Aug 30, 2013

Daily thoughts - Dont wake me when Summer ends

Summer is almost about to end here in NYC. I still have until Sunday to make that trip to Coney Island if time permits or we could swing by the Botanical Gardens. Im on a time crunch here to at least say that I had a great summer! I really love the weather compared to any other season in the US. Some people find it a tad too hot but Im a Tropical Mammal and Ive spent most of my life getting baked by the sun voluntarily and involuntarily. Fall and Spring are nice too but for some reason I just have a warm spot for the warmer weather.

I am a bit disappointed I havent made any trips to the beach this year nor did I get to hang out at Central Park to have a picnic or sunbathe. Back in my home country, it is like summer all year long except for June - September when we have to deal with a deluge of rain, flood and issues related to it. Summer in the US somehow makes me feel like I am just around the corner from the house where I lived for 2 decades. And now Summer is about to end, sigh...I anticipate the prelude to a long cold winter about to begin. I am not designed for cold weather so although I was totally thrilled to move to NY 2 years ago, part of it to experience snow, now its not quite the same. I got to experience my first real winter last December (2012 because in 2011 it snowed for one day and that was it. ) and although the outfits were really cute I dont like Winter. It takes so much time to get all bundled up and unbundled again. Getting in the subway is another interesting story. Outside its cold so the extra layers of clothing or a thick coat makes you warm and cozy. But once you get to the platform to wait for your train (which sometimes take an agonizing 10 minutes), the ventilation is so bad you feel like you are about to pass out. this time the same insulation that protects you from the elements of snow does the contrary because its hot in the tunnel. Not to mention there are herds of commuters breathing and competing for that precious air. Wet tracks and slippery roads make accidents common too. I almost fell on my face one time while I was coming out of Barnes and Nobles because a sheet of snow covered this metal thingey by the entrance.  People usually put salt on the sidewalk during winter but I dunno if it works on metal floors or grate because the purpose of the salt is to melt the snow. I mean, it wouldnt help your shoe gain any traction.

Snow for the first few days was exciting especially since Ive always wondered what snow tastes like. My husband had to restrain me from opening my mouth because once we were out I wanted to catch some snowflakes. According to him the snow could be laden with pollutants and a myriad of other unidentified nasty obejcts  that could potentially make me sick. He can be a little extreme with his ideas on germs sometimes but he is probably right. Id rather err on the safe side (ie the snow could be clean but at least i dont get sick in case its not).

Running during winter isnt fun. Athough running during the summer when humidity is around 90 is crazy either. I have experienced both and my conclusion is to just run in the gym on both occasions.

I ran only once before winter officially started. It was sort of Post Fall, Pre Winter and i didnt get to check the accuweather channel for na update. I was not fully geared  for the event. i had a coldgear tights, a beanie, gloves and a jacket (one meant for fall). I think every part of my body was tingly and my hair static that day. I realized it was just too cold but I had 4 or 5 miles more to go. I was stuck on the Hudson River running path where I cant get on a bus nor get in the closest subway station. If I walked Id freeze to death. I ran but even the heat generated from that activity was insufficient to ward off the cold.
Obviously I survived but from that experience alone I know I wont have any plans of doing a repeat performance. so Winter means exercise will be at the gym which im not too crazy about. its usually the only resort when the weather is too extreme.

But there are perks of Winter that I look forward to. Mostly its festivities related. You can also don layers of cute colorful outfits. No more reasons for people to let ass cheeks hang out in the open. Im not really into fashion but I like decent clothing as much as possible. Nothing wrong with expressing one's self as long at is isnt too tacky and overly scandalous. sometimes i wonder how someteenagers even manage to get out their parents' front door wearing clothes that seemed like it was meant for their 5 year old sister or brother.

there is just a place for everything and your ass belongs in your living room or better yet the bedroom and not in front of me and especially children.

I dont know whoever thought this was trendy but it's downright trashy.

Lady please put those ass cheeks away!

Then there are more deviants like this too:

Well at least he is in his kitchen (unfortunately it is online).

Anyway, Summer im going to miss you. See you next year.

Aug 29, 2013

Daily thoughts -JEANE NAPOLES do you know where your mother is?

Dear Jeanne Napoles,

I have always shown disdain and disgust on people who flaunt their material wealth on facebook or other forms of social media. 


 Although sometimes, i can be a little unfair because these people have legitimately acquired such fancy things. But nothing infuriates me more than someone who brags and claims she "amazingly doesnt give a shit" when the rest of the Filipinos back home struggle to pay bills, send their kids to school and pay their taxes in full. its not because that person is richer and we are not that annoys me. The thing that pisses me off is the fact that this person,who is obviously drowning in materialism, still has no clue that everything she is parading online as coming from her parents' wealth actually came from someone's else's hard earned money. Yes Jeanne, in case your parents are lying to you, you are able to afford an extravagant lifestyle because your parents stole 10billion pesos from the Filipino people to make that possible. 

So before you think of purchasing another Hermes bag, Hublot Watch or whatever insanely expensive item you want to get for the purpose of showing off, remember, the Filipinos are watching. And in case you failed to call your mom because the NBI have probably tapped all your phonelines, you can still monitor what is going on with her on this website. The admin of the site have devoted an entire tab just about your mother.

How does your family sleep at night Jeane?

Aug 26, 2013

Daily thoughts : The Prophecy of Senator Ping Lacson on the Pork Barrel

The President of the Philippines have spoken (finally) that he wishes to abolish the Pork Barrel or PDAF. This was of course after the clamor of the public demanding the said scrapping of the said government funds.
Netizens were up in arms after news of blatant corruption spread in popular media site Facebook and other online news platforms.

Janet Lim Napoles is the infamous character now called the Pork barrel queen embroiled in this very hot issue. She is currently in hiding and is considered an armed and dangerous fugitive (10billion pesos.. you can hire an army with that amount). Right now there is a protest going on in Luneta where a displeased and angry mob of Filipinos show unity that they will no longer accept this kind of corruption to go on.

Recently, 15 more politicians have chimed in their support for the the PDAF to be removed. Some of these politicians have also been implicated by Pork Barrel Queen Janet as being involved in this scandal of public funds misuse. But the question is, why are these politicians expressing this sentiment just NOW? 10 years ago Senator Ping Lacson has been vocal about his stance on this matter. I read on this post that after Senator Lacson gave his speech, 

"then Senate President Franklin Drilon banged the gavel and ordered a recess. After the recess, the senate president adjourned the session."

Author of the post added "That banging of the gavel gave a massive headache to the citizens of the Philippines. The pork barrel was left untouched. The rotten system kept going. 

Ten years after that speech, it is now the Filipino people who are demanding the abolition of the pork barrel. Will it take another 10 years for the senators to listen? Will it take another decade to stop this culture of corruption?"

Here is the now famous speech, unearthed after 10 years and 10 billion pesos (and probably more) stolen and stashed away by the politicians we put to power and trusted. 

Senator Ping Lacson

Living Without Pork

Senator Panfilo M. Lacson

Privilege speech
March 11, 2003

Mr. President, I rise today on a question of personal and collective privilege.

Last week, we passed the Senate version of the General Appropriations Bill of 2003. No less than the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and principal sponsor of the bill aptly described the 2003 budget as "bare-bones", thus appealing to his colleagues to contribute their share to arrest the projected budget deficit which our economic managers expect to hit the PhP300B mark by year-end.

I now answer the call.

I call for the scrapping of a very corrupt and corrupting system in our political institutions. All I ask are a few minutes of your precious time - and of your mind.

We now must move to abolish the pork barrel system. We must see its end during our watch without need to mourn its loss. It is a virus of corruption that must die.

And, there is no better hall on this space on earth to make it happen than the Senate - expectedly, a place of men and women with mature age, with honor, with dignity, with integrity. Further, there is no better time to declare its end than now - when the country's budget deficit is at an alarmingly uncontrollable pace. For the past year, it was PhP213B. Of course, we do not believe the numbers.

One thing, I may say is apodictic. It is still counting. There is nothing in the pork barrel system that gives us pride. There is only everything that makes us hide in shame.

It should not matter anymore under what name the system sounds. Be it the Countrywide Development Fund, or the Congressional Initiative Allocation, or the Priority Development Assistance Fund. It is, and will remain to be a fund of compulsive corruption.

The name itself traces its origin to the pre-civil war days in the United States when, in periodic fits of generosity, white masters would give their black slaves salted pork in barrels. More often than not, the eagerness of the slaves would result in ugly shoving and rushing to grab more pork than the others. The more pork one could grab for himself, the more triumphant he would appear than the others who were meek and reluctant.

We may not realize it, but the Filipino people would sometimes see us behave like slaves rushing to the pork barrel. A critic has a worse description - that of swines rushing to get more slabs than they can consume.

Mr. President, our countrymen expect to see every peso of their taxes wisely spent on every project. They become profoundly disillusioned every time they are robbed of it.

Let me say now what they hate to hear. But they must hear what we have been afraid to say.

Under the pork barrel system, only less than half of the taxpayers' money actually goes to the programs of work. More than half habitually goes to the pockets of corruption. Occasionally, depending on the insatiability of the corrupt, a shameful twenty percent of the fund is left to finance the project. Holy mackerel!

We can pretend all day not to know. But the Filipino people have never been stupid not to see through such pretense.

Let me give the breakdown. It is nasty.

• 2% goes to the Commission on Audit as S.O.P.
• 10% is given to the district engineer and other officials of the Department of Public Works and Highways.
• 2% is passed on to the Barangay Chairman.
• 14% goes to the contractor - 10% in profit and 4% as value-added tax, thank God!
• 5-10%, if the Mayor or Governor so demands.
• And - hold your breath - 20% of project cost is earmarked for the legislator who identifies the project.
Shares sometimes vary depending on greed.

Even the billboards that advertise the proponents of infrastructure projects are overpriced.

Legislators who allocate funds for the purchase of medicines and other pharmaceutical products, as well as school supplies get bigger takes. By how much, Mr. President? Some suppliers say, it is, "from here to eternity."

In a book published in 1998 by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, entitled, "Pork and Other Perks," the author wrote about vivid accounts of actual pay-offs involving legislators. Thus, a pay-off usually takes place inside the office of legislators. The more sophisticated ones prefer hotel rooms and restaurants. Sulo Hotel in Quezon City is said to be a favorite.

"Pork barrel" every year runs to billions of pesos. I hate to say it. The people hate to hear it. But they lose billions of pesos anyway. They lose these billions to the many deep pockets of corruption.

Mr. President, my esteemed colleagues, there is no saying here that every senator or congressman is corrupt. It is only to say that we have all become suspect. The public has every basis and right to suspect. And we seem not to mind anymore.

Mr. President, those with clear conscience among us do not need to rage. They only need to help those without it.

In this regard, may I take this opportunity to thank the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and some of our colleagues who have expressed support to this advocacy.

One colleague, Senator Joke Arroyo has done something truly admirable: he had not allocated a single centavo from his "pork barrel" allocation for the past year. However, I cannot help but wonder how his PhP200M pork was realigned since it was part and parcel of the 2002 GAA. That is the reason why I want my allocation this year deducted from the proposed 2003 GAA. I have an unsolicited advice to the distinguished gentleman from Makati and the Bicol region - why not slash the 2003 national budget by PhP211M more?

To all of us in this august chamber, maybe we can help alleviate the burgeoning budget deficit by waiving our 2003 pork barrel fund allocations. We can actually do our share, no matter how small, in balancing the budget by doing just that. With twenty-three senators, at PhP211M each, four billion, eight hundred fifty-three million (PhP4.853B) will automatically be deducted from the 2003 national budget.

The Speaker of the House, Jose de Venecia, can equally display his statesmanship by doing the same in the lower house. With more than 200 congressmen, at PhP65M each, that would be another PhP13B at least. Let us be the first to sacrifice for the sake of tiding us over a financial nightmare. I, therefore, call on the Senate and the House of Representatives to voluntarily give up the pork.

Mr. President, it is a simple choice between self-respect and self-aggrandizement.

That is exactly my point. Those among us whose hands remain untainted and unsoiled by the fruits of corruption from the evil "pork" must now be insulated from the temptation it may bring upon us. How? Let's try scrapping the "pork." There is life without it!

We all know who we are and what we are on this issue. That is one thing we are all sure about. Mine are not speculations - I definitely have my own sources. The figures I brought out earlier are never a figment of my imagination.

If the "pork barrel" stinks, how much longer must we suffer the stench? I believe it is time to abolish it altogether.

Mr. President, we were elected by the Filipino people to make good laws for the common good and never to make gold under the "pork barrel" system. We are here to make laws, not to build roads and bridges.

We were voted into office to provide check and balance under the principle of powers; and not to accept fat checks to enhance our bank account balance.

Former French President and Prime Minister, the late Jean-Raymond Pompidou, was correct. There is a whale of difference between a politician and a statesman. He said, "while a statesman places himself at the service of the nation, a politician places the nation at his own personal service."

With the "pork barrel" system, we are all perceived as dirty, corrupt and greedy politicians. Without it, we can all become better statesmen and public servants.

Whenever our committees investigate anomalies in government, does it not occur to us how equally guilty they think the legislators could be?

Mr. President, pardon my asking. There are all kinds of arguments to defend the "pork." Its advocates invent new methods and formulas to make every legislator happy. Ironically, in the mind of every Filipino, they are all mad and madly corrupted by it.

I know that the pork barrel system has never been legally flawed. In fact, the Supreme Court has ruled on its constitutionality. But the Supreme Court never ruled that scrapping the "pork barrel" system would be unconstitutional either.

I can only hope the Senate leadership will take a serious look at this proposal and not simply toss it to the dust heap of the Philippine Senate history.

I am sure to lose some friends and create more enemies in this 12th Congress. I am sure skeptics will taunt me and the cynics will mock me without end.

I remember BAYAN MUNA Party-list Representative Crispin Beltran, he who declared the lowest asset in the lower house at eighty-one thousand pesos, said in a media interview immediately after my position on the "pork barrel" issue first came out, and I quote, "mabuti pa si Lacson ay may ibang pinagkakakitaan na illegal. Paano naman kami na sa "pork barrel" lamang umaasa?" Realizing that what he said was an instant give-away, he paused and started to stutter. Another congressman commented that this representation would not need to make money from the "pork barrel" because supposedly, "I have a lot in some foreign banks."

Mr. President, if this is my misfortune, so be it. It is not the one I cannot possibly learn to live with.

Mr. President, I derive no pleasure in telling what I have told. I am sure many colleagues derive no pleasure in hearing what they just heard. But the people surely hate what they already know about.

It is time to bring the "pork barrel" system down. Or, we all go down under.

We can surely live without "pork." Certainly, there is life without it.

Thank you very much!