Tuesday, December 16, 2008

One thousand pesos for free

Paging the owner of a lost 1000-peso bill. Repeat, the owner of a lost 1000-peso bill. Your money has been found in the plants beside the parking lot of The Walk, Asiatown IT Park, Cebu City.

Your money has been found.

Thanks a lot!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Do they even know what they're talking about

A few thoughts on the move to change the Philippine constitution, and yesterday's much-ballyhooed protest against it.

1. No one wants term extensions

First of all, they're saying that they oppose moves to amend the constitution because they are against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo extending her term in office. "I don't want Cha-Cha because it would prolong her stay in power," said Necitas Feliciano, a 59-year-old garment worker. "We want elections in 2010 so that we can get her out."

This may come as a shock to the people in the streets yesterday, but no one is promoting the term extension that they're protesting. Not the President, not the Vice-President, not the Senate, not the House of Representatives.

President Arroyo has repeatedly and consistently said she will block any moves from her allies to extend her term. No one in congress is even seriously considering the proposal. I hesitate to even call it a proposal because no one is proposing it.

Of course, you can always baselessly accuse people of having a hidden agenda, but then how can anyone get anything done at all? This is all scare tactics. They said the same thing about Erap. They said the same thing about Ramos. They said the same thing about Cory.

2. Those acronyms are horrible

Years of dumbing things down with acronyms like "cha-cha", "con-con", "con-ass", "no-el" trivializes democracy. It's like they deliberately contracted in that manner to make it deprecating. They put labels on things then talk about them so much that people forget what they mean. Now people permanently associate "cha-cha" with extending term limits, which is just silly.

3. Not every constitution is sacred

They pretend like the constitution is something that descended from the heavens and served our republic for a century, rather than whipped up in a few months by a constitutional convention in 1986. The reality is that the constitution does have problems that hold us back.

Here's a fun fact: Every Philippine president in the past 40 years has tried to overhaul the constitution.

4. Shutting down Makati wasn't necessary

The rally that shut down the arteries of the Makati central business district yesterday attracted just 6,500 people. Just how many people does it take to close down Makati Avenue and Paseo de Roxas anyway? This rally could have been held indoors.

Here's a prudent quote from Lyndon B. Johnson: We must preserve the right to free assembly, but free assembly does not carry with it the right to block public thoroughfares to traffic. We do have a right to protest, and a right to march under conditions that do not infringe the constitutional rights of our neighbors.

It's not so much that I'm a big fan of the Arroyo administration. To be honest I don't even think overhauling the constitution is a good idea. But when the weapon-of-choice is stupidity I feel obliged to come to the defense.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

How can Manny top this?

This wasn't a fight that Manny Pacquiao was supposed to win. This was supposed to be the ridiculous dream fight so mismatched that he could go down in a loss and no one would think the less of him for it.

But after eight lopsided rounds, a beaten and battered Oscar de la Hoya threw in the towel.

And Manny made it look so easy.

Next he should fight, like, two people at a time. Oscar de la Hoya plus a midget. Just to throw in a bit more excitement. I mean, after Oscar de la Hoya... how can he possibly top that?

Favorite quote:

"It's nothing personal," Pacquiao said after the fight. "It's not about Mexicans and Filipinos. It's about putting on a performance and making people happy. It is not my ambition to beat all Mexicans. I love Mexicans too."

What a guy.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Obama snubbed the Philippines? Please.

Excuse me for being an entire month late in throwing my two cents into this issue, but the story that Barack Obama supposedly snubbed Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is sounding more and more ridiculous with each passing day, which is doubly infuriating because I'm totally aware that I'm the only one still paying any attention. Despite the fact that this falsehood has ceased to be a ripe issue and has tragically lapsed into the realm of conventional wisdom, allow me a moment to sort out the facts as a sort of token honoris causa to sanity.

So here's the premise: Following the presidential elections in America last November 4, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, along with every other world leader who isn't a total dick, makes a phone call to Barack Obama to congratulate him on being elected the next President of the United States. And like every other person who had just been elected President of the United States at the time, he was a tad too busy to take phone calls at three in the morning, even if it was the leaders of every other country in the world at the other end of the line.

Apparently in the thin-skinned bizzaro world of the Philippine opposition this amounts to a snub.

Two days later Obama got around to the first batch of around 10 return calls to world leaders who congratulated him, and much to the delight of cynics the Philippines was not one of those lucky chosen few. This is apparently enough to conclude that "Snubs show Obama is no RP friend" and plaster that statement as the headline of some front page analysis.

Now it's worth mentioning the sort of nonsense Amando Doronila put into this particular linked article because it reflects the baloney that people on that side of the bridge trick themselves and the casual public into believing. He said the Philippines is not on Obama's radar, he says it's a speck on his map, he calls our leaders humiliated, and he conjures up a story about Obama's staff not knowing where the Philippines is. He implies that Obama will never give a return call, calls the Philippines a sidelined leper, and then closes by saying, this is a quote, "Obama is not our friend". It's unclear whether Doronila is being maliciously crooked or merely an affable naive old man.

But what the cynics don't realize (or pretend not to notice)-- and amazingly I have yet to see a single person point this out-- was that the countries Obama returned calls to that week were basically the members of the G8 plus America's southern neighbor Mexico and their best-friend-down-under Australia and their Middle-East-mistress Israel.

Let's be real. Those that demand or expect the Philippines should be included in that top tier of countries Obama makes return calls to are either extremely presumptuous or simply don't have a clue.

In fact, Arroyo did get a return call from Obama on November 17, making her the first Southeast Asian leader to get such a call, a fact which would make a lot of Filipinos feel all fuzzy inside had only someone bothered to point it out aside from myself several weeks after the fact. The only other Southeast Asian leader Obama has called up is Indonesia's president on November 24. Does this make Malaysia and Singapore lepers too, or does Obama get the benefit of the doubt this time?

Other people who Obama has returned calls to in the weeks after he called Arroyo are the leaders of Argentina, Chile, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Colombia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Haiti, Afghanistan, the Palestinian Authority, the European Commission, and United Nations. Just yesterday he made calls to the leaders of Denmark, Greece, Iraq, Qatar, Kuwait, and the Netherlands.

Anyone who was spreading intrigue or prematurely declaring a new dark age of Philippine-American relations needs a good kick in the ass from the boot of perspective.

Unfortunately it's the cynics that have won this round, not by being correct (clearly) but by barking the loudest at a time when people gave a damn and couldn't know any better. They've succeeded at their goal of undermining respect for the government and making people feel just a little bit worse about their country and the people in charge of it. So who, really, is no friend of the Philippines?