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Wednesday, September 28, 2011


His Holiness Benedict XVI
Apostolic Palace
00120 Vatican City State, Europe

Most Holy Father,

The Philippines has recently been hit by another typhoon. Countless have lost what little property they possessed. Thousands are now homeless. And that is only in Metro Manila. Those residing in the provinces are resilient folk. They will get back to their business of living each day as before. Working on the land or fishing off the sea. 

The urban poor in Metro Manila are a different story.

They live in shanties in the squatter areas, mostly on reclaimed land from Manila Bay. Thousands live on the street, under bridges, sidewalks. They barely eat three meals each day. They have few clothes. Most go barefoot.

The Catholic Church is a rich organization. Why can't you alleviate the plight of your flock? Relocate these people to higher ground. Build vertical tenements for them so that they no longer clog our waterways with their trash. They will be out of harm's way during typhoons, and the metropolis will be able to cope with flooding once these vulnerable areas are cleared for water to be able to pass freely.

Open up your vast landholdings (not only in Metro Manila, but around the country) for these development projects. And once you've given them housing -- educate them. Majority of the best educational institutions in our country are run by the Catholic Church. But ironically, cater only to the rich. Can you not instruct these Universities to have a counterpart that would provide the same quality education but at a lower cost if not free for the Urban Poor? The Vatican has enough resources for this undertaking.

Education will help them help themselves. Provide skills so that later on they will be able to get jobs. Or even acquire skills to be entrepreneurs.

The Catholic Church has power over our people and our country. Wield that power to lift your flock up from poverty. You like to boast that the Philippines is the only Roman Catholic country in Asia -- but, sadly it is lagging behind its Asian neighbors. Surely, you would want us to showcase that Catholicism can and should be able to provide basic needs of the people?!

By doing so, you will prove that The Roman Catholic Church is a force for good!

With Love in Christ,


Friday, September 9, 2011


Yesterday I started a page on Facebook called "The Baguio We Want" -- I was wanting for a 'venue' where concerned citizens  could get together and discuss issues that are of interest and relevance to the city. This effort was partly due to the numerous status updates I've read regarding the Irisan Dumpsite slide during the last typhoon and also the alarming concern of (mostly) mothers with regards to the disappearances of teenage females in Baguio. I was zealous in spreading the page to all my friends on Facebook.

Subsequently I made a petition also yesterday to take down the Billboards on Session Road.  Again, I shared the link with numerous friends and groups on FB. 

On the U.P. Baguio Alumni Association Facebook Page, I posted said link and immediately I got a comment. I am copy-pasting the thread for everyone to read. I have changed the person's name to 'Alumnus' to protect his privacy.

Alumnus: "yes remove na rin natin ang mga lahat ng sense of commercialization sa Baguio! Remove SM Baguio, remove na ang mga old buildings remove na natin lahat! remove na rin natin lahat ng tao para wala na problem ang mother earth! lahat iremove na natin!!! take them down"

Me: (I clicked on his profile and found out he works in advertising) "With all due respect Alumnus, I also work in advertising -- hindi nga lang sa print or billboards (mas sa TV and AVPs ako) anyway, let's not be defeatist about this. If you have gone up to Baguio lately, hindi naman talaga kanais-nais ang billboards sa Session Road. Ang gulo-gulo tignan. Some are almost even as large as the buildings they're on. Where is the sense of 'aesthetics' and Urban Planning here? Remember that the environs have a direct and great impact on the people within a specific community. Kung 'topsy-turvy' ang kapaligiran -- walang sense of order -- ergo, walang disicipline ang mamamayan, walang cohesion, walang civic pride.

Kung ang tao nga takes pains to make him/herself look presentable, can't we demand the same from our communites?!"

Alumnus: "Puki mo defeatist, simple lang yan. At hindi masyado maraming blah...

Occam's razor "the simplest solution is the best solution"

a. Sunugin ang Baguio and let nature take its course.
b. Kung napapangitan ka sa Baguio ngayon, wag ka tumingin.

Where's the sense of aesthetics? Where's the sense of blah? Puki mo... yung mga simpleng problema nga eh super pagtatalo eh. Yan pa kaya mga sinasabi mo na sense of togetherness. idealist twit"

Me: "You're contradicting yourself. Simple lang yan. Ayaw mong mag-sign ng petition. Don't sign. You have to resort to name calling?!"

Alumnus: "Feeling nagmamalinis ka. 

O sige na kalinisan ka na. Papetipetition ka pa blah! leche"

I left it at that.

My first reaction upon reading those comments was: 'And those exactly are the kind of people that make Baguio what it is today -- The Apathetic and Uncouth'

Now, the reason behind "The Baguio We Want" page and the "Take Down Those Billboards" petition is precisely to rally the citizenry to get our act together. We need to move and behave as one community -- a strong community that works with the system. And to ensure that the system works.

I am hoping that "The Baguio We Want" transcends from being a mere FB page and burgeon into a 'movement'. A 'movement' that is free from the partisan and divisive politicking of late. And I am engaging this in today's Social Media, because I believe these platforms are effective for social change as we have seen in other communities/nations.

"The Baguio We Want" is non-political and non-sectarian. It is likewise open to all citizens regardless of sexual preference, ethnicity, or demographic (social class, age, education). 

"The Baguio We Want" is Us! It is us ordinary citizens who want the same thing for Baguio and ourselves. We want a Clean Baguio. We want a Green Baguio. We want a Safe Baguio. We want a Peaceful Baguio.

So you may ask, what are WE going to do?

We can start by asking questions. And demanding answers. And to ask more questions if we're not satisfied. (Sometimes the answers are just a google away).

Let us also get involved in the transformation of our beloved city. Let's involve our children and family members. Let's get involved as students in our schools or as parents in PTA meetings. Let's involve our close friends. Let's get involved in our businesses and offices. Let's get involved in our Barangays. Let's get involved in our Civic Organizations, our Clubs, our Athletic Organizations. Let's get involved with the Media. You get the picture...

And then let's work WITH City Hall. With the Police, Fire, Health, and City Planning Departments. Let us let them know we are doing OUR part and that they SHOULD do theirs.

The Taking-Down-Of-Billboards is just the first step. Please sign the petition:

Thank You Very Much! Dios Ti Agngina kadakayo Amin!