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Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Filipino ‘pakiusap’ mentality needs to eradicated!

December 31, 2015
by benign0
Pakiusap is a very Filipino term. At best, it is (1) an appeal for consideration taking into account unforeseen circumstances. At worst, it is (2) a request that rules be worked around presumably for a greater good.
In the Filipino setting, both cases are usually premised by flawed thinking. Take the earlier case, an appeal taking into account “unforeseen circumstances”. The problem with that notion is that, in the Philippines, unforeseen circumstances have become more the rule than the exception. And so, Filipinos are in perpetual ‘pakiusap’ mode when dealing with that quintessentially “urgent” national unforeseen circumstance: poverty. Nobody wants to be poor. But, as previously pointed out, poverty is habitual entering into commitments one is inherently incapable of honouring.
Note the emphasis on the word “habitual”. Most people start out poor. Indeed, everyone is born with nothing, essentially. But for a people to habitually do things that keep them poor says something powerful. In the specific case of the Philippines, it should be now quite evident to most that poverty can no longer be regarded as an ‘unforeseen’ circumstance. Filipinos should be experts on poverty by now, having been an impoverished nation for pretty much all of its history as an “independent” nation.
Now take the latter case; pakiusap regarded as “a request that rules be worked around presumably for a greater good”. To the dyed-in-the-wool typical Filipino, this is as homey a concept as apple pie is to Americans. It’s the Pinoy Wayelegantly encapsulated. We see this sort of thinking underlying many (if not all) of the aspects of the national “debate” today.
One big example is the whole Grace Poe disqualification issue gripping the nation as it barrels down the road to the 2016 presidential elections. Poe’s entire appeal to the people and the powers-that-be to allow her to continue her run for President of the Philippines is based on this kind of pakiusap. “Let the people decide”, her supporters say. Never mind that the law is quite clear on the matter. It is no wonder that Filipinos are free to decide when and where in public spaces to piss and spit. It is no wonder Filipino motorists feel they are at complete liberty to change lanes and cross intersections whenever and wherever they choose. It is no wonder that presidents and senators feel like they can decide how much of taxpayers’ money they could withdraw from the national treasury unilaterally for whatever pet “project” that captures their fancy.
Pakiusap lang naman po.
The really annoying aspect of this national condition is that Filipinos are perennially on the pakiusap side of the equation. Filipinos, in short, are almost never in a position to negotiate hard — because they never have a strong position on any matter to begin with. Our appeals to the world as a people are always on ‘humanitarian’ bases that, in constant exercises in futility, we try to package into powerful-looking value propositions. It is no wonder that the global community look to the plight of Third World countries like the Philippines with mere bemusement at best, to be responded to with no more than quaint token gestures.
Perhaps, then, this is why pakiusap mentality has taken its place as a key pillar of Filipino culture. Argumentum ad pakiusap is now the Filipino’s favourite style of debate. It is because Filipinos have forgotten how to win competitively and have settled for this pathetic style of winning by default.

The Seven Stages of OFW Spousal Infidelity

December 30, 2015
by rafterman
In my previous article, there was a commenter there that argued that Filipinos are good at creating opportunities for themselves because they become OFWs. This is despite the fact that those opportunities are not really created by the OFWs themselves but their host countries. Thanks to the media hyping them as “bagong bayani” or modern day heroes, a lot of Filipinos talk as if OFWism is such a great thing and we should all be proud of it. I beg to disagree. There are a lot of social consequences brought about by families being apart for long periods of time, with the children lacking guidance and growing up in an environment with incomplete parental components. I have observed this because I was an OFW myself and have seen how families and individuals behaved both abroad and in the Philippines.
Let me begin with just one of the consequences that people have been trying to hide or are too embarrassed to even admit. I am going to open up a topic that has mostly been just discussed in the form of whispers between groups of idle housewives or in alcohol charged bouts of bragging between “kumpares” about who “scored” yet again.
Do you really know what happens when you board that plane and sign off one or two years of your life to a job thousands of miles away from your partner? It has been happening since the beginning of the OFW phenomenon and it is just part of human nature that if you feel the itch, you just have to scratch it. If your husband or wife is not there to do the scratching, then your kumpare, kumare or even some random person they meet on line, at work or at the mall will be more than happy to do the job. Not all turn out this way, or this exact way but here is how it typically goes:
1. The OFW finds a job that pays a wage that would give his or her family a better lifestyle so they tearfully say their goodbyes, renew their promises of love and vow to keep their chastity until the other to returns. The OFW then thinks that everyday, his wife is just longing for the day she will pick him up at the airport while she stares at his pictures every night.
2. The wife then goes out with her friends, each of her “amigas” have boyfriends, husbands or “friends with benefits” while she is by her lonesome trying to ignore the fact that while others have warm bodies around them that they could rub and vice versa, she is on her own with nothing but her cel phone and laptop to warm her up at night. She keeps her libido like a little lizard concealed underneath her blanket hoping it will stay there and never get out until her husband comes back. But that little lizard grows by the day and eventually becomes Godzilla.
3. One of the amigas is a “bad influence” and jokes about how the OFW spouse is “tigang” and she should “take care of her needs”. She just laughs it off and says “kayo talaga” but thoughts come into her mind. They then see the numerous “affair movies” like Ex with Benefits or The Other Woman which trivializes infidelity and helps makes lecherous behavior a norm.
4. A guy gets introduced into the group of friends who is single or has a wife who is an OFW and is also alone. They start talking about how hard it is to be apart from someone you love, how sometimes they argue but she still longs for his arms and stuff like that. She now has a shoulder to cry on and a listening ear but she vows that they should only be “just good friends” because they simply have so much in common. Just friends, just friends, just friends… she repeats like a mantra.
5. They do Karaoke, go out to the beach, have some alcohol, physical activities and something just… kinda happened. They then become a couple and the OFW wife spends her husband’s hard earned money to support her unemployed boy toy and nothing gets saved. They all go to the SoGo establishment where hot nights of schmoozing and oozing take place.
6. The OFW husband then wonders where all the money he sent home went. That is the money he sent home after spending it on dates with his own girlfriend in the country he is in.
7. The kids grow up without a complete set of parents to guide them. If they are boys and their father figure is absent, they become weak willed and lacking in confidence. The girls meanwhile, become slutty and may get pregnant early.
Could the OFW phenomenon be a major contributor as to why the generations of Filipinos are becoming worse and worse? The lack of parental guidance and love seem to have made the youth weak and lacking in intelligence. It has also made our women vulnerable overseas. I am sure no one will say this in polite conversation but it is well known that a lot of Filipina Domestic Helpers in Hong Kong or Singapore are slutting themselves out to Bangladeshi construction workers while their pedicab driving husbands who they remit money to in The Philippines use it for their dates watching the latest Aldub movies with the labandera next door.
Then we have the wife of the high paid OFW in the Middle East or in the high seas who get swept off their feet by their dance instructors or gym trainors paid for by “Katas ng Saudi”.
So next time you think that OFWism is such a good thing, take a closer look at the spouses of OFWs and see what they are doing. You will be surprised. Or not. 😉


I am glad to have the privilege of being able to express my views via the GRP blog. I live in Southern California with my wife and kid and have a business dealing with real property. Between business and family, I amuse myself by observing different cultures and how they influence the destinies of individuals and groups. Thank you for reading.

Filipinos hold on to PNoy’s promise to throw himself, Jun Abaya under a train

December 30, 2015
by Ilda
As the pressure from Filipino Netizens intensified and became too hard to ignore, Malacanang had no choice but to finally address President Benigno Simeon Aquino’s promise to get run over by a train if the Light Rail Transit (LRT) extension doesn’t get delivered by the end of 2015.
According to Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, the President’s statement that he and Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya were ready to be run over by train if the extension would not push through within two years should not be taken literally. He said that when BS Aquino promised in 2013 that the project would be completed in two years’ time, “the bidding process was just about to take place” and the whole process of awarding the project was completed only in September 2015.
President BS Aquino: His promises do not match his ability to deliver.
President BS Aquino: His promises do not match his ability to deliver.
Coloma’s statement is a classic example of how BS Aquino government conveniently issues lame excuses to avoid taking accountability for its failure to do what they said they would do. The people running this current government thinks all members of the public are idiots who could not see through their deception.
The problem with Coloma’s statement is that, if we are not supposed to take BS Aquino’s promise to fix the LRT extension by 2015 seriously, then what statements from him are we supposed to take seriously? Should the public assume that he is merely joking or doesn’t know what he is talking about all the time? To be fair, the public should take some blame for taking BS Aquino seriously as a Presidential candidate in 2009 in the first place.
The voters should have treated Noynoy Aquino as a nuisance candidate back in 2009 because he became a nuisance and a waste of people’s time during his entire term in office.
BS Aquino never really got over being in permanent campaign mode even after he already won the Presidency. His speeches quite often contain motherhood statements and promises most rational folks know he won’t be able to keep. Some would say he is full of bullshit. As the saying goes, the person who is slowest in making a promise is most faithful in its performance. That’s not something we can say about BS Aquino. He is quite the opposite. He is too quick to make promises without bothering to study if his promises are realistic. He promised to pass the Freedom of Information (FOI) bill but apparently realized later on that the bill when passed into law would mean he has to be more transparent with his transactions. That measure, once implemented, would have exposed all his shenanigans.
The reason why BS Aquino quite often lands in hot water with the public is because he brags about his proposals or plans as if they had already been accomplished. This could be the reason why he became so obsessed with some of his proposed policies like the Bangsamoro Basic Law. It is likely that he already made a deal with the leaders of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front even before the bill was passed into law in Congress. He probably bragged that the deal would be in the bag and would not encounter any objections. No wonder he was in panic mode after the Mamasapano clash happened.
Going back to BS Aquino’s promise to have himself and Abaya run over by a train, it’s not hard to realize that he did not coordinate properly with his cabinet members about the correct time frame and the details of where the project was at. His own staff should share the blame for not giving him the right information. They are either too beholden to him or too scared to correct him. Either way, they all look like fools now.
In some societies like Japan, public servants resign when they break their campaign promise. That doesn’t happen in the Philippines. Most Filipino public servants are too thick-skinned and hold on to their positions as long as possible even when their incompetence already causes misery or sometimes death.
Unfortunately for Coloma, though he insists that BS Aquino should not be taken literally, a lot of Filipinos are serious about their demands for the President and Abaya to throw themselves under a train by the end of 2015. It’s something they have been looking forward to for months.
* * *
See President BS Aquino’s promise captured on video:


In life, things are not always what they seem.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

If Grace Poe truly cared for her country, she should quit the presidential race NOW.

December 29, 2015
by benign0
What does it mean for the 2016 presidential elections now that the Philippines’ Supreme Court (SC) reportedly granted candidate Grace Poe a stay on a 23rd December Commission on Elections (COMELEC) en banc resolution to disqualify her?
According to COMELEC spokesman James Jimenez, it means, Poe’s name will remain in the ballot until the Supreme Court makes a final decision on her qualification to run for president. But, according to the Inquirer report, “If Poe’s name remained in the ballots and the SC ultimately decides that she is not qualified to run for president, her votes will be considered stray.”
Even if she wins this election, Grace Poe's on-going legal woes will fatally cripple her presidency.
Even if she wins this election, Grace Poe’s on-going legal woes will fatally cripple her presidency.
There is a saying that people, organisations, and entire societies that are committed to excellence in every endeavour hold themselves to:
Do it right the firsttime.
It is the simplest formula for success.
Interestingly enough, we are approaching the New Year where most normal people supposedly make “resolutions” to do things better. In this sad grappling with this Grace Poe case, the Philippines, again, rather than sashaying with grace (pun not intended) into 2016 awkwardly stumbles into it. What a way to start the year and what a way to prepare for a change in administration that occurs only every six years. The Philippines certainly remains true to sad form in all the important things.
It is disturbing that nobody sees anything wrong with the way we are exposing an entire presidential election to a fatal tainting and, possibly, an entire six-year administration to paralysis. Here’s why…
Firstly, if Poe is eventually disqualified following this “temporary restraining order” (TRO) issued by the SC, her votes will, as noted earlier, be “considered stray”. Take a moment to think of the implications of this. We are toying with the votes of what is currently (if we are to believe these dubious “surveys”) the most popular bet amongst this sorry lot. We’re talking millions and millions of votes that could, in one fell SC swoop sometime between now and May 2016, be rendered useless when Poe is finally disqualified. And if we take the letter of the law as the most reliable basis for assessing this risk, one would put good money on the disqualification track. It would irrevocably put the mandate of whoever wins in her place to question. Philippine Elections 2016 will be the 2015 Miss Universe pageant all over again, this time on a national scale!
Second, if Poe, by some Catholic miracle, manages to make it past this legal inconvenience and get elected President of the Philippines, she will likely be facing a six-year presidency marked by a crisis of legitimacy from beginning to the bitter end. It will be a colossal waste of time and effort that the Philippines can ill-afford. With so many pressing matters of national consequence begging to be focused upon, a President Grace Poe who will be spending a sizeable chunk of her time battling impeachment complaints made on the back of her unresolved citizenship will be a lame duck at best.
Considering that Grace Poe is yet another one of those OJT (on-the-job trainee) presidents, the last thing she needs is a mentally-taxing and morale-sapping legal battle just to cling to power for six years. Why, one just can’t help asking, are Filipinos, who are part of a 100-million strong nation, settling for a presidential candidate who, by all measures, has failure written all over her since birth (literally!). The fact that not one good presidential canidate could be found in a country of 100 million certainly says a lot about the Philippines.
Why can’t Filipinos, do it right the first time?
Why are Filipinos placing their bets on a candidate who is destined to lose the war regardless of how many battles she wins? We certainly earned the monicker Fail-ippines hands down. We choose to fail rather than succeed.

Grace Poe should drop out of the presidential race for the sake of unity

December 28, 2015
by Ilda
Philippine senator and 2016 Presidential aspirant Grace Poe who was once very popular among Filipino voters is now becoming another polarizing figure after the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Second Division cancelled her Certificate of Candidacy for the presidency. Their decision is based on grounds that she is not a natural-born citizen and has not met the minimum 10-year Philippine residency required to run for President. Apparently, her claim that she has resided in the Philippines for at least 10 years contradicts what she wrote in her COC for senator in 2013 – that she had been a resident of the Philippines for 6 years and 6 months only. In light of that, the COMELEC decided that Poe has committed material misrepresentation. The implication of that is, she could even be disqualified as a senator.
Mounting legal issues surrounding Grace Poe could distract both her and Filipinos from more pressing challenges facing the nation.
Mounting legal issues surrounding Grace Poe could distract both her and Filipinos from more pressing challenges facing the nation.
Poe has only one option left to pursue and that is, to go to the Supreme Court and appeal for a reversal of the COMELEC’s decision using the “honest mistake” excuse in filing her COC in 2013. Her chance of succeeding is not looking good though. Some of the Supreme Court judges who were also members of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) already ruled against her citizenship status earlier. They are unlikely to rule in her favor on her appeal. Most of the judges cited the law in their decision and it would be safe to assume that the rest of the Supreme Court judges would follow the law as well.
It is very unfortunate for Poe that the law is clear on the citizenship status of foundlings. According to the law, since she cannot trace her parents and cannot prove her Filipino lineage, she is not a natural born Filipino but a naturalized Filipino citizen. Only natural born Filipinos can run for the Presidency.
Dealing with her foundling issue is one thing but what makes things complicated is the fact that Poe also renounced her Philippine citizenship after she took up her American citizenship in 2001. That is the issue that gets some people’s goat. There are people who think she is a traitor for doing that. Some have gone on to say that she was a traitor twice. The first time was when she turned her back on the Philippines and the second time was when she turned her back on her adoptive country, the United States of America when she renounced her American citizenship in 2010. They think that she did not take her oaths of citizenship seriously. And that was before she took another oath as Movie and Television Review and Classification Board chair.
I disagree with people who say that Poe is a traitor. Based on her own accounts, I would say that she was simply confused and could have been suffering from an identity crisis at the time. It seems she tried living abroad but after a few years, decided that she preferred to live in the Philippines. Some might find her decision baffling considering there are millions of Filipinos who would rather be living in the U.S. than the god-forsaken country that is the Philippines.
But Poe is one of those fortunate members of the Philippine elite who has powerful connections and is offered powerful jobs in government. Life was peachy for Poe until she became a threat to other Presidential aspirants like Mar Roxas. It is a shame she had to learn the hard way how ugly Philippine politics is. She found out the real character of her “allies” just by running for the Presidency. Perhaps those who despise her should blame President Benigno Simeon Aquino for paving the way for her to enter Philippine politics despite her questionable citizenship status back in 2010.
While I may not be a Poe supporter, I don’t think her citizenship status is a big deal. I prefer to focus on whether or not she is capable of leading 100 million Filipinos. Is she that good that Filipinos are being denied an opportunity to be led by someone who can make a big difference to the country? Is it really worth disregarding the law just to accommodate Poe? My answer to both questions is no. She hasn’t even finished her first term as a senator and in the less than three years she has been in the senate, she has not made a difference at all.
Poe quite often exhibited lack of resolve in a lot of issues in the past. An example of this was when she did not pursue holding BS Aquino accountable for the deaths of 44 members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force in the hands of Muslim rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front back in early 2015. That was after a senate report, which she commissioned, found that the President knew about the operation and ordered the military to stand down instead of helping the embattled forces.
Poe was also slow to act on problems involving the public transport system particularly the MRT. She could have spoken out against failure to improve the trains system earlier on considering she was seen riding the MRT way back in 2014. One can be forgiven for thinking that that was just for photo op and that she only started criticizing the head of the Department of Transportation and Communication Jun Abaya late in 2015 just to appeal to the angry voters.
I also question Poe’s sincerity. Like I said before, her use of her maiden name Poe instead of her married name Llamanzares says a lot. One, she is relying on the popularity of her late father, who was a revered actor, to win the votes and, therefore, she ranks right up there with most traditional politicians like her friend BS Aquino. Less than a decade in politics and it seems like Poe’s already been swallowed up by the system. Two, using her father’s popular name means she cannot stand on her own. That’s not a good sign. She is willing to live under the shadow of a man whose only real credential was being a successful actor in the Philippines. That in itself says something about the low bar the voters set for their leaders.
But never mind what I think of Poe. The point here is, Poe’s case is dividing the sentiments of the Filipino people. Even if she wins her case in the Supreme Court, the die has been cast. There are already Filipinos who do not believe they should be led by an American citizen or someone who is married to an American citizen. Their sentiments about patriotism may be misguided but the fact remains, their belief is strong and if Poe wins the election — if she is allowed to run — these people will not support her Presidency. One can predict another tumultuous six years under a leader who will not have a strong mandate.
One wonders if all of Poe’s legal woes would not have surfaced had she agreed to run as Mar Roxas’s Vice President instead. After all, the Liberal Party at the start turned a blind eye to the fact that she was a foundling and that she did not meet the 10-year minimum residency requirement. Malacanang’s excuse that they were not aware of her problems is lame. BS Aquino should actually share the blame for Poe’s legal problems. He was the one who handpicked her for the MTRCB. Her case is another example of the Philippines’ debilitating patronage politics.
The situation with Poe has the potential to get even uglier for Filipinos. If the COMELEC allows Poe’s name on the ballot and wins the election due to her popularity, then her term could be spent responding to disqualification cases filed by her rivals. How then can she accomplish anything significant for the country? A Poe Presidency could be another wasted six-years.
If Poe really wants what is best for the Philippines, she should considering backing out of the Presidential race for the sake of unity. It will help remove some of the inconsequential issues the Filipino people have to deal with.

Do Not Eat Tilapia!

Claim:   Eating farm-raised tilapia and other fish from China is dangerous. 

ALWAYS buy wild caught fish NEVER farm raised!

I read several articles on Google about this, and even one that was defending the eating of tilapia said to avoid the fish that came from China. Also, I had just returned home from buying Albertson's4-day special of 4 bags of frozen tilapia for the price of one. Sure enough, on the top of the bags, it read "farm raised", and on the bottom in small print it said, "China".

I recently saw a Food inspector on TV.... He said he had lived overseas and he had seen the filthy conditions their foods are raised and processed in.

It is enough to make you throw up. Some foreign workers have to wear masks as they work in these places, because the food is so rotten and filthy, it makes them want to throw up. Many of their Fish on Fish Farms are fed Raw sewage daily. He said he has seen so much filth throughout their food growing and processing that he would "never" eat any of it. They raise this filth, put some food coloring and some flavorings on it, then they ship it to the USA for YOU to consume and feed to YOUR families. They have no Food & Safety Inspectors. They ship it to you to buy and poison your families and friends.

Origins:   Tilapia are a fast-growing tropical species of fish native to Africa whose popularity in the commercial food industry has surged in recent years.

The world quietly reached a milestone in the evolution of the human diet in 2011. For the first time in modern history, world farmed fish production topped beef production. The gap widened in 2012, with output from fish farming — also called aquaculture — reaching a record 66 million tons, compared with production of beef at 63 million tons. And 2013 may well be the first year that people eat more fish raised on farms than caught in the wild.(Technically, tilapia is not the name of one specific species of fish but rather a common name for dozens of different species of cichlid fish.) Tilapia is now the fourth most-consumed seafood in the United States, after shrimp, tuna and salmon, and due to increased demand, much of the tilapia consumed by the public is now farm-raised rather than wild-caught. A June 2013 report from the Earth Policy Institute noted that worldwide production of farmed fish now not only exceeds the production of beef, but that consumption of farmed fish is soon expected to exceed consumption of wild-caught fish: 

One of the reasons for the popularity of tilapia is that they are short-lived and primarily vegetarian and therefore do not accumulate substantial amounts of mercury by consuming other fish, as other common predatory food fish (such as tuna) do. This factor also means, as reported in a June 2013 National Geographic article, that tilapia are more efficient to farm because they eat lower on the food chain: 

Andy Sharpless, the CEO of Oceana [an ocean conservation organization] explained that many popular food species like salmon are carnivorous, often devouring other fish. So when farmed, they eat upwards of five pounds of small fish to produce just one pound of salmon, a net loss of protein.

"We're actually taxing the oceans every time we eat farmed salmon instead of relieving it," said Sharpless. "Aquaculture should add edible protein to the world, not reduce it."

Carl Safina, author, conservationist, and Ocean Views contributor, said he isn't surprised that farmed fish have overtaken beef, because the process is more efficient. "It's probably more like Step One in a long-term downsizing," said Safina.

He explained that people will soon start eating more farmed carp and tilapia, because they are lower on the food chain, and therefore more efficient — a driving force in an increasingly overpopulated world.

"We're down mainly to two mammals (cows and pigs) and two birds (chickens and turkeys), and seafood is probably headed in that same direction as the spectacular variety of our overfished ocean yields to a few easily farmed, efficiently fed fish," said Safina. "A crowded world has less room for choices; that's the bull lurking in this china shop."

Farmed fish aren't necessarily inferior to their wild-caught brethren, any more than farmed beef or grain is inferior to wild varieties of those foods. And there's no guarantee that wild-caught fish are a safer food source than farmed fish, as the former often ingest a variety of toxins and other pollutants that flow into the world's waterways. However, farmed tilapia can vary considerably in quality based on where they are produced. Tilapia are typically farmed in the U.S. and Canada using tanks with closed recirculating systems, but much of the tilapia consumed by Americans is imported from Latin America and Asia (particularly Ecuador, China, and Taiwan), where the fish are usually raised in outdoor freshwater ponds. (China is the world's largest producer of farmed tilapia, supplying approximately 40% of global production; nearly 40% of that output is exported to the U.S., primarily in the form of frozen fillets.) As reported by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), in Ecuador tilapia are grown at low densities alongside shrimp to reduce water pollution, resulting in less disease and chemical use. But in China and Taiwan, water pollution and the use of chemicals in tilapia farming is a concern. 

One of the issues with tilapia farmed in China is that smaller, independent farmers face economic pressures to use animal manure rather than more expensive commercial feed for farmed fish, a practice which contaminates water and makes the fish more susceptible to spreading foodborne diseases. A July 2009 report from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the safety of food imports from China noted that in that country "Fish are often raised in ponds where they feed on waste from poultry and livestock" and cited an increased rate of FDA rejection of fish imports from China between 2000 and 2008: 

Fish and shellfish products were the industry group with the most refusals from China, followed by vegetables and fruit products. Fish/shellfish share of refusals from China doubled from about 20 percent in 2000-04 to nearly 40 percent in 2007-08. Food and Water Watch also drew attention to the high incidence of safety problems with fish and shellfish imports from China.

Eels (frozen and/or roasted), catfish fillets, and shrimp accounted for most of the refused fish/shellfish shipments, but a wide variety of other products were also refused, including tilapia, tuna, monkfish, squid, jellyfish, crawfish, crab, cod, mackerel, and other fish species. The large number of fish and shellfish refusals may reflect increased monitoring of these products that began in 2006 due to chronic problems.

Similarly, an October 2012 Bloomberg article observed that the FDA had rejected 820 Chinese seafood shipments since 2007, including 187 that contained tilapia, and furnished examples of the practice of using manure as feed for farmed fish in China: 

At Chen Qiang's tilapia farm in Yangjiang city in China's Guangdong province, which borders Hong Kong, Chen feeds fish partly with feces from hundreds of pigs and geese. That practice is dangerous for American consumers, says Michael Doyle, director of the University of Georgia’s Center for Food Safety.

"The manure the Chinese use to feed fish is frequently contaminated with microbes like salmonella," says Doyle, who has studied foodborne diseases in China.

On a sweltering, overcast day in August, the smell of excrement is overpowering. After seeing dead fish on the surface, Chen, 45, wades barefoot into his murky pond to open a pipe that adds fresh water from a nearby canal. Exporters buy his fish to sell to U.S. companies.

Yang Shuiquan, chairman of a government-sponsored tilapia aquaculture association in Lianjiang,200 kilometers from Yangjiang, says he discourages using feces as food because it contaminates water and makes fish more susceptible to diseases. He says a growing number of Guangdong farmers adopt that practice anyway because of fierce competition.

"Many farmers have switched to feces and have stopped using commercial feed," he says.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch program issued a report on pond-farmed tilapia from China in June 2012 which upgraded its previous "Avoid" recommendation to a "Good Alternative," although that organization's ratings primarily focus on environmental sustainability and ecological impact rather than food safety issues. China's increased recommendation status was due mostly to a reduction in water use and the discharge of effluent by tilapia farmers — factors which are local environmental concerns — rather than enhanced food safety measures. The report noted that use of banned chemicals by Chinese tilapia farmers is an ongoing concern: 

Most Chinese tilapia is farmed in ponds. Recent reductions in water use, achieved by only emptying the ponds at the time of each harvest, has also reduced discharge of effluent to the environment. Both of these factors were sufficient to raise this recommendation from its previous "Avoid" to a "Good Alternative."

Chinese farms do discharge the water without relevant treatment, however, and there is evidence that some banned chemicals — including antibiotics and fungal treatments (nitrofurans and malachite green) — are still used in Chinese tilapia production.

Overall, Chinese tilapia gets a moderate overall score of 5.34 out of ten. Tilapia as a species has the potential to be raised in sustainable ways, but the increasing intensification and industrialization has resulted in one "Red" score for the Chemical Use criterion. This means that the overall ranking is "Yellow," and therefore the recommendation is "Good Alternative."

Making a blanket determination about whether American consumers should shun all food (or all of a particular type of food) imported from China is problematic because, as the FDA noted, the Chinese food industry is so broad and diverse: 

Making generalizations about China’s food industry is difficult. Several thousand modern, large-scale, multinational and joint venture companies and farms that use best practices and sophisticated equipment operate alongside millions of small independent farms, workshops, and merchants that use crude equipment and techniques. China has some 200 million farming households with average land holdings of 1-2 acres per farm and at least 400,000 food processing enterprises, most with 10 or fewer employees. Millions of people and businesses are involved in the handling and transportation of food beyond the farm gate. The vast number of food suppliers increases the challenge of disseminating standards, monitoring production, and tracing problems to their source.

Last updated:   6 March 2015 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Discipline Should Come from Within

December 26, 2015
by ChinoF
My fellow writers here in GRP have explained that someone iron-handed like Rody Duterte has become popular for the wrong reasons (or maybe the right reasons, but in the wrong way). Duterte is seen as a figure like Ferdinand Marcos, who is thought to have enforced order through harshness in Martial Law. There are people today who support this harshness, because they believe it is the solution to make OTHER Filipinos disciplined. Thus, they believe that through this external discipline, people will behave and corruption will be eliminated.
Fat chance.
Martial Law was imposed in the past, but the “discipline” it supposedly instilled didn’t last long either. My conclusion: iron handed leadership doesn’t create lasting discipline, because it does not address the root cause of erring behavior. The desire for external discipline is based on the assumption that since Filipinos are “pasaway” (uncooperative/defiant), thus only harsh punishments can tame them. But as with any problem, going to the root or cause rather than treating just the symptoms tends to lead to a sounder solution. This cause can be traced to the mindset of the Filipinos themselves.
Filipinos do not seem to understand or accept that discipline should not just have an external source. Discipline should come from within. Successful and prosperous societies are peopled by those who do right on their own, not just because they are afraid of punishment; they embrace what is right and believe in it. They rid themselves of or minimize self-entitlement and decided that one should work for their keep. They never believed trying to be above others; they instead believed that they should contribute to the society around and keep respect for public space. What they manifest is self-discipline.
In a comment under an article that compared Singapore and the Philippines, I said this to demonstrate what I believe makes Singapore a relatively better place to live in than the Philippines:
When a Singaporean couple finds prices are rising, they don’t have children. When a Filipino couple finds prices are rising, they bear so many children, hoping at least one of them will be their ATM (automated teller machine, i.e. breadwinner) to cope with rising prices, without thinking that they have to feed and make these children grow first (provided they don’t die from the complications of poverty yet). Different ways of dealing with one reality, different results, and each reveals something about the culture of the country.
Yes there is another side to Singaporeans, with reports coming out of some of them physically abusing domestic helpers. Perhaps the reason is that this generation of Singaporeans have been spoiled, thanks to prosperity. They thus cannot accept that some things they want cannot always be followed. Thus, in a sense, they are undisciplined. Without the discipline that counteracts spoilage, people will thus develop sense of entitlement that makes them act nastily towards others.
Even if there are strict rules present, if people are disciplined by themselves, that makes things a lot easier. But in the Philippines, perhaps one reason why this isn’t happening is because Filipinos want to be nasty. They feel entitled to their “pasawayness.” They twist the Golden Rule: do it to others before they do it to you. But it would seem the one fearing being “done to” is actually the first one planning something nasty against others. Even if harsh punishments are used for an act, if the Filipino wants bad behavior, then they will fall back to their erring ways. Harsh rules and punishments can be challenged and overcome.
In my Christian church, one interesting discussion we’ve had is that of an alternate explanation for “fear of God” that may relate to this concept of discipline. The idea that a believer does good because they are afraid of punishment from God is not considered the real meaning. The real meaning is that when a person loves someone, they fear angering or displeasing the person out of love. Not because they are afraid of the wrath of the person; it is because they are afraid the strained or even broken relationship that results from an act that displeases or disturbs the other person. In other words, there is genuine respect and concern for others.
The person manifesting self-discipline seeks happiness and well-being not only for themselves, but for others. Hence the local saying, “everybody happy.” Compare to the Filipino Me-first mentality: “I only want to be happy, others can’t, everybody can’t be happy.” Filipinos are instead hung up about pride and narcissism, while trying to be happy. That of course does not succeed.
Consistent reward or punishment is still needed in an orderly society. But it alone does not guarantee proper behavior. The attitude of the person should have them believe in their good actions in order to continue doing them. Self-discipline and respect and concern for the public space should be in the culture. It’s unfortunate that many Filipinos still prefer the opposite: apathy. They ridicule the idea of Filipinos being self-disciplined. It’s as if they believe Filipinos have the right to be nasty, and may even imply that it’s “abnormal” to not be nasty and want order. They would rather have “authorities” apply external discipline. Thus, the “normal” pattern they see is; Filipinos are entitled to being nasty, while authorities should be harsh to control them. But this is contradictory, since two different sides are set up to conflict with no resolution. The whole situation is rigged to fail.
Some may raise that people seek rewards. They say, give me a motivation to be good, if not, I’ll be bad. But that’s a lame excuse. Here’s what an athlete says it.
This issue shows that the problem of the country is in the Filipinos themselves. They want discipline enforced against other Filipinos, but likely cry murder when discipline is being applied on them. Who knows: what if you were the one who displayed erring behavior that others emulated, but when you saw the ones emulating you, you chided them as the undisciplined ones, even when you were the one who started it? The infographic below about littering illustrates my point.
I keep hearing from others, “Rule of law? Ha ha! It’s a joke in this country,” or something like “rule of law is a quaint notion here anyway.” Wait a minute. Under that condescending tone, could there be an actual desire for rule of law to not work? Could it be, in fact, Filipinos really don’t want the rule of law and want only the rule of whims and reactions? And yet they are the ones with the pretentiousness to lament that there is no rule of law in the country? Then don’t wonder why the country is as it is.
Once Filipinos internalize discipline in their culture and agree on their own that they should stop being “pasaway,” we are likely to see the Philippines becoming a safer and more humane society in our lifetimes.


Making "basag" the trip of erring Filipinos one myth at a time.

Friday, December 25, 2015

This is What Happens When You Throw Hot Tea in the Air at -40°C Near the Arctic Circle

If you ever wondered what throwing a thermos of hot tea in the air near the arctic circle looked like, now you do. At temperatures around -40 degrees celcius, Ontario photographer Michael Davies took the shot of a lifetime of his friend throwing a thermos of hot tea through the air in near the Arctic Circle. At such cold temperatures the tea froze instantly to form a dramatic plume of ice.

According to Michael:
Around 1pm I jumped on my skidoo along with my friend Markus and we drove 45 minutes to the top of a nearby mountain where the light (which is almost always pink near the solstice) would hit the hills. Prepared with multiple thermoses filled with tea, we began tossing the water and shooting. Nothing of this shot was to chance, I followed the temperature, watched for calm wind, and planned the shot and set it up. Even the sun in the middle of the spray was something I was hoping for, even though it’s impossible to control.

Ang Mga Kababaihan, Ang Kagandahan At Kapokpokan Sa Pilipinas

December 24, 2015
by Grimwald
I would like to apologize in advance to our non-Tagalog readers for this latest article. Unfortunately, the matter to be discussed here is very sensitive and I want to be as clear as possible to my countrymen who may want to read this. Secondly, this matter is very personal and, if at all possible, I want to be very intimate with my target audience as they really need to think about this. I hope you understand.
Kamakailan lamang, ako ay napaaway ako sa aking MMORPG gaming community. Lubusang sumama ang loob ko sa pangyayari at muntik na rin umalis sa aming grupo kung hindi lang ako pinaki-usapan ng aming mga guild admins. Nasaktan talaga ako sa mga salitang narinig ko at hanggang ngayon medyo torete pa rin ako sa kung ano ba ang dapat ko na ngayong isipin.
Sa totoo lang, balak ko muna sanang magpahinga sa pagsusulat ng mga artikulo dito sa GRP at namnamin ang aking Pasko. Ngunit sa kasawiang palad, mukhang kailangan ko na namang maglabas ng sama ng loob sa website na ito. Hay, mukha ngang may mga katotohanan na ayaw nating tanggapin kaya masluma-lala ang sitwasyon natin bilang isang bansa.
Heto muna ang gulo na nangyari sa aming gaming community na aking isinalin sa Tagalog:
Katatapos lang naming manalo ng isang “castle siege” nang mangyari ang insidente. Ito yung sinusugod niyo ang kastilyo ng mga kalaban para makuha ang bandila nila, parang yung mga bakbakan din na nagaganap noong Panahong Medyibal, yung panahon na may mga kabalyero o knight na patakbo-takbo kung saan-saan, mga mamamana na nagpapaulan ng mga pana sa mga nasabing kabalyero at mga walang kamuwang-muwang na mga kawal na hindi lubos alam ang dapat gawin. Kung naalala niyo pa, nasabi ko na na multi o international ang guild namin at apat lang kaming mga Pilipino ang naglalaro sa ngayon at nagkataon na nag-iisa lang akong Pilipino sa grupo nang mangyari ang insidente. 
Amerikana #1: Yay! Nanalo tayo! Sa wakas, malapit na tayong magkaroon ng sarili nating kastilyo!
Amerikano #1: Tama ka! Pero salamat iyan sa ating teamwork! Kung hindi tayo nagtulong-tulong ay malamang talo na naman tayo!
Amerikana #2: Oo nga, mabuti na lang at may mga magagaling tayong mga “healer” kaya hindi tayo gaanong namatay sa laban na ito! Buti na lang sinama natin si Grimwald para may pang-apat na healer tayo!
Ako: Kayo naman. Siyempre gusto ko rin namang makatulong sa guild natin. Kaya nga ako sumali dito.
Australian: Pero ang galing din ng naiisip natin. Dahil hini-heal ni Grimwald ang mga tatlo nating dedicated healers, nagawa nating tumagal sa mga kalaban kahit mas-marami sila sa atin. Okay ka palang healer Grimwald.
Grimwald: Siyempre, nurse yata ‘to sa tunay na buhay.
Gagong Briton: Meron din naman palang puwedeng ipagmalaki ang mga Pilipino maliban sa mga pokpok niyo.
Amerikano #2: Ano?
Russian: Hmm?
Meksikano: Ano kamo?
Ako: Pare. Hindi ko alam kung ano ang problema mo pero sana huwag ka namang magsalita ng ganyan. Hindi ako madaling magalit pero sana naman walang ganyang bastusan.
Gagong Briton: At bakit? Ano pa bang puwedeng ipagmalaki ng Pilipinas kundi ang mga pokpok nito. Alam mo bang nagkakandarapat ang mga iba’t-ibang lahi sa Europa at iba pa para makapag-asawa ng mga Pilipina at mukhang handang-handa naman ang mga kababaihan ninyo na tanggapin at pagbigyan sila. Ano pa ba ang ibang puwedeng itawag sa kanila, ha?
Nanahimik ang chat room ng halos tatlong segundo.
Ako: Pare tanggap ko naman na hindi talaga ganoon kayaman at kaunlad ang bansa ko. Pero sana naman piliin mo nang maayos ang mga salitang gagamitin mo. Konting respeto naman sana para sa mga kababaihan.
Amerikana #2: Oo nga, grabe ka naman makapag-bitiw ng salita. Sino ka ba para tawagin silang mga “pokpok”, ha? Nakarating ka na ba sa Pilipinas at anlakas nang loob mong tawaging “pokpok” ang mga kababaihan nila?
Intsik: Oo nga, anyabang mo naman…
Gagong Briton: Oo, nakarating na ako sa Pilipinas at maraming mga babaeng nakilala ko doon ay handang makipag-talik sa kahit sinong maputi na handang magbayad sa kanila ng malaking halaga.
Briton (Scottish): May pagka-gago ka rin ano? Halos lahat naman yata ng bansa e may mga pokpok. Huwag kang magmalinis dahil kahit dito sa UK ay merong mga pokpok. Mukhang nasobrahan ka yata sa pagdo-doggie mo kung sino ka mang hayop ka at nagulo na ng STD yang utak mo.
Gagong Briton: Hay naku! May pokpok man dito sa UK ay panigurado namang masmarami sa Pilipinas. Halos lahat ng babaeng nakita ko doon ay gustong magpagamit sa akin. Handa nilang ibenta sa kahit kaninong dayuhan ang kaluluwa nila basta malaki ang halaga.
Babaeng German: Tumigil ka na nga! Nakakabastos ka na e!
Intsik: Hindi ko alam kung paano mo nasasabi iyang mga ganyang bagay. Napakabastos mo naman palang tao. Wala ka ba talagang respeto para sa kapwa mo?
Russian: Oo nga, napakagago mo namang tao para magsalita ng ganyan. Akala ko noon gago na ako, iyon pala meron pang mas-malala.
Gagong Briton: At bakit naman ako titigil. At para sa kaalaman ninyo, totoo ang lahat ng sinasabi ko. Ang pinakamalaking industriya ng Pilipinas ay ang prostitusyon at gusto nila kadalasan ang mga customer na dayuhan. Sa buong mundo yata ang Pilipinas lang ang tumatawag ng “success story” sa pagaasawa ng mga kababaihan nito sa mga dayuhan. Ano pa bang ibang puwedeng itawag sa kanila kundi mga “pokpok”?
Ako: Puwede ba tumigil ka na. Kung nagpapatawa ka, hindi ka na nakakatawa.
Intsik: Oo nga, tama si Grimwald. Tumigil ka nang loko ka. Nag-asawa lang ng dayuhan, “pokpok” na kaagad?
Briton (Scottish): Pambihira ka naman pala mag-isip. Para sa kaalaman mo, nag-asawa ang isa sa mga kapatid ko nang Koreano, ibig ba sabihin nito ay “pokpok” na siya? Tarantado ka talaga!
Gagong Briton: Hindi ko alam. Pero tignan niyo, pati yung Ms. Universe nila e produkto ng isang pokpok na nag-asawa ng German. Pinagmamalaki pa kamo nila iyan. Pinagmamalaki ng mga Pilipina na mga pokpok silang nag-asawa ng dayuhan.
Umalis ako sa chat room at lumipat sa isang private channel. Habang nire-report ko ang pangyayari sa mga admin at pinag-iisipang umalis, tuloy ang away sa chat.
Amerikano #2: Kung sino ka man, manahimik ka na! Umalis tuloy yung tao dahil sa ‘yo.
Gagong Briton: Totoo naman kasi ang lahat ng sinabi ko. Magaling lang talaga ang mga Pilipino sa kapokpokan. Tignan mo nga, pinagmamalaki lagi nila ang mga pokpok nila sa mga beauty pageant.
Amerikano #1: Papaano naman naging kapokpokan ang mga beauty pageant?
Gagong Briton: At bakit? Hindi ba’t matatawag mo rin namang pokpok ang babaeng ang tanging katangian lang niya na kaya niyang ibenta ay ang kagandahan niya?
Meksikano: Hayop ka! Alam mo bang kasama ang ate ko sa isang beauty pageant?
Babaeng German: At ang nanay ko naman ay dating sumasali sa mga beauty pageant noong kanyang kabataan!
Bago pa lumaki ang issue ay dumating ang isa sa mga admin na kasama ako. Nag-usap, nagtalo at nagmurahan kami hanggang sa may mga sumisigaw na. Hindi ko na isasama ang mga detalye noon dahil masakit lang sila sa puso’t damdamin ko.
Bueno, tinanggal ang tarantadong Briton sa guild namin makalipas ang ilang oras. Ayaw nga naman ng mga admin sa mga “bully”. Nanghingi din ng dispensa ang aking mga kasama at sinabi sa akin noong isa pang Briton (iyong Scottish) na hindi naman daw lahat ng Briton e ganoon ang tingin sa mga Pilipino at Pilipina.
Pero ngayon, oras na para harapin ang malagim at mapait na katotohanan. Totoo man na mali at bastos yung Gagong Briton sa pagtukoy sa ating lahi, sa palagay ko may mga nakikita siya sa ating bansa na nagbigay sa kanya ng ideya na sabihin ang kanyang mga sinabi. Bastos man ang kanyang mga sinabi at ganap na nakakasira ng araw, naisip ko rin na hindi niya gawa-gawa ang mga sinasabi niya. Mali at malaswa man ang tingin niya sa mga Pilipina, masakit isipin na malamang, ang mga maling ugali din natin ang nagbigay sa kanya ng mga maling saloobin.
Bakit Nga Ba Baliw Na Baliw Tayo Sa Mga Beauty Pageant?
Binanggit na ito ni Binibining Ilda sa aming FB community page pero gusto ko lamang itong ulitin at ipaliwanag. Wala naman talagang masama sa pagiging “maganda” at pagsali sa mga beauty contest, ngunit ang gusto ko sanang itanong, bakit nga ba parang kagandahan na lang ang kaya nating ipagmalaki? Naalala ko lang tuloy yung batang babae sa isang pelikula ni Vice Ganda na hindi ko maalala ang titulo (at sa totoo lang ayaw ko na talagang maalala) na pinagpipilitan na wala nang ibang mas mahalaga kundi ang kagandahan niya. Kung ganito nga naman mag-isip ang tipikal na Pilipino, ano nga ba sa palagay natin ang magiging tingin sa atin ng mga dayuhan.
Malinis man talaga ang mga beauty pageant, huwag sana nating kalimutan na sa bandang huli ang basehan din nito ay sekswalidad. Tignan na lamang natin kung paano paliit ng paliit ang mga two-piece na suot ng mga kalahok dito. Hindi man malaswa ang gusto nilang ipahiwatig at may Question and Answer portion ang mga beauty pageant, hindi natin maitatanggi na bumabagsak lang talaga ang kompetisyon sa kung sino ang pinakamaganda, pinaka-sexy at pinaka-masarap maging asawa. Kaya nga sa bandang huli, parang pagpapakitang gilas lang sa mga kalalakihan ang mga beauty contest.
Sabi nga ni Binibining Ilda, para naman kasing nakaka-insulto na kagandahan na lang talaga ang pagsukat sa galing at katangian ng mga kababaihan ng Pilipinas. Kahit ako, naniniwalang maraming Pilipina na matalino at maparaan sa buhay kahit hindi sila ganoon kaganda. At kung tutoosin din naman kasi, hindi kayang ipaunlad at payamanin ng kagandahan ng isang babae ang buong bansa.
Sa sarili ko namang punto, wala rin naman kasing masama sa pagiging maganda o sexy. Totoo nga naman na bumebenta talaga ang kaseksihan sa panahon ngayon. Kaya nga lang kung puro kaseksihan na lang talaga ang kaya nating ipagmalaki, ano nga naman ang iisipin ng ibang tao tungkol sa atin. Bilang isang halimbawa ng sinasabi ko, tignan niyo na lang ang anime na Witchblade. Isa ito sa mga paborito kong anime dahil meron itong isang kuwento ng isang ina na naghahanap ng paraan para maibigyan ang anak niyang babae ng maganda at masaganang kinabukasan at naalala ko ang sarili kong ina doon sa bidang babae. Ang problema nga lang, dahil masyadong “sexy” ang cover ng anime, iniisip kaagad ng mga tao na ito ay malaswa (kahit hanggang Rated PG lang naman ito) o isa nanamang palabas na “hentai”.
Bakit Nga Ba Natin Sinasamba Ang Katangian Ng Mga Taga-Europa?
Isa pa ito sa mga katanungan na bumabagabag sa aking pag-iisip. Isa rin ito sa hindi lubos maintindihan ng mga ibang mambabasa ng aking mga nakaraangartikulo. Bakit nga ba pag-pinaguusapan ang kagandahan, maging ang konsepto ng kaunlaran, lagi ang mga Taga-Europa at ang kanilang mga katangian ang tanging pumapasok sa kaisipan ng tipikal na Pilipino. Totoo nga ba ang mga sinasabi ni Zaxx sa kanyang artikulo na hanggang ngayon ay bihag pa rin tayo ng mga dayuhan sa ating pag-iisip.
Ang gusto ko sanang sabihin e bakit ganoon na lang ang tingin natin sa mga babae (o minsan maging sa mga lalake) na walang katangian na taga-Europa. Kung hindi sila maputi, matangos ang ilong at unat ang buhok, wala na ba silang karapatan na matawag na “maganda”? Kung sila ba ay medyo tustado ang kutis, hindi katangusan ang ilong at kulot ang buhok, ibig ba sabihin e “pangit” na sila? Naisip ko nga, papaano na lang kung Pilipina si Ms. Miyamoto, iyong Ms. Japan noong Ms. Universe, susuportahan ba natin siya o pagsasabihan ng mga masasakit na salita dahil may katangian siyang pang-Aprikana?
At naisip ko nga rin, bakit nga ba itinuturing natin “success story” ang mga Pilipinang nag-aasawa ng dayuhan? Kung ang isang Pilipino ay nag-asawa ng babaeng dayuhan, matatawag din ba itong success story? Siguro nga lahat ng ito ay may kinalaman sa “Cinderella Mentality”, iyong tipo bang imbes na magsikap tayo sa ating sariling ika-uunlad, naghihintay pa rin tayo ng tapagligtas na aayos sa lahat ng mga problema natin at hindi na tayo kikilos para sa ating sarili.
Hindi ko rin naman sinasabi na masama magkaroon ng katangian ng taga-Europa. Ang sinasabi ko nga lang, sana naman dumating din ang panahon na lahat ng mga Pilipina ay makuhang mahalin ang kanilang sarili kahit hindi sila maputi o matangos ang ilong. Sana naman magkaroon din tayo ng pagmamahal sa sarili nating mga katangian kahit hindi ito mukhang nakuha natin sa mga taga-Europa.