Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Museo ng San Pablo Opens on July 29

San Pablo City’s past will now be closer to the literal eyes of San Pableños. With the opening of Museo ng San Pablo on July 29, 2011, details about the city’s rich history will no longer be on a installment basis (such those trivia and snippets found on blogs and social networking sites). A preview of the contents of the museum can be seen in a Multiply page (click here) and in a Blogspot page (click here).

However, there are some brewing controversies with regards to the highlights of the museum contents – whether it will only contain those things which will remind the viewers of the middle class families who have been influential in San Pablo in the past. We are yet to see the resolution on this issue.

In any case, every San Pableños is enjoined to visit Museo ng San Pablo which will formally open this Friday, July 29, 3 pm, at the 3rd floor of the old Capitol Building.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Citizen’s Take on the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill

It has been my desire during the past summer to make a statement (however inconsequential it would turn out) about the much-talked-about Reproductive Health (RH) Bill. Such desire was born not out of the want of higher blog traffic but rather out of that need to look more critically into the affairs confronting the Filipinos. The RH Bill has created allies and enemies amongst the churchmen and politicians. And the citizens in general still have no coherent take on this proposed bill.

This short entry would only contain my own personal views, naïve and not so extensive, but I think enough to convince myself that I understand the issue, free from influence of organizational affiliations, religious convictions, or political leanings. After all, I am not a religious or a politically active person. I am just a citizen (hence the title). My attempt to settle my take on this issue is also an attempt to free myself from national affair musing so that I could understand well the upcoming State-of-the-Nation Address of the President. But enough of this lengthy introduction.

The Bone of Contention

The root of all dispute is of course this certain bill, labeled as 4244: “An Act Providing for a Comprehensive Policy on Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health, and Population and Development, and for other Purposes” which has precursors in the earlier passed bill numbers 96, 101, 513, 1160, 1520, and 3387. The lobbying of this bill has gone a long way already, stretching from the previous Congress up to the Congress which would open this week.

Composed of 34 Articles, the bill is basically a laying down of provisions to what we could call reproductive health assistance of the government, from the pregnancy period of the mother; proper health and sexual education for the husbands, wives, and children; employer-employee responsibilities with regards to health education and benefits; among others. The proposed bill is quite extensive; having a lengthy discussion of the mechanism on how it will be implemented once passed into law.

The Catholic Church Takes its Side

The evil as seen by the others is the seemIng disregard of the bill to life. The bill, in all its forms and manifestations, is against life. It sees its aims as a direct assault to the sanctity of life. The basic idea is: preventing conception is tantamount to preventing life, to stumping out life.

Thus on January 2011, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines thought it better to come out with a Pastoral Letter detailing their rejection of the bill. The Pastoral Letter opened with a few quotations from the Philippine Constitution, saying that it would show that their view is not solely for the benefit of the Catholic faith but rather of the Filipinos in general. The core principle shared by the believers in ‘God’ was discussed side by side with the objections against the bill, point by point (there were six actually). In response they also came up with six items on which the CBCP stand for, ending with a call the legislators to trash the bill.

Besides this, the CBCP also produced a three-part module aimed at orienting the individual on the importance of life and how to properly understand the bill and see its supposedly faulty premises.

The Fight Continues

But of course, open letters and messages did not prevent the bitter fight to continue. Mud slinging was done in the open, with one side saying the proponents are ‘anti-Christian’ while on other side, words about the failure to understand the merits of the bill can be heard.

A Citizen’s Take

Shedding that sickening prejudice about killing life in its conception, I am supporting the drive for the passage of the bill. By all means, it would aid the government in addressing the needs of the citizenry in general, without having to worry much about the ballooning population each day. I see the bill as a deployment of a defense line so that it could pool its resources to facing other aspects.

This is not to mean that we are seeing that population is the reason for poverty; such thinking can only come from for those quarters who are offended with this revolutionary idea. As Conrado de Quiros said on one of his columns, population control (which the detractos say can be equated with the RH Bill) will not solve poverty. But neither is education only. The country produces PhD graduates each year but we are not still anywhere near the stature of Singapore.

The problem as I see it is the corruption and misconception about the term reproductive health. It will not, in anyway, promote teenage sex and/or abortion (which was clearly indicated in the bill). It will not also make the subject of sex a triviality. The health and sex education and programs that the bill proposes is to formalize or knowledge about sexual and health care. Those who say that sex education must not be taught to the children or be learned in the level of couples are perhaps those who have fully understood sex, who have not experienced making love, and worse, they are the ones who do not believe that the Filipinos in general are not mature enough to understand ‘it’. Do they believe that we will be stuck with the popular (mis)concept(ion) that sex is dirty and cheap? I believe it is all about the misalignment of perspectives. You look at the bill through an evil spectacles, you will never see its merits.

So with this approach can I readily say that I am prolife, having given a positive view about the bill? I think so. I have passed through that level of uncertainty when we l;eared that a life has just been conceived. We made the necessary adjustments. It may have been screwed at the start but nevertheless we were able to cope with it. But that’s exactly what the bill wants to avoid, so that we free ourselves with some unnecessary worries and be well-equipped and informed citizens about the ins and outs of marriage, sex, pregnancy and eventual child rearing.

If towards the end of this narrative I have been unclear, my thoughts and emotions overcome the fingers typing these words. But I do hope I was able to say my take.


“Critics laud P-Noy for RH stance” by Cynthia D. Balana, Philippine Daily Inquirer, April 19, 2011, p. A2
“Churchmen bash P-Noy; unfair, says Malacañang” by Inquirer Southern Luzon, Philippine Daily Inquirer, April 20, 2011, pp. A1, A8
“Bishops step up anti-RH fight”, Philippine Daily Inquirer, April 25, 2011, p. A2
“Palace welcomes support for RH bill from religious groups by Madel R. Sabater, Manila Bulletin, April 26, 2011 p. 6
“Vidal says Church-Palace dialogue on RH bill futile” by Jocelyn R. Uy, Philippine Daily Inquirer, April 26, 2011, pp. A1 and A15
“Civil disobedience not an option on RH bill passage – Palma”, Manila Bulletin, May 23, 2011 p. 21
‘Go easy on RH measure’ by Hannah L. Torregoza, Manila Bulletin, May 23, 2011 p. 18
“RX” by Conrado de Quiros, Philippine Daily Inquirer, April 28, 2011, p. A14

Friday, July 22, 2011

On Death

When life is forcibly extinguished from an individual, it gives the event a very dark atmosphere, discordant with almost all of the romanticized views we have about life. Murder, in all its forms, will always create that sickening feeling in the stomach, as if your body wants throw up the very knowledge that someone has been killed.

My thoughts wander to these themes for in just a span of four months I have witnessed several deaths and individuals close to dying. There have been those road accidents, all fast-paced and brutal in their own respect. And there were those open killings, individuals killed in the open, presumably by hired men ready to shoot for a fee.

It still makes me sick to recall in my mind the gunshots that killed an individual this morning. Then seeing the disorientation of the bystanders. Then the fresh blood spilled over the road. Killing is indeed an ugly affair.

With these thoughts, I have realized that I still have not come into terms with the concept of death, or of killing for that matter. Life, no matter how lousy it has been lived, is still a life, created through the mysterious workings of nature and of this existence.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Contributions to "Remembering Rizal, Voices from the Diaspora" Book

* book cover of "Remembering Rizal, Voices from the Diaspora"

Rizal@150 celebration is still in the air. It was only yesterday that I found out about “Remembering Rizal, Voices from the Diaspora” book in which two of my poems have been included. It is an honor to be part of the contributing authors as most of them are prominent Filipino and Filipino-American writers.

My poem “Ode to Usman” is placed under the Youth subheading while the poem “Stove Flames” is placed under the Fable and Legend subheading. What is more interesting with this book is that it was published abroad and is now being launched in different places in the United States.

"Remembering Rizal, Voices from the Diaspora" is published by the Philippine American Writers and Artists, Inc. (PAWA, Inc.) and was edited by Edwin A. Lozada.

For more information about the books (the other works and authors) and purchasing details, you can visit www.pawainc.com/rizal.html or you can send an e-mail to pawa@pawainc.com.

[Next Book launch as of this writing: Thursday, July 28, 2011, 6PM, Philippine Consulate General, San Francisco, 447 Sutter Street, Social Hall, 5th Floor]

Sunday, July 17, 2011

2011 NAST Annual Scientific Meeting

* scientific posters session area

* our humble presentation

The recently concluded 2011 National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) Annual Scientific Meeting gave me again renewed insights about the current state of science and technology in the country and of national development in general. Held again at the Manila Hotel from July 13 to 14, this year’s meeting has the theme: “Meeting the Challenges of Agricultural Productivity Competitiveness and Sustainability.”

Beside the usual NAST Awards given every year, the annual meeting was graced with seven plenary sessions, each of which touched on important aspects of food security, agriculture, ecology, and extension.

* Senator Francis Pangilinan in his keynote address
at the 2011 NAST Annual Scientific Meeting

* Senator Francis Pangilinan being interviewed by the media people

* Dr. Rodel Lasco discussing their presentation
entitled “Sustaining Ecologi
cal Services”

The two-day activity was opened by the NAST President Dr. Emil Javier followed by the keynote address by Senator Francis Pangilinan.

Senator Kiko’s speech was particularly powerful; I daresay that the early birds of the meeting were awakened by his equally powerful voice. He emphasized on the fact that the problem with people-oriented initiatives are poor governance and poor execution (of laws and policies). He also expounded on the problems facing the agriculture and fishery sectors. But he also mentioned the actions taken so far by the government to address them. He then addressed the scientists in attendance, saying that they (including me?) are at the forefront and are in the capacity to solve problems and create concrete results. At the end of his speech, he shared a simple thought (or perhaps a challenge): that 15 to 16 years from now, we could look at this year and could proudly say that we were able to participate in nation building through science and technology.

* the academicians during the closing program;
on the lower right side is my former professor Dr. Eliezer Albacea

* the UP Rayadillo during the closing program

Four years of attending this annual meeting has shown me the Academy’s maturing approach in terms of policy-making and solution-making. I have been initially doubtful of such conferences, thinking that all talk could not solve anything. But I have seen through that childish musing and realized that proper planning (meaning meeting with the experts) will lead to proper execution (flawless policies for the society). The researches being presented in the poster sessions are also evolving, at least within the chemical and physics science division. Biophysics is the current trend and I was surprised to see such wide array of researches in the field both experimental ad theoretical.

* water glass; my companion for the two-day program

* first snack! panada?

* flower-like cloth arrangement

Of course Manila Hotel will always be the perfect place for the meeting, given the number of people attending the meeting every year. And the food? Well, it is Manila Hotel. Manila Hotel is good food. And good food is Manila Hotel. I jut hope that I would be able to come up with a new research area to pursue to be presented in the 2012 Annual Scientific Meeting, seeing that I have exhausted now all the undergraduate researches I’ve done in the past years.

It Ends Here: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

The story is complete. We now know why Voldemort has been living that long…

It was certainly a good experience, finishing what was once part of our adolescent years. I can still remember entering a cinema in Lipa City, Batangas ten years ago when my schoolmates and I took a break while attending a regional press conference and watched Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I fell asleep just as Hagrid was bringing the first year students to Hogwarts via the Black Lake. Eight years later, I rediscovered Harry Potter and finished the seven books (including the supplement Tales of Beetle the Bard) within a year. I will always be grateful for having read such a compact story that is Harry Potter.

Of course there will always be some critiques of the story but I leave them to their own views. The showing of the last part of the film adaptation of Book 7 made the book reading more worthwhile. One can only wish that J.K. Rowling would extend the storylines further. But for now, let us enjoy Pottermore.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Prepare for the 2011 Manila International Book Fair!

You may have missed it before but now is the time to redeem yourself! Come and visit the 2011 Manila International Book Fair (MIBF). With its long-standing slogan of “World Without Borders” this year’s book fair promises to be greater than the last ones. I am personally excited with the prospect of collecting from the book fair valuable Filipiniana books as I intend to build a small collection of my own.

MIBF 2001 will be held again at the SMX Convention Center (Exhibit Halls 1 – 4) Mall of Asia, Pasay City from September 14 to September 18, 2011, 10:00 A.M. – 8:00 P.M. MIBF 2011 is organized by Primetrade Asia, Incorporated in partnership with Book Development Association of the Philippines (BDAP), Asian Catholic Communicators, Inc. (ACCI), Philippine Booksellers Association, Inc. (PBAI), and Overseas Publishers’ Representatives Association of the Philippines (OPRAP).

View the list of exhibitors at www.manilabookfair.com.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

July Challenge (and Beyond)

Life sometimes can be best described through metaphors. And mine can be likened to a treacherous paddling of a boat through a wild river rushing downward with your face against the current. Dangers can only be guessed at. And life gets more and more uncertain in each passing day.

But I have come to live by that metaphor. Through that, I have come to appreciate each day as if it is my last. Yes, as if it is my last. And I think life is an adventure in itself, however harsh it may seem sometimes.

But then there are those who stand by the riverside, observing my boat traversing the insane river and gamely utter generalizations as if they know the very hardships of the travel. I have taught myself the hard way not to judge anyone or anything the first time I meet them. But when someone continues to assume the role of humanity’s judge, there will come a point when my patience will run aground.

I am not perfect and I don’t think I will be one. But I intend to explore new things and improve those I have come to learn so far. I don’t care if others could not come into terms with my idiosyncrasies. This is my life after all. No one, not even any forms of deities can dictate the course that I would take.

Now where’s the July challenge here? The challenge is to cement these musings to my mind.