opinion

Muntinlupa nearing the century mark

July 12, 2019

Up to 1901,  Muntinlupa was part of Morong District (which was later renamed Rizal Province).  Two years later,  the Philippine Commission decreed – for reason unknown - that Muntinlupa should be part of  Laguna, more specifically, the town of Biñan.        But town residents, led by Marcelo Fresnedi,  felt a closer affinity to the province of Rizal.  Upon their petition,  Muntinlupa once again became part of Rizal, but as a barrio of Taguig.   During  the next twelve years,  residents dreamed of becoming a separate municipality.  They finally got their wish on December 19, 1917 (exactly 99 years ago today), when Governor General Francis Burton Harrison signed Executive Order 108, creating the Municipality of Muntinlupa. Vidal Joaquin became its first Mayor.   The name Muntinlupa (literally “small land”) is actually a misnomer. With a land area of  46.7 square kilometers, Muntinlupa is actually the fourth  largest political unit in Metro Manila, next only to Quezon City, Manila and Makati.   Formerly ranked as a 5th class municipality in the late ‘80s, Muntinlupa metamorphosed into a highly urbanized  first class city  in 1995. Thanks, in large measure,  to the  confluence of good geography,  a very supportive community and good local governance.   Depending on which direction one is headed, Muntinlupa can be considered either as the Gateway to Metro Manila or the Gateway to the fast-developing Calabarzon. With its huge tracts of prime land beckoning developers, Muntinlupa is definitely a prized business destination.   When one flies over Muntinlupa, one can not help but notice large patches of green, a rarity in highly urbanized Metro Manila. This phenomenon has earned Muntinlupa its title as “Emerald City of the South”.   Up to the 1930s, Muntinlupa was mainly a fishing and farming community. Things  changed with  the relocation of the New Bilibid Prison from its old site in Oroquieta, Manila and the establishment of  the Alabang Stock Farm.    During the war, Filipino political prisoners were locked up in Bilibid only to be sprung free from their Japanese captors by the famed Hunters ROTC guerrillas.   The Alabang Stock Farm became famous not only for producing breeding stock for dispersal but also for its Serum and Vaccine Laboratory (SVL).  SVL was the only producer in the country of anti-venom serum, among other vaccines.     But just outside the boundaries of  these two public institutions, was a virtual wild west. President Fidel V. Ramos  recalls that one of his earliest assignments as a young Constabulary officer was to chase cattle rustlers in the vicinity of  present-day  Alabang Town Center.  Decades later, PFVR was among the first to relocate to Muntinlupa when Ayala Alabang opened.   What probably brought impetus to Muntinlupa’s development was the construction of a single lane dirt road,  cutting across former rice fields,  which connected  Highway 54 (now called EDSA) to the Alabang Junction.  The dirt road was meant as short cut for around 10,000 Boy Scouts who were supposed to attend the  1958 10th World Jamboree in Mount Makiling, Laguna.   The dirt road eventually  become the South Super Highway. It was not long before factories started sprouting on both sides of the highway. Because of its proximity to Makati,  Muntinlupa benefitted from  the southward expansion of business.  First came Ayala. Much later, Filinvest and other top business names.   At the local government, things also started to pick up. The LGU tapped various stakeholders – principally the newly-relocated business leaders who made Muntinlupa their second home.  Together with representatives from Muntinlupa’s  other sectors, they  helped craft a strategic development plan which aimed, among others,  to make Muntinlupa a very business-friendly and green community.   Post-Edsa, Muntinlupa was the first Metro Manila  LGU to fully computerize its real property tax administration (RPTA), making it number one (per the Department of Finance) in realty tax collection efficiency.  By 1987, a one-stop one-shop business environment was fully in place.   Human resource development  took center stage  alongside  infrastructure development.  Public  education was boosted with the establishment of the Muntinlupa Polytechnic College (now Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa), the Muntinlupa Science High School, and the Muntinlupa Business High School.     Muntinlupa expanded its public health program with the opening of Ospital ng Muntinlupa  and the refurbishing of city health centers. Muntinlupa gave meaning to accountability and transparency  by institutionalizing its  annual State of the Municipality (now City) Address. Muntinlupa also actively promoted sister city relationships with both international and local counterparts.   Muntinlupa is currently headed by Jaime R. Fresnedi (City Mayor) and  Rufino Rozanno Biazon (Congressman). The following make up the City Council: Celso A. Dioko (Vice Mayor and Presiding Officer), Councilors (District I): Ivee A. Tadefa, Atty. Patricio L. Boncayao, Jr., Bal Niefes, Stephanie G. Teves, Louisito A. Arciaga. Allan Camilon, Ringo A. Teves, Alexander B. Diaz. Councilors (District II): Christine Abas, Grace Gonzaga, Ma. Dhesiree G. Arevalo, Lucio Bago Constantino, Victor Ulanday, Marissa Rongavilla, Rafael T. Sevilla, Lester Baes.   Year after year, Muntinlupa has been recognized for achievements in various fields of governance.   To mention just some of  the most recent awards:   ISO 9001 – Quality Management System (City Government of Muntinlupa, Ospital ng Muntinlupa, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Muntinlupa); Seal of Child-Friendly Local Governance (from DSWD and DILG); Runner-up, International Best Practice Competition (from Asian Productivity Organization and Development Academy of the Philippines  (2015); Seal of Good Financial Housekeeping (DILG); Seal of Good Local Governance (DILG); Special Citation as Most Business-Friendly LGU (PCCI); Excellent Rating  on Anti-Red Tape  (Civil Service Commission). The city police force was rated “Best in Crime Solution Efficiency” in 2015.

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Take a bow, P/SGMA

July 12, 2019

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has many “formers” in her colorful resume: former academician, former government technocrat, former Senator, former Vice President cum cabinet member, former President, former detainee, former House Speaker.  She is only the second woman to become  President of the Philippines. But she is the first and so far the only female Speaker of the House of Representatives.  She is only the second President to be criminally charged and detained.  But justifiably, the Supreme Court, voting 11-4, dismissed the charges against her. In effect, the high court ruled that she did not pocket P50 million of PCSO funds as alleged.  She did not pocket P1 million. She did not even pocket a single peso.  Compared to both her predecessors and her successors, Arroyo is the least popular.  But she delivered where it counted most. Being only the second economist to be elected President  (her father  President Diosdado Macapagal was the first) she was laser-focused on growing the economy and in significantly reducing the country’s poverty incidence.  Even her harshest critics will find it difficult to dispute these numbers which my good friend Tony Lopez of BizNewsAsia likes to highlight.  During her tenure as President, Lopez asserts,  Arroyo nearly tripled the size of the Philippine economy from $74 billion in  2001 to more than $200 billion in 2010.  Governor/Congressman Joey Salceda - a former student to whom the President gave the highest marks in her economics class - credits the Arroyo presidency for establishing a record period of continuous quarterly growth even at the height of the 2008 global financial crisis when other economies floundered.  During her 9 year presidency, the poverty rate dropped 13 percent – from  39 percent to 26 percent.  Incoming House Majority Floorleader Martin  Romualdez attributes this to Arroyo’s pro-poor projects like the affordable housing units and conditional cash transfer program for the poorest f the poor. Analysts attribute Arroyo’s achievements to her bold, albeit unpopular, fiscal reforms.  The principal of these was the implementation of the EVAT which provided the wherewithal which allowed her administration to invest in human and physical infrastructure.  Good macro-economic fundamentals eventually resulted in an investment grade rating for the country.  The improved rating, in turn, has made the Philippines more attractive and more competitive in the global stage.  The one-year stint of Arroyo as House Speaker in the 17th Congress was no less productive.  The legislative priorities of the Duterte administration – identified in the last SONA – were all passed.  Among them were the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), measures helping coconut farmers and fisherfolks, the second tranch of the tax reform law or the Trabaho bill, and the expanded PhilHealth coverage. Arguably, her career is ending on a high note.  I had the privilege of serving as her Press Secretary/Presidential Spokesperson for almost six years. My tenure was longer than the average shelf life of a cabinet member in that high-pressure job.  At one time, I even served as Acting Executive Secretary.  Up close and personal, I had the opportunity to observe and admire her best traits -  hard work, discipline, decisiveness, and deep abiding faith.  Good luck, Mrs. President/Mrs. Speaker. God speed.

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Climate change compounds hunger and conflicts

July 10, 2019

There are still people on this globe proclaiming that there is no climate change. It's useless to convince them any more. Fact is: the climate changed already massive and added to warfare worsening hunger and conflicts worldwide, according to one of Germany's largest aid groups. Welthungerhilfe has said many poor have "no more reserves or resilience left" when hit by extreme weather.      The world's southern hemisphere poor were bearing the brunt of climate change caused by rich, fossil-fuel consumers of the global North, Welthungerhilfe President Marlehn Thieme said in Berlin several days ago.      Presenting the Bonn-based organization's annual report for 2018, Thieme said climate change amounted to a "question of justice" in ensuring that resources — still sufficient worldwide to feed everyone — reached the poorest.      Hunger victims, often already cut off to outside help by conflict parties, no longer had livelihoods and sustenance as droughts, floods and storms wrecked their fields and eliminated their farm animals.      Yes,  climate change threatens peace efforts. Climate change is threatening the success of peacekeeping missions, according to a briefing by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) circulating on Tuesday. Eight of the ten countries hosting the biggest multilateral operations "are located in areas highly exposed to climate change," it said.      Germany pushes climate change as security risk. Floods, drought and mass migration: all factors why Germany has made the UN's response to climate change its priority at the Security Council. But political roadblocks at home and abroad could complicate action.      School Feng ShuiIf we watch around, we can easily notice, that weather extremes are compounding plight. Citing Cyclon Idai, which in April ravaged Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe, President Thieme said weather extremes had become an additional "fatal link" hampering aid workers and restoration of communal nutrition.      Drastic declines in land and oceanic harvests amid rising average temperatures required answers in the form of early warning systems, weather insurance and drought-durable seeds.      Allow me to quote Welthungerhilfe's Secretary General Mathias Mogge. He said, "Coupled with warfare, in which conflict parties cut off entire regions from the outside world, extreme weather was a compounding factor".      The spiral of conflict is becoming more and more dramatic. Villagers are loosing their entire livelihoods. Resources like water and grazing land became scarce, leading to further conflict, in societies where people already had little to withstand emergencies.      Reporting on its 2018 efforts, Welthungerhilfe said it had spent €213.6 ($243) million on the fight against hunger and poverty last year. Public donors provided €155.4 milliion for project work. Private donations amounted to €54.9 million. The largest public donor was the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), which provided €38.6 million.      Hunger, thirst and conflicts because of climate change - meanwhile a never-ending story. Daily in our news. Global and local news. We can't keep our eyes closed any more. +++      Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter or visit my www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com.

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School Feng Shui

July 10, 2019

Who ever invented the school as an institution of learning faced the same feng shui problems since its creation!      Two major concerns plague school owners and administrators.      First is market absorption capacity or student enrollment.      Second is student population retention and continued enrollment of botn transferees as well as existing students.      Last is efficient and effective financial management especially against theft or pilferages of school assets and embezzlements when it comes to purchasing, capital expenditures, and the underground economics of corruption to local regulatory bodies from business permits to the Bureau of Internal Revenue examiners as part of the academic game!      Integrated feng shui solutions require first, home feng shui of president and the school premises.      The core focus would be on hoyse and office main entrances, not gates. Then kitchen layout at home, pantry at work and school canteen(s).      Bedrooms of home follow as to classrooms in the school and offices.      Any luck impediment like beams or flagpoles fronting main doors as well as water facilities are cured with feng shui remedies.      Thereafter annual feng shui maintenance must be maintained.      Avoid school logos with merlion, lion, tiger, panther or maneating animals. Also avoid these and truangls,x, diamond and octagon graphic designs on school identity be it patches, jackets, flag or stationary and stickers.      For protection of schoolfrom high teacher or personnel including student enrollment mortality rates, put a comb above the main entrance facing downward inside the building.      Do so for every classroom, laboratory, clinic, library and offices especially faculty. Use a white comb!      This feng shui device keeps a wellgroomed andal managed school environment conducive to learning and the growth as well as personal development of all school stakeholders!Prosperous healthy schooling to one and all!!      This apies from preschool, elementary, high school, university or college to institutions of higher learnings.

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How to store food safely

July 8, 2019

Storing food correctly is one of the best ways to reduce the risk of it becoming contaminated and spoiling. Due to the different elements that make up all foods, particularly protein, there are different rules on how to store foods.       As a general rule – always keep cold food cold and hot food hot and when possible, foods should always be kept in covered, air-tight containers off the floor.  Keeping food at the correct temperature is essential when it comes to food storage. The growth rate of bacteria and other harmful contaminants is the highest in temperatures between 5 and 60°C, otherwise know as the ‘Danger-Zone’.      High-risk foods are foods that are high in protein, like meat, poultry, seafood, dairy products and eggs, and therefore must be kept below 5°C when chilled. If these foods are frozen they should not be allowed to reach above -15°C. When cooking these foods, they should reach a temperature of at least 75°C for a minimum of two minutes and not be allowed to drop below 60°C until they’re served.      Low-risk foods are foods which carry a reduced risk of becoming contaminated. Some examples of these are dry ingredients, such as rice, flour, cocoa and sugars; and foods that contain little if any protein, such as honey, sauces, oils and some condiments.      The preferable temperature at which to keep raw fruits and vegetables typically varies. Although chilling might help extend the life of the fruit or vegetable, many are better off kept at room-temperature.      However when low-risk foods are cooked, even if not together with high-risk foods, they will often become high-risk and therefore require refrigeration or freezing. Rice and stewed apples are two examples of this.      Also ensure that raw foods are stored separately from, and below, cooked foods to reduce the risk of juices dripping onto cooked food. And remember – IF IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT.

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From puto vendor to marine general

July 8, 2019

As Lt. General Emmanuel B.  Salamat’s brilliant nearly 39-year military career draws to an end this week, the Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) Commander cannot help but reminisce his humble beginnings.       Salamat was the 6th of 13 children of Pablo and Anita Salamat. His father, a former prison guard, rose from the ranks and eventually retired as a Colonel in the Philippine army.       Salamat remembers the early days when the family was struggling financially. “Napakaliit lang ng sueldo ng sundalo that time.”        While studying in the Muntinlupa National High School (also my alma mater), he used to walk 5 kilometers daily to their house in Soldiers’ Hills Village just to save the 50 centavos jeepney fare.       To augment the family income, his mother started selling puto and guess who became his mother’s principal distributor.       “During my free time, I had to help Nanay to earn extra money by roaming around the Bureau of Correction (BuCor) reservation selling puto.       “I also remember one time when that box of puto on my head suddenly fell down on the ground.       “Sa takot ko sa Nanay ko, pinulot ko yung mga puto at ibinenta pa rin. Surprisingly, I sold it all out.”      The military has been embedded in his genes. When the time came, Salamat applied for admission at the Philippine Military Academy where he graduated in 1985.       In his more than 38 years of military service, he spent most of his career in the combat areas as a Marine Officer.       He was in the treacherous mountain areas of Palawan, Bataan, Jolo, Zamboanga Peninsula, and in Central Mindanao running after and fighting against secessionist groups, local terrorist groups, kidnap for ransom groups as a Junior and later as a  Field Grade Officer.       He also led various significant battles against BIFF in Palimbang, Mamasapano  (SPMS Box) in Central Mindanao as Brigade Commander.       His most notable accomplishments include overseeing the Marine operations during Marawi Seige as Commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps and later as Deputy Commander of JSOTF “TRIDENT” in Marawi.       Shortly thereafter, he was assigned to his present post as Commander of the Northern Luzon Command.       Between field duties, Salamat honed his administrative, strategic and operational skills by completing the following:      -Naval Staff and Command Management Course, 1999, Graduated with distinction.       -Command and General Staff Course, 2007, Honor Graduate and Best Commandant Paper Award       -Master in Public Management, UP Open University, 2009      -Defense Strategic Studies Course,  Australian Defense College, 2010  (Conferred as Fellow of Centre for Defense and Strategic Studies)      -Master of Arts in Strategic Studies, Deakin University, 2011       -Senior Executive Course on National Security, National Defense College, 2013      He also served briefly as Assistant Superintendent at the Philippine Military Academy.       It is said that a true warrior is also the most ardent advocate of peace and development.       Salamat championed peacebuilding initiatives through effective stakeholder collaborations and "bayanihan" with the member of communities, pursued significant peace and development advocacies and adopted an innovative approach in the protection of maritime areas and the country’s territory.      Just a few days before his retirement, Salamat led a very symbolic gesture of hoisting of the Philippine flag and the singing of the national anthem at Mavulis, the northernmost island of the Philippine archipelago.       “Atin ito!,” Salamat must have said as he executed a snappy salute to the flag.       “Looking back, I never dreamt that I would have reached this far in my career but I do remember my patience, hard work and living responsibly each day.       “One thing for sure, the Sovereign God is in total control and He is the one who makes our destiny possible.       “But this destiny will not automatically happen... You need to possess four traits: attitude, discipline, hard work and faith.”      Salamat, his wife Claire and children Christelle Ann, Nathaniel and Eldrid Jaser were already planning a  long well-deserved family vacation after Salamat’s retirement.        But  I guess that will have to be cut short because of President Duterte’s invitation for Salamat to serve as new MWSS Chair.       Note: Please feel free to share the foregoing article via Facebook and/or Twitter.

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