Erap Ties Villar for 2nd Place!

Yegadz!!!!

Unbelievable!

This latest piece of news just might actually push me to vote for Noy. *groan* Funny how one’s perspective can shift so drastically, so quickly.

Before I saw this on the news last night, voting for Noy was not even close to being an option. It was either Dick or Gibo. Or, if I had allowed pragmatism to more heavily influence my decision-making process, perhaps Manny Villar as a ‘lesser evil’.

Come to think of it, I think vacillating and delaying the inevitable final decision on who to vote signifies many things. The fact that there’s no perfect candidate. The fact that all of them have things that work for and against them. The fact that it really entails a long-drawn-out decision-making process to arrive at a satisfying choice.

Beyond those obvious things, what is remarkable is that before this new piece of news, vacillating was actually still an option. When the Presidential seat seemed to be unmistakably waiting for just either Noy or Villar, while it inspired heated debates and rising tempers – we all knew (I think) at the back of our minds that either way, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Or to be more succinct about it – Noy or Villar as President wouldn’t be unacceptable.

With Erap back in the race with a strong fighting chance, therein lies the most unacceptable event of all: that he wins back the Presidential seat. It’s no different from the 2004 Elections when it was clearly just a race between GMA and FPJ.

Yegadz!!! And to think there were rumors a few weeks ago that a few days before the Elections, Erap will suddenly pull out of the race and endorse all his supporters to vote for Villar instead.

Well… that’s not an impossibility yet at this point, of course. Our political arena is as we already know, very much akin to an arena filled with circus freaks.

So here we are, 2 weeks before the elections and it seems like much is changing. If Erap continues his climb up the Presidential race, it’s a no brainer that Noy is without a doubt, the better choice.

So much for voting without  compromising.

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An Electrifying Electricity Bill

So upon getting home last night and settling comfortably on our couch, hubby casually reached for a pile of envelopes on the table and dumped it on my lap. It was all our bills for the month from our basement mailbox. A very typical scenario in our home that occurs once a month.

So I nonchalantly started opening the envelopes one at a time til I got to our electricity bill.

I almost fell off my couch. Our bill this month… is double what we normally pay monthly! On a month when we had brownouts! And on a month when we consciously and conscientiously decided to bear with the scorching heat of summer in Manila and avoid using our airconditioner even at the peak of the afternoon heat — all in the attempts of trying to cut down our electricity consumption!

Double!

As it turns out, we aren’t alone in our plight. Several bloggers have also been complaining about the horrendous rise in the cost of electricity this month.

The explanation of Meralco is as such:

Meralco’s Generation Charge

The rise in generation charges springs from the high cost of electricity that Meralco buys from its suppliers. These suppliers consist of the National Power Corporation (NCP), Independent Power Producers (IPP) and Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM).

The major factor that caused the sharp rise in electricity was because of the increase in the price of WESM, a venue for trading electricity as a commodity in the spot market.

Meralco does not add any mark-up to the cost of electricity purchased from these electricity suppliers. The generation cost, which averages about 50-60% of your electric bill, goes directly to Meralco’s power suppliers and adds nothing to Meralco’s income.

———

I don’t know anything about power charges, WESM and all that.

I can believe that the cost of energy has increased given that we are smack in the middle of one of the worst bouts of El Nino ever. The temperature in the metro as of late has left many vulnerable to nothing less than heat stroke. Our water levels are approaching critical, hence less sources of renewable energy. And due to the scorching heat, electricity consumption has skyrocketed, rendering power plants overworked and more prone to falling apart.

I can understand why the cost per kwh needs to be increased. But double???? Goodness… If I could charge extra for every day of my life that I’ve been overworked, I’d be a rich, rich woman.

Still, things like this make me think of many other things.

In spite of the advancements in science and technology, why haven’t we found a naturally occurring source of renewable energy that doesn’t need to rely solely on Meralco’s power plants?

And this El Nino… how disturbing is it that our planet has been subject to extreme weather disturbances lately? Scientists chuck it up to Global Warming.. hell yeah, it is Global Warming. We hear about it almost everyday nowadays but does any one of us actually do something (big or small) in our own way to do our part to arrest any further damage to our environment?

Ultimately, we can complain and rant all we want about the horrendous rise in the cost of utilities. Does it make you wonder though if all of this is the world’s way of getting back at the human race?

Which Presidentiable Gets My Vote?

The National Elections is less than 15 days away, and I still haven’t decided on which Presidentiable I’m supporting.

According to the latest surveys, Noy leads the race with a close to 10-point gap to the 2nd placer, Manny Villar. Erap (not included in the photo for fairly obvious reasons) is a far number 3; Gibo not far behind Erap at #4; and Dick Gordon a far far number 5. Statistically, Gordon is tied with Nick Perlas and (I think) Jamby Madrigal at only 2% each.

Over the past few months, I’ve come across people who like me, think that the best Presidential candidate is actually Dick Gordon. Track record alone speaks about the capabilities of this man – from Subic, Red Cross and the DOT – he has undoubtedly shown results. However, most of us choose not to vote for him only because we all believe he has no chance of winning. In many ways, it feels like voting for Dick would be a wasted vote – if only we could reallocate that vote for the lesser evil of the top 2 candidates. I remember remarking on this in one of my past blogs early on in the Presidential campaigning period too.

It’s a bit sad though how collective minds think this way. Consider the alternative. If everyone who actually thinks and believes that Dick Gordon is the best Presidential candidate… actually went ahead and rallied for him – then maybe he could actually win. Or at least have a fighting chance.

So the question remains to many ‘undecideds’ like me:

Will I vote according to the dictates of my conscience, in which case that would be Dick?

Or should I just vote pragmatically, and help the “lesser evil” have a better fighting chance (in which case, I am still undecided who is actually the ‘lesser evil’)?

This year’s Election period started out with a very positive and hopeful collective spirit.

Except for the few apathetic, indifferent citizens of this country who don’t really care one way or the other about the Elections or anything related to governing this country — most others I spoke to about this year’s elections really seemed to genuinely care. People have actually gone out of their way to educate themselves and go through lengths to really understand the issues, get to know the candidates and scrutinize the situation from every angle. It has made for a lot of interesting discussions and friendly-but-somewhat-heated debates over coffee and alcohol here and there.

But it was genuinely nice seeing people rise up and have their say on how they think this country should be run. Whether or not we were all of a shared belief didn’t matter. What mattered was that people started to care. And that everyone seemed hell-bent on making the right and the best decisions for the country. (For the first time ever, it’s no longer a guarantee that a celebrity wins in the Elections! A huge leap for the Filipino voting population.)

While it’s still true today, what is frustrating is how now, at the 11th hour, most of us are left with no choice but to somehow make yet another compromise on something that should be worth keeping our conviction for. Why is it that we’re ultimately always left with the question of who is the lesser evil?

We actually have a very well qualified Presidentiable who unfortunately lacks machinery and funding support, hence he lags far, far behind in the polls.

Instead, the top candidates we have are found wanting on many levels.

Noynoy

I’ve made my thoughts about Noynoy clear in a previous blog entry. Earlier today I read an article written by a Gordon-believer-but-Noynoy-supporter (again because of the assumption that Dick won’t win), and in it, she says that she will just vote for Noynoy because he is the only one who can be trusted. That his “quietness” as a Senator is because he doesn’t seek the limelight. Personally, that feels like a stretch at rationalizing and excusing inaction.

‘Not seeking the limelight’ is a description that doesn’t apply to a Senator. By default, and by simple job description alone – a public official will always be in the limelight. What’s glaring under ‘this limelight of his’ is that the years he’s spent in the Senate hasn’t amounted to anything significant in his list of accomplishments. And really now, what does exactly does ‘proper enforcement of the law’ mean? If this was his thrust all these years, laws today are still not properly enforced.

And what exactly does he also mean when he says ‘we have more than enough laws’? We don’t even have laws yet that protect the general public from medical malpractices. Here’s something I picked up recently: no doctor in the Philippines has ever been disbarred nor had his/her medical license revoked in spite of proven medical malpractices. At most, they only get suspended. That’s because there are no governing laws that mandate juridical actions by the country’s governing bodies for the medical community.

See…. Trustworthiness is an admirable quality. But we don’t need just an administration whose strengths are solely hinged on their trustwortiness. We need an administration who can act, rise out of complacency and not be content with just ‘what we already have’.

Villar

Now this guy, his rags-to-riches story and how today he is one of the richest men in the country… for someone like me, stubbornly self-driven to achieve all my goals all on my own regardless of what it takes…it is an admirable, inspiring story.

I can turn a blind eye on the misleading details of his past and how everyone now questions whether his claims in his commercials are anywhere near true. He is dishonest and untrustworthy, many will say and have said. The exact opposite of Noynoy.

But man, can he act and make a tangible difference. His platform and policies are a tad bit more aggressive. Controversial too, if you push the thinking even more.

He has a strong propensity for tolerating corruption. Not just tolerating it, but actually being one of the forerunners of a corrupt administration.

Yes. These are our Top 2 Presidentiables. Who is the lesser evil? Beyond personality alone, will you choose an administration who will champion the fight against corruption? Or the administration who is launching an all-out war against poverty? Both are noble aspirations. But which one… which one will really make a difference for the Filipino people?

And also, at the end of it all, will you vote according to the dictates of your conscience? Or vote while turning a blind eye and only half a heart?

Tears for Fears in Manila!

While my giddy female classmates would scream and swoon for Robi da Rosa or Ricky Martin at the height of the band Menudo‘s popularity some time ago in the 80s, I…. I rocked to the tunes of Ronald Orzabal and Curt Smith, singing “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” at the top of my lungs.

While schoolgirls got reeled in to the boy-ish good looks of the band who started all boy bands, I angsty-ly sniffled away a few tears to “Memories Fade”, “Start of the Breakdown” and “The Working Hour” (don’t ask me why I cried to this song, I don’t quite know myself).

And… while my female counterparts would memorize the dance steps of “Heavenly Angels”…. I bobbed my head to the unique percussions of “Mad World”; while pretending to understand the meaning of the song “Pale Shelter”.

You know what I’m talking about, dontcha?

I am a big fan. This duo took center stage in my life when I was still a confused, trying-hard-to-fit-in adolescent who already apparently already showed hints of senseless rebellion.

And as an adult, I still take the lyrics of “Advice for the Young at Heart” to heart. “Woman in Chains” is a regular in all my favorite playlists. I still feel a slight shiver when the opening bars of “Everybody Loves a Happy Ending” starts.

Tears for Fears. *shiver*

If you’re as big a fan as I am, then you’d have known long ago — they’re coming to Manila! May 2nd, Araneta Coliseum!

We’ve got our tickets ready and waiting. This is gonna so rule my world.

If you’re as big a fan as I am, see you there!

—-

P.S. If you want to find out about where to get tickets, just click on the photo.

The Aquino Legacy

There are only very few Filipinos whose spirits do not feel a lift when the subject of Ninoy and Cory Aquino comes into discussion. If there was ever a couple most loved in Philippine History, it would be this yellow-bearing, unassuming yet very charismatic couple.

The Aquino legacy began with Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, most visible and influential at the peak of ex-President Ferdinand Marcos’ era of dictatorship and tyranny.

I was too young to remember what life in the Philippines was like at this time. My brother and I are children born in the peak of Martial Law. Apart from witnessing (although never really comprehending) heated discussions over the dinner table as our parents (who were pro-Aquino) would launch into verbal combat with my Grandfather (a die-hard Marcos loyalist), my concept of Martial Law and living under a dictator’s rule was much like a baby trying to comprehend the funny sounds adults make when ooooh-ing and aaaaahh-ing over the crib.

What I do clearly remember is that fateful day on the 21st of August, 1983. The day when Ninoy Aquino, after being exiled from the Philippines for many years, finally returned home to continue challenging the tyrannical rule of President Marcos.

We already know what happens on this day. As he alights from the plane, he gets shot and dies on the spot — there, on the tarmac of what is now known as the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Several days later, millions of Filipinos gather on the streets to mourn and bury their hero. I remember this – mom was watching this on TV. She was very sad. If I recall correctly, she was on the phone with my maternal grandmother and they were together mourning the death of Ninoy Aquino.

The next big Chapter of the Aquino saga came a few years later. I was 10 years old — still ignorant and clueless about the ongoings of a country slowly dying under the weight of a relentless dictator. And yet, my memories of this time are just a little bit clearer.

The events that led up to the final toppling of the Dictator on February 25, 1986 paralleled some little events here and there that were happening in our own household. I remember mom and dad suddenly shuffling me and kuya home on the night of February 22 (that was a Sunday… we usually spent weekends with my maternal Grandparents in Paranaque).

You see, my childhood home (and my paternal grandparents’ ancestral home) is located in San Juan. It’s 5 minutes away from EDSA-Ortigas, 10 minutes away from Camps Crame and Aguinaldo. I still wonder to this day why instead of leaving us safely tucked away far from where all the happenings were, mom and dad brought us closer to the center of action.

But I digress. That night, after seeing us safely tucked away in our beds, mom and dad (with my uncle) left the house and didn’t return til the following day. They came home just to get bathed, dress up, eat, and then they left again. This went on for the next two days.

And on the third day, mom and dad went home, exhausted but happy and jubilant. They dressed my brother and I in yellow clothes, and took us to EDSA where millions of yellow-bearing Filipinos were singing, dancing and crying with joy. Marcos was gone. Corazon “Cory” C. Aquino was finally the rightful President of the Philippines, and she has just given us back the freedom that Marcos took from everyone years ago. Democracy was back.

Two years ago (August 2008) we commemorated the 25th Death Anniversary of Ninoy. And a year later (August 2009), we mourned the Death of his widow, Cory.

Apart from being such strong historical figures in our country, these 2 are also special to me on a personal level. On his 25th Death Anniversary, I worked on a youth-driven advocacy program to help advocate the values that Ninoy lived by among the youth of today. His values of courage, integrity, honesty and resilience.

Through this campaign, I had been able to get close to some members of the family. We would be invited to watch plays, read scripts, and meet with other interest groups who wanted to sign in to this advocacy. We even had long discussions about the current political scenario. About GMA. Sometimes we would share opposing views. But of course, since they were still my Clients, I couldn’t stray too far and reveal some of my more intense points of view.

I take pride in fact in being able to say that at one point of my life, I met Cory Aquino face to face. I didn’t get to shake her hands – since she was battling Cancer, she needed to exercise caution when meeting with people who’ve been outdoors. But we did take a picture with  her for posterity’s sake. I’ve got it safely stored among my most valued possessions.

On her death on August 2nd, 2009, I had the privilege of attending one of her funeral masses.

I will never forget too the sentiments I had when I met Cory face to face. She is an awe-inspiring woman. She is… was… a very strong woman. Not loud, not abrasive, not rough. But strong, in her own quiet, resilient way. She could speak volumes in spite of her mild-mannered bearing. She was firm, decisive and authoritative…. and yet, infinitely gentle.  How one woman could possess that contrast of qualities is amazing.

That’s my memory of Cory: a strong, capable, intelligent and trustworthy woman with unparalleled integrity. The world lost a great woman upon her death. But it was time for her to rejoin her love, the man whose ideals she did not allow to die along with him.

In their respective time frames, Ninoy and Cory were heroes in their own right.

Ninoy’s persistent fight from Senate, to his squalid prison cell, to his hospital bed and his brief sojourn into family life as an exile in Boston – he never stopped speaking up against the ills of the Marcos regime. All this at the cost of his own life. He fought til his last breath, and spurred a people starving for a hero into action.

And to continue his fight, his widow. The one who united a people into a peaceful revolution that would once and for all overthrow a dictatorship and restore democracy to a nation down on its knees.

The freedom that we enjoy today we can attribute largely to the Ninoy and Cory Aquino legacy. And while there’s so much more progress to achieve and societal ills to battle, at their time, they did what they needed to do, and did it well.

With the death of this enigmatic, charismatic couple comes the new generation of Aquinos to leave their mark in Philippine History.

My generation of Aquinos.

Where do we begin?

Let me see… should I start with the controversial showbiz sensation that is Kris Aquino? TV host, actress, daughter of Ninoy and Cory, wife of basketball star James Yap, sister of Presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino. Well, that’s not even worth writing a long paragraph about.

So I’ll move on to current Presidential candidate, Noynoy Aquino. Leader of the Liberal Party. Senator for several terms, but not clearly associated with the formulation or revision of any bills or legislatures. Known by many of his supporters as the only guy in the current Presidential roster who has a squeaky clean record.

I wager that his popularity now is brought about in many ways by the legacy left behind by his parents. Sure, he’s pretty well known, but truthfully his past record is unremarkable. Especially if you compare it against the history-forming efforts of his parents.

And it makes one wonder.

One would hope that the offspring of the famous couple would likewise carry the torch of his parents and truly make a difference.

But what does making a difference in this day and age really mean?

If it means speaking up against corruption and making a stand in cleaning the government of corrupt officials… and an economic policy that’s hinged on an idealistic and conservative belief system that’s more suited for times past… frankly, it feels to me no different from the outdated ideals preached by the Catholic Church that fail to contextualize religious edicts and sermons against real and present day scenarios and all the things that people face on a regular basis.

There’s nothing wrong with that, nothing wrong with forcing moral ascendancy. Who doesn’t admire people with values and morals?

But how much of a change will that create? The Philippines has continuously been sinking deeper and deeper in poverty year on year. Peace in Mindanao continues to be elusive. Literacy rate drops as the years go by. Health conditions and environmental conditions continue to deteriorate. How many more Administrations can we survive before we’re driven to the brink of desperation?

Many say they’re choosing to support and vote Noynoy in this coming Elections because among the candidates, he’s the only one who’s “clean”.

The trouble with people with a squeaky clean image is sometimes you wonder how far they’re willing to go to get their hands dirty. And do note: “dirty” doesn’t mean immoral or unlawful. Simply — making unpopular (sometimes controversial) decisions that often spell the difference between progress and regression.

Sure, I’d love to have a President who’s got his values screwed on right. But if it’s at the expense of the (potentially) controversial but necessary acts for the greater good of the country’s citizens, maybe I’ll just choose the candidate whose reputation may be questionable, but who will get the results we desperately need to rise above our problems.

At the end of this long monologue, I have no conclusions to draw. I have more questions than ever. As for Noynoy – if he becomes President, I wonder. What kind of legacy will this new Aquino leave behind?