Category Archives: People

Positive Community – A World Aids Day Post from Davao City

Today, December 1 is World Aids Day.   In solidarity with all those involved in putting a human face to this affliction,  we feature a post contributed by Emmanuel Roldan about his encounter with persons living with HIV(PLHIV) and  what they are doing to increase awareness about HIV infection.

 

DAVAO CITY – One good thing about being in news writing is to be able to write about the lives of different people. A few days ago I interviewed three persons living with HIV (PLHIV); two gentlemen and a young lady. This activity was part of my internal program assessment commissioned by the Alliance against Aids in Mindanao (ALAGAD-Mindanao).

This was not my first time to meet PLHIVs, but this one was rather up close and personal. The 3 persons I interviewed,  were in their late 20’s and early 30’s. And contrary to our notion of them being skeletal and sickly, my new friends exude life, beauty and hope. They are no different from people I see everyday: those waiting for jeepney rides; those pushing carts in grocery stores; those swimming in pools or beaches;  and, those seating me in the church.

I did not bother to ask them about how they got infected. Rather, we talked about their lives as members of the positive community. Sometime in 2009 about 60 PLHIV formed themselves into what is now Mindanao AIDS Advocates Association (MAAA), Inc. with support from ALAGAD-Mindanao. The objective is to give a local face to the dreaded disease that has no known cure yet.  It used to be that the face of HIV and AIDS was represented by a former overseas Filipino worker in the name of Sara Jane.  But now, this group proudly stood on her behalf and those of hundreds more in Davao found positive with HIV. They want to tell the people about it and prevent them from being infected.  The latest report says Davao ranks second to Cebu as having the most number of HIV positive and their number is growing everyday.

Organizing the positive community is hard. Even my three friends who are now seasoned volunteer peer counselors of ALAGAD-Mindanao concur that they have difficulty in reaching out to PLHIVs. Most difficult are those who are still in the denial stage; those who are professionals and athletic type; those who belong to well-to-do families; and, those who are hiding the truth from their families and loved ones.  They told me that they too underwent the same stages in their lives after being diagnosed positive but later they realized that there is life beyond HIV and they have a mission to tell the people, particularly children and young people about their journey.

Definitely there is future for PLHIV because most HIV positive die from complications rather than from the virus itself, and we know that researches for medicinal cure of AIDS are underway.  I was moved by their candidness so I asked them about their frustrations and fears being in the positive community.  They told me that it could have been better if they had information about HIV and AIDS before.  With a smile on her face, the lady in the lady in the group said she was worried about what will eventually become of her looks and her figure.  They also stressed the need for family support and understanding of their situation as well as community support because HIV is not only an issue for gays, OFWs, sea fearers, prostituted men and women, but an issue for all sectors of society.

Correct information about HIV is a key to the prevention of being infected. Filipinos have yet to get rid of the stigma and discrimination that are associated with HIV and AIDS. I am happy though that the government is starting to show seriousness in the implementation of the national AIDS program and putting resources for its education, care and support with the help of private sector.  Creation of positive communities, like Mindanao Aids Advocates Association (MAAA), is also an important component of our care and support to PLHIV.  It is a way of strengthening them to overcome stigma and discrimination and to help educate the public about the infection.

Thank you and good luck to my PLHIV friends, to MAAA and to ALAGAD-Mindanao.

About Emmanuel Roldan:

Emi is my kababayan from Padada, Davao del Sur. We went to the same high school and were altar boys and choir members in our parish church. Today, Emi is a news editor/columnist of the Mindanao Gold Star Daily – a member of the Sunstar Group. Aside from being a journalist, he is also a development worker and a human rights advocate having served in various organizations engaged in human rights protection and development work. At work and at play, Emi was able to nurture his childhood love for music. He still plays mean tunes on his guitar and sings very well.

Emi can be reached via email at: emmanuel.roldan@gmail.com)

 

 

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What if Pacquiao Loses Against Marquez?

Promo photo of the Pacquiao-Marquez Bout

So what do you think will happen if Pacquiao loses to Juan Manuel Marquez this Sunday? Can you imagine a scenario like that?

A must win bout for Pacquiao
We all want Manny Pacquiao must to win convincingly in this bout against Juan Manuel Marquez. This is their third bout and Marquez has never acknowledged his defeat against Pacquiao. In fact, Manny has every reason not to fight the Mexican. He has everything to lose; Marquez everything to gain. But then again the lure of the fight day pay-out may be too much. After all, it means another millions of dollars to Pacquiao’s bank account.

Marquez has a fighting chance
To be sure, Marquez has a fighting chance to win over Pacquiao. First of all, he has every motivation to beat Manny Pacquiao.  He felt he was screwed in their first two fights, and this should motivate him to do enough in the ring to convince the judges that he, not Pacquiao is the winner the third time around.

Second of all, Marquez has the hand speed, an exceptional counterpunching skill and use his jab effectively against his opponents. Coupled with his reach advantage, he has a formidable arsenal that may help him secure a win against Pacquiao.

Finally, there are distractions that come Manny Pacquiao’s way today. Negative news has surfaced about Manny’s troubles with some accountants:  that Manny Pacquiao has some tax troubles which these accountants fixed, that he did not pay for the services of these accountants; and that he borrowed money from these accountants but refused to pay them.

So, can you imagine what would happen if Pacquiao will lose this fight?

What if Pacquio Loses the fIght?
For one, he will surely get the ire of the hundreds of gambling aficionados who bet their moneys on him. Never mind if they have already raked in a couple of millions from winnings in his previous fights. Just like a fighting cock, a boxer is only as good as his last performance. Try to lose and these bettors will blame him for every possible reason that they can think of as the reason why he lost the fight.

He may no longer have as many hangers on to watch his post fight concerts and celebrations. The hangers will be gone immediately after the post fight conference.

When he comes back to the country, he may no longer have the usual parade around various cities in the metropolis alongside some politicians.  A lot of politicians will avoid him. Several of his fellow congressmen will not even bother to thank him for the free plane tickets and hotels rooms he gave them for free.

There may even be a danger that the Arm Forces will withdraw the promotion to Colonel which was recently granted to him. They will simply cite as reason the questions raised by some sectors about his qualification for the rank.

Media will have a heyday analyzing why he lost. They will look at his family life, the state of his finances, his possible troubles with the US IRS, cases filed against him by his previous accountants. He will turn his life upside down just trying to provide explanations on why he lacked concentration for the bout.

Then everybody will focus on his training habits. They will point out his failure to prepare hard for the fight.  His many distractions: his TV show, media interviews, and various personal appearances. They may even mention his ambition to run for higher positions in Philippine politics. Mind you even his dog will be scrutinized.

Everybody loves a winner. The loser will be left alone to lick his wounds. Manny Pacquiao cannot afford to lose.

 

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If I Had My Life To Live Over

In many of the novels we read, or in movies we have watched, there are scenes of dying persons doing a monologue of what they would have wanted to do, if given a few more days to live or a chance to live their lives again.

At this time of the year when we commemorate our dead, I am sharing with you an article that Erma Bombeck wrote before she died. Erma is a columnist and humorist who has influenced millions of readers worldwide. She lost her fight with cancer in April 22,1996.

I hope you will get something out of this article.

 

20071229_sun, sea and sky_194 (Large)

 

If I Had My Life To Live Over

I would have talked less and listened more.
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.
I would have eaten the popcorn in the "good" living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.
I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed. I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.
I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.
I would have cried and laughed less while watching TV – and more while watching life.
I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.
I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.
I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.
Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner."
There would have been more "I love yous"…more "I'm sorrys"…
But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute…look at it and really see it…live it…and never give it back.

– Erma Bombeck

 

Now, why should we wait for our last days to say all these?  Live a better life now! But, If you were to write your own version of  "If I had my life to live over" what would it be?!

 

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Steve Jobs, 1955 – 2011

 

Today, the world lost a creative genius.  Steve Jobs died at the age of 56.

Steve Jobs changed the way we interact with technology and in doing so, he changed technology. He left his mark in so many industries:

  • the personal computers industry with Apple II and Macintosh;
  • the music industry with iPod and iTunes;
  • the phone industry with iPhone and iPad;  and,
  • the animation and the movies industries with Pixar.

 

Steve Jobs: Visionary, Entrepreneur, Icon

The man did not finish college, but was able to build a computer empire, and became a multi-millionaire.

He was fired from his own company but came back a decade later to save it and turn it into one of the world’s most influential corporations. And when he may have realized that his time is near, he paved the way for a smooth succession process.

His resignation letter when he stepped down as CEO of Apple, reflects the confidence he has in the succession process and the basic strength of the company he founded, saved, and nurtured.

 

“I believe Apple’s brightest and most innovative days are ahead of it. And I look forward to watching and contributing to its success in a new role.”

“I have made some of the best friends of my life at Apple, and I thank you all for the many years of being able to work alongside you.”

 

This will not be the last of my blogs about Steve Jobs. In the near future, I will write about the lessons I got from him as a visionary, and entrepreneur and an icon.

For helping make the way we do things easier  and faster, THANK YOU STEVE JOBS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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St.Matthew: tax collector, sinner

 

Bureau of Customs

DAVAO City – I came early in the morning of September 21 at the Bureau of Customs District XII Office located at the Port of Davao, Barangay Sasa.  This was my second time to be inside the compound of one of the most important revenue-raising agencies of the government. It  is also perceived to be one of the most corrupt.  (An insider told me their agency is in the fifth place.)  I learned later that the District XII Office has consistently surpassed its collection targets for about 10 years in a row.  Year-to-date collection level is already Php134 million above its full year target of about Php 5.2 billion.  A great feat indeed, but not many people know or even care to know.

My first visit to Bureau of Customs’ District XII office was sometime in 1988.  I was to pick up two boxes of used reference books donated by Oxfam-UK for our newly-established Halad Foundation, a voluntary organization for relief and rehabilitation of disaster victims.  It was only two years since EDSA,  so  I thought that the culture of corruption disappeared with Marcos in Hawaii. But I was wrong.  An overweight customs officer asked me to pay  US$450 for the release of the books. I was surprised because  our expatriate friends in Manila  had already paid for the freight and other custom duties for the books. The officer said he made the computation based on the tag price of the books which were in US$ and UKpounds.

I do not have U$450,  so I asked him to reconsider his computation. I insisted that those were used books donated by a charitable institution for charity purposes.  Later he came back with a new computation of Php 450 which I immediately paid thinking it was a fair bargain.  But on my way out, he brought me to a corner and handed me raffle tickets for a coronation event and whispered in the vernacular “donasyon po Sir para sa anak ko na kandidata.”

My second visit would be different, I thought. I was not there to get a package.  I was there to interview retired Brig. General Danilo Lim, the newly appointed Deputy Commissioner for Intelligence who was to fly from Manila to Davao that day for an unspecified mission.  Our Gold Star Daily publisher Mr. Ernesto Chu called me up a day earlier to secure an interview with one of the most decorated and colorful generals in the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

Deputy Customs Commissioner Danilo Lim

A  few years ago General Danilo Lim refused to be used as pawn by some politicians in the game called high corruption. He chose incarceration rather than tarnish the honor of his name and his command.   He is among the few men in uniform who have the guts to spill the beans, so to speak against the excesses of their high command, much more against their commander-in-chief.

There were no big billboards and tarpaulins announcing the visit of the number 2 guy of the Bureau of Customs. There were no banquet preparations either.  Instead, the people at the lobby of the main building were preparing for the 11:00 a.m. Wednesday Novena Mass for office employees. It appears that only a few officials in the bureau knew that he is coming over. General Danilo Lim sent me a text message confirming the date and time of his arrival and asked me to meet him at the customs office.

St. Matthew

While waiting for his arrival from the airport, I decided to attend the Mass at the lobby of the Customs Office.  I don’t know if  it was providential or not, but the Gospel of the day was about St. Matthew, the tax collector who later became an Evangelist and whose house was visited by Jesus to the dismay of the Jews.  For them tax collectors are sinners because they enrich themselves for their Roman masters. This is very much like how most people today view custom collectors and BIR examiners.  But of course the end of the Gospel spoke of Jesus’ mission of saving not just the good ones but also the sinners.  A sigh of relief seems to reverberate on the walls of the lobby.

A few minutes after the mass, a convoy of five cars entered the gate of the customs office.  Excitement grew when the bespectacled General Lim wearing his signature immaculate white short-sleeve polo shirt alighted from the black Toyota Land Cruiser.  He was led to the office by the out-going customs collector.  Later in the afternoon, we joined him to the container yard to open 17 confiscated vans full of smuggled cargoes of premium rice and assorted personal goods from Taiwan and the US. That was a good “buena mano” for Commissioner Lim and his local team at the Customs Intelligence and Investigation Section. That  morning’s “catch” was Php 21 million-worth of misdeclared goods.

Kudos to Deputy Commissioner Danilo Lim  and his local team. Good luck also to incoming district customs collector Atty. Martiniano Bangcoy who promised a “new beginning” for the entire bureau of customs family in Davao. We will be counting on you Sirs!

 

(This article first appeared on September 24, 2011 in  Emmanuel Roldan’s column Davao’s Peak at Mindanao Gold Star Daily (www.goldstardailynews.com) The author can be reached via email at: emmanuel.roldan@gmail.com)

 

About Emmanuel Roldan:

Emi is my kababayan from Padada, Davao del Sur. We went to the same high school and were altar boys and choir members in our parish church. Today, Emi is a news editor/columnist of the Mindanao Gold Star Daily – a member of the Sunstar Group. Aside from being a journalist, he is also a development worker and a human rights advocate having served in various organizations engaged in human rights protection and development work. At work and at play, Emi was able to nurture his childhood love for music. He still plays mean tunes on his guitar and sings very well.

 

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Lessons from John Gokongwei

The first time I heard about Mr. John’s “batel” adventures, was from my former boss and research mentor, Ms Rosie Chew. Rosie was Mr. John’s kababayan and she referred to Mr. John as Robinson. This was probably the name she used to call him when they were still growing up in Cebu. The other times I heard about him was via anecdotes shared to us by his niece and his executives during my stint as a sales and marketing  executive of a major network.

I was amazed by the riches to rags, rags to riches story of the man.  I was awed by how a “probinsyano”  became a major player not only here in the country but also in the Asian region.

About four years ago, Mr John delivered a speech to marketing and advertising practitioners at the 20th Ad Congress in Subic.  I am sharing this here because of the inspiration this story brings to me, and the key points I picked up from his speech:

  • When I wanted something, the best person to depend on was myself.
  • One must teach people to take over a business at any time
  • I succeeded because I overcame my fear, and tried.
  • Sticking to our philosophy of “low-cost, great value.”
  • Think bigger.
  • Create world-class brands.

This is the   speech by John Gokongwei at the 20th Ad Congress last November 21, 2007. I hope you will enjoy this and learn from it as I do.

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