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Awesome sunset in Butuan City

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Winning a photo contest

Winning a photo contest for the first time (well, officially and with a prize for that matter) gives a different high!

Missing Cordi

From afar, I could already see the clouds rolling over the mountaintops. It was a sight to behold. So I asked the driver of our vehicle going to Buguias, Benguet to stop so I can capture this once-in-lifetime scene.

Cory Aquino: An inexhaustible gift to democracy

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Estrada's Absolute pardon: absolutely ridiculuous?

Joseph Estrada plunder caseWe have followed the case for the past 6 years. The plunder case against the deposed President Estrada was not only monumental. More than ever, it is a test of the Philippine judicial system.

It not an easy case to handle even for the most distinguished men of the law. Yet the government prosecutors, who have the most honest and truthful intentions to show that they will be unperturbed despite the threats in their lives, chose to burn the midnight oil and vowed they would fight it to the hilt. Many advocacy groups saw through the process, and ensured that no one gets in the way for an honest trial. Last September 12, the Philippines literally stopped [for at least 10 minutes] just to watch or listen to the proclamation of the verdict. However, even before the government prosecutors could say they could rest their case, and take a much-needed holiday, here comes another issue to contend.

Presidential pardon has been dangled even months before the verdict has been read by the Sandiganbayan. And now, it is openly spoon-fed to the Estrada camp, which finds it a welcome gesture, after all. Earlier, the Estrada camp staunchly stood up against pardon—declaring to the whole world that accepting the Presidential pardon is tantamount to admission of guilt by the deposed President. For some reasons, it has suddenly softened its stance.

What could have softened their position? We do not know. However, what is clear to us right now is the absolute pardon that the Arroyo Administration is offering to former President Estrada.

Definitely, if the former President will accept the [Absolute] Presidential Pardon offered by Malacañang, he regains his freedom and can exercise his political rights again. Does absolute pardon free the former President from the indemnity of the plunder case in which he was found guilty beyond reasonable doubt? That is contestable. Many law experts say otherwise. According to them, the civil indemnity should not be part of the pardon. If he would be freed from his civil indemnity, what does this tell us? Simply put, “A President can rob a bank, and gets away with his stash.”

Why is the Arroyo government so gung-ho about offering a presidential pardon, and absolute at that?

The Presidential pardon, while allowed by constitution, is so soon! The man has not even made to suffer the consequences, and yet we are pardoning him from his crimes? Did he show the entire country that he is worth the pardon! Compare it with an ordinary man who has shown remorse after languishing in jail for some loose change he took from his employer, takes years before a pardon could be given to him. While pardoning Estrada is also a welcome development for the sake of national unity and healing. However, does he show any form of remorse. Is that kind of law-breaker worthy of a pardon?

What is the bottom-line of this fiasco? Could it be about the Legitimacy of the Arroyo Administration? We know that the Estrada Camp and Fernando Poe supporters continue to question the legitimacy of the Arroyo administration. If Estrada accepts Presidential pardon, it is tantamount to succumbing to the present leadership; ergo, the Arroyo Administration is legal and legitimate.

However, the Arroyo Administration may be short-sighted in this case—putting off the possibility that this act would have a long-term negative impact to the country’s judicial system. The judicial system is already in shambles since time immemorial. Now that it has made a significant leap with the conviction of former president Estrada it is, again, put to a test. It becomes a precedent that any government official can commit plunder! After all, they can be pardoned and get away with their stash. This is terrifying!

The presidential pardon, which is SO SOON, does not exist in a vacuum. It would have a negative impact not only in the judicial system. If PGMA is boasting about the economic development that the country has gained, she should think twice. While the foreign and local investors may have lauded the Estrada verdict, they might also be having second thoughts again, and might eventually lose their confidence on the government. While she appeases the masses that support Estrada, she is also neglecting the middle and working classes, which want nothing but justice. She should remember that the middle and working class are the ones who brought Estrada to trial, which put her into her seat now, and lastly, she should not forget that the middle and working class are the ones making this country move forward.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Basic courtesy guides for an “Ipula”

“Ipula” is a term used by Ivatans for someone who is not a native of Batanes. They would know if you are an Ipula or not, simply because you are a new face, and you do not speak their dialect.

Ivatans are naturally courteous people. It is very heartwarming to know that the basic virtues taught by our grandparents and our parents still thrive in Batanes. Why not? Perhaps we can attribute it to the fact that they are an island and rarely do we, Ipulas, have the chance to intrude in their culture and tradition. It is because we feared Batanes because of its strong typhoons. Add to it the fact that transportation then was not that reliable.

Because of the extreme weather that Batanes is known for, it is only in the past two decades that Batanes has been fully explored as an alternative tourist destination. For those who fear Batanes’ extreme weather, it is good to note that you no longer have to fear being stranded—at least for now, because the strong typhoons has not passed through Batanes for the past 20 years. If you want to have an idea what a strong typhoon in Batanes is, it is very much much like typhoon Milenyo in 2006—only a little stronger, according to Mang Nards who drove us around.

So here are some reminders for Batanes wannabe explorers:

  1. Everyone calls the elders “uncle” or “auntie” which is a form of endearment and a sign of respect—very much like “tito” and “tita”.
  2. When you are invited into a household, or introduced to an elderly, do not forget to “kiss the hands” of he elders, by doing the traditional “Mano po”
  3. Whenever you meet someone along the street, make sure you have that ready smile and say “Magandang umaga/ hapon po!” (Good morning/ afternoon!), or just simply say “Hello!” (and do not misinterpret it that the stranger who said "hi" or "hello" has the hots for you!)
  4. When taking photos of people, just ask for their permission, and they will oblige. Thank them afterwards.
Let us help them preserve their culture. It does not hurt much if we say a simple “Hello!” One thing that makes me feel good is their courtesy.

I can never forget that.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Sweet honesty

Written on a small white board, the house rules say:

  1. Self-service po lamang. (Self-service only.)
  2. Get what you need.
  3. Please pay [for] whatever you get.
  4. If you have no change, please knock at the next door. If no one answers, sorry. So you give more than the price. Salamat po (Thank you) and may your tribe increase.
  5. Remember, honesty is the best policy.
  6. Thank you and have a happy day!

Honesty Coffee Shop is located in Ivana, the third town from Basco, Batanes. It does not have a store clerk to attend to your needs. It does not have a spy camera or a CCTV to watch you cheat. But all in the name of honesty, which is home-grown in Batanes, you can buy candies, biscuits or drink coffee.

Looks cool! Right? What if this coffee shop is located in the metropolis? Would you think it will survive from the hands of crooks? I do not think so. defines honesty as:

  1. the quality or fact of being honest; uprightness and fairness.
  2. truthfulness, sincerity, or frankness.
  3. freedom from deceit or fraud.

I am not a 100% honest person, but I know if an act or thought is WRONG and I am sure, I am on the right track not to be entangled in a situation like THIS and THIS.

As Thomas Carlyle puts it:

Make yourself an honest man, and then you may be sure there is one less
rascal in the world.

Here are more quotes and resources on HONESTY:

Henry Louis Mencken, A Little Book in C Major, 1916

It is hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you
would lie if you were in his place.

Ambrose Bierce

The hardest tumble a man can make is to fall over his own bluff.

Mark Twain

One of the most striking differences between a cat and a lie is that a cat has
only nine lives.


Note: Quotes were lifted from: Quote Garden

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Basco's Casa Napoli

Anybody who is new to Batanes, a pizzeria is a rare find. One would not expect a fine pizza parlor that serves pizza (of course) with real mozzarella cheese. We are just lucky to know locals who are familiar and frequent Casa Napoli.

Casa Napoli is located along Abad Street in Basco and is actually a residence converted into a pizzeria by its owner and chef Javier, who used to work in a ship. The place literally offers a colorful ambience that will enliven your damp spirit and rejuvenates your tired body after a day’s work or a trip to Batanes’ scenic spots becuase of its colorful interiors—not to mention, of course, the sumptuous and mouth watering pizza they offer at a very reasonable prize--and one that is comparable to some popular pizza in Manila.

We were five and we ordered two, and here is the proof that we simply loved the taste!

Javier gamely posed for me when I told him I am going to blog about Casa Napoli.
There is no X-deal. I just wanted to promote something that is good and worth-mentioning.

If you happen to plan to go to Batanes. Do not miss this pizzeria. Do not worry about being lost. Just ask around. In Basco, Batanes, everyone knows everybody. And here is the best thing about roaming around in Basco, Batanes—everything is in walking distance. No kid!

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Windows of Batanes

I am back from a week of hibernation and I am coming back with some great photos to share!
Read on....

I was fascinated at how this PC computer perched on the table with the window as its backdrop.

Instantly, I got an idea for my blog, and windows became my fetish during my short Batanes sojourn, so the title:
Windows of Batanes.

Aside from the colorful, but otherwise monotonous blue paint of windows in almost every house, I find the windows of Batanes houses brimming with character. The reason for blue colored windows (they have a penchant for blue color) is the color being attributed to the color of the sea. True enough, Ivatans have a daily commune with the sea, not mentioning its mountains and rolling hills of greenery. The way the windows were built also serves a very practical reason. They are built receding a few inches from the outer wall (like an awning) which would prevent strong winds during typhoon to ram through the windows.

Take a quick look through these windows, and get the feel of actually peeking through them:

The windows of Batanes houses speak about one’s socio-economic status.
There are windows that have gone through tough and rough times

and everything that one person can see from within or from outside only resides in the deep recesses of memories, if there is one at all.

There are some that looks drab.

But the one can never be bereft of something that mesmerizes the tired senses.
Others are simply beautiful in their own way,

And some continue to exude beauty and unfazed by life’s difficulties.

It always pays when you see from within, and discover the beauty beyond.

Some become a reflecting mirror (literally and figuratively)

And of course, a very common practical use—windows are used for communicating with your neighbors or visitors.

This one serves for the dweller to see more of the outside world.

Which window are you?

See more of my photos at :

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

INKBLOTS POLLS: 50/50 on Hello Garci

The Senate faces a big challenge as soon as Sen. Panfilo Lacson’s revived the issue on Hello Garci that was started two years ago. It can be recalled that the House of Representatives conducted its own congressional investigation on the matter but nothing has been resolved despite the long proceedings and quite a number of witnesses.

Now that it is the turn of the senate. The question is: Will the Senate finally resolve the issue this time? But the more basic question to be answered by the Senate is: Is it ready to investigate on the issue?

Early on, the Senate faces a dilemma on the focus of the investigation—whether the Senate should deal with the content of the purportedly wiretapped conversation of President Arroyo and Commissioner Garcillano, or mainly focus the act of wiretapping itself. While we felt the same dilemma, we were also entertained with how the feisty Sen. Santiago how she lambasted neophyte Senator, Francis Escudero, (which can be be watched HERE), with another famous one-liner, when Sen. Escudero insisted that Republic Act 4200 will not be violated if we listen to a recording that is not yet proven to be a wiretapped material.

Just as how the Inkblots readers are divided on the issue, the Senate is also in a quandary. Senator Santiago opined during her privilege speech that the focus of the Senate investigation should focus on the wiretapping act and not the purportedly wiretapped material. The pro-administration senators were on her side. Needless to say, the opposition wants the Hello Garci to be played in the hearings.

Finally, however, the Senate has come to terms with itself when the senators agreed this is issue would be tackled in the Senate committees on national defense, blue-ribbon, and electoral reforms. According to Senator Allan Peter Cayetano, said that “The question of 'to play or not to play' would depend how the proceedings play out through the witnesses.”

Many would agree that the playing of the Hello Garci responds to our right to information, and this would bring out the truth. However, while we hanker for the truth, we are also bound by the confines of the legal system. While we may choose to bury this issue and just move on, there there are burning issues like this that we must face and challenge. But we have to strike a balance, and ensuring the stability of the country.

In discussing this issue, the House of Representatives has unlocked skeletons in the closet. Perhaps, the Senate investigations will open up a can of worms this time. But what good tidings would it bring to our nation? Would this investigation lead to the prosecution of the persons involved? Would this investigation which is supposedly "in aid of legislation" lead to better crafted laws that can really protect the Filipino citizens' Right to Privacy?

Note: The Inkblots Polls will resume on September 17.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Blogging: The heart and soul of it

Treasure chest
My wife was always complaining that I spend too much infront of my PC and retiring in the wee hours of the morning because of blogging. However, when I joined the Wika 2007, I never thought she would not support me to campaign for my entry. [It is because I promised her that I will give her the pot money if I win! Lolz]. So she helped in the campaign as well, and helped analyze why our 200+ contacts did not translate to number of votes. Our campaign yielded low votes. We have the wrong target “voters”. Our friends are all busy and too old (yes too old and not techie enough, sigh!) to participate in this techie environment! Aren’t they opening their mails? Or perhaps, they do not know where the links are! Unlike other participants, they have a vast network of yuppies and younger friends to boot. Talo na ako sa internet votes! (Sigh again!).

Nonetheless, I was simply elated with the comments I got from my voters. They are all friends and colleagues who have supported me all the way! Win or lose, according to them, I am still their winner. That is enough reward for me. Now, I could proudly say, I am their winner!

Almost a traitor
Honestly, I was also thinking about how to make money out of my blog, so I applied at an advertisement site. But sadly, I was not accepted because they think that my blog does not support language translation. I thought that the “culprit” could have been my Wika 2007 entry, so I thought about actually deleting this blog entry. Since I was already deeply engrossed with blogging, I might as well get money from it. After a careful deliberation, and accepting fact that I am not a conformist, and again inspired by Señor Enrique’s comment in my blog about service. I do realize that I just wanted to share my thoughts and feelings about the mundane things about life, and being a Filipino. So the money-making motive is now completely abandoned. Deleting my Wika 2007 entry would also mean I am turning my back from the things I have believed in—to put it more succintly, I would become a traitor to my being a Filipino!

Gifts come in different packages
I was in Cagayan de Oro last September 4 enjoying my sumptuous dinner at Bigby’s in Lim Ket Kai and at the same time was mulling over some important things about work, and texting my friends and wife about it. (Yes, I am a multi-tasker!).

Back from a 2-day respite, I finally had the chance to open my email, and was just so glad to find that the result of the Wika 2007 Blog contest was already out. I was even more joyful with the fact that I saw my name, but was not exactly sure about it. So I scrolled up and down slowly, then it dawned to me, I was the Grand Prize winner! Certainly, it relieved that sullen feeling for the past two days, and perhaps, a nice bithday gift. I will be a year older in a few days.

The heart and soul of it
Blogging has never never failed to give me that feeling of excitement. While looking at my rankings, it makes me think of how my blog should get noticed and actually frequented my readers. I feel bad when my PBS and Ratified ranking goes to the bottom. So I strategized and put some new features in my blog like the “Viewpoint” which showcases some of my photographs, and the weekly “Inkblots Polls” which tackles current events, and allows an interaction among the readers by creating a comment blog page for the poll. I have other plans for my blog. Karir na ito! And all these is not in just in the name of rankings. After winnng the Wika 2007 blog contest, I am more inclined to believe that I have to work harder to live up to the expectation that I deliver sensible information to my readers, that would make them go back to my blog, read my ideas as well as that of my readers, and perhaps, learn from it—to borrow Señor Enrique’s words, “all in the name of service.”

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT: To the judges who recognized me and those who voted for me. Maraming Salamat!

To the other winners, congratulations, too!

Second Prize:
Naykupu! by Ynon

Third Prize:
Ang Obra by Feddie Marc S. Perez

Misteryosa Award:
1. ‘THE’ Filipino Language: WHAT THE HECK DOES THIS MEAN??? by Frances Paola G. Doplon
2. A Language We All Need to Learn by Ayel

Participants’ Choice Award:
Pista ng Wikang Filipino/The Spectacle of the Filipino Language by Marocharim

Consolation Prizes:
1. Ang paradigm shift at ang mga erehe ng KWF by Willy Prilles, Jr.
2. Wika at Musika by Garry Victor Urbi

Saturday, September 1, 2007

INKBLOTS POLL RESULT: 64% against military offensive in Sulu and Basilan

The entire country, and perhaps the international community was struck by the news last July 10, 2007 that when 10 Marines were beheaded by alleged bandits coming the ranks of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels and Abu Sayyaf. It was enough to cause distress, foremost to the communities near the place of incident, but also to the peacemakers who toiled hard to bring back peace and development in Mindanao. Since the all-out war policy of Estrada Administration, a significant leap has been made to restore peace in Mindanao, particularly the ARMM. Communities began to become vibrant again, and holding to the last thread of hope that peace would eventually thrive in Mindanao. But peace seems to be elusive.

Inquirer reported that since July 10, 57 soldiers and over 80 Abu Sayyaf and Moro rebels have been killed and scores injured in encounters in Sulu and Basilan. This could cause enough alarm. But what is more alarming is the glaring fact that scores of families are again displaced--fleeing in fear that they would be, again, caught in a crossfire. With no other option to choose from, they flee from their homes, livelihood, and children stopped attending school. Bearing the brunt of the fighting between the military and the alleged bandits, internally displaced communities, again, have to make sacrifices and experience hunger and disease in the evacuation centers.

There had been enough debates on why there should be no military operations in ARMM, particularly in Sulu and Basilan. There is no further need to elaborate and explain to the military that they should stop their offensive operations. However, we cannot also discount the fact that some are in favor of the military should do its role in peace-keeping. After all, the military says it is their mandate to go after the law breakers.

The poll conducted in this blogsite may not be representative of the entire population. Nonetheless, it indicates the divided perspective of the Filipinos on the issue of militarization in Mindanao, particularly in the Moro communities. A resounding majority (64%) is against a military offensive in Mindanao. While 36% is in favor of a military offensive.

When will war in Mindanao end?
Which side is yours?

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