June 28, 2006

Waiting to inhale

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Steer clear of smokers and any of their drifting fumes. That's the advice of the surgeon general, who on Tuesday declared the debate about the dangers of secondhand smoke over.

"The science is clear: Secondhand smoke is not a mere annoyance but a serious health hazard," said Richard Carmona. (Originally published on CNN.com on June 27, 2006.)

I was a smoker in college until a few more years into my career as a journalist. Then my uncle was found to have lung cancer and was given only a few months to live. He had what doctors call an "open-close" surgery, meaning after opening him up, the surgeon realized he could not do anything to treat my uncle, so the surgeon closed him up. Then I ran into some photos of lungs affected by cancer. They were black as soot and looked really terrible. I wonder how anyone with those diseased organs could live. Then and there, I stopped smoking. I didn't want to die choking on my own spit or drowning in my phlegm. It was a good thing I was encouraged by a boyfriend who said he didn't like to kiss an ashtray. Ouch!

Since I quit smoking years ago, I've tried to avoid bars and restaurants with really bad ventilation. I avoid people who smoke and really feel icky when I get home after a night out and my hair and clothes reek of cigarette smoke. If I can't avoid these public places, I usually choose a no smoking area. But of course I still suffer because my folks just refuse to quit smoking and even do it inside the house. I now have a dry cough that doesn't want to go away. I think it's related to my folks' smoking. Already in their 70s, my parents intend on smoking well into their graves. I don't even want to sit on our couches anymore or lie on their bed because they stink! Yuck! Of course they won't listen to reason and think I exaggerate when I tell them why they should stop smoking. Can anyone out there help me stop my parents from killing me?

More on second-hand smoking from the New York Times here.

Top 12 Cheesiest Love Songs

I received pretty hysterical and amusing/amused comments from a number of people who read my column which featured the “Top 10 Relationship Questions” (See Business Mirror, May 18 or the blog post below). Some of them felt I left out quite a few stupid questions from the list like, “My guilt is eating me. Should I tell him I cheated on him? (Girl have you stepped on your IQ again? What he doesn’t know won’t hurt him!) While others thought I was too blunt in giving advice. To them I say, the truth really hurts girlfriend. It’s time to wake up and smell the coffee before it’s too late. Stop listening to all those Barry Manilow songs damn it!

Speaking of Barry who was one of the forgettable guests on the American Idol (Yey! Soul Patrol rules!), I thought it would be entertaining to list down the cheesiest love songs which defined our relationships back in the day. They inspired us further when we were younger and oh so in love, and made our hearts beat a little faster especially when doing the slow drag with our significant other. Oh and please don’t tell me you didn’t sing them over and over…liars! You still do at Red Box. Hang on…did I just say slow drag? Just frigging dated myself didn’t I? Well, just wait ‘til you see the songs I’ve listed! Okay, one, two, three…sing!

1. Have I Told You Lately by Rod Stewart (Glam rocker was really a frustrated balladeer all along. How many more American Songbooks is he going to release?)

“Have I told you lately that I love you?
Have I told you there's no one else above you?
Fill my heart with gladness,
Take away all my sadness,
Ease my troubles, that's what you do.”


2. Lovin’ You by Minnie Ripperton (Seriously, no one can sing it like Ms. Minnie.)

“Lovin' you is easy ‘cause you're beautiful
Makin' love with you is all I wanna do
Lovin' you is more than just a dream come true
And everything that I do is out of lovin' you
La la la la la la la... doo bee doo doo doo
Ahhhhhhh.”


3. I Honestly Love You by Olivia Newton-John (Poor woman can’t find her missing husband until now.)

“Maybe I hang around here
A little more than I should
We both know I got somewhere else to go
But I got something to tell you
That I never thought I would
But I believe you really ought to know
I love you
I honestly love you.”


4. You Take My Breath Away by Rex Smith (Did anyone watch his Manila show?)

“You, I don't know what to say
You take my breath away
You're every song I sing
You're the music that I play
And you take my breath away.”


5. We’ve Only Just Begun by The Carpenters (A staple at any wedding.)

“Sharing horizons that are new to us,
Watching the signs along the way,
Talking it over just the two of us,
Working together day to day
Together…together.”


6. Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers (No people, it wasn’t Patrick Swayze that Demi Moore was kissing in “Ghost”. It was actually Whoopi Goldberg! Ugh.)

“Oh my love my darling
I've hungered for your touch
A long lonely time
And time goes by so slowly
And time can do so much
Are you still mine?”


7. Groovy Kind of Love by Phil Collins (The first four stanzas are just as befuddling as “MacArthur Park was melting in the dark…”)

“Any time you want to
You can turn me on to
Anything you want to
Any time at all
When I kiss your lips
Ooh, I start to shiver
Can't control the quivering inside
Wouldn't you agree?
Baby, you and me got a groovy kind of love.”


8. Love Lifts Us Up Where We Belong by Joe Cocker and Jenniffer Warren (How could you, Joe?)

“Love lift us up where we belong
Where the eagles cry, on a mountain high
Love lift us up where we belong
Far from the world we know
Up where the clear winds blow.”


9. You’re the Inspiration by Chicago (Peter Cetera went on to sing more of the same unforgivable love songs.)

“You're the meaning in my life
You're the inspiration
You bring feeling to my life
You're the inspiration
Wanna have you near me
I wanna have you hear me sayin'
No one needs you more that I need you.”


10. Could It Be Magic by Barry Manilow (Just can’t get away from Barry can we?)

“Baby I love you, come, come, come into my arms,
Let me know the wonder of all of you,
Baby I want you, now, now,
Now and hold on fast,
Could this be the magic at last?”


11. You Light up My Life by Debbie Boone (Now seriously, wasn’t this supposed to be a religious song?)

“Rollin' at sea, adrift on the water
Could it be finally I'm turning for home?
Finally, a chance to say hey,
I love you
Never again to be all alone
You light up my life
You give me hope…”


12. My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion (A bonus folks! Every separated OFW couple’s theme song.)

“Every night in my dreams I see you, I feel you
That is how I know you go on.
Far across the distance and spaces between us
You have come to show you go on.
Near, far, wherever you are…”


Yes friends, these were our theme songs. Okay, all together now…Eeew!

(Originally published in Business Mirror, May 25, 2006)

June 25, 2006

In the tradition of the Post's Page Six...

SIGHTINGS...Angel Aquino in her very chic short haircut, all in white, along with a luminous Lucy Torres Gomez at the grand opening of The Spa at the Podium. After giving its loyal patrons massage therapies from around the world, The Spa will soon be launching its very Pinoy 'hilot' therapy...Rep. Chiz Escudero in a white tee, shorts cut off at the knees and sneakers hearing Mass at the Claret Seminary Church in Sanville, QC. We join him in his prayers for a successful impeachment complaint against the diarrheal GMA...take 2!

Diarrhea? More like food poisoning!

According to the rumor mill, Gorilla Macapagal Arroyo's recent bout with diarrhea was not due to "stress," as had been officially announced, but actually due to some spoiled food she may have eaten at some political hotshot's birthday party the day before she was rushed to the hospital. Yuck! Of course, Palace handlers were careful not to give the real cause of the presidential illness lest it insult a major supporter who has been, time and again, threatening to withdraw his backing of the president, whenever talks about a settlement with a political leader arises. According to several medical web sites, stress only aggravates a cause of diarrhea like irritable bowel syndrome, but is not the prime cause of the illness. And note that she had been throwing up as well. In other words, GMA just suffered from a case of food poisoning. Caught lying about the cause of their dear amo's upset insides, the Palace handlers have leaked out a Quezon City restaurant's name which is owned by a starlet who is the acknowledged "anak sa labas" of a politician, as the place where the President ate prior to her diarrheal attack. Oh well...

A Hollywood TV legend passes away

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Aaron Spelling, a onetime movie bit player who created a massive number of hit series, from the vintage "Charlie's Angels" and "Dynasty" to "Beverly Hills 90210" and "Melrose Place," died Friday, his publicist said. He was 83. (Originally published on the CNN web site, June 23, 2006. Click on blog title for rest of story.)

Those in their 40s will always remember the nights when we were all barely teenagers, sitting in front of the TV and watching three beautiful girls (played by Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson, Kathlyn Smith) kick some bad guys' ass, using their feminine wiles as well as their brains to bring down criminals, in "Charlie's Angels." We were so very entertained as well watching the antics of the rich fight over money and love in "Dynasty", and were enamored with the fabulous clothes, big hair, and their equally big houses. And there were more...from the genius TV producer Aaron Spelling..."Love Boat" with the bald captain and his horny crew, "Fantasy Island" with the dashing Ricardo Montalban and the diminuitive Herve Villechaize (playing Tatoo) who would scurry on crying "De plen, de plen! (The plane! The plane!), and the cryfest "The Boy in the Plastic Bubble" starring John Travolta, among many others.

What a great run it was for Spelling, whose TV shows babysat a lot of us in the '70s and '80s. Sure the plots of his shows may have been bordering on the cheesy but these may have influenced a whole lot of us with its simple values like money isn't everything, women can be both brainy and beautiful, and that no matter what happens, family comes first. Oh yeah, and sex sells too.

June 21, 2006

Poor little rich girl

A former telco executive has built a resort somewhere down south. Unfortunately, his wife is getting to be quite a pain in the neck we hear. Not only has she been constantly interfering in her husband's instructions to his staff, she is said to have a condescending attitude even toward's resort guests. She's been overheard dissing their attire or how they look in her dialect so the guests presumably won't understand her.

What a contrast to her husband who is so humble and low-profile, no one would even guess he carries a very famous surname. He likes hanging around with ordinary people and even talks shop in small barbecue joints with his friends. People who know his wife say she could still be suffering from a bout of inferiority complex as her friends from the time she was little, were not only much richer than her, they were more beautiful too. Her family wasn't exactly destitute mind you, but from where she comes from, money apparently means more than anything you can imagine.

Though she now has all the money in the world, thanks to her husband's rich mother who she gets along with beautifully, even if she has tons of plastic surgery to make her more beautiful, it won't change her ugliness inside. Moo!

Wow ma'am, ang ganda ng gown mo!

Who is this no. 2 in one of the Bureau of Internal Revenue's provincial offices who attended a wedding in a P70,000 gown made by a well-known hometown designer? How did we know the gown cost P70,000? Well she even boasted about it after receiving so many compliments. Question is, how the hell could she afford it on her provincial BIR salary? And oh, we heard she was dripping in jewels as well. Attention Commissioner Buñag! We've got a live one here!

June 20, 2006

Happy to be in Alegre


Just came back from a fabulous vacation at Alegre Resort in Sogod, just north of that charming city of the south, Cebu City. It is a wonderful place with just good vibes all around. Facilities are first class and the staff are extremely courteous. They always anticipate your needs, which is just great.

The lush green surroundings, dotted with many flowering ornamentals and trees, are just so enticing. Alegre now has a spa with therapists that give very relaxing massages. To top it off, its GM Fritz Kahler and wife Cynthia, are just two of the nicest people I've been privileged to know. They are a wonderful couple who warmly receives guests with open arms. (Click here to know more about Alegre.)

Here are a few more breathtaking photos of the resort:

You can find solace in this pool which is rarely full of people, while the spa treatments relax you while energizing your spirit.



Aside from Alegre, my friends and I also visited the Our Lady of Manaoag Shrine in the hills of Carmen, and the Benedictine Monastery beside it where you attend Mass in your bare feet. It was a nice experience to visit Our Lady and make a few petitions for oneself and family.
(At left, the Benedictine Monastery's Church in the hills of Carmen with a massive Sto. Niño protecting it. At right, priests and churchgoers at the procession commemorating Corpus Christi last Sunday.)

I've always loved going to Cebu which has come a long way from being just another provincial city of the Philipppines. It's a throbbing cosmopolitan area with grand hotels, fine dining restaurants with really delicious cuisine from all over the world, and always smiling beautiful people. Yet many of its outlying areas still maintain their distinct rural charm. Given the chance, I would love to move and work in Cebu. What a great place to be! (Resort photos courtesy of Alegre Beach Resort.)

June 15, 2006

Taylor Hicks is 'hottest' bachelor!

Now who would've ever thought the 'bama boy would make it this far? After snagging the top prize in American Idol, he hits it even bigger with a major US magazine! And he hasn't even cut his record yet! Fellow 'bamanian and bachelorette Condi Rice must be jumping for joy. Hey maybe those two should hook up (cough cough hack hack ptooey!). After all they have three things in common. They're both from 'bama, they're single,and they love their music! And who cares about the age difference? Of course, it would help things if Condi gets rid of her awful hairdo! Yech!

Well I must admit Tay Tay does remind me of a hick George Clooney. He is kinda cute but hot? Hmmm... That's taking it a bit far. Gimme Georgie anytime! Or maybe Terrence Howard. Check out those dreamy green eyes (left). Well okay he's not exactly a batchelor after being married and divorced twice over from the same woman. But he's definitely hot! Outstanding performance in Crash! as well. Woof!

Fendi sues Wal-Mart over fake bags

This was the most amusing news last weekend. Imagine the US government coming down hard regularly on the Philippines and other developing countries for piracy, copyright infringement and sales of fake branded items. And yet it can't even control its own homegrown department store chain. What gives? Why does the US government look the other way when American businessmen sell knock-offs then keeps pushing the poor countries like the Philippines and China to comply with IPR laws? (Click here) Walk down New York City and in almost every block you can find stalls which sell fake watches, wallets, perfumes etc. Shouldn't the US set the example first?

(My favorite Fendi spy bag. Yum! Yum! Photo courtesy of www.fashion.shajoo.com)

June 13, 2006

Island Hopping

Though I never met Jay Aldeguer ‘til last month, I had apparently been one of the earlier patrons of his business. And his being only 34 years old and probably one of the most successful entrepreneurs not just Cebu, but the country has produced, makes me proud I had placed my bets on him. I had my first brush with Jay’s company in the early 90’s, walking into his 80-sq.m store to buy some souvenir t-shirts from Cebu. His shop Islands Souvenirs in its fiesta-like colors and atmosphere stood out in the White Gold mall, an upscale mall the Gaisano family had that time.(Please click blog title for the rest of the story. Originally published in BusinessDay magazine, 2005)

Anent to my Independence Day posting, what better way to promote the Philippines than through clever souvenir T-shirts?

June 12, 2006

Proud to be Pinoy

On this day, Independence Day, I want to tell all of you why I love being a Filipino and why I love living in the Philippines, despite the political headaches, bad traffic, polluted air and crime rate in Manila. You can't have it all but I believe this country is still a slice of heaven on God's good earth. And Pinoys are just the best in the world!


The glorious sunset over Manila Bay


The cuisine! You name it--lechon, adobo, bagoong, daing and tuyo, the different types of sinugba or inasal (barbecue), pancit molo, kilawin, etc. And that includes Max's Fried Chicken instead of KFC, and Jollibee anytime over McDonalds.


The sweetest and juiciest mangoes in the world! Yum!

Our fabulous tourist sites like Boracay, one of the best beaches in the world; Bohol where the smallest primate in the world, the tarsier, lives; a marvelous feat of ancient engineering that is the Banaue Rice Terraces and Sagada with its cool mountain air; windswept Batanes with its massive stone cliffs; Davao and its peaceful culturally integrated peoples; and many many more.

The colorful fiestas all year round that honor patron saints, holidays, historical events, or simply the Filipinos' triumphs over constant adversity. (Above is the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon.)

And most of all, the fabulous smile--inviting, warm and sincere--you can spot it anywhere in the world and know that it belongs to a Filipino. Happy Independence Day everybody! Mabuhay ang Pilipino at ang Pilipinas!

(Many thanks to the different Pinoy web sites from where some of these beautiful photos came from. We salute you for your dedication in promoting the Philippines and our wonderful heritage.)

June 10, 2006

A Discarded Language

By Isagani Cruz

WHEN English was the medium of instruction in all our public and private schools, it was understood even in the remotest barrios of our country. It served as an effective communication tool and a unifier of our people with their separate customs and dialects in the different regions of the archipelago. (Originally published in Philippine Daily Inquirer, June 10, 2006)

I totally agree with Mr. Cruz's column. I am a product of the bilingual education system and I consider myself lucky that it was adopted when I was already in High School. The only subjects taught in Filipino, was Pilipino (then still with a "P"), Iskawting (transliterated from "Scouting"), and Araling Panlipunan (Social Studies) which is now commonly known as Hekasi (as in Hekasi Babae?). Thank God this system wrought very little havoc on my already well-formed English thought process.

If all my subjects in grade school had been taught in Filipino, I doubt that I would have been a journalist and be able to meet and converse with the highest and mightiest powers of the land as well as important people from other nations. And I doubt that I would be able to find work with international publications as I have. Speaking and writing English well has given me the competitive edge over my peers and I truly am thankful that I was taught English at a very early age.

It is clear that the bilingual education system has been successful in promoting the widespread use of Filipino, that even in Cebu, although the Cebuanos don't like to admit it, they do understand the official language of the country. However, this system has also clearly eroded our country's advantage in English over other developing nations. And so as we spend millions of pesos for marketing programs to bring in foreign businesses and tourists, we make fools of ourselves by being unable to actually communicate with these foreigners.

Even for our growing call center industry, many companies have to send their accepted applicants to English-training programs because their diction is all off, they don't understand simple idiomatic expressions, and they get their F's and P's mixed up! I would laugh but it hurts too much to realize how far we have dropped in English fluency. It's sad really.

We can no longer delude ourselves with the wrong notion that making all our citizens speak Filipino would make them more patriotic towards the country. I know many Filipinos who hardly speak the native language and have contributed more to building the nation than many native Filipino speakers. If we truly want our country to progress, let's bring English back to our schools!

Breaking the 'Code'


WINDOW ON MANILA
Breaking the code
ALAN ROBLES

Never mind Da Vinci; there's a more insidious "code" plaguing the Philippines. A government official defending the planned shift to a parliamentary system recently cited the Code of Kalantiaw, a set of pre-Hispanic laws named after the chief, or datu, who supposedly wrote them in 1433 in Aklan province.

There's one problem: the code and the datu are a fraud, foisted on the country in 1914 by a man who is possibly the nation's most destructively prolific forger. Jose Marco's first work was a
mediocre, useless history book. He then shifted to a more rewarding career, inventing "old" manuscripts. One contained the Kalantiaw Code, which became popular as an example of early Filipino penal law.

Although I was forced to memorise it, like millions of schoolchildren, the only thing I remembered was its un-Filipino-like barbarity. The code is an exercise in capricious sadism. Transgressors have their fingers sliced off, are exposed to ants, thrown to sharks and crocodiles or crushed with stones. It makes you wonder about the parenting the writer received.

There's little judicial sense to it. A subject who breaks into his chief's house is sentenced to death, but if he canoodles with the headman's wife he is only enslaved. And if a villager kills a black cat - it's off to the anthill.

Marco's hogwash was exposed in 1968 by a scholar, the late William Henry Scott, who noted many crude errors and inconsistencies. He was unable to find any of the people Marco allegedly got the documents from. Before dying in 1963, Marco poisoned Philippine history with other fakes, including a novel, La Loba Negra, allegedly written in 1869 by a national hero, father Jose Burgos.

A philatelist, Marco was notorious for trading fake stamps. The two schools where he claimed he studied had no records of his attendance. In 1951, when a friend's daughter needed a topic for a thesis, Marco obligingly whipped up yet another spurious manuscript.

"Kalantiaw" grew in the telling. One historian actually concocted quotations of the fake datu. In 1971, president Ferdinand Marcos created the Order of Kalantiaw award. That could be one reason the fraud has been a long time dying: think of the red faces if award recipients were told their medals should be renamed Order of Datu Baloney.

In 1994, the National Historical Institute issued a book describing Kalantiaw as an "ancient Filipino lawgiver". There's still a Kalantiaw shrine in Aklan commemorating the man who had "the wisdom
of Solon, the fighting prowess of Genghis Khan and the sagacious statesmanship of Asoka". And, someone might add, the authenticity of Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle.

(Originally published in the South China Morning Post, June 8, 2006. SCMP.com is the premier information resource on Greater China. Courtesy pldt@yahoogroups.com Photo from www.mts.net)

June 09, 2006

There she goes again!

Our dearly beloved President Gorilla Macapagal Arroyo attended the anniversary of a major transportation company at a 5-star hotel recently. Her condition in attending the event was that she wouldn't make any speeches. Apparently all she wanted to do that night was to let her hair down and party all night, and possibly have a few swigs of her favorite Swing. Too bad, one eager beaver from the company decided to take it upon himself to call on the President and ask her to say a few words to the other party animals present.

Well she did make the usual congratulatory remarks and motherhood statements, then before you could say gorillamacapagalarroyo!...the President left in a huff, apprarently irritated at having her explicit request denied. What a brat I tell you!

By the way here's a very butch photo our dear prez for everyone's enjoyment. Didn't they say that former model Joanne Zapanta (Click here) is her image and wardrobe consultant? Joanne must be on some bad juju huh? And get this, she's supposed to be a Commissioner of Culture for Unesco as well. Hilarious!!! (Photos courtesy of www.pilmap.com.ph and www.dr.dk)

The Subic Rape Trial

Nicole, the alleged victim in the rape trial against the 4 Marines who were on R&R in Subic Bay while their ship was docked at the pier, walked out of the trial yesterday, apparently shaken by the testimony of one prosecution witness on how the GIs took her out of the van and just left her at the pier. (Click here and here)

Earlier, however, the US Embassy in Manila already barred American Navy investigators from testifying in said trial, saying the investigators had "diplomatic immunity." (Click here) I'm not a legal eagle but the way I understand it, diplomatic immunity is a privilege extended to "diplomats" and not underlings, and that it covers only diplomats up for prosecution in a case. Surely the investigators aren't the ones on trial?

But of course, it's actually the entire US government that's on trial here. And yet, why does its officials think they can get away with anything? Perhaps it's because our government lets them do so. Why didn't the Dept. of Foreign Affairs subpoena the four investigators to the trial? Could it be because DFA Sec. Alberto Romulo is panting after the post of ambassador to Washington DC and wants to be in the good graces of the Americans? Hmm...

June 06, 2006

Explosion at Grepalife Bldg.

A group calling itself the "Taong-Bayan at Kawal" claimed responsibility for the explosion that hit Tuesday the Yuchengco-owned Grepalife building, ANC reported. (Originally published on ABS-CBN News web site, June 6, 2006)

No one may be pointing a finger at the PEP Coalition right now but the malicious can't help but think the group could behind this incident. If the Coalition members know what's good for them, they should publicly condemn this violent and terroristic action. This is no way to solve any of their problems. Then again, didn't Ambassador Yuchengco admit to funding the Olaguer's Light-A-Fire Movement to oust dictator Ferdinand Marcos, in the '80s? Is his past haunting him now? Ouch!
(Photo borrowed from Grepalife web site)

June 05, 2006

Hip-hopping the night away in Manila

WESTERN visitors to Manila may be surprised to come across an otherwise familiar scene: young adults filling the streets, bouncing from one club to another, decked out in the latest hip-hop gear as if they had come straight from Brooklyn. Except, of course, everyone is Filipino, and the rap is spiced with Tagalog, a language of the Philippines. (Originally published in the New York Times, June 4, 2006)

Well fab! At least we get a nice mention on the prestigious New York Times instead of the usual political fiascos or shenanigans some unscrupulous Pinoys abroad (very few of them mind you) are up to. But duh, is Malate still alive?

Where's my mail?

Finally the government has seen it fit to privatize the Philippine Postal Corp. Yes folks, for those who still care about snail mail like I do, this matters a lot. How many among you have not received important mail like they were supposed to, have received open envelopes carelessly scotch-taped and stamped "Received opened" and you knew the postal guys were lying, or have been told by your relatives abroad that they had just received your Christmas card and it's June already?!

It is no wonder that courier services like Fedex, UPS and LBC have been making a killing by charging an arm and a leg just so that you're confident your mail or package will arrive at their destination. I am particularly incensed that my subscription copies of Vanity Fair have not arrived since April and there were a few months last year I didn't get them either. I've also received envelopes which have been opened and taped like this act of pilferage was not done deliberately. Nag-aksaya pa kayo ng tape!

God knows how I've railed against my Manong Kartero (Mr. Postman) dozens of times a month because of these incidents. But of course, what can he do? He just delivers the mail. He says everything starts from the central office, which is that huge edifice on Lawton where rallies are wont to be held. That's where most of the pilferage happens. Maybe I should hold my own rally against the Post Office! The government should privatize Philpost and do it quickly. Snail mail or not, the postal services are still vital especially in the rural areas where the Internet may have not yet reached. Privatizing this service will professionalize Philpost's operations.

June 02, 2006

It's June!

When I was studying, I always hated the coming of June because it was time to go back to school. Waking up at 6:30 am and putting on the hideous blue and white uniform with skirt below the knee, and despite living nearby, still not making it early enough for the flag ceremony. A round of Algebraic equations, Chemistry formulas, CAT training, Pilipino grammar lessons, etc. Boriiiiiing!

But now I love June, precisely because it is school time! The noisy kids with palengke-mouths will no longer be playing in the park across my bedroom cos they'll be busy at school and then at home doing their assignments. Ahhh, peace at last! June also means rains which will cool down the sizzling city. Lots of naps and sleeptime with nice bed weather. Or maybe have a sane vacation out of town. Boracay deserted again! Yahoo! It's time to pack my bags and enjoy the serenity that the rainy season brings.

And what about the kids' tuition?

This has been a long-running battle between parents whose children won't get the proper education planned for them and a mighty Chinoy family conglomerate who closed the company which would have helped fund that education. I haven't always agreed with PEP (Parents Enabling Parents) Coalition's tactics--name calling is never a mark of a good argument--but I do understand the anguish most of them are going through. You work so hard and set aside money for your kid's future by investing in Pacific Plans, owned by a credible and trustworthy company, and in a blink, that is all gone as well as a good opportunity for your children to do better than you did in your lifetime.

Education has always been a top priority for us Filipinos that even the poor beg, steal or borrow just to be able to have food on the table and send their kids to school. Arresting these parents is just poor form for the justice system in this country when the real culprits in this entire scandal are the owners of Pacific Plans. Ambassador Alfonso Yuchengco has a biography called "To leave a good name," but this ongoing problem with PEP certainly has drubbed his and his family's name in the mud. Arresting the PEP parents won't restore that good name. Only the proper solution to the problem...making sure all the children of these parents get the education they deserve...will help do that. Of all people, it should be the Ambassador who should understand the importance of a good education. With all his money, this is one problem that should have gone away a long time ago. Too much hesitation on the family's part just blew it all up to the proportions that it is now. It was a wasted opportunity to make the proper amends.

(Do check PEP Coalition's web site at http://www.pepcoalition.com/ Photo courtesy PEP Coalition)