Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Mar’s unRoxas remark

Senator Manuel “Mar” Araneta Roxas II, is a scion of the Roxas family, name bearer of the late post-Commonwealth President Manuel Roxas and flag bearer of the Roxas clan. Senator Mar is known for being the Philippine politics’ Mr Palenke, and the senatorial candidate who received the most number of votes in the 2004 Senatorial Elections. He is called a technocrat, very fluent in public matters related to business and the economy. He is also known for his well mattered approach on public issues, almost a statesman like his father, the late Senator Gerry Roxas. He is not well known however for losing his control in the public and for using expletives.

Mar’s remark in last Friday’s anti Charter Change rally somehow reversed what Mar Roxas is known for. Mar, in an apparent display of utter dismay to the House of Representatives’ move to push through with amending or revising the Constitution exclaimed “Putang Ina! …Patayin ang Gloria-forever Cha-cha na ito!” [Let’s kill this Gloria-forever Charter change!].

Mar’s used of expletive and improper decorum got varied reactions from the public, most however are negative. Government spokesperson Sec Jesus Dureza lamented Roxas’ remark which he tagged as “stooping down so low level in his tirade”. Others saw it as a desperate attempt to gain traction in his bid to be a viable candidate in the 2010 Presidential Elections.

Roxas refused to retract or apologize for his remark. He said that he is just being true to himself and that he is just speaking out his mind. I acknowledged the fact that there are issues that will test our patience and resolve to be calmed. Being in a democratic country, everyone are entitled to express their opinion and feelings in any way they deemed proper and judged as not violable of other’s right. However, being a public figure and a Presidential candidate, Mar should have practiced restraint in expressing his opposition towards the issue in contention. Senator Mar’s used of expletive and inappropriate words is uncalled for.

To be President takes a lot of patience and appropriate temperament. If Senator Mar doesn’t have proper temperament in dealing with issues, then he should reconsider his run for President.

Photo Credit:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The “Shoe” incident

The President of the United States of America, the world’s greatest nation—so they say—can claim to have the most advance and comprehensive security protection in the world. He is being carried by highly security advanced customized air (Air Force One which is a Boeing 747 and Marine One which is either a Sikorsky VH-3D or Sikorsky VH-60N Whitehawk), sea (Navy One which is any Naval Battleship or Carrier of the Navy) and land transport (which is a Cadillac DTS limousine). He is also protected by the elite U.S. Secret Service, composed of 5,000 well-trained agents mandated to protect the U.S. President and his family, former Presidents, and visiting heads of state. However, it appears that even the most protected man in the world is also vulnerable of awkward security breach.

It is the news that outgoing U.S. President George Bush was almost hit not just by one but two flying shoes courtesy of a disgruntled journalist in Iraq. The incident raised concerns on the effective of the Secret Service in preempting any “attempt” on the “person” of the U.S. President.

Brief background on what happened: President Bush is in a farewell tour to Iraq, probably his last Presidential overseas tour before relinquishing the presidency to Barack Obama. The President, after visiting troops deployed in Iraq, held a press conference with Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Malaki. While the President is busy taking questions from members of the Press, an Iraqi journalist took advantage and managed to aim his shoe toward the President. Bush appeared to have very sensitive and vigilant reflexes and managed to quickly dock to avoid the flying shoe. Unsuccessful in his first attempt, the journalist aimed his other shoe at the direction of President Bush. As was on the first attempt, Bush showcased his athletic move and successfully avoided the fast speeding second shoe. Iraqi Prime Minister al-Malaki was also seen raising his left hand in an apparent gesture to cover Bush from the flying second shoe. Seconds later, Secret Service agents managed to subdue the journalist.

Hadn’t President Bush managed to avoid the flying shoes, he will be to date the only U.S. President to have been hit by a shoe. Reactions elicited by the incident vary. Iraqi militants saw it as a successful embarrassment of a sitting U.S. President. Accordingly, to be hit by a shoe is considered to be the highest form of insult in Iraq. Some see the incident as a serious security breach. Imagine if the journalist has a hidden explosive in his shoes; President Bush’s body will most likely be flown back to the U.S. in a box.

The incident made me remember famous security breaches cum assassination attempts that almost turned into a nightmare. Here are some:

The unexpected Royal audience

This is probably the most famous security breach that happened at the Buckingham Palace, the seat of the British monarchy, which occurred in 1982. An unarmed man with an alleged psychiatric problem named Michael Fagan managed to break into the Palace. Fagan seeing no Palace personnel to stop him proceeded to the Queen’s bed chamber. The palace’s alarms apparently were faulty. In addition to this, the armed police officer detailed at the bedchamber, left his post without waiting for his replacement and walked the Royal dog out at the palace ground. At the bedchamber, Fagan initially observed the unprotected Queen while sleeping. The queen awoke when Fagan disturbed the curtains in the room. Fagan sat at Queen’s bed and chatted with her for 10 minutes. The Queen was unfazed with the breach and dealt with it calmly even if the man she is speaking with is a stranger and is bleeding—due to a laceration caused by an ashtray he broke in the palace. The Queen even phoned the police twice in between the 10-minute chat with Fagan to no avail. After 10 minutes, palace personnel came to Queen’s bedchamber and arrested Fagan. Fagan was charged for trespassing and theft (he stole a bottle of champagne in the Palace), but charges were dropped when Fagan was admitted to a psychiatric institution.

Almost stabbed to death

In December 1972, a farmer wielding machete attacked First Lady Imelda Marcos at a public gathering in Manila. The farmer while about to shake Mrs Marcos’s hand drew his weapon hidden underneath his coat, then aggressively stabbed the First Lady, almost to death. The gathering was broadcast live hence the incident was seen live on television. Mrs Marcos was seen fighting the attacker with her bare hands. Her resilience was seen as the reason why Mrs Marcos avoided fatal wounds that could have ended her life. In the end, the assassin was shot dead by agents of the President Security Group and Mrs Marcos received 72 stitches. Had the assassin been successful, Mrs Marcos would have been the first sitting resident of Malacanang to have been killed by an assassin. To date no sitting Philippine President or First Lady died through assassination.

The assassination everyone hoped

The incident is named 20 July plot wherein dissident officers of Nazi Germany attempted to overthrow Nazi leader, Adolf Hitler. The culmination of the coup is the assassination of Hitler himself. The attempt to kill Hitler was almost successful but the dictator got quite lucky. Colonel Clays von Stauffenberg, the man charged with planting the bomb that would have killed Hitler, successfully accomplished the job. Stauffenberg managed to plot the briefcase containing the bomb within a striking distance in a conference where Hitler was scheduled to conduct a meeting. The bomb was planted 3 seats away from Hitler. It was placed underneath the conference table. The bomb did explode successfully killing high ranking Nazi leaders but the main target survives the blast unscathed. Up to now, the mystery lingers on how Hitler managed to survive the attack. Several theories were brought forward drawing scenarios on how Hitler survived the attacked. One of the theories contends that an officer unaware of the content of the briefcase moved it away from the conference table. Other theory claims that the conference table was thick enough and prevented the blast from reaching Hitler.

God Bless the Pope

While greeting Catholics congregated at the St. Peter’s Square, a Turkish militant named Mehmet Ali Agca fired at the Pope’s open car and successfully hit the Pope. The Pope was critically wounded but survived the attack. He was operated for 5 hours to treat the abdominal wound and massive blood lost. The assassin Agca was arrested. In an unprecedented show of mercy, the Pope, after recovering from the incident, visited Agca and offered his prayer and forgiveness.

Bombing the Palace

In 1962, two dissident South Vietnamese pilots flew an aircraft of the Republic of South Vietnam Air Force and bombed the Independence Palace, residence of the President, in an attempt to kill President Ngo Dinh Diem. The bombing resulted in the killing of 3 palace staff and injuring dozens. A bomb penetrated the western wing of the palace where the President is reading at that time. However, the bomb failed to detonate. The autocratic President claimed that “divine protection” enabled him to survive the attack.

The Brunette Assassin

During the Bastille Day celebration (an event commemorating the start of French Revolution) in 2002, a brunette assassin fired at the motorcade of French President Jacques Chirac. The rifle was initially hidden in a guitar case that the assassin was carrying. Uniquely, bystanders were the one that prevented the attacker from causing any fatal harm. In was found out at a later investigation that the attacker is part of a violent far-right radical group.

Impressing Jodie Foster

An obsessed Jodie Foster fan named John Hinckley Jr open fired at President Ronald Reagan while he is about to enter his limousine. Hinckley fired six shots which hit Reagan’s Press Secretary, a police officer and a Secret Service agent. One bullet that ricocheted off the door of the Presidential Limo hit Reagan’s left armpit. The attack was apparently conceived by Hinckley in an attempt to impress actress Jodie Foster. Hinckley was found not guilty for criminal offense by reason of mental illness. He was however confined at a mental institution. Up until today, Hinckley is still confined in the same institution. At present, Hinckley has yet to offer any remorse or regret with the incident. He said that shooting the President is the greatest love offering in the history of the world.”

The girl who shot Lenin

In 1918, a radical revolutionist named Fanya Kaplan attempted to kill the father of the Revolution she once supported. Kaplan fired three shots at Russian Communist leader Vladimir Lenin. Two bullets successfully hit Lenin, one hit his shoulder, the other his jaw. Lenin, made unconscious by the shots was rushed to the Kremlin, residence of the Russian Head of State. He refused to be confined at the hospital paranoid that the attacker will finished him off their. The female assassin refused to squeal her coconspirators. She said that she plotted to kill Lenin because she considered him traitor to the cause of the Revolution. Kaplan was subsequently executed.

Popemobile attacked

Another St Peter Square security breach occurred when a man jumped off a security fence—separating the crowd from the approaching open papal car—and attempted to climb the Popemobile which carries Pope Benedict XVI. His intention was not known. The Swiss Guards quickly apprehended the man before he reached the Popemobile. The Pope seems to have not noticed the incident as he continuously waved to the crowd while a petty brawl is happening behind him between the man and the Swiss Guard agents.

Photo Credit:


Monday, December 15, 2008

Traffic, Expegator and Criminal Minds

Thursday, December 12, on my home from my second hometown, Magalang, three distinct “existence” caught my very selective attention—Traffic in the Angeles-Magalang Road, the Cunanan’s car aptly called Expegator, and TV series Criminal Mind.


Well traffic is nothing new especially in congested cities like Angeles City. Traffic in Angeles City is like an incurable disease. Such is caused by infrastructure deficiency, faulty traffic system and driver’s intolerable discipline. Getting pass Angeles-Magalang road normally takes 20 minutes of a passenger’s time but due to the heavy traffic it took us almost one hour to reach Angeles City, our destination. Solving the traffic problem seems to be an unreachable feat, but it can be solved. However impossible it may seem to ease the traffic, I am confident that it can be resolved through strong political will on the part of the agencies that are mandated to do so. Angeles-Magalang road has wider road span as compared to other roads in the city. Proper traffic scheme coupled by cooperation from among various stakeholders like drivers is all what it take.

Like what I’ve noted, it took us almost one hour to reach our destination. I hate to waste my time sitting idly in the car. Surely, most do not want their time wasted as well.


Lincoln Navigator

Ford Expedition

While sitting at the back seat wondering if the traffic would soon ease, I realized that I am on a Lincoln Navigator, my dream car (as they call it). This full size, wide body SUV is being driven by my Jaycee mate, Darius Cunanan. When I started asking question about the car, I learned that the supposed Lincoln Navigator is not a pure blooded Navigator so to speak. I was informed that the car was originally a Ford Expedition converted to a Lincoln Navigator. I initially felt confused on how converting is possible. I am not a full pledge car enthusiast. I wouldn’t know technicalities related to automobiles. Through patient explanation from the car’s owner, I somehow managed to grasp fully the information given to me. I managed to accept the fact that I am not really riding a Navigator, but a reconfigured Expedition. Nonetheless, the car looks so much like a Navigator. The amenities are the same. The luxury is not reduced.

Criminal Minds

To entertain ourselves while waiting almost patiently for the traffic to ease, Darius turned on the entertainment system of the Expegator. Initially we were listening to music then he decided to play a DVD. He started scanning for an episode of Criminal Minds that he hasn’t seen yet. First, I did not pay attention to the episode playing since I don’t want to be hooked only to be disappointed later since I can’t finish the entire episode. However, something about the episode, or probably the series itself, caught my attention. The series has a different format as compared to other crime and investigation type of programs. Criminal Minds, as it is apparent in the title, focuses on the subject or the criminal in a case. It dissects the mindset of a criminal. It also deals with motivations the compelled him to commit the crime.

After seeing one episode, I rushed to a street in Angeles City famous for having several reliable DVD stores. Thankfully, I managed to locate a copy of Criminal Minds Season 2. I am yet to find a copy of Series.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Thank you budget airlines

Low cost or budget airlines eased leisure traveling for individuals with tight budget (like me). Gone are the days when travelers are forced to endure the not-so friendly airfare rate of major airline companies. The era of expensive travel was ended by the advent of budget airlines. Frequently, budget airlines offer awesome discount that a travel aficionado can’t help it but abruptly plan a trip.

My recent out of the country and out of Luzon travels were made possible by generous discounts of leading budget airlines (and through the generosity of my parents and sponsors). It is also noteworthy that my first air travel was through a budget airline—Tiger Airways.

Many travel maniacs right are now shouting “Long Live Budget Airlines”.

The budget airlines I have dealt with in my previous travels are as follows:

Tiger Airways

Tiger Airways can claim to be the pioneer budget airline in the Philippine region. The airline caters passenger from Diosdado Macapagal International Airport and offers direct flights from the airport to international destinations such as Macau and Singapore.

The airline’s main hub is located in Singapore. From Singapore, the airline flies to destinations such as Darwin (Australia), Perth (Australia), Bangkok (Thailand), Phuket (Thailand), Chang Mai (Thailand), Hanoi (Vietnam), Ho Chi Minh (Vietnam), Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Padang (Indonesia), Guangzou (China), Bangalore (India) and other key destinations in the South East Asian region.

If a Filipino traveler would like to have a cost effective trip to Australia, he may take his trip from Clark with a stop in Singapore then to Darwin, Australia. The overall cost of the trip is much cheaper compared to taking a direct flight to Australia via a major airline carrier.

I booked a flight with Tiger during my trip to Macau, China. Overall, I was satisfied with the experience. The round trip airfare is P2,800.00, an amazingly affordable rate. The cost of the ticket is only P800.00 more compared to airport fees and travel taxes charged by the government.

Cebu Pacific

Cebu Pac is relatively new in the low cost airline business though it has been around as a secondary flag carrier of the Philippines since 1996. Today the airline operates 27 domestic destinations and 15 international destinations. The airline takes pride in having the youngest fleet of aircrafts in terms of years of service in the Philippines. Cebu Pac has somehow forced its major competitor in the domestic field, Philippines Airlines to launch a subsidiary airline, PAL Express which offers affordable rates to domestic travelers. It is also the first airline to operate in the newly built Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3.

Cebu Pac has major operations at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Cebu Mactan International Airport (Mactan) and Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA). It now offers flights to Shanghai, China (from NAIA); Osaka, Japan (from NAIA); Taipei, Taiwan (from NAIA) Seoul and Busan, South Korea (from NAIA), Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam (from NAIA); Bangkok, Thailand (from NAIA and DMIA) and many other international and domestic routes.

The airline is famous for its onboard short games wherein flight attendants facilitate games where passengers can win souvenirs. I had Cebu Pac as my airline for my first ever trip to Cebu (in the Visayas), and Dipolog City and Dakak (in Mindanao). The round trip airfares for both travel are as well amazingly cheap—P2,700 for Cebu and P5,900 for Dipolog.

Air Asia

The airline is the pioneer of low cost travelling in Asia. It has the largest fleet and most number of destinations among all the budget airlines in Asia. It is the first ever airline to have stopped collecting fuel surcharges from its passengers which is added to the total cost of the airfare. The airline runs 200+ flights per day in over 75 domestic and international destinations. It operates in Southeast Asian countries such as Brunei, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam, Singapore, Cambodia and even in China and Australia.

Air Asia is mainly based at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal, a terminal devoted to budget airlines, which is located at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. It operates here in the Philippines at the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport in Clark. It offers daily flights to Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu City both in Malaysia.

My fellows Jaycees and I were carried by Air Asia in our trip to Kota Kinabalu City, Malaysia to visit Jaycees members there. The round trip airfare cost me P5,600. The airline also carried Jaycees from Malaysia who visited us recently. Air Asia made possible the strong bond of Kapampangan and Malaysian Jaycees.