Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Love of Country

What Alvin Gale Tan started with 7107.com is commendable! I love his project of finding 7,107 reasons why he loves the Philippines!

It's funny how other nationalities find more reasons than Pinoys themselves why they love the Philippines. Yes, there are a lot not to love about the our country, but hey! Every country has its own problems. The story that Alvin shared on how he was inspired to started on this project shows just that!

I have a similar story to tell. I was riding the jeepney from Bontoc to Sagada. It was half full of foreigners and half by the locals. A group of tourists were talking amongst themselves. I wasn't trying to eavesdrop but I did hear what they were saying. Afterall, they weren't talking in whispers. It turns out that two of them, who look like bestfriends if not partners in life, have been going back to the Philippines every year. The guy they were talking to is visiting for the first time. So the two guys talk about how each year they allot a month to travel to the Philippines. They've been to Cebu, Palawan, Boracay etc. And this year, they're going to Sagada and then to Batangas. I was amazed at how much they've travelled. But I was even more amazed at how they made a comparison and observation of how pig's blood stew (that's dinuguan!)is cooked depending on the locality. They said that as you go down the Philippines, dinuguan gets more "soup-y" (yup, i invented that word, sorry)!

I think the perception that every other country is better than the Philippines still stems from our colonial past. Ambeth Ocampo even wrote once that Filipinos do not refer to us natives, but to the Spaniards born in the Islands.

This video will show the indio-Filipino relations better...

(I'm sorry, I just had to! I lurv Cherie Gil!)

Three hundred plus plus years of being told that we are second class citizens will no doubt take root in our psyche. This is not counting the time when the Americans "benevolently assmilated" the Philippines, which is just a new term for colonialization.

If we understand this part aof our history, we will understand why Pinoys today find it hard to feel good about themselves. We do love to flagellate ourselves. We tend to bring ourselves down. Ang Pinoy kasi ganito-ganyan (fill in with self-deprecatory remarks).

On the other hand, this also explains why Pinoys tend to play up Philippine prides such as Cong. Manny Pacquiao, Charice Pempengco, Lea Salonga and many others who have made the international scene. To us, being related to these very talented and successful Pinoys makes us feel proud to be Pinoys too. Note too, how we tend to hitch our wagon even on one-half or one-fourth, (or less) Pinoys whom we see on TV. Yes we should be proud of them! But that's not my point. Do we really need some extraordinary person, an extremely talented and persevering individual who made a name for him/herself to make us feel good about ourselves?

Even the "nationalisic trend" today where people go about bearing the Philippine map on their shirts makes me want to puke. It's so hypocritical! I hate to ask them why they're wearing that and hear a "HUh?" answer.

Alvin's project is badly needed! It's about time Pinoys learn to love their country inspite and despite of all its bad. The reasons to love your country need not be profound. The reason can be as simple as an Iloco empanada or the jeepney.

Thanks Alvin, for that vigorous shake you gave us!

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Blogwatch: beyond Campaign Promises

Blogwatch has really elevated blogging in the local scene. I am reminded of other international communities that also use their readership following to keep the public informed about politics. And to think that Blogwatch, according to this interview, just started as a voters education blog.

Watching this made me recall the year that was. The 2010 elections is foremost a statement election. Then “President” Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is sufferring from the lowest public approval a President has had since the Marcos Era, going as low as negative thirty-something. The most popular campaign line is of course Anti-GMA, and there were many takers. The handful brave men who ran under the administration ticket were doomed to lose. They received the Kiss of Death with open arms. Most presidential aspirants took the Anti-GMA stance. Any vote for the anti-GMA aspirants is a vote against GMA herself.

And so, P-Noy emerged victorious from the Anti-GMA pack, along the way, spouting numerous campaign promises, like supporting the RH Bill. I know P-Noy, next to his mother the late Corazon Aquino, is probably the most popular President post-Martial Law. But I don’t find myself as ecstatic of him as most people do. He has backtracked on a number of his promises already. I hate to think that he did all that just for rhetorics and rating.

Blogwatch was received warmly throughout the blogosphere and thus post-elections, shifted from being a voters education site to one that monitors the campaign promises of the victorious P-Noy. This I think is a very good move. Bloggers write about anything and everythings, from something as mundane as their pet rats, to food trips, from fashionable finds to the latest gadgets, among others. But political blogging is not as popular. Blogwatch bridged this gap and encouraged bloggers to be more socially and politically conscious. The advocacy for clean elections and post-elections monitoring has made Filipinos more involved and invested in the whole process. It is OUR future afterall that is at stake come election-time.

Having Blogwatch, like a watchdog, would keep P-Noy on his toes. One shouldn’t make promises they couldn’t keep. And Blogwatch makes it clear that the PEOPLE DO CARE and are NOT DUMB. They heard the campaign promises and wanted those promises fulfilled, that’s why he got their votes. And that they won’t just sit back and watch those promises turn to dust.

Blogwatch is indeed a very empowering tool for the masses. How many times have you have someone, anyone, utter a word of disgust for the government’s action, or lack of it, regarding the nation’s problems? How many times have you heard someone, anyone, say “Ganyan naman talaga ang mga pulitiko!” Or, see someone, anyone, shrug their shoulders while saying, “Wala nang pag-asa ang mga pinoy.” Blogwatch serves and will still serve as a venue for these people to rant all they want, but which is properly channeled. The opinions of every Juan and Maria gets arhived and sorted out in the various discussions. And the more they see that they are not alone in feeling duped my false promises, the more they will strive for those promises to be fulfilled. Yay!

Pinoys are said to have very short memories. Imagine this, a dictator that ruled for 20 years and broke so many lives and dreams, is now being seriously considered to be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, not counting of course his immediate family that has made a remarking political comeback! Many atrocious and scandalous events in the political history of our country has been buried and forgotten. So too will the campaign promises be if there is no one to keep it alive, to remind the one who made them his responsibility of seeing them through and fought for, if not fully realized.

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Buying and Selling Online: the Caveat Emptor

One episode in DigitalFilipino talks featured the General Manager of Ayosdito.ph, Jon Santico. Ayosdito.ph is one of the classified ads sites that I frequent. In light of the mushrooming multiply and facebook online shops, I admit, I’m a little old school using a classified ads site.

Generally the episode tackled the buy and sell business. I liked that Santico opened the topic about secondhand items that are being sold. He even mentioned of cleaning out the old stuff from you closet of home and then selling it online. I never thought of buy and sell that way before. I thought the buy and sell business is purely buying individual items at very low prices and then selling it for a little profit. I didn’t think that even the simple act of putting your old wares on sale is already buying and selling.


One important topic that the episode covered has something to do with security. How much or how little information about you, as a seller, should you divulge to prospective buyers. This is a very good point. I have seen sellers who include in their post the RFS or Reason For Selling. This must have stemmed from a particular tendency of buyers to ask the seller why he’s selling his item, especially if its secondhand. Reasons could range from badly needing money for something else, to a duplicate or extra item, etc. I doubt if all of these is true.

Let me say that buying and selling online should first and foremost be on the professional level. So far, I’ve only encountered two j@cka&$es online. One is someone who insists on knowing why I can’t buy his phone just yet, where is my husband etc. The other is someone who constantly sends text messages of reserving my phone for him and who keeps on texting me even after the deal has been consummated. I am even thinking of changing my phone number now.

Now, Santico said that the item description is and should be enough if you’re selling something. There is no need for you to share your email or cellphone number if you don’t want to. Ayosdito.ph and other classified ads site has this feature that prospective buyers can contact you and inquire about your product through a form that the site has provided. This I think is very safe, albeit a little slow mode of communication. Currently, for the items that I am selling online, I have chosen to use this feature to minimize spam texts and spent cellphone load. 


Santico also offered tips on how to buyers can protect themselves from scammers. One is to ask the seller to meet you in a public place. If he doesn’t want too, that is one red flag. Another is to be suspicious of sellers who ask you for downpayment before shipping out the product.

In my early years of buying online, I was almost victimized by a Nigerian scam. I was selling my old cellphone then. A man inquired about it and expressed interest in buying it. So, details for the payment were discussed. Most users in that particular site back then were using money transfers, so I thought that would be a good idea. I told my buyer to send his payment through that money transfer. He then returned my mail and said that they already have the control number for my payment, which they included in the email. But it was missing the last three numbers which they said would only be given to me after I ship the cellphone to them. I was already wary. But still I checked out the shipping rate for the address my seller had given, and it was more than the amount of the item I am selling! That made me suspicious. So I went to the Forum and sought help from the oldies but goodies of the site. They told me that it was a scam and that they’ve already suspended the account of that buyer. The next thing I know, this seller is sending me private messages that he’s not a scammer and that it’s me who doesn’t know who to make a deal.

By the way, I found numerous threads there of accounts of being scammed. One girl was even scammed of the laptop she was selling. She fell for the same modus operandi.

For me, I pride myself in being street smart and I would like to think that I am internet savvy too. For added security I never transact alone in a place I am not familiar with. Earlier on, one “buyer” made me come all the way to Monumento and didn’t show up. I wasted several cellphone load on her as she was constantly asking questions about the unit, using different numbers and personas nonetheless. Still, stupid me fell for that! The next day, when I was standing there at our meeting place for more than an hour, no one was answering the cellphone number she used.

Eniweis, another security measure is not to transact at night. I make sure I always do business in a public place while there is still light. And lastly, I don’t divulge that I am a girl. I offer that information on the last minute, when we are already meeting up.

What about you, what security measures do you take when transacting online?

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E-Commerce: Beyond COD

I am admittedly a greenhorn in online transactions. I have fewer than 20 succesful transactions and most of these are done face-to-face or thru meetups.

So far I have bought:
a crib
a baby sling
and 6 cellphones

I have also sold:
3 cellphones
2 pairs of brassiere

Of these, only one transaction has very minimal human intervention, on our parts as buyer-seller.

Although I am no stranger to the internet and is an eager browser of online merchandise, I sometimes find it hard to bring myself to click the BUY NOW button. I’m many Pinoys feel the same way I do.

When CEO Bjorn Pardo said that one thing that keeps people from buying online is not having a credit card or the reluctance to use it online.Let me get back to you on this. First, I would like to add a few things why buyers like me have secondthoughts on buying online.

1. Payment Terms – like what Pardo said, most online transactions require a credit card directly or indirectly, and which is not accesible to anyone. Luckily, there are other options available now like electronic money , money order and such. They seem flexible enough but that is only after you’ve enrolled in them or had to present any proof of identification before cashing out your money.

2. Fear of Getting it Wrong – one thrill of shopping that online shopping cannot replicate is the sight, sound and feel of it. I am not talking about being in the thick of all things hot and sweaty, especially during crunch time shopping. I am talking about being able to fit the the clothes your buying. Being able to feel the texture of an item, rotating it 360 degrees so you can see it from every angle, the power to be able to examine the product as thoroughly as you can. Whereas in online shopping, in my case for example, I rely on actual pictures of the item, description, on reviews and most importantly on the honesty of seller I want to transact with.

3. Fear of being Scammed – this is what every shopper is araid of. Even those who do conventional shopping are wary of being ripped-off, paying for products that don’t live up to its, well, price. For online shoppers, the nightmare is being scammed into wiring or transfering your money to someone else’s bank account and then not receiving the product that you purchased.

I understand that both modes of shopping, conventional or online, have innate problems. As for online shopping, I think the biggest factor lies in honesty issues. This is the reason why most Pinoys would opt for COD or Cash on Delivery, that way both seller and buyer’s needs are met. The seller disposes of his wares while the buyer gets what he pays for.

What Pardo said, that Xend would be venturing into COD terms of payment, I think would be very beneficial for the growth of e-commerce. For one it answers a fundamental problem area in online transactions. This is very convenient for both parties and beneficial too. They enjoy the benefit of hassle-free transactions. It would be like doing meet-ups, only you have Xend to do it for you.

So, do you prefer the effort-consuming COD or the hassle-free deliveries via courier?

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Monday, March 7, 2011

Babae by Inang Laya, Sung in Party Pilipinas

Last Sunday, I couldn't believe my ears when I heard Babae sung on TV, in Party Pilipinas no less. I was still a bit groggy from my catnap so I just made do with listening to it, not bothering to get up at all. It was part of a medley of songs that an all-girl group (the usual singers in Party Pilipinas) performed on stage. I couldn't find a video clip of that performance, so I went for this one containing the lyrics.

Looks like this song would likely take the course that Kanlungan and Tatsulok did. Kanlungan is the song that McDonald's used in one of its ads, since then Noel Cabangon revived his humdrum career. Tatsulok did even better than Kanlungan. It was sung by Bamboo, no wonder even kids were singing to it.

These are songs that tibaks or activists sing to and just one of the many alternative tunes that attempt to paint a different picture of the Philippine society. It is a song that most women can relate to. More than this, this song, if taken to heart, can and aims to empower women to not be slaves of society and patriarchy.

In having Babae performed on Party Pilipinas, I hope more women (and MEN!) listen to the lyrics with their hearts and let it open their minds to the plight of pinays today. The Maria Clara/Cinderella psyche is still a force to reckon with.

But please remember, singing Babae doesn't make you a feminist. Much like wearing a shirt with the Philippine map make you truly patriotic.

A salute to all women striving to make a change!

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