Monday, May 30, 2011

Where do you get your news?

By Winston A. Marbella

After watching Manny Pacquiao shame Sugar Shane Mosley at ringside, celebrity heiress Paris Hilton posed for pictures with her hero, wangled an invitation to visit the Philippines, and tweeted the news through her Twitter account.

Many of us struggled through endless commercials on free TV, or watched pay-per-view outlets.  We also set Facebook ablaze with round-by-round updates. Then we googled the news.

That just about sums it up for how we keep track of the news these days, according to a study conducted by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

For pure news search, Google and Google News lead the pack, accounting for 39 percent of traffic.

Facebook is fast becoming “a critical player in news,” driving seven to eight percent of traffic to major news organizations.

Twitter, with 175 million followers compared to Facebook’s 600 million, accounts for only one percent of traffic to news sites, but it has its strengths.

For keeping updated on celebrity gossip, nothing beats Twitter.


We are moving so fast on the information superhighway the milestones are whizzing by in a blur.  Oops! There goes another one.  What did it say?  It said that last year more people got their news from the Internet than from television.    

Oops!  There goes another milestone.  

TV dying

It said: More people are now spending more time on their tablets than watching television.  

Unbelievable, but true.  

Stop the car!  I wanna get off to rewind.  

But wait; there goes another milestone.  

Barely a year after Apple’s iPad launch, a usage study by Google’s AdMob Group finds that tablet use has cut into media consumption and every other electronic device. 

Sales figures already confirm this.  Worldwide laptop sales have collapsed, with 2011 first quarter sales up only one percent.

The Google study finds 77 percent spending less time on their desktop or laptop since they got a tablet; 28 percent say it’s become their primary computer and 68 percent say they now spend an hour or more each day with their tablet.

A clear usage pattern emerged from the survey, which tracked 1,400 users in March.

People use their tablets at home, in the evenings, during the week, cutting into time spent watching TV, using their lap top or desk top, or even using their smart phone.  

PacMan resurrected

The tablet is behaving like the archaic game Pac-Man, consuming everything in its path.

It’s even eating into game consoles.

Gaming usage dominates, but people also like to use their tablets for surfing the Web, checking e-mail, “consuming entertainnment (music and video), reading and shopping.  

The tablet is becoming ubiquitous.

Old media is dying.

More than half the respondents are spending more time on their tablets than reading books, listening to the radio, or watching TV.

The study didn’t ask what other time was being sacrificed for the tablet.  But if they asked me I would’ve told them.

My tablet is driving me nuts.  

Excuse me while I pop a tablet for my headache.  BRB.

(The author is chief executive of a think tank specializing in transforming social, political and technological trends into public policy and business strategy. E-mail Marbella International Business Consultancy: Visit us at:   

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Good hunting, Will

By Winston A. Marbella

After a forced vacation, partly to ride out a public storm over alleged child abuse and partly to comply with a month-long suspension order, “Willing Willie” is back on the air with a new format and title, “Wil Time, Big Time,” chastened but looking none the worse for wear and tear.  

The recess may have given host Willie Revillame time to chill out, say his mea culpas, and take a crash course in politically correct behavior. 

Social commentators have said all there is to say about the incident.  For the most part, they took multimillionaire Revillame to task for insensitivity in allegedly “forcing” a young boy to gyrate like a macho dancer.  Defenders of the freedom of the press worried over the curtailment of free speech by the power of the purse of advertisers who pulled out ads following the controversy.

A human rights lawyer took the contrary view that it was Revillame’s rights that were violated.  The most insightful comments were ventilated in these pages by the media commentator Melinda Quintos de Jesus, executive director of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, who wrote a thoughtful piece on the role of media in society.

Indeed, communication technology has far outpaced the speed by which our central processing unit (that part of the brain responsible for critical thinking) can process information and examine our world.  Maybe, like Revillame,  we should pause and reflect.


Once upon a time, on days when pollution did not blanket Metro Manila, we could see millions of antennas piercing the sky-–-a bizarre architectural testament to the electronic icon of our time: television

Its presence was overwhelming.  Television reached 70 percent of all Philippine homes – 99 percent in Metro Manila - thanks largely to the $18 billion sent back by overseas Filipino workers yearly, which gave families almost universal access to television.

Television altered not only the popular culture but also the social and political landscape.  It became the most pervasive medium of information, although TV news started out as an unwanted sibling of a medium designed primarily to entertain, like “Willing Willie.”  

Bite-size brain

Media researchers have actually timed the average span of the sound bite to be precisely 9.8 seconds, a fleeting moment compared to the three hours or so we spent watching TV on a regular day.  

How any human could make sense of anything that flashes by in less than 10 seconds defies belief, as does how we can process a jumble of unprocessed information that television disgorges in three hours of viewing time.

The television commercial, running at a more comprehensible 30 or 60 seconds, has managed to elbow out the newscast as the primary purveyor of information.  News is now used to provide the welcome break in between the long drone of commercials in the primetime newscasts.


Significant nuance, intelligent insight, and perceptive analyses are glossed over in the blinding speed of the sound bite.  Inconvenient truths whiz by inattentive audiences.

The raised eyebrow passes for sophistication, impressions mimic intelligent commentary, and perceptions become reality.  

And so finally stagecraft has surpassed substance, and the headline-grabbing one-liner has supplanted in-depth analysis.  

The purveyor of dreams that was television at its birth has become the theater of the absurd---and newscasters morphed from architects of democratic discourse to surreal actors on reality TV.

Eloquence of silence

It is perhaps one of the greatest ironies of our time that this most democratic of institutions—untrammeled access to news-- should now be confined to gaps in between commercials and soap opera, providing credibility to an otherwise interminable blabber of selling lines and canned emotions.

The insightful pollster and market researcher Mercy Abad, after a recent foray to the provinces training housewives in the craft of supplementing shrinking household incomes through microfinance for livelihood programs, laments: “Television has become the new altar in the living rooms.”

The ubiquitous television set has replaced the traditional altar which used to be the focal point of rural households as well as the center of their daily lives.  We now worship at the altar of the postmodern technological world, with sound bites replacing the eloquence of contemplative silence and meaningful conversation with our God.

(The author is chief executive of a think tank specializing in transforming social, political and technological trends into public policy and business strategy.  Comments?  Email Marbella International Business Consultancy: Archives:  

Tyranny of surveys

By Winston A. Marbella

In the run-up to Senate debate on the controversial RH Bill, a senator has suggested that perhaps it is time to update an earlier survey on people’s views on contraception.  As I recall the general results of that survey, a majority of Filipinos favor some form of contraception, including the Church-approved “rhythym method,” although many respondents wanted to know more about specific details.  The survey in no way said majority of Filipinos supported the RH Bill.

Be that as it may, the good senator wants to know if there have been changes in public perception, after public debates have taken place.  One wonders what the good senator needs from another survey.

If, for example, the people say yes to all forms of contraception, will the senator do likewise?  If, on the other hand, a majority says no to artificial contraception, will the senator follow suit?

Wise counsel

In the midst of the heated debates, the wisest counsel comes from the erudite leadership of Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile.  Commenting on a similar matter that impinges on opinion surveys, Senator Enrile said that senators, being political entities, must always listen to what people say.  But that doesn’t mean they will always adopt the popular view.

What Senator Enrile is implying is that the elected representatives of the people have additional responsibilities on top of merely following what the people like.  They also have responsibilities to guide, to lead discussions, to educate, in the long road to arriving at a democratic consensus that takes all issues under wise deliberation.
Currently, the term tyranny of the majority is enjoying an obscene popularity from the hysterical debate over the deliberately mislabelled and misleading “Reproductive Health Bill,” which allows, among other things, the use of abortion-inducing drugs that prevent fertilized human ovum from attaching to the uterus, causing it to die, and other artificial means of contraception opposed by the Catholic Church.

The public debate is reaching fever pitch with the bill’s proponents claiming it is just a matter of time before a supposed majority in Congress approves it, reflecting a similarly supposed popular support coming from close to seven out of 10 Filipinos surveyed by a polling firm.

Overheard, not read

Opponents of the bill, in particular Rep. Roilo Golez, have questioned the accuracy of the survey because of the faulty screening of respondents who were polled even if they had not actually read the bill but had merely heard about it.

How can anyone who has only heard about the bill possibly give an intelligent comment? Golez asked in so many words.

A more pointed comment came from a Catholic Church official who said morality is not subject to a majority vote.  The survey if true, he said, only means that the church has to work harder to explain the bill’s morally wrong provisions better.

The bill’s opponents, fearing a congressional juggernaut inspired by pork-barrel-like incentives, have raised fears of an impending “tyranny of the majority.”

The concept traces its roots to ancient Greece, which used the word ochlocracy (“mob rule”) to describe a rampaging, unreasoning majority imposing its tyrannical will over a minority.

Individual rights 

Civil libertarians railed against this form of tyranny, arguing that individual rights are not subject to public vote and that the rights of minorities (the individual being the smallest unit) must be protected against a tyrannical majority bent on imposing its oppressive will.

Modern thinkers have coined similar terms, “the tyranny of numbers” being one of them.  The author David Boyle has written a book using the phrase for its title, adding a biting subtitle, “Why counting can’t make us happy.”

Boyle tells the story of the 18th-century prodigy Jedediah Buxton in his first trip to the theater to watch a performance of Richard III.  Asked whether he had enjoyed it, Buxton replied that the dances had taken 5,202 steps to complete and that the actors had uttered 12,445 words.

Sound and fury

Boyle says in dismay: “Nothing about what the words said, about the winter of our discontent made glorious summer; nothing about the evil hunchback king.”  He continues:

“Buxton is in some ways a fearsome symbol of the modern age, in which we count everything but see the significance of nothing.

“...we encounter such ‘calculating’ man-machines almost every day: the  academic who refuses to pass judgment on any problem, no matter how urgent, because there hasn’t been enough research; the politician who is so obsessed with opinion polls he no longer trusts his gut instincts...”

Or, we might add, so obsessed with numbers he has lost all sense of time, whether or not it is midnight in the garden of good and evil.

Lost in translation
“The more we count, the less we understand,” Boyle asserts.  “Microscopic differences in definition create big effects.

“We have reached a point where measuring things doesn’t work anymore.  It is a counting crisis, born out of using numbers to distil the sheer complexity of life into something manageable.”

Boyle concludes: “The closer you get to measuring what’s important, the more it escapes you.  Because number-crunching brings a kind of blindness with it. 

“When we measure life we reduce it.”

In the context of the so-called Reproductive Health Bill, we not only reduce life, but kill it.

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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Manny Pacquiao’s zest for life

Los Angeles, Calif.

By Winston A. Marbella 

Rep. Manny Pacquiao has found himself in the middle of a controversy completely alien to his comfort zone in the ring.  His unyielding opposition to the mislabelled Reproductive Health Bill, purported to pass Congress with the open support of Malacanang, has unleashed a barrage of criticism ranging from the personal to the absurd. 

In so many words, usually sober legislators have cried foul that Pacquiao’s popularity will detract from a dispassionate discussion of the bill.  Others have gone so far as to suggest that Pacquiao is not equipped to debate the intricate labyrinths of the bill because the congressman from Sarangani is not schooled in the concepts of law or craft of legislation.

Crusty old editors have always counselled cub reporters that the best way to expose the shady inner workings of government is to shine the light on them for all the world to see.  This is exactly what Pacquiao has done: by boiling down the debate to his simple statement that if this bill had been in place before he was conceived, he might not be around.

Pacquio’s logic is crystal clear and cuts to the bone like a laser beam:  Shorn of its adornments, the RH Bill is as basic as black or white, true or false, right or wrong, life or death.  And this is because this is the language he understands when he walks inside that ring to face his foe.

Moment of truth
In the moment of truth, he leaves behind all his trainers and staff, all the trappings of wealth and power, and the rich and famous who form his entourage.  He is alone against his opponent, just he and his God to whom he prays in full view of millions of fans worldwide.

By excelling in his craft, Pacquiao has learned to extract the essence from non-essentials.  In his sport, he is no less noble than the protagonists in the classical literary dramas: Man against nature, man against man, man against himself.  When all is said and done, the issue is boiled down to its core. The words of King Arthur in the legend of Camelot sum it all up, “Was I brave, and strong, and true?  Did I fill the world with love my whole life through?”

Peel away the layers of onions from eight world titles and what you get at the core is a man who values life more than anything else.  That is what makes him invincible.  What you see is what you get: A man in love with life and loves to champion it.

To be alive is better than not to be alive---even if life is mired in miserable poverty.  His own life is proof of this truth:  Succeeding in extricating one’s self from poverty is a result of one’s conviction, the courage of one’s indomitable will.

For far too long, runaway population growth has been foisted by scaremongers as the root cause of economic problems in the developing world, despite historical evidence to the contrary.  The issue has resurfaced in light of the hysterical debate over the deliberately misleading Reproductive Health Bill.

Shorn of histrionics, the economic argument for population control flies in the face of reality and may actually be counterproductive to economic growth.

The world’s richest economies have not found huge populations a hindrance to economic prosperity: the United States, Russia, India, Brazil, Indonesia, and now China.  Thirty years ago, China misguidedly promoted a one-child policy and is now regretfully reaping the fruits of that folly.

Chinese demographers are finding they have too few people in some areas and a critical shortage of workers and wives, threatening the very foundations of the economy that the government thought it was protecting. 

Ruthless, barbaric

The one-child policy, one of the most ruthless and barbaric social experiments of the 20th century, is estimated to have prevented the birth of 400 million babies, the population of Europe.  But like all drastic social experiments, it had unpredicted surprises. 

With too few workers and a rapidly aging population, China now finds itself caught in the horns of a dilemma.

In an extremely beastly example of a population policy gone berserk, officials in Xiamen, a city in southern China where many Chinese Filipinos trace their roots, forced a mother to abort an eight-month-old fetus by lethal injection.

Bill’s surprise

On a visit here recently, former US President Bill Clinton raised a few eyebrows when he said the country’s population was a strategic resource.  He was referring to the millions of Overseas Filipino Workers, whose family remittances of almost US$20 billion yearly have saved the economy.
Population is not our problem.  Government incompetence is.  It is time to put the blame squarely where it belongs: right at the doorstep of policy makers who think they can continue to raise the population bogeyman as a deterrent to economic growth.

When they sought public office, nobody promised them a rose garden.  In fact they should expect that the career that they chose would require all of their blood, tears, toil and sweat.  Feeding, clothing, sheltering, educating, rearing and caring for our children---all are part of the human condition and their mandate to serve.  

It’s tough.  But killing babies and stifling life is not a solution.  It’s bloody murder.  Pacquiao’s success celebrates a proactive life over a passive acceptance of poverty and death.


Friday, May 27, 2011

‘Star Trek’ Pope goes out of this world

By Winston A. Marbella

At the time of the 1969 moonwalk by the Apollo astronauts, Pope Paul VI made history by sending the first papal radio message to astronauts hurtling through space.

Some 40 years later, one Saturday in May 2011, Pope Benedict XVI went where no Pope had gone before: a two way conversation with astronauts. It took place in a historic audio visual satellite linkup with astronauts who work at the space station and those who recently joined them from the space shuttle Endeavor. 

Space talk

The space talk was organized by the European Space Agency.  At certain moments it brought a smile to the Pope’s face as the astronauts, who could not see him but knew he could see them, played with floating stuff in space, among them a medal he had given them showing Michelangelo’s depiction of creation in the Sistine chapel . The international crew, which included Russian cosmonauts, introduced themselves and welcomed the Pope “on board.”

Instead of merely delivering a message, the Pope pulled a surprise by interviewing the astronauts.

Excerpts from transcript provided by Vatican Radio:

“Dear astronauts,

“...Humanity is experiencing a period of extremely rapid progress in the fields of scientific knowledge and technical applications. In a sense, you are our representatives – spearheading humanity’s exploration of new spaces and possibilities for our future, going beyond the limitations of our everyday existence....”

World without borders

First Question: 

“From the Space Station you have a very different view of the Earth. You fly over different continents and nations several times a day. I think it must be obvious to you how we all live together on one Earth and how absurd it is that we fight and kill each other. I know that Mark Kelly’s wife was a victim of a serious attack and I hope her health continues to improve. When you are contemplating the Earth from up there, do you ever wonder about the way nations and people live together down here, or about how science can contribute to the cause of peace?”


“Well, thank you for the kind words, Your Holiness, and thank you for mentioning my wife Gabby. It’s a very good question: we fly over most of the world and you don’t see borders, but at the same time we realize that people fight with each other and there is a lot of violence in this world and it’s really an unfortunate thing. Usually, people fight over many different things.  … on Earth, people often fight for energy; in space we use solar power and we have fuel cells on the Space Station. You know, the science and the technology that we put into the Space Station to develop a solar power capability, gives us pretty much an unlimited amount of energy. And if those technologies could be adapted more on Earth, we could possibly reduce some of that violence.”

Fragile life

Second Question: 

“One of the themes I often return to in my discourses concerns the responsibility we all have towards the future of our planet. I recall the serious risks facing the environment and the survival of future generations. Scientists tell us we have to be careful and from an ethical point of view we must develop our consciences as well. 

“From your extraordinary observation point, how do you see the situation on Earth?

“Do you see signs or phenomena to which we need to be more attentive?


“Well, Your Holiness, it’s a great honor to speak with you and you’re right: it really is an extraordinary vantage point we have up here. On the one hand, we can see how indescribably beautiful the planet that we have been given is; but on the other hand, we can really clearly see how fragile it is. Just the atmosphere, for instance: the atmosphere when viewed from space is paper-thin, and to think that this paper-thin layer is all that separates every living thing from the vacuum of space and is all that protects us, is really a sobering thought. 

“ know, that just shows that by working together and by cooperating we can overcome many of the problems that face our planet, we could solve many of the challenges that face the inhabitants of our planet … it really is a wonderful place to live and work, and it’s a wonderful place to view our beautiful Earth.”
Beautiful planet

Third Question:

“The experience you are having right now is both extraordinary and very important – even if you must eventually come back down to Earth like all the rest of us. 

“When you do return, you will be much admired and treated like heroes who speak and act with authority. You will be asked to talk about your experiences. What will be the most important messages you would like to convey – to young people especially – who will live in a world strongly influenced by your experiences and discoveries?


“Your Holiness, as my colleagues have indicated, we can look down and see our beautiful planet Earth that God has made, and it is the most beautiful planet in the whole Solar System. However, if we look up, we can see the rest of the universe, and the rest of the Universe is out there for us to go explore. And the International Space Station is just one symbol, one example of what human beings can do when we work together constructively....”


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Thursday, May 26, 2011

The secret of Manny Pacquiao’s success

Los Angeles, Calif.

By Winston A. Marbella

If you want to know the secret of Manny Pacquiao’s enduring success, you have to watch the feet.  The secret is in those feet.  They dazzle, they mesmerize, they hypnotize.  But most of all, they power the knockout punches.

In Sunday’s fight against Sugar Shane Mosley, those feet were only partially functional.  After the third-round knockdown of Mosley, Pacquiao says one of his legs cramped in the middle rounds, becoming fully operational only in the last rounds.

Hence, Pacquiao could not effectively pursue the backpedalling Mosley in the ring.  Only after a rush of adrenalin when the referee gave Manny a standing eight count after he was shoved by Mosley did we see the legs spring back to life.  Mosley was lucky but shamed nonetheless.

If Manny Pacquiao had been a surveyor, he would still be the best in the world.  He may not even need instruments to chart the lay of the land.  All the instruments he needs are his two eyes, his mathematical brain, and his dancing feet. 
The mathematical genius of Manny Pacquiao is that he can find angles in the complex geometry of his opponents’ defenses.  Finding none, he will create one.  And the feet?  They make the angles happen.
Coach Freddie Roach swears by those feet.  They are so exact, so perfect.  They create the angles that win all the fights.
Those dancing feet are not even graceful, like a ballet dancer’s.  Manny Pacquiao is definitely not a Mikhail Baryshnikov.  His feet do not dance to a Tchaikovsky ballet.  Rather, they respond to a jazz musician’s unstructured rhythms. 
Not four/fourths, or even three/fourths.  More like four/fifths.  No rhyme or reason.  Just effective.  The feet create the angles.  What follows is just masterful execution of opportunities created by the dancing feet.

The results are magical.  Pacquiao can throw a knockout punch off the wrong foot, off-balanced.  The turning point, as it often does, came after a loss.
After Pacquiao lost to Erik Morales in 2001, coach Roach saw the need to balance Manny’s offensive arsenal.  A natural leftie, Manny needed to get more power from his right hand.  Roach taught him how to throw jabs, hooks and uppercuts, all from his right.
Three years later, a more balanced Pacquiao emerged for the fight against David Diaz.  Then Briton Ricky Hatton went to sleep from a right thrown by Manny.  A right!
This ambidextrous dexterity threw his opponents off-kilter.  Now they had to watch two fists.   If they knew any better, they should have been watching two feet.
The power of the punch comes from the legs.  It is multiplied by the leverage provided by the torso.  The entire weight of the body multiplied many times over by the leverage is the physics that provides the knockout power. 
After Manny learned how to use both hands with devastating efficiency, he had to learn how to use both feet to anchor the punch. The technique looks awkward.  But its artistry is poetry in motion.  Jazz, not ballet.
Roach is credited with much of Manny’s blossoming into the best fighter in the world today.  But Roach himself admits Manny surprises him with improvisations in the middle of the bouts.  Jazz rhythms, not ballet choreography.

It all came together in the systematic demolition of Oscar de la Hoya in 2008.  The footwork was perfect.  It created the angles and won the fight.
The relationship between Pacquiao and Roach has resulted in an unlikely chemistry that has made both men wealthy beyond their wildest dreams.  The son of a tree doctor, Roach took the first $300 he earned saving sick trees to buy a ticket to Las Vegas to pursue his dream to become a world champion.
A wild dream
But he was young and unafraid, and took too many chances, too many things for granted, and one blow too many in the head.  Parkinson’s Disease now makes the words stumble through his tongue.  But they still ring loud and true. 
Inside his unassuming office at the Wild Card gym in a rundown suburb of Las Angeles stands this unashamedly self-deprecating sign: “Everyone Here Seems Normal Until You Get to Know Them.”
Then it strikes you:  A tree whisperer and a master of geome-tree making beautiful music together in the mystical ballet of the ring.
Then you know they are the normal ones.
The rest are not.

(Comments?  E-mail Marbella International Business Consultancy:  Archives:  

Sunday, May 22, 2011

School of Tomorrow: Credits from life experience

By Winston A. Marbella
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 02:45:00 01/24/2011

MANILA, Philippines—Former Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr.’s unique Institute of Integrity for government officials is launching this week a novel executive program at the University of Makati (UMak) that will enable state employees to make lifelong dreams come true: Earn academic degrees by converting real-life experiences into course credits in what can be called the “School of Tomorrow” in good governance.

The unique program will kick off with an intensive seminar in good barangay governance on Jan. 28-29. Course credits can be applied to a degree in Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.

In exceptional cases, the university can grant academic degrees outright to government employees who have earned national or international recognition for their work, says dean Ederson Tapia of the College of Governance and Public Policy.

The executive program is a joint project of the college and the Pimentel Center for Local Governance, which together have been conducting seminars designed to bring integrity back to government service.

They have already conducted three intensive two-day seminars for barangay officials, mostly from Manila, Makati, Quezon City and neighboring communities, and shortly will move on to good governance courses for municipal, city and provincial governments.

The executive program is designed to enable local government employees to earn degrees by crediting their service experience, seminars and additional course programs in achieving their lifelong dream to earn a college degree, Tapia says.

Conceivably, a government employee like a postman or barangay secretary can earn a degree in as little as six months, depending on the number of college course credits previously earned and experience accredited by an academic panel of examiners.

Pimentel mission

Information about the program and the January seminar is available at the dean’s office, Tel. Nos. 883-1886 and 883-1860, local 181.

“By serving the people, the public servants deliver political, social and economic benefits to the body politic, and advance the people’s liberties and human rights,” Pimentel says, defining the institute’s mission. “Those of us who go into politics do so … to become truly the servants of the people.”

Initially, the innovative executive program format will be applied to the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, major in local government administration. Subsequently, the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Governance Studies will be offered also in executive program format.

A unique academic format allows government employees to attend classes on Saturdays or Sundays after approval of credits for previous college work, seminars, training and work experience by a panel of examiners “to ensure academic integrity and rigor,” Tapia explains.

Local gov’t management

“This specialized program aims to produce graduates adept in the politico-administrative aspects of managing local governments,” Tapia says.

Aside from Pimentel and Tapia, the academics who developed the program include Raymundo P. Arcega, vice president for academic affairs; Jaime G. Ocampo, chair of the master in business administration program; John Raymund P. Rosuelo, college secretary; and Norma Camunay, governance initiatives head.

The initial phase will target employees of the Makati City government to enable them to earn degrees needed for possible promotion. The program is also open to other local government units, government employees and interested persons who are at least 22 years old and have worked for five years.

The university already has an approved Bachelor of Science in Life Studies program, which converts real-life experiences into course credits. The concept is being extended to local government administration to support the aims of the Pimentel Institute to professionalize government service, similar to Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, which offers a variety of degree and nondegree programs to suit individual needs.

Innovative programs

Upon application and completion of tests, the students are categorized into three levels which determine the amount of classroom hours they still need.

On-campus sessions on Saturdays or Sundays will run for eight meetings, supplemented by other academic activities. Each module consists of 64 hours of teaching and 21 modules complete the degree.

The courses subscribe to the Commission on Higher Education requirements for general education. An innovation introduced in the UMak program is that related courses are clustered together for efficient learning.

The clusters are: Languages (Communication Arts, Technical Writing, Parliamentary Procedure, Philippine and World Literature), 27 units; Math, Natural Sciences and Computers, 18 units; Humanities, Arts, Philosophy, Philippine History and Rizal, 24 units; and Physical Education and National Service Training Program, 14 units; or a total 185 units, including research and practicum.

University of the people

UMak is a local government unit-fully funded public university originally established in l972 as Polytechnic Community College of Makati. In 1987 it expanded its curricula and became Makati College.

After merging with the Andres Bonifacio College in 1990, it became Pamantasan ng Makati, a chartered university, and got its present name in 2002. It offers five colleges and two centers for token fees to Makati residents, slightly higher to non-residents.
It straddles a virtual no-man’s land, providing quality education at subsidized costs on the proverbial wrong side of the railroad tracks in Makati. But its innovative programs—to bring integrity back to public service and help government employees make their dreams of a college degree come true—mark it as a true university of the people.

Across the Pasig River from the plush Makati commercial business district, the innovating university sits on a strip of land in Barangay West Rembo, beside the burgeoning city of tomorrow commonly known as The Fort.

On the other side of the tracks across the river, in the glistening business district that symbolizes the good life, a postman working on a college degree pounds the pavement to gain a foothold on the future as he pursues his dreams in UMak’s School of Tomorrow.

(Editor’s Note: The author is chief executive of a think tank specializing in transforming social, political, cultural and technological trends into practical public policy and business strategy. Comments are welcome at Marbella International Business Consultancy, e-mail:
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Saturday, May 21, 2011

Aquino’s search for good news may lead to DTI Signing of Madrid Protocol for entrepreneurs

By Winston A. Marbella
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 21:37:00 04/28/2011

MANILA, Philippines—Saying his 13-point drop in net satisfaction rating was caused by media’s bias for bad news, President Benigno Aquino III challenged his propaganda staff to be more “thick-skinned” and “aggressive” in purveying the good news.

There would be no need for breast thumping if they just spent less time dueling daily with MalacaƱang reporters like a “Dead Poets’ Society” debating club and more time looking for good news.

Here’s one right under their noses, at the Department of Trade and Industry, to be precise.

With just a single application, local entrepreneurs can have their trademarks protected in 85 countries—including the United States, Japan, China, and members of the European Union—if we join the Madrid Protocol, a 1995 international agreement on intellectual property.

If we sign in, it will facilitate the registration of trademarks and patents in all signatory countries.

The initiative to have the Philippines sign the agreement was re-launched last month. It was originally launched in 2009 by the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines, headed by Director General Adrian Cristobal Jr. The new IPOPHL Director General is Ricardo Blancaflor.

He says: “Through the Madrid system, Filipino individuals and corporations will have a golden opportunity to expand outside the Philippines in a new, simple, cheap, and effective way.”

Because “trademark protection is territorial,” businesses must file applications—and periodically renew them—in every country where they seek protection for their intellectual property.

The Madrid system “will make life easier for business owners who will now have to file only one application with IPOPHL.”

Looking ahead

When the typical entrepreneur starts a business, he rarely thinks of legally protecting his trade and service marks in overseas markets. It is expensive. But, without legal protection for his trademarks, brand names, logos, and other service marks, the business owner can be prey to third-party opportunists.

When the business succeeds and expands abroad, these parties can prevent the owner from using his own marks. He will then be forced to compensate those opportunists for the right to use his own trademarks, brand names, and logos in those markets.

The Madrid Protocol, of course, is reciprocal. Multinationals of countries belonging to the agreement will also enjoy legal protection in this country.

World Intellectual Property Organization (Wipo) Deputy Director General Wang Binying is providing technical assistance to IPOPHL in the implementation of the Madrid system of trademark registration.

Wipo is the agency of the United Nations that administers the international registrations under the Madrid Protocol.

No lawyers, lower cost

Through the protocol’s central intellectual property registration system, IP owners can file a single international application for each trademark or patent owned.

It removes the need to hire foreign lawyers and produce additional documents in different languages.

The international application requires that the applicant has registered the subject trademark or brand in the “country of origin.”

The registered brands will be protected for 10 years in as many member countries as the applicant wishes.

International protection under the Madrid Protocol is available only to individuals or legal entities that are nationals of a country that is a signatory to the protocol. The international application is filed with the trademark office in the country of origin. That office is responsible for determining whether all the requirements for international registration are met. It then transmits the completed application to the Wipo.

The Wipo examines the application and, if everything is in order, will inform the trademark offices in the member countries where the applicant has applied for protection. Those trademark offices are required to scrutinize the Wipo-referred applications according to the same standards and procedures as individually filed applications.

Speak now or keep quiet

Under the protocol, if those trademark offices do not issue an objection to the application within 12 months—18 months in some countries—the application is considered granted.

The Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says IP committee chair Jesus Varela, passed a resolution in the 36th Philippine Business Conference in October 2010 that urges “the Senate to ratify the Philippines’ membership in the Madrid Protocol.”

Philippine Retailers Association president Bernard Liu agrees.

The next move is the Senate’s—or the President’s, through an executive agreement. But maybe we should request Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa to touch base first with the Senate, so we don’t ruffle sensitive feathers and get into more trouble with executive orders.

(The author is chief executive of a think tank specializing in transforming social and political trends into public policy and business strategy. For comments, email
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A rare triple celestial treat

A rare triple celestial treat
By Winston A. Marbella
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 04:03:00 12/24/2010

MANILA, Philippines—To herald the coming of the Yuletide season, the heavens put on an awesome celestial show, recalling the first Christmas when a comet lit up the night sky and a supernova (exploding star) ignited a fireworks display visible for days around the world even in the daytime.

This time, as if to reflect the joy in the heavens, we were treated to a rare “celestial trifecta,” three events occurring at the same time: As the moon rose on Tuesday night, the world witnessed a total lunar eclipse and a “selenelion” occurring on the “Long Night Moon” as the winter solstice set in.

The winter solstice is that time of year when the night is longest and the day shortest, portending that soon, as the days grow longer, it will be Christmas.

A selenelion occurred on Tuesday when the rising eclipse moon and the setting sun were both visible on opposite ends of the horizon. A Long Night Moon occurred because at mideclipse the moon was full.

In “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” Robert Frost’s 108-word, 16-line, four-stanza classic, he pauses at the middle of his journey in the dead of night. He does not make clear whence he came or where he was headed, but it does not really matter much to him. What matters, for our purpose today, is this memorable line:

Between the woods and frozen lake

The darkest evening of the year.

Frost did not say it, but it must have been the night of the winter solstice. It happens normally on the 21st or 22nd of December, and the physical reason is pretty straightforward: the tilt of the earth from its axis causes the four seasons in the temperate zones as it hurtles around the sun on its yearlong journey.

From the autumnal equinox on the 21st or 22nd of September, when night and day are equal in length, the days have been growing shorter and the nights longer until the winter solstice.

Then the cycle reverses: the nights grow shorter and the days longer until the vernal equinox on the 21st or 22nd of March, the official start of spring, when day catches up with night.

Then the days grow longer even more, reaching full glory in the summer solstice on the 21st or 22nd of June, the longest day of the year. From this day onward, it’s downhill again for day, until we reach the winter solstice.

Coming light

Thus, among the ancient peoples, who somehow figured out how to chart the passing of the seasons by looking at the heavens, the winter solstice had always been celebrated on the day the light began to grow long and strong again: the resurrection, as it were, of the dying light.

And so it came to pass that when the early Church fathers met at the Council of Nicea in 325 AD to fix the day to celebrate Christmas, they chose the winter solstice, which at the time was set by the Julian calendar on the 24th or 25th of December.

Because the Julian calendar introduced by Julius Caesar in 46 BC had over the years accumulated errors in setting the day of the solstices, it was replaced by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582 by the Gregorian calendar we use today. But Christmas stayed on Dec. 25.

As the song goes, “It came upon a midnight clear.”

Turning back the hands of time, astronomers and astrologers alike agree that a comet and a supernova had lit up the night sky to guide the Three Wise Men from the East on their way to a manger on a hillside in the little town of Bethlehem, one cold, wintry, starry, starry night.

It was as if in obvious delight, God had timed the journey of Halley’s Comet around the sun to coincide with the birth of His Only Son, and exploded one star out of the trillions he had created to ignite an awesome celestial fireworks display—seven days ahead of the New Year!

The chronicles of ancient Chinese astrologers confirmed the burst of a supernova, visible even in daylight, occurring at about the time of Christ’s birth.

Tuesday’s lunar eclipse was visible in the Philippines partially. As the sun set and the moon rose, we caught the moon ending the last quarter of its journey across the darkest part of the earth’s conical shadow, the umbra.

And as if this celestial treat was not enough, the heavens provided another spectacle to delight the eye and twist the tongue: a selenelion, also called a horizontal eclipse, because the moon rose at the opposite side of the horizon from the setting sun, which made the two celestial bodies visible for a few minutes—a moonrise and sunset at the same time.

In mideclipse, the moon was full, an occurrence known as the Long Night Moon, and hours later the winter solstice set in, the longest evening of the year, Wednesday by our time.

There is nothing extraordinarily significant about these three celestial events occurring together, except that they don’t happen very often. The last time a total lunar eclipse coincided with the winter solstice was on Dec. 21, 1638, or 372 years ago, and it won’t happen again until 2094.

Nothing is extraordinary or significant about that, unless you are Robert Frost, who, after briefly stopping by woods one snowy evening, reluctantly resumed his journey, although very tired and needing rest, because he had promises to keep:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before I sleep,

And miles to go before I sleep.

It is not coincidental that the heavens should arrange the symphony of the stars so that the winter of our discontent could vanish silently in the gathering light of Christmas.

(Editor’s Note: The author is chief executive of a think tank specializing in transforming social, political, cultural and technological trends into effective public policy and business strategy. Comments are welcome at e-mail:

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