Those who oppose the Reproductive Health Bill are making a career out of implying that it’s pro-abortion. But Party-List Representative Risa Hontiveros emphatically says that the abortion-related clauses in the Revised Penal Code will remain untouched even if the bill become law. Come to think of it, reproduction is, if you’ll excuse the pun, beside the point. It’s sort of more like about…condoms, if anything. That’s the great thing about democracy: you get to hear both sides of an issue. You also get some really snarky comments sometimes, and they make things spicier and twice as interesting, don’t you agree?
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Monday, March 30, 2009
The ancient wisdom of looking beneath the surface of things teaches us that while physical attraction alone can move the earth and sky, there are eternal truths more superior and profound. Few would deny the value of character. What matters most is the heart and soul. INTEGRITY. This is the deepest index to one’s character. The idea actually goes beyond the principles of honesty and trustworthiness. More than anything else, it serves as a solid anchor to the Real You. It provides a shield from the things that violate the inner self. Being firmly grounded helps you develop the confidence to deal with life and the tolerance needed in a quite imperfect world. The key word is ‘consistency’. As Thomas a Kempis said, “The testimony of a good conscience is the glory of a good man; have a good conscience and you shall ever have gladness.” Find yourself – but don’t quit your job. INDEPENDENCE. The greatest achievements of feminism is the Dutch Treat. Honestly speaking, we find women who know what they want and how to get it incredibly attractive. An independent woman is a survivor, she’s destiny’s child. So assert yourself and learn to cook – but don’t be dominant, we really hate that. Oh, except in romance. Actually, Chapter 3 verses 7-8 of his Second letter to the Corinthians show the ideal lifestyle: “You know how you ought to imitate us. We did not live lives of disorder when we were among you, nor depend on anyone for food. Rather, we worked day and night, laboring to the point of exhaustion, so as to impose on any of you.” LOYALTY. Life is a constant change but some things remain for a lifetime like family and friends. Lovers come and go but a friend is forever. It is brainless when a successful career alienates the people who really matter. Discern your real friends and stick to them through the ups and downs – yours and theirs. As Mahatma Gandhi said, “Adversity is the crucible in which friendship is tested” How they perceive you is a measure of your life. It’s nice to have peer support – but avoid borrowing money if you can help it. SOCIAL AWARENESS. It’s one thing to meet to a drop dead gorgeous vamp in a social gathering but it’s another to know that she divides her life between parties and parlors. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having a little fun before you die but a purpose in life makes it meaningful. There are certain things you can do to make this planet a little cleaner. Maybe we can’t change the world – or maybe we can? Audrey Hepburn once said that if you want to lose weight, share your food with the needy. Light your little corner – but you don’t have to be gloomy about it. As Bismarck said, “A really great man is known by three signs – generosity in the design, humanity in the execution, moderation in success.” INTELLIGENCE. Believe it or not, there are actually people out there who don’t know there’s a middle ground between Startalk and Battle of the Brains. We admire girls who can speak their minds with eloquence and passion but less on the former and more on the latter. Be somewhere between CNN and a brick on the wall. Talk sense but don’t talk too much. It is insufferable to be with a girl with opinions about everything – and I mean everything. As Thomas Aquinas said, “A scrap of knowledge about sublime things is worth more than any amount of trivialities.” ENTHUSIASM. Greet the sunrise, stand on top of a mountain, gaze at the sea, watch the clouds sail across the deep blue sky and hear new born babies cry – then ask yourself if life is worth living. There are two sides in a coin: you can either sing Napakasakit Kuya Eddie – or What A Wonderful World. As Plato said, “The world is God’s epistle to mankind -- His thoughts are flashing upon us from every direction.” SELF-ESTEEM. Few things in the universe are more repugnant than a person who will do anything just to get attention. Having a healthy regard and mature acceptance for oneself is the secret key to happiness. The worth of a person comes from within. So there’s no reason to jump into bandwagons or to get that Satanic henna tattoo just because everybody is wearing it. As Swami Radhakrishnan said, “Only the man of serene mind can realize the spiritual meaning of life. Honesty with oneself is the condition of spiritual integrity.” HUMILITY. Did you ever notice that those who try to overwhelm you with their superior knowledge inadvertently betray their lack of it? Only a handful of people on this planet know how to actually listen, most of them are too busy displaying their achievements and sophistication, or sometimes just plain brilliance. And the way things stand, you can either be like them – or be yourself. As Diogenes said, “Modesty is the color of virtue.” DISCIPLINE. It’s like sunshine, basking everything in it’s glow. It manifests itself at all levels of your being: mental, physical, spiritual, emotional -- at the same time reflecting on how you go about doing those things you do. The good news is that it can be improved and developed and sharpened if one really works at it. But whether one has it or not, it will show – like sunshine. As Confucius said, “The superior man is slow in his words and earnest in his conduct.” DISCRETION. Finding fault with everyone and everything 24/7 until Doomsday will not add a single iota to your value as a person. Constructive criticism, if it is really sincere, should be done in such a way that it will not offend the dignity of the person involved. And making fun of people is about as funny as a child molester. As Lavater said, “If you are pleased at finding faults, you are displeased at finding perfection.” COMMON SENSE. As Descartes said, “That our will is free is self-evident.” If you’re invited to a wedding and you accept -- then got hit by a bulldozer on the way to church, you don’t blame God, or the priest, or the bride, or the groom, or the guests, or the caterer, or mass media, or Malacañang, or the CIA or your evil seatmate in third grade. But then again you never know: it might be a conspiracy between aliens from Andromeda and marijuana growers from Bondoc Province. SIMPLICITY. Anybody with a technicolor hairdo should get a shrink. And if your friends think your nose-ring is cool, then you’re in the wrong company. It’s better to heed Socrates’ prayer: “I pray Thee oh God, that I may be beautiful within.” STRENGTH. Of character, that is. Let barbarians stay at the gate. As Thackeray said, “True courage and courtesy always go hand in hand. The bravest men are the most forgiving and the most anxious to avoid quarrels.” Courage under fire, grace under pressure, that sort of thing. Remember, gold is purified by fire. And if you find I Will Survive too scintillating, you might want to try Go The Distance by Michael Bolton, Second Wind by Billy Joel, Never Surrender by Corey Hart and Angel by Sarah McLachlan. After all, as Goethe said, “One can’t always be a hero, but one can always be a man.” SELF RESPECT. Billions would rather look foolish in public because they’re afraid to be alone. Are you one of them? Being the life of the party doesn’t mean being the object of ridicule. Your self-worth does not depend on other people’s opinions. You can spend the weekend being a puppet – or spend a quiet Saturday afternoon reading The Book of Proverbs – which is more worthwhile than office memos. As Aristotle said, “Dignity consists not in possessing honors, but in the consciousness that we deserve them.” EMPATHY. The mere fact that you have someone who tries to understand your situation by putting himself in your place shows how blessed you are. And if you become a person like that, some sort of walking 700 Club, then in your own little way, you make this world a better place. The key word is ‘Consideration’. If you have ever given comfort to someone in distress, have been a shoulder to cry on, have been a sanctuary to a weary soul, then you have not lived in vain.-- but of course the more the merrier! As Albert Einstein said “Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile.” FAITH. Everything we’ve been talking about is meaningless without it. With Jesus Christ as the essence of your heart and soul comes a sense of tranquility that is absolutely indescribable – and absolutely real. He says so Himself: “Ask and you shall receive; seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened for you. For whosoever asks, receives, whoever seeks, finds, whoever knocks is admitted.” [Luke 11:9-10] Photo courtesy of EagleVision. This story originally appeared in Philippine Panorama, February 6, 2006 Your comments and links are welcome
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Al Gore was asked how did An Inconvenient Truth became the third highest grossing documentary of all time. “I’ve had a powerful ally in reality,” replied the Current TV founder and former VP. “Global warming is now clearly the overriding challenge of our time. Nations around the world are waking up to it and putting in place new policies. Of course, much more is needed, but the good news is that much more change is on the way.” Here are some numbers on global power consumption today: one-third goes to factories while one-fourth ¼ goes to the transport sector. 36% goes to heating/cooling mechanisms. 20% of the world’s electricity goes to lighting – of which 40% goes to incandescent bulbs. The International Energy Agency says that the present demand will double by year 2030. “Even moderate efficiency improvements will contribute more to meeting future demand than all the alternative fuel sources combined,” according to Paul Waide of the IEA. What’s being done? 1. Factories are calibrating their plants to achieve maximum energy efficiency. The electricity used by Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries is generated by turbines run by heat from their steel furnaces – slashing energy consumption by 70%. BASF is recycling heat and energy from one chemical process to power the next one – and this chain is repeated throughout its 200 chemical plants in Ludwigshafen, Germany. This gives BASF a yearly 200 million euros in savings – and a 50% reduction in of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. They are also using this method in their new factories in China. 2. Roofs covered with vegetation are becoming fashionable The Ballard Library Neighborhood Center in Seattle features an 18,000 sq. ft. roof covered by 4 in. of soil with grass and groundcover which 1) absorbs and filters rainwater; 2) removes CO2 ; and 3) insulates the building in summer and winter. Designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, the new Ballard branch of the Seattle Public Library was hailed as one of the 2006 Top Ten Green Projects by the American Institute of Architects. Other examples of “green roofs” are Ford’s new River rouge factory and newly renovated Chicago City Hall. 3. Energy efficient cars are hitting the road. In the United States today, diesel is sulfur-free and diesel engines can run up to 100% biodiesel. Toyota has increased mileage by 20% through its best-selling electric hybrids Prius and Lexus RX400h. General Motors has come out with the Chevy Volt, a 150 miles-per-gallon plug-in hybrid – a hit during the just concluded Detroit Auto Show. GM also pilot-tested hybrid models of its Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra. GM has also announced plans to make a hydrogen fuel cell car in 2010. As of press-time, a test-fleet of GM vehicles – Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick Cadillac, GMC, Oldsmobile, Saturn, Hummer and Saab – are being driven on the streets of Washington, D.C. Ford has introduced the hybrid version of its Escape SUV and has come up with the F-150 bi-fuel (gas/propane). Popular in the States, propane is a by-product of oil and natural gas products. Dodge is using gasoline mixed with ethanol through the help of government subsidies. Time will reveal if production will continue once subsidies expire in 2008. Volkswagen is using biodiesel for its Jetta automatic. Biofuel is a mix of alcohol and vegetable oil (even used cooking oil) which can power most diesels with a conversion kit. VW is also rolling out direct-injection diesels with its Passat TDI. Honda was one of the hybrid pioneers with its Insight and is the first to use hydrogen fuel cells in its Honda FCX but it’s just a prototype. DaimlerChrysler has modified its Dodge Durano and Mercedes Sprinter vans into diesel-electric hybrids; while Peugot, Nissan, BMW and Porsche are all set to join the hybrid revolution. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that 3% of cars in the road in 2009 will be hybrids. 4. The European Union has presented a blueprint to reduce continental energy use by 20% by 2020. The IEA says that phasing out incandescent light bulbs to favor compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) by 2030 would result in 1) energy savings equal to the output of 650 power plants and 2) avoiding the yearly atmosphere contamination equal to 700 million tons of carbon. Dutch electronics giant Philips was the first to announce a gradual phase-out of traditional bulbs last December 2006. The world’s largest retailer Wal-Mart is selling 100 million CFLs before the end of 2007. A $2 CFL can save more than $30 in consumption and replacement costs because it needs only 20% power to give the same amount of light – and it lasts 10 times longer. In March 2007, China passed a law requiring a 20% increase in energy efficiency by 2020. 5. Power classification of household appliances was a rousing success. Since the EU has mandated appliance makers to classify energy consumption, the sales of Class A – “green” – models soared from zero in 1994 to 80% in the first quarter of 2007. The world’s largest appliance manufacturer, Electrolux of Sweden, has produced refrigerators with vacuum insulation and clothes dryers with heat pumps. The Netherlands joined the energy revolution by granting temporary subsidy to manufacturers – and sales continue to soar even after the subsidies stopped. The IEA says that Class A appliances would reduce world-wide residential power usage by 43%. Today, labeling laws have been passed in 60 countries. 6. Breakthrough roofing and insulation methods are gradually eliminating the need for expensive lighting, heaters and air-conditioners. These include reflective roofing, “superglazed” airtight windows and polyurethane “outsulation” sprays. Prototypes of these state-of-the-art houses can be found in Switzerland and Germany. Texas Instruments re-engineered its Richardson plant that led to 1) 80% reduction of lighting costs and 2) 30% reduction of construction costs. The Alberici Corporate Headquarters utilized a series of angled sawtooth bays that maximize sunlight – while blocking glare and heat. Designed by Mackey Mitchells &Associates, this Overland, Missouri-based international construction firm was included in the 2006 Top Ten Green Projects. 7. Solar panels can supply 95% of electrical needs. The Solar Umbrella House used energy panels as a major design element and these 1) have eliminated air-conditioning; 2) have eliminated lighting except on cloudy days; 3) cut gas consumptiopn by 50%; 4)pre-heat the swimming pool and 5) will generate savings that will reimburse its construction costs in less than 5 years. Designed by architect Angie Brooks, this Venice, California house was another winner in the 2006 Top Ten Green Projects. Fuji Electric Systems has recently developed very thin and very flexible solar panels – weighing only a tenth of conventional crystallized silicon panels. 8. Wall Street companies are embarking on major environment-saving projects. The world’s leading merger & acquisitions firm Goldman Sachs has 1) built its new eco-friendly $2 billion headquarters in Manhattan; 2) persuaded its clients to negotiate the cancellation of 9 coal-fired factories that TXU Corp. is planning to build; 3) established a formal policy that avoids deals with illegal loggers or any individuals who “significantly convert or degrade a critical natural habitat”; 4) pledged a 70% cut in its greenhouse gas emissions; 5) acquired and developed Horizon Wind Energy and 6) set aside 680,000 acres of acquired land in Chile as a natural preserve in partnership with the Wildlife Conservation Society. The climate change in Wall Street has also been embraced by Citi, Lehman Bros., JP Morgan, Merrill Lynch and many others. A change of attitude can save the planet. Energy efficiency is more than many times the value of its investment but temporary government subsidies are “often the bait to get consumers to start thinking,” says Stefan Thomas of Wuppertal Climate Institute in Germany. When the comes to meeting future demands, energy guru Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute in Colorado, one of the leading authorities in the 2007 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, presents the best and the most unchallengeable case: “Increasing energy efficiency is the largest, least expensive, most benign, most quickly deployable, least visible, least understood and most neglected way.” Al Gore photo courtesy of Breakthrough. This story originally appeared in Philippine Panorama Your comments are welcome and will be answered. You can link your blog using EasyHyperLinks
General Ulysses S. Grant was given hero’s welcome as he arrived in Washington on March 1864 to assume command of all the Union armies – but the President didn’t hijack his moment of glory because he believed that the “the path to ambition” was wide enough for both of them “to walk it abreast.” The legend of Abraham Lincoln shall not perish from the earth. In her latest bestselling masterpiece A Team Of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln (Simon & Schuster; 944 pages), Pulitzer Prizewinning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin opens a treasure trove of insightful and illuminating inside stories on America’s 16th President, and reveals a no-holds-barred examination of his failings – and his strengths. “The decision to appoint his political enemies to his Cabinet was perhaps the most obvious example of his emotional strength,” says Goodwin. But happily for us, “there were many others, all of which highlighted a different aspect of it.” Empathy. Lincoln had the gift of intuitively understanding the feelings, motives and desires of others. Although he was an anti-slavery advocate, he never demonized the slave-owners. “If slavery did not now exist amongst them,” he said, “they would not introduce it.” “In the largest sense,” says Goodwin, “Lincoln’s empathy allowed him to absorb the sorrows and hopes of his countrymen, to sense their shifting moods so he could shape and mould their opinions with the right words and the right deeds at the right time.” Humor. Lincoln was more than meets the eye. He may have been crying on the inside, but he was laughing – and spreading good cheer – on the outside. “Though a stain of melancholy was part of his nature, Lincoln possessed a remarkable sense of humor and a gift for story-telling,” says Goodwin. Even more amazing, “his seemingly limitless stock were directly applicable to a point being argued. Many were self-deprecatory, all were hilarious.” Lincoln was a master of making okray. One of his pet anecdotes is when Revolutionary War hero Ethan Allen went and Britain and saw a picture of George Washington in an outhouse – and he said it was appropriate because “there is nothing that will make an Englishman s__ so quick as the sight of Genl Washington.” Magnanimity. Lincoln’s chief rivals for the Republican nomination – William Henry Seward, Salmon P. Chase and Edward Bates – all have humiliated and insulted him. They were speechless when he was chosen to be the standard-bearer; they were stunned when he won the Presidency – and they were shocked when he appointed them all to crucial posts. “We needed the strongest men of the party to the Cabinet,” the President told reporters. “I had no right to deprive the country of their service.” Generosity of spirit. The administration was scandalized when Congress exposed how middle-men had scammed the government by delivering useless army supplies – and the President publicly took the blame and declared that he himself and his entire Cabinet “were at least equally responsible.” On war tactics, Lincoln thought Grant “should go down the river” but Grant went another way – and achieved the spectacular victory in Vicksburg. The President told him later, “I now wish to make the personal acknowledgement that you were right and I was wrong.” Perspective. Lincoln had the “ability to yield lesser concerns for more important ones,” says Goodwin. The President was facing pressure because of rumors of Grant’s drinking. After investigating it himself, he said that what was more important is that “Grant’s drinking did not affect his unmatched ability to plan, execute and win battles.” Self-control. When Robert E. Lee escaped from Gen. George Meade, the President was “dejected and discouraged,” and he wrote a scathing letter to Meade: “He was within your easy grasp, and to have closed upon him would, in connection with our other late successes, have ended the war. As it is, the war will be prolonged indefinitely” – but he never sent it. “When angry at someone, Lincoln would occasionally write a hot letter,” according to Goodwin, “but then would invariably put it aside until he had cooled down, at which point he no longer needed to send it.” A sense of balance. Lincoln’s “ability to think creatively and retain an even keel was rooted in the constructive ways he would dispel worry and anxiety,” says Goodwin. The President’s refuge was watching stage-plays. Lincoln was watching Henry IV while an assistant was watching him and observed: “He has forgotten the war. He has forgotten Congress. He is out of politics. He is living in Prince Hal’s time.” A social conscience. Lincoln’s life was an emotional roller-coaster but he had a beautiful soul. “Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition,” he said in a speech when he was 23. “I have no other so great as that of being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem.” Abraham Lincoln now belongs to the ages. “Nearly two centuries after his birth,” says Goodwin, “we can say with certainty that the ambition that powered Lincoln from his earliest days – the desire to establish an admirable reputation on earth so that his story could be told after he died – has been realized far beyond his fondest hopes.”
“If you want, there’s way; if you don’t, there’s an excuse,” goes one of the slogans of the late great Senator Raul Roco. We all want automated elections, which is actually something we should have had decades ago. Here’s one idea: why not a Congressional Act that will deputize the private sector to take over public projects, instead of paying taxes? The government has a list of projects, and those who want to participate (in lieu of accumulated taxes) can choose which ones to sponsor. Examples: banks can pay the salaries of teachers, real estate developers can retrofit structures to make them earthquake-proof, a group of multinationals can pool funds for poll automation – not to mention computerizing the entire bureaucracy, like in Naga City. The feasibility is proven by the success and public acceptance of the Adopt-A-School project. The BIR can still collect taxes from individuals and SMEs – but by this time, there will be no more need for E-VAT. A more active role in governance would galvanize our objective of a First World status. This would streamline the bureaucracy, minimize opportunities for graft, prevent future tax hikes and foster a greater sense of national responsibility and pride . This is people empowerment at its truest – and most glorious.
Friday, March 27, 2009
There is a public side in the pursuit of happiness, and it is not a laughing matter. It was a touch of genius that made Thomas Jefferson frame the strikingly original phrase ‘The pursuit of happiness’ as one of man’s most inalienable rights. The Declaration of Independence served not only as the formal break of the U.S. Founding Fathers from the British Crown, but it is also an eloquent testament to the glory of freedom and human dignity. “Today, this should be interpreted to mean that public policy should be judged by how it increases human happiness and human misery,” says Richard Layard in his new book Happiness. An economics professor in London, Layard’s insights come from a large perspective. “It is self-evident that the best society is the happiest.” Running after bliss has been the driving force behind the stunning social progress of the past two centuries. But happiness is essentially subjective. Sunshine on his shoulders made John Denver happy, but what about Count Dracula? Instead of a clear dividing line, there is a gray area between ‘happiness’ and ‘misery’. Different folks do different strokes, so not everybody would choose Forbes Park over Fallujah. It is when people draw their own lines that things get complicated. It would be a fairy tale for a masochistic heroine to meet her sadistic Prince Charming, but what about the rest of us? Also, the most fun-filled way of muddling an idea is hiding behind abstractions. Does “Unity” mean that “The people” should be like sheep? Of course not! We need “Justice” to “Move on” and achieve “Peace” so the nation can be “Great” again! The good news is that Layard has penetrated through this strange phenomenon. “Society desperately needs a concept of the common good around which to unite the efforts of its members.” His book is basically a look at the public side of being happy, specifically, its overlooked role in shaping public policy. Happiness is falling in love, getting married and having kids. A lot of people do those, but not necessarily in that order. “To a large extent our social ties define our personal identity and give meaning to our life.” The trouble is, many economists fail to realize that human interaction is both a means to an end and an end in itself. People are essentially social creatures, and they want to trust each other. “So policies that encourage trust are thus extremely important. These include policies to build stable families, communities and workplaces.” Happiness cannot be quantified with money, but happiness from a regular salary can be – especially if the house is loaned from Pag-I.B.I.G. The same is true with marriage: most people welcome only one lover as time goes by. We’re not talking about Hollywood movie stars. “Nor do we want our companies and public services to be repeatedly restructured, with massive lost of trust at every stage.” Nobody wants to be laid off from his job, but it would be nice if power-tripping political appointees get the axe. Happiness is about being productive. “Unemployment causes misery that goes far beyond the effects of loss of income, because it breaks a social tie.” This also works the other way around. If you get promoted to a higher paying job, your friends and relatives multiply, and even strangers want you to become godfather to their kids. Sadly, governments as a whole “disregard the fact that people are deeply attached to the status quo.” But since human beings are just statistics, it would be a lot easier to manipulate the digits. One way to do this is to exhort the citizens to “become more mobile, moving where the jobs are.” Right now, the spotlight is on ICT. You can’t even throw a pebble without hitting a call-center agent these days. But the truth is, most computer programmers would rather be nurses in sunny California. “This would surely increase productivity, but it is not desirable unless the gains from higher productivity would outweigh the costs of family instability. Happiness, not dynamism, should be the goal of public policy.” Happiness is living an affordable lifestyle. The dog-eat-dog rat race can actually back-fire in the long run. If everybody wants to scramble up the corporate ladder, then who would be left to clean up their mess? In this context, Layard sees that taxes “are holding us back from an even more fevered way of life.” As long as they’re not divided among shady technocrats, reasonable taxes serve a useful social function although “cutting them is very much vogue in Western democracies.” Happiness is about reaching out. While the Darwin thing is currently being debated about in U.S. high schools, “We are past the period of evolution where only the fittest can survive. So we should teach our young to give less value to status and more value to helping other people.” Happiness, by definition, means getting rid of unhappiness. “Public policy can more easily remove misery than augment happiness.” The causes of misery are obvious, but so are the solutions: job security, lesser income taxes, lower tuition fees, higher savings interest rates, comprehensive healthcare, quality education, honest elections, to name some. Being in a position to extend a helping hand means having the responsibility to do so. Let the numbers speak for themselves: “The U.S. at present spends 0.13% of its income on overseas aid, Britain 0.31%. If you want to relieve hunger and misery, here is a ready-made route. We should be proud to make this a goal of our affluent societies.” Charity begins at home, goes to Third World countries, then back again. “At home, we should spend more on helping with mental illness.” Layard says this is the greatest cause of misery in the West, “and those who are lucky should help financially and try to understand.” Family is the most fundamental unit of society, and a happy home is the foundation of most law-abiding citizens. “To improve family life, we should introduce more family-friendly practices at work – more flexible hours, more parental leave, and easier access to childcare.” Morality should be taught to children (especially adults) not only on a theoretical basis, but as actual, hands-on, practical tools that will equip them on their way towards a more decent and purposeful life. Happiness is about being wise. True understanding means being able to walk in the other person’s shoes. “We should teach the systematic practice of empathy, and the desire to serve others.” If we don’t lend a hand when it’s needed, then what on earth are we doing here? Happiness is about recognizing real heroes, and by extension, learning to avoid the negative influences that are over-hyped by the media. “We need a proper curriculum from the beginning of school life to the end, including detailed study of role models.” Most of all, happiness is about finding hope and worthy goals. “We should rededicate our society to the pursuit of happiness rather than the goal of dynamic efficiency. We need to take happiness seriously.” Thomas Jefferson photo courtesy of TS4.com. This story originally appeared in Philippine Panorama, September 10, 2006 Your comments and links are welcome
Saturday, March 21, 2009
When Kirstie Alley’s weight zoomed above 200 lbs., it set in motion a much-publicized saga that led to her own reality sitcom Fat Actress. In the opening scene of the pilot episode, she stepped into her bathroom scale – and she dropped to the floor and howled like a wounded animal. Losing excess pound is an enormous problem. It is a heavy burden. Overweight people are everywhere: making anti-Bush documentaries, testifying in Senate investigations, filing libel suits, etc. But it’s mystifying how obesity became so widespread even in Third World countries. Some Filipinos go South Beach (or Atkins or “After 6”) – but they don’t last long. They were weighed and fount panting. Even the 2006 Time Person of the Year – “You” – find it hard to lose weight. Aside from ningas-cogon, what other factors contribute to weight-loss failure? Let’s examine some of them. Over-compensation. Dieters tend to compensate after a weight-loss regimen. “Most experience sensations of intense hunger – and respond by eating at least as much before the diet has started,” wrote Geoffrey Cannon and Hetty Einzig in Dieting Makes You Fat (Simon & Schuster). “As a rule, any diet that has resulted in a loss of 10 to 15 pounds in the first week or two will result in the gain of the same amount a few months after the diet has ended.” Over-eating. “A person can start life with a perfectly normal metabolism and by overeating cause metabolic disorders,” wrote Dr. Neil Solomon, Ph.D., and Sally Sheppard in The Truth About Weight Control: How To Lose Excess Pounds Permanently (Stein and Day). “Yo-yo dieting – up and down and up again – is not only discouraging, it’s dangerous,” wrote Edwin Keister Jr. and Sally Valente in a Reader’s Digest article. “When you’re reducing, you take off both fat and muscle. But when you regain weight, you regain mostly fat. Each time you lose and regain, the percentage of body fat increases.” Diet Myths. Wrong information leads to unsafe dietary practices. In an article in the British magazine Women & Home, Canada-based fitness and weight-loss expert Dr. Rosemary Leonard exposes some common food fibs: Skipping breakfast is good. “You are more likely to pile on the pounds if you don’t eat first thing in the morning, as you’ll run the risk of nibbling foods such as cookies.” Strict diets are good. “Rapid weight loss is accompanied by a plunge in metabolism. This means your body becomes less efficient at burning calories.” Low-fat is good. “Low-fat doesn’t always mean low in calories. Many processed low-fat products contain almost as many calories as regular versions.” Eating late at night is bad. “When you eat has no effect on what happens to the calories.” Starch is bad. “Starchy, high-carbohydrate foods in moderate amounts are filling, give long-lasting energy, contain vital vitamins and minerals (including B vitamins, calcium and iron), and are an essential part of a well-balanced diet.” Carb-protein combos are bad. “The idea of keeping proteins and carbohydrate apart goes against all the rules of healthy eating.” Fat is bad. “It is true that fat contains lots of calories, but it is also a key component of a healthy, balanced diet and a good source of the vitamins A, D and E.” Not eating will shed weight. “If you are genuinely eating very little, there may be other causes of weight gain. Some medications, such as antidepressants, steroids and high-dose hormone-replacement therapy, can make weight-loss more difficult.” Furthermore, “It may also be worth consulting your physician for a test of your thyroid function (an under-active thyroid slows your metabolism, making it more difficult to burn off calories).” Medical disorders. Certain endocrinological conditions lead to a yo-yo metabolism. Solomon and Sheppard reveal some of them: Thyroid hormone deficiency. “Low thyroid functions afflict only a small percentage of obese persons, but it presents a real problem.” A case study showed a patient who had achieved her ideal body weight with thyroid medication and a well-balanced diet. Low-glucose level. A patient with a yo-yo metabolism was suffering from headaches, dizziness and sleeplessness. “Tests revealed that a tumor of the islet cells of the pancreas, the insulin-producing area, was the culprit. The tumor was removed.” The symptoms disappeared and the patient achieved her proper weight. High levels of thyroid antibodies. An overweight patient was suffering from fatigue, increased sensitivity to cold, brittle fingernails and dry skin. Blood tests for thyroid hormones were normal. “Our laboratory tests, however, found her blood high in thyroid antibodies. When antibodies of a particular substance was present in the blood, they tend to neutralize the normal action of that substance. Thus, her thyroid antibodies were neutralizing her thyroid hormones.” The patient was placed on proper medication and diet, and she reached her ideal weight within three months. Genetics. Genetically, food cravings are suppressed by leptins – hormones secreted by the cells of fat. Obesity will result if they cannot reach the brain because of defective melanocortin-4 receptors. “For example, the hormone doesn’t bind to the receptor, or the message is passed on in a weakened form,” explains Annette Schurman, a pharmacologist at the German Institute of Nutrition Research in Potsdam “If both parents are obese, chances are 4 out of 5 that you will be obese,” says Dr. Albert J. Stunkard of the University of Pennsylvania. It is still possible to lose weight, “But it will be more difficult.” “On the other hand, if Mom and Dad are doing physical things like swimming and bike riding, and it’s an active family, chances are children will model their behavior after you,” according to U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona. Environmental factors are also important,” says Prof. Volker Pudel, a nutritional psychologist from the University of Gottingen. “And people can shape their environment to a degree. Ambiguous motivation. To paraphrase Sun Tzu, the battle is half-won if the aim is clear and realistic. “Swimsuits and class reunions are the biggest incentives for people to lose weight,” observes fitness and nutrition expert Lilian Cheung. Unlike children, adults “want to lose weight, to fit into that wedding dress, this year’s bathing suit and so forth. They are self motivated. Most children aren’t,” laments Dr. Reginald Washington, pediatric cardiologist and co-chairman of the National Task Force on Obesity for the American Academy of Pediatrics. Gullibility. People believe what they want to believe. “Losing weight can be a very demanding challenge, so people turn to diet books that promise quick results for little effort,” points out Dr. A. Harold Ludin, director of the personal health and nutrition department of the American Medical Association. “The diets that sell are those that promise something for nothing,” says Dr. Gabe B. Mirkin, associate professor of pediatrics at Georgetown University. Fad dieters are getting set “up for regaining any weight they may lose. Studies indicate that everytime people put the weight back on, they can lay down arterial plaques at an accelerated rate and also increase the size and number of fat cells in their bodies.” Restricted diets. “Fad diets don’t work,” according to Dr. C. Wayne Callaway, director of the Center for Clinical Nutrition at George Washington University. “If you stay on a very restricted diet, the metabolic rate goes down and you burn less and less, and it becomes harder and harder to lose. When you do start eating again, you’ll more like to store fat rather than burn it, because you’re burning at a lower level.” Sign of the times: “Dr. Robert Atkins’ 33-year-long fad diet finally came to a crashing end last week,” Joel Stein wrote in the Aug. 15, 2005 issue of Time. “Atkins Nutritionals, which makes more than 50 low-carb products and 100 nutritional supplements and no grammatical sense, announced that it’s $300 million in debt and filed for bankruptcy.” Ultimately, it’s not your waist line that gets you – it’s your cholesterol and blood pressure. “Fitness is not a matter of being skinny,” says Carlos Crespo, professor of social and preventive medicine at Buffalo University in New York. “It’s a matter of being healthy.”
After her retirement, a lady found herself more frazzled than ever – community work, gardening, ballroom dancing, even her grand-children's visits rattled her. She told her husband she will get rid of the cause. And without missing a beat he replied, “But where will I go?” You can't escape stress – like taxes. From an abstract concept, serenity has ow become a precious commodity. You don't have to go to Tibet to achieve peace, but different strokes for different folks, so here are the personal techniques of stress-management gurus. The Five-Year Test. Even if you can't change your Type A personality, you can modify it. If faced with a stunning array of commitments, ask yourself: “Will I care about this 5 years from now?” The Scale of 1 to 10. Getting squished in the MRT won't ruin your weekend unless you let it. You're not obligated to sweat the small stuff. Rate your response on a scale of one to ten before declaring a state of emergency. Teamwork. Unless you're born in Krypton, stop acting like Superman – and Superwoman doesn't exist either. A wise housewife delegates chores to bond with her kids. And you learn more about a friend in an hour of work than in a year of talk. Sports. Stress is not a disease but it has symptoms – warning signals that certain issues need resolving. One is sleep disruption.“My solution is sports,” according to Vern Fischer, psychologist and lecturer specializing in corporate stress management and personal development in Hong Kong. Lending a hand. News headlines can make you paranoid if you forget that life is full of heroism. Volunteers for a good cause are masters of their fate and captains of their souls. Taking Control. There is no such thing as objective reality – everything is subjective. Running out of money can be a catastrophe or a learning experience, it depends on you. Either way, it's your life and you must take the initiative. The Big Picture. Pick up a pebble and examine it closely. It's easy to imagine it as the Rock of Gibraltar. But put it back on the ground – where it belongs – and you'll discover that you've been looking at a lot of things in life from the wrong angle.
Monday, March 16, 2009
Two men met on a plane. One guy says he’s an account executive in an advertising agency, but he’s not with accounts or research, and he doesn’t write nor sell ads. Pressed for details, he says he’s a marketing man, but clients do the marketing for themselves. Is he in management? “No,” he says, “but I soon will be.” That was a true story, weird, and David Ogilvy quickly wrote the scene he overheard in a memo. Ogilvy, the larger-than-life founder of Ogilvy & Mather and author of the industry bible Confessions of An Advertising Man, had what it takes to turn admen into legends. Here are some of them, from The Unpublished David Ogilvy (Sidgwick & Jackson), edited by Joel Raphaelson. Independent-Minded Unconventional people serve society in their radical ways. During a 1968 speech in his alma mater Fettes, an all-boys academy in Scotland, he said that the founder left his endowment for children, and asked who among the audience are in favor of admitting girls – and the motion is carried! Open To New Ideas Innovation is about picking the best ideas. In a 1981 speech to American Express executives, he expressed his admiration for the Japanese who, unlike Westerners, “take more interest in their employers” and “aren’t obsessed with short-term profit.” Can Write Well Advertising is about sending a message. “The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather,” he writes in a 1982 memo. “People who think well, write well.” But, “Good writing is not a natural gift,” he warns. “You have to learn to write well.” The idea is expressed more elegantly in a 1966 speech: “Knowledge is useless unless you know to communicate it – in writing.” Works With The Best A company is only as good as its people. In an anecdotal board meeting, Ogilvy opened a Russian doll and showed the smaller doll inside – and the even smaller one inside that, and so on. Attached to the inmost (and smallest) doll is his immortal memo: “If you always hire people who are smaller than you are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. If, on the other hand, you always hire people who are bigger than you are, we shall become a company of giants.” Principled and Idealistic Honest people tell the truth even if it hurts. Ogilvy bravely enumerates his shortcomings, like “I am intolerant of mediocrity and laziness” and “I see too many sides of every argument.” The best policy always works. “We like people who are honest,” he tells their directors in an oft-repeated dinner speech. “Honest in argument, honest with clients, honest with suppliers, honest with the company – and above all, honest with consumers. Never run an advertisement you would not want your own family to see.” Copywriters need not be poets, but Ogilvy loves to quote Rudyard Kipling’s saga about Sir Anthony Gloster. In one scene, the shipping tycoon talks to his son about his competitors: “They copied all they could follow,/ But they couldn’t copy my mind./ And I left them ’em sweating and stealing,/ A year and a half behind.” Ogilvy ads montage courtesy of CuriousMindAtWork. This story originally appeared in CareerGuide, The Philippine Star Your comments and links are welcome
Beginning today, I will start all over again. They said that yesterday is a dream, today is a reality, and tomorrow is a vision. On this day, I’m letting go of the past and taking hold of the present – in order to shape and mold the future to what I want it to be. Beginning today, I will rediscover and appreciate my uniqueness. There has never been anyone like me in all of history, and there never will be. Like in the Kenny Loggins song For The First Time, I am looking in my eyes, for the first time, I am seeing who I am. I am getting re-acquainted with my inner self – and it’s a wonderful feeling. Beginning today, I will conquer my emotions. I shall be the master of my fate and captain of my soul. Through steady effort and God’s grace, I am achieving peace with myself and with the world around me. Some say that success is getting what you want. In a way this is true. But I believe that real happiness is wanting what you get. But is it possible to have it both ways? Can you be successful and happy at the same time? The more fundamental question should be: Why should happiness be separated from success? They say it is lonely at the top – but how can that be if you had been a light leading others on the way to the peak? To illustrate, let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was a rich merchant named Hafid. He had the biggest trade empire in all the land. He was extremely wealthy, highly respected – and truly happy. Hafid had it all: fame, fortune and inner peace. He even had a precious gem: a true friend. Erasmus was Hafid’s loyal bookkeeper – who was shocked when Hafid told him to distribute all his treasures to all those who had been loyal to him and to the less fortunate because Hafid had grown very old. Hafid asked him, “My trusted comrade, is your memory of sufficient strength to recall the first command you received from me when you entered my employ many years ago?” Erasmus remembered: “I was enjoined by you to remove, each year, half the profit from our treasury and dispense it to the poor.” Hafid said, “Did you not, at that time, consider me as a foolish man of business?” When Erasmus admitted his initial forebodings, the merchant continued, “Will you now admit that your concern was without ground?” So you see, the secret of success with happiness is being able to give back, of being able to share your blessings to those who deserve them. But there are other secrets. And those secrets are contained in ten leather scrolls that Hafid keeps in a chest in a secret room. I have read those scrolls – and I have become a better person by gaining a deeper understanding and appreciation of my true worth and my role in life. It is because a man who has brought inspiration and spiritual affirmation to generations revealed them to the world. This is why one of my favorite books of all time is The Greatest Salesman In The World by Og Mandino. And so, beginning today, I will always keep in mind that the “The only difference between those who have failed and those who have succeeded lies in the difference of their habits, Good habits are the unlocked door to failure. Thus, the first law I will obey, which precedeth all others is – I will develop good habits and become their slaves” Above all, beginning to day, I resolve never to forget the counsel of Hafid’s foster father Pathros: “Failure will never overtake you if your determination to succeed is strong enough.” Og Mandino photo courtesy of OgMandino.com. This story originally appeared in Philippine Panorama Your feedback is welcome and will be answered. You can link your blog using EasyHyperLinks
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Raymundo Punongbayan was the portrait of a true leader. The legendary director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has mapped the country’s geo hazard zones, brought geology into public policy, formed the Quick Response Team – and saved thousands of lives from the eruptions of Pinatubo and Mayon Volcanoes through his uncanny prescience and unparrelled expertise.
What the world needs now is moral leadership. Being in power doesn’t make one a leader, and those most fit to govern are not always in politics. Here are the ten signs of leadership as shared by bestselling author and motivational guru John C. Maxwell.
The first sign of leadership is strength of character. A leader has integrity and moral convictions. He inspires trust because of his word-of-honor and grace under pressure.
Jovito Salonga has become the embodiment of the ideal statesman. The Kilosbayan President and retired Senate President has been forged in the crucible of tyranny – and it found him standing majestically tall in the name of freedom and justice.
The second sign of leadership is positive influence on others. A leader can make things happen. He is a moral force for good.
Eddie Garcia’s versatility, devotion to craft, humility, clean living and longevity have inspired generations of moviegoers, and he has given more to society than what most people even think about giving – aside from being the most transcendent actor in Philippine cinema.
The third sign of leadership is a positive attitude. A leader knows he will triumph in the end no matter what happens because what he is doing is right. He always knows what is right and what is wrong – and he will never violate his conscience just for expediency.
Angelito Nayan was the United Nations volunteer who galvanized the world with the strength, faith and courage he has shown during his hostage ordeal in Afghanistan – and taught us that an untroubled heart only comes from the Highest Power.
The fourth sign of leadership is excellent people skills. A leader understands what he other person is feeling. He has genuine concern for the welfare of others.
Jim Paredes, Danny Javier and Buboy Garovillo have redefined original Filipino music with their songs that everyone in every generation can identify with – and the Apo Hiking Society has come to symbolize true friendship, solidarity and brotherhood.
Right now, my favorite Apo song is Mahirap Magmahal Ng Syota Ng Iba.
The fifth sign of leadership is the possession of evident talents. A leader has something to offer. He can contribute significantly to enhance the world.
Ryan Cayabyab has given us some of the immortal classics that have enriched our musical heritage. The Maestro taught us that quality – not novelty – is what makes a song beautiful, unforgettable and timeless.
The sixth sign of leadership is the possession of a good track record. A leader leaves a mark in the world. His achievements, however small, reflect those ideals to which all decent men aspire.
Isko Moreno’s rag-to-riches story is a bright ray of hope t o millions of poor kids dreaming of a better life, From being a scavenger, he rose to become a matinee idol, then a consistently outstanding City Councilor, and now he’s the highly respected Vice Mayor of Manila. Above all, he has remained clean, modest, conscientious and grateful to those who lent a helping hand – and these admirable qualities will serve him in good stead all the way to Malacañang.
The seventh sign of leadership is the ability to instill confidence in others. A leader brings out the best in people. He inspires others to achieve their dreams.
The Mt Everest Conquerors are shining exemplars: One small step for Leo Oracion, one giant leap for the Filipino nation! Equal honors belong to the entire team, expedition leader Art Valdez, internationally-awarded broadcast journalist Abner Mercado – and to all the men and women who made the historic journey a triumphant success.
The eight sign of leadership is self-discipline. A leader is in full control of his senses. His actions are consistent with his goals.
Paeng Nepomuceno won the World Cup Bowling Championship for an unprecedented and unequaled six times and was the first Filipino to receive both the Legion of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Merit. The World FIQ – and the Guinness Book of Records – hailed him as the official, all-time, absolute best-ever player in the history of bowling.
The ninth sign of leadership is the possession of effective communication skills. A leader can connect directly to people in the gut level. His stand on issues is clear and categorical.
Mr. Pure Energy Gary Valenciano made a major impact on pop culture, but it is Gary V. the man of faith who continues tirelessly to spread the message of hope, encouragement and spiritual upliftment through his music, teaching us that only by letting go can the Lord take us out of the dark – and that God never sleeps.
The tenth sign of leadership is discontent with the status quo. A leader is a visionary. He lives for a higher purpose and wants others to discover that freedom.
Tony Meloto inspired thousands of families to take charge of their lives and build their own homes – and a brighter future for their children and children’s children. The Magsaysay Award-winning founder of the globally acclaimed Gawad Kalinga taught us that even a single individual can change the world – one selfless act at a time.
Katherine Lester was a 16-year old honors student who secretly went to Jordan to marry a man she met in MySpace, a popular site for teenagers. Her parents found out in time, and when she got back to her native Michigan in June 2006, she was already known throughout the U.S. as the notorious “Runaway Bride.” Ignorance is bliss but knowledge is power. Modern society has come to a point where life without the Internet is simply inconceivable. But the World Wide Web is not Utopia – sometimes it’s Gotham City. To avoid the troublespots, let us monitor the traffic in the Information Superhighway. Sex Predators The modus operandi is to stalk children in popular cyber-hangouts, then manipulate the victims to meet them in private. “More often than not, conversations online do not match up with expectations in reality,” warns youth development director Carol Balhechet of the Singapore Children’s Society. A March 2006 survey by the U.S. National Center for Missing & Exploited Children showed that 14% of teenage chatters have actually met with strangers they’ve encountered online. An April 2006 survey of 1,124 teenagers in Singapore aged 12-17 showed the figure to be nearly 20% -- of which 22% went alone. Although boys are more likely to keep such encounters to themselves, both boys and girls are vulnerable. The profile of a typical victim is that of a naïve, curious, and a bit rebellious teenager, according to Special Agent Allison Mourad of Innocent Images, an anti-pedophile special online unit of the FBI. The profile of a typical pedophile is a middle-class man who is married and has kids – and whose work involves children. The FBI has caught, among others, a pediatrician and a kindergarten teacher. The 2006 arrest figures were more than 4 times than that of 5 years ago. I.D. Theft The M.O. is to assume other people’s identities to access their credit-cards, bank accounts, insurance claims, social security benefits, tax refunds and the like. The first step is to do a credit check on potential victims. Card-holders should be alert for any credit-inquiry entry in their credit history. If you have been victimized, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission advises that 1) Alert your credit-card company ASAP; 2) File a theft-affidavit ASAP; and 3) File a police report ASAP. A more recent M.O. is to access information from data-collecting agencies. One of the biggest U.S. scandals in 2005 was how a Copymat shop attendant was able to steal files from ChoicePoint, a company with links with the Department of Homeland Security. Hackers can even access wireless gadgets like PDAs through wireless Internet connectors like Bluetooth. A 22-year old cyber-voyeur tapped into the celebrity files of T-Mobile, and exposed the contents online – including photos of a topless Paris Hilton and Latin America MTV VJ Eglantina Zingg. Auction Scams “The most common form of online auction fraud involves goods not delivered or the value of what is sent being only a fraction of what was paid,” according to Sgt. Barry Elliot of PhoneBusters, an Ontario-based agency that monitors telemarketing complaints. It is best to deal only with firms that have already established credibility like eBay and Amazon. “Reputable online merchants have contact numbers and a proper business address,” says detective Vello Kleeband of the Vancouver Police Computer Investigative Support Unit. Job Scams The M.O. goes like this: a website will offer employment or livelihood opportunities for a fee (usually a cheque sent to a P.O. box) and follow-up e-mails will be ignored even after the cheque had already been encashed. “Work-at-home schemes are the most common frauds we see,” according to Leslie King of the Better business Bureau of Ottawa and Hull. Travel Scams The M.O. is to send congratulatory e-mails with certificates to “winners” of either fake or misleading trip prizes or travel discounts. “Avoid paying a company for travel that won’t be ticketed or take place for 12 to 18 months,” warns consumer affairs director Stan Bosco of the American society of Travel Agents. “When it comes time to get your tickets, the dates you want are often not available, restrictions may make it more expensive, or the company has disappeared.” Lottery Scams One M.O. is to send e-mails to “winners” of online lotteries (their names were supposedly chosen at random by a computer) but they must send their bank account numbers because the “prizes” will be “deposited” there. The most common M.O. is to create websites for online gamblers. “Type ‘lotteries’ into a search engine if you want to see how many sweepstakes scams are out on the Internet,” according to corporate security investigator Gordon Board of the British Columbia Lottery Corp, “People buy tickets on their credit-cards at these bogus sites, but there is no prize money.” Phone Scams The M.O. is to send e-mails that will compel the recipients to call an overseas number (usually in the Caribbean) with hidden charges of up to $25 per minute. When the phone bills are paid the following month, “the crooks divide the take with the unwitting phone company,” reveals Elliot. Techniques used to force victims to call include threats of an impending lawsuit and directions on how collect a prize. Investment Scams The M.O. is to send e-mails or create websites that promise business opportunities with fantastic profits. This includes buying stock shares, joining business partnerships, availing of tax exemption techniques and overseas investments (usually in the Caribbean) that don’t exist. If you reply, they will send you a questionnaire about your financial history – and they will use that information to siphon off you life savings. A more sophisticated M.O. is the pump-and-dump scheme. This is where perpetrators have real stocks which they hype (pump) through fake tips in investment chat rooms and online newsletters. Once the price is bid up by investors, they sell (dump) at a profit—and disappear. Still another M.O. is online investment. The bait is that investors can actually track their money’s growth in real time. If they decide to cash in, their accounts will automatically register zero. Games Scams This is the latest craze in the cyber-underworld. The M.O. is to hack into the accounts of MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games) players, “steal the artifacts and characters acquired during the course of the games, and sell them,” reports Sylvia Springs in the Dec. 11, 2006 issue of Newsweek. “The most common method of breaking into accounts is to use Trojans – software that installs itself on a PC without the user’s knowledge.” Since January 2007, 300 new Trojans have come out specially designed for WOW (World of Warcraft) accounts, according to chief research officer Mikko Hyppönen of Helsinki-based cybersecurity firm F-secure. “We really didn’t see this a year ago.”
Photo courtesy of PainetWorks. This story originally appeared in Philippine Panorama, February 5, 2007. Sources: Newsweek, Time and Reader's Digest Your comments and links are welcome
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
A mammoth crowd has gathered in a Zamboanga City plaza. It was a tension-filled snap-presidential campaign, and they are exultantly waiting for a woman in plain yellow dress to articulate their desire that freedom be returned. Suddenly, a grenade exploded in a nearby alley and chaos reigned – but Cory Aquino just sat there, unflinching, dignified and presidential.
Cory Aquino is the conscience of the Philippine nation, the embodiment of all that is good, one of the rare individuals who are worthy to be called true Christians. This is the life of that bespectacled wonder woman, from the bio Corazon Aquino: The Journey To Power by Laurie Nadel, published by New York- based Julian Messner, a division of Simon & Schuster, and additional sources.
Corazon Cojuangco Aquino was born on Jan. 25, 1933 in Manila. Her father, Jose Cojuangco, was an industrialist, sugar baron and former congressman in Tarlac, a “peace-loving man” who “never said a bad thing about anybody,” recalls her cousin Sis. Virginia Fabella. Cory’s mother, Demetria Sumulong, was the daughter of a senator who ran for vice president in 1935.
“A quality Cory’s mother instilled in her was punctuality and, along with that, self-discipline,” says Nadel. “Demetria was also strong-willed, a quality that Cory developed and learned to hide behind her good manners and soft voice.”
Cory graduated valedictorian at St. Scholastica’s, an elite German-run convent school in Manila. After finishing her freshman year at the French-run Assumption, the entire family moved to the United States because most of the schools in the Philippines were destroyed during the war, and she entered Raven Hill Academy in Philadelphia. She transferred to, and graduated from, Notre Dame in Manhattan. In college, Cory majored in French at Mount Saint Vincent on the banks of the Hudson. She took up law at Far Eastern University and, shortly after, got married to a young Manila Times reporter when they were both 21.
Benigno Aquino Jr., sent to the Korean War at 17, still holds the record as the country’s youngest war correspondent. He was also a technical assistant to President Ramon Magsaysay – and the chief negotiator in the surrender of Huk guerilla leader Luis Taruc.
His father, Benigno Sr., had served as senator, Cabinet member and Speaker of the National Assembly; and his grandfather Gen. Sevillano Aquino, a Revolutionary War hero who had fought against both the Spanish and the Americans, gave him the nickname “Ninoy.”
Ninoy’s track record remains solid: the youngest mayor (at 23, of Concepcion, Tarlac); the youngest vice-governor (25); the youngest governor (27); and the youngest Senator (34 years and 354 days old). He would have been our youngest President in 1973 but President Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law on Sept. 21, 1972, and Ninoy was imprisoned with bogus charges for almost a decade – subjected mostly to the psychological torture known as solitary confinement
It was a turning point in Cory’s life. She underwent a transformation that those who have known her all her life saw her indomitable spirit for the first time. “It was then that I finally came into my own,” as she herself recalls.
Cory, a very private person, campaigned in behalf of Ninoy during the 1978 National Assembly elections together with three of her children: Ballsy, Noynoy and 7-year old Kris – and Marcos blasted her for “exploiting” them. Cory faced the dictator and boldly – and gracefully -- made okray: “My kids would be happy to stop campaigning for their father if you would just let him out of jail so he can do it himself!”
Even in the abyss of incarceration, Ninoy achieved a superhuman feat unheard of since Jesus – a 40 day hunger strike.
As a signal of protest against the evils of absolute power, it was, naturally, ignored by the government.
The worst is yet to come.
“In 1980, while his sentence was under review by the Supreme Court, a judicial body packed with Marcos cronies, Ninoy suffered a major heart attack,” reports Nadel. Marcos knew it would be an international scandal – always a bad PR – if Ninoy dies while in prison, so he decided to let him go into exile to Boston.
Those three years of “family togetherness” is the happiest moment in the lives of the Aquino family. Ninoy’s formidable brainpower made him a fellow at both Harvard and MIT, and became an even louder critic of the regime.
His homecoming on Aug. 21, 1983 remains a day of infamy in the collective memory of the Filipino people. Soldiers blocked the journalists and escorted him out of the plane – and gunshots rang out in a matter of seconds.
As the widow of the slain opposition leader, Cory was the soul of the fight against martial rule. She was the rallying figure of the massive demonstrations wrought by Ninoy’s brutal assassination. The world press was riveted by the Philippines as history unfolded before their very eyes. Under international pressure, Marcos called for a snap election in 1985. Cory became the unifying factor of the scattered opposition.
It was now a showdown between Marcos and Cory. A huge wave of national outrage was again triggered when it became clear that Marcos rigged the vote. The Minister of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile and the Vice-Chief of Staff Fidel V. Ramos of the Armed Forces withdrew their support to the regime – but they became trapped in Camp Crame and Camp Aguinaldo. Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin galvanized the entire nation to take to the streets and barricade the camps.
The sight of millions of men, women and children calling for peaceful change and national solidarity was spectacular and unprecedented. U.S. President Ronald Reagan called Marcos to step down to avoid bloodshed – and Cory Aquino was hailed as the true President.
Today, she remains as one of the most revered leaders in the world. Despite having retired from public office, she is still the most influential voice for freedom and moral regeneration in the Philippines.
One of her most enduring legacies is the 1987 Constitution -- with its protection of civil liberties, press freedom and political check-and-balance.
But her greatest achievement is saving the lives of generations of Filipinos: without Cory, Marcos would have died in office and the power vacuum would have been filled by extremists – Right, Left and sectarian. A power struggle of such magnitude would have plunged the country into the pits of anarchy, terrorism and genocide.
Without Cory, the Philippines today would be like a combination of Burma, North Korea and Afghanistan.
Cory photo courtesy of UPI. This story subsequently appeared in AllVoices. Your comments and links are welcome
Albert Einstein once told Cardinal von Faulhaber of Munich that he respects religion but believes in mathematics. The Cardinal said, “To me, both are merely different expressions of the same divine exactness.” Einstein asked, “But Your Eminence, what would you say if mathematical science should someday come to a conclusion directly contrary to your religious beliefs?” The Cardinal replied benignly, “Oh, I have the highest regard for the competence of mathematicians – I am sure they would never rest until they discovered their mistake.” The conflict of science and religion has been randomly mutating since God knows when. When Charles Darwin wrote The Origin of Species, it created a controversy that has evolved through the ages. Its resilience in the survival of the fittest theories seem like the handiwork of an intelligent designer. What makes Darwin’s idea so adaptable to changing conditions? “Evolution by natural selection is a brilliant answer to the riddle of complexity because it is not a theory of chance,” says biologist Richard Dawkins, professor of the public understanding of science at Oxford and author of The Ancestor’s Tale. Furthermore, “It is the only solution that has ever been proposed.” In theory, Darwin’s weakest link is the missing link between primates and humans. But transitional fossils between different species have surfaced. The Archaeopteryx found in Germany in 1861 and believed to be the link between birds and reptiles 150 million years ago, had velociraptor-like claws, a long bony tail, a full set of teeth, and bird-like wings and feathers. The Pakicetus found in Pakistan in 1981 and believed to be the link between whales and four-legged mammals 50 million years ago, can walk on land, hear underwater, and had paddle-like forelimbs and nostrils which recede like a blowhole. The Tiktaalik roseae found in Canada in 2006 and believed to be the link between fish and amphibians 375 million years ago, had pectoral fins with arm bones, shoulder, elbow and wrist. One way to scientifically discredit the theory is to discover fossils at least 540 years old, from an era when the planet was believed to be inhabited chiefly by bacteria and algae. “If there was a single hippo or rabbit in the Precambrian, that would completely blow evolution out of the water,” says Dawkins. “None have ever been found.” The steady march of scientific progress may ultimately disprove Darwin’s ideas. “Darwin made bold assumptions about heritable variation, the age of earth and relationships among organisms,” write Kenneth Miller and Joseph Levine in Biology. “New data from genetics, physics and biochemistry could have proved him wrong on many counts. They never did.” If not science, how about math? The mathematics of probability was used by William Dembski of the Southern Baptist Seminary, and he showed that natural selection and random mutation do not account for the astounding variety in nature. But evolutionists “can prove mathematically that it is capable of producing adaptive life forms and track it in computer simulations, lab experiments and real ecosystems,” according to Steven Pinker, a psychology professor at Harvard. Opponents and advocates of evolution rarely see eye to eye but their conflicting viewpoints come sharply into focus on the origin of the human eye. The eye, with its pinhole, lens, light-sensitive surface and other exquisitely delicate mechanisms, is so “irreducibly complex” that it is self-evident that an intelligent designer was actively involved, writes Michael Behe, a biologist at Lehigh University, in his book Darwin’s Black Box. Other biologists postulate that light-sensitive skin cells evolved to distinguish night from day, and the ability to tell the directions of lights and shadows evolved to help avoid predators. The simple ability to follow a light source eventually became the capacity to see. As for the other unknown pieces of the evolution jigsaw puzzle, it must be kept in mind that there are also gaps in the theories of quantum, relativity and plate tectonics, says John West, associate director of the Center for Science and Culture at the Discovery Institute in Seattle. The theory of punctuated equilibrium was also devised to help explain the curious phenomenon that some species don’t seem to evolve – then suddenly do. The latest flashpoint is the teaching of the “Intelligent Design” concept, or I.D., in American high schools. “Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact,” explain Percival Davis and Dean Kenyon in their book Of Pandas and People. According to Eugenie Scott, executive director of the National Center for Science Education in Oakland, Calif., “You have to hand it to the creationists – they have evolved.” But is it possible to believe in both God and evolution? “Like St. Augustine in A.D. 400, I do not find the wording of Genesis 1 and 2 to suggest a scientific textbook but a powerful and poetic description of God’s intentions in creating the universe. The mechanism of creation is left unspecified,” says Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Institute and co-mapper (with J. Craig Venter) of the human genome. He affirms, “I lead the Human Genome Project, which has now revealed all of the 3 billion letters of our DNA instruction book. I am also a Christian. For me, scientific discovery is also an occasion of worship.”
Sources: Time, Newsweek. This feature originally appeared in Philippine Panorama, March 1, 2009. Charles Darwin photo courtesy of Library.ThinkQuest.org
Janet Basco was lost in the dark, with her lonely broken heart; then a special someone with leadership qualities came along, took her home and made her his own – goes the story of her classic song You Made Me Live Again. A true leader can raise you up to more than you can be. Here are some of the many ways to identify – and emulate – leadership, based on The Motivating Team Leader (St. Lucie Press) by Dr. Lewis E. Losoncy. Leaders Understand Because They Empathize With The Personal Circumstances of Others Gen. George Marshall will forever be revered as the US Secretary of State who drew up the Marshall Plan, the unprecedented aid program that revived the shattered economies of post-War Europe and shielded it from Soviet domination, but his human touch – with war widows and in his debates against the pro-Navy Pres. FDR in behalf of the under-supplied Army – was equally memorable. Leaders Help People Find A Higher Purpose To Get Involved Dr. Thomas Dooley spent his life saving lives in the worst spots in Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, and inspired generations of medical volunteers. One such was Barbara Boyd, who told him she wanted a “glamorous” career as a flight stewardess. Years later, they meet again on a flight, and he told her that teaching a child in some Lao village how to brush his teeth is more meaningful than jumping every twenty minutes just to give grouchy passengers some Scotch. Weeks later, on January 1961, at the prime of his life and at the height of his popularity at 34, Tom Dooley died of cancer, and grief-stricken Barbara volunteered the next day and found her true calling – just as Tom told her she would – in the backwaters of the Third World. Leaders Reframe People’s Roles So They Can See Their Full Significance Fr. Carlo Ventresca, the camerlengo – Vatican’s de facto leader during papal elections – in Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons, broke into the secret conclave with BBC journalists with the shocking revelation: the ancient anti-Roman brotherhood the Illuminati is holding the entire Vatican hostage using anti-matter, the most powerful force known to man. He confessed that science has won over religion, but the prize was a world without purpose, and that the church, however imperfect her leaders may be, is still needed today – and the millions around the world, stunned by the live broadcast, knelt with him in prayer and human solidarity.
Pablo Picasso, like any true artist, always stayed open to the possibilities of the moment, so in 1907, some intuitive brushstrokes led to the interlocking geometrical figures in Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon, the signal form of Cubism and the strongest influence in 20th century art. Nostradamus is not enough, especially in the office. “You need better intuition, a clearer and more trustworthy inner voice,” say Robert Cooper and Ayman Sawaf in Executive EQ (Orion), their bestseller on how to increase the intuitive flow in the workplace. Here are some of their hints. Totally Experience The Moment Dennis Gabor of Hungary got his ideas while shaving in front of the mirror, including his breakthrough innovations on holography, for which he was honored the 1971 Nobel Prize for Physics. Stretch Your Abilities Robert Ballard was a marine scientist who knew, like most people, that the Titanic had sank on her maiden voyage; but unlike everyone else, he had his certainty that he would find it, and he did – with the help of his deep sub Alvin – 12,000 ft. below the freezing waters of the Atlantic. Stretch Your Senses Don Foster is a mild-mannered professor of literature at Vassar; but his extraordinary connection with words and how they are written has solved some of the FBI’s most dangerous cases, such as the identity of the Unabomber – Theodore Kaczynski – using only the latter’s handwriting samples. A less-threatening achievement is his positive ID on the anonymous author of Primary Colors – the sensational political novel than sent Washington into a guess-who frenzy – Joe Klein. Pay Attention To Your First Response Dr. Emanuel Libman remains a legend because of the inexplicable accuracy of his diagnoses even without the use of medical instruments. He possessed “Secret-divining eyes,” said his good friend and patient Albert Einstein. Another friend, Nobel Prizewinning physiologist Alexis Carrel, writes: “Often it seems as though Libman has the power to apprehend reality by pure intuition. In fact, though, he is analyzing and reasoning – but with the speed of a thunderbolt.”
Sunday, March 08, 2009
As a private tutor for high school kids, I submit that sex education should be taught in schools. It is a highly intelligent way to discuss the consequences of teen pregnancy and venereal diseases. There are, however, other factors that should come into play. First: The role of the media. It is actually the major TV networks that are indirectly promoting premarital sex by obligating their young talents to have love affairs with each other. Celebrities are role models, and they should not be seen injecting malice in their working relationships. Second: The role of the church. The issue of population explosion goes beyond birth control methods. If the church herself highlights the health and economic advantages of having only a few children, then it shows that she cares about her flock, and that she can rise above dogma for the sake of the common good. Third: The role of the parents. If couples are given free literature about responsible parenthood, they would tend to pay closer attention as compared to seminars. By extension it would also help them teach their children about the dangers of premarital sex, abortion,illegal drugs, alcoholism and excessive cigarette smoking. Their copies will be delivered by their barangay officials. Fourth: The role of the government. People will act if there's an incentive. If income tax exemptions are given to parents with less than three kids, they themselves will help stop the population boom. Fifth: Human nature. If you tell kids that sex is bad, they'll promptly go out and do it.The most logical solution is to hep direct their energies into healthier and more productive activities like sports. There are incalculable benefits in having a comprehensive, long-term sports program for the youth. Their future would be more secure if they can look forward to having free college education by being varsity players in various events like martial arts and triathlon. And after graduation, they can become professional athletes representing the country in world competitions. As for funding, a law can passed that will give tax cuts to the private sector when they subsidize government projects.
The reality TV show “Pinoy Big Brother” shows our most malicious fantasy – the omniscience to boost our egos. The orientation of mass media illustrates our deep-seated inferiority complex – we need to see people scandalized because we want to think we're superior. At the same time, insecurity drives us to go overboard for the six -thirty news to confirm our existence. This is the reason why amending the Constitution will not change anything except the Charter – we have "A government run like hell" because it's part of our culture. As the song Man In The Mirror goes: "If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change" – and the first step is to exorcise our own personal demons – not the Haunted House of Representatives.
In Robert P. Tristan’s rose garden, rows of flowers were set side by side with rows of vegetables. His biographer, Raymond Charles Swain, was intrigued by the arrangement the first time he saw it, and the pet explained, “I make nature work for me. The flowers in between the rows of vegetables attract the bees, and the bees pollinate the vegetables. Just think! I get all that labor or nothing!” Creativity is one of the keys to winning in the game of life. Resourcefulness can oftentimes draw the line between success and failure. Here are some novel but effective (and pssst, cheap!) ways to beat plant pests and solve garden dilemmas from horticultural scientists George ‘Doc’ Abraham and Katherine ‘Katy’ Abraham. Mite These are the microscopic menace of fruit trees and ornamental plants. Their mission is to drain the life out foliage, leaving them yellowish and patched with brittle, twisted leaves. Mix 4 cups of wheat flour, 5 gallons of water and ½ cup buttermilk. Strain the solution on a piece of cheesecloth or karate uniform. Spray. Snails and slugs The most amazing trap for these icky crawlers is, listen to this, beer! Yes, as in San Mig but Colt 45 is cheaper. Place a wide pan on a shallow pit – the final arrangement would look like a mini swimming pool. Pour the beer (no ice), and attracted by the free brew, they will come slithering slowly, very slowly, and they they’ll fall in and drown. Floyd F. Smith of the U.S. Department of Agriculture ran a series of greenhouse experiments, and in a report to the Entomological Society of America, he said, “Beer attracted more than 300 slugs, while metaldehyde, a standard bait, attracted only 28.” Fungal diseases Ripening tomatoes are especially prone. Mix 1 tablespoon of bleach to a quart of water. Wash tomatoes and dry them with paper towels. Then wrap them individually in newspapers, and place in cool storage. Beetles Believe it or not, but the most effective beetle bait in the world is fruit cocktail. Open a can of fruit cocktail and let the contents ferment under direct sunlight for a week. Then place it in a pail with the opening of the can just above he water level. The sweet mix will lure the beetles and they’ll drown in the pail. Caveat: if it rains on your trap, it will lose its power. For flea beetles, which specialize in peppers, potatoes and tomatoes, dusting the leaves with talcum powder works like magic. It’s also the most refreshing repellent against rabbits in case they materialize in your yard. Fungus gnats These pesky black flies always congregate in the soil of indoor plants. Get suds from a laundry soap, and pour ½ cup, circling the top of the pots. For best results, use naphtha soap, but any detergent bar is fine. Aphids Soapsuds will destroy them completely, like gnats. Aim directly and spray. Another aphicide is nicotine, except for Solanaceae family members (e.g., eggplants, peppers, tomatoes). In a cup of water, soak a couple of cigarette butts until the water turn brown. Mix the nicotine tea with a small amount of laundry soapsuds. Spray. Symphilids and springtails These creatures are usually found in the soil. Mix nicotine solution (see above), and pour a cupful around the plant’s base. White flies These 1/16 inch flying dandruff have been the pet peeve of gardeners even before spades were invented. They have a curious habit of killing plants by sucking sap from the undersides of the leaves. If the plant survives, they secrete a mysterious substance that summons black molds. Mix 1 tablespoon dishwashing liquid in a gallon of water, and spray the solution on the undersides of the leaves. Do this every 5 days for 15 days, and once a week after that until symptoms desist. Tobacco mosaic virus Any infected plant must b e destroyed at once, or it will spread. This comes from, well, tobacco. If you smoke, you hands contain residues from holding cigarettes, and all Solanaceae crops are highly vulnerable. Simply washing your hand with laundry soap before gardening will do the trick. Even if you wear gloves, it’s better to be on the safe side. Dogs and cats These are “pets” not “pests” but sometimes they have a delightful way of obliterating your seedlings while romping outdoors. Mix some chopped garlic with 1 tablespoon of cayenne powder, and soak for an hour in a quart of water. Then add 1 tablespoon of dishwashing liquid (to help the solution stick to the plant). You can either use a sprayer or a watering can. This technique will keep you animal housemates at bay. Important: “Do not spray outdoors on windy days as solution may burn your eyes. Indoors, be careful not to breathe the fumes,” according to the Abrahams. Preserving cut flowers Vinegar. So if you’re an importer, you’ll have to eat less adobo. “Mix 2 tablespoons of white vinegar and 2 teaspoons of cane sugar in a quart of water,” advise the Abrahams. “Use in vase instead of plain water.” Lack of acid in soil Certain plants like gardenias and azaleas require an acid soil. Otherwise they will eventually wilt. Mix 2 tablespoons of vinegar to a quart of water. Then pour a cupful at the base of the plant every 2 weeks until the leaves turn green again. Excess lime in soil This is caused by too much hard-water from wells or hand pumps. Symptoms include yellow leaves. Again, vinegar. Use the same technique in treating the soil’s lack of acidity. Lack of magnesium in sandy soil If your muskmelons taste flat, that could be it. The University of Maryland found a solution: Mix 6 ½ tablespoons of Epson salt, 3 1/3 tablespoons of household borax, and 5 gallons of water. Spray when the vines start to run, and also when the fruits reach 2 inches in diameter. Sterilizing your equipment At the end of the day, you need to rest – unless you’re a call center agent. Before watching the evening news, sterilize your garden tools and flowerpots. Mix a solution of one-part bleach and nine-part water. Soak your equipments for a couple minutes.
One of the best news nowadays is the steadily growing popularity of virgin coconut oil. According to Dr. Mark Atkinson, “Organic virgin coconut oil stands alone as being the healthiest oil you can use. It possesses a plethora of health benefits, and the research to substantiate it.” Few products can boast such mind-boggling versatility. Virgin coconut oil can be used for frying, as food supplement, as substitute for butter, as ingredient for soap and baby formula, as hair hot oil treatment, moisturizer, grease, make-up remover, massage lotion and salad dressing. Wonder Wine This wonder wine form the coco-palm family has been found to “Prevent heart diseases, dissolve kidney stones, balance blood-sugar and control diabetes, enhance the immune system, protect against cancer, boost your energy and increase your metabolism, lose excess body fat, kill disease-carrying bacteria, viruses and fungi, relieve symptoms associated with irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease, protect your skin against free radical damage that causes premature aging and much more!” wrote Dr. Bruce Fife in Coconut Cures, with foreword by Dr. Conrado Dayrit. Virtual Lifeblood Coconut oil has been the virtual lifeblood of tropical communities in Asia and the South Pacific islands for centuries. Sanskrit Ayurvedic records (c.1500BC) contain testimonials for its unique powers. Captain. Cook and other European pioneer explorers marveled at this strange brew. Liquid from young coconut was used as a saline drip to save wounded Allied soldiers during the Second World War. After the hostilities, it was sold in the United States as ‘coconut butter’, while in England, they called it ‘margarine’. Functional Food Then in 1954, saturated fats were found to raise the levels of serum cholesterol. The ensuing campaign to switch to polyunsaturates left coconut oil with a bad rep. It was revealed only recently that the real culprits were trans-fatty acids from hydrogenated oils. Research by Dr. Mary Enig proved the absence of trans-fatty acids in virgin coconut oil and led to its classification as “functional food” – providing health benefits that basic nutrients cannot. It must also be noted that virgin coconut oil remains stable even under extreme temperatures, making it invincible against free radicals. Huge Excitement The low calorie content of virgin coconut oil makes it ideal for athletes and dieters. “The discovery that coconut oil actually speeds up metabolism and thyroid function has created huge excitement amongst nutritionists and their weight-loss clients,” wrote Cherie Calbom (aka The Juice Lady) in The Coconut Diet: The Secret Ingredient for Effortless Weight Loss. Medical Role In a manifesto signed by five highly respected physicians from different nations led by Dr. Condrado Dayrit, they assert the “Coconut oil has an important medical role to play in nutrition, metabolism and health care. Indeed, properly formulated and utilized, coconut oil may be the preferred vegetable oil in our diet and the special hospital foods promoting patient recovery.”