Friday, December 31, 2004

Quote of the day
"It does not take a majority to prevail ... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men." --Samuel Adams

Thursday, December 30, 2004

The Associated Press reports that wildlife officials in Sri Lanka were surprised that they found no evidence of large-scale animal deaths from the tsunamis — indicating that animals may have sensed the wave coming and fled to higher ground. Human corpses were all over the place, the report says, but animal corpses could hardly be seen. Either the animals had a sixth sense or they just ran faster than humans.
What a few minutes could have accomplished
Having grown up in a coastal town, I've come to think of the sea as an intimate friend. So when I saw video footages of the tsunamis pounding the coasts of Thailand, Sri Lanka and Aceh, I felt not only shock but a sense of betrayal, as if a friend knifed me at the back. For someone who has spent some of the happiest moments of his life along the shores of the Pacific, it's simply hard to fathom that the sea can be such a malevolent force.

A blogger from Sri Lanka relates that when the shoreline receded prior to the tsunamis (see satellite images from DigitalGlobe), children flocked to the rock pools left behind by the receding water. The survivors in Phuket also described their sense of wonder when they saw the receding shores. Had I been there, I probably would have chased the tides too. I can only imagine now; the receding shore lines would have yielded quite a sight! I've been to the sea at low tide and there are parts of the shore, those rock pools for one, where you can see starfishes, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, seaweed, kelp and other marine cratures. As a young boy, I've spent hours just staring at a starfish and watching it move.

What was tragic about this disaster (a disaster so huge some scientists are using the adjective biblical to describe it) was that US scientists in Hawaii detected the earthquake off the coast of Sumatra and knew that tsunamis were about to strike, but didn't quite know whom to warn. USA Today reports that e-mails had been dispatched to Indonesian officials. The American scientists, I think, made a major oversight: Nobody reads the e-mails during the holidays. The Indonesians are predominantly Muslims, alright, but I think they are also on secular holidays during Christmas, aren't they? Besides, if those Indonesians had limited inboxes and had yet to switch to the excellent Gmail service, the warning e-mails probably bounced and got lost.

The above ruminations may sound tongue-in-cheek, but the fact remains that there was a critical failure of communication. One survivor interviewed by CNN was saying that a mere couple of minutes would have saved thousands of lives. (In Thailand, apparently, a warning had been dispatched to resort owners, but the notice was ignored.) After this disaster, the communication infrastructure between what are supposedly collegial scientific institutions must be put in place. I wonder whether our own PAG-ASA has the proper communication channels.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Fellowship program for Fil-Ams
The Filipino-American Youth Leaders Fellowship Program is now accepting applications. Here are the application form (doc), the guidelines (doc), and the website.

The Filipino-American Youth Leaders Fellowship Program is an 8-week summer work program for Filipino-Americans who want to contribute to social development in the Philippines through firsthand exposure, experience and action.

Fifteen to twenty fellows that are bright, self-motivated individuals of Filipino heritage, who are proven and emerging leaders committed to ethical and effective leadership, will be chosen to participate on a summer training and work program in the Philippines. The objectives of the Filipino-American Youth Leaders Fellowship Program are:

* To make the fellows proud of their heritage by reconnecting them with their Filipino roots;
* To transform the fellows into advocates in the U.S. for the Philippines and Filipinos; and
* To foster a mutually beneficial exchange between the fellows, host organizations and host families.

The program includes:

* A series of workshops on the Filipino cultural identity; with visits to selected sites of historical and cultural interest.
* A meaningful, relevant work program with a host educational institution, a non-government organization, or a government agency. Fellows will be housed with a Filipino host family in their areas of assignment.
* Documentation by the fellow to enable him/her to impart the experience to other Fil-Ams in the US.
* Fellows, upon their return to the U.S., are expected to extend their fellowship by engaging in activities benefiting the program and the host organizations.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Web prowl
Time magazine elects US President George W Bush as its Person of the Year. Newsbreak recommends five money management books for 2005. Papers and presentations from the Better Air Quality (BAQ) 2004 Workshop (Agra, India 6-8 Dec) are now available at the BAQ website. Inside prison walls, an inmate sets his mind free through literature. The Economist has the past year in verse.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The passing of a man beloved
Watching the multitude of people mourning the death of Fernando Poe Jr, I remember President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who, when asked by Cheche Lazaro who her friends were, pensively said she had none.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Currently reading:

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
To see a world in a grain of sand
Over the weekend, with all the flurry of FPJ news emanating from Sto. Domingo and the fire at the Speaker's residence, it was quite easy to miss the most important story of all: the announcement by Google, the operator of the world's most popular Internet search engine, to digitize and make freely available the collections of the libraries at Oxford, the University of Michigan, Harvard, Stanford and the New York Public Library.

Google's project, of course, is necessarily non-exhaustive as copyrights need to be protected. The New York Times reported that:

Google plans to digitize nearly all the eight million books in Stanford's collection and the seven million at Michigan. The Harvard project will initially be limited to only about 40,000 volumes. The scanning at Bodleian Library at Oxford will be limited to an unspecified number of books published before 1900, while the New York Public Library project will involve fragile material not under copyright that library officials said would be of interest primarily to scholars.

Still, Google's digitization project is a momentous step--the biggest so far--toward a vision close to the heart of every computer nerd: the world liberation of human knowledge. It would be no stretch to say that we are at a critical juncture in the history of the dissemination of knowledge, perhaps as critical as that episode when Gutenberg started printing or when the Holy Bible was translated into the vernacular. It's mind-boggling to imagine the possible political repercussions of an online reading room accessible to anyone with internet access.

Google is already reaping praises in the superlative. And deservedly so. The last time mankind attempted an effort comparable to Google's project was when Ptolemy I set up the library in Alexandria, which was meant to hold every book on every imaginable subject. Tech Central Station asks: Is Google God? Not content with the presumptuous (and sacrilegious) question, the article also compared Google's effort to that of the legendary Prometheus, the god who stole fire from heaven for the benefit of men. Yet some people are wary of Google's ambition and point out the lesson of the Tower of Babel in the Bible: that it is human folly to desire and attempt intellectual omniscience.

We have to cross our fingers and wait to see how all this will play out in the coming years. Two cheers for Google for now!

Monday, December 20, 2004

Call for papers
Kasalukuyan na pong tumatanggap ng mga pananaliksik, pagsusuri, at rebyu para sa ikalawang isyu ng Lagda: Opisyal na Journal ng Departamento ng Filipino at Panitikan ng Pilipinas. Paksain ng inihahandang publikasyon sa panitikan, sekswalidad, at kasarian; panitikan at kulturang popular; at panitikang popular. Nilalayon ng isyu na itanghal ang mga bagong pag-aaral ukol sa mga nabanggit. Magsisilbi rin itong kapanabay na babasahin ng mga mag-aaral sa ating kursong Pan Pil 19 at Pan Pil 17.

Narito ang mga suhestiyon ng lupon ng mga editor kaugnay sa mga paksang maaaring talakayin:

1. Bagong Popular na babasahin ukol sa Kasarian at Sexualidad (gay magasin, metrosexuality, male studies, queer theory, dulang Penis Talks at Hipo, aklat ng wastong pag-uugali ng mga bakla "The Library Foundation", at mga bagong-lathalang a ng mga lesbiyana at bakla sa bansa)
2. Mga Bagong Chic Literature (nobela ng Cosmopolitan Philippines, etc.)
3. Programang Pantasya o Fantaserye (Mulawin, Kristala, Marina, etc.)
4. Nobelang Pantasya
5. MMDA Art (Urinals, Pedestrian Overpass, Megatrain, Street signages, Street Paintings)
6. Reality Television (Born Diva, Extra Challenge etc.)
7. Popular na nobela (aklat ni Bob Ong, Zsazsa Zaturna, Philippine Ghost Stories)
8. Comedy Bars (Klownz etc.)
9. Alternatibong Paglalathala at Produksiyon (blog, independent films, Ikot poetry, Virtual Diary, Zines, Fan Fiction, Slash Fiction etc.) at
10. Novelty Songs (Lito Camo, Sex Bomb, Maskulado, etc.)

Gabay sa mga Mag-aambag ng Artikulo:

1. Kailangang orihinal at hindi pa nailalathala sa limbag o elektronikong anyo ang isusumiteng manuskrito, nakasulat sa wikang Filipino.
2. Hindi kukulangin sa 20 pahina, naka-encode, at doble-espasyo. Lakipan ng abstrak ang pag-aaral na hindi lalagpas sa tatlong daang (300) salita.
3. Hindi lalagpas sa sampung pahina ang mga rebyu (tulad ng pelikula, programang pantelebisyon, aklat, musika, atbp.)
4. Maghanda ng isang talatang tala sa manunulat.
5. Isumite rin ang tatlong (3) hard copy at isang soft copy na nasa Rich Text Format.
6. Humingi ng permiso sa anumang materyal (larawan, pabalat ng aklat, ilustrasyon, mapa, atbp.) na ilalahok sa inyong manuskrito.
7. Kailangang sagutan ng mag-aambag ang form na mukukuha sa opisina ng DFPP na nagpapahayag na hindi pa nailalathala ang inyong akda at kung sino ang mga posibleng tagasuri sa inyong pag-aaral.

Ipadala ang mga artikulo sa Lupon ng Editor: Prop. Eugene Y. Evasco, Prop. Will Ortiz, o Prop. Michael Andrada. Tawagan lamang ang numerong 0917-8344746 kung mayroong mga katanungan.

Huling Araw ng Pagsusumite: Unang Linggo ng Pebrero, 2005
Scholar Rescue Fund Fellowships
The Institute of International Education's Scholar Rescue Fund provides fellowships for scholars whose lives and work are threatened in their home countries. These fellowships permit scholars to find temporary refuge at universities and colleges anywhere in the world, enabling them to pursue their academic work and to continue to share their knowledge with students, colleagues, and the community at large. When conditions improve, these scholars will return home to help rebuild universities and societies ravaged by fear, conflict and repression.

How the Scholar Rescue Fund Works:

* Academics, researchers and independent scholars from any country, field or discipline may qualify. Preference is given to scholars with a Ph.D. or other highest degree in their field; who have been employed in scholarly activities at a university, college or other institution of higher learning during the last four years (excluding displacement or prohibition); who demonstrate superior academic accomplishment or promise; and whose selection is likely to benefit the academic
community in the home and/or host country or region. Applications from
female scholars and under-represented groups are strongly encouraged.

* Universities, colleges and research centers in any country may apply to serve as hosts.

* Applications and nominations should be made to the Fund's Selection Committee. Institutions interested in hosting a particular scholar should submit a letter with the scholar's application. Fellowships are awarded to institutions for support of specific individuals, to be matched in most cases by the institution or third-party. Fellowship recipients are expected to continue their work in safety at the host institution-teaching, lecturing, conducting research, writing and publishing. Fellowships from 3 months to one calendar year will be considered with up to 25 fellowships awarded annually. The maximum award is US $20,000.

* Applications are accepted at any time. Emergency applications receive urgent consideration. Non-emergency applications will be considered according to the following schedule:

Winter 2005: Applications received by January 1; decision by March 1.

Spring 2005: Applications received by April 1; decision by June 1.

Fall 2005: Applications received by October 1; decision by December 1.

How to apply:

To apply or to learn how your institution might host an SRF scholar, contact:

IIE Scholar Rescue Fund Fellowships
809 U.N. Plaza, Second Floor
New York, New York 10017
Tel: (USA) 1-212-984-5588
Fax: (USA) 1-212-984-5401

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

A wonderful world
TIME Magazine has the past year in wonderful pictures.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Leverage at the World Trade Organization (WTO): At Whose Expense?

A roundtable discussion with Prof. Reginald Green, Professor at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK


Atty. Wigberto Tañada, Fair Trade Alliance
Joseph Purugganan, Focus on the Global South
Rebecca Malay, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM)
As invited Panel of Reactors

16 December 2004, 12nn - 4pm
Conspiracy Garden Café
Visayas Ave., Quezon City

Please send confirmation to the Freedom from Debt Coalition Office, Fax # 9246399 Attn: Dinah Fuentesfina or email address For more information you may call 9211985 / 09209054576.

Monday, December 13, 2004

History repeats and repeats and repeats
No sooner had the last corpse been extricated from the muck than our government started paring its earlier total log ban pronouncement. So in the next few months, after all the corpses have been consigned to the grave and the media have surceased their acrimony, we can reasonably expect the loggers--legal and illegal--to return to status quo ante. Until the next catastrophe.

It might very well be, as some public officals say, that a total log ban is suboptimal public policy, but a selective log ban (with all those exceptions) is unenforceable and notoriously open to corruption and bribery. If forests are to be saved, all trees must be protected.As Neal Cruz points out: is common practice now for logging concessionaires to cut timber illegally outside their concessions and then claim they came from their own concessions. The DENR's forest rangers cannot prove otherwise. And anyway they are so poorly paid that it is easy for the loggers to convince them that they have not done anything wrong. With a total log ban, this ploy will no longer work. A log is illegally cut wherever it comes from.

Currently reading:

Jarhead by Anthony Swofford

Friday, December 10, 2004

OPM Songs
One member of an e-group I subscribe to was asking about favorite OPM songs. Here are some of mine:

Walang hanggang paalam by Joey Ayala
Can we just stop and talk awhile by Jose Mari Chan
Huling El Bimbo/Magasin/Pare ko/ Minsan by Eraserheads
Kahit Kaunti By Gary Granada
Kahit maputi na ang buhok ko
Bakit ngayon ka lang by Freestyle
Di bale na lang by Gary Valenciano
Kanlungan by Noel Cabangon
Binibirocha by Andrew E.
Nosi ba lasi by Sampaguita
Annie Batungbakal by Hotdog
Kumusta ka by Freddie Aguilar
Jeproks by Mike Hanopol
Pagdating ng panahon by Aiza Seguerra
Currently reading:

Bachelor of Arts by R.K. Narayan
Web prowl
After the battering we took from the tetralogy of typhoons, some of you may be interested in the presentations and background materials of the symposium on Climate and Extreme Events in Asia Pacific: Enhancing Resilience and Improving Decision Making sposored by the the East-West Center. From the Lee Kuan Yew School Of Government in Singapore, here's India: An Integral part of New Asia (pdf).

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Temporary respite
I've been unable to blog for some days now. Will be back as soon as I get my PC fixed.