Tag archive for "Philippines"

A NEW YEAR’S WISH LIST FOR THE PHILIPPINES

Current Affairs

A NEW YEAR’S WISH LIST FOR THE PHILIPPINES

No Comments 30 December 2013

It’s 2014!

The Mayan calendar ended on December 21, 2012, suggesting that cataclysmic or transformative events would occur on or around that time.  We have now officially survived the Mayans’ end-of-the-world prophecy for over a year!

Since then, the Philippines has faced a series of events that elicited a fusion of reaction from our countrymen – from shock and anguish to outrage and defiance. The past year has been one of the toughest in recent memory.  Our country was devastated by natural calamities. Earthquakes shook Bohol and Cebu. Powerful storms lashed at large swaths of the Visayas. On the political stage, the pork barrel scandal rocked the nation and brought the level of public loathing for some elected officials to a new low. Over in Mindanao, the siege of Zamboanga cast a pall over peace negotiations.

Through it all, Filipinos have remained steadfast, resilient and hopeful. The youth, particularly, still feel that they can hurdle the challenges and move onward to a brighter future.

With all these catastrophes still fresh in mind, several college freshmen got together to create a list of the top 10 things that they want for the country in the coming year. Like it or not, it is our generation that will be running the country in the near future, and it is because of this that we must be aware of what is going on beyond our comfort zone. The following wishes for the new year were chosen based on the issues that we, as young citizens, feel need to be addressed. 

 

Proudly Pinoy

Proudly Pinoy

1. We wish for more Filipinos to love and be proud of our country. The Philippines is highly visible on the international stage nowadays because of Filipinos who represent the country abroad — beauty queens, singers and athletes. When Filipinos see their kababayans competing or showcasing their talents onscreen, many show their full support because they want other countries to see the kagalingan or brilliance of the Filipino. Sadly, love for the country itself is dwindling. Due to factors that make the Philippines a Third World country (such as poverty), many people are quick to belittle our country and point out its flaws. Instead, more Filipinos need to understand that one way to show their pride is to find ways to fix these flaws. There are several ways to do so, but the most basic would be to be good citizens and to abide by the laws of the country.

Education is a right

Education is a right

2. We wish for education to be a right rather than a privilege by obtaining more funds for scholarships and subsidy for public schools (See http://budgetngbayan.com/summary-of-allocations/). It is a sad reality that a great percentage of Filipino children do not go to school because of poverty. For these children, it is a dream to even get a high school diploma. This should definitely not be the case, because education is a must in order to improve the state of the country. Last year, the Department of Education received the most out of the 2-trillion peso budget. We hope that this continues in the coming year, and that all of the money will be utilized to create more scholarships (for all levels of education) and to provide for increased subsidy for public schools.

3. We wish for people to have enough morality to choose to do what’s right and not only what’s legal. We wish that this year, people are guided by their own morality, or their own beliefs of what is right and wrong, instead of just working within what the law permits. The core of a society is its people, and this is why they should be able to make the right choices.

Boats as lifelines

Boats for Typhoon ‘Yolanda’ victims

4. We wish for increased funding for livelihood projects. As the (overused) proverb goes, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” This in itself explains why livelihood projects are important. These are the kinds of projects that the government should be spending on because they equip people with skills that they can utilize.

5. We wish for an increased push for vocational and technical courses instead of “glamour courses”. (See http://planetphilippines.com/migration/a-disastrous-oversupply-of-unemployable-graduates/) For quite some time now, the country has been seeing an oversupply of unemployable graduates because more students are taking up “glamour courses”, or courses for more “high-profile” careers such as nursing and hotel and restaurant management (HRM). The urgent need for in-demand careers like respiratory therapists and cardio technicians needs to be stressed, and more students need to be informed of the various opportunities that could come with taking these kinds of courses. 

6. We wish for more awareness among Filipino citizens about issues such as the environment, the government, etc.  With social media becoming an integral part of almost everyone’s life, it is almost impossible to be ignorant of the issues that plague our country from day to day. We say this, and yet so many people seem to stay uninformed. This coming year, we really want more people to be socially and politically aware so that they can make more informed opinions that can hopefully lead them to act on these issues.

7. We wish for a nationwide public transport system. Having an extensive public transportation would make it easier for both citizens and tourists to go to and from places. It would be nice if we could emulate the public transportation system (trains) of Japan and Europe, where a web of trains can take people to different provinces. Extending our current rail lines such as the MRT and LRT could help in achieving this. Improving the trains we currently have (and adding to them as well) would help make it a long term thing.

Enough of the circus

Enough of the circus

8. We wish for the public to make more informed choices during elections. This could be done through public discussions of issues during the election campaign (media could spearhead such move). If people were more aware of the issues, they would be more likely to vote for someone based on their belief systems, and not based on who the lesser evil is. The election of more highly qualified officials would contribute to a more stable democracy, one that is more dependent on the quality of its institutions rather than the officials elected at present. This system would indirectly contribute to all the other stated wishes.

9. We wish for proper relocation of the slums, better urban planning (exclusive to designers/urban planners licensed in the field) and planning for communities/provinces in light of increased risk from natural disasters. Originally, we wished for the relocation schemes currently being carried out in the country to be improved, and for our cities to be better planned in order to solve the awful traffic situation. This wish was modified in light of the recent typhoon Yolanda that hit areas in the Visayas region. Most of the towns that were hit hard, such as Tacloban, Leyte, and Guiuan, Samar, are almost completely wiped out. Though it is unfortunate that so many people lost their homes, this also comes as an opportunity to rebuild these areas in a way that addresses the risks posed by various natural disasters.    

10. We wish for more Filipinos to open their eyes to the need for gender sensitivity, female empowerment and LGBT awareness. There are common misconceptions that we really wish would change in people’s minds — the downplayed role of women in society, the lack of opportunities for women job-wise especially in business leadership, and the misogynistic culture that still prevails to this day. Honestly, we have a long way to go before women’s rights in the Philippines truly become realized. The controversy over the Reproductive Health Law and the Divorce Bill says a lot about the rights women are expected to have. The same is true for members of the LGBT community, who are put in boxes and given predetermined roles in society (hairdressers, comedians) and are also deprived of rights as human beings.

Compiled by Gaby Gloria

Contributors: Olivia Villanueva (Ateneo de Manila University), Patricia Perez (University of the Philippines), Rocco Ongsiako (De-La Salle University), BP Valenzuela (ADMU), Camille Cervantes (UP), Miguel Gana (ADMU), and Gio Gloria (DLSU)

 

 

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AQUINO’S PRESIDENTIAL MANAGEMENT STYLE

Politics

AQUINO’S PRESIDENTIAL MANAGEMENT STYLE

No Comments 22 July 2013

When President Benigno Aquino III gathered his Cabinet secretaries to discuss the 2014 budget on July 8, the meeting took all of 10 hours. But he still wasn’t satisfied. Aquino wanted details. He wanted answers. And he wanted numbers. READ FULL STORY

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AN UNPOLISHED JEWEL YET TO BE DISCOVERED

Travel

AN UNPOLISHED JEWEL YET TO BE DISCOVERED

6 Comments 23 June 2012

By Ana Maria Villanueva-Lykes

I once met a vagabond from Belgium who went from one country to the other, hawking her exquisitely handmade jewelry. Her dirty hair was tied up to reveal a pretty sunburned face, the face that looked like it had seen many places. But my assumption was quickly challenged with her straightforward question. “Where is that?” she asked when I told her where I’m from. “The Philippines. In Southeast Asia,” I said again, thinking she didn’t hear me clearly. She replied with a puzzled look. To save us both from embarrassment, I said, “It’s close to Thailand,” and moved on.

Unfortunately for the Philippines, this is not a singular incident. For some reason, our country remains as several tiny dots in the tourism map. Those who wish to explore Southeast Asia would quickly pin Thailand for the beaches, Indonesia for the culture in Bali, and Hong Kong for the shopping. As a country of over 7,000 islands, we have more than just beaches, culture, and shopping to offer. The Pearl of the Orient Seas has a treasure chest of gems overflowing, stunning or maybe even more brilliant than the finely cut jewels of our neighbors. A UK travel website claims the Philippines as “Asia’s undiscovered gem.” Yet we remain dulled like an unpolished precious stone.

On one hand, this can be an advantage, especially to travelers who prefer places that are not as heavily choked with sightseers. Many backpackers tout the Philippines as uncharted territory, their legendary hideout, and they’d like to keep it secret, the way The Beach in the novel of the same title was said to be. Ironically, it is said that the beach, which Alex Garland wrote about in his novel supposedly set in Thailand, was actually inspired by the beaches of Palawan.

We can’t blame Garland for keeping Palawan as his secret paradise. Neither can we hold territorial travelers culpable for the fact that we have yet to reach our tourism potential in spite of what we have to offer. According to the UN World Tourism Organization, the Philippines’ share of the whole Asia and the Pacific region was at 1.7% in terms of international arrivals in 2008.

It’s easy to blame the government for our country’s every failure. So let us point accusing fingers at them for a moment, drawing light on the fact that there is not enough effort to make tourism a national policy priority. We can also hold our leaders responsible for not creating enough incentives for foreign investors. According to former Economic Planning Secretary Gerardo Sicat, we are making progress in terms of tourism, but still lagging.

Poor infrastructure is one of the major reasons why we are still behind our Southeast Asian neighbors and not in tourism alone. The Department of Tourism is making waves with different advertising promotions, especially with the recent “It’s More Fun in the Philippines” campaign, but if we are to invite visitors over, we need to make our place more accessible and give our guests a pleasant stay with more world class establishments for high flyers and more budget friendly accommodations for backpackers.

But many regulations hinder the entry of big foreign hotel investors. “A major impediment here has been the constitutional provision against land ownership and the equity restrictions pertaining to land in corporations. Associated businesses tied up to these provisions have impeded a vibrant growth of the tourist sector over the years,” explains Sicat. Next door, Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, and Indonesia are enjoying a steady influx of travelers because their laws are more accommodating to foreign investors in the tourism sector.

We could write an entire paper on the government’s failures to boost the country’s tourism, but while we’re pointing fingers, we need to remember that we too are responsible for promoting our country and welcoming guests. And those of us abroad are also ambassadors of our nation. We are after all the face of the Philippines, but somehow we have blurred our cultural identity.  It is not that we have little pride for our motherland, but because we have become so adaptable, we have weakened our identity as Filipinos. In the U.S. for instance, we have become so Americanized that to foreign eyes we are no longer so different and thus less interesting. Our capability to quickly adjust to our situation – perhaps based on our long history of oppression and poverty – has led us to blend in with our surroundings and have become one of them – Americans, Canadians, Europeans, etc.

Even our children no longer speak the native tongue. Not only has the tongue become more fluent with the English language, it has also become more inclined to international cuisine. Our palates have quickly learned to adjust. If the Chinese crave for dumplings, they don’t just make it, they build their own restaurant which eventually grows into a town. Where in the world can you find a Filipino Town? If a Pinoy craves for lechon, they quiet the hankering with a slice of pork roast.

We have also become overcritical of our country’s flaws. When we welcome guests into our home, there is always a little bit of that hiya involved. A plate of pansit is almost always served with “pasensya ka na sa handa namin” on the side. Abroad, this can be translated to “you’ll love it, but beware of the potholes and the pollution.”

One journalist even went as far as asking if we should even consider promoting at this point when our major cities are dirty and littered with beggars everywhere. Returning to our homeland, we are quick to compare and criticize. “The traffic is horrendous. Why can’t they implement a better road system like they do in Salt Lake City?” Back in our adoptive country, we talk about how wonderful it was to go home but we miss the efficiency of the foreign system.  I too have been guilty of that many times. Perhaps when asked where the Philippines is, instead of just saying that’s it’s close to Thailand, I should add that it’s more fun in the Philippines than anywhere else. And I can name more than 7,000 ways.

(The author maintains a travel blog — www.anaviajera.com.)

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LAND OF BOXERS, DICTATORS AND HOSTAGE TAKERS

Current Affairs

LAND OF BOXERS, DICTATORS AND HOSTAGE TAKERS

No Comments 28 August 2010

The Philippines is a collection of islands in a sleepy corner of the world famous for Imelda Marcos’s shoe collection, Manny Pacquiao, the Maguindanao Massacre and, now, the Quirino Grandstand hostage crisis. At least that’s what an outsider might describe the country we call home based on what he hears from the international press. READ FULL STORY

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