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April 9 - 15, 2016

Maasin at the Crossroads

By ANTONIO M. REYES

This is an edited version of a column I wrote last year entitled Wake Up Call, where I noted that a recent USAID funded “Competitiveness Survey” covering 142 cities in the Philippines had revealed that Maasin had been ranked as the Fourth Least Competitive City in the country.

I thought that revelation would shock our city officials into doing something about our dismal performance. But alas, the survey’s finding wasn’t even considered important enough to warrant inclusion in the City Council’s weekly meetings that year.

The indicators the rankings were based on were Economic Dynamism, Good Governance, and Infrastructure. Since by Economic Dynamism they were referring to the environment for doing business here, I must admit it’s a nightmare for medium enterprises like the Southern Leyte Times.The red tape we have to hurdle annually is enough to discourage any normal person. For it takes months to renew one’s business permit because City Hall doesn’t have the qualified personnel to confirm if we had complied with all the government requirements.

Simply put, our local government makes a businessman’s life here very difficult.

As for Good Governance which is the second indicator we were graded on. I believe a local government’s performance can be measured by its implementation of the laws governing the country. In short, if our local government is not imposing them, it is failing to perform its primary responsibility to the people who elected them. For example, why do they widen our streets to ease traffic, but allow the widened portion to be used as permanent parking space for residents living there? And why do they pass an ordinance requiring motorcyclists to wear crash helmets, but allow them to bring along their helmetless toddlers and entire family as backriders?

Under physical infrastructures which include roads, bridges and other public works, we did very well. However, under social infrastructures like hospitals, schools and public enterprises like our public markets, we not only lacked the structures, but the trained personnel to man them as well.

One of Southern Leyte’s biggest problem is it’s difficult to reach. And the best way to solve this would have been to have our own airport, and of course we still don’t have one today. As for our current seaport which has turned out to be a “white elephant” why don’t we just convert it into a public park where residents can relax after work?

If we really want Maasin to become a first class city, we’ve got to constantly remind our elected leaders that their main function is to impose our laws. For if they do not, we would have the Anarchy that we have today.

Let’s think about this when we cast our votes this coming election.

Antonio M. Reyes is the publisher and editor of the Southern Leyte Times the largest circulating newspaper & website in Southern Leyte.

April 16 - 22, 2016

The Typewriter

I have to change tone and topic, as a respite from dismal performances of corrupt public servants. This time, its about the now obscured typewriter, a machine that was “writing our lives, and our books, into existence,” said novelist William Burroughs.

In 1575, Italian printmaker Francesco Pampazzetto invented a machine called scrittura tattile to impress in papers. In 1714, Henry Mill invented a machine similar to a typewriter where all writing is “so neat and exact, with deeper and more lasting impression.” In 1808, Italian Pellegrino Turri invented a typewriter and carbon paper to provide the ink for his machine.

Charles Thurber invented the Chirographer as an aid to the blind in 1845. After their invention in the 1860’s, typewriters quickly became indispensable tools for all writing except personal letters. They were widely used by world renowned authors of prose and poetry, by novelists, fictionists, short story writers, editors and columnists in newspapers and magazines and in private homes and business offices.

Mark Twain claimed he was the first important writer to present a publisher with a typewritten manuscript for his Life on the Mississippi, not The Adventures of Tom Sawyer as he incorrectly recalled. Ernest Hemingway wrote his books standing up in front of a Royal typewriter suitably placed on a tall bookshelf. J.R.R. Tolkien used to type from awkward position by “balancing his typewriter on his attic bed, because there was no room on his desk.” In his Foreword to The Lord of Rings, Tolkien said “the whole story… had to be typed, and re-typed: by me; the cost of professional typing by the ten-fingered was beyond my means.”

Cormac McCarthy writes his novels on an Olivetti Lettera 32 typewriter to the present day. The Lettera he obtained from a pawnshop in 1963 was auctioned for charity at Christie’s, in 2009, for US$254,500. To continue writing, he got an identical replacement for $20. Will Self uses a manual typewriter because according to him, the computer user does the thinking on the screen, while the non-computer user does a lot more thinking in the head.

I was once deeply moved by ABS-CBN’s “Mukha” series with the episode entitled Makinilya (Cebuano and Tagalog for typewriter). It tells about an old father who earned income to send his children to school through the typewriter. He doesn’t have ill-feelings about his children’s not having loved the typewriter’s value for his family’s daily living and existence. How deeply he wished they had.

Imagine a modern office with latest models of word processors, computers, laptops, etc. A 10-hour blackout occurs and its standby generator bogs down. The rhythm and cadence of fingers and keys on a typewriter may be a welcome sound amid exasperation.

Whether Remington, Underwood, Olympia, Adler, Olivetti or Smith-Corona, the typewriter is here to stay and is still prominent in the 2010s in many parts of the world. Mine, a $10 portable Olivetti, still comes in handy for impression of thoughts on paper, of sadness and joy, poems, feelings and love.

April 16 - 22, 2016

Presidential Different from Presidentiable

The May 9 elections approximate, so do the tides of political fortune change for the various wannabes’ the game changing for contenders. The unfortunate thankless beneficiary has been VP JojoBinay of UNA who appeared recently to have been left in the cold while the lucky recipient of such unforeseen events is fellow Visayan PDP Laban frontrunner Rody Duterte, the trumphant phenomenon and Laboon boy wonder.

Of course, LP’s Mar Roxas can’t be too overconfident of his deeply rooted and well-entrenched grassroots organization and machinery. Mar has got the biggest problem in his campaign, himself and his sellability to the “masa” comics won’t do well in explaining the “Yolanda” fiasco or any other “palpak” for that matter. The personal touch makes much difference with the steadfast support and loyalty of the LGU’s, “walang laglagan o iwanan!”

Yet without doubt and despite his bitterest detractors, Mar Roxas is the most experienced and qualified to preserve the PNoy legacy of continuity. Mar Roxas stands tallest above all other “presidentiables“ in its real sense. Depth, decency, decorum, diplomacy and damn devotion to Dating Daan are his strengths often perceived as weaknesses. His progeny, upbringing, erudite background and even connect to another star Korina Sanchez could be a bigger envy for those have-nots. Plus the awesome government resources and LGU-barangay manpower at his disposal. Minus the usual expected exodus phenomenon at the homestretch or when local leaders let the horses graze where they can grease, the LP juggernaut looks very formidable indeed.

Less people rely on surveys but these can be helpful in gauging voters’ reaction or response to vital issues like the presidential debates where the wannabe’s connect to constituents. And these have been very instrumental in upping the numbers of Grace Poe, whose presidential bid ran through a gauntlet of disqualification suits in Comelec from prominent personalities who won’t be missed.

Like a typical FPJ movie of initial oppression and final justice, the Supreme Court majority decision reportedly cleared any legal obstacle for Poe to run as official candidate for president in 2016 above the din of partisan protestors and incurable social media political fanatics. The numbers for Grace Poe have been steady, consistent and still counting to show that intelligent and even ordinary Filipino voters want fresh progressive ideas thay can relate to not from “trapos” and new source, not from the same people who mouth the same solutions to the same problems since they’ve been in government executive and legislative positions for so long.

This is also a fitting advisory to presidentiables who should talk and act presidential at all times and not like the trump keep backtracking or retracting previous pronouncements bordering between lies and deceit. A true leader practices what he preaches in terms of fighting corruption and protecting people’s money. The president–to–be should be a self-made man, independent-minded and decisive. The rest are out of the equation.






 

 

 

   

Editorial archives . . .

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The typewriter

Presidential Different from Presidentiable

Maasin at the Crossroads

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FEEDBACK

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