Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Lost in translation

Last weekend I went on a surprise post-election family vacation to Boracay. Maybe I'll blog about it sometime. Maybe not.

On the two hour barge trip from Negros to Panay there was a television showing what initially appeared to be some big-budget foreign language film, but upon closer inspection it revealed itself to actually be Casino Royale, a movie that I have watched before, except here it was dubbed with French dialogue. I could tell it was French because of the minuscule comprehension of the language that I've carried with me from my college French class (Plus, James Bond is still "James Bond" no matter what the language). Of course, the DVD was pirated, but surely there should be no shortage of pirated DVDs of movies in a language that can be, well, understood by the the audience it is intended for.

To make matters worse, the English subtitles that were displayed on screen seemed to be coming from a completely different movie. This made it hilariously watchable for a completely different reason, but I have to feel sorry for the other 50+ people on the barge watching this thing that actually thought that M was telling Bond that "Frequent urination is common among pregnant women". >_>

Saturday, May 19, 2007


The Philippine Daily Inquirer doesn't even bother to try keeping up the perception of being unbiased anymore. Today's headline (ironically hardly an inch below their slogan: "Balanced News. Fearless Views") is "MIRACLE IN PAMPANGA", referring of course to the priest that won the election for governor in Pampanga. Of all the news stories in the world, this is what they deem worthy of an all-caps headline? "It's a mircle!", the article starts! Doesn't make sense why the Inquirer would be so ecstatic about this particular race, until you realize that the other two guys running for governor were both staunchly pro-administration. They just couldn't resist.

I can't personally say anything negative about Fr. Ed Panlilo since I hardly know anything about him, but having priests in government sounds like a bad idea to me. If honesty and good intentions were all it takes to build a nation, then Fernando Poe Jr. and Manny Pacquiao would make good politicians. But obviously, obviously they don't.

*takes off gloves*

Way too many people in the Philippines are quick to blame the government for everything that goes wrong even when there's not a shred of evidence to back up their accusations, but nobody in the Philippines criticizes the Church when they exploit Christianity and abuse their positions in plain view.

When the First Gentleman sues journalists for libel, everyone is crying foul as if he has broken the law in some way. Never mind that it's perfectly legal for any person to sue another. Never mind that it's the courts that make the actual decisions as to who did wrong. And never mind that the media in the Philippines is among the most rambunctious and irresponsible in the world. Just because he's in a prominent position, he's attacked as abusing his position of power.

And here we have a priest that ran for and was elected governor. Priests are innately loved people in the Philippines. They're invited to every party, showered with gifts, and clothed with an impenetrable blanket that makes them uncriticizable-- all because of the fact that they are priests. For a priest to run for public office is (probably) legal, but it gives this huge instant advantage of being automatically loved. Yet hardly anyone is willing to call him out for abusing his position of power.

It was only a few months ago that the Church was rallying against charter change as if it were inherently evil, saying that the constitution is so sacred and all that. Never mind Article 2, Section 6 (that's separation of Church and State, for those that give a damn... not many, really).

The intention of this rant is not to convince that the Church is bad. But if you take off that velvet blanket of immunity, you'd see they're not the inherently perfect supermen that our culture would have you believe.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Team Unity in Cebu

I attended Team Unity's Cebu City miting de avance rally at Fuente Osmeña circle last night. They closed off the whole area to traffic and diverted vehicles to the surrounding streets. The rally itself took place in front of Robinsons Cebu, on a stage constructed entirely of garbage. Well actually it was a stage covered with campaign paraphernilia, but the untrained eye would hardly be able to tell the difference!

Today's newspaper says that the crowd was estimated to be at around 40,000 people at its peak. I had no idea it was that big... my guess would have been much smaller. But of course, I'm in no position to estimate the size of the entire crowd, being part of it myself.

The rally started at around 7 PM, but because of some unfortunate timing with work obligations, I was only able to get there at around 9:30 PM, so I only got to see the speeches and presentations of Mike Defensor, Migz Zubiri and Cesar Montano. The rest of the candidates were sitting on chairs on the stage (except for Jamalul Kiram III, who was in Sultan Kudarat because of a recent bombing). Joker Arroyo seemed to be pretty bothered by the heat, and kept wiping his face with a handkerchief.

The large majority of the rally was dedicated to showing off the Team Unity senatorial candidates. When that was done, there was a brief presentation of the local candidates for Cebu City. There were also intermission presentations by Sarah Geronimo and Alessandra de Rossi. They mentioned that John Prats and Camille Prats were there too, but I didn't catch a glimpse of them. Of course, rallies like this are always more rhetoric and spectacle rather than substance.

Unfortunately, GMA wasn't able to make it to the rally because she was sick. Apparently it was a last minute decision and was announced by Cebu City Mayor Tommy Osmeña at around 10:30. He said she was resting at the Malacañang of the South, and was watching the rally on TV. They even had the podium prepared with the Seal of the President of the Philippines, but I noticed later on that the seal was removed. If the crowd was disappointed, they didn't show it, and still gave big applause for the president when the mayor called for it.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Haha, it's like I know what I'm talking about

Rey Gamboa came out with this editorial a couple of days ago about government budget deficits, inflation rates, debt management-- the kind of economist stuff that would bore a normal person to tears. However... I, much like the guy that watches too much House and starts to think he's an actual diagnostician, pay close enough attention to the business section of the news that I begin to get delusions of knowing much more about economics than I actually do. Or maybe I actually do know some stuff, who knows.

At the end of his column, he invites readers to email him should they have any insights to share. And that I did.
Subject: Bizlinks comment

In your article you're eager to point out that the P52 billion budget deficit in the first quarter is more than 80% of the government's target for the whole year, but you neglected to mention that the government's spending target actually anticipates that the large bulk of the deficit will come in the first quarter. This is due to increased spending on infrastructure before the spending ban during the election period. The second quarter, if I recall correctly, is projected to have a small surplus, followed by small deficits in the third and fourth quarters. It is a mystery to me why the government has not been more aggressive in pointing out this fact to quell fears over the country's fiscal situation.
An actual reply is not something that should be hoped for or expected, but a reply did come within an hour. What a cool guy.
Dear Mr. Gonzalez,

Thank you for your email and reaction to BizLinks. Let's see whether the 2nd, 3rd & 4th qtrs will be able to compensate the huge deficit of the first qtr. And your point is well taken.


Rey Gamboa
Not the most insightful of replies, but it's cool to know my email was actually read by the person that it was addressed to. Plus, the fact that I wasn't berated for my precociousness makes me feel like less of a dunce.

Maybe people actually can become diagnosticians by watching a lot of House. ^___^

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Spider-Man 3

Oh right, so what was I doing spending my Labor Day morning in Ayala Center? Why of course, watching one of the first screenings of Spider-Man 3 on its worldwide opening day! A good three days ahead of its US release, I must add! The line at the ticket counter was almost as epic as the movie itself.

It brings me sadness, however, to I admit that this third outing is not as great a movie as Spider-Man 2. But then again very few things are. I loved Spider-Man 2 with the sort of childlike zeal that I didn't even realize was possible at my age. It's the same kind of admiration I felt for The Lion King and Jurassic Park, movies I fell in love with when I was 8. Everything about that movie just felt so right. It would have taken an act of divine intervention to live up to a benchmark set that high.

But Spider-Man 3 actually is a good movie, all things considered. It takes all the ingredients of the previous movies and multiplies them. More action, more humor, more heroes, more villains-- though not everyone will see this as a good thing. Some of the things worked out really well, like the special effects and action scenes and much of the humor. Some things didn't work out so well, like MJ's singing, or Peter's dance sequence (yes, really). And I kind of longed for a centrifugal threat like Doc Ock, rather than juggling the three or four villains along in the story.

I worry that if I elaborate on my thoughts and opinions much further, I'll be giving out a negative impression. For some reason it feels easier to point out the flaws rather than the positive aspects, so I'll leave it at that. In any case, this movie is sure to break all sorts of box-office records and kick a wide variety of ass.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Gringo Honasan was in Ayala

Today I came face-to-face with a real life villain!

Gringo Honasan, the Philippines' ever-dependable coup plotter and occasional fugitive from the law, was wandering around Ayala Center Cebu this morning with his gang of around ten campaign workers clad in Honasan t-shirts. Fresh out of jail, and with no political party or campaign machinery, he has apparently been reduced to prowling the shopping malls in hopes of being mobbed by adoring star struck fans. It seems like a very crude way to campaign for senator, but I guess he does have more experience in this field than I do.

Surprisingly, he did not even come close to being mobbed by fans. Although people in his direct vicinity came over to have their picture taken with him, and several others would come by to shake his hand, he always had a generous amount of breathing space and his campaign workers and photographers often outnumbered his audience. Quite a few people seemed to notice and recognize him, but kept at a safe distance anyway.

On one hand, I felt the urge to go up to him and shake his hand because he is famous and that would earn me some shallow bragging rights. On the other hand, I wanted to run up to him and give him a firm punch in the gut because... you know... I hate him. He led a series of deadly coup attempts against Cory Aquino, escaped from prison a few times, probably led multiple destabilization attempts in the last few years, and used his infamy to become a senator. It is a wonder that an asshole like him is treated with any more respect than a common criminal. And it is quite possible that he will win the senate seat he is seeking. He represents so much that is wrong with our political system.

Anyway, I did not go up to him. I briefly considered shaking his hand insincerely and saying into his ear "You should still be in jail you son of a bitch". That would have been pretty cool. But I just contented myself by keeping my distance and wearing a weird expression of displeasure.