Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Party Staples

It's that that time of the year again when everyone is in a festive mood. For the next week or so, people will be attending multiple Christmas parties and reunions. And as we all know,

parties/reunions = delicious holiday food

Here are some dishes that I feel have become a staple in every Christmas party:

How many parties have you gone to thus far which did not serve pancit?

What's pancit without barbecue?

I could never understand why a party would serve pancit and pasta at the same time... nevertheless, the 4th holiday staple food would have to be... Spaghetti.

For family reunions this season, you will probably get to eat queso de bola coupled with....

Sweet ham... YUM!!!

All to be washed down with... your favorite brew..


Red wine which goes great with the ham.

Happy holidays and Happy Eating!

Norman E. Ocana III, Entry No. 2

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Chronicles of the “Anonymous”. Introduction.

"Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof."

So spoke the main character in the cult classic V for Vendetta. Much like the movie’s main character V, today’s new breed of activists (or hacktivists) have found that anarchy is in fact the most effective solution or response to dystopia. Unlike the lone V, however, hacktivists act on their anti-establishment sentiments in large numbers.

It would first be proper, as in any story, to acquaint one’s self with the jargon and the characters involved. For the vast majority of people like me who are computer illiterate (those who still wonder if a troll is a creature from Middle-Earth and trolling is in fact the act of hunting these creatures) this is non-negotiable.

As hacktivism is actually a portmanteau of sorts, let’s start with its root word - hacking. To hack means to break into computer systems, potentially giving access to sensitive data. These data may include customer information and internal emails. An example would be a hack into Sony's systems which resulted in the theft of personal data of millions of online video-game users. As a result, Sony shut its popular PlayStation online network for nearly a month, and has estimated the attack cost it about $171 million.

To be continued…

Nathan J. Marasigan Entry No. 2

Stress in the City

Who knew? 
 During exams, while studying for that exam, while thinking about studying for my exam, I pull out my hair. It has been a trait that I have had since I could remember. Recently, when I get stressed about thinking of the shadow of the bar exam which my friends are taking, I unconsciously pull out strands of my already short hair.

Upon one of my escapism times, when I was watching Body of Proof, I made a discovery. This hair pulling , according to the show (and according to google and wikipedia as well), is called trichotillomania. I wont necessarily go to the doctor to have myself examined but maybe I have to have someone slap my hands away from my noggin from time to time or rather, all the time till 2012.


The format was changed this year to multiple choice. The advancement of technology has really shaken up not only the cyber world but also the real world. What makes me so agitated is the uncertainty of it all, its as if, if I can speak my mind, its doubly hard. Will it be September or November? Will it still be multiple choice next year? Would they extend the time as well?


Since first year, I have been a regular volunteer for the bar operations. Not only for the spirit of volunteerism and for the love of UP Law, but also to learn and to know what goes on behind the background and be familiar with the mechanics and the territory. Now, I wouldn’t even know how it works. Its not going to be held in LaSalle but in UST. Scary, daunting and totally intimidating.


So now, I am planning how I can lessen my stress and I am hunting for the perfect planner to help me in this somber quest. I would want to have hair left when I take the bar.


By Trisha Isabelle F. Fernandez Entry #02

ISDB-TV in the Philippines

This Christmas, I wanted to give my parents a gift. I thought to myself, certainly, after decades of providing for me and my brother, they deserved something from me. After weeks of agonizing, I finally decided on getting them a television...then I realized that it has been a long time since the last time I have been involved in television shopping. When I got to the shop, I was overwhelmed by the many new types of television out there: from LCD to LED-tech to straight-out LED. I was also surprised to learn that today's televisions are no longer mere, well, televisions. Apparently, they now double as computer monitors and karaoke machines! But the feature that surprised me the most was today's television's ability to detect digital, as opposed to analog, signals. Apparently, this technology is not new. Japan has been using digital signals to broadcast their television programs for years, and in the Philippines SkyCable has been slowly introducing the "digibox" to Filipino households. So what is all the fuss with ISDB-TV? Two things: superior image quality and crystal clear audio. This feature got me excited, so I asked a salesman why only one specific model has this technology installed. His answer did not surprise me: it is because although the technology has been around for years, the National Telecommunications Commission effectively prevents its implementation by not promulgating the implementing rules and regulations that would govern its deployment. At that point, I shook my head, and under my breath I muttered: a perfect example of policy hindering the advancement of technology.

--Jan Nicklaus S. Bunag, Entry No. 2


Last Sunday due to the bad weather in Manila, my friend and I had the craziest idea to find sun elsewhere. We came up with the idea to go beaching some place near the metro. Our choices were Bataan, Subic Zambales or Batangas. Since we both frequent the North in most of our out-of-town escapades we decided to go south instead. So Batangas it is!

While in C-5 road on the way to the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), we surfed the net to find a decent place that can accommodate us in such a short notice. We found several promising resorts on different parts of Batangas. We decided to go to Laiya in the end because we got persuaded by the Municipal website’s promise of white sand comparable with that of Boracay and Panglao, Bohol.

So off to Laiya we were!

From Quezon City, it took us four hours to get there. While traversing the long road of SLEX and Star Toll, we were beginning to get really frustrated because the bad weather seemed to be following us. In SLEX, we almost encountered zero visibility due to ‘smog’ and water sprinkles of car and truck tires alike. It seemed as if our road trip to good weather was about to be a failure.

In San Juan, Batangas, the town before Laiya, clusters of heavy clouds were looming to release themselves on us. Frustrations were sky high inside our car, nobody dared talk for the entire drive through San Juan Batangas. Then, a sudden bolt of excitement consumed us; SUNSHINE! There was as if an invisible wall separating the wet roads of San Juan to the awesomely dry streets of Laiya.

We stayed in the Acuatico Resort for a day trip. The beach was great! It was perfect! The weather, the resort, the food, the beach and the company.

While we were exploring the beachfront stretching for about half a kilometre covering several resorts and private properties, a notice posted in one of the private resort’s entrance gate caught our attention. The notice says: “ NO TRESSPASSING: Violators will be shot. Survivors will be shot again”

My mind was urgently contemplating whether to laugh or be offended by the sheer insensitivity and lack of humanity involved in the statement. I was wondering whether someone really is capable of doing what is demanded in the notice. Sure, one has the right to protect his property or life from transgressors as recognized by the law, the legal provision mandates however, that certain requirements be met. For instance the force to be used in confronting the danger must be only that which is necessary to prevent the peril entailed by the threat. In any case, since we were in such high spirits due to the warm sun we just laughed it off and forgot the insensitivities of the warning/notice posted.

Danjun Lucas

Entry # 2


I worked in a high school in the province before I entered law school. Some of my former students are now in college. I was surprised to learn, however, that a few of them, who I believe would have done well in the university, had to stop studying in order to work and to support their families.

I realize now that my former students who are working, but who still wish to finish a college degree, have an alternative – they could study in an “open university” or an institution offering “distance learning.”

In the Philippines, we have several open universities offering non-formal courses, bachelor’s degrees, post-baccalaureate certificates/diplomas, and even master’s degrees. Distance-learning students typically access learning materials over the internet. They submit assignments and communicate with fellow students and their professors through different modes, such as e-mail, chat, video conference, or customized web-based systems. The advantage is a flexible work-study schedule. Students can study at their own pace and time while pursuing their work. Another advantage is that distance education transcends geographical boundaries. An OFW can earn a degree from UP Open University. Someone working in the Philippines can earn a University of London degree. There are also distance learning scholarships.

To be sure, distance education has its limitations: fewer areas of study to choose from, the requirement of a reliable internet connection, and the perception that traditional education is still better. Perhaps a study can be made to assess the effectiveness of distance learning. How do graduates of the latter fare in comparison with those of traditional learning systems?

Distance education may not be able to fully replicate the conventional classroom learning experience. However, as internet and mobile technologies become more accessible, we are given a wider array of alternatives and opportunities for education.

C M Prado, Entry # 2


Class, bring out your tablet and slide to page ten.

This might very well be the first instructions grade school and high school students of La Salle Greenhills (LSGH) will be hearing every day in school after the LSGH partnered with Samsung to launch a pilot program that will transform traditional classroom models into technologically advanced educational hubs. Students will be provided with electronic tablets to lieu of books, while the blackboard of old will be dispensed with in favor of a touch screen e-board. The objective, according to LSGH IT consultant Jun Lozada, is to prepare the students “for life in an increasingly information-based economy and an electronically networked society.”

Is this the dawn of a new journey for the Filipino student?

It is undeniable that the current make-up of the world today has been largely shaped by the physics behind the atom and the mechanics inside the integrated chip. The human brain certainly had to adapt to the astronomical changes in information creation and dissemination that all of human activity had to adjust to the quickening pace of digital life. Education, obviously, cannot remain in limbo and must, as is usually said, go with the flow. Goodbye books, welcome tablets. Goodbye blackboards, hello high definition, touch screen, LCD monitor screens. Heck, goodbye physical interaction, hello virtual, long-distance classes. The digital revolution has opened up a new journey for all students to take part of. It is not just the homework that is at their fingertips. The whole world is at their fingertips.

However, no meaningful journey lies in a single path. The unseen curves, unexpected chicanes, unwelcome dead ends - these define the essence of a lasting journey. Inarguably, the Filipino student has his own share of these. Crossing rivers and mountains just to reach school. Enduring dilapidated and crowded classrooms just to get through one school day. Stopping school altogether due to poverty. Oh what a life would be for Filipino students to go to school free from all such burdens. But this is the real journey. It is an inescapable truth that students live through an actual physical world and a demanding social niche. This is one human journey that necessarily diverges from the digital journey of today’s world of modernity. From the sight of the setting of the sun, to the rush of crystal clear waterfalls, from the old customs of family to the new norms of the youth, students are bound by a life undefined by binary codes.

Yes, today, students are all living in an information-based economy and an electronically networked society. Their journey to humanity, however, is theirs to undertake and complete, unaided by the tablet and e-board.

Aldan S. Avila, Entry No. 2

Getting Rich Cheap

Be Your Own Boss.

This is the slogan of the business accelerator program at the School of Management (SOM) in Ateneo. It is a yearlong program for seniors to start their own businesses, wherein actual registration with the Securities and Exchange Commission is required. They are given a workspace as their office, which also has a conference room for meetings with clients or suppliers, and a telephone line. Groups of students only need to submit proposals of their workable business ideas and the top six groups are accepted. This program has spawned a variety of business concept such as packaged squeezed kalamansi (with no seeds!), bottled fruit and vegetable drink, and fiber-rich longganisa

Yes, this program encourages students to think like and actually be entrepreneurs even before graduating and it’s open to all SOM seniors. But there is a prerequisite that is unmentioned but understood: capital. In order to go into production and be in full operation, all these students must contribute a certain amount of money to get their businesses to take off. The kalamansi will not squeeze itself. You can’t be cheap if you want to get rich. Or can you?

Shopping at the push of a key

In this era of online shopping, anyone can be an entrepreneur. All one needs is a computer, an Internet connection and whatever good or service you would like to offer. It’s as simple as signing up for an account on e-Bay, or even Multiply. Of course, there is the initial shelling out of cash that’s required of any start-up but the amount is considerably lesser than setting up a brick-and-mortar store—no licensing or registration fees, no costs for the renovation or layout, and no rent expenses. Plus (or is it less?) there is no cause for headaches worrying about inventory management and human relations policies. Your warehouse is your room (or whatever space is available) and your staff is you. There is no issue of logistics (meeting up and exchanging the good for the money), as you only have to fit the meet-ups with your schedule. By simply sitting in front of your computer, you can make a profit. Being your own boss can be just that simple and cheap.

Candice See, Entry #2

Naked Online


Every morning, when I go downstairs to perform that cherished ritual called ‘taking a bath’, I never miss on 2 things: lock the bathroom door and close the bathroom windows. You can say that I have a thing for privacy.

I look around for thieving maniacs before I press my PIN at the ATM. I defend it like a fat boy fights for ice cream, cake and ice cream cake.

Imagine my consternation when I recently read online, ‘Your Smartphone is Spying on You’.

Ever heard of Carrier IQ? It’s an application running in most Nokia, Android and Blackberry devices. Yeah, the phone you are holding contains a tracker that not only discloses your location, it secretly records your individual keystrokes! The background app, developers say, is ostensibly used to gain insight into customers’ mobile experience and thus, helps makers create better products.

(Yeah right! Now I’m conscious of keystrokes and spelling, lest Nokia send me a pocket dictionary for Christmas.)

I don’t understand why companies need to do this. They don’t need to tap our phones when all they have to do is look us up on Facebook.

An Austrian law student, Max Schrems, requested Facebook to provide him records of personal data they have on him through its 'Download a copy of your Facebook data' feature. What came Max’ way was a document thicker than any Local Government Code -- 1,222 pages, to be exact.

It included photos, messages, comments, ‘Likes’, ‘Pokes’ from years back -- even those he had supposedly already ‘Deleted’. Apparently, ‘Delete’ doesn’t mean anything online.

But wait a minute! Is Facebook allowed to mine and keep such information? What does its Privacy Policy say?

Well, as it turns out, nobody actually reads those things anyway. With their small print, length and complexity, they are not meant to be read. Or understood. Unless one has a fetish for inscrutable gobbledygook, reading before agreeing to the terms just gets in the way of uploading photos and shoving personal information FB’s way.

My discovery of smartphones’ Carrier IQ and what could only be thousands of FB pages about me made me think about privacy. The internet is not designed for people like me.

This picture shows my Nokia smartphone.

This one, the amount of data about me facebook stored and the length of time it will take to download such data.

Above is my online article reading activity, duly traced by Yahoo and duly published by Facebook.

Creepy. I'm freaked out. I feel so naked online.

The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced. I lost all hope and was one click away from shunning the internet for life, when I chanced upon Mo Twister crying his heart out in YouTube.

Needless to say, that 13-minute video changed my mind.

Diana Lutgarda P. Bonilla, Entry # 2

Applied Gadgetry Series: Sony Digital Voice Recorder

I never realized how technology-dependent I was until most of my daily gadgets suddenly went coo-coo or just completely gave up on me in a span of two days. Smart Bro would crash in Lion X, my Kindle’s 3G was a dud, car’s accelerator making scary growling sounds, and BB’s trackpad had a mind of its own – if you’re a law student, an OLA intern, and a control freak, with deadlines, then this situation isn’t funny.

You think I’ve learned my lesson but I’m crazy about gadgets. Don’t get me wrong though, I’m not one to replace a phone because a new version came out a week after. And while I agree that technology has isolating effects, I still prefer meaningful conversations over coffee than through smileys and BBM. But truly, other than how sleek they look like, gadgets are very convenient, and serve as an easy and efficient way of accomplishing things. It’s just a matter of what, where and when they should be used. Hence, this 'applied gadgetry' series.

I particularly love my digital voice recorder, which my mom got for me last Christmas. When I was writing for the University paper in undergrad, I used to record interviews in a mini tape recorder, and I thought that was convenient. Now I have a Sony ICD-PX820, which has a 2GB built-in flash memory, which is roughly 530 hours in long play mode (20 hours in super high quality), records in MP3 format, transferable to a PC or Mac via USB (like a generic flash disk), and the interface is super user-friendly. My mom bought it in a store in the SM North Cyberzone for roughly P6,000, its dimensions are 1.36" x 4.31" x 0.7", so it’s small, and uses two AAA batteries (that’s about 26 hours of recording time).

But my two favorite features are: first, the Digital Pitch Control, which allows playback at the desired speed + or – 50 percent, without changing the ‘pitch’ of the voice of the speaker. It makes listening and taking down notes easier; and second, the Voice Operated Recording, which serves as a recording buffer, i.e., recording automatically pauses when no one is speaking, and resumes likewise, when it detects spoken word or sound.

I actually wish I could use it for class, but I learned law professors don’t like their classes recorded. But I’ve used it for several interviews, OLA client meetings, and random lectures. I also wanted to try recording eureka moments (like in television), but I haven’t had the chance yet.

I recommend it for anyone who interacts with people, does a lot of interviews, and meetings. While I am a heavy note-taker I still find it hard to note down every important detail, and it’s always easier to rewind. Although I haven’t tried yet, it might be useful for trials too, especially when the court stenographer has no tape recorder.

Photo from:

Mary Rhauline Lambino, Entry No. 2

Underscoring the Importance of Government Intervention on the Teleconopoly in the Philippines

Markets are not always perfect. Sometimes, the private sector is not always performing efficiently or effectively. These are instances wherein any improvement to one area would cause a corresponding harm to something else. Sometimes, when there are too few markets and the behaviours are non-competitive, monopolies exist and the distribution of information in the market becomes asymmetrical.[1]

Such is the case in the local telecommunications industry. For the longest time, the PLDT captured the market of providing telecommunication services to the public. PLDT used to have undue advantage over the industry because it has all the necessary facilities and capability to provide such services to the public. The prospected competitors are discouraged to enter the market and compete because of the high cost of starting up such business. However later on, when new players came in to compete, telecommunication providers became more competitive and were able to get a share of the market of PLDT.

When such failure exists, it is important that interventions are made to correct these failures. This is when the government’s role comes in the form of regulation through laws, taxes, or subsidies.

The current issues on the telecommunications industry further underscore the importance of government intervention to address market failures. In the case of the current issue of the PLDT-Digitel merger, PLDT is poising again to regain its former stance of having control over the telecommunications industry. The days when the public are at the mercy of PLDT officials just to get phone lines, which usually takes years before an application can be granted, have long been gone. However, these inefficiencies might happen again especially when this merger is fully implemented.

This issue is a clear example of when government should wield its power in order to protect the interests of the public. The telecommunication industry is a public utility; thus, its infrastructure and services are vital to the lives of the people. By ensuring that no monopolies will dominate the market, the government can uphold the general welfare.

The government may also exercise its power by ensuring that all the necessary information is provided to the public, especially when they are making economic choices. People should also be made aware of the consequences of their choices. They should be able to understand, for instance, why the costs of calling other networks are expensive and what will be the effect if the costs for interconnection fee between networks are lowered or waived. They should also be made aware of the implications if the PLDT-Digitel merger. This is not solely in the purview of government functions; however, it would be a big push if the government will lead in promoting the dissemination of information and in promoting transparency in its actions.

The decision of the NTC to allow the PLDT-Digitel merger presents another challenge for the government: that is to ensure that no monopoly will indeed take place in the telecommunications industry. Such a decision has major impact on the public. If it turns out to be a mistake, rectifying the situation will be much more difficult than preventing it to happen in the first place.

[1] Ledyard, John O., "Market Failure", "The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics", Eds. Steven N. Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008 (accessed from on 02 December 2011).

Angeli I. Serapio, Entry #2

Kids these days

I’m amazed how kids these days know far more about technology than I assume they would. Take my nephew, for instance. He knows more about the game Angry Birds than I do. He’s 3 years old. He knows which birds have what powers, and when to tap the screen to activate them. Up until recently, I didn’t even know that. Of course, I’m hardly up to speed with the latest games and gadgets these days. I don’t even think I’m half as knowledgeable as the average teenager. Still, you wouldn’t think you’d need a little boy to teach me how to play a game on the iPad.

I’m assuming that when Apple created the iPad, they weren’t thinking about selling it as a means to pacify little kids in restaurants or in airplanes. In the same manner, I bet when parents bought tablets or iPhones for themselves, they probably never thought that they’d have to share it with their kids. But as reality would have it, many of these gadgets are introduced to little kids early in their childhood in exchange for a quiet dinner out, or a peaceful visit to the dentist. Apparently, many of the toy companies are catching on and are beginning to create new and creative ways for kids to have fun with a tablet. So far, I have read that there are now applications that allow it to convert into a mini karaoke machine, a coloring book, and a racecar track. Kids these days. It’s so much harder to keep them interested. It’s a good thing we have so much more to work with.

Joni R. Gomez, Entry # 2

Fish Now, Fishing Later

My Land Titles and Deeds (LTD) class last semester organized, as our class project, a stakeholders’ symposium on the Community Mortgage Program (CMP) entitled “BAHAY, WALANG LUPA,” with the objective of disseminating information on CMP, and in the process, get a good grade.   As organizers, we invited speakers and guests, contacted food caterers, and raised funds-most of which came from our own pockets.  For our audience, we got to convince a nearby community to come and attend our symposium.  It was a community of informal settlers in along Commonwealth Avenue. 

Skipping the stressful details of the preparations, our symposium went though just fine.  It was fairly successful, I think.  Anyway, coming home from the long day’s work, I couldn’t help but feel bothered that the CMP has been there for almost twenty years and it seems that that people it aimed to help has not a bit of knowledge about it.  Okay, I admit, I only understood the program in my LTD class but I really don’t think the law is of much use to me before.  But especially for these people, who are supposed to be the beneficiaries of the law, it should not be the case.  For one, they have been in the squatters’ area since the 80’s. Two, they are a stone’s throw away from the UP College of Law and the Law Center. And three, it’s the internet age.  I’m sure I saw a computer shop or two in the community, and a couple of houses with computers.  If these people really wanted to find a way to legally own the lands their houses are on, they could.  I’m sure I’ve seen a couple of internet shops in the community.  What’s their use then? Facebook? Chat? Online gaming? Well, I don’t intend to take those little happiness away from them but more than being just a medium of entertainment, people should also learn about the informative use of the Internet.  It could help a lot.  It could mean peaceful demolitions, if not peaceful communities.  It could be as difficult as spoon feeding people of what they need making it more enticing to just commit this sin of omission. 

At any rate, I know it is still a long way for education and information technology.  What we have done is exactly spoon feed them.  But I know it would not and should not end there.  We gave out fish…for now.  So they could find their homes and live decent lives.  So we can teach them how to fish later.

Maricor Estrella, Entry # 2

UK prosecutors get techy; To infinity and beyond

ICT stuff. The British government is ready to replace traditional paper documents with tablets in UK courtrooms. Starting in April, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will give slates to Welsh and English prosecutors to store all forms and evidentiary items, later extending the offer to judges, jurors and defense lawyers. To start, administrators will give 35 Hewlett-Packard tablets to prosecutors in Norfolk as a test for the bigger roll out, which is estimated to save around £50 million across England and Wales.

Maybe the College of Law should do the same thing with cases. Give us tablets to save the trees. (source: The Guardian)


One-shot. If I weren’t taking up law, I’d probably be an astronaut—or at least an astronomer. You see, I’ve always been fascinated by the cosmos since as far back as I can remember. I remember looking up entries in the encyclopedia about red and white dwarfs, when kids my age were probably only concerned with Snow White’s seven or the Anthill Mob. I used to tune in to astronomy programs at Discovery channel as much as I did to Masked Rider Black or Power Rangers. (And frankly, there weren’t enough of such programs—I mean, who really cares about all the different species of insects in the Amazon or rhinos making babies?) My interest never really waned as I grew older; in the last couple of years, I’ve read Stephen King’s A Briefer History of Time and watched two seasons of Discovery Channel’s Through the Wormhole. Geeky? Lemme just say I’m a man of many interests.

With the recent discovery of a planet, Kepler-22b, that could potentially sustain life, I must admit that it was pretty exciting stuff for me. I’m not really concerned about finding life outside the Earth per se—unless there is a definitive finding that there is, none exists as far as I’m concerned, all the calculations and theories notwithstanding. My primary source of excitement comes from a general wondering of where humans would go when the Earth inevitably becomes uninhabitable. While it sounds like stuff of science fiction, the truth is that the survival of the human race would ultimately depend on its ability to go to the stars.

Quo vadis, homo sapiens?

Early postulates pointed to Mars, but all the direct missions to the red planet since the 1970’s have shown that there’s neither life nor water on its surface. The best case for Mars right now is for it to be terraformed—basically, an artificial process of making the Martian surface Earth-like. Moons like Europa (Jupiter) and Titan (Saturn) are thought to have life-sustaining properties—just not suitable for terrestrial life.

The discovery of the Gliese star system in 2005 was a big breakthrough. For the first time, astronomers detected rocky planets within the so-called Goldilocks zone (not too close to the sun that it evaporates all water and not too far that it freezes the water). The only problem is that Gliese is a red dwarf, which means that it is much weaker than our own sun and the planets therein are tidally locked, i.e. they do not rotate. In other words, there is no night and day; one side is perpetually daytime and the other nighttime. Needless to say, there are habitability issues when dealing with a star system not similar to ours.

Now, we have Kepler-22b. The report says that the planet circles a star similar to our sun and at just about the same distance; it probably has water and rock, too. The problem is that it’s 600 light years away. Even if humans could build a ship that could travel at the speed of light, the travel time would be well beyond a single generation’s lifetime. Plus, there is no assurance that the planet wouldn’t get bricked by an asteroid before humans reach it.

Be that as it may, the discoveries of planets like Kepler-22b lay the foundation for future discoveries and advancements. As things stand now, humans do not yet have the knowledge and the technology to make such incursions into the depths of space. But who knows, maybe after a couple of more centuries? After all, Tycho Brahe calculated the position of Mars in the 16th century, but it wasn't until 1964 that a man-made spacecraft, Mariner 4, finally visited our red neighbor.

Francis Paolo Tiopianco, Entry #2

Theft of Christmas stockings, who knows?

“Theft of packages left in front of homes is a growing trend during weak economy.” This news is currently reported by Yahoo. It seems strange right? But now that the Christmas is fast approaching plus the fact that US is still in a recessionary recovery, this shouldn’t be a surprise. People need more money to satisfy their wants for Christmas. However, that shouldn’t be strange enough. In August 2011, US reported a surge in the thefts of dogs to 32% due to prolonged economic recessionary recovery. I just can’t imagine a poor dog being taken by someone and will never be able to come back again to its family. I am pretty sure that those dogs will spend their Christmas thinking about their home.

In times of need, people can really do a lot of things especially if it is for their family. That is quite obvious in the Philipines as there is a higher crime rate during Christmas season year by year, no miss. Filipinos would always want to give whatever their children wish as much as possible. It is because Filipino parents are very loving.

Caution parents: You should be able to make sure that your children’s Christmas stockings are hanged inside your doors and not outside. Why? You might end up staring at your neighbors’ children trying to figure out if those are the stockings of your children. Or, you may just want to convince yourself that maybe you bought stockings from the same store.

Adrian Francis S. Bustos, Entry #2

Googling Santa

As kids, my brother and I were made to believe in Santa Claus. On Christmas morning, we would rush towards the living room windows where our Christmas stockings hung and excitedly look inside them to see what gifts we got. Of course, we always got a gift from Santa. Apparently, we were always on his list of ‘nice’ kids.

This went on for a couple of years until that fateful day in third grade. I was happily telling my classmate a story about the gift Santa gave me the past Christmas, to which she pointedly replied: “Santa doesn’t exist. It’s your Mom and Dad putting the presents in your Christmas stockings.” Naturally, I was devastated. When I got home that day, my Mom confirmed my classmate’s revelation. And yet, we had to continue the Santa act for a few more years for my younger brother’s sake.

Now that I have a kid, it’s my turn to play Santa. My turn to put presents in her Christmas stocking by the window. My turn to let her enjoy the Santa myth for some time.

But unlike me, I bet my kid will uncover the truth about Santa much sooner. Perhaps, by the time she learns how to use a computer. How to surf. How to Google.

All she would have to do is type “Is Santa Claus real?” on the Google search bar

Agnes M. Santiago, Entry #2

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Casually Pepper Spraying Cop

During one of the Occupy protests, this one held in UC Davis, several student protesters who were sitting on the ground were pepper sprayed by a UC Davis police officer. What angered a lot of people was the manner that the policeman went about doing it. He was under no threat from the students, who were just sitting down and hunched over, and neither did they react when he started pepper spraying them. His demeanor was quite casual and relaxed. He knew that the students would not try anything. He was not tensed up as he would be if he were expecting violence.

He did this in full view of dozens of onlookers, many of whom caught his actions on both still and video recordings. As expected, the internet communities lashed out against him, as did the University administration. Based on some news entries I read, he has already been suspended, and is under investigation as to whether criminal charges can be filed against him aside from administrative charges.

But in today's high-tech world, one of the harshest punishments is to be immortalized and ridiculed for all eternity in a meme, or at least until the next big meme comes along. True, there is a sense of anonymity in that the pictures generally don't specify his name, but he will know, and the people who know him will know. On one end, there are memes as a form of internet bullying, as with the "Star Wars Kid." On the other hand, there are memes which are a sign of outrage and vindictiveness, as we have seen recently with the meme targetting the DPWH officials. Whether one agrees with memes as a form of social punishment against erring public servants or thinks that cyber-bullying is cyber-bullying regardless of whether the target deserves it, the truth is, politically-correct or not, memes tend to be funny and entertaining.

That said, here are some of the casual pepper spraying cop. Allow it to entertain you or enrage you, whatever you like.

Previous Entries: #1.
Daniel Luis Convocar, Entry #2.

What Mo Twister Should Have Known in the First Place

Gone are the days when people simply kept everything to themselves or simply just shared personal information to close friends. By close, I mean within close proximity and physically accessible. Satisfying the need to consult, say, a problem with your best friend who so happened to be in another country, was a virtual impossibility before. Now, there’s SMS, Yahoo! Messenger, and Skype that will enable one to get a more immediate response. If you, on the other hand, find contentment in sharing every detail of your life not just to your best friend, but even to random individuals, there’s Twitter and Facebook.

Zip It

Just yesterday, a friend on Facebook posted a status update. As expected, there were subsequent comments:

(Emphasis, of course, supplied)

Out of curiosity (and impending outburst of rage), I checked out how many Facebook friends this girl had: 1,358. Not 10. Not 100. It’s over a thousand. It’s such an unwelcome oxymoron to say that you just had to post an emotional update and, at the same time, say that you don’t appreciate anybody’s reaction to it. If she sincerely had intended to simply “get things out” and not have anyone pry on her enigmatic woes, she could have responsibly filtered the recipients of her update.

Online, there are no boundaries as to who gets which information, unless you filter, not the information, but those who you will allow to see the information. Filters and privacy settings provide security. We, however, need not rely so much on security if we all learn simply when to shut up.

Common Sense Isn’t So Common

Take Mo Twister as an example:

This video was allegedly uploaded by an anonymous user who was in possession of Mo’s personal files from his old laptop that he had, again, allegedly disposed of already. “I appeal to whoever is in possession of my personal files to refrain from uploading anything further,” Mo said in a recent interview. Your appeal is useless, Mr. Twister. Stop uploading, you say? How does NOT recording yourself on video while airing your and another person’s dirty laundry in the first place sound? We all have brains. It won’t kill us if we decide to use it sometimes.

Think Before You Click

As cliché as it is true: With great power comes great responsibility. Though the Internet now permits liberal exchange of information, such freedom should be exercised with restraint. GMA News and Public Affairs just recently launched a campaign entitled Think Before You Click, aimed to encourage individuals to “[t]hink about the repercussions of what you are about to post, will it hurt others, could it potentially hurt me, or those who I care about the most? It's hard to take back what you’ve posted online, and everything has an effect.”

Next time, if we have emotional baggage, I think it will be better to just surprise ourselves by the wisdom and maturity of simply sucking it up. Should we feel the “need” of unloading such baggage, let this be a reminder: “A close friend over a cup of coffee” will always trump “A thousand pretend-friends over Facebook or Twitter.”

Ma. Eliza Christine Gomez, Entry #2

Previous post: Entry #1

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Red Tape

The Local Government system has been greatly improved the past few years especially since the implementation of the Local Government Code of 1991. The Local Governments were given a bigger budget, and were given more leeway with regard to their powers of making rules within their jurisdiction. Wielding this kind of power, the Local Governments rolled up its sleeves and went to work, implementing new rules, adding taxes, and improving their own jurisdiction. Unfortunately, with added power comes added responsibilities and a ton of temptations.
Applying for a new business shouldn’t be so hard, especially since its the small business who are the lifeblood of our economy. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has already jumpstarted the move toward the computerization of applications for sole proprietorships. The Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) have also taken steps toward simplifying the process. The Local Government has similarly taken the same steps but unfortunately, on my end of the table at least, they have failed. The added power was used more on the added temptations rather than on responsibilities. They refuse to release the proper papers, already paid for unless you go through a number of other local government agencies and obtain the proper certification from them. This may seem like a reasonable prerequisite but the red tape that you have to go through in each of these agencies in unimaginable. Unnamed officials from each office require also, aside from the official fees, a little bit of extra fees of you know what I mean. I questioned the discrepancy between the official receipt given to me and the money they actually collected and the looks on their faces was as if I had asked them something that was never asked before. The women curtly told me: “Ahh… bagong fee po yan. Wala pa sa system.” And quickly stood up and went to the computers at the back of the room. I knew then that the red tape would get even stickier.
By Trisha Isabelle F. Fernandez Entry #01

Sorry Mark Zuckerberg

This is the first time that I have ever contributed to a blog. It’s the first time that I have ever taken the time to share any written work of mine, although admittedly short, in this particular manner. Short of checking my e-mail in fact, there isn’t much that I find to do on the internet. I have never made so much as a comment on any picture or post, and neither have I ever joined any social network of any sort. Most people I know find this strange. In fact, one person was especially perplexed, he told me that a Facebook account is like an identity, as if to imply that I don’t have one without it.

To be honest, there isn’t an elaborate story on why I haven’t created one. It isn’t really because I don’t have the time. If anything, its probably only because I have yet to find a good enough reason to want to participate in this online community I hear so much about. To my mind, my phone is just as good of a communication device as any, and that any friend of mine will have no trouble reaching me there. Of course, I realize that there will probably come a day when I will have to reconsider. That day hasn’t come yet though. Maybe tomorrow.

Joni R. Gomez, Entry # 1

An Inkling about Kindle

I’ve had a persistent argument with a friend. It’s about books. I tell him that I love them and he doesn’t so his point of view is irrelevant. Now, I’m making him sound like an illiterate anti-education doofus, which he is absolutely not. Our argument is not precisely about books because it’s about the Amazon Kindle.

Stacked against each other

Amazon Kindle is an electronic book reader that stores up to a bazillion titles (or up to how much memory your device has) at any one time. It uses an E-ink technology that emulates the look of a printed page and doesn’t have any backlight, which translates to it having no glare. It’s very lightweight and some versions have wi-fi capability that allows for surfing and even tweeting. The Kindle’s battery life can last up to a month or even longer depending on usage.

My friend is pro-Kindle and is excited to purchase a Kindle Touch or a Kindle Keyboard this Christmas as a gift for himself. And I’m pro-reading. I tell him that part of the joy of reading is actually holding up the book and turning the pages. He argues that the Kindle is so light that there’s no “ngawit” factor and isn’t the point of turning a page is to get to the other page regardless that you pressed a button or swiped at a screen. I say part of the excitement of enjoying a story is finding out the number of pages left in each chapter or until the end of the book because you know the author is about to bring out an interesting twist. Since the Kindle only displays in percentage how far along in the book you are, he responds that he doesn’t care about page numbers. I was confident that I won this point until I found out that Amazon was adding real page numbers that corresponded to the printed versions of the book through a firmware update. He says that since I enjoy reading books, I would be able to appreciate that a Kindle can store up to hundreds of titles (which is the more accurate number) and I can access all of them from one location. I reply that I only read one book at a time so what use would I have for having a bazillion books at my fingertips or a finger swipe. He says that when traveling, one only has to bring a light Kindle as opposed to heavy paperbacks. I retort that why would I waste my time reading when I paid a hefty sum to see the sights.

In all honesty, I get the benefits of an Amazon Kindle. How can a bookworm not salivate at the thought of having numerous titles in one handy device that I can fit in my pocket? Plus the Kindle has a dictionary, which is eternally useful when reading any verbose author. And for those moments when one is disturbed about a line or a scene from a book that you can’t quite recall where you remember it from, there is the facility of finding out the answer. It’s just that this was a belated realization that my friend will attribute to his preeminent wisdom.

I will not admit defeat. I will continue to argue that the actual book brings more joy to reading; that there is a certain amount of contentment in seeing your beloved titles on a slightly dusty shelf and the irreplaceable memory of a journey in each crease or fold in the dog-eared pages of a book. I’ll just borrow his Kindle and secretly enjoy it when he’s not looking.

Candice See, Entry #1