My take of P-noy’s Year 1 in office

Pres Benigno Aquino III
President Aquino delivering his 2011 SONA

Daang Matuwid” and “Kung Walang Corrupt, Walang Mahirap” were two prominent campaign slogans of P-noy.  And now that he is the president, we expect him, his cabinet and other functionaries to  live up to these promises.

One year after P-noy’s  inauguration as  president of the country, I could say with confidence  that there is a conscious effort to fight corruption, although, efforts at the national level are yet to trickle down to the local levels.

And while there were black eyes  (the most prominent of which are the handling of the Luneta park hostage-taking incident;  the Leviste “escape” from Bilibid Prisons;   and, P-noy’s purchase of a Porsche), I have three first person experiences of change under this new administration that impresses me and provides a glimmer of hope for the future:

WANGWANGS:  In less than a month after the “no more wang-wang” statement of the president, I could only hear wangs-wangs when an ambulance or a fire truck pass by. Before the “no more wang wang” declaration, even barangay vehicles ran around with wang-wangs on. You can only curse and shout expletives as everybody and his mother who can claim connection to the powers that be  either counterflows or crosses red lights with sirens wailing.

The “no wang-wang” is a good example of how a simple act delivers a message so strong and so symbolic of what change means under the Aquino administration. It  defines every citizen’s expectation of other government officials. It sets the tone of how those in power should handle themselves, at least, in public.

LOG BAN:   At least in Quezon province, hardwood and other timber are getting scarcer.  Logs brought by the rivers to the sea during heavy rains and swollen rivers are now few and far between. A supplier of timber and cut logs from the mountains of Sierra Madre recently went to me to ask for advice on other types of businesses he can venture into.  He told me that it is now very difficult to get timber from his usual sources in Sierra Madre.  A year ago, his clients can simply tell him the quality and quantity of timber they want to order. With the right price, he will even deliver these to Metro Manila.

BUSINESS CONFIDENCE :   I have several business contacts and consulting clients who have either increased their current exposure in the country or have invested for the first time in the country.  Most of them are Filipinos. This is consistent with the official statistics which shows that investments rose 76% to Php162B in the first quarter of 2011.versus the same period of 2010. Moreover, Php140B of that amount came from Filipino investors — a leap of  211% from Php45B in the first quarter of 2010.

The business sentiment is one of optimism that the playing field will be more level in this administration. Bureaucratic red tapes at the national levels appears to have abated, although in some towns and cities in the country getting business permits still takes forever to finish.

To me,  the past 12 months were mostly foundation work, cleaning up, and reviewing. I hope that we will soon see  a Comprehensive Development Plan – something that puts in writing the socio-economic targets we will work at achieving in the coming years.  Definitely, we expect more action in the coming years, as the cleaning up and reviewing should give way to more action. Then we can judge whether he had become the type of leader we want him to become.

 

 

 

 

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What I Want from a Restaurant: How Kanin Club at UP-Ayaland Technohub Scores

Two tries before I finally got a table at this resto.  My first try was to get a table for two for a dinner meeting with a technical person who will give me pointers for this new hobby called blogging. I got into the place at 6:30pm, and  the tables inside and outside the restaurant were all taken. I was number 7 in the waiting list. I waited for an hour, but no luck.

The second time I went there was for a Sunday lunch with my family. We were there at 11:15am and got our desired table for five. A few minutes later, the place was already full.

I tried Kanin Club because of  word of mouth.  A number of friends said the restaurant offers a different take on some of the familiar pinoy fare, although I was warned that it is not for those who are seriously watching their cholesterol levels.  Live a little, I told myself.

So how do I rate the place?

On the whether the restaurant served  great food: I give it a rating of 3 out of 5. At Kanin club we tried out the following:

  1. Kinilaw na Blue Marlin – ceviche in a refreshing salad bed of radish and cucumber, with bits of deep-fried pork bits
  2. Itsi Bitsi –  sitaw, bitsuelas and sigarilyas sauteed with beef.
  3. Crispy Dinuguan— allegedly, their most copied signature dish. Its pork deep-fried to a crisp then set in a semi stew of pork blood.
  4. Crispy Tadyang –crispy and lightly seasoned beef spare ribs
  5. Plain rice

We liked the Kinilaw na Blue Marlin, although we would have preferred to have grilled bits of pork rather that the deep-fried pork bits.  The Itsi Bitsi was a bit overcooked.  The crispy dinuguan and tadyang, lived up to their promise.  We suspected that the kitchen was using MSG, as one of us got dizzy after the lunch – something that normally happens when she eats food with MSG*.

On service, my score is 4 out of 5. I can forgive bad food but I cannot forgive bad service.    Kanin Club @UP-Ayaland Technohub, obviously has trained persons for the job. They were polite and welcoming, and knowledgeable about the menu.  I  particularly like that we  barely noticed the waiters as they put down the plates and refilled our water glasses. They seemed to anticipate what we need next. Moreover, this is one of those restaurants where getting the bill and having our credit card swiped and charged is the fastest, at less than ten minutes.

On other things such  cleanliness, ambiance and the price, the score is 4 out of 5.


*Apparently MSG was the culprit. She came back a few weeks later and had lunch with friends. She did experience dizziness.

 

 

 

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A Homecoming Speech

Last December 30, 2004, I was invited as guest speaker during the 50th annual alumni homecoming of my high school alma mater — St Michael’s School of Padada. Here is a transcript of my speech. 

Dear guests, former teachers, peers and fellow alumni of St. Michael School of Padada, MAAYONG HAPON SA INYONG TANAN!

When Elma Ayop, and then Anna Binoya asked me if I would speak in today’s reunion, I was quite humbled, but more than that actually stunned.

Perhaps, the outspoken criteria to the invitation was beer belly size? Morag dili. Dili ang gidako-on sa tiyan ang basehanan kung kinsa ang guest speaker kay mas daghan pa man diri karon ang mas dako pa ang tiyan kaysa ako. Sa pagkatinood, isog-isog gyod tang tanan nga nitambong sa atong reunion. Kay wala man ta mahadlok nga magpalista bisan dagko na ang ating mga bilbil, sinaw na ang atong mga ulo, o dili kaha, kunot na ang atong mga agtang.

Allow me to be more pensive, this time. 50 YEARS – dugay dugay na gyud na panahon sukad matukod kining atong eskwelahan.  Mas tigulang pa gani kini kaysa kadaghanan nga mitambong ning atong homecoming. But in reality it doesn’t seem to be too far back in time.

In the years since we left the corridors of St. Michael’s School of Padada, through all the compelling changes that our lives (and bodies) have gone through, I look into the faces of everybody and I can say with conviction that everyone here is a SUCCESS. A success because our Catholic upbringing within the walls of this institution, molded us into individuals, who, by making a difference in the lives of a handful of people, that by struggling to be better than how we were when we walked out of the gates of SMSP.  We, in our own way,  have fanned the flames of the SWORD OF ST. MICHAEL and kept its fire ablaze.

Kasagaran ang sukdanan sa kalampusan ginatan-aw sa kadaghan ug kwarta, sa gwapo nga sinina, bag-o nga sakyanan, o kaharuhay sa trabaho ug panginabuhi. However, the Almighty Father, ang BIG BOSS ni Senior San Miguel, dunay lain nga sukdanan kung kinsa ang successful nga alumni sa St. Michael School of Padada. Para KANIYA, ang HULAGWAY SA KALAMPUSAN makita nato:

– sa mga amahan ug inahan nga adlaw adlaw nag trabaho para lang mapadala ang ilang mga anak sa eskuylahan.

The face of success is also seen in:

  • the brightest among us who choose to be civil servants, because they still believe in our institutions;
  • the honest public servants among us – barangay captains, councilors, mayors who lead with integrity, honesty and virtue;
  • the single parents who gave up their own happiness and needs for the sake of their children.
  • And, the businessmen and corporate warriors who have helped other people add value to their lives.

School reunions is a time when we reminisce the era that had made us the successful human beings that we are now.  Our years in SMSP were memorable years! We grew up in a single, God-centered community. Education was our ticket to a brighter better world. And probably for most of us, Education was the only way out.

It was a great time to grow up. We had no money, but we learned to enjoy what was available. We did not have television, electronic games and cellphones, but we were free to learn about nature and enjoy life through our physical activities and interaction with each other. We would swim in the beach, scale the slopes of Piapi, and hunt for spiders and make them fight with each other. We walked to school, and to the church, we played and picnicked in the open spaces, serenade classmates celebrating their birthdays. We raised gardens and chickens. We cut grasses with our own hands and made crude, simple toys.

Many of us were poor, but not poverty-stricken because we had a purpose. Purpose kept us going.

Think of the teachers we had in those days! They taught us to believe we are winners. They see to it that we learn to speak and to write correct and understandable English. They made us sing in ways we never thought was possible. They showed us the logic of math and the sciences. They gave us Spanish as a living language. And our principals and the nuns kept the school running. We respected and somewhat feared our teachers, but overall, knew them as friends we could trust.

Think of the confidence we had in each other. The students were the brightest, the girls were the prettiest. The basketball and softball players were the winners. The glee club and the church choir sang like angels. The school band and the rondalla played beautiful songs. We had the pride of the CLASS of ST. MICHAEL’S. We were proud because we knew hardships was just a step in making us self- sufficient. We did not grow up to be forever dependent on the dole or the goodwill of others. We were expected to be responsible, dependable and independent adults. We wanted to accept our roles in life, whatever those roles might be. We were poor growing up but we had purpose and pride.

One other thing we had, (though we may not realized it and might even had denied it at the time),  we had prayer. We clung to our prayers in those days. We had known life and death of friends and family. We had known financial and emotional trials. We had known fears and frustrations. We have felt fatigued and despair. The right and ability to pray, as we learned in school, has continued to sustain us through the years, and will sustain us the rest of our course.

We have entered into the 21st century and a new millennium since we left SMSP. Middle age is a nagging reality. We must tell our children and grandchildren, how, despite not having all the material comforts that are accessible now, we grew with purpose and pride and we continued through adversity with prayer. This is what we learned from St. Michael School of Padada. It is the same sense of purpose, of pride, and of faith that will bring us together again.

Even after 50 years, we still keep these flames ablaze as children of SMSP.

MABUHAY ANG MGA ALUMNI SA ST. MICHAEL’S!

 

(note: a transcript of this speech first appeared in   http://www.padada.com/PR2004/alumni2004_12.htm    a website put up by Czaldy Garrote and other alumni of SMSP)

 

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Hello world: My blogsite’s first steps

This is my first attempt at blogging.

My notes indicate the following things I initially planned as blog entries:

  • My take on anything that catches my attention during the week. It could be about people, places, things, and events. It could also include success stories and inspirational tales. My own story and other people’s stories.
  • I may also want to include here some of the own works published and unpublished — literary, my columns in a business daily and a monthly marketing magazine, staff memos during my stint in a think-tank institution, and speeches and lectures I was privileged to deliver to various groups.
  • How about the press articles about me? Good or bad, some of those write-ups have to be put in context.
  • And the notes’ last entry is this:
    • Define your audience. Write to and for them! Be genuine. Provide Value. Build a Culture!

Another set of notes summarizes what were discussed during my meetings with people I consulted before I started setting up this blog:

  1. The domain name: which is what I will  call the website or my blog.  For me, it’s wednesdayswithnic.com, for the simple reason that by Wednesday of any week  I could have written and uploaded at least one blog entry.
  2. The web host: some servers will have to host my website on the internet so that people can visit it. Funny, but I chose HostGator because it was the first hosting site I read via Google that doesn’t have that many  negative comments about its quality of service. (Of course, this remains to be seen. And I am sure to write about my personal experience via this blog!)
  3. A software that will help the blogsite – something that will allow a non-techie to add, edit and delete pages. I chose WordPress because it appears to be the biggest such service and besides, the HostGator package provided a quick install option in its control panel.

Today, June 28, 2011 I will have started my blogsite. I don’t know where this new hobby will take me. But for sure, I will work first on the appearance, background, themes, menu, etc…  of the pages in my site.

Another exciting beginning for somebody who planned to and succeeded in retiring from being an employee before the age of 50.

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