Thursday, August 9, 2012

Manila flooding: a window to the Filipino soul

Finally this Thursday, the Filipinos very warmly welcomed the sun rising for the first time again after over 12 days of coldness and darkness. It was not that the earth is ending but Manila experienced unstoppable raining that caused flooding and destruction. And Filipinos believe the vacationing sun should now stay.

Photo credit: Rey Tamayo Jr., Photoville International
The weeks-long raining spree followed after Typhoon Saola blanketed the Manila skies dark a few weeks back. Definitely long enough, the incessant raining was enough to paralyze the capital Manila and nearby provinces. News reports even mentioned that the wet spell that Manila experienced easily claimed the record of providing a month's worth of rain in just over two days.

The unrelenting raining caused massive flooding to shoulder-deep levels and landslides. And as if the devastation is not enough, the monsoon rain delivered 300,000 people to emergency evacuation shelters. Over two million Filipinos were affected by the flooding, according to one BBC report.

One of the emergency shelters in Alabang, Muntinlupa. Photo credit: Mark Aiven Antang/Photoville International
And yet for another moment, we witnessed the Filipino soul in the works.

The social networking platform have served the Filipinos well in these calamitous times. My Facebook news stream updated me with the goings on from the many different cities around the National Capital Region. Twitter was also helpful for supplying me with hotline numbers of government agencies to contact, relief mission drives, and announcements of classes and office work suspensions.

While social media proved itself relevant for info dissemination and a useful tool in giving me with personalized info about the what's up from families, friends and colleagues, the Web has become a mirror of the Filipinos' resilient spirit. Netizens were witnesses to the birth of a meme called "The Filipino spirit is waterproof."

From @coloissu
The Filipinos' resiliency appears the most unique and infectious. Amidst the calamity and storm, we, Filipinos, can still manage a smile and inject some laughs even while walking from waist-deep floods.

The Recto underpass even became an 'Olympic' diving board. Australian and French tourists were also reportedly game with some Filipino kids to swim in the floods. And more TV reports and Internet posts of diverse kinds have more than enough proof of how we can make even the most hostile of calamity into a world of fun.

Photo credit: PSG (Perfect sa Ganda)
We also seem to have the most compassionate of heart. Filipinos' merciful spirit was shown the biggest out of the massive charity works and relief missions mounted by Filipinos for fellow Filipinos. This is definitely a clear reflection of just how much we Filipinos love our neighbors as much as we show that love to our families and friends.

Two example Filipino groups who are very busy helping the depressed are UNTV 37 and the religious group, Ang Dating Daan group being led by Bro Eli Soriano. The major coordinating centers of the Ang Dating Daan were even opened to the public and converted into temporary emergency shelters.  Relief operations from the two groups included the giving of food, drinks, clothing, free rides, and more.

Photo credit: Mark Aiven Antang/Photoville International
More than serving as a window to the positive side of the Filipino soul, the recent Manila calamity must serve also as a mirror to show the other side of that soul. We are sometimes unmindful of preparations. This is not limited to emergency preparedness, but the preparations to ensure that mammoth flooding will never again be experienced.

Usually, when a bad weather or calamity has calmed, we no longer checked back to see what we can do to trace or resolve our problems.  Take for instance how some government officials exploit disasters like these for media exposure. These public servants must be guilty of using the social good efforts to project their positive persona in the press for campaign purposes. Responding to crisis situations must not end in doling out relief supplies. As public servants, their true responsibility is to ensure the welfare of their constituents even when the disaster or calamity is away.

Yet the government cannot be blamed for everything. We must be reminded that we are also to blame to the flooding and landslide. We are also a party to the declining health of our environment or why some projects are failing for lack of support and cooperation from people. While another similar devastation might once again happen and prove the positive Filipino character, we must not forget, however, our priorities in ensuring a long-lasting solution to our dilemma.

As a start after the flooding, we must not return to the unbreakable bad habits of throwing away our garbage everywhere or not recycling our wastes. And now that the sun is here, we should start cleaning our drainage or checking roof holes to seal. We can also join tree-planting efforts. We must commit to change for the better and say no to complacency.

But even more important than citizen involvement and being aware of our roles as responsible citizens, we must be mindful of the spiritual. Powerful typhoons or calamities are strong reminders to us that we are helpless and powerless in the sight of God. It is a call for us to be humble and to always remember to pray and seek God's help and mercy in all the waking moments of our lives.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

iPhone 5 debut, Apple rumor mill, and your conscience

It looks like Apple is at it again. It is at the center of the spotlight because of its upcoming release of the new iPhone. The dizzying rumor mill is once again making Apple fans and even skeptics talking about the launch of the new iPhone.

Here are what people in the tech circle are talking about:
Whether it is called iPhone 5 or iPhone 6, nobody seems to really care that much. Fast Company's Kit Eaton suggests that the next iPhone will be as important as the first one in 2007. Eaton said it can be divided into two general reasons: design and money.

On the design side, Eaton thought the next iPhone will delight many and shake the competition and the smartphone industry:
This is important because the next evolution of the iPhone, in a year or so's time, may be into something radically different. It almost has to be--there are few new directions Apple can evolve the phone in that marry to its clean design philosophy of thinner, simpler, smarter. So 2012's iPhone may be the peak of the device that debuted in 2007 and changed how we access the mobile Net and think about touchscreens, photography and casual gaming. It may even be the end of the iPhone's beginning.
The money side places Apple the big winner by selling even more iPhone than the predecessor range of iPhones:

It's being guessed that the iPhone for 2012 (iPhone 5? iPhone 6?) will sell so many units globally that it'll achieve 170 million units sold for fiscal year 2013--roughly one new iPhone sold for every two U.S. citizens. The iPhone drives over 50% of Apple's profits. The latest rumors say it'll be revealed September 12, so we don't have long to wait, at least.
Will this be a make or break deal for Apple?

Many are optimistic it will. The new iPhone might sell more units and once again transform the smartphone industry like no other tech companies could. And the height of the frenetic excitement will finally reach its crux when that Apple event in September this year comes.

Do you find the rumors believable and convincing? Or are these just part of Apple's hype-making machine? Is the new iPhone making you excited, hot and thrilled? What features do you like seen in the new iPhone?


Ever heard your conscience talking to you? Read my transcript of my conversation with myself. Please bear that I could not interrupt nor insert my arguments. It's fine, I am getting used to it now ...

Whether you are buying or not, just think of the impact purchasing one will bear to your pocket, savings, and even to the environment.

Basically, whatever the marketing or your friend will tell you, an Apple phone is not really that cheap. Even with subsidies from carriers, a brand new iPhone is usually priced at around $1,000 or P45,000 (with $1=P45). Yes, your one phone is costing P45,000! If you will consider me stating the obvious, $1,000 translates to two laptop notebooks already.

You will say that you will save to buy the upcoming iPhone. Hey, don't convince me that it is just nuts saving your money either. Let me illustrate, if you are a regular employee earning a monthly salary of P15,000 (around $335), you will definitely have to save at least five months worth of your hard-earned money. But that is not all, yes you can save P45,000 in five months but that means you will sacrifice not spending a penny of your salary. How can you live then without spending for food, rent, bills, and transport?

Then it is not the end of the story after you buy this kind of phone. You will also need to purchase accessories, casing, etc to protect your iPhone from bumps and all damages, because to repeat: you are holding in your hand an expensive gadget and you want it to last for long, right? So add accessories to your budget. Not the least, your dry spell will be extended more to another two years. Yes, two long years maintaining and paying your subscription to data plans. Recall that this is a monthly affair with your carrier.

Using your credit card is also not going to be very helpful too. You will just be adding more debts and payables every month. Your ballooning debts will have an absolute impact to your savings and even to your well-being, psychologically in other words. Think of the interest rates and other charges that will mount and haunt you after few months. Credit card usage is also addictive as most who have received one from their banks would testify. So think again.

So if you are jobless or still dependent to your parents, please, don't ever consider buying. Have mercy to your parents (In other words, Maawa ka sa magulang mo dahil sila ang kukubain mo na magipon para sa iPhone mo!).

Then think also of the environment. When you buy a new phone, what will you do with your old phone? Are you just going to keep it? Make a museum out of it? (Now am talking of not only the iPhone but all the phones that were made and manufactured.) Most definitely many will just throw it away. The components or where your phone is made is not biodegradable. And with higher demand, there will be higher chances Apple will be manufacturing more to meet the orders. More iPhones means more environmental risk because of factories humming.
So let us end it this way, if you are super excited to buy the new iPhone, think first, think deeper about its impact. One very good adviser to consult is your conscience. Ask yourself if you really need one. Let us ask ourselves, do I need one?