Sunday, June 24, 2007

Pinoy, proudly.








A local logo design competition was launched on June 12, our Independence Day commemoration, that aims to come up with the official Pinoy web badge for all sites owned, created, moderated and/or catering to Filipinos here and elsewhere.

The competition calls for logo design entries for Proudly Pinoy, details of which can be found at the Proudly Pinoy site.

Pinoy designers are enjoined to submit until July 11, 2007. To date, there are 55 entries on the site already.


(See composite image above)

Monday, June 18, 2007

low-tech gets hi-tech


In May when my cousin was here for a visit, one of her concerns was charging purchases using her debit card at gas stations. No, it wasn’t that her card would not be honored; rather, the concern was perhaps the fact that the staff at our gas stations – greasy and poor lit as they are in some branches, the stations – might commit identity theft, whether intentionally or otherwise, as may have been the unfortunate experience of some of her friends and acquaintances back in the US.

Of course we assured her that incidence of card fraud was nearly unheard of in Manila. Ok, that may not be entirely true. But at least for us whom she was with, none among our circle of friends have so far been victims of such incidents.

Identity theft have been rarely reported in the news; some cases have been topics for late-night TV docu-series that told of MOs at ATMs or swiped payments made by shoppers in malls or department stores using credit cards, but even these establishments have put in place certain measures of verification prior to receipt of payment.

So, it does not mean that consumers are safer because we do not seem so hi-tech and covert – even the Love Bug author was supposedly found to be not much of a techie himself.

However, there is a bigger danger to unconcealed illegal activities in that the victims are far at risk because they face direct assault to their persons and properties. And when the low-tech lowlifes decide to go hi-tech, the consequences are instant, unsavory, and more damaging.

The irony to low-tech crimes on hi-tech properties – laptops in this case – is that the items stolen are [1] of no use to the thief [2] because the thieves themselves may be computer-illiterate. This does not mean, however, that the thieves are totally technologically challenged, as they reaffirm the dialogue on Invention. Therefore, in being so challenged by the prospect of getting their hands on a piece of technology, they resort to primitive means: smashing windows, unhooking car locks with wires, distraction (“What time is it?”) &mdash the usual, low-tech MOs, ho-hum, but it seems to work effectively. The overall irony, though, is that these thefts have been occurring more regularly lately, yet none have been reported in the news.

Could it be that the victims are not wont to bother filing a police report? Could it be because some see stolen laptops as merely a case of losing expensive toys and nothing more? I think what is missed out is the fact that laptops have become the equipment of choice for serious work by some people – no, make that most people here in the Philippines – my friends included. And what an investment in time, money and productivity it took them to make this choice possible. Caveat emptor!
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Culled Stats:
• The price of a workhorse laptop (Apple or PC) is almost equivalent to a second-hand car.
• The most incidents of stolen laptops are from unattended vehicles parked in public places.
• The second most popular places for stolen laptops are in public caf├ęs.
• There have been rare cases of Macintosh laptops being returned to their owners because they were password-protected.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

imaginary meetings

I'd be in a corner observing (Exupery's) the Fox, Pooh, Tigger, Piglet, Hobbes, Bo Nana and Dogbert on a Saturday early afternoon get-together at Dilbert's office with unlimited coffee, hot cocoa and hunny. It'd interesting to listen to what they'd be talking about.
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Edit:
So, here I have a group photo of the first of such meetings. :)











© All characters appearing in the above graphic are copyright of their creators.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

fragmented but whole

Philippine Independence Day:12 June



Over a simple breakfast with a bunch of American volunteers (meal consisted of rice, boiled winged beans, vegetarian lumpia (my veggie friend's baon), and fried eggs I requested for — I should remember to bring with me my own fare next time!) high up in the mountains of Asipulo, Ifugao, talk naturally drifted from casual personal introductions to the state of matters.

Our volunteer-host D (whom I shall refer to as Casper (the friendly ghost) had a grandfather who served in the US Navy and was assigned to the Philippines during WWII. In fact, he has with him now an old photograph of his lolo taken from what Casper believes to be a street somewhere in Pasay (also known as Pineda during that time, now a City). Casper's other grandfather was mighty proud of him for working in the Philippines as a volunteer. Casper asked me: "Why is it that the Philippines seems like it has not taken off the way it should? You are not lacking in resources and the people are hard working."

Why, indeed? It looked like an easy question to answer, but which stumped me for a few seconds. It is a political question, I thought, though he may be seeking for answers other than political. At that point, too, I was fully aware that the volunteers can not engage in political talk and reminded myself of it — if the discussion had taken the political turn, I expected very little active participation from our guests.

Same Question
It is not as if we have not asked ourselves the same question. In fact, I believe we like being asked that question, as it opens an arena for punditry from Filipinos from all walks of life.

But there seems to be no single, correct answer. At least not one satisfactory answer that does not lead to a heated argument between the inquirer and the respondents.

Depending on one's location, heritage, cultural or educational background, business and scope of experience, the answers may range from a pretentious soliloquy to a strange series of nods. There, too, is the factor of language where, for instance, everyone tries to engage each other in Tagalog, yet the message risks not being fully understood by those who do not speak it as the discussion deepens.

A Nation of Islands
Stats say we have a total of 170 to 171 dialects, 2 of which are considered official (Tagalog and Bisaya), and 8 co-official, whatever that means. We were taught to refer to these dialects as languages, as each is distinct. The stats, I am sure, do not count Taglish, Textlish, Tag-Il, Baklish and other current phenomenal Tagalog variants determined by class, clique or contemporary customs. There is even a confusion as to what the major linguistic differences are between Tagalog and Filipino.

These dialects (or, languages, rather) are from the 7,100 or so islands that make up the archipelago. Each island is a separate community; each community belonging to a separate district; each district is from a region, and so forth. How the non-Spanish speaking Ilocanos communicated with the Kapampangans and Tagalogs during the Spanish period is still a mystery to me. For sure, there were those who were multilingual at the time, but I imagine it to be rare. The most common words most likely understood by all would probably have been yo, hambre, hombre, mujer, Padre, madre, hijo, donde, among a few. I’m just guessing.

But how did they express to each other, say, the sincere desire and intention to be united in one cause, without giving it away to the guardia civil? They probably couldn't. That's why It took all of 400 years to translate a universal experience to a single action, with the aid of yet another force of circumstance. And then another, and another.

Only In Da Philippines
When we speak about the weirdest of experiences, the strangest of humors, or the most compromising situations, we say "only in the Philippines." Only in the Philippines do we address these situations either in jest, out of frustration or as a matter of fact.

Yet, there are many other only's that we fail to note by heart, perhaps just too many. And, as ever, none spoken to the satisfaction of each Filipino. It seems that the more common our experiences have become, the farther apart we are even as we try to grasp the full understanding of what keeps us together under one flag. And the farther apart we are, the weaker we become as a nation.

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_the_Philippines)
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Scene: Eat Bulaga
Location: Free TV
Date/Time: June 12, 2007, 2:10pm

Q (host): ...mula 1946 hanggang 1961, ginugunita ang Independence day na July 4. Inilipat ito sa June 12...Sino ang dating presidente, na taga Pampanga (emphatic), na nag-proklama nito (na gawin itong June 12)?
A (contestant): (silence)
Q (host): ...taga-Pampanga...dating presidente...sino ito?...binibigyan kita ng limang segundo!
A (contestant): ...si...Diosdado.
Q (host): Sino??!!
A (contestant):...si Diosdado!
Q (host): Sinong Diosdado??!!
A (contestant):...si Diosdado! Diosdado Mac..a..pagal....Arroyo!! Diosdado Macapagal Arroyo!!!
(silence)

Q (co-host): Ano ka ba naman??!! Eto'ng limang libo. Maghanap ka ng ibang kausap mo, ha?

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Faith

Kiangan, Ifugao Province highest point 2,297ft
5:30 am, 05 June 2007 Early-morning clouds blanket Lagawe.

This is what greeted me on this morning. When the feeling is indescribable, the only way to fully take this in is to believe what I see. Then, after I have opened my heart, only tears can acknowledge its presence.
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Partial photo credit goes to itemplo

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Thursday, June 7, 2007

Pure

Pula, Asipulo, Ifugao 450m-1,935m above sea level

Pula is a sitio of Asipulo, Ifugao Province's newest (they say 'youngest') municipality, which is accessible from historic Kiangan town by a long stretch of road that is occasionally paved, frequently rough and bumpy and is never without surprising twists, turns, inclines and descents.

Road to Pula
The rough journey to Pula is soothed by an unending vista of mountains and valleys and terraces, though not the majestic kind that is popular like in Banaue; of pockets of roadside houses, chickens crossing, dogs sunning, and locals engaged in farm work. Clear streams and puddles break the path. Best of all, the air is pure.

When we got to Pula to attend an event, we were told that it was the first time the locals had ever hosted a gathering of such size with guests from elsewhere, let alone foreign guests. We totaled about 50 or more.

Pula is about 20-30 minutes from Asipulo's municipio, depending on the mode of transportation. We were brought to Pula in a local jeep, one which makes the jeeps of Manila wimps by comparison. More functional than anything, the structure of the Ifugao-made jeep is what heavy-duty is all about. It is roomy, longer than the ordinary jeeps that seat 10 people per bench; it is higher than an off-road 4x4 with roofing supported by a grid of exposed angular bars. It is made that way to better carry additional passengers and goods on its roof. (My other trips were as a passenger on a motocross motorcycle and in a tricycle. The motorcycle ride experience will be in a separate entry.)


Basic
Life in Pula is basic. There is one house in the centro that sells lowland comforts such as Coke, cigarettes by retail, sachets of shampoo and such. Because of the altitude, Coke is sold unchilled but still kept cool by the weather. Jonalyn, one of our local hosts, mentioned that sometimes, bottles of cola are buried in the ground to keep them cool. There is no electricity in Pula. Some houses in what is the centro are close to each other. Our host's ancestral house, however, is up deep in the mountains, accessible via a trail that took us, the unprepared and uninitiated, an hour or so, but which the locals traverse leisurely and sure-footed for about 10-15 minutes or maybe even less.

One has to stay in Pula overnight like we did to learn what it is like to live in a pure sense: water flows straight from the mountains through a hose that is hung overhead, rice is from the fields, vegetables are picked when ready to be cooked and coffee &mdash real coffee &mdash is harvested from the robusta trees that grow wildly in the surroundings. Meals are simple and shared and the host members make sure there is food for everyone. There are comfortable beds in the house, yes, and more chickens running about; pineapple and camote abound. Surprisingly, our host has electricity up in the mountains powered by solar energy. But it is only for lighting in the evening, nothing else (I did see a mini component, but perhaps only used for special occasions). Life is simple and seamless; domestic work is shared by both men and women and, even without the benefit of a timepiece, chores flow naturally from one to the next. Nothing is in excess and everything is doable and just right.


The latrine is separate from the house. One's private rituals are blocked from view by hardwood slabs that cover only the essential. There is no malice among the people of Pula anyway. However, chickens innocently stopping by from the gap between the ground and the slabs may witness the ritual. Again, water is not a problem.


The Kalanguyas, Ayangans and Tuwalis
Asipulo is made up of three major tribes: Kalanguya, Ayangan and Tuwali, all sub-categories of Ifugao.

The people of Pula, probably the most hospitable I have ever encountered, are mostly Kalanguya and Ayangan and subsist on farming and gardening &mdash though not the leisurely gardening we know. Gardening means growing crops in one's immediate surroundings for domestic consumption. If the harvest is good, the extra produce is brought down to the bigger towns to be sold. Pork and chicken, of course, are the main sources of protein. However, pork is luxury, chicken is special; fish is sometimes available but rare.


This place is where chivalry is alive. Women are highly regarded and treated with respect. There are small, but increasingly frequent, cases of abuse but this is caused by outsiders who marry into the locals. Sadly, these outsiders are generally referred to as Ilocanos, mostly from the nearby lowland areas of Nueva Vizcaya or across mountains from neighboring provinces.

All the people of Pula, and Asipulo in general, call themselves Ifugaos regardless of tribal identity. Ifugaos are hard working, well behaved, shy, quiet and clean. They may occasionally stare but not to size you up like they do in the lowlands. They weigh their responses carefully so as not to offend or be misinterpreted. They all speak, or understand, Ilocano but have their own dialects. Above all, Ifugaos are peaceful. Asipulo, we were told, has the lowest crime rate in all of Ifugao Province. Why? Because disputes are discussed among the elders with the aim of settling any arguments in an even-handed and justifiable manner. In fact one can feel the peace and sense that the people themselves are at peace with their existence. It is purity in the simplest of terms.


Richer in more ways
Asipulo is frequently indexed as a fifth-class municipality. To many of its residents, being classified as such may not be important to them and their existence &mdash many are literate and most people are polite. They may belong to such a classification but poor they are not, certainly not in spirit and resources, and, most especially, goodwill.

Pula is not for the faint-hearted, closed-minded, humorless and ill intentioned. My Pula experience is such that I bring back with me its wealth: the strengthening and reinforcement of the Filipino values of pakikisama (camaraderie, cooperation), pakikipagkapwa-tao (regard for others) and just downright appreciation for things pure and simple.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

i see...


I've come across this information in one personal research I did early this year (on external HDs). The usual technical 3D diagrams accompanied the article and were used to illustrate the new perpendicular hard drive technology. As technical diagrams are supposed to speak 'for themselves', it takes more brain processing power for a non-technical person like me to understand what the diagrams were trying to say.

When Apple announced that the new models of their Mac Book Pro line are to ship with perpendicular HDs, this fun animation came along with it.

So, that's what all the static info I was read about was telling me. I see.
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The original may be viewed at http://www.hitachigst.com/hdd/research/recording_head/pr/PerpendicularAnimation.html and needs Flash player installed.

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