Causes, News, Politics

Philippines ranks #129 in Transparency International’s 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index

Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2011 report just came out today and boy, aren’t we all excited to read it!


So what’s the deal with this Corruption Perceptions Index that makes us all giddy?

Well, we’re all crazy about lists and reputation, statistics and that whole image thing because it influences our credit rating, grant proposal approvals, business investments and such.

It’s basically about tracking how good or bad countries are at squandering people’s money and how good or bad they are at getting away with it.

In the end, where we are on this list now will somehow predict where we’ll be in the future in terms of economic stability and all the perks that go with it.

For a more apt explanation of what it is, it’s best to consult with the guys who assess records and ultimately come up with this list.

According to TI’s website:

“The Corruption Perception Index ranks countries and territories according to their perceived levels of public sector corruption. It is an aggregate indicator that combines different sources of information about corruption, making it impossible to compare countries. […]

[…] Perceptions are used because corruption is to a great extent a hidden activity that is difficult to measure. Over time, perceptions have proved to be a reliable estimate of corruption.”

This year, it ranks 183 countries on a scale of 0 (highly corrupt) to 10 (very clean).  Continue reading “Philippines ranks #129 in Transparency International’s 2011 Corruption Perceptions Index”

Blogging, Causes, News

#NBAPh: What is it for, really?

I wonder what sort of protection the #NBAPh will add to what bloggers (& non-bloggers) already enjoy as enshrined in the Constitution. Are they set to provide pro bono lawyers for members in cases of say, libel suits? Will they be able to impose disciplinary actions against erring bloggers and up to what extent? How about non-members, rogue ones? Will there be strict requirements for joining, like banning those known to have ethical issues in the past? Or will it just be another way of getting free pass on exclusive media/political events? Will there be mentoring? And in the case of issuing statements/stand on issues that concern blogging, it appears that members of the minority will automatically relinquish their voices in favor of the majority.

I love organizations. I love forming groups — organizing people to meet a common cause. But the purpose of such an organization has to be clear-cut from the get-go. The idea of “build it and they will come” sounds plausible — and it is. It even appears to be the right thing to do.

But let’s step back for a moment and ask ourselves this — why the need for mobilization? Why organize?

It’s easy to group people together, urge them to march somewhere, but I dare ask, where to? What for?

*In the case of protection

They say we bloggers need to protect ourselves from people who are out to get us — to sue us, to strip us of our right to free speech — to blogging freely, hence we must form a group.

But I say, who are these people? Where are they? Are they an irrational bunch of onion-skinned celebrities/politicians/average Juans? I don’t think so.

I asked you to step back awhile and I hope you’re still where I left you because the view from afar is enlightening. Ironically, the nearer you are to the picture, the more obscured your view becomes. So if you’re still there, read on.

If you’re a fellow blogger, you know these people “out to get us” (meaning bloggers in particular) do not exist. The people likely to sue us for uttering anything slanderous offline are the same ones likely to sue us for libel online.

It is not the medium. It is the person using it — irresponsibly, destructively.

So in the case of bloggers, the single protection we need now is from “ourselves” — from that borderline disregard for the fact that whatever we publish online is open to scrutiny — legal or otherwise. We need to protect ourselves from that evil monster of self-importance and “I-can-write-whatever-the-hell-I-want-and-not-be-liable-for-it” attitude. What this blogosphere fails to discuss is this elephant in the room — that overblown ego inflated by the ability to self-publish about anything and anyone, anytime and anywhere.

If we’re able to police our ranks and practice self-regulation, such “protection” would not be necessary.

*On the issue of representation

This one’s debatable. But I’m inclined to guard my stand on issues that matter to me, heck that’s why I even blog in the first place — because I don’t want my “small voice” to get drowned in the noisy crowd. Here on my blog is where I could say what I want without anyone interrupting me or telling me my stand belongs to the “minority” and thereby won’t be adapted when the association issues statements on such issues.

Come to think of it, if that’s what I wanted, I would not have cared to put up my blog — I would’ve contented myself to lurking in forums where my posts are moderated.

In my humble and insignificant opinion, if a National Bloggers Association of the Philippines would be created, it has to be one that supports and sustains bloggers to thrive and not stifle whatever benefits they enjoy which is already inherent to blogging. A bloggers association must be one that cultivates growth in the blogosphere and not inadvertently sow division by  getting a “majority sentiment” on issues.

If a national bloggers association should exist, it must be one that celebrates the diversity of opinions and personality of its members by not forcing its members to routinely vote on issues just so they can come up with a “statement”.

Bloggers are highly opinionated people who will fight for what they believe is right. Put them in one room to get a sense of “majority atmosphere” and it will not be easy shutting them up.

Bottomline, surrendering one’s opinion to the “majority whim” isn’t the easiest thing to do if such will be required to gain membership.

*On the issue of mobilization

Going back to the idea of herding bloggers to march (literally or figuratively) somewhere, it behooves us to question its intent and purpose. There is enough evil in the world and enough groups of people trying to identify themselves with a certain label that sometimes we overlook the fact that the last thing we need is another group of revolutionary or influential set of people to tell us what’s right and what’s wrong.

And I guess, bloggers are too smart to know this already — which is probably why many of us don’t feel the need to blog frantically about every issue that comes along. In the same way other people “choose their battles”, we bloggers “choose our posts”.

And truth be told, as much as there are probably millions of blogs around, very few of them are actually in it to “change the world” or protect their rights. Many of them are contented with the fact that they can broadcast their thoughts to the world and couldn’t care less if the world ends today.

*What would a National Bloggers Association be good for then?

1. To create a directory of bloggers in the Philippines

2. To organize “Help A Blogger” events

3. To promote social good (this is where mobilization should come in)

4. To organize charity events sponsored by blogs and advertisers

5. To draft a Code of Ethics for Bloggers

6. To strengthen/promote self-regulation thru seminars, etc

7. To aim for government recognition through equal, not special rights

8. To bring decency/ethics to paid blogging by transparency

9. To expose options more than influence them

10. To reward authenticity and crush online deceit

*Just so you know…

I have nothing against the organizers/creators of this group. They have my respect and they have all the right to create one as they please, just like everyone else. But I’m happy where I am now — unbridled yet responsible, a small voice in a noisy crowd but heard once in a while nonetheless.

I’d love to be part of a bloggers association in the future but I find the draft manifesto not entirely agreeable at this moment. I was hoping to find one that’s directed outside the sphere and not inward, with the goal of making bloggers an instrument of social change, allowing bloggers to give to the community and not simply assert rights and recognition as “movers and influencers”. In short, to assume the role and not simply ascribe it to oneself. Until then, I’d be happily typing away, blogging alone.

This post is in no way discouraging any blogger from joining any club of their choice. Let’s enjoy the mutual respect that blogging teaches us. Hey, see you when I see you! — RJ

Causes, Personal, Politics, Prose Poetry

Life’s A Joke

*** Let’s take a short break from politics and technology, shall we?

Life’s A Joke

by: RJ Marmol

Photo by wstera2

If it’s anything amusing, I would laugh as anyone would

Roll on the floor, heck, laugh my guts out if I could!

Be it fine, about wine

Be it yours, be it mine

We laugh at the fellow who can’t read the sign

A riddle, a rhyme, a look or a style

A stutter, an accent, a behavior — let it not beguile

There’s more to raw humor if you walked it a mile

A prose poem like this or an essay like that

We laugh at the ugly, we ridicule the fat

The poor man rain-drenched on a mat,

The pretentious idiot in his shiny, new flat

Such a sport, such a vice

A hypocrite afloat his fancy boat lies

Warm and happy under rented blue skies

Oblivious of the storm brewing in his eyes

Delusions of grandeur

Comparisons of the spectacular

The last days are near

To decimate the insincere

Because a joke is a joke, even if it’s on me

And a lie is a lie, though untold you see

How funny, how amusing, such a luxury maybe

To laugh at yourself — an ingrate on his knee.

Causes, Personal, Politics

Search This Heart: A Voter’s Prayer

Search This Heart: A Voter’s Prayer

by: RJ Marmol


As we look back on our troubled past and look ahead to the future laid before us, I, along with 50 million voters,

come before You Lord and pray that You search this heart.

Of feelings of doubt, cynicism and pessimism — search this heart.

Of feelings of distrust, dissent and hostility — search this heart.

As we cast our votes — the only one we have — plant a seed of hope and confidence,

That after doing all that is humanly possible to reclaim our pride and banish our tainted reputation

Through honest, peaceful and credible  elections —

Help us rest in the comfort that you will not forsake us.

Search this heart, oh Lord, and cast away ill-feelings for all candidates and their supporters.

Search this heart and remove regrets over yesterday’s mistakes, misjudgements and misdeeds that held us from believing that change is ever possible in this country.

Search this heart and show us the path — not of least resistance, but of least faults.

We may have heard all that we can from our candidates. We have debated day and night, for and against them.

They have campaigned, we have listened. But there is one vote — one voice, one debate —

one campaign that we are yet to listen to — Yours.

So today, as we anticipate the day we have been waiting for in six years,

We pray that You open our hearts and search it.

Speak to us. We are ready to listen.

You have said that all authority comes from You.

In Paul’s epistle to the Romans 13:1-7

1 Everyone is to obey the governing authorities, because there is no authority except from God and so whatever authorities exist have been appointed by God.
2 So anyone who disobeys an authority is rebelling against God’s ordinance; and rebels must expect to receive the condemnation they deserve.
3 Magistrates bring fear not to those who do good, but to those who do evil. So if you want to live with no fear of authority, live honestly and you will have its approval;
4 it is there to serve God for you and for your good. But if you do wrong, then you may well be afraid; because it is not for nothing that the symbol of authority is the sword: it is there to serve God, too, as his avenger, to bring retribution to wrongdoers.
5 You must be obedient, therefore, not only because of this retribution, but also for conscience’s sake.
6 And this is why you should pay taxes, too, because the authorities are all serving God as his agents, even while they are busily occupied with that particular task.
7 Pay to each one what is due to each: taxes to the one to whom tax is due, tolls to the one to whom tolls are due, respect to the one to whom respect is due, honour to the one to whom honour is due.

Direct our hearts and minds to the right choice, and give us the strength and conviction to vote according to our conscience —

According to Your will.

Keep us in your loving embrace and guidance. Help us realize that our vote is as sacred as our love for this country —

That which You have blessed abundantly, and whose people You loved immensely —

That You sent Your Only Begotten Son to die for.

Search this voter’s heart, oh Lord —

For Your prodigal son of a nation has returned — remorseful and with an open contrite heart —

Not to ask for a feast, but for a genuine lasting peace — on election day, and everyday.

Causes, News, Personal

Heart and Sole

How do you walk a mile in one’s shoes when that person doesn’t even have one to begin with?

Simple. You walk a mile barefoot. Or maybe, not really a mile. :)

Question: What part of our body is usually taken for granted and is one of the (if not ‘the’) most underrated when it
comes to efficiency?
Answer: Our feet.

It supports our entire weight (bones, muscles and all), takes us to places, and more.

And yet, not many people talk about it and even less people talk about how many of our brothers and sisters go through life without even one decent and functional pair of slippers, much less, shoes.

It is uncomfortable to not have shoes. But it’s more uncomfortable to have more than one pair for a single ‘purpose’ while seeing our unfortunate brethren walking barefoot in the hot sand, cracked or cold soil.

I would like to ask for a little birthday present. Join me as I go barefoot for a day on April 8, 2010 Thursday, just to feel what it’s like to tread the earth without foot protection or support.

But, more than the experience, it’s about raising awareness. And more than raising awareness, it’s about taking action in our littlest of ways by supporting organizations who have the means to carry out large-scale efforts to deliver shoes to people in remote areas — where it is most needed.

You can choose to go barefoot all day, part of the day or an hour or a few minutes. Your choice. If you can’t go barefoot on April 8 but would like to participate in another way, it would be lovely if you could spread the news to your social networks to promote the cause and the event itself.

To know more about this cause, please visit One Day Without Shoes and find out how you can help kids without shoes today. ODWS is organized by Learn about their “One for One” (For every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS gives a pair to a child in need.) mission and how it is helping children with Podoconiosis.

There is one event I have located here, happening at  the Bonifacio High Street around 3:45 – 6:00pm. If you’re within the area around that time, you might want to check it out.

“We are asking people to go the day, part of the day or even just a few minutes barefoot, to experience a life without shoes first hand, and help spread awareness of the impact a simple pair of shoes can bring a child’s life.”

Let’s all go walk around Bonifacio High Street without our shoes on April 8, 2010 in support of children around the world who go shoe-less everyday :)

Thank you for your time. And thank you for your birthday present. :)

Blogswarm, Causes, News

Earth Hour 2010

A year after we topped Earth Hour’s list by being the country with the most number of cities that participated in the event in 2009, we appeal to you once again to join us for this year’s Bloggers Unite Earth Hour 2010.

Don’t miss this chance to participate in this year’s Earth Hour event happening all over the world this Saturday, March 27, 2010. Switch off your lights at exactly 8:30PM until 9:30PM (local time) and show your support for the biggest socio-political action in the world.

Earth Hour is an annual worldwide event that aims to raise awareness and active participation in the “healing” of Mother Earth.

Your light switch is your vote — against continuous destruction and abuse of the world’s natural resources but most of all, it is a vote against apathy.

With the disappointing result of the recent Climate Change Summit in Copenhagen, it behooves us to pressure our governments for a legal and binding agreement towards “climate change cooperation” that will offer support for highly-vulnerable countries like ours in times of impending natural and man-made calamities. It also seeks to commit high-carbon producing countries to a legal pledge of reducing their carbon footprint.

Charge your cellphone and cameras early and document this event wherever you are. Encourage people in your community to participate.

For us in the Philippines, specially our brothers and sisters in Mindanao who have been struggling with 12-hour rotating brownouts, our participation is also a show of support for them.

Earth Hour is not about saving electricity — it’s about pushing for real, long-term solutions about healing Mother Earth and averting the calamitous effects of climate change.

Vote Earth. Switch off. One hour. One hope for a brighter future for us and our children.

Causes, Music, News

Bloggers Unite: International Women's Day March 8, 2010

Has it really been a year since I last wrote about International Women’s Day in 2009? It seems only yesterday.

If I have to,
I can do anything.
I am strong.
I am invincible.
I am woman.

Every year, we go through this process when we pause for a moment and think about how our lives have been touched one way or another by a woman. It may range from a simple, comforting smile to an entire life changed forever by one woman’s courage or strength or love.

I am just
Photo by *Zara

Everyday, we see them walk among us — women just being themselves, doing what they do best — serving and protecting, nurturing and loving, giving and inspiring…

Their selfless acts have become as natural to them as breathing, their show of support as ubiquitous as a tap on one’s shoulder just when you need it.

It’s an overwhelming experience — to be loved selflessly and tirelessly by someone so strong yet so fragile, so sweet yet so dangerous, so innocent yet so knowledgeable. So sensitive yet so strong.

It is precisely these very same contradictions that make women so unique. Whether it’s a mother’s touch, a friend’s embrace or a lover’s kiss — a woman’s inexplicable capacity to take in so much and give the same without losing anything in the process but instead gaining more and giving more is almost magical if not unbelievable.

The love of a woman is fierce — like a double-edged sword too dangerous for the faint of heart and too pure for the opportunistic soul.

Oftentimes, a woman’s capacity for great love is downplayed as nothing more than a dutiful fulfillment of her mission, as if everything she does must have a reason, otherwise she is but a lost soul, whose existence becomes devoid of meaning and purpose.

In truth, she needs no validation nor recognition. She seeks none of those. For to her, everything she does is a labor of love, born of her immense drive to put the other person’s happiness above her own — always. To her, that is reason enough. That is reason itself.

It’s a pity that while we claim that the world has become more tolerant and accepting of women, the exact opposite is true for most of them in many countries.

With the exception of a few Western countries, more and more women in the East suffer in silence in the face of maltreatment and abuse — most times through no fault of their own.

In stark contrast with men, society finds it hard to separate a woman’s achievements and contributions from the personal life she leads. This is probably one of — if not the biggest discrimination women face. When a male political figure commits blunders and unthinkable sins for example, the world easily downplays, forgives and forgets.

But when a woman of the same stature does the same, she is eternally doomed and haunted by past mistakes — never to fully recover from her foibles. It is as if she is not at all allowed to be human.

(Case in point: Bill Clinton vs. Sarah Palin; Tiger Woods vs. Northern Ireland’s Iris Robinson)

I’d like to think that the world, after years of struggling with feminism has changed. But the glaring truth is that it hasn’t changed a bit. It just wants us to believe it has just so we’d stop whining and complaining about it.


International Women’s Day is also a celebration of women achievements. And for this year, I choose to honor a great woman writer, Lualhati Bautista who embodies the strong and stubborn woman who refuses to sit down and take it. Her strength shines through in her writing and her life and works serve as an inspiration to aspiring women writers. Lualhati Bautista — all talent, all woman.

Today, as we celebrate the many ways a woman loves and the many wonderful ways we have benefited from such love, let us not forget the many forgotten women all over the world — unrecognized, abandoned and unloved.

On this day, may God touch them in the night as they fall asleep weeping, may they wake up to a more caring world the next day. May they walk without fear among the crowd. May they speak without reservations of their feelings and fears. May they find comfort in the thought that they are remembered every year.

This is for all the faceless women of the world. One day, all will be rectified. One day, they will get what’s due to them. One day soon.

Today is International Women’s Day. Remember all the wonderful women in your lives. Let them know they are appreciated. Let them know they are loved.

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