Sunday, 27 April 2008

Journalists live colourful lives

Take the adjective out and replace it with any other word, chances are, the title of this piece will remain correct.

As chroniclers of history in the making, journalists enjoy an oftentimes unimpeded courtside view of events – and in most instances, full access to the backstage -- and be privy on how an event is to unfold.

As artisans of public opinion or perception, journalists rub elbows with the high and mighty, walk the corridors of power, or get wined and dined as part of a calculated spin.

It is quite normal for journalists to find themselves inside a grand ballroom to cover a stately affair of the well-heeled one evening, and wake up the next day and find themselves walking the filthy, microbe-riddled streets of a slum to document the life of somebody who couldn’t afford a pair of second-hand sneakers.

A journalist can ride the jeepney, taxi, helicopter, a Hummer, habal-habal, tartanilya and kuliglig – or get chased by rampaging floods or lahar -- all in one day -- in pursuit of a story.

The adventure, drama, sheer suspense and adrenaline high – oftentimes lionised on the silver screen (like my favourite journalism movie, The Paper) – are some of the very reasons why many opt to stay in this profession in spite of the low pay, long hours and unending deadlines.

I wuz reviewing my outbox when I found a piece written by the late Larry Sipin which I sent to Jay Hilotin way back in 2006.

Larry (then writing for the Manila Times) narrated his friendship and (mis)adventures with Tony Modena, who as our envoy to Israel took heavy fire for comparing Israel's immigration police to Hitler's dreaded gestapo. Larry's piece gave real faces to this entry's title.

Sirs Larry and Tony belonged to a generation of Filipino journalists where only the best survive.

Both of them have since moved on to the Great Newsroom.

Rumour has it that Amba Tony -- who became my regular YM mate especially at the height of the Lebanon conflict of 2006 -- was suspicious of what Larry was up to when he suddenly turned in his last copy in mid-2006 that he followed him pronto.

(Ambassador Tony Modena in a pensive mood in Tel Aviv)

Sir Larry’s obra -- which every aspiring journalist should read -- follows. . . . .

Tony Modena, hero

By Larry Sipin

Antonio Modena was the first media friend I ever made. Actually, Tony made me his friend. Here’s how our friendship began: After serving time at the police beat, then mandatory for rookie reporters, I was assigned as backup to the regular reporter covering Elliptical Road. In those days, when live reporting was virtually unheard of, mornings and early afternoons at the beat were lazy. The reporters sprang into action and did the rounds of government offices on Elliptical Road only when deadline neared.

The boys spent mornings and afternoons lounging at the pressroom of Quezon City hall. Greenhorn that I was, I didn’t even know there was a pressroom. I would hop from one office to another—the Quezon City courts, Coconut Authority, National Housing, Agriculture, Natural Resources, Agrarian Reform—gathering news and doing interviews, and be at my paper (I was then with the Bulletin) to write my stories (fax and e-mail were beyond wild imagination) before the regulars did their daily round.

Such industry on my part could not but result in a few scoops, which went unnoticed because they were small, minor stories that the regulars wouldn’t waste time on. Except for one regular so extremely zealous about his work that he was jealous of scoops no matter how inconsequential.

The zealous, jealous one was Tony Modena, then a reporter with the Times Journal. He sought out this "iskupero." From then on, I no longer scoured Elliptical Road for news by my lonesome. I became a tandem with Tony Modena, who stuck to me like a leech to guard against scoops. The tight guarding became a lifelong friendship.

EXPLOITS. Tony Modena once busted a bogus marriage syndicate by "marrying" fellow Times Journal reporter Lourdes "Chuchay" Molina (who went on to become editor in chief of Malaya and, later, Today) before a "minister," later exposed to be a fake. The realism of the Modena-Molina "nuptial" was such that Tony broached a honeymoon. The blue-eyed Chuchay, heartthrob of my generation of journalists, thought Tony was joking, well, he was not.

Tony once tried to bust a white slavery ring by presenting femme fatale Monica Feria, then with the Daily Express, to a suspected funhouse maintainer. Tony introduced Monica as "Cherry." After sizing up "Cherry," the maintainer took Tony aside and whispered, "OK sana si Cherry, pero may edad na." At the time, Cherry-Monica was barely in her early 20s. Tony informed Monica of the rejection only after they were out of the maintainer’s premises. Otherwise, Monica would have gouged the guy’s eyes from their sockets.

In another investigative episode, Tony and I did a probe that resulted in the padlocking of a club notorious for live sex shows. I don’ know about Tony, But I confess I enjoyed the "research" and was sad when we were done gathering materials for our exposé.

Hey, don’t think that Tony’s writings were all sex-inspired or sex-oriented. Tony was one reporter who saw stories everywhere, and could produce stories from anywhere.

Like, one time, he got the goat of an editor who punished him with an assignment to cover cemeteries. It wasn’t All Saint’s/All Soul’s days, so what story could he possibly draw from the graveyards? Well, Tony produced a widely acclaimed series on squatter pockets in cemeteries—the poor living with the dead.

As president of the Times Journal labor union, Tony led a protracted newsmen’s struggle for workers’ rights and benefits that went all the way to the Supreme Court. The Times Journal union leadership subsequently resigned—or were they fired?—but soon regrouped to form the nucleus of press freedom icon Joe Burgos’ Malaya.

Now, it can be told. It was to Tony Modena, then desk editor of Malaya, that former Sen. Ernesto "Boy" Herrera, a member of the Agrava board, which investigated the Ninoy Aquino assassination, entrusted a copy of the board report for dissemination to the world should it get suppressed by the dictator.

And it was Tony Modena who lured me back to newspapering. Raising a family, I left journalism for a much better paying job in advertising. One evening, he asked me to join a night out with the Times Journal unionists-turned Malaya vanguards. Modena volunteered my services to the group. I ended up spending my most memorable years in journalism, working and fighting with Tony and his group, disbanding and spreading out to other media organizations after Marcos fled.

Tony took the tough foreign-service officers’ examinations, emerging as one of only five or six passing examinees. He joined the foreign service, but stayed on as night editor in Malaya. He left journalism when he was given overseas postings. He has since served in Berlin, Germany and Paris. He is now our ambassador to Israel.

HERO’S WELCOME. Tony is presently in the news for standing up for the rights and dignity of Filipino workers, in the process earning the ire of Israel, his host government.

He’s home, but it’s not an account of his statements in a magazine interview, which the Israeli foreign ministry deemed as cause to declare him persona non-grata. In fact, days before the article was published, Tony texted me, asking . . . nay, demanding . . . that I keep my nights open from June 8 onward as he would be home.

Tony may be guilty of diplomatic faux pas, it’s never faux pas for a diplomat to fight for the welfare and interests of his countrymen.

I second the motion of Sen. Ralph Recto that Tony should not be censured, but instead be accorded a hero’s welcome. "Roll out the red carpet, give him a ticker tape parade, decorate him . . . he’s braver than Manny Pacquiao," enthused Recto. Hear, hear!

Welcome home, Tony my nights are free.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Time to snap back and move on

Been wading through deep shit since coming back to Dubai. From time to time, I'd get to read pieces that would tell me to move on and fight, and this one has somewhat given me a second wind.

The Awakening
By Sonny Carroll

A time comes in your life when you finally get it...
When in the midst of all your fears and insanity you
stop dead in your tracks and somewhere, the voice
inside your head cries out - ENOUGH!

Enough fighting and crying, or struggling to hold on. And, like a child quieting down after a blind tantrum, your sobs begin to subside, you shudder once or twice, you blink back your tears and through a mantle of wet lashes, you begin to look at the world through new eyes.

This is your awakening...

You realize that it’s time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change, or for happiness, safety and security to come galloping over the next horizon. You come to terms with the fact that he is not Prince Charming and you are not Cinderella and that in the real world, there aren’t always fairy tale endings (or beginnings for that matter) and that any guarantee of “happily ever after” must begin with you and in the process, a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.

You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone will always love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are ... and that’s OK. (They are entitled to their own views and opinions.) And you learn the importance of loving and championing yourself and in the process, a sense of new found confidence is born of self-approval.

You stop complaining and blaming other people for the things they did to you (or didn’t do for you) and you learn that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected. You learn that people don’t always say what they mean or mean what they say and that not everyone will always be there for you and that it’s not always about you. So, you learn to stand on your own and to take care of yourself and in the process, a sense of safety & security is born of self-reliance.

You stop judging and pointing fingers and you begin to accept people as they are and to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties and in the process, a sense of peace and contentment is born of forgiveness.

You realize that much of the way you view yourself and the world around you, is a result of all the messages and opinions that have been ingrained into your psyche. You begin to sift through all the junk you’ve been fed about how you should behave, how you should look and how much you should weigh, what you should wear and where you should shop and what you should drive, how and where you should live and what you should do for a living, who you should marry and what you should expect of a marriage, the importance of having and raising children or what you owe your parents. You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. You begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for.

You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin to discard the doctrines and values you’ve outgrown, or should never have bought into to begin with and in the process, you learn to go with your instincts.

You learn that it is truly in giving that we receive and that there is power and glory in creating and contributing and you stop maneuvering through life merely as a “consumer” looking for your next fix.

You learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not the outdated ideals of a by gone era, but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build a life.

You learn that you don’t know everything; it’s not your job to save the world and that you can’t teach a pig to sing. You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to say NO. You learn that the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry and that martyrs get burned at the stake.

Then you learn about love. Romantic love and familial love. How to love, how much to give in love, when to stop giving and when to walk away. You learn not to project your needs or your feelings onto a relationship. You learn that you will not be more beautiful, more intelligent, more lovable or important because of the man on your arm or the child that bears your name.

You learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as you would have them be. You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes.

You learn that just as people grow and change, so it is with love; and you learn that you don’t have the right to demand love on your terms, just to make you happy.

You learn that alone does not mean lonely. You look in the mirror and come to terms with the fact that you will never be a size 5 or a perfect 10 and you stop trying to compete with the image inside your head and agonizing over how you “stack up.”

You also stop working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over and ignoring your needs. You learn that feelings of entitlement are perfectly OK and that it is your right, to want things and to ask for the things that you want and that sometimes it is necessary to make demands.

You come to the realization that you deserve to be treated with love, kindness, sensitivity and respect and you won’t settle for less. You allow only the hands of a lover who cherishes you, to glorify you with his touch and in the process, you internalize the meaning of self-respect.

And you learn that your body really is your temple. And you begin to care for it and treat it with respect. You begin eating a balanced diet, drinking more water and taking more time to exercise.

You learn that fatigue diminishes the spirit and can create doubt and fear. So you take more time to rest. Just as food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul; so you take more time to laugh and to play.

You learn that for the most part in life, you get what you believe you deserve and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for and that wishing for something to happen, is different from working toward making it happen.

More importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success you need direction, discipline and perseverance. You also learn that no one can do it all alone and that it’s OK to risk asking for help.

You learn that the only thing you must truly fear is the great robber baron of all time; FEAR itself. You learn to step right into and through your fears, because you know that whatever happens you can handle it and to give in to fear, is to give away the right to live life on your terms.

You learn to fight for your life and not to squander it living under a cloud of impending doom.

You learn that life isn’t always fair, you don’t always get what you think you deserve and that sometimes bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people. On these occasions, you learn not to personalize things. You learn that God isn’t punishing you or failing to answer your prayers; it’s just life happening.

You learn to deal with evil in its most primal state; the ego. You learn that negative feelings such as anger, envy and resentment must be understood and redirected or they will suffocate the life out of you and poison the universe that surrounds you. You learn to admit when you are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls.

You learn to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted; things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about; a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot shower. Slowly, you begin to take responsibility for yourself, by yourself and you make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never ever settle for less than your heart’s desire. You hang a wind chime outside your window so you can listen to the wind, and you make it a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting and to stay open to every wonderful possibility.

Finally, with courage in your heart and with God by your side you take a stand, you take a deep breath and you begin to design the life you want to live as best as you can.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Our daily grind

Illustration by our eminent illustrator Danesh Mohiuddin (btw, have a safe trip dude!)
Published in the anniversary issue of XPRESS
I'm giving you 10 seconds to spot me . . .

Friday, 11 April 2008

Duran Duran to Hagibis .... tatanda at lilipas rin ako .... wazat?

My two-day week off will be officially over in 20 minutes.

It's the 2nd Friday of the month so off I went to St. Mary's Church to attend the bi-monthly Tagalog mass.

And since last year, nakaugalian ko na to walk all the way from my place in Al Musallah Road to St. Mary's (distance is probably from the Rizal Monument in Luneta to Buendia or from Mabuhay Rotunda to Araneta Avenue).

In my standards, walking distance lang yun. But when you try doing it under 38-40 degrees of desert summer heat, it really is one hell of a self-flagellation.

Anyway, I enjoy walking as many of my friends and family could attest to -- kaya nga ayaw nang sumama sakin nung ibang kbgan ko.
Mas marami kang nakikita pag naglalakad ka lang. And for someone who is on a tight budget, walking is the first option when travelling.

Grabe na talaga ang init. Well, ganun din ang sabi ng Mama ko kahapon. Nakakapaso na daw init sa Manila. Arnold Clavio was even trumpeting in his Saksi spiel that the temperature in Manila is hovering at 37-38 degrees. Kung medyo matagal ka na dito sa Middle East, that's nothing.

Anyway, di naman yan ang gusto kong i-discuss. Warm up lang muna. Pampainit baga hehehee...

I was watching 24 Oras the other day and found out that the legendary 80s rock band Duran Duran was in Manila for a one night gig.

"Puza! Duran Duran nasa Pinas! what the . . ." 'yan ang initial reaction ko.

Pero dun sa ipinalabas na footage, parang wala lang. Ayun dumating sila sa NAIA. Nakatanga lang ang mga tao. Nagtataka siguro kung bakit kinukunan ng video yung mga "turista". Walang kahirap-hirap ang mga airport policemen in clearing the way for Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor and Roger Taylor (kinopya ko lang sa Wiki ang names nila, di ko na maalala e) as they walked towards the driveway to board their car,

Parang gusto kong pagsisigawan ang mga tao sa NAIA nang:
"Huwat?! Di nyo sila kilala? Di nyo kilala ang Duran Duran?!"

Where's the screaming mob? Where's the paparazzi?
If this were the 1980s, NAIA's General Atutubo would probably have the biggest security nightmare -- far worse than what he experienced when they "kidnapped" Jun Lozada.

Siguro the scenario at the arrival area would be comparable to the time when Thalia (the original Marimar) came in the mid-90s or when the Taiwanese band F4 planed in at the height of the popularity of Meteor Garden in 2001.

But hey man. Wake up! The 80s was 20 years ago. Tapos na ang panahon ng kabataan mo! The bagets generation is about to join the ranks of the forgets.

Di ko naman kasi naramdaman yung transition ng panahon. I mean, through the years, the 80s music was just there. It never faded away. Paulit-ulit pa rin siyang pinapatugtog.

Di ko maalala kung saan ko nabasa or narinig that the 80s was the decade of "bad hair and great music".

Pero ewan ko, parang may nang-aasar sa akin ngayong araw na 'to.

One of the top stories of CNN today was about another 80s icon, Rick Astley . CNN showed clips of a record producer's interview about the phenomenal record sales of his song "Never Gonna Give You Up" and the 18 millions hits generated by an Astley site .

Before that, wuz watching my new favourite channel in Orbit, channel 98 or GMA Life TV...kung sa Pinas pa, ito yung QTV... where the program Moms was on. (hayup, ganito na ko ka-domesticated dito sa Dubai)

At first di ko kilala yung mga guests nila -- four middle-aged men who were discussing the days when they were "sikat".

It turned out, the interviewees were former members of the 70s bands Hagibis and Boyfriends.

They were reminiscing on the period when they were the toast of the town. I was a kid when their songs ruled the airwaves and my world was revolving around Voltes V and Mazinger Z.

Hagibis was the Pinoy version of the Village People (Macho Man, YMCA, In The Navy, You Can't Stop The Music).

Hagibis was an all-male song and dance group that popularised (immortalised is more apt) classics such as Katawan (which became the theme song of the defunct sitcom "Palibhasa Lalake), Legs and other songs that were sung in a military cadence-like fashion. Sila kumbaga ang tatay ng mga Masculados.

Ang pinakasikat nilang member was Sonny Parsons, who became vice mayor of Marikina City and who once hogged the headlines for shooting it out with robbers who broke into his house.

(Just remembered, Sonny Parsons once threatened to sue us at Taliba for libel for publishing a comment made by MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando -- his political rival -- who said that he was just making a publicity stunt out of that incident.)

Boyfriends naman was the kilabot "boy band" of the 70s and the Pinoy's answer to the Bee Gees, yung kumakanta na parang may sipon or hinihika. But their songs -- Dahil Mahal Kita and Sumayaw, Sumunod -- also became classics. Kumbaga, their playlist is part of the definition of OPM (Original Pilipino Music) or Manila Sound.

The four interviewees were on a high narrating the times when they could easily fill up Folk Arts Theatre to the rafters or when they even had to don wigs, caps and dark glasses para lang di makilala ng tao dahil siguradong dudumugin sila paglabas nila ng bahay.

Nakakalungkot rin when the discussion turned to the time when the shrieking fans were no longer there. Kumbaga, lumipas na yung panahon nila. Laos na sila.

The Hagibis guy....di kasi fina-flash yung name....narrated that the painful truth sunk in when he was asked to judge a Battle of the Bands contest in Paranaque. He was introduced as a member of Hagibis and the emcee -- a high schooler -- could not even pronounce the group's name. And when the program ended, people mobbed former Eraserheads lead Ely Buendia, who was also one of the judges, to get his autograph or picture taken while our poor Hagibis macho man only got stares from the "nanays" who were too shy to run and swoon like 16-year-old girls.

Naalala ko tuloy yung movie na Music and Lyrics. Yung character ni Hugh Grant was an 80s icon who became a composer and occassionally performs in class reunions and country fairs (perya). In one gig, he was trying to do his pelvic moves that used to elicit shrieks from his fans, when his back creaked.

Haay..well, that's life. The sun will rise and set and the day will be remembered depending on what went on in the 12 hours that the sun was up.

As the line in the George Canseco's Handog (a song interpreted by 70s folk legend Florante and if I'm not mistaken also won in the Metro Pop Music Festival) goes . . . .

"tatanda at lilipas rin ako, ngunit mayrong awiting iiwanan sa inyong ala-ala".

Well to Duran Duran, Hagibis, Boyfriends and the numerous bands and singers who made my generation colourful and fun...... I raise my keyboard to you! Cheers!

Tumatanda na nga talaga ako.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

We Remember - April 9, 1942

The following is the stirring tribute to the defenders of Bataan composed by Captain Salvador Lopez -- later U.P. President and Secretary of Foreign Affairs -- and broadcast over The Voice of Freedom, by Lieutenant Norman Reyes on that fateful day.

Bataan has fallen.
With heads bloody but unbowed, we yield to the enemy.
The world will long remember the epic struggle.
We have stood up uncomplaining.
Besieged on land and blockaded by sea,
We have done all that human endurance could bear.
What sustained us was a force more than merely physical.
It was the force of an unconquerable faith,
Something in the soul that is immortal!
It is the thought of native land.
All the world will testify,
Men fighting with an unshakable faith,
Are made of something more than flesh.
But we are not made of impervious steel.
The flesh must yield at last,
Endurance melts away,
And the end of the battle must come.
Bataan has fallen,
But the spirit that made it stand --
A Beacon to all the world,
Cannot fall...
Our defeat is our victory...

Pictures: Wikipedia and Wikimedia images

Monday, 7 April 2008

Too many nurses!

I wuz proven right!

In my earlier entry, I snorted about the situation of nurses in the Philippines and I based it on Mara's experience.

My rants are now backed with hard stats and industry stalwarts even serve as "talking heads" validating the issues I raised.

Again, I give way to my former Chronicle boss, Boo Chanco, who zeroed in on the issue in his Philippine Star column.

Read on . . .

Now we have too many nurses
By Boo Chanco
Monday, April 7, 2008 (Philippine Star)

Guess what… we now have too many nurses. According to published reports, Dr. Josefina Tuazon, University of the Philippines College of Nursing Dean, said we have so many nurses so that many fresh graduates are now opting to work in some local hospitals as volunteers… for free.

I can believe that. That happened too with physical therapists, once a popular course because of the foreign job possibilities. I was shocked when some of the physical therapists from a leading hospital (who worked on the rehab program for my aching back some years ago) told me they are working for free… as volunteers.

Now it is the nurses’ turn. Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) National President Leah Paquiz was also reported to have disclosed that the United States, home to almost 250,000 Filipino nurses, stopped issuing work visas this year because the quota requirement for migrant workers has already been reached. There were 21,000 Filipino nurses seeking employment in the US in 2007.

Dr. Tuazon and Paquiz agree that the oversupply of nurses is fast becoming a serious problem for the country. Yet, local nursing schools, many of them nothing more than diploma mills, continue to graduate thousands of nurses every year.

The situation is also being aggravated by government’s move to “ladderize” nursing education so that thousands more can “graduate” as so called practical nurses. Practical Nursing is a two-year course that focuses on the basics of nursing.

“There is no local demand or positions for practical nurses within the Philippine Health Care Delivery system particularly in the light of the oversupply of nurses and subsequent unemployment of graduate nurses,” PNA’s Paquiz emphasized.

In a sense, all those schools that have mushroomed in the country overnight promising overseas employment for graduates of this two-year non-degree course are really just scamming hopeful parents and students of their hard-earned (or borrowed) money.

Paquiz said the promise of work abroad is not true as foreign employers prefer the four-year college-degree nurses who passed the Licensure Board Exams.

This is why the PNA had asked the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to put a stop to this Practical Nursing program.

The PNA “strongly objects to the institution of the Practical Nursing program and vehemently rejects the proposed ladderization of the nursing curriculum,” a PNA statement said.

Our people must now be told that taking up nursing is no longer a foolproof means of getting out of this country to earn enough for a better life.

If what the nursing dean is saying is true, a nursing diploma has now become a kind of “fool’s gold” that can only disappoint for those who want a quick ticket out of our country’s poverty.

This is more reason why government, through CHED, must cut the number of nursing schools by enforcing tough quality standards on the nursing schools that are allowed to operate.

As of June last year, a staggering total of 632,108 students were enrolled in more than 400 Philippine nursing schools, up 30 percent or 145,875 from the 486,233 enlisted in 2006.

TUCP spokesperson Alex Aguilar urged regulators to “be extra vigilant, and see to it that nursing students are kept away from substandard schools.”

Aguilar urged the CHED to step up the policing of nursing schools nationwide to protect parents and students from the so-called “diploma mills.”

“We must stress that regulators are duty-bound to safeguard the hopes of tens of thousands of Filipino families to produce a nurse who will eventually lead them to greener pasture,” Aguilar said.

CHED’s failure to protect parents and students from substandard nursing schools had also been criticized by the Commission on Audit (COA).

In a report to acting CHED Chair Romulo Neri, the COA said it was necessary for CHED to exercise its regulatory function to “maintain and protect standards set to ensure the quality of nursing graduates.”

Fat chance that’s going to happen! CHED had been totally remiss in its duty to regulate nursing schools. We only have to look at the results of the licensure examinations conducted by the Professional Regulation Commission for proof.

In that controversial nursing examination in 2006, 42,000 took the exam on June 11 and 12 but ONLY 42 percent passed, despite the leakage.

According to COA, “from 2001 to 2005, only 111 of 263 nursing schools nationwide managed to have 50 percent of their nursing graduates pass the licensure examinations. Worse, at least 19 or 7.22 percent of these schools had failed to pass even a single student,” said the COA.

The COA also pointed out that in the last 10 years, not a single nursing school whose graduates fared badly in PRC exams had been closed by the CHED.

The failure of CHED to perform its function is also affecting the professional reputation of Filipino nurses.

In a sense, CHED is destroying our brand. COA made a very apt observation: nursing schools with poor quality nursing education continue to proliferate and consequently affect the global competitiveness of Filipino nurses in the eyes of employers in America, Europe and the Middle East.

The Philippine Nurses Association in America (PNAA) had issued a statement expressing its concern on just this point. It said it wants to be able to assure the people of America that there is quality nursing education in the Philippines but there is evidence that our nursing graduates, the greater majority produced are not passing our own licensure tests. It is a national embarrassment.

Now that there is already an oversupply of nurses, this popular strategy of becoming a nurse to escape poverty may no longer be viable. #

Postscript -- Over two months after Mara started her frantic search for a nursing position, she's still jobless and so are her batchmates who are now joined by the thousands who passed the December 2007 licensure exam. Tens of thousands more are set to join the ranks of the unemployed now that the graduation season is over.

We were initially "encouraging" our daughter Ara to take up nursing, but with the way things are going, I'm now inclined to stand down.

Sunday, 6 April 2008


Wuz trawling the Net – as always – in search for quirkies for Sarat’s “Good Week, Bad Week” column here in XPRESS when I found this …. Hmmmm,, very interesting piece from the Philippine Star that could probably put the Philippines in the world map of agriculture modernisation.

Human urine seen as crop fertilizer

A government scientist urged Filipino farmers to use human urine as crop fertilizer.

Rafael Guerrero, executive director of the Philippine Council for Aquatic Marine Research and Development (PCAMRD) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), said human urine is high in nitrogen.

“Veggies respond more to nitrogen,” he said, adding that continuous use of fertilizer exhausts the soil.

“There’s need for restoring life of the soil by bringing back organic matter,” he said.

According to research, urine is being actively considered as a fertilizer for use in food-crop agriculture in developed countries.

Farmers often recommend a dilution of 10 to 20 parts water to one part of urine for application to pot plants and flower beds during the growing season. Pure urine can chemically burn the roots of some species, reports said.

Urine typically contains more than 50 percent of the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium content of whole sewage, and is widely considered as good as or even better than commercially available chemical fertilizers or stabilized sludge from sewage plants.

Urine is also used in composting to increase the nitrogen content of the mulch, accelerating the composting process and increasing its final nutrient values.

In developing countries, the application of pure urine to crops is also rare, reports said.

In Japan, urine used to be sold to farmers who process it into fertilizer.

* * *
And as we’re at it.

Summer has finally come (change the subject to “hell” for us here in the Middle East).

And for us Filipinos, ‘tis the season for boys to subject themselves to a rite of passage to manhood as these pictures show:

can't help but remember a popular Pinoy rhyme on tuli (circumcision)...hope i got it right

Andres Bonifacio a-tapang a tao
a-putok a kamay, hindi a-takbo
a-putol a ulo, hindi a-takbo
a-putol a paa, hindi a-takbo
a-putol a-utin a-takbo a-tulin!

(my sincere apologies to our national hero)