Archive for the ‘Change’ Category

Obama’s popularity plunges from 83% to 68% a few days after assuming presidency

January 27, 2009

If only to augur the things that are to come, in less than a week Pres. Barack Obama’s approval rating dropped by 15 points. From a sky-high 83%, the new score fell to 68%. The long honeymoon predicted for the widely popular president is challenged by the worsening outlook of the economy.

The patience of the American people may not hold in spite of the dramatic changes Obama offers the public. Abandoning some blind credulity, supporters are now looking closely at the programs and plans the administration is selling the nation. Bashing the past administration, there is effort to paint a rosy liberal governance to replace the old. But it seems inadequate in reversing the public’s lack of trust.

According to the Gallup poll, the drastic fall of Obama’s support suggests the herculean task and towering expectation the president is facing. His words and actions are under urgent scrutiny as dark clouds threaten to choke the immediate future of the country.

In spite of the media’s commitment to bring the glib president in the best light, there are many Americans who feel wary. They see something corrupt and negligent. For being remiss of their duties, politicians and community leaders aren’t as trustworthy as before. And it is causing a toll on Barack Obama.(Photo Credit: Sebastian Niedlick/ Grabthar; Spudart) =0=

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GMA’s ditch-low approval rating, her kiddie “payback package" for OFW’s & a big store in Naga City rises

December 17, 2008

Negative (-30)

President Gloria M. Arroyo gets the lowest satisfaction rating in 2008, much lower than the (-)9 she got the year before. The Social Weather Survey (SWS) result from the 4th quarter poll at the end of November is thought to be bad. It attests to the unpopularity of the administration that’s wracked by corruption and nepotism, believed to be worse than that of Ferdinand Marcos.

Unresolved issues like joblessness, floundering economics, the Bolante fertilizer scam, Euro generals money laundering case, unabated maritime disasters, journalist killings, charter-change controversy, poor education and healthcare, Mindanao secessionist problem, CARP extension, unimplemented cheap medicine law, and the big C (Corruption) noticed by watchers abroad are in the long list of problems that stun the public.

P1.4 trillion

It’s the 2009 national budget which is approved in the second and last deliberation in the senate. Notable in the budget are less allocations for the Department of Agrarian Reform by P3.1 billion, Energy P61 million, Finance 13 million, Local Governments P436 million, Justice P215 million, Armed Forces P75 million, Public Works P3.4 billion, Social Welfare P243 million, and National Economic Development Authority by P25 million. The budget cuts on certain services are allocated in other areas. A P10 billion economic fund is being considered, but no appropriations are set aside for the Office of the Press Secretary, the Philippine Tourism Authority and Kilos Asenso.

4,000

SM, the large monopolistic mall-chain owned by business mogul Henry Sy, Sr. in the Phiippines, is making preparations to open its outlet in Naga City on March 2009. About 4,000 job-seekers are needed in the operation which is estimated to generate $12 million in wages and P40 million in taxes. Expected to compete with small stores of the area, SM may draw shoppers in neighboring towns.

The exact effects of such a huge business in the city of 160,000 people aren’t completely known. Will there be congestion in the city? Will money windfall benefit the Bicolanos? Will profits be carted away from the area and render the mom-and-pop stores struggling to survive? Did the Naga City officials do a thorough study on the cost-benefit of approving an SM store?

50,000

As a result of the global economic crisis, the number of Filipinos abroad expected to be laid off has increased. Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo has laid out a “payback package” assistance for retrenched overseas foreign workers (OFW’s,) a tepid offering of skills training, scholarships, and measly P10,000 ($200) to start a “business” upon their return to the country.

15,000

Participants of the Manila’s anti-charter change (cha-cha) rally were larger than expected, according to Makati mayor Jejomar Binay, the president of the United Opposition. More protests against Cha-cha and other frustrating issues are on the works with broadened support from various organizations. (Photo Credits: gmaresign; doublefault2; arty; gmaresign=0=

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Dr. Doom’s economic crystal ball & the need to say the truth

October 30, 2008

“Dr. Doom foresees agony in our future,” says the banner headline of Metro, a street newspaper in the Big Apple, the world’s biggest metropolis. Metro, New York, (10/29,08, Arden, P) He believes the NYC recession will stay for more than two years.

In the financial circles, Dr. Doom is reaping vindication after he was tagged as an alarmist for his bleak predictions on the economy long before it happened. The NYU economics professor travels more frequently outside USA now, sharing to the world his Nostradamus-like prescient cataclysmic read of the financial future.

Dr. Doom whose real name is Nouriel Roubini has a lot to say about the financial downturn whose solution has moved into uncharted territory. In spite of the $700 billion bailout, persistent market volatility exists which shows no indication of abating.

“Every time there has been a severe crisis in the last six months, people have said this is the catastrophic event that signals the bottom. They said it after Bear Stearns, after Fannie and Freddie, after AIG [the giant US insurer that had to be rescued], and after the $700 billion bailout plan. Each time they have called the bottom, and the bottom has not been reached.


Across the world, governments have taken more and more aggressive actions to stop the panic. However, Roubini believes investors appear to have lost confidence in governments’ ability to sort out the mess.” TimesOnline (10/26/08, Rushe, D)

Roubini’s dire look into the future is unlike the optimism and promises of the politicians in the soon-to-be concluded US presidential election in which hope is matched with fear. It brings recall former House Speaker Newt Gingrich who expresses trust in the American people for their extraordinary patience, industry and resiliency. But,—they need to make the right choices.

In his recent book on “Real Change” published months before the economy collapsed, Gingrich mentioned a serious problem.

“The problem is with the politicians, our news media, and our bureaucratic elites. They are afraid to tell the American people the truth. They are afraid to explain the scale of the threat and the inevitable scale of the needed response.”—Real Change: From the world that fails to the world that works.” (Regnery Publishing, Washington DC, 2008, Gingrich, N., p.298) (Photo Credits: outragousart; nicoridge)=0=

Taking Responsibility and the Kaya Natin Movement

August 5, 2008

“Be not afraid!”is the wise counsel of Pope John Paul II to a world troubled by uncertainties. We need a moral figure like him who is not stranger to suffering to assure us that we’re not alone. What better memory can we have than recall Pope John Paul II, in the fading days of his life, displayed his harrowing battle with age and infirmity. Seeing him as a suffering human being makes us understand our own life’s vexing contradictions. We think what we can do about them.

To be pessimistic and afraid are likely reactions to the Kaya Natin movement—that group of well-intentioned, ethical and hardworking Filipinos formed by Jesse Robredo, Sonia Lorenzo, Eddie Panlilio and Grace Padaca in order to unite and save the country. They have a dream to improve our lot. In our most difficult time (now that inflation has steeply climbed to 12.2% last month,) they ask us to join ranks in helping save the nation. They are campaigning for accountability, honesty, integrity, and hard work to change the pernicious ills we have in our government.

Surely, attempts to make our country move forward encounter setbacks. It’s no different with Kaya Natin. Faced with herculean problems, we wonder what will come out of this movement. We question the credibility of the people who lead us. Our discouragement must be overriding considering our doubts. Many see a dreary landscape ahead. There’s this looming darkness in our future. This might have bothered Joe (not his real name) who wrote me his reaction to my blog entitled “The Challenge of Kaya Natin: Sabi baga ni Mayor Jesse Robredo, Kaya Ta!

Unfortunately, Grace Padaca is not the mayor of Isabela. She’s the Governor.
I just have a little concern about “basic education.” I do not know if I understand it completely, as we have leaders who were educated in the exclusive schools from the Philippines, the best even here in the US… but look! Why? As they say, “There is no value in education without education in values. Thanks
!” —Joe

This is how I answered Joe:

“Calling Gov. Padaca “Mayor” is underserved and I need to say sorry for my error. Thanks for the correction. It afforded me a chance to make a revision on the blog I posted.

Well, I think there’s truth in your quote “There is no value in education without education in values.” I presume all of us have some kind of value formation when we were in school. However, there must be some variability on the hierarchies we place on the values we learned. We imbibe and apply them at different vantage points in various periods of our lives.

Except perhaps for Jesse Robredo whom I know a bit because of Naga Parochial School, Ateneo de Naga, & UP many years back, I don’t know the people who spearhead the Kaya Natin Movement. I take their word with a grain of salt just as I listen to Barack Obama’s message which surely needs validation. Though they aren’t perfect, the remarkable thing about them is their hopeful outlook and their willingness to take responsibility and do something about a problem. Isn’t this part of the cornerstone of the values we desire? Whether Kaya Natin will be successful is something we reserve for the future.

I wonder if you have your misgivings about those Filipinos educated in the best schools. If you do, I share your feelings. Despite my exposures to those exclusive schools in RP plus my US education, I basically have a plebeian background. And I have a lot to desire for our leaders, including those in the FilAm community. I thought one way of helping is to post this blog and share my commentaries (maybe better than attending those induction balls, conventions and reunions of the associatons.)

So if one desires to help RP, there are many ways depending on one’s time, commitment, and talents. Our “values” will be mirrored by what we do, just as we judge the plants around us by the fruits they bear… Hopefully, by starting with ourselves, we can make the world better.

I appreciate your input. I welcome you to visit the UP Ibalon Bicol Blog where I make my posts: http://upibalonbicol.blogspot.com/

N.B. You can join Kaya Natin! A Movement for Genuine Change and Ethical Leadership by sending an email to kayanatin@yahoo.com or you can reach us at (02) 426-5657.
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The Challenge of Kaya Natin Movement: "Sabi baga ni Mayor Jesse Robredo kaya ta!"

August 3, 2008

Nothing happens…but first a dream.
—Carl Sandburg

It could be an inspiration from the glib talker, burnished campaigner Barack Obama who goes around in his US presidential bid with a catchy slogan “Change, we can.” Unrestrained in his popular vision with yet to be seen outcomes, “the pockets of hope,” he promises seem to be what we also need. His optimism makes the Americans feel good and it has finally arrived in the Philippines.

In July 30, 2008, a group of well-intentioned leaders—Naga City Mayor Jesse Robredo, Pampanga Gov. Eddie Panlilio, San Isidro, Nueva Ecija Mayor Sonia Lorenzo and Isabela Gov. Grace Padaca launched a movement born from the agony of—and concern for—a country bloodied by corruption, scandals, disasters and tragedies that few of us can ignore.

Started with the help of the Ateneo de Manila University School of Government, Kaya Natin (aka Kaya Ta in Bicol) aims to unite hardworking and ethical Filipinos worldwide to promote real change, bring consciousness in good leadership and governance. Targeting the idealism of the youth, the group taps on the patriotism and sense of duty of Filipinos to effect positive change through people empowerment, transparency, and accountability.

Lita Pena, senior adviser of Our Lady of Penafrancia Devotees Association (OLPDA) of TriState area in New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut and leader of the Bicolandia Association, sends her encouragement and support for Kaya Natin via email on August 2, 2008.

She does a good job of informing those who want genuine and lasting change in our political landscape. Perhaps, to give optimism a boost, the Filipino-American civic leader shares this dazzling idea that brings the images of the great “bayanihan” back to life. We return to our ancestral Filipino tradition of industry, honesty, cooperation, accountability, self-help plus neighborly love that we all need at this time.

The movement welcomes all Filipinos who share Kaya Natin’s vision. Its objectives are as follows:

* Promote Electoral Reforms by encouraging the Filipino Youth to register, vote for the right candidates and volunteer their time to ensure clean and honest elections.
* Promote Local Autonomy and Empowerment of local government units by decentralizing the delivery of basic services such as Quality Basic Education.
* Work with the Church, other like-minded organizations and civil society groups towards the total eradication of all Illegal Activities such as Graft and Corruption in all forms, illegal gambling and illegal logging.
* Develop and encourage ethical and effective young Filipino leaders who will consider to run for public office and/or work in government.
AmongEd.org (07/26/07)

You can join Kaya Natin! A Movement for Genuine Change and Ethical Leadership by sending an email to kayanatin@yahoo.com or you can reach us at (02) 426-5657.=0=

Wow Words For Al Gore’s Climate Agenda

July 19, 2008

There is little argument against Al Gore’s call for a shift from fossil-fuel based energy sources to environmentally friendly fuel alternatives to preserve the planet. His ambitious target date for the next US president to accomplish this is 10 years. But those who know Gore and his gas-guzzling life-style know better. He isn’t immaculately in synch with his climate agenda making them suspect politics or hypocrisy to be partly behind his high-brow rhetoric.

As a famed leader of the environmental movement, the Nobel prize-winner Gore joins California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, the Democrats, and Liberals to promote clean sources of energy by tapping on solar, wind, hydroelectric, and hydrogen power. Surely, this is good to the environmentalists’ and green planet-savers’ ears. However, for practical purposes, these energy sources aren’t well-developed to meet our present requirements. It will take sometime, most likely exceeding the timeline Gore has envisioned, before sanitized technologies will dominate our energy consumption.

Many experts believe the rational approach to the energy shortage is to do everything. We require all technologies and means: oil drilling, methane gas, coal, electro-magnetic, bio-fuels, and nuclear power (in addition to what the Democrats prefer) for us to be energy sufficient at this time. Others advocate to open USA’s Strategic Petroleum Reserves to ease up the price of gasoline.

Drilling oil in the vast continental USA, off-shore reefs, inland Utah-Wyoming-Colorado shales, and the Alaskan National Wilderness Reserve is basically what the majority of Americans want. They know these resources have to be tapped, sooner or later. They think it’s cost-saving and time-efficient to have them set up ahead, anytime we need them.

But the lawmakers, influenced by lobbyists and interest groups, have been indecisively slow. People complain why these authorities aren’t listening. There appears to be a big gap to bridge between them and what the government decision-makers plan to do.

Hampered by the fear of adding more damage to the environment, the Democrats like Gore who resisted oil exploration, are being blamed for having dilly-dallied since 10 years ago, against the proposal of Pres. George W. Bush and the Republicans. As the energy crisis comes full-blown to a level which hurts, we’re caught flat on our noses.

Many believe, had we started tapping America’s rich energy reserves earlier (as carefully as we can to avoid unduly adding to the destruction of the planet,) pipes could have been in place to gush oil needed to solve our present fuel problems. But excuses are commonplace in politics. The gamut of reasons why they can’t do the drilling now is as strong as our fear of global warming—as many as the bewildering explanations why oil prices continue to rise.

Overcoming political party squabbles and setting aside the environmental debacle, we must do everything to solve the present energy crisis. While we start cleaning up our planet of pollution and avert the deleterious effects C02 emissions in the environment, we can’t escape using oil for awhile. Without perfecting the technologies of other sources of energy, we can’t focus in tackling the issue of global warming right at the core.

We’ve been trying to tap energies from solar, wind, water, and nuclear to run our industries and light up our cities. When done in a large scale, this will surely rebalance the equation of energy supply and demand. Alternative sources of energy will lessen speculations in oil futures—one of main reasons which drive worldwide fuel prices sky-high.

We’ve made in-roads to replace our cars with the hybrids, the plug-ins, the bio-fuel driven, and the ethanol-powered. Yet it will take sometime before clean, efficient, and less costly hydrogen and fuel cells will be in wide use to free us from our dependence on gas. Al Gore’s audacious target is fine, but can we do it? When the private entrepreneurs and government doers ride the wagon, maybe we will.=0=

I am Change, Are You?

April 17, 2008


By: Harvey S. Keh

Blog Admin note: The author is the chairperson of Team RP, an organization of youth leaders and young professionals who work together for Truth, Accountability and Reform in our country. The group appeals for support in information dissemination through our blog. Publishing this article in our blog is the least we can do in solidarity with the group The disturbing issues in this country are not hard to comprehend from our vantage point, so in fact we ought to do more. Here is the full article.

Last March, I was very fortunate enough to be invited to be the Commencement Speaker of Western Mindanao State University (WMSU) in Zamboanga City , one of the biggest state universities in the Philippines . During my brief stay at WMSU, I was able to have a session with 30 of their student leaders who are leading their student council and other student organizations in their school. During this session, I started with a question, I asked them, Who among you here still believes and supports President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo? Around 10 of them raised their hands. Then, I asked again, Who among you here wants the President to resign and step down? Around 14 of them raised their hands. I pressed on and asked again, Who among you here is still undecided? 6 of them raised their hands. Finally, I asked again, Who among you here wants Change and Reforms in our Country and Government?

All of them raised their hands.

When I got back to Manila , I did the same activity with about 25 student leaders from Miriam College in Quezon City , one of the top schools here in Metro Manila. I got the same response from them, 7 were supporting President Arroyo, 12 wanted her to resign/step-down while 6 were undecided. When I asked them who wants change and reform in our Country and Government, all of them raised their hands as well.

What am I trying to say through these two stories and experiences with these Filipino Youth Leaders in our country?

a.) Yes, our country is divided right now in how we view President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. You have on one side, a group supporting President Arroyo despite all the anomalies, allegations of corruption and scandals that has rocked her administration. On the other side, you have groups and highly-influential leaders which have called for her immediate resignation and ouster from power. This then leaves us with a political stalemate since President Arroyo is not weak enough to fall while the Groups calling for her ouster and resignation are not strong enough to push her out.

b.) However, it seems that judging from my experiences in dealing with these student leaders, the people I talk to and the emails I get from Filipinos from here and abroad everyone wants to see Change and Reform in our Government. We are all united in wanting to see positive and lasting change and reforms in our Government.

That is why I think that if we want to be able to help in bringing our nation together towards a common vision which helps move our country forward then this unity should not be based on certain personalities like President Arroyo or our other Government Leaders. Rather, we need to join and work together towards working for concrete and lasting reforms in our Government Institutions that would eventually make it more responsive to the needs of the poor and powerless in our communities.We need to work together towards building, strengthening and transforming our democratic institutions. For example, Isn’t it sad that we now have to face a growing Food Crisis when we were once one of the world’s top Agricultural countries? This is an indirect effect of the 1 Billion Fertilizer Scam that was allegedly used to fund the election expenses of President Arroyo and her allies. If this 1 Billion Peso Fertilizer Fund together with other government funds was used properly and for the right purpose then we might not have to face this crisis now or if we do, the effect wouldn’t be as big as we are facing now.

As such, I’d like to invite every Filipino based here and abroad to join us at Team RP as we try to develop a proactive and dynamic movement that is built and organized primarily by ordinary Filipinos like you and me whose only vested interests is to be able to contribute his time, skills, talents and resources towards pushing for Truth, Accountability and Reform in our Government. How? Allow me to share with you some of our concrete action plans:

For Truth: We hope to push for the passing of a Philippine Access to Information Law (PAIL) that would give every Filipino an opportunity to access government documents especially documents that would show how our hard-earned money is being spent by our government officials. Through this law, greater transparency can be achieved thus and more importantly, we are able to make our government leaders live by the saying that Public Office is a Public Trust.

For Accountability: We plan to file proper charges on Government Officials and Private Citizens who have taken part in Graft and Corruption practices and activities that have bankrupted our government coffers. If we do not do anything to hold these people accountable for their actions and curb corruption, then the cycle will just continue with new faces and sadly, with new techniques. Corruption has to stop because the 30 Billion Pesos that is lost to it every year can amount to provision of basic services that will ultimately uplift the lives of more than 20 Million Filipinos who continue to wallow in poverty.

For Reform: We plan to work and lobby for the extension and improvement of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law which expires this year. We believe that every Filipino should be provided with equal opportunities to be able to own his or her own land. In addition to this, we plan to pursue electoral reforms as early as now by developing projects and activities that will encourage and motivate First-time voters to register so they can exercise their right to choose our next President in 2010.

These are just among our concrete plans towards institutionalizing and working for genuine Change and Reform in our country. Since we are not a personality-based movement, Team RP will continue to push for these ideals and programs regardless of who becomes President, Vice-President, Senators, Congressmen, etc. We are doing this because we believe that many of our Government Leaders have Failed us and that its time for all of us to take control of our own future and work together for that genuine and lasting Change that we all want to see in our country. Let us all stop the all our excuses, iinaction, hopelessness, despair, indifference and complaining, these will all amount to nothing if we ourselves don’t move ourselves to do anything for our country.

Change is now. Change starts with each one of us. Hope lies not in our country’s leaders and those in power but it rests in every Filipino.

I am Change, are you?