Archive for June, 2008

Fast Car

June 28th, 2008 Comments off

A lot of vehicles now running on our streets are imported used cars. They are twice cheaper than a brand new or a locally sold used car of the same brand. So to keep up with the Joneses, the conspicuous consumers have their sights set to Subic. Subic has become a Mecca of imported used cars. If you see big SUVs like the Big Horn, Surf, Trooper etc., on our streets, it is most likely that that vehicle came from Subic. Most commonly transported to the free ports of Subic are right-hand drive vehicles which are converted to left-hand drive and sold at a cheaper price. Subic handles auto transport coming from all parts of globe.

Car shipping to the Philippines, or importing used vehicles are generally not allowed. Subic being an international free port is exempted but not without the usual customs. However, returning residents or OFWs, since they are considered modern heroes, are given a special privilege to bring in one they own. Provided that ownership is at least 6 months old on the day of importation.

For the OFW’s international car shipping, the car’s year model is not a question. What is important is that the shipper is the absolute owner of the vehicle for at least the past 6 months and can prove that he/she worked in that country where the car will be exported. This includes, Income tax returns, visa/passport, and so on as the case may require.

Imagine if all our OFWs will bring home one car each. Then there will be no more traffic in EDSA. The whole stretch of EDSA will become one big parking lot.

Dial S for Spying

June 27th, 2008 Comments off

Thanks to Mr. Bond, James Bond, everytime the number 007 is mentioned, it automatically suggests something that is spy-related. Like the latest high-tech spy phone which is aptly named, the phone-007. Phone-007 is yet another gadget made to assuage the vast ocean of human insecurities.

The phone offers a lot of can-do features for electronic eavesdropping. The only basic requirement are, a computer and an Internet connection. The unit stays at your home, or in your bedroom. It has a built in microphone, enabling it to record embient sounds around it. So don’t be surprised when you listen to the recorder and hearing other voice inside your bedroom, when you left your wife home alone. Phone-007 is web connected device, which makes you able to hear the recordings on any computer for free.

Like other phones, Phone-007 can record every calls made on it. Phone 007, however, has an added feature. When Phone-007 start recording, owner will also get notification sms or notification calls to a specified number being set. Call this high technology bugging. It would not have been difficult for us had Garci used this kind of phone when he called Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

So to make you at least assured that everything is doing fine with your family, have a Phone-007. But wait, have you checked on your mobile phone or your car lately? If you see a miniscule device with a number 007 embedded on it, be wary. Your wife might be more updated on spy gizmos and gadgets than you think she can handle.

Categories: Other Stories Tags:

Hide and Seek

June 25th, 2008 Comments off

Philippines is fast becoming a world capital of disappearing acts. From persons, properties, pets, and just about anything can easily disappear. Some of them completely disappearing from the face of the earth, without trace. Others resurfaced and brought to freedom from the hands of kidnappers by ransom. Even cars parked in secured parking areas, can suddenly disappear without trace. Next to go are pets, like, dogs, cats and including, alligators or reticulated pythons.

These phenomena however, is not surprising. For in this part of the world even votes can easily disappear and to reappear as votes counted for the other party. Our government officials are adepts in making public funds appear and disappear like bubbles in the air. Children just disappear in shopping malls. Criminals both convicted and those should-have-been-convicted persons can simply disappear right in front of the noses of their supposed guards.

The problem with all these disappearing acts, is that it happens without trace. If only have we a GPS Tracking device installed to our loved ones, cars, pets, etc, then it would not be difficult to trace their whereabouts. I hear that some convicts in the US are attached with a kind of GPS Tracking device in their bodies in order for them not to escape easily. It would only be necessary that such GPS Tracking devices must be discreet and concealed, or better still implanted just skin deep into any part of the body.

As for public funds disappearing, it can be traced but it will never be returned. The only effective solution for this would be, the utilization of devices such as a criminal court, the impeachment process or better still another people power revolution.

Categories: Philippines for Dummies Tags:

“Bridging the Islands”

June 23rd, 2008 Comments off

“Sulpicio Lines, Inc. has acquired a quality system which meets the requirements of the International Quality Assurance Management Standard ISO 9002 (1994) and the International Maritime Organization’s ISM Code of “Safe Operation of Ships and Pollution Prevention” on June 18, 1999 and July 17, 1999, respectively. Sulpicio Lines, Inc. is the first domestic shipping company to obtain two international accreditation at the same time.”from Sulpicio Lines Website

December 20, 1987, the worst “peace time” sea disaster happened in the Philippines. The MV Doña Paz, collided with a Caltex-hired oil tanker, MT Vector, at Tablas Strait dividing Mindoro and Marinduque, an inter-island route wide enough for both vessels to pass. The tragedy left 4,000 people dead and only 26 people rescued. The Owner of the ship is Sulpicio Lines. On Oct. 29, 1988, the Board of Marine Inquiry “absolved” Sulpicio Lines of any responsibility.

Less than a year after this incident, on October 24, 1988, another vessel of Sulpicio Lines, the Doña Marilyn, capsized. The vessel was allowed to sail even a Storm Signal No. 3 for typhoon “Unsang” was already raised. This disaster left at least 250 people dead. The Board of Maritime Inquiry concluded later that it was a force majeure or “an act of God.” According to the Maritime Board, no one is responsible for the death of 250 people.

Ten years later, on September 18, 1998, Sulpicio Line’s largest ship, the MV Princess of the Orient was sanked by yet another typhoon, “Gading.” Once Again, the ship was allowed to sail even when storm signals were already raised. At least 150 were confirmed dead. In September 2000,Department of Justice junked the criminal case against Sulpicio Lines in connection with the sinking of the Princess of the Orient, saying the shipping firm could not be held criminally liable for the death of scores of passengers.

Now, ten years after, on June 22, 2008, another of Sulpicio Line’s ship, MV Princess of the Stars met the same exact fate. It was allowed to sail in the midst of typhoon “Frank” and like ten years before, the ship capsized. The ship’s manifest declared 725 passengers and as of this writing, only 28 of them were already rescued.

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Categories: Philippines for Dummies Tags:

Faith of Steel

June 21st, 2008 Comments off

One cannot find metal buildings in the Philippines, except in Manila. This one and only all steel building standing majestically in Plaza del Carmen, C.M. Recto, Quiapo, Manila, is the Basilica Minore de San Sebastian, popularly known as the San Sebastian Church. Its Gothic architecture is patterned after the Great Cathedrals of Europe erected by craftsmen and masons during the medieval period and made out of stone. That is why because of its architectural design and looking at it from a distance, one would never think that the San Sebastian Church is entirely made of steel.

According to history, from Belgium batch upon batch of prefabricated steel were transported by sea to the Philippines and put together to form the neo-Gothic structure of San Sebastian Church. The construction was completed in 1891. UNESCO has recognized San Sebastian Church as the only all steel Church in Asia, and In 2006, it was included in the Tentative List for possible designation as a World Heritage Site.

The Church was built and is still being maintained by the Order of the Augustinian Recollects. But while the Church is all-steel, its parking lot and carports are made of cement and concrete. They could not possibly think of making metal carports during that time. Bambit and I made a stroll to Quiapo sometime last May and the San Sebastian Church was one of our destinations. The picture at left was taken by Bambit.

Categories: Family and Me Tags:


June 21st, 2008 Comments off

RANSOM, n. The purchase of that which neither belongs to the seller, nor can belong to the buyer. The most unprofitable of investments.”

Devil’s Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce

The Devil’s Dictionary, by Ambrose Bierce, is a satirical book published in 1911, a period when Kidnap for Ransom was still not a thought about crime. In the turn of the century Kidnap for Ransom became one of the most lucrative criminal enterprise, that it has become a criminal cottage industry in most underdeveloped countries like the Philippines.

Kidnap for Ransom (KFR) thrive in societies where there is break down in law and order, gross graft and corruption in government and massive poverty a living reality. Through the years, KFR syndicates had evolved and developed into a more complex organization and acquired sophistication in its operations. An example of a KFR organization and its modus operandi was shown in Denzel Washington’s movie, Man on Fire. The movie showed how a KFR organization operates in different stages and its plan executed by compartmentalized groups. Although the movie does not present itself as a standard police field manual for anti-KFR operations, but it presents facts common and shared by various countries. Most glaring of which is the direct involvement of key Government officials or the Police and Military in KFR groups.

The movie Man on Fire showed four different sub-groups executing one KFR operation. Compartmentalized operation insulates potential spilling of beans in the event that KFR operatives get arrested. It secures the object and ensures success of the KFR operation. As shown in the movie, one group is involved only in gathering intelligence, the other group is tasked to extract the object, the other one for the safekeeping of the object and the last is the group of negotiator/s.

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Categories: Philippines for Dummies Tags:

Happy Birthday, Kuyang Pepe!

June 19th, 2008 4 comments

Jose Rizal, FreemasonI must admit that I am not much of a Jose Rizal fan. Ka Andres Bonifacio gets more points from me, just a bit higher than Rizal. But like any Filipino, I admire Rizal for his dedication to our country’s cause. The life he lived as hero and martyr should be a source of inspiration, if not an emulation for the youth which he proclaimed as the hope of the mother/fatherland. Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio are both heroes and examplars of Filipino Patriotism and they’re both my brother Masons.

According to the Grand Lodge of the Philippines website:

Rizal was made a Master Mason on November 15, 1890 at Logia Solidaridad 53 in Madrid, Spain. He affiliated with a lodge under the jurisdiction of Grand Orient of France on October 14, 1891, and was made honorary Worshipful Master of Nilad Lodge No. 144 in 1892. There he delivered a lecture entitled “La Masoneria”.

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