Friday, May 2, 2008



Si Aliguyon, anak ni Amtalao
Na nakatira sa Hannanga,
Isang araw ay nagwika,
"Nasaan kayo, mga kaibigan ni Aliguyon?
Gawin ang ginagawa sa Hannanga."
Maiingay ang mga kaibigan ni Aliguyon,
Na naglaro ng trumpo.
Trumpo ni Aliguyon tumilapon sa bakuran,
Umikot pataas sa bahay,
At tinamaan ang bangibang ni Iken.
Waring umaawit na tumunog ang bangibang;
Nadinig ni Aliguyon, anak ni Amtalao,
Pumasok, tumingala sa pinto ng bahay
Nakitang ang bangibang at ibinaba,
Ibinato ni Aliguyon ang bangibang kay Iken.
Agad niyang kinuha sa kulungan ang tandang
At agad itong pinanaog sa silong.
Lumundag siya sa batong dingding ng kamalig,
Sumigaw, "Mga kaibigan, gawin ang dapat gawin
Dasalin ang panalangin sa tandang
pagkat tayo'y pasasa digma."
Maingay na nagtipon sila.
Nagtipong samasama sa
Taimtim na nagdasal si Aliguyon sa silong,
Nagwika, "Bigyan kami ng tanda aming

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

My Argumentative Research Paper: How Unsafe Can You Get?

In late August 2003, a malicious code called “Sobig.F” unleashed its terror upon the World Wide Web. The worm has the capability to evolve from the instructions it gets from 20 computers. Because of this “adaptation,” it is impossible for antivirus programs to detect, block and repair the damage. Unlike other malicious code, the sender does not have to send the message to his contacts for the infection to take place. The virus takes the initiative to send itself to all persons in the mailing list.

The infection was so severe that 1 in 17 mails sent worldwide are infected and reporters at the New York Times had to turn off all their terminals. Also, Sobig.F does not do any damage to hard drives. This means that all files in the computer’s hard drive are intact. So what do we need to worry about? Sobig.F might not deal destruction to hard drives but networks get napalmed. All internet applications, and including email, crashed and became as good as nothing. Thankfully, before the infection spread even further, investigators were able to track and shut down 19 of the 20 computers used to give instructions to the virus and the last computer redirects the infected computers to a “run-of-the-mill sex site” (Taylor, 2003).

The first paragraph might be an apt synopsis for a sci-fi thriller. However, that amount of destruction does not end in the movies. This is true. Virus infections are everywhere. If it could happen to the best of us (i.e. denial of service attacks on large computer corporations like Microsoft), it could happen to any of us. This paper deals with how one of the new media of communications, called email, has made life easier but more unsafe for us.

Most Common Threats

The number one threat to an email’s integrity (authenticity of data and other factors associated with it) are viruses. The biological virus is harmless outside a cell. When it comes in contact with a cell, it multiplies inside the cell until the cell ruptures. Likewise, computer viruses are virtually harmless outside of a “host” computer. The good part ends at that since viruses do not stay outside of a host computer forever.

Because of the relatively high frequency of virus infections, antivirus software are the most used security tool by large companies. In the United Kingdom alone, all large businesses and 49 out of 50 businesses use this kind of software overall (Pricewaterhouse, 2006). Email has a significant amount of contribution for this infection. Virus-infected messages usually have attachments that have subjects that are sexual in nature to make sure that the owner of the email address would at least stop and be curious enough to open the attachment (the file bundled to the message). Anti-spyware software ranks a close second. There is reason for this kind of security paranoia. In 2006, almost half of all businesses in Great Britain were infected with at least one kind of virus. But another problem comes to mind: viruses are revised by the same or different programmers and, therefore, antivirus software cannot recognize such threats. To counter this, most software offer updates to their virus database or list of viruses. This means that new viruses or modifications of old ones can be recognized. There are two kinds of updates: signature files and critical updates. Both are crucial to antivirus software’s function. Signature files contain the signatures (what makes the virus different from harmless code and what makes it different from the other virus) for specific viruses. Critical updates contain updates about the overall program itself, usually with the database and the workings of the programs. But to recognize the infection, some damage must be done by the new virus to be officially called a virus. In other words, antivirus software would not detect a new virus unless the virus shows its effects (“Viruses and malicious software,” 2006). Much like what a vaccine does to the human body but, this time, email is the syringe. This amount of complexity in the part of the antivirus program mirrors the destructive capability of viruses. In this arms race, email users are always on the defensive.

Spyware are the more stealthy cousins of viruses. From the name itself, its function can be deduced. This type of malicious code aims to get personal information (such as name, birthday, email and social security number, etc.) from the user. This type of infection is usually less destructive than a virus. Aside from websites, they are usually in the form of email attachments. The subject of the email would probably be something about winning in a lottery or a jackpot. The senders would usually ask for personal information (name, birthday, social security number, etc.) to be emailed to them. Even if the user recognizes that the message is a fake one, a well-constructed message might already have embedded spyware at the email user’s mailbox or at the user’s hard drive. A possible way of data gathering by the spyware is by recording the letters or numbers typed by the program user. The spyware then sends the recorded set of characters to the spyware’s creator. The first set of characters typed by someone is the person’s password in the Windows interface. This is far less dangerous than the spyware in the mailbox since the hacker must be physically present to open the account using the password. In Yahoo! Mail, for example, whenever the user tries to access the URL or, the spyware is prompted to begin recording information. Whatever is typewritten in the username and password field is stored by the spyware for future use. Though these are but some possible scenarios, with the vast amount of spyware available, it is impossible that no programmer has at least took into consideration the said plan of attack.

Adware is one of the most visible types of security breaches. Compared to a virus and spyware, any ordinary personal computer user can create an adware. Adware (from the root words “advertisement” and “software”) is in the form of a promotion of a commercially available product. Whether this product is for sale or not or whether the product even exists is most usually unknown by the recipient of adware. Adware would range from fully-colored and graphically complex ones to a text-only email. The more visually appealing adware sometimes have an animated button that says “Click Me!” or a variation of that device. The advertisement contains text saying, “You won $1,000,000” or “Congratulations! You are the 999,999th visitor,” both of which are too good to be true. If the user, by any means, accessed the link given in the adware, a site, heavily-infected with viruses, spyware, adware, etc. would appear. This would make the adware an indirect way but, nonetheless, another way of infecting computers. With the text-only kind of adware, a message containing the name of the product, a tagline and a link to a website is used as a method of cheap (has costs so negligible that it is almost free) product endorsement. Most users would think that not clicking the link or deleting the message solves the problem. However, adware has a defining characteristic: “persistence.” The same message could be sent 10 times, registering as 10 emails in a recipient’s mailbox. This would be a complete waste of time for email users. Of course, if the messages use the same words for its subjects, the email user could open the message, read the message and delete the other emails since they would most probably contain the same texts for the message itself. However, it is more recommended that this kind of email should not be opened at all and should be deleted immediately. People might think that avoiding adware is easy and that personal information cannot be taken from them if the users do not give it. As a matter of fact, the mere presence of an adware in an email message is an indicator that the sender knows the user’s email address or the email address of the user’s group at the least.

Problems with the Predecessors of Email

Before email, prototypes or what is popularly called beta versions, were used which cater only to specific audiences. These services are similar to email in the aspect of delivering a message in a way that can be read by the computer.

A proposal for a more efficient form of communications was made in 1977. Compared to the traditional snail mail which took days to reach its destination, this proposal claimed that this new communications system, called electronic mail, will “reduce transmission time to minutes” (Potter 1161). By 1986, an electronic mail system (EMS) capable of “computer text processing and communication tools to provide a high speed information exchange service” (Sproull and Kiesler 1493) was already in use. The user of this system needs only to make an account, as all email clients/providers require up to the present, and he can then use email to send messages to email accounts of computer users connected to a network the sender is connected to. The rudimentary text processing has greatly improved. Today, Microsoft Word is the dominant text-processing software due mainly to it being bundled to most Windows operating systems (OS), which is the most iconic OS since the late ‘80s. Also, Microsoft Word Documents (abbreviated as Word documents and carrying the .doc format) can now be “linked up” with email through attachments, the information exchange capability of email. The information exchange capability is what malicious software writers employ to bundle viruses, spyware, adware, etc. with an innocent-looking email. One of the best features of email is its non-simultaneous capability. Whether the receiver is connected or not connected to the internet, he will be able to receive an email. Compare this to telephones which require that the caller and receiver by on the phone at the same time (Sproull and Kiesler 1495). There should be conscious coordination between caller and receiver due to time zones, schedules and other such constraints. There is the factor of time and place. Communication via snail mail already solved both these problems but it is too slow (Sproull and Kiesler 1945). The 1986 EMS was able to solve the problem of synchronicity but it will take years before email can be used anywhere (the advent of the laptop and wireless technology are credited for this). Because of being non-simultaneous, virus writers can now “fire-and-forget.” All they have to do is compose a message, attach a virus and send the message. Afterwards, they could hide safely in the anonymity of their fake accounts knowing that, their message will be received almost always. As of today, email can transmit messages in seconds. The extremely quick transmission time is an obvious benefit of this system. However, this is a double-edged sword. This also means that infection-laden emails can propagate in a very short amount of time. The author of the article even predicted the use of high-speed media in conjunction with the internet and the reduction of prices in communications.

One could envision future generations of communicating equipment using magnetic media, such as disks, or high-speed tapes with higher throughput capability and highspeed modems. This would further reduce the cost of transmission and provide a tremendous communication savings for the user, providing his volume can justify the investment in the terminals and systems (Potter 1161).

Today, the most popular email web clients like Yahoo! Mail and Gmail even offer email free of charge. As a consequence of this, fake email accounts, which are accounts with forged personal information, have multiplied in number. These fake accounts are an essential tool for virus writers due to the privacy that it offers. In essence, email has been used against itself.

The first users of electronic mail are companies. Because of this factor, knowledge of even the simple workings of the system is limited to few. Now, electronic mail is a very prevalent form of communication that almost all people in first world countries own one. Because of its negligible cost, email, which was once a luxury available for top companies only, was now a necessity available to all people. This has made the knowledge of the weakness of email known to a large number of individuals.

In 1978, an early but fully-functional form of email is the Electronic Mail System (EMS). This system was first used by the United States military under the Advanced Research Project Agency (ARPA) of the Department of Defense. The “…concept was to install dedicated minicomputer systems in selected facilities or clusters, tied together in a logical mail network…” (Crawford 2). This is very similar to what the servers do to support the growth and data stored in the World Wide Web. Multiple servers are currently used to relay information from one computer to the next. This relay can be in the form of web pages or emails. Also, the number of servers used is directly proportional to the distance between the two computers. Like email, EMS can store data in a network in organized arrays, resulting in files. This military system used civilian establishments, most notably companies, as guinea pigs to find out the user’s response to the new system of communication. In offices, the most commonly utilized forms of communication are memos (physically attached to a location where it is visible to the personnel concerned), telephones and fax machines. The response was an increase in the rate of productivity. “Secretaries estimated that EMS saved them an estimated eight to ten hours per week, and managers estimated their saving [sic] to be about seven hours per week…” (Crawford 4). This was the beginning of a psychological dependence, on part of humans, on email. Because EMS reduced workload, people tried to use the system to its limit to achieve maximum efficiency. What they did not take into consideration at that time are certain factors which they just considered as theoretical. These include increasing connection time resulting in inadequate service and, further, more users being added on to the network. Similar to adware, office memos became more informal but EMS cannot differentiate between adware and a useful email message Because of this, “…the mass storage capabilities of the system can become swamped rather quickly.” More problems were later discovered including “… high frustration for all users because of poor resistance, undue internode message delays and, even worse, low probability of access to the system during prime time [sic]. The popularity of the new tool almost became its downfall! (sic)” (Crawford 8). Email groups were formed in businesses as different groups specialized in various tasks to keep the business running. In EMS, only one note is needed to send a memo to a group. The group then sends the message to each and every member of the team. Each contains a field where the recipient ID is seen. If this is seen by a third party (another person or group of persons not included in the network), like the EMS, the members of the group are compromised.

Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is another form of email used by companies. EDI is capable of transmitting information via a specified format. “Transactions may be initiated directly by customers and vendors. The authorization of transactions is controlled by limiting those trading partners that can gain access to the computer system” (Hansen and Hill 403). This could only mean that certain features comparable to today’s emails, like username and password for authentication, was shared by at least two groups. One of the most common tips in cyberspace was to make a password known only to the account’s owner. The sharing of an account needs a very strong sense of trust (a very hard thing to come by between business partners) especially in an extremely competitive area like business. “A paper-driven system naturally creates a trail of documents that allow tracking of the transaction activities. These documents are not necessary to process transactions in an EDI system [sic]” (Hansen and Hill 410). The paper trail, though cumbersome and takes up huge amount of resources, is good form tracking business transactions. EDI is considerably harder to trace than a paper trail, making it ideal for hiding anomalous transactions as well as for hackers to sneak into.

Prevention and Protection

A message can be protected by encryption. Encryption changes the original message (called “plaintext”) into a garbled, incomprehensible and unreadable form (called “ciphertext”). Two types of key encryption are utilized by email: symmetric key encryption and asymmetric key encryption.

Symmetric key encryption involves the possession of a key. A long set of letters (both uppercase and lowercase) and numbers comprises the key. This key contains instructions to be given to the computer to change plaintext into ciphertext. However, the sender and the receiver must have a copy of this key as this key can be used to reverse the instructions given to the previous computer and apply this to the ciphertext sent to the receiver computer. The receiver computer changes the ciphertext back to its readable form, the plaintext. This change is called decryption. Ideally, only one sender and one receiver should have the same key. This means that for a person with 10 contacts, he should possess 10 distinct symmetric keys. Applying this further, if all 10 of the person’s contacts have also 10 contacts and uses symmetric key encryption, there should be a total of 55 distinct symmetric keys for that specific network. Due to being reversible, a symmetric key is hard for ordinary people to crack but, compared to the next techniques in encryption, fairly easy for a determined hacker to get and very easy for government agencies, specifically, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA) of the United States. If in the case that the hacker was able to get the key, by any means possible, the connection between the sender and receiver is compromised (Schneier, 1995).

Symmetric key encryption users have two keys: a public key and a private key. Both keys also comprises of a long set of random characters and numbers. The public key is usually posted at a forum managed by the receiver or any public accessible website owned by the receiver. Visitors of the forum or website can email the owner of the website with confidence that information sent via the internet is secure because of the system’s relatively strong indecipherability. The public key is a one way key: this means that the public key can only be used for encryption. The public key is useless for decryption. If it was used in decryption, another garbled message, which has a security that was further strengthened by double encryption, is the result of this error. The private key is similar in form to the public key: it also uses a random combination of letters and numbers. However, this key is available only to the receiver. This means that only the receiver has the capability to decrypt the message. The sender cannot decrypt the message (however, the sender composed the original message so it is useless to have the private key). The private key cannot be used as to encrypt the message. This would result in an unreadable form of the message which will render the message impossible to decrypt. In this case, the private key was used to encrypt (a task for the public key) the message. Because public and private key occur in pairs, making the private key do the task of the public key made the private key the public key. This means that another private key is needed to decrypt the message encrypted by the private key but the private key that should be used to decrypt the message does not exist. Compared to the cumbersome symmetric keys, asymmetric keys are much easier to use. For a certain individual with 10 contacts, all he needs is one public key and its corresponding private key. If all the individual’s contacts also have 10 contacts and they all use asymmetric key encryption, this means that only 10 pairs of public and private keys are needed. For this system to be compromised, a hacker must get both the public key and the private key. If the hacker succeeds in getting the private key (getting the public key is a piece of cake), the owner of both keys is compromised. In this case, only the owner is compromised but all of his encrypted incoming mails are now rendered useless (Schneier, 1995).

Digital Signatures are a set of codes embedded in an email. This is more effective if combined with asymmetric key encryption. In this system, a code is generated and inserted into the message. If the message was received and/or decrypted, the digital signature would look like a long string (i.e. combination) of characters and numbers which have no meaning and no pattern. The digital signature is unique for every email. Every email, even by the same sender, has a different digital signature. The digital signature is an indicator of the authenticity of the message. If the message was modified by a third party, a hacker for example, the digital signature would also be modified. If the receiver gets the email, he would know that it was tampered with due to the tampered digital signature.


The nightmare that was Sobig.F was over. However, infections due to virus, spyware, adware and the like are still roaming the Internet. It might neither be now nor tomorrow, but one thing is for sure: a bigger and badder virus might make its way into mailboxes. Who knows what adaptation this virus would have? It could send probably send itself a hundred times among all a person’s contacts. It might not only bring down the internet but even the hard drive. This time New York Times would not be the only ones beating the clock to shut down their computer terminals. At least 10 percent of email would be infected. By that time, hard drives have crashed and the whole world could be in a state of pandemonium. Industries, stock markets and whole nations would go down overnight. Too bad not all people learn from other’s mistakes. Sobig.F was stopped in its tracks. The world’s gamble paid off. However, even gamblers run out of luck. The question is: when?


  1. Crawford, A. B. Jr. “Corporate Electronic Mail—A Communication Intensive Application Information Technology.” MIS Quarterly 6.3 (Sep. 1982): 1-13. Journal Storage. Rizal Library, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City. 28 Nov. 2007. .
  1. Hansen, James V., and Ned C. Hill. “Control and Audit of Electronic Data Interchange.” MIS Quarterly 13.4 (Dec. 1989): 403-413. Journal Storage. Rizal Library, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City. 28 Nov. 2007. .
  1. Taylor, Chris. “Attack of the World-Wide Worms.” TIME Magazine (1 Sep. 2003): 16 pars. 24 Dec. 2007. .
  1. “Information Security Breaches 2006: Viruses and malicious software.” Pricewaterhouse Coopers. Apr. 2006. Department of Trade and Industry, United Kingdom. 8 Dec. 2007. .
  1. Potter, Robert J. “Electronic Mail.” Science 195.4283 (18 Mar. 1977): 1160-4. Journal Storage. Rizal Library, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City. 28 Nov. 2007. .
  1. Schneier, Bruce. Email Security: How To Keep Your Electronic Mail Private. New York: Wiley, 1995.
  1. Sproull, Lee, and Sara Kiesler. “Reducing Social Context Clues: Electronic Mail in Organizational Communication.” Management Science 32.11 (Nov. 1986): 1-21. Journal Storage. Rizal Library, Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City. 28 Nov. 2007. .

Monday, March 31, 2008

SJ Philippine Province Guidelines on the National Situation

March 25, 2008

to Jesuits and Jesuit Institutions of the Philippine Province

With this letter, I wish to endorse to all Jesuits, Jesuit communities and Jesuit apostolic institutions of the Philippine Province, the attached Guidelines for Communal Discernment and Action to Address the National Crisis, produced by our Province Commission on the Social Apostolate.

The following Guidelines are not a “statement” or a “manifesto” of a “Province position or stand.” Rather, this document fills an important need in our emotionally charged and often confusing context: it provides a substantive analysis, based on Catholic moral and social doctrine, of our present national situation and the various options and courses of actions taken or advocated in response to that situation. It is hoped that the carefully reasoned assessments presented here will aid communal discernment and action.

There are four major sections to these Guidelines. After a brief introductory review of the present context, the Guidelines provide:

1. A presentation of the range of responses made by various groups to the present crisis;
2. A summary of “non-negotiable” guiding principles, drawn from the Catholic moral and social tradition;
3. An assessment of different options and positions, based on the non-negotiable principles earlier identified; and
4. An identification of possible action points for the future, in the light of the analysis in the previous two sections.

As I sincerely thank the members of the Province Commission on the Social Apostolate who labored generously on this document, I ask that individual Jesuits, Jesuit communities and institutions read, reflect, pray over, and discuss these Guidelines, toward the discernment of principled, responsible and effective action. These Guidelines may also be shared with others who are seeking direction and guidance.

Although I endorse this document as a very helpful and illuminating guide, no one, of course, is compelled to agree with or adhere to all the points made in the text. At the same time, I hope that the careful analysis offered in this paper is given a fair and thoughtful reception. Moreover, as I said in a similar letter I wrote three years ago, “if some, in conscience, differ with the positions taken here, let that dissent be presented with civility and intelligence, as input for the continuing task of communal discernment towards that which will serve the true good of our country.”

Finally, during this Easter season, we pray for our country in hope, and we pray too that the Lord may allow us to be his instruments of hope and new life for our people.

Fraternally in our Lord,


Guidelines for Communal Discernment and Action
to Address the National Crisis

The Context

1. The ZTE-NBN controversy has once again raised questions about abuse of power and systemic corruption in the government of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA). This is just the most recent in a series of events that indicates a worrisome pattern of behavior in government, particularly of anomaly and cover-up, leading to the weakening of Philippine democratic institutions. Among these are the “Hello Garci” scandal, the fertilizer scam, the promulgation of calibrated preemptive response (CPR), EO 464 and PP 1017, the unresolved extrajudicial killings and disappearances of activists and media practitioners, the undermining of impeachment proceedings, the pursuit of self-serving charter change, and the lack of a decisive response by the government to the farmers of Sumilao, Bukidnon due to political compromises in the implementation of agrarian reform. Good governance and longterm reform are being sacrificed for short-term political survival.

2. Many Filipinos are outraged by this situation because of what appears to be a deliberate suppression of truth, and the refusal of the government to be made accountable. Many also feel confused and powerless, leading to a sense of hopelessness and deepening distrust of political leaders and institutions. There is a real danger that citizens will become disempowered and disengage themselves from politics. At the same time, there are also those whose frustrations have led them to join armed insurgent groups or are seriously considering insurrectionary and other unconstitutional options because of the inability of government to effectively address the issues of the poor and respond to the call for truth and accountability. Then there are some members of the economic and political elite, who out of pragmatic considerations, have adopted a “wait-and-see” position and have therefore not helped in providing clear leadership in terms of clarifying the issues and options.

These include the politicians who are potential presidential candidates in the 2010 elections.

3. While there is anger and despair because of what is happening to the country, there are also possibilities that have opened up with the recent events, for bringing about serious and much-needed changes in the political and governance institutions and culture of the country. How we respond as a people to this crisis will determine whether we can make the most of this opportunity for a renewal of Philippine democracy.

Diversity of Responses

4. Part of the reality of the present crisis is the diversity of views and even division among people, across and within sectors, in their analyses of and reactions to the situation. Therefore, it is important to note the range of political positions and options among those who have responded. This range represents a continuum, that allows a capture of the essential differences across groups, while at the same time recognizing that there are real overlaps among the positions and those who represent them.

a. “The economy is good. Let’s move on.” The Arroyo government and its allies insist on projecting a picture of a growing economy, on the one hand, which is undermined by unnecessary and debilitating “political noise,” on the other hand, created by “partisan” groups whose only agenda is to unseat the President. This type of politics is seen as bad, not just for economic growth, but also for addressing the poverty problem because it is the poor who are most affected by political instability. Therefore in this view, the country must move on, since it argues that the administration has a mandate to rule until 2010. Likewise, there are those who may not explicitly support GMA, but believe that given the alternatives, the President represents the lesser evil. Effectively, they do not support any moves to hold the government accountable.

b. “All politicians are corrupt. Let’s focus on jobs, services and the poor.”
Some business associations, socio-civic organizations and faith-based groups are highly cynical of national politics or have given up on it altogether, and thus do not see it as the avenue for meaningful change. They concentrate on what they see as the more important tasks of job-creation and service delivery (e.g., housing, health, education). They believe that what they are doing has more long-term impact because they address the more basic issues of poverty and hopelessness, which breed corruption and a culture of dependence.

c. “Let the 2010 elections resolve the crisis.” Strict rule-of-law advocates hold that President Arroyo legitimately won the 2004 elections, even if there are serious and impeachable questions of cheating. They believe in accountability through constitutional mechanisms like an independent factfinding commission, impeachment and ultimately elections. In this perspective, there is no doubt that the search for truth must be pursued, even as they believe that the crisis can only be eventually and truly resolved through the electoral exercise scheduled for 2010.

d. “Bring out the truth, hold GMA accountable, and work for reform.” There are faith-based and civil society organizations that call for “truth, accountability and reform,” emphasizing concrete measures like resolving the issue of executive privilege, calling for an independent counsel (with investigative and prosecutorial powers), pushing for possible impeachment, and advocating long-term reforms pertaining to freedom of information and transparency, electoral and civil service reform, and social justice (especially agrarian reform). These initiatives are meant to provide constructive ways for people to participate in meaningful democratic governance and institution-building. e. “No real reform is possible under GMA.” There are prominent concerned individuals and groups who also adopt a truth-accountability-and-reform framework, but are more emphatic that a precondition for genuine long-term reform is holding President Arroyo directly accountable for the undermining of institutions. Thus, they would tend to be more explicit in taking a principled position that the government should step down, and that a succession should hew as much as possible to the Constitution.

f. “Oust GMA.” Various groups from both the Left and the Right of the political spectrum, many of them not sharing a long-term agenda, are tactically coming together on the objective of ousting the Arroyo government, even through extra-constitutional means. This may take the form of an EDSA-like people power, military withdrawal of support, a Cabinet coup, or some combination thereof. They are not in agreement on who or what should assume power in the aftermath of an Arroyo ouster. Some may accept Vice President Noli de Castro taking over, while others prefer special elections (on the premise that the Vice President will also step down or be made to do so) or “snap elections” or an interim civilian-military junta that will put key reforms in place and oversee a return to constitutional government. It is important to note that groups on the Left recognize the need for bringing in more long-term structural reform, beyond merely replacing the President.

Non-negotiable Principles

5. Given these and other options that may be taken, it is important to identify some non-negotiables, for more thoughtful and responsible communal discernment and action:

a. Uphold the truth. Truth, especially regarding cases of graft and corruption, cannot be sacrificed in the name of stability. Stability that is the product of unresolved issues tends to be shallow and short-lived, as the credibility and capacity of institutions designated to pursue the truth are weakened, and other cases of corruption surface again and again. Moreover, this situation contributes to the reinforcement of a culture of impunity.

b. Exact accountability. Government must be held accountable by the people, for all its actions and decisions, in all policy areas, and at every point of its stay in power. This means that the exacting of accountability should not take place only at the time of elections because democracy cannot be confined to the single act of casting a vote, but is a continuing process of citizen participation. Nevertheless, elections are also a core mechanism of accountability, especially since the present political crisis is linked to unresolved questions of electoral cheating. Part of the response necessary at this time involves the rebuilding of public trust and confidence in institutional mechanisms of accountability.

c. Pursue meaningful reforms. Even in situations of crisis, efforts at electoral, bureaucratic, and social reform should not cease because many of the country’s problems are really of a structural and institutional nature, needing continuing transformation. There is a need to recognize the problems and propose concrete solutions.

d. Build and strengthen democratic institutions. The country needs to establish and fortify democratic institutions, which provide consistent, organized and self-regulating procedures, applied to all citizens equally. Among these institutions are due process, civilian supremacy, rule of law, checks and balances. While Philippine democracy is still flawed, the genuine gains that came with the dismantling of the Marcos dictatorship and the restoration of democratic institutions should not be lost. The alternatives (e.g. a military junta, a civilian-military authoritarian regime, a communist government) are even more unstable, unpredictable, unsustainable, and potentially harmful. A second democratic breakdown, moreover, will be much more difficult to undo. Strong democratic institutions can likewise help address the present conditions of real divisions among Filipinos. By providing agreed-upon rules and mechanisms which are accepted as credible and fair, institutions facilitate the peaceful resolution of conflicts among dissenting positions and approaches.

e. Promote responsible and engaged citizenship. Moral outrage in the present moment is called for, and is critical for a committed response; but it must also lead to a serious and responsible consideration of consequences for the medium and long term. Hopefully, such a responsible and engaged citizenship will lead to the transformation of the present culture of one-sided dependency on leaders. The country’s problems have been reinforced by generations of patronage that have led Filipinos to depend disproportionately on those who have more resources and more power, in politics and society at large, in the Church, and even in the ordinary barrio or baranggay.

f. Champion active nonviolence and protect human rights. Action is to be guided by principles of active nonviolence. “Violence is evil… violence is unacceptable as a solution to problems…. Violence destroys what it claims to defend: the dignity, the life, the freedom of human beings” (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 496). Human and civil rights must always be respected and promoted (Centesimus Annus, 22). Any coercive means is unacceptable, including forms of harassment, detention without due process, and policies that seriously undermine the freedom of the press and the right to self-expression and organization.

g. Prioritize the poor. The real and urgent concerns of the poor should be given highest priority amidst all efforts to search for the truth and promote accountability. If many Filipinos seem to be uninvolved or uninterested, it is primarily because of an overriding concern for economic survival during very hard times. Indeed, the search for the truth is integrally linked to the fate of the poor. Corruption and dishonesty have made the lot of the poor worse. Programs and initiatives from both government and the private sector to address poverty and inequality, and to respond to the urgent needs of the poor, in fields such as education, health, housing, livelihood and the environment should continue to be supported, and indeed intensified.

h. Engage and involve the youth. It is important that all activities should seek to involve the youth, and harness their energies, especially for truly sustainable reforms and institution-building. Significantly, recent events have awakened many young Filipinos and stirred them to become more politically involved. Today, there is an opportunity to do political education and mobilization of the youth on a scale not seen for many years.

Analysis of Options

6. Given these guiding non-negotiable principles, the different positions and options presented above can now be reviewed, in order to help build common ground and move towards a consensus on how best to respond to the ZTE-NBN scandal and the broader political crisis:

“There is no problem with GMA.”

a. Business as usual, status quo. Not holding government accountable in any way is unacceptable. “Political authority is accountable to the people…. Those who govern have the obligation to answer to the governed” (Compendium, 408, 409). The nature of the allegations of corruption in this particular case is so serious, that any government with some sense of responsibility to its citizens cannot but respond, to work towards establishing the truth beyond any major question or doubt, and so confirm its legitimacy. “Political corruption… betrays both moral principles and the norms of social justice.” (Compendium, 411) Moreover, there is much truth to the view that fighting corruption is not against the economy. Indeed, corruption is antidevelopment and anti-poor.

“GMA is not the main problem.”

b. Give up on politics. Among those who hold this position include a range that spans from the exhausted, to the cynical, to the apathetic. All of them move towards a position that views all politicians as being equally self interested. Effectively, none of them focuses on GMA as the problem. Such a view that disengages from all politics and does not identify concrete points of action and reform only contributes to the sense of hopelessness and paralysis. At all times, participation in the social and political realms, either as individuals or as members of organizations, is a duty to be fulfilled with responsibility and with a view to the common good (Compendium, 189).

c. Focus on the delivery of services to the grassroots. The preferential option for the poor necessitates a long-term perspective on development beyond mere regime change. It also makes the delivery of services to the grassroots essential, regardless of who is in power. Thus, those who have opted to concentrate on this course of action are to be commended. However, while citizen-involvement in particular areas of social development and local politics is a form of participation, they will always be constrained by large-scale anomalies and abuse of power on the national political level. All citizens must work towards the eradication of the evils of patronage politics and national political corruption, in order to promote the common good.

“How does one address the GMA problem?”

d. Call on GMA to resign. There are individuals and groups who have been calling for President Arroyo’s resignation since 2005 and continue to hold that position as a matter of principle. At that time, the CBCP itself recognized the call for the President’s resignation, as well as for a “Truth Commission” and impeachment, as legitimate options under the guiding principles of accountability, constitutionality, non-violence and effective governance. While the bishops did not call on President Arroyo to step down, they asked her to discern “to what extent she might have contributed to the erosion of effective governance and whether the erosion is so severe as to be irreversible.” Therefore, those who in conscience have made a decision that the President should not remain in office deserve respect. Their call for her to resign voluntarily is one of the options provided for in the Constitution. However, it also needs to be pointed out that while this position is one of principled moral conviction, it ceases to be a real political option if GMA remains resolute that she will not resign voluntarily.

e. Cabinet declaration of incapacity of the President. The Constitution provides that a majority of Cabinet members can declare in writing to the Senate President and the House Speaker that “the President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his [her] office” (Article VII, Section 11). This is a constitutional way of removing a President who is seen to be physically or mentally incapacitated, but the meaning of this provision may be interpreted more broadly. This is one scenario for an “internal or Palace coup” within the GMA regime. But such decisions on regime change tend to be elitist, as they are dependent on so few people. This declaration can be challenged, however, by the President, in which case Congress may confirm the Cabinet decision by a two-thirds vote of the two houses of Congress voting separately. Note that this requirement is even more stringent than the one-third percentage required for the House of Representatives to send an impeachment complaint to the Senate for trial.

f. Oust GMA. When faced with the President’s refusal to resign voluntarily, those who are willing to push the demand for her to step down to the point of employing even extra-constitutional means must be reminded that democratic institutions may be harmed in the long-term, especially if a political vacuum is created for groups with an anti-democratic, adventurist or power-grabbing agenda to try to seize power and hold on to it indefinitely.

g. People Power. People power is a precious legacy from the struggle against the dictatorship and the restoration of democracy in the Philippines . EDSA I was the culmination of a long process of political education, organization and mobilization throughout the martial law years and especially during the nearly three years after the assassination of former Senator Benigno Aquino. Active nonviolence was a defining characteristic of EDSA People Power. It is enshrined in the Constitution, which values initiatives from below as a way of harnessing the direct participation of the people in politics and governance. In its current usage, however, it is problematic because it is often equated with popular insurrection and takeover as a method of regime change. This creates a dynamic where crisis situations continue to be resolved through extra-constitutional means which are not predictable, weaken democratic institutions and install leaders with questionable mandates. Thus an endless series of EDSA’s spells serious instability.

h. Snap elections. Any call for “snap elections” would be extra-constitutional, since there is no such provision in the present charter. What the Constitution provides for is the holding of “special elections,” should vacancies arise in the offices of both the President and the Vice President. Therefore, those who are advocating this option presume that both the President and Vice President will step down or will be made to do so. Moreover, special elections before 2010 without meaningful preparation and electoral reforms will only lead to a contest between those already entrenched in power and thus will not produce genuine change.

i. Military intervention. Some have called for an interventionist role of the military to effect regime change. While recognizing that there are reform-minded members of the military who have a genuine concern for the good of the country, military intervention in whatever form must be eschewed, especially in the present context of a weak Philippine democracy. Allowing the military to become the arbiter to resolve political conflicts and stalemates undermines civilian supremacy, long-term democratization and political stability.

j. An Independent Counsel. Some have called for an independent institution with the credibility and capacity for investigating and prosecuting government corruption at the highest levels. This proposal has been made because some see the Senate investigations as partisan, while the Ombudsman is overloaded with corruption cases and is perceived as partial to the government in power, given its recent track record. For this option to prosper, however, three difficult issues need to be addressed: (i) creating such a body through a law approved by Congress, (ii) defining the scope of its power and responsibilities, especially in relation to the Ombudsman, and (iii) giving it real autonomy, particularly from the President, who would be the appointing official.

k. Impeachment. This mechanism is provided for by the Constitution to exact accountability from the President. It is also a way by which allegations can be verified, thus giving the President a fair hearing and an opportunity to defend herself. However, impeachment will only work if people are willing to participate actively in pushing for and making sure that this process is effective (e.g. sustained lobbying, pressuring their representatives in Congress to prioritize the search for truth and accountability). Thus, it can provide excellent opportunities for active political participation, especially for citizens outside Metro Manila.

“How does one go beyond GMA?”

l. Elections. The forthcoming elections in 2010 will be critical. Not only will a new president be chosen, but this national exercise will also be crucial in the restoration of trust in the democratic system and the emergence of a new alternative leadership. It is imperative that they are conducted freely, honestly and credibly. Furthermore, there is a need for responsible citizens to organize around candidates, leaders and parties who are upright and capable, and who can contribute positively to the strengthening of weak institutions.

Action Points

7. It is precisely during times of great upheavals and crises that the call to hope becomes more urgent. Desperation and cynicism cannot be allowed to eat up people’s inner resources. To move forward from this crisis means identifying and pursuing specific forms of action, such as: (a) joining circles of ongoing reflection and discernment, and efforts at political education and organization, including training in anti-corruption advocacy (Ehem) and active nonviolence; (b) supporting institutional efforts to get to the truth and creating a broader climate of truth-telling which encourages and protects whistleblowers; (c) joining activities that promote accountability; (d) articulating long-term ideals and policies for national political reform; and (e) establishing sectoral and multi-sectoral organizations and networks to promote dialogue and concerted action.

Concretely, eight action areas fall within the range of options which are consistent with the principles identified above, especially the need to build strong democratic institutions and promote engaged citizenship for socio-political reform:

a. Support for the ongoing Senate investigation of the ZTE-NBN case not only to bring out the whole truth on matters of public interest but also to strengthen the institutional system of checks and balances that seek to prevent the abuse of power.

b. Creation of a credible Independent Counsel , in order to ferret out the veracity of various allegations and promote accountability within the judicial system, in which unfortunately many of the official institutions are seen as severely compromised politically. Thus there is a need for an institutional venue and mechanism that will be viewed as autonomous of the government currently in power and free of the antics of traditional politicians.

c. Initiation of a genuine impeachment process, particularly by pressuring Representatives in the House to hold the President accountable for serious violations of public trust if there are sufficient bases for doing so.

d. Pursuit of reforms towards government transparency in all its transactions, especially in processes like procurement, decisions on loans, development projects, social reforms, and on issues such as mining, energy and land use that have a profound impact on poor communities and the environment. There is a need to ensure rigorous implementation of laws and policies, the institutionalization of a culture of social accountability, free access to information, and the enhanced participation of civil society in governance decisions at all levels.

e. Promotion of electoral reforms to ensure the conduct of clean, honest, and credible elections in 2010, including the revamp of the Comelec, beginning with the appointment and confirmation of commissioners of unquestioned integrity and competence; the modernization of the electoral system; the eradication of warlordism; the monitoring of campaign finance and expenditure; and the continuing political education of voters.

f. Search for worthy candidates and potential leaders, parties/coalitions and platforms for 2010, through positive preparations, planning and strategizing. This would mean clarifying political values and development priorities, candidate selection and recruitment, resource mobilization, and political organizing.

g. Organization of and support for basic sectors, to enable them to have a real say in democratic processes and to address the urgent needs of economic development and social justice.

h. Engagement of the youth in current issues, through political education, organization and mobilization for democratic institution-building, lobbying for transparency and accountability, policy reform, and involvement in electoral politics.

8. These specific and concrete calls for action are not isolated and discrete but are precisely interconnected in a framework that seeks to promote truth, accountability and reform. They address gross injustices in the country through active citizen participation that will support and be supported by efforts at political education, organization, mobilization and network-building in order to strengthen and transform democratic political institutions under the Constitution.

Responding to the Call for Communal Discernment, Conversion and Action

9. We offer these guidelines as a response to the call of our bishops for “circles of discernment” to “pray together, reason together, decide together, act together.” We trust that these reflections help clarify the context, principles and options for people – especially the youth – who seek to respond in action to the current crisis rather than succumb to the temptations of despair. For as Pope Benedict XVI has said, “All serious and upright human conduct is hope in action” (Spe Salvi 35).

Philippine Province of the Society of Jesus

Commission on the Social Apostolate
Easter Sunday, 23 March 2008
Albert E. Alejo, S.J.
Xavier C. Alpasa, S.J.
Anna Marie A. Karaos
Antonio M. La Viña
Jose Cecilio J. Magadia, S.J.
Antonio F. Moreno, S.J.
Ermin B. Pimentel
Karel S. San Juan, S.J.
Benjamin T. Tolosa, Jr.
Primitivo E. Viray, Jr., S.J.
Peter W. Walpole, S.J.
Roberto C. Yap, S.J.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Fish

Elizabeth Bishop

I caught a tremendous fish
and held him beside he boat
half out of water, with my hook
fast in a corner of its mouth.
He didn't fight.
He hadn't fought at all.
He hung a grunting weight,
battered and venerable
and homely. Here and there
his brown skin hung in strips
like ancient wallpaper,
and its pattern of darker brown
was like wallpaper:
shapes like full-blown roses
stained and lost through age.
He was speckled with barnacles,
fine rosettes of lime,
and infested
with tiny sea-lice,
and underneath two or three
rags of green weed hung down.
While his gills were breathing in
the terrible oxygen
--the frightening gills,
fresh and crisp with blood,
that can cut so badly--
I thought of the coarse white flesh
packed in like feathers,
the big bones and the little bones,
the dramatic reds and blacks
of his shiny entrails,
and the pink swim-bladder
like a big peony.
I looked into his eyes
which were far larger than mine
but shallower, and yellowed,
the irises backed and packed
with tarnished tinfoil
seen through the lenses
of old scratched isinglass.
They shifted a little, but not
to return my stare.
--It was more like the tipping
of an object toward the light.
I admired his sullen face,
the mechanism of his jaw,
and the I saw
that from his lower lip
--if you could call it a lip--
grim, wet, and weaponlike,
hung five old pieces of fish-line,
or four and a wire leader
with the swivel still attached,
with all their five big hooks
grown firmly in his mouth.
A green line, frayed at the end
where he broke it, two heavier lines,
and a fine black thread
still crimped from the strain and snap
when it broke and he got away.
Like medals with their ribbons
frayed and wavering,
a five-haired beard of wisdom
trailing from his aching jaw.
I stared and stared
and victory filled up
the little rented boat,
from the pool of bilge
where oil had spread a rainbow
around the rusted engine
to the bailer rusted orange,
the sun-cracked thwarts,
the oarlocks on their strings,
the gunnels--until everything
was rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!
And I let the fish go.

How Do I Love Thee?

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
for the ends of being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of every day's
Most quiet need, by sun and candlelight.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right:
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise:
I love thee with passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith;
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints,--I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life!--and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night

Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sung the song in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Delight in Disorder

Robert Herrick

A sweet disorder in the dress
Kindles in clothes a wantonness:
A lawn about the shoulders thrown
Into a fine distraction,
An erring lace, which here and there
Enthralls the crimson stomacher,
A cuff neglectful, and thereby
Ribbands to flow confusedly,
A winning wave (deserving note)
In the tempestuous petticoat,
A careless shoe-string, in whose tie
I see a wild civility,
Do more bewitch me than when art
Is too precise in every part.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Anecdote of the Jar

by Wallace Stevens

I placed a jar in Tennessee
And round it was, upon a hill.
It made the slovenly wilderness
Surround that hill.

The wilderness rose up to it,
And sprawled around, no longer wild.
The jar was round upon the ground
And tall and a port of air.

It took dominion everywhere.
The jar was gray and bare.
It did not give of bird or bush,
Like nothing else in Tennessee.


by Sylvia Plath

for Susan O'Neill Roe

What a thrill——
My thumb instead of an onion
The top quite gone
Except for a sort of hinge

Of skin,
A flap like a hat,
Dead white,
Then that red plush.

Little pilgrim,
The Indian's axed your scalp.
Your turkey wattle
Carpet rolls

Straight from the heart.
I step on it,
Clutching my bottle
of pink fizz. A celebration, this is
Out of a gap
A million soldiers run,
Redcoats, every one.

Whose side are they one?
O my
Homunculus, I am ill.
I have taken a pill to kill

The thin
Papery feeling.
Kamikaze man——

The stain on your
Gauze Ku Klux Klan
Darkens and tarnishes and when
The balled
Pulp of your heart
Confronts its small
Mill of silence

How you jump——
Trepanned veteran
Dirty girl,

Thumb stump

Ars Poetica

by Archibald MacLeish

A poem should be palpable and mute
As a globed fruit

As old medallions to the thumb

Silent as the sleeve-worn stone
Of casement ledges where the moss has grown

A poem should be wordless
As the flight of birds

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs

Leaving, as the moon releases
Twig by twig, the night-entangled trees

Leaving, as the moon behind the winter leaves,
Memory by memory, the mind --

A poem should be motionless in time
As the moon climbs

A poem should be equal to:
Not true

For all the history of grief
An empty doorway and a maple leaf

For love
The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea --

A poem should not mean --
But be

Thursday, March 6, 2008

I Refuse To Let This Country Go To Hell!

"I refuse to let this country go to hell because it is the only country I call mine and it is my
responsibility to make sure I have done what I could for it"

To all Filipinos Everywhere:

I used to think that corruption and criminality in the Philippines were caused by poverty. But recent events tell me this isn't true. It is one thing to see people turn into drug addicts, prostitutes, thieves and murderers because of hunger and poverty, but what excuse do these rich, educated people have that could possibly explain their bizarre behavior? And to think I was always so relieved when petty snatchers got caught and locked away in jail because I never fully realized that the big time thieves were out there, making the laws and running our country. Can it get any worse than this?

Every night, I come home and am compelled to turn on my tv to watch the latest turn of events. I am mesmerized by these characters. They are not men. They are caricatures of men - too unreal to be believable and too bad to be real. To see these "honorable" crooks lambast each other, call each one names, look each other in the eye and accuse the other of committing the very same crimes that they themselves are guilty of, is so comical and apalling that I don't know whether to laugh or cry. It is entertainment at its worst!

I have never seen so many criminals roaming around unfettered and looking smug until now. These criminals wear suits and barongs, strut around with the confidence of the rich and famous, inspire fear and awe from the very citizens who voted them to power, bear titles like "Honorable", "Senator", "Justice", "General" and worse, "President"...Ironically, these lawless individuals practice law, make our laws, enforce the law. And we wonder why our policemen act the way they do!
These are their leaders, and the leaders of this nation. "Robin Hoodlum and his band of moneymen." Their motto? "Rob the poor, moderate the greed of the rich."

It makes me wonder where on earth these people came from, and what kind of upbringing they had to make them act the way they do for all the world to see. It makes me wonder what kind of schools they went to, what kind of teachers they had, what kind of environment would produce such creatures who can lie, cheat and steal from an already indebted country and from the impoverished people they had vowed to serve. It makes me wonder what their children and grandchildren think
of them, and if they are breeding a whole new generation of improved Filipino crooks and liars with maybe a tad more style but equally negligible conscience. Heaven forbid!

I am an ordinary citizen and taxpayer. I am blessed to have a job that pays for my needs and those of my family's, even though 30% of my earnings go to the nation's coffers. Just like others in my lot, I have complained time and again because our government could not provide enough of the basic services that I expect and deserve. Rutty roads, poor educational system, poor social services, poor health services, poor everything. But I have always thought that was what all third world countries were all about, and my complaints never amounted to anything more.

And then this. Scandalous government deals. Plundering presidents pointing fingers. Senators associated with crooks. Congressmen who accept bribes. Big time lawyers on the side of injustice. De Venecia ratting on his boss only after his interminable term has ended, Enrile inquiring about someone's morality! The already filthy rich Abalos and Arroyo wanting more money than they or their great grandchildren could ever spend in a lifetime. Joker making a joke of his own "pag bad ka, lagot ka!" slogan. Defensor rendered defenseless. Gen. Razon involved in kidnapping. Security men providing anything but a sense of security. And it's all about money, money, money that the average Juan de la Cruz could not even imagine in his dreams. Is it any wonder why our few remaining decent and hardworking citizens are leaving to go work in other countries?

And worst of all, we are once again saddled with a power-hungry president whose addiction has her clinging on to it like barnacle on a rusty ship. "Love (of power) is blind" takes a whole new meaning when PGMA time and again turns a blind eye on her husband's financial deals. And still blinded with all that is happening, she opts to traipse around the world with her cohorts in tow while her country is in shambles.

They say the few stupid ones like me who remain in the Philippines are no longer capable of showing disgust. I don't agree. Many like me feel anger at the brazenness of men we call our leaders, embarrassment to share the same nationality with them, frustration for our nation and helplessness at my own ineffectuality. It is not that I won't make a stand. It is just that I am afraid my actions would only be futile. After all, these monsters are capable of anything. They can hurt me and my family. They already have, though I may not yet feel it.

But I am writing this because I need to do something concrete. I need to let others know that ordinary citizens like me do not remain lukewarm to issues that would later affect me and my children. I want to make it known that there are also Filipinos who dream of something better for the Philippines. I want them to know that my country is not filled with scalawags and crooks in every corner, and that there are citizens left who believe in decency, fairness, a right to speak,
a right to voice out ideas, a right to tell the people we have trusted to lead us that they have abused their power and that it is time for them to step down. I refuse to let this country go to hell because it is the only country I call mine and it is my responsibility to make sure I have done what I could for it.

Those of us who do not have the wealth, power or position it needs to battle the evil crime lords in the government can summon the power of good. We can pray. We can do this with our families every night. We can offer petitions every time we celebrate mass. We can ask others to pray, too, including relatives and friends here and overseas. And we can offer sacrifices along with our petitions, just so we get the message to Him of our desperation in ridding our nation of these
vermin. After all, they cannot be more powerful than God!

I implore mothers out there to raise your children the best way you can. Do not smother, pamper, or lavish them with too much of the material comforts of life even if you can well afford them. Teach them that there are more important things in this world. I beg all fathers to spend time with their children, to teach them the virtues of hard work, honesty, fair play, sharing, dignity and compassion right from the sandbox till they are old enough to go on their own. Not just in your homes, but at work, in school, everywhere you go. Be good role models. Be shining examples for your children so they will learn to be responsible adults who will carry and pass on your family name with pride and honor.

I call on educators and teachers as we always underestimate the power of your influence on the minds of our youth. Encourage them to be aware of what is happening in their surroundings. Instill in them a love of their country, inculcate in them the value of perseverance in order to gain real, worthwhile knowledge, help us mold our children into honorable men and women. Encourage our graduates, our best and brightest, to do what they can to lift this country from the mire our traditional politicians have sunk us into. The youth is our future and it would be largely because of you, our educators, that we will be able to repopulate the seats of power with good leaders,
presidents, senators, congressmen, justices, lawmakers, law enforcers and lawful citizens.

I ask all students, young people and young professionals everywhere to look around and get involved in what is happening. Do not let your youth be an excuse for failure to concern yourselves with the harsh realities you see. But neither let this make you cynical, because we
need your idealism and fresh perspective just as you need the wisdom of your elders. YOUR COUNTRY NEEDS YOU! Let your voices be heard. Do what you can for this land that gave you your ancestors and your heritage. Use technology and all available resources at hand to spread good. Text meaningful messages to awaken social conscience. Try your best to fight moral decay because I promise you will not regret it when you become parents yourselves. You will look back at your past misdeeds and pray that your children will do better than you did.

Remember that there are a few handful who are capable of running this country. You can join their ranks and make their numbers greater. We are tired of the old trapos. We need brave idealistic leaders who will think of the greater good before anything else. Do your utmost to excel in your chosen field. Be good lawyers, civil servants, accountants, computer techs, engineers, doctors,
military men so that when you are called to serve in government, you will have credibility and a record that can speak for itself.

For love of this country, for the future of our children, for the many who have sacrificed and died to uphold our rights and ideals, I urge you to do what you can. As ordinary citizens, we can do much more for the Philippines than sit around and let crooks lead us to perdition. We owe ourselves this. And we owe our country even more.

*Disclaimer: This ope letter was not written by the blog owner. It was merely received from an email message.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

PDI Editorial against the first family

A very strong and quite outright statement from the PDI. I must insist that we all reflect and stand for truth and the accountability of our officials.


Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:04:00 02/10/2008

MANILA, Philippines -- We’ve heard that President Macapagal-Arroyo and her family like to feast on cocido on Sundays. They like to think of their family as one of the last bastions of Castilian heritage, exponents of old-world urbanidad.

But theirs is a superficial urbanity. For all their Old Society pretensions, they are proving themselves irredeemably politically uncouth and old-fashioned. The so-called First Family is first, indeed: first in immodesty, first in political dynasty and first in its contempt for their countrymen, a feeling returned in equal and perhaps even greater measure by the public.

They run the government as if the country is their hacienda, with all the stereotypical impunity, brashness and brutality of the hacenderos of film, novel and stage. They are not paragons of finesse and good breeding. They act in a feudal manner, while remaining uncomprehending about what upholding it in political life actually entails.

Sociologist Randy David said it best, yesterday: “The old values that used to mitigate the oppressiveness of feudal power—self-restraint , the value of friendship, loyalty, word of honor, etc.—are fading away. What is replacing the grip of Old World politics, however, is not the ethical professionalism of modern politics but the sheer rapaciousness of the parvenus of present-day Philippine politics.”

And as the First Family is, so are its henchmen. Sergio Apostol, to name just one noxious example, earned his keep as chief presidential legal counsel by acting macho—calling Rodolfo Noel Lozada Jr. a “crying lady”—and then slandering everyone of Chinese extraction. “They say he’s a Chinese from the province. Bagay sa iyo i-deport ka. Magulo ka dito (You should be deported because you’re troublesome) ,” Apostol said. He surely pleased his presidential patron; he surely outraged the rest of society.

The problem with the First Family is that even as it twiddles its silver cutlery while grousing about the servants, those who serve it are reaching the point where servility is giving way to resentment. Guns, goons and gold have three profound limitations: guns can be seized from those who wield them; goons do not, and cannot, by their very nature, think; and gold will bedazzle some for a time but will never be capable of subduing everyone, or always.

Which is why, last Friday, as a week of administration bungling brought forth a new star witness in the controversial NBN-ZTE deal, administration senators made themselves scarce. Among those pleading the political equivalent of diplomatic illness was Sen. Joker Arroyo, who once upon a time thundered, “We cannot have a nation run by a thief”—and who probably did not want to be reminded of what he said in the face of testimony pointing to even grander larceny.

Instead, the only ones who dared to stand by the administration were Juan Ponce Enrile, whose wife wants to be ambassador to the Vatican, and whose former law partner connived to have Lozada sign a false affidavit; and Miriam Defensor-Santiago whose husband is a Malacañang official, whose brother is currently an ambassador-at- large, who has two cousins sitting as administration allies in the mercenary House of Representatives, and whose nephew, Michael Defensor, acts as secret liaison officer with Catholic prelates, and who tried to organize a press conference of lies until it was foiled in the early morning hours of Wednesday.

And so, as one senator put it on Friday, we have a government that undertakes kidnapping, coercion, violations of the anti-wiretapping law, obstruction of justice and engages in conspiracy to hinder the work of the legislature in full public view. One that takes its cue from the First Family that behaves as if the rule of law is what it says it is. Not to mention all the previous catalogues of sins of commission and omission that range from perverting the law to liquidating opponents, from electoral fraud to plundering the state.

And which has the gall to keep demanding of us, the people, “Where is your evidence?” To which we say, look around—look at yourselves. You are the evidence, all of you.

Copyright 2008 Philippine Daily Inquirer. All rights reserved. www.inquirer. net

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

HAVE FUN!!!!!!!!!!!! WIN PRIZES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

FEB. 5-7!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Some People I hate...

B*m L*m

-such a feeler. She flirts with my ex-crush. And he flirts too much...I mean she touches her cheeks...sticks with her...such an asshole. His whole block hates him. according to one of my classmates....

*x*l Syc**y**

-Another A-hole. He only comes to me when he needs something...Otherwise, he wouldn't mind saying a hi or a hello...he wouldn't even look at me. it's as if i don't exist

Scholarships and student conferences newsletter, February 4, 2008 edition


here are the latest updates from


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Scholarships - European Union

Postgraduate Research Scholarship
Finaid: funds available for 165 Masters or Doctorate level researchers
Date: three years-Doctorate level; one year-Masters level
Deadline: 20th February 2008
Opento: Masters or Doctorate level researchers in the sciences, engineering or technology

International events - no fee events

Youth and Transition in Central Asia
Bishkek/ Kyrgyzstan
Finaid: accomondation help maybe done
Date: April 23, 2008
Deadline: February 15
Open to: Graduate anf undergraduate students,fge,int

South American Business Forum
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Finaid: All cost are covered, but transportation to and from Buenos Aires is not included.
Date: August 08-10th 2008
Deadline: May 11th 2008
Open to: All students of any graduate or tertiary degree career in the world.,nfe,int

Discovering unlimited possibilities in You(th)
Vatra Dornei, Romania
Finaid: undefined
Date: 6-13 April 2008
Deadline: 1st of March, 2008
Opento: any young person, aged between 18 and 28, from the participating countries named below

BCC 2008 International Case Study Competition
Graz, Austria
Finaid: available
Date: 6th - 11th of July 2008
Deadline: 31st of March, 2008
Opento: students in law, economics, political sciences, international relations, information technologies

Summer courses - United States

Integrating Multidisciplinary Perspectives
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, US
Finaid: travel grants available, possilbly housing grants available
Date: June 30-July 2, 2008
Deadline: 1st of April 2008
Opento: advanced graduate students and junior faculty in modern Balkans

Summer courses - European Union

Undergraduate Research Experience and Knowledge Award
Dublin, Ireland
Finaid: Full funding and accommodation available
Date: June 16th to August 22nd 2008
Deadline: 30 March 2008
Opento: all international as well as Irish and EU students

GSI International Students Summer Program
Darmstadt, Germany
Finaid: The travel expenses as well as a daily allowance will be covered
Date: Aug. 4 - Sep. 26, 2008
Deadline: February 28, 2008
Opento: students in physics or related natural science disciplines from Europe and the NIS-countries


Research Fellow - Aircraft Noise
University of Southampton, UK
Finaid: Salary: £25,134 - £27,466
Date: two years starting on 01 April 2008
Deadline: 03 March 2008
Opento: owners of a PhD in Computational Fluid Dynamics, Computational Aeroacoustics or a related area

Media & Communications Officer
National Oceanography Centre, Southampton, UK
Finaid: £25,134 to £30,913 per annum
Date: permanent position
Deadline: 25 February 2008
Opento: relevant experience needed


The School of Social Sciences Sanggunian, the Political Science Department, and the Assembly
bring to you

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February 8, 2008
4:30 pm to 7:00 pm
Leong Auditorium, Leong Hall

Bayani Fernando
Chairman, Metro Manila Development Authority
and former Mayor of Marikina

Brought to you by the Sanggunian School of Social Sciences, the Office of the SOSS Dean, the SOSS Departments, and the SOSS Home Organizations.

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