Wednesday, January 30, 2013

How To Get Your Temporary Driver's License

I just got my student permit this Monday from the LTO branch in San Fernando Pampanga. I got there around 8:30 am and got my temporary driver's license (TDL) about 10:30 am. It was not a breeze, but I was expecting it to take much longer than two hours. And considering that it was a Monday - the day of the week when government offices receive the bulk of public transactions -  it was fast, although not sweat free. Maraming tao at yung isang ceiling fan di umaandar. Anyway, I hope this will help you along.

STEP 1. Get your application form from Window 1. The first thing you need to know is that the downloadable application form from the LTO website is NOT the latest and therefore no longer accepted. I downloaded the form and filled it in hoping that I'd be a step ahead. Wrong mistake, sabi nga nating mga Pinoy. Buti na lang nagtanong ulit ako sa Window 1,which is the first step to go through the application process. Sinabi ng atse (that's ate in Kapampangan) na luma na ang dala ko and she provided me with the new form as pictured below.

STEP 2. Fill in the form.

STEP 3. Submit the completed form to Window 5 (Evaluation of Student Permits). Make sure that you have with you your original copy of your IDs and birth certificate for verification. Mas maganda kung NSO-issued  ang birth certificate at kasama yung official receipt (OR). In  my case, hindi na nila ako hiningan ng ID when the evaluator saw the receipt. Make sure also that before going to LTO you have your documents properly photocopied, including the OR. Kasi yung photocopy kong dala medyo putol sa dulo yung birth certificate so pina-photocopy ulit sa akin.  After submission, you'll be told to have a seat and wait for your name to be called. Take note, if you don't have a BIR Tax Identification Number (TIN) just say you're unemployed; however, make sure that you don't fill in the lines asking for your employer's info. Sa kaso ko, I lost my TIN ID and the girl behind the window informed me that I don't have to write down my TIN. Very helpful and courteous yung evaluator, lucky for me.

STEP 4: If all is ok with your application form and documents, your name will be called to Window 7 for your picture to be taken (say cheese!) and then your electronic signature. Then sit down and wait again.

STEP 5. Cashier. Your next call will be to Window 8 (I think) for payment. You'll be asked to pay Php317.63 (round off to 318 syempre). Tapos upo ulit.

STEP 6. Then you'll be instructed to go to Window 9 for the finished product (yehey!). But wait, there's more! Be ready with your crisp 20-peso bill for your TDL plastic holder. Like the color or not, you'll be told to pay for it. Hindi na ako umangal kasi mura lang naman.

Your cutesy TDL plastic holder for Php20
GOOD TO BRING: Don't forget to bring a pen to fill in the form - the office does not provide pens.  A fan and bottled water, especially if you go there during the hot months. Any reading material (book, newspaper) can be handy in beating boredom, which I forgot to bring along. Cellphones and other gadgets will keep come in handy too.

GOOD TO KNOW: The student permit is valid for one (1) year from date of issuance. Mine was issued January 28, 2013 and will expire (hopefully not along with me) 1/28/2014. I was told I can apply for a non-professional license after one month from the issuance of my student permit.

By the way, fixers still abound despite Asec.Virginia Torres' press release that LTO is now fixer free.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Meet Gigi Reyes, Our 24th Senator

Many were intrigued when Sen. Allan Peter Cayetano insinuated that there's something going on between Manong Johnny and his chief-of-staff  Jessica "Gigi" Reyes, now dubbed as "the other woman" and "our 24th senator."

"Tempted po talaga ako Mr. President na sumagot, tempted ako na magsalita din ng ganyan. Bakit po ako tempted? Bakit po ako natutukso na sumagot? Dahil sa bawat isang kasinungalingan na inilabas sa akin na nilabas ninyo mayroon akong isangdaang katotohanan ang alam ko sa inyo at ni Ma'am Gigi," Cayetano said. 

I googled Madam Gigi and came upon very little information and  few pictures but they're sufficient enough to send the message that this 50-year-old lawyer wield power. Watch the video below and you'll see what I mean.  

Latest reports say she has offered her resignation but Sen. Enrile refused to let her go. Being an octogenarian it seems doesn't prevent  Manong Johnny from appreciating the female of the species. :)

Photos courtesy of Philippine Daily Inquirer and ABS-CBN

Meme Of The Day: "Yung kahoy...san galing yung mga kahoy?"

Heated may not be sufficient to describe the debate between senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Juan Ponce- Enrile.   Fiery, ugly and downright dirty may be enough. And transfixed may be the word that would describe their audience (me included, of course) as two of them argued and threw accusations at each other this afternoon. Their word war surely will cause someone to roll in his grave. 

Senatorial Face-Off: Allan Peter Cayetano and Juan Ponce-Enrile

The furor began when Senate President JPE distributed cash gifts to his fellow senators as Christmas bonus which were sourced from the Senate's savings. The problem was the dough was unevenly distributed, and APC with his co-senator and sister Pia along with other three members of the minority only received measly amounts whereas some members of the "august hall" (that was laced with sarcasm of course), specifically known allies of JPE,  were given over Php2M each. It looks like JPE practices favoritism too, which fanned out the controversy (way faster and wilder than the Australian bushfires),  between him and the other senators notably Miriam Defensor-Santiago and the Cayetano siblings. Defensor-Santiago and JPE's rift can be labelled lame compared to  APC and JPE's confrontation. Mas mainit, mas malaman, mas maanghang po. Skeletons were definitely rattled and kicked out of the closet... dirty linens waved around and washed in public. Insinuations were intellectually stimulating, accusations were expectedly juicy. Need I say more?

Below are some of the "juiciest" cuts. Enjoy!

APC: "Bakit ba kayo inis at galit sa akin personally? Dahil dati na po kayong galit sa akin sapagkat napakalapit po ninyong dalawa ni Atty Gigi sa dating Pangulong GMA at kay First Gentleman. Kasama naman po talaga kayo noon di ba, sa planning group at sa asar na isang katulad ko ay pwedeng tumayo sa Kongreso at labanan sila. At diba si Ma’am Gigi, best friend po niya ang asawa ni Justice Tinga na nakalaban ng asawa ko sa Taguig. At ang hipag naman ni Ma’am Gigi o sister-in-law niya ay isang konsehal sa Taguig na number 1 kritiko ng aking asawa. So every time may hearing dito, pati si Chairman Brillantes, sa inyong opisinang diretso, ako ang inuupakan at minsan tinutulungan niyo pa kaya nagkakasagutan tayo."

JPE: "Tungkol sa iyong yumaong ama. Nandito hanggang ngayon, 'di nabayaran utang niya na ginastos sa opisina namin na tinayo ko para may pakain sa pamilya niya, P37M." 

APC: "Nung siya’y tumakbong senador, he practically gave his life to you. Nung panahon ni President Cory, kayo’y nakulong, siya ang katabi niyo. Nung panahon ng EDSA Revolution, siya ang katabi niyo. Nung kayo’y payaman nang payaman, siya ay nagtiis din sa law office...I don’t remember he owed you P37 million. My father worked for every single centavo and it’s unfair for you to bring that up. E, kung sabihin ko sa iyo ngayon na tatay mo ang may utang sa amin? E paano naman nila mapapaliwanag?”

APC: "Ang bahay namin inutang sa bangko.”

JPE: "Ano ba yung bahay nyo?.. Yung mga kahoy,  saan galing?”   Enrile asked. 
JPE:  “I won't go down to the gutter".APC: "You already did. You involved a person already dead who can't answer...Your chief-of-staff has already gone to the gutter."

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Dopingly Yours, Lance Armstrong

A lot of people, not just cycling fans, may never forgive Lance Armstrong for what he's done. Personally, I can forgive Armstrong for using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs), but not about his suing, attacking, and name calling the people who opted to break out from his doped camp and tell the truth. I mean a lot of athletes out there are using PEDs, but they're not as vindictive and cocky as The Boss, as he is called in the cycling circuit. The nickname fits him well, in my opinion, considering his attitude.  His nickname Mellow Johnny,  however, is a great misnomer because for a man who's got no balls, this guy's does not allow anyone to eat nothing but dust. 

Armstrong's downfall is no surprise to me. I used to ghostwrite articles and blogs for sites endorsing the use of performance enhancing drugs, and Armstrong's name constantly come up when I searched for athletes suspected of using banned substances. The allegations of doping hounded him incessantly during his stellar career, and I thought retiring was his best decision. But he couldn't stay away from the limelight. His comeback in 2009 was the greatest of his follies, dumping Sheryl Crow was his second.

Now he was forced to "come clean" because of United States Anti-Doping Agency's accusations against the him for trafficking and use of PEDs, and the subsequent actions and reactions from sports institutions and fans treating him a pariah. And he decided to "come clean" on a TV interview with no other than Miss O as the interviewer. Armstrong's decision to do his confession on a TV broadcast is of suspect of course. This guy has nothing to lose because he's already been stripped of all the titles and honor he'd earned - including his seven Tour De France titles and his 2000 Summer Olympics bronze medal. 

Lance Armstrong : Doped and determined 

What he was aiming for is to garner sympathy from the public, which I think he failed to accomplish because he didn't seem contrite and apologetic (despite his profuse apologies to the people he sued and used) during his interview with Oprah. I was disappointed because it was not a tell-all confession as I had hoped because there were questions thrown at him that he refused to answer such as the one on his former masseuse Emma O'Reilly. O'Reilly testified that she overheard Armstrong during a post-race massage session urgently talking about testing positive for cortisone. In one of his defensive tactics, Armstrong declared:  "(O'Reilly was) pissed. Pissed at me, pissed at Johan (Bruyneel). Really pissed at Johan. Pissed at the team. Afraid that we were going to out her as a… as a whore, or whatever. I don't know."

Armstrong touted himself as a fighter. His fight with cancer has been chronicled and was considered by many as a miracle, further propelling his popularity in and out of the sports arena.  But now his tale of triumph against the Big C is also under scrutiny. Did his use of anabolic steroids induce the disease? Erythropoetin or EPO is now the drug of choice of dopers in cycling but during the 1980s up to 1990s, steroids were used to enhance athletic performance in this sporting contest.  Steroids are known to cause adverse side effects which include testicular atrophy. Steroid abuse is also linked to psychiatric side effects called "roid rage", which is hypomania and aggression. Roid rage is yet to be scientifically proven because of lack of definitive studies on this behavioral issue which took flight in wrestler Chris Benoit double murder-suicide case in 2007.


Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Dead Man Found In LRT

A man was found at the Light Rail Transit station and he ain't riding.

Early Tuesday morning around 2 am, a roving guard saw a man at the roof of the Taft-Gil Puyat station, hanging from a PVC pipe. A belt, believed to be the victim's, was tied around his neck. Reports say the unidentified man, aged about 40 years old, was only wearing shirt and shorts with a pair of pants discarded nearby.

According to initial investigation, the body bore signs of torture and strangulation marks, but police is not ruling out suicide. The victim did not have any identification with him and had only a pair of tattoos on his chest. A tattoo of woman's face was at the right side of the chest while inked on the left side was the name "Diango Pedoy".

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Lola Biritera Does Aegis

Just have to share this one. You remember Susan Boyle of Britain's Got Talent 2009? Here's her Pinay counterpart. Meet Fe Garcia of Pasig - housewife, sari-sari store owner, videoke queen. Kung si Susan Boyle ay operatic ang dating, itong si Nanay Fe ay rock ang tipo. Take note, 50 years old na si lola pero  binanatan niya ang Halik ng Aegis. She won first place in the Neo-Intel Sing-To-Win Contest at Megamall in 2011.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Maguindanao Massacre - Three Years Hence

Note:  This blog was supposed to be posted in early November 2012 but has been postponed due to some health emergency in my family.

On November 23, we will revisit one of the darkest parts of our nation's history - the Maguindanao Massacre.  On that date three years previous, 57 civilians (some accounts say 58) women and men were herded to the backhoed mass grave prepared ahead by the Ampatuans and their cohorts. Of those dead were 27 journalists (some reports say more), a staggering  statistical fact which earned another "worst" title for the Philippines. This time around as the worst place to work in by members of the Fourth State.

The Evil Of 3Gs

No time is more opportune than now to remember the atrocity because next  year is going to be election  period once again, and the massacre in Maguindanao was without a doubt politically motivated. As every election nears, the 3Gs - the goons, the guns, and the gold - surface. In the Philippines, 3G does not necessary correspond to current mobile technology.  These  three Gs are the endemic elements of our politics because our politicians couldn't just let go of their position for the power and prestige it summons. The Time Magazine article in 2009 hit the nail on its head when it observed that the carnage in Maguindanao occurred because of "the fierce competition for regional power among the country's small √©lite of a few hundred families and clans that control an inordinate amount of the national wealth — and the desperate lengths some will go to protect their hold on power." 

One of the many private armies operating in Abra. Photo courtesy of EV Espiritu/Philippine Daily Inquirer

Mirror, Mirror
The issue of political dynasties and warlordism, wherein politicians (especially those at local levels) have their own armed group to protect and project their power, has been plaguing us for decades. These politicians and their goons violate not only election guidelines but also human  rights by "salvaging" rivals. Again FYI, in the Philippines "salvage" has taken a contrary meaning. It means to put away a person for good and not necessarily by humane means. And, unfortunately, these things do not only happen in Maguindanao. 

I've seen atrocities committed by these persons in person as Pampanga also promotes this kind of politics, where a few clans are taking control of the province's helm and, parenthetically, where jueteng money is a very high inducement to many of among our bureaucratic (as well as police and military) top echelons.  

The Commission on Elections has an armful of guidelines and resolutions against private armies, against non-disclosure of campaign spending, placement of political ads, etcetera but miserably fails in implementing them. Recently, COMELEC has admitted that it is "powerless" to stop political dynasties, and coming from the government entity that cannot even implement the simple guideline on proper posting of campaign paraphernalia, such an admission is not surprising. The COMELEC, in my opinion, acts only as a ballot reader and nothing more.

Who's To Blame?
But, of course, the blame does not entirely rest on COMELEC but on our entire political system.   Some blame can also be put on our socio-cultural upbringing as well . Remember our padrino system? If this is the case, then we are all to blame. Not just the "little woman", nowadays known as "the woman in wheelchair",  who allegedly nurtured the Ampatuans out of utang na loob, for ensuring that she and her allies "win" the 2004 election in the Ampatuans bailiwick. Utang na loob is yet another factor in proliferating this kind of politics. 

These value systems, I think, play a grand role in our day-to-day existence - from the simple Juan in the street to the highest leader of the  land. These are the factors why our past and present presidents appoint people in high positions often based only on one qualification - of personally knowing the appointee. I remember Pres. PNoy justifying his choice of person whom he put in a highly sensitive position. He simply said "Kilala ko ang taong ito." I know this person. His statement should have been "I know this person will do good to the country." 

I'm not a social scientist thus I cannot say that the above is the definitive perspective on what ails our political scene. Why the likes of Ampatuans who considered themselves untouchables are put into power and why there are others like them who continue to rule with impunity in our political landscape. 

What now?  
Three years hence, the hope in finding justice for the massacre victims and those they have left behind is still dim. Although the Ampatuans were behind bars, including its patriarch Andal Ampatuan Sr and the alleged mastermind of the massacre Andal Ampatuan Jr, they still wield power. Several witnesses willing to testify against the clan and their cohorts were killed under mysterious circumstances. One was Esmail Amil Enog  who went missing for two months then found murdered and mutilated. Given these circumstances, who would be willing to tell the truth and point at the Ampatuans as the mass murderers?

Andal Ampatuan Jr holding his detainee number (Photo by Bullit Marquez/AP)

Further, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) has unearthed troubling information about the Ampatuans' recent activity relating to their vast assets, including 161 pieces of real property. According to the PCIJ report, the Ampatuans sold several of those properties before the Anti-Money Laundering Council was able to secure a freeze order against said properties. Guess who's the buyer? It's one of the Ampatuan lawyers named Arnel Cortez Manaloto, a greenhorn in the law profession. Any one can tell that there's collusion going on between the Ampatuans and their lawyer. I remember a joke about lawyers: What's the difference between a lawyer and a bucket of dirt? The bucket. It seems though Manaloto is dirtier than the rest of the ilk. 

There are also reports that the suspects jailed particularly the Ampatuans are getting special treatment from Camp Bagong Diwa jail officials. Who says the scale of justice cannot be tipped to one side?  

Another drawback is the reversal of the Supreme Court of its previous decision to allow live coverage of the trial. The SC reversed its June 2011 ruling, granting Andal Ampatuan Jr motion for reconsideration. Andal Jr appealed to the high court that broadcasting live the trial "deprives him of his rights to due process, equal protection, presumption of innocence, and to be shielded from degrading psychological punishment." 

The Ampatuans should be meted out with all forms of punishment - psychological or otherwise. I am always for the live coverage of the trial. In fact I have put up a page in Facebook (  to endorse this plea. I think that people should not forget the infamy of the Ampatuans, and broadcasting it live through radio, TV and the Internet is one way of never forgetting and never depriving us of our right to know. The Palace was correct when it labelled the SC decision as restrictive.   

And the trial will still drag on as expected considering the number of suspects (more than 200), victims and witnesses involved. 

Who'll Stop The Rain?
And I wonder/Still wonder/Who'll stop the rain? asks a CCR song of some unending malaise.We could also lament the same of our socio-political system.

Come 2013, at least 70 members of the Ampatuan clan are running for public offices in Mindanao. Sen. Franklin Drilon recently announced that the certification of nomination and acceptance (CONA) of the Ampatuans be revoked by the Liberal Party for the upcoming elections. Reportedly, nine Ampatuans intend to run under the President Aquino's  LP while the others chose other major political parties such as former president Erap Estrada's Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino. 

Who'll stop the rain of carnage upon us? Who's gonna stop the trapos and warlords of reigning over us? I wonder.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Meth Stats Rising, Is "Breaking Bad" The Perp?

Recent news from the US says methamphetamine is now more popular than ever among drug users as evidenced by the rise in DEA meth seizures. And what's more troubling is the fact that high (forgive the pun) percentage of these is produced by the shake-and-bake labs, which basically means it's by amateurs and possibly concocted in some geek's basement while his grandma's playing bridge upstairs with her co-septuagenarians. 

"The Associated Press just released a big investigation that says police meth seizures in urban areas increased to a disturbing degree this year, with some cities on track for almost three times as many methamphetamine lab seizures as in 2009. Gangs are more involved in production than distribution than ever, and it's not the Walter Whites of the world to blame — it's the Jesse Pinkmans, as it were: cooking methods are way easier now. " (The Atlantic Wire)

Walter White and Jesse Pinkman are the characters in Breaking Bad of the American cable TV network AMC.  Walter, played by Bryan Cranston (of  Malcolm In The Middle fame), is a brilliant chemist who ends up teaching chemistry to inattentive high schoolers. At the beginning of the series Walt finds out that he is afflicted with inoperable lung cancer, and with a pregnant wife and a son with cerebral palsy he decides to cook meth and sell it with the help of his former student Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul).

In the Philippines, use of shabu (dextromethamphetamine) continually rises with over 90% of Filipino drug users making it their drug of choice. It's same scenario across Asia alerting government institutions and international agencies such as the United Nations.  

 "A report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) warns that production and use of  synthetic drugs such as amphetamine-type stimulants is widespread and growing globally. The report identifies Southeast Asia as a newly active source of illicit-substance manufacturing and trade.

 The report specifically identifies Indonesia, Malaysia and Cambodia as primary nodes of production and trafficking, but states that seizures of methamphetamine pills throughout Southeast Asia increased from 32 million in 2008 to 133 million in 2010." (Voice of America)

In Hollywood, cocaine is still the king but meth is fast gaining the lead among celebs and ravers in Tinseltown. Among its busted tokers are singer Fergie and model Jael Strauss as well as Redmond O'Neal, son of Ryan O'Neal and Farrah Fawcett. In fact, meth users are rising there exponentially that CMA (Crystal Meth Anonymous) was founded in West Hollywood in California to help people recover from meth addiction. 

I myself got hooked - no, not on meth - but on Breaking Bad during its first episode in 2008, and the series has received rave reviews and awards since its premier.  It has also its share of criticisms because of its controversial theme:  In a capsule, Breaking Bad  is about cooking meth and "moving" it.   But continued patronage of this Emmy-winning series (not necessarily patronage of the Narco Saint Jesus Malverde) will reveal that it is not about the tricks of the illegal trade, but of actions and consequences and poetic justice. Too bad it is now on its fifth and final season so I will surely miss its great cast and cinematic draw. The fifth season has 16 episodes split into two - the first eight were aired last year while the other half will be shown July this year.

Yet due to its popularity of Breaking Bad and its label as the greatest television series of all time, can it be blamed for the meth stats? Seriously, bitches? That's how Pinkman would put it. Don't cuss the series because authorities say the reason why there's meth global expansion is due to the fact that this stimulant is very easy to cook, requiring readily accessible ingredients (such as over-the-counter cold medications like ephedrine) and makeshift labs that sometimes can be as small as your suitcase. Oh,the Internet also is swarming with meth recipes so you could always do a DIY should you decide to break bad.

Breaking Bad-inspired rock candy courtesy of Los Pulgas Hermanos available at Etsy. This sweet product resembles Walter White's Blue Sky meth and  can cause sugar high and rotten teeth.