Let’s bring back a walkable downtown

walkable downtown Session Road, Baguio CitySunday off-peak season traffic (also when people stay at home or opt to leave their cars at home or take a day off from driving preferring to walk about) in downtown Baguio. This is the Baguio that my and earlier generations grew up in. One feels the immediate effect of such on the payche- one feels happier, lighter, peaceful. Also, as the air is immediately cleaner, lungs take a rest from having to work doubletime in order to purify what we breathe in. For today’s City residents, old (lest they’ve forgotten) as well as new, this is the image of a car-less or less-car Session Road. We don’t need to debate what ‘car-less’ or ‘less car’ looks like. What is needed is a plan to actually make the downtown walkable. We have to understand though that ‘walkable’ also means developing the suburbs (and LISTT towns) as a strategy to direct traffic as well as people outside of downtown Baguio (congestion in downtown Baguio has gone the way similar to that of Metro Manila wherein image-building and investments hence development were concentrated in the Metropolitan). And we don’t have to look very far for a plan- there are lots of masteral studies on this in the universities (here). And we don’t have to look very far for a plan- there are lots of masteral studies on this in the universities (here) that students (professionals) invested their knowledge, time, and money in. What City Hall needs to do is to talk and sustain a relationship with the universities.


Sustainable tourism for Mt. Pulag National Park

The third highest peak in the country, Mount Pulag, which is part of the 11,500 hectares Mount Pulag National Park straddling the three provinces of Benguet, Ifugao, and Nueva Vizcaya, has been closed off on all weekends of this year. To me, the decision is inconsistent with the region’s tourism goals.

Closing the area reveals that the towns and officials are not prepared to manage a biodiversity-based tourism strategy and are without the necessary resources to realize the plan despite the region’s Department of Tourism’s rhetoric on competitive tourism for the region.

To sustain tourism at Mount Pulag and neighboring areas throughout the area regardless of temperature, there need to be

  1.  A business proposition, as in, what ways can tourism harness biodiversity at the same time preserve it? how can conservation of Mount Pulag Park and neighboring areas contribute to the economy and cultural preservation of local communities through tourism? At the moment, mountain climbing. What else? A wedding venue? A fitness center? Host to a local music, arts, wine and food festival? All that as an “on top of the world” experience, because why not? It should be something tourists would value ie. to come running across oceans for. Then build up the area around that idea.

comparative advantage of a mountain city

  1.  Lodging places, not just to sleep but to comfortably rest, sleep, and/or eat. Places for solo travelers, backpackers, for families on a budget, for guests who could splurge on a thousand dollar a night accommodation, in other words, for all classes of tourists.
lodging for backpackers
Accommodation for backpackers
  1.  These lodging places should put in appropriate heating. In Baguio City, it is most ironic that hotel rooms, even those that charge four- or five-star rates, do not have heating! Instead, they have airconditioning as in cooling! Hotels supposedly spend the most in heating (keeping guests warm in the dead of winter) which is why they ask for the equivalent price of it’s maintenance. So when guests pay five-star rates and there’s no heating and not even a fleece blanket, just thin cottony ones, bloody hell! It’s a rip off! So yes, heating, because we’re a mountain region.

adjusting hotel room thermostat

  1.  Transportation. You don’t suppose tourists unless they’re on penance, reenacting the nativity would want to go by donkey, on cold foggy days, all the way to Mount Pulag? Yet this approximates the present state of transportation, for instance, from Baguio to Mount Pulag. It’s why only mountaineers, athletic college kids, are the usual tourists on the site. A more tourist-y ride, one that gives a bird’s eye view of the picturesque mountain scene, a once in a lifetime experience, should already be in the works.
chamonix mont blanc cable car ride
Chamonix Mont Blanc cable car ride
  1.  Other details, such as signages. Signages do matter. What we have with many small businesses are names and signages written on clapboards and cartons, often indiscernible, and hung haphazardly on strings. They are a distracting irritating sight. This projects irresponsibility, of the business not caring whether or not it’s potential customers have to twist their necks just so they would know the product or service it offers. Signages and their content are part of a business’ asset pool, it’s intellectual property, and if businesses don’t give a shit about their property, it only tells the public about their worth which is they’re not worth the premium. So, yes, the small but important details in image consistency matter.

signages at mountain resort

Local tourism need a local government, a private sector, and a citizenry whose mindsets are ahead of the needs and wants of their guests; who are able to see opportunities in their surroundings and create new things of it; who are generous in their vision ie. they want to have others – tourists – partake of their creation because that in itself is tourism (hospitality).

Tourism, creating a brand and sustaining it to meet expectations, is actually hard work. It takes mental work. It requires networks. You don’t say It’s More Fun In The Philippines! and then sit back and expect a million a day visitors to just stream in. Where will you get the money to realize the things stated in your tourism strategy? It takes hard work, constant assessment – how are we doing? are we meeting needs and wants of our target guests? are guests meeting expectations (they’re not raping the park?)? if not, why? and how can we all do things better? – and at times rebranding.

Kitchen experiments: chamomile, vanilla and lemon infused oil


These days of cold, yesterday was 8 degrees celsius, the lowest for Baguio in recent years, I find myself spending more and more time in the kitchen. It’s deliciously warm in there. The warmest room in the house. Ha ha!

Burning food on the stove as a result of first trials of recipes is not exactly cheap nor satisfying, well, except for the heat these activities generate which I welcomed, so for a change I tried my hand on infused oils. I love vanilla, lemon, and chamomile so why not start with those?

First off, we need to distingush the methods in oil infusion: cold, warm, and sun infusion.

This reminds me of virgin coconut oil preparation I got to know first hand several years ago when I was at field office. We supported farmers training among other capacity building activities in sustainable agriculture. In one of the farmers training, I sat in and learned about the process in cold pressed VCO preparation. Though, actually, I saw it done first at my grandparents’ place during the summers my cousins and I vacationed there. I watched my grandmother prepare the oil, quite a lengthy process, which she used for her hair and skin. I loved the smell from the warm oil. I wasn’t a fan, though, of coconut oil. I didn’t want oil anywhere on my body. But I should have nonetheless taken note then. The preparation is a traditional knowledge that should be coded, I realized much later.

Infusion Methods

Cold Infusion

A glass jar

1/3 herb and/or spice of choice, fresh or dry

2/3 oil or mix of oils of choice

This method is the most effective but requires a little patience. Make sure the jars and herbs you use are clean, add the ingredients to the jar, close it well and leave it in a cool, dark place for at least 40 days and up to 2 months. Shake the jar every week or so. After this time, the oil must be filtered. Prepare a sieve with a paper napkin, or a very fine cheesecloth, and let the oil drip into a clean container. Let it take its time – it might take hours. When it has finished, squeeze out the oil left in the herbs.

Let the jar stand for a whole 24 hours, so that every residue falls to the bottom. At this point you can filter it again, or transfer it to a clean, dark bottle. If you do not have one or want to keep it in the same jar, you can wrap it in aluminum paper.

Warm Infusion

If you are in a bit of a rush and want your oil ready within a day, you can infuse the oil in hot water. Mix the herbs with oil just as in the cold method, but close the jar if using dried herbs, and leave it open if using fresh herbs, so the water can evaporate. Add the jar(s) to a pot and add enough hot water to cover the jars by half, put the pot on the lowest flame setting possible and let it infuse for 4 hours. Take the jars out of the water and let them cool completely before filtering the oils like in the cold infusion, and storing them in a dark bottle and in a dark place.

For this infusion it is best to use extra virgin olive oil or a good organic sunflower oil, which stand high temperatures better.

Sun Infusion

Not all herbs will release their benefits into the oils just by leaving them in the shade or in hot water. Some herbs can release some very powerful healing properties when exposed to the sun – as is the case of St. John’s wort. This particular herb, which is great to cure sunburns, small wounds, redness and has anti-aging properties, turns the oil red when all its properties are fully extracted. You just add the herbs and oil to a jar, then cover it with a paper towel secured with an elastic band, and leave it out in the sun for 20 days, taking it back indoors for the night. This herb only blooms during summer.

Just like for hot infusions, it is best to use sunflower or olive oil for this infusion.

Chamomile, vanilla and lemon infused oil

2 tablespoons dried chamomile flowers

Half a vanilla bean

The peel of a small organic lemon

½ cup of Linseed oil

2 tbsp Almond oil


  1. Prepare a clean jar and add the flowers. Take the peel from the lemon, making sure there is no white part attached to it, and split the vanilla bean in half. Add both to the jar, and pour in the oil. Proceed as described in the cold infusion, or use the warm infusion if you are in a rush, but make sure the oil never goes beyond 60 C˚.

  2. Once ready, this oil is great for treating skin redness, for dry lips in place of lip balm, for improving fragile nails, and for nourishing dry skin. You can also add this oil to nourishing hair and skin treatments.

  3. Consider making it with organic sunflower oil and use it for baking sweets in recipes that call for oil, or in a lemon coffee cake.

Source: Hortus Natural Cooking by Valentina Solfrini

Friday4farmers: black gold


via pioneer settler

New knowledge I’ve acquired going into 2017 is…composting with worms. Vermicomposting. A whole new world of shit. Good shit. And it’s callef black gold.

I learned about this during my evaluation of a post-disaster shelter project that has a livelihood component. Reading through the pile of project documents, vermicomposting training module in this case, interview with the trainer sourced from the Department of Agriculture, focus group discussions with women beneficiary-trainees in the villages, and visits to the vermicomposting sites– I knew everything theoretically about this composting technology as well as the business side of it. Only thing lacking is for me to actually do it.

After one of the visits, when we were already inside the van, someone from my team jokingly chided the two field officers, foreigners, who accompanied us to the sites of their feàr and squeamishness in getting near the worm beds when everybody else were excited of the chance. How could you say you’re an agriculture person if you’re afraid of worms? he said. The two women laughed. You should have dug into the beds, he continued, acting it out and with accompanying flourish of his hand, and savor the feeel of earth and woorrmsss. They laughed again, shaking their shoulders. We joined in. Yep that’s what goes on behind closed doors, away from the eyes and ears of communities.

But, seriously, the two ladies are true advocates of sustainable agricultural practices, one of which, vermicomposting, even if they don’t actually practice it. Us as well (although the guy on my team who’d humored them is a practitioner, organic gardening and landscaping in his spare time that is. I learned to distinguish seeds from him).

Vermicomposting is very easy actually and can be done right in your backyard. Inexpensive too. With PHP5,000 you’d already have everything to start a backyard venture. With the project, they utilized African nightcrawlers (vermi worms), worms especially for composting not the ones we find in our gardens, said to best suit Philippine climate.

organic waste for vermicomposting

Best of all, you need not worry about what to feed vermiworms. They eat 100% of their body weight. Feed them your household waste including shredded paper, egg shells, coffee and tea grounds except: butter, oil, salad containing salad dressing, eggs, meat, highly acidic fruits and vegetables (lemons, limes, oranges), hot peppers, salt, animal waste, plastic, synthetic materials, insecticides.

Interestingly, unlike the “organic composting” without the aid of vermiworms, there’s no smell whatsoever when the vermiworms start feeding and doing their thing. I learned that this is due to moisture regulation. Too moist and the bed will smell.

vermibed in vermicomposting
Vermiworms crawl out of their bed if they’re not fed enough. Also, according to the project beneficiaries, they built a perimeter of water trough around the bed to keep predators eg. lizards out. They said that the vermiworms are like their children- they wake up in the middle of the night worrying if the worms had enough food and they’d actually go and check to the consternatuon of their husbands.

In terms of backyard yield, the general computation goes:

  1. 1 vermi bed 2x1x0.3m yields 12 harvests per year.

  2. African Night Crawlers costs PHP250 per kilo.

  3. 2 kg. of vermiworms per bed yield 4 kg. additional vermiworms in 4 wks.

  4. 150 kg of biodegradable wastes + 2 kg vermiworms = 90 kg compost

  5. Harvesting is done after 30 days.

  6. Compost sells at P6.00 per kilo.

Now, worm poop, or compost, called vermicast, or what folks in the industry refer to as black gold, is why we’re into vermicomposting. Vermicast is 100% natural nitrate or fertilizer and nothing of the bad. Vermicomposting after all is replication of nature’s processes in the nitrogen carbon cycle. “During digestion the worms mix and blend compost, micro-organisms and standing nutrients into a tidy little packet of perfectly conditioned soil.”

vermicast or black gold

From further readings I’ve done I also learned that beyond the household enterprise scale vermicomposting has started, as for example as part of waste management solutions of hotels eg. Mexico’s Cancun Palace Resort in which they feed their daily waste to worms in vermibeds maintained onsite. On the side, they teach their guests about the technology. Here, I’m thinking City-wide or village-wide vermicomposting to help ease it’s growing waste problem.

Start-ups can be further assisted by their local Department of Agriculture, Department of Trade and Industry, and State college or university.

How’s our English?

The news about Miss Philippines receiving flak for English grammar errors  while speaking at a press conference opens up a long-running issue in Philippine education. In fact, with K12 launched in 2012, public schools have added ‘Mother Tongue’ as a subject in Grades 1 to 3  as “studies show this helps children learn not only their lessons, but second or third languages as well.” That’s a non-debatable fact. Our problem rather is how we go about teaching English. And it is most unfortunate that an individual, Miss Philippines, has been singled out as the receiving end of a national frustration.

DepEd teachers are known within their communities for openly reprimanding students for errors in grammar. This is partly from having been themselves schooled in traditional teaching approaches. I had a colleague, a retiree of DepEd, who came on board as a senior advisor. She’d correct other colleagues, young and old alike, even while they were presenting, when she believed they made grammar mistakes. She did it as if that’s what’s been programmed into her. A habit. Since she was in her early 80s everybody took it in good humor. Of course we would’ve appreciated the gesture if it was done behind closed doors.

For me, correctness in spoken English is non-negotiable in these situations: presentations of studies, proposals, and the like, legal proceedings, certain interviews, debates, certain speeches, and such like. If the speakers cannot do it in straight English, then in straight Filipino or in the dialect of the audience. Otherwise, have a translator. The reason is elimination of misinterpretation of facts as well as to convey that you mean business and also out of respect for the language (which is a nation’s heritage and cultural asset hence the term ‘huwag babuyin’) and the audience who may have had to walk miles and probably slay dragons along the way just to be able to hear your talk.

In all others, non-native speakers should be at ease speaking the language. Made a gaffe? Laughter is still the best medicine. Hopefully the other also finds it humurous (in a good way). You’ll know better the next time at least.

I once taught conversational English and writing as part of an ESL programme to two Korean grade schoolers on winter vacation here. The first thing I did before our initial meeting was visualized that if I were to switch places with them ie. if I were the one learning the Korean language how would I want or expect my teacher to proceed? For sure I didn’t want a Miss Smarty Pants with a glinty metal ruler attached to her hand that she’d smack me with every time I hesitated, were unsure, tried to check with my dictionary app, or actually uttered a mistake. I wouldn’t have learned anything from her, or if I did at all it would’ve been because I didn’t want the metal anywhere near my skin. I would associate learning the language to dreadful feelings. As soon as I’d have completed the programme I’d probably immediately go into self-imposed amnesia in the attempt to flush out the experience from my system.

Sadly, this is the fate of Filipino- or dialect-speaking pupils in the public schools who are learning English for the first time. The Koreans on the other hand are doing it right by learning the language outside of the formal school system through appropriate learner-paced programmes. For Filipino pupils in public schools, as young as six or seven, imagine the mental shock and confusion as they are made to fast-navigate on their own this wholly new and peculiar world. Teachers demand correctness at once when such ought to be arrived at through a process, a mutually-rewarding process that is.

What if ESL is brought into the school curriculum especially public schools? But first in order to do that a review of public school teacher-training programs. What trainings and skill-related programs are English teachers receiving? Many English teachers in public schools especially in the countryside are left behind compared to their counterpart in the urban areas, private schools, and even independent ESL teachers. Many public school English teachers today themselves cannot speak or express lengthily in straight and error-free English. As what IT people would say, garbage in garbage out. Also, English, or any language for that matter, cannot thrive where it is not spoken or utilized by others in the community. After all, English is a living language.

A second look at furniture

A research manager from the UK and I were having a late lunch of bibimbap at a Korean restaurant on busy Tomas Morato that we espied after a few rounds of circling the area for dining places. Two other tables were occupied- one by an all-female group who appeared to be society matrons and were obviously celebrating an occasion, and the other by serious-looking all-male group who looked like businessmen. When we entered, we were given lingering looks the kind directed at white foreigners and locals accompanying them. I loathe attention but it’s something I bear as part of work. We quickly chose a table, nearest the door.

Having placed our orders and while taking sips of green tea, I commented to my companion that the place speaks of true or traditional Korean design. My companion had the same observation. Uncluttered minimalist look. Wood furnishing. And to drive home the point, the rack by the door held papers only in Korean. I wouldn’t understand anything of what’s written (reason to learn the language?). There were no windows on our floor (ground) but curiously the room didn’t feel claustrophobic. Maybe it was the high ceiling and muted mid gray palette.

Then she told me about the time when her family – herself, her husband, and their first child – relocated to Sydney from London. For their first sets of furniture, and considering their need to put together a living space quickly (she still works in London; her husband an Australian maintains business in Australia) they took to IKEA which recently opened in Sydney at the time. She wasn’t an IKEA fan previously but discovered that the brand carried some really good stuff especially for new couples or families. Laughing, she recounted the fun time they had making the several trips to the store and home and assembling the pieces. But forgive me she said did you know about IKEA though? I said I knew about it from magazines and if it opened in the country I’d definitely visit. I mentioned that Muji which also carries similar pieces has already opened stores in major cities here and is the more familiar brand locally.

That was the first time talk during lunch hour had been about furnitures and it wasn’t boring at all. It opened to me new insights about the place of furnitures in the home. Recently I came across an article on the subject, fortuituous really- IKEA’s Head of Research on the Future of Furniture.

When it comes to your home and to purchasing home furnishings, you typically do it very seldomly. You buy a car more often than you buy a new sofa or a new kitchen. It’s hard to relate to it, compared to clothing or whatever you buy at the supermarket. Also, in our homes, we are often unaware of how we actually behave. And many people play a specific role out in the world, then you come home, maybe you undress yourself, and you feel like my god, now I can be myself. In our research we want to come closer to people’s everyday lives, people’s reality.

Read the article here.

What comes in threes?

Nearly 92 billion videos were watched over the course of 23 billion visits to the site by many millions of very horny visitors. That’s 64 million visitors per day, or 44,000 every minute.

These statistics from Pornhub are informative! And we thought everybody’s glued to Aleppo, Brexit, US Elections, Pokemon Go, and just generally, their fave TV soaps on Netflix!  I’m thinking porn is beginning to look like climate change. Plenty of deniers.

From Southeast Asia, Philippines is the lone wolf. It also holds the record for longest average time spent streaming porn videos:

The Philippines is holding onto its first place position here with an average visit length to Pornhub of 12:45, exactly the same as where they were at in 2015.

Wonderful! But did we not drop out of the 2015 TIMMS (and was it due to embarrasingly-consistent low scores from previous years)? When you look at porn viewing this way, Japan’s higher ranking (fifth) (as well as that of first world nations’) is justifiable. Work hard, play hard, no? What did Pinoys work hard at in the past two years?

For the second year in a row ‘ lesbian ’ was the number one search term worldwide. ‘Step mom’ was second (up 1 spot from last year) followed by ‘MILF’ up 2 places from 2015. ‘Lesbian scissoring’ jumped a couple dozen positions to make the top 20 this year. An all-new term that shot into our top search terms lists of 2016 is ‘Overwatch’, in reference to the popular video game released earlier this year. Well known for its fast action and overtly sexualized characters, the game quickly became the subject of hundreds of fantasy porn parodies and tribute videos. “It appears that the trend is moving more toward fantasy than reality. ‘Generic’ porn is being replaced with fantasy specific or scenario specific scenes. Is this as a result of boredom or curiosity? One thing is certain; the typical ‘in-out, in-out’ no longer satisfies the masses, who are clearly looking for something different” notes Dr Laurie Betito , sex therapist and author of The Sex Bible for People Over 50″.

Ho ho ho! moms sure haven’t lost their appeal. And lesbian? Were not gay men and transgenders at the forefront of gender issues last year? The data however give credence to the observation that what happens in front of the world isn’t necessarily the same as what goes on “in the shadows”. Let’s see this year.

porn watching 2016-shower beer-high heels dancing

Need a drink in order to make sense of the mind-boggling data? An equally interesting invention’s out there: shower beer. As in beer to be downed in the shower. It also doubles as conditioner! The drink reportedly flew off shelves in just one minute! Cue for hotels here to stock their guest rooms with these samplers now?

Revived by the shower, are you suddenly hot for dancing? In the Metro are dance classes on high heels ala Yanis Marshall but for women. Ditch zumba for a day and put on instead your snazziest highest pair.

Why I love kimchi

Kimchi is a traditional Korean food manufactured by fermenting vegetables with probiotic lactic acid bacteria (LAB). Many bacteria are involved in the fermentation of kimchi, but LAB become dominant while the putrefactive bacteria are suppressed during salting of baechu cabbage and the fermentation.

Health functionality of kimchi, based upon our research and that of other, includes anticancer, antiobesity, anticonstipation, colorectal health promotion, probiotic properties, cholesterol reduction, fibrolytic effect, antioxidative and antiaging properties, brain health promotion, immune promotion, and skin health promotion.

Health benefits of kimchi (Korean fermented vegetables) as a probiotic food, Park KY, et al., Journal of Medicinal Food 2014.

But, did you know there are different kinds of kimchi? The video below shows preparation of traditional kimchi or Tongbaechu kimchi.

I regularly have this instead of the ones off grocery shelves, primarily for healthier skin. I have convinced the kids to eat even just a teeny bit as well. Ha!

Spread the love

coffee body scrub from Starbucks' coffee grounds
Coffee grounds from Starbucks (you have to ask for it in branches where it isn’t openly displayed) can be upcycled into homemade body scrub. Spread the love is the word this Christmas season, and couples could do just that, literally, in true holiday spirit. (images via Starbucks Philippines and glaminati)

Postcards from around the Philippines: RORO

The “boat” we took in San Isidro in Northern Samar for Matnog in Sorsogon was so much bigger- the roll on roll out (RORO) super ferry FastCat. Travel takes 1.5 hours (half an hour more to get to Biri from Lavezares). This ride is such a contrast to the boat on the Lavezares-Biri route but nonetheless both share the same level of sea faring expertise. The men who navigated our boats to and from Biri had our safety in mind and utilized all their indigenous knowledge and skills to steer the boats safely across. The same with the FastCat’s captain and his team. Lesson there is, safety doesn’t necessarily depend on sophistication of instruments or craft size.

The MRT again

urban public transport

“Where are you, ma’am?” the agency staff had called to inform me that the donor representative I was meeting had a noontime flight and needed to be at the airport at least two hours early (since after the President declared a national emergency) hence if I could come earlier.

This info had me switching from my initial plan of going by taxi to using the MRT which remains the quickest means to get from A to Z in the metro. At the station I found the lines ridiculously long even after rush hour.

It was my first time again to ride after several years. The one change I noticed was the e-cards. I observed a young woman do the card in at the turnpike. OK I could do that.

On the platform above, there were almost no people on the opposite side going north while us southbound passengers were like live sardines waiting to be packed in. A guard tried to humor the sombre-faced lines of women. “Why is it,” he said, “that the men are quicker getting into the cars?” Getting no response from the crowd, he continued “because there everybody’s pushing everybody inside whereas women they pull the others out.” I twitched with suppressed laughter. Yup. Bitchiness of women sometimes. It’s why gender equality has not completely happened. We’re our own greater enemies.

Normally, it takes 15 minutes to reach my destination but because I was only able to get inside the fourth MRT that came in, travel took 40 minutes total. By then, the donor rep had left for the airport. We contended with teleconferencing. I waited two hours more for the agency staff who I had another transaction with. He came in at noon. Good thing the building is conveniently located, along EDSA and walking distance to coffee houses and eateries.

Inside the elevator, after my meeting with the staff, an Indian consultant who was also on his way out was advising agency staff who had a flight later in the day to go early, “in fact, now if you can. I’m often on travel here and the traffic’s terrible.”

I had concluded my business for the week and was also homeward bound. That was around 1 PM, the best time (1-4 PM, actually) to ride the MRT. Lesson there is, finish your business before these hours. The Indian national obviously knew this. There were no lines on the platform just three persons max going into each door. Bliss.

Inside the MRT car, passengers on my seat were talking about a recent video on social media that went viral. It was taken inside one of these cars, of someone who refused seat to a girl who’d requested. The girl allegedly was exhausted from school activities. The chitchat revolved around the good and bad sides in video taking and uploading. The good side, they said, is MRT commuters will be more sensitive to fellow travelers. The bad side- anybody could take a video about anything and upload that anytime for an entire world to witness. Ah. A good discussion indeed. Societal changes that technology bring. At 1 PM too!

The emergency power for the President to manage traffic discussed in Congress is overkill of constitutional powers. What government – the MMDA and LGUs (not national government) – should do instead is to craft (1) a traffic management strategy alongside an urbanization strategy, (2) policies to support the strategy e.g. community re-education to change attitudes on the value and importance of using public transport, incentives for owners of transport lines to upgrade their units, car pooling and other carbon footprint reducing modes of transportation, and (3) budgets to actually be able to implement, monitor, evaluate, and continually improve the policies.

Adventures in adaptation

The agency staff opened the door of the meeting room to diverse faces turned toward us- of donor staff who look like young Brad Pitts and Angelina Jolies (the lady I’m directly collaborating with has a fab nose piercing that got me thinking about the gap in individual liberty and freedom, pursuit of individual happiness for one, in our countries) as well as more grim faced HQ-based local technocrats.

In that moment, I realized I’m back in familiar cosmopolitan settings. These were no country folks in other words. Having just recently came from a grassroots organization, it hit me that I’ve gotten to be a pro at adaptation.

Tact and diplomacy are what hold these UN like gatherings together. But whether or not your recommendations will get adopted depends on national and collective clout e.g. G7 or G20 countries v. developing countries, if not an individual’s sheer power of persuasion.

Collaboration via rawpixel

Third world transportation Part 2

To follow up on my previous post about the Grab service in the City, here’s DOTC Department Order 2015-011 detailing among other things operational conditions applicable to in-demand transport services such as Uber and Grab, viz:

a) Driver must be accredited by the TNC;
b) Driver must hold a professional driver’s license;
c) Driver must be registered with the LTFRB;
d) Vehicle must be accredited by the TNC;
e) Vehicle must not be more than 3 years old from date of manufacture;
f) Maximum age limit of the vehicle is 7 years from date of of manufacture;
g) Vehicle must be equipped with proper tools and equipment;
h) Driver must always have an on-line enabled digital device during a pre-arranged ride;
i) Driver must only carry passengers who pre-arrange rides through TNC-provided online-enabled application and not through phone call or booking service;
j) Driver is prohibited from accepting street hails from potential passengers;
k) Driver is prohibited from accepting passengers in the airports, unless authorized by the airport management;
l) Driver must display during trips his Identification Card prescribed by LTFRB;
m) Passengers must be insured with the LTFRB accredited personal accident insurance providers; and
n) Operators and their drivers must comply with the rules and regulations issued by government agencies.

In bold are the conditions lacking in the City’s franchises (which I’ve anecdotally noted in the previous post).