Last Monday, a magnitude 6.1 earthquake hit northern Luzon. The rocking was felt strongly in Metro Manila; I normally don’t feel any earthquakes and only learn of them after the fact via friends or social media. But this time I was on a bed and I could feel it physically shaking, which was impressive given I was only on a second story. Imagine what it must have been like to be in a high-rise condo.
via /u/haveanicedayreddit on reddit: The very fact that our nation’s highest court is weighing in on the amount of cruelty we can inflict upon those we put to death suggests we’ve taken a wrong turn. And yet the very subject invites some to ask why we should even care about the feelings of rapists or murderers. Here’s why we need to care. We need to care because our justice system demands it.
Scenario: Someone I know, let’s call him/her Person A, appears to be supporting Party B, who in my opinion represents some of the worsts traits of Philippine politics (including but not limited to corruption, patronage, personality politics, etc). Now, I like to be optimistic about people and give them the benefit of the doubt, so in a bid to understand I tried to list down some possible motivations for Person A to do so.
The EDSA revolution was a promise. “Never again.” They cried. But the scope was never clear. Never again to a dictator? Okay, but if not that, then what? What of corruption, of patronage, of poverty, of oligarchy, of ignorance? We thought the job finished and patted ourselves on the back and assumed everything would go back to normal, without regard to what “normal” needed to be. The same evils took different guises, and today the forces of darkness and dictatorship are almost close to fulfilling their return.
I had some free time the other day so I randomly decided to post in the PH subreddit’s regular afternoon random discussion thread, asking for questions about software development. I ended up typing some longish answers, I thought I’d copy them over to the blog in case anyone was interested. TBH I meant more like StackOverflow type questions with specific technical problems, but I ended up answering mostly career-related questions, which is fine, but disclaimer: I don’t claim to be an expert, these are just my opinions on things.
Filipinos have this weird concept of nationalistic/Pinoy pride where we as a nation brag about anyone who has even remote traces of Filipino blood and gets some sort of global recognition. I’ve even seen a few meme images about it: (Image credit: Reddit) I imagine that this tendency is because we are so starved of things to be proud of as a nation that we latch on to anything that is even remotely Filipino.
I pass by the Quezon City Hall every so often, and I’ve always been curious about the QC public library they have there. It got a bit of press a while back about how it was a nice place to hang out (for a government institution at least), so I had a todo list item about checking it out. Well, last week I did! I passed by on a weekday afternoon about 4pm after running some errands.
Some random notes I had jotted down about Christmas: Filipinos love Christmas. Filipinos are well-known for celebrating the longest Christmas season, with decorations and Christmas songs starting to become common around September. The most well-known meme around this time is about the song Christmas in our Hearts by Jose Mari Chan, which is one of the songs malls often play during the season. Many memes leading up to December or even earlier imply Jose Mari Chan preparing to strike on unsuspecting Filipinos.
The other day I was passing through the QC memorial circle (as is my wont) and I decided to walk around the tiangge/flea market that’s often there. It seemd larger than usual that day, so I figured I should finally take a look. And in the process I remembered what I dislike about local flea markets: 90% of the stalls are selling some form of clothes (which I have no interest in browsing - maybe if these stalls sold something my size for once!
Systemic change is difficult. I’m talking about software projects/systems, but there are a lot of parallels with societal systems too, like governments or states. I’ve been in large projects with hundreds of thousands of LOC where a lot of the code was painful to read and full of code smells and so on. It happens over time as projects get maintained by different developers and teams or different enhancements or changes are made.
I have no plans of running for elective office (though it is a running joke among some of my circles), but if I were, one of the problems I would focus on would be education. As such, I have a list of suggested additions to the High School curriculum here in the Philippines. (The first version of this list was in an FB post I wrote during the 2016 campaign period, in response to people clamoring for better Martial Law education.
View this post on Instagram A post shared by Roy Tang (@roytang0400) on Oct 16, 2018 at 2:24am PDT I took a quick walk around the QC memorial circle the other day. There was some kind of event going on in the main plaza for the Department of Agriculture; Secretary Pinol was there giving a speech. I walked a couple of rounds around the park so I could meet my daily steps target.
For the past few weeks or so, many in the country were consumed by a sort of lotto fever. The PCSO 6/58 Ultra Lotto had gotten up to a record high jackpot prize of more than 1 billion PHP (roughly 20M USD – I know some lotteries in the US have prizes way higher than that, but hey, we’re not the US.) Many people who normally don’t play the Lotto were participating due to the sheer size of the pot.
A few days ago I read this great Reddit comment about how increasing hyperpartisanship makes it easier to influence the entire population. Quoting the relevant part: Once you've done that, you have a population that's easier to manipulate. You have, say, 30% that's 100% sure on both ends, and probably another 15% on both ends that are 80% sure, and a remaining 10% that could go both ways. The more you do this, the more the 15% will be set in stone.
I recently watched this TedX talk by Seth Godin about the purpose of school/education: One of the best points I agree with from the talk is that majority of our educational system is geared towards generating graduates who are obedient. We teach students from a young age to follow rules and answer roll calls. We teach them standard prescribed solutions. We teach them how to take exams and how to find the right answers.
Ever since I came of age, I’ve exercised my right (and duty) to vote in every election that comes around. Except for Barangay/SK elections. I’ve never voted in Barangay elections. I understand that voting is a civic duty, and I have no real justification for shirking it. But the fact is that my level of awareness re: barangay-level government is very low. I have no idea what their responsibilities or jurisdiction is supposed to be.
Random thoughts while walking at night: The structure of government can be a bit analogous to the structure of a software development project. The Constitution is like the requirements for a project. It’s kind of high-level and (I believe) shouldn’t be too detailed. Supposedly the requirements are written by the client. For a country like the Philippines the client is “we the sovereign Filipino people”. Slight tangent: I used to know this guy who was one of those rabid “we need to amend the constitution” types and he asked me to review a “mathematical model to track the budget as a function of tax collection and monetary policy” that he wanted to include in a proposed new constitution.
"Grabe naman kasi ang ginagawa nyo sa pasahero" (This is too much for the passengers), she said. She was a short, old lady trying to get to the front of the bus so that she could disembark. But like most city buses in Metro Manila during rush hour, the bus was filledto the brim with people, many of them standing tightlypacked in the aisle, holding on to handrails on the bus ceiling or the nearby seats.
As of today, our country (The #Blessed Republic of the Philippines) is already at war with: Drugs Illegal gambling Communist rebels Some other things we might consider declaring war on (in no particular order): Poverty Ignorance Misinformation (sorry, “Alternative facts”) Abusive government officials Traffic Rights abuses Pollution High power rates Political dynasties Poor quality of local cinema offerings Politicians putting their names everywhere Internet trolls and bullies Lack of critical thinking Redundancy Overtime without overtime pay Government officials blatantly lying or pulling statistics out of thin air Slow and expensive internet The MRT breaking down Cruelty to animals Poor quality of local anti-piracy ads Jejespeak SMS spam Typhoons Taxis that don’t give exact change War Irony Spoilers Pineapples on pizza Poor grammar and/or spelling Hashtags Hypocrisy Multi-level marketing Working at “Edi sa puso mo” Redundancy Low effort blog posts that start out serious but end up trying a bit too hard to be funny People who don’t understand sarcasm People who stand in malls and shove fliers in your face Commenting on posts without reading the actual article Lists that end abruptly at weird numbers so you’re not sure if there’s more or what
(A bit of Philippine politics in this post, if that sort of thing bothers you) Recently as the whole world watched one of our political leaders display his expected lack of diplomatic finesse on the global stage, I couldn’t help but think about how in my younger days there’s a good chance I might have approved of his frank, straight-talking, shoot-from-the-hip brand of diplomacy. I have a bit of a reputation myself for preferring to speak frankly and directly instead of dancing around the issues, although these days I understand the wisdom of adapting to the situation as needed
It’s no secret that many are unhappy with the way the congressional investigations into the so-called “drug war” and related killings here in the Philippines. If I were in charge of these investigations, these are the some of the questions I’d want answered: (Disclaimers: I’m not a lawyer or any kind of expert. Understandably, the resource persons may be reluctant to answer some of these in open session, in which case an executive session could be done.
If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you’ll know I have a tendency to be pretty vocal about any problems I have with our country’s erstwhile leadership. But for the most part I’ve restricted it to those channels and have tried to avoid posting about current events in the country on this blog (outside of my personal choices for the election), but I feel that now more than ever those of us who can speak out have a responsibility to do so whenever we can, for several reasons
No, not that kind of history, don’t worry. Twenty-five years ago this month, the first website went up on the world wide web. That was 1991. It took a few years for the Philippines to catch on, the first internet connection in the country was only set up in 1994. My personal experience with the internet came a bit later, during our freshman year in University, sometime in the schoolyear 1995-1996.
We shouldn’t have to keep telling people that Ferdinand Marcos was a terrible president and that the Martial Law he imposed was terrible for the country. Imagine if a significant percentage of German citizens kept insisting that Hitler was a great man and the more sensible Germans had to keep trying to educate them on why that wasn’t true and why World War II was a terrible idea and that they wanted to elect Hitler’s descendant to a position of national prominence.
This has been one of the most divisive and shenanigan-filled election campaign seasons ever, and politics is normally crazy in this country so that’s saying something. There’s a strong use of social media this time around, and it’s led to the internet being a hotbed of opinions and propaganda and memes and lies and half-truths and threats of violence. I was hoping greater citizen involvement via social media and the debates would mean citizens have more information and thus would get to be more discerning, but it seems that things have only gotten worse.
(Originally posted on Facebook) Heaven knows we are in need of some serious income tax reform, and the government needs to work a lot on efficient utilization of the revenue they do earn, so of course when I first saw the image below like any middle-class Filipino I found it a bit enraging. But then I thought to myself: if Singapore has such low taxes, where does the government get their operating budget from?
Resources The content of this post is regarding my own opinion and who I plan to vote for. If you want to do your own research (I highly recommend it), here are some links to get you started: Movement for Good Governance briefers on Senatorial candidates Rappler Senatorial profiles I would also Google “rappler [candidate name] interview” for the interview article for each candidate (too many to list here) Here’s a link to a Google doc of my own notes on each candidate, which I used as basis for recommendations below.
Time for some Monday morning quarterbacking! Disclaimer: I Am Not A Lawyer. I’m just a guy with opinions. And you know what they say about opinions… Today, the Philippine Senate has impeached the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court by a vote of 20 to 3. I’ve generally kept silent about the CJ trial, mainly because I know people who are rabidly pro-Corona and I don’t feel like getting into an argument with someone who’s obviously biased (I’m sorry my friends, we are going to have to agree to disagree now).
Expect long lines, hot and sweaty rooms and maybe disorganized Comelec. Here are some other annoyances I encountered (just a quick brain dump): The Comelec BEI and volunteers may be uncoordinated. I went to a waiting room at the first floor and got a number and was told to wait for my batch of 10 to be sent to the voting room at the second floor. After about an hour, we found out the voting room wasn’t aware numbers were being given out and had let some people start voting already.
For President, I’m voting Dick Gordon, because I believe that the Philippines should be a meritocracy where people are chosen as leaders based on the strength of their accomplishments and qualifications. For Vice President, I’m voting for Mar Roxas, as he’s simply the most qualified and with the strongest history of government service. The E-VAT thing is actually a plus for him, as it shows he has the capacity to make difficult decisions if needed.
_ Pasmado _is a term generally well-known among Filipinos. It refers to a condition of excessive sweating and/or trembling in the hands and/or feet. The concept is so well-known among Filipinos that it has developed several old wives’ tales of its’ own, such as the ever-popular solution of peeing on your hands first thing in the morning to get rid of the conditions. I am pasmado. Sometimes at least, especially when under stress or it’s really, really humid.
Random thought while watching the news: If Cory Aquino ever went out in public without wearing bright yellow clothes, would people recognize her? _ “That lady looks a lot like Cory! Except she’s not wearing yellow!” _
Given what today is, I thought it would be a good idea to say a few words on the current brouhaha. Instead of just enjoying the holiday watching DVDs that is.
Just something I posted on a certain mailing list a few days ago:
I find it hard to believe that ousting GMA now would lead to any true change. We’ve seen what the countless political episodes have exposed: corruption at almost every level of government, both the executive and legislative branches beholden to bribery and extortion. The problems in our government are systemic in nature, and it would take more than the ouster of a single person to effect any meaningful change. Even if we were to find someone *with good intentions* to replace the president, he’s still likely to be swallowed up by the system.
I don’t particularly care one way or another whether Gloria falls out of power or not. I suspect a lot of people don’t. And a lot of people probably don’t give a hoot about Trillianes either. I am however of the opinion that he is an idiot. What exactly did he hope to accomplish yesterday anyway? The only difference between now and Oakwood a few years ago is that since then he’s gotten the pity vote to actually be able to call himself a senator.
When you get off at the SM North station, there are always a million people lining up at the entry turnstiles (where you insert your ticket before exiting the station). The outermost lines are always the slowest ones, because effectively three to four lines of people are trying to use that line. To save time, instead use one of the innermost lines.
Ban the distribution of sample ballots and election paraphernalia on election day within the vicinity of voting precincts. Seriously, check out the amount of trash generated on election day near the precinct: And I noted that the current level of trash is already an improvement from last year! In Quezon City at least, the local government seems to have been able to keep people from plastering campaign posters all over the place (relatively), so banning campaign materials on election day should not be too much of a stretch.
I still don’t know how I am voting on Monday. Or even if I am voting at all. I’m thinking of voting for those 3 guys from Kapatiran, simply to reward the sheer chutzpah of their candidacies. The GO and TU coalitions seem largely irrelevant to me, you can be fairly sure those coalitions won’t mean squat after the elections, so all these surveys keeping score of administration vs opposition seem a bit useless.
So, I was there in the taxi with my youngest brother Brian. And I brought up the topic of the noontime TV show Wowowee, which we had just seen about half an hour of before we got in the taxi. I told him that I thought of it as a really terrible show. Sure, poor people win relatively-large cash prizes and stuff from it, but it feels so exploitative. Hundreds, maybe thousands of poor folk from god-knows-how-far-away queue up outside the studios every day hoping to get into the studio audience to participate in the cash giveaways.
Like a howling banshee, typhoon Milenyo tore through most of Metro Manila last Thursday, leaving chaos and devastation in its’ wake. The Philippine Star’s headline was most apt: ‘Milenyo’ shuts down Metro. Literally. Most places in Luzon lost power before noon of Thursday, owing to ravaged electrical transmission lines and substations. As of last night, at most 60% of areas have had power restored. Luckily it included both my place of work and place of residence, as losing access to electricity makes me feel like a peon in the dark ages.
I read this awesome article on driving in Taiwan , apparently written by an American living in Taiwan. Lots of pictures, and very descriptive. I suppose any foreigners coming to the Philippines would say that the situation in Metro Manila is pretty much the same as the one outlined in the article, but after I read it I can’t help but feel that it’s just a little bit worse over there.
World Public Opinion Check out the link, apparently the Philippines is the United States’ #1 fan.
Lest I be accused of avoiding the real world by writing about TV shows while events start to unfold which may or may not plunge our nation into chaos , I suppose I should put my two cents into the matter. For those who read this text in the future at a time when all these links are broken, the current President of the Phillipines, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has declared a state of national emergency today, claiming that a broad alliance encompassing traditional oppostion groups and the far left and the far right are trying to bring her down.
pamie.com: Open Up and Say Yumburger. Awesome, awesome blog post about some “Ugly Americans” and their um… “unique” experience dining at Jollibee. Highlights the world of difference between the American palette and the Filipino one. While they make a good point that Jollibee is the “crappy burger joint food” of the Philippines as compared to McDonald’s which is the “crappy burger joint food” of the US, I don’t think I’ve ever heard any Filipino reference Jollibee food in any such disparaging manner.
In a few months people will forget anyway. Yesterday 74 people died in a tragic stampede. The reason? Crowding to get into the one-year anniversary show of a local noontime variety show. Wowowee. This is ridiculous, an obvious barometer showing how desperate many of our countrymen have become. The show was offering prizes in the form of raffle draws and contests, and many were hoping to win a house and lot or at least some cash to help them get by.
I’m no music critic; often I can’t even carry my own tune. But I do know what I like, and I know I like the Eraserheads’ music. If you don’t know who the ‘heads are, they’re basically the Beatles of the Philippines, galvanizing the local music industry and serving as an example and inspiration to numerous other bands that followed after them. It’s only fitting then that many of the current crop of Filipino performers pay tribute to them in the form of Ultraelectromagnetic Jam.
I saw an interview with Manny Pacquiao on Rated K, apparently after his celebrated win last Sunday. Korina referred to him as a millionaire because of his share from the match, but Manny said he’s going to be giving a lot of it away. People told him to donate to Katrina, but he says there are also a lot of needy people in his own country so he’s giving to them first.
I remember the atmosphere at UP around the time of the infamous second evelope at Erap’s trial. Even the normally apathetic Engineering students were being woken out of their political stupor by outrage at the turn of events by the Estrada-friendly senators. Everywhere you go in UP, people would be asking you if you were coming to the big rally on EDSA. Today? Today, the conversations are like this: “Mag-gimik dapat kami bukas sa Makati eh… “
I was going to ahead and break my blog silence on the whole Gloriagate thing, but I realized I should read the whole transcript at PCIJ first, boring as it is. That way, I can at least say I’m basing my opinions on known facts unlike roughly 90% of the rest of the participants in this debacle. I went through it in about thirty minutes, skimming most and picking out only the parts that seemed most interesting, and skipping anything that was too vague or that I didn’t strictly understand the mechanics of.
Download recordings of alleged destabilization tape – INQ7.net Transcript at PCIJ blog I don’t do much politics, but for those out of the loop, the government has recently released some tapes of conversations allegedly edited to make it look like the President has been participating in electoral fraud. I’m actually more interested in the tech part of this – these are supposedly mobile phone taps, so I guess they should have come from the mobile service provider?
Bomb blasts rock Davao, General Santos, Makati – INQ7.net Makati City, three people were killed while at least 20 others were injured after an explosion rocked a bus plying EDSA as it passed underneath the Metro Rail Transit’s Ayala Station, Metro Manila police chief Director Avelino Razon Jr. said. What a way to celebrate Valentine’s day. And here I was just blogging about security issues. (Although looks like this incident wasn’t actually in the MRT.