Worse than Marcos?

Flexing of muscles: will they prove atrophied or not? Metro braces for transport strike.

And the limits of collaboration and cohabitation: Estrada ready to make up with Arroyo but will fight Cha-cha.

The news item on the presidential corruption survey (Survey: Arroyo most corrupt, Aquino cleanest of 5 prexies) is interesting, not precisely because of what the survey says, but the limits the survey reveals, in terms of the public’s frame of reference (and not Palace: Respondents too few to say Arroyo is most corrupt).

But first, in Inquirer Current, John Nery provides a closer look at the data, and makes a cautionary note in his blog, Newsstand, both about the limits of the imagination of respondents, and the risk the findings might get oppositionists salivating again:

While the question is asked against a considerably longer horizon (“sa kasaysayan ng Pilipinas”), note that the options are limited to the last five presidents: Marcos, Aquino, Ramos, Estrada, and Arroyo.

Under such limits, Arroyo is a clear “winner” over Guinness-record-holder Marcos (the national numbers have the standard margin of error of plus or minus 3). Definitely not good news for Malacanang.

But before we wave copies of the latest Pulse Asia survey in the streets, remember that this very survey found that only a quarter of voting-age Filipinos were willing to take to the streets to force the resignation of a corrupt president. The limits of outrage, indeed.

I’m glad though Nery pointed out that the survey asked people to rate presidential corruption in terms of the history of the Philippines, but that respondents on the whole, limited their comparisons to Marcos and his successors. This tells us that for most Filipinos, history is only what’s occurred within living memory; and for this reason I find the survey worthless. Such a limited framework is no framework at all.

But still, politically speaking, this is quite a shocker. Worse than Marcos? Wow. As for how seriously the Palace takes it, see [email protected]:

First reaction? The Fortress downplayed it, saying that the survey was commissioned by former senator Serge Osmeña. Since that was not enough, here’s another: the survey was unfair, baseless, and based on perception, which is not reality, says Cerge Remonde, who also blamed the “vicious” (his word) opposition. Then, the Fortress says the respondents were too few. And another factotum said that the perception was due to a media blackout on government’s action versus corruption.


Anyway, the problem with the Fortress is that they are downplaying surveys that are negative in impact for the Arroyo regime. Yet, at the tail end of the 2004 campaign, the Arroyo campaign kept on harping about Arroyo edging the late Fernando Poe Jr. at surveys. Heck, when the Hello, Garci erupted, they used these surveys to prove that Arroyo won fair, square, and Garci. This line of defense is a two-edged sword, it cuts both ways.
Off hand, I think the reason FM did better than GMA is because of what I called The “vision thing” in October, 2005. Marcos could at the very least, present himself as a leader with “the vision thing” in spades:

The thing is, the “vision thing” is, in many ways, everything. Without it, the prize is less easy to keep, and the stage occupied by a shallow, and not particularly convincing, production number. The President’s critics (and supporters, too, depending on the internal factions they belong to at any particular time), have often criticized her for being unable to either grasp the vision thing, or for her tendency to keep changing it, as if it were a pair of fashionable reading glasses. Political strategy can-and should-change, depending on circumstance, but the vision thing is supposed to remain, well, clear and never blurry…

The problem is, aside from existing posters, some license plates, and walls painted prior to the elections, the Strong Republic has been junked long ago and replaced with other “vision things,” each one weaker than its immediate predecessor. There was the “10-Point Agenda,” then the “Rule of Law” and “Let’s Move On,” and — if the President’s former close associates are to be believed — the real one: the “Fear Factor.”

But how does one demonstrate, much less, articulate “Fear Factor” as a “vision thing”? Particularly in terms of where our presidents tend to be bottled up most of the time, which is in the Palace? This kind of vision only promotes a greater determination to take away the prize; it isn’t much of a vision to communicate from the pulpit. Of course, the President can invoke St. Michael the Archangel to make mighty swipes, figuratively or literally, with his fiery sword at the administration’s critics; however, the “eternal hellfire-and-damnation” kind of preaching is really the specialty of people like evangelist Bro. Eddie Villanueva, whom the justice secretary wants arrested. Even Catholic bishops no longer seem to indulge in that kind of beatific vision thing.

Which brings me to Sylvia Mayuga’s engrossing review of Carmen Guerrero Nakpil’s latest volume of memoirs. Mayuga provides some interesting extracts from Nakpil’s book, concerning the Marcoses and how they handled the assassination of Ninoy Aquino. At one point, as Mayuga puts it, Nakpil found herself “atypically alone” with Madame Marcos:

I asked her whether she and the President had watched Ninoy’s funeral on TV, and she said, yes, they’d done so, together, in his bedroom. And that they’d been crushed, struck dumb by the enormity of what they were seeing on the video screen. She added that they had felt overwhelmingly humiliated because they had little inkling of the public mood, and that Marcos had said, ‘So, after all these years, all our efforts, our trying and striving, it has come to this?’

…Ninoy did not die that day on that sunny Sunday afternoon in August 1983 at the Manila International Airport, for that was when he began to live forever in the hearts of his countrymen. It was Ferdinand Marcos who died that day, and he knew it.

Mayuga’s account of a conversation she had with Nakpil during the launching of the book, where she pressed Nakpil on her views concerning whodunnit as far as ordering Ninoy’s killing was concerned, is very interesting, too.

Is there a “lechon manok” phenomenon, when it comes to OFWs? Ang Kape Ni LaTtEX tackles this, in response to the story of Gilbert Roque in Kabayan OFW:

Reading the whole article, there are simply too many things that make me scratch my head: the lack of the ability to recognize opportunities presented, the lack of any real passion or concern for career other than a means to make ends meet, the treatment of overseas work per se as a career option, the acceptance of an abusive, menial, meaningless job just as long as it pays higher than – a job that could be matched financially and attained locally if only people try.

Gilbert is not alone however; how many people get jobs as call center agents, or take up nursing and caregiving, even if they are not genuinely interested in developing their careers in those fields? How many people work for the sake of working? How many people tolerate 8-5 drudgery just to be able to pay the bills?

In the end, the OFW phenomenon might actually not be driven by simple poverty. Rather, it is being fed by a huge number of mismanaged careers, masquerading as a last resort to be able to feed and clothe one’s family when there are real alternatives that people simply fail to see.

On a cultural note, and related to the debate on our OFW’s, this notice from the Israeli embassy:

You can now watch the multi-awarded film, “Paper Dolls” at Cinema 1, Greenbelt 1 on Dec. 12,13,14,15,16 &18 2007. Screening Schedule:


“Paper Dolls” won 1st place at the Berlin Film Festival in 2006 and other honors in many international festivals including Cinemanila (2006). The film tells the plight of a group of transsexual Filipino caregivers working in Israel.


“Paper Dolls” is a documentary film which explores changing patterns of global immigration and expanding notions of family through the prism of a community of Filipino transvestites who live illegally in Israel. Cast out by their families because of their sexual and gender preferences, these people work 6 days a week as live-in, 24 hour a day care givers (and in many cases as surrogate children) for elderly orthodox Jewish men, in order to earn money to send to their families in the Philippines that had rejected them. On their one free night per week, they pursue their own personal dreams as drag performers in the group they call “The Paper Dolls” in the relative freedom of cosmopolitan Tel Aviv. Despite having to deal with often harsh working conditions, threats by street criminals, fear of terrorist bombings and the constant peril of deportation, The Paper Dolls demonstrate a rare generosity of spirit, humanity and lust for life.

Award winning filmmaker Tomer Heymann enters this unusual world and by coming to know and love these subjects unearths joy, sorrow and humanity which change his life forever.

This is the other side of the phenomenon -the pursuit of opportunities our society won’t permit to some.

My Arab News column for this week is Both Sides Resorting to Old Scripts. In his column, Manuel Buencamino roasts the Spanish monarch, the President, her cabinet, and little brown Americans.

In the blogosphere, smoke takes exception to my pointing out the current standing of on line petitions.

Wow Pare points to a report on the reading habits of Filipinos:

According to the 2007 National Book Development Board (NBDB) Readership Survey, 67 percent of respondents across the country read the Bible the most, followed by romance or love novels (33 percent), cookbooks (28 percent), comic books (26 percent) and religious or inspirational works (20 percent).

Good grief.

A more detailed look is available through the National Book Development Board, which commissioned a survey in 2004:

The National Book Development Board commissioned the Social Weather Stations to conduct a survey on the reading attitudes and preferences of Filipinos. This is the most comprehensive study on book readership in the country. The survey was conducted from March 10 to 25, 2003 with 1,200 respondents composed of 300 voting-age adults from every study area: National Capital Region, Balance Luzon (areas within Luzon but outside NCR), Visayas, and Mindanao. The sample size has an error margin of +/-3% for the entire Philippines and +/-6% for every study area. Of the total respondents, 63.6% are from rural areas, while 36.4% from urban. Of the total respondents, 7.7% belong to classes ABC, 67.4% class D, and 24.8% class E.

Significant Findings of the Book Readership Survey Readership of the 7 -17 years old age group

Nationwide, 60% of the households surveyed have family members aged 7-17. Of these households, 35% have at least one member of the 7-17 age group who reads non-schoolbooks. Of the total family members aged 7-17, only 26% read non-schoolbooks, but most of those who read non-schoolbooks read at least weekly. Readership of non-schoolbooks among members aged 7-17 tends to be higher among females, classes ABC, those with a library at home, and those whose household heads have high education. The most popular non-schoolbooks read by the 7-17 age group are the Bible (22%) and romance novelettes (22%).

Readership of Filipino Adults

The good news is 94% of Filipino adults can read (simple words at least). 90% have read books at least some time in their lives. 68% have read nonschoolbooks. For those who read, 91% read to gain knowledge while 9% read for enjoyment.

Accessibility of Bookstores and Libraries

The survey reveals that many of the respondents (42%) are not aware if a library exists in their locale. 60% say that bookstores are not within walking distance from their residence, and 18% do not know if there is a bookstore in their locale. Data gathered from the National Library show that there are only 511 municipal libraries out of 1,496 municipalities, and 49 provincial libraries out of 80 provinces. Adult readership of non-schoolbooks tends to be higher among: ‘those with high levels of education, ‘those who attended private rather than public schools, ‘those from upper socio-economic levels, ‘those with higher personal monthly income, ‘those from urban rather than rural areas, ‘those younger in age, ‘those who are not married, ‘those who have libraries in their homes and offices, ‘those living nearer to bookstores and public libraries, and ‘those whose social networks (kith and kin) also like to read. While Filipino adults generally recognize the value of reading books, many (43%) can let a whole year pass without reading a single non-schoolbook. On the other hand, 15% read 2-3 non-school books, and 14% read at least 10 non-school books. Books are read more for gaining knowledge and information, and thus perhaps book reading is considered something to do when the need arises. Watching TV, movies and videotapes, listening to the radio, and going to malls seem much more fun to do. Perhaps parents, educators, publishers, and advertisers ought to do more to portray book reading as fun to do too. Filipino adults generally find books to be good gifts, and although considered costly, a book is not regarded as a luxury item but a necessity.

The survey shows that readership of non-schoolbooks is higher among Filipino adults from the the upper socio-economic classes who have reached high levels of education and attended private schools, are younger, either single or without a partner, and live in the urban areas.

oreover those who live near libraries and bookstores read more often. The Bible (38%) and romance novels (26%) are the most commonly read books by adult readers. The highest percentages of Bible-readers are from Mindanao (51%), class E (43%), females (42%), and 45 and above years old (49%). The highest percentages of romance novel readers are from Balance Luzon (27%) and Visayas (27%), class E (28%), females (37%) and 18-24 years old (46%). After the Bible and romance novels, females like to read about cooking (11%), while males read about politics (10%).

Manner of Acquiring Non-Schoolbooks

Allowing for multiple answers, the following are the means through which Filipino adults who read non-schoolbooks acquire them: borrowing from other people (52%), receiving books as gifts (40%), borrowing from libraries (24%), renting (18%), and buying (15%). Majority of respondents from all study areas and all socio-economic classes do not borrow from libraries.

Buying Non-Schoolbooks

The percentage of those who bought non-schoolbooks for personal reading in the past year increases with social class, educational attainment, and personal monthly income. 58% of Filipino adults who bought non-schoolbooks in the past year spent only a maximum of P200. 16% spent more than P1,000. Among classes ABC, 38% spent more than P 1,000.

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

134 thoughts on “Worse than Marcos?

  1. madonna,

    good grief in terms of how unrepresented other topics are in people’s reading habits. in an old thread there was a long discussion between bryan and me about filipino writers. many of the points you brought up were raised by him.

  2. Classics Illustrated is the best! in the 60’s, my father put up a for-rent-comics stall in front of a high school in Caloocan. he was able to collect boxes of the popular comics. unfortunately they weren’t preserved on account of termites…

    visit classicscentral dot com


    Pasko ng Komiks @ UP Diliman…

    visit read-or-die dot org slash komiks

  3. Senator Miriam Santiago wants the Senate to conduct the probe of who funded the Survey that was released to the Media that shows PGMA is the most Corrupt President Ever.

    Now, why don’t the administration fund another surveyor to conduct another survey and compare the results? It was floated around that the survey was commissioned by Serge Osmena, but anyone can commission a survey, and if the survey was maliciously done, then by all means file Libel suits and make a lot of money and vindicate herself and Senator Santiago, smart as she is should know this relief available to anyone, including the President or even her.

    But I still suggest to do their own surveys and we’ll have the battle of Surveyors, maybe as dirty as the Election Contest??

  4. benign0:
    “According to the 2007 National Book Development Board (NBDB) Readership Survey, 67 percent of respondents across the country read the Bible the most, followed by romance or love novels (33 percent), cookbooks (28 percent), comic books (26 percent) and religious or inspirational works (20 percent).”

    My God. All of these books (maybe except cookbooks) are recipes for utter IGNORANCE!

    Kaya naman pala…


    WOW! yabang ah. yet it seems that you never saw the potential in these findings. in UPLB, writing majors are taught to write “lame stories” (of the pocketbook standard) for them to learn how to subvert it and make such an industry a venue for social change or at the least, a vehicle to educate the “lesser” but “interested”. but it seems that for you, these results are apocalyptic! that we need someone like you, who sees the “ignorance” in things, to take over already and tell what is redeeming, what is intelligent, what should be?

  5. mlq3,

    Audio books are popular in the US for people with long commutes. Audio books in cd or tape? Audio books in the US are now in CD because new cars are coming out with cd players and no tape players. I don’t know the situation in the Philippines. I suggest that you do it in CD so you can export here.

  6. The youth are leading the way. They start to read non-school books at age 16, on average, one year earlier than in 2003. Again, NCR is the poor exception—young people here start reading non-school books at age 18 on average, two years later than the national norm.

    Isn’t this a rather unbelievable conclusion in that NBnb commissioned survey.

    So these young people do not read comics not until they reach the age of 16. bahh

    what about the assignments of the young children which require reading of non-school books? they just don’t get their answers from their textbooks.

    That’s why i hate reading results of surveys.

  7. i admire tony hidalgo, he’s a true trailblazer in publishing and among the most innovative. also, personally a very engaging man to talk to.

    The most underrated prominent writer along with Cordero. Unfortunately his wife is one of the most overrated.

  8. gma worst than marcos? hubris. historical revisionism at its worst or jaundiced view from an ignorant mind. consider the source of the data. evidently, most of the “survey” participants have not even been born, or were too young to know the realities, of the marcos reign.

    first, are they aware of the true state of press “freedom” under marcos, whose first order of business was to jail, or eliminate, heretofore untouchable media men/women critical of his ways and had the “press” on its knees begging for just the right to sell their mostly contrived, or highly slanted, “news”? most of the eyewitnesses who had personal and direct knowledge ( as distinguished from hearsay) are now gone – locsin, soliven, burgos, the lopez and roces patriarchs, mijares, etc., etc. but the record of their tribulations are preserved for all to see. if you had the resources, you had to sneak out of the country to be able to criticize the marcos dictatorship, his family and cronies, giving rise to “steak commandos” that buencamino loves to refer to here derisively.

    second, under marcos, the military had acquired a new power status, giving rise to soldier-politicians whose clout the average juan de la cruz had to pay homage to on pain of being “salvaged”.

    third, on the economic world, crony capitalism had its flowering and attained unprecedented heights. known poor boys with shady origins became wealthy oligarch overnight just on the strength of marcosian connection. but the record shows who the all-time champion of ill-gotten wealth is and it would be superfluous to name the one who had absolute control of the nation’s coffers(mostly funded by gargantuan foreign borrowings, economic aid, and questionable schemes bordering on outright extortion).

    fourth, the virtual elimination of the legislature under a regime of executive decrees, and the emasculation of the judiciary, were two tragic features of the marcos’ totalitarian rule. it would require voluminous dissertation to described them in detail here but suffice it to say that the aberration was unprecedented in the nation’s history of governance under the aegis of democracy.

    in contrast, there is no indication or claim that pgma has not maintained and strengthened all the agencies,instrumentalities and offices of the government according to the law that created them; that she had sent any journalist (real or fake) to jail for attacking her or her family nor closed any media outfit for same reason; that she had personally used her office to amass ill-gotten wealth for herself or her family; that she had ever defied the decisions or lawful order of the courts; that she had ever used the police or the military other than to enforce the law against criminals and enemies of the state; that she had not pursued sound economic policies that have resulted in much improved state of economy than the one she succeeded into.

    gma is not a perfect president, but worst than marcos?
    how easily could people forget. and what a skewed sense of proportion!

  9. One of the criteria for being the Worst Philippine President is how much lasting damage the President did. The dictator Ferdinand Marcos for instance, did more than words can convey. With Gloria, the historical reckoning is yet to be made.
    Let history judge her.

  10. apropos to the main topic of this thread, i was just wondering what could have happened if ninoy aquino did not die and he succeeded marcos to the presidency, with or without “people power”. how long could he have lasted without being hounded out from office by enemies, both pre-existing and newly-acquired – salivating power grabbers who would want their turn at the till, pronto.

    to argue that ninoy was so “loved” by the people at the time so that he was invincible and could do no wrong because he had “moral ascendancy”, is to indulge in fantasy. had he shown strong political will to do what he honestly believed to be the right thing to do, he would have met proportionate (if not overwhelming) resistance from those who believed otherwise and hate his guts. a slight suspicion (no matter how ludicrous) that he would try to cling to power beyond his tenure would have unleashed unrelenting onslaught against his person and presidency until he is regarded by many as “the worst president ever” and ousted from it.

    such are the vagaries of present-day philippine politics. i would even venture to say that even the great mlq, taken in the context of the present time, would have encountered the same predicament.

  11. Upon her arrival from the presidential junket,Lady Miriam immediately requested for a Senate investigation to determine who paid for Pulse Asia’s research on public perception on Presidential corruption.In the recently published research,majority of Filipinos considered Gloria the “most corrupt president” in Philippine history.

    Where in the world is it illegal to sponsor a research to gauge public opinion?

  12. The survey did not show anything new. We already know she is the most corrupt ever. Of course, her internet brigade are all over the blogs trying to defend her.

  13. Besides, it’s high time that Filipino literary writers write for the Filipino reader — not for the critics in the academia, not for the coveted international audience over in the West (which will naturally come if the writing is really good) and not certainly only for a certain market which people in this blog seems to a part of. Go ask Jose Dalisay whose novel Soledad’s Sister had been shortlisted for Man Asia Literay Prize, which unfortunately went to a Chinese writer.


    The best novel written about Filipinos is Mona Simpson’s My Hollywood. Not published yet, I think but I’ve read several excerpts. In future, this could be a significant point of debate in Philippine literary circles. I’m not a fan of Dalisays cliched view of Filipinos and his “studied English.”

    I agree that a Filipino novel written for Filipinos is the most earnest literary approach. People in foreign lands don’t understand a lot of subtleties on our culture. The problem lies in the appreciation of language used. Hell, some of our literature professors don’t even understand the books they lecture about. That’s one of the reasons why I think Mona Simpson’s approach splendidly opens up a new horizon for Philippine writing. I’ll post a link after this comment.

  14. sorry, MacBook keyboard sucks:

    The best novel written about Filipinos is Mona Simpson’s My Hollywood. Not published yet, I think, but I’ve read several excerpts. In future this could be a significant point of debate in Philippine literary circles. I’m not a fan of Dalisay’s cliched view of Filipinos and his “studied English.”

    Just so nobody thunk I dunno my commas.

  15. Sa wakas 100% akong sang-ayon kay Bencard, walang tatalo kay Makoy. Marahil mga pre martial law babies ang mga kasama sa survey. Iba ang basahin mo lamang ang mga nangyari noong martial law kaysa tunay mong ma-experience ito.

    Ang makatako lamang, simula pa lamang ito ng “Arroyo era”, paano kaya ang mangyayari sa mga susunod na taon?

  16. “So number one is bible but the lowest percentage is bible-inspired books. Amazing.” – The C A T

    Bible is largest in circulation and it is free. I got different bibles when I was young from Seventh Day Adventist, Mormons, Jehovah Witness, Baptist, Lutherans and of course Catholic version. All given. I still remember, the vendor selling pandesal has his bible ready in his tricycle in case you start talking about religion. Iglesia ni Cristo can easily cite the passage of the creation of church of Christ or Iglesia ni Cristo. Those were the days of bible quoting.

  17. “the process requires a greater collaboration and investments that are difficult to find. a couple of my pet projects for a time were to have a graphic novel version of locsin’s “the heroic confession” or his non-fiction “rizal,” and a manga-style version of mabini’s “la revolucion filipina,” but like my other obsession, a philippine historical atlas, the funding simply isn’t there.”

    I don’t think it’s all about funding. REAL artists just do their stuff regardless of whether it is supported or not. Unfortunately talent does not necessarily presuppose passion. I’ve met a lot of talented illustrators who are not artists. They have the technical skill and even the desire to express. But they do not have that all-consuming passion that creates truly world-class artists.

    I read somewhere that although Pinoys like singing the ballads and blues-themed songs, their delivery comes out as merely competent at best. Regine Velasquez has a powerful singing voice and delivery routine. But in the world stage she is no more than the equivalent of a programmed synthesizer that we are trying to pit against Eddie van Halen on a 30-year-old electric guitar.

    Number one: Masyadong ‘conscious’ ang Pinoy.
    Number two: Pinoys lack a deep well of SUBSTANCE.

    It takes a complete unself-conscious submission to artistic passion drawing from a DEEP well of SUBSTANCE to deliver truly world-class art.

    Unfortunately Pinoys utterly lack both ingredients.

  18. .Bible is largest in circulation and it is free. I got different bibles when I was young from Seventh Day Adventist, Mormons, Jehovah Witness, Baptist, Lutherans and of course Catholic version. All given. I still remember, the vendor selling pandesal has his bible ready in his tricycle in case you start talking about religion. Iglesia ni Cristo can easily cite the passage of the creation of church of Christ or Iglesia ni Cristo. Those were the days of bible quoting.

    my statement was based on my test of the believability of the results by looking at the consistency of the responses.

    like if the reason for reading is entertainment and among the results show you that recipebook and bible are among the widely reading materials would you not question the result of the survey. Ano yan, you grab the bible to be entertained or the recipe book to entertain yourself by knowing how many tomatoes should be included in paella or whatever.

    Reading preferences and reading requirements are two different things. The latter does not fall under reading habits but rather on obligation to read.

    What’s the religion of that pan de sal vendor ? Religious orientation gives a lot of difference when we talk about the bible.

    I bet you will not know the differences between the gospels as told by four evangelists. How can you reconcile the fact that even their stories do not reconcile?

  19. “Take it into the context of Gilbert, who took up a degree in IT. Why didn’t he pursue that?” – Jon Limjap

    Because Gilbert with his kind of computer programming units could not find an IT job even if IT jobs are in demand in the Philippines. You know how picky are the Filipino employers (discriminatory even from what school). You know how it is when you are done in college there is the pressure to find a job. So Gilbert fall into the common entry level job with minimum requirement – selling. How do we know this is the case? Because same thing happened to Gilbert’s girlfriend Mherry who took up programming units in college (where he met her) and ended up as administrative assistant.

    The OFW option was largely monetary consideration.

  20. re: survey on corruption. news said that the survey was held in october 20-31, how come the results was published only now.

    It could have been published before the Manila Pen incident. The people could have been encouraged to support Trillanes. But why only now? Is it because GMA is hogging the limelight lately? talk about balanced news presentation. mwehehe

    Do i see a chess move here? sheesh

  21. “Ano yan, you grab the bible to be entertained or the recipe book to entertain”

    I am skeptical of surveys because it can be interpreted in many ways. I am just saying the bible is widely circulated and free, and thus it figured into most Filipino households. Most read refers to number of households and not how many times a household member is reading the bible.

  22. “I bet you will not know the differences between the gospels as told by four evangelists. How can you reconcile the fact that even their stories do not reconcile?” -The C A T

    It is even more funny that each denomination claim that the their bible is the only correct version.

  23. dodong,

    I have to point out that many of my best colleagues come from schools the like of STI, AMA and obscure places like Bicol University. Few of them are from the Big 4. They earn big bucks. How’s that for measure?

  24. “I have to point out that many of my best colleagues come from schools the like of STI, AMA and obscure places like Bicol University. Few of them are from the Big 4. They earn big bucks. How’s that for measure?”

    It works for you and others but it did not work for Gilbert and Mherry. Those two are still in their 1st year of job so they can still switch if they want to if they can get into an IT position. Unlikely though for Gilbert, once he sucked into isolation, it is not easy to get out.

  25. cvj,

    As for “considering what they really want to do” remember how you criticized your deadbeat Uncle for being an activist? Wasn’t he also pursuing his dreams (for the country)?

    Yes he was, but after he exited the movement he still failed to temper his idealism with practicality and monetary stability — something that my mother and I got lucky in, perhaps.

    Do you know how idealistic my mother is? She’s trying to convince teachers to depart from the formulaic lecture-textbook method of teaching to a more interactive and experience-centric method. How idealistic can one get? But at least she’s earning from all the seminars she’s conducting in different universities around the country.

    So my point can be summarized as follows:

    a) find out what you love to do
    b) do it
    c) profit!

    Sounds uber-idealist, sure, and it’s definitely very very difficult to turn that to reality, but it worked for a number of people around me (including myself), so I’ll stick with it.

  26. It works for you and others but it did not work for Gilbert and Mherry. Those two are still in their 1st year of job so they can still switch if they want to if they can get into an IT position. Unlikely though for Gilbert, once he sucked into isolation, it is not easy to get out.

    Well, just to clarify something, it isn’t as if my colleagues and I started out with high salaries.

    For most of those 5 years of my career I was earning around 13K a month. 13,000 a month for a familied guy is very, very difficult.

    But if I didn’t stick it out and if I didn’t improve my skillset during the time I had meager wages, I wouldn’t have been able to earn the higher salaries that I enjoy today. Same with my colleagues.

    The high-paying technology that I know today? I didn’t learn it from school. I’m not even an IT grad. I had to convince my boss to let me use that new tech, when it was in its infancy, just so I could learn it. By the time more companies adopted it, I already had more than a year of experience on my belt, so that allowed me to ask for a higher price.

    So what worked for us? The ability to improve our skills on our own. Perhaps that’s what Gilbert, Mherry, and many other people don’t even try to do. And it is waaaaaay easier to improve skills on ones own if it’s on something that they are genuinely interested in.

  27. “Do i see a chess move here?” – The CAT

    Yes. All efforts to dislodge the president before her term had failed. So the opposition will be using whatever comes handy.

    The current president being on the top of the list is not surprising. The survey started on negative criteria (corruption) and current president going backward to 1972. There is already an assumption that all are corrupt and differs only in the degree.

    With all the media noises of the current president, naturally most respondents would bring up the current president. Thats how perception can be manipulated. To have a better perception, a degree of separation should have been made like number of billions or millions lost in corruption between Presidents. That would put the right perspective (Marcos billions is still on top).

    Media influence is evident in the survey is evident. Metro Manila which has the noisiest media has the highest negative response. The adverse perception is declining when locations are getting farther.

  28. “So what worked for us? The ability to improve our skills on our own. Perhaps that’s what Gilbert, Mherry, and many other people don’t even try to do.” -Jon Limjap.

    That will work if they can start on the right job – an IT field. For Gilbert it is difficult. He might be on contract. Second, he doesn’t want to have a salary cut when he will start with low paying entry level IT job in Philippines. Usually switching jobs only happened after spending more than 5 yrs in no-personal-growth career. By that time it is too much struggle but it still can work if one is highly motivated.

    This is what I can advise to most people. Instead of looking at difficulties, the focus should be at “Where do you want to be 10 yrs from now?”. Looking this, it means nothing and everything. Nothing for now, everything for tomorrow.

  29. upremo, one of my obsessions has been to produce a historical atlas of the philippines. this stems from my personal love with historical atlases and how useful they were for understanding history when i was studying abroad. part of our culture of poverty is that we don’t have as keen a culture of teaching ads as we should, and which could potentially highly enrich the way people interact in school.

    when i was still trying to pitch the idea, there were many options i was open to considering, the most practicable being providing them on cd-rom or putting them up on line, because so much of the cost of publication goes to printing.

    there are a tremendous number of gifted map makers in the philippines, among them the people who create philippine maps for wikipedia. one of them has a blog, this guy: http://vaes9.codedgraphic.com/

    a historical atlas is a handy and visual reference for many things, for example:


    will show you maps not only for political boundaries, but population, etc.

    another sample is here:


    and here:


    and flash animation has tremendous potential:


    see this, for example, crude as it is:


    and my favorite example:


    imagine an atlas that shows you the spanish conquista, town by town or province by province, not to mention the borders and territories of the various leaders at the time of the conquista, maps that show the drawing up of the provincial boundaries of the philippines,the concept of a greater philippines extending up to guam that the spanish held; the territory of the federal republic of the visayas, of the sultanate of sulu over time, the progress of the filipino-american war, our changing provinces (gerrymandering) over time, the portion of our territory with forest cover over the various decades, the progress of the japanese invasion, the ethno-linguistic map of the philippines over time, etc. etc.

    i believe that such a book would contribute greatly to allowing students to grasp the past. it would be an invaluable teaching aid. it would be an achievement, on its own, perhaps the first of its kind.

    alas, no one was interested in funding it.

  30. bencard, that’s an interesting point, and one i’ve been pondering, too. we have lost the mechanisms for establishing successor generations, or put another way, hardly any effort is devoted to mentoring, one of the worst legacies of the martial law years when of course marcos couldn’t consider building up future leaders. of our post-edsa leaders, only ramos made feeble attempts in this regard. the destruction of the party system, too, because of the abolition of bloc voting which gave leaders and followers little incentive to maintain party affiliation, was another example of the law of unintended consequences.

  31. benign0, it’s about funding. you could, conceivably, rope in talented illustrators to make the maps, but it would be “on spec,” and a sacrifice very difficult to ask, because you not only need the illustrators, you need a team of historians, and while i suppose it’s possible to stimulate all of them to do it por la patria, you would still be stumped on the question of publication, because their efforts do deserve recompense whether in royalties or something; even if you were to put up the results on line free of charge, you would need funding for the hosting and to recompense those who labored on the project. being paid is also the surest guarantee people will work on things methodically and to the highest standards possible to obtain.

    but my impression is that companies find no reasons -whether in terms of prestige or promotions- to subsidize knowledge-building efforts like this.

  32. anecdotally, i keep hearing from hr people that there is an increasing bias against graduates from the big 4, as too fussy and difficult to train.

  33. In capital budgeting, there is the concept of ‘sunk costs’. The corruption (or lack of it) of past Presidents is sunk cost. Gloria’s corruption is not in the same category since she is still in power and is, at this very moment, still doing damage. So i guess the survey is flawed in the sense that it asks people to compares sunk costs with ongoing ones. However, the survey respondents’ reaction is rational in that display the right sense of priorities by caring about who is the most corrupt today.

  34. Yes he was, but after he exited the movement he still failed to temper his idealism with practicality and monetary stability — something that my mother and I got lucky in, perhaps. – Jon Limjap

    So aside from idealism and the ability to make money from it, it turns out that you also value the ability to temper idealism (i.e. practicality). I believe that most OFW’s also have the same considerations. You and your mother are lucky in that you can make money from your chosen professions.

    There are other professions (like writing) which do not pay well unless you are at the very top. So in those cases, it’s better to be practical and have a day job that will act as a cash cow which will then allow you to fund your ideals which you can then pursue in your spare time (e.g. at night or during weekends).

  35. dodong,

    Perhaps something I saw then as a stroke of bad luck turned out to be a good thing — my company closed down a year after I started working there. I was unemployed for 5 months after that, getting interviews here and there, but nobody calling back. Ironically the first company I got interviewed for — PNB — called me up on the 4th month and the ball went rolling.

    It was in PNB that I learned the Microsoft .NET family of programming languages, a skillset that commands a fairly high asking price today.

    I was extremely lucky because my company closing down didn’t mean that I had to spend a lot of years there as a “coding monkey” (IT slang for programmer who just programs for pay without improving his skills) and I was encouraged/forced to improve my skillset constantly so that I won’t have to go through 5 months of unemployment again.

    I wouldn’t have imagined that losing work from a closed down company and five months of unemployment could be such a good thing.

  36. BrianB,

    Yes, Dalisay was guilty of a “cliched view of Filipinos” in an earlier novel, “Killing TIme in a Warm Place”. Title pa lang, e, already smacked of interpreting the Filipino for the reading pleasure of foreigners. (Besides, he is also an academic). Same went for Fil-Am Jessica Hagedorn’s “Dogeaters”. But I’ve read excerpts of Soledad’s Sister and it’s a simple narrative that’s quite gripping in its own way. I think Dalisay should have won the first Man Asia Literary Prize — a lot of pundits thought so and many were not Pinoys — of course I’m biased — but methinks by having a Chinese win, attests to the economic power and political standing of the newly awaken dragon.

    Anyway, as I wrote it’s about time we write for our own reading public and not always be looking self-consciously over our shoulders if the WEst will understand us. Good writing, no matter in what language it is written will be understood by every human being — as as for the snoots, genre or topic is not the ultimate standard for judging a people’s greatness or whatnot. Good writing must be always democratic and accessible.


    “I read somewhere that although Pinoys like singing the ballads and blues-themed songs, their delivery comes out as merely competent at best.” — Benigno


  37. cvj,

    There are other professions (like writing) which do not pay well unless you are at the very top. So in those cases, it’s better to be practical and have a day job that will act as a cash cow which will then allow you to fund your ideals which you can then pursue in your spare time (e.g. at night or during weekends).

    And I have absolutely no problem with that. It’s perfectly fine to pursue your passion while maintaining a cashcow at the same time.

    What I do not agree with are people who completely abandon their passions, or who do not seek them at all. Once more — that was the point of my blog post.

    I actually have another blog post discussing precisely this: If you’re not having fun, it’s not worth doing, and to quote myself:

    It is perfectly fine to accept a call center job or to take up nursing and go abroad if only to make ends meet. But find out what you love to do, and never lose sight of your passions in life. Use the call center or nursing job as a means to save money until you are able to jump to a career path that you really want to take, or to set up a business built on products you love and rely on. It will not only make you immensely happier, it has the potential to make you much much wealthier than you can imagine.

  38. mlq3, I don’t know how you pitched your idea, but the thing with private enterprise is that there needs to be a really good what’s-in-it-for-me (WIIFM) pitch.

    Maybe if you establish some kind of alliance with private schools — i.e. get a memorandum of understanding of some kind that you will build this educational facility for them (i.e. your historical knowledgebase website) to be used for free in exchange for a guarantee that it will be made mandatory reference for its students and faculty.

    Then you can approach one of those environmentalist NGOs or groups and (Planet Ark, Greenpeace, etc.) and seek an official endorsement from them (i.e. reduced use of paper for history books or something like that).

    If you achieve the above two you will have two out of three ingredients you will need to approach private enterprise — (1) a market for their products and (2) association with an entity to address their “social responsibility” objectives.

    Re (1) this may be in the form of an exclusive channel to advertise their products (before you are affronted with the commercialism of this idea, think of how Milo sponsors basketball clinics).

    Re (2) companies nowadays want to be associated with Green groups. Maybe negotiate with Planet Ark or Greenpeace to allow their logo to be used in the branding of the products of companies who sponsor your project (win-win!)

    Finally, as an added come-on, you can propose that, say, 10% of sponsorship cash will go into some kind of charity.

    I don’t know much about taxation there but if this is an educational facility ultimately, plus the charity aspect (and positive environmental impact), there may be quite a bit of tax breaks applicable to this venture.

    So in effect, your business model will be:

    – Private investment going into development of the service (your website) consisting of developers, historians, management, and marketing

    – On-going sponsorship from private enterprise
    – Government funding (once politicians see a PR opportunity in this exercise)

    – hardware/software to deliver service onto the Web
    – permanent staff to continue developing the service and the content of the site
    – remittances to charities
    – space to host sponsors’ ads (this is a non-tangible if not trivial cost)

    – why not keep some for yourself (Great nations were built not by heroes but by people who found no shame in expecting a buck for their trouble 😉 ).

  39. benign0, very grateful for that. i really should heed the advice i got to take an mba.

    my problem is i am not really entrepreneurial by nature, i have a salaryman’s mentality when it comes to these things -and a tendency to take on too many small jobs to compensate. a colleague scolded me once for being delighted with a 3,000 honorarium from the deped even if it meant i had to travel several provinces away, and said i didn’t know how to value myself. it was like trying to talk greek with someone.

    will file away your scheme and study it.

  40. mlq, at least you recognise that limitation about yourself (see? you’re a GetRealist at heart 😉 ). Recognising one’s limitations is usually the toughest part for most people.

    Thing is your key asset is your connections and your influence. Get those to work for you (don’t be bashful).

    If you get the funding, you can always hire a business manager (to plug that gap in your personal “limitations”) Let this guy be your ‘bad cop’ (while you play ‘good cop’). Just because you are chairman or ceo of this venture does not mean you have to run operations. Your role will be mainly in getting the right people/organisations together for the venture (establish the relationships, hobnob in parties and schmooze with people who’ve got the dough), then hand over to your BM to execute (kung baga, after that proverbial golf chat with your contact, your parting words should be: “I’ll get my people to talk to your people”).

  41. benign0, thanks again. there are many limits to “clout” or “connections,” foremost of which is that the circles in which i operate are alien to those of businessmen, and their language is quite alien to me and vice versa. this is why i have to take an mba (but it’s expensive and requires too much time yaddah yaddah but may be the only way of breaking out of the cycle of peonage).

  42. mlq3

    THe idea of a historical atlas is an interesting idea. Another funding scheme may be is to talk to the top 4 universities to basically host the site for free and in exchange,they can use it for their history lessons. That way hosting costs will be lower or nil. or maybe even the National Museum???

    One question is: can we possibly commercialize this venture? Yes, it can be. It is possible not only to make it a historical atlas but an actual atlas using census data to derive certain demographic details of the population. You can use the proceeds from doing this to then fund the historical atlas project.

    Sounds like a Mapa Pilipinas, Inc. to me.! 🙂

  43. mlq3

    I understand that UP has an MBA course for part timers. ANd it should not be as expensive since UP siya….

  44. In addition to my comment Dec 13 at 11:01 am

    You can then sell the visual demographic data to companies and make it even an ongoing service as you keep on improving the data set of the map. Possibly a subscription fee.

    Business has always been an information junkie. ANd if the information can be simplified, so much the better. Demographic data by barangay, town, city, province and country is always a sought after prize. and if it’s visual, so much the better.

  45. silent waters, one thing though is one of my personal advocacies is to encourage the talent that lurks in our government institutions. for example, we have NAMRIA:


    which i believe is located somewhere in fort bonifacio. now i’ve never been there, but according to a colleague who has dealt with them, they’re quite forward-thinking and professional people, working under very big limitations. for example, as i understand it, the last thorough mapping of the philippines took place in the 1950s!

    i believe it’s in capiz that they got fed up with outdated maps (for example, in the half century since, rivers have changed their pathways and that’s not reflected in maps) and invested in their own gps system to map their city. i understand namria is working on a japanese grant to enable satellite mapping of the country.

    so the idea might be to combine efforts with them, but again, this requires a great deal of time and energy. do you remember the gorgeous atlas produced during the marcos years?

  46. manolo: the golden age of komiks, the time when atlas, gasi reigned, is gone. it’s not even a sunset industry anymore; night has fallen. the local manga-derivatives and graphic novels nowadays for me is too niche. they are not as ubiquitous, nor as popular to a wider range of the population as the komiks published by gasi and atlas.

    one thing overlooked here in the survey is the ascendancy of the romance novels. it has a larger share than comics. does this category refer to the Filipino language romance novels? I think this has replaced the komiks in popularity and i believe it’s a sign of improvement.

    the comics medium is still visual, it only spoonfeeds its readers. but a novel, even if it’s of the romance genre (hence worthy of disdain by the snooty types ;-)), is text-based, which stimulates the reader’s mind better than comics (i.e. having the reader imagine, say, how the villain looks like, instead of being supplied with a max alvarado countenance courtesy of the comics illustrator). it is also written in the vernacular, to boot, thus attracting a wider range of readership.

    the komiks giants in the late 80s and early 90s saw the writing on the wall and tried to transition into the Tagalog romance novel genre, using their star writers like Gilda Olvidado etc to write novels. New players later emerged and now it’s a thriving industry.

    some of my friends and i tried to join this bandwagon in the early 90s and came up with several titles. our marketing positioning was romance novels that were written in a literary style (we were snooty at the time ;-)). the idea bombed. seems the komiks style remained as the sure-fire formula (i.e. tried and tested plots like rich-boy-marries-poor-girl, love triangles with histrionics, etc.; with covers that call to mind those of the now-defunct komiks of atlas and gasi).

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