Archive for the ‘social’ Category

Fil-Ams don’t want bad news?

March 15, 2009

“I don’t run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run toward it because the only way to excape fear is to trample it beneath your feet.” —-Nadia Comaneci, Olympic gymnastics gold medalist

According to the Philippine Mission to the United Nations in New York, Filipinos residing in the USA would rather hear good news from the Philippines. Yes, we like to have the positives rather than the negatives each time we talk about the motherland. But what if there is a dearth of good news? Do we have to dodge the country’s toxic news and focus only on the good ones?

No matter how much we want to escape reality, it’s always there to challenge us. This is probably what happened when Fil-Am community leaders across the United States engaged themselves in dialogues with visiting Philippine officials—-saying that they want good news, wanting the bad ones in the back burner. For so long, everybody knows our problems. They’re all over the media for us to solve.

“We thought we would be faced with disbelief and confronted with hard questions, but we were pleasantly surprised that our kababayan [compatriots] here would rather hear the positive developments in the Philippines. Our team was ready to clarify even the negative news, but no one raised them,” the report quoted Edgardo Pamintuan, presidential adviser on external affairs—Inquirer (03/16/09, Balana, C).

We seem to vent a very common reaction. Most of us don’t want to be bogged down by depressing news—problems that are entrenched, those that have little chance of being solved quickly.

In America, we have our own worries to tackle in addition to those we left behind back home. That’s why. Yet, being selective of what we want to do may lead to detachment, more apathy, and lack of care for the country. If we don’t bravely focus on hard truths, we won’t be able to advance ahead. We have serious problems that we must not ignore. As someone once said, “the best way to escape a problem is to solve it.” (Photo Credit: Mineke_Reinders; Akira_Minh)


Great Britain’s 13-year old boy-dad

February 18, 2009

Among the most alarming images I have seen lately is the picture of a four-foot tall, baby-faced Alfie Patten, the British boy who at 13 fathered a newborn girl. Sadly, little can be said, but much has to be done, about the immature kid and his infant whose heart-breaking photo appeared in the front page of the The Sun. The young mom is Alfie’s 15 year-old girlfriend Chantelle Steadman.

“It’s an indication that we’ve lost our way, that people don’t know the difference between right and wrong,” he said of Alfie. ‘The plain fact is society can’t proceed on this basis. I think this is an indication of broken Britain,'” said Sir Bernard Ingham, Former Press Secretary of Margaret Thatcher. San Francisco Chronicle/AP (02/16/09, Katz, G)

In another vein, in California, USA, Nadya Suleman, a 33-year old, jobless woman who has been battling emotional instability gave birth to octuplets (8 babies) by in-vitro fertilization (IVF) done a fertility MD against the standard of medical practice. Before the birth of her 8 babies, Nadya who shares a 3 bedroom home with her financially bankrupt parents has 6 children from previous assisted pregnancies.

It’s debated how the unmarried woman who lives on welfare will be able to take care of her 14 children. The hospital bills she has incurred are beyond the roof. With meager sense of accountability, she has hired a PR person to handle her book deals, TV interviews, and appeals for donations to keep her kids.

Great Britain suffers from inordinately high rate of teen pregnancies, petty thievery, alcoholism, and rampant street crimes among teenagers. America has problems which mirror these problems as well. As human beings, we think inwardly and ask, “Why? What has gone wrong in our world?” (Photo Credit: Stringer/ AFP/ Getty Images/ SFC)=0=


Octuplet mom mulls on what lies ahead for her babies

February 6, 2009

Nadya Suleman, the unmarried woman who had 6 children born through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) prior to having a set of premature octuplets, also by IVF, had been getting extra attention. People couldn’t help but be curious of what was going on for the 33-year old mother who had been the most talked about parturient on earth.

With no means to support 14 children, Nadya had a fertility doctor sustain her “obsession” of having 8 babies in one pregnancy—far more than what had been considered permissible in the practice of assisted pregnancy and multiple births. According to Nadya, her desire to have many children arose from her “loneliness” of being an only child. She admitted having to battle bouts of depression.

Nadya shares a modest three-bedroom home in California owned by her mother and father who are experiencing financial difficulty. Last year, the parents applied for bankruptcy. Nadya was on disability when she gave birth to her first 6 children. Having suffered back injuries while working in a psychiatric facility, she was awarded benefits for a handicap—- $165,000 between 2002 and 2008 as she complained of headaches and vertebral pain.

Now, she is trying to market her story for an undetermined sum—perhaps a book deal, TV appearance, interview, and display of her children. Her supporters and critics are stunned.

Businesses which traditionally give assistance to mothers with unusual multiple births aren’t offering freebies. Many are dismayed by this woman whose psychological health and competency to be a responsible mother is uncertain. Confined in the hospital with her 8 babies, her astounding medical bills are growing.

With her premature octuplets (6 girls and 2 boys,) Nadya and the people around her mull on what lies ahead for her 14 children who are likely to be social charges. They live in California, a state that is in real danger of being bankrupt at this time when the economy isn’t good. (Photo Credit: Aconnel173170)=0=


Octuplets spark debate on medical, socio-economic, & moral issues of assisted pregnancies

January 31, 2009

The birth of 8 babies to an unmarried California woman who already have 6 children and lives with her parents sparked controversies which cover medical, social, economic, moral and rearing issues. The unusual multiple births by caesarian section of octuplets by 33-year old Nadya Suleman didn’t come without the help of fertility treatments. This is according to Angela Suleman, the 31 week-old babies’ grandmother who said her daughter, the mother has been “obssessed” of having children. In spite of having delivered babies in the past, she chose in-vitro fertilization because of clogged fallopian tubes.

In-vitro fertilization (IVF) usually involves implanting fertilized embryo (blastocyst stage,) normally no greater than six, usually 2 or 3 in the womb. If more than two embryos take, the patient is given the choice by her physician to keep the babies or kill some of them in an abortion-induced reduction procedure. Many doctors focus on giving the best medical care and they feel it’s not their duty to dig on abortion issues (rights of the unborn) or prescribe how many children their patients must have. Suleman opted to keep all babies whose number was erroneously determined by ultrasound as 7.

Certain religious believers and anti-abortion advocates decry the practice of pregnancy reduction by doctors. Although Suleman rejected the offer to have any of her babies aborted after they were artificially set to develop in utero, there are strong objections on the medical and ethical judgment of implanting the 8 embryos on her who already have six children. There are those who believe the fertility doctor must be investigated and sanctioned for a breach of standard practice.

In 30 years of practice, “I have never provided fertility treatment to a woman with six children,” or ever heard of a similar case, said Dr. David Adamson, former president of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine and director of Fertility Physicians of Northern California.—Yahoo.News/ AP (01/31/09 Watkins, T; Neergaard, L)

There are strong doubts if the unmarried Suleman has the capacity to care for the 6 boys and 2 girls born premature along with 6 older children, ages 2 to 7. It is unclear whether she is employed, though she lives with her parents who are not financially stable. The parents filed bankruptcy last year with more than $900,000 liabilities. Records show Suleman kept a psychiatric techinician license in 1997 to 2002.

The premature octuplets who are currently cared for in a Kaiser Permanente hospital surely need specialized care. With skyrocketing medical costs in a state teetering towards financial insolvency, many critics fear Suleman may not be able to sustain the duties of a single mom— the physical, psychological, social, and economic demands of rearing 14 dependents. If she can’t keep up with the burden of motherhood, she may require public assistance and the effects on the children are hard to know. It is likely the cost of rearing them will be passed on to taxpayers and society in general. (Photo Credits: byaconnel73170; Ekem PD)=0=

UPDATE: February 2, 2009. Many critics believe the doctor didn’t make good ethical judgmentt in placing at least 8 embryos on Nadya Suleman whose mother Angela is critical of her daughter’s “obssession” to have babies.


Corruption scandals hurting Filipinos under Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo

January 28, 2009

“The 2006 World Competitiveness Survey by the Switzerland-based Institute for Management Development ranked the Philippines 60th on bribery and corruption among 61 countries surveyed. In the 2007 report of the Hong Kong-based Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, using a grading system with 10 as the worst possible score, the Philippines got 9.4, worsening sharply from its grade of 7.8 in 2006.

The problem of corruption in the Philippines is getting worse, and it appears that it is not just a problem of perception but an actuality. The corruption cases are increasing not only in number but in the amount of money involved. In the past, the big cases involved tens of millions of pesos; now, the figures run into hundreds of millions and even billions.” —-Inquirer (06/30/08, Editorial, Worsening Corruption)

1. Filipino & Chinese bid-rigging cartel in bank-financed projects exposed by World Bank

2. Jocelyn (JocJoc) Bolante’s P728 Million Fertilizer Fund Scam diverting agricultural funds for the 2004 election campaign of Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo

3. $329 Million Philippine National Broadband Network-Zhong Xing Telecommunications Deal (NBN/ZTE mess)

4. The $2-million IMPSA (Industrias Metalurgicas Pescarmona Sociedad Anonima) alleged bribery case involving Justice secretary Hernando Perez to rehabilitate the 750-megawatt Caliraya-Botocan-Kalayaan (CBK) power complex in Laguna.

5. The allegedly overpriced P1.2-billion Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard Construction

6. Commission on Elections’ P1.3-billion poll computerization program

7. Pres. Joseph Estrada Plunder Conviction and the Controversial Hasty Pardon

8. “Hello Garci” alleged Election fraud of Pres. Gloria M. Arroyo

9. Unexplained Wealth of Government and Military Officials—some of them take tasks of “investigating” corruption

10. Money Laundering Schemes like the “Euro Generals Scandal”

11. Maj. General Carlos Garcia’s amassed P143 million wealth in AFP

12. The P500,000 cash-gift distribution (bribe?)in Malacanang Palace in 2007

13. Tax Evasion, Special Purpose Funds & Public Procurement Anomalies

14. Killings, tortures, and disappearances of journalists, plain citizens, and perceived enemies of government

We probably know the brazenness of corruption to a point of surrender. So we either ignore them or we shield ourselves from truth by pretending wrong-doing and perversion will go away. We have our own psychological adaptations that work for sometime just the way we’re tempted to run away from moral rectitude and brush aside responsibility.

The brave among us however face reality as it comes. No matter how hard and hurting, we understand the need to correct our errors. We know life is a succession of battles where courage, tenacity, and optimism are required and apathy has no place. We need integrity as a hedge against fraud; honesty is a positive force to renew society. Consider the corruption in the world. What can we do about it? (Photo Credit: Zero Q)=0=


9 simple resolutions for the new year

January 3, 2009

It’s quite hard to make resolutions and end up successful along the course of the year. Yet, experts say there are some simple things which we can do that can impact our lives positively without much commitment. Many of the them do not cost a fortune or need a lot of time. Here are some things we can consider at the start of 2009:

1. Exercise and Food: Long life, emotional stability, and health are closely tied with doing exercise and eating proper food. Studies show that simple brisk walking (less than 30 minutes a day,) can improve heart function and help prolong life. Avoidance of fatty and salty food is key in preventing early-onset heart problems and stroke. Regular visits to our doctor can save us from preventable diseases and spare us from costly treatments in the hospital.

2. Save Cash: The news of a global meltdown spook all of us. We don’t know of anyone who hasn’t been affected by the economic crisis that sweeps across all social classes. Cutting down on unnecessary trips, avoiding eat-outs in restaurants, using public transport can save us a lot of money. Home cooked food brought at work can spare some cash to pay for essential house utilities like the electric or water bill.

3. Support the Environment: Proper disposal of waste, recycling, and avoiding the use of environmental pollutants are important in preserving the planet’s resources. With our dwindling natural resources and the rapid increase in population, more are required on us to bequeath a better world for the next generation.

4. Try Gardening: Unused open spaces at home can be a made into vegetable plots or community gardens. Planted camote gives us nutritious leaves; sweet roots we can harvest in 4 to 5 months. Ginger, scallion and onions on a pot produce a year-long supply of condiments for the home kitchen.

5. Read a Book: Everybody knows knowledge is power. One of the easiest ways to advance our education is to read regularly. A book opens an exciting door to a world that enriches our lives and benefits society. A newspaper keeps us abreast with the events that affect us.

6. Reach Out: There are dividends to be gained when one sets out to reach friends, neighbors, and business associates. A habit of saying hello and expressing thanks bring closeness and cheer to the people we live with.

7. Volunteer: Extra time and space need not be wasted. Volunteering in a church, day-care, hospital, prison or school for a day or two in a year can appreciably help improve our sense of belonging. A volunteer job can be arranged in honor of a friend, to remember a dead relative or to celebrate an anniversary or birthday.

8. Clean Up and Remove Clutter: Our homes have the tendency to accumulate dust and things we don’t need. To make things easy and light, we need to rid our place of things we don’t use. Old clothes, we can give to the poor neighbor or to charity. Regular house cleaning brings a happy spark in our homes and a healthy look of our surroundings.

9. Be a Concerned Citizen: As our civic duty we need to know what goes on in our village. One way to help is to join groups who work for the community. Writing the mayor, councilor or government official on a specific concern is a way to address a problem in our communities. Sitting with them on an issue can help thresh out ways to improve our society. (Photo Credit:

Naga’s creative class & the people’s march into the future

November 10, 2008

UP Ibalon-Bicol’s blog entitled “Naga City Could Be Left Behind” (11/08/08, Myty) made me recall a book published about three years ago by Richard Florida which deals with the need for inclusiveness in building a vibrant and hospitable city. In the book “The Flight of Creative Class: The New Global Competition for Talent” (Harper Collins Publishers, April 2005; 336 pp.) the professor of public policy of George Mason University asserted that for a place to be attractive, it needs basic amenities. But more importantly, he said creative talent, a defining economic issue of this generation, is required in adapting to the demands of the global world. His thoughts were intuitive flags for business and political leaders of America who dream of bringing cultural rennaisance and economic prosperity to the nation.

A smaller microcosm than USA, Naga City in the Philippines may not have the best amenities for the economy to grow, but surely it has a lot of sun, goodwill, and labor capital that can make it happen. Using their own talents, residents are welcoming and inspired to move on. There are those who want to come and live in the ciy. And not all of them feel the pressure to go abroad. Many believe they need not suffer the “flight of the creative class,” part of the job migration which the government relies on for its economic survival. They simply want to stick it out with Naga.

As Myty says, there is beauty and charm in Naga City that can’t easily be ignored, but he stresses that work is needed to keep the city’s attractiveness for people to stay. He speaks of affluent Naguenos who need to actively invest in the city’s development so that Bicolanos don’t leave for crowded places like Manila and to foreign countries like those in the Middle East.

Naga’s openness, affordability, and diversity have attracted residents from towns in Bicol, inviting talented young people to share their time and treasure. The same people are bringing heterogeneity and inventiveness which encourage the feeling of unity and belongingness—a move away from the aloofness and detachment of the past. They adjust to social change; they try to learn to live in cooperative harmony so that economic and cultural growth can proceed.

Innovation, inclusivity, and entrepreneurship bring optimism to Naga. As a magnet area for education and commerce, the city is not in short supply of forward-looking young workers ready to give their share. Mayor Jesse Robredo has done a lot in this regard to spur positive energy to the citizenry which remarkably improved the business pulse of Bikol’s metropolis.

Though not totally perfect, Naga has become a local hub of the creative class, the new breed of Bicolanos who feel they can loosen the constipation of ideas, mitigate the backwardness of the towns, harness industry and self-help, and bring human beings together to work for the common good. A certain level of nurturing is apparently needed to keep the city in this direction. (Photo Credits: garzland) =0=

The Traditional man-woman marriage

November 10, 2008

Love the family! Defend and promote it as the basic cell of human
society; nurture it as the prime sanctuary of life. Give great care to the
preparation of engaged couples and be close to young married couples, so
that they will be for their children and the whole community an eloquent
testimony of God’s love.”
–Pope John Paul II, 2001

Marriage is the foundation of the family and the family is the foundation of society: if we strengthen marriage, we strengthen the family, we strengthen the children and we strengthen the community. If your goal is to help improve the world, marriage is as good a place as any to start.”—Diane Sollee, Grand Rapids Family Summit, 1998

(Photo Credits: msbernal; msbernal; bloomsdayflowers)

RELATED BLOG:Moral Challenge: angry gays protest ban of same-sex marriage in California” Posted by mesiamd at 11/10/2008

Hunger in the Philippines

November 5, 2008

Listed in decreasing order of countries with hunger problem, the Philippines (40%) ranked 5th with Cameroon (55%,) Pakistan (53%,) Nigeria (48%,) Peru (42%,) topping the list. For lack of food, 4 out of 10 households (40%) or about 35 million Filipinos face hunger. The finding is worse but consistent with Manila’s Social Weather Stations poll (SWS) showing that the average hunger for 2008 is about 16.8%.

Regardless of the surveys’ accuracy what is important is to recognize the need to solve the worsening poverty, malnutrition, and food deprivation in the country. Bulacan Bishop Jose Oliveros of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines said:

Granted the survey holds true, the government should make concrete pro-poor programs to make sure every household gets enough nutritious food to feed their family” GMA TV News (11/05/08)

Oliveros blame corruption, not overpopulation as the main cause of rampant hunger. It is most severe in Metro Manila where 500,000 families suffer lack of food. He asks the government to put up programs like providing employment to the poor so that “ramdam ang gutom” reverses into “ramdam ang kaunlaran.” (Photo Credit: Jaridaking) =0=

World’s heaviest man takes a bride

October 27, 2008

The world’s heaviest man Manuel Uribe has been getting much attention lately. After shedding much weight from 560 kg to 310 kg, the world’s heaviest guy tied the knot with his 38 year old girlfriend Claudia Solis, in an unusual, but well-celebrated ceremony.

Staying on his bed, the 43 year old Mexican mechanic, escorted by the police through street traffic, was towed by a truck to the wedding.

Uribe’s special bed in the civil ceremony was merrily decorated with white canopy and flowers to the cheers and joy of about 400 friends and well-wishers.

Holding hands and moving to the tempo of a ballad, the duo had their memorable first dance. Splendid food was served and an enticing 5-tiered cake was prepared. Uribe didn’t break his diet.

Surely, the loving couple inspires the entire world. Cheers and good luck to them! (Photo Credits AP/ Monica Rueda; Flowersmadeeasy)=0=