Thursday, October 15, 2015

Is Sen. Santiago well enough to be president?

There is, I think, serious reason to suspect that she may not be.

In July of 2014, the senator announced she had Stage IV lung cancer but that it was not spreading. According to her, her doctors former DSWD Secretary Esperanza Cabral and Ruth Divinagracia had recommended she take pills for "molecular targeting" of cancer cells. Now, Senator Santiago claims she had "licked cancer" and is now ready to run for president.

This is troubling because Senator Santiago's account of her diagnosis and her now buoyant pronouncement of being finally cured of cancer do not quite add up.

Why not?

First, Stage 1V cancer precisely means that the cancer has spread from the original site (see this information from Cancer Research UK on lung cancer number staging system). The senator's previous claim that she had Stage IV cancer but that it had not spread was, therefore, oxymoronic and did not make any medical sense. A lung cancer is  declared Stage IV precisely because it had spread.

Second, Senator Santiago was probably taking Tarceva (erlotinib) tablets in lieu of chemotherapy as her first-line treatment. Perusing the prescription sheet of Tarceva, you don't get the sense it can magically cure stage IV lung cancer. And cancer could always come back from remission. It would be too early to say that Senator Santiago is in the clear now.

What does this all mean? The greatest issue that will hound Senator Santiago's candidacy now will be the same issue that hounded her candidacy in 1992 -- the state of her health. The ruckus about her health in 1992 was probably baseless, fueled by malicious rumour-mongering, but this time it could be quite legitimate.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Mouse That Roared

In this 1959 satirical comedy, the fictional smallest country in the world declares war against the United States over a trade disagreement on wine. All the weighty issues are here: trade, international relations realpolitik, nuclear disarmament and deterrence, the Geneva Conventions, etc. Very funny and highly recommended for friends in foreign relations. Below is a clip:

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Heneral Luna

Many of us, by now, must have seen the sleeper hit of the year, Heneral Luna. You know those Filipino movies that they hype on Facebook and then when you bring yourself to the cinema to watch them, you regret being taken by  all the online buzz? Well, Heneral Luna is  not one of them. So if you haven't had the chance to catch it, I recommend you take the time.

It is surprising, but not altogether unwelcome, that the popularity of the movie has turned just about everyone into amateur historians. Because our respectful and understandably deferential school education has turned all our heroes into staid historical caricatures, it was refreshing to see something like Heneral Luna on the big screen transform the national heroes we see on those postcards from National Bookstore  into regular men faced with the extraordinarily hard task of securing the independence of the first republic in Asia in between the machinations of bigger powers Spain and the United States. And it is compelling to watch.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Eight Diagram Pole Fighter

If you like old kung-fu movies from Hong Kong (and are in the mood for some good, old-fashioned kick-ass fighting), here is one of the best that came out from the legendary Shaw Brothers studio: The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (1983).

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The House at the End of Time

If you like scary movies, you would not want to miss The House at the End of Time, the highest grossing thriller of all time in Venezuela. It is the best horror movie I've seen in quite a while. If you happen to like great horror movies, you know how they are so few and far between . Don't miss this one.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Opportunity for electrical engineers and ECEs at the NGCP

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines is looking for engineering cadets. This is a good opportunity to work and learn for fresh graduates. 

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Imelda Marcos musical

Some of you might be interested to check out the songs on the Imelda Marcos musical "Here Lies Love" by David Byrne and Fatboy Slim. I found out the songs are all freely available on Spotify. For those not familiar with the show (which is now currently playing in London), this is the musical for which Mark Bautista temporarily left Philippine show business in order to play Ferdinand Marcos.

The all-song musical has gotten rather good reviews both in New York and London (read the New York Times, The Telegraph and The Hollywood Reporter). Check out the songs Here Lies Love, Every Drop of Rain, Pretty Face, and When She Passed By.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Essay writing contest for college and high school students

A. Eligibility
Essay Contest Rules on Overseas Filipinos

This contest is open to all Filipino students or of Filipino descent who are studying in the Philippines or overseas, ages 10 to 25 years old who are currently enrolled in high school and college.

B. Theme
The theme of the essay is “The Overseas Filipinos and their impact in the Philippines.”
The essay should focus on:
  1. The contributions of overseas Filipinos to the economy of the Philippines. The importance of the participation of overseas Filipinos in the Philippine elections.
  2. What are the social risks that the children and families of overseas Filipinos face due to long years of separation or long distance relationships?
  3. Why are the overseas Filipinos called to be the “new heroes” of the Philippines? Please describe the traits of overseas Filipinos which make them unique as global immigrants and Overseas Filipino Workers.
Contestants are encouraged to read books, publications, and the Internet on various articles regarding the theme.

C. Content and Format
  1. It must be original;
  2. It must not be previously published in print or online nor in any visual and/or auditory recording; and
  3. The essay must not be more than 1,500 typed words in English and in MS word format. It should be submitted by email only.
D. Submission
  1. Every student entry must contain the confirmation of the School Principal, College/University Dean or President that the essay is written by and originated from the student. (Click here to download the Official Entry Form)
Only one entry per person will be accepted and limited to one author. The entry must have the following:
A. Title Page which includes the Name, Date and Place of Birth; Email address if applicable. B. The Essay
C. Entry Form which is available at www.uspgg.orgD. Parental Consent, Authorization and Liability Waiver Form (for minor student)
E. Student Consent, Authorization and Liability Waiver Form (for adult student)
2. Entry will be submitted as attachments via email to with the Subject:
3. Only valid entries (completion and submission of Entry Form and Essay) will be accepted and reviewed. Submissions will be open from December 31, 2014 to February 1, 2015. Applicants will receive an acknowledgment of submission by email. Late and incomplete entries will be disqualified.

E. Criteria for Judging
  1. A panel of judges, selected by the US Pinoys for Good Governance (USP4GG) Ad Hoc Committee for Essay Contest on Overseas Filipinos, will make the final decision.
  2. The following criteria for judging are as follows: Substance – 60% * Writing style/Composition/Organization – 40%
F. Awards and Prizes
The winning essays will be announced in the newspapers and at USP4GG website by February 15, 2015. Winners will be notified by email. Awards ceremony will be held during the Third Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora on February 26, 2015, at Manila Hotel, Manila, Philippines. The winners will be awarded a Certificate of Recognition and cash prizes in the different categories as follows:

High School:
  • First Prize – P12,000.00
  • Second Prize – P6,000.00
  • Third Prize -P 3,000.00
  • First Prize – P25,000.00
  • Second Prize – P12,000.00
  • Third Prize – P6,000.00
There will be 10 Consolation Prizes of P1,000.00 each and a Certificate of Appreciation. Winners under this category do not need to be in the awards ceremony.

The school/college/university of the First Prize winning essays will receive a Certificate of Appreciation and a cash prize of P10,000.00 each.

Expenses to be incurred in attending the awards ceremony such as transportation, food and lodging will be the winner’s responsibility. Winners will be contacted for the details of the awards ceremony. Winners who will not be able to attend the awards ceremony will be notified by email on how to claim the prizes.

G. Others
1. The USP4GG may use or publish in part or in whole the essays submitted by the applicants consistent with its mandate and objectives.

F. Signature of the School Principal, College or University President or Dean, address, email address and telephone number to authenticate the student entry.

Please direct any questions or inquiries regarding this contest to:

Dr. Celia Lamkin, Ad Hoc Committee Chairperson, USP4GG Essay Contest on Overseas Filipinos

Charmaine Calamiong, Secretariat, USP4GG Essay Contest on Overseas Filipinos
Telephone Number: (+ 632) 899-7938 or (632) 899-7939 * Fax Number: (632) 899 -2426
Norman Silvestre, Assistant Secretariat, USP4GG Essay Contest on Overseas Filipinos
Cellphone Number: (+ 63) 927-223-6804 * E-mail:

Monday, January 05, 2015

The Cebu Pacific fiasco was partly because of EDSA trafiic

That services suffer during the holidays is nothing unusual anywhere in the world. When people shop, dine and travel all at the same time, it is but natural and, quite frankly, to be expected that infrastructure and services  built and maintained to address everyday, normal business become congested and overstretched. Still, something has to be said about how bad things have turned out in Manila in December 2014.

For example, I was unfortunate to have travelled from Legazpi to Manila middle week of December. The flight was okay, but upon arriving at the NAIA 3, I had to spend six long hours just queuing for a taxi. I arrived 3 PM at the airport; it was half past 9 when I got out. The airport guard said that the it was past midnight when the queues let up the night before. One lady beside me who came all the way from Davao to give a talk at the University of the Philippines missed her talk altogether waiting for a taxi. So her flight all the way from Mindanao was for nought.

I gathered from the driver of the taxi airport that the reason for the interminable queues was that the taxis were all caught up in the traffic on EDSA and could not return promptly to the airport to fetch  the more recent arrivals.

Now, much has been made about the Cebu Pacific fiasco at the airport, allegedly with many passengers not being able to get on their flights and losing their purchased seats. I was also on Cebu Pacific for my return flight to Legazpi and I observed some of the heated arguments at the check-in counter. Two groups of passengers preceeding me in the line forfeited their seats and had to buy new ( and very expensive ) tickets because they went past the 45-minute cutoff within which to check in before their flight departure. And those passengers were holding the line because naturally they were arguing that since the plane had not yet taken off, the airline should show some leniency because it was the holidays after all, and the EDSA traffic was especially horrendous.

The point of this all is that much as we would like to blame an airline, we should not lose sight of the fact that partly to blame for the airport fiasco is the traffic congestion on EDSA. It is just that we have gotten so used to that problem, we have ceased viewing it as such.