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Technology has its downside

Airbnb is an online marketplace or brokerage that people use to book or offer lodgings. It is popular among internet-savvy travelers and short-term renters. I have used the service myself a number of times looking for places to stay in while on vacation, and, to be honest, I have been quite happy with it. And, I am sure many others are happy with it, or else Airbnb’s global business couldn’t have made $2.6 billion in gross commissions in 2017.

Why buck what works?

In some cases, people get away with doing questionable things because they cannot be made accountable for them. And knowing that they can get away with it, they wreak havoc with impunity. They are emboldened by the fact that, at the end of the day, the rewards for their misdeed far outweigh the potential risks or penalties -- if there will be any at all.

Regulating Vaping

The Department of Health (DoH) is moving ahead of Congress to further guide the “vaping” industry by putting it practically at par with the cigarettes and tobacco industry. While imposing a tax on electronic cigarettes is still off the table, with Congress adjourning before a bill on this matter was passed, the use of e-cigarettes is being further regulated through executive fiat.

Yellow Box and counterflow

A report, citing records from the Land Transportation Office (LTO), noted that in 2017, the top traffic violations nationwide were the following: Not wearing seatbelt; Failure to wear helmet; No OR/CR on hand; Driving without license; Unregistered/invalid motor vehicle registration; Reckless driving; Obstruction; No spare tire; Axle overloading; Student driver operation motor vehicle without accompanying licensed driver.

Right tool for the job

If you have car engine troubles, do you bring it to a vulcanizing shop? If you have leaky plumbing, do you call a mason to “cement” the job? Or, if you need to tighten a screw, do you get a hammer? I guess the answers to these questions are pretty obvious, right? Common sense dictates that you use the right tool for the work required.

The self-serving Filipino

In the mall the other day, I couldn’t help but observe a middle-aged woman hogging a bench good for three. She was fiddling with her phone, with her hand bag and her shopping bags all seated comfortably beside her. She and her bags occupied the entire bench. She was oblivious to what was happening around her, completely taken by what she was doing on her phone.

Fighting fire with fire

More than a year ago, I took a position in favor of taxing “vaping” or the use of electronic cigarettes, in addition to raising taxes on regular cigarettes and other tobacco products. Since then, some initiatives were started in Congress to regulate and tax the vaping industry. However, no actual regulation materialized by the time Congress adjourned for the May 2019 elections.

Live fast, die faster

I believe that safety should be everybody’s concern. Thus, ensuring public safety should always take priority over individual rights with respect to matters like mode of transportation. Much like smoking, people can choose to smoke, there is no law against that. But that smoking privilege is limited – or regulated by government – mainly to protect public health.

Meniong

Herminio “Meniong” Guivelondo Teves, born April 25, 1920, former governor and former congressman of his beloved Negros Oriental, passed away yesterday at the age of 99. If he had his way, I am sure he would have preferred to make it an even 100. However, fate chose to intervene. It robbed him of a year. But what is a year compared to a long and fruitful life.

Driving on plastic

Our oceans are dying partly because of plastic waste, and I used to think that limiting plastic production as well as banning single use would be the more effective remedies particularly against marine plastics. But I have started to see things in a different light, especially after I attended a forum co-hosted by the World Bank and the Norwegian Embassy in Manila.

Pedal to the future

The inevitable future, in my opinion, will involve some form of pedaling. The bicycle was invented about 200 years ago, and their makers later made motorcycles and cars. But cars and motorbikes -- those running on fossil fuel, at least -- may soon be things of the past as economic, environmental, and social concerns push people toward electric and, well, back to pedal power.

Same rules for all road users

For any motorized or propelled vehicle or conveyance, whether running on electricity or diesel or gasoline, national law or rules governing their use on public roads should be the same. A motorized vehicle is a motorized vehicle -- whether electric or not -- and can be differentiated only from conveyances that are drawn or powered either by people or by beasts of burden.

Unwrapped

The New York Times reported on March 28 that New York State, by 2020, will join California and Hawaii as among the US states to ban most types of single-use plastic bags from retail sales. By March next year, under a new law, stores in New York state will no longer provide customers with single-use plastic bags that are nonbiodegradable.

No ID, No Money

According to NEDA Secretary Ernesto Pernia, as quoted in a newspaper report, about 14% of Filipinos have limited to no access to government as well as financial services for lack of proper identification or proper documentation. And with the President having enacted the law on establishing the Philippine Identification System (PhilSys), this is about to change.

Child safety in motorized vehicles should apply to all

About two years ago, Republic Act 10666 or the Children’s Safety on Motorcycles Act took effect and placed conditions on small children riding as passengers on motorcycles -- or two-wheeled motor vehicles. I support this law, but I do not understand why tricycles were seemingly exempted from it.

The long, hot summer

Based on information on the website of the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS), the main sources of Metro Manila’s water supply are the...

Living off sunshine

BusinessWorld has reported that a listed company had just “broken ground” on a 1.1-megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic (PV) rooftop project in one of its malls in Mindanao. The project, said to cost P67.4 million, is in line with the firm’s target capacity of 200-MW of electricity from solar PV rooftops in the next two years.

Can proof-of-parking work?

A bill on “proof of parking” is now up for consideration at the Senate. How this legislation can actually be effective in easing traffic congestion in Metro Manila is still lost on me. Instead of moving on it hastily, by making it a “priority” measure, I strongly suggest a proper study first be done on how it can best work for us.

Addressing the housing backlog

On a visit to Singapore about 15 years ago, I had the chance to meet a number of key government officials, including senior people from Singapore’s public housing authority, the Housing Development Board (HDB). Many of the public condominium units in Singapore now were built and are currently managed by HDB.

Battle for food

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. In 2018, it reported that for the third year in a row, “there has been a rise in world hunger. The absolute number of undernourished people, i.e. those facing chronic food deprivation, has increased to nearly 821 million in 2017, from around 804 million in 2016. These are levels from almost a decade ago.”

Changing the way we buy and sell

The matter of cleaning up Manila Bay and our surroundings boils down to effective waste management. And this, to me, is not just a question of proper disposal. We should address the problem at the source, and this means targeting to minimize if not eliminate waste altogether. And this is where policies like the Food Waste Reduction Act come into place.

The cannabis industry

In March 2018, the United Kingdom was reported to be the largest world producer of “legal” cannabis, otherwise known as “medical” marijuana. This was based on 2017 data with the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), which is the independent and quasi-judicial control organ for the implementation of the United Nations (UN) drug conventions.

Hitting a home run in affordable housing

We need roughly 11 million homes put up and sold to buyers in the next 11 years, or an average of one million homes every year. That is, if we are to address the backlog or shortage in the supply of affordable housing from now until 2030, as estimated in a study by the University of Asia and the Pacific.

Iron farming

This piece has little to do with mining or “farming” for iron. Although, mining becomes crucial in the way that it significantly contributes to technological advances, which, in turn, help boost agricultural productivity. Metallic soil is not conducive for food farming, anyway. So, farm or mine the iron and other elements, then use these elements to improve farming for food.

Old hasn’t gone out of style

We have started a new year, an election year at that, but it doesn’t seem like “out with the old, in with the new” applies. For the senatorial election, that is. Checking the latest survey list, and I have checked it twice and have my own opinion on who has been naughty and who has been nice, I see mostly “old” names in the lead, and “new” names trailing behind.

The death of us?

I was born in the year of the First Quarter Storm. It was the same year that a 7.4 magnitude earthquake hit Luzon that killed 15 and injured 200, that Typhoon Sening left 575 dead in Camarines Sur, and that Typhoon Yoling ravaged Manila and killed 611. It was also that year that Pope Paul VI visited the Philippines and survived an assassination attempt.

Skyway to heaven

I have been using the South Luzon Tollway for the past 45 years, or since the early 1970s when the toll fee for the Nichols-Sucat segment was only one peso. All this time, ever since the south tollway first opened in December 1969, cash has been an acceptable mode of payment for tollway use. Apparently, by some time in the near future, this might no longer be the case, at least for the Skyway.

Let them eat cake?

A quote incorrectly attributed to the infamous French royalty Marie Antoinette, “Let them eat cake,” is said to be more fiction than fact; invented, the offspring of a fertile imagination. But its context cannot be discounted. There are situations when food might be plenty, but not within the reach of common folks. Thus, the forced “trade” of cheap bread for more expensive cake.

Traffic Czar or Traffic Caesar?

I wish Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade the best of luck. By legislating his designation as Traffic Czar, the House of Representatives as well as the Senate are putting on his shoulders the burden of -- as well as the blame on -- the gargantuan task of resolving the problem of vehicular traffic congestion in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao.

Where to with IKEA, China?

Of the business developments in the last two days, what stand out -- at least, in my opinion -- are the commitment of furniture manufacturing giant IKEA to invest initially about P7 billion in putting up a Philippine store; and the government’s signing of more than 20 agreements with the People’s Republic of China on the occasion of the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Spies in your coffeemakers

About 10 years ago, a very good friend lent me a book by authors Kieron O’Hara and Nigel Shadbolt, both based in the United Kingdom. Titled The Spy in the Coffee Machine, I found the book to be a very interesting read. In fact, it came to memory just recently as I noted the news report on a proposed law to make mobile numbers “portable,” or that a person can maintain his cellular number for life.

Rethinking recycling

About 18 years ago, I had a management professor at AIM who wasn’t completely sold on recycling. In one class discussion, Ning Lagman, whom I believed has retired from teaching, expressed the opinion that recycling would be insignificant in a production process that reduced or minimized, if not eliminated, “waste.” Without waste, there will be nothing to recycle.

Where to with Philippine bilateral trade?

Please allow me to share with you a recent report by Moody’s Analytics, which I believe is very relevant particularly to those who are very concerned with the ongoing trade war between the United States and China. Essentially, Moody’s Analytics noted that “US trade policy has the potential to do more harm than good for US manufacturing and the broader economy, particularly if more protectionist policies are implemented by the US or if its trading partners retaliate.”

Going green

No, I am not from La Salle. Neither am I anti-Ateneo. But, I am pro-Green. And by Green, I mean the environment. I understand that going about change is difficult, so is moving out of comfort zones. In this sense, going Green or making our lives Green -- or doing things in ways that do not further harm the environment -- can take much time, effort, and resources.

Retiring by choice, not by age

I am a journalist, and have been for my entire professional life. There is no such thing as “retirement” for this particular work, especially for freelancers. If you can still think, and write, and go out there and produce stories or articles or columns, and media outfits are still willing to pay you for your output, then you can continue to work. An option, of course, is to self-publish or self-broadcast, usually electronically, by doing your own blog or site or podcast.

A school is only as good as its best teachers

Tomorrow, Oct. 5, is World Teacher’s Day, a campaign started in 1994 and mounted each year since then to help people better understand the role teachers play in developing students and the society. Please allow me to devote my space today to all the teachers out there, past and present, as my way of giving thanks to them for all their contributions to the world.

Dealing with the food we waste

In this day and age, people tend to buy and consume more than they actually need. Technology, both in production and storage, has allowed us to build up surpluses both in stores and in homes. Take the case of rice. While cheap NFA rice may be in short supply, to the detriment of the poor, Metro Manila stores are flooded with commercial rice. More affluent homes are stocked with grains as well.

Values literacy

What caught my eye recently was a news item in this paper regarding financial literacy, particularly the present efforts of the government and the financial sector to introduce or incorporate it in the K-12 curriculum in public and private schools. The effort, according to the report, also includes producing learning materials and teaching guides for schools.

Convergence

PEOPLE tend to take more decisive political action after experiencing the convergence of what may be labeled as economic and political discontent, and the persistence of such discontent. If people are unhappy with governance, but happy with the economy, then they tend to be subdued or reserved in their opposition. The same with the reverse. But if people are unhappy with both the government and the economy at the same time, then expect some trouble.

Food security

THE issue, to me, is food security. And, in the Philippine context, this means sufficiency particularly in rice supply. In this line, lawmakers and policy makers as well as those implementing policy should be reviewing and revising policies, agencies, functions, and officials with respect to how they have been contributing to achieving this important objective.

The life worth living

TOMORROW, Aug. 31, is the 111th birth anniversary of the late Ramon del Fierro Magsaysay, the seventh president of the Philippine Republic. Magsaysay, also known as “The Guy,” died 61 years ago in a plane crash in Cebu. The lone survivor of that crash, journalist Nestor Mata, passed away just last April at the age of 92 — finally laying to rest a memorable chapter in the nation’s history.

Agriculture and education

One cannot help but be left with the impression that our farmers are now too poor to be proud of what they do. Pride in work, and in how they feed the country, plays second fiddle to survival. A lot of big farms flourish, for agriculture is still a business. But small farmers, which account for majority of agricultural workers, remain poor and desperate.

Dancing the cha-cha to the beat of the waltz

FROM 1791 to 1992, or a period of 201 years, the US Constitution was amended only 27 times. That’s an average of one amendment for every eight years in the nation’s life. To date, the United States has been an independent democratic state for over 240 years. And yet, over these 24 decades, it has changed or revised its Constitution only 27 times.

Burning garbage

I recently chanced upon an Aug. 2 commentary in The World Post about an emerging Dutch technology that aimed to address the negative effects of incineration. Written by Rachel Nuwer, a freelance journalist based in Brooklyn, New York, the commentary discussed how incineration could now be a “clean” alternative to solid waste management.

Acceptable racism?

In a 2012 piece in The Spectator about the win of Chinese swimmer Ye Shiwen in the London Olympics, writer Ross Clark titled his commentary, “Sinophobia, the last acceptable racism.” He wrote about how Western coaches questioned China’s win of gold medals, initially insinuating possible illegal drug use, then later the use of inhumane and brutal training regimes.