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Monthly Archives: March 2017

Google it, kapitan

“Social media is not about the exploitation of technology but service to community.”

— Simon Mainwaring

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — We won’t be surprised if President Rodrigo Duterte will next invite detained Senator Leila de Lima to dinner after Vice President Leni Robredo.
The President might also invite in the future his chief critic Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and all those who have tasted real terror from his cussing and threats.
It’s another story if they accept the invitation.
After all, Judas dined with Jesus. Voltaire had a sumptuous meal with Catherine the Great.
The President has always been unpredictable. Let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.
The right had accused him of siding with the left when he allegedly made a “sweetheart deal” with Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Ma. Sison during the campaign period.
But when President Duterte terminated the peace talks with the rebels, their doubts about his being a pro-communist were gone.

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LEADERS of the smallest political unit in the Philippines are in the news nowadays now that there is a proposal that instead of electing them in October, President Rodrigo Duterte intends to just appoint 340,000 of them nationwide.
The number includes both the village chiefs or barangay chairs and council members.
The proposed appointment process is facing major legal obstacles, but whether they will be appointed or elected, it’s certain, barring unforeseen circumstances, that we will have new or reelected barangay leaders before end of the year.
We suggest to all those aspiring to become village chiefs to at least study the rudiments of technology.
It may not be mandatory for them to have college degrees, but in this age, they have to be at least technology-literate. Especially those living in urban areas.
Everything is now operated by technology — communication, transportation, monitoring systems, financial transactions, among other basic necessities and services.
They can expedite their transactions and important messages to their constituents, their mayors, and the police if they are updated with the latest wonders of technology.

SERVICES

Our village leaders will be left behind–and basic services will be delayed and stymied–if they don’t even know how to use or operate a smartphone, a mobile phone that performs many of the functions of a computer, typically having a touchscreen interface, Internet access, and an operating system capable of running downloaded applications.
There are instances when village officials can’t immediately rely on their secretaries like when a visitor suddenly goes directly to them to inquire about some important information.
With the use of Google in their laptops, tablets, or mobile gadgets, the matter is addressed with alacrity and dispatch.
It’s understandable though that there are incumbent village officials in far-flung barangays, or in places with no electricity and concrete roads, who haven’t even touched a computer.

 
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Posted by on March 27, 2017 in ELECTION, POLITICS

 

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An immense organism

“All through my boyhood I had a profound conviction that I was no good, that I was wasting my time, wrecking my talents, behaving with monstrous folly and wickedness and ingratitude–and all this, it seemed, was inescapable, because I lived among laws which were absolute, like the law of gravity, but which it was not possible for me to keep.”
–GEORGE ORWELL, A Collection of Essays

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — In a follow up to his ground-breaking book Gaia: A New Look at Life on Earth, James Lovelock, an independent scientist and inventor, describes, for both scientists and non-scientists, his new theory of evolution.
He explains how the appearance of life on Earth nearly four billion years ago irreversibly changed our planet so that life and the material Earth evolved together as a single system, Gaia, and not separately as conventionally taught.
Lovelock explains his inspirational Gaia theory in detail and outlines the history of the Earth from a geophysiologist’s point of view, from the first signs of life in the Archean to the present day.
He also warns us of the damage man is causing to natural ecosystems as well as the physical threats of greenhouse gases and depletion of the ozone layer to our planet.
In a forward note, Dr. Lewis Thomas, editor of The Commonwealth Fund Book Program, emphasizes that “most working scientists have an awareness and respect for the history of the fields in which they labor, but what they generally have in mind is a series of endeavors strung through the volumes of their specialized journals that are still held in the library stacks–not at all the much longer stretch of time and work that professional scholars would require for a proper history of science.”

MEMORIES

According to Thomas, it is not that researchers have short memories, but that “they learn and retain only the events that set their fields atremble in the first place.”
“And for most of science these days, perhaps all of it, the great changes that launched this century’s vast transformation of human knowledge began within this century, or at least seemed to,” Thomas explains. “The modern postdoctoral student in a laboratory engaged in molecular biology, for instance, feels no dependence on generations of forebears more than 20 years back.
“The contemporary physics may track their ideas back almost a century, to the beginnings of quantum theory, but it is the concepts emerging in only the past decade that are regarded as the real history. The cosmologists are out on totally new ground, looking in amazement at strange, unanticipated kinds of space and time, making educated guesses at phenomena far beyond the suburban solar system or the local galaxy, even speculating about universe bubbling out at the boundaries of this one.”

NEW WORLD

The editor believes that “we are, quite literally, in a new world, a much more peculiar place than it seemed a few centuries back, harder to make sense of, riskier to speculate about, and alive with information which is becoming more accessible and bewildering at the same time. It sometimes seems that there is not just more to be learned, there is everything to be learned.”
He points out that “this is far from the general public view of the matter, as reflected in the science sections of newspapers and newsmagazines. The non-scientific layman tends to take technology to be so closely linked to science as to be the center of the enterprise. The progress of science and that of technology seem to be all of a piece–machines, electronics, computer chips, Mars landing, nonbiodegradable plastics, the ozone hole, the bomb, all the rest of what now looks like twentieth century culture.”
What is so clearly seen is the newness of the scientific information itself, the strangeness, and, where meaning is to be discerned, the meaning, Thomas stresses. “There is a great difference between the intellectual product of modern science and the various technologies that are sometimes (nothing like as frequently as the public might guess) derived from that product.”

CLARIFY

The books in this series represent an attempt to clarify this distinction, as well as to provide a closer look at what goes on in the minds of scientists as they go about their work, says Thomas.
He concludes: “The book by James Lovelock describes a set of observations about the life of our planet which may, one day, be recognized as one of the major discontinuities in human thought. If Lovelock turns out to be as right in his view of things as I believe he is, we will be viewing the Earth as a coherent system of life, self-regulating, self-changing, a sort of immense organism.
“This is not likely, in my opinion, to lead directly or indirectly to any specific piece of new technology to be put to use, although it may very well begin to influence, in new and gentler ways, the other sorts of technology we might be selecting for use in the future.”

 
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Posted by on March 24, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Who’s telling a lie in the Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge project?

“It is not good to cross the bridge before you get to it.”
–Judi Dench

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — It’s a white lie.
I have serious misgivings on reports that Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Mark Villar had “confirmed” to Mayor Eugene Reyes of Buenavista, Guimaras that the construction of the much-ballyhooed Panay-Guimaras-Negros or Western Visayas bridge “will start under the Duterte administration.”
If Villar did say this, then he is phony.
Politician Villar only probably wanted to take fellow politician Reyes for a ride.
Without a latest feasibility study, how can a project begin?
Can a cart move ahead of the horse?
To add confusion, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA-6) Regional Director Ro-Ann Bacal reportedly said that the construction of the inter-island bridge “is among the priority projects of the DPWH.”
The proposed Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge is not among the priority projects of the DPWH this year, madame director.
Therefore, there can be no construction in the radar this year and in 2018.
It’s actually back to dreamland.

BUDGET

When Villar lobbied for DPWH’s P458.61-billion budget for 2017 before the House Committee on Appropriations in August 2016, the Western Visayas bridge was not among those listed in the country’s “most ambitious infrastructure program” Villar enumerated that would benefit from the expanded budget (the amount is P61 billion higher than last year’s P397.108 budget.).
DPWH’s priority projects are the following: Taal Lake Circumferential Road, San Nicolas-Sta Teresita, Alitagtag, Batangas; Gurel-Bukod-Kabayan-Buguias Road (leading to Mt Pulag, Bulalacao Lakes, Kabayan Mummies), Bokod, Kabayan and Buguias, Benguet; Cagaray Circumferential Road, Bacacay, Albay leading to Misibis Resort and white beaches in Albay; Tatay-El Nido Road, Palawan; Jct (Tagbilaran East Road, TER) Guindulman-Anda-Badiang Cogtong -Road leading to beaches and resorts, Anda, Bohol; Borongan, Llorente Closed Canopy Forest Area, Maydolong, Eastern Samar; and Island Garden City of Samal Circumferential Road, Davao del Norte.
NAIA Expressway; Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway; NLEX Harbor Link, Segment 10; Metro Manila Skyway Stage 3; Plaridel By-Pass Road, Phase II; NLEX Harbor Link, Segment 8.2; Central Luzon Link Expressway – PHase I (Tarlac-Cabanatuan); Cavite-Laguna Expressway; SLEX TR4, Sto Tomas-Lucena; C6 – Phase I, Southeast Metro Manila Expressway; and NLEX-SLEX Connector Road.
Candon City By-Pass Road, Ilocos Sur; Laoag City By-Pass Road, Ilocos Norte; Plaridel By-Pass Road, Phase II; Carcar By-Pass Road, Carcar City, Cebu; Palo West By-Pass Road, Palo, Leyte; Tacloban City By-Pass Road, Leyte; Cotabato City East Diversion Road; Alae By-Pass Road; and Davao City By-Pass Construction Project, Mindanao.
There’s no Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge project on the list, which would have eaten up an estimated 30 percent of the DPWH national budget.
Villar did mention, however, that his department was “studying the feasibility of proposed P21.67 billion Panay-Guimaras-Negros Island Bridge Project.”

LOBBY

The inter-island bridge project, conceptualized way back during the term of President Fidel V. Ramos, doesn’t have a detailed budget yet despite the spirited lobbying of the Regional Development Council (RDC) and almost all congressmen and women.
There’s also a misconception that China, which maintains a shaky relationship with the Philippines owing to its repeated intrusion in the Panatag Shoal, will fund the project that could cost up to an estimated P65 billion.
What Chinese Vice Minister Fu Ziying of the Ministry of Commerce and Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez had agreed, and which was covered by a memorandum of agreement (MOA) in their March 18, 2017 meeting, was for the Chinese government to help fund the feasibility studies of at least two of the nine Philippine projects China had pledged to support.
A feasibility study does not commence the construction of any project.
Last year during the Aquino administration, the government had also sought the help of South Korea to fund the project’s feasibility study, as revealed by Senator Franklin Drilon, to no avail.

CAUTION

Experts, meanwhile, have cautioned the Philippine government of the scale of risks in the provisions of megaprojects like the 23.19-kilometer-long Western Visayas bridge.
Nicanor R. Roxas, Jr., who drafted the Cost Overruns and the Proposed Panay-Guimaras-Negros Inter-Island Bridge Project, confirmed that the Western Visayas bridge project has been studied by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and DPWH with varying projected costs and designs.
The costs reportedly range from P53 billion in 1999, P28.5 billion in 2010, and P54 billion in 2011.
“This just reflects the uncertainties in cost estimation for this kind of project. Different designs and alignments have different associated costs, but even if everything has been finalized, there is still no guarantee that costs will not change. Unforeseen problems will be encountered along the way, and together with these problems are unpredicted cost adjustments that pile up resulting in large cost overruns,” Roxas warned.

EXPERIENCE

He added: “The Philippines does not have any experience in constructing a project of such magnitude. Thus, we have no formula for success, just like most of the other failed projects completed in the past.”

Roxas explained that “it is easier to enumerate projects that failed than projects which have succeeded. Therefore, it does not look promising and all the more the need to look into the experience of others in megaproject construction. It is clear that the effects of megaproject provision are extensive. If the megaproject construction fails, which is highly probable, other sectors are getting adversely affected.”
Roxas, a master of engineering specializing in Transportation Engineering from Chulalongkorn University, Thailand and member of the Transportation Science Society of the Philippines (TSSP) and the Philippine Institute of Civil Engineers (PICE), further warned that “it does not look promising and all the more the need to look into the experience of others in megaproject construction.”

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2017 in NEWS!!!NEWS!!!NEWS!!!

 

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‘Let no one ignorant of geometry enter here’

“The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future life.”

— PLATO

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By Alex P. Vidal

 
NEW YORK CITY –– Plato was 29 when Socrates died, but it is not known when he started to write his many dialogues (most of which we still have) featuring Socrates as their central figure.
Socrates had a profound effect upon Plato whose own ideas only become clearly distinguishable from Socratic thought in his later works.
He may have been in his 50s when he co-founded his school with the mathematician Theaetetus. The school was named the Academy after the legendary Greek hero Academus.
Though the Academy Plato hoped to provide a good education for the future rulers of Athens and other city-states. The subjects taught were philosophy, astronomy, gymnastics, mathematics and especially geometry.
The inscription over the door of the Academy read “let no one ignorant of geometry enter here.” Amongst his pupils was Aristotle who, like Plato, was to be one of the most influential philosophers who ever lived.

TANGIBLE

Plato (427-347 B.C.) believed that everything tangible in nature “flows.” So there are no “substances” that do not dissolve. Absolutely everything that belongs to the “material world” is made of a material that time can erode, but everything is made after a timeless “mold” or “form” that is eternal and immutable.
Why are horses the same? There is something that all horses have in common, something that enables us to identify them as horses. A particular horse “flows,” naturally.
It might be old and lame, and in time it will die. But the “form” of the horse is eternal and immutable.
That which is eternal and immutable, to Plato, is therefore not a physical “basic substance,” as it was for Empedocles and Democritus.
Plato’s conception was of eternal and immutable patterns, spiritual and abstract in their nature, that all things are fashioned after.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2017 in CULTURE AND HERITAGE, HISTORY

 

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Ilonggo solons not (yet) rubber stamps

“Enjoy your time in public service. It may well be one of the most interesting and challenging times of your life.”
–Donald Rumsfeld

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY — Even members of the Iloilo City Council are getting annoyed and embarrassed that Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog has become the most favorite punching bag of President Rodrigo Duterte each time the president unleashed his irascible wrath against some Liberal Party (LP) bigwigs.
So alarmed and disturbed were the city aldermen and women that they are now willing to help Mabilog collate the city government’s programs and/or accomplishments against illegal drugs and make a common stand.
They, too, must be hurting while seeing Mabilog reeling from absurd allegations that the city mayor, ranked No. 5 in the World Mayor two years ago, is a protector of merchants of prohibited substance.
Guided by an impermeable moral compass, the city councilors, led by Vice Mayor Jose III Espinosa, must have felt they could no longer afford to sit down and act like kibitzers while Mabilog was being pounded from pillar to post by a heavy bone-crusher.

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We still have faith with our representatives from Western Visayas in the Philippines even if their independence was recently subjected into a microscopic sleuthing by some of impatient constituents who thought their unanimous yes votes for death penalty was a tell tale sign of their implied subservience to the Duterte administration.
As if their acid test was not enough, our congressmen and women will again be tested in at least two major issues that will soon be tackled in congress: the impeachment cases versus President Rodrigo Duterte (already filed) and Vice President Leni Robredo (still being floated).
If they reject both impeachment cases (granting that an impeachment case will be officially filed against Robredo), their constituents will never badger them. Life must go on.
Ilonggos are known to always decry any attempt to destabilize the incumbent administration. If any of the two–Duterte and Robredo–will be removed from office, a power vacuum can’t guarantee a sustained or immediate political and economic instability.

NORMAL

If government is on wobbly legs, life for Filipinos will not be normal.
Nobody would want to have this kind of environment especially if our priority is to provide our children with three square meals a day and send them to school.
If our solons will reject one impeachment and support another, their constituents will suspect that they are playing political favorites and are not taking their mandates seriously.
The Ilonggo constituents will be watching you, Reps. Sharon Garin (Ang Asosasyon Sang Manguguma Nga Bisaya-OWA Mangunguma Inc.); Atty. Jerry Trenas (Iloilo City); Richard Garin (Iloilo, 1st District); Arcadio Gorriceta (Iloilo, 2nd District); Atty. Arthur Defensor Jr. (Iloilo, 3rd District); Dr. Ferjenel Biron (Iloilo, 4th District); Raul Tupas (Iloilo, 5th District); and Maria Lucille Nava (Guimaras).

 
 

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The Epic of Gilgamesh

By Alex P. Vidal

“We would like to live as we once lived, but history will not permit it.”
–JOHN F. KENNEDY

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NEW YORK CITY –– Alfred Adler’s “What Life Should Mean to You” will have to take a back seat to pave the way for the more realistic epic poem from Mesopotamia considered as among the earliest surviving works of literature.
If we want to know the real meaning of life, we must read The Epic of Gilgamesh, written about 1,500 years before Homer wrote Iliad and Odyssey.
Preserved on clay tablets and deciphered in the last century, The Epic of Gilgamesh is a story about the adventure of the great King of Uruk in his fruitless search for immortality and of his friendship with Enkidu, the wild man from the hills.
We can always raid all bookstores in the world and stumble into the latest research made by the best psychologists and even modern transcendentalists and existentialists, but none can compare The Epic of Gilgamesh, where it also narrates the legend of the Flood which agrees in many details with the Biblical story of Noah.

FRIENDSHIP

The story centers on a friendship between Gilgamesh and Enkidu, a wild man created by the gods as Gilgamesh’s equal to distract him from oppressing the people of Uruk. Together, they journey to the Cedar Mountain to defeat Humbaba, its monstrous guardian. Later they kill the Bull of Heaven, which the goddess Ishtar sends to punish Gilgamesh for spurning her advances. As a punishment for these actions, the gods sentence Enkidu to death.
This story comes from an age which had been wholly forgotten, until in the last century archaeologists began uncovering the burned cities of the Middle East. Until then the entire history of the long period which separated Abraham from Noah was contained in two of the most forbiddingly genealogical chapters of the Book of Genesis.

DISTRESS
The later half of the epic focuses on Gilgamesh’s distress at Enkidu’s death, and his quest for immortality. In order to learn the secret of eternal life, Gilgamesh undertakes a long and perilous journey. He learns that “The life that you are seeking you will never find. When the gods created man they allotted to him death, but life they retained in their own keeping.”
If not the best literature ever written, the cycle of poems collected that rounded the character of Gilgamesh that carried back into the middle of that age, deserve a place in the world literature.
In an essay, Arthur Brown wrote, “We read The Epic of Gilgamesh, four thousand years after it was written, in part because we are scholars, or pseudo-scholars, and wish to learn something about human history. We read it as well because we want to know the meaning of life. The meaning of life, however, is not something we can wrap up and walk away with.”

MEANING
To see for ourselves the meaning of a story, Brown said “we need, first of all, to look carefully at what happens in the story; that is, we need to look at it as if the actions and people it describes actually took place or existed.”
“We can articulate the questions raised by a character’s actions and discuss the implications of their consequences,” Brown added. “But we need to consider, too, how a story is put together — how it uses the conventions of language, of events with beginnings and endings, of description, of character, and of storytelling itself to reawaken our sensitivity to the real world. The real world is the world without conventions, the unnameable, unrepresentable world — in its continuity of action, its shadings and blurring of character, its indecipherable patterns of being. The stories that mean most to us bring us back to our own unintelligible and yet immeasurably meaningful lives.”

 
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Posted by on March 19, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

Jeepney operators acting like spoiled brats

“People want to see big, escapist fare. They don’t want to be challenged to think.”
–Harvey Weinstein

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By Alex P. Vidal

NEW YORK CITY –– Because of rapid developments in the countryside, international conclaves like the ASEAN Summit and APEC Ministerial Meet could now be jointly held in thriving Visayas and Mindanao cities like Cebu, Iloilo, Bacolod, Dumaguete, Palawan, Cagayan De Oro, and Davao.
Imperial Manila could no longer claim exclusive domain to host some of the gigantic international events now that infrastructure, traffic and tourism have improved by leaps and bounds outside Luzon.
Some of the world’s top hotel conglomerates have also expanded in the countryside, generating employment opportunities for local folks, and helping spruce up the local economy.
In as far as investment and toursim are concerned, this is some sort of renaissance for the hitherto “promdi” territories, which have been perpetually neglected and underestimated by past administrations after the EDSA Revolution.

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JEEPNEY operators in Iloilo City should stop acting like spoiled brats and consider the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board’s (LTFRB) recommendation of a P.50 jeepney fare hike.
The increase is for the first five kilometers in Western Visayas and Negros Occidental. Another P1.50 will be included for every succeeding kilometer.
The current fare of P6.50 will become P7 if the 50-centavo increase is approved by the LTFRB central office.
But the Iloilo City Loop Alliance of Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association (ICLAJODA) and Pinag-isang Samahan ng mga Tsuper at Operators Nationwide (PISTON-Panay chapter) are not satisfied.
They want another 50 centavos or P1.
They expressed their stand during the public hearing March 13 at the LTFRB-6 office in Barangay Tabuc Suba, Jaro district.

INSPIRE

They were probably inspired by LTFRB’s recent decision to approve a P1 increase on minimum fares in Metro Manila and in Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog.
They must be slabbering for a “uniform” increase.
But Iloilo City is not Metro Manila. It is neither Central Luzon nor Southerm Tagalog.
The LTFRB, after probably studying the increase’s impact on local economy and the capacity of commuters, dangled only a P.50 hike.
Jeepney operators should remember that most of them are also parents.
They are aware that LTFRB’s 50-centavo fare increase will result only in P7 fare for regular passengers of public utility jeepneys (PUJs) and P5.50 for students, persons with disabilities (PWDs) and senior citizens.
Their demand, on the other hand, would mean regular commuters will have to fork out a minimum fare of P7.50 and P6.50 for students, PWDs and elderly citizens.
A 50-centavo difference is still 50 centavos.

 
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Posted by on March 15, 2017 in NEWS!!!NEWS!!!NEWS!!!

 

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