News Story: Peace negotiator blasts warmongers in media

GOVERNMENT chief peace negotiator Teresita Quintos-Deles chided warmongers in Philippine media for fuelling sentiments to declare an all-out war against Moslem armed separatist groups in Mindanao.

“Many have fueled the clamor that we launch an all-out war against the MILF. It did not help that many members of media made this into a simple ‘them-versus-us’ case,” said Quintos-Deles, Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process.

Peace doves fly on the grounds of the historic Hazrat-i-Ali mosque,
in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, Afghanistan.
(UN Photo/Helena Mulkerns)
Secretary Quintos-Deles spoke to some of the 28 students graduating from a Dual Campus Masters in Peace Studies on October 24, the day that President Benigno S. Aquino III rejected calls to launch an all-out war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

The rattling of sabres came after 19 soldiers were killed in an encounter in Al-Barka, Basilan while hunting alleged armed members of the Abu Sayyaf bandit group.

Quintos-Deles quoted five paragraphs from President Aquino’s statement that disavowed “knee-jerk reactions that will jeopardize our efforts to address the roots of conflict in the region.”

“Consider the context and the history in your reporting,” Quintos-Deles told this reporter after the graduation ceremony at the Ateneo de Manila University.

She said that sobriety and introspection are more important at this stage, “so that we could be guided on what to do next.”

Quintos-Deles said that media can consider first the costs of an all-out war.

“During Erap’s time, what happened? Two million civilians were displaced. And it’s a generational thing; the pain and suffering doesn’t only include that generation.”

Nearly 11 years ago, the military under the government of President Joseph ‘Erap’ Estrada captured the MILF headquarters at Camp Abubakar in the southern island of Mindanao after declaring an all-out war.

“Look at Maguindanao, it remains an area with the lowest human development index,” Quintos-Deles said.

She added that media should consider that “it will take 15 years before you bring a region up on its feet again after an armed conflict.”

Nonetheless, Quintos-Deles said the Aquino government remains focused on peace negotiations with five armed groups.

“We intend to end all armed conflicts within this administration,” she said in her speech adding that the Aquino government is reviewing the implementation of signed peace agreements with the Moro National Liberation Front in 1986 and two splinter groups of the Communist Party of the Philippines’s armed wing New People’s Army.

Quintos-Deles told this journalist that these are “some of the factors at play that should be considered” in the public debate on the conflict in Mindanao.

“And media has a big role to play in this.”

Photojournalists vie for Forestry Photo Award

Photographs by Nonie G. Reyes of BusinessMirror newspaper would be one of many to be exhibited.

God’s Love I Felt Through Mother B (Poem)

Mothers know best, the old adage is correct
Old and wise, gentle and kind, other than that she’s perfect
Though the years and time haven’t been as kind to us
Her demeanor and decisiveness, never she created a fuss
Everyone can stand and shout, “She made me feel important...
Rain, sleet, or searing heat; amid wealth and great want.”

Deign many times cash and confidence fell short I sought her
In times of troubles, always her homestead was I a bother!
Dennis, my name, she utters with words of assurance and comfort
I bet my fingers, toes and all can never match her worth

Be as it may her modesty abounds larger than life
A humility attested to by comrades, friends, and my wife
You can search over and yonder for such caring friend
Or wait centuries for such gift to fall from Heaven
Never can we again have such luck, following the trend
Ever can we only hope that one in a hundred seventy-seven
The chances a generation can be blessed, smiled upon by Allah,
As we are –loved and cared for by Mother Didi Bayoneta.

Turumba Festival 2011 (Video)

This short video, taken using a Nokia e63 mobile phone, shows some of about 3,000 people of Pakil, Laguna, marching towards the church in tune with music from three brass bands.

under power

Beside a power station on Pedro Gil in Manila, a woman sleeps and appears oblivious to the danger and the passers-by.
Photo taken via Nokia e63, 2megapixels, September 12, 2011, by Dennis D. Estopace

Journalists with Kids

THERE are journalists who are good fathers. I am not one of them.

Fortunately, I was blessed with having a good wife and equally good daughters.

One of them is Katha Ma-I who we named after the land the natives called before the arrival of Spanish colonizers: May-i. Ergo, her name captures the creation of the land before colonization.

Our youngest, we named Ani Laya, which means “harvest of freedom” or “free harvest.” Laya, 7, is like her Ate Katha when the latter was at her age: always doodling and drawing.

We encourage them to wield a crayon, pencil, pen, on paper and walls since my wife and I believe doing so enhances not only their motor functions but also their creativity. Children can also best express how they feel when they doodle.

To commemorate Father’s Day, 2011, I thought of posting here some of Ani Laya’s drawings that, hopefully, she can look back years from now and forgive whatever misgivings I may have and may commit or omit as I perform my duties and responsibilities as a father and as a journalist.

A happy Father’s Day to all.

Shoes and the Journalist

My Itti leather shoes
before being sent out to the shoddy corners.
Photo taken via Nokia e63 in Quezon City.
THERE’S a pebble in my journalism because of my brand new shoes.

It’s been three days since the wife and I shopped for a pair of shod –two, actually, the other for my 67-year-old father.

Shoes, like clothes, are very important to reporters, especially those always pounding the pavement to get from one coverage to another.

The latter is more out of forced circumstances: some reporters’ meagre wages don’t allow the daily use of a car or a regular cab fare affordable.

This is why I miss the Loft brand, pairs of which I used to buy at any SM Department Store before these were pulled off the shelves five years ago.

This would make the Loft leather wingtip shoes, the last pair I bought, still in shape for six years now.

My wife, who’s also picky on what her feet are in, is less lucky since my Loft branded pair have been to countries she’s never been before.

Without a lofty brand available, I settled for the Itti brand.

The last pair I bought a year ago was not as sturdy as the Loft-branded products but was as cheap –“inexpensive” or “affordable,” as some chief executives would say.

These pairs, which I bought for under US$25, are soft leather shoes that can be worn as formal and casual wear.

The most expensive pair I bought recently was online at US$82, a Land’s End brand using Jack the Scribbler’s credit card. It’s worth less than that if we exclude shipping from the United States.

Of course, with that tag price, the Land’s End brand is a, err, shoe-in for off-road walking.

The only beef I have with it is that it comes with thermal protection so that my feet are kept warm and dry during snow in the Philippines.


The Itti brand doesn’t have that since its shoemakers agree the chances of meatballs raining in the sky is as sure as having Metro Manila dumped with snow.

Still, one of Itti’s pairs could have been cut a little below the ankle bone. That’s where it’s been hurting since I tried on one of the pairs I bought.

One of my editors suggested I take a jog in my new shoes, which when I did only hastened the bruising and not the softening of the imitation leather. Band-aid became an investment. But an ice pack also helped lessen the sore.

I chose Itti since the old pair like it was supposed to after everyday use: hugging the feet, lifting not rubbing against the ankle, and still looking presentable.

Coffee-growing advocate Chit Juan has advised that I shouldn’t be a cheapskate when it comes to shoes.

“You only have one set of feet; why go cheap on them?”

So I did search because I found wisdom –as I always do– in Chit’s words after looking at how mangled my feet have become with the “affordable” shoe pairs I bought.

But the branded ones I looked into meant giving up my month’s salary in exchange for style, fit, comfort, and the foreign shoe manufacturer’s name, which was embossed or etched on the sole.

I could have gone back to Marikina, since I also bought several pairs there years ago. But these only took months of use as the sole cracked easily.

So I stuck to my strategy of buying several “cheap” pairs that I use interchangeably to lessen their depreciation.

Still, if a reporter can afford the designer shoes, I say invest in these and hold on to it for as long as the shoemaker, a similarly low-paid worker, lives.

However, a study by the International Textile, Garment and Leather Workers’ Federation ( should make us have second thoughts on buying designer brands.

The “widespread use of forced and non-remunerated overtime points to a failure by brands to ensure that the volume and the price of goods agreed with their supplier can be delivered within legal boundaries.”

But the report, titled “An Overview of Working Conditions in Sportswear Factories in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Philippines,” focused on multinational companies in the sportswear manufacturing industry.

That’s another story worth walking into.
This blog entry never received in any form or substance compensation,
whether in the past, present, and future,
from companies carrying the brands mentioned.]
Whenever my shoes hurt, I try to recall many Filipinos
still can't afford one, designer brand or not,
like this boy passing by on the market
in Bantayan Island, Cebu, Philippines.

Pinoy children on highway of death

"Bata, batuta,
'samperang muta
di ka mahal ng mundo
inulila't iwinala
sino ang aangkin sa 'yo...

...Ngunit sa ibabaw nang lahat
ako'y pinahahanga mo
Saan nakukuha ang lakas
Makipaglaro sa aspalto"

Photos: Palm Sunday Ushers Holy Week Commemoration in PH

Palm Sunday formally begins among Filipino Catholics the commemoration of the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. The following are photographs taken April 17, 2011, during the blessing of palm fronds -actually, coconut leaves- called palaspas in the vernacular at the Church of the Holy Sacrifice, University of the Philippines campus, Diliman, Quezon City.

Video shows Fr. Raymond Joseph Arre blessing the palaspas.

Globe says ready for disaster

BANTAYAN ISLAND, Cebu–Listed firm Globe Telecom Inc. said it is ready for disasters in view of an aftershock hit Japan and evacuation began for communities near Taal volcano.

“Globe's mission-critical systems are designed for resiliency. This is achieved not only through the installation of redundant components, but also through disaster-recovery sites [that allows us] to operate in a back-up site in case one of its facilities fails,” Edgar C. Hapa said.

Hapa of Globe’s enterprise business continuity risk management product and services delivery replied to BusinessMirror after a 7.1-earthquake hit Japan a month after an undersea seismic activity hit the north Asian country and caused disruptions in cellular phone communications and Internet connection.

On Saturday, authorities said evacuation of residents near Taal Volcano has begun after an Alert Level 2 was raised.

Taal Volcano’s …seismic network recorded six volcanic earthquakes during the past 24 hours, the PhiVolcs said in its bulletin dated April 10.

To note, Metro Cebu and Mandaue City were submerged in January after a heavy downpour that lasted for several hours.

Hapa said in an email message the company would add a fourth data center as part of its redundancy system. He, however, was not in a position to disclose the location or the amount of investment for this data center.

“At present, we have three IT data centers, which are geographically distant from each other to reduce the possibility of simultaneous system downtime due to man-made (sabotage, power failure, labor strike, fire) and natural calamities (earthquake, flooding, typhoon, avian flu).”

Hapa added that the new data center “will be located in a carefully selected site that is not vulnerable from flooding, severe earthquake ground movements.”

Likewise, Hapa said the data center was designed using inputs from consultants and recommendations from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology and the Earthquake Impact Reduction Study of Metro Manila by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency.
A man stands under the overpass in Quezon City
waiting for the rain to pass, a day in January 2011.

“Globe’s IT systems are properly tiered or ranked according to business impact so that the necessary infrastructure, technical support and processes are appropriated to ensure business continuity. The disaster recovery platforms and processes are also regularly tested to ensure that they will work when needed, and enhanced if necessary.”

Hapa added that like other telecommunications companies, Globe is “fully aware of the importance of telco services especially during and after a disaster.”

“As a major player in the utility industry providing telecommunication services, avoidance of operational disruption is a must both in normal conditions and during emergency/disaster situations.”

Aside from continuously undertaking emergency and disaster preparedness programs for the corporate offices and major facilities, they are also reviewing our service level agreements (SLAs) with them and their disaster response capabilities to ensure that we can rely on their continuous support in case of contingencies.”

This is so because the uptime of the information technology systems is also dependent on the support structures of IT equipment vendors.

“Disaster preparedness and response has always been an integral part of Globe Telecom’s operations, with the safety and security of its employees being the paramount concern, along with the protection of its property and assets,” Hapa added.

Expert says need to heal ailing PH healthcare sector

Dr. Kenneth Hartigan-Go speaks to reporters on health financing. Photo courtesy of Maclang & Associates Inc.
 PHYSICIAN Kenneth Hartigan-Go said the poor should no longer shoulder the healthcare spending of wealthy Filipinos.

This can only be done, Dr. Hartigan-Go said, through a new payment system to replace the current one that is based on the “Fee for Service” (FFS) concept.

The FFS, according to the consultant of the Zuellig Family Foundation Inc., is a practice where patients are charged according to each service discharged during the treatment.

The new system, which Hartigan-Go said is now practiced in a few hospitals in the country but has been institutionalized in Singapore, Thailand and the United Kingdom, is the case payment.

“It’s like the paluwagan system, wherein there’s a global package of funds from which the payment for healthcare is taken and the patient is charged a small amount.”

Hartigan-Go said, however, that understanding and higher consciousness over this health financing are crucial since “strengthening health financing would strengthen the health system.”

“And everything will fall into place.”

Hartigan-Go said coming up with a new system of spending for health care, including human resources and equipment, aims to reduce out-of-pocket expenses to only 15 percent.

“An average number of Filipinos have to spend transportation, accommodation, and food, among others; with costs close to 60 percent. They borrow from their relatives and neighbors.”

Direct or OOP payments for medical bills usually include professional fees of doctors, prescribed medicine and laboratory tests, and, in many cases, the travel expenses to the urban areas for advanced health care intervention.

The large OOP expenses, Hartigan-Go said, is inimical against the poor as “only the rich are able to afford healthcare because they can afford OOP.”

However, he said there’s a need to provide incentives to doctors and physicians so that they neither won’t order unnecessary laboratory tests nor prescribe drugs that add up to the expenses of the patient, especially if they’re poor.

“The idea is not to take from poor more money.”

Hartigan-Go said the savings from this payment method can go to the upgrade of the medical facility and other technological development.

The quality of health services provided to the poor, nonetheless, shouldn’t be less because they pay less, he added.

This can be done if the people are aware that they have this right to quality health service, Hartigan-Go said adding the government should also be aggressive in explaining the case payment method to the private sector.

Hence, he noted they will go back to Cebu where they held a summit on healthcare in January, to the northern Philippines, and to Laguna for healthcare literacy training sessions.

Hartigan-Go said about 40 tertiary hospitals would pilot test the case payment method.

[Story filed with BusinessMirror newspaper on April 12, 2011.]

Lawyer says fuel stockpiling won’t solve high oil prices

NON SEQUITUR, a partner of former Napocor chief Cyril del Callar said of government’s move to subsidize fuel consumption of the public transport sector.

“Injecting supply in the market doesn’t mean lower oil prices; it doesn’t follow,” lawyer Jose Moises F. Salonga told some 120 participants of a 2-day conference early April on “Doing Business Amidst New Threats.”

Speaking on behalf of Del Callar, Salonga said that the Philippines cannot control oil prices as the Energy Department reported a 0.25-centavo increase in the common prices of gasoline Tuesday.

In its oil monitor report, the Department of Energy revealed that while the price range for diesel, automobile LPG, and 11-kilogram liquefied petroleum gas products remained unchanged since March 29, gasoline products increased from the P52.10-to-P58.12 per liter price range, to P51.85-P57.87 by April 5, 2011.

Government can’t do this by stockpiling or regulating prices, Salonga said adding that doing so would only place the state in a precarious financial position.

“What if government bought US$2 billion worth of oil in March and the prices drop by April?”

Salonga noted that stockpiling is also expensive as it requires P1.8 billion or at least US$30 million, excluding US$600 to US$700 million spending for storage tanks.

Stockpiling, he explained, is the last of an eight-phase DOE plan to ensure oil supply that includes coordination with industry players (phase 1) and international collaboration (phase 7).

As it is, Salonga said, industry players are mandated by law to ensure a 30-day stockpile.

The Ateneo Law School graduate spoke four days after President Benigno C. Aquino III issued Executive Order 32, instituting the public transport assistance program or “Pantawid Pasada.”

The EO issued April 1 was anchored on a view that the socio-political crisis in Middle East and North African countries like Libya, Qatar, Bahrain, and Yemen, “triggered the high fuel prices.”

The EO cited the recommendation of the Inter-Agency Energy Contingency Committee for the Philippine government to “adopt a contingency program to address the adverse effects of the oil price hikes on the prices of fuel, food and other basic commodities, particularly among the vulnerable sectors of the society, such as the public transport sector, the riding public, and the consuming public.”

However, Salonga said the high oil price in the world market is mainly due to speculation “and actually should be going down in view of the adequate oil supply.”

Citing International Energy Agency data, Salonga said that the price of oil, which hovered above US$100 per barrel is estimated to be overpriced by US$20.

“Supply actually exceeds demand and based on our analysis, supply won’t run out in the next five years.”

Still, Salonga said he’s not against stockpiling.

“But let’s call an emergency stockpile as emergency stockpile. I’m more predilected for reducing taxes than the fuel subsidy program.”

[Original story sent to BusinessMirror newspaper on April 5, 2011.]

Paring Down Patio Carlito

FOOD and drinks don’t matter when one has a great conversation with a kindred soul.

But when caffeine the morning after fails to shake off the intoxication, one can’t help but recall the food and drink shared before four hours of alcohol-induced sleep.

The drink is easily dismissable –it’s the tepid yellow brew labeled “light” made by a company now going into heavy power generation.

The food, well, that’s another matter.

The plate of sisig was served with half of it bopis, the waiter even proudly told me and fellow journalist Miguel Camus.

It was served on a sizzling plate on a canvass-covered patio where the owner parked deep brown square tables and straight chairs.

The absence of sizzle and smoke that usually accompanied such dish was expected since our order arrived 20 minutes late.

Maybe the waiters thought the nubile ladies in sleeveless shirts across our table were hungrier. The lesson there was to eye less cleavages and more on what’s not on the end of their forks.

We could have skipped ordering the five pieces of shrimp the bar dubbed “gambas.” Gathering from the speed the plate was cleaned, this dish fared better than our first order.

But Miguel, who paid for Friday night’s tryst with a geezer who incidentally dragged him to this haunt that just opened days after the new year, was indefatigable. He opted to ask for beef salpicao.

Either our appetite returned or a high-spirited discussion of journalistic future that only three of a dozen pieces of beef stock lay on the plate. They lay there inviting, begging to avoid the fate of the sisig: unwanted, left to chill in the al fresco world, and definitely going literally to the dustbin of its short history as pork.

I rejected the urge to clean the plate.

As ANC business reporter Paeng told us, people don’t go to Patio Carlito for the food.

“What’s exciting is the company kept,” he said before dashing off to his table.

Of course, a pocket of thirtysomethings in bedroom clothes add spice to the evening of the boys and their beer.

In a way, Paeng was right.

The evening was one of the best a business journalist could have after a day of covering the sashaying stock market and the solid insights of Jesuit priest Father Ben Nebres.

But it was all because of Miguel, who took care of the former, who not only had the temperament of a Benedictine monk but the courage to listen to a has-been Casanova ramble on about life in and outside the newsroom.

Food and drinks don’t matter if you have Miguel as company.

But I believe he deserves something better than Patio Carlito’s.

[Disclaimer: This post was written sans receiving compensation in any form from any entity interested in Patio Carlito bar’s present and future business. Photo from who, as can be gathered from the blog post title, may have been floored by the resto’s offering.]

New Year messages

I just cleaned up the inbox of my mobile phone and read these gems of Season’s Greetings. Hope you enjoy reading as I did before pushing these missives into the dustbin of frequency.

Happy New Year!

  • Love. Hope. Peace. Joy. A bounty of blessings from our family to yours & those whom you hold dear. Happy New Year! -Jeric S., Manila Water.

  • Thanks for being part of my 2010. Here's to the coming year full of my best wishes for you:-) –Edythe of AIM
  • May the coming year bring more blessings to you and your loved ones! –lynn, lawrence, sasha & liam –Lynn, British Embassy

  • May the New Year bring good tidings to us, our families and our country. –Danton Remoto of UNDP

  • Another year has passed, a year of challenges and triumphs, a year of learning, memories... and a year to be grateful for. May the coming year bring us closer to our dreams. Happy New Year! :-) –Redge L., PR

  • For eight years this decade, we put up a 'crazy idea' into an organized form of journalism. The new decade beckons, but hope's there this crazy idea becomes crazier. THANK YOU for everything. Happy new year! –Jeremaiah, OFW Journalism Consortium

  • Commander Bilog sa yo! Melon, pakwan, chico, dalanghita, peras, duhat! –Alex U., illustrator

  • PARA DI MALASIN ANG NEW YEAR, huwag mo isali [ang mga] prutas na bilog na may itim ang buto tulad ng pakwan, chico, atis, atbp. ‘Wag maghanda ng ice cream para di matunaw ang swerte. ‘Wag maghanda ng may apat ang paa tulad ng baka, baboy, at kambing at baka tumakbo ang swerte. ‘Wag din mga isda at lamang dagat: malulunod ang swerte. ‘Wag din maghanda ng may pakpak tulad ng manok at pabo, para di lumipad ang swerte. ‘Wag ka na kayang maghanda? Ha Ha Ha, HAPPY NEW YEAR! –Dan, my brother
  • Happy New Year! Year of d Rabbit! Year ng mga Playboy! Hahahahaha –Richard P., classmate in Paco Catholic School batch 1985


From the Dancers of Ms. U., Massagers of Sky Fleet, Talents of Air Force One, Floor Manager of Alibangbang, Pickup Girls of Malate, Roomboys of Sogo, GROs of Asian entertainment and Receptionists of Victoria: We would like to greet our No.1 Customer a HAPPY HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Sir, punta kayo ulit, may mga bago tayo! –Ruel C., Malaya reporter