November 2007


This is possibly the coolest thing I’ve seen in the past few months. Greenpeace and Green Independent Power Producer have partnered with the cities of Bacolod and Makati to put in place electric jeepneys!

electric jeepney

As any Manileño or visitor to the NCR will tell you, pollution is no joke here. There is a perpetual cloud of dullness and everything – buildings, cars, people – inevitably get covered with layers of soot. You can see the difference in the colors of basic plants as soon as you go to the province, it’s really striking. Furthermore, if you’re a commuter, kawawa ang lungs mo. Turns out the pollution is a health problem as, according to a column by Jarius Bondoc (in “Palace Bribery a Perfect Crime, Nov. 23, 2007), “Two of every hundred residents of Metro Manila, Baguio, Cebu and Davao die each year from overexposure to toxic emissions. Nine of every hundred suffer from chronic bronchitis. Hardest hit are jeepney drivers, one of every three (32.5 percent) of whom have permanent coughs; air-con bus drivers, 16.4 percent; and commuters, 14.8 percent.” Yikes!

But these electric jeepneys are extra cool because they are completely clean burning. The battery can last for days and the plan is to build recharging stations that use organic waste for fuel. So, the fuel will come from garbage! That to me is really exciting, as there have been a million times when I’ve tripped over buds falling from cotton trees or buko shells in the street and thought “What a waste, I’m sure there’s a use for this stuff.”

So even though Greenpeace et al are championing the electric jeepney as a force against climate change, I’m much more excited at the idea that biofuel will be cheaper than diesel, augmenting jeepney drivers’ incomes, people in agriculture and who do small time business with fruits and vegetables (I’m thinking the buko vendor, the piña vendor, the mais vendor), will have a market to sell their waste products and so can increase their incomes as well. Less dependence on foreign oil and corporate petroleum magnates is always good for state sovereignty and the power of small and medium sized-businesses.

But best of all, after getting to where you’re going, your hair will still smell good :).

So as I’m studying for the dreaded GRE’s, I came upon this site where you can play a vocabulary game and at the same time donate rice through the United Nations World Food Program. (Yes, I know the UN isn’t exactly the greatest org when it comes to managing decentralization in Southeast Asia, but hey, it’s food.) So if you need to improve your vocabulary, are bored, or are trying to waste time at the office, check out freerice.com and at least feel like you’re not completely wasting your time :).

 

Hilarious Black and White Gimmick

Although if I may comment, she’s a lot more Cebuana than she is Kapampangan.

Also, as of today this site is nearing 1,100 hits. Yay!

President Arroyo’s decision to grant executive clemency to former President Estrada, reinstating in full his civil and political rights, has raised a number of questions and challenges from those opposed to the decision. These challenges have basically been scoffed at by the Arroyo administration, as experts agree that the granting of pardon is a presidential prerogative that legally does not require public reasoning or approval by another branch of government. The administration’s position is that it is under no obligation to answer the calls and questions of the people.

Legally, the administration is correct: when granting pardon, the president is under no obligation to the people. Democratically, however, this logic is fundamentally flawed. In a democracy, a president is always under obligation to the people, he or she is always under obligation to answer challenges to his or her decisions and his or her decisions are always subject to the will of the people.

My uncle ran barangay kagawad this past election. The slogan of his lineup was simple: “Ready to Serve.” These small village elections and their similarly small campaign tactics may seem unsophisticated in the world of national politicians with their billions of pesos in campaign funds, intricate machinery, and party coalitions and rivalries. However, this simple slogan emits an insight lost on most national politicians. Public officeholders are public servants.

 

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