Saturday, March 9, 2019

Somebody Has to Pay the Bill

by Gil Calderon Utanes


In a desire to know
Talking sense can attract needed change
But to them to whom knowledge fails
Obstinately choose, a phony legend
Fanatic devotion to discredited myth

In their passionate outbursts, clear words
Weaving a tapestry of choice interpretations
Words that outline venom and cunning
Lies of ignominy

Assertions without regard
For careful consideration
At the expense of a sovereign country
Of a self-determining people

Being accustomed to animal pleasures
They consume and destroy
More so, do not produce
Their pleasures tied, to a using Party

Keeping in step to preserve fiction
And a false stability
Is rather be trash
Frustrated but cowed

Some time all the same
When debt calls
Someone has to pay
The demanding bill

For a future owed
That deprives the children of truth
That burdens them With the agonies of pain
Be proud!

Thursday, March 7, 2019

What Rice Farmers Need

by Paulino Jose Misa

While farmers are apprehensive about the implementation of the Rice Tariffication Act, assuring a support price as the main pillar of the IRR does not seem quite as reassuring as focusing on other provisions might be.
This is such an uninspired trader-centric orientation that is like putting a band-aid on a gash that needs stitches.
Yes, price is the traditional "bottom line" that success or failure is measured by but mainly focusing on it hardly addresses the true burdens the farmers must shoulder. We must jump out of the age old "kalakaran" box we have gotten so used to and try something new.
It would seem that focusing on LOWERING THE PRODUCTION COSTS and a careful study of the tariffs rates and how they would be balanced and applied would actually be the real key to a beneficial implementation of the law rather than basically relying on the simplistic setting of a set buying price.
By simply lowering the production costs, the single biggest threat to the farmers - being undercut by cheap imports - could be virtually eliminated in a relatively short period of time.
And this would surely also surely result in the INCREASE in hectarage and production which would be the true road to a self-sufficiency we must, but cannot believe we can ever, attain.
The practical view would really have to be that we must somehow be able to COMPETE with the price of imported rice instead of simply relying on artificial government market subsidies, a sure road to disaster.
If other countries can do it, is there really any reason why we can't except for lack of vision and appropriate action?
But where to start?
What actually would to be the greatest, most practical and effective single measure that the DA could focus on is to use the funds generated from the tariffs to provide FREE SEEDS and FERTILIZERS to the rice farmers, not as almost like an afterthought mentioned in passing but as THE main pillar of the program.
This would provide a multitude of benefits that would far exceed what a one-dimensional price-support and rice buying program, which still places most of the risk & burden on the farmer, could ever accomplish.
This would immediately hit so many birds with one stone that even a few billion pesos invested in this to start with would immediately make a huge difference. Proceeds from the tariffs could then make this a permanent policy.
Basically, the idea is to take much of the burden and uncertainty of rice cultivation from the farmer and spread it out among ALL the stakeholders to the benefit of EVERYONE.
One of the main reasons for diminishing interest in planting rice is the relatively costly recurring investment required for every planting. This is money that could go to better education and a higher standard of living.
It is also the main reason why farmers in places that are regularly hit by typhoons cannot seem to improve their lot despite doing their utmost. It is bad enough that a crop is lost to a typhoon along with other damage. It is how to get the next crop planted that compounds the problem. And if the money used for the lost crop was already borrowed in the first place, what then is the farmer to do?
Sure, there is the "usual" government response and aid to the affected but this is more often than not too little and too late for too few of the afflicted despite the best efforts and intentions. And is this really the best we can do for something that happens to many places EVERY YEAR?
Farmers would ideally simply have to register their hectarage devoted to rice so an allocation can be made to cover their seed and fertilizer requirements. This would also provide a basis to forecast prospective harvests more accurately.
More importantly, this would ensure that the use of rice fields are MAXIMIZED and REGULARLY planted regardless of the success or failure of the crop due to natural disasters, allowing the farmers, as well as production, to recover much more quickly.
In case of success of the crop, a portion of the harvest may even be given back to the NFA while this could be automatically condoned in cases of calamity.
Farmers would ideally simply have to register their hectarage devoted to rice so an allocation can be made to cover their seed and fertilizer requirements. This would also provide a basis to forecast prospective harvests more accurately.
Another way to compete with cheap rice imports would also be to plant higher quality rice which would then NATURALLY command a better market-driven price.
This would finally create a much more stable, positive situation for farmers and would even promote and encourage mechanization that would boost production & income even more.
Mechanization is one of the missing links that the big rice producing countries have managed to achieve. It has failed to take off in the PH even as the availability of farm labor has considerably diminished as more and more of the younger generation choose a different lifestyle.
No amount of government programs to provide tractors and other machines can really succeed over the long-term for the simple reason that once a calamity happens, there is no more money to pay for maintenance or operating expenses & repairs, much less any amortizations on any loans. Any money they may have saved has to go to financing the seeds & fertilizers after basic needs if there is to be any prospect of future income.
Even if these machines are just handed out by the government, as they are so few and far between and not commercially available, even just finding spare parts and mechanics to fix them becomes an insurmountable problem especially in the more far-flung areas.
On the other hand, if farmers are spared from the burden of having to buy their seeds and fertilizers, then they would be more than able and willing to finance whatever they can save to buy modest, affordable machines which would increase production and save on time and labor. They would also be more able to pay any loans that may be given for them.
Those who are now selling seeds and fertilizers would then also not be displaced as they could either supply the seeds and fertilizers to the government or shift to selling these now affordable and necessary machines and tools as well as the spare parts and the mechanics to fix them.
If we can somehow make the effort to give free college education as well as more health benefits, is it not about time that we FINALLY give our long-suffering farmers the support they REALLY NEED which will in fact even result in more IMMEDIATE & TANGIBLE BENEFITS FOR ALL?
And it all starts simply from FREE SEEDS & FERTILIZERS.
How hard would it be?

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Libraries Reflect Governments & Its' Peoples

by Marge Tadeja

Throughout history, libraries represent the evolution of man, if not man's history itself. Athens had its collection of perishable papyrus in libraries by the 4th century BC, while Babylon and Egypt have rooms with clay tablets as early as the 3rd millennium BC. Aristotle's library was considered the greatest of antiquity.
One of pop culture's most famous library at Wayne's Manor, also serves as the secret entrance to the bat cave. (All images & videos courtesy of  their copyright owners).

More than a school and a warehouse for books, the many uses of a library includes as venue for:
1. Museum,
2. training various skills like photography, 
3. geneaology room,
4. section for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) learning for students,
5. media room where users can see videos and listen to music, use internet,
6. movie theater for families, seniors, author lectures,
7. book discussion groups,
8. kitchen,
9. bookstore,
10. business section,
11. outdoor seating with shade,
11. drive-thru to pick up preordered books and return books,
12. source of help for people... and many more (click to view Nas' video).

Public libraries most especially, reflect the government and its people: its limits can only mean the capacity of those people that manage them in the first place. The Philippines for instance, is like many of the Oriental nations that rely on oral and visual "learning" if it can be considered learning at all, thus, hardly aware of the importance of facts, information, or true learning that can be gained more effectively through books, and other materials from libraries (if they exist at all).

Consequently,  the literacy of a nation reflects its culture, and barbarism. Something we Filipinos cannot brag about at this time.

The kid Bruce Wayne and James Gordon.


One friend who goes by the name Judge Dredd of the Club Dredd group (by the way, there's an actual comic hero Judge Dredd! and the former, in my opinion, must have taken the moniker as a fan of visual books himself) lived with the Singsons of Ilocos Sur for a while, complained to me one time
"Fuck! Ilocanos don't read!!!"
And to think that many known Filipino writers are Ilocanos!
Pedro Bucaneg, Leona Florentino and Isabelo de los Reyes, and other writers in English like Carlos Bulosan, Manuel Arguilla, Salvador P. Lopez, Carlos Angeles, F. Sionil Jose, and Gregorio Brillantes, the late president Ferdinand Marcos, and even the infamous Jose Maria Sison.

I would not have given library thoughts and the lack of "reading" habit for Ilocanos a hoot if not this morning, when I heard my friend Lito Javier at mainstream local media (Bombo Radio) rant about a "useless" library project. I did not hear much about the project, but it strikes me just the same how low Philippine (or the Ilocano) society have come.

And if it is of any consolacion,

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

You Need The World to Know?

Get a review from our pros!


And be seen all over the net! Including FaceBook!

Friday, March 1, 2019


by Paulino Jose Misa

It is well past time to wake up and realize that our educational systems are REALLY NOT WORKING the way they should. The problem is that the people who are supposed to work on these things are either fossilized, have an ulterior agenda, or are too comfortably chummy-chummy among themselves to want to think about shaking the status quo.
From what used to be a passion for excellence and distinction, only HUBRIS and mediocrity remains. It seems the best we can aspire to these days is to simply try to copy what others have long been doing and pat ourselves on the back for the humongous effort before relapsing once more into torpid routine. As if using a new system to teach the same old things would make any real difference!
It is not the appearance that counts, stupid! It is the CONTENT!
Instead of nurturing inspired leadership and a drive for innovation, we have wallowed in the fading, reflected glory of eras long past. Instead improving on past achievements, our educational system has become like the pyramids - decaying testaments of past greatness whose real purpose has been forgotten. Are we not ashamed that the best our educational institutions can do is number among the top 100 in Asia and not even in the world? Does no one find this ludicrous? Are the those responsible not at all bothered? Is no one up to the challenge to turn this around?
There are several major issues that seem to have been around for at least as long as the Communist rebellion if not longer.
At this late 21st Century date, how can it be considered “normal” that we not only lack classrooms and chairs but cannot even put together HIGH STANDARD books for our students? Is there even a PLAN or schedule to eventually address this or will we just have to bear with this until the next century?
While Kiko’s stupid child protection law might also be blamed for rising delinquency, the fact is that it is also really up to our education officials to at least recognize and provide some kind of
pro-active actions at the elementary school level to counter this trend. More emphasis on morality, GMRC, citizen’s responsibilities, respect for the law and society, the right brand of patriotism and the like must be made. Aside from memorizing all the cities & provinces & regions, isn’t that REALLY what social studies subjects are for?
It is not just memorizing the WHAT stupid! More important is UNDERSTANDING the WHY!
But aren’t the responsible officials supposed to know that? Why are they in their positions if they do not know something that we do or are too lazy to do what they must?
And so we have delinquent drop-outs and government scholars who don’t understand that scholarship DEMANDS focusing on your studies so you can change or improve your situation and/or the status quo with the knowledge and expertise learned AFTER GRADUATION rather than telling government everything that is wrong with it and plotting against it even though you can hardly pass your subjects!
Isn’t it time we return to the original definition of “ACADEMIC FREEDOM” instead of the distorted, simplistic and irresponsible license to do ANYTHING interpretation our colonial liberal mentality has made us believe.
There are LIMITS and RESPONSIBILITIES that come with academic freedom and these have been so clearly and GROSSLY OVERSTEPPED more and more by even the most prestigious of our learning institutions over the years.
It is not enough to provide FREE education. It is but the first important step.
Restoration of ORDER & DISCIPLINE is a matter that cannot wait any longer.
The huge factor in solving our stagnation as a nation and the key to progress and prosperity lies greatly in the RENAISSANCE & REVITALIZATION of our educational system.
Is there anyone up to this HEROIC task?