deadliest deadline

meandering thoughts on the beat

Monday, July 31, 2006

12 Little Things Every Filipino Can Do to Help Our Country

A spirited discussion in one of the automotive forums i am a member of spurred me to Google Alex Lacson's list. I had actually met the guy when i was in college and he struck me as a nice, easy-going guy. Shy and quiet, he is the type who never says anything bad about anyone. for more details, readers can Google his name and find out the inspiring story of how his book "12 Things You Can Do to Help Our Country" came about.

  1. Follow traffic rules. Follow the law.
  2. Whenever you buy or pay for anything, always ask for an official receipt.
  3. Don’t buy smuggled goods. Buy Local. Buy Filipino.
  4. When you talk to others, especially foreigners, speak positively about us and our country.
  5. Respect your traffic officer, policeman and soldier.
  6. Do not litter. Dispose your garbage properly. Segregate. Recycle. Conserve.
  7. Support your church.
  8. During elections, do your solemn duty.
  9. Pay your employees well.
  10. Pay your taxes.
  11. Adopt a scholar or a poor child.
  12. Be a good parent. Teach your kids to follow the law and love our country.
oh and if you can, please pass the list on to your friends. To Alex, may your tribe increase my friend.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

SONA and the state of education

Much has been said by columnists and bloggers about the last SONA and how impossible the President's goal is to fight corruption, set up the "super regions," and build infrastructure. I noted with some frustration, tinged with just about the right hint of righteous indignation, that she said barely anything about education. Only that ladderized education must be continued. But what about basic education? Sadly, the President again has failed (as usual) to see or is glossing over the fact that the education system in the country is in crisis and that to save it, focus must be given to basic education. Let us look at some basic facts. Resource gaps are unfortunately represented by the shortages in classrooms. At daily single shifts with one teacher per 50 students, there is a gap of around 10,000 classrooms. At double shifts, that's still 4000 to 6000 classrooms. There is a lack of teachers, or to qualify, a lack of really good teachers who can teach the subjects they majored in. Teachers are paid only basic wages and have to make do to survive in light of rising consumer prices. Yet the output expected of them, when they have to teach something like 50 to 100 students in a class in the worse conditions, is so high. On the average, students’ mastery levels of even the most basic subjects like English, Math and Science is wanting. They average near the 50 percent level when mastery level is at 75 percent.

The education budget, which the Constitution mandates should be the biggest, is only at P119 billion in the last national budget that has yet to be passed. Around 80 percent of this amount is already spent to pay the salaries of around half a million teachers. While an improvement over the last amount given to the education department (P112 billion), this amount is not enough to turn things around. Just to cope with the increase in population, the system needs more than P120 billion. To achieve any real significant improvement, the budget has to be so much more.

It was also frustrating to note that even if she had already had her cabal of local executives inside the Batasan during her SONA, she said nothing to push them to invest and focus on education. Nothing for them to eschew the usual PR picture-taking of dear Mr. Mayor giving out school supplies to school children and instead to put their thinking caps on (if they have one) to figure out how to improve the performance of their schools.

Infrastructure and fighting corruption is all and good. But for the country to move forward, there must be a serious and focused program to close the resource gaps in education and improve the performance of the students or the problems plaguing the sector will never ever go away.

More than building infrastructure (and spreading the largesse around in the process), the country must first develop its most valuable asset, human resources, or else this country will never budge an inch. It’s ironic that the President, who once taught in college, failed to see what is literally in front of her perky little nose. Or is it she isn’t tall enough?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

fake idealism?

While clearing my office email inbox, i stumbled across this email from the young Magdalo soldiers. Three of the undersigned have already been captured from a safehouse in Fairview while San Juan had already apologized and "returned to the fold." In fulfillment of our sworn duty January 19, 2006 We have bolted from the repression of a bogus regime. We will no longer go along with the repression that this regime has to impose in order to continue its illegitimate rule. It is a repression that continues to prevent the members of the armed forces from, and even punishes them for, carrying out their sworn duty: to defend the Filipino people. Our oath is clear: Our place is with our people; the people's will is sovereign. All our actions in the performance of our duties must demonstrate this bias in all instances. Those who insist on the neutrality of the military, and who now occupy the positions of power, are those who would rather that we stay silent, betray our oath, and in effect even help them perpetuate their own selfish interests. They are the enemies of the people. We refuse to be their pawns. The people's mandate is clear: Corruption, illegitimacy and neglect must end. Therefore, we do not merely seek a change in personalities. We seek the change of a system that installs the people's enemies in power and perpetuates the exclusion of the majority. We seek the change of a system that reduces the people to being mere spectators, and a change in the kind of politics that lulls the masses into inaction and acquiescence with noise; petty quarrels, distracting issues and cosmetic reforms. We are not alone in this struggle. Most of the armed forces are still loyal to their oath and are one with us in our vision. We make up the New AFP. And we join our fellow Filipinos who now refuse to be cowed. We are a force that grows stronger by the day, working in solidarity to usher a new nation where the people's interests are truly supreme. The imperative is on all of us. The time to act is now. Capt. Nathaniel Rabonza 1st Lt. Lawrence San Juan 1st Lt. Patricio Bumidang 1st Lt. Sonny Sarmiento

I noted with some frustration, tinged with just about the right hint of righteous indignation, that she said barely anything about education. Only that ladderized education must be continued. But what about basic education? Sadly, the President again has failed (as usual) to see or is glossing over the fact that the education system in the country is in crisis and that to save it, focus must be given to basic education. Let us look at some basic facts. Resource gaps are unfortunately represented by the shortages in classrooms. At daily single shifts with one teacher per 50 students, there is a gap of around 10,000 classrooms. At double shifts, that's still 4000 to 6000 classrooms. There is a lack of teachers, or to qualify, a lack of really good teachers who can teach the subjects they majored in. Teachers are paid only basic wages and have to make do to survive in light of rising consumer prices. Yet the output expected of them, when they have to teach something like 50 to 100 students in a class in the worse conditions, is so high. On the average, students’ mastery levels of even the most basic subjects like English, Math and Science is wanting. They average near the 50 percent level when mastery level is at 75 percent.

The education budget, which the Constitution mandates should be the biggest, is only at P119 billion in the last national budget that has yet to be passed. Around 80 percent of this amount is already spent to pay the salaries of around half a million teachers. While an improvement over the last amount given to the education department (P112 billion), this amount is not enough to turn things around. Just to cope with the increase in population, the system needs more than P120 billion. To achieve any real significant improvement, the budget has to be so much more.

It was also frustrating to note that even if she had already had her cabal of local executives inside the Batasan during her SONA, she said nothing to push them to invest and focus on education. Nothing for them to eschew the usual PR picture-taking of dear Mr. Mayor giving out school supplies to school children and instead to put their thinking caps on (if they have one) to figure out how to improve the performance of their schools.

Infrastructure and fighting corruption is all and good. But for the country to move forward, there must be a serious and focused program to close the resource gaps in education and improve the performance of the students or the problems plaguing the sector will never ever go away.

More than building infrastructure (and spreading the largesse around in the process), the country must first develop its most valuable asset, human resources, or else this country will never budge an inch. It’s ironic that the President, who once taught in college, failed to see what is literally in front of her perky little nose. Or is it she isn’t tall enough?

|W|P|115398721483195881|W|P|SONA and the state of education|W|P|7/13/2006 10:46:00 PM|W|P|Alcuin Papa|W|P|While clearing my office email inbox, i stumbled across this email from the young Magdalo soldiers. Three of the undersigned have already been captured from a safehouse in Fairview while San Juan had already apologized and "returned to the fold." In fulfillment of our sworn duty January 19, 2006 We have bolted from the repression of a bogus regime. We will no longer go along with the repression that this regime has to impose in order to continue its illegitimate rule. It is a repression that continues to prevent the members of the armed forces from, and even punishes them for, carrying out their sworn duty: to defend the Filipino people. Our oath is clear: Our place is with our people; the people's will is sovereign. All our actions in the performance of our duties must demonstrate this bias in all instances. Those who insist on the neutrality of the military, and who now occupy the positions of power, are those who would rather that we stay silent, betray our oath, and in effect even help them perpetuate their own selfish interests. They are the enemies of the people. We refuse to be their pawns. The people's mandate is clear: Corruption, illegitimacy and neglect must end. Therefore, we do not merely seek a change in personalities. We seek the change of a system that installs the people's enemies in power and perpetuates the exclusion of the majority. We seek the change of a system that reduces the people to being mere spectators, and a change in the kind of politics that lulls the masses into inaction and acquiescence with noise; petty quarrels, distracting issues and cosmetic reforms. We are not alone in this struggle. Most of the armed forces are still loyal to their oath and are one with us in our vision. We make up the New AFP. And we join our fellow Filipinos who now refuse to be cowed. We are a force that grows stronger by the day, working in solidarity to usher a new nation where the people's interests are truly supreme. The imperative is on all of us. The time to act is now. Capt. Nathaniel Rabonza 1st Lt. Lawrence San Juan 1st Lt. Patricio Bumidang 1st Lt. Sonny Sarmiento|W|P|115285631684088263|W|P|fake idealism?|W|P|-->