Archive for May, 2008

The Stonehenge’s Secret Revealed, A Lost Amazon Tribe Discovered, & A Burial Urn Found To Bind The Ibalon Epic to Bicolanos

May 30, 2008

The Stonehenge’s secret was revealed, said the British archeologists who studied the prehistoric rock-edifice which baffled the world for centuries. Based on carbon dating of cremated human burial remains found in the site, the prehistoric relic served as cemetery 500 years before the rock monument was erected in 3000 B.C, about 300 years earlier than once thought. Yorkshire Post (05/30/08, Harvey J.)

The finding clarified some controversies surrounding the Stonehenge which carried myths including that one which told of the circularly arranged sarsen stone as a prehistoric outpost for extraterrestials in the British Isles.

Just as the Stonehenge’s report came out, in the forested border of Brazil and Peru where Amazon jungle’s vegetation grew sparse, was a sighting of scantily-clad primitive tribesmen believed to have no contact with civilization. According to Survival International, a London-based organization which defends rights of indigenous people worldwide, the discovery of the jungle-dwellers bolstered the need to protect the Amazon from the interferences of developers, loggers, and oil prospectors. (05/30/08. Brasiliero,A)

Such concern for human beings and history was shown in Naga City, Philippines as well. An ancient burial urn with a serrated border shed clues to the Ibalon epic, a mythical tale of Bicol’s past which the people hungered to know about. The 32 cm. rounded urn cover on which was carved a depiction of the Ibalon story (see top photo,) had been kept in the Museo Conciliar de Nueva Caceres, housed in the old Holy Rosary Minor Seminary building.

In the Ibalon epic, Handiong was the king of Libmanan who sent 1,000 warriors under the leadership of Bantong to kill half-man, half-beast giant monster Rabot. Bantong slew Rabot while asleep in a cave dwelling.

The epic narrates that Handiong and his warriors came to Ibalon (Spanish colonizers once called Bicol as Tierra de Ybalon) to “clear” the place and start planting but he was challenged by a serpent called Uryol who later became a close ally in building the civilization in the region.Bicol Mail (11/22/07, Escandor, J Jr.)

Anthropologist-professor Zeus Salazar of the University of the Philippines thought part of the Ibalon story was etched on the celebrated urn cover which was crafted somewhere in 5,000 BC to 10 AD. It placed the age of the urn to be two thousand years older than the Stonehenge in Wiltshire, England.

The one-of-a-kind pottery was part of the antique collection of Dr. Ermelo Almeda who went places to beef up his treasure-trove of Stone-age tools, historic artifacts, old ornaments, animal eggs, and earthen wares.

The urn’s authenticity was however doubted by Dr. Jesus Peralta, a retired archeologist of the National Museum for the “unscientific” way it was retrieved in Bigaho, Libmanan, Camarines Sur back in 1982. A minaret-like portion of the of the urn’s design, the lack of carbon-dating and documentation made him suspect the piece was bought from Mindanao.

But Dr. Salazar who traced the Ibalon epic from a fragmented five-part story published by Spanish Friar Jose Castano in the 1800s wove an interesting interpretation of the urn cover whose depiction of the Ibalon folklore might enrich the understanding of the myth which Bicolanos seek to know. The paucity of information about Ibalon made it all the more significant and intriguing.==0==

More of this burial urn in: Vol. XXIV, 11/22/07.

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago’s flight to reality & her bid in the International Court of Justice

May 29, 2008

Miriam Defensor Santiago, the Philippine Senator and Condolezza Rice, the US Secretary of State have something in common. High-powered and articulate, both women are apparently very intelligent. But their similarity quickly ends there.

A prodigy of Czech émigré Josef Korbel who inspired her to study Soviet affairs and world relations, Condi Rice, the astute black international peace broker from Birmingham, Alabama, has been earnestly diplomatic in pushing US policies in the world stage. On the other hand, Miriam Santiago, a self-made Visayan legislator, has been blunt and caustic in dealing with her colleagues, to an extent that baffles the public.

No wonder when Santiago complained that the Lopezes, owners of the ABS-CBN news outfit and stake-holders of Meralco were out to sabotage her candidacy as a jurist in the International Court of Justice (ICJ,) some people didn’t take her seriously. Filipinos assumed she had enough hyperbole, humor, and hubris that made her allegation seemed like another post-climacteric tantrum.

Santiago asserted ABS-CBN’s article on her candidacy was a form of blackmail— “a diabolic attempt to ensure that foreign countries will be influenced to vote against me, as the Philippine national candidate to the ICJ.” Daily Tribune (05/27/08, Rosales,A)

This brand of piquant accusation by Santiago made Filipinos laugh over her foes’ long-standing apprehension over her labile mental state. Claiming that her intelligence was superior, the UP-educated lawyer from Iloilo challenged President Joseph Estrada for an IQ competition. She claimed she would “jump from a plane” if the move to depose Estrada prospered, but only to say later with a giggle that her preposterous statement was a lie.

She called fellow senators and congressmen “idiots” who’d been intimidated to lock horns with her, whether in a swanky debate to thresh out legislative issues or in a plain collegial wrangle. When she talked, many senators listened. Probably, there were stunned by her self-patronizing erudition and blabbertalk.

That’s why restraint and decorum was far from her when she recklessly declared (to the embarrassment of the country,) that China “invented corruption” for which she later apologized.

In this backdrop of Santiago’s bipolar display of gutsy “brilliance” and bizarre thinking process, President Gloria M. Arroyo nominated her to the ICJ in July 30, 2007—a move actively promoted by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) which believes she’ll be a fine addition to the august body of international jurists.

But of course, Filipinos who know her better are skeptical.

Critical of Sen. Miriam Santiago’s solipsistic approach to reality, an internet blog by Jemy Gatdula, a Manila-based university mentor who specializes on the law of international economics and World Trade Organization asserted,

If, heaven forbid, she does get to be part of the ICJ, she will have her views, writings, and opinions dissected, analyzed, and critiqued as minutely and as unforgiving as possible. That is part of international law practice. What will she do when that happens? Call the international law scholars, international lawyers, government officials, and international tribunal members as “worms” or “idiots” in her usual raving manner?Blurry Brain (05/28/08 Gatdula J.)

The Supreme Court, the country’s highest judicial body whose opinion counts on such nominations as the ICJ, has given her no endorsement. ==0==

What’s up in Mars?

May 27, 2008

Amber sky, phantom vapor rising
Over a stretch of land, away from home
Ruddy-brown rocks,
Marbles polished by time
Furrowed river covered by sand
Jigsaw puzzles abound
Parched relics of ages
One must understand

AFM, 02/03/04

After the successful Martian travels of Viking in 1976 and the two rovers Spirit and Opportunity in 2004, Phoenix Mars Lander arrives on Sunday, May 25, 2008 on the north pole of the red planet—an intrepid odyssey of a spacecraft, 171 million miles from its earth launch in Cape Canaveral, Florida on August 4, 2007.

With a scaled price of $420 million and powered by solar panels and lithium batteries, the 3 month mission led by scientists from University of Arizona, aims to unravel more of the planet’s secrets whose polar latitudes might harbor clues of life or carry its building ingredients.

The Phoenix will dig down to the icy layer. It will examine soil in place at the surface, at the icy layer and in between. It will scoop up samples for analysis by its onboard instruments….Has Mars ever had life? How should humans prepare for exploring the planet? What can Mars teach us about climate change? (Phoenix Landing, Mission to the Martian Polar North, NASA, 5/08).

There are many questions to answer. The mission ignites fresh hopes and old controversies—- Will it find evidence of habitability in the Martian surface? Is money poured to fund the space program better spent in solving some of the world’s serious problems? What will the military do with the enormous potentials of outer space? Who’ll gain ownership of space and determine the property rights of celestial bodies? Is robotic exploration better than sending humans to the cosmos? For God believers, agnostics, and atheists, what does it mean if life is discovered away from planet earth?

A minor radio problem hinders the smooth operation of the lander two days after the successful landing, but Gary Napier of the Lockheed Martin Space Systems which built the spacecraft assured, “Phoenix has performed extremely well, beyond our expectations. Currently it is in great shape.” AFP (05/27/08.) ==0==

UP Ibalon Alumni Offers Free UPCAT Review

May 23, 2008

The first obstacle to hurdle is getting accepted in UP, which has been dreadful for applicants from the provinces who need to pass the most difficult college entrance test in the country. The rise of commercial college entrance review centers is reality we have to factor in. Without a good review, it’s tough luck even for local high school topnotchers to achieve their dream to be counted among members of this elite government-funded state university. Increasingly,the review centers determine one’s success or failure in passing the entrance exam, and the most sophisticated and resourceful, some say “naughtiest,” centers are in Manila.

With end view of leveling the playing field for the sake of Bicolano students, the UP Ibalon alumni,a Bicolano organization of former students and graduates of the UP Diliman campus embarks on a UP College Admission Test (UPCAT) Assistance Project. This is a long haul group effort that combines live seminars with Web-based activities. UP Ibalon Bicol, as the alumni group is called, is also preparing to put up its College Admission Review Website to leverage not only its vast talent pool but also the power of the Web.

The project officially launches at Fernando Hall, 3rd Floor Plaza Medica, Panganiban Street, Naga City with a review-information campaign on June 14, 2008. Top graduating high school students of Bicolandia are the target beneficiaries of this, although the first 100 participants for this year could only include high school students immediately around Naga City. Dr. Eden Borja-Fernando, owner of Plaza Medica and a UP Ibalon pioneer, has offered free use of its lecture hall as the venue for all Naga-based review sessions. The project’s reach and range of services are expected to widen as the group broadens its region-wide base and augments its financial resources.

The activities will start at 9:45 A.M. with the national anthem, prayers and welcome remarks by the organization’s president Jose (Butch) Robredo. Video presentations follow.

An interesting eye-opener lecture on the Life in UP will be delivered by Jake Tabora. Invaluable tips in choosing a course will be tackled by Dr. Roland Elicay. An insightful testimonial from a famous UP student will be shared by Mike Padua. Fatima Edna C. Balaquiao’s lecture on The Socialized Tuition Fee Assistance Program (STFAP), more popularly known as the Iskolar ng Bayan Program, will bring clarity to opportunities for making studies at UP affordable. Another UP Ibalon alumnae, Clarine Tobias, owner and manager of Memorecall, will give in-depth insights on test-taking strategies.

Free review materials will be distributed to participants and food will be served. Participants will also have the chance to try out the review questions.

This remarkable project is a result of the cooperative work of the organization’s members and friends who share Dr. Andy Gimpaya’s concern that Bicolanos are a vanishing breed in UP. Dr. Gimpaya, who takes charge of the Internet component of the project, has never been disappointed by his Ibalon pals who are ready to help young minds eager to pursue quality education.

In a friendly collaboration with UP Panginuhud, a UP outreach organization, Apolonio Baylon, Annaliza Mariano, Jazon Morillo, Dr. May Velasco-Yorobe, Ma. Zerlaine Alberto-Fornoles, Adolfo Badiola, Tess A.Arbo, Dan M. Daz, Dulce B. Dionisio, Rose Bernardo-Nayve, Sieglinde E.B. Bulaong, and Jun Olin—all Ibalonians joined forces to compile sample test questions. The UP Panginuhud donated more than 200 pages of review materials. The burden of sorting out the materials and providing answers to test questions is shared by Pitoy Moreno, an engineer based overseas and now on vacation, and Dulce Bernardo-Dionisio, a professional teacher.

With communications through the Internet easier than ever, the UP Ibalon alumni can draw strength from all corners of the world where other Ibalonians quietly reach out in support of the project: Dr. Yasmin Paje-Banzon, Dr. Delen Padilla-de la Paz, Dr. Ray G. Rayel, Gods Lanuza, Dr. Jose Remo, Dr. Divinia Nolasco-Ries, Dr. Fems Espinas-Paladin, Mac Pavia, Acela B. Bretan, Annelee Badiola-Lojo, Monina S. Badiola, Raniela Barbaza, Dr Arnel V. Malaya, Dr. Abet Guballa, Dr. Amy Goleta-Dy, Wilma Rojas, Imelda Cabañes, Carmela Magpantay, Pitoy Moreno, Jovy Mijares, Alan V. Badiola, Stephen Acabado, Jason Oliva, Maria Eusebia Quiñones, Ma. Celestina Manlagñit-Tam, Lorna Vigil-Baylon, Sarge Colambo, Atty. Joel Cadiz, Ruditu Espiritu, Jr., Zuyen Tria-Valencia, Ariel Padua, Zarah Padua, Nathaniel Chavez, Dr. Annelee Badiola-Lojo, Dr. Augusto Mesia among others.

In their minds, the university terrain is still bumpy and steep; its high horse is still tall and barely reachable. The sense of being Bicolanos drives the UP Ibalon alumni to extend a helping hand so that Handiong’s children may thrive and succeed.

Sen. Edward Kennedy Has Brain Cancer and 46 Million Americans Don’t Have Health Insurance

May 23, 2008

Dr. Augusto Mesia, a Filipino-American pathologist in Astoria New York shares his thoughts on Sen. Edward Kennedy who has malignant glioma, a brain tumor that is “treatable but not curable.” A Kennedy will certainly get the best treatment regimen in the world. A single tumor-contracting drug that costs $100,000 a year is a drop in the bucket, but heartbreak stuff for the 46 million Americans who do not have health insurance and for the people in countries less prosperous than America. Dr. Mesia himself battles a tough, lingering Auto-Immune Hemolytic Anemia.

When Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt died in Warm Springs, Georgia of cerebral hemorrhage in 1945, many Americans were caught by surprise. In those days people usually didn’t pry on the lives of public figures as they do now. The large majority of Americans didn’t know that in the White House, the US president had been sick for a while, an aftermath of years of vigorous work and smoking while he suffered from leg paralysis, thought to be the effect of poliomyelitis.

Time has changed since the death of FDR. Today, the world seems to insist in knowing what goes on in the lives of famous personalities. And people are more willing than ever before, to share important bad news. This new wave of frankness somehow liberates the burdened soul when someone gets sick.

Italian tenor Luciano Pavarotti contracted pancreatic cancer and the public knew of its grim implications months before he died. Actor Patrick Swayze had love, support and prayers when he announced having the same disease. Prior to chemotherapy, Pres. Cory Aquino received a deluge of “get well” wishes when she was reported to have colonic cancer. Sen. Edward (Ted) Kennedy had Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) doctors saying that he has a malignant brain tumor growing in his left parietal lobe, the part of the cerebral hemisphere that controls complex functions like movement and language.

Such hideous reports of ill health have been generally met with sadness and concern by the public. Theories abound. Conjectures on the clinical course, lethality, and dreaded complications of disease diffuse into the public psyche like prismatic light rays in a clairvoyant’s eye.

In Kennedy’s case, there are remarkable expressions of concern. Setting aside differences, his friends, political adversaries and even people unknown to him, are like a “family” in their wish for his full recovery. The Kennedy clan, not stranger to tragedies which repeatedly rocked the family, is fully supportive as the senator girds for his personal battle with cancer.

Many recognize Kennedy’s significant contributions to public service. For almost five decades, as a secular libertarian, the senator advocates for controversial pro-choice in abortion and roots for same sex marriage. He displays a patriarchal leadership among Democrats after his brothers Pres. John F. Kennedy and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy were assassinated.

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the feuding candidates in his party for this fall’s presidential election are united in their support for the ailing senator. Sending his get well wish, President George W. Bush said,

Laura and I are concerned to learn of our friend Senator Kennedy’s diagnosis. Ted Kennedy is a man of tremendous courage, remarkable strength and powerful spirit. Our thoughts are with Senator Kennedy and his family during this difficult period. We join our fellow Americans in praying for his full recovery.” (AP, 05/21/08, Johnson,G.)

Sifting through more lab tests done on Kennedy, the Boston doctors mull on the right approach to proceed with treatment. In spite of the medical sophistication at their disposal, the doctors admit that the brain tumor (labeled by pathologists as malignant glioma,) is formidable, even for someone so influential like the senator. There’s no doubt however that he’ll get the best medical care the world can offer and the success in fighting the disease will depend on some factors that aren’t in the usual sphere of the doctors’ control—- tumor type, size, pathologic grade, location, patient age, and response to treatment.

Commenting on Kennedy’s condition, Dr. Suriya Jeyapalan, a neuro-oncologist of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Massachusetts remarked,

It’s treatable but not curable. You can put it into remission for a while but it’s not a curable tumor.” (AP 05/21.08, Johnson,G.)

Dr. Jeyapalan has a point. In recent years, doctors have gained expansive knowledge to extend life and improve survival among those who suffer vicious forms of cancers. As old treatments are refined and drugs rediscovered, there’s increasing precision in surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy (whichever treatment combination applies.)

Veering away from the old “hit or miss” cancer therapies, there are smart target drugs which interfere on genes to frustrate the rapid divisions of malignant cells. There are designer medicines to suppress blood vessel proliferations which sustain tumor growth or cause the spontaneous death of wayward abnormal cells.

Yet, cancer regimens aren’t all magic silver bullets. Success isn’t guaranteed and treatments can be quite expensive. For example, Avastin, an anticancer medicine which blocks vascular growth in tumors may have a tag price of nearly $100,000 per year, per patient. Whatever medicines Kennedy will receive in his own treatment, he has the advantage of having the best healthcare on his fingertips—unlike those who can’t afford it.

The number of Americans who doesn’t have good access to healthcare is huge. Forty-six (46) million people in USA do not have any medical insurance coverage. The staggering number is half the entire Filipino population. Considering America has affluence, inventiveness and grit, it boggles the mind why this happens.

The United States hasn’t come up with a solution to stop the steep rise of prescription medicines’ costs. There’s hemorrhaging of the government-sponsored Medicare and Medicaid programs whose budget could run out before the baby boomers die, rendering the system bankrupt. It’s not surprising therefore that illness remains a fearsome foe in the American heartland.

With these, it seems there’s no need to see a poor country outside America to know the increasing healthcare problems the world faces. Even the planet’s wealthiest country has people who’re poor and can’t afford healthcare. These people feel panicky when bad news like Kennedy’s cancer hit the headlines. They’re scared thinking sickness can be their own bedfellow— a stalking death sentence which threatens, a pathway which gives way to debts, a time which inspires supplications for a miracle.

As worrisome as the lack of healthcare which distresses the United States, the world sends a heartfelt get-well wish for Sen. Edward Kennedy. At the hospital in Boston, workers and family members applaud for his complete recovery and survival. Even the family dogs Sunny and Splash meet him wagging their tails to send in the same message of hope. ==0==

Update: UP Ibalon Bicol UPCAT Review

May 21, 2008

From the looks of it, UP Ibalon Bicol’s first project-–the UPCAT review — pushes through without hitches. As of the last meeting, May 19, 2008, most of the invitations to speakers and participants had been out. The program for the June 14 live seminar was finalized. Eden Borja-Fernando had allowed us to use her Plaza Medica lecture hall for a venue. Butch Robredo and Ann Mariano also laid to rest any money concerns.

Initially, the activities may appear varsitarian-level. But we have all the time in the world to bring it to the next level—by leveraging the resurgent power of the Web. Our balikbayan engineer, Pitoy Moreno, and our professional teacher and part-time reviewer, Dulce Bernardo have shared the burden of reviewing and providing answers to the sample exam materials that UP Pahinungud unselfishly gave us. (Through, this blog we extend our gratitude to UP Pahinungud for the generosity). After Pitoy and Dulce clear the review materials, Totoy Badiola will have the materials digitized. And before we release them for public access, we will store them temporarily in a member-only website for everyone’s scrutiny online. We are also preparing to buy our own Internet domain and register a PayPal account, so in no time, or shall be born to blaze the Web as it hosts our online UPCAT Review Site.

Read more:
Minutes of the last meeting (submitted by Sieg B. Bulaong).
Programme for June 14, 2008 Seminar ( submitted by Ann Mariano).

Minutes: U.P. Ibalon Meeting

May 21, 2008

U.P. Ibalon Meeting

May 19, 2008, 8:00 p.m.

Coffee Beanery, Avenue Square, Naga City


Butch Robredo Eden Borja-Fernando Naning Mariano

Alaine Alberto-Fornoles Andy Gim[aya Sieg B. Bulaong

Totoy Badiola Edna Balaquiao Jovy Mijares

Dulce Bernardo Pitoy Moreno


A. June 14, U.P. Orientation

1. From Jazon’s text update:

· Letters have been delivered to the following:

Naga City Science High School

Cam. Sur Polytechnic College – Naga

Cam. Sur National High School

Division of City Schools (for the Public Schools)

University of Nueva Caceres

Naga College Foundation

St. Joseph School

Ateneo de Naga High School

· Letters have been mailed to the following:

La Consolacion College – Iriga

University of North Eastern Philippines

St. Brigitte School – Buhi

· Letters not yet mailed for:

Sta. Monica

Sta. Clara

University of St. Anthony

Division of Prov’l. Schools (c/o Edna C.)

2. Alaine needs copy of the list of schools and their principals for her following-up activity (requested from Jazon thru a call); to drop by immediately in Cam. High and NC Science High (w/ Sieg) to remind principals on the activity

3. Edna will coordinate with Naning re: expenses on sending the remaining undelivered letters

B. Recommended Program on June 14, 9a.m.-5 p.m., Fernando Hall, Plaza Medica

(sponsored by Eden B.)

Morning Sessions:

1. Opening Remarks c/o Butch (primarily to introduce the organization and share the objective of the orientation – to help more students get into the state university as a public service of the organization)

2. U.P. Now and Life Within – recommended to be delivered by a fresh graduate (Rolan Bulao is identified); to be coordinated thru Naning and Sieg

Note: Jazon, thru the phone call, informed the body that there might be conflict with his work on June 14, thus, might not be able to attend the activity and deliver his supposed topic.

3. STFAP c/o Edna

4. Additional financial help from the organization to help qualified 10 passers to have initial funds to start out in U.P. for the first 3 months (board and lodging); these will be reimbursed as soon as their STFAP stipends are made available

Note: Guidelines must be set-up for this to ensure fair, clear, and proper implementation.

5. Q&A after each talk was recommended

6. Presentation materials (powerpoint) was also recommended to enhance talks; Edna said she’ll prepare her own presentation

7. A U.P. video showing was also suggested

Afternoon Sessions:

8. After going through several suggestions and serious discussion anchored on the objective of the project, it was decided by the group to invite the assistance of Memorecall on the diagnostic exam and on the filling-up of mock application form

· This ensures that the techniques employed in giving the students a “taste” of the exam and their chances of passing it are undertaken by experts in the field.

· Butch recommended a budget of P5K (low) to P10K (high) c/o him and Eden (who agreed to share in the cost)

· Naning, Sieg, and Dulce to talk to Clarine the following day.

9. The whole day’s activity will be wrapped-up with closing remarks c/o Naning; Alaine suggested singing

Program to be finalized by Naning and to be presented next meeting.

LCD projector will be borrowed c/o Sieg.

  1. Attendees:

1. Target of 100 students – ok as a batch

2. Also prepare for back-up audience – coordinate w/ Clarine to invite her reviewers just in case there will be problems with the attendance c/o Dulce and Sieg

  1. Other Matters:

1. U.P. Panginuhod committed to help Ibalon implement the project next year. We just need to take care of their accommodation and meals (not necessarily fancy) and probably share in their transportation expenses.

2. Andy also suggested that we purchase our own domain (costing us around P5K annually) so we could have an or for our on-line review project.

· This could also be a source of funds if we opt to put advertisements in it (Andy would need to orient the body on this on a later date);

· We also need to have a paypal account if we go into this venture

Thereby having no more matters to discuss, the meeting was adjourned at 10:00 p.m. with Butch as the presiding officer. Next meeting is scheduled on May 26 (Monday), 7:30 p.m. in Lolo’s Bar.

Minutes taken by:

Sieg B. Bulaong

Approved by:

Butch M. Robredo

HOW TO GET INTO UP (An orientation on UP)

May 21, 2008
HOW TO GET INTO UP (An orientation on UP)
June 14, 2008 Saturday
3rd floor Plaza Medica Panganiban Drive, Naga City
7:30am – 8:30 am Registration
filling up of draft UPCAT
application form
8:30am – 8:45 am Pambansang Awit (taped)
Opening Prayer/Doxology
8:45am – 9am Welcome Remarks Butch Robredo
President, UP Ibalon Bicol
BA Philosophy 1977
9am – 9:20 am Introduction of participants
Levelling of expectations
9:20am- 10am Introduction to the (with video presentation)
University of the Philippines,
UP College Admission Test
10am- 10:15am Life in UP Jake Tabora, member
UP Ibalon, UP Harong
10:15am-10:45am Choosing your Course Ronald Elicay, PhD Educational
Psychology 1990
10:45am-11am Testimonial from a Mike Padua
famous UP graduate BS Geography 1995
11am – 11:30am Scholarships and Edna C. Balaquiao
Financial Assistance, BS Community Devt. 1982
Socialized Tuition Fee
and Assistance Program
11:30am- 12nn Open Forum
12nn-1pm Lunch Break
1:00pm-5pm UPCAT Tests, Topics, Tips Clarine Tobias, MEMORECALL
Education Manager
BS Tourism 1990
5pm Wrap Up/Summary

In spite of English proficiency gains, there’s the lingering challenge to teach our children

May 16, 2008

by Totie Mesia

It’s good news! Based on the survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) which polled 1,200 respondents from March 16 to April 2, 2008, Malaya (05/165/08, Hachero) reported Filipino English proficiency has improved in the last two years.

Among the survey’s encouraging findings, our written English proficiency rose from 48% in 2006 compared to 61% this year and spoken English improved from 32% to 48%. A 10% rise from 65% to 75% in reading proficiency was noted for the same period. Our ability to think in English improved from 27% to 38%. The adults’ understanding of spoken English was better at 76% in 2008 compared to 2006’s 65%.

The SWS polling outfit head Mahar Mangahas says the data show a greater awareness of Filipinos to improve their English skills in the workplace.

Ramon del Rosario, Jr., president of the Manila Business Club (MBC,) believes the English proficiency improvement is market-driven since it’s needed in the competitive world of business process outsourcing (BPO.)

The Business Process Association of the Philippines (BPAP) estimates two years from now, our local BPO may corner 10% share of the global market, and it’ll bring revenue of about US $13 billion. With better competitiveness (i.e. English proficiency,) 700,000 jobs can be added by year 2010 from 2007’s 300,000.

It’s a step forward but we have a long way to go,” said Jamea Garcia, executive director for talent of BPAP.

Garcia added that other countries have been striving to improve the quality of their workforce by strengthening the English proficiency of their workers to become attractive BPO destinations. She said China, Vietnam and Latin American countries are fast becoming important destinations of outsourcing firms.

“We should not be complacent so we can still maintain our advantage,” Garcia said. (, Llanto, 05/15/08)

Yes! In a lot of ways, we must not be complacent. Behind our English proficiency gains, we still have other serious concerns in our educational system which we must relentlessly work for. Just a year ago, we have the following on our hands:

One of every eight public schools has a teacher-to-pupil ratio above 1:50. Only 19 of every 100 public school teachers have confidence and competence to teach English. One of every seven students does not have a classroom. One of every five does not have a desk. One of every three does not have a single textbook. One of every four shares a single set of textbooks. Only one dentist ministers to every 22,500 pupils. As a result, only six of every 1,000 Grade 6 elementary graduates are prepared to enter high school. Only two of every 100 4th year high school students are fit to enter college. Filipino pupils ranked 41st in Science and 42nd in Math among 45 countries tested… about 16.5 million Filipinos are in deteriorating school. About the same number (16.5 million) has dropped.” (Philstar 05/28/07, Bondoc)=0=

Forgiveness for coup d ‘etat plotters

May 13, 2008

by Totie Mesia

Pardon one offense, and you encourage the commission of many.
Publilius Syrus (~100 B.C.)

The old quote seemed to come true in Philippine politics. Since the mutinies staged by Gringo Honasan during Pres. Cory Aquino’s time, “destabilizations” and attempts to grab power by the military came in succession. Unlike the poor and less influential criminals languishing in the country’s jails, many of those involved in past putsches didn’t get the punishment they deserved.

Recently, the pardon given by President Gloria Arroyo as advised by outgoing Gen. Hermogenes Esperon for nine “remorseful” military officers who figured in a repeat hotel mutiny may well encourage more power-grabs in the future.

There are those who’re dismayed and skeptical of the general’s and Mrs. Arroyo’s motives even if she appeared cocksure in saying,

Where there are “rogue” members of the Armed Forces involved in adventurism or human rights violations, Esperon has substantiated his “commitment to let the wheels of military justice roll smoothly.”

She said the former military chief has shown that no one is above the law, even as he supported moves to pardon some Magdalo officers who have shown “remorse and utmost desire for rehabilitation.”

The President said “the nation wants peace, order and stability, not more political shenanigans” as she reiterated that 99 percent of military personnel are “good, upstanding and loyal patriots fighting to protect our country everyday.” (Philstar, 05/13/03, Porcalla D, et al)

Fugitive Magdalo leader Capt. Nicanor Faeldon reacted by branding Gen. Esperon as one of the president’s “personal guard dogs.” Through his lawyer Trixie Angeles, he lamented that Esperon, “once a worthy officer,” was corrupted by Mrs. Arroyo who pardoned Pres. Joseph Estrada last year for robbing the nation’s treasury. Faeldon went on to accuse the Mrs. Arroyo of being a “fake” president. He blamed her for institutionalized corruption and masterful lying.

Reflexively, the Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iniguez raised his doubts on the mutineers’ pardon when he said,

I just wonder about the motives of the government [for granting the pardon— at kung meron bang kapalit [and if there was anything asked in return]. It is always a tit for a tat.” (PDI, 05/12/08, Kwok,A)

With Mrs. Arroyo’s sagging credibility, people question whether her act of forgiveness is real. Is it part of another accommodation she needed to do so she can keep military loyalty? Is it her way diffusing attention from unsolved scandals rocking her administration? Will this pardon help make Filipinos set aside their fears over problems that loom in the horizon? =0=