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Hodgepodge 1: My Last Blog Before I Hibernate

The tagline should have been- “My Last Blog Before I Aestivate”.

Hibernate is to Winter as Aestivate/Estivate is to Summer.

There’s no winter in the Philippines, just summer and rainy season.  So, why Hibernate not Aestivate?

  1. The word “hibernate” has just earned great popularity among the Filipinos as to mean- to opt not to be in the limelight or in the circulation, to hide, to ____.
  2. Aestivate sounds like masturbate.
  3. It’s getting colder and colder as if the Philippines will have its complete cycle of seasons very soon and only until then it’s not politically correct to use hibernate. (not to mention the office aircon temperature reading of  17°C)

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New Year’s Resolution

Making a list of New Year’s Resolution items is as easy as making a statement like this- “I will not smoke!”, but fulfilling the same is not at all that easy.  They say promises are made to be broken. So it’s better not to promise anything. Just try to make a change with all your might without the strings attached.

Be positive always. There are a lot of self-help books. Some tells that- If you are ugly, tell yourself that “I am not ugly!” every time the need to tell it arises. So if the apple of your eye doesn’t even make a glance of you. Don’t think it is because you are ugly. Tell yourself you are not ugly. You are not ugly. You are not ugly. You are not ugly. You are not ugly. You are not ugly. You are not ugly…

Self-help books do not help at all. It’s true.

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Brain Drain

I happened to read this article:

No Free Lunch
Of stolen cell phones

By Cielito Habito
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:15:00 01/11/2011

MY SON got robbed of his cell phone last week. It would have been just another incident we would have charged to experience, if not for two things. One, it was in full view of other passengers that he was brazenly accosted by three men on a bus, who forcibly took off his shoes and socks (apparently to prevent him from running after them later) while another pulled his phone from his pocket. And it was clear they only wanted his cell phone, as they didn’t bother with his wallet nor his backpack, where he had even more valuables (thank God). What pains him is that not a single person on the bus lifted a finger to help in spite of his shouts of “Magnanakaw, magnanakaw!” It is this public indifference that has emboldened such criminals to be so daring and brazen about their acts.

My son dutifully went to the nearest police station, and it took him up to the wee hours to file a proper report on the incident. When I asked him later why he even bothered to do so, he told me, “Because it’s the right thing to do.” That earned him my quiet admiration and pride. I wish all of us were like him.

He was told then by the policemen on duty that even if they manage to catch the thieves, they would go scot free because victims opt not to press charges once confronted with the apprehended thieves, especially upon recovering their phones from the culprits. This makes one wonder why such people cannot stay behind bars even if victims do not press charges directly, when they are clearly a menace to public safety. Isn’t this one reason we have a Public Attorney’s Office? It’s a problem for our legal system to address, as it gives us yet another reason to feel that our legal and justice system is much too “criminal-friendly.”

The second reason we just couldn’t let the incident pass is that all three of my children who work in the city have lost their cell phones to thieves in the last few weeks alone. And for each one, it has not been their first experience with having their phone stolen from their purse or pocket. The law of probabilities suggests to me that if this could happen so frequently within the same family in so short a time, then cell-phone theft must already be so extremely rampant that the likelihood that it could happen to anybody at any time is rather high.

The problem, it seems to me, is that it has become so easy for thieves to turn a stolen phone into cash, notwithstanding the electronic features in these phones that supposedly make it possible for the authorities to disable the handset. We are told that a phone can be “blacklisted” and we are made to understand that this will render it unusable if we report the phone’s IMEI number, its distinctive electronic fingerprint, to the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC). But few cell-phone theft victims probably do so anyway, for a number of reasons I can think of. First, it’s not unlikely that they have lost or misplaced the box the phone came in that bears that all-important number. While I never throw away the boxes that my cell phones come in, I find that Murphy’s Law prevails every time: you can never find them once you need them.

Second, even if people have the IMEI number, they may feel that reporting it is too much of a hassle to be worth the effort, especially with the doubt that such disabling by the NTC would really happen (I’d love to hear from someone out there who has confirmed first-hand that such handset disabling really works). I discovered myself how frustrating and even pointless it could be just to attempt having a stolen phone blacklisted. My telecom provider (or at least its call center agent I talked to) had so much difficulty trying to confirm that the IMEI number I gave him was really mine that I gave up in utter exasperation after nearly half an hour on the phone. Worse, I accidentally discovered within the course of the conversation that he actually never even bothered to note down the 15-digit IMEI number the first time he made me carefully dictate it to him! Had I not asked more questions and patiently stayed on the line to get answers, the conversation could have ended with the agent telling me that they would file the report, and that would have been the end of it. I was to realize later that had I not pursued it, this agent was really just humoring me and could never have reported my IMEI number to the authorities, because he never even noted it down in the first place! (I hope this is an isolated experience, but I could give Globe details if they care to check on it.)

But let’s assume that the report is indeed filed with the NTC, and the NTC indeed goes on and disables the phone. Still, the thief or the willing buyer can apparently simply go to Greenhills or any other place with cell-phone repair/hacking shops to “unlock” or even re-enable a disabled phone. Isn’t there a law against this? Can’t a proper government agency crack down on the illicit practice? And given the flourishing market for used (including stolen) cell phones, I can see it would be extremely difficult to control this, but it would help for government to show that it is at least trying to curb the problem.

So is the ultimate solution to have all cell phones registered, whether prepaid or postpaid? Herein lies yet another hot policy debate that I cannot dwell on here. Meanwhile, cell-phone thieves will continue having free lunches (and much more) at everyone else’s expense—and get more and more brazen about it. And my son now hates our country so much he is determined to seek his career overseas.

Hold on to your pockets. You could be the next victim.

***Aselpunzalan’s Annotations***

Habito earned my sympathy through this unlucky experience of his son.

He even earned my empathy when he enumerated the indifference and the insensitivity of fellow Filipinos in case like this.

He even put me in his shoes when he enumerated the what-must-have-done’s  and the  what-to-do’s in case like this.

But he got into my nerves when he added: “And my son now hates our country so much he is determined to seek his career overseas.” This statement made me decide to repost this

Brain Drain

(Editorial Proper, The Sphere, the Official Student Publication of San Pedro College of Business Administration, October 2004)

The exodus of Filipino workers can be traced from the days of yore. But it is far more remarkable now due to the economic crisis the country is facing. The engineers, teachers and nurses among others, looking for greener pasture abroad cannot be blamed. However, such phenomenon is tantamount to more serious catastrophe called Brain Drain.

Brain Drain is a practice by which those groups of people who have the “brain” flee from an unsatisfactory place in  search for a career move leaving the place behind drained, with mediocre or worse “brainless” ones remaining.

The migrants have the point. They can earn somewhere out there a thousandfold more than they can do here. There are more job opportunities, better working condition. lower cost of living and higher quality of life overseas. What is being left is a stagnant community- hospitals with less expertise, status-quo technologies and schools devoid of excellence, so to speak.

We will be lucky enough if the few good ones will remain to stay for good, for the sake of the country or for any other reasons the may have.. They are the ones who, in spite of discouraging environment are expected to initiate the economic and social revolution. Though ironic as it may seem, they are the persons looked up to to to trigger the betterment of a country that had never been good to them.

And this calls for another action in unison. The government should take the part of improving our economy and maintaining peace and order so as to minimize if not to annihilate the escapade.  Moreover, it must support its potential human resources. Its constituents in return must play the role of citizens responsible enough to start the improvement within themselves and to generate the osmosis of economic and social metamorphosis.

*tsk, better said than done.

Thanks everybody. Fell free to cast your sharp blabber blades. This is all for now.  More hodgepodge to come.

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