Why commemorative plates in the Philippines are useless

PGH 100 - Philippine Commemorative Plate

Do you own Philippine commemorative license plates? I bought and used a valid PGH 100 commemorative plate last year but have recently been forced to toss it aside. It’s sad since I can’t even use the dang thing as paperweight!

Ever since the authorities decided to change the rule earlier this year on how these plates should be displayed – you’re now not allowed to superimpose commemorative plates on top of regular plates, but must have both plates visible at the front – you can just imagine how utterly ridiculous the outcome would be depending on the owner’s interpretation of the ruling. You can see some owners forcing the issue by placing the plates either side-by-side, or by setting the commemorative plate literally on the top of the regular one. I guess they wanted to make the most out of their investment, and you can’t blame them. The majority though decided to do away with the commemorative plates altogether, for the sake of aesthetics.

The cops even had a heyday apprehending “violators” (me included *sigh*) as a result of the new ruling. And a few unscrupulous ones even had the gall to threaten and/or extort bribe money from the poor and unsuspecting, innocent commemorative plate owner.

Given the above, I wonder how the new batch of commemorative plates will fare. Are the new ones worth buying at all? I don’t think so.

Makati’s Bungled Coup Attempt

Yesterday was another interesting day in Makati City, highlighted by another bungled ‘coup’ attempt, mutiny, rebellion, standoff, or what-have-you, led by Senator Antonio Trillanes IV and Brigadier General Danilo Lim, which was staged at the posh Manila Peninsula hotel.

‘Tis true, the government has lost the support of a great number of Filipinos, mostly induced by the recent spate of scandals, questions on legitimacy and alleged constitutional and human rights violations. True still is the fact that the opposition is slowly gaining ground in its attempts to wrest control of the government leadership. But whatever momentum the opposition has gained went for naught simply because they can’t put their act together. Haven’t they ever heard of the ‘team building’ concept?

Oh well, are there other lessons to be learned? Hell, yes!

And some of these are:

1. Never make bookings in any of Makati’s premier hotels. Settling for three-star hotels or motels will do.

2. Make sure you have enough fuel in your tanks. Curfew-induced traffic can quickly deplete your car’s fuel and trigger your temper. We have an opposition’s senseless action begetting a government’s equally senseless reaction

3. Make sure to empty your bladder before driving. Again, curfew-induced traffic can be hell for anyone with a full bladder. It’s sort of a ‘piss poor’ drive after a ‘piss poor’ coup.

4. We now have new ways to use plastic cable ties aside from managing computer cables – Yes, steel handcuffs are obsolete – talk about Filipino ingenuity. Those bondage and S&M couples definitely learned a thing or two and added a new toy to their arsenal.

5. When applying for a building insurance, remember to add in a clause stipulating coverage from tanks or assault vehicles barging into your facility. This is what I call a true ‘Urban Assault’. Shock and awe baby! NOT!

How to replace a car bulb like a mechanic

After a few days of trying to make do with only one functional car headlight, I have finally been able to replace the defective bulb – by myself! I never knew that replacing it would be very easy!

I’ve been trying to squeeze in a bulb replacement schedule with our car shop but couldn’t because of our hectic work schedule and other commitments.

As an IT consultant, I’m fairly confident when it comes to tinkering with complicated IT infrastructure systems, but find myself a helpless newbie when it comes to tinkering with my own car.

I eventually decided to go the do-it-yourself route and bought a new pair of headlamps for “Puti”.

After reading the car manual, I realized that replacing the bulb wasn’t that complicated. When it came to actually doing it, it was easy as pie, and I couldn’t believe why it took me that long to do it myself.

It was just a matter of popping the hood, locating the defective bulb, removing the power source connector, removing the rubber gasket holding the bulb, unlocking the bulb clamp, removing the defective bulb, putting in the new one, putting everything back in reverse order, and that’s all she wrote!

Now the only thing left to do is to replace the other good headlight, since the new one that I placed was way brighter. Haha. 🙂

New job, old job, looking for a job

Today’s my first day at my new job. I reported for work after lunch but not after reporting to my old workplace first.

I had to drop by my old workplace first thing this morning to conduct a scheduled panel interview, together with my officemates (Cocoy and Gerald), for my replacement. Unfortunately, the guy didn’t show up and so I just had to spend the entire morning creating a list of my turnover and training activities. Gerald, on the other hand, went on with another scheduled applicant interview but for a different position, of which he had a funny and interesting story to tell us afterwards.

He came into the interview room and saw a female applicant stooping down, fidgeting with something. It turned out that the applicant was in front of a wall outlet with a phone charger in hand, apparently charging her mobile phone. Thereafter, during the interview process, Gerald was interrupted midway through one of his questions, when the applicant asked if they could cut short the interview since she had to rush to her current work to avoid being late! Ha! Yikes!

Can you believe it? I thought I heard it all. Oh well, I guess it’s all in a day’s work. Cheers!

Is Philippine cable TV really worth it?

Is subscribing to cable TV really worth it? Sometimes it is, but most often it isn’t.

You see, it all starts with the way it’s marketed. You can see it everywhere. One of the marketing points being touted by competing cable TV providers is by stating how many channels they serve. In this case, the usual spiel would be for them to: 1) list how many channels they have; 2) list some of their well known programs such as HBO, Star TV and ESPN; and 3) list channels that are targeted for a specific demographic community (Chinese, Indian, Arab, Filipino, etc).

Not that this is bad in any way. It’s actually good – if you’re a motel or realty owner and plan to resell it, that is!

You see, the Pinoy Juan’s instinctive reaction to these ads is to see which deal offers more bang for the buck. He does this by computing for the effective cost per channel by dividing the subscriber’s monthly subscription fee over the number of channels they offer. So if Cable Provider A offers a monthly cost of Php 600 for 60 channels, and Provider B offers a monthly cost of Php 700 for 80 channels, then the cost per channel of each provider would be as follows:

Provider A: Php 600 / 60 channels = Php 10 per channel
Provider B: @ Php 700 / 80 channels = Php 8.75 per channel

At first glance, this makes Provider B the better deal. And so Juan opts for Subscriber B. He even pats himself on the back for making such an astute choice, only to find out later on, to much consternation, that he might have ended up with a lemon.

You see, everything changes once the subscription starts. Why? Well, for starters, of the 80 channels, half of which use foreign language. Of the remaining 40, roughly half of this is pretty much useless stuff such as virtual aquariums, flight scheds, race results and the like. So what’s left? Oh, just about a dozen or so local VHF/UHF channels that could be seen even without cable, and about 7 or 8 channels that are good enough (at least until they start showing re-runs for the duration of the month’s program schedule) for viewing.

Juan suddenly feels gypped. He just spent 700 bucks for a measly 7 watchable channels on top of the local ones – that’s a hundred bucks per channel!

Don’t you ever wonder why won’t cable companies just sell us channels of our own choosing, a la carte style, instead of the unpalatable smorgasbord gunk of what they call intelligent programming.

Oh well, just imagine what Juan would do if it were his day off or he called in sick. You can almost picture him either catching up on a good read or just snoozing the day off.

7 ways to avoid road rage – part 2

As promised, this is the second and final part of my blog entry entitled “7 Ways to Avoid Road Rage”. The first four points covered in Part One are:

1. Be courteous.
2. Observe traffic rules.
3. Always signal your intentions.
4. Don’t tailgate.

Here are the remaining tips:

5. Observe the proper parking lot etiquette. – This is one of the most important tips to remember, since a lot of people have died just because of parking lot scuffles. Some of the parking lot rules of thumb to consider are: observe the first-come-first-served basis; if a space opens up, turn on your signal light to the direction where the parking space is to indicate your intentions, in turn, drivers who see this should understand not to take that space; when a parking space suddenly opens up behind you, don’t back up anymore and just move on; and stick to the lane you are in and try not to get too greedy with the area you are surveying.

6. Watch your high beams. – When driving at night, nothing pisses me off more than some half-blind driver forgetting to switch to low beams when approaching cars or tailing them. (In the Philippines: Jeepney drivers do the extreme opposite. Most of them drive around at night with their headlights turned off, only relying on their darned park lights!)

7. Turn down the bass. – As with tip number 6 above, here’s another example of drivers with defective senses, and this time it involves their sense of hearing. I don’t understand how people driving boom boxes for cars can drive properly and responsibly if they can’t hear what’s going on outside. Along with the sense of sight, I was made to understand that a good sense of hearing is also a prerequisite for safe and defensive driving. Not only is the half-deaf driver not able to hear cars honking at him or ambulance/police car sirens begging for road space, but some studies have shown that loud music with fast beats tend to draw out aggressiveness in people as opposed to soft, slow soothing music. This makes people more prone to succumbing to road rage. (In the Philippines: Again, a lot of Jeepney drivers are guilty of this. Heck, these drivers can’t even hear their passengers shouting “Mama, para po!!!” (to indicate that they want to be dropped off at a certain spot) or “Mama, eto pong bayad ko!!! (to indicate that they are about to pay their fare) at the top of their lungs. Mind you, a driver-passenger road rage confrontation can and does happen because of this!)

Following these tips does not guarantee that you won’t succumb to road rage or be in the receiving end of one, but it does help make the streets safer and more peaceful for everyone. Do you have anything else to add?

Happy driving!

Related Blog Entries:
7 Ways to Avoid Road Rage – Part 1
Pasig Road Rage: Justice and Peace for Ed and Kay
Pasig Road Rage: Pasig Road Rage: Lawyer Released on Bail

7 ways to avoid road rage – part 1

What’s the popular buzzword nowadays? The term “road rage” is one of the most popular terms being used today in the Philippines, particularly in Manila. This is mainly because of the recent spate of unfortunate road rage-related crimes happening across the metropolis. It’s such a major concern, especially in this traffic forsaken land of ours where machismo, pride and ego predominate.

So how can we lessen or contribute to the elimination of road rage in the Philippines?

Here’s Part One of: “7 Ways to Avoid Road Rage”.

1. Be courteous. It pays to be a courteous driver. Just imagine what the world would be like if every driver followed the “Golden Rule”, which simply means “Do unto others what you want others to do to you”. The increase in the number of courteous drivers will help decrease of road rage incidents, which means safer streets for our everyone to ply on. But it’s quite unfortunate that a lot of stupid drivers still follow the “Do unto others before they do it to you” maxim, which really sucks.

2. Observe traffic rules. – Traffic rules were meant to aid people and help improve our overall driving experience, not limit them. Just imagine how organized and efficient our roadways will be if all drivers obey existing traffic rules – one ways, no overtaking, speed limits, no parking, etc. This leads to lesser headaches. (In the Philippines: You’d expect law makers and law enforcers to set an example, but this is more often not the case. With heavily tinted windshields, diplomatic or special plates, blaring sirens, and police escorts, they seem to think that they’re above the law, those fu#*@rs!)

3. Always signal your intentions. – If you can’t do the simple task of engaging your signal lights prior to turning or changing lanes then you shouldn’t be driving at all. Admit it, your brain just can’t handle simple multi-tasking tasks so much so that it’s eating up all of your concentration just to focus on the road ahead and not anything else. How can people expect you to handle complicated tasks such as making good driving judgment calls or performing successful evasive maneuvers? Your brain will probably be overwhelmed and “lock up” when situations like these occur. It gives a whole new meaning to the term “pea brained.” Ha!

4. Don’t tailgate. – Some people just have a fixation for trains. They seem to think that they’re the train’s caboose. (In the Philippines: You’d see these tailgate jerks swerving around, nipping at your rear, stuck to you like glue and driving in the wake of speeding ambulances, diplomatic convoys and, if they happen to have color-code violating license plates, right smack at the tail end of just about any car they come across so as to hide their plates from those “ever vigilant” law enforcers!)

Part Two’s coming up in my next post. Can you figure out what the remaining three are?

Related Blog Entries:
7 Ways to Avoid Road Rage – Part 2
Pasig Road Rage: Justice and Peace for Ed and Kay
Pasig Road Rage: Pasig Road Rage: Lawyer Released on Bail

ZTE NBN conspiracy theories

This is yet another blog on the ongoing Abalos scandal allegations. Because of the lack of transparency in the dubious deal brokered between the Philippine government and Chinese firm, ZTE Corporation, you can’t fault people if they make highly spectacular and weird assumptions. Everybody is entitled to his or her own opinion. In short, “It’s fair game.”

And so, due to lack of transparency, these are “5 Hypothetical, Tongue-in-cheek Reasons Why the ZTE NBN Deal Should Be Junked.”

5. On the wake of Mattel’s recall of about 19 million alleged China-made toys worldwide, detractors fear that copper-based network wirings that will be installed by Chinese firm, ZTE, might end up being replaced with lead. “Well, uhm, you know, uhm, Superman can’t see through lead! How’s that for security? ;-p”

4. The $329 million deal comes with a stipulation that the Philippines relinquish its claim of the “Spratly Group of Islands” in favor of China. It’s a “phone for fish” trade.

3. The almost $200 million worth of alleged bribes comes with a stipulation that all allegedly recalled and rejected China-made toys in the US be diverted to the Philippine market, which also includes lifting the “White Rabbit Candy” ban. Tit-for-Tat.

2. Implementing the National Broadband Network claims to reduce the government’s phone call expenditure to a minimum, since inter-department calls will be via Voice-over-IP (VoIP) – unlimited and free. Aside from the savings in phone calls, the government would also save on costs for hiring and training espionage personnel and paying certain unscrupulous telco employees for its alleged phone tapping activities (well, at least tapping is limited to government agencies). A bit of code here and a few system commands there, and viola!, all calls are recorded and logged into a central database. “Hello Gar.. er.. Pap.. er.. bye!”

And, the top hypothetical reason for junking the deal is:

1. Broadband? Whaddya mean broadband? Here? In the Philippines? Duh! I’ve had enough of hearing broadband. NBN = No Broadband Now. Better rename the project: National Dial-up Network (NDN) dude. It’ll have the same speed and cost us less.

Related Blog Entries:
The Abalos Scandal: ZTE and the National Broadband Network (NBN)
NBN Scandal: “Sec, may 200 ka dito.”

15 things that scare men

Here’s a very interesting article in Yahoo! Health entitled “What Scares a Man?”.

I absolutely agree with it, although I think #9 (Her Tears) ought to be on the top. I would like to add that one thing that also scares us men is when it comes to sharing our true feelings. We are at the mercy of women once we get to share our emotions, and this kind of leaves most men feeling vulnerable and uncomfortable. This also often leads to other things like fear of rejection, commitment, etc.

What do you think?


How to drive in one piece in Manila

In my previous blog post, I listed 5 tips on how to survive driving in Makati City. While these focus more on how to avoid law enforcement traps, another driving survival guide that’s worth blogging about is how to survive while driving along with Manila’s general driving public.

I’ve had my share of accidents and judgment errors while driving in and around Manila, and these are some of the more helpful points that I believe you should remember in order to avoid being cited more than just a traffic violation ticket.

So how does one survive Manila’s rough and tumble, drag racing, demolition derby attuned roads? Here’s how:

1. The Game of Chicken (or Why It’s Better to be a Chicken Than to be a Statistic)

There are a lot of reckless drivers and road hogs throughout the metropolis. And it is inevitable that you’ll end up playing a game of chicken with some stupid, zero skill driver at some point in time. Now if you’ve taken driver’s ed class or the Land Transportation Office (LTO) license exams, then you’ll probably know that the best way to deal with these kinds of drivers is to simply give way. There’s no point in risking your life, or your passengers’ lives for that matter to some idiot who probably doesn’t know his left from his right, let alone how to use the car brakes.

2. Size Matters (or Would You Want to Go Head On With A Bus?)

When driving in bus-filled roads, such as EDSA, it’s essential to note that “Size Matters”. Simply put: You should never piss off bus drivers, especially during peak traffic hours. If you do, then you’ll most likely end up in the sidewalk frantically trying to wrestle for control of your car while trying to evade incoming pedestrians just because the bus driver decided to play a game of chicken (see Tip #1 above)!

Just imagine the damage a fully-laden passenger bus can do to your car if you happen to be sideswiped by it. An ounce of prevention is indeed better than a pound of cure.

3. Lane Markings are Not Enough (or Whoah! Lay Off on the Gas Pedal Dude, This Ain’t No Drag Strip!)

Manila’s main roads have an unnatural tendency to go from being four lanes wide and all of a sudden narrowing down to two lanes. Imagine yourself cruising along at about a hundred kilometers per hour (60 mph) only to break and swerve real hard because of an unexpected road bottleneck up ahead! How government engineers planned the roads to be this way without having any foresight completely boggles the mind.

And so, it really pays if you always stay alert and watch out for the driving behavior of the cars in front of you. If you see them collectively break or swerve, then there’s probably a road anomaly up ahead. Again, you must remember Tips #1 and #2 above, because this is what will most likely happen in case of a “narrowing road” or “road bottleneck” scenario.

4. The Turn Signal Deficiency Syndrome (or “Did He Just Make a Lane Change Signal? No? BANG! I Though So!)

In my experience, approximately only 2 in every 10 Filipino drivers that I encounter on the road know how to make a turn signal prior to executing a turn or a lane change. And half of that, roughly 1 in 10, usually engage their turn signals a split second before doing the actual turn or lane change! I’ve mentioned this in a previous post.

This can be very frustrating for the educated and disciplined driver. Driver’s ed usually teach you to observe signal lights, as this is a clear indication of the expected path a car in front of you will take. With this driving aspect or discipline missing in most Manila drivers, then you’ll wind up observing Tips #1 and #2 above, again!

There are a lot of other driving nuisances that a driver can face while driving in Manila, or in the Philippines in general. But the four scenarios above are probably the most prevalent. But to sum it all up, the best tip that can be offered is that every driver should practice defensive driving. This is one driving technique that will make you an above average driver, no, a great driver.

Are there other driving pitfalls that should be included in this list? Please feel free to add to it.