THE BATTLE OF MACTAN 500 YEARS AGO

Written below is an excerpt from the historical account written by Antonio Pigafetta about the Battle of Mactan, Philippines on April 26 and 27, 1521.

Source: The First Voyage Round the World by Antonio Pigafetta, translated by Lord Stanley of Alderley

My own artwork depicting Cilapulapu: The Brave Defended of Mactan

Friday, the 26th of April, Zula, who was one of the principal men or chiefs of the island of Matan, sent to the captain a son of his with two goats to make a present of them, and to say that if he did not do all that he had promised, the cause of that was another chief named Silapulapu, who would not in any way obey the King of Spain, and had prevented him from doing so: but that if the captain would send him the following night one boat full of men to give him assistance, he would fight and subdue his rival. On the receipt of this message, the captain decided to go himself with three boats. We entreated him much not to go to this enterprise in person, but he as a good shepherd would not abandon his flock.

We set out from Zubu at midnight, we were sixty men armed with corslets and helmets; there were with us the Christian king, the prince, and some of the chief men, and many others divided among twenty or thirty balangai. We arrived at Matan three hours before daylight. The captain before attacking wished to attempt gentle means, and sent ​on shore the Moorish merchant to tell those islanders who were of the party of Cilapulapu, that if they would recognise the Christian king as their sovereign, and obey the King of Spain, and pay us the tribute which had been asked, the captain would become their friend, otherwise we should prove how our lances wounded. The islanders were not terrified, they replied that if we had lances, so also had they, although only of reeds, and wood hardened with fire. They asked however that we should not attack them by night, but wait for daylight, because they were expecting reinforcements, and would be in greater number. This they said with cunning, to excite us to attack them by night, supposing that we were ready; but they wished this because they had dug ditches between their houses and the beach, and they hoped that we should fall into them.

We however waited for daylight; we then leaped into the water up to our thighs, for on account of the shallow water and the rocks the boats could not come close to the beach, and we had to cross two good crossbow shots through the water before reaching it. We were forty-nine in number, the other eleven remained in charge of the boats. When we reached land we found the islanders fifteen hundred in number, drawn up in three squadrons; they came down upon us with terrible shouts, two squadrons attacking us on the flanks, and the third in front. The captain then divided his men in two bands. Our musketeers and crossbow-men fired for half an hour from a distance, but did nothing, since the bullets and arrows, though they passed through their shields made of thin wood, and perhaps wounded their arms, yet did not stop them. The captain shouted not to fire, but he was not listened to. The islanders seeing that the shots of our guns did them little or no harm would not retire, but shouted more loudly, and springing from one side to the other to avoid our shots, they at the same time drew nearer to us, throwing arrows, javelins, spears hardened in fire, stones, and ​even mud, so that we could hardly defend ourselves. Some of them cast lances pointed with iron at the captain-general.

He then, in order to disperse this multitude and to terrify them, sent some of our men to set fire to their houses, but this rendered them more ferocious. Some of them ran to the fire, which consumed twenty or thirty houses, and there killed two of our men. The rest came down upon us with greater fury; they perceived that our bodies were defended, but that the legs were exposed, and they aimed at them principally. The captain had his right leg pierced by a poisoned arrow, on which account he gave orders to retreat by degrees; but almost all our men took to precipitate flight, so that there remained hardly six or eight of us with him. We were oppressed by the lances and stones which the enemy hurled at us, and we could make no more resistance. The bombards which we had in the boats were of no assistance to us, for the shoal water kept them too far from the beach. We went thither, retreating little by little, and still fighting, and we had already got to the distance of a crossbow shot from the shore, having the water up to our knees, the islanders following and picking up again the spears which they had already cast, and they threw the same spear five or six times; as they knew the captain they aimed specially at him, and twice they knocked the helmet off his head. He, with a few of us, like a good knight, remained at his post without choosing to retreat further. Thus we fought for more than an hour, until an Indian succeeded in thrusting a cane lance into the captain’s face. He then, being irritated, pierced the Indian’s breast with his lance, and left it in his body, and trying to draw his sword he was unable to draw it more than half way, on account of a javelin wound which he had received in the right arm. The enemies seeing this all rushed against him, and one of them with a great sword, like a great scimetar[187] gave him a ​great blow on the left leg, which brought the captain down on his face, then the Indians threw themselves upon him, and ran him through with lances and scimetars, and all the other arms which they had, so that they deprived of life our mirror, light, comfort, and true guide. Whilst the Indians were thus overpowering him, several times he turned round towards us to see if we were all in safety, as though his obstinate fight had no other object than to give an opportunity for the retreat of his men. We who fought to extremity, and who were covered with wounds, seeing that he was dead, proceeded to the boats which were on the point of going away. This fatal battle was fought on the 27th of April of 1521, on a Saturday; a day which the captain had chosen himself, because he had a special devotion to it. There perished with him eight of our men, and four of the Indians, who had become Christians; we had also many wounded, amongst whom I must reckon myself. The enemy lost only fifteen men.

He died; but I hope that your illustrious highness will not allow his memory to be lost, so much the more since I see revived in you the virtue of so great a captain, since one of his principal virtues was constance in the most adverse fortune. In the midst of the sea he was able to endure hunger better than we. Most versed in nautical charts, he knew better than any other the true art of navigation, of which it is a certain proof that he knew by his genius, and his intrepidity, without any one having given him the example, how to attempt the circuit of the globe, which he had almost completed.[188]

The Christian king could indeed have given us aid, and would have done so; but our captain far from forseeing that which happened, when he landed with his men, had charged him not to come out of his balangai, wishing that he should ​stay there to see how we fought. When he knew how the captain had died he wept bitterly for him.

In the afternoon the king himself with our consent, sent to tell the inhabitants of Matan, that if they would give up to us the body of our captain, and of our other companions who were killed in this battle, we would give them as much merchandise as they might wish for; but they answered that on no account would they ever give up that man, but they wished to preserve him as a monument of their triumph. 

Dancing Coleus: An Inspirational Art

Growing coleus has become an enjoyable hobby for most stay-at-home Filipino women (and men) these days because of the ease of growing these species of perrenial or annual herbs or shrubs (sometimes succulents) found in tropical countries. It is an indoor plant that likes to have some sunshine during the day, but not too much; and needs to be watered constantly. It also needs a watchful eye for pests that attack its colorful leaves from time to time; and from overgrowth that deforms its potential beauty.

Coleus can also be easily propagated by cuttings, which could be placed either in water until it grow roots or directly replanted into the soil. Overall, the time spent for taking care of the plant is so little compared to the joy that it brings once fully grown with different bright and distinct colors.

I only started to plant coleus during the last week of December 2020 despite the fact that many have already become “plantitas” beginning May of 2020, when bartering became very popular. As founder of the Bacolod Barter Community last May 8, 2020, and the new site which started in September 2020: (https://www.facebook.com/groups/newbacolodbartercommunity/) – I personally saw the rise in bartering plants in exchange for plants and food items. But I never had the chance to tinker with plants and grow them in our garden. Until I made my first buy along the roadside of Don Salvador Benedicto of several coleus plants last December. The pots of coleus seem to call me everyday to figure out how to let them grow. Eventually, I started to buy more pots from other towns.

After almost three months, I have around fiften different types of coleus. They are small ones at the moment since I grew them mostly from cuttings (which I didn’t expect to grow because I have always believed that I have no “green thumb”). For the past weeks, I have been taking pictures of my plants and posting on social media to share their beauty but lately, I started to post for potential swapping of other types. There are more than 200 varieties they say. Today, I found inspiration together with my son Emmanuel to create “mixed form of art” combining the shaved leaves from the coleus I received from barter (which we just usually throw away). We shave or cut these leaves to give way to roots or purposes of replanting in soil.

Combining pictures from Canva, and using Canva for effects, I created these images to show the beauty of coleus and the amazing contrasts. I call these ten pieces of pictures – Dancing Coleus. I hope you find inspiration and enjoy the images. Sharing these also as a tribute to all women on the occasion of National Women’s Month this march. Let me know which one of these do you like most.

If you like my images, please share and follow my blog. Please also follow my design site – The Design Thinking Factory on Facebook. Thanks.

10 Things I Wish To See Happen Out of the CORONA Impeachment

This reflection was written and shared on May 30, 2012 at the height of the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona.

  1. A truly independent judiciary. The next CJ must not be anyone within the circle of PNOY. If the President is bent on doing what is for the common good and constitutional, lawful and fair – he should never be afraid of a neutral and independent judiciary, even a critical judiciary – for the law protects all co-equal departments of government. It is the duty of the judiciary under our constitution to interpret the laws and orders of the two other departments. No matter how good a law or order is – it must be read in consonance with our Constitution and it is the province of the Judiciary. The President must realize that he cannot operate based on FEELINGS (and the dictates of his small elite circle) alone but based on the RULE of LAW. He should not wish that his every edict will be upheld by the SC under the new CJ. Rather – what he should endeavor to do is to make his edicts sound both in law and in aspiration. Our country cannot always operate on aspirations – we must hold our laws sacred – because it is what binds us. We have ways to make our laws better and it does not include trifling with them according to our own personal whims.
  2. A mindset that the SALN is a tool – a means to an end and not the end. Many of us miss the point. Property is among the three liberties guaranteed by all the democratic states in the world. Every person has the right to increase his wealth and property according to what is just and lawful means. The fact of having money is not per se an offense of a public servant, as long as it was earned rightfully. Therefore – the Filipino must be more demanding than just disclosure of SALN and vice versa – its non-disclosure as an offense. A mob cannot curse blindly. If this administration is true to form – it should sign the Freedom of Information Act as priority bill. It should create a transparent process of ensuring that our politicians and public servants do not enrich themselves in public office at our expense and consider SALN as simply a tool. Filing of SALN must be made ONLINE through the most official portal of the Philippine Government – the Official Gazette. It is not necessarily the fault of a public servant who has filed and submitted his SALN for the public to be not interested in it. If the SALN’s are in the OG – and that being a public record – that will spare the public servant from the apathy of the public – who couldn’t even care less about demanding to see their officials SALN. In fact in this country – I have noticed that people look up to politicians who live lavish lives than those who walk among us as common people. Their eyes glitter at the sight of politicians who are able to draw bills from their pockets at a moment’s notice. I have heard many smirks from voters who have asked me for money as I campaigned – whispering – I am a poor politician. We breed the kind of monsters we have but our misplaced praise for wealth rather than other things that really matter – like competence, genius, bravery. No wonder our country is filled with cartoon characters as politicians.
  3. Real economic programs for sustainable growth anchored on global trends and national strengths. This administration has yet to prove that it espouses participatory, inclusive and consultative government – which are pillars of good governance.  International observers have been one in saying that the two years scrimping of public funds almost bled our economy to death. There is a big difference between a self-righteous miser and a wise spender.  The government has mercilessly dislodged useful economic programs of past administrations to make way for its own brand of programs – thinking that they know it all. They have overlooked the fact that private-public partnerships are not novel to the Aquino administration but something which is as old as the first republic of the Philippines. In fact –  the revolutions which paved the way for a country know as the Philippines today is mostly-private sector led. The genius of Rizal and courage of Bonifacio. Where they public servants? No. And yet, the Aquino administration went on to destroy public-private partnerships and programs associated with former President Arroyo. One case in point is destroying –without the benefit of consultation – the Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) – which has served as the catalyst for the last ten years of all sectors in the ICT industry to work together. This is no time for vindictiveness. Our economy now belongs to the ranks of Micronesia and Timor Leste – we cannot tarry any longer.
  4. A significant revision of our rule-making system – to ensure (just like in all other developed countries) – EQUITABLE representation of all islands of the Philippines. Our country’s highest legislative body is run by 24 senators – not truly representative of the whole country. Election of members of the upper house must be by REGION. The country is practically run by Manila.  This system does not at all bridge the islands and engender unity and cooperation.
  5. Drastic reduction of vote-buying to ensure that we have more statesmen rather than politicians. The media, the church and many civil society organizations have been clamoring against electoral fraud and vote-buying. In fact, so much blame was heaped on the loopholes of the automation of the elections. But as many reformists believe the poll automation was not the problem – the problem is still rampant vote-buying – either in cash or in goods and favor. Politicians and their allies’ bank accounts must be scrutinized during election time not after. Election spending must be curbed. People need to demand more than just money or cheap slogans geared to win the hearts of the “mahihirap”. People need to realize – we are mahirap but not “bobo” hence concrete programs must be presented – for education, health, economy, technology, environment, transportation, food sufficiency, foreign policy, energy, livelihood and skills development, entrepreneurship and many more. Presidential and other national candidates must not just win us with their “picture-perfect” smiles and campaign signs – we should look beyond and demand more.
  6. A truly inquisitive new generation that will demand more programs for their development and not be contented by just lip-service from the government. When I was young – our youthful energy can sway us to a bandwagon of ideologies – thinking that the good society is all about liberty and equality, or about efficiency and community, we are either left, right, left of center, right of center, extreme or centrist – but these forces block our minds to really think as one nation. Wherever we are in the equilibrium of ideologies – we only have one country. Our best asset today (like most of Africa and other countries) is a young population – this does not however end there. Our leaders do not believe with their hearts the potential of every young Filipino. I see no real and concrete incubation and research programs. Despite the ingenuity of the Filipino minds – we are at the tail end of list of countries with inventions and patents. We see government offices shying away from helping Filipino inventors and entrepreneurs. We see no Filipino brand going around the world as made in the Philippines. We see Filipino exporters barely struggling to fight the global market. We see local industries trying to survive against well-subsidized products dumped in to the Philippine market by other countries. The Filipinos are NOT worth dying for – we are worth believing in. Invest in human development – for a start.
  7. Real accountability. The problem with the impeachment is that they convicted a man for doing something that the accusers also do. No more pretenses. Let each one come out in the open – this country will never prosper as long as it operates under a big lie – that the Corona’s jurors and prosecutors want us all to believe – that they come with CLEAN hands. Hypocrisy is more palatable than hearing the sad truths in this country. Officials appease us with their “holiness” in exchange for poor and mediocre performance and programs.
  8. Genuine respect for each department of our democracy. The impeachment has shown how low the legislative can stoop to the wishes of the executive. The theatrical play that we have witnessed showed elected representatives of our country, strutting to and fro in an effort to crush a man with falsified, overstated, manufactured evidence obtained in dubious manner. The pronouncements of Malacanan throughout the impeachment are smacked with obvious over-confidence resulting from the exercise of control over one, supposedly independent body. The supposedly most independent body – the judiciary – is reduced to a mere laughing stock because of public humiliations.  Let the impeachment serve as a lesson in Constitutional Law if we are to still proceed as a true democratic country – let each department respect each one and understands each responsibility not only towards each other but most especially to the Filipino people. One thing that stands out for me is that today, the Congress, both lower and upper house, have approved many meaningful legislations – that as a collegial body representing the voice of the people – believe to be important and necessary for our country. For the President to ignore these bills and insist on simply just his priority bills – is an act that thwarts the will of the People exercised through the legislative.
  9. Respect for the seat of the President of the Republic of the Philippines by the person occupying it. For the President to understand that his every word, his every act is not necessarily done as a personal act or statement. He is the President of the Republic of the Philippines. He must not only earn support but RESPECT. For as people disrespect him – it is almost a show of disrespect to the Republic of the Philippines. As he stands to be the symbol of this country – he must embody competence and professionalism. These are attributes that can be acquired through honest self-evaluation and personal effort. His lack of concern about his words and the words that come out of his mouth does not serve as a good example to aspiring leaders of the future. 
  10.  A Filipino Nation renewed and strengthened to face the future. It is said that we deserve the kind of leaders that we have. It is difficult to cast the first stone – when everyone of us is privy to a system that has not brought us up – but down in the ladder of the nations. The Filipino race is one magnificent race – full of potential, talents, hopes and promises. We need to realize that. We need to see that wherever we are in the world. We deserve more. This is our country. Let no one dictate where we want to go. One person I met last month told me – “maybe God is punishing the Philippines!” I was shocked a bit – but at the end of the day – I realized – God is the inner voice in us that keeps us together as a nation. When Asia rises as predicted 20 years ago from being the “sleeping dragon” to the most powerful continent years – from now – I pray our Country – my Philippines – your Philippines is in the frontline of it all!

Learning From India’s Innovation

Resource speakers at the Confluence 2017 – 7th International Conference themed on “Cloud Computing, Data Science & Engineering” on January 12 to 13, 2017

My first visit to Incredible has been a journey filled with wonders. In 2017, I had the opportunity to be invited to speak at an international event hosted by a prestigious university in collaboration with major technology corporations. The Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Amity School of Engineering and Technology (ASET), Amity University organized Confluence 2017 – 7th  International Conference themed on “Cloud Computing, Data Science & Engineering”  on January 12 and 13, 2017 in association with EMC Corporation, University of Florida, Cloud Labs, University of Melbourne, Australia, and Western Sydney University, Australia, The conference looked at the industry trends with focus on collaboration and social media as the emerging themes. The conference featured some of the best talent of the industry and academic circles who presented thought provoking sessions.

I had the privilege to meet some of the most distinguished academic speakers from various parts of the world and was truly amazed and impressed by the degree of knowledge and engagement that the Amity University community have shown.

In particular, the extent of global and technical knoweldge of Amity students even at a young age is noteworthy. In my conversations with many students, they appear as heavily exposed to the global corporate world, very aggressive, articulate in their vision when they graduate. For the last 5 days, it was the student volunteers who attended to all the international guests – taking care of all our schedules, our needs. Impressive. They are never shy to assist the guests, or even discuss their plans of getting scholarships and internship in other countries.

My assigned student volunteer, a senior computer engineering student, emailed me his resume on the last day and asked if there are available opportunities or projects that may be available in the Philippines. The rest of the guests I am sure will go home working out internships and opportunities for the students. For a college student, our volunteers were very outspoken and passionate about their course and how they would want to be part of global corporations. The freshman volunteer who picked me from the airport gave a really good glimpse of Indian history. He was only around 17. The student volunteer who sent us off yesterday said he has been to the US and has many relatives there and said his contemporaries in the US do not know even know some concepts in computer engineering, data science and analytics that he knows.

I am inspired by the outlook of these young people. Their teachers give them academic credits for being exposed to conferences and international opportunities. To learn soft skills. All of the volunteers when asked what they get from assisting us day and night – said “the privilege and the knowledge we learn from conversing with you, Sir/Mam.”

In the Philippines – we have a tendency to focus on text book or hard skills. All content. No soft skills. In the Philippines, at times, students will even be scolded for spending time in conferences. And I would often hear students say “kapoy, talaka” when asked to attend to the needs of speakers. In Amity, the volunteers, try to compete with one another in getting the attention of the speakers for a chance to converse with them. Our host director of Science of Engineering told me on the last day — “Madame, if you have projects you want our volunteers to do for you when you go back to the Philippines just email me and I will arrange academic credits for their time spent.” Incredible! I hope this sharing – change the mindset of our schools.

Amity University, a research and innovation driven Foundation University in India, is leading education group having grade “A” Accreditation by the National Accreditation body of government of India. As of today, Amity education group of India has over 1,500,000 students studying across 1000 acres of hi-tech campus and 250 educational programs. Amity Education Group has 17 International & Global K-12 Pre-Schools across India. In order to be a truly Global University, Amity University has set up over 12 International campuses located in USA,UK, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Singapore, Mauritius, Romania, South Africa, Hong Kong, Mainland China and many more to come. Around 607 patents are filed by the faculty and about 300 government funded research projects are being worked upon. The library of Amity University in Noida India, books and computers, cubicles, discussion rooms, offline and online materials. Inspiring.

The organizers highlights cloud computing systems as being an emerging area in computing technology, which supports processing of large volume of data as per on-demand service. It shares resources to work rather than having local servers doing the job. The demand for professionals with knowledge of cloud computing is rising exponentially because more and more companies are implementing this technology. The main aim of the summit is to bridge the gap between Industries & Academics and in the past we have not only succeeded but we have created a big family combining all the top companies and Academia. The last summit associated sponsor includes EMC, ICMR, DRDO, INSA and many more with panellist and speakers from EMC, Microsoft, HCL, IIT, NIT, AIIMS, Airtel, Ministry of External Affairs, IOCL, NHAI, NIC, Nokia Siemens, Sun Microsystems, Jubilant and many more.

As one of the keynote speakers in one of the session, I received these complementary benefits:

1. Complimentary entry into various educational sessions and networking events as being automatically registered for the two-day conference.
2. Abundant networking opportunities  with speakers from countries all over the globe, who are specialists and industry leaders invited to share their knowledge. 
3. Waiver of registration fees (500 USD) and free accommodation at Amity University Guest House.
5. Local sightseeing including Taj Mahal, Agra which is amongst the Seven Wonders of the World.
6. A volunteer team will be dedicated, in and outside of the main conference room, to support and guide with any logistic requirements.
7. In order to help facilitate networking, the conference organizers have scheduled regular coffee breaks and lunches.
8. Transport with a volunteer was provided to and from the Guest House for arrival and departure

As ide from the opportunities as part of Confluence 2017, I also had the chance to visiting the Innovation Incubator of Amity University in Noida, India. A very successful example of a university offering startup companies support, space, resources and mentorship for them to scale up into successful businesses, carrying national branding. My dream always for the Philippines is to see universities as birthplace of great products and solutions carrying the Filipino brand accross the world. Lord send us leaders who have a different DNA for innovation.

The library of Amity University in Noida India, books and computers, cubicles, discussion rooms, offline and online materials. Inspiring.

Visiting the Amity University Innovation Incubator. I was drooling with envy. I was crying inside and beyond words. I can only wish this for our own Incubator at the CyberCentre or in the Philippines. Dolly, the facility manager gave us a tour. The incubator is hosted by the university with funding from the government and in partnership with a capital venture entity which is a private entity spin-off of the incubator. This is my dream – the rough concept is called SugarValley. I am trying to encourage universities in Bacolod to help this dream like Amity University here who really took on the cudgels to offer their students practical learning. It will take a miracle for many of my concepts to happen. I am practically not in the position to make things happen now. But I do not know why God is constantly exposing me to actual models that I am imagining only in my mind. Maybe I need to pray these ideas happen. But nobody seem to be listening. Sometimes, it is so painful to be looking from the lenses I have without anyone seeing it. And eventually seeing the concepts in other countries.

We also had the opportunity to pay a courtesy call to the Philippine Embassy in India and had the privilege to brief Philippine Ambassador to India Teresita Daza and Commercial Counselor Michael Ignacio about the vision and thrusts of the National ICT Confederation of the Philippines (NICP) to generate jobs and drive innovation in the countryside. From out of the conversation, several major areas for collaboration will be explored among others – the support of the embassy towards academic partnerships, such as faculty and student exchanges and joint researches between PH and Indian universities in the field of IT, Computer Science and Engineering, a potential trade mission of ICT councils to India to attract business or offer the countryside locations as expansion sites. The embassy was very happy to know that unlike other countries were IT jobs are concentrated only in the urban capitals, the Philippines have more than a dozen other tier 2 and tier 3 cities which are considered as strong locations for IT companies. And embassy officials lauded the efforts of ICT councils for all the work that we do to bring these jobs to the countryside.

We also spent a day at the CyberHub at the CyberCity of Gurgaon. Teeming with all the global corporate named headquartered in Delhi.

We also had time to visit Rashtrapati Bhavan, the official residence of the President of India at the western end of Rajpath in New Delhi, India.

A trip to New Delhi, India will not be complete without a tour of its historical sites. We found ourselves at the Red Fort, established during Mughal Empire in the 1600s. India already has “malls”, “parks” “meeting halls” – stone buildings of elegant and elaborate designs. 1600s!!!! And they’re well preserved to this day. I wish we can emulate the cultural preservation initiatives of India.

The Red Fort is a historic fort in the city of Delhi (in Old Delhi) in India that served as the main residence of the Mughal Emperors. Emperor Shah Jahan commissioned construction of the Red Fort on 12 May 1638, when he decided to shift his capital from Agra to Delhi. Originally red and white, its painting is credited to architect Ustad Ahmad Lahori, who also constructed the Taj Mahal. It was renovated between May 1639 and April 1648 based on an earlier fort. (Wikipedia)

We went to the Kingdom of Dreams, New Delhi’s newest theme park. Kingdom of Dreams is India’s first live entertainment, theatre and leisure destination. It is located in Sector 29, Gurgaon, Haryana in NCR Delhi, near the Leisure Valley Park. 

We also spend a day at Hauz Khas, New Delhi, India. Hauz Khas is a neighborhood in South Delhi, its heart being the historic Hauz Khas Complex. Well known in medieval times, the Hauz Khas village has amazing buildings built around the reservoir. There are remnants of Islamic architecture roughly colored by splotches of urban culture.

The most memorable time for us was our visit to the famous Taj Majal. The Taj Majal is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the southern bank of the river Yamuna in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal; it also houses the tomb of Shah Jahan himself. Wikipedia

With my husband, lawyer Arnel Sigue in front of the Taj Majal.

Ways to Love Yourself

1. Love your time. Don’t let anyone waste it. Respect your time and do not allow anyone to disrespect it. Consider every minute of your time as every minute of your life. Use it wisely.

2. Love your struggles. You’re not going to be perfect, but do not let anyone belittle all your efforts to be a better person. Every struggle is a journey which represents a piece of what you are today. If you cannot love and accept each part of you, how then can you love and accept your wholeness? Love the hardships that you invested in everything you have achieved, regardless of how small or big others may think it to be. Love the difficulties you experienced to develop your skills and abilities no matter how simple or complex. They don’t know what you have set to accomplish. You know better.

3.Love your scars. They represent your victories. Not necessarily flaws. Because every wound is a medal you’ve earned for a battle that was supposed to strike you down but you are still standing. No matter how ugly they are, be thankful – not everyone will experience the growth that your pain has brought you.

4. Love your enemies. They remind you that you are just human and you are alive. Some of them remind you of things you shouldn’t have done and so don’t do it anymore. Some of them remind you of things you have done whether others like it or not. In short, enemies remind you of good and bad decisions. But the best part is you own these decisions and the life that was given to you. Be happy you have made many decisions in your life. Your enemies will continously pull you down. Let them. Concentrate on your own journey of lifting others.

5. Love where you are. A point in time, a place, a status, whatever and whoever you are – you are still here in the present. This present is the tomorrow that people who are no longer here dreamt of yesterday. This present is important. Be present in every minute of your life. Love others by loving yourself first.

Valentines Day is also about loving yourself. 💖♥️❤️Happy Valentines Day Friends!

#ValentinesDay2021#Reflection#Shareables

A Glimpse of the Mayan Civilization

An experience of a lifetime. Sharing the ICT Council Model and best practices in the Philippines to bring jobs to the countryside and seeing some of the world’s oldest seat of civilization.

In November 2017, I had the privilege of being invited to speak at the 1st Annual Convention of the Contact Center and BPO Industry in Guatemala City. In their invitation, organizer BPO Guatemala emphasized the creation of intermediate cities as a priority for Guatemala since 2016, with both government and private sector working together to create a new competitiveness agenda of the country. I was given the opportunity to share my initiatives to grow the ICT-BPO industry of Bacolod since 2004 and generate over 30,000 direct jobs.

Related Stories: Bacolod ICT to star at Guatemala convention / Un paso más hacia promover la competitividad, el empleo y el desarrollo de Guatemala / Convención Contact Center y BPO: Urge invertir en educación / “La calidad de vida también debe ir a las periferias” Jocelle Batapa, Ex presidenta del focus team

This visit to Guatemala also blessed me with the opportunity to visit the world-acclaimed sites of ancient civilization showing advanced systems buried under a thick rainforest. I was fortunate to see major portions of the only about 20 percent ruins excavated. UNESCO says Tikal National Park is located in Northern Guatemala’s Petén Province within a large forest region often referred to as the Maya Forest, which extends into neighbouring Mexico and Belize.

Embedded within the much larger Maya Biosphere Reserve, exceeding two million hectares and contiguous with additional conservation areas, Tikal National Park is one of the few World Heritage properties inscribed according to both natural and cultural criteria for its extraordinary biodiversity and archaeological importance. It comprises 57,600 hectares of wetlands, savannah, tropical broadleaf and palm forests with thousands of architectural and artistic remains of the Mayan civilization from the Preclassic Period (600 B.C.) to the decline and eventual collapse of the urban centre around 900 AD. The diverse ecosystems and habitats harbour a wide spectrum of neotropical fauna and flora. Five cats, including Jaguar and Puma, several species of monkeys and anteaters and more than 300 species of birds are among the notable wildlife. The forests comprise more than 200 tree species and over 2000 higher plants have been recorded across the diverse habitats. #TimeTravel #AncientMayanCivilization

Here is a feature on The Lost Cities of Maya.

Tikal National Park is located in Northern Guatemala’s Petén Province within a large forest region often referred to as the Maya Forest, which extends into neighbouring Mexico and Belize. Embedded within the much larger Maya Biosphere Reserve, exceeding two million hectares and contiguous with additional conservation areas, Tikal National Park is one of the few World Heritage properties inscribed according to both natural and cultural criteria for its extraordinary biodiversity and archaeological importance. It comprises 57,600 hectares of wetlands, savannah, tropical broadleaf and palm forests with thousands of architectural and artistic remains of the Mayan civilization from the Preclassic Period (600 B.C.) to the decline and eventual collapse of the urban centre around 900 AD. More information about Tikal National Park here

Miniature of the whole area considered as part of the lost Mayan Civilization

A special chartered plane flight brought us to Mt. Tikal in Peten, the oldest discovered Mayan Civilization about 600 BC. One year after our visit or in November 2018 – Fuego, one of the most active volcanoes in Guatemala erupted. Read: Thousands flee as Guatemala’s Fuego volcano erupts

TECHBLADE: Philippines Shares ICT Council Model to Guatemalan Cities

Related Story: SIGUE SHARES ICT COUNCIL MODEL TO GUATEMALAN CITIES

More Serious Global Risks Perceived After Pandemic

Full Text of the Global Risks Report 2021

The immediate human and economic cost of COVID-19 is severe, but this is just the beginning of more serious global risks as stated in the recently released 16th edition of Global Risks Report (GRR) by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

In the WEF statement October last year, COVID-19 was expected to add as many as 150 million individuals to extreme poverty by 2021. The global recession caused by the pandemic is foreseen to bring to waste long “years of progress on reducing poverty and inequality and to further weaken social cohesion and global cooperation. Job losses, a widening digital divide, disrupted social interactions, and abrupt shifts in markets could lead to dire consequences and lost opportunities for large parts of the global population.

In the Global Risks Report 2021, WEF shares the results of the latest Global Risks Perception Survey (GRPS), followed by analysis of growing social, economic and industrial divisions, their interconnections, and their implications on our ability to resolve major global risks requiring societal cohesion and global cooperation. The GRR also contains proposals for enhancing resilience, drawing from the lessons of the pandemic as well as historical risk analysis.

Thousands of respondents were asked about what they perceive as global risks, classified as short term (0-2 years), medium term (3 to 5 years) and long term (5 to 10 years) across economic, environment, geopolitical, societal and technological horizons. The succeeding discussion are direct excerpts from the GRR.

The risks of the next ten years are extreme weather, climate action failure and human-led environmental damage; as well as digital power concentration, digital inequality and cybersecurity failure. Among the highest impact risks of the next decade, infectious diseases are in the top spot, followed by climate action failure and other environmental risks; as well as weapons of mass destruction, livelihood crises, debt crises and information technology (IT) infrastructure breakdown.

Short term of current critical or imminent threat to the world, or those that are most likely in the next two years include widespread employment and livelihood crises, youth disillusionment, digital inequality, economic stagnation, human-made environmental damage, erosion of societal cohesion, and terrorist attacks.

Economic risks falling under the medium term are asset bubbles, price instability, commodity shocks and debt crises; followed by geopolitical risks, including interstate relations and conflict, and resource geo-politization.

In the long-term horizon, the perceived environmental risks include biodiversity loss, natural resource crises and climate action failure, emergence of weapons of mass destruction, adverse effects of technology and collapse of states or multilateral institutions.

The GPR states that global economy will continue to be fragile and societal divisions are set to increase, as underlying disparities in healthcare, education, financial stability, and technology led the crisis to disproportionately impact certain groups and countries. Not only has COVID-19 caused more than two million deaths, but the economic and long-term health impacts will continue to have devastating consequences. Because of the pandemic, working hours equivalent to 495 million jobs were lost in the second quarter of 2020 alone and increasing. Loss of lives and livelihoods will increase the risk of “social cohesion erosion”.

Countries are urged to deploy nationally focused agendas to stem economic losses, technological transformation and changes in societal structure, including consumer behaviors, the nature of work and the role of technology both at work and at home. With governments still deliberating how to pivot away from emergency to recovery, and with companies anticipating a changed business landscape, there are opportunities to invest in smart, clean and inclusive growth that will improve productivity and delivery of sustainable agendas.

The GRR calls for global preparedness by looking at four key areas of the response to COVID-19: institutional authority, risk financing, information collection and sharing, and equipment and vaccines. It also calls for national level responses depending on varied starting points for individual countries, and finally it draws lessons from five domains: government decision-making, public communication, health system capabilities, lockdown management and financial assistance to the vulnerable.

However, WEF warns that if lessons from this pandemic only drive decision-makers to better prepare for the next pandemic instead of enhancing risk processes, capabilities and culture, the world will be again planning for the last crisis rather than anticipating the next. The response to COVID-19 offers four governance opportunities to strengthen the overall resilience of countries, businesses and the international community: first, formulating analytical frameworks that take a holistic and systems-based view of risk impacts; second, investing in high-profile “risk champions” to encourage national leadership and international co-operation; third, improving risk communications and combating misinformation; and fourth, exploring new forms of public-private partnership on risk preparedness.

Good Citizens Deserve Good Government

Published in Disruptive Mode on Sunstar on February 4, 2020.

We deserve the kind of government we have, says a wide adage. Hence, a citizenry that allows corruption to thrive deserves the poor service and substandard programs it receives from its government. Last week, I shared the salient features of RA 11032, a new law which promotes ease of doing business and efficient government. I shall continue sharing more salient features of the so-called ease of doing business (EODB) law, which calls for the streamlining and improving the current systems and procedure of government services and aims to reduce processing time, cut bureaucratic red tape and eliminate corrupt practices.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) aggressively undertakes a nation-wide campaign to promote the law anchored on its main benefit – faster and easier application for government-issues permits, licenses and certificates. Customers, clients or citizens are encouraged to provide feedback for service improvement should they be not satisfied with the service provided.

The law mandates the reengineering of systems and procedures starting with by undertaking cost compliance analysis, time and motion studies, and evaluation and improvement of transaction systems and procedures. All government offices must also undergo regulatory impact assessment of proposed regulations to establish if the proposed regulation does not add undue regulatory burden and cost to agencies and applicants or requesting parties; and initiate review of existing policies and operations and commence with the reengineering of systems and procedures.

All LGUs are required to streamline procedures for the issuance of local business licenses, clearances, permits, certifications or authorizations through the use of unified business application form, establishment of business one stop shop (BOSS). Cities and municipalities are mandated to automate their business permitting and licensing system or set up an e-BOSS within by 2021 or within 3 years from the passage of the law.

Barangay clearances and permits related to doing business shall be applied, issued, and collected at the city or municipality or co-located within the LGUs. The city or municipal business process and licensing office shall not require the same documents already provided by an applicant or requesting party to the local government. Business permits shall be valid for a period of 1 year. The city or municipality may have the option to renew business permits within the first month of the year or on the anniversary date of the issuance of the business permit.

Under RA 11032 and which should be defined in the local government unit’s citizen’s charter, the maximum prescribe time for simple transaction is 3 working days. For complex transactions, the maximum period is 7 working days and highly technical transaction, 20 working days. The period may be extended only once for the same number of days. For transactions which requires Sanggunian approval, the maximum is 45 working days. The period can be extended for another 20 working days.

The mandated maximum deadline for issuance of Fire safety Evaluation Clearance (FSEC) and for Fire Safety Inspection Certificate (FSIC) is 7 working days,          while for a Certificate of Fire Incident (CFI), 20 working days and may be extended once. The Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) must also be co-located at the BOSS of the city or municipality, where said office shall enter into agreement and develop an online or electronic mechanism for such applications. The BFP shall not sell, offer or recommend specific brands of fire extinguishers and other fire safety equipment to any applicant or requesting party or business entity, otherwise the guilty officer will be liable by imprisonment of one to six (6) years and a penalty of not less than five hundred thousand pesos to two million pesos.

Punishable acts under RA 11032 include acceptance of application or request with complete requirements being submitted by an applicant or requesting party without due cause; imposition of additional requirements other than those listed in the Citizen’s Charter; and imposition of additional costs not reflected in the Citizen’s Charter. The law also penalizes the failure to give the applicant or requesting party a written notice on the disapproval of an application or request; failure to render government services within the prescribed processing time on any application or request without due cause; failure to attend applicants or requesting parties who are within premises of the office or agency concerned prior to the end of official working hours and during lunch break; failure or refusal to issue official receipt; and fixing and/or collusion with fixers in consideration or economic and/or other gain or advantage.

Penalties and liabilities range from 6 months without pay as administrative liability for first offence and disqualification from the public office and forfeiture of retirement benefits for second offense, including imprisonment of one to six (6) years and a penalty of not less than five hundred thousand pesos to two million pesos. Criminal Liability shall also be incurred through the commission of bribery, extortion, or when the violation was done deliberately and maliciously to solicit favor in cash or in kind.

ICT Officer for Every LGU

To further boost local government’s capability for digital transformation in the so-called “new normal” and to complement the digitalization of government processes down to the local level, Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara is pushing for the institutionalization of an information and communications technology (ICT) office and officer with department head level.

Angara recently introduced Senate Bill No. 1943 which seeks to amending for the Republic Act No. 7160 or the Local Government Code of 1991 in order to  strengthen the digital transformation capacity of all local government units.

Angara believes the policy will greatly help LGUs to better address the fundamental challenges associated with the new normal, ICT development and digitalization by the mandatory appointment of an information and communications technology officer (ICTO) who will act as the over-all officer in charge for ICT concerns of the municipality, city or province, including the development, adoption, deployment, improvement and maintenance of ICT technologies, platforms, systems and solutions utilized by the said LGU for the effective, efficient, responsive, timely and transparent delivery of basic services and performance of public duties.

The ICTO shall also be responsible in formulating measures that would ensure the digitization of public documents and digitalization of government process. In addition, the ICTO shall guide the LGU concerned in its digital transformation efforts, expedite change and minimize complications.

The information and communications technology officer (ICTO) shall formulate measures for the consideration of the Sanggunian and provide technical assistance and support to the local chief executive, in carrying out measures to ensure the digitization of public documents digitalization of government process and over all digital transformation of government. He or she shall develop plans and strategies and upon approval thereof by the local chief executive implement the same, particularly those which have to do with developing, harnessing, integrating and utilizing information and communications technology for the digital transformation of government and relevant purposes.

The ICTO shall take custody of and be accountable for all properties, real or personal, owned by the local government unit and those granted to it in the form of donation, reparation, assistance and counterpart of joint projects.

With  the  approval  of  the  local  chief executive, the ICTO shall assign resources to local officials or  other  public  officials,  who  by  law,  are entitled to such spaces, recommend to the local chief executive the reasonable purchase, lease or rental rates of digital equipment for the implementation of digital transformation and develop,  maintain  and  supervise  all other information and communications technology programs and services of the local government.

He or she shall also collate and disseminate information regarding information and communications technology programs and services of the local government to the public, perform database and record management with respect to records of offices and departments of the local government unit, perform all other functions pertaining to ICT programs and services of the local government and enforce policies in relation thereto.

The ICTO shall be in the frontline of ICT programs and services of the local government in partnership with private sector to develop, implement, and evaluate all programs aimed at ensuring that all personnel under his or her supervision including himself or herself are constantly trained or exposed to knowledge in ICT and other relevant areas. He or she shall recommend to the sanggunian and advise the local chief executive, on all other matters relative to ICT and perform such other tasks as maybe be assigned by the local government unit.

As the service delivery units of the national government, our LGUs need to be supported by sustainable mechanisms to ensure continuous and sustainable use of ICTs in their level. This can only be achieved with a specific officer mandated to focus on empowering and assisting all local departments within the LGU in utilizing and harnessing ICTs.

Angara, who is also the author of the pending Digital Transformation Bill of the Philippines, underscores that the need for sustainability and comprehensive planning and support in ensuing the national goal of digital transformation across the country.

The ICTO shall be a resident of the LGU, must have good moral character and a holder of a college degree in ICT, computer engineering, computer science, information management system, data analytics, data science, electronics and communications engineer or any course directly relevant to the said courses from a recognized college of university. The ICTO must be first grade civil service eligible and must have five years of experience in the field of ICT and relevant fields.   

Full Text:

STRENGTHENING THE DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION CAPACITY OF ALL
LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS, AMENDING FOR THE PURPOSE REPUBLIC ACT
NO. 7160 OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT CODE OF
1991, AS AMENDED, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES

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