Monday, May 31, 2010

The Stereotypes

I just got back from a 4-day medical mission in a province north of Metro Manila. It was my first time to meet most of the members of the team and I couldn’t help but observe and classify the guys who were there.

the ALPHA MALE BORN LEADER- this guy takes the lead naturally and has everyone in the palm of his hands without even knowing it. His charisma and charm (it doesn’t hurt that he’s physically attractive) is so strong that male and female alike follow his lead. Even kids and those a lot older than him are taken by his charm. I have no idea how he does it but somehow he manages to make time for everyone, moving from circle to circle like a politician on the campaign trail, and no one feels left out. He even manages to help out on the smallest requests. Our host described him as an open book but I disagree, despite somehow being able to have time for everyone, he strikes me as being aloof someone or hiding something. But maybe it really is just lonely at the top.

the JOKER - unlike the nemesis of batman, this guy isn’t always laughing or smiling. Yet, even with a straight face, he manages to get everyone laughing with his comments. He even gets away with what would normally be considered rude and sarcastic remarks without anyone feeling hurt.

the CLOWN - maybe 2nd to the alpha make in charm and charisma, this guy’s jokes may not be as funny as the joker’s but the combination of his jokes and antics draw people to him. And his baby face lets him get away with almost anything.

the THINKER - maybe the eldest in the group. He has seen a lot more in life than most of us. He manages not to be aloof yet is quiet and reserved. He has this aura of mystery that people are drawn to him because of curiosity.

the GEEK - is the guy who already has very thick glasses and yet has to hold things very very close to be able to read and see them properly. He has the typical gait while walking - the upper body seemingly pulling the legs and feet. He talks about intellectual stuff like world history. And he is oblivious to people around him making him appear self-centered.

the LOVESTRUCK guy - the only one patient enough to put up with the geek. Is always after advice on how to impress the girl he’s infatuated with. Seems like puppy love to me.

the NO-NONSENSE guy - is a bit less quiet and reserved than the thinker but is easily irritated by time-wasting activity. He’s always straight to the point.

the WORKER - muscular build, few words and always gets the job done without complaints. Yet he’s the one whom I think notices my irritation with the last guy:

the CLUELESS guy - is absolutely out of touch with what’s going on. He tries to be funny but has no idea that his comments are jokes are neither funny or harmless. His timing is always off. So is his pitch. Yet he has no idea how annoying he is.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

A Working Democracy


This past May 10, 2010 about 40 million (out of an estimated 90 million) Filipinos went to polling precincts and cast their votes for the person who would lead the country for the next 6 years.

It was the first election where I, and most people really felt the need for change. We are all tired of the present government. Even the media has taken steps to encourage people to vote.

It was also the first time I can remember that there actually were candidates who were worth voting for and not just the usual ones who appealed so popular sentiment but had no brains for the job. This time there were candidates who actually had concrete plans for the country.

Another thing that made this day important was that it would be the first ever automated elections. The automation process which started months ago has been criticized several times and I still think that those in charge were either very stupid or very cunning. This election would test that.


We got up early and walked through streets filled with propaganda material to get to the precinct early and be able to vote. It turned out that the automated elections were somehow causing the rather technologically challenged public school teachers to be over vigilant and were rather rigid in the voting process. Lines of people stretched out. It took us 4 hours to vote!


Here is the controversial PCOS machine which would read the ballots and transmit the results to a central server for tallying.

We made a choice and I think the results show whom the people really voted for (a 7 million lead). Unfortunately, it turns out that we are sore losers. Facebook and Twitter are starting to fill up with with negative and even uncalled for comments for the next President even if he hasn’t even taken his post yet.

How easy it is to forget that we are the ones who chose and yet we are already washing our hands of the mistakes he hasn’t even made yet. We still have a lot of growing to do. But I believe that the future is a bit brighter already.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Filipino Isn’t Stupid

… but it seems we still don’t know how to properly address our concerns.

On May 10, this country will be having it’s National Elections. It will also be the first ever automated elections the country will (maybe) have. During the past months, the media has reported on the PCOS machines provided by the group Smartmatic, the printing of ballots and everything else about the planned automated elections.

And yet, there have been several problems along the way, problems that an IT group like Smartmatic should have seen… problems that seem impossible to have been overlooked by the company [unless it was intentional].

The Commission on Elections [COMELEC] is the government agency in charge of the elections and yet they don’t seem to have an idea of what is going on, except what Smartmatic tells them.

Same goes for the media – for all their claims of unbiased, fair coverage, none of the major networks have provided their own independent IT expert to point out or at least explain to the people why we should or should not believe Smartmatic and/or the COMELEC.

And today, just 6 days before the elections another problem has been found – the Compact Flash cards of all the PCOS machines are not properly programmed so they all have to be replaced.

  1. This should have been seen weeks ago during testing.
  2. It can be seen as a way of manipulating the results
  3. why does a machine with so many supposed security features have to use REMOVABLE memory cards to store its programming AND results???

And now they say that it’s to late to ask the COMELEC and Smartmatic to be responsible; and that all we can do is to be vigilant during the elections…

Good luck with that! At least during the manual counting, people cheated with brute force by bring guns and goons… and Filipinos died (in vain) trying to protect those ballots. But how are we going to try to stop electronic cheating?

The media is the only organization I know who can actually try and do something about this. And yet they’re spending their time bragging about which network provided the most ‘unbiased’ news coverage (which no one really cares about). I wish they’d actually use their brains and resources to make a difference.

I’m tired of this government. We need a change. Now.


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