Sunday, August 17, 2008

Mobile Phones and Driving: There Ought to be a Law

It is imperative for all of us to arrive safely in our destinations. It is everybody’s concern to be able come back to our families at home with an intact body—no bruises and no limbs detached. Not a single day pass by that we either read from the newspapers or heard over the radio or watched on the evening news on TV about accidents that occurred in the streets mostly involving vehicles and people and these happen at any time of the day. According to the Philippine National Police (PNP) data there is an average of 41 traffic incidents per day resulting in fatalities, injuries and instances of property damage. The report concluded that most traffic accidents are caused mainly by driver errors. The other listed causes of traffic crashes included vehicle mechanical defects, speeding and…what do you know—cell phone use! A lot of drivers whether they be private motorists or drivers of public conveyances are indiscriminately using their mobile phones while their cars are in motion as if they are in the comfort of their homes. The PNP data also stated that cell phone use while driving represented the highest increase among the causes of traffic accidents. It is estimated that cell phone distracted drivers are four times more likely to be in a car wreck including, of course, their passengers.

We do not want these to happen
A number of times I had encountered this kind of situation wherein the driver uses his phone and not just making or receiving a call—he’s texting. You can just imagine the distraction that goes with texting, the driver’s eyes on and off the road. All the time I had to remind these drivers that we passengers pay our fares to be brought to our respective destinations safely. If there is really urgency then he might as well pull over and have his texting done with. Sad to say these drivers still have the guts to arrogantly reason out and would only stop if you threaten to report them to the proper authorities. It is about time that the Philippine legislators pass a law the soonest possible time prohibiting the use of mobile phones or car phones by drivers aboard any kind of moving vehicle and there should be no exceptions at all whether they are public officials, the police, the military, the medical practitioners, etc. It does not mean that if you belong to the mentioned groups of people you will be less likely to be in a car wreck. We can always find a way to avoid accidents. Just remember: life is too short to be little.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Francis Magalona - Diagnosed with Leukemia

Who wouldn’t know Francis “Kiko” Magalona, the master rapper who has created his own niche in the Philippine entertainment industry and the first Filipino rapper to successfully crossover the mainstream? This lovable person whose youthful face has always betrayed his age (he is now 43) is truly an icon in his own right. He had composed nationalistic songs which young and old alike love to sing and made music videos for several local bands and solo artists. I just couldn’t imagine that this young energetic man had been diagnosed with leukemia. For me, that’s far from reality-- but it is true. When I heard the news, I could not believe it. I do not want to believe. I know what Francis and his family will be going through. It will be a tough battle for Francis. I know how hard it is to have someone in the family with leukemia. I know this for a fact—we had been there before.

Francis and his family will need all the support (financial, emotional, spiritual, etc) from relatives, friends, colleagues, fans and everybody to help them through the very rough sailing journey ahead. Most importantly, they have to know that they are not alone in this battle and this should give them the necessary courage and strength. I am appealing to all especially to those who will be able to read this short blog to pray for Francis and his family that they may be able to crossover this ordeal.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Team USA Road to Olympic Redemption

Coach Mike Krzyzewski and the Team USA Basketball

LET THE GAMES BEGIN. Today the 2008 summer Olympic games open in Beijing, China. In 2004, Athens, Greece hosted the games. It will be a tough job for the Team USA in their quest for gold redemption. The last time they won the gold was in 2000 Sydney Olympics. They had to content themselves with bronze 4 years ago. Are they going to have it again this time? Clustered in Group A are protagonists Argentina (defending champion), Australia, Croatia, Iran, Lithuania and Russia while in Group B Angola, China (host), Germany, Greece, Spain and USA. Main round of action will be on August 10-18. Quarterfinals are to be held on August 20, semis on August 22 and the much awaited finals on August 24. Good luck to head coach Mike Krzyzewski (his name I cannot memorize let alone pronounce right) and his team. To pareng Kobe and pareng Jason—go go go!!!

Okay friends I want to introduce to you the members of the Team USA basketball to the Beijing 2008 summer Olympics. Here they are:

Team members are 4 Carlos Boozer, 5 Jason Kidd, 6 Lebron James, 7 Deron Williams, 8 Michael Redd, 9 Dwayne Wade, 10 Kobe Bryant, 11 Dwight Howard, 12 Chris Bosh, 13 Chris Paul, 14 Tayshaun Prince, and 15 Carmelo Anthony.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Kapamilya: Deal or No Deal

I turned on the television set and there it was the banker’s offer was PhP600,000. There were only 3 remaining briefcases with the corresponding amounts of PhP300, PhP500,000 and PhP2M. Game show host Kris Aquino asked, “Deal or no deal?”

This is a scene from the local television game show “Kapamilya: Deal or No Deal” which largely depends on pure luck (or does it?). If the lady contestant accepts the offer she can go home PhP600,000 richer, if not (no deal) she will be given a chance to pick and open another briefcase—she opted for the latter. I whispered to myself, “Ow sheyt na malagkeyt this lady is pushing her luck too far!” The case opened and revealed the amount of PhP500,000. Now briefcase #23 which is with the contestant and briefcase #14 were the only ones left unopened. Which of these two will correspond to PhP300 and PhP2M? The banker’s final offer was PhP888,888. For the last time, Kris asked, “Deal or No Deal?” While the audience’s reaction was divided, the contestant’s members of the family stood firm and were shouting “no deal.” I, too, was shouting in front of the TV set, “goddamnit take the money and run!” The lady was adamant and explained that she was born on the 14th and is now 23 years of age (the numbers on the 2 remaining briefcases) like luck was on her side and she will be a millionaire this young. “No deal” was the response and Kris opened briefcase #23 and revealed an eye-popping figure of 300!

In making crucial decisions, more often than not, rationality is of vital importance. I mean, you know, if the 2M was in briefcase #23, fine she’s a millionaire but unfortunately it turned out not to be. If she accepted the banker’s offer she could theoretically have lost say a little more than a million pesos but going home with PhP888,888 would seem fair enough for a “half hour’s work.” As it was she went home with 300 pesos not even enough to buy a family size pan pizza.

Well, if it’s any consolation, 300 pesos is something out of nothing!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

What is a Relationship?

“It takes 3 seconds to fall in love. It takes 3 decades to get along.” These are the first TWO lines of a TV ad that got stucked in my mind. The first statement seems true and fascinating. The second seems true but very frustrating. Would it be better to fall in love in 3 seconds and get along, say, in 3 weeks and live happy for the rest of your life? Can you imagine after 30 long years of living together the partners or spouses have not yet come to terms? Surprising yet this happens—not to some but to numerous relationships. In a lot of cases this period is too much, too long. Sometime in between, the relationship fails and is somehow put to an end. For others who have the capacity, they elevate their cases in court for the annulment of marriage so both parties can go on with their lives separately.

The Americans cannot outsmart the Pinoys. If they have “irreconcilable differences” as ground for divorce we have “psychological incapacity”—unbelievably the most common reason used by local courts in annulling marriages. For me, such excuse for an annulment is ridiculous in the superlative degree. Individuals who plea “psychological incapacity” in exchange of marital freedom should then be required to confine themselves to a mental asylum!

To begin with, a person with a sound mental condition possesses a deep comprehension of what s/he just stepped into, in this case it is relationship and marriage. Thus the pertinent question, “What is a relationship?” It is simply a voluntary agreement between two parties to be involved with each other with the intention of starting a family of their own in the future. Probably the next most logical question to ask now is, “What is marriage?” It is simply taking a vow (of course, with your own free will) to spend the rest of your life with the person you love. This, however, requires affixing your signature on a legal document called marriage contract witnessed by your ninongs and ninangs. And does it end here? Of course not! This is only the beginning—the start of an intricate journey to family hood, you know—raising children—that kind of stuff.

Once I brought up to my family the idea of having the marriage contract renewable every year. Katulad ba noong contract sa pag-upa ng apartment. They would not want to agree with me. I told them that this would be to the benefit of both spouses. If the relationship is not really working and all efforts to straighten things out have been exhausted then all you have to do is wait for the expiration of the contract and be free. How do we deal with a husband whose favorite past time is bringing out the pugilist in him (a la Manny Pacquiao) and inflicting physical injuries complemented by verbal abuses on his wife? How about the wife who spends much of her time playing mahjong in her amiga’s house and virtually abandoning her responsibilities as a wife and as a mother to her children? Then there is also the issue of infidelity. The spouse can get out of the situation without the hustle of filing for legal separation or annulment. So much for the “dark side” of a relationship for this might give a second thought to people out there who have immediate plans of settling down.

Let us venture into the world of a successful relationship. I have no knowledge of any existing formula for this nor have I read one. It is at best, I suppose, to observe, play by ear, and apply a lot of common sense. Sometimes it is not always intelligence that plays a vital role in our lives. Sometimes common sense is more than just enough. Life is taking a lot of chances. It is, I might say, a gamble. We live in a world where taking chances becomes an integral part of our lives. From the moment we were brought forth into this world to the day we find ourselves in our final resting place, we gamble—we take chances. True enough, when we marry we take a lot of chances--we take a lot of risks. The least we can do, however, is to up the chances of its success.

When we talk of love it should be an unconditional love. It is expecting the unexpected. Your partner will only start to reveal his/her true color the day after your marriage. You take your partner who s/he is and what s/he is. It is akin to a product ad with the supporting line “where is, as is.” You cannot expect your partner to morph into someone you wanted him/her to be. This would mean a disaster. Give some; take some, after all marriage should be symbiotic. Give your full respect and you will earn yours. Trust your partner because the stability of the marriage depends largely on trust. Practice altruism—how I wish altruism is like a common cold that could infect each and every one of us then maybe we can have a “clean” government run by “clean” public officials. Maintain an open line (two-way as in two-way radio) of communications. If you’re wrong admit it, then make amends. Do not hesitate to forgive. As they always say, if God can forgive why can’t we? Give the best of everything to your children. You owe it to them. Remember, they were not given the opportunity to choose their parents.

Now, imagine this—you are old and gray walking on three (not two feet), one hand holding a cane and the other squeezing the hand of your long time partner. You stroll on the green grasses in the park approaching the famous “Nothing Hill” bench and then you both take your seats and watch the golden sun setting in the bay. In an instant came all your children and their husbands and wives and all their children. All your children, now all accomplished, staring at both of you—wishing they were all like you!

Would that not be a spectacular sight to see?

Note: I wrote this article in 2005 and sent it to the Phil. Daily Inquirer for their “High Blood” column and this was the response I got:

“sir wilfrido, thank you for taking the time to write an article for the inquirer. but sir, the high blood section of the inquirer only caters to those in their 60s (onwards). the editors are still trying to come up with a column for those below 60. it's been a long-standing rule sir and we cannot make any exception. --tin-tin ang”

I was only 54 years old then.

Olympic Notes

Muhammad Ali

Born Cassius Clay on January 17, 1942 Muhammad Ali rose to fame in the world of boxing. He was a 3-time world heavyweight champion and the greatest of all time. Ali’s famous one liner was “I am the greatest…I said that even before I knew I was.” At age 18 the young Ali could have missed the Rome Summer Olympics in 1960 if not for the continuous prodding of his handler. He was afraid to ride an airplane. Scared to death, he had to put on a parachute pack until the plane landed. He won a gold medal in the light-heavyweight division.

Mark Spitz

Mark Spitz was 11-time Olympic Medalist. He won 7 gold medals in a single Olympics (1972 Munich Olympics swimming events) a feat still unequalled by any other athlete. He set 26 world and 35 U.S. records. Born on February 10, 1950 Mark started swimming at 2 years old.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

State of the Nation Address (SONA)

Ginanap kahapon sa Batasang Pambansa ang ika-8 State of the Nation Address (SONA) ni Pangulong Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo na tumagal ng isang oras. Inihayag niya sa Kamara at sa sambayanang Pilipino ang mga nagawa ng kanyang pamahalaan nitong nakaraang taon at ang mga balak pang gawin sa nalalabi pa niyang dalawang taon sa panunungkulan. Nakakataba ng pusong marinig na mahal niya ang mamamayang Pilipino lalo na ang mga mahihirap. Nagmistula siyang isang butihing ina sa pag-ako ng responsibilidad sa kanyang nasasakupan. Ang talumpati niya ay nasisingitan ng panaka-nakang palakpakan mula sa mga dumalo sa plenary hall. Ang pinakamalakas na palakpakan ay nuong sabihin niya na ang texting ay way of life na ng mga Pinoy at nakumbinsi niya ang telecommunications networks na ibaba sa 50 sentimo ang bawa’t text (nguni’t ayon naman sa mga networks ang promo nila ay tatagal lang hanggang Oktubre 2008). May mga tao pang tinawag ang Pangulo mula sa galeriya na magpapatunay na sila’y nakinabang o umasenso dahil sa mga programa ng administrasyon. Binigyang diin ni Pangulong Arroyo ang kahalagahan ng VAT dahil ito ang nagiging pantustos sa mga gastusin ng gobyerno. Ipinangako rin niya na tuloy ang laban sa korupsyon sa lahat ng sangay ng pamahalaan. Marami siyang tinalakay sa mahaba niyang isang oras na pagsasalita pero dalawang paksa lamang ang nais kong bigyan ng malaking pansin. Ang una rito ay ang VAT. Tila baga wala ng pamamaraan para makalikom ng salapi upang ipangtustos sa mga gastusin ng pamahalaan kundi ang pagpataw ng sari-saring buwis. Ano na ang kinahinatnan ng ating mga likas yaman na iniluluwas sa ibang bansa? Hindi ba sapat ang kikitain dito upang malimitahan ang iba’t ibang uri ng buwis? Hindi nga dahil mas malaki pa ang ipinapasok na dolyar sa bansa ng mga Pilipinong naghahanapbuhay sa ibang bansa. Salamat sa mga OFWs at kahit papaano ay medyo naiangat nila ang kabuhayan ng marami-rami ring pamilyang Pilipino. At least nakasisiguro na sila ng pagkain sa mesa tatlong ulit sa isang araw. Nguni’t matindi naman ang kapalit ng mawalay sa isang pamilya at ito’y nangangailangan ng mabigat na sakripisyo. Ang pangalawa ay ang pagsugpo o paglaban sa korupsyon. Sa aking palagay ay wala ring kahahantungan ito hangga’t selective ang pagparusa sa mga naaakusahan. Minsa nga’y naiisip ko na i-legalize na ang korupsyon. Magtalaga ng maximum na 10% na komisyon sa lahat ng proyekto ng gobyerno na paghahatian ng lahat mula sa dyanitor hanggang hepe ng ahensya—sa ganitong paraan, everybody happy di ba? Talamak talaga ang korupsyon. Laking gulat ko nga ng mapanoon ko sa telebisyon ang isang dokumentaryo tungkol sa pangingidnap ng bandidong abu sayaf kasama ang isang mag-asawang Amerikano. Nagbigay ng ransom money na kapalit sana ng paglaya ng mag-asawa nguni’t sa kasawiang palad ang halagang nakarating sa abu sayaf ay bawas na at naibulsa ng mga taong gobyerno. Kahiya-hiya talaga ito isipin pa natin na naipalabas din ito sa buong mundo.

Waring hindi ko narinig na tinalakay ni Pangulong Arroyo ang situwasyon sa Mindanao o baka nawaglit lang sa aking pandinig dahil sa pagpunta ko sa banyo dahil sa haba ng kanyang talumpati ay di ko na talaga napigilan ang pag-weewee. Matagal na matagal na issue na itong kapayapaan sa Mindanao nguni’t tila wala pa ring malinaw na solusyon. Ang akin lang ipinagtataka ay kung bakit mayroong ibang bansa tulad ng Singapore na napapanatili ang mapayapang pamumuhay kahit na ang mga mamamayan ay binubuo ng iba’t ibang uri ng ethnic groups at iba't ibang pananampalataya.

Taun-taon na lang ay maglalahad ang Pangulong nakaupo ng kanyang report card. Nguni’t sa mga nakalipas na taon hanggang sa ngayon ay patuloy pa rin ang paglangoy ng mamamayang Pilipino kontra sa malupit na agos ng pamumuhay. Umaasang sa malapit na panahon ay makakamit niya ang hinahangad na kasariwaan sa buhay. Para sa akin, di ko pa rin makita kahit na sa susunod pang 50 taon ang pagdating ng tunay na pagbabago. Hangga’t hindi pa nagsusulputan sa bansang ito ang nakararaming maglilingkod sa bayan na isasaisang tabi ang pansariling kapakananan at isasakatuparan ang nararapat na gampanan ay malayong makamit natin ang ating pinapangarap. Samantala, walang pagbabago at tulad ng dati magtitiis pa rin si Juan dela Cruz. Good luck na lang sa ating lahat!