Friday, November 30, 2012

Air Supply Performed Live at The Atrium, Lim Ket Kai Center, Cagayan de Oro, Philippines

Air Supply, the Australian soft rock band that was formed in Melbourne, Australia in mid 70’s performed live in Cagayan de Oro for the second time at The Atrium, Lim Ket Kai Center on the evening of November 30, 2012. The band was led by Russell Hitchcock, the lead vocalist and Graham Russell, vocalist, guitarist and song writer. Four other international performers who played instruments such as guitars, keyboard, and drums accompanied Russell Hitchcock and Graham Russell in the rendition of their songs.

Because of the big attendance, fans that paid tickets ranging from 600 to 3,000 pesos (about 14.63 and 73.17 US dollars) had to move in a long queue to the entrance to be the atrium.  The concert started at 8:00 p.m. with the atrium filled to a capacity crowd. The band members sang and played their instruments to the audience their greatest hits which are also their fans’ all time favorite songs. “Here I am”, “I Can Wait Forever”, “Lost in Love”, “Every Woman in the World”, “Goodbye” and other songs delighted the fans so that in some instances they sang along with the band. The fans seemed to want for more songs, but it was only a two-hour concert that should end at about 10 p.m. Indeed, the show ended to the satisfaction of the fans that witnessed and enjoyed a memorable show that evening.

Graham Russell (left) and Russell Hitchcock (right)

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Love of God, Our Greatest Gift on Christmas

Luke 2:8-14 says that when Jesus Christ was born an angel of Lord appeared before the shepherds who were watching over their flocks at night. They were at first terrified, but he assured them saying that he was bringing good news that will bring great joy to mankind. “Today, in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the Lord,” he said. “This will be a sign to you: you will find the baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger,” he added. Suddenly, a large army of good angels joined him and praised God. “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests,” they said.                                                                                                                                               

Based on the account of Luke the birth of Christ is a reason of great joy to us according to an angel sent by God. Even a great company of the heavenly host joined the angel who had announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds to praise God on the great event that took place on that very momentous evening. If the good angels did that to please God, why should not we be joyful and celebrate the occasion of Christmas?                                                                                                                                     

The Old Testament is replete with prophecies regarding the coming of the Messiah who is to be the savior of mankind. Christians believed that over 360 of those prophecies were fulfilled through Jesus Christ. Some of the significant prophesies that were fulfilled through him were: he was born of a virgin in Bethlehem, he would live a sinless life, he would be rejected by his own people, he would be called a King, he would be betrayed, he would be falsely accused, he would be hated without a cause, his hands and feet would be pierced, soldiers would gamble on his garment, his bones would not be broken and many others.                                                                                             

Christians viewed the birth of Jesus as fulfillment of God’s promise of sending a Messiah which he made through the Biblical prophets thousands of years before Christ was born. The act by the Heavenly Creator was a manifestation of his love to mankind despite their sinful ways. Because of his love God gave us a gift which the Apostle John wrote in his book in chapter 3, verse 16: “For God so love the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but will have an everlasting life.”

Some people would say that December, let alone December 25 is not the birthday of Jesus while other people would say that Christmas celebration is a form of paganism. However, based on available facts and evidences gathered by religious scholars the actual birth date of Jesus is difficult to ascertain. Some people would also argue that Christ never celebrated his birthday. But had Jesus told people not to celebrate his birthday? During the time of Jesus people probably could not celebrate their birthday as we do today because ancient calendar was not as accurate as the modern one that we know and use today.

Celebrating Christmas is a show of our gratitude to God for the opportunity he gave us to have spiritual salvation and to have everlasting life which we could attain through Jesus Christ. Without his birth there would have been no salvation for us. Indeed, Jesus Christ is our greatest gift from God on Christmas.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Grenade Exploded in a Cagayan de Oro Establishment

An explosion rocked Golden Sun Finance Corporation in Lapasan Highway, Cagayan de Oro City on or about 7:49 a.m., November 21, 2012. The incident happened just less than a kilometer away from the Police Regional Office at Camp Alagar in this city
It was reported that female employees of said finance establishment asked the assistance of a security guard at an adjacent building to open the accordion door because they could not open it all by themselves.  Granting their request, the security guard known as JR Palma went to the door. However, as he opened it a bomb exploded that injured him and the two female employees named as Varcelisa Salamanca and Fretzy Prios. Also injured were retired police officer Rodolfo Cabutad and another policeman named Rogelio Mendiola and three other people. The victims were rushed to the nearby hospital at Capitol University Medical City and Northern Mindanao Medical Center. Only Palma sustained serious injury while the rest of the victims are reported to be already out of danger.

Initial investigation had it that the blast was caused by a WWII vintage MK 2 grenade which the perpetrator planted by tying it with a twine on the lower portion of the door. The opening of the door pulled off the safety pin of the grenade causing it to explode.
An officer of the finance establishment speculated that the crime might have been perpetrated by an angry client whom the bank filed charge in connection with his transaction in it.
This blast happened just a month before another bomb exploded at Maxandria  Hotel  in this city which resulted to the death of two persons. Until now the perpetrators are yet to be brought to justice and the police authorities have not yet issued official statement on the result of their investigation.
The residents of the city hope that the perpetrators of this bombing will be caught and punished otherwise bad elements may think that they can commit crimes with impunity in the city.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The MacArthur Memorial Marker of Cagayan de Oro, Philippines

The MacArthur Memorial Marker is a landmark at Macabalan Wharf in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines which also serves as one of the attractions of the city. The Wharf where the memorial is located was occupied by the American forces during the Philippine-American War after they seized it from the Filipinos in 1900. It was also where General Douglas MacArthur, his family and his staff landed in Mindanao during WWII on his way to Australia.

Inside and in the middle of the concrete fenced area is the peaked cap shaped monument. Inside it is a star-shaped plaque which inscribes the biography of the general and other information pertinent to the memorial site. Outside the structure is a tablet inscribing the brief history of Macabalan wharf. The huge peaked cap is a replica of the service cap of General Douglas Macarthur, and it also serves as the roof of the open structure. It is supported by five columns on a round base. Each of the columns is superimposed with outward facing five five-pointed stars which represent the rank of MacArthur. In one of these columns inside the structure is the star shaped plaque that is placed parallel with one of the stars on a column.  Also inside the structure is a replica in a glass box of PT 41 boat that was boarded by MacArthur, his family and his staff on their way to Mindanao.     

The peaked cap shaped monument is in essence the main and the most conspicuous fixture of the place. It is made of fiber glass and steel bars and is 5 meters in height and 8 meters in diameter. In front of the cap’s crown is a US coat-of-arms, and on the visor and on the band are golden oak leaf embellishments.                                                                                     
Mc Arthur along with his family fled Corregidor Island off the shore of Manila in compliance with the orders of President Theodore Roosevelt of the United States. His departure saved him from possible capture by the Japanese forces who had earlier conquered Bataan where American and Filipino defenders converged to defend it from them.

The general and his companions landed at Macabalan Wharf on March 13, 1942 where American and Filipino soldiers were waiting for them. Amid threat of Japanese detection, he proceeded to Camp Phillips, Manolo Fortich, Bukidnon and stayed at the Del Monte Clubhouse for several days. From the Diclum Airfield a B17 flying fortress flew MacArthur, his family and his staff to Australia on March 17, 1942 where he would direct the allied forces in its campaign against the Japanese.

The MacArthur Memorial Marker was inaugurated on March 13, 2008 or on the 66th anniversary of General MacArthur’s landing at the Macabalan Wharf. Former Philippine President Fidel V. Ramos led the ceremony. He was joined by former Mayor Constantino Jaraula and other local officials. Others who were also present were representatives of the American embassy and the Joint US Advisory Group (JUSMAG) which was represented by Lieutenant Colonel Frederick Riker.                                                         

The construction of the MacArthur Memorial Marker is a fitting tribute to one of the most famous American generals who distinguished himself as an officer during the American occupation of the Philippines, during the Philippine Commonwealth era, and during the Second World War that resulted to the defeat of the common enemy of the Filipinos and the Americans.

The MacArthur Memorial Marker is visible at sea and in the air when one is approaching Cagayan de Oro either by ship or by plane. It is open for public viewing from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. except on holidays.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Union Bank's EON Visa Debit Card, a Convenient Tool to Shop Online

I have an EON Visa Debit Card which I acquired from Cagayan de Oro Union Bank branch which is near my residence. By linking it with my PayPal account, I find this debit card a handy tool to do online transactions which are mostly purchases of goods at eBay.  

An EON Visa Debit Card in the Philippines is a plastic card that provides the cardholder electronic access on his bank account at a financial institution such as bank. It is similar to credit card because it can be used to buy goods and withdraw cash at ATMs that are linked to interbank network such as MegaLink and Plus. The difference between a credit card and a debit card is that the former can purchase goods on credit such as buying TV on installment while debit card cannot. Charges on debit card are drawn directly from the cardholder’s savings account for the transactions that he made. In other words, expenses incurred through debit card are essentially cash transaction.                                                                                                                                              

It would be more practical for people to buy goods that are available in the local stores than in the internet. But some goods that are not available locally, and there are others that are not in circulation anymore. Or it may be that the cost of a brand new item is too prohibitive for a person to buy so that purchase of conditioned second hand or used items is a good option. eBay is a venue where a person can buy brand new, used or hard-to-find items of any kind. The downside of online shopping is that it is riskier than physical shopping. It will take a long time for the goods to arrive. And there are risks that the goods may not arrive at all or the goods received are not in accordance with what was posted in their descriptions in the internet. However, online shoppers could put their trust on big online establishment such as eBay because it has security measures to protect its customers from scheming vendors.                                                      

Debit card comes in handy when one shops online and he does not have a credit card. In this connection, Eon Visa Debit Card is a convenient tool to buy or sell goods at eBay, the biggest online auction and shopping website in which people and businesses buy and sell broad variety of goods worldwide. Most online merchants accept payment only through PayPal. And for this reason it is the world’s most loved way to pay and get paid. And therefore it is also desirable for one who does online transaction to register and become member of eBay and PayPal which are sister companies. Membership in them is for free.                                                                                                                                                                

Since most online merchants accept payment only through their PayPal account, it is a good reason for one who transacts business online to be a member of PayPal. Linking one’s Eon Visa Debit Card with his PayPal account will facilitate his online transaction since he can receive and send money through the internet with the use of that card. The linking process is very simple and just takes a few minutes to finish. He just follows what he is instructed to do and when he is done he is now ready to do his online shopping at eBay. He must however be sure that the balance of his savings account is sufficient to cover for the cost of the purchase taking into consideration the current local currency and the US dollar exchange rate if the item is from another country. For every purchase PayPal automatically deducts a payment from one’s bank saving account that is associated with his debit card. He does not even have to worry to convert his local currency into dollar because it is PayPal Who will automatically do that online.

Generally, credit card is more acceptable and more convenient way of making online transaction than the debit card. The advantage of debit card is that there is no interest on goods that are bought which means that the purchase is at a lower cost. And one is not likely to buy goods on impulse because he has to spend only the money that is in his savings account.  With a debit card instead of a credit card, the cardholder is not likely to be burdened with unmanageable debt.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Centrio, an Ayala Mall in Cagayan de Oro City

Centrio, an Ayala Mall has formally opened its business operation in the city of Cagayan de Oro in Northern Mindanao, Philippines on November 9, 2012. The mall which is owned by Ayala Land Incorporated is constructed at a cost PHP 4.7 billion which is equivalent to US$ 114.41 million in the current peso-dollar exchange rate.                                                                                                                                                                              

The 3.7-hectare mall is situated right along C.M. Recto Avenue, the busiest thoroughfare of the city which is also a part of the national highway. To its north right across the road is another mall, Gaisano City.  On the east side of Centrio is Capt. Vicente Roa St. and on its west is Corrales street.                                                                                                                                 

Aside from the mall, Centrio has also a hotel, a BPO office and a condominium tower within its complex. It has a gross ground floor area of 64,000 square meters with a 44,000 square meters of gross leasable area in a 3-storey structure which can accommodate 300 concessionaires. Two Philippine acacia trees which are within Centrio’s land were left alone by the developers. The area where the trees are located now serves as its mini-park and garden.

Patrons of the mall are accorded with comfortable ambiance such as fully air-conditioned building. Inside it are sporting goods stores, book stores, pharmacies, restaurants, movie houses and other business establishments that offer wide assortment of goods such as clothes, shoes, watches, books, cameras, electronic goods, computers, foods and other goods. Rustan’s, a Manila-based chain of business establishment will soon open in the mall its Fresh Supermarket which is its first ever in Mindanao.

Centrio is a welcome addition to the big malls that established their business in the city such as Gaisano, Shoemart, Robinson and Lim Ket Kai which is just a short distance away from it. Centrio’s business operation will indeed contribute to the economic growth of the city. Moreover, it will also provide employment opportunities to the youth of the city and its neighboring areas.

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Job Well Done by Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes on the Party List Sytem

Photo Credit: Philippine Daily Inquirer

At present the Filipino public has taken its hat off to COMELEC chairman Sixto Brillantes who is seen to have done a good job as a head of that government office. Brillantes denied the accreditation of several groups as Party List. He disqualified 7other groups which have already sitting representatives. He also did the same to still other groups which were previously registered in the last election but failed to garner enough votes. Brillantes’ action is in contrast with that of previous commissioners who accredited and registered groups as party list as if what they were granting were a commodity in the public market.                                                                                                                                                  

Many people are not happy or satisfied with the party list system since its implementation because the constitutional provision is abused by powerful and influential groups. This malpractice has defeated the vision of the framers of the 1987 constitution that is to provide opportunities to the marginalized and underrepresented sectors of the society to have a voice in the Philippine Law making process. Some groups that are in the party list are just front of a political party or powerful political family whose aim is to expand its political power thus promoting political dynasty. Others are apparently identified with a religious groups or organization and still others can hardly be categorized as belonging to marginalized groups. And most of the nominees of the party list groups are millionaires and some of them do not even belong to the group they are supposed to represent.

Some Filipinos want the party list system abolished because it has only served the interest of the elite and the privileged group rather than that of the poor. A glaring example of abuse of this system is the party list group of the son of a former president who is supposed to represent security guards, tricycle drivers, farmers and small businessmen. However, he was never any of them and above all he does not belong to a marginalized family being a millionaire. Records also show that he has not done a deliberate effort to help these groups in his three years in office as their representative. He only authored one bill for security guard that is to extend the expiry of his license from one year to three years. Unfortunately, the bill is still pending for approval in congress.                                                                                              

The party list system is embodied in the Philippine constitution so that it cannot just be abolished unless the constitution is amended or replaced with a new one.  Philippine Constitution provides that the house of representative shall be composed of 250 members and this number includes the members of the party list who will constitute 20% of all its members who come from labor, peasants, urban poor, indigenous cultural communities, women, youth, overseas workers, the physically handicapped, veterans and professionals to exclude the religious groups. Since then the number of legislative districts has increased to 229. If that is 80% of the regular members of congress then the total number of all members shall be 286. And the 20% of that which is composed of the party list members shall be 57.

Commissioner Brillantes’ mettle will be tested in the May 2013 mid-term election. It will be the first main election that will be conducted under his watch. A clean and honest election next year will be a feather in his cap. 

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Political Dynasty in the Philippines, a Social Ill That Should Be Eliminated

Webster Dictionary defines a dynasty as “a succession of rulers from the same line or descent”.  The reign of ancient rulers’ family and their descendants in China and the absolute monarchies of Europe are example of dynasty. Emperors and kings ruled and when they were gone, their power was passed to an appointed successor who was a member of the same family. In the present Philippine situation whether at the national or local level a political dynasty is meant as a reign of a family and its relatives whose members occupy different elective positions in a particular area all at the same time. This kind of practice can be termed as oligarchy which the Webster Dictionary defines as “a government for the few or a government in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes”.   In the Philippines it is the practice of some politicians to have members of the family hold different elective positions thereby controlling the political and economic landscape of a particular area. Once it establishes its stronghold, the political family uses its influence and financial resources at their disposal to hold on to power for as long as possible. A political family is also a dynasty since most often power is passed from one member of a family to another and its reign can last for many years or over a generation or beyond.                                                                                                                                                

Aware of the maladies that are caused by political dynasties, the framers of 1987 constitution made a provision which is Article 2, Section 26 on State Policies that says: “The state shall guarantee equal access to opportunities for public service and prohibits dynasties as maybe defined by law”.  Legal minds have it that said constitutional provision needs an enabling law in order to be effectively implemented. The present constitution has been in effect since February 11, 1987, and since then many congresses have come and gone. However, the past and present set of legislators has not passed a bill to deal on the issue of political dynasty. Many people doubt that any of the legislators would initiate an action with regard to the matter considering that many of them come from political families. A law of that kind will certainly diminish the legislators’ political influence or power in their respective areas or districts.

The constitution has also provided for a term-of-office limit of elected public officials. This provision should have been one of the ways to help prevent the emergence of political dynasties. But politicians have gotten away with this provision by simply running to a lower position when his term expires, and he takes back his position when his subservient ally has served out his term of office. With this practice politicians are able to stay long in office as they wish despite the constitutional ban.

Some politicians contend that there is nothing wrong with political dynasty since it is ultimately the people who decide if a person will hold an elective position or not. They say that a well qualified and dedicated person should not be denied of his right to serve a public office for the mere reason that he belongs to a political family. That statement is theoretically correct. However, the reality in Philippine politics is that more often than not it is only the well entrenched, well connected and moneyed politicians who usually win an election.  In the Philippines most of the voters belong to the lower income group. And because of their number their votes is a crucial factor in the outcome of an election. Because of their poverty, the poor people are the most vulnerable to fall prey on traditional politicians’ trick to provide for the poor’s immediate day’s needs like food and money during election time in exchange of their votes. Winning over those types of voters needs huge financial resources. Simply put, it is difficult for a deserving person of ordinary means to run against an incumbent politician let alone one who is a member of a powerful political family or clan.

Political dynasties in the Philippines are sprouting like mushrooms. Not all of them are bad and some are honest and dedicated to serve their constituents. In some cases the existence of political dynasty has even benefited the people of a particular area. There are also politicians who are sincere and have served their people well. But generally political dynasty is not good for the Philippine democracy and well being of the Filipinos. Political dynasty is a system that brings about corruption, unequal political and economic opportunities, nepotism and patronage system in job opportunities and the monopoly of political and economic powers over a long period of time by few people who belong to the same family or clan.