Friday, July 30, 2010

Post-SONA: The ‘Rice’ Musings


Everyone has probably heard all the talks about the recently delivered State of the Nation Address of President Noynoy Aquino. There is so much to think and ask about what the address contained, and I personally desire to embark on a piece-by-piece study of what he said. I am not a professional though; I’m not even in the field of politics and economics. But the mere fact that we are, in small or large ways, concerned with the way things go in the government and the society, we must at least make an effort to participate even in small discussions. This is the path that I chose, to rant about things in my blog, and I hope to improve on them as years go by.

Anyway, I was inevitably led back to my ‘Grain Headache’ Series in 2008 (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4) as I read through the SONA transcripts. To quote from the text:

Dumako naman po tayo sa pondo ng NFA.

Noong 2004: 117,000 metric tons ang pagkukulang ng supply ng Pilipinas. Ang binili nila, 900,000 metric tons. Kahit ulitin mo pa ng mahigit pitong beses ang pagkukulang, sobra pa rin ang binili nila.

Noong 2007: 589,000 metric tons ang pagkukulang ng supply sa Pilipinas. Ang binili nila, 1.827 million metric tons. Kahit ulitin mo pa ng mahigit tatlong beses ang pagkukulang, sobra na naman ang binili nila.

Ang masakit nito, dahil sobra-sobra ang binibili nila taun-taon, nabubulok lang pala sa mga kamalig ang bigas, kagaya ng nangyari noong 2008.

Hindi po ba krimen ito, na hinahayaan nilang mabulok ang bigas, sa kabila ng apat na milyong Pilipinong hindi kumakain ng tatlong beses sa isang araw?

Ang resulta nito, umabot na sa 171.6 billion pesos ang utang ng NFA noong Mayo ng taong ito.


I give credit to those intelligent workers at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) who have relayed their views that it is not the crisis that is the big deal, but the way the population booms exponentially in the country. Well then, so there was really shortage of rice in those years mentioned, noting that it was years under the regime of then President Gloria-Arroyo. Connecting it to year 2008 when I blogged about the country’s rice crisis, was it possible that the crisis that was amplified in the news in 2008 was the result of these over-purchase? that what was suppose to be consumed (and the supposed buffer stocks) was already spoiled by 2008? To quote from the last entry on the series: “…from him [the then DA secretary] I learned that we are in fact producing more rice than the foremost rice exporter Thailand…” Whether the over-purchase was local or foreign defies simple logic – what was the purpose of the overspending?

Indeed there is much to be explained and probed about the ‘rice situation’ in the country. In as much as we want to at least sweep the government of corruption, we shall inevitably crash into the monsters of our past. We will see in the coming months how the government will fare in this endeavor.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

KAPWA sa UPLB UPCAT Review 2010 Aftermath and other Musings

Even in this little event of ours, it showed us that there are still individuals who look up to the University of the Philippines as prestigious and to a certain extent, hard-to-get. The existence of various review centers and sessions (prior to the holding of the annual UPCAT) stands evidence to this. Indeed obtaining a slot in UP is an honor already. And thus despite what turned out to be a not-so-conducive place (as was said by the attendees) more than a hundred students trekked to our venue to attend our annual review.

I shall not put myself outside the blames that might have arisen from the event; we all share the work, both residents and alumni alike. Perhaps over the years, we get to learn new things that we incorporate for the next holding of the event. If there have been misses in the past activities, there have certainly been hits (and innovations) which I did not see in the previous reviews.

* reviewers during our past review; photo taken by then Miss Jackieline Reogo

My part in the review was particularly harrowing and it was already a wake-up call for me to improve and make the best out of the degree that I pursued in college. The attendees have all the right to comment on the overall turnout of the review. But they have certainly no right to dictate what are to done or not to be done on the activity.

I particularly detest the comments of the attendees of Canossa College of San Pablo City. They should have set their minds that it was supposed to be a city-wide review and they could not hope to get all the comfort and convenience that they are offered from their walled up school. They are wishing instead that the review should have been held in Canossa.

Canossa? Hello? Baka hindi n’yo alam kung gaano kahirap noong nakaraan na imbitahan kayo sa review at contest! It was not really compulsory; you can ignore our review for all I know. But to attend and just whine, that is another story. You may not recall that I was behind your seating places, and I was hearing how you were struggling to get the discussions understood; discussions which the past attendees have found interesting and fun.

Our review is not a place for entertainment and circus. They could have asked for the review to be held in a comedy bar. We were there to help out our fellow students get in UP, as we have done for past years already. I cannot guarantee the “perfect-ness” of our activity, but we do hope that as we have been through the horrors of being a student there, we should be able to give them insights on how to deal with the exam.

In any case, the review shall still be an annual event. It’s just that I am too sensitive with regards to the way they see the activity that the resident members have painstakingly prepared. To them, I extend my warmest greetings for a job well done. To Sir Bryan Hernandez, Sir Mark Lester Chico, Sir Arnold Sinen, and Jun and Arjay (KAPWA Alumni) for their presence, I also send out my thanks. Special thanks to Sir Ike Prudenet who have always shown the enthusiasm in serving the aspiring UP students of San Pablo City.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Towards Achieving the ‘Millennium Development Goals’

I have recently attended a conference in which the theme concerns the Millennium Development Goals or MDGs. It was with shame that I realized that I am not aware of this and more shame when I failed to follow the discussions that occurred during the two-day conference.


But as to these goals, I believe they are generally comprehensible. I am thus taking the liberty of putting them down here:

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. Achieve universal primary education
3. Promote gender equality and empower women
4. Reduce Child Mortality Rate
5. Improve maternal health
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
7. Ensure environmental sustainability
8. Develop a global partnership for development

In many advocacies that originated from international meetings, it is, of course, especially important to look at them in light of our own country’s situation. That was the goal of the conference. Despite the “hieroglyphic” impact of the talks to me, the keynote address of Professor Jaime Z. Galvez Tan (we were intrigued by this seeming two surnames) was particularly catchy as he enumerated a number of regions and provinces in the country that are least likely to achieve the MDGs, which are suppose to be achieved by 2015. The regions include Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, MiMaRoPa - Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan, Eastern Visayas - Samar, Biliran, Leyte, Bicol Region, and Zamboanga Peninsula. The provinces, on the other hand, include Biliran, Antique, Zamboanga Sibugay, Abra, Masbate, Sultan Kudarat, Northern Samar, and Basilan.

Although the details for naming these escaped me, the numbers themselves are particularly disappointing. I can only point out, among many other factors that were discussed there, the presence of insurgencies, and perhaps local violence, that hinder the advance towards achieving the goals in these regions and provinces. But that of course is my personal opinion only. And beyond the academy that hosted the conference, it is apparent that several (government) agencies should collaborate in order to at least make these goals achievable ones in those mentioned places in the country. I don’t how they shall be able to do it, but with a strong will – be it political or not – a span of five years, I daresay, would be a sizable time period to make them feasible in those places. To a lay spectator like me, I can only wish for the best, and hopefully be able to participate in achieving them even in small ways.

* the photo is a screenshot of the presentation of Dr. Galvez Tan

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Kamusta ang Large Classes?

We, present and former UP students, may have been familiar with a preview of large classes with the lectures that we had for Stat 1, Chem 15, or Physics 81, just to name a few. Now that the shadow of Large Classes that once loomed over the university has already been entrenched in the campus since the start of semester, one cannot help but wonder how this policy is faring so far.

And so I am inviting you, dear UP student (both old and new), to share in here your experiences in having these large classes of yours, or for those who have graduated already before it was implemented, the differences that it could possible give and the possible implications. In short, this would be a survey of some sort in order to have a collective idea – however small it might be – on the good (or not so good) things that it has brought to the university.

Kamusta nga ba ang Large Classes?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Co-Operation

Our new president has been sworn in. The messages of high hopes now reach their termination. It’s going to be the real work for him now.

But instead of nagging right here and now about our complaints for and about the government (which again, I say, is just starting now), we might as well like into ourselves, the citizens, and see what we can do to make this government function effectively.
As I have said earlier, it seems to me that is a contractual activity of some sort. The leaders do their necessary responsibilities but we are not hardcore guards that are placed only to criticize when a wrong move is detected. On our part, we should complete the functionality of the law on the other end by giving it respect. We could start out by obeying the simplest of rules – not littering on public places, no spitting on roads and buildings, obeying roads rules, to name a few. We could never complain about the government’s inability to effect changes towards health and environment if we ourselves put these two things into the bins of neglect.

On a higher plane, we could do well to pay the necessary taxes where they are due. At this start, let us give this leadership a shot and help it having the necessary resources to make its agencies fully functioning. Criticisms and suggestions will always be welcome, I suppose. But in lacking actions on our part for the things we complain of, we will all just look like noise-emitting humans, without contributing anything good.

In short, the government leads, we, in turn, make the proper adherence to the laws and the Constitution, and act against if (and only if) there would a gaping handicap that would emerge I the future and which would be inimical to the people.

We have put Noynoy it this pedestal. We should do well if we help his administration. If not, it would only look like that we are a bunch of foolish voters, electing someone and destroying him later on. We facilitate, we help. For beyond that ideal (although I am more than reluctant to use this term) and working democracy, we all very well know what lies ahead of us – the rise of the red flag. But without making things a little morbid, let us make this democracy work for our good, at least for now.