Tuesday, July 28, 2009

State of the Hungry

Last night's HBO movie PU-239 begins with the following joke about Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev’s program of economic reform and restructuring:

Two dogs meet on the street in Moscow. The first dog says, "How are things different for you with Perestroika?" The second dog says, "Well, the chain is still too short, and the food dish is still too far away...but now we are allowed to bark as much as we want."
President GMA's SONA 2009 is impressive, and looks like a sure winner - at least for an oratorical contest.

A sampler from GMA's SONA:

"The next generation will also benefit from our lower public debt to GDP ratio. It declined from 78% in 2000 to 55% in 2008. We cut in half the debt of government corporations from 15% to 7. Likewise foreign debt from 73% to 32%....Since then, our economy has posted uninterrupted growth for 33 quarters; more than doubled its size from $76 billion to $186 billion. The average GDP growth from 2001 to the first quarter of 2009 is the highest in 43 years...Our administration, with the highest average rate of growth, recording multiple increases in investments, with the largest job creation in history, and which gets a credit upgrade at the height of a world recession, must be doing something right, even if some of those cocooned in corporate privilege refuse to recognize it....Governance, however, is not about looking back and getting even. It is about looking forward and giving more—to the people who gave us the greatest, hardest gift of all: the care of a country."

CBCP president Angel Lagdameo however, is not impressed:

“The state of the nation should also be looked at from the experiences and eyes of the remaining millions who are still suffering from hunger, illiteracy, unemployment, homelessness and sickness. This would balance the picture. They were outside the Sona site,...Arroyo spoke of macro-level statistics which most do not understand.".

Incidentally, on the day that President GMA delivered her ninth (and last?) SONA, the SWS releases new and most recent data on their hunger survey.

* Second Quarter 2009 Social Weather Survey:
* Hunger rises to 20.3% of families;
* Moderate Hunger is 16.0%, Severe Hunger is 4.3%

The Second Quarter 2009 Social Weather Survey, fielded over June 19-22, 2009, found the proportion of families experiencing involuntary hunger at least once in the past three months rising to 20.3% or an estimated 3.7 million families, from 15.5% or an estimated 2.9 million families in the previous quarter.

The new Hunger figure is just 3 points lower than the record-high 23.7% (or estimated 4.3 million families) in December 2008, and is 8 points above the ten-year average of 12.8%.

Hunger has consistently been in double-digits for five years, since June 2004.

The SWS measure of Hunger refers to involuntary suffering because the respondents answer a survey question that specifies hunger due to lack of anything to eat.

It is ironic that on the day the president talked about glowing achievements in the economy and welfare of the people, the people themselves spoke and said hunger rose to 20.3% -- just 3 points lower than the all-time record high.

Still, the masses suffering from involuntary hunger can perhaps bark all they want. Not too loudly I suppose, lest they involuntarily disappear.


Will Obama wipe out on health care?
Looks like Obama is having some trouble having his pet health care program passed.
Here are some bits and pieces of the bill I caught on the comment thread here.

• Page 341: Government has authority to disqualify Medicare Advantage Plans, HMOs, etc.
• Page 354: Government will restrict enrollment of SPECIAL NEEDS individuals.
• Page 379: More bureaucracy: Telehealth Advisory Committee (healthcare by phone).
• Page 425: More bureaucracy: Advance Care Planning Consult: Senior Citizens, assisted suicide, euthanasia?
• Page 425: Government will instruct and consult regarding living wills, durable powers of attorney, etc. Mandatory. Appears to lock in estate taxes ahead of time.
• Page 425: Goverment provides approved list of end-of-life resources, guiding you in death.
• Page 427: Government mandates program that orders end-of-life treatment; government dictates how your life ends.
• Page 429: Advance Care Planning Consult will be used to dictate treatment as patient's health deteriorates. This can include an ORDER for end-of-life plans. An ORDER from the GOVERNMENT.
• Page 430: Government will decide what level of treatments you may have at end-of-life.
• Page 469: Community-based Home Medical Services: more payoffs for ACORN.
• Page 472: Payments to Community-based organizations: more payoffs for ACORN.
• Page 489: Government will cover marriage and family therapy. Government intervenes in your marriage.
• Page 494: Government will cover mental health services: defining, creating and rationing those services.
• Page 149: Any employer with a payroll of $400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays an 8% tax on payroll
• Page 150: Any employer with a payroll of $250K-400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays a 2 to 6% tax on payroll
• Page 167: Any individual who doesnt' have acceptable healthcare (according to the government) will be taxed 2.5% of income.
• Page 170: Any NON-RESIDENT alien is exempt from individual taxes (Americans will pay for them).
• Page 195: Officers and employees of Government Healthcare Bureaucracy will have access to ALL American financial and personal records.
• Page 203: "The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax." Yes, it really says that.
• Page 239: Bill will reduce physician services for Medicaid. Seniors and the poor most affected.
• Page 241: Doctors: no matter what speciality you have, you'll all be paid the same (thanks, AMA!)
• Page 253: Government sets value of doctors' time, their professional judgment, etc.
• Page 265: Government mandates and controls productivity for private healthcare industries.
• Page 268: Government regulates rental and purchase of power-driven wheelchairs.
• Page 272: Cancer patients: welcome to the wonderful world of rationing!
• Page 280: Hospitals will be penalized for what the government deems preventable re-admissions.
• Page 298: Doctors: if you treat a patient during an initial admission that results in a readmission, you will be penalized by the government.
• Page 317: Doctors: you are now prohibited for owning and investing in healthcare companies!
• Page 318: Prohibition on hospital expansion. Hospitals cannot expand without government approval.
• Page 321: Hospital expansion hinges on "community" input: in other words, yet another payoff for ACORN.
Page 335: Government mandates establishment of outcome-based measures: i.e., rationing.

full text here.

Note: I highlighted some provisions above that really appears astounding. It seems the bill is sending a blunt message to elderly citizens to essentially "drop dead".
Of course there is also the killer question: Will ObamaCare use taxpayer money to fund abortions?

Meanwhile, President Obama steps up the theatrics, or rather, the rhetorics:

“Let me be clear: if we do not control these costs, we will not be able to control our deficit. If we do not reform health care. . . 14,000 Americans will continue to lose their health insurance every single day. These are the stakes of the debate we’re having right now.”.


"I have also pledged that health insurance reform will not add to our deficit over the next decade, and I mean it."


"Going to the moon was controversial. But at some point, if we're going to move this country forward we can't be afraid to change, especially a system that we know is broken. We've got to get it done and we've got to get it done soon."

Wow! (insert thunderous applause here). 1,018 pages of the bill reduced to nice sounding, oh so compassionate, feel good-and-great sound bites. The way Obama speaks, he sounds like he is still trumpeting on the campaign trail. If it’s so simple and no-brainer convincing, why isn't Congress and the general American public rushing to support the bill?

Well, here's a FACT CHECK from AP which says:
"Obama's Health Care Principles Somewhat At Odds With The Details In Front Of Him"


Monday, July 27, 2009

Violation and betrayal

32,617 pass nursing licensure exams

Congratulations to the new nurses.
We hope and pray that you wouldn't come into a situation where you will be forced to assist in an abortion.


"It felt like a horror film unfolding," said Catherina Cenzon-DeCarlo, 35, who claims she has had gruesome nightmares and hasn't been able to sleep since the May 24 incident.

The married mother of a year-old baby was 30 minutes into her early-morning shift when she realized she had been assigned to an abortion. She begged her supervisor to find a replacement nurse for the procedure. The hospital had a six-hour window to find a fill-in, the suit says.

Bosses told the weeping Cenzon-DeCarlo the patient was 22 weeks into her pregnancy and had preeclampsia, a condition marked by high blood pressure that can lead to seizures or death if left untreated.

The supervisor "claimed that the mother could die if [Cenzon-DeCarlo] did not assist in the abortion."

But the nurse, the niece of a Filipino bishop, contends that the patient's life was not in danger. She argued that the patient was not even on magnesium therapy, a common treatment for preeclampsia, and did not have problems indicating an emergency.

Her pleas were rejected, and instead she was threatened with career-ending charges of insubordination and patient abandonment, according to the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Brooklyn federal court.

Feeling threatened, Cenzon-DeCarlo assisted in the procedure.

She said she later learned that the hospital's own records deemed the procedure "Category II," which is not considered immediately life threatening.

"I felt violated and betrayed," she recalled. "I couldn't believe that this could happen."

True enough, our poor kababayan should have enough reason to feel violated and betrayed.

May justice stand for her. She will need prayers.

Likewise for the aborted child who suffered the most violation and betrayal.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

No gift is too small

July 26, 2009
17th Sunday in Ordinary time

John 6:1-15

...Then one of Jesus' disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said, "There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for many?"...
Have you ever wondered about that boy who had 5 loaves of bread and two fish?

The boy looked in his lunchbox at the little that he had
He wasn't sure what good it'd do, there were thousands to be fed

But he saw the twinkling eyes of Jesus
The kindness in His smile
And the boy cried out
With the trust of a child
He said:

"Take my five loaves and two fishes
Do with it as you will
I surrender
Take my fears and my inhibitions
All my burdens, my ambitions
You can use it all to feed them all"

No gift is ever enough, until you give it away.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Of angels and hope

I scan the headers of local and international news from my RSS news feed reader. I was trying to browse for some interesting news bits. Well, there is the eclipse. Ho-hum, move on, move on...After a while, it gets really depressing. Bombings, more bombings, floods, more swine flu deaths, a chopper crash, torture investigations, killings, more killings, terrorism, Michael Jackson (still?), Obamacare (what??), politics, and more politics. Then I come across this uplifting news item from CNN.

Strangers saved life of boy trapped in burning SUV
(CNN) -- The off-duty firefighters who rushed into a burning SUV and cut a 4-year-old boy out of the seatbelt saved his life, the boy's doctor said during a press conference Tuesday in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The depth of the boy's burns "indicates to me this was a very hot fire, and he was in close contact with it," pediatric surgeon David Gourlay said. "These firefighters were clearly heroic and saved D.J.'s life."

D.J. Harper is in serious but stable condition with second- and third-degree burns on his scalp, face, back and arms, Gourlay said.

But the little boy is expected to make a full recovery thanks to a group of strangers that came to his rescue. The onlookers helped a woman and girl from their fiery SUV before off-duty firefighters cut a seatbelt to free D.J. in a harrowing rescue attempt a neighbor captured on video...
At a news conference Tuesday at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, D.J.'s father, James Harper, struggled to contain his emotion as he thanked those who helped save his son.

"I'm sorry, I'm trying to hold it together, but it's my little boy," he said. "I just want to thank everybody, the citizens of Milwaukee, for helping us."

"There are angels all around us."

You bet.

And may I add: there is hope in this world. Not the kind of hope that Obama says, but hope that is real.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Giving birth at 100?

Why not?

Just as I thought in my
previous post, the issue of a 66 year-old giving birth via IVF then dying 3 years later would raise many questions.
CNN now asks among others: Should you get pregnant if you're 50 or older? (H/T CMR)
Of course the answer to the basic question for Catholics is definitively decided when it comes to the acceptability of In Vitrio Fertilization (IVF).
Donum Vitae and Dignitas Personae cannot be more explicit in its teaching.

In the CNN column, Dr. John Jain, a physician at the Santa Monica (California) Fertility Clinic tries to justify:
"The 40 and 45-year-old of today is not the 40-year-old of the past; the 50-year-old [today] is not the same of the past,"

If so, why do they even discuss an age limit? If the possibilities of science are endless and unrestricted, then the talk about regulating the age of women desiring to give birth via IVF is irrelevant. Who knows if females (make that males, or even animals!) with the aid of science can carry IVF embryos to term at age 100++ in the near future? A true prochoice advocate should have no qualms in this respect, otherwise they would only be contradicting their own purely scientific, amoral, secular, right-to-my-own-body, its-my-life-my-choice worldview. It is also astonishing that the entire article never mentions the need for a father, or even remotely a father-figure. Along the prochoice line, anyone should have the right to either abort or manufacture human beings at will as far as science permits.

But of course science does not understand the concept of family, which has kept civilizaton going for ages on end, and its impact on the future. The very future of humanity, as Pope John Paul II says. And it is being attacked.

I think even George Lucas had an inkling.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Odds and Ends - 7/16

Only 7 solons can join Arroyo US trip

MANILA, Philippines—Speaker Prospero Nograles on Wednesday said only seven congressmen could join President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in her trip to the United States for a meeting with President Barack Obama end of this month.

Only 7? 100 solons were jostling to tag along. The way I see it, seven congressmen is a tad too much already. And what for? Kodakan?
SC approves recount for Pampanga governorship

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court has given the green light to a recount of votes for the 2007 Pampanga gubernatorial race, nine months before new elections are held.

I am told a recount would take at least ten months.
Oldest woman to give birth dies, leaving twins

MADRID - She devoted years to caring for her mother, who died at age 101. Then Maria del Carmen Bousada embarked on a quest to become a mom herself. She lied to a California fertility clinic to skirt its age limit, and later pointed to her mother's longevity as a reason to expect she'd be around to care for her kids.

At age 66 she had twins, becoming the world's oldest new mom - and raising questions about maternity so late in life. Now she is dead at age 69, leaving behind boys not yet 3.

Yes - raising questions about maternity so late in life. But that's not the only questions it raises.

What in the World Are You Doing?

What in the World Are You Doing?
by Chris Widener
(excerpted from Jim Rohn's Twelfth Pillar of Success: Legacy, Part Three of the Jim Rohn One-Year Success Plan)

Let's talk about leaving an impact legacy. "What is an impact legacy?" you may ask. It is how you impact people and the world around you. You see, many people glide through life and do not make much of an impact. that is unfortunate. Others, though, those driven by a purpose and passion for living, are continually making the world a better place and making an impact wherever they go. that's what I believe you want to do.

In order to help you reflect on this, I want to ask you a question: What in the world are you doing?

Here is the typical life-typical, though not everybody does it this way. But for the most part, people's lives generally go something like this:

You're born
You eat and sleep
You play with toys
You go to school
You play Little League
You go to school
You leave high school
You go to more school, but you pay for it now
You get a job
You get married
You buy a house
You have kids
You watch your kids eat, sleep, play and go to school
You work, work, and work
You retire
You die

That's the basic life, isn't it? I know there is more to it, but that is about it for most people.

Here is that question again: What in the world are you doing?

I mean, what are you doing besides the typical "enjoying yourself while you are waiting to die" scenario? What kind of impact are you making?

What I believe sets the successful apart is that they don't just live the average life. They don't just pass time. They make an impact. They have something compelling in their life that drives them-something that gives them an answer when they are asked the question: What in the world are you doing?

I'm helping children.
I'm creating a business that supports many families.
I lead a church.
I am defending our liberties.
I am raising great children.
I'm teaching others to improve their lives.
I help people have fun.
I create memories for people.

In other words, successful people always come down to this: I make an impact and help other people by [fill in your purpose here].

What in the world are you doing?

If you want to be successful, you need to be able to answer that by describing how you help others. Because if you aren't helping others-if you aren't making an impact-you are just taking up space, eating food and waiting to die.

If you know, then you are good to go-live it and make an impact!

If you don't know, then maybe you need to reflect on what you are doing, what your life is about, and how you can explode the mundane bubble you may be living in!

The world needs impact makers-so live to be one!

Have a great week!

-- Chris Widener

Reproduced with permission from the Chris Widener Ezine. To subscribe to Chris Widener's Ezine, go to http://www.chriswidener.com
Copyright 2009 Chris Widener International. All rights reserved worldwide.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Swords or plowshares

Cattle for hostages?

Promises of more cows, carabaos (water buffalos), tractors and development projects helped convince the Abu Sayyaf kidnappers to release Italian Red Cross volunteer Eugenio Vagni, a businessman involved in the hostage negotiations claimed Monday.

Speaking at the Kapihan sa Manila Hotel, Armando de Rossi, a Filipino citizen of Italian descent, said reports of ransom payments or that a "prisoner swap" prompted the bandits to release Vagni were "completely a huge lie."

Meanwhile, there are demands for an all-out attack on the Abu Sayyaf.

Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. Monday said it was time for the military to escalate operations on Jolo island and get its "high-valued" leaders.
A day after the release of Italian Red Cross volunteer Eugenio Vagni from six months of harsh jungle captivity, Teodoro said he had directed the military to intensify pursuit operations against the al-Qaeda-linked kidnappers...

Sen. Rodolfo Biazon, chair of the Senate committee on national defense and security, also supported the intensified drive.
"The total destruction of the terrorists or kidnappers will be a great legacy of this administration, even if the total elimination of insurgency cannot be achieved within the remaining term of the President," Biazon said...

Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, president of the United Opposition, said in a statement:..."With Vagni’s release, there should be no more obstacle to neutralizing this terror group. They should be stopped."

Time and again, the government has vowed to eradicate the insurgents and lawless elements in the South. The history of unceasing armed conflict and bloodshed in the South since time immemorial does not inspire much in terms of the government forces succeeding this time around, notwithstanding the fresh bold words coming from the administration.

But Sen. Richard Gordon, chair of the Philippine National Red Cross, urged the Arroyo administration to open the lines of communication with the rebel group.
"The government should talk to the Abu Sayyaf. You cannot say that they are purely outlaws. If an outlaw wants to surrender, you have to talk to him," the senator said....That the Abu Sayyaf released the three workers of the International Committee of the Red Cross and was willing to accept government aid point to a breakthrough, Gordon said.

The group, he said, had lost so much during the six months of military offensives against them and were probably tired. He said two brothers of the Abu Sayyaf leader Albader Parad were killed and another commander, Abu Ali, also lost a brother.

The military suffered 14 dead, Gordon said. "These are not complicated people. They want a life again. Their families are important to them. Maybe it’s time to talk to them," he said.

Maybe Sen. Gordon has a point there. For example, if even half of the money spent so far by the government for this war were used to buy cows, carabaos, tractors and such others to develop livelihood programs in the South, we might be seeing a different scenario. In addition, there are a lot of innocent people displaced by the armed conflict, while the government is already spending so much for resettlement areas that leave much to be desired. We should not tolerate lawlessness, but we also wonder if the people in the South had enough cows and carabaos in the first place. In the news flash early this evening, the incoming army commander said something to the effect - "Armed battle would only serve a temporary victory, we should address the root cause of the conflict". The commander is most likely tired too. We must be all tired...and very sad I should add.

"But if war can end without winners or losers in a suicide of humanity, then we must repudiate the logic which leads to it: the idea that the effort to destroy the enemy, confrontation and war itself are factors of progress and historical advancement" - Centesimus Annus, Pope John Paul II.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

On being a disciple

July 12, 2009
Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Jesus sends out the Twelve

"Jesus then went around the villages teaching. He called the Twelve to him and began to send them out two by two, giving them authority over evil spirits. And he ordered them to take nothing for the journey except a sraff; no food, no bag, no money in their belts. They were to wear sandals and were not to take an extra tunic." ...
Imagine if you were directed to go on a mission to a foreign land where you are a complete stranger, and you have to go with absolutely no food, clothing, and monetary provisions. Anyone would have rejected the idea outright.

Not the twelve apostles. There is nothing in the text that suggest they expressed any reservations.

The following are excerpts from "An Introduction to Christology" by Thomas P. Rausch.

From the time of his departure from the company of the Baptist, Jesus was accompanied by a group of disciples. The New Testament uses two words to express the concept of discipleship, the noun mathétés, "disciple", and the verb akolouthein, "to follow after".

Mathétés appears more than 250 times in the New Testament, mostly in the Gospels and Acts. In secular Greek a mathétés was someone bound to another to learn, an apprentice in a trade or the student of a philosopher. There is no mathétés without a didaskalos, a "master" or "teacher". The verb akolouthein means to "follow after". Appearing fifty-six times in the Synoptics and fourteen times in John, it sometimes referred to the crowds that followed Jesus (Mat 4:25;8:1). But when used of individuals, like mathétés, it shows he special characteristics of the disciples in relation to Jesus.
While there are some important parallels between the disciples of John and those of Jesus, the usage of mathétés in reference to the disciple of Jesus is unique.

First, being a disciple of Jesus was the result of a personal invitation. Unlike the case of discipleship in Rabinnic Judaism, the disciple did not choose the master; rather Jesus chose and called his disciples (Mk 1:17; 2:14)...
Second, there was an exclusive character to to Jesus' call to follow him; his invitation was not restricted to the ritually pure, the religiously observant, the poor, or even to men. The safe-marker buoys were removed; the necessary separation of the holy and the unclean, the righteous and the sinners, 'us and them', was deliberately undermined, for the dynamics of the Kingdom did not respect such parameters...
Third, Jesus' call to discipleship meant a radical break with the past, both personal and cultural. Those who followed Jesus "left everything" (luke 5:11). They left behind parents, family, and children (luke 14:26), jobs (Mk 2:14). His disciples shared his poverty and itinerant life (Mat 8:20). They exchanged natural family relationships for membership in a new family with Jesus...
Fourth, being a disciple of Jesus was very different from being a disciple of the rabbis. The latter were students, concerned with learning and passing on the teaching of their masters. The disciples of Jesus shared in his ministry; he sent them out to heal the sick, to cast out demons, and to proclaim the kingdom of God was at hand (Mk 6:7-13); Luke 10:2-12)...
Finally, being a disciple of Jesus meant sharing his life of service and loving others with a sefl-sacrifical love. The disciples are to share what they have with others (Luke 6:30); they must be willing to take the last place and serve others (Mk 9:35), placing others first and willing to bear insult and injury (Mat 5:38-42). In other words, they are to love as Jesus loved...

"...So they set out to proclaim this was the time to repent. They drove out many demons and healed many people..."

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Brains remain untapped

P2B for reproductive health remains untapped

MANILA, Philippines — Close to P2 billion allocated for last year’s reproductive health programs in the country remained untapped, a health official said Wednesday.

(Advocates of reproductive health gathered on Wednesday in Club Filipino for a forum on “Reproductive Health: A Priority Agenda in 2010.”)

Of the P2-billion allocated by Congress for the program in 2008, only P180 million has so far been released to local communities for commodities and trainings, said Dr. Yolanda Oliveros, director of the National Center for Disease Prevention Control of the Department of Health.
She [Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros] said Malacanang and the DoH should see to it that funds are released on time.

Moreover, the P180 million was spent for “administrative cost” and not for the actual implementation of the program, said Iloilo Representative Janet Garin, another advocate of reproductive health.

”They used that for administrative cost, for example, seminars of the DoH staff or of local government personnel but we don’t really know if it’s reproductive health they would implement,” she said in a phone interview.
What is Rep. Garin talking about? Of course it's NOT "reproductive health". Let's hear what Aurora province governor Angara-Castillo has to say.

Angara-Castillo said that because of the provincial reproductive health code she implemented in her province, its population growth dropped from 2.39 percent to 1.07 percent.
See? "Reproductive Health" EQUALS "Population Control". As if "we don't really know". If you don't like that, the alternative definition would be "Reduce Maternal Deaths", if you want to believe UNPF.

Dr. Suneeta Mukherjee, country representative of the United Nations Population Fund, said having a reproductive health policy in place would reduce maternal deaths in the country. She said that recent statistics reveal that 11 mothers die in the Philippines every day due to pregnancy and childbirth complications.
So there. Just in case Manny Amador is not listening.

She said the population growth impacts on everything—health, food, energy supplies, housing, and environment.

”It’s a question of mathematics,” Mukherjee added, citing that P100 would be better divided among two or three children than among eight kids.

A "question of mathematics", how very simple. Now, just where did she get the figure P100 to divide? And why not, say P1000? Apparently, Mukherjee's simple math does not factor in productivity. Nor the economy's growth vis-a-vis distribution of income. Nor massive corruption. Nor declining population growth rates. Nor the sorry state of education...Mukherjee needs to question her question of mathematics.

P2B RH funds remain untapped?
Sure, but the real problem is --- brains remain untapped.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

On using a leash on kids

Got this questionnaire from a friend:

It's interesting how some parents/guardians opt to use a leash when outdoors with young kids (I usually see this at the mall).

I'm doing a short article for Baby mag about this and am asking parents' their ideas on the use of a leash. Pls. feel free to give your two cents

Here are the questions on my mind:

* What do you think about using a leash on kids (toddlers specifically) when outdoors? Do you think it's helpful/horrible/a brilliant tool for parents?

* Do/did you use one on any of your kids?

* Any experiences you'd like to relate, whether your own, those of friends/relatives or of strangers you've seen, concerning the leash?


Here goes:

I have four kids, all boys, aged 21, 19, 15, and 4.

As the three older kids are all already grown up and prefer to go out on their own, it is now only my 4 year-old tyke who remains excited (and insistent) to tag along with us outdoors, especially to the mall. In fact, one of his favorite lines is “Punta tayo SM!”. As he is a particularly frisky, strong-willed and adventurous toddler, most of the time it is my wife and I who feel we are on a leash whenever we are with him. Quite predictably whenever we are out, we find ourselves dragged to anything remotely resembling toy stores within his sight. He has an uncanny navigation system towards where the toys are, and has very powerful persuasive skills to boot. By the time we go home, more often than not, he is gleefully clutching a fresh acquisition.

Anyway, to answer the first question, I think parents using a leash on kids are motivated more by attentive care more than anything else. Granted it does look quite ridiculous, as leashes are commonly meant for, well…dogs. However, some kids are particularly frisky, too heavy to carry, hyper-adventurous (like mine), and there is always the risk of the kid breaking things in shops, causing injury to himself or worse - getting out of sight. There is little else more horrifying than losing sight of your kid in the populous outdoor. I guess the sincere concerns outweigh the image problem. The problem really here is how other people around you look at it. As long as it won’t cause any psychological problem or any sort of injury to the child, using a leash seems proportionately reasonable.

No, it never occurred to me to use a leash on any of my kids. With respect to the 4-year old, we make it a point that there is at least 2 or 3 adult companions (my wife and I plus 1 kuya or yaya), to accompany him. At any rate, I’m sure he would strongly protest if we attempted to put a leash on him. This got me into thinking. Maybe in the future when I am too old (and forgetful) to go out on my own, then it’s the turn of my grown-up children to accompany me. I hope by then they won’t ever consider using a leash.



"Charity in truth, to which Jesus Christ bore witness by his earthly life and especially by his death and resurrection, is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity."

The 3rd encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI - CARITAS IN VERITATE - released July 7, 2009.

Preparatory reading: Pope Paul VI's POPULORUM PROGRESSIO.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Make my day

Today, I was looking forward to cleaning and sprucing up our small garden, a much, much delayed task. It turned out I had to postpone the task (again) for I just received a text message from the phone company that they will connect (finally!) the combination phone-dsl line at the newly rented house of my boss at White Plains, QC. The phone company has been delayed 3 days on its promise, and I have been personally following-up that connection for the past few days, knowing that my expat boss would need the internet connection over the weekend. Oh well, the garden job can wait (again), as I decided I needed to be there when they connect the new line as somebody has to configure and test the wireless router.

To cut the long story short, the phone company crew goofed-up and was a no-show. To top it off, they tried to pass off a lie as an excuse that they already went to the house and that there was nobody there. My boss was there all the time since last night! I checked with the village guards and there was no phone crew that came in this day. The agent does not even reply to my text messages anymore. I wasted 4 long hours. I wonder how my boss feels. I think I know.

Fuming mad, I went to their home office to escalate the issue. There, the customer service personnel called the agent and put me on the line. She said something to the effect: "Sorry for the mix-up, but we will connect it tomorrow". TOMORROW?? The time was still around 3:30pm. My blood pressure started to rise as I told her in no uncertain terms that: NO, THAT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE, the fault is all yours and you have to find a way to connect it TODAY, or else I will submit a formal letter-complaint to your Customer Service Department. Gosh!

Back at home, my blood pressure still simmered as I remained appalled at the behavior of the phone agent and crew. I guess I ought to send that formal letter-complaint no matter what happens. My day was ruined.

While pondering this thought, I suddenly remembered what I watched on EWTN late last night. Fr. Corapi was there on the tube discussing something about the importance of daily prayers. He said something to the effect that his daily routine consisted of saying Mass in the morning, then retiring to his room for private prayer and personal communion with the Lord. He finishes this daily routine at around 8:00am and at that point, his day is already made - no matter what transpires during the rest of the day, Fr Corapi's day is already made by 8:00am, and it is a good and blessed day. Everyday.

I watched that show late last night, but it only hit me late this afternoon.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Pushing an agenda

Recently, in behalf of our company, I attended a workplace orientation by the Department of Labor. It was held by the DOLE QC field office to help us “comply and implement Article 134 of the Labor Code and DOLE Department Order 56-03”.

The invitation partly states: “To assist you in your compliance is the QUEZON CITY COUNCIL ON POPULATION, INC. (QCCP), a non-government organization duly registered at the Securities and Exhange Commission and endorsed by DOLE-NCR and Department of Health (DOH) as the Technical Assistance Provider in Quezon City”.

For reference, Article 134 of the Labor Code states:

ARTICLE 134. Family planning services; incentives for family planning. –

(a) Establishments which are required by law to maintain a clinic or infirmary shall provide free family planning services to their employees which shall include, but not be limited to, the application or use of contraceptive pills and intrauterine devices.

(b) In coordination with other agencies of the government engaged in the promotion of family planning, the Department of Labor and Employment shall develop and prescribe incentive bonus schemes to encourage family planning among female workers in any establishment or enterprise.

I am no labor lawyer, but I see the vagueness (on purpose?) in the wording of said article. A134-(a) states “Establishments… shall provide free family planning services to their employees which shall include, but not be limited to, the application or use of contraceptive pills and intrauterine devices.”. The manner of satisfactory compliance in substance is not clearly stated, and I would interpret this article to mean that if companies provide free educational services in the form of forums, counseling, and informational materials (including on the application and use of contraceptive pills and intrauterine devices) , then I would construe that as satisfactory compliance in providing free family planning services. The company could educate employees how contraceptive pills, IUDs, and Natural Family Planning work, fine. Everyone should be aware of the different methods of Family Planning, at least from an informative, factual standpoint. Just wanted to make sure that the boldface and underline on that last one is noticed. What I am also getting at is that the said DOLE provision does NOT make it mandatory for companies to actually dispense and/or administer free contraceptive drugs and devices to its employees.

As an implementing guideline, we now look to DOLE Dept Order 56-03. D.O. 56-03 is by no means prescriptive either. In Section 2, it states the ten new priorities of the Family Welfare Program: (a) Reproductive Health & Responsible Parenthood; (b) Education / Gender Equality; (c) Spirituality / Value Formation; (d) Income Generation / Livelihood / Cooperative; (e) Medical Health Care; (f) Nutrition Environment Protection, Hygiene & Sanitation; (g) Sports & Leisure; (i) Housing; and (j) Transportation. In Section 6 (Employers Responsibilities), it says “Establishments employing more than two hundred (200) workers in any locality shall form a Family Welfare Committee (FWC) through the assistance of the DOLE Regional Offices. The FWC will be responsible for planning, organizing and implementing an in-plant family welfare program. The in-plant program shall focus on the ten dimensions of the FWP. It shall Provide the necessary support, assistance and resources to the FWC”

Again, no prescription of methods here, just that companies should form their own FWCs who would then formulate its own programs according to the agenda. I must admit though, that this particular D.O. seems overly ambitious with its advocacy of the ten-point priority. Any company that could manage to comprehensively cover all those ten priorities (!) should be earning way, way too much. And at the rate companies nowadays are downsizing and even shutting down, I wish DOLE and the FWCs lots of luck. They’re going to need it.

Now back to the workshop. In her presentation, the QCCP spokesperson presented a “Workplace Family Planning Menu of Options”. Note the word “options”, it will be apparent in a while. In this particular slide, she suggested service delivery in three categories. (1) Education: Demand-generation (awareness campaign, dissemination of IEC materials, various BCC activities); Referral (public, private, NGO); (2) Counseling/ Dispensing: In plant by medical as trained counselors; Dispensing – Condoms and Pills & other MCH products in-plant; Tetanus toxoid; vaccination; DMPA provision in-plant; and IUD insertion in-plant; and (3) Referral: IUD insertion; DMPA; No Scalpel Vasectomy and Bilateral Tubal Ligation.

Now if you were wondering if the QCCP leans to a specific agenda, this slide makes you wonder no more. Just a minute, I ask the presentor: Why is Natural Family Planning not included in the menu of options? She said it is included right there in the service delivery, as they also promote “informed choices”. Again I ask: Where, ma’m? (I certainly couldn’t see it in the above slide even if I read it over and over) As she cannot show any reference to NFP in her entire material, I pointed out that the specific exclusion is misleading. She just repeated that NFP is included and she instructed her assistant to note it down. [sigh]

The presentation went on for about an hour, now and then stressing the importance of productivity in the workplace, in conjunction with Family Welfare. A little bit emphasis on - if employees had too many children, their productivity in the workplace suffers, just to rub it in. Never mind that parents commit dedication to jobs precisely because of their children. Apparently, this particular NGO is endorsed by the DOLE to assist companies in implementing D.O. 56-03, with particular emphasis on contraceptives. Finally, they handed out unsigned Letters of Commitment, urging us to have our companies formally enter into partnership with them so they can assist our companies in the implementation. I observed that some of the attendees from the other companies seemed too eager. I suppose that some others just might feel obligated to actively promote contraceptives in the workplace as a way of compliance – judging by the way QCCP presented its approach. Surely, there are many ways of being compliant without actively promoting contraceptives like “dispensing condoms and pills and IUD insertion in-plant” that this NGO suggests. For instance, our company already gives benefits and fringes in most of those priorities that are over and above what is mandated by existing laws. My last question to QCCP is, just how many of the 10-point priorities are they addressing with their assistance program? She revealed that they are concentrating on just one for now: “Reproductive Health & Responsible Parenthood”.

It figures.

Anyway, on the way out I met a doctor acquaintance. We had a small chat. They are observing the workshop and he said his group is a support partner of this NGO. He offered to tap me for NFP consultancy. By the way, this doctor works for USAID.

Ah, it really figures.

So God help us.