Friday, January 29, 2010

Battle of the hottest TV reporters

While Anderson Cooper is the world's hottest, local news do have a handful of cute reporters to balance all that gore and chaos (read: politics) that they report about.

There's ABS-CBN's Atom Araullo (sorry, jailbait pa sya dito, lol):



GMA's Mark Salazar:



And oh my, Chris Zuñiga, whom I've never seen and heard of until today:



Ding, ding, ding!!! We have a winner! LOL!

ABS-CBN, please put him on the air more often.

Mon, I love you :-D

So who else are hot? Comment away! (Please don't put Kuya Kim.)


In Passing


My 18-year old copy of Catcher in the Rye


I think there’s a moment in your life when you need to have read Catcher in the Rye to have appreciated it: not too early, as I did in high school, when being the relatively perfect student that I was, I easily dismissed Holden Caulfield as a lazy, good for nothing rebel; nor too late, as in now, when I can easily dismiss him as naive, too young and idealistic.

You read it at that point in your life——or in my case, re-read as a rebel student in college——during which the world goes beyond the four corners of your classroom and you question having a perfect attendance or being prepared for surprise exams as a measure of self-worth. That exact point, during which the world revolves around you and your dreams alone and not around having to earn your keep.

You read it while you are on that brink of finally deciding, for the first time in your life, who you are going to be.

* * * *

Reuters: Reclusive author J.D. Salinger dies at 91


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Nonconfrontational

What do we have here? It hasn't been a week since I blogged about Villar's dubious records and there are already new reports on his attempts at bribing.

From Inquirer: Villar tried to buy me off—Enrile

From GMA: Amid C-5 controversy, Enrile claims getting 'offers' from Villar


On the other hand, ABS CBN toned down its language:
Villar tried to stave off censure: Enrile


From the ABS CBN report, Villar's party spokesperson Gilbert Remulla reiterates the presidential candidate's excuse as to why he hasn't answered these allegations in the senate:

"During the interview, Remulla said Villar is still not inclined to attend the Senate committee's adjudicatory hearings since members of the investigating panel had already made up their minds about Villar's guilt...

He said Villar was not confrontational and is unwilling to fire back at his opponents.

"If he appears before a group that has already judged him including the Senate President, how could he explain his side when the group will no longer listen to his explanation? In all their statements, they have already made their decision. He will go there and endure mudslinging, magkakasakitan lang sila, what for?" he said.

He added: "[Villar] has never fought anyone. He is not confrontational...If he appears there, they will fling mud at him and it is not his nature to fling mud back."


Wow, Gilbert surely stressed how his boss is... let's repeat it... nonconfrontational. Which is the problem.

Because you see Gilbert, Arroyo was nonconfrontational too. She was nonconfrontational about the ZTE scandal. She didn't confront us about the fertilizer scam scandal. She never confronted private armies. She wouldn't have confronted the Hello Garci scandal if not for the mounting pressure from the public and her own Cabinet, and all we got from that was a lousy sorry.

So yes, for someone who's reputation is at stake, I would imagine him to be confrontational about this whole matter; in fact, I would expect him to be enraged, facing his accusers and answering them point by point.

What can we expect from a President Villar? One who hides in Malacanang or goes out of the country when besieged with criticisms?

Weak.


Monday, January 25, 2010

The elephant

I was in Topman yesterday and while going through the racks of clothes, I noticed this guy with scabs -- literally open wounds -- on his entire arms, neck and face. I figured he must have serious skin disease. He browsed through the shirts, as one would flip through pages of a book, and for each flip, a shirt grazed his wounds.

Everyone decided to be politically correct about it and shut their mouth: the cashier, the sales attendants, other shoppers, myself. Granted it wasn't a transmittable disease, and god knows how many unseen germs/bacteria there are on other people's arms and bodies, I still thought it was inconsiderate of the guy.

He also stood in line for the fitting room.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Masipag, matiyaga

After going through all the documents below, I am now of the strong opinion that yes, I think Villar is merely exploiting the poor in his advertisements. Indeed, if you think about it, he is so proud of being a child of Tondo but what has he exactly done for Tondo? None, if you base it on the Priority Development Assistance Fund he released from 2003 to 2006. Meanwhile, Las Pinas gets a huge chunk of money from the Senator as you can see in one of the links below.

I read the following via Manolo Quezon's Twitter account, from which he posted the following links: (Disclosure: he is voting for Noynoy. So am I.)

A Case of Plunder

Senate Committee report seeking Villar's censure

Fact Sheet on Villar C-5 controversy

P60 million: What Noynoy Aquino spent in disbursements in three years, Villar spent in one. (Note that more than half of which, or P35.5 million, went to Las Pinas, where his wife is Congresswoman.)

Book on finance cites Villar for graft & corruption:
One example was C&P Homes (C&P), a Philippine corporate property developer of low-end housing. The company owned a substantial amount of land around Manila and had issued dollar-denominated debt to finance its land purchases and to develop the land. However, when the Asia crisis occurred, land values collapsed and the company ran out of cash. The company suggested a restructuring under which creditors would have taken a large haircut. Creditors explored legal avenues to foreclose on C&P’s holdings. However, despite spending substantial time and legal fees on these efforts, creditors were unable to gain control of company property or force liquidation because of the lack of reliable bankruptcy laws in the Philippines. C&P’s controlling shareholder was Senator Manuel Villar who was able to use his position to further stymie creditor efforts to force a restructuring or foreclose on C&P properties. It was an example of the downside of investing in corporations in countries without reliable bankruptcy laws. Creditors were powerless to enforce their rights and were left with nearly valueless securities.

Rohan Douglas, Credit Derivative Strategies: New Thinking on Managing Risk and Return, ( Villar’s cited on page 30)

About the Author: Rohan Douglas, editor of this volume, is the founder and CEO of Quantifi Inc., a leading provider of pricing models and risk analysis tools for structured credit. He has more than twenty-five years of experience in the global financial industry. Prior to founding Quantifi, he was the director of global credit research at Citigroup and Salomon Smith Barney where he worked for ten years. Douglas has worked in interest-rate derivatives, emerging markets, and global fixed income. He is also an adjunct professor in the graduate financial engineering program at Polytechnic University in New York and at the Macquarie University Applied Finance Centre in Australia and Singapore.


I think we've suffered enough during Arroyo's administration. Installing Villar as the head of this state would merely be a continuation of her legacy in economics and profiteering.


Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tumblng!

Aight, so I got to play around with Tumblr and here are my thoughts:

I'm old, lol!


It took me time to get accustomed to the graphics and settings. While the site offers some really hip blogging tools (more on them later), it becomes harder for basic HTML players (ehem) to tweak the website for their own preferences. This is disastrous for obsessive-compulsive bloggers like me! (I know I have the most basic of blog templates, but trust me, I spent hours and hours to keep it like this, especially with my kindergarten HTML knowledge.)

To know more about what I'm talking about, let's take a look at my Tumblr page, The Concierge, a pet project of mine.



I've no problems at all creating the layout -- I selected it out of the several themes (layout) available in the site. However, it uses a style sheet which I've no control over -- or at least one that's hard for me to go over and study :-P

I would also love to include a list of the blogs I'm following -- that is not possible with the template I chose. And as far as I know (quite a short distance, lol), Tumblr doesn't offer such widget. What I would need to do is go over the default template's HTML code AND write my own codes to get what I want to happen. Di ko carry.

Another downside -- no comments section! I don't get the logic behind this at all. What Tumblr has is a "reblog" button, which allows you to post someone else's entry to your own blog (with the proper credit and link back), plus add a few notes of your own. It also has a "heart" button, which is basically similar to Facebook's "XXXX likes this" feature.

I was able to add my own comments section though by signing up with Disqus, a service independent from Tumblr. (Setting up your own Disqus account is another story altogether, what with the many options it offers. Fortunately, the theme I chose features seamless integration with Disqus.)

As for the good features: one, it's easier to resize photos on Tumbler. Blogger resizes them out of your control. With Tumbler, you just drag the photo's edges to whichever size you want.


As I was saying, Blogger automatically reduces photos to this size. You'll have to click the image to see the original size and see the details. When I post large photos here, I'd have to use another photo upload service, as I did with The Concierge's screenshot above. That is not necessary with Tumblr.


You can also immediately decide on the layout of the photos as you are uploading them. With Blogger, uploaded photos are automatically placed at the top AND in the REVERSE order you uploaded them -- and you end up having to cut and paste the HTML links, transferring them to different locations within your post. Pretty hard when you're doing a photo journal.

If you have a bunch of several pictures, you can upload them with Tumblr's specialized photos upload page, and once published, they are arranged as a slideshow as you can see in my post about bicycles. Captions appear at the bottom (I opted not to write them in the album) so if you like telling your stories via a bunch of photos, then this feature makes that easy.

Tumblr also a Goodies section, which allows you to integrate your Facebook and Twitter accounts with your blog (not sure what this exactly means as I've no plans to do this), plus a few other applications that should be promising as more developers tinker with the site. An iPhone app is also available for mobile users of the brand.

What I consider to be best thing about Tumblr is the layout; several themes are classic and elegant to my taste -- believe me, the hardest part about being a Tumblr newbie is choosing your template. There were a lot that appealed to my minimalist aesthetic.

If only I can adopt the same template for Blogger -- and have those good features I mentioned, then I see no reason to maintain a Tumblr account. On the other hand, if only I get to study the template codes of Tumblr, then it gives me more reason to dump Blogger -- Tumblr seems more fun, with the stylish fonts, graphics and icons -- and the information easily shared by its community, due to the re-blog and "heart" features.

Meanwhile, all my personal entries remain here. Lifestyle articles will be posted on The Concierge :-)



Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Comelec and the Party Lists

When the Comelec first rejected the application of Ang Ladlad as a party list for this year's election, I stumbled on the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission's website.

In it was a section that allowed you to send an e-mail, with a provided template, to the Comelec Chairman and its Commissioners, copied to Danton Remoto, Chairperson of Ang Ladlad; Congressman Lorenzo Tanada III, Chair of the Committee on Civil, Political and Human Rights; Leila De Lima, Chairperson, Commission on Human Rights; and Grace Poore of IGLHRC.

I personalized the template and clicked sent, without expecting any response from any of the recipients. By the way, the e-mail was meant to convince the Commissioners to rule in favor of Ladlad, as it filed a motion for reconsideration.

To my surprise, two of the commissioners replied:

1.
Dear Jason,

Rest assured I will study the matter carefully.

Commissioner Rene V. Sarmiento

and 2./
A good day to you.

This is to acknowledge your email.

The decision was rendered by the 2nd Division, and I currently am a member of the 1st Division. A Motion for Reconsideration was filed elevating the matter to the En Banc, and rest assured, we shall go over all the records and evaluate the Petition. At this point, it would be premature to discuss the Petition or action to be taken by the En Banc.


Sincerely,
Commissioner Gregorio Y. Larrazabal


In December, the En Banc voted on the motion: The three second division commissioners who first rejected Ladlad did not change their position and rejected the motion; the other three commissioners from the first division voted in favor of it. The tie was decided by the Comelec Chairman, who denied the motion with finality.

In his penned decision, he said:
"Thus, even if society’s understanding, tolerance, and acceptance of LGBT is legitimate, there can be no denying that Ladlad constituencies are still males and females, and they will remain either male or female — protected by the same Bill of Rights that applies to all citizens alike and who are amply represented also by the males and females who comprise our legislature."

Which doesn't make sense because all party list groups are comprised of humans; otherwise, we'll have animals in Congress. (Insert your own joke here.)

I looked up the names of those who voted in favor of the motion. I was heartened when I saw who they were: Commissioners Rene Sarmiento, Armando Velasco and Gregorio Larrazabal. I thought, no wonder they were so nice enough to respond to e-mail.

I sent another e-mail to Mr. Sarmiento and Larrazabal to thank them for their vote. Mr. Larrazabal was again gracious enough to reply:

Thank you for your email.

Though a minority voice, I still stand by my decision (I was the ponente in the En Banc, but was out-voted) which states that morality and religion should not be a basis for deciding a case.


Mabuhay po kayo.


Ang Ladlad filed for a petition at the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order on Comelec's decisions. As a result, Ang Ladlad will be included in the May 2010 ballots, although the SC has yet to render its final decision.

It's interesting to note that among the party lists approved by Comelec is Chinoy, which I assume is for Filipino-Chinese, one of our very dejected minority groups. There are also party list groups for Bicolanos, Ilonggos, Warays and Mindanaoans, perhaps validating the incompetence of their respective House representatives.


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