Thursday, September 30, 2004

Act of Attrition

Yesterday was the last day of our dear colleague Bryan San Juan in the Presidential Management Staff. He has formally been seconded to the Philippine Information Agency, under the auspices of Dir. Dennis Ting.

This brings me to thinking what will happen to our dear office now that we are not allowed to hire additional staff due to Office Order No. 115 and Administrative Order 103, in lieu of the freaking austerity measures of the government. OO 115 and AO 103 both state that section 3 of the Attrition Law shall be implemented. Section 3 provides that no one shall fill-up vacated positions by reason of retirement, resignation, termination, etc. This problem has recently been solved by our Director. He brought some justifications in order for us to hire more staff. And it was somehow approved in principle by the Acting Head. Okey, that just solved the problem.

Furthermore, it also brought to my attention the future of our beloved government. At present, the above-mentioned provision and many other provisions are part of a compendium of austerity measures to help balance the burgeoning budget deficit. Personally, I think this strategy will lead to nowhere.

The release of OO 115 in a way infuriated me. I thought the fiscal reform package and the austerity measures are to be done in a "Robin Hood" fashion. “Take from the rich, and give to the poor.” However, it seems that these austerity measures affect the ordinary individuals more.

Okey, I will not go to the macro perspective. I will just look at the bureaucracy as an example. As part of OO 115, we shall no longer be given overtime pay, but instead we shall be given the benefit to offset our rendered overtime. NO MORE OVERTIME PAY?! The PMS sometimes, if not always, requires its staff to work extra hours in the evening, or worse, during weekends, holidays, or even during CALAMITIES!!! Taking away the small benefit of an overtime pay (I will not go into the details of how it is computed...) would somehow dishearten us and hamper the motivation to go the "extra mile" to work for the Presidency... Let's admit it. Kahit pakunswelo-de-bobo lang ang overtime pay natin, malaking tulong pa rin yan lalo na sa maliliit na empleyado.

Another thing... OO 115 took away our per diem in team building activities. For Christ's sake, team building only happens once a year!!! And this is the only time where people get to unwind after a year of death-defying phone conversations, ocular inspections, project evaluations, and many other tasks that the PMS undertakes in order to support the Presidency. Another "consuelo de bobo" stripped from our pockets... Or even the small privilege to go to the beach or to some place cozy to release yearly tension was taken away.

Not just financial rewards. Even an environment conducive to work and concentration is slowly being deprived from our already poorly-furnished workstations. The Office Order suggests that air conditioning units be switched off from 11:30 and switched on again at 1:30. I think it is better if the administration just tells us directly to suffocate ourselves, and then we shall put plastics in our heads. That will make the job easier and faster. According to electronics experts, switching off the air conditioning doesn't help in the conservation of energy because much energy is consumed during the starting phase of the process. So much for energy conservation.

I have nothing against austerity measures or reform packages, or anything that has to do with helping the government rise from the pit it is currently in. What I despise is the apparent one-sided effort of the government in implementing these measures. While us bureaucrats, permanents, careers, TRUE public servants sacrifice in this austerity plan, these appointed, temporary, big time government officials do not share or contribute in this effort.

I just don't like the thought that while I was stripped of two of my sources of funding for my Friday night dinners with my lady, our BELOVED politicians are profligately spending tax payer's money like it was their own. Not to mention purchases of high-octane gas for "The Jetsetter's" provioncial visits, extravagant representation allowances of Escort-service-happy Presidents, CEOs and Chairmen of GOCCs, very high salaries of low-output GOCCs, Cellular phone bills as if they had phone pals from Fiji, and many many other unliquidated expenditures. The sadder part is that though half of the literate population of the Philippines knows about these "phenomena," it seems that no one has ever been sacked for it. I just don't like the thought that other people, especially the "blessed ones," do not feel the crisis.

Facing the crisis squarely should be a concerted and unified effort for the ENTIRE government institution, including officials and executives. Sacrifice must not only come from the rank-and-file public servants, it should more importantly come from the higher ups. Again, it all boils down to “leadership by example.”

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Daloy ng Kamalayan...

As I attended one of the Cabinet group meetings yesterday, I just realized how our eloquent politicians argue to come up with a more valid policy recommendation.

Aww man!!! How I wish I would get the microphone that day and tell them Cabinet Secretaries that they are going nowhere...

Below is just one example of how they spent our precious times to come up with a valid (?!) resolution:

"Mr. Chairman, I think we should first define what is the meaning of Corruption in government. Because most of the time, government officials do not know how to delineate the legal and the corrupt practices, especially when it comes to delicate positions. In our department, one of my assistant secretaries approached me and asked if receiving gifts is a form of a corrupt practice. The gift that was given to him was a refrigerator made by White Westinghouse. My brother-in-law has the same brand as he received, and that brand is very, very durable and user-friendly. My brother-in-law bought that refrigerator in Rustan's Glorietta, just beside the new Spam retaurant. My grandson loves Span so much, and we spend most of our Sundays just eating our favorite Spam sandwiches. My grandson is a grade-one pupil in the Ateneo and he's a fast learner. He already knows the capitals of countries like Maldives, Oman, and Venezuela! Because of this, he is an outstanding student. One of my dear colleagues from the Department has his son enrolled in the Ateneo, and I think my grandson is his son's classmate. One Christmas program in the school, we met, along with business tycoons and other public officials. I never knew that their sons are enrolled in the same institution as my grandson. I even saw some Directors and other rank-and-file employees of our department in that gathering. I just thought how they would manage to bring their children to an expensive school like this, if they receive very minimal salaray from government? This brings me to the question of corruption, ladies and gentlemen..."

And the rest was history...

May I remind the readers that this speech did not happen. This was just some sort of an imitation (and possibly, an exaggeration) of how multi-faceted, wholistic and all-encompassing our dear politicians are in making and analyzing policies. To God be the glory. Nevertheless, this conversations, be it on or off the record, are quite alarming and disturbing.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Win or lose, it's the school we choose...

Last Sunday’s game was probably the most grueling, depressing, and exasperating game for the Ateneo community in the 67th season of the UAAP. We were beaten (when I say beaten, I mean emotionally and physically beaten…) by our arch rivals, the De La Salle Green Archers, and took away our chance for a rematch against the defending champions, the FEU Tamaraws. It was a very sorry loss for our part.

The game started out well for the Blue Eagles. Everyone played well, scored well, defended well. However, come third quarter, it unleashed what our fellow Atenean and commentator TJ Manotoc feared the most. The Ateneo Blue Eagles’ third quarter scoring drought. La Salle outscored the Eagles, 19-7 in the third quarter. This, thus, mounted the lead of the Archers to an astounding 14 points.

After seven straight games of utter jubilation due to a 7-0 slate in the first round, here came the end of Ateneo’s career in the 67th season. As my Lasallian (and Lasallian wannabe) household neighbors would put it, better luck next time.

So what went wrong? In college basketball (or probably in other leagues, as well), there are three factors to winning a game: focus, teamwork, and heart. In a game where the two teams are considered equally talented, it is in these three factors that will determine who is the better team.

Definitely the biggest factor that would make a team win a championship is their mental focus. Playing in a highly emotional game is a test of patience and concentration. Talent and physical strength are no longer applicable. What matters more is the intensity and the maturity in the playing field.

What happened to the Ateneo team last Sunday was a defeat against themselves. They succumbed to the La Salle psychological warfare, thus, breaking their concentration and focus. This resulted to defensive lapses, scoring drought and loss of temper. As my kanto buddies would say, “napikon at nawala sa ulirat.”

During one of the plays in the second quarter, Blue Eagle Badjie del Rosario was called for a warning due to second motion against Archer Jerwin Gaco. The sad part is that Badjie thought Jerwin was the one snatching the ball from him, only to find out that it was his teammate, LA Tenorio.

Second, if you want to win a basketball game, you need to play as a team. A team inside a court is composed of five (5) players, each with his respective role according to his position. The Ateneo team managed to bring about excellent teamwork during the first round of the eliminations. Even with the absence of their star player, King Eagle Larry Fonacier due to an ACL injury, they managed not just to survive the first round, but to win all of its games. This is mainly because each player has done his part in the playing field. JC Intal stepped up, LA Tenorio played like a surrogate captain, Paolo Bugia increased his intensity, and Magnum Membrere added more heart.

However, last Sunday’s game was one of the most individualistic games I have ever seen. They rarely move without the ball, often turn the ball over, and seldom make extra passes to open men. Just in the first half of the game, the Blue Eagles committed 17 big turnovers. Imagine if these were all successful plays, they could have led over La Salle by a big margin in the first half.

Lastly, in order to survive a very close, neck-and-neck battle against your arch-rival, you need to get ahead by psyching up and having the “winning attitude.” We should always “play like there’s no tomorrow,” possess the heart of a champion.

In the National Basketball Association (NBA) last season, the underdog Detroit Pistons showed how much important is focus, teamwork and perseverance is in a basketball game. Nobody expected this team to enter the finals in the first place, however, they managed to surpass all obstacles that got in the way, and was given the opportunity to take on the most formidable team, the Los Angeles Lakers. And surprisingly, they won the 2004 NBA Championship. They weren’t the strongest team as others perceived to be, but they overcome their fears, stayed focused, and played like a team.

The Blue Eagles may have suffered an upsetting Final Four elimination, but surely the experience taught them a number of valuable lessons that shall strengthen them in the years to come. Since the 67th season is now over for the Ateneo Community, let us now focus on the next task at hand, season 68. Until then, we shall still proudly shout and cheer... Fabilioh!!!

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Fiscal Crisis

"We are already in the midst of a fiscal crisis and we have to face it squarely -- ." --President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in her speech at the turnover ceremonies for the incoming PNP Chief Edgar Aglipay

At present, may I also take this opportunity to declare: "I am in the midst of a foscal crisis... And I will face it squarely..."


I will lay down the framework for fiscal reforms and implement drastic savings mechanisms...

I shall implement a painful, but helpful 10-point fiscal reform package:

a. Cut down on junk food like potato chips, ice cream, chocolates, etc. Good for pocket, and good for health...

b. Cut down on unnecessary gimmicks, like saturday night "Tambay" in malls, bars, etc. Though we aren't spending much coz we just hang out, gasoline expenses hurt even more.

c. Cut down on street food expenses like isaw, fishball, and the like.

d. no purchasing of either pirated or original vcds and dvds. If possible, just rent to nearest neighbors for free...

e. no purchasing of reading materials such as Newsweek or the newspaper. Since I have a daily internet access, I would rather read through it.

f. avoid extravagant modes of transportation like the taxi cab, FX and MRT. If possible, rideo nly tricycles and jeepneys. QUite bad for the lungs, but good for the pocket.

g. limit text messages to only the persons that matter. if possible, message only if it is for your girlfriend or parents...

h. avoid unnecessary cinema-watching... Watch only the movies that are either top-rated, or box-office blockbusters. Never attempt to experiment.

i. no more extravagant lunch or dinner... Eat only in affordable food stations like the canteen...

j. Avoid going to excursions or outings... This is what I hate the most...

With this fiscal reform package, I foresee that my personal economy shall have a budget surplus by the end of 2005. WHOA!!!!

Like the young kid in that old DBP commercial used to say... "AYOKO NANG MAGING DUKHA!!!" hehehe...

It's been a long time...

It's been a long time since I've written on my blogspot. The main reason is because I have nothing to write about. Second is because I don't seem to have the urge to write. Third is because I always get lost with what I'm thinking. But I promise as soon as I get my groove, tuluy-tuloy na to... ;)