Monday, February 22, 2010

Lights Out

It used to be that the residents of Mindanao had the notion that it had access to something their fellow countrymen in the Luzon and Visayas regions did not have - plentiful and relatively cheap electricity courtesy of the hydroelectric power plants that supply much of their power needs. In the past decade or so, while the more northern parts of the country were struggling to find ways to balance expanding demand for electricity with often inadequate power generation facilities, Mindanao, on the other hand seemed to have more than enough to spare of this most essential requirement of our modern technological civilization.

Well, it seems that the past week or so has shown how dreadfully wrong this assumption was.

The recent series of "rotating" brownouts simply caught many here in Lianga by surprise. For most local residents, it was only when the outages which would last four hours or more became a daily fixture that it began to finally sink in the popular consciousness that something was suddenly and desperately wrong and that they may have to learn to cope, without prior warning, with a looming power crisis that they never expected to happen so suddenly and without warning.

The culprit according to the government was the so called El NiƱo phenomenon, that climate pattern across the tropical Pacific Ocean that may be on everyone's lips but remains poorly understood except by meteorologists or weather experts. The technical jargon describing the phenomenon is beyond me but suffice it to say that the effect on the Southeast Asian countries like the Philippines is the onset of periods of less than normal rainfall and drought.

Thursday, February 11, 2010


I just saw the other day the television trailer for HBO's new miniseries, The Pacific, which is a dramatization of the personal experiences of several U. S. Marines who took part in many of the pivotal battles of the war against Japan during World War II. Produced in part by Hollywood titans, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks, the miniseries is also the brainchild of many of the same personalities behind the critically acclaimed series, Band of Brothers (2001), which chronicles the true to life stories of soldiers belonging to Easy Company, 506 Infantry Regiment of the U. S. 101st Airborne Division in the European Theater of Operations of the same war.

As in the first series, The Pacific is billed as as a starkly realistic attempt to recreate for the modern television audience many of the important and critical battles of the Pacific War through the memoirs and individual stories of the men who were actually there and who directly participated in the momentous and historical events and milestones in the savage island to island fighting against the then Empire of Japan. Thus, the trailer showed scenes from epic re-enactments of the desperate battles at Guadalcanal , Cape Gloucester, Peleliu, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

I had a very high opinion of Band of Brothers when it came out precisely because it was the kind of World War II presentation I favored, films and television programs that did not glorify war and the spectacle of senseless violence but focused on how war and its aftermath impacted on the lives of ordinary men who are at the front lines of all human conflicts. Thus little is said much less shown of the great personalities and military leaders of that war. It was, in the case of the 2001 miniseries, all about the ordinary GI's or American soldiers desperately trying to cope with the transition from civilian to military life, those who eventually had to survive the bloody slaughter on the beaches of Normandy and the perilous push through war-torn France and those who made it to the final battles that brought Nazi Germany to its knees.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Slap In The Face

I'm a bit of a news junkie and I try every day to keep up with the latest in the local, national and international news any way I can. In my case in Lianga where no local community newspapers exist and where up to date copies of the national broadsheets are nowhere to be found, I get my daily fix through news programs on cable television and the Internet.

Yesterday morning, the local news inbox on my computer contained a whammy of a news item, big news least for those closely following the political developments in the province of Surigao del Sur which counts this town as one of its own. For the current political leadership at the provincial capitol in Tandag, however, it is certainly not the kind of news report they would welcome and it could not have come at a more inopportune time.

It seems that the Philippine Daily Inquirer has reported that the National Statistical Coordination Board (NSCB) which is the government's highest policy making and coordinating body on statistical matters has tagged this province as No. 6 on its list of ten of the country's "worst governed" provinces. Oh my God! That certainly got my full attention.

Maguindanao (of course!) headed the list followed by Camarines Sur, Masbate, Lanao del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Camarines Norte, Zamboanga Sibugay, Albay and Romblon. The list was compiled based on an NSCB survey in 2005 which used economic, political and administrative indicators to formulate a good governance index (GGI) which is used as a basis for the ranking of the aforementioned provinces. The statistics used were sourced from official government agencies foremost among them the Department of Health, the Department of Education and the Department of Interior and Local Government. (Read the complete news article here.....)