Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Las Pinas City and Manny Villar...why he shouldn't be president

Living in the south is one of the best place to be. Devoid of pollution, the urbane life in this metropolitan area which comprises Paranaque, Las Pinas and Muntinlupa is the enclave to many white collar workers as well as the rich and the famous.

When my family bought a lot year in Alabang over 30 years ago, this place was the answer to all the traffic snarls in Metropolitan Manila. As urban development beckoned, the area started getting congested. Once upon a time, there was no need for a Skyway. I would drive from my home to Makati in 10 minutes flat! And my Volkswagen Beetle, eventually a Brazilia and then Toyota Corolla Liftback, went through the South Luzon Expressway with a breeze.

Today, south of Manila is still rapidly developing with malls sprouting left and right with Ayala Alabang Town Center, Filinvest's Festival Mall, SM Southmall, SM Muntinlupa, SM Bicutan, SM Sucat and of course the Gokongwei's Robinson Starmall.

Our nifty cozy town suddenly boomed.

Which goes to part 1 of my blog.

Have you ever driven yourself from point A of Alabang Zapote road (which starts somewhere after the Filinvest Exit) to SM Southmall? Upon reaching the Las Pinas junction (which is somewhere in the BF Homes entrance) near Toyota Alabang, there is terror in your eyes as you try to traverse that long stretch. And I mean, you need to stretch your patience.

So what's all the traffic about in Las Pinas along this road?

Recently, the Las Pinas local government had declared that it was not implementing the MMDAs window for color coding. Which meant that if your plate number ended in a certain digit (1 or 2 for Monday), you cannot ply the road leading to Las Pinas. Those eager traffic enforcers, instead of manning the traffic spots are found in the middle of the road so that they can catch violators!

I have nothing against local governments that want to defy the MMDA rule. After all, they claim to know their city more than Bayani Fernando. I despise, however, local governments that seem NOT TO know where the real trouble spot is. So I am bashing at the Las Pinas local authorities and trying to hopefully point out to them that they should rethink their traffic scenario.

First are the jeepneys that ply Alabang Zapote road. Discipline is definitely NOT in their vocabulary. Being less educated (which is the pathetic reason provided) is NOT a reason to load and unload passengers anywhere they please. And there's this bus station right after the Shell Station there. I don't know who owns it, but it's definitely a no-no to load and unload passengers, specially on a tight road.

Then there are the people of Las Pinas who make a U-turn right in the middle of the road. Just because there is NO barrier on the middle road, should not give them the right to make a U-turn when and where they want. Mayor Nene Aguilar (who happens to be a relative of Manny Villar) must realize (if he has not yet, someone should knock some sense into him) that Las Pinas is one of those places where several subdivisions (almost found in every few hundred meters) abound. Those that live in the various subdivisions, particularly those coming from BF Homes Paranaque seem not to know the adage that "intersections should be kept open".

Of course, there's the market along the Alabang Zapote road right after SM Southmall. This is a nightmare market because of the mayhem that the sellers and buyers create. This wet market should be moved to another place where there is far access to the main road. Take for example the BF Homes Paranaque wet market where it is located right inside the subdivision!

There are also junk shops and car repair shops that lie right smack on the street. And the cars and public utility vehicles that want to have their cars repaired do so, right on the street. It's not like there is no car repair shop in the area. There's a very big one just right after Toyota Alabang and there are so many gas stations along the road.

These are actually the underlying factors that make the traffic along Alabang Zapote road in Las Pinas a living nightmare, a waste of gas and manpower, and the city government seems to be looking away. It's not the color coding scheme of the MMDA. That forms a miniscule of the traffic problem. And why punish the everyday citizen that actually pays taxes and makes this country run? Those jeepney drivers, bus drivers, small car repair shops, tricycle drivers, etc. DO NOT even pay taxes. Why the need to support their daily living? The answer lies in the election and the votes these people rake in.

If Las Pinas is what we will envision our country to be in 2010 when Manny Villar runs for president, then this country is doomed. His hometown is a perfect reflection of what this country should not be.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The gift(s)

Bubba had given me a beautiful 24K plated silverware for the dining table, a pair of Springfield slippers, some boxer underwear, and of course Strivectin for my wrinkles.

Mom had given me a Billabong surfer shorts, Oakley surfer shorts and a shirt from FCUK.

My sister and the kids had given me a Billabong shorts and a new gym bag.

All together, these were the gifts I got from my family and my partner.

More than the gifts, however, is the giver.

Which goes to the essence of Christmas. After all the gift giving and receiving, we wonder how this tradition of "exchanging" gifts actually started. As tradition has it, and as we celebrate Christmas, it's rites actually started at the birth of Jesus Christ over two millenia ago.

Christmas day was celebrated quietly over mass and dinner later that day. Over dinner we discussed why there was an "exchange" of gifts as a ritual for the Christmas season. It turns out that Christmas day is, after all, our other birthday. It's the day when Christ the Lord was born, symbolically as a human being - who had to grow up, live, suffer and die like many of us. In more ways than one, our God had sent His only son to become one of us. To be like us in all ways, except being sinful. And so the tradition lives on that we celebrate each Christmas day as the day when we were all born into this world sans all sins, like the child in the manger, innocent.

We exchange gifts to commemorate our birth into this world. At times good to us. At time being cruel. And beyond the gifts we receive is the giver of the gift. How much meaning we place into these, it is after all a season of giving. God so loved the world that He had given His only son to us. That some day, we may remember in our hearts the true meaning of Christmas.

Happy holidays everyone!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My grown up Christmas List

7 days before Christmas and we're counting down...

I've not done any Christmas shopping except for a few loved ones and close friends. The other acquaintances, I've managed to get something that would be useful to them - a bucket of Chef Tony's designer popcorns with Privilege Passes from Ayala Cinemas (for the THX theaters) accompanying the gift!

What I cannot stand most of all are recycled gifts. You know. The ones that some of us get from last year's Christmas finds under the tree, which we have not used and decide to "recycle" them this year. Talk about modern day Scrooge! Hence, it has become a tradition of mine that I shall never give a gift that is not well thought of. No matter how simple the gift is, I put two things into perspective - use and practicality. Of course, at the very core of the gift is the thought and heart of gift giving.

So what do I want for Christmas? That's a question my friends always ask me.

1. The new MacBook Pro. But I have an old one...so I'm not spending for the new one until this old one bogs down or gets sequestered. Why do I want it? It's a beauty to behold...

2. A P100,000 shopping spree at Rustan's. I've been eyeing some jewelry and bags at Rustans and their Store Specialists, Inc., but I'm not willing to part with hard earned cash for "wants" and not "needs". There's a beautiful Bulgari ring and a swank new Prada bag that's for the buying...

3. A new SUV. Well...I've parted with my old CRV and the new Montero Sport is really sleeky! Then there's the new Audi A4 and the Volvo S40. Again, I'm not willing to flash a new car based on wants and not on needs. Besides, it's like throwing money down the drain.

It's a wish list. I don't expect anything. And at my age, I can still dream big...maybe someday...when I'm president of the Philippines....

Pinoy Betty la Fea

The comedy hit show Betty La Fea has been redone in the USA to the hit show Ugly Betty (with a twist) and in the Philippines to I Love Betty La Fea, starring our very own Bea Alonzo with Biogesic star, ahem, John Lloyd Cruz.

Of course in the cast are several local big stars to boot - Ruffa Gutierrez, Ai-Ai de las Alas, Gloria Romero, to name a few. While the story has drawn interest among the Western world, its local charm doesn't seem to fit in. For one, it should carry the Andrew E single "Humanap ka ng pangit" as its theme song. Another is the fact that this is one series that has soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much commercial endorsements. From Betty selling Clear Shampoo, to Betty taking 4G capsules, to the family of Betty drinking Coke in the special Christmas edition glass tumblers they're giving away, or Ai-Ai endorsing the Knorr special cube mixes...and the list goes on and on...

While the comedy series evokes some light moments, as a whole, one gets tired of so much commercial antics that it eventually loses itself in the advertisementology (pardon the coining of the word) of it all.

The original script writer should probably shoot the moguls at ABS-CBN for turning the series into a commercial run.

ABS-CBN should can the show - NOW!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

25 - The Homecoming

Next week, class '83 of the Faculty of Medicine and Surgery, University of Santo Tomas is celebrating their silver jubilee.

Like many silver jubilarians, it will be an austere event that everyone looks forward to. After a quarter of a century, you all gather "home" once again. From all walks of life, from various parts of the world where we have spread out after graduating 25 years ago from our alma mater, we will be back 'home' even for a brief moment.

The gathering will take place for 3 days, highlighted by the Mariano Alimurung Memorial Lecture, to be given by an esteemed colleague, Dr. Gregory Pastores, who has excelled in the field of medicine. Out of 400 graduates, one of us will deliver the lecture that emulates the outstanding physician from our batch in memory of one of the greatest doctor that the university has produced.

Aside from this academic exercise will be the various get-togethers which each section, and the jubilarians have prepared, as a whole. This will culminate in the grand ball at the Makati Shangrila. Every batch will be showing off each others talents, particularly in the field of dancing. I am not a ballroom "queen" so I opted to give a lecture during the postgraduate course instead.

More importantly, however, in this merriment is the fact that we will finally see each other again. Compare notes, exchange thoughts, dabble in rumor-mongering, flash our family pictures, and yup compare waistline sizes and facial sags.

For awhile, we will forget that we have all pushed to 50 in age and recall the days when we were all giggly medical students in search of the dream. For a while...we will all be 25 again in this homecoming...

Monday, December 8, 2008

Pacquiao - First!

Everyone saw the De La Hoya-Pacquiao fight last December 7 (Manila time). It was obviously a Pacquiao victory. It left the Philippine cs nhampion no scars and sent De La Hoya to the emergency room of the hospital.

I am not an avid fan of the boxing sport. To me, it is one of the most violent sport games and many men have died in the name of this "sport".

Today's newspapers had the whole face of Pacquiao splattered on the front page. The Philippine Daily Inquirer had the banner story "It's Christmas Day"! And the world of sports and entertainment became abuzz with probably the greatest Filipino fighter in the history of Philippine and world boxing.

I blog about Pacquiao today because he is the epitome of excellence which the Filipinos worldwide should emulate. From a scrawny kid to a boxing legend, this fight of Pacquiao has already put him in the annals of history. This is the kind of effort that every Filipino, particularly those in government, should put into their work ethics. The kind that would propel each Filipino in working at being number one.

Striving for excellence is a dedication that everyone should be committed to. In a concerted effort by every Filipino, the ideal YES WE CAN attitude can really be achieved.

And there is reason to celebrate Pacquiao winning. It proves that every Filipino can shine, can strive to be the best, can be FIRST! And it needs to start with "I". To make the "I" proud of his achievement and have the world cheer you on. It feels good to be an achiever. We need to stop looking at being last or second to the last or even second to the first. It's time to think about being number ONE!

If Ninoy is the modern day hero, Pacquiao should be the modern day idol. Lord knows we need more role models like him.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008


So I've been traveling around lately.

I've never put too much pictures on the places I go to because I barely have the time to sight see. In spite of the fact that I do travel a lot (because of my line of work or the commitments I have), I make sure that I get the engagement done quickly and take the next flight back. Which leaves my body really battered.

Last week, I had the opportunity to go back to Bohol (been there, done that), and since it was a lunch lecture for the Bohol Medical Society, I took the 8AM flight on Philippine Airlines. We touched down at 910AM. When the welcoming party had asked me if I wanted to just rest, I instinctively said - NO. I wanted to take pictures with the tarsiers.

Bohol is one of the most beautiful islands in the Philippines. I've been to several provinces in the country and I can tell you that all the other wonders that the other countries claim are a far cry from what our country has to offer. The Filipinos have a penchant for getting a passport and traveling out of the Philippines. I've never understood this. I guess it's a Pinoy mentality - you haven't traveled if you don't get out of the Philippines. Pinoy travel is another blog story.

Getting back to Bohol, an island in the Visayan region surrounded by the most serene waters, Chocolate Hills, and yup, the endangered Tarsier monkeys (smallest in the world!).

They are a sight to watch and I wish I could take them home.

But they don't thrive in captivity. Trivia. The Tarsier is the world's smallest monkey. They are nocturnal primates and feed on crickets, arthropods, and other insects. They produce one offspring a year and the female Tarsier carries the baby in her womb for 9 months - just like humans. When taken off their breeding place, many of them commit suicide by self-strangulation (they stop breathing) and die. They cannot live without the company of other Tarsiers.

But the endangered species is just one of the reasons why Bohol is a must for visitors and citizens of this country.

I took the 510PM flight back to Manila and was surprised that the plane was half-filled with foreigners who seemed to have a great tan and had hands full of souvenirs! It's time that the Department of Tourism promote local tourism and offer large discounts for its citizens. After all, it's the best way to educate our kids in social studies.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

In the name of the Father...

Watching the saga of Philippine politics, one cannot help but wonder how much religion is being invoked in the name of God.

Where those in government curse the church as the latter asks for the head of Ate Glue in a moral revolution, it is ironic that when these congressmen and senators and FG defend themselves, they do so in the name of God.

God must be reeling in His hideaway in heaven at the anthology that is evolving in the Philippines. This country is the Catholic capital of Asia. Unlike other countries in Asia, however, this country is also the most corrupt. There is a joke running around that the reason why there has been less rain in the country this year is not because of climate change, but because God has no more tears for the Philippines.

Is there any relation of being Catholic to the high rate of graft and corruption in the Philippines? If one looks back at the history of the Catholic faith, it too, is ridden with graft and corruption. There was a time when the dark ages of the Church ruled grimly.

On bended knees, the people of the Philippines are begging for a little more slack from those in power, but like a faith that slowly slips away, many Filipinos are sick and tired of the same scenario. Our prayers seem to be falling on deaf ears. Those in power simply seek more power and have made governance a career in building one's riches.

Sadly though, it is the poor that pay the biggest price from all this corruption and ineptness of government. Moral ascendancy begins with self. As a people, we need to look into the mirror and find out how much concern we have towards the only country we have.

We cannot remain migrants into the land of plenty and hope to God that the economy of this land will be buoyed by the dollars our OFWs send home to the tune of over $1Billion a month. We cannot remain a country where BPOs are the primary sources of income for the people because the country cannot generate any job. The Philippines has two main careers - call center and government. Third in the career goals is becoming a singer or actor/ress so that one can dream of becoming a government official in the future. What a career path! Oh my God!

Invoking the full strength of the Lord, just for the sake of washing one's hands and demonstrating that one is "telling the truth" is a pathetic old practice that has eroded the faithful. Perhaps it is time that the Church bring back the punishment of ex-communication for those who use the name of thy God in vain.

Have we become so callused to the material things in life that there seems no end to the tunnel that Ate Glue has dug the Filipinos into? Honestly, may God help us!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Yuletide yet?

It's the last week of November and I still can't feel the spirit of the yuletide season kicking in.

Every year for the past decade, our house staff would be eager in putting up the Christmas decors right after All Soul's day. The furnitures would be rearranged, the tree would be dusted and ornaments would be cleaned. The traditional parol would be taken out of the box. I would try to find out what the holiday colors would be for this year so that new adornments to the holiday motiff would match.

For some odd reason, however, that feeling has not sunk in.

While the holiday "spirit" in all the malls in Manila officially started October 1 (with the Filipino penchant for the longest yuletide celebration in the world...as long as the month started with the suffix "-ber" the Christmas holidays have begun) and the official countdown on Philippine media begins on October 1, 2008, there just seems to be something missing this year.

I don't know if it has anything to do with all the corruption scandals the Philippine government is warped in or the fact that Mikey Arroyo, Ate Glue's son is initiating a charter change while his mother is still hot in her seat, or that the world economy seems to be deteriorating and that business in the Philippines has not been that upbeat (but it seems that we're doing much better than the US and European countries), or that the Philippine peso has deteriorated by almost 20% from a closing high last year where USD$1 = P41.50, it has dipped to P50 today, or that I just recently retired from the academe and am trying to find myself back on track with my life as a retired academician.

While there are several bazaars and tiangges left and right and jingling and jangling of carols and bells are ringin, they have not brought enough emoting to my tired spirit and has made me wonder - what ever happened to the Christmas spirit?

I instinctively went to Designer Blooms yesterday to have a floral arrangement for the house. First time I'm having the interior of the house decorated by a flower shop. It was my way of jump-starting the holiday spirit in me.

As to whether it will change the mood in the next week...well, I hope so...

Monday, November 17, 2008

PLDT and BPI - crashing!!!!

Over the weekend, up to the this blogging, I had no DSL (my internet service provider).

myDSL which is run by PLDT claims to be one of the most efficient ISPs. So when I got them as my ISP even though the P999 a month for 1mbps is the most expensive among the ISPs, the conglomerate PLDT must be worth it, so I thought. WRONG!!!!

Someone should slap Manny Pangilinan the silly so that he can probably awaken to the fact that his company is not performing well with the subscribers.

It has become a horrible nightmare for me to have to wait for my modem on my desk to have the light on the DSL side disappear. And this happens EVERY MONTH. There is not a day in a month that this does not happen. Every month...every month...I'm actually sick and tired of having to call 171 (PLDT's hotline) to report that my ISP is down or slow or retarded or whatever! Just so frustrating. And you can't even get a rebate from the days that you're inconvenienced and whent he whole system is out of order.

PLDT always informs me that there is no problem with the connection in the area. So that leaves me in the quandry that I may be the unluckiest subscriber they have - they come to fix the line, change the cables, change the modem...name it, they've done it!

I pay my bills through phone banking. I bank with BPI. Over the weekend, AGAIN, I was going to pay my SkyCable (Cable TV) through phone banking. Guess what? When I attempted to dial my telephone PIN, an automatic recording informs me that I have had several attempts and they are canceling the transaction.

My goodness! I thought the sky fell on earth that weekend. I scrambled to call the customer service but the customer service of BPI is forever!!! They make you wait gazillion years before you can talk to a human being.

Then when I got to talk to a humanoid, she tells me that I have had 10 attempts in the past (accumulated) and that it automatically blocks my ephone service. My goodness! I have never had a wrong attempt in the past and when I told her to give me the dates, she tells me that there are no dates, just an accumulated number which automatically shuts the system when I have had 10 attempts! Now isn't that the worst type of IT Department in the world? And it's a bank! Supposedly, one of the bigger banks in this country. But run by no-brainers....

So I have an overdue account and no thanks to BPI.

What ever happened to regular banking and what happens when the whole computer system in this country crashes? That will leave our bright boys who run the techie world in wonderland. Talk to the laptop or the iPod...it might answer you back.

Monday, November 10, 2008


On November 16, my partner and I are celebrating our fifth year of being together.

Five years.

I never knew what monthsary meant until I met my partner. Unlike many stories, we didn't hit it off well at our first "date". Our discrepancy in age seemed to be the biggest barrier of all. After a few months, we eventually settled into a relationship.

Like many relationships, each of them are different. They are similar though when it comes to commitment - seeing how we can sustain to make it work in spite and despite all odds. There is, however, no perfect relationship. Those committing to seeing it to fruition must understand the failures and successes that go together with it. And every day is a work in progress.

My partner has been a source of inspiration to me. Although much younger than me, his patience is a feat that I admire. Grace under pressure is something that I believe I lack. He's the person that I talk to when I have insurmountable problems. I only wish that he'd share more of his frustrations with me. But over the years, I've learned the fact that he is not the kind of person that would want me worrying over frivolities in life.

Five years.

Yup! We're still learning to explore a little more of life from each other. My world, his world...my life, his life...there's so much to talk about but the silence between our worlds is also the depth of our discovery of our relationship...

There will always be a part of me that will always have my heart tugging everytime I hear him, see him...and that part of me will always say - Thank You...for being part of me. This time, not in months, but in years.

And wherever the road takes me in life, I thank you for having been part of me. I look forward to more years together, not counting the times we've laughed and cried anymore, but being happy just the way we want to be.

Happy Anniversary Bubba!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Tidbits of farce, fart and Ate Glue in Wonderland!

After the US Presidential elections came to a quick and decisive close yesterday, the Filipinos in the Philippines who were glued to CNN awaiting the momentous decision can all go back and do what they do best...bash Ate Glue.

The other day, Ate Glue had commented that people should stop riding on the JocJoc Bolante caravan. She chided everyone for doing a political grand stand on the corruption issues that are hounding her. My answer - WHY NOT? Her fat ass is just sitting on these issues and she's not lifting a finger. Her never care attitude is nauseating and these people who're licking her p**sy are willing to stand the pungent odor as long as they rake in the millions.

1. The Euro Generals Saga - So the story goes that the Russian officials, through a letter to the Department of Foreign Affairs, are now inviting the wife of the head of the Philippine National Police General Versoza back to Russia, together with retired General Eliseo de la Paz. What's the Mrs got to do with the story? The PNP is mum on this, but wait, now de la Paz is also being asked by the Russian authorities to explain why there was still over 56,000 euros the asshole was carrying (which they likewise confiscated). De la Paz had a bright explanation - two Chinese friends had requested him to buy 2 very expensive watches which would cost arount 28,000 euros each. Bull! F**k the idiot! This guy should have just been assigned to Mindanao and tortured till death by the Abu Sayyaf and extremists.
From the way the story is evolving, the stories from the grapevine is that General Versoza's wife had actually carried more than the money found in the de la Paz from Manila to St. Petersberg. Of course, no one would inspect the wife of the PNP Chief on her exit from Manila. She had brought more moolah than you could count. The money was to wine, dine, dance and buy gifts for the other wives of the other generals that had gone with her. On their way back to Manila from the junket, the Mrs was caught with the cash that was left from their shopping spree (eat your heart out Paris Hilton as Mrs V had more moolah than what your dad left you!). Someone had to take the fall and de la Paz, thinking that since he was a general, could get himself untangled in the scenario at the airport. Too bad the Russians are more intelligent than the dumb pinoy bobo-cops! But the plot has thickenend...

2. JocJoc JocJoc I am sick - Best Actor in a Comedy is JocJoc Bolante. I hate saying it, but it looks like the doctors at St. Lukes are in this together. Tadahhh!!! Love them, hate them. No wonder the doctors end up getting stoned to death in this comedy-drama that you'd love to hate. They invoke the patient-doctor confidentiality, a.k.a. - secret! So while no one is talking, JocJoc's lawyers are busy buying time requesting for the Supreme Court for temporary injunction and so on and so forth. I guess it would have been better if JocJoc just proclaimed insanity and then went ballistic and shot himself in the hospital. Doesn't have to be fatal. Just do it! That way he can be sent to the looney bin where he can join his kin. Come on guys, this guy has a house in Ayala Alabang that is worth over 80Million pesos. His family says that they are rich even before he got the position as Undersecretary of the Department of Agriculture. They claim that he accepted the position because Mike A and he are friends and they go a long way back. Nice story. But no one would give a sh*t about his forum shopping to keep him out of jail. Ironically, the buying time drama is evolving like a true blooded Pinoy Telenovela there is never a timeline to end the story as long as other issues are present. With these two dramas that have evolved, it has become a tug-of-war for the Filipino people on which channel we are following. And the joke's on us!

3. Ate Vi to run for VP? OMG! - Ate Vi celebrated her nth birthday in style in her hometown in Batangas. The governor is just as charming and pretty as she was decades ago when she was part of the teeny bop group with Esperanza Fabon, Edgar Mortiz, Jay Ilagan, et al. In the birthday bash, she was asked if she was ready to become Vice-President of the Philippines in the 2010 elections and she said that she was concentrating on the here and now. Making a film was on her next agenda. Well, Gov. Sarah Palin, eat your eye glasses out because the Philippines has also its own version of you, except that Ate Vi is less ditzy than the governor of Alaska in the US of A. But wait, Ate Vi retorted that she has not thought about it well enough and well things can change...OMG...she can do an Obama! Maybe she can be president? God, just throw thunder and lightning and make the ocean eat up this country, if that happens.

4. Drug prices to drop? - So now the impelementing rules and regulations on the Universally Accessible and Quality Medicines Act (Cheaper Medicines) has been signed and the implementation will take effect soon. This includes the controversial tag line that all generic drugs will carry the label "this generic drug is therapeutically equivalent to other generic products with the same generic name. Signed - BFAD". So who's going to do the testing for these generic products? How sure are we that the requirements for therapeutic equivalence are actually met by the manufacturer or distributor? Knowing how many fly-by-night and backyard distributors there are in this country, there will be a massive increase in deaths due to lack of efficacy or safety of a drug product if the patients and doctors are not vigilant with the current scenario of drug production practice in this country. The only way this can be resolved is to bring back the death penalty. In China, the Food and Drug head was executed a year ago because of the poor quality of drugs in the country. We should subject of regulatory authorities with the same punishment if found guilty to approving drugs into the Philippine market without a bioequivalence/bioavailability test, when needed.

Remember guys - the most expensive drug is the one that doesn't work!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Anybody can

“If there is anyone out there who doubts that America is a place where anything is possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer,” Obama declared when he became the first black African-American to make history as the 44th elected president of the United States of American.

This shows the world that anybody can fulfill the dream of becoming King of the World, the most powerful man in the universe, or whatever name you want to call it.

I will not blog about how President Barack Obama did in his campaign nor how Senator John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin literally were signed off in this one-sided battle for the Road to the White House...that is history.

It's about celebrating! It is electrifying that Barack Obama, who symbolized every common man's dream, stood above all adversities, to become president of the United States!

Clearly, change is in the air...the future is ours to hold...and only we can become victorious in the midst of change when we do something positive to make things happen the way we want.

Wishful thinking ... will the Philippines ever be like this? Dream on....

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I went to the University of Santo Tomas, my alma mater since 1975 where I finished a degree of Bachelor of Science in Mathematics at the College of Science in 1979. From 1979 - 1983, I did my medical school AND my graduate school at the same university and finished in 1983 with a Doctor of Medicine and my academic units for Master's of Science in Applied Mathematics.

My internship program was in an army government hospital and I did 6 months of rural work immediatelly after my board exams while waiting for the results. In thosae days, automation was not yet a magic word and the magic wand would yield our results in about 6 months, after the board examiners had manually checked ALL the test papers!

I had gone back to the University upon invitation by Dr. Mario Zarate and Dr. Mauro del Casal, to teach medical/biostatistics in Pharmacology and Physiology in the medical school. After a year, I decided to take a leave of absence to pursue my residency in Pediatrics at the UST Hospital.

Four years of residency, and a fellowship program at the Boston University Medical Center,and later a scholarship from the Southeast Asian Medical Education Organization and The World Health Organization at Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand, had me realize the wealth of medical information I had unearthed.

In 1993, I rejoined the faculty at UST and continued teaching Pharmacology and Pediatrics. I rose from the rank of Instructor 3 to Full Professor in that span of time and held academic and administrative positions in the university. I am, so far the longest sitting editor-in-chief of the Santo Tomas Journal of Medicine (official publication of the Faculty of Medicine & Surgery, UST).

Teaching was like second skin to me. They say that teachers are born and not made. And that is so true. My students always gave me high ratings not only for my teaching ability, but my passion to teach and learn as well. UST was home to me for the past two decades.

Today officially marked my last day with the faculty of Medicine and Surgery at UST. I opted for an early retirement. Some of my friends feel that I will be a big loss to the university, but some university officials feel otherwise. Whatever and whosever feelings are or were hurt, is not the intention of this blog. We move on...

Today, I went to the medical school, held my last class at 7 am, did my last work at the journal office, saw patients...and as I left the office, my secretary for over 18 years ran after me to tell me that should I need anything, anything at all, not to hesitate to let her know.

I'm not good at saying goodbyes and with a heavy heart had simply closed the door, looked back at her and smiled.

Leaving the academe was a decision that was not easy to make. But life goes on and there is life after UST...

JocJoc Bolante...the joke's on us!

So Jocelyn "JocJoc" Bolante, the supposed mastermind of the Fertilizer Scam amounting to 728Million pesos ($15Million) in 2004 is back in the country called the Banana Republic!

If everyone will recall, the allegations of the Fertilizer Fund for the farmers was apparently used by JocJoc (sources have it was that FG had asked him to use the money to "spread" it around to government officials) to assure that Ate Glue would win the presidency.

Whatever! After so many years in the US, after the US justice prevailed on the escapist acts of Mr. Bolante where he was unable to use his money and influence to make sure that he stay in the US, he is back in the Philippines!

But wait. In this country of grease and monkeys, something was amiss. Upon arrival from a Northwest Airline flight from the US, he complained of chest pain (drama queen!!!) and tadahhhhh ... is whisked off to St. Luke's Medical Center (where the first family is observed to have many connections among its doctors and administrators). JocJoc suddenly has a room (suite, ehem...) ready and that's it folks - the poor guy needs to rest, he needs to be worked up, for health reasons he's shitting yet in his pants so he needs private time because he's stressed and anxious and damn this government.

You can't help but wonder how the drama unfolded and who the director and producer of this stunt is. But it's a no brainer that someone in the highest place in government had something to do with his being given the red carpet treatment! JocJoc WAS only an undersecretary for the Department of Agriculture. He wasn't an administration official that held the highest place in the land. Just like Garcillano (remember the Hello Garci scandal?), they were nobody! Nobody! I mean, how can anyone like JocJoc who's a mere undersecretary of agriculture, afford an 80M peso house in Ayala Alabang? Think about it. This government of GMA is so fu**ed up that you can smell the shit when the plane lands in this banana republic. What's so pathetic is that the middle class is more preoccupied with the economy and callused with all the graft and corruption of the government officials, the generals, and whoever has access to the coffers in government that they have been numbed.

So much drama! The Euro Generals being eclipsed by the Joke - JocJoc. And one episode not having and ending.

There is, however, a central plot - GREED! And so much of it!

Showbiz na showbiz si Ate Glue....and the Joke's on us.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Thieves...at a time of poverty

As this blog is being written, Ate Glue is in Beijing. According to the newspaper reports, while Ate Glue may not be popular in the Philippines, she is considered an empress in China. My comment - the Chinese can have her as their president. My dear Chinese comrade-in-arms, you can have Ate Glue!

Anyways, let's cut to the chase and let me update my readers on the state of the nation. F**k the people that run this country. The government officials in this banana republic seem to be enjoying sucking up to Ate Glue for whatever penny that can extract from her highness, since she has only a little less than 2 years left in office. So her court jesters seem to be in high spirits and even the honorable "tong"gressmen are just shitting in their pants, not minding the mess they are making nor smelling the shit they are emanating from defending the palace.

Let's see - the "tong"gressmen are flocking and f**king in numbers, creating an orgy of frenzy against the new impeachment against a sitting president. Of course, Ate Glue has already greased those that need to be greased, so the assholes are sitting and shitting pretty on their asses with all that b**lsh*t defense coming out of their mouths.

Aw common people. Isn't this the very reason why we deserve the kind of government we get? Why every Juan, Pilar and Pepe are flocking out of this country? Why we, as a Filipino race do not even deserve to be looked up to in international communities?

We allow ourselves to get trampled upon. We allow ourselves to be shitted on. We don't care how the people in government beg, borrow or steal. We are a pathetic race and we deserve what we get from whom we voted for. We go on our every day lives and demand from government to bring down the cost of fuel, electricity, basic commodities, rice, text message charges, medicines...yet I have yet to hear our country men rise up and demand from government, their moral ascendancy from all the scandals that are being charged to them.

The "Euro Generals" escapade is the perfect example. Why Ate Glue refuses to touch them is beyond my comprehension. It's probably the fact that there is honor among theives...and that is best exemplified by this case scenario.

Imagine that the money changer who had exchanged the peso into euros for General de la Paz, had come out to say that since early August of this year, the 6.9Million pesos was already with the generals because every week, someone would come to his money change shop to exchange for 3,000 - 5,000 euros - until all that 6.9Million pesos had been transacted! And the reasons that de la Paz had given, together with Puno and the other generals had varied from day to day. Now they are singing the song that they brought the money to Russia to buy spy gear and weapons ----- DUHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!??!?!!?!? Look who's being taken for a ride. Tweedle dee doo and tweedle dee dumb...

And because Ate Glue had stated that she puts her full trust in her generals IN SPITE of this glaring fiasco, which has Senator Miriam under full throttle against the PNP force (and I hope she does trash Puno to pieces), puts the moral ascendancy of Ate Glue in question. Why and whom is she defending? To the generals, their act of impropriety or theft, let's not be coy about the incident, is simply a "me too" act. If Ate Glue can steal from the coffers of this land, why not them.

In actuality, Ate Glue is to blame. She did a really lousy job at being discreet and she used the money of the Filipinos to cover up all those f**ked up deals she and her men made. At a time when more Filipinos are hungrier than ever, accentuated by the worldwide economic meltdown, it is despotic to be robbing at a time of poverty.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

M A C A R T H U R by Bob Ong

One of my favorite authors is Bob Ong.

His writing style is witty, funny and puts the reader right into the picture of his his short stories. His books were introduced to me by my nephew and niece. The very first book I read was A B N K K B S N P L Ako. It's like reading a text message. In Filipino, all the letters are read with an A in the end. The first book was downright humorous and I could relate to it.

His most recent short story is M A C A R T H U R. On my recent trip out of town, I got the chance to start and finish this short novel.

At first, I was taken aback by the language that he used here. Many may find it scandalous that he uses the words "bongaloids, pakyu, tangnamo, titi mo, putres, letse, bogsa,..." explicitly. But the book, written from an observer watching five friends who are drug-addicts, live in the slum area, come from poor families, and are criminals for a living is a realization of the human drama that comes devoid of funny antics. The grotesque way of life may be squirmish for the faint-hearted. But it should be remembered that the people whom Bob Ong writes about are just as real as every Filipino whose stories should be told. It does not push us to understand the travails of Noel, Cyrus, Voltron, Jim... but the stories of Noel, Cyrus and Voltron's families are ingrained in every Filipino family to some degree. And the sidelines are not spared. There is no melodrama here. It is a deviation from the humor that Bob Ong injects in his stories. It is a notch above his other writings.

What's with the title? Buy the book at Powerbooks Bookstore and find out why in the end.

Game of the Generals

The headlines called the 8 PNP generals, the Euro Generals, after the fiasco in Russia.

The 8-man Philippine contingent that went to St. Petersburg, Russia to attend the 77the Interpol meeting, embarrassed the Philippines when retired comptroller MR. de la Paz had tried to take out of Russia 6.9Million Pesos (105,300 euros) on their return trip over a week ago.

Instead of the government officials pacifying a mad crowd, it sent mixed messages to the Filipinos by "defending" the retired general from why in heaven's name he was carrying that much CASH with him.

The day after the news had hit local media, DILG Secretary Puno was seen scrambling to defend his generals, saying that it was an approved budget but to the tune of 2.3 and not 6.9Million Pesos. But Puno had to save face and thereby explained that the money was to cover for airfare, accomodations, allowance, food expenses and other "contingency funds". The next few days were more embarrasing because we had one general covering up another general and Puno flip-flopping on the flak that has been barraging his office.

First and foremost, I cannot help but be filled with anger. Anger because this government has made each and everyone of us look really stupid, if we were to accept the reasons provided as to why de la Paz still had 105,300 euros that were undeclared when he was exiting Russia!

You don't go right up to the airline counter and say, hey you, I'm buying a ticket to Moscow right here and right now. Nor do you go up to the hotel and say, hey buddy, you got a room for $200 a night? Give my 8 buddies and their wives a room each and I'll pay you in cash!!?!?!?!!? And when one of the generals DO GET SICK during the trip, you don't bring up that wad of cash at the hospital and say, fix him I've got the dough. And even if they claim that the money was to pay for the total expenses of the generals - why was there so much moolah left?!?!?!?!?

And this is not like the first time these generals are on a field trip.

These events take months of planning. Since the government knew that de la Paz was already retiring this month, during his trip to Russia, why did they still send the guy? You don't send someone who even if he undergoes training in a conference will NOT be useful to the police force any longer.

There are more questions than answers in this Game of the Euro Generals and unless Ate Glue do something about this dilemma that her generals are caught in, it makes more sense to let Sen. Trillanes out and put these generals in jail where they belong until they sing the right song.

They say that money can buy anything. So how much are the souls of our cops?

No wonder this country is looked down by foreigners in terms of graft and corruption. But you can always have Justice Secretary Gonzalez try to use his decrepit tongue and foul mouth try to salvage the President and her humpty dumpty men.

Election is about 1 1/2 years into the corner my friends. It is time change the realm of Philippine Politics.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

The Spa vs. The Mandarin Foot Spa

It was another Saturday.

Since the Mandarin Foot Spa had opened at the Casa Susana/Vicente Arcade at the Alabang Town Center area over a year ago, my family and partner had frequented this place. It provides great foot spa (and body massage - oil or dry, and silk facial service) at a reasonably great price in a delightful ambience. The only downside is that you could practically hear your neighbors (especially the Filipinos) talking or not silencing their mobile phones (so what else is new with the Filipino?). But the upside is the service and the bang for your buck. At P500 (less than $10) you get a 1 hr and 10 minute foot reflexology service, which will surely make your feet smile back and thank you for providing the attention it needed.

The wonderful thing about Mandarin Foot Spa is that they have Chinese reflexologists, who for only P180 ($3.50) more, would be the one to do the massage - body or feet or hands.

Yesterday, we had dilly dallied and made a reservation at the Mandarin Foot Spa, but canceled later, only to re-book. Unfortunately, the place was already packed, so off we went to The Spa which is located right at the Ayala Alabang Town Center.

The original spas among spas, I had not visited The Spa for over a year since Mandarin opened. It wasn't only because Mandarin offered a cheaper service. After trying out Mandarin, I swore that The Spa had mediocre service.

Nevertheless, our tired feet needed attention and well it's been over a year. Perhaps things have changed.

Much to my dismay, the service was not only mediocre, but a cheat. For P750 ($15), I was supposed to get 60 minutes of foot service. But the foot soaking took 10 minutes, and the massage a measly 40 minutes. The girls and the attendants were in a hurry to close up and so were making a ruckus in the massage room. My feet weren't smiling back and I swear that I wouldn't recommend The Spa to anyone ever again.

Sure, the ambience was far nicer than Mandarin, but the ambience doesn't take you far except for the ethereal mundane aspect of appreciating a waterfall in the waiting area.

Next time you guys need to get a massage and when you're in the south, check out Mandarin Foot Spa. I guarantee you better massage service than The Spa.

Friday, October 10, 2008

American Politics

Like millions of people worldwide, the world is watching American Politics unfold like a drama series on prime time.

A few months ago, the gloves were off to two candidates for President of the United States of American - Senators Barrack Obama and John McCain. As I would put it, a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea. A neophyte in the political arena, who happens to be black (nothing against his race my friends) and an old maverick, who happens to have been diagnosed with cancer sometime ago and is a staunch ally of the sitting unpopular president of the US, George Bush.

And we thought that the stage would end with these two slinging it out with one another at a time when the American economic crisis was dragging the global economy with it.

Then along comes Sarah Louise Heath Palin, current governor of Alaska, who is the vice-presidential running mate of Sen. John McCain. Rest assured that I was one of those who became an avid follower of the news, trying to find out who this woman is and where in heaven's name did she pop up from. As if thunder and lightning had not stricken the US, comes a woman who, after seeing all the interviews on television, seemed clueless about the world. Her likening governing Alaska to the United States and the proximity of Alaska to Russia as giving her credentials for foreign affairs matters is utterly brainless.

Okay, so the Japanese company that manufactures her Kawasaki 704 eyeglasses is using her pictures to sell their eyewear. And okay, the frame she wears looks good on her. Yet the $375 glasses (I didn't know that a governor's salary would cover for that expensive eyewear), doesn't cover up her seemingly clueless responses to serious questions.

If the Republicans are happy with her, well that's their choice. They just found a puncher to wham Obama, and Obama should not fight back this air bag.

But for Palin to be even considered running for VP of the US of A...has got to be an act of desperation for the American government. Really now, are we suicidal?

It's like the Americans are into masochism and flagellating themselves with even the thought of a ditsy woman like this running for the second highest office in the land. They are moving from purgatory straight into hell.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


Today's headlines regarding the economy of the world was not good.

The economic problem which began from a subprime mortagage on real estate properties in the United States had escalated to become a global problem. As of this blogging, it has now spilled to England and Iceland has melted away, so to speak.

The stock exchange plummeted in all sectors and this has thrown investors into a frenzy.

They say that the Asian countries are least affected from this worldwide problem, and the Philippine economists are beating their breasts with pride that the among the ASEAN countries, we were the least affected when the stock market dived for the sixth consecutive day in trading.

Okay, so we have the good news on the local economy in the business pages of every newspaper. Heads up with the peso not plummeting as rapidly as the other financial exchanges. But that's the newspaper or errr.... Malacanan Palace reporting. The government is pinning all hopes on the Overseas Foreign Workers (OFWs) for the coming Yuletide season. With the predicted surge in remittances, the financial economists predict that the peso will be buoyed up to P42.00 to the dollar (up from the current P47.75 trading as of this blog).

These are definitely not good times rolling. But if there is one thing that will not halt the Filipinos from doing, is spending for material things. The Pinoys have a penchant for showing off. I have a friend who works for the IMF and is based in Washington DC. She drives a Toyota while her Filipino maid drives a spankingly new Mercedes Benz!

In the Philippines alone, the gadgets are the yuppies best friend. Never mind if they don't eat the right meal or have medications for their illness, as long as they have the latest gadgets, that should make them happy...temporarily.

The other day, I gave a lecture together with two other prominent doctors in the field of Neurology and Cardiology, respectively. The cardiologist, Dr. Romeo Divinagracia who happens to be the president of UERM as well, said that part of the reason why statistics on mortality and morbidity for hypertension and heart attacks have not changed in spite of the advent of good drugs to control these are perhaps due to non-adherence to drugs being prescribed.

When it was my turn to speak, I talked about poor quality drugs that abound in this country and why patients turn to generic drugs. I have nothing against the latter, just the former. Poor quality drugs have no place in any market, because they can kill. Not producing the intended efficacy and/or problems on its good manufacturing practice can pose safety issues, which consequently become lethal to the patient. But the Filipino patient will NOT spend more for medications because they cannot boast of the drug. Besides, treatment of diseases is not drug therapy alone, but also non-pharmacologic (change in lifestyle, eating the right food, practicing healthier living, etc.).

So the stock market has crashed and the problem is global. Right now, the problem seems to have no light at the end of the tunnel...and I disagree with the government that the Filipinos are spared from this global dilemma. With a global meltdown, there will be no place for OFWs in countries that are suffering from the economic glut and the BPO (outsourced business) may get affected as well. As if this is not a double whammy that will slap us right in the face, the government doesn't seem to have a bail out plan when this happens.

Right now, we can only pray that this doesn't happen.

Back to work everyone...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The endorsers - part II

If there is one thing that I can not stand, it's people in media, who brag around a "holier than thou" attitude, yet practice the most deceitful form of advertising.

What am I talking about?

The other day, on channel 26 (Philippine Cable), I happened to chance upon DZMM radio, live on TV. DZMM happens to be the AM channel of channel 2 (ABS-CBN). What struck me was that they have this show called "Magandang Gabi Dok" (Good evening doctor), and they have a doctor whom they are interviewing over the telephone, for phone in questions by "patients".

These gullible doctors (I hate putting my colleagues on the spot) are really dumb! Not that they don't know what they're saying, but are actually conned into answering queries about patient's conditions on the air. Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against theoretical professorial antics by these doctor specialists who perhaps do not know what they are getting into. Perhaps, they want a little fame. But there is no greater fool than the fool that was fooled by a con artist.

The con artists? They are two radio announcers or DJs if you'd like to call them, who after interviewing the "gastroenterologist" on live AM radio, blast out advertisements and "endorsements" on how good Liveraide is for patient with hepatitis B infection or those who have liver problems. They go on adding on where it is available and the claim that it is absolutely safe! The other day, they had a "rheumatologist" live in the station booth and she didn't even budge when they blatantly advertised Arthrocin on the air. Right beside the clueless doctor. Clueless is a kind word to describe the dumb dumb. She even greeted her friends on the air! Ano ba iyan?

The temerity of these people! If you think the endorsements of the popular personalities are bad, this has got to be the height of ethical dilemma and malpractice.

These doctors should shut up and not put up with these con artists who get paid for the announcements and pronouncements that these supplements actually are drugs that cure. In fact, the government should just translate to the local language what the words "No approved therapeutic claim" is on the label of these supplements! The public should be guided by the local translation "Walang bisa itong gamot na ito"!

At the rate that the advertisements are going, it is no wonder that these supplements are selling like hotcakes at the detriment of the health of the Filipino people.

Someone, please shoot the radio announcer!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

My scholar

Her name is Cristal Joan Mediana.

I personally don't know her. And she doesn't know me, either.

Mrs. Diday Barretto had approached me last summer to find out if I wan interested in sponsoring a scholar in the Parish Preschool - Classroom Bagong Silang.

I had sponsored other students before, but never a pre-school child. And never one of dire charity. Without hesitation, I simply turned over a check and thought, what the hell, what was parting with a few thousand pesos? It was going to a good cause anyway. Times are hard and starting them young was probably a good idea.

A few days ago, I received a letter on my desk. My mom had put it there. I didn't open the letter until today.

Mrs. Barretto had written that I "would be happy to see the first quarter report card of my scholar...she was one of the 5 top students who graduated from us last March. The "thank you" card from her parents was heart warming and touching.

Strangely, I found out her name only today. She is now grade 1 and is in a public school. And she is doing great. Today, I felt glad that I sponsored a child and pray that somewhere along the way, Cristal Joan Mediana will do well.

I want to see her reach her dreams somehow, someday.

In the meantime, I shall remain anonymous and will continue this little work of charity and hope that one day she can "pay it forward".

Sunday, August 31, 2008

I'm in and I'm out

I had a 17 year old male patient admitted at the Pediatric ICU of a hospital. It was a case of ethanol/alcohol intoxication. The boy had a drinking spree with his friends with Cobra Energy Drink mixed with brandy and later on gin. The pharmacologic effect of the energy drink was immediate as all caffeine are. Because of that, the patient felt strong and thought that he could down more liquor later on. The peak effect of ethanol and alcohol set it much later. With more alcohol being downed, the boy had loss consciousness in a day and ended up intubated in the ICU.

In May 27, 2008, the New York Times had published an article entitled "Taste for Quick Boost Tied to Taste for Risk" (www.nytimes.com/2008/05/27/health). The article reports that "health researchers have identified a surprising new predictor for risky behavior among teens and young adults - the energy drink".

These super-caffeinated energy drinks come in various names. In the Philippines, they are more popularly branded as Red Bull, Cobra, Extra Joss and Lipovitan.

Side effects of the drink are linked to reports of nausea, abnormal heart rhythms, palpitations, sweating and ER visits.

"New research suggests the drinks are associated with a health issue far more worrisome than the jittery effects of caffeine - risk taking."

"In March, the Journal of American College Health published a report on the link between energy drinks, athletics and risky behavior with the associated of "toxic jock" behavior, which is a constellation of risky and aggressive behaviors including unprotected sex, substance abuse and violence."

In the Philippines, a product manager of mine who used to work for an energy drink company said that the biggest consumers of these drinks were not in the supermarkets but in the clubs. Kids who go clubbing are into this new cocktail craze - energy drink mixed with alcohol. The kick you get from the energy drink is immediate and when laced with alcohol, the inebriation takes effect long after the party is over.

In the US, the American Beverage Association claims that "its members don't market energy drinks to teenagers as the intended audience is adults". But in the local market where the buck stops when the bucks don't come in, the intended audience to the greedy marketing sector will always be - everyone!

All the energy drinks are not regulated and are available locally in even a grocery store. These drinks have many ingredients but some contain stimulants like guarana (which also has an appetite suppressing property), gingko and ginseng, amino acids, vitamins and most importantly caffeine.

The latter is a drug in itself and the higher content of caffeine should be classified as a regulated substance (as we should be classifying nicotine and alcohol). The caffeine content varies and a 12 ounce serving of Coke or Pepsi contains 34-38 mg caffeine. Red Bull has 116 mg! In the US, Wired X344 contains 258 and Spike Shooter has 428 mg of caffeine in 12 ounces.

"At Starbucks the caffeine content is 75 mg in a 12 oz cappuccino or latte or as much as 250 mg in a 12 oz brewed coffee."

Where's the fuzz? Energy drinks are served cold and hence are consumed in larger amount and more quickly that hot drinks that is sipped. The increasing popularity of mixing energy drinks with alcohol can make alcohol users feel less drunk, but motor coordination and visual reaction time are just as impaired as when they drink alcohol by itself.

"Dr. Mary Claire O'Brien surveyed energy drink and alcohol use among college students at 10 universities in North Caroline and the study published this month in Academic Emergency Medicine, showed that students who mixed energy drinks with alcohol got drunk twice as often as those who consumed alcohol by itself and were far more likely to be injured or require medical treatment while drinking. Energy drink mixers were more likely to be victims or perpetrators of aggressive sexual behavior. The effect remained even after researches controlled for the amount of alcohol consumed."

The story line is simple, as our youth engage in riskier behavior without taking into consideration their health. Media should be more abreast with issues like these, rather than emphasizing on ratings of the word war between Wilma Galvante and stage-mom Anabelle Rama.

As for my patient, he wanted to just be "in". Now, he's "out".

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Project

Now that my house is 95% finished, I can blog again.

It's kind of a good feeling to know that I'm living decently again. And of course, much poorer financially now, considering that I had to spend quite a sum OVER and ABOVE the budget because my interior decorator was giving my bank account a financial make-over as well. Oh well, after 35 years, it was time to give the much needed face lift.

I've asked my partner to bring his camera over one of these days and take photos of our new house. For the meantime, for those that have seen my old house, they seem to give a thumbs up sign for the make-over.

And now the billing starts. And it's time to sing the rhythm and the rhyme, "I owe, I owe, so off to work I go..."

It's a long weekend this week and next week, thanks to our economically deranged president who thinks that the economic holidays are the solution to this country's problems. Anyone who thinks that the little Philippines is tantamount to the US has got to be hallucinating. The traffic yesterday was hell! The Filipino is not known for being thrifty. As long as there's a holiday, off to the provinces in hoards and droves. And the tiny expressway which is likewise getting a face lift at snails pace has contributed to the expense of the middle class family just for gasoline.

It was mom's birthday the other day, August 15 and we had a little house warming even though it wasn't completely done yet.

The raves of her friends on the house were generally good. That was nice. But considering they were between 60-85 years old, they'd really find everything good. Hahaha.... They loved the bathrooms and thought my architect, Dindo Valdes did a good job. The house was, according to the mom of Anton Barreto, very Cocoy Cordoba. Of course, for people like me who didn't know these artistic flares in interior design, I left everything to the interior decorator.

The good and the bad of the project.

The good part is that at the end of the 2 months make-over, you get to appreciate a really new home.

The bad part I thought outweighed the good. For those into make-overs, remember not to commit the same mistakes I did.

1. When you get an interior decorator and you have no idea of anything, ASK. I trusted the interior decorator with all the quotations only to find out during the project that I would have to find my own carpenter, my own architect, that all the quotations did not include all the accessories to make the home look much nicer or like a showroom. And the accessories were simply beautiful, but the cost was much more than the cost of the furnitures he put into the house! And so you can just imagine how much it cost me.
2. Living inside the house during the who make-over was like living in Desert Storm. Now I know how the homeless felt. We were moving balikbayan boxes in crates and we filled about 15 boxes just for our personal stuff. Oh my God. After all had been done, it was like going through purgatory just unpacking them AGAIN and trying to figure out if it was gold, or it was trash. We're still sorting them out now and we're in box number 7.
3. Never ever get everything from the interior decorator. Well, he did the drapes, he did the wallpaper installation of the ceilings, he did the painters....and he fought with the painters...who did a lousy job and I ended up spending AGAIN to have the painting re-done. And the painters never came back to finish the work. And I was fully paid.

Lessons learned. I resolved that I shall never, ever have my house re-done again. I will just go buy a new one in the future.

As for interior decorators, I vowed never to get another one in a project again.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Cinderella and Lea Salonga

We were all psyched up to watch Cinderella which was for the Asian Hospital Charities last July 30, 2008. I got box tickets for the family and when the curtains rose exactly at 8PM at the Cultural Center of the Philippines, I sat back, relaxed....and dozed off.

Let's look at the positive side of the play. The set and costume design were good. The pumpkin turning into a golden carriage was the highlight of the show.

The downside outweighed the positive sides. The songs were unfamiliar and cheesy. While the stepsisters did justice to being twiddledee-doo and twiddledee-dumb, that's about the evilness they had because they were actually stupid oafs unlike the Disney characters.

Unfortunately for the audience, while Lea can sing, she didn't fit the role of Cinderella to a tee because of her height. I do not mean to be mean, but let's face it, everything can't just be about the voice. You need someone who not only can sing but must fit the role to a tee. Lea looked like one of those Filipinas that go off and marry a foreigner who's so attracted to Caucasians because of their wealth. And prince charming looked like a rice king.

The script was dragging. And it was boring. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz......

Was it worth the buck? If I were you, I'd just go ahead and buy the Walt Disney version on DVD and watch it. While Lea Salonga sings well, she doesn't fit Cinderella to a tee and that in itself made the whole play a disaster.

The consolation is that at least I donated to charity.

Sunday, August 3, 2008


So this is a late reaction to the president's State of the Nation Address last July 28.

While I waited for everyone to comment and give the president her "grade", I watched on the sideline the reactions and read the comments coming from the newspapers. My assessment of the reactions was that it was relatively a fair one. Of course, the people at the palace would always want to defend her positions on the current economic and political scenario. The bottom line remains that her best is not enough. Over the past few weeks the political row between Meralco and GSIS has reeled the ugly side of Philippine politics and business. Damn, this isn't something new, but we seem to be washing our dirty linen now in public. Bribery is nothing new in our country and knowledge of it being present in the judiciary is not surprising. I was taken aback that the Philippine Daily Inquirer was parading it in the headlines! FYI, whether it is in the lowly government employee, to the cops and robbers on the streets, to those who wear the religious cloak, to the highest officials of the land - bribery is a way of life. We have evolved into that stage that whether you put it in your face issue, there is no shame among those involved. What the public would want to see is whether those who get exposed get punished. Now that's a different story.

On the stand of retaining the 12% VAT, I certainly have no objections. As a matter of fact I have some suggestions.

1. Consider tax rebates. I would want to have a scheme where an individual tax payer is provided tax rebates on contributions to charitable institutions. We get an official receipt on this donation, example to Bantay Bata or Gawad Kalinga, and get a rebate on the whole amount for the other taxes we need to pay for the year. This way, I get to manage where the rest of my taxes go to, rather than to some seedy government official who goes on a junket trip or skims off money for some pathetic building he decides to build with low quality material.
2. Belt tightening on government. This means that government officials should do more belt tightening than us. For example, the gas guzzler back-up SUVs of senators, congressmen, and other executives should be removed and back-up cars should be limited to two. Perhaps a Chery or an Avanza would be sufficient. And the official cars allotted to the Congressmen should not be more than P750,000, while that to the Senators should not be more than P1M. No car should be more than 4 cylinders and none should be automatic transmission. Imagine how much this country would save just on government officials saving from the gas that is provided them care of the public funds.
3. Fixed income for public utility vehicle drivers. At present these people work based on boundaries. Remove the boundary they have to make and you will see better efficiency on the streets, with less traffic because these drivers will not make every corner a waiting station. In the meantime implement what should be there in the first place - if there is an MRT or LRT, there should be no buses nor jeeps nor tricycles as mode for public transportation. If the street is accessible to buses, jeepneys and tricycles must vanish. If the road is accessible to jeepneys only, tricycles must not ply it. In short, the tricycles have no other role but to provide employment for the many poorer Filipinos that are unemployed. See how pathetic this government is? And they say that there is gainful employment. Which leads to my last point.
4. Gainful employment means paying taxes in return. Make everyone pay tax, including the painter, gardener, carpenter, public utility vehicle drivers, vendors, sari-sari store owners, and the mendicants on the street! Every peso counts and since these form 70% of the "gainfully employed" the government claims, that's a lot of money!

On a side note, I have two weeks left and our dilapidated house will now get the spanking facelift finish it took so long to do. We're still living in the dusty place, but it looks like it's shaping up to look like a home. I'm looking forward to the finishing touches.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mamma Mia and The Dark Knight...at the movies

I haven't entered a blog for the past weeks because our house is being renovated. It's a daunting task and truth be told, I would never ever have this done again. My life is put on hold and I apologize to those whom I have found less time to be with because of this. It's not an excuse slip. It's just finishing what I started. Thanks for the understanding.

In spite of the hectic days of having to work and supervise the renovation of my house, I had time on weekends to watch Mamma Mia and The Dark Knight. Tired as I was though, my partner took time out to ease my tension by spending time with me...at the movies.

Mamma Mia

I have not seen the broadway version, but if there's anything that I can say for this movie, is that it's a feel good film. You just want to have a good laugh, kick back, and yup, for the older generation, enjoy the music and dance to the songs of ABBA, this movie was worth the buck.

Its synopsis is based on the story of Sophie who is getting married to Sky in a few days and the preparation is all agog. But who will give Sophie away? Her mother, played superbly by Meryl Streep (she can sing!) had flings with three men in her life, all in a row! And voila, Sophie stumbles into her diary, invites her three (?) dads and all mayhem and mystery breaks loose. The upside to the film is that the movie carried a light theme and the music and lyrics of ABBA made up the sequence and script of the film all together.

Who gives away the bride in the end? Watch the movie and have a good laugh. And yes, you can sing and dance. Just remember, that when the credits are running, don't get out of the movie house. You'll miss the encore!

The Dark Knight

Christian Bale is back as Batman and the final film of Heath Ledger as the Joker, before he commits suicide from a drug overdose in real life is now showing in cinemas.

There are two villains to this extra long Batman reel that ran for 2 hours and 45 minutes! Aaron Eckart plays Two-face, after the crime busting district attorney of Gotham City, Harvey Dent whose physical features get decimated after a mind troubling circus with the Joker and the death of Rachel played by Maggie Gyllenhall.

The film is most disturbing and I agree that Ledger's role as Joker has to be his finest shining moment as an actor. He gave his best for last. But the whole fantastic visual and sound effects of the film was eclipsed by a most disturbing story line and central theme that I thought this movie should be rated R. The central theme revolved around anarchy and chaos. Death and destruction. Deception and revenge. Children less than 13 have no right to view this film even if accompanied by adults.

You can tell how shallow minded our movie regulatory authorities are in this country. No nudity otherwise the film is axed and XXXd but a disturbing film like this is fine with a 5 year old as long as mom and dad who probably are as demented as the Joker accompany the brat.

Enough lambasting. You want to sit through the whole bang bang, you're dead or let's blast Gotham City and make the people die here and now and slit their mouths, then this must be your cup of tea.

As for me, Mamma Mia was the winner! As for Batman - back to the batcave boy!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Indie films...the road to gay porn

On the entertainment section the newspapers are various write-ups on the latest Indie films (which stands for independent digital production) that are showing at Robinson's Galleria or its affiliate malls that have a theater.

Strangely, the reviews are usually made by the gay publicists and weirdly, majority of the Indie films are nothing but soft gay porn movies which have mushroomed over the past few years. From "Bath house","Roxxxanne", "Duda", "Hugot", "Selda", "Sa Pagdapo ng Mariposa", "Paru Parong Rosas", "Sikil", "Daybreak", "Ang Lalaki sa Parola", "Serbis", "Masahista", "Ang Lihim ni Antonio" and the most recent, "Kambyo" are but a few. The underlying stories behind all these so-called "Indie" films are Filipino callboys, macho dancers, or masseurs - male prostitutes and gay men from all walks of life and their so-called "adverntures" and struggles (?) with life in the madness of the city.

They call it Indie films. I call it exploitation and soft-porn. There are so many stories that can be written, but the writers and producers seem to be "proud" that our gay films are being shown in theaters all over the world in various film industry contests. I find it pathetic and reviling that these so-called producers who probably got a hard-on filming the young boys who were more than willing to strip down and show their genitals on screen in order to get "stardom" exposure are labeling their "masterpieces" as a "work of art". Get real and get a life. This should be the mantra for the people behind the soft-porn gay Indie films as all the movies has no redeeming value and no story line at all. It's simply passionate heat and gay libido at its acceptable limits in the Philippine movie industry.

I'm willing to bet that if we allowed hardcore Filipino gay films to be produced and shown locally, the Filipino will come up with the most acrobatic sex act that the world's imagination cannot even fathom.

The many gay Indie films are highly reflective of the suppressed nature of the gay Filipino in a country that suppresses the iconoclast gay way of life because of the Catholic religious background of the Filipinos. Look at many of the gay fashion designers homes where they have large icons of saints and Sto. Ninos and Virgin Marys in their foyer, yet display debauchery in their bedrooms.

Enough said with it. Deni Rose Afinidad writes about Cinemalaya's Independent Film Festival and Competition and hits the bullseye in the final paragraph. To quote:
"One of Cinemalaya’s aims is to present “narrative features that articulate the Filipino identity and culture.” What makes Filipinos so interesting to people of other countries, really? We are not the Mayans, the Greeks; not even the Autobots, or the Decepticons. What’s unique about Filipinos can Cinemalaya really show aside from poverty?

While Cinemalaya’s objective seems idealistic and promising, until now, “Filipino identity and culture” in indies have come to mean nothing but poverty. Almost all of the festival’s past and present entries and finalists show poverty, if not about poverty itself.

Hence, we are garnering global sympathy, not global appeal, because of these films. if ever these indies receive lauds from foreign filmmakers, it is because these foreigners were sympathetic of Filipinos’ impoverishment; not that the film per se is worth talking about.

So really, what’s the purpose of Cinemalaya and independent films in the Philippines, if they aren’t the hope of the non-existent movie industry in the country?

As it turns out, the purpose of the festival, besides being the “laboratory” of aspiring filmmakers, is to impose control and be out of control—control from veteran filmmakers to new ones; out of control in putting as much ideologies and “symbolisms” only the filmmaker understands.

We really cannot see any motivation in trying to “invent” a movie industry in the country, other than make the young jaded and obsessed with filmmaking, so they’ll fill out our film schools and feed the pride and pockets of veteran, jobless filmmakers.

Independent filmmaking is nothing but an insecure, pretentious field; it can only eternally hope to beat Hollywood, but all it can be is to continuously spring false hopes for Filipinos.

It's now the home grown industry where the boys are gay and are romping around in the Indie movies, to gain access into mainstream cinema. The sad thing here is that even they too are given false hopes. Coco Martin, one of the main stars of all these gay Indie films rebukes the claim that he is gay. I can't say he is or he isn't but he sure is getting to like the flair of male to male sex on the screen and he does it with utmost gusto. And no straight male will want to bed around with other males "just to achieve stardom". And there are more like him; a dime a dozen.

The next screening is just around the bend. Expect more exploitative films that will stir the gay Pinoy's libido. As for now, we're just employing the young and the lustful and fulfilling their utmost fantasies as well. And we're giving the gay boys some skin for the bucks they pay at the movies.

Thursday, July 3, 2008


I've procrastinated having our house getting renovated. I attempted to have this done several years ago and as each year passed, I just waited for the right time. Is it now?

Well, I hope so. We started renovations a week after my birthday. You can just imagine how all hell broke loose when we underwent this renovation project as a birthday gift to myself. Sometimes I just wish I settled for the BMW or Audi that I wanted.

It's not a joke - emotionally, financially, and personally - because you've got to be watching every move the workers make. And it's really stressful!

We have a timeline and when we're done, I'll post pics on this site. In the meantime, sit back, relax (really?), and watch as a new place rises from where it once was. It's about time my 35 year old house got a face lift!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Letters from the heart

I am sharing with you two letters I received last birthday. They should be shared because they came from two really special people in my life - my niece Carla and nephew Charles.

I'm posting both their letters. At my age, they are my pride and joy. And I know that one day, they will succeed in life as well. Kids, thank you. My sister should be proud on how well she raised you. I can only watch from the sidelines now as I see you grow, knowing you're on solid ground. Strength comes from within the heart that loves and sees the good in what you do.

From Carla

Dearest Uncle B,

You are one of the best storytellers I have ever met. I'm sure all of your friends have once or twice been captivated by your sense of humor, how sarcastic it may be. Sunday dinner is never complete without your "kuwento" (stories).

But among your stories, I find YOUR story the best. Your journey to the top was not always a smooth ride. I know that there were many times when you could have just given up. Your determination, hard work and desire to provide the best for your family enabled you to overcome all obstacles.

Now that I'm about to graduate, you are my inspiration. I would also want to provide the very best to my family, even if it is just taking a little weight off the shoulders of mommy. I know that through God's blessings and you as my supportive uncle, I can make it happen.

Uncle, thank you for everything. Mommy always says that it is not your responsibility to provide for us. Yet you always do without complaints. Many people think that you are arrogant and self-centered, but I know that the real you is the opposite. Your endless kindness and generosity is something no man on earth can compare. Life would not be as fun and crazy without you.

You deserve to be where you are right now. May you continue to inspire young people through your work. May God grant you with even more blessings. I hope that someday I can return the kindness and generosity that you have given me. I love you very much.

From Charles

Dear Ate Charo,

Itago mo na lang ako sa pangalang "Soon-to-be Mr. Accountant".

Si Uncle B ay isang napakmalasakit na tao. Siya ay handang tumulong sa lahat lalo na sa kanyang pamilya. Siay ang tumutulong sa amin tuwing kami ay may kailangan lalo na sa pinansyal na bagay. Si Uncle B ang nagbigay sa amin ng kotse, laptop, computer, iPod at marami pang iba. Siya rin ang nagbigay sa amin ng oportunidad na makapunta sa iba't ibang lugar dito sa Pilipinas at sa ibang bansa. Si Uncle B ay tumutulong rin sa pagaaral namin, kasi nung hayskul ay siya ang nagbabayad ng aming mga libro. Siya rin ang aking "official school bus" ngayong nasa kolehiyo na nako, kahit na madalas ay nahuhuli na siya sa kanyang klase dahil hinahatid pa niya ako sa eskuwelahan.

Madrama rin ang buhay ni Uncle B. Parang Bahay ni Kuya. Naalala ko ang mga kuwento niya noon siya ay nasa Boston at nagaaral ng medisina. Hindi biro ang pinagdaanan niya para lamang umabot siya sa kinalalagyan niya ngayon.

Kahit sa kanyang mga kapwa-doctor ay handa siyang tumulong. Siya ang kumukupkop sa mga pasyenteng nagaagaw buhay at malala na ang kundisyon. At sa awa ng Diyos, napapagaling niya halos lahat ng kanyang mga pasyente.

Noong mga 11 years old ako, siya na ang tumayo bilang aking tatay. Siya yung pinakamalapit na halimbawa ng isang tatay noong mga panahon na naghahanap ako ng "father's image" sa aking buhay.

Si Uncle B rin and aking inspirasyon upang magtagumpay sa buhay. Gusto ko siyang tularan at maging matagumpay rin sa buhay. Gusto ko rin makatulong sa aking nanay tulad ng pagtulong niya sa kanyang ina. Kahit na si Uncle B ay napaka matagumpay na sa buhay ay nasa lupa pa rin ang kanyang mga paa.

Happy birthday! Nagmamahal,

Thursday, June 12, 2008


This week alone, three of my close friends are migrating. One to the US, the other two to Canada.

These are not people who are from the D and E class of society. They are middle managers in their respective field of endeavor. They earn more than P1M a year. And they are part of the new batch of Filipino citizens that are queuing to the lane called "EXODUS".

I will not venture to ask them why, but wish them good luck.

I understand why they did what they had to. At the turn of events in our country today, all the politics is hurting the economy of this country and the turn towards a financially unstable future in the light of the very high inflation rate of 9.8% is hurting every Juan de la Cruz.

Over two decades ago, the OFWs (overseas foreign workers) were mainly comprised of the poorer sectors of society. They were teachers who gave up teaching in public schools so that they can earn HongKong or Singaporean dollars. They were skilled laborers who traveled to the Middle East so that they can earn US Dollars for their families in the Philippines. Both parties made the ultimate sacrifice - parent(s) working abroad while the children are in the Philippines. Some have seen some of their dreams fulfilled. Others are still migrants of the world, finding their dreams in the midst of nightmares.

About 4 or 5 years ago, I had given a lecture during the annual convention of the Philippine College of Physicians and provided initial data of doctors shifting careers as nurses. While some in the audience agreed, the others scoffed at the numbers. Today, it has become the pride of the Philippines to ship out our graduate doctors who have shifted to a nursing course. And those taking nursing and pharmacy are a growing number, simply because of the enormous employment opportunities.

The inflation rate in the country has swollen to almost 10% from a 3.4% inflation rate same time last year. For the average worker who brings home a net income of P10,000 a month (with nothing saved), where does he get the extra P1,000 to circumvent the hardening economic times? The P20 increase of Gloria is a pittance because that would simply mean an added P440 a month in take home pay. He still lacks P560. And with the escalating cost of basic commodities, he will need to tighten his belt more. And health service will definitely be at the top of the list.

While the markets have locally grown compared to the same month last year, this is not because the market has become more bullish. There have been many players in the various markets. In the pharmaceutical sector for example, the deluge of generic bit players have grown in leaps and bounds, and with due cause. Consider the parameters of food, clothing, shelter, education and health care. Health care will definitely always be at the bottom of the list. And with the escalating cost of almost everything, belt tightening will begin with health.

These are difficult times. Even for those who have a little more, these are trying times. There are not much employment options in the country. And the queue to the international airport and out of the country is biting every working sector in the country. As the middle class takes the exodus now, the gap between the rich and the poor has become smaller and smaller. The middle class after all, serves as buffer to the extremes in social class. The middle class takes the brunt of the taxation scheme of this country. The rich have accountants that can shave off the billions of pesos they should be paying. The poor, well, the poor don't pay taxes anyway. So what's the use of including them in the discourse?

The government must be more palpable during these times. Mendicancy through doleouts by Gloria must be stopped. "Give a man fish and he eats for a day. Teach him how to fish and he eats a lifetime." It is with this saying that the government is trapped in a status where they cannot provide more job opportunities, nor decent livelihood programs, or programs where the government cuts down spending so that more funds can be appropriated to its citizens. It then results in inculcating a culture of mendicancy among its people.

The only light we see at the end of the tunnel, is the fact that Gloria's term is about to end. But the way politics is in the Philippines, it has become a way of life, a business venture, and yes, the reason for the exodus.