Friday, April 25, 2008

Pulp Summer Slam 8

Dubbed as Summer Slam Forever, this year's summer slam boasts a number of international acts such as Darkest Hour, Mahatma among other. I personally think that it's going to be one heck of a slam. Literally! A good break from your monotonous works, studies, trainings etc. Go see and hear music, not just live...
but RAW!
(I've heard tickets are sold for 220. But think about it: go to this concert or buy some rice?hmm..)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

THE GRAIN HEADACHE: Musing on the Philippine Rice Crisis (Part II)

[I have decided to run a series of entries concerning the present Rice Crisis in the country]

[Disclaimer: Again, all seeming inaccuracies that may be found herein should be blamed only to me as it’s been days since the conversation that is described below has happened.]

“Media, media, media; yellow, yellow press”
Coffee break…so to speak. I was with two superiors and the conversation was led to the show in GMA 7 air last Sunday (April 20) which included one of those superiors of mine. I think Richard Gutierrez was the host of the show and sadly enough, there were a lot of cut times in it, as was said by my superior. (I am yet to watch it.) Well it’s quite sad to know that sometimes, media seems to choose what they really want to project to the public. And being choosy in information and facts is not really that good I think. Facts are to be bared as they are. A part of the program concerned the question of the climate change being one of the reasons for the current rice crisis.

Not yet for the Rice
Well just to make things short, it’s not yet. Although it is not undeniable that climate change is now seen all around the world, the change seems to play around 0.7 degree Celsius, a change indeed, but not enough to make a significant effect on the rice. For any change or effect to be effected, a two-degree change should do it all. But for now, it’s still not a reigning factor. (And so if it’s not, what?)

A Web of intricate factors
And it looked like more complicated that what I first thought it was. I cannot really put down the exact exchange of statements that went between us three, but upon the flow of arguments so to speak, the bottom line still is the population increase in the country. Production per se is really ample, for lack of a better term, but the ever-increasing number of Filipinos, with a rate that is really fast (I cannot put here any estimate because I really forgot it). So that’s it, even one of those superiors said that THERE ISN’T NO RICE CRISIS AT ALL. (How about that?) This population rise is the culprit!

I wonder…
I cannot exactly recall if I asked to them the question whether it is after all related to the increase of oil prices plus some of the main food products. Baka nakisasabay lang talaga?
Anyway, this is a fact: we import rice and it is this vision (can it really be called a vision?) of rice crises moved certain countries like India and Vietnam or Thailand (I am not accusing but these are the countries that I remembered mentioned) to hold their rice intended for exportation plus the hoarding of our VERY OWN traders and middlemen that consequently contributed to this SEEMING CRISIS.

Seeming Crisis
Seeming crisis indeed as far as I can understand it and as far as the conversations that we had is concerned. I would not elaborate on the seeming sensationalism of the media AS A WHOLE. Hey it must be clear right now that I am not pinpointing. I said as a whole. I seem now to recall the lectures I’ve attended during the schools press conferences in my earlier school days. Well they said that not all of that we see, that we hear from the media is 100% accurate…true. Well then, prove them wrong if it’s worth it. For now, it’s making lot of disappointment. Tsk. Why do I say so? Because until I realized it, I was not really not aware that indeed some of the things happening in country and all the information and facts associated with them are being painted in WHOLE DIFFERENT PICTURE when projected to the people. But that’s another story. =)

[More on this topic…to be continued.]
Photo Credits:
+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Friday, April 18, 2008

THE GRAIN HEADACHE: Musing on the Philippine Rice Crisis (Part I)

[I have decided to run a series of entries concerning the present Rice Crisis in the country]

First day of my OJT…well supposedly my first. After the annoying process of obtaining medical clearance I have finally found myself in the comfortable sofa of the department in which I will be spending the whole summer, overlooking the majestic (majestic indeed) view of Mount Maquiling (or Makiling.) I couldn’t blame the doctor for sending me back home to have another X-ray (I can still recite it, APICOLORDOTIC view). It initially sent chills to me but I am more than thankful now to know that I don’t have any abnormalities (‘cause I don’t smoke, I never have asthma or tuberculosis etc…)
My superior is one heck of a scientist. And since what I am about to do for her and for her office would concern rice, I decided as well to ask her about the current situations of rice in the country.
Listed below are some of the questions and answers have passed through in the afternoon that we had that fruitful and hearty conversation.
[Disclaimer: all of the statements that will be found below has passed through my mind and does not, in any way, reflect directly the statements that my superior has discussed to me. I did not take notes when we had the talk and so they may contain a bunch of inaccuracies in which case, all should be blamed on me. Ok? ]

Why is there a rice crisis?
Well, she said that it boils down to the population increase in the country (two point something percent per year if I remember it right). Since the present growth shows exponential in behavior the amount of rice that is being produced is not enough to feed all the mouths of the Filipinos.

What are the factors affecting enough production of rice?
As far I can remember, she said that season in the country affects the production of rice. There are, in general two seasons here, one, the dry season and the other the wet season. Dry season is favored more since there is more sunlight (more radiation?) and so photosynthesis is effected more. But this is in fact favorable only if the needed stuff for the ‘maximum’ production so to speak is at hand – irrigation, fertilizer etc. Although the rainy season gives out a lot of water to splash onto the plants, there is not enough sunlight and hence photosynthesis that is greatly needed for the production of rice. To summarize, dry season + proper irrigation is good as compared to rainy season.

Are there any other factors?
I think there is still. She also said that the availability of arable land is also a factor. Most of the planting lands now are being converted to malls, subdivisions, highways, golf courses etc. which greatly reduces the area of those capable of land that are good for planting rice. And so naturally, I asked: DOES THE GOVERNMENT DO ANYTHING TO PROTECT THOSE LANDS FROM BEING BOUGHT AND CONVERTED INTO SOME OTHER FORM OF USAGE? She told me, rather to my surprise, that IN FACT THE GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS ARE THE ONES WHO APPROVE SUCH CONVERSIONS WHENEVER IT SEEMED FAVORABLE FOR THEM. She cited a town where a past official disapproved of the construction of a certain mall. But later on, when that official was replaced with a new one, the request/bid/proposal was immediately approved. And hence, the mall over what was once a rice field. Tsk, tsk, tsk.

And the notorious…
MIDDLEMEN. The traders. Hell, they are for real as I found out that afternoon. She said that some people, with money tend to buy these three things: oil, gold, and…I forgot the other one. But since they are quite costly, tend turned into rice and stored them. And so, the actual rice produced, meant for the people, is in fact blocked by these middlemen. And when the crisis comes, they would put them out, to be sold in high prices. Ingenious don’t you think? Ha-ha. That really s-cks!

The sad news…
The sad news, as it turns out, is that the government policies seems to be in the brink of leniency. I asked: “Why don’t the farmers just plant more on the dry season since it will be more favorable?” Favorable indeed, but she said that the irrigation is a problem as they lack it. She further added that the government is the one which must attend to such matters. Policies, policies, policies. Well, well, well, at that moment I seemed to realize the slow processes that have been going on in the country today. I was quite saddened by these facts.

Well I went home early after the interview (want an ice cream for a hot afternoon?) but not without those insights into the present rice crisis. I’m looking forward to the things that I would soon be learning from the institute.

[More on this topic…to be continued.]

Photo Credits:
Relevant sites:

Saturday, April 12, 2008

“A Peacock or Trojan Horse?”: A Recollection

I am still in the midst of preparing these defining articles that would dictate if I will be able to make it to the writers’ community (not exactly, but that’s how I would like to term it) but I cannot help but put down into words this heavy feeling that have come upon me, a swish of a distant past that allows itself to be remembered on the date it was created.
To check again the dates again would be quite a waste of time, I have checked them more than a dozen time or so days before. The day marks when a plan was conceived and later on triumphantly manifested which brought about so much bliss in me, and even in these vague recalls, I could still feel the tinge of the experience.
It was the same sultry atmosphere, a silent air that offers no comfort at all. It is still the same, just as then, when I woke up early (although I cannot attest if I had the same cramps upon waking up, no thanks to my undersized makeshift bed) and proceeded with the plan. And the hair brushed onto my face, only this time it is my own hair that brushed onto mine. The only difference perhaps is the presence of the book, which replaced the celebrity on this trip to the hero’s home.
Maybe the book and the upcoming work days for me temporarily hindered me from getting a hold of all the facts pertaining to the plan. I would not go into the elaborate details of the interviews I had today mainly because it all come to pass without me really noticing them. But after about two hours of training-related tasks, I was suddenly gripped again by the same old sultry atmosphere. The element of drama, so to speak, was even heightened when I came upon a trio of young people laughing, one of who resembles the celebrity in certain angles. I might have bitten my lip to prevent myself from blurting out a curse because of the events that come upon me but I cannot really recall. But I could say that the afternoon was tearing me down, just as was the careless scrapping of these darn shoes of mine was being tore down by the gravel-strewn road side (there was no side walk on these borders of the university). All things were soon set aside because of my sleepiness until now…
The small picture is still enclosed in that small brown container, a memento that accompanied me across seas and bays and along long roads and streets. It has never left its place since it was placed there, close to my well of emotions (not an emo!) for two reasons I think: 1) I never allowed it to be displaced nor to be lost, it’s as precious as the prototype itself and 2) the object chose not to leave (an exaggeration of course).Nonetheless it was also the commencement of the sacredness of the rest house by the bay. I have never ever tried to make a breach into that globe of such fragility and perhaps would not even try to for the next ten decades or so.
And the sundae into which I hold particular interest and subsequent addiction. It hold me into my sanity and plays the role of a drug the lulls me into sleep in my most delirium-plagued nights. (A picnic of French fries over a conversation on science and Singapore. Recall.)
And so things culminate in the description of this tree, whose form was the subject of debate of that lovely afternoon, whether it was a peacock or a Trojan horse in disguised. Whatever it was, it made its mark and now suddenly caught each conversation. If only the carbon dioxide it inhaled could sing again the pressures on the air that contain the voices, I’d gladly look around for an old recorder and put them permanently into those magnetic tapes, wound around a case which holds those temporary affections that seem so fleeting now.
No things have changed now, except the closure of the meeting place where the violet bag was given and a fruit juice was sipped into those smiling lips. And me of course, the horrible character of this tale I tailored to my satisfaction and to your consternation.
Photo Credits:
(c) 2008 Francis Emralino

Thursday, April 10, 2008


And so it turned out to be my first (should I say serious) interview outside my teenage years. Experience-wise, I would say that it gave me that hint that there is still more beyond the bounds of seriousness and province-limited works to which I have initially set myself to.
There was already a cold feeling on my stomach, coupled with the all-too-familiar paced up heart beats as I made my way to Quezon City. I brought the book by Albert Camus (La Peste) I was reading to consume a few chapters but it seemed that I cannot go on for another chapter after that short one I’ve just read. I was nervous even before I realized it.

And hell, hell preview is the last thing that I wanted. Of course, since I was young I’ve been brought up into this thinking that Manila (NCR as a whole I mean) was a big dirty city, full of smog and all sort of bad germs etc. Setting aside this seeming prejudice, I REALLY felt that it was scorching heat all over the place where I dropped off. I even made a stupid move to stay under a small tree just to shield myself from those indifferent UV rays when there was in fact a waiting shed just a few meters away. (Heck, I’m not a resident there and so I am entitled to my own kookiness, so to speak).

I finally tracked the avenue I was looking for, and one heck of an avenue (it was lllooooonnnnggg!!!!). As a rule of thumb, I always proceed with the “right” – right turns, right of that building, etc. But it was the first time that I turned left and so found myself walking under the noon heat, along this foreign avenue, looking for that building I was instructed to visit. (Maybe it was the heat that compelled to think that AVIBA is really that same as VIBAL. Darn that heat!)

To shorten this “hot” adventure of mine, I’ve finally found myself at the gates of the publishing house I was looking for. I would not blame my earlier nervousness to the apparent inside convulsion (of fear + pessimism perhaps?) but rather point my accusing finger to that Jollibee Sundae. I love sundaes (well since I first made it a special object last year: recall that Sunday Sundae. Anyway…)
Natatae na ako dahil sa content na gatas nito!

But as I was trying my best to control that utterly undesirable feeling at that moment, I beheld the scenery that was right before me. I was at the 3rd floor (or rather, what I thought was the third floor). From where I stood, I got good glimpse of that spires of the Iglesia ni Cristo. I thought, hey this is the main church of this religion, here in QC. But then, that is still to be confirmed. Well, I will admit that such move to look outside and look for beauty when in a turmoil is a thing that I’ve learned from my Electromagnetic Theory I class (or specifically, from the instructor). Despite the contempt I have before and (surprise!) even after the class, I could say that at least I’ve learned a thing from him and which I had used (thank, thanks, thanks) prior to my interview.

And so all went well there. (Cheers!) In fact right at this moment, I really should be writing those assignments of mine or else I would not get any job at all (can I say that it’s really a job? I dunno.)

And ultimately, the thing that was that I’ve learned a bunch of scattered lessons that I find really hard o write about – those sort of things that get to reside into your mind and get so stuck there, fully realized, but unable to get a hold of them if you are to write about them. I know it’s kind of a weird thing but then again, anyone is entitled to his or her eccentricities. (Laughs).

The (GOAT)CCI Gang Noise

Just a short note on the issue of the now-famous Gucci Gang

I would find it personally tedious to make a definite line dividing the definitions entitled to the words “freedom” and “liberty”. No more than an ordinary physics student, I dare not deal into the realms of debate unprepared and lacking the necessary skills. And so for now, let the word “liberty” suffice for what I would like to talk about here. (Courtesy of one of the versions of the WordWeb: “freedom of choice”).
For just within a month this issue has taken the country by storm, if not the whole world. And as has been an integral part of the showbiz in the Philippine context, the involvement of big names (read: those whose photos and names are often seen in wide circulating magazines and newspapers) just add to its flavor and attractiveness.

In brief: the story is all about a guy who has been cheated by his partner and took away with him a large sum of money (seventy million I think?) intended for business endeavors. And he now wants to get it all back which proved to be more than just really intending to have them back. Things have gotten really complicated in there - in the blog, that is. (Read the stuff for yourself.)

Resultas, Discussiones
And so we now have this: almost half a million hits to the site, hundreds (perhaps thousands) of people hooked into the latest developments of the topic, some of them have been reported to join in and open up all-new hot things to discuss and to which yet big people could be possibly drag into.
I just hope all will go well, that he’ll finally have want he wants, to serve him well. That’s plainly understandable. And those who must be punished or must be dissociated from the issue let them be. Gossip is one heck of a spice of life but ultimately we want our lives to be as peaceful as possible (from my own point of view).

Well I just hope that it’s not just another clanging of things for unnecessary pursuits; that it’s not all but noise. We all have the ‘liberty’ to voice out those concoctions of thoughts from within but not to point of making it a show-off show. It’s so undesirable today, when the present administration is hounded by corruption controversies to which we must be vigilant. Add to that the almost synchronized (or is it pre-calculated) increase in consumer product prices. We cannot afford to bask under in the sweetness of unconfirmed lifestyle-related stories for too long, gossips etc., when a large number of the country is still under that thin dreadful red line – that line of poverty. We really hope, I really hope.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Trees and Trees and Trees

I think that I shall never see,
Sceneries as lovely as those trees…by the South Super highway

Well, well, well. I’ve been traveling to and fro this past week to Manila for a bunch of errands. Awarding ceremony, shopping (the best part), OJT stuff, resume, among other. I really like it when I am mobile. For one, I get to read some reading materials coherently. I don’t know but I find it more convenient to read in a moving vehicle. And also observe people, buildings, and sceneries outside.
The main highway leading to Manila from the south is getting a make-over right now and one has to take with him or her substantial amount of patience, in case you get stuck in traffic. (At least I felt I was drugged when I was on my way to Alabang that the heavy traffic did not that afternoon, in any way, boil the contents of my head. I usually get easily irritated when the things I’ve planned ahead do not materialize on the times I thought they’d get done.)
One thing I’ve just observed from my trips was that they’ve cut down or severed several trees by the highway to make way for some expansions of the highways. I don’t know but I felt alarmed by how they just cut down those trees. I just hope that for every tree that they are cutting down they are planting the same number of new trees as replacements, at least in the immediate vicinity of their former places.
Just now, I remember the project of Senator Loren Legarda, Luntiang Pilipinas. Although I am not so sure if it is still operational, I hope that activates such as that still exists in the country.
(Sighs.) It’s getting a little disappointing here now. (Hey Filipinos! Can we do something about the things happening in the country now? Weyk ap!)
Read about Luntiang Pilipinas:

DEADliest DEADlines

Contests, submissions that you might want to participate in. Just Google ( these if you are quite interested:

April 15 – Oakseed Ministries Essay Contest
April 30 – First Peter Solis Nery Essay Writing Contest
April 30 – LIRA Poetry Clinic
April 30 – Gawad Likhaan (UP)
April 30 – ANI 34
April 30 – Palanca Awards