Friday, July 29, 2005

Adventures in Government

I am going to be married this year so my bride to be and I needed to get copies of our birth certificates and certifications of no-previous marriage (CENOMAR) from the National Statistics Office (NSO). Like many Filipinos, I viewed the transactions with government with trepidation. Tales of long lines, rude and unhelpful employees, unnecessary and illogical requirements abound. So I steeled myself to expect a stressful and frustrating day while applying for the above documents.

The National Statistics Office (NSO)

We arrived at the NSO office near Quezon Avenue about 11:40 AM, (Wednesday, July 27, 2005) we were immediately propositioned by people who claim they can “facilitate” the release of our documents. Fortunately, we found out that we needed to apply at the East Avenue office. We boarded an FX taxi, conveniently located next to the NSO and I presume ferries passengers to and from the two NSO offices.

We arrived at the NSO East Avenue office at about 12:45 PM. The entrance was prominently marked. The table where one can get the application forms were easy to see and the application forms themselves were color coded. The queue for the application forms was short and the application forms themselves were easy to fill up.

After filling-up the application, we were ushered to a fenced off area where we were given a number to signify our place in the queue. The first step after that was to another queue where employees of the NSO were checking if the application forms were properly filled-up. We were then directed to pay the application fee. The queue for payment was longer than the previous ones and we had to wait a few minutes before we were able to pay up. The birth certificate will be issued the next day, the CENOMAR , two weeks hence.

The Social Security System (SSS)

The application time for at the NSO was so unexpectedly short that I decided to push my luck and apply for an SSS identification card seeing as I only had to cross the street to get to the SSS. At the SSS information booth, I asked how I could apply for an SSS ID. The person manning the booth gave me an application form and directed me to submit the form at counter 53 in the next building.

The queue at counter 53 was longer than the queues we encountered at the NSO. There were only 2 people manning the counter, one possible reason is that some of the personnel might have been taking their lunch break. Anyway, counter 53 is not the end of the line, counter 53 is where they check whether your application form is complete and correct. After ascertaining this, they direct you to a booth where you are fingerprinted and photographed. The ID is to be sent to me through mail.

The entire application process for an SSS ID took me about an hour, the majority of which I spent waiting in line. Without the line, it would take maybe 15 minutes.

The Quezon City Government

After lunch, we still had a lot of time so we decided to apply for a marriage license at the Quezon City Hall. The Office where we had to apply, the Local Civil Registry Office, is located at the back of the City Hall compound and we got lost trying to find it. Fortunately, the guards were helpful in pointing us to the right direction. At the office, we had to pay an application fee before we were given the application forms. One of the requirements for a marriage license is attendance to a Family Planning seminar conducted by the Health Department of the City government. The person manning the counter directed us to the Health Department so we can attend the one being conducted that day.

We hurried to the Health Department, but as the seminar was supposed to start at 1:00 PM, we were late. I wanted to come back another day but the people conducting the seminar were kind enough to let us stay. They gave us a handwritten certification so that we only needed to present their certification so we can be issued the official one b the department. The seminar ended a little after 4:00 PM. We rushed to reserve a place for the wedding reception and then we headed home.


The next day (July 28, 2005) , while my bride to be was getting our birth certificates at the NSO, she was informed that the Manila City government failed to transmit to the NSO my birth certificate. I now have to go to the Manila City hall to request them to transmit my birth certificate to the NSO. Everything has now stopped until a true copy of my birth certificate is issued.

Abangan and susunod na kabanata.

Update (March 31, 2006)

I edited some sentences for clarity and changed the NSO address which I wrote as Timog avenue to the correct one at East Avenue.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Revisiting Escultura

I was browsing Alecks Pabico's article on Edgar Escultura when I came upon a letter that I wrote to the Manila Times regarding their news story about the good professor receiving the Carl Friederich Gauss Prize from the International Mathematical Union. I was not expecting them to again print a letter from me and I was distracted by the events then occuring in the Philippines that I did not see their response until now. My letter and the Manila Times response was copied by Jo Torres in the comments section of Alecks articles.

I mentioned in my letter that according to the website of the International Mathematical Union, the Carl Friederich Gauss Prize will be awarded for the first time in 2006 and I asked them to include this fact to amend their story.

Rather than directly refuting the fact, by for example, contacting the IMU directly and asking them to include the name of Mr. Escultura in the IMU website as a winner of the prize, the Manila Times published 2 letters from a John Gardiner supposedly from the International Mathematical Union with an e-mail address of and from a certain Imgul L. Bel member of the Deutsche Mathematiker-Vereinigung with an e-mail address at

The letters were addressed to Prof. Escultura advising and congratulating him on winning the said prizes. Unfortunately, like the letters that Mr. Escultura supposedly received from Andrew Wiles, that the Manila Times describes as e-mail, these supposed letters were also comments from Mr. Escultura's guest book which Abe of Don't Let Me Stop You has proven, can be easily spoofed.

And again, the Manila Times seem not to know how to operate a browser and/or a search engine. Let us deal with Mr. John Gardiner first. The top item if you search for "John Gardiner" in google belongs to Prof. John Gardiner, a professor of psychology. A search for "John Gardiner and International Mathematical Union" yields only the Manila Times story, a poor yield for the President of the International Mathematical Union. and the e-mail? belongs to Phillip A. Griffiths, Secretary of the IMU. Who then is John Gardiner and why is he using an e-mail that does not belong to him? He certainly is not the President of the International Mathematical Union, that honor belongs to Professor John M. Ball, Sedleian Professor of Natural Philosophy and Fellow of the Queens College at Oxford University.

A simple search, I did it in 20 minutes, could have informed the Manila Times that they may not be dealing with a real person here, maybe the search result of Professor John Gardiner, psychologist could have given them a clue?

Next, Imgul L. Bel, a google search yielded no results. Very paltry for a member of Yale University. Similar results were obtained when I searched the Yale University phonebook but not when you search for the supposed e-mail address of Mr. Bel. A google search for the e-mail, reveals that the e-mail belongs to, surprise, Scott Migdole - Chief Operating Officer of the Yale Behavioral Health program from the Yale Department of Psychiatry.

So again, the Manila Times had believed comments coming from Mr. Escultura's guest book. They believed that the
Carl Friederich Gauss Prize, is given through online transactions. They did not check the veracity of the supposed prize nor the reality of the commenters. If they did, maybe the links to known mental health practitioners would have given the Manila Times a clue that they are being played for fools.

I do not fault Mr. Escultura on this and previous matters, he is a harmless old crank who probably actually believes in his theories. The Manila Times however should know better, keeping to best journalistic practices should keep them safe from hoax letters. But they did not, and so they tarnish their reputation.

Thursday, July 14, 2005


Ayon sa Manila Times, ang mga korte sa siyudad ng Malolos, Bulacan ay nagsimula ng gumamit ng Filipino bilang wika sa paglilitis. Ang pag-gamit daw ng Filipino ay nagustuhan ng mga nililitis sa kadahilanang mas naiintindihan nila ang nangyayari sa korte at sa kanilang kaso.

Ang pag-gamit ng Filipino sa mga korte sa Pilipinas ay sinusuportahan ng National Directorate ng Integrated Bar of the Philippines at mga abogado ng Bulacan.

Gusto ko lang bigyang diin ang obserbasyon ng mga nililitis na gusto nila ang pag-gamit ng Filipino dahil sa mas naiintindihan nila ang nangyayari sa korte. Ito sa palagay ko ang pinaka-mabigat na rason kung bakit kailangang gamitin ng gobyerno ng Pilipinas ang Filipino sa kanyang mga transaksiyon. Dahil sa Filipino ang ginagamit ng tao, mas maiintindihan ng mga tao ang ginagawa ng gobyerno kung Filipino ang ginagamit nila.

At dahil sa mas mai-intindihan ng mga tao ang mga ginagawa ng gobyerno, baka tumaas ang tiwala ng mga tao sa gobyerno.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Erap Factor

Last Friday, July 8, 2005, eight cabinet members and 2 senior officials of the Arroyo administration resigned and called on the President to resign. Their decision was met with praise and criticisms. The praise comes mostly from sectors that want President Arroyo to resign. The criticisms from their co-cabinet members and other supporters of the President.

The most telling criticism seem to be "disloyalty". Philippine culture is personality centered, and friendship counts for a lot. The accusation of betrayal cuts deep into the heart of many. This week, some members of the 10 are doing the rounds explain the reasons for their decision. The reasons they state can be divided into two, although many specific reasons are given.
  1. The President did not undertake the reforms she promised to do;
  2. The political situation is such that her resignation is the best way for the country to move on from the crisis it is facing.
I believe that a third reason is being left unsaid, and it has something to do with what happened to the Estrada administration in 2001.

The Estrada administration also had members of civil society in its fold. At the height of the campaign for his resignation/removal, civil society organizations and individuals made public and personal appeal to these members to leave the Estrada administration to help convince the then President to leave office. Very few of them did, and those who did were lower level officials. The failure of these officials to leave the Estrada administration before its downfall were seen by civil society, including those who has just resigned, as an abandonment of their principles and a betrayal of their civic duty.

When President Arroyo succeeded into the Presidency, she appointed several members of the civil society organizations that worked for the removal of President Estrada and supported her ascension. A significant number of those who resigned, came from these organizations.

I believe that though unstated and probably not the only reason, in the back of their minds, these civil society figures were all to aware that their credibility in the eyes of civil society, rests on whether they do the correct thing. And at that point, a consensus was slowly building within civil society organizations and individuals, headed by former President Corazon Aquino, that the President, as she admitted, did something wrong and that she should be held accountable.

The call for her resignation, I believe, was also influenced by the Erap factor. I think civil society believes that their treatment of President Arroyo should be equivalent to their treatment of President Estrada. They believe that any perception they are favoring the President will lose them credibility. The fact that they took so long to weigh the evidence, while being taunted by the former Estrada partisans from civil society, influenced the decisions to call for resignation rather than a through investigation of the matter."

Other notes:

I got this story from the pcij blog
"Today, the same people behind eLagda have come up with another online petition-signing campaign to clamor for Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to step down"
They are doing this petition because according to the website
"We can, of course, go through the process prescribed by law - impeachment. Meanwhile, however, we have a politically volatile situation that might encourage some sectors to pursue extra-constitutional means to seize power"
And surprisingly, one of their affiliate member is the ERAP Fans club. Either they did not get the memo that they are supposed to pursue extra-constitutional means to seize power or they differ with their idol on this point.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Tule is the Filipino word for circumcision. It is a word filled with significance for every Filipino male. The process of becoming tule (circumcised) from being supot (uncircumcised) is the process of becoming a man from being merely a boy.

Evey year, thousands of Filipino young men undergo this ritual. The risk is after all slight (it is after all minor surgery), the benefits quite significant (to be seen as responsible and grown up by your family and peers), and the consequences of remaining "supot" quite dire (humiliation in front of everybody that knows).

I raise this point because of a news story I read from the Asian Wall Street Journal (subscription required) also reported in the San Francisco Chronicle, and MSNBC.

According to the Asian Wall Street Journal (July 6, 2005, page A7, column 1)
"French and South African Researchers have apparently found that male circumcision reduces by about 70% the risk that men will contract HIV through intercourse with infected women."
The study also suggests that
"women could benefit indirectly (from being infected with AIDS) because circumcision would reduce the chances their partners would be HIV-positive."
the study
"was conducted with more than 3,000 HIV-negative men ages 18-24 from a South African township...Half the men were randomly assigned to be circumcised and the other half to remain uncircumcised...after all the men have been followed for a year...the data showed the circumcised group fared much better. For every 10 uncircumcised men in the study who contracted HIV, only about three circumcised men did so"
But before Filipino men celebrate, it should be noted that
"the study's basic findings...haven't been published, so most experts haven't evaluated them."
And even if further analysis and research does validate the findings
"circumcision doesn't make a person immune to infection. Indeed if men abandon safer sex practices because they think the surgery completely protects them, then HIV transmission could rise."
Not to mention the fact that there are other STD's that can infect you aside from HIV.

Update 3/29/2007:

The World Health Organization and UNAIDS said circumcision should be added to current interventions to reduce the spread of HIV. Three African trials have shown that circumcision halved the rate of HIV infection in heterosexual men. Story here.

Random Notes:

Yesterday, Mr. Allan Paguia admitted that he released the Gloriagate tape to the public disregarding the expressed instruction of his client, former Senator Francisco Tatad, not to do so. And he wonders why his license to practice law was suspended by the Supreme Court.

Also yesterday, after avowing that he is not interested in regaining the presidency, former President Estrada remarked that he will not reject the office if it was offered to him.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005


Some Interesting sites I visited recently

125 big questions that face scientific inquiry over the next quarter-century from Science Magazine. This site recommended by The Loom.

James Randi
reproduced this speech by Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy a couple of weeks ago.

Of course if your looking for most comprehensive coverage and discussion about the current Philippine political crisis, you have to visit PCIJ's blog. You can also try to visit the Sun Star blog for a Visayan perspective.

If your wondering why Tom Cruise is very unhappy about psychiatry, you might want to check out Operation Clambake.

And lastly, chomskytorrents which is a a "gathering place for torrents with progressive and radical content" that i saw from

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Third Force

Dr. Francisco Nemenzo, former President of the University of the Philippines, was interviewed yesterday ( July 1, 2005) during a demonstration at Makati. In the interview, he advanced the idea of a transitional revolutionary government to replace the present Arroyo administration. The same idea was offered by Ms. Maitet(?) Diokno in one of the programs in the ABS-CBN News Channel (ANC). The idea behind the transitional revolutionary government, if I understood her correctly, is to end elite capture of the Philippine government. The transitional revolutionary government will not be led by the elite, and it will pave the way for a true people's democracy.

Unfortunately, Dr. Nemenzo was proposing the establishment of the transitional revolutionary government while in an anti-Arroyo demonstration with Mayor Joseph Victor Ejercito of San Juan (the son of deposed President Joseph Estrada),and Rep. Imee Marcos of Ilocos Norte (the daughter of deposed President Ferdinand Marcos). Both of whom, maintain that their fathers are innocent.

This fact alone would raise the irony meter, the meter explodes when we realize that Mayor Jayvee Ejercito also espouses a nine man council headed by his father should be the transitional government to replace the Arroyo administration. Other participants of the demonstration like Mayor Jejomar Binay of Makati wants the widow of Presidential candidate Fernado Poe, Jr., Ms. Susan Roces, to head the next government.

So the Gloria Arroyo - cut your term short - movement, is divided into at least three groups* in the nature and composition of the subsequent government they envision after President Arroyo either resigns, step down, or is deposed. But they agree in one thing - President Arroyo and Vice-President De Castro's terms should be terminated as soon as possible and a new "transitional" government should be established.

This point might be the key to answering Vicente "Enteng" Romano's query on the "deafening silence" of Kompil 2, the organization that spearheaded the opposition against President Estrada and President Marcos as Kompil 1, "in the face of the raging issue of the supposed taped conversations involving Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo".

Since the beginning of this crisis, the language of discourse has been dominated by the opposition, once one is perceived to "oppose" the administration, one is presumed to advocate for the "transitional government" route. The voices who advocate a "constitutional/legal" process for admonishing and penalizing the President for her "lapse in judgement" are drowned in the cries of 'resignation' and 'transition government' as if these are the only options open to the country.

These voices have now found a new ally, former President Corazon Aquino has stated that
"I believe that the Constitution contains all the ways by which one may safely effect even the most difficult political changes. There is no need to step outside it. To step outside the Constitution will only expose us to greater danger than the injustice we want to correct."
Many people has interpreted this to mean that Mrs. Aquino is supporting the President. I think this means that Mrs. Aquino has witheld support to the President, that she thinks the President should be investigated and if the President did act improperly, then she should face the consequences. If that consequence is impeachment, then so be it, as long as we follow the Constitutional process.

The NASSA-CBCP has also taken this stance, in a June 30 statement they declared:
"Does the substance of the exchange merit any violation or infraction of the law? Only then should due process of the law be invoked and applied to whoever party is found guilty."
and there is of course Manila Archbishop Rosales who in a statement said
"First, let us remember that the offended cannot simply be consoled by expressions of regret. Forgiveness does not eliminate the need for justice, nor should it block the search for truth. Genuine forgiveness demands more than an apology, and those who seek forgiveness should be ready to be called to accountability.

Second, the pursuit of truth regarding the grave charges against leaders and officials should be conducted within the provisions of our Constitution and should respect the laws of the land. Any proposition that disregards our constitutional and legal systems weakens our institutions and paves the way for a graver instability that can cause more profound suffering to our people."
That they are not calling for the immediate ouster of the President does not mean they condone the "improprieties" of the President. It only means that they want the ouster of the President, if it comes to that, to follow the right process.

These calls signal the emergence of an alternative to the government's "the President has apologized, lets move on" call and the opposition's "she cheated, off with her head" approach. An alternative, that the Kompil and Civil Society groups can support without inadvertently lending support to the opposition or the government.

Hopefully, this approach will facilitate true transparency and accountability in our government and society.

*The groups in the demonstration also include the Sanlakas and the Bayan Muna contingents who also call for a revolutionary/transition government but I am not sure if their "revolutionary government's" are distinct from those of Dr. Nemenzo's. Also another group, who did not attend the demonstration, headed by a former General and Defense Secretary Fortunato Abat is also calling for their own transition government.

Update: July 6, 2005

It seems that the group of Dr. Nemenzo is called Laban ng Masa campaign, reported by the PCIJ here.

Friday, July 01, 2005


This link was sent to me by a friend, I will let him do the introduction:
"Alam kong nagkaka-lintik-lintik na ang pulitika sa ating bayang sinilangan pero sobrang natawa ako nang mabasa ko ito:

He translated GMA and Susan Roces' speeches into gay lingo


GMA: 'Na-learn kez na yung pag-shorwag kez sa phonil
eh slight bunga ng ka-shungastrihan. I'm sorry.'

Tita Swanie: 'Mashopal ang fezlack niya! Mashopal ang
fezlack niya!!!!! Wai siyang feelings-galore!
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