Monday, March 31, 2008

Real Economic Indicator

“We will fight to feed the poor, improve job creation and do everything in our power to mitigate the global forces increasing the price of commodities like oil and rice,” was one of the emphatic points of PGMA when she spoke before the participants in the 11th Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference (AIC).

Back home the price of rice increased by P2 or P3 per kilo. That is from the usual P26-28 per kilo of quality rice in the market, price ranges now from P28 to P30+ per kilogram and many speculated that it could jump further to P40 per kilogram. Arthur Yap, secretary of Department of Agriculture, readily blamed this to oil price increase (Php46 per liter for premium gasoline) and high cost of farm inputs. Not rice shortage.

With this reality, the poorest of the poor (majority of our population who have not improved their incomes or those who are unemployed or have no enough income sources), would find it even harder now to eat one meal a day.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Lights Out, Cartoon Back Issue, New Lawyers, etc...

Admittedly, I wasn’t in the know of the Earthhour until an email reached me last week that it was a global warning for the global warming. Hmmm. To check the veracity of the information, I surfed the net, checked my friendster (I got one) to find out that Greenpeace posted the information too. The WWF was in charge. Later in the day, tv reports also aired a follow-up on the scheduled lights out at 8pm to 9pm.

I did not know where was I then that I did not hear information about Davao City’s participation in that awareness campaign although this morning I hear that SM City participated in that one-hour lights out and the report emphasized that it saved from doing it. That is also my realization, if aside from the regular energy saving measures at home, a one-hour lights out every week can make a difference in your bill. Businesses can also adopt this measure, what do you think?

Perhaps, there was really a lack of information on the event here because when we switched off to join last Saturday evening, our neighborhood was still alive prompting a neighbor to suspect that our line had broken down.

Although there is dissenting opinion on the cause of global warming – that is whether we cause it to heat up – looking after our environment and our natural resources should be one of our priorities for the next generation.

Side Trip

The editorial cartoon (up there) I posted with this entry was published in 2007, if memory serves me right. Well, not this color drawing but the greyscale version. It depicted situation where GMA was on the brink of falling with the sentiment of the business sector about their slackening support to GMA. Similar reports also sprang up at the height of the ZTE-NBN scam investigation. In a ploy to pressure the Makati Business Club to stay away from the oust-GMA campaign, GMA threatened to let BIR loose on them.

To all our new lawyers, congratulations!

With the new lawyers, we hope that more lawyers will share their talents for those who need legal help. And that with them, justice delivery in the country will improve.
This reminds me of a barrio doctor that ABS-CBN featured through Korina Sanchez’ episode last March 30. You saw it? I saw it but I forgot the name of that young doctor who dedicated his profession for the barrio folks' health. I could only praise our professionals who do the same dedication for our less privileged brethren.

Among the passers is Ms. Leah Librado, sister of Davao City Councilor Angging Librado – Trinidad. I met her during one of their community-based activities where I gave short lecture on basic art for small kids. Leah is an active member of Rotary Club Davao City. And it was the time that I realized that my friend and CEGP (College Editors Guild of the Philippines) colleague Angging has a pretty sister in the person of amiable and so young Leah.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Supreme Court "Controls" Neri

In a pretext that the inquiry of senate blue ribbon committee would jeopardize diplomatic relations with China, the Supreme Court denied the senate from touching or questioning Neri in relation to the ZTE-NBN scam. Many believe that Neri is possibly the key to determining the culpability of GMA as far as the broadband scam is concerned.

This cartoon that appeared in Sun-Star Davao today simply resonates the arrogance of the supreme court when it decided to deprive us to know or have the opportunity to know the truth that Neri said in one of his statements “was deeper than what we think.”

At first glance, the cartoon seems to depict SC as challenging the senate committee to ask question on a gagged Neri. That’s one angle. Another angle is that this depicts the arrogance of the SC before the Filipino people (as represented by senate blue ribbon committee) when it "controlled" Neri from letting the cat out of the bag.

Side Trip

To Pedestrian Observer GB's question: All my cartoons were drawn manually but I use Adobe Photoshop to clean them up or enhance them with color as in case of color drawings in this blog. By the way, thanks a lot for your inspiring comment.

Looming Rice Shortage

Department of Agriculture Sec. Arthur Yap raised the alarm on looming rice shortage. The country is considered an agricultural economy. If you ask the government or GMA for that matter, she would readily say that the government is doing everything to improve our agricultural production. I call it lip-service.

I happened to be in contact with farmers in various occasions in the past as non-government worker. I also visited some farmers in other farming communities in Caraga Region who still have the same problems - lack of production capital, landlessness, high cost farm inputs, the lack of marketing support and technical support. These problems are not new but the government has yet to squarely address them.

In addition to these aforementioned problems or factors, the land-use conversion - the topic of my cartoon - is also putting a lot of pressure on the agricultural production. Looming shortage in the supply of rice could be a result of reduced granary areas. Subdivision development and banana plantation expansion that continued unabated imperils our food security.

For instance, after long years as rice farmer, my father-in-law turned over his 3-hectare ricefarm for a banana growing arrangement last year. His reason was that rice farming was becoming unprofitable for him while there are so much income opportunities with banana growership.

Lights Out! on March 29

From an email, I received this information:

On 29 March 2008 the Philippines will join countries around the world as we literally "turn the lights out" for Earth Hour - an event that will fuel awareness on climate change and prove that when the people of the world work together, they can make a difference in the fight against global warming. Earth Hour will take place throughout the Philippines from 8 to 9 in the evening on Saturday night, 29 March 2008. WWF invites you to participate by shutting off lights for 60 minutes, organizing your own "lights-out" event or by forwarding this message to your friends, workmates and family. Visit WWF Earth Hour at www.earthour.com.
Let’s join this campaign. Think globally, act locally. That’s it.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

PGMA on ZTE-NBN Controversy

At the height of the ZTE-NBN controversy (in my opinion the issue is dying down), newsreports had it that palace was or is doing everything to kill the issue. The cartoon was one of the renditions I drew when ZTE-NBN starwitness Jun Lozada started his crusade. I guess, the opinion that I tried to put across over Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's dilemma with the controversy was clear.

On Rice Shortage Issue

Rice is the staple food of the Filipino people and it is only but proper that our government considers this as a priority on top of other priorities. However, these past few days, the Department of Agriculture or DA raised the alarm over reported rice shortage and Secretary Arthur Yap even went on suggesting to cut in half the rice serving in restaurants as studies showed diners contributed to the anomalous rice wastage in the country for so long a time now while more Filipinos are facing hunger (12.2 million Filipinos according to some data). The suggestion is noble. In fact, the government should do more on this area – teaching all Filipinos to put a stop on throwaway mentality.

But GMA barked at it saying that there is no truth to it. There is no rice shortage. What’s the truth? Are we having rice shortage or not? Some say that it might be a mind conditioning for government’s rice importation. I don’t know. But this is policy is consistently met with criticisms from the farmer sector. THis would remind us of various government policies that are putting pressures on the agricultural sector and the farmers. The issue is political – and saying we have rice shortage is even more politically disastrous as this might create more political ruffles. GMA does not want that scenario to happen especially now that she is still facing the ZTE-NBN scam issue. Probably, lying about it is the best option for now.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Archbishop Rosales

During the heat stirred by the ZTE-NBN scam, Archbishop Gaudencio Rosales was grilled by the media on reports that in one of his meetings with GMA he asked her to resign. But Rosales denied this prompting me to render this cartoon. It was was published before the Edsa commemoration last February 25.

Side Trip 1. Sometime in the past, I saw on tv the special reports on individuals from some urban poor communities in Manila who sold their kidneys. For sure, extreme poverty pushed them to do it. But this exemplified the possibility of internal organ trading with “donors” who are willing to give out their internal organs for cash.

That is why some kidnappers might have shifted to this type of trading now victimizing children for their internal organs (http://peterahon.blogspot.com/2008/03/warning-organ-traffickers-new-modus.html). While we still have to hear from the police whether there is truth to the matter, I am in the opinion that this has to be taken seriously. The possibility is not remote. After all, this is a lucrative business that would attract criminals to try this business – commodification of life and messing up with the Creator of Life. Well, that is life. But all those who are involved in this grisly crime which has no place in the civilized world, should be dealt with the full extent of the law.

Side Trip 2. A friend of mine asked me to view her friend’s page with multiply that posted a video of a lady aspirant in the American Idol belting out the song Without You by Mariah Carey. Her version “Ken Lee” was apparently lifted from the song’s chorus “I can’t live…” As she renders her version, she murders every lyric of my favorite song that turned out to be so comical (
http://garit20.multiply.com/video/item/20/Ken_Lee_-_Bulgarian_Idol_).

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Political Killings

Last year, the Philippine government was hounded by the UN HR Report on alleged human rights abuses and summary executions. The reports mentioned some elements in the AFP as perpetrators. And as leader, GMA should have been sleepless over calls to stop political killings in the country as this editorial cartoons published with the Sun-Star Davao in 2007 tried to depict. I might be caustic or sarcastic then but GMA had to be sleepless on what to do on it.

BTW, if memory serves me right, somewhere in this blog I blurted out that the current senate blue ribbon inquiry on the ZTE-NBN scam showed us how thick-skinned those who are supposed to tell the truth can get. Instead of telling the truth, they told us lies. We were not born yesterday and people know who are telling the truth and who are not. Omerta – code of silence – sort of – as some political pundits would say. It’s a sin though not graver as telling profanities against the so-called Holy Spirit. This one is unforgivable – the former is.

On Roman Catholic Church’s New Sins

Another BTW. I was amazed or amused on the recent news on the RC’s declaration of additional sins in this world. I did not pay attention but I heard that environmental destruction, genetic engineering, pollution, drug abuse, graft and corruption were added as “new sins” people should know. Those were sins long before the church told us they are. Does its mean that before those who committed them before the declaration committed no sins at all? Common.

I believe that the Holy Bible has taken all areas in human behavior in relation to his conduct with God. No need for articulation that would only veer away from what is biblical truth as many so-called false prophets do with proclivity. All areas it covers only that it is a matter of seeing and knowing the truth – biblical truth. For instance, genetic engineering is tinkering with life but I am pretty sure nobody can build life the way life was formed eons ago. Humans are co-creators but not of life. After all, life is created long before this humanity started to emerge long time ago. With that, man can only be nearer to forming life by cloning. But as God? Gimme a break. Science is part of human endeavor with vision for the good and betterment of the humanity. That’s it and outside those spheres and church guidance, it would be a sin.

As with other forms of environmental destruction, pollution and global warming are sins for they would kill our next generations. Except for defense, killing is a sin. Drug abuse? It is same with drunkenness enabling some to commit more sins or sinful behaviors. But before anything else, the warning should be heard: adding to what has already been written is grave sin. Amen.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Dance with Spratlys Deal

When I read the blog of Madame Anita Sese, I could not help but salivated when I stumbled in one of her latest featured recipes Tilapias in Cocomilk. From the way it was presented and garnished, I would say that it was perfectly delicious. I would love also to see my favorite Hito cooked in the way Madame Sese (visit her blog to know more about what she is doing to our less privileged brothers/sisters: http://nitzkitchen.blogspot.com/) did to her ginataang Tilapia.

Davao City has joined the caravan for having food districts offering unique or exotic delicacies. One is in Los Amigos (Tugbok District) which has become famous todate for its Hito galore. If you go to the Philippine Eagle in Calinan from downtown, you would not miss Los Amigos for it is just along the way to one of the favorite destinations of foreign and local tourists in the city. Many times, I and my colleagues before would stop in Los Amigos to sate our craving for their deep-fried Hito delicacy. Forget the cholesterol for our appetite had no power then to resist this crunchy stuff. Eating it is one thing and drawing visual inspiration out of the face of the Hito is another - it reminds me of our corrupt government officials.


I must confess that I have this intense feeling to do a comeback to Los Amigos. That’s why I asked my colleague Dante Delima, who operates his Redzkie there – another hitoan – if he is available to welcome our gang of three (I, Carmelito Francisco and Jun Aparece a.k.a. Mr. John Apache). The last time I had tasted Hito was in January this year when I asked my younger brother to buy Hito which he bought from the flea market of Bankerohan at Php120. I heaved sigh knowing that last December 2007, I covered the actual harvest of the DAR-MinSSAD-sponsored Rice-Hito project in Dujali (Davao del Norte) where fresh catfish was sold at Php80.00 per kilo. The largest catch weighed 1.2 kg. But Hito lovers would recommend to buy 3 to 4 pieces a kilo – larger than that would have drab meat. Perhaps, it goes with the variety. Momentarily, however, let me believe in this advice as sound one.

I have yet to taste Hito in Cocomilk.

Oh, by the way, the editorial cartoon tries to depict the dangerous dance GMA is having with another issue that cropped up so recently. This is about the controversial deal with China on the much-debated claim on the Spratlys Island. With this, Senator Manny Villar said in effect GMA could possibly be impeached. Let us see.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Dangerous Fare

Next to the news on supposed mercury-contaminated fish coming from the waters of Davao Gulf which I also posted here, another dumbfounding news that hogged the headlines is on the study of Dr. Anthony Sales, a mycotoxicologist from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) saying that our local rice, especially brown rice, contains high levels of aflatoxins. The results of his study will be shared during the Mindanao Conference on Emerging Issues on Food Safety in one of the high-end hotels in Davao City on March 6-7, 2008.

Is this gospel truth? The news is a big blow or maybe to the brown rice consumers – especially those who believe in the health benefits they can get from eating brown rice instead of well-milled rice. Health buffs would recommend the eating of brown rice. In fact, there is so much hype about this stuff providing supposed benefits to cancer patients. But the twist - aflatoxins are also carcinogenic or cancer-causing. Sun-Star Davao quoted the expert saying that even if there is only 0.5 ppb, it will accumulate overtime, especially that rice is a staple in the Filipino’s diet.

SSD quoted him: in the worst case scenario, a person who consumes much rice with aflatoxins will develop chronic toxicity, which may result in liver cancer, if ingested, and lung cancer if inhaled. So not only through eating that you can get aflatoxins. Now our consumers especially those who have the habit of poking their noses on a handful of milled rice before buying it in the market should be careful.

From the http://www.aflatoxin.info, I culled this information:

"Aflatoxins are potent toxic, carcinogenic, mutagenic, immunosuppressive agents, produced as secondary metabolites by the fungus Aspergillus flavus and A. parasiticus on variety of food products. Among 18 different types of aflatoxins identified, major members are aflatoxin B1, B2, G1 and G2. Aflatoxin B1 (AFB1) is normally predominant in amount in cultures as well as in food products. Pure AFB1 is pale-white to yellow crystalline, odorless solid. Aflatoxins are soluble in methanol, chloroform, actone, acetonitrile. A. flavus typically produces AFB1 and AFB2, where as A. parasiticus produce AFG1 and AFG2 as well as AFB1 and AFB2. Four other aflatoxins M1, M2, B2A, G2A which may be produced in minor amounts were subsequently isolated from cultures of A. flavus and A. parasiticus. A number of closely related compounds namely aflatoxin GM1, parasiticol and aflatoxicol are also produced by A. flavus. Aflatoxin M1and M2 are major metabolites of aflatoxin B1 and B2 respectively, found in milk of animals that have consumed feed contaminated with aflatoxins."
Now look at this: We have for daily fare cooked rice with aflatoxins and fish contaminated with mercury. What we can do with this? There is a ray of hope though only when our farmers will improve the handling of rice production activities and sound agronomic practices, according to the expert. SSD further reported: Controlling levels of aflatoxin involves investment in knowledge on handling, as well as handling and storage equipment. Without political will, I doubt we can address this problem. More. I think we too have to study imported rice from, say, Thailand which also had aflatoxins contamination issue.

BTW. New friend in the blogosphere Pete Rahon posted my blog in his page. This gives me an opportunity to be read by his readers. Thanks Pete. Pete is an overseas Filipino worker who is also into serious blogging and vblogging. Aside from his kaleidoscopic blog Live Life! Love Life! (visit him at
http://peterahon.blogspot.com/), Pete tackles one of the most urgent and important issues confronting the Philippines – the health care situation with the on-going brain-drain. For instance, the flight of nurses and medical professionals has created a crisis in the health care side of the Filipino people and other issues relevant to our current situation. In fact, not so few cartoons I drew about brain-drain in the past. I will dump some of them here next time around. This reality stares us in the eye. And blame it to the continuing economic crisis the current situation offers to them down here. With Pete’s blog, you can look at the lighter side of this all as you travel with him into the journey of life and love.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Mercury-contaminated Fish

Here we go again! Recently, local papers bannered the supposed mercury-contaminated fishes from the Davao Gulf. When I was with an environmental group, in our journal we wrote about the possible impact of the small and large-scale mining operations in Davao del Norte’s hinterlands with their effluents were coming downstream affecting ricefarms, beaches and waters of Davao Gulf.

We, as fish-eating population in the region, would be exposed to the mercury poisoning. Same is true to beach goers as the shoreline here is host to a number of beach resorts frequented by local residents. Who doesn’t know about the health menace of mercury as experienced by Japan’s infamous Minimata Disease?

From the website (http://www.american.edu/TED/MINAMATA.HTM), I lifted this information:

Over 3,000 victims have been recognized as having "Minamata Disease". It has taken some of these people over thirty years to receive compensation for this inconceivable event. In 1993, nearly forty years later, the Japanese courts were still resolving suitable compensation for the victims. Many people have lost their lives, suffered from physical deformities, or have had to live with the physical and emotional pain of "Minamata Disease". This suffering is all a result of the very wrongful and negligent acts of the Chisso Corporation who dumped mercury into the sea water and poisoned the people of Japan.

Before we dealt with one of the serious concerns related to mercury contamination when some children in Apokon (Davao del Norte) were suspected to have been poisoned by mercury in 1997. That prompted concerned organizations to dig into the matter by sending medical experts. If memory serves me right, we had Dr. Nelia Maramba from Manila who came in to conduct medical examination on the Apokon children.

I was not able to follow what happened next but I think the alarm we raised before fell on deaf ears with the contamination continuously flowing into the beaches and waters of Davao Gulf.

Prices of Basic Commodities


These editorial cartoons were some of my renditions related to the issue of price of basic commodities which would ensue every new rounds of fuel price increases. To recoup with OPI, businesses would pass on the burden to the consumers which eventually bear the brunt of this entire domino effect.

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