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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Prayers & Thanks

For the victims of the Maguindanao atrocities and their families, my prayers (in a cruel and utterly unfair world, our only hope is a God some call an opium).

Now back to business...
I am one of those relieved and jubilant after Chiz Escudero finally learned to say, "Hello, planet Earth?" and nobody answered.

What's with the Senator?
First off, he got lucky. And he's got the charisma to send for the members of media each time there is an issue wherein a noise is needed. But checking on his background, all you have is an empty drum. Classic trapo in the making.

Many had been anticipating Mr. Escudero would run for vice presidency. I was a bit shocked (but not that much) when I learned today he had been eyeing the presidency. He was that bloated? lol. Behind the scene, with fellow media folks, here are discussions about Mr. Escudero:

"Si Chiz? Kahit nga mga empleyado niya, di siya ibo-boto e! (Not even his employees will vote for him!)"

" Napaka-showbiz nun ano? Pagkatapos niyang magsalita sa harap ng camera, wala nang kilala! (He is very showbiz. After an interview and the camera has stopped focus on him, he knows nobody!)"

In reality, Mr. Escudero is one of those who knew how to use the media, unluckily, the media should know when to inform and protect their sworn public. IMO, his decision to back-out was probably for finding out after going to his campaign sorties how in reality he is not really that popular. His media friends that provided him rah-rah-rah earlier might have already learned his true colors. He is what we'd call "press release". Thank you Mr. Escudero for reducing the trapos in this election.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Contract Farming in the Philippines

From the Ibon newsletter:

The recent typhoons highlighted land and crop use conversion as a factor in worsening the effects of disasters on food production and the need to ensure adequate land for food production. However amid all these, government has reserved more agricultural land for export crops and use of foreign agro-corporations.

More than 1.5 million hectares of land have been developed for agribusiness since 2005,
according to the Philippine Agricultural Development and Commercial Corporation, most of which are for planting high value commercial crops to be exported to other countries.
Government has also approved 3 million hectares for foreign agro-corporations, which includes 60,000 hectares to Pacific Bio-Fields Corp. of Japan.

More worrying is the recent announcement of the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) that over 20 agribusiness firms will meet with nearly 200 Philippine companies to form partnerships and joint ventures in fisheries, biofuels, processed goods, meat and poultry, dairy products, etc. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) also granted 375,091 hectares of land to be used exclusively for jatropha production, and opened 30 more hectares for public auction.

According to IBON, data from the Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) of approved converted land area of 46,000 recorded over the span of 27 years is too small and does not include yet the areas lost to massive land grabbing, illegal conversions, and land speculation for industrial, financial and agribusiness ventures in the country.

While the disaster will likely affect food production, IBON said that this would have been mitigated if agricultural lands were maintained and harnessed for food production. The impact of land use and crop conversion on the production of staple crops has been evident in the last decades. Since the 1990s, farm area planted to palay fell by more than 87,000 hectares while that of corn was reduced by almost 300,000 hectares. Such decrease in the farm area spelled the massive displacement of Filipino farmers.

With the worsening economic crisis and as the country becomes more vulnerable to disasters, government should address the threat of food insecurity by ensuring that the country has sufficient land for food production, as well as adequate support for producers, to meet the food needs of Filipinos—rather than allowing the large-scale conversion of agricultural lands.

Farming in the Philippines is a conducive enterprise. This is most especially in the valleys of Davao where rain fall is year long and mild. In the north, certain crops are favorable to cultivate: peanuts, tobacco, mongo, and others that do not require much rain. Some portions that are irrigated could harvest rice twice, or 3 times annually if lucky enough. Typhoons make the north a risky business when it comes to crops.

Throughout the years, however, several threats to farming have emerged:
  • depletion of the soil's natural nutrients due to excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides
  • land-grabbing (incidentally, my father was accused as such, went under investigation, and luckily came out clean... and no, we are not moneyed nor strategically connected in Philippine politics --- his maternal side of clan does not believe him, though). BTW, landgrabbing dates back to Spanish period when Europe's (Spain) sent out their representatives to own whatever land they could title... so until today, so much like Native Americans, Native Filipinos lord it over to the Ayalas, Ortigases, the mestizo Chinese Cojuangcos, Florentinos (in the north) and other sophisticated-sounding names who are also landlords and kingmakers if not kings in their own 'doms (governors, congressmen, mayors, oligarchs, and trapos)
  • derailing of noble-purposed agriculture projects into pockets of trapos (from barangay officials up to the first gents and mesdames)... example: organic farming
  • then, there's the above.
To describe it in a first-hand basis (yes, I came from a farming family), those contractual farming methods run like this based on Uncle Chavit's tomato plant in Santa, Ilocos Sur:
  • contractors (tomato plant representatives) approach a small-scale farmer (with a few hundred square meter land area) or the other way around for tomato planting
  • the contractor provides the seeds for planting and provides an "advance money" for the farmer to cover labor, and other incidental expenses - diesel for water, transport, etc. The contractor will also provide for fertilizer and pesticides which costs will be added to the total cost of deductions payable to farmer in contract.
  • Upon harvest, the farmer will sell a kilo of tomatoes for P3 or US$.06 cents to the contractor if he is lucky. Most of the time, the farmer will end up owing the contractor because the price may also get lower as insisted by the contractor because many accepted contract growing and there is overproduction of tomatoes. Instead of earning, he loses money and that he will need to accept another contract to pay his debts off.
This is crazy, you'd say. This is contract-farming, otherwise noted by Ibon as "partnerships and joint ventures" above. This is reality 101 in Philippine farming. Thank you for reading.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Hello BDO: A Short Story based on Facts

A few months back, like, May 18, my wallet was snatched
(the customer service representative from SM Hypermart The Block corrected me: "Na-snatch-an po kayo? Baka na-pick-pocket?" And I acquiesced, retorting coyly, "Ay, oo nga pala..." out of short-circuit, biglang bumagal ang memory ko... my original byte coud have produced this retort: E miss, di naman sa bulsa dinukot, at dinaan lang sa bilis ng kamay..." I hate it!
and with it are IDs and a BDO-issued credit card. I reported it immediately, inside the store.
The next or a couple of days later, a CSR called me up requesting me to fax billing address evidence. I did immediately as asked. Every 2 weeks after, I called the BDO hotline 6318000 to follow-up and until the second week of August, I was informed it (the card!) was already ready for release.Two or 3 weeks later, I received a billing statement for the credit card which has not arrived! I immediately called to learn the card was not informed that it should have been released and should have started walking to its intended master. All hell and its neighboring holes broke loose.

A couple of days later, I received the card.

It has sit idle on my phone table a few weeks now, I was waiting for it to make up its mind and learn I was not gonna smooth my fingers on it to turn it into a genie... I am waiting for the cancellation of service fees charged on me days before I even met the card I was being charged with. And the notification I requested that I already canceled my order for a replacement.

I hate BDO, especially the one in West Avenue cor Del Monte. It has monster clerks. Especially the fat bully who terrorizes not only clients or customers but the senior officers in there, I kept wondering what's keeping her on her job. She's Ursula from The Little mermaid... I had a series of nightmarish experiences in there, with Ursula.

And then, there's the "pick-pocket" experience at The Block, and this credit card experience... Everyday, Customer Service to me takes mutilated meanings and forms that make each encounter a release of evil thoughts... Hmmm, they (CSRs) are useful, afterall.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Postal Importer

So, now, I am a certified small-time importer because the Bureau of Customs has finally taxed me for buying $62 worth of items online! (been cursing non-stop since yesterday afternoon, if you want to know the truth).
There's duty tax, value added tax, shipping tax, commission and brokerage fee, cost of containers, amount of royalties, value of resale, loading and handling, and cost of insurance-so that for a $62 woth of purchase cost me some P1,725. To say the least, I was shocked. Sabi ko sa manong who issued me a receipt: Nakakawindang lang po kasi mga puncher lang binili ko! All the while akala ko, WTO was doing me good for reducing imported tariff and all that!" Naloka talaga ako!

Sabi nung isang staff, "kasi pag more than $50 na purchase value, me tax po." And I retorted, "So, pag mga $49 lang, wala? Next time pala, $49 lang ipapalagay kong value sa vendor ko." Di na siya umimik.

Sabi nung manong na taga-post office, buti nga hindi inilagay sa bigtime importing yong items ko, kasi daw, ang amount, more than P2,500. Hello? Pang San Miguel Corporation na nga lang daw 'yong mga ganung taxes.

Shocks, I owe the manong post officer one! Salamat po!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Nymphet Video and Presidential Implants

About a month back, half of the male Pinoy population were titillated to learn it's out (yeah, 80% of the entire tv-viewing pop had been anticipating it), the Katrina Halili sex video. What was new, actually, was the partner and the doctora involved.
Then, a few days back, our attention is switched to President GMA's breast implant news.

The two reflects the Philippne machismo at its best. Incidentally, both females are products of the wonders of cosmetic surgey. I still vividly recall when GMA the tv network first featured Halili in bikinis at the series Darna with ogrish lines in her belly as if the Philippines has ran out of sexy women (gosh, I'm blushing, the Philippines never will ran out of sexy women!).

The first: much-anticipated, the second:much anticipated tragedy.

IMO, the Halili issue pales in comparison of worth, lasciviousness, and shame against the presidential augmentation, or implant, or however one may call it. I've seen all the faces of those politicians on television and NOBODY looked sincere about their comments that it was entirely a personal thing, blah blah... with their lascivious and obscene grins pasted on their faces. And I mean all of them (including the priest, I am sorry forgive me father, blah blah blah). Well, actually, the mention of Mr. Enrile's comment dismissing Ms. Arroyo's breast implant as entirely "her own business" is a big joke and so are the rest of those old men who made it appear it was not their business to comment. Gaaaad! with a capital G. If I were a sexist, I'd die laughing of puke.

Sexism is grown on me (how do you explain a sexist father?) and right on their faces shouting (those politico freaks) I've read this: Ang gaga, akala niya me iaasim pa siya.

I really don't know if I'd get a presidential pardon for "libel" here but it's the truth, people, so stop pretending.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Dealing with a Philipine Government Agency from Scratch

In my lifetime, I have continuously been dealing with government agencies with or without a connection. In most cases, 90% were failures. And in some cases, I succeed. In the 10% case I succeeded, here are some tips I learned:

1. Visit or call office branch /agency.
2. Try asking from their own personnel whom to address (OIC) your formal letter. In this case, be patient (warned). Many are hired without a hint of what they are or what their role is in that office, in most probability they will not know what you are talking about and will pass you to an average of 3-7 other personnel before getting the correct answer.
3. Get the complete name, position, office address, and contact number of the OIC.
4. Make a formal letter introducing your organization, purpose, and rationale.
5. Submit the letter to the above mentioned office, with your own copy. Let the receiver print his/her name, signature, date received, and contact number. Inform him/her that you shall be making a follow-up.
6. In case the personnel directs you to the OIC, then go ahead and give your letter. Answer his/her inquiry honestly, emphasizing the "good favor" they will be doing.
7. In case of an "un-sure" or for follow-up answer, get his direct line or name of secretary and the date / time it would be best to follow-up.
8. Make your follow-up on the agreed date and time. In case you won't be able to talk to the OIC, get the name and position of the one who answered your call and leave a message about your purpose as well as your intention to call again to GET the answer - explicitly request or command the ijeet to take down your message and give it to the officer. Make your voice as if you are a taxpayer and providing for their salaries, because you are a tax payer and providing the salaries of the president down to the first gentleman (darn!).
8. Since it is a government agency, you are expected to make the follow-up (repeatedly) until your patience ran out. If it has ran (or is it run?) out, you have the right to raise your voice and demand for the ijeets you listed down whom you gave your message to. Harass them.
9. In the instance your proposal / request was turned down, shout invectives and cuss. Its the least way to get even.
10. Last warning: in the BIR hotline, most of the above does not work. Cuss them instantly!

Sunday, June 14, 2009


I am not really against constitutional amendment if it is gonna adopt an absolute
1. ban on uneducated (I'd probably suggest at least a master's level and minimum 5-year management experience) candidates from mayoral to the president
2.nepotism up to the fourth degree in all government offices
3. ban on extension of term after 3 years to include all first and second degree relatives in said positions
4. capital punishment for all corrupt officials with proven misalligned and misappropriated budgets starting at P10,000.00

Ewan ko lang kung me qualified at willing pang tatakbo. (cuss, cuss and cuss). It is a shame that until now, majority of Filipinos cling to the popularity method of voting. Nakakahiya ang katamaran ng nakakarami sa atin. It is our duty to at least research a little bit and use a little of our common sense when voting. Let us ask ourselves: what have this dork done in the past that makes him/her deserving of my vote?

But since I was brought out of this world with an already very questionable form of governance, I have maintained an anarchic stance since: I don't effing vote. In fact, the only time I really liked a presidentiable, I did not vote, because I knew my effort would go for naught. I was right.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Snatcher at SM The Block

I have been shopping groceries and other supplies at SM, considering that it is just a few minutes ride (by jeepney) away from our current home. If 3 "Loyalty" or Rewards Cards were the basis, then, I am one loyal customer (of both BDO and SM, but hey, it's about time-saving and accessibility nowadays).

One Monday (Note that it's not rush hour nor peak day)--- May 18 2009 to be exact, the whole family hit the mall for a stroll, pizza at Pizza Hut, then headed to Hypermarket at the Block. While inside the Hypermarket, I noticed my bag zipper was open, but did not made a fuss about it because I was with 3 kids (aged 9, 7, and 4 respectively) so, I proceeded filling up the grocery cart after closing the zipper. When we got to the checkout counter, I was shocked to find my zipper bag open again! And my wallet with all our IDs, ATM and credit card no longer inside it!

While it was unfortunate for the thug to get only about P70 cash, it was very disappointng on our part to be had inside the supposedly biggest mall of the Philippines (yes, you're wrong about the Mall of Asia!). We were expecting something high-tech, such as replaying security video captures or footages to identify suspected thugs prowling in their state-of-the-art shopping center... (I had a really nagging and nasty feeling when one of their sales staff entertained me as if I was buying a 24-karat diamond when in fact I was just buying a barbecue thong!)

But no... We were faced with a junior secret agent, quite embarassed as well as edgy about his work he would not even get my identity if I had not informed him he needed to, in case my wallet is found strewn in their vast property. In fact, it had to be me to contact their other security officers in adjacent buildings to assure me that in case something like my suspicion happens, my IDs and wallet be returned. I mean, hello? What if I had gunned down people like a madman using a silencer, won't they use their hi-tech equipment to warn their comrades at all? Shees, of course, I am exaggerating (and just wondering)! It only happened once at SM!

It was like very typical day in a government office --- at least, inside a government office, the staff pretend to be the boss and yell at the taxpayer even if they sound (and look) stupid. Like it should be a positive comparison at all, eh?

Well, since I no longer have to save "credit points" as all my loyalty cards are lost, I have started to shop at nearby Trinoma - Landmark. The better of which is not to encounter government clerk /officer clones. The end is near.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Baldwin and the Mail Order Bride

In the news just recently...
NEW YORK – Alec Baldwin is apologizing for making a joke about getting a Filipino mail-order bride that provoked a sharp response in the Philippines.

The Emmy-winning actor quipped during a May 12 interview on "The Late Show with David Letterman" that he would love to have more children and that he was "thinking about getting a Filipino mail-order bride at this point ... or a Russian one."

On Wednesday, Baldwin posted on The Huffington Post that he was apologizing "to anyone who took offense."

He said, "I believe that most people understood that this was a joke and took it as such."

Philippine Sen. Ramon Revilla said Monday that Baldwin's comment was "insensitive and uncalled for." He threatened him with a beating and said the "30 Rock" star is apparently unaware that the Philippines has a law against mail-order brides.

And I wonder what the senator fusses about? He should have instead corrected Baldwin it's no longer the mail-order-bride thing going but online services for love match/pairing and an entire industry of "networking" sites.

Mr. Senator, wake up. Start reading your Yahoo News! In reality: Whoever is the chief-of-staff of Bong Revilla, update your boss! darnit! there's nothing more annoying than a news that is outdated!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Haaaay, GMA

For several years now, the whole family have been "loyal" viewers of GMA, until the network kept recycling Carlo J. Caparas' creations as if there's a dearth of creative writers in the 80 million or so populace...

It started with Asero, when recycling became such a despicable practice... OK, when will they implement Intellectual Property Rights eh? Then, Mel and Joey and the rest of the morning shows became infomercials, pushing and enticing every viewer to join America's new religion, as if economic salvation actually depended on it...

Anyway, I noticed only one actor who has kept Lalola viewable: Keempee de Leon. There has been a lot of improvement in Keempee's acting, whose more subtle take on the "bakla" role has given a better version of Joey's previous gay roles. Otherwise, I really wonder what production designers do, with Lola's disco outfits in corporate meetings, but then again, we've seen the same in much better telenovelas --- over-sexy clads of office or regularly paid working characters.

Why can't they learn from those Korean telenovelas? It's not the outrageous outfits or costumes, nor the hyped "stars". It is the quality of the show, credibility of plot and scenarios. While magical themes are the consistent favorites, magic woven to reality is what makes a fiction appealing.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Incapacitating Frontliners

There was a time when Customer Service is the end-all of customer woes (as long as the product or service is returned... and refunded...most probably if you're lucky). You go to the counter where a sign reads "customer service" and vent bad air as much or as long as you can handle the wit (or lack of it) of the person (probably a clone, a puppet, or something more idiotically similar) before you. Anyway, in most instances, all you really want is justice be given to you... although in the deep recesses of your mind, you're aware you've been had big time... lost time and effort, dampened and crushed or crushed then flooded expectations, lost hope, time wastage, crumbling opportunities, the end of the world...

I am exaggerating but when you're a micro-small-time-true-to-form-TQM-not-here-for-the-money-only entrepreneur like me, this bleak doomsday scenario happens a lot of times. (I've been dead a lot of times, too, I keep wondering what's this zombie doin' here!)

So yes, I am just having another survival-day with the bank (again, again) and it's not doing me good. I received more than a month ago this
bluffing me about being a "valued member" (my ***) and all that bs... but now that I call on my bank branch - Banco de Oro -West Avenue-Del Monte - (I don't have the temerity and strength to face their frontliners whom my sister who works with another bank suggested I could have fired especially now that there's retrenchment, if only I'd want to) - they send me to their magical, centralized Customer Service System 631-8000. You get lucky if you get a ring, luckier if you get connected to a working "key" or extension number, luckier still to be able to talk to a CSR who can answer your queries and blessed if you are able to get sense and results out of the dialogue. That's streamlining and centralization working for the depositor nowadays. Talk about technology, speed and the power of the fingertips.

Honestly, I want the most remote ways of customer service - you talk to a person in the branch where product or service is availed, she finds the right person to talk to, then settle your problem. After all, they said they find ways, and all those taglines to catch fancy... It's time to work, fellas. Instead of centralizing, educate your frontliners so they can advance their knowledge and skills, satisfy your walk-in (and existing) customers, and attract more customers by word-of-mouth. One workshop every 6 months won't hurt the ROIs as much as a Lehman Brothers did... (perhaps I should venture into business consultation career instead?). It's also time big and medium businesses learn their lessons.