Friday, April 29, 2005

BIR Is Acting Like It's In A Movie.

Suddenly we have Elliot Nesses in our midst. I know this topic on tax evaders is a little bit a thing of the past but I just couldn’t help but extricate the very issue away from the huge confusion emanating from the extensive media coverage it had garnered. Lately, BIR Commissioner Guillermo Parayno Jr., has been in the headlines parading a number of tax-evasion charges against moviestars and in an instant, the government’s newfound zest to pursue tax cheats has gained enormous ground, and the whole scenario paints a lovelier picture of our ministrants in Malacanang. Suddenly, the BIR is home to many Elliot Ness hunting down the Al Capones in our midst instead of mansion-entrenched and BMW-driving tax collectors. And mind you, they have become so brave like gallant knights that it is not only moviestars that they are after, but also they’re also breathing down the throat of Eddie Velarde and Cardinal Gaudencio. Tax cheaters, here they come. Be afraid, be very afraid.

Now, I must be blinking and seeing things. Now suddenly they are after moviestars and evangelists. Why in the world the BIR should be feeling all too proud going after movie stars and evangelists, personalities that has the affectations of the masses? You know, Richard Gomez and Brother Eddie Villanueva commands the respect and admiration of many and this move by the BIR may backfire and may even show the government in such a bad light. I am not favoring these celebrities to cheat on our treasuries but I just thought that BIR should go after the bigger fishes. The ones that matter. Its in the big business sector where there is a massive bleeding of our tax collectibles and if BIR could go to the media and name just one from this sector, say an owner of a food chain or a mall retailer, then I guess they’d be real heroes and can parade before us like they are true Elliot Nesses.

But right now, they seem to appear cowardly merely going after those who cannot really bite back. Instead of being serious, BIR appear just to be playing safe. They seem to be just acting to appear serious in their work. Well, welcome to showbiz guys.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

I Think We All Should Fasten Our Seatbelts

The last thing I aimed to be seen here is a doomsayer, but for this time, I am afraid a have no choice but to sound like one. The news these days is just filled with horrible things, one after another, like we never had enough of them.

Congress is about to raise the taxes we all pay. Oil prices are steadily on the rise. Crimes thrive in our streets like never before. And as if these horrible things weren't enough, NAPOCOR had just received a go ahead from the Energy Regulatory Commission to increase its per kilowatt pricing, sending our bills further into the ceilings.

It is a double entendre of economic hell, rising oil prices and rising energy rates are just about the last things our economy need. With this rare but vicious combination, there is no more avoiding how the prices of basic commodities would soon burden our pockets all the more in the coming days. As if we had not gone through enough hell already. I think we all should fasten our seatbelts.

NAPOCOR has such the cruelest sense of timing that they could swallow the fact of further burdening the public when now is the time when we are facing the steepest rise in oil prices ever and when E-VAT is set to “expand” all the more. In fact, NAPOCOR has a "blackmail thing" going on. If the rates are not raised soon enough, the country is bound to step backward into the dark ages once more, just like in the early part of the 1990's. NAPOCOR executives are using as a justification of turning NAPOCOR into a more adorable enterprise to investors, in its quest for privatization but they seem to be hiding the fact so well that without immediate additional revenues, it is bound to go kaput by being forced to default on its obligations. In a year, NAPOCOR is said to be paying 60 Billion pesos in interest alone.

Most of these debts it had incurred emanated from the years when then President Fidel V. Ramos wielded his "emergency powers" to contract luxurious “energy contracts” in order to solve the dire power crisis then. What NAPOCOR did since then, is to let such debts to bloat steadily with interest and even went on subsidizing power rates, a sort of "cosmetic treatment" in order to show that the government is just doing fine and electricity rate is low, when the “real rates’ was in fact a little higher. I have no problem with subsidies but when it comes with dire consequences, like the steep and sudden rate increase that we are about to experience in the coming days, it's not worth taking. What NAPOCOR did was hiding the"true cost" of electricity for a long time, and when it could not "hide" anymore, it has to go now to the public and complain, asking for steep adjustments with pointed guns on our head or else....or else "dark ages" would descend upon us faster than we can say "Pizza!". Blackmailing has never been done as expertly as this way before.

Sound management should have led NAPOCOR executives in the past to amortize and spread the cost of these debts over a long period of time, like for example over a twenty-year period. In this manner, the burden may not be as high each year and as suddenly taxing.

I think NAPOCOR executives should all be hailed to congress for a legislative inquiry and made to explain why heads shouldn't roll for mismanagement.

Delicious As Sin

No, I haven’t seen the movie yet but having had a short glimpse of it through a trailer (courtesy of the Soundtrack Channel on cable television) I deem it already as a movie worth standing by in over-extended lines at the malls.

Catching the end-parts of the movie trailer, I felt immediately blown away by the sharpness of the renditions on the screen and it felt so much like a movie in my mind, one that I have been waiting for a very long, long time and now it finally came.

"Sin City" is shot and filmed using the black-and-white format, the way old movies were made and although this is not unprecedented, we could not help but notice it. When "Schindler's List" was done in this manner some years ago, the world virtually stood up in great anticipation and felt enormous awe after watching it. And so now I noticed how "Sin City" is similarly stunning in its visual virtues and the manner and form it decided to appear is thought-provoking to say the least. For a while there, while watching a passing glimpse of the movie preview, I thought for once that I was watching a re-issue of "Casablanca", one that have been more sharply re-editted. But instead, I was watching the image of Bruce Willis as he stood in the middle of a stormy weather while on another scene Rosario Dawson was trying to grab Clive Owens, for a hug of course. Both moments in the movie may seem fleeting, but the way it was shot was surprisingly fresh and new.

This movie is based entirely on the comic book with the same title written by Frank Miller many years ago, the superstar comic-book writer-novelist who had gained instant fame by romanticizing and re-inventing Batman in the very successful work "The Dark Knight Returns". Miller wasn't such a sell-out that when Hollywood came knocking on his door, he refused to allow a movie rehashing of "Sin City". Miller says of Hollywood, "And I know what they do. They turn everything into a bromide with a happy ending."

And then came maverick filmmaker Robert Rodriguez (Spy Kids, Once Upon A Time In Mexico) and Frank Miller found himself haunted day in and day out. Rodriguez even had to stalk him into the bars and saloons he frequented each night and begged virtually on bended knees. Robert Rodriguez promised to make a Frank Miller's "Sin City" and not Robert Rodriguez’s "Sin City" and aside from that, Miller will be on board as a co-director. Somewhere, Robert Rodriguez violated some guidelines of the Directors' Guild of America by taking in Miller as a co-director, but Rodriguez couldn't care less and resigned from the guild in a jiffy. That's how Robert Rodriguez wanted this film so much. He had to make heavens and earth meet.

As a comic-book "Sin City" was instantly popular when it was first released, becoming that rare specie of cult-favorite that had sold in the millions. It is one lurid tale of a schizoprenic goon out on a revenge binge after he woke up one morning with a hooker on his side. Pretty horrifying and violent of a theme, but violence may just find salvation in the hands of Rodriguez. And in Frank Miller's too.

It is a movie in a comic-book format or a comic book in a movie format. However which way it is a radical film in the simplest of terms. "Sin City" is one movie I that thought was so very difficult to film before but now, it had been done.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

The Hundred Years Trouble

In college, I was so fascinated by a historical event that happened in Europe some centuries ago and it was a highly protracted war between England and France that was then dubbed as “The Hundred Years War”. I know that there had been many more wars in history, both known and unknown that lasted for more periods but the “hundred years war” made me rethink the passion and capacity of men to make war even in the old ages.

Lately, one trouble made me rethink again how some men or women for that matter, have that unusual rapacity to make trouble as if the very moment that they had breathe this mortal air, they were already born into the culture of trouble, angst, envy and conflict.

In JOHNPAULACLAN’s blog, someone misused my pseudonym and commented in its tagboard with nasty expressions. And to make matters worst, JP seem to have believe them just as easily, without further verification. Things like this can easily be done and faked. Anyone can just use a name, an invented one or that of someone else’s name. For example, you only need elementary computer knowledge in order to comment in any blog site using the name of other bloggers. The only way we can detect on who really made those comments is by checking out the I.P. address that goes with the comments, and then verifying with the Internet provider company about the telephone line where the IP address point to. But then, if someone commented by using a computer from an internet café, there is just no way of tracing the person so easily because a lot of people go in and out of cafes all the time.

Why in the world would I say something nasty about JP, one who I have considered as a true friend not only in the blogosphere but also in the real world. I treated him like a brother in faith, for I know he is religious. But now I know that he easily believes in rumors.

Some bloggers hate me JP only because I have contradicted their views, and some of them, not many, could not take contradicting opinion so well. And there were some who treated me as enemies because I have protested their lambasting of catholicism and religion in general.

You should not believe anyone misusing the name MAJOR TOM, pretending in order to create havoc and dissension. I am always nice and respectful when I comment. Everyone should be notified that if a MAJOR TOM is commenting in your site and its NASTY and BASTOS, it couldn’t be me.

You know, I feel flattered that despite of me being just new, many tried to bring me down. I juts don’t know why. I don’t know exactly the number of those who “hate” or “envy” me. But I am only sure about one person and most of you know this blogger. Some of us just could not accept that others might be smarter than us.

Ugly things happen. If these things continue to happen, I may just have to close down shop so please bear with the inconvenience. Am I responsible for my readers? Well, if my readers demand that I’ll stay, then I’ll stay. But I’ll try my best to stay as long as I can.

These things just humor me at times that I could just laugh inside knowing na talagang inngit lang ang mga naninira sa akin. They must have lost some of their self-respect.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Could Be The Shortest Significant Papacy

Joseph Ratzinger had a lock on the papacy like a shoe to Cinderella’s feet and the only one that were surprised about his ascendancy to the papacy were the ones who did not see the sign of the times, or just being blind to them. Well, a mouse trapped in the Galapagos Island would have been surprised as well.

The problem with Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, is not being a surprised choice among the electors, but more on his being a known hardliner in favor of a more traditional view on faith and religiosity and for being well-known for his staunch opposition for liberation theology and reformation within the catholic hierarchy.

Many had desired the next pope to test the limit of modernism and had earlier hopes for a looser attitude on issues like women being accepted finally as clergy members and on such other matters as contraception and gay marriages. With Cardinal Ratzinger on hand, they have to kiss their hopes to the wind.

The new pope is faced with the daunting challenge of defending the tradition of the Vatican as against the incessant calls for more liberalism and reform in the Church, and more recent events like the heated debates on gay marriages in North America as well as on abortion, euthanasia, and stem cell research, will keep Pope Benedict XVI up on his toes and busier than a rat.

At 78 years old, we all know that Pope Benedict’s term won’t be much longer than a decade but with the burning issues on faith brimming around the world today, his papacy may just be one of the most significant ever.
Joseph Ratzinger is pope in these most crucial times.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Bet Is On

Who do you see as the next pope? What are the chances? Look who’s betting?

Nobody seems to be complaining and no one seems to mind this lottery on the most crucial question being resolved now in the whole catholic world, and perhaps in the entirety of worldly issues.

Nope. I am not the one to complain. Betting is never seen as a virtue yet I say maybe this time, we can’t be too tight-assed on this. A little fun wouldn’t hurt I guess. For once there, I thought I was expecting an official statement from the Holy See, invoking everyone to stop these foolish things—these widespread betting on who would be the next main man in the Vatican City.

Days ago, Francis Arinze was the in the surprise lead among bettors in Great Britain. The cardinal from Nigeria might just usher in a new age in Catholicism, towards more openness and human equality. Although, I thought the world is yet unprepared to embrace a black pope. But who, knows. We might just be in for a historic moment.

As the conclave is about to start, Germany’s Joseph Ratzinger is now heavily favored, unlike say, five days ago. This must be the result of him being in the forefront of the process to choose the pope, as he had officiated in almost every important mass in Rome in the days immediately after the death of John Paul II. Well, it is really not a surprise to see him as a big favorite since he is just too well known among the priesthood all over world, being the Dean of the College of Cardinal, and the foremost adviser of the late John Paul II when the latter was still alive. In short, he is an insider and one who knows the in and outs of the Vatican so well.

Yet, nothing is sure yet. Cardinal Ratzinger himself had voiced out that he didn’t desire the papal job because for one, he is already too old at 74, knowing it as a very great burden and responsibility. And there is this hidden rule in the history of the papal conclave that the early favorites are always not chosen. John Paul II himself was a surprise winner of the conclave in 1978.

Ratzinger may be too old but he is a very good and intelligent priest and he may just be right for a short papacy, a sort of bridging the gap period. But he says he doesn’t want the job. Whatever.

Systems Down!

About two days ago, my computer started on a wrong note with a strange prompt on the screen that ordered me to add driver to a new hardware device that was newly found. This was a very familiar sight, because the last time it did appear, my computer was disabled entirely.

Immediately, I applied a thorough scan of my drives and there I determined about six different viruses that had infected my system, most of them “downloader Trojans”. I have always been careful against viruses, so careful even that I do not use password enabled services when I am not using my own computer. I had always been operating behind a firewall but alas, the very few moments that I disabled my firewall (to speed up downloads of heavy executables), are the few seconds that these viruses needed to infiltrate my computer. I am warning you to be always careful and always protect yourself by using a firewall whenever you are online.

I do not exactly know what these “downloader Trojans” do but one thing is sure, it disabled my internet connection so gravely. Maybe they were meant, as their names suggest, as worms and spiders that wanted to download some of my files. It is such a flattery that some souls had to send these Trojan viruses just to get hold of my writings. I would have given it all to them had they asked it properly. Or maybe, they just meant to harm my system. By the number of the Trojans that infiltrated my system, you could tell someone or some souls really targeted me for intrusions. If it were random, the number of virus would not have been as high as six just in one night. We all get “virused” once in a while, but not six instances in a 24 hour period.

So I tried my best to reconfigure my operating system but couldn’t seem to tackle the major error in it. I had some amateur skill on recreating corrupted files but this time, the problem had just gotten worse. Half-baked knowledge was harmful to me this time.

The last time I restarted my computer, a blank screen just appeared. Such vicious, vicious viruses.

So I had to do these postings at a nearby café and while my computer is out for a vacation in my favorite neighborhood computer shop, I had to content myself with lesser time online, and more infrequent postings. I hope my computer would rise again like a phoenix from the flame.


Saturday, April 16, 2005


These past few days, a spate of crimes had embraced the front pages of our papers like movie banters and I thought I was watching one huge epical Hollywood gangster movie, the sort made by the likes of Martin Scorcese and Francis Ford Coppola, only this time the seeming “movie” involves real characters and the onset of crimes are more unrelenting and all the more pernicious. At least in gangster movies, we know for sure that the crimes ought to come to a halt sooner or later. But in the real world, the vicious cycle of killings, murders and robbery does not seem to stop.

Early morning of yesterday, three cops were chased by their fellow cops in Pasig City after they carried out a daring hold-up in broad daylight. It is by luck that cops are not usually trained in making great heist that the criminal-cum-cops were caught red-handed, sending one of them to the hospital with a bullet in his face. For the life of me, I’ve never thought I’d see the day when some of our active police officers would be pursued and chased by their own fellow cops along our urban streets, in full view of the populace they had swore to serve and protect. But as if in any action movie, every thing seem possible and every twist seem probable.

About two days ago, a former legislator was gunned down while supping up in a diner along Shaw Boulevard and then the assailant was seen just slowly walking away from the crime scene, and even took a jeepney afterwards. Talk about police visibility. The way ex-congressman Henry Lanot was murdered seemed movie-surreal; in the kind of circumstances only the most cutting-edge scriptwriter could be able to come up with. In fact, the dining area of the Jade Palace was eerily and markedly reminiscent of the restaurant where Michael Corleone, the main character of Francis Ford Coppola’s “Godfather”, did his first kill, in that particular scene where he had to hide his pistol inside the comfort room beforehand in order to evade detection. I do not mean any disrespect to the departed soul of the ex-solon, but I am just stressing how crimes nowadays are being committed so daringly that they are being carried out as if some criminals have been watching too much action films lately---where murder becomes a fantasy and where a man’s life is nothing but a movie prop.

From the papers, we found out that despite the alarming number of killings of journalists in our country, only one such murder has been solved. And this desperation adds up to the whole surrealism of what appears to be an unending chain of killings after killings, murders and heists in broad daylight that marks our urban life today, and no one seems to be doing something about it and our authorities seem to be at a lost on what to do. We are like in some Hollywood gangster movie were life is cheap and policemen only appear when everything seems to be all too late. “These are the days of living dangerously”, said one character from a movie in my mind.

Just this morning, a television news update reported how two hundred policemen or so raided a barangay in one of the slum areas in Manila and arrested anyone who “looked or moved suspicious”, aiming to rid the area of wanted criminals who are said to be hiding there. This must be what they call a “saturation drive”.

Afterwards, the television report showed how those who were arrested were being ushered one by one into police vehicles with their handcuffed-hands placed at their back, while some of the raiding policemen lugged along around the area, looking as if they had felt great relief upon the success of their operation. Those policemen should not feel any relief at all or feel any sense of success out of anything and their minds should in fact be disabused on these matters, because the raid looked more to me of hamletting than being a regular police work (Hamletting is the notorious method used by the U.S. Military in Vietnam where American soldiers approached ill-fated rural communities that were suspected of harboring enemies and arrested and harassed every person found there, regardless if they were old men, women or children.). This practice of fishing out for criminals through “saturation drives” is to me nothing but a lame and lazy excuse for not doing real police work and it is a shameless flouting of human rights and the due process of law. Apprehending and cornering criminals should always be done through apt means like stakeouts, entrapment and pursuits, among other means. The news update did not elaborate if the policemen were carrying with them arrest warrants for each person to be arrested, but as soon as now, I greatly doubt it. There couldn’t be a warrant of arrest naming “any John Doe acting or moving suspiciously” within sight. I may be mistaken but I just do not think there could be a “pre-emptive” warrant of arrest.

The crimes committed in our urban streets nowadays are becoming more and more daring that even Don Corleone would blush at their profane viciousness. On the one hand, our policemen become lazier with each passing day and at times become the propagator of crimes themselves. God help the Philippines.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Getting Closer, Yet Still Worlds Apart

Recently, another high point in relations among Southeast Asian countries was forged in the form of an international agreement that allows visa-free and unimpeded travel between the Philippines and Laos. At present most of the member countries of ASEAN does not require visa when its citizens move from one country to another within the region, including Singapore, its most economically advanced member. This would mean that mere passport holders could gain entry into most of the ASEAN countries without any need for visa, just like when one travels to Hong Kong. For me, this is one very positive benefit that we have gained ever since five southeast Asian countries have decided to band together in 1967 to form ASEAN, a conglomerate of states joining hands together to aim for more social and economic cooperation.

This is entirely refreshing---this visa-exemption among ASEAN countries---knowing fully well how difficult it is for most of us to gain entry to many other countries (especially rich countries like the United States and countries in Europe) without the visa requirement; one document that is beyond the access of most Filipinos. This situation somewhat infuriates me, where richer countries require so much from travelers from poorer nations, asking for wealth here and properties there to show before any issuance of visa as if only the rich have the right to travel, and while their citizens could easily gain access to our territories without any difficulty whatsoever. On the other hand, we all have to fall into long and tedious lines just in order to have a hand on that ever-rare visa, like mongers on a night market bargain extravaganza. It is not extravaganza in any sense to me.

But here in Southeast Asia, among countries sharing similar debacles both social and political and having the same general economic level of prosperity, travel is unimpeded and no one is turned away like an unwanted visitor. Of course, Malaysia and Thailand are not exactly Los Angeles or Copenhagen, but it helps to think that many from Los Angeles and Copenhagen travel all the length of the world just in order to be in Thailand or Singapore when they aim to have temporary but sublime pleasures in paradise or paradise-like enclaves.

ASEAN has gone a long, long way and one of its laudable objectives is the freer flow of business (of goods and capital) within the region in about a decade’s time and possibly, a more integrated social life among the inhabitants similar to that appertaining in the European Union. There were some buzz before that a single currency may be used in the entire region sometime in the future although at this point, this is a little difficult to visualize knowing how the different economies in ASEAN are so disparate at many significant points despite of me saying earlier that they all share the same general economic prosperity. A singular currency demands more than what could be achieve now; like the need for a central monetary agency, price index commonality, interest rates stability, uniformity in inflation, unvarying reserves for each nation, absence of or minimal foreign debts and many other factors. Maybe in fifty or so years from now, ASEAN will be more contiguous and united in economic terms. We have gone closer in many ways, but still worlds apart in some.

The aim for a single currency in ASEAN may be farfetched at this time but a shared market is not and is already in motion while we speak. Our grocery stores are now---if you just have noticed lately---filled with goods from Thailand, Indonesia or Malaysia, and this presently reflects the stronger economic ties among ASEAN countries. This economic unity may not appear to be relevant to many of us but if we take a closer look, we are actually looking towards a far more expanded market where our producers will not only be contemplating a market of 80 million Filipinos but possibly, a gigantic market of nearly half a billion inhabitants of the ASEAN region. The potential for growth in productivity is unimaginably enormous and not only on goods but also in services where there will come a time in the future that our accounting graduates could look forward to a career in banking and finance Malaysian style. Already, many Filipinos are hired as executives in many financial and industrial companies in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur and our teachers are teaching English in many Thai colleges and universities.

If European states found out that they are far better off if they banded together more tightly, I think Southeast Asian countries ought to do the same. A united herd is far more virile and surviving than an escalated one. In unity, there is always strength.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

The Art Of Playing Dumb

The U.S. Charge d’ affaires Joseph Mussomeli is one diplomat breaking the rules of diplomacy---and that at such a slipshod conduct. According to the U.S. number two man here, certain parts of Mindanao are so “porous” and “lawless” that he sees an Afghanistan situation brimming there if nothing is done to improve the effort against terrorism in this country. And then he has to say those critical lamentations before the foreign media. What a way of “diplomatizing”. It must be the new American way of making friends. I suspect that some of the guys put there in the U.S. Embassy are CIA first and diplomat secondarily for they sure talk the talk of international blackmailing and dark-clouding the way those American undercover are always good at.

Mussomeli knew very well that we are in such a dire fiscal crisis that he had a problem in fact why our politicians are mostly occupied with economic concerns—like raising taxes—and not fighting terrorism and yet he had to say something that would further shoo away the dollars trickling towards our shores. With the unflattering declarations that he made before the Australian media, Mussomeli might just have added some nails into our economic coffin. If it indeed it were true---as Mussomeli tried to paint before international media---that there is an Afghanistan situation in this part of the world, no tourists would bathe in our tropical seas even if they are nearly paradise and not even the most profit-hungry capitalist would put top dollar in our market. What Mussomeli did might just have brought our economy nearly an eon back, where foreign capital is rarer than diamonds and tourists receipts an alien thing. And beside that, our Standards and Poor credit ratings would further be set into a downward spiral, and that would mean no easy dollar loans for our private sector, and our government bonds wouldn’t be able to float easily in the big global money market. (I felt at times that the credit rating agency Standard and Poor is somewhat a form heckling towards third-word countries for how come they had to choose such name; I mean, who is “standard” and who is “poor”?)

If we have friends like Mussomeli, why do we need enemies?

What we got here is but another harsh treatment of what I call as “The Art of Playing Dumb”. It is a kind of foreign policy thing being applied by first world countries like America and some other. Powerful nations with hidden agendas would play dumb and ignorant in order for them to gain some end, by way of applying ugly means to justify their aims. Here how it operates. Usually, as a matter of policy, some hatchet men would pretend that they are so dumb that they do not know anything about a certain region and announce to the international media some general declarations that do not entirely reflect the real situation there, and as the wrong picture is painted, chaos and disorder would ensue, or least it would be believed that chaos and mayhem had really ensued, and whatever that country would decide to do to “remedy the situation” would be seen as a heroic effort in the eyes of the international community and in that manner, they get away with murder.

In this particular situation, we all know that Mindanao may be in such trouble now but the situation there is nothing near the hellish disorder appertaining to Afghanistan in the Taliban days---the kind of situation that had “justified” its invasion by America. But Mussomeli had to make some “irresponsible” and “unreflective” comments even though we know that any person who had been in this country for at least a month or two would have surely known that Mindanao is never at the level of an Afghanistan mayhem. It doesn’t have to take a rocket scientist to know this easily verifiable data. The U.S. Embassy surely has some highly reliable intelligence network operating here that for certain, Mussomeli must have known that Mindanao is in no way near an Afghanistan situation. But for some reason, Mussomeli spoke like he was a “dumb” person who has no education in his head. And so I suspect that he was just “playing dumb”.

I come from Mindanao and I have not seen any woman wearing burkas here or some public execution done in a sports stadium. Of course, we got bombs exploding every now and then in some unfortunate urban places, but Israel and Pakistan had more and yet nobody is saying that they are the next Afghanistan.

So what could have lead Mr. Mussomeli to say those “dumb” things. It might be because of some veiled agendas or secret aims. Maybe the United States government is really hell-bent on re-establishing a major military presence here that they have to play dumb and say something hellish about the Philippines, in order sell the idea of another Subic or Clark here. Maybe they want a military base in Mindanao. Or maybe they are just negotiating for more military aids from their own government on the sincere intention to help the Philippines get more war money and military toys. Yes, sometimes this game of playing dumb may be grounded on a heartfelt intention to help---but more often they are not.

Playing dumb as a method of pushing a major foreign policy has been employed by many countries like America in the past and sometimes they work but often they do not. And even if the aims are achieved, the backlash is often unkindly and devastating. The most recent example of this kind of international endgame was America’s claim that Saddam Hussein had links with Osama bin Laden and that chemical weapons were all abound in Baghdad. To this day, no chemical weapon cache was found in any place in Iraq despite incessant search and the Saddam and Osama link appears to be just an amateurish rhetoric. Yet, America had to play dumb and claim the wrong things in order for them to gain justification to invade Iraq. Now that Iraq is embracing democracy, the method of playing dumb may have worked just as well for President George W. Bush and democracy in general, but many still see it as an ugly interference by one country to another and a form of shameless bullying.

In the years leading to the World War II, major western powers like America and Great Britain “played dumb” and disregarded the warning from many insiders that Hitler was actually harboring a megalomaniac ambition to rule the world and was already then murdering thousands of Jews in Auschwitz. The British Prime Minister then had even acquiesced with Adolf Hitler’s invasion of the Slavic region believing it would be for the best. The negligence and “playing dumb” of the western powers at that time resulted to the most traumatic events of our modern history, that is, the devilish murder of thousands of Jews---an unforgettable tragedy that could have been prevented if the western powers had taken action much earlier.

When I was working then for a World Bank-funded project agency, we had to make a tour of the whole Mindanao area with some of the World Bank guys and we made a brief sojourn into the Saranggani Bay area near General Santos City. Some people from Malacañang where with us and I somehow overheard them in a passing conversation how the bay there was such a fine place for the U.S. Military Base and they were talking about it like it was a sure thing to come and not in any uncertain manner. I had wondered then if the plan was true at all. I had suspected then that the plan for putting up a U.S. Military Base in Mindanao was some form of a secret agenda of the Philippine and U.S. government which I had gotten to learn somehow through some careless remarks made while an “outsider” like me was present. Of course until now, I still doubt if there was such a grand plan to put up a U.S. Military base in Mindanao but it helps to point out that the new and very modern international airport found General Santos City, one that could handle even the biggest Boeing airliner, was funded entirely by the U.S. Government (I couldn’t confirm this data, but this I heard). So perhaps, America really has a well drawn-out plan to re-establish major military presence here in our country and this notion is not farfetched knowing that the Philippines is considered as a very strategic region in relation to America’s aim to establish a very strong presence in Asia. I am not saying these things because I am viciously anti-American, or like I was a communist, but I am just saying these things as a backgrounder of what perhaps could have led the American Embassy to issue some “dumb” observations of our country (like calling it the next Afghanistan) knowing fully well how disparaging those comments are to our ailing economy.

Now we see perhaps why at times personalities like Mussomeli had to play dumb at times. Although at one point there, I really thought Joseph Mussomeli was really dumb and irresponsible.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

To Tinker Or Not To Tinker

Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago’s latest public soliloquy is just about timely, but not encouraging to many of her fellow lawyerly tribesmen and tribeswomen.

The ever vocal lady of the Senate may have on Saturday morning awaken to the blaring news that the bar examination results were finally out and the usual cacophony of noises and ruminations about it (like the who’s who in the top spot, and if what school lords over the rest) may have perhaps earned her now-famous ire that she decided to banish this thing called “bar examinations.”

You heard it right, the lady wants the bar examinations abolished because according to her, “passing the bar is just a matter of chance and luck” and that it is only “one of the index of legal competence”. It felt a little bizarre to hear those highly undermining comments from one who topped the bar herself. But since she is such a famous legal mind, maybe there is more to her nitpicking than meets the eye.

The call for the abolition of the annual bar examination is not already new to us and is in fact a recurrent issue for many years now. For one, there was this one infamous legal case known as “The Bar Flunkers’ Suit” where a group of unsuccessful bar examinees petitioned the Supreme Court to entirely set aside the bar and declare every law graduate fit to practice law, reasoning out among others that in other countries like Indonesia, the law graduate need not pass any further examination in order to be called a lawyer. Of course, the suit did not prosper otherwise we would not be talking of these things at this time.

In her disembowelment of the bar, Senator Santiago cited a study made by the former dean of the U.P. College of Law Merlin Magallona and lawyer Manuel Flores Bonifacio where it was put forward that many in the legal profession feel that the bar examinations is never the true test of one’s competency to practice law primarily because “it is merely a test of memory” and not of the reasoning prowess of the aspirants and that “it does not guarantee a successful legal practice”. I can perhaps agree that at a certain point, the bar examinations given by the Supreme Court every September of the year merely test the law students’ ability to memorize and enumerate hundreds of legal provisions but it would seem to be a little silly to expect the bar to be a guarantee for a successful legal practice because it will never be. Just like there is no guarantee that a guy with a great singing voice will be successful one day in a showbiz career. There’s no finality to any success---and as in a cliché, there is no shortcut to it. You may be a virtuoso violinist but with a very bad attitude, you won’t even get near to watching an orchestra play, much less to be playing in it. We all know that a good legal practice is dependent on some other factors like an amiable personality, a great conversational skill and good contacts in the community among others. Yet, a lawyer may still be competent as a lawyer although he may not be successful in practice. Just like when a doctor may still be a good doctor although he may have ended miserably poor for not having had a profitable clinic, where he merely poured all his time and effort in a small rural hospital.

Now, despite my disagreement to the idea that the bar examinations should always be a “guarantee” to a successful legal practice, it is not easy to debunked this recent call for the abolishment of the bar especially when Senator Santiago clearly made real sense when she propositioned that another test similar to the National Medical Admission Test (NMAT) that is given to medical students in our country, would be applied instead along with an internship program that could hone the legal competence of law students in the “real world” even while they are still in law school. Clearly, these particular suggestions may just improve our legal profession and I say, this issue should be given the proper attention by our Congress.

In the end, to tinker with the bar examination is to tinker with a long-held tradition (which may not be necessarily good for us) that would not go away as easily and not without grave repercussions. The problem with scrapping the bar examinations is that it would greatly undermine the quality of lawyers in our midst and the whole legal profession for that matter. If they think that the bar examinations is not the right litmus test to determine who should or should not become lawyers, then they should think of another one in a jiffy; and in fact, one that should test the discipline of the law student all the more where aside from the written examinations, oral examinations should also be instituted to test the conversational skill of the aspirants as well as their reasoning prowess along with actual field trainings and seminars. That may seem to have just complicated the situation all the more but hey, we really have no choice here. Let us remember that lawyers are particularly involved in the defense of very salient things, like the protection of rights and properties of a person, as well as the threatened liberties of an accused in a criminal case, and may at some extent be protecting the very life of an individual---just like doctors do. Surely you wouldn’t want to put any man’s life in the hands of one who is of doubtful competence. Not to any half-baked lawyer or to any half-baked doctor.

What I see best in the this situation is a sort of compromise where the Rules of Court set by the Supreme Court may be amended a little to allow underbar law graduates (upon the onset of certain conditions like the gaining of sufficient training through seminars and workshops that are strictly administered by the Supreme Court) to serve our courts in some legal concerns like prosecution as fiscal assistants and if possible as judicial assistants in matters of case dispositions. This way, the problem on the humongous case backlog of the courts may be hastened. The slow and turtle pace processing of cases by our courts is mainly blamed to the lack of lawyers willing to serve in low-paying court positions. If we could in some way allow underbar law graduates to serve in our courts, this particular problem may be given the right solution without undermining the quality and credibility of our legal practitioners.

Flooding our society with lawyers---by allowing just about every underbar law graduate to practice law in general---would do us more harm than good and it may even kill the practice of law in our country. We may have access to cheaper lawyers, but justice on our shores will be all the more be flawed and unreliable if the legal profession would be mostly left unregulated. For certain, Senator Santiago hasn’t been contemplating this kind of situation to happen but it helps to point out the dire consequences if we are to tinker with tradition without the proper weighing of the benefits as against the harm.


Friday, April 08, 2005

Blog News, Anyone?

Hear ye’ all Bloggers, we’ve turned another milestone. In the Periscope section of the March 21, 2005 issue of Newsweek, there is this item on blogging titled “BLOGS: Now It’s Literature”. It reported actually how certain web logs in Japan were not only successful online but had found their way into the bestseller list among the bookstands there. Primarily, the blog “Train Man” sold approximately half a million copies when it was turned into a book. “Train Man” started on the Internet just about when its Japanese author went online to ask for advises and suggestions from surfers on how to woo a girl he had recently met on a train. Thousands logged into his blog and gave him numerous dating tips and encouragement and two months later, he got the girl. This modern day fairy tale set within the subways of Tokyo caught the fancy of many that it apparently prodded a publisher to transforms it into a book and make money on it, complete with all the comments and emoticons, even including the usual grammatical and typographical errors we often see in every web log’s comment box.

The success of the “Train Man” has led other Japanese bloggers to take their spin on book publishing and found similar success. Notable was the blog “My Devilish Wife Journal: A True Story”, where a young man laments continually about his self-centered wife. Another weblog in the bookstands there is “This Week My Wife Is having An Affair” which sold about 43,000 copies as a book. Not bad, huh.

I couldn’t find the link to the above-mentioned blogs, even when I had to google them a thousand and one times. The thing is “Train Man” would have been titled in Japanese and I haven’t got a clue what the words “train” and “man” in Nippongo.

So I guess, we bloggers should keep at it and blog all the more and who knows that perhaps one day, some book publisher would take notice and transform some of us into the net counterpart of John Grisham or Tom Wolfe. It may not be as easy as we would like to think it is, where it is obvious that those Japanese web logs that I had mentioned above have gained popularity mainly because of their sordid subject matters like infidelity and deceit. Yet “Train Man”, the most successful of the lot, certainly spoke of an uplifting thing called “love”, and that tells us that it ain’t such a longshot for any of us to expect to get published someday and that we do not have to write anything capricious in order to get noticed.

Am I encouraging commercialism here? No, but by aiming to get our blogs published as a book, we may be suspected of selling out; that is, blogging just for money’s sake and not for the things we truly believe in. But hey, money ain’t that bad at all---and Bob Dylan got to speak his mind and still made money for it.

So what Filipino blog or blogs do you think can get published at this time and sell well on National Bookstore?

A Requiem For The Pope

The Old Man Has Found A Great Well
(A Requiem For Karol Josef Wojtyla 1920-2005)

This one son of Poland has finally reached the bend
yonder beyond the oceans of the faithful,
and one day became the son of the world
that found the great well of worldly understanding and brotherhood;
And he made this well flourish like a seeding flower
that blossomed so white in purity and vibrancy---
It is there for anyone to see,
for any soul who was touched by his hands,
even for a moment or two;
those hands that had turned even the most wrenched of hearts
into a soft billowy water that would run finally
towards the one and singular faith in the Mightiness of God.
And now he found his own soul’s great well,
the one that we all harness in our mind
where in a day or two, our eyes would lay witness someday
to the crystals of heavens and the joyful
trumpeting of the angels.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

When Was The Last Time You Read A Book For The Second Time Around and Actually Felt Like It Was The First Time?

I just did. Right now, I am still at a lost why in the world Eva Miranda had to disappear into the great abyss of anonymity when everything seems to have been settled and done with. I am speaking here about two of the characters and the end parts of the John Grisham book “The Partner” which was released in 1997, so many years after “The Firm” had caught the book world by storm. Yeah, I remember too well how Mr. Grisham had virtually stormed into the book scene without warning about a decade ago and how he went on to overshadow every other novelist at that time. I have just read John Grisham’s “The Partner” for the second time around.

Just about a week ago, I have felt that the summer season could afford me a lot of hours with nothing better to do that I decided for myself that I would have ample time to read a good novel again, while the weather was always warm and breezy in the afternoon. I almost went downtown to scour for new and old book titles that would suit my current reading fancy but just when I was about to take the shower, a “brilliant idea” entered my mind. I said to myself that I could actually save nearly half of a thousand bucks for a new book if I would just go foraging for books that I have bought before but hadn’t find the time to read them. I decided that I should do that. In fact, I might just end up buying a new title now and then just postpone reading it for a reason or two. Better be safe than regret later.

I had often in the past set aside books that I have just bought for reasons unique to each book. For example, when I started reading Pat Conroy’s “Beach Music”, I was reading it with my expectations about it set too high that I ended up just ignoring in the long run. I bought “Beach Music” having in mind that perhaps Pat Conroy could outdo himself and make another work better than “The Prince of Tides” or at least similarly invigorating. But to my dismay, I realized soon after that “The Prince of Tides” is a work that is difficult to be outdone, even by Pat Conroy himself, and it was so good that there might not be another book that could surpass its emotional vibrancy. So I just put aside “Beach Music” and postponed reading it, hoping that one day I’d find some time to read it. That time have not yet come as of this moment. “The Prince of Tides” is by the way one of my most favorite books. I have actually read it about four times already, believe it or not.

And then there was “A Suitable Boy” by Vikhram Seth, a sprawling saga that brings into life the unique and colorful Indian tradition on family and marriages. The story is based mainly on two characters namely Lata and her mother but the novel is so huge that it was the thickest novel that I had possessed. In the middle of my reading of it, I was bound for Manila to take the bar examinations and so I had to set it aside. I was already in the part where Lata’s mother was about to find a “suitable boy” for her, as she went toddling like a child among the festivities in their neighborhood and buying a certain myna bird from the nearby market. The gigantic novel pictured how it was all too colorful, happy and festive Indian occasions were, from marriages to natal days, and perhaps even in their burials. I enjoyed reading it but had to discontinue it for a while. Until now, I still haven’t found the right amount of time to finish this sprawling Indian novel. And so “A Suitable Boy” was one of the candidates that I had planned to read this summer.

My copy of Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace” was a gift to me by my wife when we were still “untied” to each other and it contain an endearing scribble from her. Perhaps, the copy was such a memento to me that I had decided to leave it untouched. Actually, the main reason why I did not proceed to read it entirely was because of its inherent enormousness---its extent is just too demanding and overwhelming, both at the same time. It was another colossal book that tested my patience to the hilt. I wanted to read it through and through but I have always procrastinated on Tolstoy, believing that there’d be a day that I’d be able to consume his two great works (the other one being “Anna Karerina”) or them consuming me. Whichever way, the “consumption” hasn’t happen yet. Maybe, summertime would give me the proper patience to tackle Tolstoy, the most direct rival of my most favorite author, Feodor Dostoyevsky.

There was also Salman Rushdie’s “The Moor’s Last Sigh” and I remember quite well that it was one of the books that I haven’t finished reading in the past. I lighted with great zest when I remember all at once that before I left it in midway, I was enjoying it so much that now, as I have come to notice it again, I could not point out too well the reason or reasons why I had to abandoned it in the first place. Sometimes our memory just fails us.

Just when I was about to locate the Salman Rushdie work, I stumbled unknowingly into John Grisham’s “The Partner” and almost threw it aside knowing too well that there is no Grisham book in my cabinet that went unread. But for some reason, I started flicking at its beginning pages and I there I read the beginning passages where a bunch of Brazilian hoodlums was on a stakeout upon the person of a certain Danilo Silva. I started to ask if I remember anything about Danilo Silva and I had some feint memory. The first parts of the book were paced so rhythmically and major mysteries were built in the beginning pages that I had more questions in my mind. Will they eventually find him? How did the Brazilian jungle become one of the scenes of a Grisham tale (this had intrigued me so much that I continued to leaf through the book).I asked more questions and before I knew it, I forgot about Salman Rushdie and decided to read “The Partner” instead.

Reading “The Partner” for the second time around was such an enjoyable experience to me that it actually felt like I was reading it for the first time; and then liking it so much. It was like reading a book like Feodor Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” where the first sentences of the book grabs at your attention by the throat and never let go until the end was about to come. When I was in highschool, I remember reading the espionage thrillers of Frederick Forsythe, particularly “The Fourth Protocol” and “The Days of The Jackal” and “The Partner” brought back similar sort of excitement that I had felt then, as I salivated on pages after pages and read it so passionately that I finished reading it in merely five days. I don’t know if five days was fast enough but I never had finished a book in just a week’s time, not even “Catcher In The Rye”.

John Grisham is what we say the more commercial writer in the lot and we don’t know exactly if one day he’d go down among the literary giants of our time, which I gravely doubt. But on second reading, I thought “The Partner” was an entirely good read and a well-thought-of story, where everything seems to be plausible and yet at the same time remarkably outlandish and far-fetched. I don’t exactly know what I meant by that.

I am not perhaps alone in the observation that “The Partner” is one highly-enjoyable book because this novel was a main selection of the Literary Guild when it was released in 1997, and of course we all know that the Literary Guild has a known credibility to rate the import of each book, among other book circles; and this is one mean feat for Mr. Grisham. There are some smart and tidy twists in this novel that would take you by surprise, as if you are being poured on with a pail of cold water each time.

I have read many other John Grisham book but so far, I had enjoyed this one the most and what’s funny about this is that I realized it only upon reading it for the second time around.

So when was the last time you read a book for the second time around and actually enjoyed it?

Monday, April 04, 2005

The Population Question: To Triumph In the Face of Adversity

A Philippine Daily Inquirer news update this afternoon called the Church incessant stance against birth control a “demographic timebomb”. I asked what bomb? Haven’t it yet exploded in our faces? Or would it really explode?

The Philippines today is said to have one of the highest population growth rate in the world and in thirty years, we are set to double in numbers from the present number of 84 million Filipino souls. Our national leaders are pushing the panic button because of this and thus the Congress is mulling the eventual passing of the “Responsible Parenthood and Population Act”, a bill that has already earned its own share of controversy.

I think we should define clearly where the lines are in this population issue and strictly set the parameters of the question. For certain, the State is so worried about the population explosion and that is why it is currently propagating birth control programs in order to stave away a future where there would be just too many Filipino mouths to feed and too little food available. On the one hand, the Church is strongly against any form of contraception and is now at loggerhead with the present Arroyo administration because of this (it was at odds even with other administrations in the past). We see two “immovable forces” here that moves towards an inevitable head-on collision and what I see is that, collision may still be evaded only if State and Church could begin “to agree to disagree”.

The Church under our laws is a juridical person and just like any other person, it has the right to speak or not to speak. Despite our constitution’s negation of intervention by the Church into State matters, and vice versa, no law can prevent Church leaders to declare its own ideas on the population issue, and if it criticizes the government for its pro-contraception policies, this is but a consequence of democracy and it may do as well---of course within the limits set for the freedom of press and of expression. The Church I think has no choice but to act and speak according to the tenets of its faith.

The State on the one and has the sole prerogative to manage the nation’s various concerns according to accepted wisdom, in consonance to the leanings ensconced in our fundamental laws and even the Church has no personality to cut down any of its decisions.

In the light of the things said above, the Church and State should “agree to disagree” for they are clearly harboring irreconcilable differences, so irreconcilable in fact that it may take a thousand days and a thousand nights to debate the population issue and most likely, they still won’t meet a delta of understanding by then. So live and let live.

Am I worried about population explosion? Of course, I am. But I always believe that in adversity, our people will become stronger and more resilient that despite the problems brought about by a burgeoning population, we can still survive and be capable enough to feed our people. I do not entirely agree that it is an irrefutable conclusion that once population is high, the people will suffer. The Malthusian Theory has its own failings and it has not been perfect all along. Japan has nearly double our population right now even though its geographic size is just as small as ours but it could feed its people even at more times than necessary. The Japanese people had proven that with resiliency and persistent will to arise from any adversity, a high population would not be a hindrance to the production of wealth and resources that is more than enough to feed the people.

World’s population is generally on the upswing and this is just but expected for it is man’s nature to produce and procreate, it can’t be help. It is downswings in population numbers that should be an anomaly of nature. Remember that just a few centuries ago, world’s population was so minimal that you’d think life was so much better then. But it wasn’t. Would you opt to live in the 12th century, where plaques abound and often-cruel wars between nations and kingdoms proliferated from Asia to Europe, or would you still want to live at the present world. I would still choose to live in the present world anytime. Population in the 12th century was so small that elephants may have been more in number than humans but it does not mean that mankind had live a more sublime existence then than we do today. The proliferation of the human race is one of the main reasons why we had begun to discover and invent things, in order to struggle against adversities. If we were not strained to feed more mouths, no one would have invented the wheel. Necessity they say is the mother of all invention.

Population growth is a natural consequence of existence. It is when population starts to decline radically that one can suspect an anomaly.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

A Man of Unparalled Vision

Today, a great and extraordinary man has passed away. Pope John Paul III has finally gone to the Kingdom that he had served so well. I am saddened by this news but I celebrate the man so greatly, with all respect and reverence. Will there be another pope as sublime as he? Or for that matter, will there be another man in this time, as great as he? I hope so.

Friday, April 01, 2005

DEUTERIUM : The White Gold of The Philippines.

When I was in highschool, Michael Peralta, an old neighborhood friend from Carmen Street but who is now residing in Los Angeles, once spoke to me in a very animated fashion how the Philippines could one day become the richest country in the world. As a prelude, Michael said to me that his father had some vital information why a number of foreigners were in the country for a very secret purpose. I wondered loudly to him how secret it was and asked him if he could actually let me know some of the “secret’. He then informed me without hesitation that the foreigners were here mainly to study and find out ways on how to extract deuterium from the Philippine seas. I asked how come his father knew about all those stuff and what was “deuterium” in the first place. With gasping breath, and with gleaming pride for that matter, Michael told me as a matter of fact that his father was a war veteran and because of this, he had American contacts in the CIA. The CIA thing sounded preposterous to me at that time but when I recently read some articles in the Internet about deuterium, I started to wonder if the CIA talk of Michael was plausible after all and that maybe the CIA was behind the sudden departure of Michael’s whole family to Los Angeles later that year, where in a year’s time he was already driving a very exotic looking red corvette (might be from second hand store) as evidenced by a picture that he had sent to the neighborhood kids through a very kind uncle. This story may start to sound like a brimming Tom Clancy thriller but before anything gets out of hand, that CIA talk of Michael is just that and nothing else t o it I am pretty sure on that and their immigration to America was due mainly to his father being a USAFFE during World War II. But Michael’s rambling on deuterium was completely a different matter---it sounded to me then so awfully good that I had wished it to be true already even though it wasn’t true at all at that time, and even now.

There is really something to this issue on deuterium that lingers long and never goes away completely. It had been virtually popping and bobbing up in the local media every now and then---especially in the last couple of decades. The Cebu-based news outfit The Freeman published the most recent news article on deuterium. In that article, Freeman publicized a certain study on deuterium by a Filipino scientist working in a Canadian agency. Canada by the way is the world’s leading producer and consumer of deuterium as an energy source. There had been many rumors and hush-hush talks before about certain groups of foreigners, possibly American and sometimes German, that were in the country to initiate drilling projects that should siphon-off the coveted deuterium from the Philippine seas. All those talks just died down however and nobody really minded them, perhaps everyone just disregarded some weird-sounding element that are supposedly found in the Philippines in great volume. In fact, even as we speak now, I would not be surprised if Exxon or Shell has some of its people working night and day trying to unravel the key to gathering the millions of barrels of “white gold” underneath our seas.

I was watching Sentro last night, the upstart news program from ABC 5, and heard Ms. Ali Sotto do some lighter take on the news as she reported how hydrogen-fuelled cars were already running in the streets of Washington D.C.. This particular news segment was apparently so short that I had to scour the Internet for a more elaborate rendering of the news item. I read a couple of related news articles from not-too-famous news sites on the net.

It was reported that the United States Government, through the Department of Energy and General Motors had unveiled an $88 Million joint project in order to put a fleet of hydrogen-fuelled cars on the streets of Washington D.C., New York and Los Angeles within a year’s time. The fleet would consist merely of 40 of such cars but most of the money would be spent on putting up a number of hydrogen refueling stations all over the streets of those pilot cities since the main cause why consumers are not buying too many hydrogen-fuelled cars these days is basically due to the lack of gas stations peddling or selling hydrogen gas or liquid hydrogen. Come to think of it, even if any of us had all the money to buy this car stuff right now, like for example if some of us are sons and daughters of Taipans with money to burn, we wouldn’t be able to use them anyway, at least not for long, unless we all fly all the way to America to buy gallons and gallons of hydrogen fuel.

But again come to think about the possibilities. If only there were enough hydrogen-refueling stations all over our city streets, our days of being dependent on crude oil (freshly-drilled from the dusty sands of Sahara) would soon be over and our atmosphere would be a lot more livable since the only end product of hydrogen fuels is water. Water, instead of carbon dioxides that make our urban landscape looked orange or yellow at dusk.

I really hope that this project of GM and the United States Government would entirely succeed for reasons that we all should know by now.

And so this bit of news on hydrogen-fuelled cars reminded me of the high school talk I had with an old friend from the neighborhood concerning deuterium. What is deuterium and how does it become an energy source? Deuterium is the end product when a common tap water (H2O) is subjected to enormous pressurize of gigantic proportion that the oxygen element in the H2O compound is forced out of the combination, making the hydrogen element to purify and consolidated all the more. Since in deuterium, the hydrogen becomes so solid and unadulterated, hydrogen gas can be easily obtained from it since a natural electrolysis happens immediately the moment deuterium is exposed to room temperature. Meaning to say, when deuterium is used as a base in obtaining hydrogen gas, the generation process is much less expensive. Right now, hydrogen gas and liquid hydrogen that are often used to power jets and giant trucks, are sold at very steep prices (much more expensive than gasoline) because it is so costly to produce them, necessitating an energy-consuming and lengthy electrolysis process that are undertaken in order to separate the hydrogen compound from common water. When deuterium is used, the very expensive process of electrolysis would be bypassed and set aside in the production of hydrogen gas and therefore, obtaining hydrogen fuel becomes more efficient and less expensive by a mile.

The Philippines is identified to hold the greatest amount of deuterium deposit, somewhere in the area known as Mindanao Trench, the part of the Pacific Ocean just off the shores of Surigao. Deuterium is most prevalent in an area more widely known in the whole world as The Philipppine Deep. In the Freeman news article (dated August 2004), Dr. Anthony B. Halog, the Filipino scientist working at the Sustainable Technology Office of the Institute for Chemical Process and Environmental Technology, and the National Research Council of Canada described the Philippine deuterium wealth in this manner:

"A big deposit of 868 miles long, 52 miles at widest point, and 3 miles at deepest point, replenished by nature 24 hours a day after deuterium travels more than 12,000 kilometers from Central America to the Philippines through the span of the Pacific Ocean when Planet Earth turns on its axis from West to East in unending perpetual motion."

And it’s potential in this breathe:

"At 12 million barrels per day capacity priced at US$7.00 per barrel, this is US$84 million per day or US$30.66 billion per year, enough to wipe out all existing foreign debts of the Government in one year, revenue-wise in foreign exchange.

Public works, private construction, economic and financial booms are expected to happen in the Philippines in the same manner as those which happened in the Middle East and financial centers of the world from 1974 to 1984, with everybody earning their respective comfortable livelihood, while pricing basic prime necessities at reasonable and affordable levels."

At present, deuterium seems to be produce exclusively through an expensive synthesizing process, by subjecting ordinary tap water to enormous pressure using some highly-advanced machinery or equipment and thus the price of hydrogen fuel remain relatively out of reach from the ordinary consumers of fuels. But if the deuterium deposit under the Philippine seas can be obtained, hydrogen gas prices could become far more reasonable and affordable. If natural deuterium is utilized as the base in the production of hydrogen fuel---in both its most widely used form as hydrogen gas and liquid hydrogen---the generation process would become more efficient and much cheaper. And mind you, deuterium as a source of energy is not only useful to power cars, trucks and planes. It is also being utilized to power factories and power plants in the same manner that nuclear power plants are operated. With deuterium as moderator, nuclear power plants could do away with enriched uranium as a main fuel source and this means, deuterium use could generate a whole new specie of power plants that are a lot safer---safer by a grand mile.

The problem faced by those who wants to extract natural deuterium from the Philippines seas is probably the enormous pressure that is existing in the very area where deuterium are supposed to be found. To reach the area of deuterium concentration, a drilling system should reach a level of at least 30,000 feet deep into the ocean, where the water pressure could reach as high as 10,000 psi, or the equivalent of 10,000 tons of load pressuring from all direction. Apparently, there is no material known today that could withstand such enormous amount of pressure. Maybe diamonds could be strong enough to endure the extraordinary pressure down there but imagine how much diamonds should be needed in order to manufacture a very long tube. That’ll be unimaginable in both cost and expanse. But scientists nowadays always finds a way and when the time comes that a kind of metal could actually be developed, one that could reach ten thousand meters underwater without breaking apart and efficiently drill out barrels and barrels of sea water that contains deuterium, then that’ll be the time the Philippines could become the main hawker of fuels for the world’s cars, airplanes, buses, factories, power plants and whatever that runs and hums not by its own accord.

So deuterium may be the gasoline of the future, the main energy source of the next millennium, and the Philippines is the only country that has them naturally tucked under its seabed in an amount and breathe that replenishes on its own every time the Earth rotates and the sea shifts from side to side.
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