28 February 2010

Bongbong Marcos is wrong on Edsa victory

by: Bejamin Pimental
Reposted from Inquirer.net

Looking back, so many things could have gone wrong on Edsa during those four days in February 1986. I remember how spooked we all were when helicopters suddenly roared overhead, thinking Marcos had sent them to attack us—only to find out that they were military officers defecting to the pro-democracy camp.

The uprising could have turned into a bloody tragedy. And to be sure, there were close calls, including the now-famous face-off between protesters, led by nuns, and soldiers backed up by armored personnel carriers.

But incredibly, perhaps miraculously, the ranks of the forces opposed to the dictator held.

Nearly a quarter of a century later, I actually don’t recall feeling afraid during those sleepless four days. Worried at times, yes. But as the saying goes, “Fear is contagious, but courage even more.”

For that was truly a genuine moment of courage for hundreds of thousands of Filipinos. Not the swashbuckling, macho type of courage. But something deeper, more deeply-rooted—the courage of a people willing to stick together and face whatever a bully had to offer.

It’s fashionable nowadays to lament that the changes many Filipinos expected from Edsa never materialized. The country has continued to reel from poverty and mind-boggling inequality. The political system is mired in debilitating corruption, driven to paralysis by one of the most shortsighted and greediest elite classes in Southeast Asia. Disillusionment with government, and with politicians, is widespread.

People have reason to complain, to become discouraged, even disgusted with those who took over after we kicked the dictator out. There are so many things that still need to change.

Partly because of all these, I was actually going to just let the Edsa anniversary pass without any comment.

But then comes the late dictator’s son, now vying to be senator, publicly proclaiming Edsa a “failure”

“My family and I could accept Edsa 1, but if there have not been any changes and the Filipino people continue to be poor, I’m sorry to say but I cannot accept it,” Bongbong Marcos has been quoted as saying.

Now I may be somewhat sympathetic to someone who denigrates a historic uprising that unceremoniously booted him and his family out of the country.

But we simply can’t let a statement like that stand without challenging it. In any case, Marcos Junior may have just done us a big favor. He just reminded us why Edsa was a good thing, and why we should continue to celebrate it.

Reason No. 1: We were able to kick out a dictator!

Edsa put an end to a 21-year nightmare when a bully and his cronies ran amuck in our country.

It put an end to a time when Filipinos were constantly afraid of saying or doing anything that may offend the regime—and that actually was seen as normal.

It put an end to a time when political leaders and their families could amass unexplained wealth, and that was considered just part of being in power.

Sure, there’s still fear, corruption, and political abuse. But only a fool, or a crook who cashed in during the time of dictatorship, would argue that the Philippines would be better off being run by a bully who thought he had the right to stay in power forever.

In any society, there will always be issues that were once debated heatedly, but which have been put to rest.

That’s true in America where people once debated, and even fought a war over, such issues as whether citizens should have the right to own slaves, or whether women and minorities should have the right to vote or hold public office.

That’s also been true in the Philippines.

And I’d argue that Edsa should put to rest at least one important issue. The uprising must serve as powerful reminder of the most important lesson from the Marcos nightmare: That dictatorship is wrong. That one-man rule—or one-party rule—should be rejected, and never, ever be accepted as a way to run a country.

There may be many debates on other issues—over the best form of government, or the right balance between development and environmental protection, or the most effective way to fix the economy.

But the key lesson of Edsa should not be obscured by the myriad of problems the Philippines is struggling with at present.

It would have been great if Edsa had led to the dramatic eradication of poverty in our country, or the steady dismantling of oppressive structures in society. But, during those four days, the chief goal, the main aim of the Filipinos who came out during those four days to defy Marcos was to get rid of a dictator.

And guess what, Mr. Marcos—They did it.

So Marcos Junior is wrong. Edsa did not fail. It was a resounding success because it accomplished an objective that many Filipinos actually believed could never be reached.

Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos acting as one defeated a bully.

That’s a victory still worth celebrating, worth remembering every year, and telling our children and grandchildren, so that we can, at least, put that issue to rest forever, and move on to the other important problems.


12 February 2010

Campaign 2010: Does social media matter?


reposted in its entirety from the Manila Bulletin.

Over the holiday, a volunteer group supporting the presidential candidacy of Senator Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III (Liberal Party) announced that their candidate has more Facebook fans and online supporters than other candidates. Although the numbers are constantly growing, at one point Mr. Aquino had about 211,000 supporters. His closest rival in traditional surveys and online, Senator Manuel Villar (Nacionalista Party) had close to 165,000.

None of the other candidates came close.

Mr. Aquino enjoys a wide lead over other candidates. In the latest survey conducted by Social Weather Station December 5-10, slightly more than 46% of respondents said they prefer Mr. Aquino as their president. Only 27% of respondents selected Mr. Villar, and 16% said they would vote for former President Joseph Estrada (Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino), who trails miserably on Facebook with substantially less than 4,000 supporters. It’s noteworthy that in the latest poll, Messrs. Villar and Estrada moved up from an earlier survey while Mr. Aquino appeared to plateau.

It’s interesting that Mr. Villar is doing much better in the race for Facebook supporters than he is in traditional surveys, and that Mr. Estrada is doing much worse. There are many reasons for the discrepancy. The obvious reason is that Facebook “support” has no scientific basis and can be easily manipulated by zealous volunteers.

Although both Messrs. Villar and Estrada claim the poor as their constituency — Mr. Villar’s roots are much closer to the poor than Mr. Estrada’s, incidentally — it may be that fewer of Mr. Estrada’s truly poor supporters have access to Facebook or the Internet at all.

Given the unreliable nature of the Facebook numbers, it’s fair to ask whether the social network — and other popular social media services such as Twitter and YouTube — really matter in the coming election. It’s no secret that I think they do.

But it’s completely understandable that many assume this New Year’s crop of presidential candidates is flocking to social media merely to try to emulate the successful, social media-intense campaign of US President Barack Obama.

Is there a better reason for candidates to try to leverage social media? Let’s start with some numbers. According to the website Inside Facebook, which measures Facebook penetration for developers and marketers, in September last year — the latest month for which data is available — 1.3 million Filipinos joined the social network, bringing the total number of users to about six million.

Since Internet penetration has continued to increase in the Philippines according to local telecom companies, it’s reasonable to assume that the number of Facebook users in the Philippines has also continued to grow. If usage has grown at one million per month, then by the end of January there will be somewhere in the vicinity of 10 million Facebook users in the Philippines. In June, Hitwise estimated the average age of Facebook users at between 25 and 44 in the US. The Philippines shares a close affinity with the US, and the average age of users — especially given the cost of Internet access — is likely about the same.

That would mean that more than half of all Facebook users in the Philippines are of voting age. Because Mr. Aquino has about 22% more Facebook supporters than Mr. Villar, he would theoretically win a Facebook election by more than 1.1 million votes assuming half of all users are registered voters and will vote. That margin is the same margin President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo won by in 2004, incidentally.

Of course, this is pure speculation, but it is reasonable speculation.

According to a 2008 study by Universal McCann, more Filipino Internet users than anywhere else in the world as a percentage of users belong to social networks (83%) and upload photos (86%). Only users in Brazil (68% versus 61%) upload more videos, but 99% of Filipino Internet users watch videos online. In the first week of January as I wrote this column, Facebook was the number one visited website in the Philippines according to Alexa, which tracks the popularity of websites.

This data suggests that it is smart for Philippine presidential aspirants to leverage social networks to communicate and interact with their online supporters — who are also likely to influence the votes of their family members and friends. It doesn’t really tell us how effectively they are leveraging social network visibility. The outcome of the election — assuming it is honest and transparent — may be the best indication.


09 February 2010

Integrity vs. Competence

As the presidential elections draws nearer, we hear an oft-repeated question: What’s more important Integrity or competence? A self-proclaimed Noynoy Aquino supporter, Ward Luarca shares his views in an essay he hopes will answer this question.


Sen. Noynoy Aquino’s rivals in the presidential race, along with their “jeer”-leaders, have taken issue with his supposed lack of experience and accomplishments. Their presumptuous claim can be reduced to one single, albeit simplistic, question of COMPETENCE – if one has it or not.

But they would not question his integrity. (Yes, there is, too, the demolition job led by another “presidentiable” and his “stoke”-persons who are brothers, accusing Noynoy of “doing a Villar” vis-à-vis the SCTex, which is an ironic, self-incriminating, thus comical, catchphrase. But Noynoy is not a subject of censure by his peers in the Senate, Villar is.)

Let’s put them in their place. Let’s begin with a scan of the global landscape. In President Obama’s recent State of the Union Address, he spoke extensively and with great emphasis about CORE MORAL VALUES (of honesty, hard work, decency, freedom with responsibility, individual initiative, and regard for the wellbeing of others). This was in the context of his citing the problematic legacies of the eight years of the administration he had succeeded, as well as the indiscretions by Wall Street “money fixers”, as it were, that triggered the global economic meltdown in September, 2008 and which effects continue to this day.

In many other parts of the world – in Europe, South America, the Middle East, Africa, Australia, and in our very own Asia, including the various offices of the United Nations – DOING WHAT IS RIGHT by and for the people by those who govern them is undoubtedly the overwhelming call of the times. To be sure, the leaders of these nations and the businesses that run the regional and global economy are highly COMPETENT people! At least most of them are. But what happened?

They devalued CHARACTER – also called INTEGRITY – and overstated COMPETENCE. The election of President Obama brought to the consciousness of many people around the world the need for CHANGE. Change for what? I believe the change is as much for creating new systems and procedures to achieve goals as for restoring the age-old collective moral values that propel the individual will to achieve those goals the RIGHT WAY. “Right” in the sense of doing the greater good for the greater many. “Right” in the sense of adhering as much to moral imperatives as to the essence of democracy.

In the Philippine context, we are today as if reliving the abusive and oppressive Marcos years, leading to the Snap Election, and later happily spawning PEOPLE POWER. Our country today is living proof that INTEGRITY must come above COMPETENCE. Marcos then had the best brain trust. He and they were supposed to be arguably the most COMPETENT among those who would serve the nation. But he and many of his handpicked leaders forgot about INTEGRITY.

Under the present administration, we are in a similar situation. Today we have instead a culture of impunity! Of brazen disregard for accountability and human rights, our laws and institutions. All in the name of exercising and maintaining power and amassing ill-gotten wealth. Indeed, they call themselves competent, as all of Noynoy’s rivals for the presidency today also call themselves competent.

Which may very well be true! Because it is from education, practice of profession, exposure and experience – as all of them have had – is their competence gradually and cumulatively acquired and enhanced. Most people who have received such training and exposure invariably gain a level of competence in their chosen field, with very few exceptions. Noynoy has certainly received and applied such training and exposure as much as the next presidentiable. His competence in government work is all a matter of public record. As his rivals’ competence is also a matter of public record.

I submit that we – the voters – must judge each candidate on his integrity, his character, above competence. They all possess the necessary abilities, but what of integrity?

Nuong Snap Election nuong 1986, sa kampanya ng partido ni Marcos, ang pilit nilang ipinapanira kay Candidate Cory ay ang mga salitang “walang alam!”. Ganoon din ang sinasabi nila tungkol kay Noynoy ngayon, iba nga lang ang pamamaraan. Sagot ni Tita Cory sa kanilang batikos: “Oo, wala akong alam…sa pagnanakaw, sa pang-aabuso, sa katiwalian.” Para yatang nauulit sa ngayon ang nangyari na nuon. Si Cory Aquino ang naging pangulo ng bansa, isang “walang alam” (yun ang sabi ng mga katunggali niya). Pinarangalan si Tita Cory sa puso ng maraming Pilipino nang siya’y pumanaw. At iyon ay dahil sa kanyang integridad; sa pagiging matapat niya sa tungkulin at sa bayan; sa pagtataguyod niya ng demokrasya.

Ipinagpapatuloy ngayon ni Noynoy ang pagpapamalas ng integridad na siyang pinakamahalagang minana niya mula sa kanyang mga bayaning magulang.

Competence and ability are measurable traits and skills, recorded on transcript records and resumes. Character and integrity are quiet expressions of the heart, their passing marks delicately etched in God’s handwriting on the soul. Competence is applying the “How-To”, conceived in the mind of man; integrity is a continual testing of Life’s “Why”, flowing from the wisdom of God.

Which then should come first, integrity or competence? The answer, I believe, is obvious. I shall vote on the basis of one’s BEING, not doing.

Reposted from http://www.noynoy.ph/blog/2010/02/08/integrity-vs-competence/


08 February 2010

Noel Cabangon: Biyahe

One of the most respected and influential figures in OPM music, NOEL CABANGON, as he introduces you to his brand new album BYAHE. Album out now!


Image Editing

Image editing encompasses the processes of altering images, whether they be digital photographs, traditional analog photographs, or illustrations. Traditional analog image editing is known as photo retouching, using tools such as an airbrush to modify photographs, or editing illustrations with any traditional art medium. Graphic software programs, which can be broadly grouped into vector graphics editors, raster graphics editors, and 3d modelers, are the primary tools with which a user may manipulate, enhance, and transform images. Many image editing programs are also used to render or create computer art from scratch.

Source: Wikipedia


03 February 2010

SMART holds 6th SWEEP Awards and 2nd DPSA Awards on Feb 5 and 6

Source: Smart Schools Program

The 6th SWEEP Innovation and Excellence Awards, with this year’s theme -- ‘Empowering Communities through Wireless Technologies’ -- is featuring wireless applications created by engineering students to address actual concerns of specific communities.

The working models of the top 10 entries will be on exhibit at the A. Venue Hall in Makati City from February 5 to 6. Final judging, which includes an evaluation of the working models and team presentations, will be held during the two-day culminating event. Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three winning teams, with equivalent grants awarded to their schools. First prize is PhP500,000; second prize, PhP300,000; and third prize, PhP150,000.

Concurrent with the 6th SWEEP Awards is the finale of the 2nd Doon Po sa Amin (DPSA) Learning Challenge Awards. Participated by partner schools under the Smart Schools Program of SMART, it recognizes the best local online content that promotes and helps in the development of local communities. Works of this year’s finalists will likewise be on display at the A. Venue Hall. There will also be a DPSA Quiz Bee to be participated in by representative teams of schools with top DPSA entries.

Making it to the finals this year are Barobo National High School for "Sumbada: Buhay Lambat" and “Davisol: Mga Likha at Pananampalataya”, Nueva Ecija High School for "Mathematics of the Tricycle City”; Batanes National Science High School for "Lime and its Building Power”; Naga City Science High School for “Tigsik: Pagsalingoy sa Lenguaheng Bikolano” and “Mike V. Padua: Pag-asa Kan Naga”, Science and Technology Education Center for “Binisaya”, Bataan National High School for “Mt. Samat: The Stand for the Fallen”, and Maddela Comprehensive High School for “Sierra Madre: Peak of Life”.

As in previous years, the 6th SWEEP Awards promises to be an exciting and fun learning experience for students. Aside from the showcased entries, guests can also check out interactive booth exhibits, join raffle draws and watch performances by their favorite bands.


02 February 2010

Robert Pattinson Comic Book Gets a New Cover and a Preview Page

Millions know English actor Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen, the vampire with a conscience in the films Twilight and The Twilight Saga: New Moon, the fantasy/romance movies based on Stephenie Meyer's famous book series.

But there's more to Pattinson than fake fangs, faraway looks and tousled hair. Pattinson is an accomplished musician, a former model and an actor who's played both a wizard at Harry Potter's Hogwarts School and the artist Salvador Dali.

Bluewater Productions in May will ship FAME: Robert Pattinson to comic book shops and retailers across the country. This 32-page comic will trace Pattinson's career from his first performance in Tess of the D'Urbervilles at London's Barnes Theatre to his star turn in the Twilight movies.

Writer Kim Sherman said that she is eager to introduce fans to the many sides of Pattinson.

“I love having the ability to introduce high-profile people to readers through an unexpected medium that is both written and visual,” Sherman said. “These biography comics are designed to illustrate interesting tidbits to fans about their favorite figureheads, and inspire them to learn more. I chose to conceptualize A-lister Robert Pattinson from a unique perspective, immersing the reader into the life of the talented actor beyond his most famous role.”

Count interior artist Nathaniel Ooten as one reader who's gained a new appreciation for Pattinson's career since reading Sherman's script.

“Working on this book has opened an entirely new level of Rob Pattinson for me,” Ooten said. “Before starting, I was only aware of the 'teenage vampire' Pattinson. After reading the script, studying the subject and listening to his music, I not only became very interested in Pattinson's future work, but also discovered a new appreciation for this 'teenage vampire.'”

Bluewater president Darren G. Davis said that he expects Pattinson's biography to be as popular among Twilight fans as was the comic biography of writer Meyer, which Bluewater published in November of 2009. That particular biography has sold out of several printings.

“Twilight fans want to know everything about the talented people who have brought them the story of Edward and Bella,” Davis said. “I'm pleased to be able to bring them Robert Pattinson's story. It's our hope that even the most devoted fans will discover a fact or two that takes them completely by surprise.”

FAME: Robert Pattinson is part of Bluewater's much-publicized, and popular, line of biographical comics. The FAME series will also include comic biographies of Lady GaGa, 50 Cent, Tiger Woods and David Beckham. Bluewater Productions also publishes biographies of influential political figures such as Al Gore, Sarah Palin and Michelle Obama. Many of these comics, too, have sold out several printings.


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