Saturday, April 19, 2008

Erap can't run for president again

There's a signature campaign going on. They've gathered 80,000 signatures so far. They plan to collect a total of six million in the coming months. All to convince former President Joseph Estrada to run for president in 2010.

What a monumental waste of time.

Let's brush aside, for the moment, the fact that Estrada was convicted of plunder, and the fact that under the terms of his pardon he agreed not to run for public office. There's a much bigger reason that he cannot run for president in 2010.
Article VII, Section 4

The President and the Vice-President shall be elected by direct vote of the people for a term of six years which shall begin at noon on the thirtieth day of June next following the day of the election and shall end at noon of the same date, six years thereafter. The President shall not be eligible for any re-election.

Not be eligible for any re-election.

Any re-election.

There was a similar signature campaign around 1997 or so, which supposedly gathered four million signatures aimed at getting then President Fidel Ramos to run for re-election. And this confused me at the time because I understood, even as a 12 year old, that the rule of law is bigger than any signature campaign.

I'm quite sure the Supreme Court understands that as well, even if Estrada and his supporters do not.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Cebu International Convention Center

The Cebu International Convention Center is a beautiful structure developed and managed by Mandaue City and the Province of Cebu. It's located at the reclamation area in Mandaue City, built specifically for the 12th ASEAN Summit held in January 2007. Construction on the building was blazingly fast, beginning in April 2006 and finishing in December that year.

Around the time of the ASEAN summit the pundits and spin masters were trying to make a controversy out of things, as they always do, gleefully predicting that it couldn't be done. Saying either that the structure was overpriced, or poorly constructed, or wouldn't be finished on time. But don't you listen to them-- no evidence has turned up of kickbacks or overpricing of any kind, the building was completed on time, the ASEAN summit was a success, and the convention center has been put to good use ever since. In fact, considering all the government projects that actually are poorly conceived and executed, the CICC should stand as a hallmark of a job well done. Unfortunately "Cynics proven dead wrong" doesn't make a very attractive headline.

Some were even saying the convention center is too nice to be located in Cebu. Hmmph. People outside Manila deserve nice things too!

I finally got to check out the CICC for myself lately, going there early in the morning to take pictures and soak in the atmosphere. Luckily, I discovered that there was a high school graduation ceremony scheduled to be held there that very morning, which provided me the opportunity to blend in with the crowd and walk inside as if I belonged there. Haha... I can be such a creepy guy...

All the while I kept thinking that it would have been better to take photos in the afternoon, when the sun was shining on the building's facade. But the early morning provides some cool shots too.

The arch that goes over the building is supposed to symbolize something, I cannot remember what. With the prongs at the end it reminds me of a woman giving birth.

Here's a view of the convention center from the a cool monolith-like monument at the eastern end.

This is the lobby. The ground floor has the summit hall and lots of individual meeting rooms, and the second floor has the plenary hall and exhibition hall.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Valencia, Negros Oriental - Public Plaza

My home town of Valencia in Negros Oriental is about 8 kilometers inland from Dumaguete City. With its higher elevation at the base of a mountain there's a noticeable drop in temperature.

The town has a nice public plaza for a small town. A really nice public plaza. The people living around here don't appreciate it as much as they should. It has a healthy balance of open space and developed areas, the landscaping is simple and nicely done without going overboard, everything is clean and well-maintained and green.

Here's a couple of pictures I took recently.

That's a statue of Jose Rizal on a tall pedestal, among landscaped walkways leading from the playground to the open field. Tennis courts are in the background.

This fountain dates back to Spanish times. Back then it was a primary source of water for the people, with water channeled from mountain springs. Now it's just for decoration.

The plaza makes use of the town's inclined terrain with this amphitheater. A stage is set up in the grass whenever the place is used for concerts or political rallies.

The south side of the plaza is reserved for open grassy space, against a backdrop of giant acacia trees.

The town church, built in 1961, is no architectural marvel, but looks quite majestic sitting at the top of this grand wide staircase.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Unfortunate snack food naming

A product of Republic Biscuit Corporation (Rebisco)

Do you dare?

Friday, April 4, 2008

On saving murderers

Once again we are faced with an overseas Filipino worker awaiting the gallows, a media and public that's all too willing to portray her as the victim, and a government that's bending over backwards and spending ridiculous resources to save her life.

Here's a summary of the latest episode: The Kuwaiti Supreme Court has upheld the death penalty against May Vecina, 28, a Filipina who is set to be hanged for murdering her employer's youngest son, as well as attempting to kill her employer's two other children.

First of all, to the Filipino people: Stop pretending that this is an innocent victim (or, God forbid, an iconic heroine). She murdered a 6 year-old boy. She attempted to murder an 11 year-old boy and a 17 year-old girl. Her excuse, which is utterly lame and not much of an excuse at all, is that her employers insulted her. As an opponent of the death penalty I do not want to see anyone hanged, but of all the people who have done anything to deserve my sympathy, she ranks somewhere near the bottom.

Second, to the government: You need to get your priorities in order. When another OFW was in a similar sticky situation a few months ago, the President and the Vice President made separate trips to Kuwait to appeal for her life. There are so many better ways to spend your time and money, and so many millions more hard working and law-abiding Filipinos to spend it on.

Third, and most importantly, allow me to put forward a radical piece of advice to overseas Filipino workers: Do not kill your employers. I don't care if you were abused, insulted, overworked, beaten, exhausted, or raped. Maybe, just maybe, if May Vecina was not a murderer she would not be on death row.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A good sign

I like this sign:

This picture was taken last Thanksgiving weekend, when some officemates and I went on a 13-hour drive from Atlanta to Washington DC. (That trip could have spawned a wonderful blog entry on it's own. Alas, the window of opportunity for that has passed, so now I'm just gonna talk about this sign.)

Shortly after crossing the border into North Carolina, we pulled into a rest stop along I-85. To our camera-happy delight, there was this lovely sign welcoming us to the state, giving us the chance to collect photographic evidence that we have indeed set foot on North Carolina.

Now, if you could divert your eyes from the handsome stranger for a moment and focus on the sign... Notice how simple it is. And so seemingly effortless. With all the resources at the disposal of this first world country, they could put up some fancy eye-catching monument paying tribute to... whatever it is North Carolina is famous for. Instead there's this utilitarian sign, bare-bones but simple and clean. Wooden. Cost effective. The font used for the text is Arial Narrow Bold. At the left is the flag of the state of North Carolina. Perhaps in that past couple of minutes I've put more thought into the composition of this blog entry than it took for North Carolina to come up with the design of this welcome sign... But it serves its purpose, and doesn't it just feel right?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Twenty-five centavos

Approximate value: US$0.005.

So this morning I went to the grocery store to buy a bottle of juice worth 24.25 pesos. I gave 30 pesos to the cashier. She asked me if I had a 25 centavo coin, and I said no. Then she gave me a full 6 pesos of change anyway.

What's the point of asking for the 25 centavos if it doesn't even matter?

P.S. The macro on this camera is incredible.