 

One of my favorite bitch songs is Carrie Underwood’s Before He Cheats that I first heard in 2007 when I was sweeping the floor of our then house.  Slashing holes in the tires of a cheater’s ride looks really fun.  Watch out guys, don’t mess with us.  I suddenly miss Fiona Apple’s Criminal… well, this is another story.

If there’s one song that I can really relate to, it is Madonna’s Live To Tell.  A man can tell a thousand lies but I have learned my lesson well.  I will live to tell that the truth is never far behind.       

I am an American Idol fan; I especially adore David Cook and his version of Mariah Carey’s Always Be My Baby.  I remember hurrying to go home just to watch American Idol live on television.  I am glad that he got the Idol title.  I missed his concert… boo!  I hope there will be a next time.

Believe it or not, I am jologs.  I admit to watching and never missing an episode of Meteor Garden… it was year 2003.  F4’s Qing Fei De Yi is playing… I am singing and couldn’t care less if I don’t understand any of its lyrics.  I feel like I am Sanchai already. 

Term as defined by WikiPilipinas:
Jologs -   Filipino slang term or word used to describe persons, things or events who or which are poorly made, dirty-looking, corny and cheap. It is at times equated with "baduy," another Filipino word which means "out of style."

I couldn’t remember exactly when I first heard George Michael’s Kissing A Fool, all I know is that my friend, Leo (yes, that’s your name), suggested I listen to it.  I liked it and liked it even more when Michael Buble did his own version.  This is the kind of music I listen to when I want to relax.

Aside from being jologs, I am also sweet and easily swooned by the opposite sex’s sweetness (proper word: naïve).  My boyfriend in college used to sing me I Didn’t Know I Was Looking for Love by Everything but the Girl.  Mushy! Mushy! Mushy!  I couldn’t believe I fell for that.  We used to write letters via snail mail even though he’s only from the Metro.  That’s just the way it was and the bliss lasted for three years.  He’s now happily attached with his former classmate.

Whenever my friends and I would gather, I notice that at some point, we’d sing Tagalized songs as popularized by Michael V.  An example would be Prince’s Betcha By Golly Wow… it’s so hilarious.  It’s Tagalog title is ‘Pustahan Ay Sus Naku’!  Later, Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust will be playing and all I will remember would be its Tagalog version ‘May Isa na Namang Kumagat sa Alikabok’.  If you are a Bubble Gang fan, you know what I mean.

When I was in high school, my classmates would bring their guitars and song books and we’d sing the most popular songs of the 80s—Christopher Cross’s songs were a hit, like the one that’s playing now… Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do).  I am an 80’s baby so it is not unusual for me to like the songs of that decade.  I don’t know about you, but for me, David Pomeranz’s King and Queen of Hearts is equals to Junior-Senior Prom.  By the way and as a matter of fact, I had seven dances during our prom... thanks guys for not letting me rot on my chair.

Have you seen Mr. and Mrs. Smith?  The movie, I mean.  Remember the part when Air Supply’s Making Love out of Nothing at All played on their car stereo and they discovered that they’re both secret agents and their mission was to kill each other? That was one hell of a fight scene.  They did not kill each other, they made love instead.  Crazy!  Love that movie.

The Wedding Singer is a certified chick flick.  And Adam Sandler singing the song to Drew Barrymore in an airplane was sooooo sweeeet!  I hope there will come a time when a man will come to me and say ‘I want to grow old with you’.  I am hands down to couples who are still together even after their 50th wedding anniversary… like my great grandparents.

If I were a boy, I’d be a good boy.  Is that hard to do?  I don’t like If I Were A Boy’s version with R. Kelly.  TO YOU:  You can have your money and get out of my life if you will use your paying the bills to justify your flirting with another woman.  I can earn much more than what you can give me.  Arse!

The last song for tonight is Elliott Yamin’s Wait For You.  It’s already past twelve midnight.  If it takes the rest of my life, I’ll wait for you… whoever you are.  If you will not come in my lifetime, maybe I’ll see you somewhere else.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

DVD Duplication

My friend posted on her Facebook account that she still has a copy of our Noli Me Tangere play when we were in college.  We got an A for that, as a matter of fact.  I asked her to give me a copy of it... actually, most of our classmates asked that she duplicate it.  The play was stored in a mini-dv so she will have to copy it to a cd and look for shops with dvd duplication services.  I played the role of Lieutenant Guevarra who is a male in the original story that we made into a female... we had to do it, because we don't have enough male members to play the part.  I could not wait to have its copy in my hands.

Solar Kits to Generate Electricity

I believe the greenest, cost efficient and most accessible way to generate electricity is through solar energy.  I could not comprehend why only a few are using the power of the sun... it is free to begin with and solar kits can be easily installed in homes, cars, boats and just about anything that requires electricity.  I just again thought of it when we had no electricity for two days.  I wish we had solar panels as back up in cases of brownout that will probably happen frequently now that the rainy season is here.  I hope the government and households will consider this.

Enroll To A Beauty School To Learn New Skill

I plan to do a lot of things, including going back to school and learning new skills.  My friend suggests that I start with what I love to do and already have an idea to begin with so that learning would be easier for me.  After a few seconds of contemplating about it, I said I have enroll to a beauty school.  I like to experiment with makeup and  I am an artistic person, although I do not know how to paint, I think mixing colors on a blank face is the closest thing to painting. Aside from satisfying my creative side, I can also use my new skill to earn extra.
I can not wait to sign up.

Blog Entry of the Day: Three Women and A Bacardi by The Semi-Sane Life of the Demigoddess

This blog entry of The Demigoddess made my day.  It made me miss my girlfriends more, especially my BFF who knows (almost) my deepest and darkest secrets.  I couldn't believe that these girls were so comfortable talking about their sex life... or maybe they're just too drunk to stop blabbing about it.  Either way, it was so funny and it made me blush a bit.  And thanks, Bacardi, for letting the girls spill the beans.

I wonder when can I have this kind of drinking session with my girls.  To my BFF, I hope you read this.  Let us schedule one when you get back, okay?!

Monday, July 26, 2010

State of the Nation According To Me

I was not able to watch President Noy's SONA yesterday  and if you were not able to watch too, you can read the SONA's English translation in this blog. 

Of course I will not let the day pass by without commenting about the current buzz.  So, please bear with me as I address the state of our nation according to me that most government officials don't see or have seen it but did not do anything about it.

I do not frequent Manila but each time I would go there, I notice new buildings being built and new attractions to see and more people in their tattered clothes knock on car windows for alms.  I live in the province and beggars are not a common sight in streets when I was younger.  Looking back to the years when there were few subdivisions and fewer commercial establishments, children still roam the streets, not begging but walking with their friends to go to their favorite hangout to play.  Now, I don't need to go to Manila to see beggars.  It has become a common sight in our province that once you give alms to one, like pigeons, others will flock towards you like you are showering seeds of grace to them.  I couldn't help but ask why.

Last night in the news, a young boy drowned and his body was retrieved after four hours.  A news reporter asked why it took that long for the rescuers to find the body, they said it was because of garbage.  I don't know what made me cringe... the boy's dead body or the sight of the creek full of garbage on national television.  How can we not address this problem with garbage?  Should we wait for another Payatas or Smoky Mountain tragedy before we address the stinking issue?

One Congressman was held in prison for drug charges in Hong Kong.  This Congressman was very vocal about the nation's worst enemy (yet)--drugs.  His being vocal about his condemnation to illegal drugs led him to filing a bill against it.  Funny isn't it?  There is no greater irony than this.  I said "yet" on the previous sentence because what we should look out for and be afraid of are the people who said they will protect us, yet, they are the ones who lure us to plunge into the pits of hell.

A family of nine who lives in a 50 square meter house struggles to make ends meet with their 200-peso daily allowance.  You don't need to be a grocer or be an expert in math to know that this will no way give the family a decent meal.  I am not at all surprised why more and more children perform poorly in school because of malnutrition.  And the Church is still against unnatural family planning methods.

The government offers low cost houses, the mass bit the bait.  But how can they pay for their mortgages if they do not have a job or they have lost their jobs because of poor company performance?  Agricultural lands are being made into subdivisions... but who will live in them?  If those houses were built for the homeless... why are they still sleeping on cartons on the streets or on lands they do not own?

This is the state of the nation in our eyes that only a few take time to see.  These are the issues that are desperately begging for attention and yet they are buried in the depths of the government offices that are elaborately designed for the incumbent to function effectively and efficiently.  

 This is the state of the nation and yet the uppers are eating on a plate that is worth a month's salary of a common Filipino.  Bite after bite, chew after chew... our hopes for a better life are being swallowed and our future being digested by hungry vultures while crocodiles are fighting over a pork barrel.  

This is the state of the nation... would you still dare to see?

President Noy's State of the Nation Address (SONA) 2010 English Translation

State of the Nation Address
of His Excellency
Benigno S. Aquino III
President of the Philippines
to the Congress of the Philippines
Session Hall of the House of Representatives
July 26, 2010
[Batasan Pambansa Complex, Quezon City]

Speaker Feliciano Belmonte; Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile; Vice President Jejomar Binay, Chief Justice Renato Corona, Former Presidents Fidel Valdez Ramos and Joseph Ejercito Estrada; Members of the House of Representatives and the Senate; distinguished members of the diplomatic corps;

My beloved countrymen:

Our administration is facing a forked road. On one direction, decisions are made to protect the welfare of our people; to look after the interest of the majority; to have a firm grip on principles; and to be faithful to the public servant’s sworn oath to serve the country honestly.
This is the straight path.

On the other side, personal interest is the priority, and where one becomes a slave to political considerations to the detriment of our nation.

This is the crooked path.

For a long time, our country lost its way in the crooked path. As days go by (since I became President), the massive scope of the problems we have inherited becomes much clearer. I could almost feel the weight of my responsibilities.

In the first three weeks of our administration, we discovered many things, and I will report to you some of the problems we have uncovered, and the steps we are taking to solve them.
This report is merely a glimpse of our situation. It is not the entire picture of the crises we are facing. The reality was hidden from our people, who seem to have been deliberately obfuscated on the real state of our nation.

In the first six years of this year, government expenditure exceeded our revenues. Our deficit further increased to PhP196.7 billion. Our collection targets, which lack PhP23.8 billion, were not fully met, while we went beyond our spending by PhP45.1 billion.

Our budget for 2010 is PhP1.54 trillion. Of this, only PhP100 billion - or 6.5% of the total budget – can be used for the remaining six months of the current year. Roughly 1% of the total budget is left for each of the remaining month.

Where did the funds go? 

A calamity fund worth PhP2 billion was reserved in preparation for anticipated calamities. Of this already miniscule amount, at a time when the rainy season has yet to set in, PhP1.4 billion or 70% was already spent.

The entire province of Pampanga received PhP108 million. Of this, PhP105 million went to only one district. On the other hand, the province of Pangasinan, which was severely affected by Typhoon Pepeng, received a mere PhP5 million, which had to be used to fix damages inflicted not even by Pepeng, but by a previous typhoon, Cosme.

The funds were released on election month, which was seven months after the typhoon. What will happen if a typhoon arrives tomorrow? The fund has been used up to repair damage from typhoons that hit us last year. Our future will pay for the greed of yesterday.

This is also what happened to the funds of the MWSS. Just recently, people lined up for water while the leadership of the MWSS rewarded itself even though the pensions of retired employees remain unpaid.

The entire payroll of the MWSS amounts to 51.4 million pesos annually. But this isn’t the full extent of what they receive: they receive additional allowances and benefits amounting to 81.1 million pesos. In short, they receive 211.5 million pesos annually. Twenty four percent of this is for normal salaries, and sixty six percent is added on.

The average worker receives up to 13th month pay plus a cash gift. In the MWSS, they receive the equivalent of over thirty months pay if you include all their additional bonuses and allowances.

What we discovered in the case of the salaries of their board of trustees is even more shocking. Let’s take a look at the allowances they receive:

Attending board of trustees and board committee meetings, and you get fourteen thousands pesos. This totals ninety eight thousand pesos a month. They also get an annual grocery incentive of eighty thousand pesos.

And that’s not all. They get a mid-year bonus, productivity bonus, anniversary bonus, year-end bonus, and financial assistance. They not only get a Christmas bonus, but an additional Christmas package as well. Each of these amounts to eighty thousand pesos. All in all, each member of the board receives two and a half million pesos a year exclusive of car service, technical assistance, and loans. Let me repeat. They award themselves all of these while being in arrears for the pensions of their retired employees.

Even the La Mesa watershed wasn’t spared. In order to ensure an adequate supply of water, we need to protect our watersheds. In watersheds, trees are needed. Where there should be trees, they built homes for the top officials of the MWSS.

We cannot remove them from their positions quickly because they are among the midnight appointees of former president Arroyo. We are investigating all of these things. But if they have any shame left, they should voluntarily relinquish their positions.

Now let’s discuss funds for infrastructure. The DPWH identified two hundred forty six priority safety projects to be funded by the motor vehicle user’s charge. This needs a budget of 425 million pesos. What they ended up funding were only 28 projects. They disregarded 218 projects and replaced these with seventy projects that weren’t in the plans. The 425 million pesos originally asked for became 480 million pesos, increasing because of projects allocated for a favored few.

These projects make no sense: unstudied and unprepared for, sprouting like mushrooms.
The era of such projects is at an end. Under our administration, there will be no quotas, there will be no overpricing, the funds of the people will be spent for the people.

There’s more. Five days before the term of the previous administration ended, they ordered 3.5 billion pesos to be released for the rehabilitation of those affected by typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng. This was supposed to fund eighty-nine projects. But nineteen of these projects amounting to 981 million pesos didn’t go through public bidding. Special Allotment Release Orders hadn’t even been released and yet the contracts were already signed. It’s a good thing Secretary Rogelio Singson spotted and stopped them. Instead, they will all go through the proper bidding, and the funds will be used to provide relief to those who lost their homes due to typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng.

Let’s discuss what happened in Napocor. From 2001 to 2004, the government forced Napocor to sell electricity at a loss to prevent increases in electricity rates. The real motivation for this is that they were preparing for the election.

As a result, in 2004, NAPOCOR slumped deeply in debt. The government was obligated to shoulder the 200 billion pesos it owed.

What the public thought they saved from electricity, we are now paying for using public coffers. Not only are we paying for the cost of electricity; we are also paying for the interest arising from the debt.

If the money we borrowed was used properly, then there would be added assurance that constant supply of electricity is available. However, this decision was based on bad politics, not on the true needs of the people. The people, after having to sacrifice, suffered even more.

This is also what happened to the MRT. The government tried again to buy the people’s love. The operator was forced to keep the rates low.

In effect, the guarantee given to the operator that he will still be able to recoup his investment was not fulfilled. Because of this, Landbank and the Development Bank of the Philippines were ordered to purchase the MRT.

The money of the people was used in exchange for an operation that was losing money.
Let us now move on to the funds of the National Food Authority (NFA).

In 2004: 117,000 metric tons (of rice) was the shortage in the supply of the Philippines. What they (the government) bought were 900,000 metric tons. Even if you multiply for more than seven times the amount of shortage, they still bought more than what was needed.

In 2007: 589,000 metric tons was the shortage in the supply of the Philippines. What they bought were 1.827 million metric tons. Even if you multiply for more than three times the amount of shortage, they again bought more than what was needed.

What hurts is, because they keep purchasing more than what they need year after year, the excess rice that had to be stored in warehouses ended up rotting, just like what happened in 2008.

Is this not a crime, letting rice rot, despite the fact that there are 4 million Filipinos who do not eat three times a day?

The result is NFA’s current debt of 177 billion pesos.

This money that was wasted could have funded the following:

- The budget of the entire judiciary, which is at 12.7 billion pesos this year.
- The Conditional Cash Transfers for the following year, which cost 29.6 billion pesos.
- All the classrooms that our country needs, which cost 130 billion pesos.

This way of doing things is revolting. Money was there only to be wasted.

You have heard how the public coffers were squandered. This is what is clear to me now: change can only come from our determination to stamp out this extravagance and profligacy.
That is why starting now: we will stop the wasteful use of government funds. We will eradicate projects that are wrong. 

This is the point of what we call the zero-based approach in our budget. What used to be the norm was every year, the budget merely gets re-enacted without plugging the holes.
Next month we will be submitting a budget that accurately identifies the problem and gives much attention on the right solution.

Those that I have mentioned were only some of the problems we have discovered. Here now are examples of the steps we are undertaking to solve them.

There is a case of one pawnshop owner. He purchased a vehicle at an estimated cost of 26 million pesos.

If he can afford to buy a Lamborghini, why can’t he pay his taxes?

A case has already been filed against him. Through the leadership of Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, BIR Commissioner Kim Henares, Customs Commissioner Lito Alvarez, and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, every week we have new cases filed against smugglers and against those who do not pay the right taxes.

We have also already identified the suspects of the cases of Francisco Baldomero, Jose Daguio and Miguel Belen, 3 of the 6 incidents of extralegal killings since we assumed the Presidency.

Fifty percent (50%) of these incidents of extralegal killings are now on their way to being resolved.

We will not stop the pursuit of the remaining half of these killings until justice has been achieved.

We will hold murderers accountable. We will also hold those who are corrupt that work in government accountable for their actions.

We have begun forming our Truth Commission, through the leadership of former Chief Justice Hilario Davide. We will search for the truth on the alleged wrongdoing committed in the last nine years.

This week, I will sign the first ever Executive Order on the formation of this Truth Commission.

If the answer to justice is accountability, the answer to the dearth in funds is a new and creative approach to our long-standing problems.

We have so many needs: from education, infrastructure, health, military, police and more. Our funds will not be enough to meet them.

No matter how massive the deficit is that may keep us from paying for this list of needs, I am heartened because many have already expressed renewed interest and confidence in the Philippines.

Our solution: public-private partnerships. Although no contract has been signed yet, I can say that ongoing talks with interested investors will yield fruitful outcomes.
There are some who have already shown interest and want to build an expressway from Manila that will pass through Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, until the end of Cagayan Valley, without the government having to spend a single peso.

On national defense:

We have 36,000 nautical miles of shoreline, but we only have 32 boats. These boats are as old as the time of (US General Douglas) MacArthur.

Some had this proposition: they will rent the Navy headquarters on Roxas Boulevard and the Naval Station in Fort Bonifacio.

They will take care of the funding necessary to transfer the Navy Headquarters to Camp Aguinaldo. Immediately, we will be given 100 million dollars. Furthermore, they will give us a portion of their profits from their businesses that would occupy the land they will rent.
In short, we will meet our needs without spending, and we will also earn.

There have already been many proposals from local to foreign investors to provide for our various needs.

From these public-private partnerships, our economy will grow and every Filipino will be the beneficiary. There are so many sectors that could benefit from this.

We will be able to construct the needed infrastructure in order to help tourism grow.
In agriculture, we will be able to have access to grains terminals, refrigeration facilities, orderly road networks and post-harvest facilities. 

If we can fix out food supply chain with the help of the private sector, instead of importing, we will hopefully be able to supply for the needs of the global market. 

The prices of commodities will go down if we are able to make this efficient railway system a reality. It will be cheaper and faster, and it will be easier for travelers to avoid crooked cops and rebels.

A reminder to all: creating jobs is foremost on our agenda, and the creation of jobs will come from the growth of our industries. Growth will only be possible if we streamline processes to make them predictable, reliable and efficient for those who want to invest.

We make sure that the Build-Operate-and-Transfer projects will undergo quick and efficient processes. With the help of all government agencies concerned and the people, a process that used to take as short as a year and as long as a decade will now only take six months.
The Department of Trade and Industry has already taken steps to effect this change, under the leadership of Secretary Gregory Domingo:

The never-ending horror story of registering business names, which used to take a minimum of four to eight hours depending on the day, will be cut down drastically to fifteen minutes.
What used to be a check list of thirty-six documents will be shortened to a list of six, and the old eight-page application form will be whittled down to one page. 

I call on our local government units to review its own procedures. While we look for more ways to streamline our processes to make business start-ups easier, I hope the LGUs can also find ways to implement reforms that will be consistent with the ones we have already started.

All will certainly benefit from this streamlining -- be it businessmen, soldiers, rebels and ordinary Filipinos. As long as the interests of Filipinos will not be jeopardized, we will explore all available avenues to make this a reality. We must start now, and we should all help achieve this and not stand in each other’s way.

The time when we will no longer be made to choose between our people’s security and the future of our children is upon us now.

Once we implement these public-private partnerships, we will be able to fund public service in accordance with our platform.

This will enable us to fund our plans for education.

We will be able to expand our basic education cycle from seven years to the global standard of twelve years.

We can build more classrooms, and we will fund service contracting under the Government Assistance to Students and Teachers in Private Education Program (GASTPE).
Conditional cash transfers that aim to lessen the burden of education on parents will also be funded if this partnership becomes a reality.

Our plans for improving PhilHealth can now be within reach.

First, we will identify the correct number of Filipinos who sorely need PhilHealth coverage, as current data is conflicting on this matter. On one hand, PhilHealth says that eighty-seven percent (87%) of Filipinos are covered, then lowers the number to only fifty-three percent (53%). On the other hand, the National Statistics Office says that only thirty-eight percent (38%) of Filipinos are covered by Philhealth.

Even as we speak, Secretary Dinky Soliman and the Department of Social Welfare and Development are moving to implement the National Household Targeting System that will identify the families that most urgently need assistance. An estimated 9 billion pesos is needed in order to provide coverage for five million poor Filipinos. 

Our country is beginning to see better days ahead. The private sector, the League of Provinces headed by Governor Alfonso Umali, together with Governors L-Ray Villafuerte and Icot Petilla, are now ready to do their share when it comes to shouldering the financial burden. I know that the League of Cities under the leadership of Mayor Oscar Rodriguez will not be far behind. 

If the local governments share in our goals, I know that I can surely count on Congress, the institution where I began public service, to push for our agenda for change.
Our Cabinet has already showed it skill by identifying not just problems but also proposing solutions in a matter of three weeks.

In the aftermath of Typhoon Basyang, we were told by those in the power sector that we would be without electricity for four days. The quick action of Secretary Rene Almendras and the Department of Energy resulted in the restoration of power to almost all those affected within twenty-four hours.

The so-called water shortage in Metro Manila was quickly attended to by Secretary Rogelio Singson and the Department of Public Works and Highways. Secretary Singson did it without prodding, which alleviated the suffering of those affected.

We also witnessed the competence and initiative of those we appointed to be part of our Cabinet. It is but just that they not be forced to go through the eye of a needle to be confirmed by the Commission on Appointments. Should this happen, competent Filipinos will be encouraged to help our country by becoming public servants. 

In the soonest possible time, we will convene the Legislative Executive Development Advisory Council (LEDAC) to discuss the important bills that need to be addressed. Rest assured that I will keep an open mind and treat you honorably.

We will push for the Fiscal Responsibility Bill, which will limit spending bills only for appropriations that have identified a source of funding. We need 104.1 billion pesos to fund those laws already passed but whose implementation remains pending because of lack of funds. 

We will re-evaluate fiscal incentives given in the past. Now that we are tightening our purse strings, we need to identify those incentives that will remain and those that need to be done away with.

We will not allow another NBN-ZTE scandal to happen again. Whether from local or foreign sources, all proposed contracts must undergo the scrutiny of correct procedures. I now ask for your help with amending our Procurement Law.

According to our Constitution, it is the government’s duty to ensure that the market is fair for all. No monopolies, no cartels that kill competition. We need an Anti-Trust Law that will give life to these principles, to afford Small- and Medium-Scale Enterprises the opportunity to participate in the growth of our economy. 

Let us pass into law the National Land Use Bill.

It was in 1935, during the Commonwealth, that the National Defense Act was passed. There is a need to amend for a new law that is more responsive to the current needs of national security. 

I appeal to our legislators to pass the Whistleblower’s Bill to eradicate the prevalent culture of fear and silence that has hounded our system.

We will strengthen the Witness Protection Program. We must remember that from 2009 to 2010 alone, cases which involved the participation of witnesses under the program resulted in a ninety-five percent conviction. 

There is a need to review our laws. I call on our lawmakers to begin a re-codification of our laws to ensure harmony in legislation and eliminate contradictions. 

These laws serve as the basis of order in our land, but the foundation of all rests on the principle that we cannot grow without peace and order. 

We face two obstacles on our road to peace: the situation in Mindanao and the continued revolt of the CPP-NPA-NDF.

Our view has not changed when it comes to the situation in Mindanao. We will only achieve lasting peace if all stakeholders engage in an honest dialogue: may they be Moro, Lumad, or Christian. We have asked Dean Marvic Leonen to head our efforts to talk to the MILF.

We will learn from the mistakes of the past administration, that suddenly announced an agreement reached without consultations from all concerned. We are not blind to the fact that it was done with political motivation, and that the interest behind it was not that of the people. 
We recognize the efforts of the MILF to discipline those within its ranks. We are hopeful that the negotiations will begin after Ramadan.

To the CPP-NPA-NDF: are you prepared to put forth concrete solutions rather than pure criticism and finger-pointing?

If it is peace you truly desire, then we are ready for an immediate cease-fire. Let us go back to the table and begin talking again. 

It is difficult to begin discussions in earnest if the smell of gun powder still hangs in the air. I call on everyone concerned not to waste a good opportunity to rally behind our common aspiration for peace.

Our foundation for growth is peace. We will continue to be shackled by poverty if the crossfire persists.

We must understand that now is a time for sacrifice. It is this sacrifice that will pave the way for a better future. With our freedom comes our responsibility to do good unto our fellows and to our country.

To our friends in media, especially those in radio and print, to the block-timers and those in our community newspapers, I trust that you will take up the cudgels to police your own ranks.
May you give new meaning to the principles of your vocation: to provide clarity to pressing issues; to be fair and truthful in your reporting, and to raise the level of public discourse. 
It is every Filipino’s duty to closely watch the leaders that you have elected. I encourage everyone to take a step towards participation rather than fault-finding. The former takes part in finding a solution; from the latter, never-ending complaints.

We have always known that the key to growth is putting the interest of others beyond one’s own. One thing is clear: how do we move forward if we keep putting others down? 

How will those without education secure quality jobs? How will the unemployed become consumers? How will they save money for their future needs?

If we change all this, if we prioritize enabling others, we will open a world of opportunities not just for ourselves but for those who direly need it. 

We have already begun the process of change, and we are now able to dream of better things for our country. Let us not forget that there are those who wish us to fail, so that they will once again reclaim power to do as they please at the expense of our people. 

My firm belief is that our fate is in the hands of God and our people. While we focus on uplifting the lives of our fellow men, I have an unshakeable faith that Almighty God will give us His blessings and support. If we remain firm in our belief that God is on our side, is there anything impossible for us to achieve?

The mandate we received last May 10 is testament to the fact that the Filipino continues to hope for true change. The situation is not what it was before; we can all dream again. Let us all become one in achieving a fulfilment of our hopes and aspirations for our country.

Maraming Salamat Po!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Diabetes 101

My grandmother on my father's side has diabetes and she's been on a strict diet ever since its diagnosis many years ago. 

Diabetes is a disease of the pancreas that involves the hormone insulin.  This hormone is essential in regulating energy and metabolism of our body and if it is over produced or under produced, chances are, you have a diabetes.  Because diabetes is a metabolic disorder, doctors advise patients to monitor their blood glucose levels at regular intervals.  Poor or late management of the disease may lead to blindness, organ failure and even worse, death.  Diabetes is a preventable disease even if you have history in the family.  Doctors suggest these five steps to prevent diabetes:

1. Be more active - excercise regularly to prevent glucose from stocking up in your body and it boosts your sensitivity to insulin.

2. Eat fiber-rich foods - good digestion is also the key to eliminating excesses in your body.  Aside from preventing diabetes, it is also good for the heart.  Fiber rich foods include fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains.

3. Eat more whole grains - in relation to number 2, whole grains aid in proper digestion and elimination of unwanted chemicals in our body.

4. Lose the extra weight - numbers 1 to 3 are some of the best ways to lose weight.  We all know that most diabetics are overweight or obese.  So, shed off those pounds.

5. No to fad diets - do not deprive yourself of all the essentials nutrients.  Balance is the key word here.  Follow the food pyramid and you will never get lost. 

If you are already diagnosed with diabetes, do not deprive yourself of eating delicious foods.  There are a lot of diabetic recipes that are delicious. My grandmother, despite her being diabetic, loves foods.  In fact, she loves fish dishes.  You can also plan and prepare diabetic meals for your family without them knowing... I know you love them and you do not want them to be diabetic.  One misconception about being a diabetic is that they are not allowed to have their desserts.  This is absolutely wrong.  There are plenty of yummy desserts that diabetics and non-diabetics can both enjoy.

Just because you are diabetic does not mean you have to limit yourself and your horizon.  It is in fact the high time for you to change your lifestyle and do all stuffs like any non-diabetic person do.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Good Things Happen To Good People

After more than a week of fretting about my internet connection and having no extra income as an effect, I am almost close to accepting that returning back to web full time will take me at least three weeks because I have a new sideline--which, of course will make me busy (even busier).  My online bosses were so considerate of me that they would just patiently wait until my virtual world becomes normal again.  I can hug them so tight!

I will not anymore ask why oh why to the heavens above because despite the what I call unfortunate events after the typhoon, I am blessed with more than I am expecting.  It is pouring actually.  I couldn't be any happier and it just proved one thing--good things happen to good people. *Wink*

Friday, July 23, 2010

Team Building

I had a meeting yesterday with my department and it was a fruitful and meaningful one.  Our IT Department consists of a programmer, two technicians and me as their manager.  After discussing and resolving department issues I facilitated a short team building activity to lighten up things a bit.  I asked them to write three things that no one knows about them.  I took their papers and asked them to guess whose "secret" was it.  It was a fun activity, it allowed us to get to know each other better and to understand the root cause of each other's behavior.  After the secret revealing activity, I asked them to say what they do not like about one another.  Nothing really big or too personal things were revealed and I am glad that my staffs are getting along pretty well.  Naturally, I asked them what they do not like about me.  I was nervous asking that to them but I have to face what they will say about me and do the best that I can to change my negative attitude.  I admit to not attending to them on a regular basis because of the many extra duties my bosses have given me, I am so guilty about it... that was actually the feedback from them.  Hearing from them about the thing that I am too guilty about made a lot of difference in terms of really doing my duty as their boss.

I have learned that taking time to do team building activities even after a meeting allows the team to work more as one.  If you are a manager, I suggest that you do the same. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Real Andy Davis

Isn't he cute?  He is John Morris, the voice behind Andy Davis of Toy Story.  I hadn't imagine Andy to be good looking in person.  He lent his voice to Andy since the first Toy Story in 1995 when he was just 10 years old.  Now that Andy is in college and John is 25, I wonder if there'll be another Toy Story. 

Read his journey and growing up with Toy Story right here.

Toy Story 3

Lance and I watched Toy Story 3 and he loved it.  He actually got sad when the kids at the daycare center were mutilating the toys.  I hope he will not do it anymore with his own toys.  Toy Story 3 is about Andy's transition from being a kid to a grown up.  Of course his toys (Woody, Jesse, Buzz, Bullseye, Rex, and others) were deeply concerned of Andy's transition because that means no more playtime and worse they'll be thrown away in the dumpster.  Woody tries to comfort them and tell the other toys that Andy will never throw them away because he loves them.  When Andy was sorting the things that he will keep, he accidentally left all other toys in the trashbag while Woody was placed inside a box that he will bring to college.  Andy's mom thought the things inside the bag were trash so she left them outside their house for the garbage truck to pick up.  What happened after that is a long journey of the toys and the discovery of how important they are to their owner--Andy.

I Am Back To Reading Books

I am back to reading books.  It is the only good thing that happened after the typhoon. I got these books for less than 100 pesos from book shops in a mall.  The last time I read a book was October of last year and it was Ken Follet's The Hammer of Eden. 

Well, this is another story.  I bought this last year after reading Paulo Coelho's Brida.  I read this but did not finish, maybe I wasn't inspired.  Yes, weird as it may seem but I really need to be inspired (not preoccupied with anything) before I read a book.  I am close to finishing Ken Follet's Paper Money and I promise to finish this before I move on to Amy Tan's Joy Luck Club.  I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Magic Jack

My Mom bought me a Magic Jack about two weeks ago but I could not use it because I do not have a spare telephone unit.  I bought a unit a few days ago before the typhoon and thought I can use it now that I have a the unit, but no... I do not have an internet connection to install the software.  

I have heard of this product a few months ago from a friend because she uses this to call her parents in the US.  Magic Jack allows you to call for free to any US telephone number just by using your computer.  To read more about this product, click on this link.

New Cellphone--Not Mine!

I saw my cousin holding something on her ear and I got curious.  Well, she's holding a Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 in all its glory while listening to Justin Beiber's song.  I grabbed it from her and immediately checked out  its features.  I thought it was hers and she had it as a gift from her dad who works as an engineer in Saudi Arabia... it is not.  It is my aunt's new purchase after years of holding on to a  Nokia cellphone that our grandmother gave her.  I looked into the price and it is a whopping thirty two thousand pesos (Php32,000).  I know she can afford it because of her equally whopping salary (denied disclosure). 

This guy has a 8 megapixel camera, 4-inch touchscreen, Bluetooth 2.1, GPS, Wi-Fi, and 1 GHz processor that allows you to surf, tweet, update your Facebook status, chat, email and whathaveyou!  I love this!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Typhoon Basyang

Typhoon Basyang (Conson) came relatively unknown to me.  I know that there's a typhoon but I didn't expect it to be as strong as Typhoon Pepeng.  It was Tuesday night, around 11, and my son was already sleeping  like a rock when heavy rain poured which was then followed by strong gusts of wind.  After a few minutes that seemed like an hour, there was complete darkness.  I said to myself, 'this is going to be a long night'.  I did not sleep for fear of waking up without a roof--or a house.  My answer to every gust of the wind was a prayer that the night will pass with little or no damage.

There was no electricity for more than 24 hours--my reason for not being active in the web.  There were news that it will take 4 days for the electric company to restore damaged power lines.  The news reminded me of a strong typhoon when I was in high school, we had no electricity for 3 days.  My grandmother would iron our clothes using an old iron where you put coal inside to produce heat and cook using wood stove.  My sisters and I would fetch water from our neighbor's well and store it in huge water bins.  It was like being transported to the year of the Katipuneros... everything became primitive, at least compared to what we're used to today.

Earlier today, electricity was back and we were transported back to 2010.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

FIFA World Cup for Spain!

Paul's prediction was right.  Spain won the World Cup--their first ever FIFA title!  Spain's heroes are: Iker Casillas, Sergio Ramos, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Joan Capdevila, Sergio Busquets, Xabi Alonso (Cesc Fabregas, 87), Xavi Hernandez, Andres Iniesta, Pedro Rodriguez (Jesus Navas, 60), David Villa (Fernando Torres, 106).

Who do you think is Spain's most valuable player?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Spain To Win According To Paul

The world is buzzing about the prediction of Paul the psychic octopus of Germany.  On July 9, Paul predicted that Spain will win over Netherlands on their soccer game tomorrow (July 11). How does Paul do it?  Two clear boxes labeled with the county's flag contains a mussel inside and is placed in Paul's aquarium.  Whichever mussel will Paul eat will be the prediction.  Out of the 13 predictions of Paul involving Germany's games, only two were incorrect. 

Let us wait and see if Paul's prediction on the victory of Spain over Netherlands will come true.  If ever his prediction will fail, we can all just forgive him... after all he's just an octopus.

Buy A Condo Unit, Get A Free Car

I was reading the morning newspaper when I saw this advertisement.  You can have a Honda Civic 1.8 VMT for free when you buy a condominium at Sentosia.  The units can be found along Macapagal Avenue in Parañaque.  It isn't actually hard to find, if you are heading towards Cavite from SM Mall of Asia, it is the only community with beautiful condos of mustard and brown color that you can see on the right side. In case you are looking for a place to permanently live, Sentosia has 2 condo designs that you can choose from.  To learn more about how you can have your dream house and dream car, click here.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Not My Day

Thursday was like TGIF to me because of my scheduled day off, I planned to go to the mall with Lance and buy him some clothes--he's gone a lot bigger and heavier.  We went to bed early last night and woke up at 10 in the morning and then I received a phone call from an office mate asking me to report to work the soonest possible time.  I asked her what's the matter and she said as per the bosses.  Well, ok.

After 30 minutes I was in the office and my office mate threw the bomb... a seminar will happen in three hours!  WTF!  Whoever thought of conducting a seminar in such a really really (to the nth power) short notice is a complete a**hole (to the nth power)!

My evening didn't went well, too.  There was a leak in one of the pipes in my bathroom and it flooded the entire house--except the bedroom.  I spend two hours sweeping and moving appliances and furniture around the house and while I was busy getting rid of all the water, I heard a noise inside the bedroom--puke was all over the bed and Lance was drenching in his own vomit.  Argh!

I hope tomorrow will be a better day.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Get Free Product Samples from Sephora

Sephora offers five free product samples from your favorite brands like Lancome, YSL, Clinique, Bulgari and others by simply buying any $50-worth of their products online. Your goodies will be packed in a special Sephora bag--perfect to stuff in your traveling bag. This promo runs today until July 13 or until supplies last.  Hurry now ladies, click here, I know you want this.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Funny and Crazy Japanese Inventions

HAHAHAHA!  Sorry, I couldn't help but laugh upon seeing this all in one farming tool that a Japanese invented.  Looking at the picture, this humongous tool isn't helping the farmer at all because it looks really heavy compared to the normal farming tool that you use separately.

This is something that isn't too crazy.  If you don't have a butter knife to use, this stick type butter will sure save your day.  I think this is perfect if you will have a picnic or if you will pack lunch for school or office... I just hope it doesn't melt easily and you won't mistake it for a lip balm.

This is child labor.  It is inappropriate to let your child crawl on dirty floors AND use your child as a mop.

 Introducing, the most ingenious invention of the century--the noodle eater's hair guide.  A bitch butts in:  Why don't you just tie your hair back, tie it in a bun or better yet shave your hair off so the next time you eat your noodles, your hair will not get in your way???  Just asking.

Check out more photos of this kind here.

Favorite Photo of the Day: Despicable Thongs

I hate thongs!  No, I did not put this sign somewhere to declare my feelings against the fabric-deprived underwear.  Thongs worn by women may be forgivable because of some wardrobe and fashion concerns. There is an option.  If you are conscious about those ugly panty lines, why don't you wear seamless panties instead? Thongs worn on your feet is a yes, other than that and anywhere else, it is a no (especially if it is proudly peeking out of your pants and worn as a swimwear).  Imagine a man with a body of  a pro-wrestler wearing a despicable thong!  Eeeewww! 

You can view more silly signs at Sign Spotting.  Really funny site.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Moms Work In the Comforts of Home

Although this entry generally points out that being a domesticated bummer has a potential of earning while at home, jobless males and non-mothers or housewives will also benefit by reading further.  

I am a mother and a career woman who takes care of the bills and how to pay those without having to seek help from anyone.  My being involved in online freelance jobs started six months ago when I was thinking of giving up my 8 to 5 job.  I know that the economic recession has made job hunting a harder task to do so I have to think of something that will help me earn money while waiting to get hired full-time.  I am not a techie but I love browsing the web for interesting topics and latest news.   My planning to resign and my being an internet junkie led me to the discovery of online freelancing. 

In this time of economic downfall, moms can also help generate income by being at home.  I know that most households are struggling to make ends meet but we should not depend on 8 to 5 jobs that may be gone now that most companies are laying off manpower.  

I discovered Elance where talents are being hired online and working in their desired and suitable hours at the comforts of their own homes.  Brilliant thing!

Being discovered at Elance is easy, all you have to do is register on the site and pass some skills test and then bid for the job openings from all over the world.  Programmers, writers, transcribers, administrative assistants and every knowledge and skills in between will have the opportunity of earning moolah in no time.  Just like in any normal job, professionalism is the key to maintaining a good relationship with your clients because at the end of your contract with them, they will give you a positive feedback--that is what clients look after in hiring a freelancer aside from the skills.

Try it.  Learn new skills and earn at the same time while taking care of all domestic works. No, I am not being paid by Elance to promote their site, I am simply a member who has earned the trust of five clients from different parts of the world and wanted to share this opportunity of earning extra while you are at home.

Monday Meme

Hi guys!  Let me start my Monday with a meme... you can copy it if you want and share it with your friends.  Happy reading and sharing!

1. What time did you wake up?

2. The first thing that you did when you woke up:

3. Did you eat breakfast?

4. What did you do after your morning ritual?

5. Coffee or hot choco?

6. Your favorite breakfast

7. The first word you said today

8. The first thing that you did outside of your house

9. Your plan for today after a long day in the office

10. The first person that you greeted outside of your house

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Look Young and Feel Young

Here I am again lamenting about defying the aging process.  No, it is not about me.  I just happen to have found a cosmetic surgery clinic in Washington DC that does not only perform surgeries but also does non-invasive dermatological procedures that are budget friendly.  Vita Surgical Group operates as a team of specialized doctors to ensure that all procedures are done according to standards with the most innovative and state of the art machines and facilities.  If you want to know more about their services, go to their website and see how you can be beautiful without spending so much.

In case you are a doctor and wants to be trained, Vita Surgical Group also offers training about the field.  Click on this link to get to know more about their trainings.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

My early greetings to the US... Happy Independence Day!

Eight hundred thirty five years has passed since Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence from the British Empire--the right that was earlier given to the US compared to the relatively young independence of the Philippines from the Spaniards.  I hope that in all those years, Americans have truly exercised their right and their freedom and will continue the legacy of their early fathers for the generations to come.

Posh as Range Rover's Creative Design Executive???

What?  I didn't see it coming... I wasn't prepared for this!  Well, it is already too late for me to protest because last night, Victoria Beckham was formally announced as the appointed Creative Director Executive for Range Rover.  Why her?  Gerry McGovern, Design Director, defends that Victoria understands luxury products (obviously) and has been using Range Rover for years now and further saying that they want to expand the 'Brand Beckham' (freaking millionaires).  Is that it?  FYI, Victoria co-designed the interior of the new Ranger Rover 'Evoque'.

Posh arrived at the launching of the luxurious FWD at Kensington wearing a nude dress with asymmetrical draped neckline from her Autumn/Winter 2010 Collection and a complementing Brian Atwood pumps.

Let's see where this collaboration will end... sweetly, I hope.


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