Saturday, September 21, 2013

Can Pope Francis save the Catholic church?

There is no doubt that Pope Francis is getting more raves and attention than his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. The former's straightforward stand towards various controversial issues has drawn the ire of millions of conservative Catholics and earned the applause of the more open-minded Catholics and modern liberals.

In this fast-paced generation of too much selfies, institutions such as the Catholic church are being attacked both sides - based on their defiance to meet the demand of modern times as well the failure to address the issue of sexual abuse by the clergies. Catholic church is up for a major war against internal and external forces, and their survival will be dependent on their stand on some of the most controversial topics of the modern times.

Just recently, the head of the 1.2 billion strong Catholic church - Pope Francis - set a new tone in religious discussions by warning its faithfuls against too much "obsession towards divisive issues such as abortion, homosexuality and contraception". To be honest, this came to me a little bit as a surprise, but it didn't come to me as shocking. Pope Francis seems to be much more honest and open to its flock by being more communicative (or rather provocative)  in various socio-political contentions.

I wonder how is this going to impact the nation's obsession towards the Reproductive Health Bill (RH Bill) with the Philippine Catholic church being in the forefront of the defense against the approval of the controversial bill. The CBCP is probably scratching their heads right now and thinking how they are going to attack the issue with their head going against the grain this time. But one thing is for sure, Pope Francis clearly made a decisive action of changing how non-Catholics view the once hegemonic and antiquated religious domination. For once, many are seeing a window for reforms for the ailing institution.

But personally, for me the greatest war the Catholic church should focus right now is the decreasing population of its flock, second would be the failure to address the negative criticism towards the clergy and the institution itself, and lastly, the failure to evolve vis-a-vis the ever-changing socio-political landscape.

The rise of disagreeing believers and their shift towards the more upbeat and contemporary denominations is probably not hurting the Catholic church that much, but if left unseen, would definitely hurt further the already bleeding core of its spiritual foundation. The rise of Christian Fellowships are more appealing to the young and the skeptics/liberals. Tired Catholics who are probably bummed by its antiquated dogmas and long sermons are easily swayed by the more modern VCF (Victory Christian Fellowship) and CCF (Christ Commission Fellowship) which harness the power of social media and youth as a community empowerment as their unique value proposition.

I have to admit these groups are winning this side of war and the Catholic church must turn their blind eye towards this minor burn. These fellowships have found the weaknesses of the church who has been for thousands of years became one of the most dominant forces in the world - spiritual evangelization, the rationale of sainthood, the idolism.

For the next succeeding engagement with the press, I am hoping that the Pope would devote his time to shift his gear towards retaining the remaining faithfuls. It is high time for the high priest to center the faith once again, ultimately to Jesus Christ. It must once again evangelize its flock and reignite the waning spirit, the true meaning of salvation and explain the role of saints in their faith. It's too early to tell whether Pope Francis is going to turn more tables in the upcoming months of his leadership, but one thing is for sure, the Catholic church is now engaging to to the world, in an effort to promote transparency in its governance and hierarchy, to address the heated debated of sexual abuse and corruption, and under the helm of Pope Francis, it has a lot of explaining to do.

And with the Pope being more open to the press and the public, it is yet another clear impression of a shifting mood that will definitely resonate around the corners of its cathedrals and around the world.

I wonder what's next with the CBCP. We have our own set of problems to deal with in the first place.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Top Cheer Stunts/Routine UAAP CDC Groups should look up to...

Everyone is amused at the recently concluded UAAP Cheerdance Competition. But in my honest opinion, it was only National University who stood out and gave us the real meaning of cheerdancing. It was almost flawless, the stunts were far more risky than the rest, ambitious and precise. Their dance routine were not that impressive, but the overall performance was a stand-out. A lot of people thought UP Pep Squad would be the runaway winner, but even their routine was far from perfect. It was clear that last year's performance was better.

My overall impression was satisfactory. I was looking for the old Araneta Coliseum charm, the loud cheers and jeers that echo across the venue. Unlike in this year's SM MOA Arena, Araneta Colisuem was more deafening and infectious.

Now, I wanted to share some top-caliber, hardcore cheer-leading stunts in the US that our infamous cheerdancing groups could look up to next year. May these routines be their benchmark to perform better and practice harder.

1. Top Gun Jags 2012

Stunt to watch out for - Bow and Arrow (0:42) and Scorpion (0:51) Triple Jump Combination (1:04)

2. Tumblings

Beware: Quadruple Fulls Orgasm

3. All Out War by California All Stars

Watch out for: Everything: Arabesque, Cobra, Scorpion, Toe Touch Bask, Power Jump. The Extensions, Transitions and Precision - Oh lalala

Looking forward to see more of these stunts next year. As mentioned, only NU this year has achieved most of these stuff, UP came close and DLSU. Deserving top three I must say. Congrats NU! From a bleeding Thomasian.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Twitter Goes Public

Twitter announces IPO plans, on Twitter (via AFP)
Twitter announced, in a tweet, that it has submitted papers for the most hotly anticipated stock offering in the tech sector since Facebook's last year. "We've confidentially submitted an S-1 to the SEC for a planned IPO. This Tweet does not constitute…

A Story of Greed

When Benhur Luy revealed the massive malversation of multi-billion peso PDAF to bogus NGOs and several lawmakers, I knew that very moment that there is no way this lady behind this orchestra is going to get away. The ire of the nation is probably fueled by her daughter's lavish lifestyle as shared on her social networking sites. Clearly, Janet Lim-Napoles failed to devise a master-plan to make her cycle of corruption as fool-proof as much as possible. She probably thought that her vicious attempt to get more money from the taxpayers' fund wouldn't be seen by the discriminating eye of the public.

It's terribly sad to hear another case of massive cheating. The nation, despite the consistent herald of growing economy, has always been a subject of criticism for its inability to address the corruption that is preventing the country to move forward at a glacial pace.

The End of Pork and Patronage Politics

Source: GMA News (
The recent scandal shows the ultimate reason of Philippine's continuing political dilemma - Political Dynasty. It is not the most overt manifestation of PDAF's mischievous effect, but it is clearly the most evil one. The multi-million peso pork barrel handed over to each legislators provides a culture of corruption. It wields power and control, it evokes temptation and it twists even the mind of the most righteous one.

I join millions of Filipinos around the world who clamors for the abolition of pork. The most clear-cut, precise and effective way to end patronage politics, political dynasty and election violence is to stop the provision of million-peso PDAF.

I don't believe the rationale of some lawmakers who continues to defend the efficacy of pork that the cessation of the provision of pork would ultimately rob the citizen of it's usual benefits of social services such us medical care, dole-outs, legal and civil missions, educational assistance and any other form of financial support. In the first place, these kind of facilities our supposed to be implemented by the implementing agencies - the institutions that are tasked to provide these kind of services to the taxpaying public (DOH, DOJ, DPWH).

Give the money to these agencies. Let them do their rightful job. Lawmakers most obvious task is already inherent on their job titles - to make laws. I don't know where the confusion is coming from.

Pork Barrel is a bribe to the congress. The lump sum appropriation is an attempt to prevent the system of checks and balance working. Money is all encompassing. The possession of this lump sum would clearly devoid a rational lawmaker of its inherent loyalty and honesty. These bribery traces back to Marcos era and this loophole to the political system has evolved into a cancer that makes the nation suffer.

The replenishment of pork on a yearly basis makes their position a viable and even a formidable one. For them, it is the most legitimate way to wield power and to make their dreams come true. They knew there is money in congress and senate. They knew that their investment to win the election is worth it as the seat of power they seek also holds an amazing amount of wealth. For them, winning the election is not an option, it is a must. This ideology transcends into a politician's attempt to win at all cost. To use violence if necessary to keep their power at stake, to kill if there is a threat of defeat, to transfer the power to their kins to keep the legacy of stealing money intact and undiscovered. This logical attempt to hold into the position of power is all glued by a single element that makes every aspiring politicians drools to acquire control - the pork barrel.

Therefore, we implore the government to see reason. To abolish the pork and to make guilty lawmakers accountable. Put an end to this long story of greed by abolishing the pork barrel and never dare to evolve it later into a different and almost indistinguishable name.

The country has suffered enough to let these monsters do their evil acts. It's sickening, it's foul and it hits the taxpayer's core as the money they spent is from their blood, sweat and tears.

This is not a form of payback. It is nothing but justice that we deserve.

In Defense of iPhone...and maybe Blackberry

I am not a self-proclaimed gadget critic. I am not even a geek. I don't even know what Antutu benchmark mark is and how they measure smartphones capability and power. My knowledge on gadgets are fairly limited to its practical use, basic specs and perceived value. I review gadgets based on its beauty and brain. I am not in awe of any revolutionary tactics. I am more convinced by the sharpness of the display, the quality of photo, ease of use and navigation, fluidity of OS, and most importantly reliability. I am therefore an iPhone fan and will always be. I hate it when I see people in tech blogs comments page bashing each other, seemingly amused with their fanaticism over their preferred OS/smartphone, throwing harsh words and criticisms against each other, in an attempt to prove their mighty geek prowess and defend their almighty OS. I find it amusing and pathetic at the same time.

I love Blackberry. Before turning my eye on iPhone I was a huge Blackberry fan, and remains so until now. It is true that an individual's preference of a smartphone is dependent on its inherent character and personality. My relationship with Blackberry is loyal and honest - the tic-tac sound of the keyboard, the speed to text, the easiness of navigation, the discreet notifications, the multi-colored blinking lights, all of these features made Blackberry my preferred smartphone over the year. That was the era when I preferred productivity over style. As a salesman and a heavy communicator, I have to rely on the speed of my phone. I can't afford to make a mistake on my typing, a single stroke of error is tantamount to a lost of sale. Therefore during the years that I was working so hard, I can't put my hands off my beloved BB.

And then the beauty of iPhone's display swept me off my feet. I have seen's Samsung Galaxy S2s AMOLED display and it was awesome. But I felt it was a little too saturated, a bit yellowish/greenish. As compared to iPhone's natural contrast and brightness, it was just pleasant to the eye. But even if I got an iPhone, I still use my beloved BB 9360 as my main workphone. iPhone cannot replace BB on this particular field.

Android is great in the area of customization. It understand the character of its target market. They are the rebel, the young and adventurous. Their operating system is tailor-fitted to people who loves to do more and expect more. Therefore they decided to push the envelope further.

Samsung and any other Android OS smartphones such as HTC, Sony, LG are winning more users as they know that Android is more open and adaptive. They know that consumers love to see more drama, they love to see things get bigger, faster, better. There is no room for less improvement. Consumers are becoming more demanding and the evolution of technology is fast-paced. On this particular area, Samsung is getting more raves and applause. They know that Samsung is harnessing Android's strength to its full potential.

It is evident in the recent market surveys that iOS is losing more of its base and their market share continues to goes down, while Windows and Android are both gaining strength. Critics are bashing Apple over its recent performance during the September 10 unveiling. It was lack-luster, many were saying it was disappointing and boring. They said they were missing Steve Jobs' magic. iPhone 5S and 5C were expected even before the opening of the event and many people were hoping they would see more or they were looking for more surprise. But Tim Cook quickly ushered them to the demo room to see the iPhone 5S and 5C in action.

But iPhone knows that their money is on iOS reliability. They know that critics would bash them because they expect iPhone to be more revolutionary than ever. I don't think Apple is turning a blind eye on this sentiment. I know that Apple is intelligent enough to keep some magic under their sleeves. They knew that making iPhone bigger in terms of size is not going to increase their market share. They know that the right thing to do now is change the the way their OS works. The unveiling of iOS 7 for me is more than enough. A lot of critics were probably bored to see the usual icons, the slide to unlock, and the notification bars. And the revamped interface of iOS 7 is aimed to addressed that. The renewed spirit of iPhone is incarnated through Jonthan Ive's vision. They knew that changing the look and feel of the operating system is what Apple badly need right now. They have to attract new customers and at the same time, retain their current base who are easily swayed by their competitors fast-changing environment.

Apple is not going to rest on its laurels. I know that the Cupertino company is anchored on the vision that to be successful in this market is to be sustainable and they should keep the strength of their ecosystem at place and continue to rely on its marketing and logistics expertise.