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I realized two new things about two weekends ago – boredom makes you do unnecessary and stupid things and it is amusing and, at times, fulfilling to do these unnecessary and stupid things.

Case in point…

About two weeks ago, my dad was admitted at St. Luke’s in Quezon City for a pacemaker procedure. It was grueling, a week before, for everyone because of the complications of his heart problem prior to his procedure. So you could feel the relief after dad was wheeled in to the Cardiac Care Unit for observation and recovery. What followed after was a boring weekend at the hospital. It was so boring that the patient was twice as bored as we were.

So amid the silence, I was scanning my social media accounts when I happened to stumble on a news article about Robredo. In a nutshell, VP Robredo mentioned that “public officials should think before they speak”. I knew that the VP had, in many instances, failed to practice what she is preaching so I retweeted the article with the hashtag – #PracticeWhatYouPreach. That was the end of it or, so I thought.

Then something happened that caught me by surprise – a troll reacted to the retweet that I posted on my timeline. The troll was questioning my hashtag and encouraged me to “wake up to reality”. I retorted by citing one of the controversial speeches that she did early on in her Vice-Presidential career. What happened next was a funny and amusing exchange between me and the troll which ended with me citing situations to support my position and encouraging him/her to elevate his/her argument, and with him/her resorting to name calling because he/she cannot level up his/her argument or even come close to a respectable counter-proposition.

My friends and followers are accustomed to me posting my political thoughts on twitter and Facebook. There were times where I have had engagements with them where we share and discuss our thoughts – whether we agree or not on certain issues. Most of these engagements happen within the confines of direct messages with them and these exchanges end up amicably – agreeing on certain points and, at times, agreeing to disagree. These are all done in the context of respect for each other’s opinions.

But a troll is a totally different and amusing case. First and the most important thing to apply is to never take them seriously. You will end up embarrassing them and the troll resorting to name calling and petty threats because they cannot level up their arguments. In short, bawl ang pikon. You stay cool, you keep your arguments on the dot, and you simply have fun.

Based on my recent engagement with a troll, let me share with you some fun facts about online trolls.

Trolls do not think, they react.

Trolls react and that is all that they do. They respond based on a preset of emotions that they intend to defend. They argue based on this defense mechanism so even if your point is beneficial to their end, they see it as a negative. In short, they do not think before they “speak”. Their emotions are so high that their counter argument is a contradiction to the point that they are trying to defend.

In my case, my concluding point was to ask the troll blatantly, that with her disagreement to my hashtag, was she proposing that the VP should not follow her own words? If that was her point, then VP Leni would turn out to be a foolish politician who is only of words and not of action. I think that caught the troll off guard because in the end she never pursued her argument.

Trolls need to reboot.

I find it quite amusing that trolls have difficulty handling the continuity of the online debate. The debacle loses steam in such a short time because of the troll’s inability to support and counter arguments. Often, they come in and out of the thread with hours of a gap time. Trolls need to reboot, re-strategize, and refresh to get things going. So, expect their rebuttals, if there are any, in a matter of hours due because they attempt to think while you comfortably snooze.

Trolls will never stick to the argument.

Yes, they never do because they don’t understand the argument in the first place. Enough said.

Trolls equate decent arguments with intellectual arrogance.

This is the best way to spot a troll. Trolls accuse you of intellectual arrogance when you raise a valid point. They reduce arguments to mere petty socmed catfights of little relevance and substance. They cannot focus on the issue because they do not understand what is being discussed. They react based on emotions, nothing more. It’s like a high school kind of catfight, only it is being done virtually. Their arguments are loosely anchored on their preconceived stand points that are embedded in them from day one that they troll. So, when you raise your valid points, they resort to intellectual shaming to hide their inability to carry on with a decent socmed debate.

Trolls righteously uphold one and demonize the other.

Here is another way of spotting a troll – they reduce arguments to a fight between X and Y. They uphold one while they try to demonize the other even if your point of contention does not even touch on any of those parties. To the people behind these keyboards, it is all about putting their “leader/s” on the pedestal so anything that you say against their “lodi” is worth defending even if your argument does not mean any harm. In the end, they presume that you are with the other side and that they try to demonize the other side and include you in the pot.

Trolls will resort to name calling and petty threats.

So when trolls cannot carry a decent conversation on socmed, they will resort to name-calling and petty threats to try to heat up the situation. You will hear an unending list of cuss words and threats in an attempt to sway you from the real issue. They want a catfight so they go really low to make you emotional enough to get a reaction and not a valid point. Remember that they want a catfight. They are in the mud so they try to bring you down in the mud that they are in. If you keep your guard, you are bound to win their game.

Trolls leave in haste.

The funny thing about trolls is that when you have cornered them with your valid arguments, they make a quick run to the exit. After all their efforts to push and pull you in the mud with them, they leave in haste to save their asses from the embarrassment. Of course, they will try to paint their exit as triumphant. But if you look closely, they are actually licking their bloodied egos.

Engaging with trolls is interesting and amusing. I now completely understand why some celebrities and socmed personalities find themselves engaging in conversations with these kind of entities on the net. It is satisfying when you know that you totally slammed out your troll sending them home to recuperate from their wounded egos. It is not something though that I would recommend that you would do always. Like what I have said earlier, getting out of a boring situation is all about finding something to do. Unluckily for my troll, he/she crossed my path and I was not about to let the troll get away with it – not in my turf and not with my audience.

On a side note, a second troll came to the rescue but backed out after my first response to his/her calling out. The troll probably read the thread of the first attack and he/she probably knew that it was better to back off. And so, the troll did.


A kiss had social media abuzz this week. It was a week that had women groups rallying behind the perceived abuse despite the woman’s admittance that she was okay with that kiss. It was a week where moralist’s point of views was being forced down everyone’s throats and, if you take a different point of view, you are crucified by these so-called “saints”. It was a kiss that launched a hundred “saints” raining down from heaven to “win good from evil”. It was a week of contradictions.

The focus have now shifted to the word war between Mocha and Kris. It was initially a good run until the product plugging came in. At that point you know that you have been had. Fact – clickbait is real!

I made a choice not to comment on these issues, not because I don’t have a stand, but because I believe that people need to be more discerning with the issues and how they will take action on it. Often times, I felt the urge to strike back. I mean… I get it. You were disturbed, you felt disgusted, you felt humiliated, you felt abused, or what have you. I understand your opinion and I get how you perceive the incident. I totally respect that. BUT you don’t have to shove it down everyone’s throat as if your opinion and perceptions are THE absolute truth. We all have our own way of interpreting what happened and we should learn to respect how others perceive it. But then I chose to just keep my peace. I chose to choose my battles wisely and I think it did pay off after the Mocha-Kris tiff.

The exact reaction on social media was exactly how mass media wanted the population to react. The people behind the news know exactly how to tip some people off to the point that mass media becomes relevant. The people behind these firms put it in the news to get reactions because they know that as one reacts, a complete counter reaction would occur. In no time, you have more and more people reacting and sharing the post which translates to socmed interactions. More socmed interactions means more money from advertisers. In short, these mass media outlets set the fire and allowed the public to fan the flames while they sit back and enjoy revenues. Social media influencers know and understand this game.

The kissing incident was also a showcase of contradictions. Contradictions in a sense that we have seen people say one thing and act differently. Some people love to confine people in boxes of perception while refusing to be boxed by perceptions of by society. Yes, I believe that I have my own perceptions on how a high ranking official should act but should I allow myself to be governed by that perception. I placed my vote on PRRD because I believed that he can do the job, and not because he acts like a monarch. I know that he was a street-smart personality and that he lives outside the box of how I perceived elected officials should be before I even casted my vote. And please, it’s been years since he was elected from office. We should have accepted by now that he is beyond the norm that we are accustomed to so why do you keep confining him in the box. The kiss was between a fan and a “rockstar” President. It was consensual. End of story. Sadly, a few people whom I have seen their posts kept confining the President in their boxes of perception. Ironically, these are the same people who voice out their fight about not being placed in box of perceptions of society with their choices of occupation, gender, and political beliefs.

On a side note, if I were to choose between a rockstar President who gives a consensual smack to a lady in front of a crowd against a perceived well-mannered statesman who made advances behind a curtain to a person because he wanted something sexual, I would choose PRRD.

And let me be honest about it, a few of these people that I saw reacting to the incident was not standing up for what was morally right to be honest. They are up in arms because it was PRRD. It was not because it was inappropriate. It was because the consensual act had PRRD in the picture. Now if you want to push the claim that it was because you stand on what was morally right then why didn’t we have the very same reaction and probably worst when a Parish Priest was caught having sex with a minor in a motel in Rizal? Why weren’t these very same people up in arms and banging their pots loudly against a man who by perception and biblically mandated to stay celibate? If you claim to stand by what is morally right, your voice should have been louder back then than now, right? Interestingly, the church was silent on this kissing incident.

What is more disturbing to me was how a few Filipinos managed to make this kissing incident a national issue when we have more pressing issues that need our attention. I am amazed at how much energy is exhausted to create this kind of noise for a minor issue and yet you don’t hear a word from them on issues like dengvaxia, philhealth, etc. It is embarrassing that we love to flame the showbiz kind of issues.

But what is more ridiculous is how these same people get played by mass media over non-issue.

Now I am shutting up so you can kiss me.

Taking the train to and from work is not my usual routine. With the introduction of Grab and Uber in the market, it offered a more convenient and economical way to move around the city. I must say that I have become dependent on these TNVS. Getting a Grab ride has been difficult over the past few days after Uber took a bow from the market. The change had me looking for other alternative commuting options.

Today, I decided to take the train from Makati to Quezon City after finding it difficult to book a Grab ride because of the rush hour. Interestingly, apart from the usual pushing and shoving, the train ride was pretty pleasant. It is not as pleasant as when the MRT started its operations but it was pretty decent. I guess change has finally come for those taking the MRT. But that is not the point that I wanted to highlight in this blog.

I witnessed one of the most amazing street scene in Metro Manila – Filipinos lining up in an orderly fashion in boarding the MRT trains. It was not the usual chaotic scene of a sea of warm bodies crashing from all directions trying to get in the train. It did help that there was a strict security personnel who managed the commuters but everything was so surreal.

The only thought that flooded my mind… “kaya naman pala nating Pinoy na maging disiplinado sa sarili nating bayan”.

Filipinos have a knack for finding it difficult to follow rules and courtesies here in our own soil. Most of us think that we can get away with almost everything that we totally disregard rules. Interestingly when Filipinos find themselves in a foreign country with the same rules but stricter enforcement, they follow regulations as if their life depends on it. It speaks a lot about our nuances as Pinoys – we can understand and follow rules ONLY when it is strictly enforced and entail stiff penalties and punishments. The operative word is enforced.

So today, I opted to write down the effects on us and our society #KungDisiplinadoAngPinoy.

#KungDisiplinadoAngPinoy ay matututo tayo na magbigay respeto sa ating mga awtoridad at kapulisan.

We have laughed and scorned at our police force from reel to real. We have called them degrading names and phrases – pulpol, mga walang kwenta, etc. Why? Simply because we, Filipinos, think that there is always a way to go around and evade the law hence we think “creatively” when apprehended. We bribe them and we allow ourselves to be bribed by them to simply get away from our mistake. This behavior have relegated them to a position where we ridicule them.

But if we are disciplined then we would recognize and respect their authority. We would learn to respect that when we commit a violation we heed what is demanded by the law.

#KungDisiplinadoAngPinoy ay susunod tayo sa ating mga batas.

In conjunction with the first one, discipline would entail that we would recognize, uphold, and follow the law. We would recognize that to make our country better, we need to start the discipline within us and it starts with following the country’s laws and paying the correct taxes. Discipline is doing things right, as accorded by the law, even when no one is looking.

#KungDisiplinadoAngPinoy ay mababawasan ang traffic

All of us complain about the traffic. We complain about how undisciplined other drivers are and yet we forget our own behaviors and discipline when driving. Our undisciplined driving contribute to the mess that we have on the streets of Metro Manila. Keeping our cool while driving while obeying traffic rules and regulations will help ease our traffic woes. And yes, that goes for both public and private drivers.

#KungDisiplinadoAngPinoy ay mas gagaan ang ating araw-araw na pakikisalamuha sa ating mga kapawang Pilipino.

As I have said earlier, watching the orderly boarding of trains at Ayala Station was so surreal. It was far cry from the usual body slamming at the stations. If we keep this kind of discipline, we learn to respect each other enough that we can organize ourselves to get some order in public places like boarding public utility vehicles and even on working on our escalator etiquette. It all boils down to respecting each other enough for us to work together in orderly manner.

#KungDisiplinadoAngPinoy ay mababawasan ang kalat at basura sa ating paligid.

Most of our garbage woes are mainly driven by the irresponsible behaviors of our fellow Filipinos. How many times do we often see bus commuters leave their trash on the front pocket of their seats? How long will we tolerate smokers who throw their cigarette butts onto the streets instead of the garbage bins? If we just take on the discipline of properly disposing our trash, there will be a significant reduction of the amount of trash that we churn out. We become conscious on how we can reduce our trash output. Furthermore, it will also make us more responsible on how we dispose our trash. And it takes discipline to do this and to keep it.

Sa totoo lang, masayang isipin ang mga maliliit na pagbabago #KungDisiplinadoAngPinoy. If you think about it, these small incremental changes can bring bigger change to our country. The reality is that if we really want our country to move forward, we need to start the change from within us. And you can start by instilling the right disciplines that will helpmthe country move forward.

Here is the challenge, I started my first five ideas #KungDisiplinadoAngPinoy. I challenge you to make your own and share it with me and your social media accounts. Let us start sharing that positive vibes on social media by sharing possibilities #KungDisiplinadoAngPinoy.

Manila is hotter than usual. Apart from the usual sizzling heat of summer, the decision of the Supreme Court to oust Chief Justice Sereno and declare the position vacant added to the searing heat of the season. In a landmark decision of the Supreme Court, the judiciary body granted the quo warranto petition against the Sereno’s appointment with 8 justices voting in favor of the said petition.

As the news broke out, my social media accounts were abuzz by both those who were rejoicing with the decision and those that are agonizing with it. I saw opinions being shot left and right. In all honesty, I have kept my opinions on the issue to myself for the past months because I do not think my opinion, or anyone else’s, will matter. No amount of my interpretation of the law, and the others, will define the decision of the Supreme Court. The case is for the Highest Court to decide on.

The decision is out and I would have to say that I am relieved with the decision. I am confident with the Supreme Court’s decision.

As I have earlier pointed out, my stand on Sereno’s case is simple – she needs to be booted out of the office for her failure to file her SALN from her previous government employment as a professor of the University of the Philippines. The SALN is a vital government tool for its check and balances against corruption. It is mandated by the law that ALL government employees are to file their complete SALNs annually. The failure to file a government employee’s SALN, or even the incomplete declaration of assets and liabilities, merits dismissal from the office. We have had cases of government employees and officials who have been booted out of the office for their failure to make a complete declaration of the assets and liabilities. A court interpreter and a Chief Justice were booted out of the office for undeclared assets in their SALNs.

If undeclared assets in the SALN is a violation of the law which merits dismissal from the office, then why should we handle the case of non-submission differently. It is the one and the same. The former is an omission of an entry and the latter is the omission of the actual document. It is tantamount to declaring nothing which is against the law and merits the dismissal. Sereno has the burden of proof to show that she indeed filed her missing SALNs to the University of the Philippines. She had the opportunity to present these SALNs during the oral arguments in Baguio City but none were presented. Even in her subsequent talks and public speaking engagements, none of these documents were ever presented or even discussed. Until now, I am to believe that she did not file her SALNs during the years in question which is a violation of the law. And yes, it merits her dismissal from the service.

The question on whether the granting of the quo warranto petition was constitutional or not is a question that was answered when the decision came out today. The Supreme Court is the highest government body that we have installed to interpret the law for us. It is a collegiate body that votes on their decisions based on how they interpret the law. It is not governed by one person and its decision is arrived by a democratic vote by the justices. The Supreme Court is the final resort when it comes to the interpretation of the law. Its decision is with finality as decided by the majority of the justices of the Supreme Court.

The decision that came out proves that, as per the interpretation of the Supreme Court, the quo warranto was lawful and constitutional. In fact, majority of the justices voted affirmative to the three issues of the case – the granting of the quo warranto, whether the quo warranto is the proper remedy, and whether Sereno violated the Philippine Constitution for her failure to file her SALNs. The highest court of the land have spoken through their initial decision that there was no violation of the constitution. And the Supreme Court is THE government body to decide on its constitutionality and legality. That is their mandate.

The way I am looking at it is that the judiciary body is looking at cleaning up their own backyard rather than suffer the same fate and humiliation that they all had to go through during the impeachment of Corona. They did their job of sorting things out within the judiciary that serves within their mandate. Let us face it, impeachment is not a fight of legality or constitutionality. It is subjecting a public official to an arena of politics more than that of legality. Our senators will always use that arena to their benefit even if it means that evidence is in favor of the accused.

This is probably why some politicians are up in arms on the Supreme Court’s decision. It is as if their time under limelight was snuffed out by the justices. The impeachment court was supposed to be their venue of a grand show. One that is suppose to be similar to that of Former Chief Justice Corona’s but probably with more fireworks. It was their time to show that they yielded power. They were snuffed out of their opportunity for grandstanding.

Unfortunately, I believe the justices are smarter than that now. They acted on the quo warranto based on its legal merits which is a far better basis for Sereno’s expulsion rather than subjecting Sereno to a court that will only use her for their political gains. Sa totoo lang, ilan sa mga senador na mga yan ang maayos at tama ang kanilang mga SALN? I think that it was a wise move for the Supreme Court to work on its own backyard with its mandated legal parameters. By deciding as a collegiate body, they have actually showed their independence as a government branch. They used their mandate to correct themselves and they did not allow another government branch to use one of their peers as a stepping stone to further the careers of these politicians.

The position of the Chief Justice is a pivotal role in the Supreme Court. It is a place of integrity and honor. We need to put someone in the position that knows how to abide by the law. Unfortunately for Sereno, her unfiled SALNs is a grave misconduct under the law which merits her dismissal and, possibly, her disqualification from holding other public office. It is not enough to say that the Judicial and Bar Council waived the SALN provision during the application process. That is where JBC committed that integrity mistake for a judicial role that requires a law-abiding justice. By doing that, it is like my kid saying that it is alright to cheat in school because her teacher said so.

Welcome to the outside world, former Chief Justice Sereno!

To a lot of us, mobile service is life. It is OUR lifeline to everything – checking on our loved ones, fact checking “facts”, our “connection” to the world, and even our solution to boredom. It is a security blanket where we feel that we can “connect” to the world right at our fingertips.

But for our Filipino Ibatan brothers and sisters in Babuyan Claro, mobile service is a thing that they can only hope to have. Access to the internet is limited and connecting to the world through mobile calls is a thing for the imagination. Kids here grow up understanding the real value of communication – face-to-face interaction. Their only “connection” to the bigger world is radio and television.

But beyond the lack of mobile service in Babuyan Claro is a sad reality – the minimal access to basic government services that could significantly improve the lives of the locals in an island isolated by distance and the unforgiving waves of the Luzon Strait.

Babuyan Claro is not exactly everyone’s paradise and it is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Stepping on the island meant that you have successfully wrestled the waves of the unwelcoming waters that surround it. But its perceived isolation is not enough reason for this local community not to be given even a small attention by the government.

With a population of 1800, locals have minimal access to health facilities. A small clinic, managed by a nurse and with expired medicines, is the only semblance of a decent medical facility on the island. In fact, their tourism brochure informs tourists that they do not have any medical facility in case of emergencies. It is short of saying that you roam the island at your own risk. In emergency situations, one would have to take a 10-hour boat ride to Sta. Ana and a 3-hour road trip to Tugegarao. I asked our guide if Babuyan Claro, gets regular visits from government doctors. They are lucky to get at least a visit once a month. I presume that it is the same case as that of the other islands in Babuyan.

The case of Babuyan Claro is not an isolated case. It is happening in a lot of far-flung areas in the Philippines where the word “government” remains just a word, nothing more. I have seen the same case in Balabac, the southern end of Palawan. It was the very same reason that Karen Davila ranted her heart out on social media. There are a lot of municipalities in the country where they receive very minimal help from the government and most of them are left to fend for their own community.

Two things that the government should focus on is the locals’ access to proper healthcare and education. These two are fundamental areas that make a huge impact in far flung communities.

Access to medicines, vaccines, and regular visits by government doctors that ensure that health concerns are properly addressed is crucial in building a productive community. Government should require its scholars in medicine to practice their profession in these areas. At the very least, local governments should upskill community leaders and volunteers on Basic Life Support and First Aid for these locals to be able to act in case of emergencies. Unfortunately, a lot of these programs are sidelined by their respective LGUs with preference to other government programs that are of minimal use to the community.

Take the case of the road construction project in Babuyan Claro. Locals are happy with these developments because it is easier to go from one barangay to another or to their famed tourist spots. However, is this the right program to run in a local community where you can find expired medicines inside their clinic? Are roads more important against health services or the construction of a decent port when their “colong-colong”, their own version of a tricycle, can run through rough roads? I am not saying that they do not need roads. In fact, they do BUT the community has more pressing issues rather than being concerned with their internal connectivity. The LGU must be responsive to what the community needs. They need to listen to the community leaders.

One of my pick-up points during our Share-A-Smile Project was the aspiration of the community elders – they hope to send even just one of their students to pursue and finish college. They were asking us if it was possible for the group to help in this endeavor. The call for help rang through my mind as we gave out school supplies to elementary students. It made me think on who among them would be able to finish college and bring the sense of pride and hope in their community. I reckon that for most of these kids, it will be a long shot.

I share the same sentiments of the elders. I have always believed that education is the link between the now and the future. Their call was a call for one person to serve as a beacon of hope to the young ones in their community. They want to build a stronger community by empowering the young leaders of Babuyan Claro and they know that they need to start with one. The plea of the community elders is too big of an undertaking for the group but I would like to make the same appeal to ANYONE who can help. If you know someone or an institution that can help, please send me a message so we can make the plea a reality for the community of Babuyan Claro.

A lot of work needs to be done to address the government’s basic services in far-flung areas of the country. In fact, a lot of the government’s basic services needs to be put in place across the country. We have given more attention on the country’s growth areas that we have sidelined the needs of rural areas. The government needs to be responsive to the needs of the rural communities. That is one way to de-centralize Manila. I believe that the government needs to first focus on two things – health services and education. Proper health care make local communities more productive while access to education, until tertiary, give hope for a better future for the local community. Bottomline, we need the government to be more responsive to the needs of local communities.

I remember one of the volunteers mentioning to the others to pack the school supplies with love and with a wish that the recipient will be a doctor, a teacher, etc. I sincerely hope and wish for the same. I really hope that one or two of the recipients would become a teacher or a doctor who will return to Babuyan Claro to serve his or her own community.

It is official – the famous Boracay Island will temporarily shutdown on April 26 to begin a 6-month recovery and rehabilitation program. Major airlines have already announced flight cancellations and changes to allow its passengers to either refund or reroute their tickets. The premiere tourism icon of the Philippines is finally taking a much-needed breather after decades of abuse and neglect from locals, tourists, government officials, and business entities. The island will finally be able to “relax and unwind” in its very own white sand shorelines.

The decision to close down the island is an unpopular decision. It equates to billions of revenues for both the government and the private businesses in the island. The closure also means that the next 6 months would be a struggle for a lot of locals who have anchored their daily lives on the income that they get from tourists who visit the island. It is going to be a difficult process that the present administration is willing to take with the aim of translating this short-term hardship to long-term benefits for the locals of the island and for Filipinos.

Having traveled to some parts of the country, the case of Boracay is not an isolated case. It is a tourism problem that resonates to most local government units of tourist destinations – the popular, the off-beat, and the “rising stars”. The main problem that I see is that most LGUs do not have concrete tourism strategies for sustainable tourism. They focus on the thrill, excitement, and the opportunities presented by the interest given to their localities rather than developing a program that would involve their communities. Programs that would ensure that they are able to, not only maximize these tourism opportunities, but to also sustain it. Some localities were just simply taken off guard by the interest that they do not have the time and resources to equip their communities with the basic. Again, it all boils down to the responsiveness of the LGU to these changes.

The case of Boracay Island is a story of overdevelopment to the point that it has now affected the ecological balance of the country’s top destinations. The local government, lured by the prospect of more revenues, had given too much leeway to business establishments that would escalate to the abuse of the island’s ecosystem. Business proprietors, wanting to dip their hands on the expenditures of tourists, aggravated the situation by coming in to create new businesses that added to the congestion of the island. In the end, it will take a series of rains that brought flood to the island for us to realize that the Boracay is choking.

We have a number of destinations that are almost in the same state as that of Boracay. My recent trip to El Nido reminded me of Boracay as soon as I saw the huge crowd and the structures along Bacuit Bay. It was overwhelming. Restaurants and hotels are lined too close to the shore. It was too close that waves crash along the walls during high tide. Getting in and out of the bangka gives me a queasy feeling because I had to dip myself into the waters of the bay to get back to shore. With all the structures along the shoreline, it makes you wonder where the waste products from these establishments end up in. I have mentioned my thoughts to a couple of guides and they are still in the state of denial. They feel that they will not end up like Boracay because they believe that El Nido establishments are environmentally compliant. But I have also picked up a different story – the structures along the shoreline will be demolished as per our hotel receptionist. A recent check by government officials have given that recommendation. I just hope that they LGU and the community act on it now so as not to suffer the same fate of Boracay.

On the other side of the spectrum is the story of Karen Davila – destinations that were thrown into the limelight and were forced to “develop” to address the needs of a growing tourism market. The LGU and communities believe that they are ready for the influx of tourists because they have sufficient establishments for accommodations and restaurants. They measure their readiness based on the number hotels and restaurants in the area and the development of their port of entries. What they do not realize and what Karen Davila highlighted is that it goes beyond business establishments that cater to board and lodging. Imagine a place brimming with various accommodations and restaurants but its hospital facility is an empty shell. How do you expect to save a life of a tourist when the hospital is not even properly staffed and without available medicines? Beyond that is the question on what health services do locals get from their local government hospital in times of health distress. Let us pause and reflect on that.

In all the local travels that I took, I find the local government unit of Batanes as the most organized when we speak of tourism preparedness. The community is not only involved in the program but they are aware of how tourism affects the community. The guides are equipped and trained by the local government to respond to the needs of their guests. They are protected by the LGU from cheapskate tourists by standardizing tour rates. In the same way, that tourists are protected from being overcharged. Interestingly, the community is involved in the implementation of their programs and guidelines. I remember that on our last day we were not allowed to rent bicycles because of an accident the day before. The roads were slippery roads due to the rains and one of the tourists had an accident. As a result, bike rentals were not allowed.

Our guide even shared that talks on the entry of Cebu Pacific in their market (It was still under talks back then.) was received with apprehension by the community. They feel that they were not ready for the additional tourist traffic that the airline will bring in. They understand that it would bring more opportunities for them but they also understand that their community may not be able to adequately attend to the demands of their guests. While most LGUs and communities welcome the prospect of more money being brought in, the community is trying to find ways to balance its negative effects.

The closure of Boracay and Karen Davila’s socmed rant should serve as an eye opener for all of us. Yes, there is money in tourism but money is not the end game of it all. Local government units should be at the forefront in developing and implementing a sustainable tourism program that would best serve the interest of the communities that they serve. The temporary closure of Boracay will affect a lot of businesses and the livelihood of locals. The next 6 months will be difficult but it is necessary. It is better to take in the short-term pain now in exchange for their long-term gain. I also hope that the case of Boracay should serve as a lesson to its locals, and even us, that we should choose leaders who put interest of the people first rather than their personal gain.

Lahat tayo nakasubok ng magMRT. Naaalala ko pa noong mga panahon ni PGMA, maayos ang pagpapatakbo nito. Ito ang sinasakyan ko papasok sa opisina sa Ortigas at kapag pauwi sa QC. Maayos, may malamig na aircon, at higit sa lahat nakakapasok at nakakauwi ako ng walang kaba na baka maglakad ako sa riles. Nakakalungkot isipin na sa mga nagdaang taon, pinabayaan ang MRT na naging dahilan para sa unti-unting pagkasira nito. Ngayon hindi mo lamang kelangan makipaglaban para makasakay pagkat naroon na din ang kaba na baka sa huli, ang pakikipagbakbakan mo sa pagsakay ng tren ay mauwi din sa wala dahil maglalakad ka din sa riles.

Nitong mga nagdaang linggo ay nasubukan kong makasakay sa MRT. Masasabi ko na totoong ang pagsakay nito ay mistulang isang pakikibaka. Tuturuan ka nito na ano man ang gawin mo bilang oposisyon kung ang mas nakararami ay kasama sa iisang daloy… pasok ka pa rin sa loob ng bagon. Yan ang katotohanan ng demokrasya.

May mga ilang mga eksena na nakakatawa sa MRT. Tulad na lang sa pagpasok sa tren. Hanggang ngayon hindi ko mawari kung bakit kelangan makipagunahan pa rin kahit may pila naman. Nasa hulihan ng pila pero nung magbukas ang pinto ng bagon ay biglang nakipagunahan at brasuhan papasok. Ang mas nakakatawa pa dito ay ito din yung tao na aaray at magrereklamo kasi naiipit siya ng mga taong inunahan niya nung nagsasara ang pinto ng tren. Minsan ang sarap pagsabihan ang mga ganitong mga tao… huwag maging parang si de Lima na nung nambrabraso siya kay PGMA ay ubod ng tapang kahit mali ang pinaninindigan ngunit nung siya na ang naiipit ay biglang parang akala mo ay isang kawawa at aping-aping tupa. Tandaan… “you should be able to eat what you can dish out.”

Nariyan din yung mga taong hindi marunong magbigay daan sa mga bumababa habang sila ay nakatayo sa loob ng bagon at nasa tapat ng pinto. At hindi lang basta nasa tapat, sisiguraduhin pa nila na nasa gitna sila ng lagusan. Kaya’t kadalasan ay nababangga sila at natutulak ng mga taong nagmamadaling bumaba mula sa kaliwa’t kanan. Sila itong mga naninidigan na ang dapat magadjust ay yung mga pababa. Pero sa lahat ng banggaan at pambabalyang matatanggap niya, sila pa itong inis na inis dahil ayaw nilang natatamaan sila ng mga taong bumababa. Sila pa itong parang mga biktima at pilit na kumukuha ng simpatiya, e nanindigan siyang tatayo siya sa kinaroroonan niya. Para silang mga ilang kilalang Socmed personalities. Magpapahayag ng kanilang pagbabatikos o paninindigan ngunit hindi sila sang-ayon na sila ay babatikusin sa kanilang paninidigan. Simple lang naman yan kung tatayo ka at maninindigan ay dapat asahan mo na may kakabig pabalik sayo kaya’t huwag magpanggap na parang biktima. Kung sinigawan mo ng panget, asahan mo ng sisigawan ka ng “mas panget” lalo na kung kalaunan ay may bahid ito ng katotohanan.

Siyempre hindi naman lahat ng tao ay tulad ng una kong nabanggit. Meron naman mga taong yung kusang lalabas para magparaya sa mga bumababa. At dito makikita natin ang isa pang uri ng mga taong sumasakay sa MRT – ang mga mapagsamantala. Ito yung mga taong nakapila para makasakay sa tren pero makikipagunahan sa mga nagparaya sa mga bumababa. Hindi ba dapat yung mga nagpadaan sa mga bumababa ang unang sasakay pabalik ng bagon bago yung mga sasakay pa lang? Pero sa mga taong tulad nito, wala silang pakialam. Pagnakakita ng pagkakataon, agad na sasakay. Sa huli ang nakikipagsisikan pasakay ng tren ay yung mga kanina pa nakasakay. Tapos pagdating sa loob, sila ay nagmamaang-maangan kahit pinagtitinginan na ng mga naisahan. Malupit di ba? Para silang karamihan sa ating mga opisyales ng gobyerno. Naghihintay ng pagkakataon makasakay sa bagon. Pagnakakuha ng tiempo, sila pa ang unang sasakay at magtatanga-tangahan. Ganyan talaga pag may mga ambisyon.

Speaking of pagkakataon, siyempre nariyan din ang mga taong mapagsamantala. Sa sobrang sikip ng MRT, nakikitang oportunidad ito ng mga masasamang loob para makapagnakaw. Habang abala ang mga nakasakay sa paghahanap ng maliit na espasyo ay naghahanap din ang mga kamay ng magnanakaw ng madudukot. Habang abala ang nakararami kung paano makakapasok at makakauwi sa tamang oras ay may ilan naman na naghahanap ng aabalahin. Ganyan din ang ilan sa ating mga opisyales sa gobyerno. Habang ang karamihan ng Pilipino ay nagkukumahog magtrabaho, ang ilan sa mga politiko natin ay nagkukumahog din na magnakaw sa ating kaban ng bayan. Ito ay ang mga opisyales na akala mo kung sinong makangiti at makapagsalita ng maayos na pawang kakampi ng taong bayan. Pero ang totoo, habang nililinlang nila tayo sa kanilang mga salita at “mabuting hangarin” daw para sa bayan ay siya naman din pagkurakot nila ng pera mula sa atin. Sana nga mahuli na ang mga ito ng magkaalaman na.

Iba’t-ibang eksena sa MRT na minsan ay nakakatuwa pero mas nakakainis sa katagalan. Maayos na din at may ilang linggo nang wala masyadong abala ang serbisyo ng tren. Sana nga ito na ang simula ng panunumbalik ng MRT sa tamang pagseserbisyo para sa ikagiginhawa ng lahat ng gumagamit nito. Ako man ay hindi magaatubiling gamitin ito basta’t maayos ang serbisyo. Nararapat munang ayusin ito at saka na alamin kung sino ang may responsibilidad sa pagkakasira nito. “First things first”, ika nga. Pero sa ngayon, konting tiis muna. I-enjoy natin ang mga eksenang ito sa araw-araw na pakikibaka sa pagsakay ng MRT. Napagisip-isip ko… buti na lang bawal magsakay ng hayop sa MRT dahil kung hindi isang eksena nanaman ito sa loob ng bagon na pag-uusapan at kaiinisan tulad ng isang #trililing sa senado na walang ginawa kundi kumahol lamang.

Ikaw, anong #EksenangMRT mo?