Scams of the earth!

I used to work for an international organisation ages ago. In this big organisation, email is one of the most important means of communication in the organisation and the most reliable. The size of organisation that I used to work for meant that its information technology security is one of the best in the world. However, one day a human resource staff forwarded an email. It contained, as usual, recruitment requests from other sister organisations.
Continue reading

OAV registrations concluded

The number of overseas absentee voting (OAV) registrants was unofficially released recently. As expected, there was a low turnout for the OAV registrations. The Department of Foreign Affairs said that overall it fell short of its goal to have 1 million registrants by the end of OAV registrations last 31 August. Reports from said that there are over 216,000 OAV registrants worldwide.
Continue reading

We Remember

I remember, I was in Grade 3 when Ninoy was assassinated. I could vividly remember watching intently the news on TV the nervous general. I remember my angry father who couldn’t believe that it had happened. In retrospect, I reckon that the feeling that he had was the same that I had when I watched in horror as terrorists flew the planes onto the twin towers–disbelief.

I remember that this was the time that I became aware of the political events in the country. I remember eagerly going to our city’s Catholic school gymnasium to have glimpse of a Ninoy exhibit when they had a roadshow, even if it meant walking a good 10 kilometers from our home to the city. I was in fourth grade then.

I remember the military trucks passing in front of our school and later watching on TV, again, history unfolding as Marcos was ousted without much bloodshed. I remember the news on Cory’s determination to oust the dictator, not out of vengeance but for love of the people that her better half has truly loved. I remember the accolades that the world has given to Cory. She was surrounded by famous and infamous advisers giving this and that advice, which I reckon made her a favorite target among military rebels. At some point, I felt the ‘uprisings’ were made not as an attack on democracy but an attack on Cory as a person as she still tries to endure insults and scrutiny in the midst of male-dominated Philippine politics.

I remember when Cory was despised that even a famous journalist accused her of hiding under her bed in Malacañan in the middle of a coup. She sued and the journalist proved himself to be more qualified as a gossip scribe rather than a serious journalist.

I remember her serious effort to make it easy for most Filipinos passing an agrarian reform law, establishing the good government commission among others.

I remember political analyst saying that after the plunder of the Philippines, it will take about 12 years of consistent good policy for the Philippines to recover.

I remember Cory trying her best putting the best men and women in her cabinet to build and manage the economy.

I remember Cory stepping down and giving in to her successor making good of her promise that she’s only there for ‘housekeeping.’ Despite some disappointments during her term, she did a good job as a president disappointing her critics that a ‘housewife’ will not be able to do it.

I remember the woman behind the great man. I remember the woman who became an icon for democracy. I remember the woman who lived up to upholding democracy and fighting for it even as a private citizen. I remember the woman who earned greatness in her own right. I remember, the Filipinos remember, the world remembers.

We remember.

Thank you President Corazon Aquino.


Pinoy Cancer Survivor receives Bravery Award

A Filipino cancer survivor recently received a bravery award from one of Western Australia’s major football clubs.

Mel Olivarez, 17, who was diagnosed with acute leukemia in January, was nominated by the Fremantle Hospital and Health Service to receive the MBF Bravery Awards. The Award recognises “not only bravery, but [also admires] the amazing strength and determination of these special young people [in coping with their treatments],” according to a news article posted on the Fremantle Football Club website.

Pinoy Cancer Survivor

(Source: Fremantle Hospital Service and Health Service Bulletin Number 12)

Mel is one of 11 winners of this year’s Bravery Awards. The recipients’ age ranged from two to 17 years. They received toys, vouchers, movie tickets, medallions and a special framed certificate signed by Fremantle Football Club Coach Mark Harvey. The Award is an initiative by the Fremantle Football Club, South Metropolitan Area Health Service and leading health insurer MBF.

Mel was described as a positive person and has shown “bravery during his treatments,” according to the statement from the Fremantle Hospital read during the awarding ceremony last May. The statement also said that staff described Mel “as enthusiastic and high-spirited all of which has helped him to manage his illness.”

Mel has had to endure intensive Chemotheraphy which also meant long stays in the hospital. Despite undergoing treatment, Mel continued with his studies and insisted to do home chores whenever he goes home. He was also undeterred despite the news during his chemo session that a famous Pinoy was also suffering a condition almost similar to his.

Mel is the first of three siblings. His father is a migrant worker for a local electric company while his mother works in a fastfood restaurant. His family had to hold their permanent residency application because of his condition.

Last week, however, Mel’s family received the good news that a confirmatory test yielded negative of cancer traces. Mel’s hair has grown back and he’s now on track to pursuing his studies at TAFE while his family slowly gets back to normalcy.

I talked to Mel recently and he told me that “natutuwa po ako na nakatanggap po ako ng Bravery Award at masaya na magaling na ako (I’m just glad that I’ve received the Bravery Award and that I’m healed).”



I’ve written this piece when I was still based in Bangkok. For some reason, I wasn’t able to post this. As I got to coordinate with the Embassy here Down Under (again) I think it’s about time to post this, for the record. This is unedited and captures my raw emotion when I was writing this. :)
Continue reading

OFWs stick it out

The recession is real. It has affected not only locals here in Australia but expat workers including Filipinos.

I recently talked to one of the hundreds of Pinoy OFWs working here and he said that they had to assist another OFW who was resigned to just ‘go home’ after the latter’s position was declared redundant. True enough as for most Pinoys here, optimism has its own reward, the OFW was able to find another job just before the expiration of his visa.

The difference between the unemployed here and our OFWs returning to the Philippines without the possibility of employment is that locals have the support of the government. I remember my colleague’s
fiancé who urged her to take it easy in saving. He explained that ‘the government will take care of them.’ It was quite easy for the man to tell his Asian fiancée that it will be alright because they are used to some fallback in times of trouble. Of course, this is not all true all the time but the fact remains that most of the time, it is true that Pinoy OFWs despite their contribution to the economy might find themselves fending for themselves in this time of recession.


Swine Flu is a Misnomer

The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has issued a statement lamenting the misnomer on an emerging disease that originated from “a virus circulating in Mexico and the USA and involving person to person transmission.” In a statement, OIE clarified that the there is no evidence to link the cases of influenza in the USA, Mexico and other countries to possible animal cases such as swine. It said that they have not yet isolated the virus in animals.

The OIE said that it was unjustified to call the circulating disease as Swine Influenza or Swine Flu with the absence of its link to pigs. It suggested that the new disease be named as “North-American influenza.”

Some scientists also backed OIEs claim with one article calling to a stop on blaming pigs and “blame simple biology” for the disease mutation.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has since corrected its reference to the disease and now calls it Influenza A (H1N1). While the media has yet to pick-up on the correction, it is slowly referring to the disease as just H1N1 in most of its headlines. The US Center for Disease Control now refers to the disease as H1N1 but does not drop swine flu as another name for the disease. The confirmed cases of Influenza A/H1N1 were recently raised to 615 in 15 countries according to a WHO update.

The OIE and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are monitoring the influenza A/H1N1 situation with FAO sending technical experts to affected areas to investigate if the influenza has some links with the swine population. Scientists admitted that they are struggling to understand this latest mutation of influenza.

This situation has shown that international crises such as SARS, bird flu (H5N1) and influenza A/H1N1 have yet to be coordinated smoothly among international organizations. It has shown some flaws in the international cooperation framework that the UN agencies agreed to abide to. Although these agreements become formal during specific crisis they have previously agreed to exchange information and coordinate actions. This influenza showed that there was no information exchange and panic immediately prevailed.

As a former communications officer for an organization involved in the bird flu (H5N1) outbreaks, I have witnessed how scientist struggled to understand the disease. This has given so much pressure for most communications officers in the Region as they were asked to produce an immediate message regarding prevailing risk behaviors that might promote the spread of bird flu.

Most of the communication messages that were produced dealt on risk behavior relevant to human influenza and not on the source of the disease during that time–avian species. While the behavior change campaigns remain relevant for pandemic preparation, it did not address the continued spread among animals thus putting farmers at risk.

I guess for the zealous scientists (and PR and communications specialists) during the bird flu outbreaks, the pandemic that they’ve been waiting for has finally arrived. The WHO has warned that measures previously implemented for other diseases such as SARS has no effect to the current influenza outbreak (but only to the economy).

However, there’s always the silver lining as WHO Director-General Margaret Chan always claim “the world is better prepared for an influenza pandemic than at any time in history.”