The Open-Ballot System

Another round of elections. Another round of display of corruption that has already rooted in the Philippines.

See, vote buying is already a thing of the past. But I didn’t say so to mean that there is no more vote buying here in the Philippines. Quite the contrary, actually. It seems that vote buying has become an integral part of the Philippine electoral system.

However, as it is a given that vote buying has been existent for so long, people have already learned a thing or to on how to get around it – candidates and voters alike.

For the voters, there’s always the sure-I-will-accept-your-money-but-that-doesn’t-mean-that-you-have-my-vote technique. It’s what some people call “the right way”. To mean, “I will accept everyone’s money but I will still vote for my candidates.”

But the candidates have also learned to be smarter about vote buying. This time, they want to ensure that they get the votes that they paid for. It’s called the “open-ballot” system.

I, actually, have not seen it being done in a precinct, as I don’t linger after voting, but am pretty sure that ballots are supposed to be kept confidential so, it can only mean that whoever pushes for this strategy must have the support of the election council for it to succeed. It basically means that you have to show your ballot to your buyer’s inspector before dropping it in the ballot box.

Well, yes, it has to have happened in our place after I have voted as I voted right after the lunch break of the election council and local buzz about the operation grew at around 3pm.

You see, this, open-ballot, was the strategy that was employed by one of the local candidates here for barangay chairman. Saturday before the elections, this candidate has already given away an amount for some voters. Sunday, the other one gave thrice more than the previous candidate.

But Mr. Open-Ballot was very much determined to win the elections. So, some people, his followers, started the operation and went places to convince people to vote for him. The deal was simple enough: five times more than the amount previously distributed by Mr. Open-Ballot will be given to voter and all voter will have to do is show a ballot with Mr. Open-Ballot’s name on it to his inspectors before dropping it to the ballot box.

I so don’t know what to think.

Well, for those people who stood up and didn’t agree to the open-ballot, I can congratulate you for sheer nerve and self-control. As for those who gave in to the offer, I can’t blame you. Money is so hard to find these days.

Blog Action Day: Water and Life

Water is simply one of the single best gifts that man ever received. Different people call it a great many different names. Some even give it a lofty importance. Chemists call it the “universal solvent” as an acknowledgement to the superiority of water over all other solvents. While some, call water the “sustainer of life” owing to the fact that water supports the life here on Earth.

Water is indeed such an important resource and we all depend on it for survival. Ironically, many of us just ignore water, take it for granted, not caring about what could possibly occur if all the earthen waters get soiled. In the end, it is us who suffer.

This year, a huge El Niňo season devastated millions worth of crops and livestock in the Philippines. There is no way we can get that back.

Even in the world’s biggest countries, water is gradually becoming a scarce resource. However, it is the poor who are hit hard. Those who have no water reserves and can’t afford to buy water. See, according to the UN, “Across the globe, about 4,500 children die each day from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation facilities. Over 90% of deaths from diarrhea diseases from unsafe water and sanitation occur in children under 5 years old.” Thing is, water should not be bought. It is a gift and should therefore be shared among all of us.

There are a lot of ways with which each of us can help. As it is said, “change starts from within.” Therefore, we should take steps to make sure that we are not wasting water and are making the most out of this precious gift. Here are some simple and practical ways with which can help us save water and help ourselves taken from 100 Ways To Conserve of WaterUseItWisely :

  • When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run while rinsing. Fill one sink with wash water and the other with rinse water.
  • Adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street.
  • Use the garbage disposal sparingly. Compost vegetable food waste instead and save gallons every time.
  • Plant in the fall when conditions are cooler and rainfall is more plentiful.
  • For cold drinks keep a pitcher of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap. This way, every drop goes down you and not the drain.
  • Water your lawn and garden in the morning or evening when temperatures are cooler to minimize evaporation.
  • Wash your fruits and vegetables in a pan of water instead of running water from the tap.
  • Use a broom instead of a hose to clean your driveway and sidewalk and save water every time.
  • When running a bath, plug the tub before turning the water on, then adjust the temperature as the tub fills up.
  • Walkways and patios provide space that doesn’t ever need to be watered. These useful “rooms” can also add value to your property.
  • Collect water from your roof to water your garden.
  • When doing laundry, match the water level to the size of the load.
  • Water your plants deeply but less frequently to encourage deep root growth and drought tolerance.

These are just some of the ways with which we can help the worsening water situation here on Earth. It all starts from all of us. One simple step a day can go a long way.

Right now, we can also do more. The UN needs our help.

Take action today in support of the UN’s work to supply clean, safe drinking water to the world’s poorest populations and urge UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to continue the UN’s life-saving work bringing water and sanitation to developing nations.

Through continued efforts of the United Nations and organizations like UNICEF, the world is currently on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal on water. With the exception of sub-Saharan Africa, all regions should meet their water targets — but only through continued dedication and efforts by the UN and member countries.

Together with partners like UNICEF, we are on a path to provide clean, safe drinking water to millions around the world who need it most.

Helping the UN with there efforts is as simple as signing the petition.

Support the UN's Efforts to Bring Clean, Safe Water to Millions

K-12 and Funding

Education schmeducation!

Yes, I know, it’s rather harsh. See, according to Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, when there is something you just can’t care about, you use the word then follow it with about the same word except you replace the first letter or so of the word with “schm”. For instance, when you are not a fan of summer, while everyone is gloomy that it is over, you all tell them, “Summer schmummer”.

But not caring about education is just not good. It’s almost close to Count Olaf‘s indifference about the truth when he uttered, “Truth schmuth.” However, this seems to be the behavior that the Philippine government is displaying towards the Philippine education system.

From the previous budgets of the Philippine public funds, it is clear that education has not been a top priority in the Philippines – paying debts has always received the biggest partition of the public funds. But the recent budget cut on the Philippine state colleges and universities is such a big blow on the Philippine education. Ironically, the Department of Education is firmly proposing a revamp on the Philippine education system.

What I just can’t understand is why this administration has cut down budget for education while the DepEd is in the midst of trying to renew the Philippine education system.

Well, according to the DepEd, the Philippine education system is something that is rather past and that the Philippines should start following the lead of other nations citing a UK study that tells of the positive effects of longer school hours to a country’s GDP. True. But which one of them is overlooking the facts worse?

On one hand, there is the budget cut. On the other hand, there is the DepEd seemingly taut and in a rush on K-12.

It is a given that a cut on the already relatively low budget on education will adversely affect the already established system. This system is one that is still incomplete. All you have to do to see this is to visit a public school – elementary, high school, or college – take a nice look around and you will notice either a lack in teachers, classrooms, facilities, or the like.

Now, the new system that the DepEd is proposing will add three year levels to basic education. This will, of course, necessitate new classrooms, more teachers, more facilities. And how do they plan to fulfill these needs?

It’s true: planning always helps. However, both sides seem to be in a hurry. If important things are being done in haste by this administration, what good can we possibly expect out of it?

Encounters with Yesterday

Reconnecting with the past is never a simple task. It can be taxing, nauseating. Whether you wanted to or you were merely inadvertently pulled into that space, the experience will, undoubtedly, be the same. Sometimes, the nostalgia will hit you with a frightful force.

People almost always have stories to tell. Whether they are good or bad, funny or sad, long or short. When you get to meet someone of yesterday, and you have your own stories you want to tell, you must strike the first chance you get. Otherwise, you get to be the praying mantis for a while until you get the chance, if you are enough of a listener. While if you’re the kind to interrupt, well, that is just disrespectful.

Sometimes, the wait is actually almost excruciating. But that’s just how it is. It’s part of all the thoughts that reels into your mind whenever you get drawn in by that element of nostalgia.

When you get the chance to talk, however, you also get that nagging feeling, that racking in your brain that echoes, “Are you sure this is still interesting? Are you certain that you will be able to keep the discussion in place?” See, when you are in a conversation, you always gotta make sure that it flows smoothly until it has to end.

Things like these almost always happens in the most unexpected of places. Therefore, it will have to end sooner than later. But when it finally ends, you are sometimes hit with questions like, “Did we really even talk when we used to be at that place, at that time together? Was that person really who I thought that was? How were we able to talk after all those years?”

Wake Me Up When September Ends

Unbelievable how time flies by. The year was just starting. Then, it’s already the end of the third quarter. See, time waits for no one.

September 2010 closes with a rather gloomy Philippine atmosphere.

First, there’s the issue of the hostage taking at the Quirino Grandstand that was staged last month by no less than a former police officer. Yes, it is of last month but the issue has not yet been settled. China has not yet lifted the travel ban against the Philippines following their demand for a fair and believable investigation. As the report has not yet been reviewed by the president himself, there is no word yet about the future of the Philippine-Chinese relation.

Second, the bar exams this year ends tragically. It would have been a day of celebration after a week of very exhausting exams but someone just had to send a bomb to the area giving injuries to a number of supporters. The police seems to not have a concrete place to start investigations. There are two people who have attested to seeing a person send that bomb but for, the lack of evidence, the person is not yet being treated as a suspect. Like the previous issue, this one is far from settled.

Third, there is the president, Noynoy Aquino, facing the possibility of excommunication for his stand on the issue so-called “reproductive health”. The church is firm on their stand on the natural methods of family planning. The church blatantly disapproved of the DOH’s giving away of free condoms. They have stated that if the president will have his hands on this program, there is the possibility of him getting excommunicated.

As far as I am concerned, and, I daresay, a lot of other people too, this so-called “reproductive health bill” should not be in the priority list of this new administration. It is a given that, from the previous administration, Mr. Aquino have been a supporter of this bill – an evidence of which will be the banners of the Catholic church listing the candidates who support this bill, one of the names being Noynoy Aquino.

Somehow, stopping people from giving birth to children is not the best that this government can do for the population that is already in place. Or so it should not be.

If I may say so, corruption is still the number one problem in the Philippines. Yes, the president has said that he will give much of his efforts in the campaign against corruption. But saying so is never enough.

I believe, that instead of spending much of his energy in this reproductive health bill, he should divert it to issues with more substance – for example, he should instead try to help ease the distress of those who are suffering.

This is when I got reminded of that song by B.o.B and Hayley Williams,

Can we pretend that airplanes in the night sky are like shooting stars?

I could really use a wish right now

Yeah, we sure do need one these days. I can only hope for a bright October.