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Monthly Archives: September 2019

Rep. Nava’s hubris

“There are two kinds of pride, both good and bad. ‘Good pride’ represents our dignity and self-respect. ‘Bad pride’ is the deadly sin of superiority that reeks of conceit and arrogance.”

–John C. Maxwell

By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

THERE is only one explanation for the actuation of Guimaras Rep. Lucille Nava when she reportedly ripped Iloilo City Rep. Julienne “Jam-Jam” Baronda in a recent dinner meeting hosted by the House Visayan Bloc headed by rumored vice presidential wanna-be, Negros Rep. Albee Benetiz.
Hubris.
The Greeks call it as “excessive pride.”
It’s because of hubris why the gods punished Prometheus, who stole the fire and gave it to humanity as civilization, by bounding him on the mountain Caucasus.
Nava couldn’t accept that neophyte Baronda beat her to the draw and gained the attention of their male colleagues by proposing a plan to file a resolution calling on President Rodrigo Duterte to look into the plight of passengers crossing Iloilo and Guimaras.
Passengers have been finding it hard to cross the Guimaras strait like they used to enjoy due to the rigid rules imposed by the Philippine Coast Guard after 31 passengers died when two pump boats capsized one after another on August 3, 2019.

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Nava, wife of former Guimaras Governor and Rep. Rahman, considered Baronda’s plan as “interference”, thus she reportedly gave the 40-year-old Iloilo City solon the dressing down when they were alone in one corner.
Nava must’ve felt Baronda had overshadowed her especially when their colleagues in the meeting seemed to have appreciated the way the fresh congresswoman was showing her concern for people crossing the Guimaras strait.
Nava must’ve felt she should be the rightful person to float the idea being the representative of Guimaras.
But did she realize that some of those regularly crossing Guimaras and Iloilo are also Baronda’s constituents?
If Nava thinks Baronda’s plan is meritorious, she should collaborate and support it, not to run berserk
Legislators are supposed to work jointly for the common good and welfare of the people and not to compete and pull down one another.
If it is true that Nava chided Baronda because of that flimsy issue, it’s plain and simple bullying and conduct unbecoming.

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U.N. UPDATE: Mirrored classroom display highlights scale of massive education crisis
A non-profit dedicated to exposing the severity of the global education crisis has been inviting delegates to the UN General Assembly inside a tiny mirrored installation this week, to drive home the reality that around 260 million children are missing from classrooms around the world.
Beginning 22 September through the end of next week, the Infinity Classroom exhibition by non-profit, Theirworld, will sit in the UN Plaza, open to visitors. The mirrored room is filled with what appear to be an infinite number of empty school desks – representing the millions of children out of school every day.
The station is the centerpiece of Theirworld’s #WriteTheWrong campaign, geared at building awareness of the global crisis and mobilizing the political will and financial support that is needed to give every child a chance to achieve their potential.
Founder and Chair of the NGO, Sarah Brown, said on Thursday: “The world has the largest number of refugees and displaced people since the Second World War, half of whom are children”, speaking to UN News, on a panel for the UN’s annual discussion series, dubbed the SDG Media Zone.
“We owe them what we want for our kids – a safe place to learn. That’s why we’re calling on all countries and international institutions to make education a priority”, Ms. Brown said.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

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Posted by on September 27, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

SMC come lately

“Every project is an opportunity to learn, to figure out problems and challenges, to invent and reinvent.”

–David Rockwell

By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

LET’S make it clear: San Miguel Corporation (SMC) never categorically confirmed it would submit an “unsolicited proposal” to build the Panay-Guimaras-Negros bridge contrary to reports earlier.
It was Senator Franklin Drilon who asked SMC President Ramon S. Ang to submit the unsolicited proposal out of his frustrations that nothing has been heard of the project since the Duterte administration dangled the proposal three years ago.
Drilon and Ang met recently in Leganes, Iloilo during the groundbreaking for a new beer factory there where the Ilonggo senator made the appeal.
As a courtesy, Ang reportedly told Drilon he would look into the proposal.
To “look into” it was the most logical and proper answer for a straightforward and frank suggestion.
“Looking into”, however, is different from “has agreed to submit” the unsolicited proposal.
Drilon and Ang obviously were trying to be courteous and nice to each other, and some reporters took their conversations seriously and, to compound the matter, quoted both gentlemen out of context in one way or the other.

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SMC can’t just gate-crash in the Panay-Guimaras-Negros project which is being facilitated by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA).
If SMC is really interested, it can commence a different proposal probably after the first bridge has been finished (DPWH expects the project to be fully constructed in 2023).
That proposal should be for another bridge like one of the twin bridges now being enjoyed by the Cebuanos.
SMC can’t squat on the same project already “started” by the DPWH.
Thus it’s impossible for Ang to submit an unsolicited proposal for the same project in the same location when he is already aware of the existence of the one which is bruited to be part of the “Build, Build, Build” program of the Duterte administration.
If a project is initiated by a private sector it will have a different dimension and different mode of financial arrangements.

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U.N. UPDATE: ‘Childhood is changing, and so must we’.
Since its adoption 30 years ago, the milestone Convention of the Rights of the Child and its near universal membership has created “unprecedented international solidarity around children’s rights,” the Secretary-General said at a commemorative event an UN Headquarters on September 25, 2019.
The Convention is the most widely-ratified international human rights accord in history; a landmark achievement which meant “for the first time, governments explicitly recognized that children have the same human rights as adults”, UN chief António Guterres said, adding that the document put in the spotlight the “specific additional rights that recognize their special status as dependents.”
The high-level meeting at the 74th session of the UN General Assembly was geared towards celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Rights of the Child, highlighting progress made in the advancement of healthy and sustainable livelihoods, and a call to action for Member States to strengthen their commitments to the cause while recognizing new challenges.
To date, 196 countries have ratified the convention, with the exception of the United States of America, which has nonetheless signaled its intention to ratify with its signature.
Government actions and inactions, the Secretary-General noted, “have a greater impact on children than on any other group in society.” He urged all UN Member States “to give it their full backing.”
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

 
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Posted by on September 26, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

A game-changing SC verdict

“And here is the prime condition of success, the great secret. Concentrate your energy, thoughts and capital exclusively upon the business in which you are engaged in. Having begun in one line, resolve to fight it out on that line; to lead in it. Adopt every improvement, have the best machinery and know the most about it.”

–Larry Page

By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

AFTER a stunning 44-0-vote loss in the “Kangaroo Court” called the House Committee on Legislative Franchise on September 11, 2019, the Panay Electric Company (PECO) bounced back with news of a heavy victory in the Supreme Court (SC) decided on August 14, 2019.
SC’s decision to shoot down MORE Power Electric Corp’s (MORE Power) prayer for Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and writ of preliminary injunction against the decision of Mandaluyong RTC Branch 209 declaring as “void” and “unconstitutional” provisions of Republic Act (RA) 11212, which granted Enrique Razon’s power company the congressional franchise to distribute electricity in Iloilo City, was a victory more thrilling than the agony of the House committee on legislative franchise debacle.
It was like Rome, under consuls Paulius and Varro, which lost to Hannibal’s army of Carthage in the Battle of Cannae, a major battle of the Second Punic War in Apulia in 216 BC, but scored big when it defeated Greece in the Battle of Corinth in 146 BC.

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As long as franchise holder MORE Power can’t provide its own assets to distribute electricity, nothing can prevent PECO to continue with its operations to serve the Ilonggo consumers even with absence of a franchise, which expired on January 18, 2019.
PECO is empowered by law and was given the authority by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to ensure uninterrupted electric service amid the legal furor.
Congress gave PECO’s rival, MORE Power, the authority through a 25-year franchise to distribute power in the city through RA 11212.
The caveat is Razon’s company must secure its own facilities in order to run a power business instead of taking over through an expropriation PECO’s assets.
PECO’s “defeat” in the House Committee on Legislative Franchise can still be transformed into “victory” if PECO can eventually secure a fresh franchise in its next attempt (a bill can be filed a year after the recent denial, according to the law), while the Supreme Court setback for MORE Power could be the game changer that would finally provide light at the end of the tunnel for the lingering issue.

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U.N. UPDATE: NO TO HATE SPEECH. In the fast-growing digital age, hate speech can represent “a critical obstacle for LGBTI people” using online platforms, the UN’s top rights official told participants at a high-level segment on the matter on September 24.
“Unfortunately digital technologies have provided additional avenues for hate speech”, UN rights chief, Michele Bachelet, told participants, which included organizers from the LGBTI Core Group, Ministers, senior officials, and members of the media.
The high-level discussion at the 74th Session of the UN General Assembly, aimed to address how different stakeholders can contribute to ending hate speech against LGBTI people on social media platforms and in traditional media, as well as ensure support for victims, when hateful words turn to violence.
The meeting stirred conversation around the right to free speech versus the license to hate, for which Ms.Bachelet offered an objective definition:
“Hate speech is any kind of communication, in speech, writing or behavior, that attacks or uses pejorative or discriminatory language, with reference to a person or a group on the basis of who they are”, she said, quoting the UN’s framework and plan of action for stamping out hate speech, introduced in June of this year.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

 
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Posted by on September 25, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

City Hall wrong to pin down ‘enemies’

“Identity politics preaches a splintering of one large, collaborative group into competing vindictive ones – resulting in new, angry tribes whose central thesis is to not cooperate.”

–Greg Gutfeld

By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

IT is not healthy for city hall or any local government unit to start its administration by running after employees or department heads who did not support the current mayor or governor in the previous elections.
It’s a waste of time and resources; it’s anticlimactic and smacks of vindictiveness.
Like what is happening in Iloilo City today.
It is embarrassing that the first case Mayor Geronimo “Jerry” Treñas had to face since he assumed as city mayor two months ago came from a city hall employee, not from big time tax evaders or giant firms that have fought back after being ribbed for violating the city ordinances.
Instead of Goliath versus Goliath, what the Ilonggos are seeing in the front seats is a Goliath trying to eviscerate David, who fights back not for political survival but for his livelihood.

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The case, which hogged headlines, came from an employee reassigned from his original post to a dumpsite in Mandurriao district supposedly for having been identified as a political supporter of the previous mayor.
If the minions of Treñas or the city mayor himself are not embarrassed about this, I don’t know how they handle and absorb the news about this petty squabble that has spread around the world.
It’s like an intra-family quarrel that went out of control and the public is watching, hearing and reading eerie stories that should’ve been discussed and settled in the family’s living room.
Sometimes it depends on what kind of advisers that surround the city mayor; it depends on what kind of advice they give the big boss on how to deal with people who have been identified with the defeated Mayor Jose “Joe III” Espinosa III and are still working at city hall.
It appears that some of them have more ax to grind against some people inside the city hall than the mayor himself.
Instead of running after the perceived political decoys, they should run after the crooks and rascals. File cases against the thieves, the tax cheats, the fixers and the ten percenters.

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Mayor Treñas is not a vindictive type of leader.
I should know. He is one of the few Ilonggo leaders who don’t harass critical reporters.
His mind as a public servant isn’t barriotic.
I have not heard Treñas file a libel case against any journalist, but I know he was one of the most maligned elected officials even when he was still a city councilor.
Some of those not familiar with his management style mistook him as “suplado” (snob) maybe because he is frank and does not hide his feelings in public.
Who among the tormented candidates in the previous elections have the courage and honesty to cry literally and empty his emotions “live” on air?
Hours after it became crystal-clear he had won the bitter and nightmarish elections in May, he went on air and cried while being interviewed by Bombo Radyo anchorman Don Dolido.
I can’t speak the same for others, the mayor’s subalterns who are now calling some of the major shots inside the city mayor’s office.
By the way, a throwback in 1989: Mayor Treñas should be careful not to commit the same mistake made by then Mayor Rodolfo “Roding” Ganzon, who also allegedly harassed city health officer Dr. Ortigoza weeks after he assumed as city mayor.
Ortigoza sued Ganzon and enemies of the hard-hitting former senator, led by then local government secretary Luis Santos, used the Oritgoza brouhaha to slap Ganzon with a preventive suspension. And the rest was history.
It was Karl Marx who once said that “history repeats itself first as tragedy, then as farce.”
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

How about a ‘Karay-a’ in the U.N.

“Such is the endless dilemma of dialect. Not every reader will ever agree with the way that I handle it, no matter how hard I work to keep everything readable. But again it’s that balance I have to maintain between keeping it easy and keeping it real, and I know that I’ll never please everyone.”

–Susanna Kearsley

By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

I WOULD be in the United Nations (U.N.) headquarters in New York City when the 74th Annual United Nations General Assembly opened officially morning on September 23, 2019.
I’d be there as a journalist from the South East Asia or “the Third World.”
My primary duty is to listen to the speeches of state leaders and collect materials for my references and future articles.
I have no major role except to gather important facts and share the stories to my blog and newspaper readers.
More importantly, I’d help chronicle this great event, which unfolded this week against a backdrop of crises–from the warming planet to economic uncertainty to flaring conflicts that threaten to further entangle the United States in the volatile Middle East.
There is a myriad of global issues that don’t directly involve my country, the Philippines, such as trade wars, migration, energy supplies, climate change and the eradication of poverty underpin the basic themes of the 193-member General Assembly agenda, but, in one way or the other, will affect how the Filipinos will live and interact with the rest of the world in the next 10 years and beyond.

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Meanwhile, if were the Philippines’ representative in the United Nations (U.N.), I would speak in Kinaray-a or Karay-a, my second local dialect (the first is Hiligaynon).
It would be the job of the U.N. interpreters to translate my words; they have been translating in English some of the most grotesque and tongue-twister languages for decades.
Some of the most controversial state leaders in history who had spoken in the U.N. General Assembly didn’t deliver their speeches in English, yet the world listened.
Kinaray-a is one of the most colorful dialects in the world.
The Kinaray-a inhabit the coastal areas and riversides of western Panay, and interior of Panay island in the Western Visayas Region; and certain villages in Mindanao, according to the Ethnic Groups of the Philippines.
They are reportedly concentrated in the provinces of Antique and Iloilo. Hiligaynon, the language of the Ilonggos, was derived from the Kinaray-a language.
The Kinaray-a are striving to preserve their traditions, it added.
They have reportedly created their own kind of music called OKM (Original Kinaray-a Music), reminiscent of their melodic composos (narrative verses).
Their theme song, “Antique, Banwa nga Hamili,” expresses their love for their home, their banwa–the birthplace of a hardworking, brave group of people, added the Ethnic Groups of the Philippines.
In the 1940s, many Kinaray-a reportedly left for Mindanao, especially those without good farmlands in Panay, lured by the promise of bountiful fertile lands. Being industrious, those who settled in Mindanao established well-heeled communities and achieved great prosperity with their lands.
Regrettably, tension has been reportedly growing between the Kinaray-a and neighboring Muslim groups; who feel their lands have been unfairly taken by the Kinaray-a.
It’s about time the U.N. heard the Kinaray-a in its august halls.

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Among the issues that concern our Asian region during the U.N. General Assembly is how to resolve the conflict between Japan and South Korea, America’s key Asian allies.
Their leaders are reportedly not on speaking terms.
A protracted feud between Japan and South Korea, rooted in the legacy of Japan’s wartime occupation, has led to downgraded trade relations and the end of an intelligence-sharing agreement, reported the New York Times.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea are not expected to meet with each other.
Whether Mr. Trump can induce them into a three-way conversation remains unclear. And an objective shared by all three–North Korea’s nuclear disarmament–may see little or no progress.
While Mr. Moon is expected to urge Mr. Trump to renew his push for diplomacy with North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, no senior North Korean official plans to attend the General Assembly.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

 
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Posted by on September 23, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

‘Pork’ and the MORE problem

“In the confusion we stay with each other, happy to be together, speaking without uttering a single word.”
–Walt Whitman

By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

PANAY Electric Company (PECO)’s refusal to sell its assets to rival, MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power), is a clear sign that there’s still no light at the end of the tunnel in as far as the controversy whether PECO should be allowed to stay and continue serving the Ilonggos alongside with MORE Power, or the latter should call the shots exclusively for power distribution in Iloilo City and eradicate PECO is concerned.
Despite the recent shutout “win” for MORE Power when the House Committee on Franchises’ 44 members shut the door on the proposed bill granting a new franchise to PECO filed by a partyl-list solon, the situation remains frosty.
There is no clear victory with finality in sight yet for neither party.
In fact, MORE problem and MORE confusion have become the order of the day.
PECO is still fighting back; it’s exhausting all the available legal remedies to survive the Armageddon.
Like Israel, which is under constant threat of annihilation from surrounding Arab and Muslim countries, PECO is apparently prepared to release all its might in order to survive.

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PECO Corporate Communications Officer Mikel Afzelius has stood by his words that any other power distributor has “every right to put up its own facilities and run a power distribution business.”
The Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 37’s August 14, 2091 ruling granting MORE Power a writ of possession to take over PECO’s assets is still being contested in the appellate court.
MORE problem and MORE confusion means MORE litigation, (there will be) MORE attempts for PECO to get a legitimate franchise in the future (this can de done a year after the first rejection by the House Committee on Franchises, according to the law).
PECO’s battlecry doesn’t make them a contrabida in the eyes of the public.
It’s healthy, democratic, fair, and reasonable.
It only wants to co-exist with MORE Power; PECO doesn’t pretend to be a pot calling the kettle black.
The more the merrier, as the saying goes.
It does not agitate to wrest the franchise away from MORE Power, which has already secured its own in the bag.
PECO wants a separate slice of the pizza, not the entire plate.

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ILOILO’s decision to ban entry of live hogs and pork-related products from areas in Luzon and countries affected by African Swine Fever (ASF) is timely as it will help minimize if not outright prevent the spread of ASF in the city and province.
Experts in the United States have identified the biggest challenges facing the pork industry.
These are foreign animal diseases, the future of trade, and consumers’ fear of science.
The public’s fear and/or misunderstanding of science can and will reportedly lead to freedom-to-operate issues for pork producers.
It can reportedly impact decisions that policy-makers make; it impacts the decisions producers make on their farms–their animal health choices, their facilities-management choices–all of those things.
The culinary name for the flesh of a domestic pig (Sus scrofa domesticus), pork is eaten both freshly cooked and preserved; it is the most commonly consumed meat worldwide, with evidence of pig husbandry dating back to 5000 BC.
Curing extends the shelf life of the pork products and examples of the preserved pork are ham, smoked pork, gammon, bacon and sausage. Charcuterie is the branch of cooking devoted to prepared meat products, many from pork.

(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2019 in Uncategorized

 

Port of Iloilo isn’t Shanghai

“Every project is an opportunity to learn, to figure out problems and challenges, to invent and reinvent.”

–David Rockwell

By Alex P. Vidal442fa-13612173_10206678118334491_1779360806990529016_n

LET’S not be too excited to believe hook, line, and sinker that the Port of Iloilo in Loboc, Bo. Obrero district in Iloilo City, can be instantly transformed into a major international gateway once the International Container Terminal Services, Inc. (ICTSI) has finished infusing some P8.7 billion for its development program.
It’s not bad to dream big and wish for the magnificence, but even in day dreaming, there’s a limit and logical considerations.
We all, of course, welcome any development, expansion, or whatever upgrading program not just for the Port of Iloilo, but also for other major public infrastructures in Western Visayas, as well as in the entire archipelago.
We commend private sector initiatives like the one being proposed by the ICTSI, owned by billionaire Enrique Razon Jr., and exhort the government to provide incentives for those wishing to improve major public facilities that can help uplift the lives of the people and create major inroads in the local economy.
But, wait a minute.

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While we push for gargantuan developments, we must be realistic also with our expectations.
The proposed ICTSI project, now under review by the Philippine Port Authority (PPA), is eyeing “four development phases” that includes reportedly the “installing of ship-to-shore gantry cranes” and the “continuous upgrading of the yard capacity based on demand.”
Part of ICTSI’s plan is reportedly to build a cruise ship terminal that would cater to domestic and international tourists.
The project is expected to spur trade given that Iloilo is reportedly being positioned as a major exporter of agricultural goods once the Jalaur River Multi-purpose Project is completed in 2022 as emphasized recently by Senator Franklin Drilon, who supported the ICTSI project.
How plausible can a cruise ship terminal be integrated in a busy seaport that serves international shipping handling sugar and fertilizer shipments for international market?

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Which part of the port area’s 20.8 hectares will the cruise ship terminal be built without any prejudice to a number of shipping companies like Lorenzo Shipping Corporation, 2GO, Amigo Shipping Company, New Panay Shipping Company, Sulpicio Lines, and Trans-Asia Shipping Lines Inc that are also using the Port of Iloilo?
The Port of Iloilo is located adjacent a mammoth residential colony and a small industrial district. How will they be affected by the ICTSI’s project?
Port of Iloilo, a natural artificial type of harbor, can’t be compared yet to the world’s busiest and largest seaports like the Port of Shanghai, a deep-water seaport/riverport and the biggest port in the world based on cargo throughput that handled 744 million tonnes of cargo in 2012, including 32.5 million twenty-foot equivalent units of containers.
Port of Iloilo, which handles 491.7 million tonnes annually, can’t be compared yet to the nearby Port of Singapore, which handled 537.6 million tonnes of cargo in 2012, its container throughput has reportedly crossed the 30 million TEUs mark for the first time in 2012.
(The author, who is now based in New York City, used to be the editor of two local dailies in Iloilo)

 
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Posted by on September 19, 2019 in Uncategorized