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Sunday, May 20, 2007

SA AKING MGA KABABATA

PAMBATA
ARALIN I
Sa Aking Mga Kababata

Isinulat ni José Rizal noong siya ay 8 taong gulang

Okay, mga kids, handa na ba kayo?
Basahin natin ang tula.


Sa Aking Mga Kababata
ni José Rizal


Kapagka ang baya'y sadyang umiibig
Sa kanyang salitang kaloob ng langit,
Sanglang kalayaan nasa ring masapit
Katulad ng ibong nasa himpapawid.


Pagka't ang salita'y isang kahatulan
Sa bayan, sa nayo't mga kaharian,
At ang isang tao'y katulad, kabagay
Ng alin mang likha noong kalayaan.

Ang hindi magmahal sa kanyang salita
Mahigit sa hayop at malansang isda,
Kaya ang marapat pagyamaning kusa
Na tulad sa inang tunay na nagpala.


Ang wikang Tagalog tulad din sa Latin
Sa Ingles, Kastila at salitang anghel,
Sapagka't ang Poong maalam tumingin
Ang siyang naggawad, nagbigay sa atin.


Ang salita nati'y huwad din sa iba
Na may alfabeto at sariling letra,
Na kaya nawala'y dinatnan ng sigwa
Ang lunday sa lawa noong dakong una.


Sabi ni Titser Wes

Bakit malansa ang isda?
Hindi malansa ang isda habang buhay pa sa dagat o ilog. Kapag hindi agad niluto, tuluyang nawawala ang pagkasariwa. Nagiging malansa ang isda dahil sa "bacteria" na dahilan ng pagkabulok kung hindi ilalagay sa yelo o sa "freezer".
Bakit inihambing ni Rizal sa malansang ang isda ang taong hindi marunong magmahal sa sariling wika?
Tulad ng isda na mabubuhay lamang sa tubig na tunay niyang mundo, ang taong hindi nagmamahal sa sariling wika ay nabubuhay sa isang mundong hindi kaniya at hiniram lamang. Dahil dito, siya ay parang isda na napakalansa ng amoy kapag inalis sa "freezer".

Ano ang ibig sabihin ng "pagyamaning kusa" sa pangatlong istansa?
Lahat ng tao, hayop, at halaman ay kailangang pagyamanin upang mabuhay. Sariling gatas ni nanay ang kailangan ng isang sanggol upang maging malusog. Ang mga hayop ay may kanya-kanyang uri ng pagkain. Lubos na kailangan ng mga halaman ang ulan o tubig na pandilig upang hindi malanta at mamatay.

Paano mapapagyaman ang ating sariling wika?
Gamitin nating ang sariling wika sa bawa't pagkakataon, upang masanay ang ating diwa at dila. Huwag nating haluan ng salitang banyaga kung mayroon namang katumbas sa Tagalog, Bisaya, Taosug, atbp. Lalong maganda kung ang pambansang wika ay gagamit ng mga salitang hango sa lahat ng wikang ginagamit sa buong Pilipinas, sapagka't ito ang magpapatunay na na tayo ay may "Isang puso't diwa, at may sariling wika".

PAMBATA

Aralin 2-A

Mga Kundiman ni José Rizal

Kumusta kayo, mga kids!

Mahilig kayong kumanta, di ba? Pakikinggan natin ngayon ang isang kundiman na komposisyon ni José Rizal na pimagatang "Alin Mang Lahi".
Halos nabaon na sa limot ang ating mga kundiman. Sabi ng marami, hindi raw nila "type" ang kundiman dahil masyadong malungkot, o kaya naman ay sobrang sentimental daw. Ano nga ba ang kundiman?
Halos lahat ng kundiman ay mga kanta na nagsasaad ng pag-ibig sa tinubuang lupa.
Nauso ang Kundiman noong panahon ng mga Kastila kung kailan walang kalayaan ang mga Pilipinong magpahayag ng pagmamahal sa kanilang inang bayan. Ang ginamit na simbolo sa kundiman ay ang paglalarawan ng pag-ibig ng mga binata at dalaga sa bawa't isa tulad ng matatagpuan sa mga awiting harana. Ginamit din sa paglikha ng tugtuging Kundiman ang mga estilong musikal at tema na taglay ng sinaunang mga Kumintang (warrior songs), mga Harana (courtship songs) at mga Balitaw (folk songs). Ngayon, lahat ng mga sina-unang mga kantang pag-ibig o "love songs" ng mga Pilipino ay tinatawag na ring "kundiman".

Sabi ni "Titser Wes"

Ang "Kundiman" ay isang tula na isinulat ni José Rizal sa Tagalog, nguni't ito ay hindi isinalin sa musika. Gayunpaman ang tema ay tulad rin ng lahat ng kundiman, ang matinding pag-ibig sa Inang Bayan.

Maliwanag na isinasaad sa kundimang "Alin Mang Lahi" na ang ipagtanggol ang Inang Bayan ay nasa puso at diwa ng bawa't isa.
Para kay José Rizal at sa lahat ng mga bayaning tulad nina Andres Bonifacio, Antonio Luna, Gregorio del Pilar, atbp, matamis ang magbuwis ng buhay at dugo upang makalaya ang Inang Bayan. Ito ang isinasaad ng mga salitang,

Ang kamatayan man, kung saka-sakali' t
Igiginhawa ng mga kalahi
Tatanggapin na may ngiti
Kaaliwa't tuwang hindi mumunti.

Nguni't ano ang mapait na nangyayari? Higit na mapait at masaklap ang ipagkanulo ng kapuwa kababayan, tulad ng sinasabi sa istansang ito:

Kundiman

Tunay ngayong umid yaring dila't puso
Sinta'y umiilag, tuwa'y lumalayo,
Bayan palibhasa'y lupig at sumuko
Sa kapabayaan ng nagturong puno.

Datapuwa't muling sisikat ang araw,
Pilit maliligtas ang inaping bayan,
Magbabalik mandin at muling iiral
Ang ngalang Tagalog sa sandaigdigan.

Ibubuhos namin ang dugo't babaha
Matubos nga lamang ang sa amang lupa
Habang di ninilang panahong tadhana,
Sinta'y tatahimik, iidlip ang nasa.

Importanteng karagdagang kaalaman at paliwanag mula sa pahina ni "Titser Wess":

PAMBATA

Minsan... May Isang Gamu-Gamo

Aralin 2-B

http://pambata.tripod.com/id14.html

Titser Wes: Okey, mga kids, may mga tanong ba kayo tungkol sa napanood ninyo?
Tanong:
Bakit po binaril si Rizal, anong kasalanan niya?
Titser Wes: Noong sinulat ni Rizal ang nobelang Noli me tangere at ang kasunod nitong El Filibusterismo, ginising ni Rizal ang lagablab ng pag-ibig sa kalayaan—ang paglaya mula sa Espanya. Ayon kay Tenyente Alcocer, ang taga-usig ng hukuman, si Rizal ang siyang naging "kaluluwa ng himagsikan"?
Tanong:
Kasalanan po ba ang umibig sa kalayaan?
Titser Wes: Naku, hindi! Hinding-hindi kasalanan ang umibig sa kalayaan!!! Pero noong panahon ni Rizal, anumang salita o gawa na nangangahulugan o nagpapahiwatig ng pagkalas sa Espanya ay itinuturing na isang napakabigat na krimen na ang parusa ay kamatayan o kaya'y habang-buhay na pagkabilanggo.
Tanong:
Ano po ba ang ibig sabihin ng "kaluluwa ng himagsikan"?
Titser Wes: Mahirap sagutin ang tanong mo kung hindi ko gagamitan ng paghahambing. Tingnan natin kung makuha ninyo ang kahulugan nito: Ano ang halaga ng isang katawan na walang kaluluwa, at ano ang halaga ng kaluluwa na walang tirahang katawan?
Sagot ng mga bata: Naku, wala pong halaga! Ang katawang walang kaluluwa ay patay; ang kaluluwang walang tahanang katawan ay walang maaring gawin.
Titser Wes: Tama! Tumpak na tumpak ang inyong sagot. Si Rizal, dahilan sa kanyang mga isinulat ang siyang nagsilbing kaluluwa na ang naging katawan ay ang Katipunan na itinatag ni Andres Bonifacio. Kahit na mga gulok, itak, balaraw, at sibat lamang ang kanilang hawak, hindi sila natakot lumaban sa mga sundalong sandatahan ng pamahalaang kastila!
Tanong:
Kasali po ba si Rizal sa Katipunan?
Titser Wes: Depende 'yan sa kung anong ibig sabihin ng "kasali".
Tanong:
Ibig po naming sabihin ay kung si Rizal ay kaanib ng Katipunan?
Titser Wes: Hhhhmmmm, teka . . Kung ang ibig sabihin ng "kaanib" ay nakalista ang pangalan ni Rizal bilang isang Katipunero, ang sagot ay hindi siya kaanib sa Katipunan .
Tanong:
Kung ganun po, bakit siya pinatay sa salang paghihimagsik samantalang hindi naman siya Katipunero?
Titser Wes: Natatandaan ba ninyo yung dalawang kundiman ni Rizal na pinakinggan natin kamakailan? Maaring sabihin na "kanta lang 'yon", pero kung susuriin ninyo ang damdaming isinasaad ng titik, maliwanag na hinangad na ni José Rizal mula sa pagkabata,ang kalayaan ng Inang Bayan. Ibinuhos niya ang buong talino at lahat ng kanyang kakayahan upang buhayin sa dibdib ng lahat ng Pilipino ang pag-ibig sa kalayaan at tubusin ang Inang Bayan sa pagkaka-alipin sa banyaga. Ang kahulugan ng pag-ibig sa kalayaan ay lalo pang pinatindi sa dalawang nobelang isinulat ni Rizal, ang Noli me tangere at El Filibusterismo.
Tanong:
Hindi naman po kasali si Rizal sa himagsikan dahil hindi siya humawak ng itak o baril, at hindi rin siya Katipunero, anong uri ng paghihimagsik 'yon?
Titser Wes: Hindi lamang sa paghawak ng sandata at paglaban ang paraan ng paghihimagsik ng isang tao. Para sa mga Kastila, mas mabigat ang uri ng paghihimagsik ni Rizal dahil ginising niya ang matinding pagmamahal sa Inang Bayan na noo'y alipin ng isang banyagang pamahalaan.
Tanong:
Ano po ang isinagot ni Rizal sa mabigat na paratang na 'yan?
Titser Wes: Siyempre, tinaggihan niya ng lubos!
Tanong:
Nagsinungaling po pala si Rizal noong siya ay nililitis!
Titser Wes: Bakit mo naman nasabing nagsinungaling si Rizal?
Batang Nagtatanong: Kasi po'y tinanggihan niyang may kinaalaman siya sa himagsikan, samantalang siya ang tunay na kaluluwa ng himagsikan.
Titser Wes: May katuwiran ka, pero hindi matatawag na pagsisinungaling ang pagtanggi na sabihin ang buong katotohan sa panahon ng digmaan. Bago pa nilitis si Rizal, ipinahayag ng pamahalaang kastila na namamayani na ang tinatawag sa ingles na "state of war", na ang ibig sabihin ay may kasulukuyang digmaan sa pagitan ng mga kastila at mga pilipino. Ang magiging katumbas ng pagsasabi ni Rizal ng "buong katotohanan" ay kataksilan sa kanyang Inang Bayan, ang Pilipinas; at kataksilan sa kanyang mga kababayan na ibinubuhos ang dugo makalaya lamang ang Inang Bayan.
Mga bata: Napakalaki at napakatindi po pala ng kabayanihan ni Gat José Rizal at tulad siya ng gamu-gamong hindi inalintana ang kamatayan, makamit lamang ang kalayaan!

Monday, May 14, 2007

THE LONG-TERM CHALLENGES

(Excerpted from ODYSSEY of the Filipino Voter: Exciting Adventures, Little Progress, written by Ed Aurelio C. Reyes, and published in 2004, on the "eve" of that year’s presidential election.)

WRITING ABOUT the Odyssey of the Filipino voter practically on the eve of an exciting presidential election, this writer is tempted to indulge in scenario-building, which I can sprinkled with a good dose of details. But while I included here lots of details in elections past, because people are expected to have forgotten all about them by now, I choose now to talk about some basic underpinnings, before posing the question, “Quo Vadis? (where goeth thou?), Botanteng Pinoy?”

As surely as election issues associated with the names Harry Stonehill, Haruta, Moises Padilla, Ira Blaustein, Julio Nalundasan, and even the fairly recent Evelio Javier, and terms like the “Golden Orinola,” the “Golden Buddha,” have been almost completely forgotten by now, the current headline-making dramatic events concerning the current contest, and names like Jose Pidal and Jose Velarde will fade from our collective memory quite soon, to be replaced by another set of names, recycled charges, recycled promises, recycled excuses, and – yes, of course – recycled jokes!

The sub-title of this book describes the “Odyssey of the Filipino Voter” as a series of “exciting adventures” that have spelled “little progress.” For suffrage to be developed as a vital component for a fully working democracy, which we claim or wish to have for our country, we the voters must grasp in theory and enjoy in practice two relationships: our relationship with government and its functionaries, and our relationship with political power.

Government is our Servant!

Filipinos have had a long history of government functionaries lording it over them. Government functionaries often invoke the “eminent domain” prerogatives of the nation state, supposedly on behalf of the people and for our benefit. However, national officials often do this in serving their own interests or serving, directly or indirectly, the foreign-elite domination of our society as collaborators.

National government is not higher than local government. It is only the synergized, i.e. effectively facilitated, national constituency that is higher, actually larger, than any of the local constituencies taken separately.

When a group of households builds a synergy among themselves, they may set up a simple me-chanism to facilitate that synergy — mass meetings at the plaza, bulletin boards, a council of elders or of chosen leaders, to resolve conflicts and coordinate bayanihan-type efforts. With such mechanisms in place, the synergy may work very well to serve the needs and will of the people in the clustered households. Two or more such clusters can join together in a bigger and stronger synergy, called a barrio or baranggay, with more complex facilitation mechanisms, and two or more such baranggays can build among themselves what they might call a municipality, and set up a bit more complex mechanism to facilitate the synergy and serve well the needs and the will of all the people in these clusters of clusters of clusters.

Baranggay Poblacion where I live, is not under the City of Makati, it is within Makati. And this city is not under Metro Manila but within Metro Manila, which is not under the Philippines, but within the Philippines. Get the drift? Only monarchies and miitary command structures have hierarchies. Democracy, which is premised on the equality of all persons, is not supposed to have one. The equivalent word for democratic set-ups is holarchy, from the word holon which means an entity being simultaneously a whole of smaller synergizing parts and a part of a bigger whole.

As we go to wider and wider scopes, the mechanisms become more and more complex but the essence should remain the same. And that is, the mechanism at whatever scope should be serving the needs and will of the people in all those component clusters of clusters of clusters, not ruling them. Even the necessary discipline for basic order in society emanates from collective interest and will, not on the will or moods of any government functionary. This is expressed in the principle, “government of laws, not of men.”

These government officials and functionaries on various scopes of constituency are not in any hierarchy, only their respective constituent communities are (in holarchies). The facilitating mechanisms are tools of the people, funded by their money, with authority emanating from them as citizenry. These, being just tools (government instrumentalities such as councils, agencies, Houses of Congress, executive departments, Cabinet, Palace) cannot be higher than the people. It follows that the elected or appointed functionaries posted in them at any given time are not any higher than us at all, except perhaps janitors while cleaning towers or pilots while flying planes.

They are not monarchs or military dictators or benevolent despots although they may convincingly feel and play-act the part and be rewarded with usually-undeserved respect (with the title “Honorable” and its attendant protocols) and bloated opportunities for largesse and perks. Only by having performance records of competence and dedication as servants of the people can these persons ever deserve the respectability they so conspicuously seek. But even the competent functionaries of competent administions have no real right to swagger among the people, much less allow their underlings to do the swaggering for them. Only the ignorant and the hypocritical opportunists can be “impressed” by their airs of self-importance.

The complexity of the mechanisms for nationwide governance, the over-bloated bureaucracy, have had the effect of confusing all of us enough to forget the essence. A congressman should consult with his constituents not to ask them what their problems are but to ask them what their proposed solutions are to the problems of the nation, so the congressman can faithfully represent their voice in policy discussions within the national legislature. Basketball courts, waiting sheds, bridges, etc. are matters that should be the left with governors and mayors and barangay chairmen to address as executives.

A larger cluster is not more important than a smaller one. Plans and policies of local constituencies should be synergized to be the plans and policies of wider constituencies. The national government should therefore be a mechanism for synergizing the Filipino people’s own physical, mental and spiritual capabilities to serve their own needs and their own collective will. Contrary to what we have started getting used to, it is not supposed to be a mechanism to facilitate the control of our country, of our regions and provinces and towns and communities, neighborhoods and homes, by the powerful elite of Global Greed.

In birthing the Filipino nation, which was its more important historic function than successfully fighting and defeating Spanish rule, the Katipunan (the root word of is name is tipon) gathered and wove in a unified tapestry the diverse communities in this archipelago. That process is opposite the direction of the Spanish conquistadores who claimed the Islands wholesale, and proceeded to divide up the land into smaller and smaller parcels to vassals and sub-vassals and sub-sub-vassals. Each land parcel included the flora, fauna and native people living on it.

The building-blocks logic of the Katipunan should be promoted today. For this reason, local communities, instead of awaiting devolution of government functions (usually including many “unbudgeted items”), should assert their command over their collective patrimony, and be prepared to synergize with adjacent communities on larger perspectives of stakeholdership.

People’s Self-Empowerment

The hierarchy paradigm is promoted and maintained by national officials who seek to call attention to their so-called authority over smaller clusters while at the same time invoking pragmatism to justify their meek obedience the Trojan-Horse “recommendations” of foreign overlords represented by the World Bank-IMF, World Trade Organization and similar entities.

This paradigm is challenged by the People’s Self-Empowerment (PSE) paradigm, where the ideal of social justice is combined with “teaching a man to fish so he can feed himself forever.” And there are three distinct frameworks groups and individuals can choose from for attaining and enjoying empowerment in governmental power, in other words, political power. These are:

1) “Proxy empowerment” framework wherein an organized entity that is out of the corridors of power seeks to acquire and exercise political power in the name of the people and for the “objective” and “fundamental” benefit of the people, earnestness assumed;

2) “Dole-out and Token Empowerment” framework where wherein an entity and persons already in possession of power claim to empower the people out of their magnanimity. But sets limits to such empowerment so as not to put in jeopardy their own decisive hold on power and their very own agenda; and

3) “Direct self-empowerment of, for, and by the People,” both as individual human persons attaining full development of their respective individual human faculties and potentialities, and as groups of such individually-uplifted people synergizing their capabilities for collective self-determination and effective self-governance. In this framework, various entities and individuals can serve, or partake in embodying, the people’s self-empowerment process (institutions, agencies and NGOs can serve this process one way of another; and each PO can partake in embodying this self-empowerment).

It is up to each individual and to each group to choose the framework to pursue one’s own efforts. Indicators of success or significance of the efforts would include the approval and validation of these efforts by a growing percentage of the citizenry, and of course the actual impact of these efforts on the people.

The first framework is premised on building the strength and “ideological purity” of the entity that seeks to acquire power for and in the name of the people. Thus it naturally tends to require or encourage monolithic structures and practices which have the inherent tendency to stifle the initiative and creativity of many of the people involved and, in many cases, have even resulted in the actual disempowerment of these people.

I choose to be predisposed to give this framework an assumption of earnestness of intent to act, speak for, and serve the “objective” and “fundamental” benefit of the people. History has apparently proven me to be “too generous” for deciding to have such a predisposition. For this reason, traditional politicians in the Philippines or elsewhere, can only appear to belong to be working under this framework, but are more akin to the second one” token empowerment doled out to the people.

The second framework is hazardous, just like the first, because it creates illusions among the people and feeds on such illusions until such time that the people, who initially pin their hopes on it, pendulum-swing to the extreme cynicism. The “people empowerment” component of the reform program of a past Philippine administration spoke glowingly of guaranteeing the marginalized sectors of society inside-track access to decision-making bodies of government, but did not guarantee that such representation would go beyond window-dressing. The scheme tended to backfire on government in most cases where representatives of such marginalized sectors were patronizingly humored and officially heard but not really heeded in those decision-making bodies.

The third framework builds a well-founded confidence in the people’s capability not to lose sight of the need for fundamental changes and actually builds the people’s direct capability through synergism to effect such changes.

The people have to raise their standards as to which changes may be considered essential and beyond the cosmetic or palliative. This framework does not harbor or foment a fear of petty reforms, for many reforms and immediate gains can really be used as stepping stones in the people’s march to achieving fundamental changes in society.

Among the three alternative frameworks enumerated above, I subscribe to the third one, and I would even go to the extent of asserting that it is the only framework that can result in the people actually being empowered. I say this because the framework of people’s self-empowerment is direct, well-rounded and rooted in the empowerment of individuals making up the majority of our people. At the same time, the third framework can actually support, encompass, and check for earnestness and effectiveness, those working within the first framework and/or the second framework.

Governance by the People

Some people who shall have read this part would probably say I am very disrespectful of government. Well, history of governance in this country has not given me any reason to give it more respect than I feel it deserves to get now.

And the summary of my “personal policy” toward government is one of “maximum tolerance.” It taxes us to death while shortchanging us on basic public services (which are getting privatized), it sells us and our children and our children’s children down the river. It makes glowing claims and promises and shortly afterwards it justifies utter failure to fulfill or validate them, blaming the citizenry for “over-dependence” and blaming specific groups of people for engaging in “destabilization.”

Still I would not think of raising a call to overthrow it – that would be too much bother, and in that case all my time and energy awould be spent on fighting and hiding, instead of on helping solve the people’s problems the government should have prevented or solved to confirm the value of its existence.

No way! I would rather spend quality time and enthusiastic energy on helping the people attain direct self-empowerment through synergy-building. So that whenever government or one of its functionaries does something good, the people would be prepared to maximize on it, and whenever the government goes on its usual performance pattern, we will be able to resist or to cope whichever response the people deem to be more prudent at any given time.

As soon as the Filipino people can attain empowerment beyond protesting and beyond coping (which includes joking about everything), and revive the spirit of Bayanihan and the Katipunan in facing collectively the problems of communities we belong in, only then can we say we shall have arrived as voters.

Then the personalities and exciting dramatics shall have become mere sidelights and not main events in our periodic electoral exercises.

Can we all be determined to attain this status even very gradually? Or are we actually enjoying the hollowness of our exciting national pastime? The Odyssey of the Filipino Voter continues, and my faith springs eternal.

The Filipino can indeed rise above and beyond this, from the despicable abyss of traditional politics to the lofty realm of noble statesmanship.


Ed Aurelio C. Reyes

Author, ODYSSEY of the Filpino Voter: Exciting Adventures, Little Progress, 2004

Secretary-General, Lambat-Liwanag Network for Empowering Paradigms; and Head, Lambat-Liwanag Task Force on Civics & Democratic Governance (Paradigm No. 5)

Makati City, Philippines

January 23, 2004


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To inquire about the book, Odyssey of the Filipino Voter, please send an e-mail to saniblakas,foundation@yahoo-com and put "ODYSSEY" on the Subject Line.

Friday, May 11, 2007

OBESE PESO: CAUSE FOR ALARM

Obese peso: Cause for alarm
Raul Valino, May 09, 2007

LIKE happy parents dazed by their child's chubby physical growth, the Philippines' rising peso value against the U.S. dollar is a cause for alarm unless steps are taken to correct its obesity.

From the 2004 low (weak) rate of P56.04, the average peso-dollar exchange rate progressively gained continued stoutness so that by Friday, April 27, 2007, it hit a peak level of P47.449.

The surge of the remittances of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and Filipino American residents sent back to the Philippines, at an annualized level of $15 billion, is no doubt the biggest factor in the still growing obesity of the peso.

The obese peso has serious side effects and unhealthy imbalances, which are not now evident but could create unstable future developments.

For overseas Filipinos and their immediate families in the Philippines, the obese peso development has not been an occasion for rejoicing. Neither has it been a cause for celebration.

Between 2004 and now, for every dollar that an overseas Filipino sends to the Philippines, his immediate family loses about P8.50, which it can otherwise use to pay for household expenses such as food, electricity, school tuition, health care and transportation.

Based on the average monthly remittances of OFWs of about $400, the OFW family loses P3,400 – an amount that is truly burdensome for the family.

The advantage of a cheaper dollar, however, is the lower repayment of foreign debts a bulk of which is accounted for by the national government and the National Power Corp.

Nonetheless, the apparent insatiable propensity of the government to borrow more than it can earn may negate the gains from lower debt repayments.

The government, however, sees the observed rise in peso value against the U.S. dollar as encouraging. It is, in fact, one of the highlights being promoted by the government in the about to be concluded local elections this May.

Some politicians see the so-called strong peso as another excuse to increase the budgetary allocation for pork barrel and allow for massive election expenditures without the post-election indigestion. There is even the suspicion that the peso is being buoyed by the administration through Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) for this purpose.

There are two keys to political misbehavior with modest risks of post-election economic shock: The first is control over budgetary deficit, while the second is control over inflation. These are two interrelated control instruments.

The rise in the value of the peso has drastically reduced government debt service and the subsidy to the loss-making Napacor. As a result, the government has gained considerable flexibility in reallocating resources to discretionary, pork barrel and populist outlays – all of which have significant impact on the May 14 elections.

In a recent San Francisco forum, Finance Secretary Teves commented that for every peso change in the exchange rate, the government stands to gain about P5 million. Based on that figure, it is estimated that the government has gained budgetary flexibility to the extent of between P35 and P40 billion – a heft sum that could be used to pursue narrow political objectives.

The rise of the peso has also made inflation management significantly more effective. Since imports have been much cheaper than before, the landed cost of imported rice and oil has gone down considerably.

If government can tame the prices of rice and oil products, it pretty much controls inflation. Rice alone accounts for more than one-fifth of the weight of the Consumer Price Index or consumer spending basket that measures inflation. Putting oil product prices within manageable levels puts a damper on the prices of food, electricity, clothing and housing costs.

But does control over the budget and inflation mean that the merrymaking of politicians will last forever? Alas, neglect of the losers in the rise of the peso, as in the case of unchecked obesity, will see a day of reckoning.

In simplified economic terms, the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country is the sum of personal consumption expenditures (C), investments (I), government expenditures (G) and the trade balance (exports minus imports).

The increase in the nominal value of the peso will considerably dampen C. Based on the annualized remittances of $15 billion, the peso "stoutness" would cut OFW family incomes by about P128 billion a year. That is a staggering figure indeed. Within the foreseeable future, C will no longer be an engine of GDP growth.

Investments cannot be relied upon as a source of economic growth. In fact, the ratio of investments to GDP has been reduced to half of what it should be, i.e., 30 percent being the ideal minimum vs. the current 15 percent ratio is the lowest in 20 years.

The climate for business investments has not improved, the consequence being the exodus of some major companies to other countries and the avoidance of the Philippines as an investment destination.

Between 2002-2006, foreign direct investment (FDI) has ranged between $0.1 billion and $2.2 billion, a miniscule amount compared to the FDI flowing to our neighbors and in relative to OFW remittances.

Traditionally and conventionally, G cannot be expected as contributing directly to GDP growth.

What is left, then, is the trade balance. The obese peso has produced excruciating pain for exporters and other earners of foreign exchange, especially call centers. These businesses earn dollars but face rising costs because of the rise in the peso's exchange value.

If the policy makers continue to ignore the pleas of foreign exchange earners, the country will reach a point where it could no longer depend on export of goods and services as a reliable source of foreign exchange.

When that day of the weakened export sector comes, the country will be totally dependent on OFW remittances for GDP growth and the wherewithal to cover imports and other foreign currency needs.

Even then, the short change that OFWs find when they exchange their dollars could lead to a potentially alarming gray to black market for foreign exchange.

Better to lose weight now, then, than much later.

The Global Filipino Coalition and Global Filipino Forum collaborated on the writing of this article. The Global Filipinos Coalition is a coalition of major overseas Filipino organizations and leaders. The Global Filipino Forum is a think tank and assembly of organizations focused on strategic governance issues in the Philippines.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

DESIDERATA

Go placidly amid the noise and haste
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
Even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.


Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the tress and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.


Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952


Tuesday, May 8, 2007

TO MY BELOVED COUNTRYMEN

In a few days from now you will be asked by candidates in your respective places to vote for them. Since the campaign period began, candidates for different positions have been asking you to vote for them in this coming elections. They have been trying to convince you that they are better suited for the positions they are running for than their opponents.

Many have been making promises they cannot or will not lift a finger to fulfill. Others have been resorting to vote-buying, or threatening to make life hard for you or even take that away if you don't vote for them. You have seen and heard about the killings of candidates and their followers by their opponents who see their adversaries as threats to their political ambitions or hold on power in their turfs.

You have seen how certain politicians have used the foulest of methods to cheat in the elections, steal your vote, manipulate its counting and resist all efforts to disclose their illegal deeds or remove them from the position they do not appear to have legally won.

My dear countrymen, let these not discourage you from voting for whom you honestly believe would lift you up from the miserable state of disappointment and dissatisfaction you have long been languishing in.

Do not surrender out of apathy or complacency and neither resign out of a feeling of hopelessness that whatever you do or whoever is up there will not change your long lingering woes.

Apathy, complacency, hopelessness and resignation are the best allies of the abusive, the evil and the corrupt.

Suffrage is still the best way for you to express your freedom and air your right to voice out your mind for the candidate you believe are more qualified and against those who are not.

In your hands, my fellow Filipinos, more than mine, to paraphrase John F. Kennedy, rest the success or failure of our cause and the future of your children and their children's children in this our only country.

If you want the coming generations of this country to be the masters of their own future, I ask you to change the past and the present by voting with a clear conscience for the right reasons and for the best candidates now.

God bless my beloved countrymen, God bless my country, God bless our beloved Philippines.

Ramon Mayuga
Essen, Germany

Monday, May 7, 2007

YOU KNOW YOU ARE ADDICTED TO COFFEE IF ...

You grind your coffee beans in your mouth.

You sleep with your eyes open.

You have to watch videos in fast-forward.

The only time you're standing still is during an earthquake.

You can take a picture of yourself from ten feet away without using the timer.

You've worn out your third pair of tennis shoes this week.

Your eyes stay open when you sneeze.

You chew on other people's fingernails.

The nurse needs a scientific calculator to take your pulse.

You're so jittery that people use your hands to blend their margaritas.

You can type sixty words per minute with your feet.

You can jump-start your car without cables.

You don't sweat, you percolate.

You walk twenty miles on your treadmill before you realize it's not plugged in.

You forget to unwrap candy bars before eating them.

You've built a miniature city out of little plastic stirrers.

People get dizzy just watching you.

Instant coffee takes too long.

You channel surf faster without a remote.

You have a picture of your coffee mug on your coffee mug.

You can outlast the Energizer bunny.

You short out motion detectors.

You don't even wait for the water to boil anymore.

Your nervous twitch registers on the Richter scale.

You help your dog chase its tail.

You soak your dentures in coffee overnight.

Your first-aid kit contains two pints of coffee with an I.V. hookup.


You ski uphill.

You get a speeding ticket even when you're parked.

You answer the door before people knock.

You haven't blinked since the last lunar eclipse.