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Word of Thanks



One of the most anticipated sports event in this region, the 28th SEA Games in Singapore, had been recently concluded. And despite the previous forecasts for the Philippines; that we might land in the third or fourth place overall, our teams came up with relatively paltry results in the region: we landed sixth of the eleven competing Southeast Asian countries. Ahead of us in the rankings are Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand.

This biennial event also became memorable because of the infamous viral video of Pinoy divers John Elmerson Fabriga and John David Pahoyo. The two divers became internet sensations because of their cringe-worthy flops during the men’s single diving events, where they scored zeros in the men's 3-meter springboard competition last week. Both divers claimed that they only had four days to practice for the event.
The infamous "Splash Brothers". Screen grabs from Sports Singapore.
Sure, our cagers and boxers maintained dominance in the region, but in other fields we’re not as good as we think we are. We fell short of our predictions of 50 gold medals; and instead, came up with only 29 golds. It goes to show how little support our athletes are getting for their trainings. Those two Johns are no exception.

No wonder we don’t get a shot for those colored medals in the past four straight Olympics. In fact, our last best Olympic showing was 90 years ago in the Los Angeles Games where we bagged three medals. And now, the question remains: How can we revive Philippine sports?

More than just a self-loathing, I believe that the Philippine government had been ignoring the cry of our athletes for quite a long time already. The last time we had a president who took sports seriously was FVR.

While this country should have tapped on the huge potential of our Filipino athletes, the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) and Philippine Olympic Committee seemed not to be doing their job of helping this become a reality. Rumors of mismanagement and power struggles between heads of the PSC, POC, and of NSA (National Sports Association) have been widespread for years now. Talk about palakasan.
One of our very few Olympic medals: This one is for 1964. 
I had the chance of talking to last year’s bronze medalist in the Asian Games for taekwondo, Mary Anjelay Pelaez. She told me that her fellow athletes need international exposures and better facilities in order to effectively compete with our Asian neighbors. She revealed to me that up to this day, our athletes are still allowed to train at the dilapidated 86-year old Rizal Memorial Sports Complex.
The blog author with Filipino jin and
Asian Games bronze medalist, Mary Anjelay Pelaez. Photo taken in 2014.
Anjelay's observation is correct; in fact, our country devotes a measly sum for sports development. To check some figures, Singapore’s annual budget for sports is about 7 billion pesos – the PSC, on the other hand, allocates only 750 million annually.

Sports is a wonderful thing; it has the power to inspire individuals and uplift them from their current situation. It is an organized and competitive physical activity requiring fair play, will power, and unity. All those last three qualities this developing country greatly needs.

As for the not-so-satisfying rank in the Southeast Asia, it's not enough to just require our athletes to bag the gold medals without adequate support and funding from the government. Our athletes need nutrition, physical and mental conditioning, among others.

We’ve been talking a lot about Filipino Pride, it’s high time to back that huge braggadocio up. Are we waiting for Timor-Leste to finally catch up with us?
Last month, the Asian country of Nepal was rocked by a 7.8 earthquake killing nearly ten thousand people. After a couple of weeks, another quake with scale of 7.2 on the Moment Magnitude System hit taking the lives of many Nepalese. Yesterday, an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.6 shook Kanto Region in Japan.

With these unfolding natural events in the Asian Region where the Philippines belongs, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) recently released the Valley Fault System (VFS) Atlas which show the faultline and the localities projected to be affected should an earthquake occur. This fault wherein two plates bang against each other, has been by many scientists as already “ripe” that may possible move within our lifetime.

When this fault moves, it will produce a magnitude-7.2 earthquake (experts refer to as “The Big One”) which may hit any time within the densely-populated metropolis.
According to the collaborative study by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), and PHILVOLCS, the last time an earthquake originated from the said fault was in 1658. The VFS is an active fault system in the Metropolitan Manila which is composed of two fault segments.

First is the 10-kilometer long East Valley Fault (EVF) in Rizal Province and the 100-km long West Valley Fault (WVF) that runs through the areas of Bulacan, Rizal, Quezon City, Marikina, Pasig, Makati, Taguig, Muntinlupa, Cavite, and Laguna.

Because of this incessant warning, the early rounds of which started more than a decade ago, the local governments were already notified and requested by the national agencies to prepare for such calamity as the damage can be very extensive.

According to the 2004 Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study, it was revealed that a 7.2 tremor in the metropolis may cause the destruction of about 40% of both residential and commercial buildings and may kill nearly 34,000 when it strikes during night time. Accordingly, about 84 barangays (smallest administrative regions) will possibly be affected by this earthquake.

A trickling of catastrophic events would then ensue: blackouts due to the collapse of 13-kilometer electric lines, destruction of about nine bridges, and the devastation of about half a million houses. Streets will also be wrecked and the connection of water will be cut off by the tremors. Sea and airports will also be in ruins.

And with this perceived apocalyptic event, the Philippine local government units are trying hard to respond to this catastrophe. Construction of structures in the five-meter buffer zones is greatly discouraged while residents are obliged to evacuate their dwelling within the buffer areas. Emergence of various tall buildings has to abide by the building code in order to withstand the earthquakes. The MMDA now has about 21 disaster response equipments in strategic areas around Manila which contain tools that can be used should The Big One strike.

Despite this, a more unified proactive response is still needed. MMDA Chief Francis Tolentino, in a press conference stressed out that the current quake readiness is “less than 5 of 10”. Communities need to be more serious in their emergency preparedness drills in order to ensure the safety of the millions who reside and work at one of the most populous cities in the world.
These 10 safety measures just might save your life during the occurrence of a strong earthquake: 

1. If accessible, go to an open space like an open field or a wide lawn. If it isn’t possible, seek shelter under strong furniture during the initial tremor.

2. If the building is still perceived to be hazardous after the initial tremors, get out to a safer, open place.

3. Avoid seeking shelter near shelves, unstable or high piled materials, or hanged objects that could fall. Stay away from glass windows, panelings, and doors, too.
4. If inside a building, never use the elevator. But in case you are inside an elevator during an earthquake, exit at the nearest floor immediately. Push the emergency call button for assistance if ever the car stops.

5. After the earthquake, do not use the elevator until evidently safe.

6. Have your flashlights and batteries ready in case such disaster occurs at night.

7. After the trembling, rescue trapped persons and help in evacuating the injured. You may also administer first-aid to the injured people before professional medical assistance arrives.

8. Secure your property from looters. You may also assess the extent of the damage report that to bank officials.

9. Store food, water, medicine, matches, and other essential items for emergency use. Tune in to radio stations for news and safety advisories.

10. More importantly, have the presence of mind and don’t panic.

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Experts predict that the West Valley Fault in the Philippines is already "ripe" and may cause tremors anytime soon. About a hundred kilometers of this fault would pass through the localities of Bulacan, Rizal, Quezon City, Marikina, Pasig, Makati, Taguig, Muntinlupa, Cavite, and Laguna.


Quezon City
Bagong Silangan
Batasan Hills
Blue Ridge B
Loyola Heights
Matandang Balara
Pasong Putik Proper
Ugong Norte
White Plains

Marikina City
Industrial Valley

Pasig City
Bagong Ilog

Makati City
East Rembo

Taguig City
Bagong Tanyag
Bicutan (Upper, Central, Lower)
Maharlika Village
Signal Village (North, Central, South)
South  Daang Hari

Muntinlupa City


Dona Remedios Trinidad
Pulong Sampalok
Sapang Bulak

San Lorenzo

San Jose del Monte City
San Isidro
Ciudad Real
San Roque


Bilang Baybay

Gen. Mariano Alvarez
San Jose



San Pedro
Sampaguita Village
San Antonio
San Vicente
United Bayanihan

San Francisco (Halang)

Sta. Rosa
Sto. Domingo



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         According to the annual list of Statement of Assets, Liabilities, and Net worth (SALN) for the upper house, the following are the Top 10 riches senators in the Philippines as per 2014 data:

10. Grace Poe
Net worth: P89,464,819.36

9. Sonny Angara
Net worth: P100,357,100

8. Serge Osmeña
Net worth: P100,770,000

7. TG Guingona
Net worth: P113,382,062.32

6. Juan Ponce Enrile
Net worth: P121,053,463

5. Bong Revilla
Net worth: P181,870,650.12

4. Jinggoy Estrada
Net worth: P192,808,545.13

3. Bongbong Marcos
Net worth: P200,598,008.22

2. Ralph Recto
Net worth: P522,006.655.21

1. Cynthia Villar
Net worth: P1,983,480,135

        On the other hand, here is the rest of the list from ranks 11 to 24:

11. Pia Cayetano – P78.2M

12. JV Ejercito – P75.5M

13. Alan Peter Cayetano – P73.4M

14. Franklin Drilon – P74.1M

15. Miriam Defensor- Santiago – P73M

16. Tito Sotto – P64.3M

17. Nancy Binay – P62.5M

18. Loren Legarda – P39.61M

19. Lito Lapid – P34M

20. Bam Aquino – P24.5M

21. Gringo Honasan – P21.2M

22. Koko Pimentel – P18M

23. Chiz Escudero – P6M

24. SonnyTrillanes – P5.5M

Photo Credits:'Bong'_Revilla_Jr_-3.jpg
Naming, as the saying goes, is the earliest act of creation. When we create something, we use a label for it to be identifiable and distinguishable from others.

That’s why each time a person tells you that they just had a new-born baby, we immediately ask for the little tot’s given name. And this privilege is especially reserved for the parents. This does not hold true only if you’re Lam-Ang. Secretly cringing if the name doesn’t sound right is, but optional

You see, this simple act is extremely important because our respective names will become who we are. And whether we like it or not, these series of letters will have a huge impact on how our lives will eventually turn out; it may actually provide the je ne sais quoi to our otherwise monotonous existence.
Scientific name: Phaseoulus lunatus.
Everyone has a story on how their names came to be. You were probably named after a flashy president’s wife, your mom’s telenovela actress, or after your dad’s favourite element in his high school chemistry class. Some have generic Pinoy names, while some have unusual ones; and others prefer their aliases like Mohagher Iqbal.

My name doesn’t sound odd. In fact, JR is very common here in the country. My name just looks odd on paper. You see, my brother and sister have two first names: Jasper Ian and Celeste Mae. I, on the other hand, have two letters: JR. Just those two letters stingily joint to form that thing called “first name”.  As if it isn’t odd enough, it was the attending midwife who suggested the name to my parents; to which they acceded.

In the Philippines, it is impossible not to have acquaintances named Mark, Joy, or Ann. We have a bunch of Michaels, Johns, John-Michaels; or Michael-Johns. We, Pinoys, also have this habit of repeating names for nicknames. One senator is named Bongbong while the vice president is called Junjun. You probably rubbed elbows with a Mac-Mac, Jan-Jan, or Ling-Ling – all of these names are recurs just in case you did not hear it on the first try.

As time goes, our naming system evolves with it. Gone were the days when we christen our kids with names like Ciriaco, Procopio, or Manuelito. Possessing these names now, gives the name-bearer, first class tickets to Ancient Filipino history. That is why, more parents are getting creative in choosing their child’s name. As an example, I have a high school buddy named “Xyrilloid”. Yes, that’s X-Y-R-I-L-L-O-I-D. That’s probably worth a hundred points if it landed on “Triple Word Score” in Scrabble.

We, Pinoys, also have delightful family names that go with our distinct first names. Our foremost pugilist, Manny Pacquiao’s last name is from the Filipino word, “pakyaw” which means wholesale. Indeed, he “wholesaled” most of the Mexican boxers. A certain Lucky Chan may make us think of a person who does not possess a six-pack abs. Some last names, amazingly, fit one’s profession. Take the recent bar exams passer, Christian Apollo Lawyer – he’s already a ‘Lawyer’ even before passing the licensure exam!

You see, our history is responsible for this: the Chinese, the Spanish, and the Americans all contributed to this smorgasbord of Filipino family names. And this can be traced in 1849, where the Spanish released the Catalogo Alfabetico de Apellidos.
During that period, Governor General Narciso Clavería, noticed that the early Filipinos do not possess last names. The one personal name became insufficient as an identifier for tax, and census purposes; thus the concept of the surname catalogue for the Indios.

The Spanish Government then had drawn up a list of approved names from which our ancestors came to choose. This explains why most of the Filipino surnames are borrowed from Spanish, from the calendar of saints, or from retained but Hispanized, pre-colonial names.

Our present system was adopted from the American “three-fold” pattern: given name, middle name, and surname or family name. And this current naming scheme gave our parents more leeway in choosing the kind of first name they felt like giving to their hapless offspring.

Having lived in the Lanao area, I also found out that the Maranao parents may opt to use the father’s first name to serve as his child’s last name. In the Iloilo province, on the other hand, an ingenious system was devised by the Spanish colonizers. You may recognize a person’s hometown by knowing the initial of his or her surname. If it starts with an “M”, as in Morales; he probably came from an “M-town” like Miagao. If your family name is Gomez, your lineage may probably be traced back to the town of Guimba. Truly, the Pinoy family names are much differentiated from those of Vietnam or Korea where Nguyens and Parks abound.

But whatever the system of naming is, one thing is constant: names are a great deal for Pinoys. And the same couldn’t be any truer for domestic politics. In this side of the globe, name recall is very important.

Having a famous family name may help you win a political office – even without much experience. If you are married to a famous celebrity, your chances for bagging that win in those senatorial polls will be brighter than that of the average Juan dela Cruz. That’s why our streets are displayed with tarpaulins of our dear politicians; in order to bore their names into our psyche.
Our names establish our existence. Whether it has something to do with a kind of life we’re going to have, our name gives us character. Just think of the comedy gold of the “FEU surname wars”, or those ordinary people having celebrity namesakes at “Humans of New York”. Names will always be part of our being.

While some people may not be totally happy with their unusual names that they have it judicially changed, most people accept it. May it be Teofilo, Xenocrates, or JR, most of us simply choose to live with it.

And there will always be that moment when someone calls your name – no matter how cringe-worthy it may sound – it becomes sweet music to your ears. Just like in a song, the message is still more important than its title.

Blogger's Note: This article of mine appeared on GMA News Online last 17 April.

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