Analysis by Winnie Monsod

While I was watching various videos of update on the Super Typhoon Pepeng and the damage of the last typhoon, Ondoy, I saw a video in YouTube about the analysis of Professor Winnie Monsod on the Government’s spending especially Foreign Trips which the President has spent over 10% of her total days in the office since she assumed the Presidency. What’s more alarming is not the number of days spent abroad but the costs spent on the trips.

The news anchor Ivan Mayrina said he view the trip as essential especially the last controversial US Trip since the US is the country’s major trading partner.

Agreed.

However, reviewing further the costs of these trips based on Winnie’s analysis, if we are to average out the cost of trip, Winnie said that in 2002, cost per day is USD 45, 880/day and within 5 years period (2007) it rose to 6 times or worth USD 255,600 per day. She also claimed that it is not attributable to inflation, cost of trips (e.g. Hotel accommodation, airline, etc) has increased because it will not increase more than 20%. over that period.

What was said to have contributed to the tremendous increase as quoted on the video is a.) The size of her entourage must have increased tremendously b.) their per diems must have gone up enormously c.) some combination of both.

Winnie’s suggestion: Continue the trips but cut down on the expenses. (I can’t agree more on this proposition).

In connection to this analysis, I saw another video in GMA New’s website on the same News programme wherein Winnie talked about the tragedy of Typhoon Ondoy and it’s relation to what could have done by the Government.

Link to this video: http://www.gmanews.tv/video/48659/qtv-analysis-with-winnie-monsod

She said one factor is that PAGASA (the Government agency tasked to give weather forecasts) do not have a DOPPLER RADAR which is used to determine the rain content of storms and the intensity of flooding that may occur and wind velocity. Cost of this Doppler Radar is a “mere” USD 300,000 to USD 1 million or roughly PHP 15M to PHP 50M. She tagged the amount as “mere” because the cost of this useful equipment is much less than the Pork Barrel allocated to a Congressman (reportedly worth PHP 70M for each Congressman) or PHP 200M pork barrel allocation for each Senator.  Whoa, such a big amount of money really.

Prof. Monsod also compared the cost of this radar to the Foreign trips of the Government. As earlier analyzed, cost per day of a foreign trip is USD 255,000 in 2007. This means the cost of the radar is anywhere between 1-3 days cost of the foreign trips of this Government.

There were many other human errors that she intelligently analyzed.

The National Disaster Coordinating Council reported a loss of PHP 4.8 Billion in damages across Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon and claimed the lives of 277 and counting.  Had the government given priority on these essential instruments , it  could have saved the lives of all of these people and properties even if it costs more than USD 1MILLION.

Of course we cannot blame all of these damages to the Government because I believe everyone is partly to be blamed. All of us in one way or another has contributed to the climate change because of unguarded if not uncontrolled use of energy and natural resources and continuously dumping trash improperly. But many people are trying to point out is for the Government to come to its senses in allocating the budget on priority projects and spend the taxes paid by the Filipinos wisely and morally.

Surely, as a nation we have encountered many natural disasters in the past and we have overcome these tragedies. Soon, everything will be back to normal. Of course, we cannot return back the lives of those people who have died in the calamity but we can do something to correct or improve the way we do things or the way we live.

I fervently pray that God will spare us from more natural disasters and for God to bring a true leader to the country in the next election. I believe the Philippines deserves a better leadership…

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The fury of Typhoon Ondoy (Ketsana)

I am sure by now many of us already know what happened to Metro Manila and nearby areas on the fateful day of 26 September 2009. Typhoon Ondoy (International Name: Ketsana) claimed the lives of over 200 people (and counting) because of torrential rains said to have produced a month’s worth of rainfall in just 6 hours. Typhoons and tropical depressions are common in the Philippine islands because of its geographical location which is within the typhoon and earthquake belt so a typical Typhoon like Ondoy should not cause too much of a panic compared to previous Super Typhoons and since Manila was declared to have only public storm signal no. 1 (the lowest typhoon warning).

The rain poured heavily and non-stop most of the day last Saturday. By noon, many areas are already flooded. Few hours more, the waters are getting higher and many areas which have not experienced flooding ever saw nature’s fury on that day. Metro Manila and Rizal province was literally a water world so to speak.

My family has been living in Marikina for almost 3 decades now. The city became popular in several occasions: 1.) It always hugs the news whenever heavy rains or strong storm pass by the country due to the fact that the city is actually located in a Valley being surrounded by higher areas like Quezon City, Antipolo, Cainta, San Mateo 2.) There was a fear amongst all residents when many years ago experts says Marikina is sitting in a major earthquake fault line so there is a big chance a major earthquake will struck anytime in this area and so many property owners try to sell their house or lot out of these fear. 3.) There were several cases of rape+homicide of pretty ladies which made Marikina look like a dangerous place to live in. Seems Marikina has full of bad publicity because of natural or human threat.

On the contrary, these news were wiped out because…3.) Marikina has been a role-model amongst cities in the Metro and the whole Philippines by winning many awards for the clean & green, river restoration, zoning projects and efficient crime prevention by the local government. Marikina become an ideal place to live. The city is almost always in competition with Puerto Princesa City, Palawan which also boasts of natural beauty and efficiency in local governance. Marikina was even dubbed the “Singapore of Philippines” because of its cleanliness and orderliness which has been a source of pride to all of us Marikenos.

And once again, Marikina my beloved city hit the news big time. It is really sad if not heart-breaking to see the news and videos of the extensive destruction to life and property that Typhoon Ondoy brought us. Marikina River suddenly looked like a sea because it swell so big. Provident Village a semi-exclusive village located near the banks of the river I believe has the most casualties in terms of lives and properties.

Our Home in Marikina which was lovingly and painstakingly built and maintained by my parents  since 1982 is now a disaster. Sure, the structure is still there but all the appliances, furniture, clothes and important documents are all wet and covered with mud and unfortunately cannot be of any use at this point. Our village has not experienced heavy flooding for many years now due to the improvement in drainage system and prompt garbage collection. As far as I know, the heaviest flooding we encountered has only reached the front of our gates (which is equivalent to waist deep water already) and never hit our garage, much more inside our house. But on Saturday, the water just flowed relentlessly into our humble abode and in the process tumbling big appliances and furniture. Our car was stucked in the road as well and submerged in flood water because according to my Mom, they just went to the wet market to buy the usual weekly food stock and are unable to go back home because the flood rose very fast and there was heavy traffic on the way back home. To put it in detail, they got wet more than they’ve expected.

Above all of these things that happened, I thank God so much because the destruction is only on our property, not lives of any member of my family or relatives. Surely, it will be very tough for us cos we have to start building our lives all over again but we can rebuild it as a family. What will be more difficult and unbearable is the thought of losing someone that way and totally unprepared. I was so anxious Saturday and Sunday after I learned about the disaster since I cannot contact anyone from my family or relatives through mobile phone or landline and at that point, I am clueless as to my family’s situation. I am just so glad to have finally contacted them yesterday and talked to them lengthy on phone.

I was watching various YouTube videos as well as news clip from GMA News and ABS-CBN and I really can’t help but feel very sorrowful on different experiences of people who had been to that tough situation.

One woman was crying her heart out because she lost several relatives including children. One of her family members tried helping others but at the end lost his own life. The lady said yes it is good to know the person did not die in vain and even became a hero because of saving other lives but it will be very difficult for them to accept the sudden death. Moreover, when they tried asking for help, no one can help them because of the extreme weather condition. This cost the death of 2 children who could have become an inspiring president or an excellent doctor in the future but have gone too soon.

Another man who is a company messenger cannot help but cry because he saw the Desktop computer he gave his child as a gift being destroyed by the flood. He said it took him very long time to purchase the computer even have to loan the money to buy but now the equipment is just a piece of garbage. One good thing I saw in him is his positive outlook that despite all their properties are lost and he admit nothing he can do anymore because it happened so soon, he still has faith in God and he believe it will all come to pass.

(To Apollo, you can see the video of the Man and the child whose computer was broken in this link sorry, dunno how to upload video not coming from YouTube in my blog. Hope you will find a way to donate a computer to them as you have intended. God bless you) : http://www.gmanews.tv/video/48395/after-floods-residents-now-deal-with-muds-in-metro-manila-nearby-provinces

Indeed at this time, all we can do is Help and Pray. Help all victims anyway we can through donations or whatever support we can extend. More importantly we need to pray. Pray for God’s mercy… Pray that it will not happen again… Pray that the human casualties will no longer increase… Pray for the salvation of the lives that were lost..Pray for healing of memories of all people who had gone through this bad experience.

I was told by my Mom that my young niece and nephew seemed traumatized by the incident. When they saw the flood going inside their home last Saturday, they cried and embraced their Dad (my brother) tightly for comfort. Then the next day when it started to rain again, they told my brother that they are scared cos it’s raining again…I really hope they will forget this harrowing experience very fast.

God bless my family and loved ones.. God Bless the Philippines.

The best roasted pig in the World…the Philippine Lechon

The wi-fi connection in my room is perpetually against me..as the connection is very slow.  Well, maybe one factor is that it is a Saturday today and internet traffic is usually bad during weekends. Another thing is that a heavy downpour has just finished which I noticed makes every internet connection (whether at home or in the office) and even cable tv reception intermittent if not bad.

So I headed to the internet shop downstairs. Luckily it was half empty. Maybe the kids who usually play computer games during this time just headed off home during the heavy rain. How lucky can I get..and so I thought.

The moment I opened my Facebook account, I realized it is not a good idea to rent in the Internet shop. Facebook took ages to open. Then when it opened, Farm Town is the first app that I opened (naturally). After waiting for I guess 10 minutes, it still is not opening…then I tried Restaurant City…same result. I tried all the other applications in Facebook I am using  and it’s all the same story. Really bad…

Then I remembered to open Youtube. At first I tried looking for recent Filipino Comedy films but I guess no one has uploaded the film in Youtube yet. Until I came across 1 link that states: No Reservations: Philippines Part 1 of 5..I clicked the linked and I saw a Travel show in the US hosted by Anthony Bourdain. This particular episode is about the contest they had wherein the viewers must convince Anthony to visit their Country/City to be featured in the next show.  The lucky guy who had the opportunity to be able to convince the host to visit his native cuntry is a Filipino American named Augusto who comes from Cebu but has lived most of his life in New York.

As I watched the video, I can’t really help but to salivate with all those tasty and gastronomically appealing Filipino foods featured.  All my favorite foods were featured from Sinigang, Kare-Kare, Adobo, Sisig, Pinakbet, Bulalo..I just had my dinenr but the food being featured really made me so hungry and terribly miss home especially home-cooked meals by my mom which is actually a Pampanguena, arguably the best chefs in the Philippines, Pampanga being considered as the Culinary Capital of the country.

The best part of this show is when they featured the actual roasting of the pig to become the world-famous Lechon. It really looks so good with the even-colored roasting of the pork in charcoal. When Anthony sliced a piece of the skin, you can hear the uber-crispiness of the skin. YUMMY!

As I am writing this blog post, my mouth is still watering (pun intended…LOL) I think comparable to the heavy rains that just passed.  I am supposed to watch my diet since I’ve been visitng my gym regularly these days in preparation for 2 forthcoming beach trips in the next month but probably tomorrow, I may troop to the nearest grocery store and buy some ingredients to cook my favorite Filipino food.

I guess eating my favorite Philippine delicacy is the next best thing to being close to home….

P.S. Here are the links to the Travel show..test yourself if you will not salivate just looking at these glorious foods….

Susan Boyle vs. William Hung- Who’s got talent?


Beauty, like supreme dominion, Is but supported by opinion

– Benjamin Franklin

I got curious of Susan Boyle the moment I saw an article about her in Yahoo. I therefore watched her video in YouTube.com. Just like everybody else, before she sang I had the thought that she is just one of the peculiar if not odd singing aspirants that we’ve seen in American Idol and now Britain’s got talent all these years.

She entered the stage just like a normal contestant and seem that the audience  (me included) and judges find her hilarious.  Then she started singing I Dreamed A Dream from Les Miserables… Seems that she has been in this Musicale before or else Cameron Mcintosh should call her to invite her to be part of any of his productions soon with the quality and clarity of her voice.

After hearing Susan Boyle singing, it is definitely not premature to say that she is bound for instant stardom! Her singing is like a big and bright Patronus on a cold, dark Dementor-filled night. She became an inspiration to everyone. Truly, the statement of Amanda Holden, one of the judge in the program saying that all are just being too cynical about her and that moment was a wake up call is an understatement. Really, we cannot judge a person just by looks. We have to see what lies beneath the skin.

Now, many people say that Susan Boyle may just become another William Hung who gained instant popularity in a reality show but never got really BIG. Yes, both have some personality but the thin line between the two is their talent. William Hung may have a talent in comedy (not singing and dancing for God’s sake!) but Susan Boyle’s got talent in Singing.

Would anyone from Disney or Dreamworks please stand up and look at Susan Boyle?

Below are the audition videos of both Susan Boyle and William Hung. Be mesmerized….