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Hooray!

April 30, 2009 20 comments

April and May are glorious months for my loved ones as two of my siblings graduated this year. After all the hardships and brain-straining academic requirements, they finally made it to the end – to march in the hall with pride and jubilation. Nothing can compare the rewards one gets in school as he is reminded of the beautiful stage in which he could repay with pride the hardships of his folks. One can only appreciate the summit when he has laboriously clambered the boulders and the precipice with diligence and patience. It is in this way that one can say, “I have conquered it, and that I deserve this.” These two young fellows have made it…and as a brother who supported them in various ways, I too have felt the same happiness as they ascended to the stage to get their last clearance in school. Bravo! I say, Bravo!

my family during my brother's graduation
my family during my brother’s graduation

Let me start with this boy. I know your body has been bruised and your heart and mind, tortured, but still with faith in God and perseverance, you were able to surpass all the hurdles in your way. And now, look at you! You have changed into a man of honor wrought by big dreams. A military school is not an ordinary learning institution. This is a place where you will be hammered for survival and will be proselytized to think differently. But I tell you – as I know you will be very brilliant to understand this – success is nothing unless you relate it to genuine service. The best thing in life is not to make a ladder for your job but to make the job as your ladder to fulfill your dreams. It is through this that you will understand the people who need your service. Military lessons may have made you strong but bear in mind that you will always be human with a fragile emotional side. In a place where there will be war and chaos stands as a formidable adversary, you have to keep your health and emotions steady.  Keep your head low and plant your feet in the ground and serve the people as best as you can with integrity. After all, your call is in public service. So keep it up. Congratulations and may God guide you always.

from left:  Mae, Me, Danica, and Kit
from left: Mae, Me, Danica, and Kit

And to you young lady… I have known your intelligence as quite remarkable the moment you open up things with bizarre ideas. Surely UP had made you into a weirdo. Not a weirdo patched with thick spectacles and dressed like a geek that sometimes could be mistaken for a bozo, but a strange lady who prefers the company of older people and sensible fellows which the majority of your batch has failed to replicate. Because I know, deep in your heart, that in all stages in life, you put learning as your priority. Now that your course is done, I wish you all the best. Just remember that graduation is not the end but the beginning of a more challenging life ahead. Your highschool (when you were crowned as one of the top Ilonggo students) and college years in UP were the happiest in life, keep the memories with you but move on to the road of your expertise. I hope you will always stand up to the call of UP to contribute to the “National Pride.” Keep that as well along with your noble dreams in life. Congratulations! I’m very proud of you.

My congratulations also to Eva Marie and to Diana (Cum Laude). Remember the valedictory speech : “We are what we repeatedly do…Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” You too have the responsibility to contribute to our National Pride. God bless you.

***

P.S. Moyx, Zamboanga is a very treacherous place and bullets are unstoppable monsters that shatter dreams and curtail life, so please take care.

Din, basketball always makes you happy, but don’t you think it’s time that you shift to football? By the way UP Fighting Maroons is the champion in UAAP Football-Men against FEU, 1-0.

Paradiso in Iloilo

April 7, 2009 26 comments

pic2 The temperature hit 33 degrees in North Iloilo and people were hiding from the obnoxious sun rays that could curtail the dreams of  Americans in attaining a fair complexion. Yet no matter how hot the day was, the fact that summer is meant for escapades, my family decided to try island hopping in what I deem the most beautiful place at the world’s end- Isla Higante. It is even more beautiful and virgin than Boracay which I think is not worthwhile for an urban getaway.

The place was a couple of hours from mainland Carles in the northern tip of Iloilo, where you would be welcomed by white sand beaches and boobies perching on huge boulders.  The view of Sicogon Island alone could make you jump from the motor boat and savor the grandiosity where it had once been known as the haven of God.  As we neared the place of Higante Norte, we disembarked and immersed in cool crystalline waters that either refreshed my soul or healed my longing to be in union with nature. The sand was fine as silk which was fascinating for a mortal like me to experience. The place was indeed holy for the natives for most of them owe their lives to the abundance of the sea. And upon docking at the island, one would be mesmerized by gigantic sea walls engineered by divine hands themselves. You wouldn’t believe that this place exists in a parochial and bucolic place in Iloilo. Ahhh!, I say, “there is nothing more beautiful in life than to experience beauty itself! And this place is divine beauty!”

pic3edited

The place was extraordinary and the experience would not have been complete unless you explored its rocky mountains. My brother and my cousins trekked the rock mountain of barangay Granada for two and a half hours. And when we reached the top, Lo! The UP flag was there signifying that UP students had conquered this place before. Had I brought my marker, I would write “Uno ka? 100 Ako.” The beauty became more exhilarating when we started to sing the “Top of the World.”

But as a curious man, I didn’t limit myself in mere experience for I always wanted to know. And so I roamed the community and asked the people about the place, its origin and myth. The place was indeed fascinating as every island has its story to tell, yet people were more enamored by the tale of Higantes.

Higantes Islands are two big islands endowed with rich natural beauty. On the north, lies the panoramic barangay Granada and barangay Asluman as the fishing drop point of the island. In Asluman, you would find the most satisfying shells like scallops, diwal, oysters, budyong¸ and tuklap-tuklap which are gathered for exportation. On the south, barangay Gabi stands majestically with its wide span of white sand beach (Antonea) and barangay Lantangan on the other end which is very mysterious because of its rock formations that exactly looks like Minas Tirith in Lord of the Rings. Some folks claimed that this was once a fortress or a castle of engkantados where they have sporadically seen a golden boat docking. It had a multitude of caves and a blue lagoon inside known as Tangke. Also, there are said to be sea portals in the place where you will be transported to Masbate and Aklan. According to the natives, the caves and portals were beautiful window drapes and Turkish doors long time ago. But as time progresses and human civilization advances, the beauty of a place regresses. This only means that the ascent of human knowledge is also the death of myths.

But why Higante? When you look at the two islands from a distance, you would see forms of two sleeping giants The one is called Babayi, which is located in the south (Sur) and the other Lalaki in the north (Norte). In the between the two islands were two big boulders which were called Higantuna and Higantillo, also known as children of the giants. In short this is a family group of islands, exactly suitable for families who like worthwhile adventures. In this life, we only have a lifetime to spend, and it is just beautiful to experience a paradise right here, right now way ahead our own deaths. If Dante’s Paradiso exists, it can be found in Higantes.

***

P.S. If you like to evade this boisterous world, come to Higante Islands and not to Boracay. You’ll be surprised how Boracay can be more urban compared to some cities in the Philippines. Higante is completely opposite because instead of hanging with people and wasting your pocket to zero you will be partying with nature itself – crows, boobies and hawks; crabs, lobsters, shrimps; scallops, oysters and other shells; monkeys and wild cats; sea snakes and eels; rays and tunas; corals and urchins. And believe it, we only spent a quarter of our total expense in Boracay!

Tagging Iloilo

February 10, 2009 4 comments

road bumpers
road bumpers

I have been traveling every part of Iloilo for 2 months to check on the existing data in all municipalities along with the problems   in gathering, storing and analyzing them. It wasn’t easy to locate the problems in their data system unless you sit down with the department heads and excavate each process starting from the barangay up to the municipal offices. I felt that I have lost weight and that I have to compensate for the sleepless night of analyzing data and making reports. I sometimes skipped regular meals because of my erratic travel schedule s. Working as researcher for a very strict boss from ADB (former official of the WorldBank that used to handle cases like the rigged $33M project of DPWH), you have to get all the result in time or else you would have the entire malediction in life. I haven’t really regret working with him because I have learned a lot from him as well except that I forgot to think of myself and that I hardly noticed the people I love especially my girlfriend who luckily was very understanding of my job. Sorry sweetheart.

The data actually are all present within the locality however there is no system to consolidate and process these information in a centralized databank. The result is a messy setting that leaves even the investors and researchers perplexed over the data. But leave that for the moment. I would not talk about it because that would fill this whole page talking about myself and the problems that clothed me during my encounters with various MPDCs. I want to talk something I learned along the whole span of my research period. I know this may subject to some validation and that the whole panorama of the result may sound absurd, but as far as the data is concerned, numbers will never lie unless fabricated.

1.       In the entire Iloilo, Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA) shrunk down at 20 % leaving all the municipalities with the difficulties in managing finance and expenditures. This is due to the contesting figures between the actual barangay demographic survey and the 2007 Census result by NSO. The disparity of statistics surmount to the loss of 8-10% of the whole population of Iloilo.  It has been noted that the smaller the IRA for the LGU, the bigger the saving of the National Government especially that the 2010 election is nearing in which the saving will be undoubtedly spent .

2.       The Municipality of the Estancia ranks as the second smallest municipality next to Pavia. Since their IRA is reduced to almost 5 million that rotted to the shrinking of demographic figures due to the unreliable survey of NSO, the municipality has to find other means to let the municipality going. The presence of the feeder port in the locality boosted their income to 50-60M annually making the locality as one of the most promising municipalities in the Province of Iloilo. However this could have been boosted more if the RO-RO operation will be transferred to Estancia instead of Caticlan which is 4 hours faster going to Batangas. If it takes a cargo to transport goods to Batangas via Caticlan in 18 hrs, in Estancia it will only take 13-14 hrs of travel. This simply means that the goods will arrive fresher and marketable. If this will be initiated and implemented, the whole province will enjoy a boost up of 9% in the local economy.

3.       In local economy, one primary driver is transportation. Since Iloilo is known to be an old city with old-engineered roads for one-way flow, traffic is very immanent. No matter how the city government constructs road networks and fly-overs to pave way to the drastic shift to urbanization, the traffic will remain a problem. Why? Every month there is an increase of more than a hundred motorcycles in the entire province which adds up to the inconvenience of the flow of traffic. The greater the number of motorcycles, the greater the number of accidents.  About more than 30% of the total accidents are all motorcycle accidents. Another factor is the increase of about 1% of the total jeepneys is put into the road every month thus contributing also to the problems of traffic system. And going to private cars, about 70 car loans are approved every month by the entire banks in Iloilo thus also causing logjams.  Naks! Late na lg ako palagi!

4.       In economic capitalization, in the entire banks in Iloilo have a total 95B deposits. About 30% of it is owned by the Chinese businessman. Another 30% is owned by the local conglomerates. The next slice which amounts to 20% of the 95B is owned by educational institutions and the last 20% is owned by OFWs. This amount is not utilized or invested in the locality thus making Iloilo as only depositing site and not and investment prospect. In order for Iloilo to make it to the level of competitiveness with Cebu, Ilonggos have to invest locally.

5.       The Province’s biggest income comes Real Property Tax. It said that more than 60% of the whole income comes from RPT. However, the survey shows only 24% of the whole RPT are collected annually. If the collection is met at 100%, how happy Iloilo should be! Yayaman tayong talaga!!!

6.   In environmental aspect, Iloilo is assumed to have water shortage by 2012. the Maasin water shed will no longer hold the ditribution of water in the increasing number of households in the MIGEDC area excluding Guimaras. About 30% of the entire supply goes to illegal connections that are most rampant in the slum areas in the city. This a big problem and the government has to track all the channel of distributions before the problem gets worst.

These and more are just preliminary results of the research. I wish to discuss a lot more but that will already be illegal in some sense as far as research is concerned. I just hope that by these realizations, Ilonggos will be prompted to help improve Iloilo.  I still believe that the biggest change starts with the individual because it is this basic unit that makes up the system. Let us then move for a change and make Iloilo “The Next Big Thing!”

*****

P.S. I promise to write more of my realizations next time and probably will be discussing more of the beautiful side about Iloilo.