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Tag: Amelia H. C. Ylagan

Must we ‘Cha-cha’ in the pandemic?

In the languor and lassitude forced by the unabating 10 month-long COVID-19 quarantine, it adds insult to injury to make the anxious, near-catatonic people dance like pitiful puppets to the cha-cha-cha of autocratic governance.

What did Rizal die for?

Dr. José Rizal was executed by firing squad by the Spanish colonial government for the crime of rebellion, on Dec. 30, 1896, at Bagumbayan Field in Manila. His 14-stanza poem in Spanish, hitherto only known by its opening verse, “Adios Patria Adorada” (“Farewell Beloved Country”) later titled “Mi último adiós” (“Last Farewell”) was hidden in his gas lamp in his prison cell, and transferred among his personal belongings to his family after his death. He wrote to his best friend and confidant, professor Ferdinand Blumentritt, “Tomorrow at seven, I shall be shot; but I am innocent of the crime of rebellion. I am going to die with a tranquil conscience” (from Teodoro Kalaw, Epistolario Rizalino).

An emerging New Economics

COVID-19 might have killed “supply-side economics” that since its conception in the 1980s boom, created demand from the surfeit of supply, and plumped up consumer-driven economies.

Parallel contagion

“Up to 10 million Filipinos could lose jobs in the Philippines due to COVID-19,” Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III said during a Senate hearing on coronavirus pandemic updates on May 20. He said 2.6 million workers have already been laid off due to temporary closure of business establishments (GMA News, May 20).

Business (un)usual in the new (ab)Normal

Businesses will never be the same after the COVID-19 quarantines and lockdowns are relaxed or lifted. Or better said, perhaps -- they will not be the same businesses after the isolations and mobility restrictions of COVID-19 are relaxed or lifted.

The social impact of COVID-19

Our world will never be the same again after this terrible coronavirus experience, we say to each other in feverish exchange of breaking news, web links, quotes from the Bible and from whoever it was, and even in the nervous laughter from “joke time” in Viber and other sharing apps. “Do not panic,” some unseen Big Brother continually buzzes in our ears, but the isolation of quarantine cannot but make us anxious for our vulnerability, which precisely the “stay home” orders insinuate. A vaccine has not yet been found that will give full confidence to end the quarantine and social distancing. Medical researchers estimate it will be a year before the testing and certification of the vaccine will be done. Then there are the uncertainties of the changed environment we will step out into, after the “war” with COVID 19 will have been won. Definitely, the postbellum effect will be that people will be more careful, and risk-averse in decisions and actions.

Get your act together!

Surely the changes of functionaries and point persons for the national crisis cannot be comic relief in this terrifying time of the coronavirus pandemic.

The tomb on Easter morning

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying” (Matthew 28:6).

Urbi et Orbi

“When evening had come...” (Mk 4:35). Pope Francis stood alone on a canopied platform just outside the doors of St. Peter’s Basilica, fronting St. Peter’s Square. He peered into the enveloping dusk, perchance to see the usual throng of some 300,000 or more devotees waiting for the traditional Urbi et Orbi blessings on Christmas Day, Easter Sunday, or on the installation of a new Pope -- like when he first blessed the flock as Pope in March 2013. But previous Urbi et Orbi blessings were given in the clarity of daylight.

Global distancing

COVID-19 said it to the whole world: stay home. With the lockdowns of their communities, countries humbly said yes. It seems it is only in the Philippines that the term “lockdown” has been so fearfully avoided, but call it by whatever name, “enhanced community quarantine” is a lockdown -- both a lock-in and a lock-out, where plain quarantine is simply a lock-in. Whatever, just stay home.

Fear and Trembling

I anguished over the creeping amnesia when it comes to our wrenching from the dictatorship 34 years ago. But Filipinos have no sense of history, my dear confidant and most patient mentor said. And Manong sent me a copy of Søren Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling, to re-read and ponder in my mature years what had perhaps gone over my head in my college Literature classes.

The impunity of money laundering

Nulla poena sine lege (Latin for “no penalty without a law”).

Open arms for the Foreign Investments Act

At the AmCham Legislative and Trade & Investment Committees forum last week in Makati, the recommended easing of constitutional restrictions on foreign equity amendments was the hot topic. Hot, because a joint statement of major Chambers of Commerce and business and trade organizations had already been submitted in July, 2019 to the 18th Congress and to President Rodrigo Duterte for their consideration and enactment, recommending a list of priority legislation for business. This included the much-debated, top two laws, the Foreign Investments Act (FIA) and the Retail Trade Act (RTA) that would necessitate amendments to the 1987 Constitution.

The faded glory of a revolution

Tomorrow is the 34th anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution that threw out Ferdinand Marcos and ended his 14-year dictatorship. Do you feel the thrill and tingle of remembering how over two million Filipino civilians led by Jaime Cardinal Sin staged a peaceful protest to oust Marcos, from February 22–25, 1986, on the Epifanio de los Santos highway? When the military from nearby General Headquarters, Camp Emilio Aguinaldo, led by then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Chief of Staff General Fidel Ramos joined the throngs, it happened so fast -- Marcos and his family and cronies were flown off to Hawaii by US military helicopters.

Between love and making a living

The day before Valentine’s Day, red roses were selling briskly at P5,000 per dozen/per bouquet at a small flower stand in a Makati mall. What a waste, the dumpy old widow grumbled to herself -- whoever guy is giving that near-wilting bunch of flowers to his lady love would do better to give her the cash.

What now?

Perhaps the question to be asked is not simplistically whether the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) is good for us or bad for us, but rather do we need a defense treaty with the US at this time, regardless of feelings over the fact that the US has some strategic advantage for itself by bonding with us? We have to be realistic about our status and capabilities before we thump our chests and bellow to be left alone to our own little devices against the big, cruel world.

Kiong Hee Huat Tsai

“Congratulations and wishing you prosperity!” -- that is what “Kiong Hee Huat Tsai” conveys in the Hokkien dialect, which is what the majority of...

Taal has lost her patience

The volcano might have been upset when the Augustinian friars first came in 1572 to establish a township on the shores of the lake in Batangas province. She erupted, most likely not in welcome, and blew her top in obvious agitation of disturbed peace and the intrusion into her sacred territory. “Ta-al” was what the natives called the volcano-island, “sin ta-as ng langit” (high as the sky) and queen in their primitive Nature-worship.

The assassination of Qasem Soleimani

Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani, Commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. and acknowledged second most powerful man to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was killed by a US Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drone over the Baghdad International Airport Road in Iraq on Jan. 3.

20/20 vision in 2020

The traffic problem is real -- we have seen it with 20/20 vision and experienced it in hours spent in the slow movement from home to work to home or to wherever in Metro Manila and in major cities. They say it is because of the lack of planning by generations of lazy politicians and bureaucrats with no vision.

Whispering Hope for justice and peace

It is not likely that US President Donald Trump will have a Merry Christmas. On Dec. 18, the House of Representatives voted along party lines (232--196) to impeach Trump for criminal bribery and wire fraud charges as part of the abuse of power charge of an alleged quid pro quo deal with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, The New York Times reported the next day. Trump’s troubles started in September, when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi initiated an impeachment inquiry presenting a whistleblower and alleging that Trump may have abused the power of the presidency by withholding military aid as a means of pressuring newly elected Zelensky to pursue investigations on Trump’s likely re-election rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter on their business dealings in Ukraine, and to investigate a conspiracy theory that Ukraine (not Trump’s friend Russia), was behind interference in the 2016 presidential election (NPR.org, Sept. 26, 2019). The US Senate, which is Republican-dominated, will make their decision on Trump’s impeachment in early 2020.

Water: How the story is told

The story starts with Martial Law President Ferdinand Marcos. When he became president in 1965, the total external debt was $600 million; by the time he was ousted in 1986, it had ballooned to $26 billion -- a 4,300% rise, according to the Ibon Databank, cited in an article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer of Nov. 24, 2016.

The worst in math, science and reading

“PHL lags in global education survey,” read BusinessWorld’s front page banner story on Dec. 5. A one-fourth page graph showed the latest results of the education survey by Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Sexist bullying

We already know, from immersion near drowning in the universal storm for gender equality, that men should respect women and vice versa.

Political bickering and our image

The trending verbal joust between the administration and the oppositionists started from a piece of criticism by Senator Franklin Drilon at the Senate review of the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program of President Rodrigo Duterte. As quoted in the Philippine Star of Nov. 14, Drilon said that “the program was a ‘dismal failure’ because only nine of 75 flagship projects have been completed three years into the six-year term of the Duterte administration.” Salvador Panelo, the president’s spokesperson, immediately sequestered national TV airtime to publicly shame the opposition: “The Aquino administration had built not a single infrastructure project,” he declared with damning finality.

John and Elizabeth Gokongwei, partners forever

“The most important decision you have to make in your life is whom you’re going to marry. That decision will dictate the rest of your life, whether you will have a happy life or a miserable one,” billionaire taipan John Gokongwei, Jr., then already second richest man in the Philippines, told his only son and successor-apparent Lance, when young Lance was just was starting to look at girls -- or rather, when girls were starting to look at extremely good-looking Lance. The son, now happily married, relates this anecdote in his book Lessons from Dad, his tribute on his father’s 90th birthday in 2016.

The timid private sector

With evident pride of accomplishment, economic ministers announced a 6.2% growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in the July-September period (third quarter) compared to the disappointing second quarter growth of 5.5%. It was explained that the second quarter was weighed down by the late enactment of this year’s (2019) national budget and a ban on new public works 45 days before the May 13 midterm elections. “The Duterte administration’s catch-up (spending) plan is working,” enthused Central Bank Governor Benjamin Diokno, former Budget Secretary and chief crafter of the 2019 budget -- which was delayed because of alleged “insertions” of reported certain allocations to some government officials’ interests.

Inchoate displays of anger

“Inchoate” means imperfectly formed or formulated: formless, incoherent, the Merriam-Webster dictionary says, to which the Cambridge dictionary adds, “not completely developed or clear.” When Sanjoy Chakravorty, professor of global studies at Temple University, Pennsylvania, called the fever of street protests around the world in 2019 “inchoate displays of anger,” “inchoate” can only mean futile and desperate.

A bleeding heart for the middle class

The Social Weather Survey (SWS) announced a “recovery” in October of self-rated poverty to 42% compared to September’s 45% from March’s “awesome” (according to SWS) 38% which was 12 points better than the 50% of December 2018. These are distressing statistics for bleeding hearts. There is no “improvement” in poverty. There is no “less poor” or “more poor” but only “poor.” In a deeply religious and morally demonstrative country like the Philippines, expression of empathy more than just lip-service sympathy is expected for the poor from those who have more in life.

Not the end of the fight for Justice Carpio

It was a joint membership meeting of the Makati Business Club (MBC), the Employers Confederation of the Philippines, the Judicial Reform Initiative, the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, and the Management Association of the Philippines last Friday, Oct. 18, at the New World Hotel in Makati. The testimonial to Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio was not jubilation for yet another career trophy won, nor was it a sad goodbye, for he will be retiring after 18 years in the Judiciary and eight days as Acting Chief Justice.

Cum si, cum sa for Governance

Comme ci, comme ça,” the critical and exacting French would say for something that would not meet the superlatives of quality and aesthetics they are generally attributed with. In English, its idem sonans (sounds-like) is “cum si, cum sa,” like if someone asks you, “how are you?” you might reply, “cum si, cum sa,” meaning you are feeling not good, not bad, just average. “Cum si, cum sa” means “so-so.”

The beginning of the end of Hong Kong

The entire Hong Kong subway network -- which carries some four million passengers a day -- was suspended on Friday night, leaving protesters, locals, and tourists stranded. “Shopping malls were closed, supermarket chains said they would not open and many mainland Chinese banks, which were targeted in Friday night’s violence, stayed shuttered, their façades sprayed with graffiti. In some locations, long lines formed at supermarkets as residents stocked up, fearing further clashes,” Agence France Presse News (AFP) reported.

Not a mindset for killing and brutality

It was Jan. 15, 1973, the day Lim Seng -- a Chinese drug lord found to have had in his possession some 34.75 pounds of heroin worth P3 million in September 1972 -- was to be executed by firing squad as ordered by newly self-installed martial law president Ferdinand Marcos in his declared Drug War. Some 5,000 curious civilian on-lookers, roped off from the Known Distance Range, and they say another 10,000 at the Fort Bonifacio entrance, waited for the spectacle to start.

Demonizing the demon

The small Vauxhall sedan had the EDSA highway practically all to itself, Mang Maldo, the family driver, repeatedly gushed to “Ma’am,” the grandma, and to the daughter, the young mother who held Ma’am’s precious baby grandchild in her arms. Why was it so eerily quiet?

The sociology of EDSA traffic

Of course you can call or text on your phone while driving. You can even read your e-mail and reply quickly on your iPad. You might want to catch some quick news on Yahoo, or get your daily fix of cute dog antics on YouTube.

People of the Philippines vs. the GCTA

When a case is titled “People of the Philippines vs. Juan Santos,” it is a criminal case, or a crime against society. When a case is titled “Pedro Reyes vs. Juan Santos,” it is a civil case between two persons.

What, no homework?

The “holistic approach” to child development was the reason for this jack-in-the-box treat for school children: House Bill (HB) No. 3611 filed by House Deputy Speaker Evelina Escudero proposes to remove homework as a requirement for Kinder to Grade 12 students and prohibit students from taking textbooks home in order to “lighten their physical burden” and to do academic activities solely within school premises; and HB No. 3883 filed by Quezon City Representative Alfred Vargas, which seeks to “promote and protect the physical, moral, spiritual, intellectual, and social well-being of the youth” and prohibits elementary and high school teachers from assigning take-home assignments to students for the weekend. Senator Grace Poe filed Senate Bill No. 966 to establish a no-homework policy for all primary and secondary schools in the country, according to a GMA News report on Aug. 30.

Gifts or bribes: What’s in a name?

President Rodrigo R. Duterte started the cauldron bubbling when on Aug. 9, during the celebration of the 118th police service anniversary at Camp Crame, he said that he believes police officers should accept gifts if these are given out of gratitude or generosity. “Well, if you’re given a gift, accept it. It cannot be bribery because it is allowed by law. What I mean if there is generosity in them, the anti-graft law says you cannot accept gifts. (Kalokohan ’yan) That’s nonsense,” he was quoted by The Philippine Star as saying in its Aug. 11 issue.

Mandating public ownership

Last week Commissioner Ephyro Luis B. Amatong announced that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is now looking at mandating a 20-25% Minimum Public Offering (MPO) range for listed companies, against the November 2017 order for these public companies to hit 15% MPO within three years, then another two years for the final 20% MPO.

How goes the economy?

On Monday last week, 15 economists polled by BusinessWorld -- 11 from banks and financial institutions and four from the academe -- were sure gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the second quarter (April to June) would have leaped to 5.9% from the nasty fall in the first quarter to 5.6% (the lowest in four years) after the hopeful 6.3% quarter-growth at year end 2018. Perhaps they were encouraged by Secretary of Socio-Economic Planning Ernesto M. Pernia’s assurance last June that though the second-quarter growth will “not be as strong as the third quarter would be,” a 6.5% GDP growth for the year would be “attainable.”

Face-off with cryptocurrency

Call it an in-your-face taunt that Facebook, the social media platform for some 2.38 billion worldwide users -- while beleaguered by seemingly never-ending privacy issues with the US Federal Trade Commission in its 15 years of existence -- has launched its own cryptocurrency, much to the Federal Reserve Bank’s dismay. It is probably the ultimate face-off between today’s 10-year-old high-tech cryptocurrency and traditional money as first recorded in Sumerian cuneiform tablets of 4,000 BCE.

Possession and position in militaryspeak

“You know, I cannot go there even to bring the Coast Guard to drive them away. China also claims the property and he is in possession. ’Yan ang problema. Sila ’yung (That is the problem. They are the ones) in possession and claiming all the resources there as an owner.” -- President Rodrigo R. Duterte said that quite clearly in his fourth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 22, at the opening of the 18th Congress.

Tapos na ang boksing

“I get to punch a senator in the face,” Keith Thurman said of Manny Pacquiao days before their welterweight championship boxing match on Saturday in Las Vegas. It was a TKO, even before the undefeated 30-year-old American WBA (Super) Welterweight World Champion climbed into the ring to exchange fisticuffs with Filipino boxing icon and reigning WBA (Regular) Welterweight World Champion, boxing’s only eight-division world champion, 40-year-old Senator Emmanuel “Manny/Pacman” Pacquiao.

Collision, allision; collusion, coalition

“It was not a collision, but an ‘allision’,” Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin told Karen Davila on her morning talk show, Headstart, on July 3. And to his TV audience, he challenged, “I bet nobody knows that word but me.”

The Death Penalty and Divorce Bills: Till death do us part

“Marriage is the death penalty.” This is a statement that might be heard at a bachelor’s party. Perverted comic relief, of course, because here in the Philippines, marriage is “till death do us part” -- there is no divorce. But things will change; macho guys are in charge in government now, and the Divorce Law will probably be finally passed in this 18th Congress. Ironically, the Death Penalty Bill will also probably be filed on the opening day of Congress.