When the cabinet members are exposing each others skeletons, and the president is way too problematic with his love life. I suggest them make it swift and simple.

Toss coin.


Heads, shake hands and make up. Tails, we'll spin again. (



Atleast, the coin drill will be decisive and swift – characteristic lacking PNoy nowadays.


October 10, 2010 at 1:20 pm Leave a comment

Cabbage shortage!

Rice is for Pinoys, and kimchi is for Koreans.

Sadly, they are lacking cabbage nowadays to complete their “life” food. Thus, I suggest them to use our very own kangkong as extenders, perhaps?

Unlike cabbages, in the Philippine setting, which cost fairly higher, kangkong is cheaper. And you can get some on the drainage and canal or on the community creek.

Kangkong for kimchi? Why not. (

October 6, 2010 at 8:14 am Leave a comment

Tips from the first time rallyists

N.B. – This article was first published on UPIU, September 28, 2010. This article was subjected to a class workshop for my Journalism 117 (Online Journalism). For this article, good comments on the choice of angle for a heavy issue was given.


By Paul Belisario


An estimate of 1,200 students from the Philippines walk out from their classes on Sept. 24 to protest against the government's budget cut on state universities and colleges. Student protesters rally on the streets of Manila to Mendiola Bridge near Malacañang Palace. (Paul Belisario)

It was Joan and Brian’s “baptism by the streets”. And more than the ideals of activism and their advocacies, they also learned some useful tips to prepare them for the streets on their next rally.

On September 24, students from different colleges and universities in the Philippines staged a nationwide walkout in participation to what they declared as the National Youth Protest Day Against Budget Cut on Education. The street of Manila, the country’s capital, was flooded with thousands of youth and students all in red. Amidst the honking of cars jammed in traffic and spectators, the waving flags, eye-catcher banners and synchronized shouts of rallyists dominated the busy afternoon streets.

Protesters denounce the current administration’s state abandonment of the education sector, specifically to state universities and colleges. Both coming from the state-run University of the Philippines which received one of the biggest budget cut of 1.39 billion pesos, Joan and Brian were more than prepared to walkout from their Friday classes.

At first, Brian was unsure about joining the protesters. He was hesitant to skip three of his classes that day, but realizing that a lot of other students are willing to walkout from their classes, he felt compelled to commit a sacrifice.

“Thinking about it, my participation was just a speck, my small contribution to the fight” , Brian said.

Joan’s expectation was a mix of excitement and fear. Being open to adventures and new experiences, the idea of joining a massive queue of other students excites her. On the other hand, her notions of a violently dispersed demonstration and clash with the police gave pinches of worry.

“It was funny I was imagining myself bleeding on the head,” she jokingly admitted.

Having the first hand experience of long walks, with runs and jogs in betweens, of frying heat from the sun and of smog and pollution of the metro, Joan and Brian gave some tips to prepare themselves for the next rally:

1. Bring an extra shirt. Kilometric walks and unforgiving heat will surely drench anyone in sweat after a protest rally. It is better to bring some clothes to change after.

“We were fortunate the fire trucks did not water the protesters down. We would be going home soaking wet, if ever,” Brian added, realizing the importance of bringing a clean, dry shirt.

2. A good, absorbent face towel will also do a great help.

3. Liters and liters of drinking water is important: to keep you hydrated after sweating profusely, to help your throat after chanting on the top of your lungs, and to give some to those who forget to bring their own.

Bringing not even a drop of water, both first timers settled to refresh themselves with ice candies sold by street vendors.

4. Wear a good pair of walking shoes.

5. If available, protect your skin and put some lotion with sunblock. An umbrella, baseball cap or colored shades could also ease the heat.

6. Perfume, cologne and/ or baby powder could also help you refresh afterwards.

It would be a bit embarrassing to be shunned by co-commuters in a jam-packed bus or train on the ride home because we stink, Joan said.

7. But most of all, one should prepare one’s self.

Both agreed that one should be ready against the sun, to drip from wet and to be dripped on with sweat. There would be no room to be choosy and finicky along the streets. What people came for is to bring their redresses and cries to the public, and they came there expecting no special treatments or comfort.

“What you will go to is not a party,” Brian said. Joan nods in return.

Brian Galon, 19, and Joan Sebastian, 18, are first year students both taking BA Filipino at the College of Arts and Letters, University of the Philippines-Diliman, Quezon City

October 4, 2010 at 1:46 pm Leave a comment

Caught in the nursing boom and bust

N.B. – This article was first published on UPIU, September 20, 1010. This article was subjected to a class workshop for my Journalism 117 (Online Journalism). Comments for revision on this article includes improvement as to the use of modifiers, to avoid putting so many numbers in one paragraph, changing the first name to last names (to signify professionality) ,and to tighten some sentences.


By Paul Belisario

“Maybe we were promising to professionally do a job we might not actually fulfill.”

This seems to be the sentiments of Jona and Yna, two of the thousands who took their Oath of Professional as nurses on September 20, 2010 at the SMX Convention Center, Pasay City. Together with more than 8,000 others all in white, the start of their life as professional nurses also marks the beginning of a rather blurry beginning in pursuing the career they have chosen.

After completing their four-year degree in nursing last March at the College of Nursing from Our Lady of Fatima University (OLFU) in Valenzuela, Jona Guimbangunan and Yna Reyes were just two of the 37, 679 other passers who are now in the limbo of uncertainty. Both took the professional licensure exam last July this year, and were able to get pass out of the 91, 008 who took it. And now, they are an automatic addition to the ballooning unemployed, and underemployed, nurses.

Both felt really happy that they have finally took the oath. Reyes on the other hand felt different.

“Thinking about other students, knowing all of us paid (for the high expenses of our education) yet not everybody passed, I was just thankful that I was able take a step forward”, Reyes said half-heartedly.

“But I felt more uplifted after passing the qualifying exam at our school and after graduation, that was when I felt more relieved”, Guimbangunan added.

According to them, OLFU holds an exam on their last semester before graduating where only those who pass are allowed to take the biannual licensure exam. About 4,000 graduated from their 2010 batch but only 2,500 fresh graduates were able to take the exam. Out of this, OLFU garnered a passing rate of 47 percent for first time takers.

Certain needs

The Professional Regulatory Commission says that the country is producing nurses far greater than it actually needs. Report shows that before the July exam, about 187,000 nurses are currently unemployed yet only 7,000 nursing positions are available in both public and private hospitals.

However, it is the opposite that Reyes believes.

“Sometimes patient would complain, when they came to the hospital they were sick but because of the long wait they would eventually feel better”, she said after experiencing actual work in an extremely undermanned hospital as student nurse.

Guimbangunan agrees. “Hospitals usually take advantage of student nurses, making them regular nurse work to compensate to their shortcomings”, she said.

Ironically, PRC admits in a report that the nurse to patient ratio in reality is 1:50, a widened margin from the ideal 1:5 ratio.

“During thypoons when classes are suspended and student nurses are not on duty, I doubt if nurses handle the job with the volume of patients”, Reyes recalls.


Jona Guimbangunan and Rowena Reyes are among the 37,679 nurse's who passed the 2010 professional board exam and took oath on Sept. 20 at Pasay City, Philippines. (Yna Reyes)

Uncertain opportunity

Realizing the country’s medical need for nurses and health workers, both do not put the opportunity of working in a local hospital number one on their priority list.

“My classmate in college was able to work as a nurse in Dubai after passing the licensure exam even without any work experience. Jona and I are eyeing for the same opportunity”, Reyes considering the Middle East as the new green pasture for nurses replacing the US and Europe.

With the long lines of surplus nurses, local hospitals usually offer lower salary compared abroad. Hospitals also utilize student nurses to do the regular nurse’s job.

Dr. Gene Nisperos of Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) said in an interview that volunteer nurses, who actually pay just to gain clinical experience (that will give them a more edgy resumé), are also used by hospitals rather than giving tenure positions.

Similarly, Guimbangunan thinks that being a nurse in the Philippines is rather gambling to a surely loosing game. In addition, the tight competition has brought many requirements such as trainings, seminars, and a master’s degree – that is, shelling out more money.

“Our tuition for semester averages to more or less 35, 000 pesos. We want to give back to what our parents have outsourced to provide our schooling”, she said.

Reports estimate that a four year nursing tuition fee alone costs around 400, 000 pesos, exclusive of books, medical tools and instruments, and personal expenses. This sum may go higher depending on the school.

“Prices of commodities are high nowadays. The current meager salary of local nurses will never make ends meet”, Reyes reasoned out.

Hopes and regrets

The nursing boom seems to bust now.

Guimbangunan recalls that OLFU has about 80 class sections (each section comprised of 40-50 nursing students) during their time. Now, it has declined to less than 20.

Several nursing schools that have sprouted during the nursing hype in 2006 have been shut close due to low or zero passing rate in the past licensure exams. The Philippine Nurses Association thinks that new nurses lack skills and competency to be sent abroad. Mostly, now other countries also have started exporting their health service manpower.

Now that the call center industry, which hires even high school and vocational-course graduate and offers generous salaries, takes the local spotlight while nursing is dimmed off, Yna and Jona can not help but somehow regret being caught in the sinking industry.

Reyes recalls a father saying to her daughter during the oath taking ceremony, “We could have opted to save money and not study in college if we knew that call centers would come.” And Reyes and Guimbangunan seems to consider the alternative if the search for a nursing position becomes too elusive.

HEAD believes that providing nurses with career options within the government health care system making it a viable career for them could make working overseas a choice rather than a necessity due to poor compensation.

“We believe that our local nurses have the competence. We have been through overpopulated hospitals with poor or lacking equipments yet we delivered”, Reyes reasoned out.

Asked what can make nurses fulfill their professional duty for their people and their contry above else, both laments, “Considering the money we used to finish school, it is still the salary, a just compensation, that can make nurses stay and work here.”

October 4, 2010 at 1:36 pm Leave a comment

Blame game?

N.B. – This article was first published on UPIU,  August 31, 2010. This article was subjected to a class workshop for my Journalism 117 (Online Journalism). Comments for revision on this article includes providing the name of organization mentioned, a clearer backgrounder to the story being commented on and editing some long, descriptive words to shorter, clearer ones.


By Paul Belisario

While a grieving dismissed police officer staged an 11-hour hostage drama on August 23 which concluded in the death of eight Hong Kong Chinese tourists including the hostage taker himself, Filipinos were held captive by their TV sets by the media’s blow-by-blow coverage of the crisis.

After the stand-off, which some described as similar to an action movie, blame immediately started firing out. Some fingers pointed to the police’s incompetent plans, some to the government’s slow action, but it seems that more fingers are directed to the media.

Questions of professional ethics were raised. A lot proposes that the authority should have acted with an iron fist to limit media coverage. A media blackout could have minimized the harm, some said. Some covering media persons even claim that if the police have ordered them out of the scene, they would have obeyed at once.

‘Future journalists’ views
Sentiments about the alleged faults of the media seem to ripple in sync through the academe, but perspectives on how to resolve the short-comings of the media seems to diffuse.

In one of the educational deiscussion of the University if the Philippines Journalism Club (UP JC), a student organization where I and most of journalism and mass media students belong, put a light on the ethical issues of the incident. Some members started to narrate observations of the coverage from different TV and radio stations. We more or less come up with the same conclusion: it was the similar style of reporting after all – milking the situation more than its worth and the evident cut-throat competition for ‘exclusives’ and ratings. More than that, media have crossed the line from its duty to report in aid of shaping public opinion to mere sensationalizing the event. And all heads seem to nod.

For the most of our discussion, some could not help but just laugh on the colossal shortcomings of the police’s actions (ie. trying to break the bus’ window with a sledge and just ending up dropping it inside). Also, because it was a real-time coverage, reporters and anchors have their share of spoof-able and could-have-been-edited-out moments. All these were aired by local and international media. Unfortunately, it transformed from information to entertainment.

But no one was laughing when asked, “Who’s going to correct the media of its flaws?”

Who’s regulating?
In unison the org members seems to agree – that the practiced guidelines and rules for journalists when covering a hostage-taking crisis must be of highest consideration.

But arguments clashes when theory and actual practice seems to skew. Organization members utter uncontainable frustrations from the repeated attitude of the majority of media outfits towards these life and death situations most of the times. Ideally, things should end well if all media practitioners were devotees of the proper internal restraint and control guided by these ethical rules. But in reality, when the situation is at one’s face and most are squabbling for ‘exclusives’ and drunk under the influence of ‘getting a scoop’, all rules and codes vaporize.

Additional dissatisfaction is addressed by one of my co-member about the ‘lagging move’ and ‘indecisive steps’ on the side of the national government in ‘dealing’ with the media. And the same idea was supported by another one of my org mate with a tone which implies that the authorities have the power to put a limitation to the coverage when the media seems lacking.

My questions were outright, “How about press freedom?”

False parallelism
Coming from a historical context, it is a nightmare for me just to imagine giving the police, the government or any of the powers that be the control to mute and turn off the flow of information.

Thus, propositions that government control the media seems to show the frustration to the flaws of the majority of media on crisis reporting. In addition, a swift reprimand due to the lost of lives is an automatic demand from everybody.

But to think that the media could be like the police, that after a major blunder, who will possibly be demoted, suspended, dismissed or sanctioned with disciplinary actions by his commander or by the government is a fallacy and very dangerous. The present administration, following the chain of command must be answerable to evident disarray in the police.

The media will not walk away untainted, however. The power to inform, the ability to sway public opinion and to move people them to action are powers mightier than any gun. Just like our college’s statement, “media should use the time to reflect” and “free itself from the ignorance of ethical practice because they will end up doing a disservice to the victims and the public.”

October 4, 2010 at 1:30 pm Leave a comment

FIGHTING IMPUNITY multimedia competition

On Sept. 29, the Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists (FFFJ), through its secretariat, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) in partnership with the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication (UP-CMC), announced a competition for the best commemorative poster, radio plug and short video at the CMC Auditorium, 10 a.m.

The contest is also a part of the commemoration of the first anniversary of the Ampatuan Massacre last November 23, 2009 where 58 people including 32 journalist/ media practitioners were killed.

Contest rules is available here.

ALL EARS - Students and professors fills the CMC Auditorium at the FIGHTING IMPUNITY launch. (Paul Belisario)

IMPUNITY FIGHTERS - Aside from media persons from the academe and organizations, FIGHTING IMPUNITY targets students and youth to enhance public awareness of the killing of journalists and the culture of impunity. Speakers that day are (left to right) CMFR's Luis V. Teodoro and Melinda Q. De Jesus and CMC Dean Roland B. Tolentino. (Paul Belisario)

KNOWING THY ENEMY - Melinda Quintos De Jesus updates the audience on the depth of the problem of journalist killings in the Philippines. (Paul Belisario)

SMALL TOKEN - It's the awareness against impunity that everybody is after. But as a bonus, Luis V. Teodoro announces that a total of 120,000 pesos would be awarded to the contest winners. (Paul Belisario)

September 30, 2010 at 1:54 am Leave a comment


And the JOKE OF THE YEAR Award goes to…

the Armed Forces of the Philippines! A human rights summit is to be hosted by AFP  “in a bid to shed its image of being the number one rights violator in the country“, Inquirer said.

This is so funny I am willing to take charge of  finding a venue for this summit. I guess a comedy bar is way, way appropriate for this event. Actually, I will give (as a gift, of course) the place afterwards. Then, they can always hold all their press cons, meetings, and sing and dance there.

This comedy bar for the AFP will make Klownz run for its money. (

September 15, 2010 at 5:34 am Leave a comment

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