Friday, February 25, 2011

1986 People Power: Filipinos Gift to the World

By Chester B Cabalza

At age seven, I learned the iota of people power and democracy, concocted by revered Mahatma Gandhi of India, which in its true spirit and essence, gradually sowed in the smiling Pearl of the Orient's motherland.

After the successful, peaceful, and cheerful EDSA People Power I, my parents told to me and to my brothers the significance of this "revolution" in our future. And so they started to instill in us patriotism and nationalism - the love of country and to be always proud as Filipinos.

As obedient sons of our parents and future leaders of this country - we studied very well, obtained degrees from reputable universities, became professionals, now building our own young family, and live and work in the Philippines despite massive diaspora and exodus happening in current times.

They taught us that time will come we will teach the lessons of EDSA I - the first and only true People Power in the country, to succeeding generations. And now, celebrating its 25th anniversary, I am re-telling the story of this yellow revolution to my kids.

Twenty-five years ago my parents were also reformists. My father as member of security forces fought insurgents in Marrag Valley while my mother as dean of the largest college that recently became university in Region II advocated change and democracy for our country. They stood up and defended democracy in their own little ways while their contemporaries rallied at the main artery that crossed the north and south points of Manila.

In 1986, mammoth of people gathered together in Highway 54 to fight what they called the living in dangerous years. The terror of martial law, once engulfed the entire nation, had given birth to a new Filipino soul, and bred the People Power Revolt.

My parents recalled those defining moments and shared with us belonging to the Facebook/Twitter generation about their struggles and victories during those dreadful years. However, they sometimes accused us of our social irresponsibility; blamed our present age of taking for granted the much liberties and excessive lifestyle they fought for in 1986.

Inspite of my idealistic years in College at UP Diliman as a frat member and among the many hopeful people from different walks of life who flocked the vibrant intersections of the infamous EDSA shrine and held nightlong merry street party cum revolution to topple another corrupt leader during the EDSA II People Power using gadgets and text brigades in mobile phones.

That period of January 2001, youths in my generation's new dawn of the millennium, saved history from its downfall, inspired by the 1986 bloodless revolt in EDSA. But three months after a promising call for total change in our society, wrath of the people erupted in May 2001 because of unfulfilled promises of the popular second uprising.

The seeds of my parents time of peaceful upheaval against martial law when compared later on with my own generation's techie uprising against corruption showed that both similar people power revolutions fueled with religious and nationalist songs remained a Filipino trademark.

My parents time of People Power that ousted a dictator believed to be a pandorax box that spread like viral across the globe to help solve other countries own democratic upheavals - from South Korea to Myanmar, to Poland, to China, to Indonesia, to Hungary and to the success of Germany’s East and West reunion. More so, former European communist countries marched and fought for democracy.

It was indeed a miracle.

In 2001, I thought this miracle bounced back to where it originated. But by the time I experienced People Power, our generation failed to see the fruits of EDSA One's pure and life-changing revolt my parents experienced and sowed in us in 1986!

I participated in two other People Power - EDSA II and III where we ousted a thief president but installed a false leader (both became damaged revolutions that produced a syndrome of people power fatigue!)

But in my solomonic judgment, EDSA I in my parents generation, remained powerful and lasting that every Filipino should be proud of! Worth re-telling to the next generation.

My kids loved it as their best and well-loved bedtime story!

Celebrating today the 25th anniversary of the People Power Revolution or EDSA I, the hope it brings to myriad peoples, creed, and nationality, is now transported to Arab and African Muslim countries as they successfully expel abusive dictators and overthrow greedy monarchs.

Forever I will etch in my heart and deem that the true spirit of People Power is our precious gift to the world!

Let us relive the true spirit of People Power! Thank you, my fellow Filipinos!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Virtual Ethnography 101: Homecoming to a Country Reborn

Last January 29, 2011, I asked my graduate students in Anthropology 225 to become oracles for the day during the three-hour workshop I prepared for them using Edward de Bono's The Six Thinking Hats; and perhaps foretell and prophesy scenarios on Philippine Culture and Society in 2020. One group wore the yellow hat that allowed them to express optimistic views - a thesis from the anti-thesis views of the black hat thinkers. I appreciate creativity shown in the written output of the yellow hat wearers who foresee a bright future for our society. However, I have to caution the readers here that some facts may be overblown and clothed with much idealism. But I guess the story narrated and presented herein are possible scenarios that might occur in the near future...

My gratitude and appreciation extend to the writers of this story - Anna Saberon, Camille Flores, Dolf Cheng, Laurence Garcia, Lay Duaso, Louie Merced, and Marck Bryan David


A Brave New Philippines 2020

“There’s no place like HOME,” Flerida thought as she looked around the vast airport terminal space filled with locals and foreigners alike. The plane ride from Qatar took a little under five hours but her uncontrollable excitement seemed to make waiting, one of her pet peeves, a struggle. Time seems to slow down but at last her plane has finally arrived in NAIA l, Manila. Looking around the newly-renovated, glass-domed structure, she couldn’t believe how modern the old airport had transformed into. Could this be the very terminal where she bid farewell to her husband, 1 daughter and 1 son many years before? She barely knew how she had managed to live abroad and away from her family for almost a decade. She had kept in touch with them, had talked to them and had seen their faces through the internet, but now they are not just two-dimensional faces on Skype anymore. Nothing could trump her family’s real, physical and embraceable presence and this is going to transpire soon.

They say time changes everything. Could this be true or not? News has been trickling in throughout her 9 years stay in Qatar. Due to her excellent performance as a caregiver, her Qatar employer compensated her with more financial rewards than she could ever dream of. This explains the reason why her 3-year contract was extended to 9 years. During those years, she fought the urge to come home because life had been extremely tough for her family here in the Philippines and she thought she hasn’t saved enough. Yet, news that trickled into her iPhone 4 years ago (2016) had brought good tidings. Good signs. More convincingly, it was the stories related to her by her family. They were telling her about the positive changes in the Philippines this past decade. Friends and relatives have also been chatting with her on her Macbook. Could this bring some truth to that saying? That time changes everything? Flerida was now standing by the luggage conveyer, waiting for her balikbayan boxes. Even the services in the airport terminal have improved. Each personnel seem to be efficiently keen at work in his/her respective station. Where were the loitering staff she remembered from years past? She pushed the cart across the floor for the exit lane, passing through customs personnel who stamped her passport with surprising speed and called on to the next person in line.

Manila is extremely hot this time of the year and yet in the distance she noticed endless greenery of mature trees that lined the parking lot. There is no patch of dryness as the grass is well-watered by automatic sprinklers perhaps? She thought to herself. How could this be Manila where not even government officials are at the least “environmental”? She immediately scanned the sea of faces among the crowd waiting for their loved ones and then she saw three familiar faces. In that moment, she could not help but think back to a similar instance years ago when she had to say goodbye to those three faces.

The company where her husband was working had to downsize because of the global financial crisis. Unfortunately, he was one of those who were laid off. Their two children were still in school that time- Maya was in her 2nd year of high school while Miguel was in Grade 4. The tuition fees of both children were increasing and their remaining savings would not last a year longer. Hence, she decided to leave and work in Qatar. She and her husband had come up with hundreds of reasons why she should or should not take the job abroad. Leaving was the most painful and difficult decision in her life and for years in Qatar, she punished herself for her endless guilt and remorse for leaving her family behind. Upon eyeing out her family among the hundreds of people waiting for their loved ones like her, Flerida completely erased her 9-year guilt in that instant and resolved to herself that the decision she made then was the right one. Tears of joy flooded the scene as Flerida and her husband and now really grown-up children embraced. 9 years were lost to them but they have their entire life now to catch things up. Flerida and her family are really excited to return to their own home in Samar so everyone rushes to the family’s new car.

Upon leaving the ultra-modern Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Flerida noticed how much things have physically changed around her. There are more BMW’s, Benz’s and Audi’s along the highways and she wondered if people have become generally more affluent. With the presence of more cars, one would generally link it to heavier traffic. However, what surprised her even further is that the traffic situation of Manila’s thoroughfares is not as horrible as it used to be. Traffic was regular and suspiciously smooth along the way home. “Seriously, is this Metro Manila? Or did I land in the wrong country?,” She can’t help but ask that question to her husband who responded to her with a proud face, “Yes Dear, you’re really home”. So she was not dreaming at that time when he saw the sign “MABUHAY PHILIPPINES!” at the arrival area.

Drivers are more disciplined and traffic rules are more strictly implemented. The roads also look significantly cleaner this time. No more unsightly structures and misbehaving sidewalk vendors. No more children running dangerously across the highways to ask for alms. Traffic signs and foot bridges are now colored blue and yellow and red, a display of a renewed national pride. “Well…, must be at the whim of the new MMDA chairman as always have been the case”, she quips, but she does not mind it for she appreciates the positive changes that she are all witnessing. “I’ve been only gone for 9 years and yet with the things that I am seeing, I think I must have been away for a lifetime”. She was struck further by what are now sprawling across many parts of the metro. Apart from the high-rise glass-walled office buildings which indicate a boom in economic activity in the country, she also found rows of high-rise public housing units. “Finally, no Filipino is a squatter in his own country”, she could not contain her gladness. She remembers bits of news back in Qatar that Manila’s dumpsite illegal residents have been granted land rights on the outskirts of the city and upon seeing these housing units, she wondered if some of them are living here. In the year 2016, the government declared Payatas area to be solely a recycling site and less of a dumpsite. In a very difficult but promising turnaround, the last administration started a rigorous recycling awareness program among the people residing in Metro Manila. This started 2012 and was implemented in almost all the barangays starting with downtown Manila alongside Pasay and Quezon City. Upon seeing the progress in the year 2016, other remaining towns and barangays followed suit and this has contributed tremendously to the greening of Payatas today. Garbage collection is heavily taxed and each resident should use a purchased trash bag to throw their garbage into. The rule back in 2016 was “No government-issued trash bag, No collection”. Today, trash is reduced almost 400% and continuing to decrease. People have become more conscious of what to throw as pure garbage and what to set aside as recyclables. As a matter of fact, recycling is being rewarded with grocery points which can be redeemed in SM Savemore outlets around Metro Manila. What’s more? Provinces all around the Philippines beginning with Cebu and Davao are eyeing this recycling possibility and officials have been sent out to these places to look into prospects.

The transformation does not end here. As Flerida has heard from news abroad and from her family, the conditions in the provinces are likewise significantly better now. The infrastructure is now solidly sound, basic public services are effectively delivered to the people in the provinces, and there is lesser need to move to Metro Manila to seek opportunities. One of the consequences and rippling effects of the provincial developments can be seen in her own daughter. Maya is now very contented with her career in Samar. Compared to her mother who had to fly abroad, away from family, Maya lives right where she works as a Head Nurse in St. Lukes Medical Center right here in Samar. Travelling from home to work is only 3 kilometers away when one rides in an air-conditioned jeepney. The salary here in Samar may not be as high as a Head Nurse working in Manila, but it is sufficient. She can live and feed on it, she can contribute for expenses at home, and she can even go shopping with it. Flerida couldn’t come back home at a more appropriate time than right now in the year 2020 and she felt herself to be the happiest Filipino balikbayan.

Flerida initially thought that the new changes in the Philippines were all exaggeration to bring more tourists into the country. After all, she, among other OFWs were utterly dissatisfied with hopelessness which drove them away from their homeland in the first place. What could she feel after all these years? Yet, she cannot erase the buzz around the news revolving around Philippines starting 2016. The country has been under the international spotlight after its unexpected transformation from being a laggard in the ASEAN region into a new economic power. Even in Qatar, Flerida has heard all the wonderful news of how the strong economic growth rate of 7.3% during the first year of Aquino administration back in 2011 was sustained. This carried and multiplied all the way throughout the decade and has finally trickled down to the lower income Pinoys. Poverty does and still exists, as it is an impossible task for any country to totally alleviate such condition in a span of a decade. Today, many Filipino families have found themselves out of the poverty line and are now enjoying relatively better living standards. Through the sound and responsible fiscal and economic policies implemented by the government, as well as the effective efforts to minimize corruption in the government, the Philippine economy was able to pick up and compete. Gone are the days when the stories of the Philippines being at par with South Korea economic-wise during the 1960s are thought of as mere history. Now, the Philippines has regained its mojo, more confident and optimistic of the future as ever.

Another explanation for such is that the Philippines has learned to navigate its economic direction on its own, no longer heavily dependent on the economies of the United States and European Union, which altogether have decreased in its relative strength as a consequence of the much-heralded economic rise of Asia. The Philippine economy now operates within the context of the ASEAN region, which although has now achieved greater levels of economic integration, still allows its member-states to remain sovereign on their economic practices. Additionally, trade with China and India, the new big players in Asia have become more aggressive, while keeping Japan as still an important economic partner.

In diversifying its trading relationships, the Philippines has even increased its contacts with other major emerging markets like Brazil, Mexico, Russia other Latin American states and even those from Africa. Through the successful programs of the government on industrialization and agriculture, and the active participation and initiatives by the private sector and civil society, Philippine products have become more competitive and of higher quality. The country no longer just exports parts of electronics as it has done so in the past, but has now become a regional player in the electronics industry itself, through home-grown brands such as My|Phone. The Philippines is also not just the ‘sweatshop’ for popular clothing brands such as Nike and Gap. Instead, Filipino clothing brands such as Bench, Kamiseta and Rusty Lopez have now become widely-known around the world. As with basic commodities such as bananas, pineapples, coconut oil, and fish, the Philippines has kept and even strengthened its competitive edge. Through the overhauls in the agricultural sector, the country has now regained its dominance in rice production, and for the first time after many decades, has now become a net exporter of it. For once, skilled human labor is no longer the main export of the country. Filipinos, like Flerida, need not go abroad to earn decently even at the expense of their respective families, for opportunities are now available in their own country. “I feel happy for the families of this generation”, Flerida wistfully tells herself. “They need not experience the hardships and sacrifice that come with having to leave our country in search for greener pastures abroad.”

Filipino migration however, did not stop even with this improved economic conditions at home, as it is self-defeating to do so in this globalized world. But it has now become just an option, not a need. Filipinos who work abroad are no longer just assigned at blue-collar and menial jobs. They are no longer the domestic helpers, baby sitters, ship crews and construction workers at Hong Kong or the Middle East. They are now holding higher and professional positions. Filipino workers are earning even greater respect and adulation from people around the world.

More importantly, the Philippines has also come to learn how to fully utilize its abundant natural resources through sustainable and environment-friendly practices. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources for instance has strengthened its role of conserving the natural resources of the country. Foreign mining companies are barred from fully extracting and exploiting the mineral riches of the country at the cost of the environment, instead these riches are now properly and effectively utilized to first meet the needs of the domestic economy. On the other hand, although natural gas and other oil sources have been discovered among the vast Philippine seas, the government has prioritized and invested heavily at the harnessing of alternative sources to meet the domestic energy sources. Wind power harnessed in Ilocos Norte is no longer an alternative power source. Other alternatives like geothermal power in Tiwi, Albay and in Leyte, and hydroelectric power in Laguna and Lanao provinces are also being used at a wider scale. Today in 2020, the Philippines collectively sources over two-thirds of its energy needs locally, thus lessening its dependence on Middle East oil. The economic headlines and buzz about the Philippines from abroad may have been overwhelming already for Flerida and to a lot of her fellow overseas Pinoys, but it seemed that nothing prepared her for actually seeing that these successes are indeed concrete and tangible. Flerida, through the entire ride going to her house, is still flabbergasted. “I wonder what else is in store for me in this homecoming”, the dumbfounded but thrilled Flerida inquires.

Flerida finally arrived in Samar and stepped out of the car and shielded her eyes against the sun. It wasn't the heat that bothered her much - if anything, Philippine humidity was winter compared to the dessert that was Qatar. It was because she wanted to look at her house without squinting, and to drink in the sight of what she had worked for all these years. Before her was a two-storey building that was neither too big nor too small, but which had a well-tended garden with a colorful riot of flowers in front, giving the house a cheerful air. Beside it were signs of an ongoing construction that Flerida knew were for her future grocery business, an endeavor she planned to start small but eventually grow. One thing that she has learned from Qatar, from being abroad, was perseverance and self-sufficiency. Filipinos who were fortunate enough to travel abroad saw a different aspect to themselves they would not normally discover and learned to adapt to foreign cultures that they deemed useful and this is what Flerida brought back with her. It may be a small store, but she has an enterprise. Years of being abroad has taught her resilience. That no matter what happens, her grocery business will become a success.

"Tita Fle!" a voice squealed from behind. Flerida turned and it seemed a hundred arms had covered her all at once, and more than a dozen voices clamored for her attention. The impact would have knocked her off her feet if these same arms hadn’t steadied her to the ground, but all Flerida could do was grin widely as she let herself be led into the house. Inside she was greeted by all the faces she had missed, young and old and middle-aged, faces not only of her large nuclear family but also of the familiar faces of her neighbors and friends. For the first time in 9 years, she was part of the group and not the alien working in a foreign land, not the nostalgic kabayan but the familial kapwa Pilipino. They were all here, excited and glad to have Flerida back.

The girl who had first called out to her was holding her hand, and it took Flerida a while to recognize who she was -- Mina, her sister's daughter who had been a shy but sweet 7-year old when she left. Now she was a lady whose confidence shone in the way she held her head, in the curious slant of her eyes, and in the healthy bronze glow of her skin. Today Mina works as a model for an international ad agency based in Cebu City. Recently, the agency has increased its employment of Asian models around Southeast Asia, most specially in the Philippines. Which was true, Flerida reflected, thinking back on the digital billboards she had passed on the way here, whose models looked surprisingly more Asian than Western. Flerida wonders if the world has shifted its concept of beauty towards Asia but she had no time to finish that thought because her mother walked into the room, busy as ever, with a plate of chopped lechon and a glistening glass of Coke for her. The sight of her Nanay instantly warmed Flerida’s heart, as her mother looked younger by ten years, basking in the glow of having all her children together at last. Flerida’s siblings were around the table as well, whose surface was enticingly spread out with a feast fit for kings. Here was a most precious but precarious moment which defines close Filipino family ties - both unifying and destructive to Philippine nationalism. This will be discussed later on. After the party, to Flerida’s surprise, everyone left early. They seemed to have a mutual understanding and an agreement that Flerida has had a long trip and therefore should be granted an early rest.

Flerida woke up to find that she was no longer in Qatar. Her body has not been conditioned back to Philippine familiarity and she switched on their new MylTV plasma flatscreen, yearning for Willing Willie on Channel 5. TV back in Flerida’s pre-Qatar period was a box of junk processor with game shows that made poor Filipinos yearn for the ultimate but elusive dream of stardom or richness. She wanted those forms of entertainment but could not find anything at all. Suddenly, her remote clicked to a program that had just started. It was a more eye-gluing program called Walang Wala/Merong Meron by the same Willie, today aged 59. The afternoon program featured stark contrasts between the Philippines then and now and although it may play out like a documentary, it was enough to plant Flerida right down her living room couch. Here was a TV program that will fill in all the missing gaps in her 9 years of informational absence and the show has just started.

Flerida learned from Willie that from Luzon to Mindanao, the tourism industry has boomed because of the unusual increase in the number of foreigners in different tourist hot spots around the chain of islands. Flerida could not believe the tremendous changes in the whole archipelago. She was amazed, to say the least. Being away for 9 years, she could feel her Pinoy pride reviving once again. Willie on TV interjected the fact that Filipinos have undergone a Vicky Belo-like spiritual facelift. Each province that was featured in the program had its own story of economic development. People who were interviewed in the show seemed to identify that Filipino weakness and disunity were rooted in too much love of the family unit. This may seem absurd but with familial love, Filipinos have disregarded anyone else outside the family circle. Learning from Japan, Korea and Taiwan, the Filipinos have finally built a deep sense of nationalism by extending their mindset of family further and including those who are non-family. True nationalism, they realized, embraces each and every Filipino in or out of the country. To cite an example, the national government with the help of civil societies including Filipino artists, celebrities, and heroes were instrumental in this transformation. These public figures leaped out of a virtual media like TV and movies and physically presented themselves to true public service. They reached out to their fans and supporters by providing hands-on education and presented themselves in tangible guidance and training. What this means is, they were truly present and involved. Mostly, they concentrated on young people who were idle, unemployed or out of school. They gave these young people the hope and dreams they need in order to prosper in their personal lives and contribute to their society.

There was a related feature on Efren PeƱaflorida’s continued success and why he never slipped off public admiration. Efren gave talks and seminars and personally trained his followers until they evolved into young educators themselves. These teachers, in turn, propagated vocational and basic education towards far-flung areas of the country, almost dotting every area of the island. This became possible because of Efren’s tangible involvement in all his affairs. He is no longer a news article or a media gossip material, distanced from people. He is for real and truly present for the Filipino people. In the same manner, Manny Pacquiao encouraged aspiring Filipino boxers by training with them personally and honing their skills to make them future world-class boxers. The key ingredient, both civil leaders agree, is physical and emotional involvement. Other leaders with their expertise followed this recipe and in 9 years, the Philippines finally gained momentum and is today on a steady rise towards world recognition. This was most obvious in sports because young Filipino athletes began winning international titles abroad. The success of Filipinos in diverse fields, in this case, education and sports; has inspired the whole country towards true nationalism. Everything was as if hard to swallow for Flerida but she is slowly waking up from her sleep and realizing that no longer is this a dream. Filipinos seem to be more nationalistic, according to the TV’s own conducted survey. No longer is the Filipino chained towards familial loyalty but has finally reached out to co-Filipinos as well.

Flerida’s favorite SM was also featured and it is reported here that SM was instrumental in the revival of the arts. Philippine artistry has finally bloomed into its fullness reminiscent of the renaissance in Ancient Greece. The government has finally realized the economic potential in this sector and has pushed talents locally and abroad in the area of visual arts, music, theatre, dance and fashion, among other artistic expressions. They have also collaborated with national artists to define and create what is distinctly Filipino that would be known in the international art scene. Many foreign artists were invited to the Philippines to interact with local artists and they have a left a tremendous impact because the Filipinos became more responsive to newer knowledge, experimentation and art expression. These all started in 2016 in SM malls all over the country where the once elite art was made more accessible to the general public. To illustrate, this once intangible form has become a weekly awareness activity through open art and friendly competitions sponsored by the private business sector and directed by the public government officials. Each week, SM held a schedule of art activities the whole afternoon of Saturday. Events included free art movies for students, culinary art skills for young mothers, and even floral arrangement only for married men. Next week, there is a new set of events which will include foot painting techniques for people with cerebral palsy and hip hop dancing only for grandparents.

As if on cue, in the middle of a commercial break, Miguel walked into the room and once more gave his mother a long hug showing his emotions openly. “Ma, I have wonderful news to tell you and I have been waiting ages to tell you this. I am gay and I am fully responsible and accountable to myself.” Miguel quickly exited the room before her mother could react but it did seem to Flerida that Miguel had not carried a single amount of remorse in what he has revealed in that instant. Miguel had just graduated from the University of the Philippines in Diliman with a degree in space technology. He misses not his lessons but the professors who had mystically become like gurus and spiritual teachers to him. The shift began in U.P. in 2016 where self-development became the norm and each individual student was taught self value and guided to search his inner self and develop it. Each Filipino was required to go to school but students today do not vie for academic excellence. Students are guided to develop his/her mind, body and spiritual aspect; and to freely choose whatever profession or field he/she wants to excel in. Individual empowerment and discovery was considered a top priority and the professors and teachers are trained to detect these emerging aspects in their students as early as grade school. This is believed to be fundamental for each student because each one will work towards a future collective empowerment for the Philippine nation. Flerida reflected on how powerless she was in her youth. As a matter of fact, Filipinos have forever been victims to hidden potentials and desires due to 400 years of root-deep colonialism that polluted the Filipino mind to just accept his fate and surrender to the gods. This brought on self-defeating statements like “Bahala na ang Diyos” which plunged majority of Filipinos into inaction and hence, laziness. Flerida noticed how more optimistic Miguel seemed compared to her own upbringing. Miguel is very self-expressed, too much in fact according to her standards and this scared Flerida at first. Perhaps she may see it now as a form of rebellion in today’s Filipino teenager but she trusts in what the U.P. teachers have initiated in schools for all else to follow. Could this bold path emblazoned by the fierce educators finally break our 4 centuries of Spanish and American curse, she wonders.

She has not reacted yet to what Miguel had shared earlier because she chose to withhold that disbelief for now. Slowly, as if from deep meditation, she thought at last, “Things are really not the same as they were back in 2011 anymore. It’s not really that bad, but actually, only good things can come out of all these.” Just then Felicia walked into the living room where the tv was still on. Flerida’s eyes fell on Felicia, her Ate whom she had had a rift with just before she flew to Qatar. The years apart had softened Flerida’s heart, and she now looked at her sister longingly and knew that her homecoming had to be one of forgiveness as well. Both sisters stared at each other, uneasy and unsure whether to be or not to be the one to make the first move.

“I’ve missed you, Fle,” Felicia said softly. “And I’m really sorry for what happened before. Can you forgive me?” Felicia drew back and looked at Flerida tremulously, sincere and nervous at the same time. Flerida’s thoughts began to race back to yesterday when she first arrived in NAIA 1. Scene after scene replayed in her mind of what she had seen, felt and experienced since coming back; when suddenly she had a revelation. Everything that transpired, all the transformative changes that has happened in the Philippines, they all started from each person. They all started from each Filipino. They all started with oneself. With this revelation, she thought it was time to let go and reconcile with the past. Forgiveness should be granted, and it should start with oneself.

This time it was Flerida who embraced her. “All’s forgiven,” she said, her voice full of promise against Felicia’s hair. “Now I’m really, finally home.”

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Philippines Need for Human Resource Development

Blogger's Notes:
Commentary of an Academic 
(Copyright @ 2010 by Chester B Cabalza. All Rights Reserved).

Research compiled by Chester B Cabalza

What kind of human resources are needed from the perspective of your institution, country and region?

The Philippines is an archipelago of over 7,000 islands located in Southeast Asia. It has a population of 91 million, and English is the common language of business due to American ties and multiple local languages.

As of 2007, although its GDP has grown at an average rate of 5.2% from 2002 to 2006, its actual economy is smaller than those of other competitors in the Southeast Asian region. In 2006, the Philippines’ PPP-adjusted GDP per capita was $5,300, significantly lower than Thailand’s $9,200 or Malaysia’s $12,000.

According to the National Statistics Office, the country’s workforce numbered 33.3 million in July 2007. The unemployment rate hovers around 8%, with little change over the past two years. Poverty is a major problem, with almost half of the population living on less than $2 a day.

Unionization and labor action have dwindled in the Philippines over this decade. According to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), about 5.6% of the Filipino workforce was unionized in 2007, down from 5.9% in 2005 and 14% in 1995. In addition, the country’s major labor groups signed a Social Accord with employers in 2004, pledging to work together and minimize strikes. Strikes have steadily declined, and in the first three quarters of 2007, only 3 strikes occurred.

The Philippine government has several programs which take mandatory contributions as a proportion of employee pay. The principal one is Social Security, which takes contributions of 10.4% of monthly salary. About two-thirds of that is to be contributed by the employer, the rest by the employee. The employer’s portion was increased by one percentage point of salary as of January 1, 2007 to make up for multiple pension increases over the years.

There is also a National Health Insurance program, which pays some medical expenses. It is commonly referred to as Philhealth. Contribution levels stand at 2.5% of salary, half from the employee and half from the employer.

As a general HR concerns in the country, the Philippines has fairly cheap labor, but not cheap enough to attract significant foreign investment compared to China and Vietnam. New foreign investment centers on the sectors where the workforce has specific advantages. Currently, this is BPO, but others may emerge in the future. Managerial candidates with experience in the rapidly growing service industries, such as call centers, information technology services, etc. are in high demand compared to those in other sectors. HR professionals should also be aware that the country has a wide income gap between rich and poor, so top talent needs significantly higher salaries than the basic wage level might suggest.

Despite economic difficulties after the Asian Financial Crisis and the current Global Financial Crisis, the Philippine economy is expected to slowly grow over the next few years and the potential for multinational firms to expand into the Philippines will greatly increase. In order to utilize their large, talented, and diverse labor force, the Filipino government, together with the Technical Education and Skills Development Association (TESDA), are initiating several training programs.

Fields such as PLC programming, pneumatics, electronics circuits technology, computer programming, and web page development are all critical to the technical sector, and the Philippines will need a suitably skilled labor force for the coming future. This article reviews the efforts being made to train the labor force, as well as the employment opportunities that await Filipinos as foreign investment continues to increase at a high rate.

What do you think are the elements of ideal human resource development program? (Curriculums, teaching materials and staff, etc.)

Nine Basic Elements of Human Resource Practices

Planning and Appraisal: How an organization sets goals, plans performance, provides ongoing coaching, and evaluates performance of employees (individuals and/or teams).

Individual and Team Development: How an organization identifies the needs for employee skill development, education, and growth and how they meet those needs.

Career Planning: How an organization strives to help employees to learn their strengths and to match these strengths, aptitudes, preferences, and abilities to future work.

Hiring: How an organization defines and fills positions and roles with qualified people from within and/or outside the organization; how an organization orients these new employees.

Career Pathing: How an organization (for key positions and roles) determines the logical progression of jobs, roles, assignments, and development to provide a sufficient pool of qualified candidates and incumbents.

Succession Planning: How an organization systematically identifies key roles and positions, determines performance requirements and targets a group of people to fill these positions and roles in the future.

Job Design: How an organization determines the best methods for accomplishing a work product or result. The two major types are the individual job and the team.
Classification: The systematic process for evaluating the size and appropriate salary ranges for different jobs and roles in an organization.

Compensation/Recognition/Other Rewards: How an organization pays and rewards employees (individuals and/or teams), through salary, bonuses, benefits and/or non-financial rewards.

What are the constraints to establish ideal human resource development program? (High-costs, lack of staff, etc.)

The constraints of human resources development in developing States has been recognized by all. Developing States Governments, regional organizations and the United Nations system have accorded priority to this area, as reflected in the initiatives by developing States and support action by both regional organizations and the United Nations system. However, the unique demographic, economic and geographic constraints faced by developing States call for a strengthening of the concerted efforts at human resources development.

Policy initiatives by some developing States Governments in institutional building, educational reform, training and regional cooperation in environmental management provide useful experiences, and should be shared with others in their efforts to formulate and implement human resource development strategies.

Although the present review demonstrates both the commitment of developing States to improving and strengthening their national and local human capacity and the support action being taken by regional organizations and the United Nations system, it is by no means certain that such initiatives and action are sufficient to meet the challenges, especially when the efforts are measured against the combined constraints and the scale of those challenges.

The recent declines in external resources allocated to human resources development in developing States are a cause of grave concern: a continuation or worsening of that trend is bound to adversely affect the human resource development prospects developing States.

What do you expect from JGC’s International Human Resource Development Program (contents and methods of the program, certification, facilities and equipment, etc.)

The Hou-ren-sou Skill survey consists of statements regarding Houkoku Skills (reporting), Renraku Skills (Informing), and Soudan Skill (Consultation). The rater will rate the ratee based on these statements by simply choosing the 1, 2, 3, and 4. The number 4 corresponds to strongly agree, 3 for slightly agree, 2 for slightly disagree, and 1 for strongly disagree. The ratees score will then be tabulated and interpreted as follows, for a score of 53-60 points (A), he or she is considered to be a model for other employees to emulate, while a score of 45-52 points (B), his or her communication skills exceeds expectation, a score of 37-44 points (C), his or her communication skills is within expectation and last but not the least is a score of 15-36 points (D) which is interpreted as needs improvement.

Based on the outcome of the survey, all the departments and levels of positions appear to be commendable. The result can be summarized through percentages. The 27% of the rated employees are considered as models while 37% exceeds expectation, 12% is within expectation and only 5% needs improvement. The ABC ratees were 76%. The 19% missing are those that were not rated because of various reasons such as overseas assignment, etc.

The conclusion and recommendation of the committee based on the result of the survey is to continue the exercise every February and October until next year with the target of raising the percentage to 94%. Department plans on Hou-ren-sou will be re-aligned based on the result of the Hou-ren-sou survey. Department Mangers or Team Managers must give feedback to colleagues on the results of the survey especially to those rated as D (needs improvement).

Chinese or Indian Discovery of the Philippines and Maritime Strategy in Asia

Copyright © 2010 by Chester B. Cabalza. All Rights Reserved.

Chinese or Indian Discovery of the Philippines: A New Perspective

A new look in our history is currently in circulation now whether the Spaniards or the Chinese first discovered the Philippines. Spain called our country, the Philippines, in honor of King Philip, while based from Chinese records their chroniclers called one of our islands as Mai. In June 1993 Palawan archeological discovery, the wreck of a 15th century Chinese junk yielded thousands of artifacts including jars, ceramics, and coins bearing date of “1414” that coincided with the time frame of Admiral Zheng He’s expedition and circumnavigation of the world. These findings are now displayed prominently in our National Museum.

According to Ming dynasty annals, some of Zheng He’s ships were more than 140 meters long, larger than Santa Maria, the largest of the three ships of Columbus sailed almost a century later. From 1401 to 1433, under Admiral He, seven large naval expeditions some carrying as many as 28 thousand soldiers sailed throughout the China sea and Indian ocean.

China was the world’s foremost superpower in the 15th century under the Ming dynasty through its supremacy in education, invention, manufacturing, diplomacy and maritime outreach (Fidel V Ramos, page 46, China Rising, US Falling Behind? BizNews Asia 2011).

However, if we expand the context of history in Southeast Asia, particularly on the discovery of the Philippines, the region had been "Indianized" in first century A.D. - which meant that Indian governance, architecture, language and culture, or their ways of life were transported in Southeast Asia. The Philippines, boasted of its sophisticated "baranganic organizations", however, those who led these "barangays" carried Indianized titles such as "rajahs". In other words, it could be that Indians first discovered the Philippines, or perhaps Indonesians during the Indian-influenced Srivijayan orthogenetic or maritime empire based in Java, in which the Visayas group of islands was concocted by the Srivijayan voyagers (Cabalza, The Re-emergence of China and India, 2011).

From first century A.D. to 15th century, China and India were the world's major economies with the Roman empire through its "Pax Romana" as their counterpart in the West. Now and in the coming decades, China and India will re-emerge as the planet's economic superpowers, co-existing with the United States' hard power, however, declining "Pax Americana" will still represent the West, as triumvirates in the coming decades (Cabalza, The Re-emergence of China and India, 2011).

Therefore, the Philippines should seriously engage with these three great powers that will rule our multipolar world in coming centuries.

Chinese Maritime Strategy

According to Thomas Kane in his book, "Chinese Grand Strategy and Maritime Power," he stressed that if China wishes to claim a leading role in international politics, it must become a superpower. Maritime strength is a fundamental part of global strategic leverage for any nation, but it is particularly important for People's Republic of China (PRC).

Can China Become a Maritime Power?

China's maritime development has occurred in an atmosphere of considerable uncertainty. The nation has long been a continental power with a feeble navy. Recent assessments, however, suggest that this historic pattern could be changing. China appears increasingly determined to create a modern navy. But? While the possibility cannot be excluded outright? It seems that China is not developing long-range power projection capabilities. Rather, Beijing seems to be focused on building a navy geared to achieving asymmetric sea-denial capabilities in its immediate periphery in order to defend its growing maritime interests and particularly to resolve the volatile Taiwan issue.

Chinese naval strategists have made submarines the centerpiece of their ambitious naval modernization program, and nuclear submariners now lead China's navy. In addition to purchasing the extremely quiet Kilo-class diesel submarine in large numbers, China is now also producing more than one class of high quality, indigenously designed diesel submarines. Air-independent propulsion could vastly increase the stealthy characteristics of these submarines. Simultaneously, Beijing is fielding two new classes of nuclear submarines. Given the inherent difficulty of anti-submarine warfare, these submarines enhance China's military options in any confrontation. Another asymmetric Chinese naval strategy focuses on sea mines.

China's navy is one of very few that regularly practices mine laying. It is far easier to lay mines than to find and disarm them, particularly in Taiwan's shallow coastal waters.

Problems in China's defense industrial complex which is already showing some evidence of improvement will not constrain sea-mine deployment. As with submarines, what China cannot develop indigenously in the near term, it can procure from Russia. At least for now, Beijing does not seem intent on fielding carrier battle groups. Therefore, the Chinese navy is developing in such a manner that it looks very different from most other large navies, and from the U.S. Navy in particular.

Nevertheless, its combat potential should not be underestimated.

Extent of Chinese Maritime Power in Indian Ocean

Maritime power represents military, political, and economic power, exerted through an ability to use the sea or deny its use to others. It has traditionally been employed to control "use-of-the-sea" activities undertaken by nations for their general economic welfare and, often, even for their very survival. Maritime power and naval power are not synonymous, the latter being a sub-set of the former. Traditional land powers are more and more focusing on developing their maritime capabilities to safeguard their economic interests and extend their sphere of influence.

Historically, China has been a land power. However, over the past two decades, it has found itself increasingly dependent on resources and markets accessible only via maritime routes. This has left Beijing with the dilemma of how to safeguard its trade routes and flow of resources in a world in which the United States is the dominant naval power, and both India and Japan — China's neighbors and strategic rivals — are stepping up their own naval capabilities.

Ensuring a continuous supply of energy has come to be the most important prerequisite for China in building an advanced, industrialized state. Despite being the world's sixth largest oil producer, China has been a net importer of oil since 1994. It imported 40 million metric tons in 1999 and is projected to import 100 million tons by 2010. China's dependence on seafood has increased in recent years. China will therefore have to ensure security of its sea lanes and shipping industry to ensure its continued development As of today, 85 percent of China's trade is sea-based. Also, with its 26 shipyards, China has emerged as the world's fourth largest shipbuilder. Thus for both reasons, China needs assured access and control over its adjacent oceans.

China and Indian Ocean Nations

China's perceptions regarding other major powers, especially Moscow and Washington, have been the most important external factor molding its Indian Ocean vision and policy initiatives. While initially it was American containment that explained all their activities in the Indian Ocean, the Sino-Soviet split in the early 1960's made China suspicious of Moscow's initiatives and intentions in this region.

In the recent years, a new great game has begun between India and China to bring the Maldives and Sri Lanka under their respective sphere of influence in the Indian Ocean Region (I.O.R.). After Myanmar and Bangladesh, to complete the "arc of influence" in South Asia, China is determined to enhance military and economic cooperation with the Maldives and Sri Lanka. China's ambition to build a naval base at Marao in the Maldives, its recent entry into the oil exploration business in Sri Lanka, the development of port and bunker facilities at Hambantota, the strengthening military cooperation and boosting bilateral trade with Colombo, are all against Indian interests and ambitions in the region.

Although China claims that its bases are only for securing energy supplies to feed its growing economy, the Chinese base in the Maldives is motivated by Beijing's determination to contain and encircle India and thereby limit the growing influence of the Indian Navy in the region. The Marao base deal was finalized after two years of negotiations, when Chinese Prime minister Zhu Rongzi visited Male' in May 2001. Once Marao comes up as the new Chinese "pearl," Beijing's power projection in the Indian Ocean would be augmented.

Recently, Sri Lanka allocated an exploration block in the Mannar Basin to China for petroleum exploration. This allocation would connote a Chinese presence just a few miles from India's southern tip, thus causing strategic discomfort.

In economic terms, it could also mean the end of the monopoly held by Indian oil companies in this realm, putting them into direct and stiff competition from Chinese oil companies. At Hambantota, on the southern coast of Sri Lanka where Beijing is building bunkering facilities and an oil tank farm. This infrastructure will help service hundreds of ships that traverse the sea lanes of commerce off Sri Lanka. The Chinese presence in Hambantota would be another vital element in its strategic circle already enhanced through its projects in Pakistan, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

It is Sri Lanka's strategic location that has prompted Beijing to aim for a strategic relationship with Colombo. Beijing is concerned about the growing United States presence in the region as well as about increasing Indo-U.S. naval cooperation in the Indian Ocean. China looks at using the partnership with Sri Lanka to enhance its influence over strategic sea lanes of communication from Europe to East Asia and oil tanker routes from the Middle East to the Malacca Straits. China has been consolidating its access to the Indian Ocean through the Karakoram Highway and Karachi, through the China-Burma road to Burmese ports and through the Malacca Straits, especially once they have established their supremacy over the South China Sea.

China's Indian Ocean policy has been clearly influenced by its ties with the other major powers. Its interest in the Indian Ocean started partly as a reaction to its perception that increasing United States presence there was aimed at encircling China. The policy has also been directly linked to its problems with New Delhi. China feels India is facilitating the American presence in the Indian Ocean region as a means of countering Beijing.

The United States Navy maintains a substantial permanent presence in the I.O.R. from its Fifth Fleet base in the Gulf, its substantial naval and air assets at Diego Garcia as well as by rotational deployments of Seventh Fleet units from the Pacific, centered on one or two nuclear-powered, nuclear-armed aircraft carriers. It was last deployed in major hostilities against Iraq, was briefly involved in Somalia and was on call to resist the Australian preemptive intervention in East Timor.

Chinese Naval Power and the Indian Ocean Region

The Indian Ocean, along with other sea lines of communication, have attracted the attention of Chinese naval planners. The takeover of the Panama Canal by a private Chinese firm after the United States withdrawal in 1999, reported Chinese threats to intervene in the Straits of Malacca and the active Chinese role in the West Asian region indicate unfolding Chinese interest this region. Beginning from the early 1980's, Chinese naval modernization underwent a sea change, partly with the modified perceptions about the value of the oceans.

China has launched an ambitious futuristic weapons development program, including high energy microwave beam-weapons, ship-based laser cannon and space-based weaponry to destroy communication and reconnaissance satellites. The country is the greatest source of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missile technology. History has shown that China is not averse to using force in order to achieve its aims, and its attitude towards its neighbors is a constant source of concern.

Gwadar in Pakistan, Hambantota in Sri Lanka and Sitwe (Akyab) in Myanmar have functioned essentially as fishing harbors. The growing Chinese interest in these places and China's generous offer of assistance to these countries for converting their fishing harbours into maritime ports of international standards has aroused doubts about Beijing's motive in increasing its naval presence in the region.
Beijing is trying to give its Navy a greater visibility, operability and rapid action capability in the Indian Ocean region than it enjoys now. Gwadar, Hambantota and Sitwe form important components of its maritime security strategy. China is also interested in the island nation of Seychelles. It is important to monitor the growing Chinese interest there as part of any study of China's maritime strategic moves.

Beijing has given signal to the world of its aspirations to assume a role beyond its natural geographic and historical maritime boundaries. Any Chinese threat to India's maritime interests in the near future is economic and political as well as military. China is setting up a series of military bases as part of an endeavor to project its power.

In Bangladesh, Beijing is seeking extensive naval and commercial access. Dhaka already shares close defense ties with Beijing.

In Myanmar, China is also building naval bases and electronic intelligence gathering facilities at Grand Coco Island in the Bay of Bengal. However, the military junta, wary of excessive dependence on China, has turned to New Delhi for military supplies.

In Cambodia, Beijing is helping to build a railway line from South China to the sea. In Thailand, China is funding the construction of a $20 billion canal across the Kra Isthmus. This would allow ships to bypass the Strait of Malacca. China has also set up electronic posts near the Persian Gulf to monitor ship traffic through the Strait of Hormuz.

Bar Matter No. 2265 Re: Reforms in the 2011 Bar Examinations

Chester Cabalza recommends his visitors to please read the original & full text of the case cited. Xie xie!

Republic of the Philippines


B.M. No. 2265


Preliminary Statement

The Court has found merit in the proposed changes in the conduct of the bar examinations that the Chairperson of the 2011 Bar Examinations and Philippine Association of Law Schools recommended.

One recommendation concerns the description of the coverage of the annual bar examinations that in the past consisted merely of naming the laws that each subject covered. This description has been regarded as too general and provides no specific understanding of the entry-level legal knowledge required of beginning law practitioners.

A second recommendation addresses the predominantly essay-type of bar examinations that the Court conducts. Because of the enormous growth of laws, doctrines, principles, and precedents, it has been noted that such examinations are unable to hit a significant cross-section of the subject matter. Further, the huge number of candidates taking the examinations annually and the limited time available for correcting the answers make fair correction of purely essay-type examinations difficult to attain. Besides, the use of multiple choice questions, properly and carefully constructed, is a method of choice for qualifying professionals all over the world because of its proven reliability and facility of correction.

A third recommendation opts for maintaining the essay-type examinations but dedicating these to the assessment of the requisite communication skills, creativity, and fine intellect that bar candidates need for the practice of law.

Approved Changes

The Court has previously approved in principle the above recommended changes. It now resolves to approve the following rules that shall govern the future conduct of the bar examinations:

1. The coverage of the bar examinations shall be drawn up by topics and sub-topics rather than by just stating the covered laws. The test for including a topic or sub-topic in the coverage of the examinations is whether it covers laws, doctrines, principles and rulings that a new lawyer needs to know to begin a reasonably prudent and competent law practice.

The coverage shall be approved by the Chairperson of the Bar Examination in consultation with the academe, subject to annual review and re-approval by subsequent Chairpersons.

2. The bar examinations shall measure the candidate’s knowledge of the law and its applications through multiple-choice-questions (MCQs) that are to be so constructed as to specifically:

2.1. Measure the candidate’s knowledge of and ability to recall the laws, doctrines, and principles that every new lawyer needs in his practice;

2.2. Assess the candidate’s understanding of the meaning and significance of those same laws, doctrines, and principles as they apply to specific situations; and

2.3. Measure his ability to analyze legal problems, apply the correct law or principle to such problems, and provide solutions to them.

3. The results of the MCQ examinations shall, if feasible, be corrected electronically.

4. The results of the MCQ examinations in each bar subject shall be given the following weights:

Political Law — 15%
Labor Law — 10%
Civil Law — 15%
Taxation — 10%
Mercantile Law — 15%
Criminal Law — 10%
Remedial Law — 20%
Legal Ethics/Forms — 5%

5. Part of the bar examinations shall be of the essay-type, dedicated to measuring the candidate’s skills in writing in English, sorting out the relevant facts in a legal dispute, identifying the issue or issues involved, organizing his thoughts, constructing his arguments, and persuading his readers to his point of view. The essays will not be bar subject specific.

5.1. One such essay examination shall require the candidate to prepare a trial memorandum or a decision based on a documented legal dispute. (60% of essays)

5.2 Another essay shall require him to prepare a written opinion sought by a client concerning a potential legal dispute facing him. (40% of essays)

6. The essays shall not be graded for technically right or wrong aswers, but for the quality of the candidate’s legal advocacy. The passing standard for correction shall be work expected of a beginning practitioner, not a seasoned lawyer.

7. The examiners in all eight bar subjects shall, apart from preparing the MCQs for their respective subjects, be divided into two panels of four members each. One panel will grade the memorandum or decision essay while the other will grade the legal opinion essay. Each member shall read and grade the examination answer of a bar candidate independently of the other members in his panel. The final grade of a candidate for each essay shall be the average of the grades given by the four members of the panel for that essay.

8. The results of the a) MCQ and b) essay-type examinations shall be given weights of 60% and 40%, respectively, in the computation of the candidate’s final grade.

9. For want of historical data needed for computing the passing grade in MCQ kind of examinations, the Chairperson of the 2011 Bar

Examinations shall, with the assistance of experts in computing MCQ examination grades, recommend to the Court the appropriate conversion table or standard that it might adopt for arriving at a reasonable passing grade for MCQs in bar examinations.

10. In the interest of establishing needed data, the answers of all candidates in the essay-type examinations in the year 2011 shall be corrected irrespective of the results of their MCQ examinations, which are sooner known because they are electronically corrected. In future bar examinations, however, the Bar Chairperson shall recommend to the Court the disqualification of those whose grades in the MCQ are so low that it would serve no useful purpose to correct their answers in the essay-type examinations.

11. Using the data and experience obtained from the 2011 Bar Examinations, future Chairpersons of Bar Examination are directed to study the feasibility of:

11.1. Holding in the interest of convenience and economy bar examinations simultaneously in Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao; and

11.2. Allowing those who pass the MCQ examinations but fail the essay-type examinations to take removal examinations in the immediately following year.

12. All existing rules, regulations, and instructions that are inconsistent with the above are repealed.

This Bar Matter shall take effect immediately, and shall be published in two newspapers of general circulation in the Philippines.

January 18, 2011.

Chief Justice

Associate Justice

Associate Justice

Associate Justice

Associate Justice

Associate Justice

Associate Justice

Associate Justice

Associate Justice

Associate Justice

Associate Justice

Associate Justice

Associate Justice

Associate Justice

Associate Justice

Monday, February 7, 2011

Comments on Health Security in the Philippines

Blogger's Notes:
Commentary of an Academic 
(Copyright @ 2010 by Chester B Cabalza. All Rights Reserved).

by Chester B. Cabalza

Update on Health Issues in the Philippines

Based on the country studies report on the Philippine health security, the struggle against disease has progressed considerably over the years. Health conditions in the Philippines in 1990 approximated to those in other Southeast Asian countries but lagged behind those in the West. Life expectancy, for instance, increased from 51.2 years in 1960 to 69 years for women and 63 years for men in 1990. Infant mortality was 101 per 1,000 in 1950 and had dropped to 51.6 per 1,000 in 1989.

In 1923 approximately 76 percent of deaths were caused by communicable diseases. By 1980 deaths from communicable diseases had declined to about 26 percent.

In 1989 the ratio of physicians and hospitals to the total population was similar to that in a number of other Southeast Asian countries, but considerably below that in Europe and North America. Most health care personnel and facilities were concentrated in urban areas. There was substantial migration of physicians and nurses to the United States in the 1970s and 1980s, but there are no reliable figures to indicate what effect this had on the Philippines. Hospital equipment often did not function because there were insufficient technicians capable of maintaining it, but the 1990 report of the Department of Health said that centers for the repair and maintenance of hospital equipment expected to alleviate this problem.

In 1987 a little more than one-half of the infants and children received a complete series of immunization shots, a major step in preventive medicine, but obviously far short of a desirable goal. The problem was especially difficult in rural areas. The Department of Health had made efforts to provide every barangay with at least minimum health care, but doing so was both difficult and expensive, and the more remote areas inevitably received less attention.

Although very few Filipinos have been infected with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), concern about the disease has caused authorities to give it considerable attention. By April 1979, only three people had died from AIDS, two of whom were overseas Filipinos visiting the homeland and one an American civilian who had contracted the disease outside the Philippines. In 1985 the Department of Health and the United States Naval Medical Research unit tested more than 17,000 people, including some 14,000 hospitality girls in Olangapo and a number of other Filipino cities. They identified twenty-one women as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) carriers.

The American sponsorship of the study was seized upon as argument for ending the Military Bases Agreement with the United States. A June 1990 Philippine government study reported that at that time AIDS was growing at the rate of four cases a month and that twenty people had died from the disease. The study indicated that most AIDS cases in the Philippines were transmitted by heterosexual activity. An April 30, 1991, Department of Health report indicated that 240 Filipinos were infected with AIDS.

Like many other countries, the Philippines has a problem with illicit drugs. Official Philippine government statistics for 1989 indicate only 1,733 addicts, but the assumption was that the real number was from ten to a hundred times as great. The government has instituted both education and treatment programs, but it was uncertain how effective these programs would be. There also was a problem with inadequately tested legal drugs. In 1983, more than 265 pharmaceutical products were sold in the Philippines that were banned in many other countries. The Department of Health succeeded in eliminating 128 of them by 1988. Attempts to eliminate others have been blocked by the courts, which ruled that the department had acted without due process.

Malnutrition has been a perennial concern of the Philippine government and health care professionals. In 1987 the Department of Health reported that 2.8 percent of preschoolers were suffering from third-degree malnutrition and 17.6 percent from second-degree malnutrition. To alleviate this problem, the government targeted food assistance for nearly 500,000 preschoolers and lactating mothers.

Nutrition has shown some improvement. In 1955 government statistics estimated the daily per capita available food supply at only 80 percent of sufficiency. In 1986 it had improved to 101.8 percent. In the same period, the consumption of milk nearly tripled and the consumption of fats and oils more than doubled.

The Philippines has a dual health care system consisting of modern (Western) and traditional medicine. The modern system is based on the germ theory of disease and has scientifically trained practitioners. The traditional approach assumes that illness is caused by a breach of taboos set by supernatural forces. It is not unusual for an individual to alternate between the two forms of medicine.

One type of traditional healer that attracted the attention of foreigners as well as Filipinos was the so-called psychic surgeon, who professed to be able to operate without using a scalpel or drawing blood. Some practitioners attracted a considerable clientele and established lucrative practices. Travel agents in the United States credited these "surgeons" with generating travel to the Philippines.

Although medical treatment had improved and services had expanded, pervasive poverty and lack of access to family planning detracted from the general health of the Philippine people. In 1990 approximately 50 percent of the population was listed below the poverty line (down from 59 percent in 1985). A high rate of childbirth tended both to deplete family resources and to be injurious to the health of the mother. The main general health hazards were pulmonary, cardiovascular, and gastrointestinal disorders.

The Philippines had a social security system including medicare with wide coverage of the regularly employed urban workers. It offered a partial shield against disaster, but was limited both by the generally low level of incomes, which reduced benefits, and by the exclusion of most workers in agriculture. In April 1989, out of more than 22 million employed individuals, a little more than 10.5 million were covered by social security. In health care and social security, as with other services, the Philippines entered the 1990s as a modernizing society struggling with limited success against heavy odds to apply scarce financial resources to provide its people with a better life.

Epidemics and Government Effectiveness

In epidemiology, an epidemic (from Greek epi- upon + demos people) occurs when new cases of a certain disease, in a given human population, and during a given period, substantially exceed what is "expected" based on recent experience.

Defining an epidemic can be subjective, depending in part on what is "expected". An epidemic may be restricted to one locale (an outbreak), more general (an "epidemic") or even global (pandemic). Because it is based on what is "expected" or thought normal, a few cases of a very rare disease may be classified as an "epidemic," while many cases of a common disease (such as the common cold) would not.

Early humans were no strangers to disease. They encountered the microbes that cause illness in drinking water, food and the environment. Occasionally an outbreak might decimate a small group, but they never encountered anything close to the widespread illnesses of the ages to follow. It was not until humans began gathering in larger populations that contagious diseases had the opportunity to spread to epidemic proportions. An epidemic occurs when a disease affects a disproportionally large number of people within a given population, such as a city or geographic region. If it affects even greater numbers and a wider area, these outbreaks become pandemics.

Epidemics affecting the Philippines


The Philippines is a low-HIV-prevalence country, with less than 0.1 percent of the adult population estimated to be HIV-positive. Since 1984, when the Philippines’ first case of HIV was reported, approximately one-third of diagnosed HIV/AIDS cases have occurred among returning migrants. However, because HIV testing for these workers is mandatory in most host countries, this number may be disproportionately high. As of September 2008, the Department of Health (DOH) AIDS Registry in the Philippines reported 3,456 people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA) - . UNAIDS estimates that 12,000 Filipinos were HIV-positive by the end of 2005.

Up until 2007, heterosexual intercourse accounted for the majority (61 percent) of the Philippines’ reported HIV/AIDS cases, followed in descending order by homosexual and bisexual relations, mother-to-child transmission, contaminated blood and blood products, and injecting drug use, according to UNAIDS, with men comprising 66 percent of reported cases. However in 2007 the proportion was reversed, with homosexual and/or bisexual modes of infection surpassing heterosexual transmission — 56% versus 43%, with the figure rising to 67% for the January to September 2008 period, as against 34%.

Most-at-risk groups include men who have sex with men (MSM), with 395 new human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections among within this group from January to September 2008 alone, 96% up from 2005’s 210 reported infections. A spokesperson of the National Epidemiology Center (NEC) of the Department of Health says that the sudden and steep increase in the number of new cases within the MSM community, particularly in the last three years (309 cases in 2006, and 342 in 2007), is “tremendously in excess of what (is) usually expected,” allowing classification of the situation as an “epidemic". Of the cumulative total of 1,097 infected MSMs from 1984 to 2008, 49% were reported in the last three years (72% asymptomatic); 108 have died when reported, and slightly more MSMs were reportedly already with AIDS (28%).

Among MSM's, ninety percent of the newly infected are single (up to 35% of past cases reported involved overseas Filipino workers or OFWs and/or their spouse), with the most of the affected people now only 20 to 34 years old (from 45 to 49 years old in the past). The highest number of infections among MSMs is from Metro Manila, though increasing infection rates were also noted in the cities of Angeles, Cebu, and Davao. 1 to 3 percent of MSM's were found to be HIV-positive by sentinel surveillance conducted in Cebu and Quezon cities in 2001.

Other at-risk groups are injecting drug users (IDUs), 1 percent of whom were found to be HIV-positive in Cebu City in 2005. A high rate of needle sharing among IDUs in some areas (77 percent in Cebu City) is of concern. Sex workers, because of their infrequent condom use, high rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and other factors, are also considered to be at risk. In 2002, just 6 percent of sex workers interviewed said they used condoms in the last week. As of 2005, however, HIV prevalence among sex workers in Cebu City was relatively low, at 0.2 percent.

Several factors put the Philippines in danger of a broader HIV/AIDS epidemic. They include increasing population mobility within and outside of the Philippine islands; a conservative culture, adverse to publicly discussing issues of a sexual nature; rising levels of sex work, causal sex, unsafe sex, and injecting drug use; high STI prevalence and poor health-seeking behaviors among at-risk groups; gender inequality; weak integration of HIV/AIDS responses in local government activities; shortcomings in prevention campaigns; inadequate social and behavioral research and monitoring; and the persistence of stigma and discrimination, which results in the relative invisibility of PLWHA. Lack of knowledge about HIV among the Filipino population is troubling. Approximately two-thirds of young women lack comprehensive knowledge on HIV transmission, and 90 percent of the population of reproductive age believe you can contract HIV by sharing a meal with someone.

Wary of nearby Thailand’s growing epidemic in the late 1980s, the Philippines was quick to recognize its own sociocultural risks and vulnerabilities to HIV/AIDS. Early responses included the 1992 creation of the Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC), the country’s highest HIV/AIDS policymaking body. Members of the Council represent 17 governmental agencies, including local governments and the two houses of the legislature; seven nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); and an association of PLWHA. The passing of the Philippine AIDS Prevention and Control Act in 1998 was also a landmark in the country’s fight against HIV/AIDS. However, the Philippines is faced with the challenge of stimulating government leadership action in a low-HIV-prevalence country to advocate for a stronger and sustainable response to AIDS when faced with other competing priorities. One strategy has been to prevent STIs in general, which are highly prevalent in the country.

The PNAC developed the Philippines’ AIDS Medium Term Plan: 2005–2010 (AMTP IV). The AMTP IV serves as a national road map toward universal access to prevention, treatment, care, and support, outlining country-specific targets, opportunities, and obstacles along the way, as well as culturally appropriate strategies to address them. In 2006, the country established a national monitoring and evaluation system, which was tested in nine sites and is being expanded. Antiretroviral treatment is available free of charge, but only 10 percent of HIV-infected women and men were receiving it as of 2006, according to UNAIDS.

The Government of the Philippines participates in international responses to the HIV/AIDS epidemic. Most recently, in January 2007, the Philippines hosted the 12th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit, which had a special session on HIV/AIDS.

The Philippines is a recipient of three grants from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (2004 third round, 2006 fifth round, and 2007 sixth round) to scale up the national response to HIV/AIDS through the delivery of services and information to at-risk populations and PLWHA.


Dengue fever (DF) and dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) are endemic in the Philippines, where the reporting is not as ideal as in some other countries because DF and DHF are not reported separately. Heightened public awareness during peaks or epidemics has improved the reporting, which is greatly influenced by a physician’s suspicion rather than the true identification of DF or DHF.

The 1998 dengue epidemic in the Philippines was the worst in the country’s history but it underscored the bold and sometimes innovative approaches that were made to contain the epidemic. It is true that there are no existing formulae for success but sound judgment based on relevant information always saves the day. That "communities determine their own death rate" is one observation we do not wish to prove again.

Laboratory surveillance aimed at identifying the circulating viral serotype(s) is limited to two laboratories, each using a different method: viral cultures at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), the national reference laboratory of the Department of Health (DH), and the polymerase chain reaction technique at the St. Luke’s Medical Centre in Manila, which is one of the leading and biggest medical centers in the country. Some laboratories make use of rapid serologic tests, which have remained imperfect.

Beginning 1988, each cycle brought about significant increases in the morbidity, sometimes resulting in isolated epidemics in vulnerable communities. After the 1996 epidemic, it was predicted that another upsurge would be observed between 1999-2001, possibly aggravated by the effects of the El Nino phenomenon.

Since 1996, the DH has adapted a hierarchy of dengue warning signals (Table 1) which are aimed at alarming communities so that appropriate interventions can be taken in a timely manner. These include a dengue alert, dengue hot spot, and dengue epidemic.

The dengue alert is advised just before the start of the rainy season when DHF cases begin to peak. All 14 regions in the country have a Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU) which reports through the National Epidemic Sentinel Surveillance System (NESSS) of the Field Epidemiology Training Programme (FETP) in the Central DH in Manila. Weekly trends are analyzed for the occurrence of epidemics. Dengue hot spots are defined as areas (from barangays to villages to large cities) where a clustering of cases is observed for at least two consecutive weeks. Where cases have been reported to exceed the expected range, including a significant reporting of deaths, a dengue epidemic is declared. Interventions are targeted for each of these warning signals. These include, but are not limited to, environmental and chemical vector control as well as the establishment of dengue treatment centers.

A Dengue Operations Centre (DOC) was established in the Central DH as well as in areas with widespread epidemics. The DOC was a quick-response central hub aimed at coordinating all intervention activities based on available surveillance data. The DOC had four main components: 1) prevention and control; 2) information and education campaigns; 3) case diagnosis and treatment; and 4) surveillance. Each of these components had defined goals and objectives as well as established roles and functions. All activities were supervised by a DOC manager. By synchronizing these activities, optimal utilization of existing resources prevented unnecessary costs and impractical methods of dengue control (e.g. widespread fumigation campaigns) which local government officials resorted to as a means of offsetting the public’s sometimes angry reactions.


Malaria in the Republic of the Philippines is caused principally by P. falciparum and P. vivax, with the former as predominant species. P. malariae is occasionally reported, while P. ovale is very rare and has been reported only in the island of Palawan. Malaria is widespread in distribution with prevalence varying from one area to the other. In 1970, the malaria morbidity rate was reported to be 77.6 per 100,000 while the mortality rate was 1.8 per 100,000. Case detection activities revealed that, in 1973, the slide parasite rate was 7.2%, the annual parasite index was 6.1% and the annual blood examination rate was 8.4%. The principal vector of malaria in the Philippines is An. minimus flavirostris which breeds in clear, fresh-water streams in foothills and mountain slopes.

An. mangyanus and An. maculatus appear to play a secondary role. The vectorial capacity of the former appears to be confined only where conditions are primitive, while the latter is associated with malaria transmission in high altitudes. In the absence of fresh-water streams, the salt-water breeder mosquito, An. litoralis, assumes the vectorial role.

The epidemiology of malaria in the Philippines is addressed. Emergence of strains of P. falciparum with diminished sensitivity to the commonly used antimalarial drugs is reported in Palawan and Rizal provinces. The development of malaria control activities in the Philippines are presented. As of 1972, Cagayan Valley, Palawan, Mindoro, Sulu and circumscribed areas in Mindanao are still considered hard-core malarious areas with on-going persistent transmission.

In the Philippines, the isolation of villages or ‘barangay’ as they are known, deep in the forest or in the mountains, makes it difficult for patients with malaria symptoms to seek medical help. Malaria seriously affects six million of the country’s population of 72 million. The Global Fund is helping to achieve the national goal of a malaria-free Philippines by 2020 through support to the Tropical Disease Foundation and the Pilipinas Shell Foundation by giving the responsibility for diagnosis and treatment to locals.

Nearly 300 women from remote villages have been trained to use a microscope to detect the presence of malaria by identifying the parasite from a blood smear. Some have no education, but their skill in detecting disease in their local community is helping to save lives. Hundreds of microscope centers have been set up around the country. Enabling locals, with no prior medical training, to help in the fight against malaria is drastically reducing the number of people getting sick and dying from the disease.


Severe Acute Respiratory System (SARS) is an atypical pneumonia or a respiratory disease. Its symptoms and signs include cough, shortness of breathing difficulties, and higher fever (greater than 38 degrees Celcius).

In 2003, the DOH has reported a total of 12 probable SARS in the Philippines to the WHO. However, only two cases of death were reported. 20 days after the last detection of probable SARS case in 30 April 2003, the WHO has removed the Philippines from its list of areas with recent transmission of SARS locally.


The Department of Health (DOH) expressed gratitude to the World Health Organization (WHO) over the commendation it gave to the government agency for its swift and tireless efforts in dealing with the novel virus A (H1N1).

The WHO letter dated June 30, 2009 and signed by WHO Regional Director Dr. Shin Young-soo put on record “my personal appreciation of the exceptional collaboration established between the Government of the Philippines and the World Health Organization in the fight against Pandemic H1N1 2009. She commends the leadership and tireless efforts of the Philippine government in responding to this emerging threat to the health of the Filipino people”.

Because the DOH is set to abide by the newly recommended reporting system of WHO for A (H1N1), it is now reviewing and adjusting its surveillance systems to fit the monitoring of the novel virus in its regular surveillance of Influenza-like illnesses (ILI) in the country. Health Secretary Duque stressed that globally and locally, the novel virus has caused mild illness in the majority of affected patients with expected full recovery even without medical treatment. However, there are some cases that become serious especially if the patients have underlying pre-medical conditions. Like the other seasonal flu strains, A (H1N1) can cause severe viral pneumonias and other flu complications.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

McDonald's (Katipunan Branch) v. Ma Dulce Alba

Chester Cabalza recommends his visitors to please read the original & full text of the case cited. Xie xie!

G.R. No. 156382 December 18, 2008

MA. DULCE ALBA, respondent.


Ma. Dulce Alba (respondent) was hired as part of the service crew of petitioner McDonald’s Katipunan Road, Loyola Heights branch on November 15, 1993. During the orientation of newly hired employees, petitioner provided respondent with a copy of the Crew Employee Handbook on rules and regulations including its meal policy which instructs: (1) All breaks must be consumed in the crewroom or designated area; (2) Crew are prohibited from taking their meals in the lobby when there are a lot customer [sic] (for stores without a crewroom); and (3) Crew are advised to follow these steps in requesting for their meal breaks: (a) Inform crew’s zone manager he/she wishes to take a break; (b) Punch out for break and proceed to assemble meal. Sandwiches/Entrees must be taken from the warming bin; (c) Crew brings assembled meal to zone manager for checking and signing of the timecard; (d) Crew takes his/her break in the crewroom; and (e) Upon completion of allotted break time, crew punches in for work and has same zone manager sign the timecard. (NOTE: Crew must consume the allotted break time completely before he punches back in for work).

Rizza Santiago, also a crew member, witnessed respondent eating inside the crew room while on duty on April 8, 1995 which she reported to the store manager Kit Alvarez (Alvarez) by an undated written account.
Petitioner McDonald’s thus suspended respondent for five days starting April 14 until April 18, 1995.

Petitioner thereafter sent a show cause notice to respondent why no disciplinary action should be meted against her. Replying, respondent, despite her initial above-quoted written admission of the questioned act, denied having violated the meal policy.

After petitioner conducted what it claimed to be a "thorough investigation," it found respondent guilty of flouting company regulations and immediately terminated her services in a letter of April 27, 1995.

Respondent thus lodged a complaint against petitioners McDonald’s and/or McGeorge Food Industries, Inc. before the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) NCR Arbitration Branch which dismissed it without prejudice, for failure to prosecute, by Order of October 30, 1995.

Respondent refiled her complaint on January 24, 1996 but the motion was, however, denied. On August 22, 1997, Labor Arbiter Pablo Espiritu Jr., by Decision held that while respondent violated the meal policy of McDonald’s, dismissal was too harsh a penalty, and suspension without pay would have sufficed.

On appeal to the NLRC, petitioners raised as errors the Labor Arbiter’s finding of illegal dismissal and the judgment award. By Decision of March 31, 1998, the NLRC denied the appeal and ruled that there was no "intentional or willful conduct on the part of the [respondent] to disregard the rules regarding meal policy."

After filing a Motion for Reconsideration, petitioners filed a Manifestation and Motion on June 18, 1998 to present three payroll sheets to show that respondent did not render eight (8) hours a day of work.

Their Motion for Reconsideration having been denied, petitioners went to the Court of Appeals on certiorari wherein, in addition to imputing grave abuse of discretion on the part of the NLRC, it raised as new issue the denial of their constitutional right to due process, the Arbiter having failed to set the case for hearing.


a) Whether the Labor arbiter should have conducted a clarificatory hearing to resolve the factual issue in the instant case.

b) Whether the penalty imposed upon respondent was excessive.

c) Whether the payroll sheets filed by the Company during appeal should have been given appreciation.


The appellate court (CA), by Decision of May 23, 2002, affirmed the decision of the NLRC, it finding in order the NLRC resolution of the case on the basis of the parties’ position papers, responsive pleadings and documentary evidence. It bewailed petitioners’ belated presentation of the payroll sheets only when they filed their Motion for Reconsideration of the NLRC decision.

On the procedural issue, the Court finds the Arbiter’s not conducting a clarificatory hearing unavailing. This issue was raised for the first time before the appellate court, hence, it may not be considered.

In any event, the NLRC Rules allow the Labor Arbiter to motu proprio determine whether there is a need for a hearing or clarificatory conference. In this case, the Labor Arbiter prudently saw it best to dispense with a hearing since the position papers and responsive pleadings, together with the attached documentary evidence, provided more than sufficient bases to resolve the case. Petitioners’ right to due process was thus not violated.

Indeed, payroll sheets are inconclusive to disprove respondent’s eight-hour-per-day work shift. Instead of payroll sheets, the time cards would have been more reliable. Petitioners, however, did not present the same. When a party has in its power to produce evidence that would overthrow the case made against it but fails to do so, the presumption arises that such evidence, if produced, would operate to its prejudice and support the case of the other party.

On the substantive issue, there is no dispute that respondent violated petitioners’ meal policy. The only issue is whether such violation amounts to or borders on "serious or willful" misconduct or willful disobedience, as petitioners posit, to call for respondent’s dismissal. By any measure, the Court holds not.

Moreover, petitioners likewise failed to prove any resultant material damage or prejudice on their part as a consequence of respondent's questioned act. Their claim that the act would cause "irremediable harm to the company’s business" is too vague to merit consideration.

In fine, given the totality of respondent’s employment record, the penalty of dismissal is too discordant with the infraction she committed.

The Court, however, modifies the dispositive portion of the Labor Arbiter’s decision in that the award of full backwages, inclusive of allowances and other benefits, should be reckoned from the time of respondent’s dismissal on April 27, 1995 up to the finality of the Court’s decision while the award of separation pay, in lieu of reinstatement, should be computed from the time petitioners engaged respondent’s services on November 15, 1993 up to the finality of this decision.

The Decision of August 22, 1997 of the Labor Arbiter is AFFIRMED with MODIFICATION in that the award of full backwages, inclusive of allowances and other benefits, should be reckoned from the time of respondent’s dismissal on April 27, 1995 up to the finality of the Court’s decision, while the award of separation pay, in lieu of reinstatement, should be computed from the time petitioners engaged the services of respondent on November 15, 1993 up to the finality of this decision. In all other respects, the Labor Arbiter’s decision is AFFIRMED.

There being no data from which the Court can properly assess petitioners’ total monetary liability, the case is remanded to the Labor Arbiter only for that purpose.