Monday, June 25, 2007

The benefits of drinking alkaline water

According to health and longevity enthusiasts like MIT's Ray Kurzweil and Dr. Terry Grossman (whose incredibly informative book Fantastic Voyage I am reading now), the blood's pH level is very tightly controlled to fall somewhere between 7.35 to 7.45. To maintain this pH level, the body neutralizes acidic drinks like softdrinks with alkaline blood buffers.

The problem is that when we keep on ingesting acidic foods and drinks, we use up our body's limited supply of alkaline buffers and thus they become unavailable to neutralize the other acidic waste products continually produced by our bodies, including organic byproducts of digestion such as acetic acid, lactic acid, carbonic acid, and uric acid. When we don't have enough alkaline buffers to neutralize these acidic waste products, our bodies sustain health damage and become ideal for the development of cancer cells.

Because of this need to preserve the alkalinity in the blood, Kurzweil and Grossman specifically recommend to drink only alkaline water (of pH up to 9.5 and 10).

The above recommendation by Kurzweil and Grossman is the most controversial. Some say that this quack science is one proof that even a most brilliant scientist like Kurzweil could be so thoroughly misled. Water, these critics say, is basically electrically neutral.

Kurzweil and Grossman insist that that while water is indeed neutral, the location of the electrons make a huge difference. The side of the molecule with the hydrogen atoms is slightly positive in electrical charge, whereas the oxygen side is slightly negative. Because of these slight charges, water molecules combine to assume hexagonal or pentagonal shapes and these three-dimensional electrical properties of water are quite powerful in breaking apart strong chemical bonds of other compounds.

So should we all begin drinking alkaline water? Well, I don't know enough chemistry to independently evaluate both sides of the debate. However, when I telephoned one water supplier (Aqua Health) I learned that five gallons of alkaline water (pH 7.5) cost just about the same as the regular distilled water we were regularly ordering(Pesos 40-50).

Kurzweil and Grossman may be grossly wrong, but what if they're right? Therefore, for the same price as our old water supply, I began ordering alkaline water. I figured out I got nothing to lose, and a whole long life to gain.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Web prowl

The Ateneo University Press is holding its annual book sale on June 18-29 at its Bellarmine Hall bookshop. The Asia-Pacific Security Survey 2007 Report by the East-West Center in Honolulu is now available online. J├╝rgen Habermas writes an obituary for American philosopher Richard Rorty here. New Yorker's Seymour Hersh has a story on Fil-Am General Taguba of the Taguba report on American abuses of prisoners. Looks can kill, here's Foreign Policy on some toxic ingredients to watch out for in some cosmetic products. From Newsweek, here's an interview with newly-elected President of East Timor Jose Ramos-Horta plus an essay from Body Shop founder Anita Roddick. For the beginner cinephile, here are 50 DVD's to own (or better, simply borrow and watch). Sir Isaac Newton predicted that the world would end in 2060 and-this he got correctly-the Jews would return to the Holy Land before the world ends. From the New York Times, a story on the incredible sperm cells.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Quisumbing family feud

While many people are enthralled by the Bektas v Bektas TV extravaganza, there is an ongoing family feud that is far more compelling and visceral down in Cebu. Instead of husband and wife at each other's throat (which is annoyingly common nowadays), the Quisumbing family feud features son versus parents.

Here's the story: Norberto Wenceslao Jesus B. Quisumbing III is the son of Norberto B. Quisumbing Jr. and Britta B. Quisumbing. In the 1980's, he assumed the leadership of the then debt-ridden Norkis Group of Companies and successfully engineered the rehabilitation of the family business. He was however disowned by his parents when he underwent a sex change operation and subsequently got married. He was booted out as president and CEO, and his shares of stocks apparently taken away from him (now her).

Mediation has failed, as Business World reports here and Wesy Quisumbing is now pursuing the cases he filed against his parents, which involve 900 million in damages, claims and inheritance.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Their eyes have grown tired watching Erap

Representatives Douglas Cagas of Davao and Exequiel Javier of Antique are excoriating the group Plunderwatch for allegedly turning its back on the conviction of President Estrada. Cagas, the Daily Tribune and the Inquirer report, also makes the insinuation that the convenors of the group led by Carol Araullo already made an alliance with the deposed president.

Based on the media quotes of Araullo, Plunderwatch still believes plunder was committed by Estrada. It is no longer keen on seeing Estrada's conviction, however, because,as the Inquirer reports here, it feels that the Arroyo administration, being a worse offender, has no "moral ascendancy" to convict.

The problem though with Plunderwatch's stance is this: If Estrada is not convicted under the watch of this administration he most probably never will be convicted under any other succeeding administration. It is simply now or never, under this administration with or without moral ascendancy.

The blogger as politician

Apparently, the Kabataan Partylist organization narrowly missed catching a seat in the House of Representatives. The national tally sheet in the COMELEC website says the group managed to corner 1.54 % of the votes, a little shy of the 2 % threshold to gain a partylist seat in the Lower House. This sad news, of course, doused the hope in Philippine blogosphere of sending a congressman in the person of blogger Mong Palatino, Kabataan's first nominee and blogger at Mongster's nest.

The Kabataan setoral organization has, as to be expected, the best spanking website among those who contested the last partylist elections. The website has video, mp3, comment box and the works. If the group didn't make it this year, there is no reason why it shouldn't make it in 2010. After all, even Buhay, the runaway winner in this year's elections, was also a little anemic when it first joined the party-list elections. There's always going to be birth pains.

While Kabataan and Mong Palatino unfortunately didn't make it this year, Dorothy Delarmente of Doralicious won as councilor of the 1st District of Quezon City, the first blogger, as far as I know, to win an election.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Will the JPEPA help our fishery sector?

Jaime Escober of Tambuyog Develeopment Center claims in this Business Mirror op-ed that the JPEPA doesn't make sense in terms of promoting the local fishery interests. According to Escober, even without the JPEPA, the tariff for tuna is already at 3.5% and for frozen shrimp at 0%. Therefore, as far as these two products are concerned the Philippine fishery sector doesn't gain anything substantial out of JPEPA.

What the Philippine negotiators should have pushed is for our sardines, mackerel, anchovies, cuttlefish and seaweed to gain reduced-tariff entry to Japan because these would have greatly benefitted our smalltime fishermen. The JPEPA in its present form, however, expressly excludes these products from commitment of tariff reduction or even of future negotiation.

Another unacceptable thing about the JPEPA, according to Escober, is that it includes whales, dolphins, porpoises and dugongs as tradable goods. Tariff line # 0210.92 in the Japanese schedule of tariffs (pdf) in the agreement specifies that the tariff on these lovable sea creatures are to be eliminated in six equal annual installments from the date of entry into force of the JPEPA. We should probably start booking our trips to Palawan, Bohol and Donsol where we can still see these creatures now before they get sucked up by the Japanese market.

To summarize, JPEPA does no great good to Filipino fishermen and exporters of aquaculture products. For purported benefits of the JPEPA, one should look elsewhere becuase they sure can't be found in the fishery sector.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

No regrets from Senator Recto

Senator Recto was probably being cheeky when he began his valedictory speech with a biblical quotation from the Ecclesiastes about how there's a season for everything and a time for every reason; after all, is he not supposed to to be a senator for ALL seasons?

Alex Magno and Tony Lopez mourn today the defeat of Senator Recto at the polls, with the former branding the senator's critics as philistines. Senator Recto believes that it was the VAT law that did him in, but he's adamant that pushing for it was the right, albeit immensely unpopular, thing to do. He said he takes full responsibility for the law and he feels no regret for his championing it at the Senate.

Nobody likes taxes, especially new ones, but Senator Recto championed the VAT law with such utter disregard for the popular opinion, as if he didn't need to get elected at all and his life's happiness depended on cutting back the national deficit. Senators Angara and Villar also voted yes to the VAT law but somehow the odium didn't stick on them as it did on Recto. Senator Pangilinan, of course, had the good sense to be abroad when the voting took place.

Senator Recto was never a strong candidate, the Vilma Santos connection notwithstanding; during the last 2004 elections, he was also hanging in the balance. You may not like his opinion on taxes and the deficit, but he was a hardworking legislator who took his job seriously, rose intellectually to meet the challenge of his office and overshadowed the other senators more credentialed than he was. My personal feeling is that if the new Senate can accomodate two coup plotters and an environmentalist with an almost imaginary track record, there should have been another season for Senator Recto.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Akbayan's debacle at the polls

There's a great possibility that when the tallying of votes is done, Akbayan will return to the House of Representatives with only one representative --Risa Hontiveros-Baracquel. This is a great diminution of force for Akbayan because they had three representatives in the 13th Congress, and also a big letdown for some people who would have loved to see UP Professor Walden Bello, the party's second nominee, plying the halls of the Lower House.

The national tally sheet as of June 1 shows that Akbayan, at 361,639 votes, has barely surpassed the 2 % threshold to gain a single seat at the House. During the last elections, their votes hovered somewhere in the 800,000. An official postmortem, I think, is yet to be done by Akbayan insiders to explain this unfortunate debacle at the polls. It could be, as one Akbayan member hinted, partially a result of vote shaving, or perhaps a natural consequence of more parties contesting the party-list system and eating at that portion of the electorate that previously went for Akbayan.

Senator Salonga on the JPEPA


Last Thursday, we paid a visit to Senator Salonga at his residence to ask his opinion about the side agreement that was signed by Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Romulo and Japanese Foreign Minister Aso during President Arroyo's visit in Japan. We were concerned that by virtue of the so-called side agreement allies of President Arroyo may be able to railroad the ratification of the treaty during the last session days of the 13th Congress Senate to avoid the opposition senators that will be ushered in by the 14th Congress.

Senator Salonga is inclined to believe that such a side agreement would be insufficient to cure the defects of the treaty with regard to its provisions on the export of Japanese waste to the Philippines. He also said that the internal dynamics of the Senate, notwithstanding the commitment of Senator Miriam Santiago as Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman to see the treaty ratified, preclude a hasty approval of the treaty given the weighty issues leveled against it. The People's Journal has a brief report of our meeting with Senator Salonga.