## 2016-12-14

### Quid Est Veritas?

Truth is not what it seems to be.  In order to be sure, one has to see the entire picture or narrative, which is unavailable.  What we read in newspapers, watch on TV, or perceive in the Internet is not necessarily true.  The phenomenon of fake news makes fools of many of us.  Doubt has become a virtue.

A 10-Mbps Internet speed was promised before upgrading my Globe broadband, and guess what is the actual speed.  From speedtest.net, present speed is 8.5 Mbps (49ms, 1.1 Mbps upload); and sometimes it's below 3 Mbps!  I heard in the news that President Duterte feigned an illness at least twice just to avoid eyeballing with US Pres. Obama.  What a childish stunt!

Truth is something good and positive; ally with it at all times.  Ultimately, as we struggle in life, we realize that God himself is the truth.  With patience, we'll know the veracity of things that come our way.  This is one reason why God prohibited us from judging others.  Respect all people at all times, even the obnoxious ones.  Just respect the universal human rights, at the least.

Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it. (Blaise Pascal)

## 2016-07-20

My Wi-Fi router password has remained constant since its installation several years ago.  Now I was informed that some people are tapping on it without permission, thereby consuming the data quota per month, significantly slowing the speed.  So I had to Google this, and of course, several hits are returned.  Nothing was helpful because of variation in the terms used (e.g., the term password is not mentioned).  I called customer service (211) and all is now clear.

The first step is go to 192.168.254.254 (I'm using Chromium so the layout may be different).  Then click setup at the bottom right of the page.  In the authentication query, input user in the user name text box, and user in the password text box, and click the Log in button.  Click setup at the upper left portion of the page, then click WLAN at the left column.  Click Security option below it, entering the Wireless Security Setup.  Look for the Pre-Shared Key password box, and type the new password there.  Then click Apply Changes.  Then click Logout.  That's it!

Happy fast and secure computing!

## 2015-12-09

### Hidden Hand

We are all seated around the quintessential poker game of life, and God is the dealer.  He doesn't control the card distribution, but he knows what each player has.  The winner is not the best hand but the one who makes the best hand relative to his initial one.

But what would you do if you got a very bad hand?  Would you curse the dealer?  We must do what we must to improve out lot, and not lose any hope, no matter how hopeless.  We have to look for that one chess move to extricate ourselves.

Before anyone gets so depressed from profound self-pity, it might be appropriate to watch Nick Vujicic's video above.  With this backdrop, all these troubles seem insignificant!  His smile and humor are so contagious you might suppose he's normal.

As Christians, we believe miracles do happen everyday.  If we just open our eyes, such are evident, from the subtle to the spectacular and inexplicable!  While we may be waiting for that rarely-granted prayed-for miracle, we should constantly thank the almighty for all graces and blessings that come.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Corinthians 13.7 RSV).

## 2014-01-14

### A New Beginning

It's been awhile, almost two years since my last entry, and perhaps it's about time that I write again, maybe like a New Year's resolution.  A lot has happened in the last two years, in the family—the loss of some loved ones; in the country—those vicious typhoons, earthquakes, floods, and even war.  We know the people who really help, and those that just blame others.

I recently visited the hospital (more than a month ago) for some nasty bowel problem (colitis), particularly at the Mother Teresa of Calcutta Medical Center in the provincial capital.  Even as a doctor, you never get used to being a patient.  I particularly remember being attended to by an anesthesiologist (I forgot the name of the lovely lady) one minute, and being in my room a few hours later.  Some lost time in the twilight zone!  I don't know if others share this experience, but it's a good feeling, and I'm not sure if what I remember were just dreams or the effect of anesthesia—a sense of well-being.  And I'm sorry for the atheist, but I felt God there!  Just to cut the story short, I got well and was discharged in a few days!  Of course I'd to take the home meds.

I thank the hard-working nurses there (I'm sorry I forgot the names), technicians, etc.  Of course I thank my doctors who didn't collect any professional fees (I don't want to make a mistake so they remain nameless for now), although my surgeon I remember (of course): Dr. Anton Lugue.  The other doctors were classmates to my little sister so I've to ask her again.

I specially thank my classmate from the UP College of Medicine, who helped a lot—a long lost Cabalen (noon ko lang nalaman na Capampangan pala), Gary Mercado.  He even traveled from Makati City just to see me!  We talked rarely in med school—sayang—anyway better late than never.

Of course, my immediate family is there as a safety net—thanks.  And God up above—he's there in the little things that happen, noticeable if you try to see things clearly.  So folks, don't take anything for granted, okay?

## 2012-02-29

### Away From The Usual Word-Processor

If you ask someone to write an article or a report, chances are a word-processor (OpenOffice, Word, etc.) will be used. Of course they offer the WYSIWYG convenience of instant gratification. But there's a pitfall: formatting. This may not be a problem (especially for power-users) but for some, it's a nightmare to have to spend a lot of time tweaking it! I think this problem is common in academic institutions—people just differ in their preferences.

Mark-up language developers (e.g. HTML) have noticed this and separated the data and the formatting. Thus, CSS was invented (latest version is CSS3) just to take care of the formatting. A web writer just takes care of the content. Well, another typesetting mark-up language is LaTeX—all you need to do is write and the formatting becomes automatic. Admittedly, LaTeX beginners need to read a lot initially, but this pays-off later when all you worry about is the content.

Lifting from its website: “LaTeX ('X' pronounced as 'K') is a high-quality typesetting system; it includes features designed for the production of technical and scientific documentation. LaTeX is the de facto standard for the communication and publication of scientific documents.” The program can output many kinds of files, but what I use is PDF (readily viewed with many Document/PDF viewers, including Adobe® Reader).

There are many LaTeX documentations on-line and several tutorials are available. I made a TEX file (text file with a .tex at the end) below that incorporates a mini-tutorial. One can use this file because the notes are commented out (preceded by a '%' symbol). Download template.tex file...
% template.tex - LaTeX template source file
%   uncomment, comment-out or modify as necessary
%   (my LaTeX program accepts all these commands; check your
%    LaTeX syntax & documentation if error messages appear.)
%
\documentclass[14pt, letterpaper, english]{extarticle}
% \documentclass[12pt, letterpaper, english]{article}
%   {article} only allows 10 (default), 11 and 12pt sizes
%   {extarticle} is used for larger fonts sizes
% alt classes: {book, letter, report, thesis $$...$$}
% alt option: [twoside] = for 2-sided document (odd, even numbered page)
%
% Some packages here are default in Texmaker
%   (http://www.xm1math.net/texmaker/)
% In my computer (Ubuntu), installing texmaker automatically installs
% other required packages.  However, some computers need to have perl
% (http://strawberryperl.com/ for Windows) and TeX Live
% (http://www.tug.org/texlive/acquire-netinstall.html) installed.
%
\usepackage[utf8x]{inputenc}    % encoding
\usepackage{times}
\usepackage[letterpaper, top=2cm, bottom=2cm, left=2cm, right=2cm]{geometry}
%   comment-out to use the default page geometry/layout
%   alt option: [landscape]; [portrait] is default
\usepackage{mathptmx}     % scalable fonts (similar to {times}) in MATH mode
\usepackage{ucs}
\usepackage{amsmath}
\usepackage{amsfonts}
\usepackage{amssymb}
\usepackage{babel}              % formatting
\usepackage{graphicx}           % importing EPS graphics
\usepackage{ulem}               % use underline in text
% \usepackage{lscape}           % allow selective {landscape} environment
% \usepackage{multicol}         % uncomment if {multicolumn} command issued
% \usepackage{multirow}         % uncomment if {multirow} command issued
%   \pagestyle{fancy}           % used with {fancyhdr}
% \usepackage{setspace}         % change line spacing
% \usepackage{alltt}            % to use {verbatim} with commands enabled
% \usepackage{moreverb}         % uncomment if {listing} env is used
% \usepackage{wrapfig}          % wrap figures; caution: not a float
% \usepackage{natbib}           % alt bibliography package
%   \bibpunct{[}{]}{;}{s}{,}{,} % ancillary to {natbib}; alt to {s}: {n}, {a}
%
\usepackage[pdftex]{hyperref}   % allow hypertext
\hypersetup{
pdfauthor={NAME},
pdftitle={PDF \LaTeX{}},
pdfpagelayout={OneColumn}}
%
%
% \DeclareMathSizes{ds}{ts}{ss}{sss} % change font sizes in Math mode
%   {ds} must be the same size as the document font
%
\title{TITLE}
\author{NAME \\                   % \\ = newline character
\date{\today}                     % insert DATE today
%
%
\begin{document}
\normalem                         % \emph{} = italicized, not underlined
%
% \maketitle                      % place TITLE data on document
% \tableofcontents                % insert TOC
%   \setcounter{tocdepth}{depth}  % set depth (default: 3)
% \listoffigures                  % insert list of figures
% \listoftables                   % insert list of tables
%
% DIVISIONS
%
% \division*{header}              %   div numbers omitted
%
% Divisions:
%   section, subsection, subsubsection  % class article, extarticle
%   Others:                             % other classes
%     part, chapter                     %   higher levels
%     paragraph, subparagraph           %   lower levels
%
% To include unnumbered entries in TOC (not included by default):
% \division*{header}                    % syntax; lines bunched together
% \addcontentsline{type}{section_level}{entry} % to reinstate a line in TOC
% \phantomsection                       % used to build links in TOC
%   Example:
%   \section*{Preface}                       % unnumbered section
%   \addcontentsline{toc}{section}{Preface}  % place at appropriate location
%     of section/figure/table in document in order for it
%     to be extracted in the correct order in the TOC.
%   \phantomsection
%
% ENVIRONMENTS
%
% \begin{ENVIRONMENT}                         % syntax
%   $$...$$                                       % content
% \end{ENVIRONMENT}
%
% Environments:
%   abstract                                  % insert Document Abstract
%   flushleft, flushright, center             % Justification
%   singlespace, onehalfspace, doublespace    % Line spacing
%   landscape                                 % Page Orientation
%   quote (short quotes), quotation (longer quotes/more indent)
%   verse (poetry)                            % \\ to break a line
%   verbatim, alltt (verbatim + enabled commands)
%   listing (+ line numbers in verbatim; eg: \begin{listing}[step]{1st line})
%
% LIST STRUCTURES
%
% List environments      % can be nested up to depth = 4
% \begin{itemize}        % bulleted; \begin{enumerate} for ordered list
%   \item item 1
%   \item item 2
% \end{itemize}          % or \end{enumerate}
% \begin{description}    % similar to glossary
%   \item[entry] item 1
%   \item[entry] item 2
% \end{description}
%
% TABLE
%
% Table environments/commands:
%   \multicolumn{spanned columns}{format}{cell contents}  % syntax;
%              % used in merging columns
%              % if associated with {figure}, use {figure*} to span columns.
%   \multirow{spanned rows}{*}{cell contents}             % syntax
%              % used in merging rows
%   \setlength{\columnseprule}{1pt}  % place before environment
%              % to have a line width of 1pt, e.g. (default = 0pt)
%   \setlength{\columnsep}{20pt}     % place before environment
%              % to change default separation of 10pt to 20pt, e.g.
% Example:
% \begin{table}[htp]  % table = float; [htp] = where LaTeX will place table:
%                     % h = here, t = page top, b = page bottom
%   \begin{center}    % center justified
%     \caption{table-title}                    % Title of table
%     \label{table-label}                      % anchor/label
%     \begin{tabular}{| l | c | p{5cm} |}      % lcr = cell justification;
%          % | = vertical line visible; p{5cm} = width is 5 cm in this column
%       \hline                  % horizontal line visible; & = cell-separator
%       contents & contents & more content \\  % \\ = newline
%       \hline
%       \multirow{2}{*}{contents} & \multicolumn{2}{|c|}{more content} \\
%          % \hline omitted to avoid overlap due to the multicolumns/rows
%       & content & This is a wrapping sentence. \\
%       \hline
%     \end{tabular}                            % 3x3 table
%   \end{center}
% \end{table}
%
% FIGURE/GRAPHICS
%
% Example:
% \begin{figure}[htp]  % figure = float; h = here, t = top, b = bottom of page
%   \begin{center}                  % center justified
%     \includegraphics{image}       % image: EPS for latex command
%                                   % JPG, PNG, PDF for pdflatex command
%   \end{center}
%   \caption{caption text}          % optional caption
%   \label{image-label}             % optional anchor/label
%                      % use of label: text can reference it like so$$...$$
%                      % $$...$$ See figure~\ref{image-label} for reference$$...$$
%                      % alt: \pageref{}  % reference page (not figure)
% \end{figure}
%
% Wrap text around a figure:        % caution: not considered as float
% \begin{wrapfigure}{r}{40mm}       % {wrapfigure} replaces {figure}
%   $$...$$                             % can run over a page break
% \end{wrapfigure}                  % check final document because of above
%
% FORMAT
%
% \emph{emphasis/italic}  \textbf{bold}           \texttt{teletype}
% \textsc{small caps}     \textsf{sans serif}     \textrm{serif}
% \uline{underline}       \uwave{wavy underline}  \sout{strike-out}
%
% - (hyphen)              -- (en-dash)             --- (em-dash)
% single quotes'         double quotes'' or "  \\ (newline)
% \& (&)                  \% (%)                  \$($)
% \# (#)                  \{ \} ({})              \_ (_)
% ~ (nbsp)                \ldots (ellipsis)       \textbar (|)
% \textbackslash (\)      \textless (<)           \textgreater (>)
% \LaTeX{}                \dag (dagger)           \{a}
% \"{o}                   \^{o}                   \r{A}
% \'{e}                   \~{n}                   \.{o}
% \c{c}
%
% White space:
% \, = small space (1/6 quad)
% \: = medium space (2/9 quad)
% \; = large space (5/18 quad)
% \! = negative space (-1/6)
% \vspace{width}                         % vertical space
% Example:
% \vspace{\baselineskip}                 % vertical space between paragraphs
%
% Size:                                  % should be used rarely
% \tiny                   \scriptsize             \footnotesize
% \small                  \normalsize             \large
% \Large                  \LARGE                  \huge
% \Huge
%   % in case where size format continues, insert \normalsize
%   % so that succeeding text is back to default
%
% Other formatting commands:
% \newline              % or \\; breaks line
% \linebreak[number]    % breaks line + stretch line to the margin;
%                       % [number]: 0-4, with 4 as most insistent
%                       % seems LaTeX has final say
% \newpage              % ends current page
% \pagebreak[number]    % breaks current page
% \nopagebreak[number]  % stops automatic page break
% \clearpage            % ends page + pending floats will be printed
%
% NOTES
%
% \footnote{footnote text}   % insert footnote
% \thanks{title-footnote}    % insert footnote within \title
% \marginpar{marginal text}  % few characters (may overflow)
% \cite{name01}              % insert to mark bibliography reference, e.g.
%                            % alt: \citep, \citet, \citep*, \citet*
%
% CUSTOMIZE
%
%
% \fancyhead{}            \fancyfoot{}            % insert at the beginning
% \lhead[even page]{odd page} \lfoot[even page]{odd page}
% \chead[even page]{odd page} \cfoot[even page]{odd page}
% \rhead[even page]{odd page} \rfoot[even page]{odd page}
%                                   % put header/footer data within [] and {}
% Input data examples:
% \today = date today           \thepage = page number
% Example:
% \cfoot[\thepage]{\thepage}        % put page number in all pages (default)
%
% Redefining Counter styles:
%
% \renewcommand{\thefootnote}{\alph{footnote}}
%                              % redefine default \footnote to use lower case
% \renewcommand{\theenumi}{\Roman{enumi}}    % redefine enumerate 1st level
% \renewcommand{\labelenumi}{\theenumi}
% \renewcommand{\theenumii}{\Alph{enumii}}   % redefine the 2nd level
% \renewcommand{\labelenumii}{\theenumii}
% \renewcommand{\labelitemi}{symbol to use}  % redefine itemized labels
%                                        % alt: arabic, alph, roman, fnsymbol
%
% HYPERTEXT
%
% Hyperref:
% \href{URL}{linked text}                % similar to HREF in HTML
% \url{URL}                              % url is shown/linked
% \hyperbaseurl{URL}                     % set base url
% \hypertarget{id}{anchor/target text}   % target text
%
% MATHEMATICS
%
% \begin{math}$$...$$\end{math}                 $$$$...$$$$   $$$...$$$    % text type
% \begin{displaymath}$$...$$\end{displaymath}   $$$...$$$   $$$$...$$$$  % displayed type
% $$...$$      % alt to {displaymath}
%                                        % equation numbers printed
%
% Commands:
% \times                  \div                    \frac{}{}
% ^{} = power             _{} = index             \sqrt[]{}
% \left($$...$$\right)              % scalable parentheses; ($$...$$) = non-scalable
% \mbox{}                       % put text in equations
%
% alt to \mbox{} (can be wrapped around equation):
% \mathrm{}               \mathit{}               \mathbf{}
% \mathsf{}               \mathtt{}               \mathcal{}  % (calligraphy)
%
% Predefined math text sizes:               % sizes decrease
% \displaystyle           \textstyle              \scriptstyle
% \scriptscriptstyle
% Example:
%   \frac{1}{\scriptstyle a_1$$...$$}           % denominator is smaller
%
% Matrix:
% $$\left[ % scalable [ % \begin{array}{ c c } % 2x2 matrix % 1 & 2 \\ % similar to {tabular} environment % 3 & 4 % \end{array} \right] % scalable ] %$$
%
% Equation arrays:         % use for multi-line equations + equation numbers
% \begin{eqnarray}         % use {eqnarray*} to disable equation numbers
%   left expression & = & right expression 1 \\
%   & = & right expression 2 \nonumber \\   % \nonumber = no equation number
%   & = & right expression 3
% \end{eqnarray}
%
% BIBLIOGRAPHY
%
% \bibliographystyle{plain}                 % default linked bibliography
%   \bibliographystyle{plainnat}            % uncomment if {natbib} is used
%   latex makebst: command to make own bibliography style
% \bibliography{/PATH/to/the/bibliography/folder}
%
% Example of linked bibliography:  % placed in a BIB file in bibliography PATH
% @book{name01,                             % used in \cite{}
%   author    = "Surname, First Name",      % author
%   title     = "{T}itle",     % title; {T} = capitalized character (optional)
%   edition   = "Edition",                  % edition
%   year      = "2012",                     % year published
%   publisher = "Publisher Data",           % publisher
% }                   % add other entries as necessary using the same pattern
%                     % entries should be separated by blank lines
%
% Example of embedded bibliography:
% \begin{thebibliography}{9}                % embedded in TEX file
%                                           % 9 = maximum number; alt: 99, 999
%   \bibitem{name01}                        % used in \cite{}
%   NAME,                                   % author
%   \emph{TITLE}.                           % title
%   Publisher Data,                         % publisher
%   Nth Edition,                            % edition
%   2012.                                   % year published
% \end{thebibliography}
%
% NOTES
%
% Save TEX files in own folders/directories, with referenced files.
% Running pdflatex in console:
%   $cd /directory/where/TEX/file/resides %$ pdflatex file           # file.tex (.tex is dropped)
%           # that's enough for simple files
%           # large files with many references may require at least 2 passes
%           # check the text output if more passes are required
%           # files with bibliographies may require an additional command:
%   $bibtex file # usually issued second % # bibliography file (file.bib) must be present % # at '/PATH/to/the/bibliography/folder' %$ pdflatex file           # repeat command as necessary (maybe up to 2x)
%   A file.pdf will be generated in the directory
%
% If you prefer running latex in console:
% replace 'pdflatex' with 'latex', but a file.dvi is generated.
% To make a PDF file, issue the command:
%   $dvipdf file.dvi file.pdf % A file.pdf will be generated in the directory % % For LaTeX developers: why not issue only ONE command, % and let the program do all these other repeated commands? % % Check: http://www.latex-project.org/, Google, etc. for more information. % % Start typing and let LaTeX do the formatting! %%============================================================================%% \LaTeX{} DOCUMENT \end{document}  LaTeX is a good addition to the writer's arsenal. Let the writer write! ## 2012-02-18 ### Installing Ubuntu Via Internet Installing or adding an operating system on a computer is very easy, as long as you have a working CD/DVD drive or bootable USB device, and the OS (in a CD/DVD or USB stick). What if you have a broken CD drive, non-bootable USB device, or perhaps a very old computer? One alternative is to install the OS (Ubuntu in this case) via the Internet. This is easy as long as the two computers (working PC = PC1, and the computer for installation = PC2) are in the same subnetwork (subnet). In this article, PC1 is a working desktop PC (dual boot with Windows XP and Ubuntu), while PC2 is a vintage Compaq Presario M2000 laptop with a problematic XP installation (pesky Windows behavior). In Ubuntu (or a similar Debian distribution), one can read its Netboot install page. On my part, I used the Windows version because many use it, and I have a Windows partition anyway just to put it into good use. This article is based from a work in Liberiangeek.net which came out after googling the topic. Because it was based on Ubuntu 10.04, I modified some things for this purpose. So someone who reads this material in the future must modify it because Ubuntu is a dynamic project—2 upgrades per year. One indication that the 2 PCs are in the same subnet is that the Internet cable (connected to WiFi) is forked and wired in the router (although I guess the wireless devices are likewise in the same subnet). It's hard to explain here but one may go to the Subnetwork topic in Wikipedia to learn about subnets, and also to determine if the 2 computers you're using are in the same subnet. ### Procedure Create an Install folder (or any name you prefer) in the root directory, or at C:\. You should now have a folder C:\Install\. Download tftpd32 standard edition (installer) from tftpd32.jounin.net, and install it. In the installation options, choose Installation and Start as the type of install, and check all the checkboxes. Choose C:\Install\ as the installation directory before clicking Install. To fetch the needed files, it's convenient to use an FTP program and input archive.ubuntu.com as host. For me, I just went directly to the appropriate folder and downloaded the files to C:\Install\. When I did this installation, Oneiric was the latest stable release, so I entered /ubuntu/dists/oneiric/ main/installer-i386/ 20101020ubuntu72/images/ netboot/. This url will be obviously different in the future (even by a few days ahead). The article I was referencing mentioned that I only download pxelinux.0, pxelinux.cfg\ and ubuntu-installer\, but I downloaded all files and folders there. Open C:\Install\Tftpd32\ and copy tftpd32.exe into C:\Install\. See image for the contents of the two folders (pxelinux.cfg\, Tftpd32\, ubuntu-installer\, pxelinux.0, and tftpd32.exe are required in C:\Install\). If it's not running, open C:\Install\tftpd32.exe. Click the Settings button below and select the DHCP tab. Configure the network settings (see figure). I noticed that the server interfaces are automatically set so they vary in different PCs. The tricky part here is that you input the appropriate numbers based on the Server interfaces. Determine which fields you increment and which you preserve. Then click OK. The moment of truth: power on PC2 and don't forget to tap F10 before booting the system. This enters the PhoenixBIOS Setup Utility in my machine. In the Advanced menu, enter Boot-order and modify it to put Network Adaptor on top. Then input F10 to save and exit the setup. It will then boot via the network PXE. Follow the boot instructions, and in a few hours you'll have a working Ubuntu system. When the time comes for you to reboot the new OS, enter the BIOS utility again just to put things in order, meaning the boot from hard disk option must be on top. Save the settings and boot from the hard disk. Because it's a fresh install, do the initial housekeeping so as to enjoy Ubuntu's full potential. “One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu — the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality — Ubuntu — you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.” (Archbishop Desmond Tutu) ## 2012-01-15 ### “We're Not Threats” I checked my twitter timeline earlier and GMA News flashed: “Pope: Gay marriage a threat to humanity's future”. And then later a “married” gay couple answers the pope back, saying “We're not threats”. Obviously the pope was referring to the phenomenon of gay marriage, but the couple was referring to their persons. There is a difference. Don't be misled by others—the Catechism mentions that homosexuals “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided (CCC 2358).”  The Holy Family In the Reuters report Gay marriage a threat to humanity's future — Pope, Pope Benedict said that gay marriage was one of several threats to the traditional family that undermined the future of humanity itself. While it is true that there are many assaults on the traditional family, a legalized gay marriage turns the institution itself inutile. “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled; for God will judge the immoral and adulterous (Heb 13.4 RSV).” For some, the family is just a partnership, and it is devoid of responsibility in rearing children, the natural consequence. To initiate a family, legitimate marriage is the prerequisite. “The family unit is fundamental for the educational process and for the development both of individuals and states; hence there is a need for policies which promote the family and aid social cohesion and dialogue (Reuters).” “The fruitfulness of conjugal love extends to the fruits of the moral, spiritual, and supernatural life that parents hand on to their children by education. Parents are the principal and first educators of their children. In this sense the fundamental task of marriage and family is to be at the service of life (CCC 1653).” The Pope is the prophet of our time, and unfortunately, no prophet is welcome in his time. He's not there to make life miserable, but to make it better if only everyone heeds. “Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. That is what some of you used to be; but now you have had yourselves washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God (1 Cor 6.9-11 NABRE).” Folks, many of us fail, but there is redemption. It's never too late to change... Reproductive Health Bill I started to write something about this several months ago, and it was never finished; blame procrastination. Although I guess it's still in the news on occasion, especially when Sen. Defensor-Santiago delivered those pick-up lines, much better than Boy Pick-up™. The controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill is labeled as House Bill (HB) No. 4244 (in substitution of HB 96, 101, 513, 1160, 1520 and 3387). It is entitled The Responsible Parenthood, Reproductive Health and Population and Development Act of 2011. Section 1 says "The State recognizes and guarantees the exercise of the universal basic human right to reproductive health by all persons, particularly of parents, couples and women, consistent with their religious convictions, cultural beliefs and the demands of responsible parenthood..." The way I see it, two issues are at the core of why the Church is against it. While we are the Church, there is a thing called the Magisterium—its teaching authority. The reader has to know that many groups who call themselves Christian teach that artificial contraception is okay. All the "churches" succumbed to the culture of death; only the Catholic Church remains standing. And when the Church teaches, the faithful listen. While the primary target of the pronouncements is the faithful, the message nonetheless is sowed on the entire human race, and it's profitable to heed her call. 1. The bill incorporates artificial contraception; the Church naturally will oppose it. The church is entirely pro-life, and conception of new life is part of that. If conception gives new life, naturally any means that frustrates it is immoral. I agree, it's a hard doctrine, but it's the doctrine. [Read Humanæ Vitæ] 2. The bill will use tax-payers' money to pay for the available contraceptives. If the bill passes, those against artificial contraception will, in effect, be buying them. While the church frowns upon the dissemination of contraceptives, it has to accept it because it's private funds that are used, and individuals are free to do things. At least it's not public funds. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” (Proverbs 1.7 RSV) ## 2011-04-22 ### Pictographs Unless you're a child, birthdays come and go, often without any fanfare, just some food and drinks, and perhaps a cake with a candle on top for the romantics. And gifts are out of the picture. The usual monotony was broken when my niece Terê gave me a simple birthday card. It was done on plain bond paper using a pencil and an eraser (if you work near kids, you notice the eraser is busy). Well... in short, that made my day! Little things matter a lot, especially if you see the underlying effort and thought invested in the task. Communication is universal regardless of age, and it's not even a human monopoly. Other life forms use it. Adults invariably use letters, numbers and other symbols in their messages. Children on the other hand use drawings no matter how rudimentary they may look. And since they are virtual pictographs, the readers understand the message. Obviously we cannot over-analyze the drawings. Pope Benedict XVI once said that "children truly are the family's greatest treasure and most precious good." Especially for the parents, we should nurture the children and give proper attention to them. The little thing you utter today may go a long way. And because of this, people around kids should shun saying bad words. There are many things that turns me off, and cursing is on top of the list! Surely as children, we can remember one person in our lives who we idolized and gave us good advice and pointers growing up. We can become such person to the young ones. "All grown-ups were once children—although few of them remember it" (Antoine de Saint-Exupéry). Admittedly it's difficult with this kind of media, inclusive of the Internet's dark edge, but let's preserve our little angels' innocence, and protect their dignity as human beings, sons and daughters of God above. Our Lord Jesus Christ himself mentioned it in Matthew 18.6; 19.14 (RSV): "...But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. "Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven." ## 2011-03-09 ### Same Old Same Old For fear of being misunderstood, or perhaps akin to going against the flow, I hesitated writing about this topic. I'm a little fed-up by the constant promo of taking the "straight path" (matuwid na daan) not because I'm against it but because it's just a slogan, not something tangible. It's just lip service, I'm afraid. But it's the same old story. It's good to prosecute erring officials but I guess the process is not ideal; I want it to be more legal than political, and nothing personal. There should be fairness and equal protection under the law, not skewed or selective. One issue at hand is the not so subtle attempt to purge officials of important offices whose only sin is being appointed by the previous dispensation. There are many areas in constitutional bodies but let's focus on the judiciary, particularly the Supreme Court (SC). The administration is sending mixed signals, saying one thing and doing another. One time they say they are hands-off to possible impeachment of justices, some other time hints otherwise. We always hear them say the present SC is beholden to the previous president, so they want them replaced. But unless it's not yet obvious, when they appoint new justices, aren't they beholden to the present leader if we follow the logic? They in effect are replacing the Arroyo SC with the new Aquino SC. That is if we follow their way of thinking. So the SC spokesman is correct is his pronouncements; I don't agree with the palace's assessment (see http://bit.ly/igS65j if anybody is interested). They want to have their cake and eat it too! The case of the Ombudsman is similar but more obvious this time. It's clear the executive wants her out. By this time, she's already impeached by the lower house of Congress, save for a final vote by plenary. Unfortunately for the ombudsman, the process is political rather than legal as voiced out by the Justice Committee chairman himself—at least he's honest. Again the question may be asked, "are they removing her to give way to a friendlier ombudsman?" Do they have friends and relatives with pending cases at her office? They can't think differently for different circumstances. And to add injury to this, the final judge will be the Senate—I don't know if they are fair and independent enough to give a just judgment. But that is not my thinking. No matter who appointed the officials (if proper procedures are met), we should let them be independent as can be, and let them finish their terms of office, unless there is real evidence of wrongdoing. As I see the old faces in the Executive and Legislature who now are members of the majority block, I scratch my head in awe at the tyranny of the majority. When they speak on moral grounds, I ask silently, "look, who's talking!" This opinion is written in a positive light, pointing to some issues that need change. I remain hopeful of having a responsive government, and as a good citizen, I am supportive of our present leaders. But our leaders should do concrete positive service to the people, not just superficial motions that only divide the nation. We need someone who works diligently outside of the media focus. Leadership is not just about reading speeches, it's making the right and timely decisions that are generally fair, unitive and beneficial to all people. Have a sense of urgency and fulfill your responsibilities and do your jobs. Above all, the good leader is a servant, and both terms are interchangeable. "Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him, he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not fail or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law." (Isaiah 42.1-4 RSV) ## 2011-02-08 ### Pray If You Want To I received the following email regarding prayer in the US and Canada, and I quoted it here entirely even though I'm from the Philippines because I guess we'll come to this stage sooner or later. It seems faith is being marginalized in order to create a fully secular and atheistic order. People must be free to pray and express their faith in a democratic environment where all rights are guaranteed... Prayer can't be banned! CBS and Katie Couric et al. must be in a panic and rushing to reassure the White House that this is not network policy--re: Andy Rooney's commentary on prayer. Folks, this is the year that we retake America and Canada. Get Ready... ### Andy Rooney and Prayer I don't believe in Santa Claus, but I'm not going to sue somebody for singing a Ho-Ho-Ho song in December. I don't agree with Darwin, but I didn't go out and hire a lawyer when my high school teacher taught his Theory of Evolution. Life, liberty or your pursuit of happiness will not be endangered because someone says a 30-second prayer before a football game. So what's the big deal? It's not like somebody is up there reading the entire Book of Acts. They're just talking to a God they believe in and asking him to grant safety to the players on the field and the fans going home from the game. But it's a Christian prayer, some will argue. Yes, and this is the United States of America and Canada, countries founded on Christian principles. According to our very own phone book, Christian churches outnumber all others better than 200-to-1. So what would you expect -- somebody chanting Hare Krishna? If I went to a football game in Jerusalem, I would expect to hear a Jewish prayer. If I went to a soccer game in Baghdad, I would expect to hear a Muslim prayer. If I went to a ping pong match in China, I would expect to hear someone pray to Buddha. And I wouldn't be offended. It wouldn't bother me one bit. When in Rome..... But what about the atheists? Is another argument. What about them? Nobody is asking them to be baptized. We're not going to pass the collection plate. Just humor us for 30 seconds. If that's asking too much, bring a Walkman or a pair of ear plugs. Go to the bathroom. Visit the concession stand. Call your lawyer! Unfortunately, one or two will make that call. One or two will tell thousands what they can and cannot do. I don't think a short prayer at a football game is going to shake the world's foundations. Christians are just sick and tired of turning the other cheek while our courts strip us of all our rights. Our parents and grandparents taught us to pray before eating, to pray before we go to sleep. Our Bible tells us to pray without ceasing. Now a handful of people and their lawyers are telling us to cease praying. God, help us. And if that last sentence offends you, well, just sue me. The silent majority has been silent too long. It's time we tell that one or two who scream loud enough to be heard that the vast majority doesn't care what they want. It is time that the majority rules! It's time we tell them, "You don't have to pray; you don't have to say the Pledge of Allegiance; you don't have to believe in God or attend services that honor Him. That is your right, and we will honor your right; but by golly, you are no longer going to take our rights away. We are fighting back, and we will win!" God bless us one and all. God bless America and Canada, despite all our faults, we are still the greatest nations of all. God bless our service men who are fighting to protect our right to pray and worship God. Let's make 2011 the year the silent majority is heard and we put God back as the foundation of our families and institutions. And our military forces come home from all the wars. Keep looking up. Point well said! Some folks might be curious about some details mentioned... I agree with the Theory of Evolution but Darwin is not the theory, the theory is not Darwin (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution). Change is constant, so the term "greatest nations of all" may not be true. "See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all. Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." ~St. Paul (1 Thessalonians 5.15-18 RSV) ## 2010-09-07 ### Tragedy of Errors The 23rd of August 1896 was a significant event in Philippine history, and regarded as the starting point of the Philippine revolution against imperial Spain. It was known as the Cry of Pugad Lawin (Balintawak). The hills of Balintawak, Quezon City are witnesses when Supremo Andrés Bonifacio and his comrades from the Katipunan tore their cédulas. This event is annually commemorated as National Heroes' Day, a public holiday in the Philippines. Fast forward 114 years, a rainy day on 23 August 2010, glaring on television: a hostage-taking incident ended in carnage! Many victims bloodied, with 8 hostages dead--all Hong Kong nationals--making it an international incident. The hostage-taker, an ex-cop erstwhile S/Insp. Rolando Mendoza likewise died with many bullet wounds. He only had one demand: that of being reinstated again to the police ranks--very ironic, using crime as a ticket back! I think the authorities should have given in to that demand, which is much easier to grant than if he asked for$10 million cash.  On-going investigations now say the government actually was doing that, but intervening events prevented that from pushing through, and they took a lot of time.

How could the authorities bungle such a thing?  It makes you feel angry and embarrassed, and think about that loss of life!

By law it's Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim who is tasked to solve the crisis, together with the local district commander, which was C/Supt. Magtibay.  While watching the events unfold on live TV, it's obvious the negotiations failed miserably, and they failed to second guess Mendoza.  While being questioned, the assistant negotiator said that he could have subdued Mendoza, but one standing order was "not to harm" the hostage-taker.  I don't have to mention that the assault team (SWAT) was unprepared!  With those many hours lost, they failed to put eyes inside the tourist bus.  It's very dangerous to blindly attack the enemy!  They are blaming the lack of equipment, but such electronic or fiberoptic gadgets are very cheap nowadays.  And why is the media broadcasting what the police are planning and doing?  They failed in the most basic things like crowd control, which includes the media.  I'm sure if the cops told the journalists to back off, they would have followed.

Other police personalities that should have asserted their authority were Dir. Santiago (Magtibay's superior and in-charge of the national capital) and D/Gen. Versoza, chief, Philippine National Police (PNP).  If C/Supt. Magtibay did not misread the situation, he could have asked the NCRPO to take over, and allow the more experienced Special Action Force (SAF) deal with the stubborn hijacker.  It could have been a different outcome.

Many other details happened but I guess it's best to wait for the official report, which I hope is credible and thorough.

### Expert Notes

Charles Shoebridge, a security expert has made some observations on this issue.  He has worked for counter-terrorism operations in the British Army and the Scotland Yard.  Here are Shoebridge’s primary talking points on this event:
1. Determination — The first officers who tried to storm the bus were driven out by gunshots from the hostage-taker.  Assault squads must "be made up of very special people, specially trained and selected for their characteristics of courage, determination and aggression.  In this case they acted as 99% of the population would have, which was to turn round and get out. They didn't seem to have the necessary determination and aggression to follow the attack through."
2. Lack of equipment — The police spent a long time smashing the windows of the bus, whereas explosive charges (known as frame charges) would have knocked in windows and doors instantly. "They had no ladders to get through the windows. They smashed the windows but didn't know what to do next.  They almost looked like a group of vandals."  Their firearms were also inappropriate -- some had pistols, some had assault rifles.  Ideally they would have carried a short submachine gun, suitable for use in confined spaces.
3. Lost opportunity to disarm the gunman — There were numerous opportunities to restrain the gunman.  "The negotiators were so close to him, and he had his weapon hanging down by his side.  He could have been disabled without having to kill him."
4. Lost opportunity to shoot the gunman — The video of the drama also shows there were occasions when the gunman was standing alone, during the course of the day, and could have been shot by a sharpshooter.  "You are dealing with an unpredictable and irrational individual.  The rule should be that if in the course of negotiations an opportunity arises to end the situation decisively, it should be taken."  Either this possibility did not occur to the officers in charge, or they considered it and decided to carry on talking.
5. Satisfying the gunman’s demands — "I wondered why the authorities just didn't give in to all of his demands.  A promise extracted under force is not a promise that you are required to honor.  Nobody wants to give in to the demands of terrorists, but in a situation like this, which did not involve a terrorist group, or release of prisoners, they could have just accepted his demands.  He could be reinstated in the police -- and then be immediately put in prison for life for hostage taking."  The Philippine authorities did in fact give in to the gunman's demands, but too little, too late.  One message promised to review his case, while he wanted it formally dismissed.  A second message reinstating him as a police officer only arrived after the shooting had started.
6. Televised proceedings — The gunman was able to follow events on television, revealing to him everything that was going on around him.  This was a "crucial defect in the police handling."  The police should always consider putting a barrier or screen around the area, to shield the scene from the cameras and keep the hostage-taker in the dark.
7. No element of surprise — It was clear to the gunman what the police were doing at all times, not only because the whole incident was televised, but also because they moved "laboriously slowly".  The police did not distract him, so were unable to exploit the "crucial element of surprise".
8. Safeguarding the public — At least one bystander was shot, possibly because the public was allowed too close.  The bullet from an M16 rifle, as carried by the gunman, can travel for about a mile, so preventing any risk of injury would have been difficult, but a lot more could have been done.  "When you saw the camera view from above, it was clear there was little command and control of the public on the ground."
9. Using the gunman’s brother to negotiate — Relatives and close friends can be a double-edged sword.  While they may have leverage over the hostage-taker, what they are saying cannot be easily controlled.  In this case, the gunman's brother was included in the negotiations -- however, at a certain stage he became agitated and police started to remove him from the scene.  The gunman saw this on television, and became agitated himself.  According to one report he fired a warning shot.
10. Insufficient training — In some parts of the Philippines, such as Mindanao, hostage taking is not an uncommon occurrence, so the country has some forces that are well trained in the necessary tactics.  The group involved in the incident clearly was not.  After smashing the windows, one of the officers eventually put some CS gas inside, though "to what effect was not clear".  A unit involved in this work, needs to be "trained again and again, repeatedly practising precisely this kind of scenario".

### Present State of the Philippine National Police

The Philippine National Police (PNP) is the police force of the Philippines, providing all law enforcement services throughout the country. It was activated in 1991, resulting from the merger of the Philippine Constabulary and the Integrated National Police.  It is a noble organization with noble goals.  As an organization, it has many problems, and many of these are self-inflicted.  It's good to ventilate these problems in public so as to find solutions.  Reform may be slow in coming, but as long as something is being done to solve the problems, the citizens should be content.  For an organization to be viable, it must learn from its mistakes, and rise immediately after every fall.

There are around 135,000 police personnel, allocated to administrative work and operations, with a work shift of 12 hours (not the usual 8 hours), and on-call 24/7.  Two thousand officers are assigned to secure VIPs, excluding those assigned to mayors and governors throughout the land which may come in hundreds.  The problem is that even the police's logistics are utilized especially by legislators and cabinet officials--vehicles, communications equipment, guns, etc.  The effective police-civilian ratio then becomes 1:900, very far from the ideal ratio in first-world countries.

This practice of using the cops as private security should end!  They should hire protection agents from private security agencies for this purpose.  PNP personnel should not be used as building security guards; logistics should not be touched by these VIPs.  But if the police would not give them security, their budgets will be delayed if not slashed, donations will not be given, and officers for promotion will be blocked.  Politics is to blame.

Perhaps another issue is the enforcement of vehicle traffic laws, again depleting needed personnel.  Managing the traffic situation is not primarily a police duty.  The various local governments (including the MMDA) should take care of this problem, in tandem with appropriate national offices, particularly the LTO and DOTC.  Obviously this is just the tip of the iceberg, and many more problems are bugging the organization.

And sometimes the problem lies in the lack of creativity of the different police commanders in different corners of the country.  The botched hostage crisis 2 weeks ago was blamed on the lack of appropriate equipment and training.  Money is available (just scrutinize their budget) but they didn't purchase the items.  Are the commanders just that lazy to conduct training exercises?  The Philippines is a vast training ground already.  Security people from first-world countries come here to train!  Obviously we have the knowhow, we just left our brain in the closet.

There is hope, there is change...

"To live a creative life, we must lose our fear of being wrong." ~Joseph Chilton Pearce

## 2010-03-08

### Grace and Truth

After ignoring this most famous book for so long, maybe it's time to shake the dust off our bibles and begin reading it again.  Beginning with the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke) is a good starting point for the historical context, although there is also that in John.  Personally, I like to commence with the gospel according to St. John because it exhibits a deeper theological insight.  Many are familiar with the "In the beginning..." of the Old Testament--in the book of Genesis.  So St. John now begins the gospel:
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God; 3all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. 8He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light.

9The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. 11He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. 12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. 15(John bore witness to him, and cried, "This was he of whom I said, `He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.'") 16And from his fulness have we all received, grace upon grace. 17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known. (John 1.1-18 RSV)
The way this was capsulized and written points to its possible origin as an ancient song of the first Christians.  It looks like a summary or formula for those pioneer believers. This is the hidden treasure (cf. Matthew 13.44) mentioned in Christ's parables, treasure that we sell everything for just to acquire.  We'll understand the true nature of Jesus, full of grace and truth, misunderstood by the world but we ourselves see clearly.

If folks memorize the lyrics of many songs playing in the airwaves, might it not be asking a lot if these few verses are known by heart?