Wednesday, August 29, 2007

One more time with feeling

Not content with having heard them at the House of Representatives, some in the opposition want to replay the Hello Garci tapes - this time around in the Senate. Senator Miriam Santiago, Senator Joker Arroyo and Senator Richard Gordon are rightly opposing this recidivist move, with Senator Santiago even threatening to bring the issue to the Supreme Court should the Senate majority insist.

You see, we may all loathe the president and relish each time we see her flailed in public, but the Anti-Wiretapping Law or RA 4200 is unambiguous in its language that: Any communication or spoken word, or the existence, contents, substance, purport, effect, or meaning of the same or any part thereof, or any information therein contained obtained or secured by any person in violation of the preceding Sec.s of this Act shall not be admissible in evidence in any judicial, quasi-judicial, legislative or administrative hearing or investigation.

Just because we all want to see President Arroyo ousted does not mean we should be free from all legal impediments to do whatever we wish. That is the mistake we made at Edsa Dos.

2008 International Postage Stamp Design Contest

The Bureau of Post of the Republic of Korea is inviting participants to the 2008 International Postage Stamp Design Contest to increase public interest in postage stamps at home and abroad, as well as to find more creative ideas for stamp design.

The competition is divided into two categories:

• Youth category for those 17 years and below with the theme “The Mailbox of the Future”
• General category (no age restriction) with the theme “A Happy Nation that Nurtures Kids”

Application forms may be downloaded from the web page of Korea Post:

Application period: July 2 to September 21, 2007

For more information, contact +82 2 2195 1255 Fax: +82 2 2195 1299

from the NYC website:

Sunday, August 19, 2007

The Chinese as migrant worker in the Philippines

Two weeks ago, I was at the UP University Press Bookstore looking for Nick Joaquin's biography of Senator Angara when, while browsing the shelves, I came across Bai Ren's Lagalag sa Nanyang translated from the Chinese to Filipino by Joaquin Sy.

Lagalag sa Nanyang (Nanyang Piaoliuji) is an autobiographical novel, a Bildungsroman, told by A Song, a boy from a small village in China who left the country in 1932 when he was only ten years old to look for work in the Philippines. He took on the jobs of apprentice in a Chinese dry-goods store in the Visayas, newspaper boy in Binondo, salesman of katol (anti-mosquito coils), and later translator of English news reports for a local Chinese publication in Manila.

Lagalag sa Nanyang chronicles the hardship experienced by A Song as a poor migrant worker in the Philippines, how he had to scrimp in order to eat and send remittance to China, how he deliberately spent each centimo as though it were a whole peso.

The novel has such a huge impact on me because I imagine that my maternal and paternal grandfathers must have had the same experience as A Song's. They came here about the same time A Song left China for the Philippines. At the beginning of the novel when A Song was describing the boat packed with Chinese all bound for the Philippines and all vomiting because of the violent seas, I imagine the boat where the brother of my maternal grandfather perished somewhere near Batanes, almost reaching the Philippines.

A Song fell in love in the Philippines, was brokenhearted here and, at the end of the novel, left the Philippines to join the Chinese resistance against the Japanese in World War II. Lagalag sa Nanyang is such a sad and lonely book it is likely you'll find yourself in tears in several episodes. The last time I felt as heartbroken reading a novel was more than ten years ago with George Eliot's Silas Marner.

I've finished reading Lagalag sa Nanyang today and it has become one of my favorite novels. The novel has such huge love both for the Philippines and China. I wish I could thank Joaquin Sy myself for translating this wonderful book. If you have a Chinese-Filipino friend, do him a favor and give Lagalag sa Nanyang as a gift.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Money to burn

For the past week, I was too busy to blog and was too preoccupied with JPEPA and a new campaign we launched this week about another onerous Philippine loan that financed a failed white elephant project of the Department of Health.The Philippine Star, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Malaya and the BusinessMirror reported on the campaign launching.

The loan is roughly a US$ 2M obligation every year for the Philippines until 2014. The loan was incurred by the government to pay for medical waste incinerators that we are no longer using today because of their unacceptably high emissions plus the incinerator ban declared by the Clean Air Act of 1999.

We will be paying 100 million pesos every year for the defunct incinerators. What is sad about this is that the total 2007 budget of the DOH to address its backlog in infrastructure is just about 400 million pesos. The incinerator loan is one-fourth of that total budget for infrastructure.

And now, of course, we have another white elephant project in the offing: the ZTE broadband project. The ZTE broadband deal is such an atrociously bad deal that Secretary Neri should not have been simply demoted as CHED Chairman; he should have been banished from public service forever instead.