opinion

'Con te partiro'

February 11, 2020

Time to say goodbye / to countries I never / saw and shared with you / now, yes, I shall experience them / I’ll go with you - excerpts from the song ‘Con te partiro’ popularized  by Andrea Bocelli.      THIS Italian classic  song which means  ‘I’ll go with you’ (read: Time   to say goodbye) was  again brought back to life  by Marcelito Pomoy — on his way to the grand finals of America Got Talent: The Champions. Pomoy, now   back in the country after advancing to the grand finals had butterflies in his stomach when he sang this masterpiece, a popular  song in the 90s written by Francisco Sartori (music)and lucio Quarantotto (lyrics). Pomoy, a  poultry farmhand  from Bislig, Surigao del Sur  was a nobody,  not after he discovered he had this amazing ‘woman’ voice embedded inside him. With both a male tenor voice and a strikingly convincing female soprano voice, Pomoy used this extraordinary talent to  catapult him to fame and glory. At the course of his Pilipinas Got Talent  stint as champion, he was able to fulfill his lifelong dream — to unite  his long-lost family. He was an abandoned child, left alone   by his wayward parents — roaming in the streets  — with nothing but a strong resolve to get himself out from extreme poverty. His  success on PGT had qualified  him to enter a global stage — this time at the second season of America Got Talent: The Champions. Tucked under his belt is his first studio album, entitled Duet Yourself,  released in 2011 under Star Records. Pomoy’s latest journey to further cement  his fame had somehow provided a temporary relief to what the human  race is now facing —  the China-made coronavirus,  a health  scare, now on a global scale. Whatever the outcome of Pomoy’s singing stint at the AGT,    his role as the only Filipino contestant  in that episode is something to crow about amid the anxiety and fear brought  about by the global spread of coronavirus. (ruffy44_ph2000@yahoo.com)

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2020: a fresh start for Huili MCC Integrated Steel Mill Project

February 6, 2020

AFTER a derailed timeline last year, the first quarter of 2020  is seen to usher a fresh start on the prospect of job generation for  the people of Northern Mindanao with the entry of a giant steel mill from China. Preparations are underway for the groundbreaking ceremony targeted to happen in March, this year. With an investment of $4-billion,   the Chinese steel company led by Huili Investment Fund is poised to build a 305-hectare integrated steel manufacturing plant at the Phividec Industrial Estate in Villanueva, Misamis Oriental Special Economic Zone. The recent signing of a Memorandum Of Agreement  (MOA) between Huili Investment Fund President Jun Hou,   PHIVIDEC Industrial Authority  Administrator Franklin Quijano, Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny Bambi Emano, and Simple Homes President Robert Pizarro has ignited  the start of the long-awaited steel plant project, perceived to the largest in Southeast Asia when completed. The project,   a 100 percent private undertaking,   is a realization of  President Duterte’s vision of reliving the integrated iron and steel industry in the country. Eyed for completion in three years, the project is expected to generate 10,000 jobs, and the birth of about 40,000-50,000 jobs created by downstream industries.   The three-phase project, will consist of a port, an integrated steel mill with a capacity of 10 million tons, an industrial park, and other downstream industries. And   the integrity of our local officials  is  again  tested here with the entry of a giant  steel  manufacturer from China. Back in 2008, a Korean steel firm, Hanjin Heavy Industries, has started building up its $2 billion shipyard facility inside Phividec only to be told later to pack up, and indeed, they packed up without notice and sent home their earth-moving equipment  with a heavy heart. Mindanao’s dream to host  the biggest shipbuilding facility never materialized. Hanjin has to transfer its shipbuilding facility in Subic, Zambales. Unfortunately, the project has to close down early this year due to bankruptcy.                 The Marcos-era National Steel Corporation (NSC) that made Iligan famous as the industrial city of the South is completely dead. With several attempts of revival, the government-controlled corporation,   marred by so many controversies, is hopelessly devoted to rust and junk shops nearby. The  existing infra facilities of Tagoloan and Villanueva towns like water, power, and the Phividec  site had satisfied the Chinese investors  for the planned steel plant. The Chinese investment group is also eyeing to build a cement plant to maximize the use of industrial wastes produced by the steel plant. If plan pushes through sans bureaucratic red tape, the plant could produce four million tons of ship hull and ocean engineering steel per year. (ruffy44_ph2000@yahoo.com)

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Fake news on nCoV in social media

February 6, 2020

HOPEFULLY this piece sees print on or before this week’s (Feb. 8 elections of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club so I can greet those running for elective posts the best of luck). Whoever wins should have the best interests of the club members at heart first and foremost.  Based on what I heard and read on social media, the Feb. 8 elections would be quite ‘bibo’ or lively and it’s likely I would have a front row seat to witness the fireworks. Obviously I won’t be disclosing whoever it is I’m supporting but suffice it to say that even when I left Cagayan de Oro for life in the US I do keep close tabs with the local media community and I make it a point to meet up with them whenever I come home to the City of Golden Friendship. Again, best wishes and good luck to everyone at the COPC elections. The members will certainly need more than luck to vote for whom they know and feel to be the most qualified and most committed to serve the club’s interests and the winners will only have one year to serve them.             ****************** Admittedly we don’t know much about the novel coronavirus (nCoV) so far be it for all of us to underestimate its threat to our health.  At the same time, we should avoid stoking fear and panic among the general public with social media posts about the virus that have no medical or scientific basis. As per latest report, there was a third nCoV case involving an elderly female Chinese who supposedly traveled to Bohol province and initially tested negative for the virus but was later declared positive by the Department of Health (DOH).  It remains to be seen who she had contact with and we have to wait for DOH word on this. What is clear is that there is an atmosphere of palpable fear among Filipinos that was sufficient enough to spark an #oustDuterte trend on Twitter.  President Rodrigo Duterte’s followers would do well not to ignore this even if their patron and his party remain dominant in the political landscape. It also doesn’t help the Duterte administration that their troll army is spreading fake news about nCoV cases in the country such as that wildly outrageous claim posted by the DDS troll army on Facebook about two coronavirus infected Chinese that tested positive in Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC). Regional Director Adriano Suba-an of the Department of Health (DOH-10) quickly clarified that one of these two suspected persons under investigation (PUI) tested negative for the virus, debunking the DDS-CDO troll army claim but the harm may have already been done with the public on edge. It remains to be seen if the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) will fulfill its mandate to go after these fake news trolls responsible for the NMMC claim. My sentiments towards this latest stunt of the DDS-CDO trolls who conveniently hide behind anonymity and claim support from the administration can only be described as ‘astonished repugnance.’ The utter gall and brazen bare-faced lies these trolls spread on social media should be met with the sheer full force of the law.  And this is where the NBI is supposed to come in. I won’t be surprised if instead of ferreting out these scoundrels they would find scapegoats in order to produce results. Aside from aggravating public tension, the lies and misinformation on nCoV only serve to further advance the interests of those who would profit from it such as the sale of N95 masks that should only be worn by those already suffering from illnesses as well as health workers who deal with ill people on a daily basis. And those who are responsible for this garbage should be held accountable and penalized.

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Expensive medicines in CDO

February 3, 2020

BEFORE we get started, a belated 73rd happy birthday to my husband Ronnie. Ronnie and I celebrated his birthday with family and friends last Saturday and it was quite memorable since it was celebrated in Cagayan de Oro City among other things. Here’s to many more birthdays to come for us Ronnie. Now let’s get down to business.           **************** I do support a proposal by the 19th City Council’s trade and commerce committee chaired by Councilor George Goking to monitor the prices of medicines sold here in Cagayan de Oro City even if there are already laws in place to ensure that these pharmaceutical drugs are sold cheaply to the masses like the Generics Act and the Senior Citizens Act. Based on what I read, this development came about after lawyer Jose Edgardo Uy, chairman of City Hall’s Regulatory Compliance Board (RCB) and co-chairman of the City Price Coordinating Council, lost his wife Juliet to health complications last December.  Uy wrote to the Department of Health (DOH-10) regional office complaining about the ’30 to 40’ percent increase in prices of medicines sold inside the pharmacy where his wife was confined which he rightfully described as ‘unconscionable.’ My friend Rhona Canoy wrote a three-part series entitled ‘Picking A Side’ at Mindanao Gold Star Daily that detailed her own frustrations on prices of medicines and the dismal health care setup in the country in response to Uy’s situation and I do agree with her points, though my own experience of undergoing medical treatment for my breast cancer was more positive in the US. What I can say about it is that it is that the monitoring of medicine prices and its possible regulation to make it more affordable to patients especially the poor is long overdue. One of my official sources told me that there are horror stories of seniors unable to buy medicines from pharmacies that supposedly hide these pharmaceutical drugs like maintenance and hypertension medicines to avoid the hassle of processing the senior ID requirements necessary to justify their payments at the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). It goes without saying that perhaps the same things happen to persons with disabilities (PWDs). One thing I did notice is that there are medicines unavailable at hospital pharmacies which makes it more inconvenient for families who have to go scour the city late at night to buy medicines. If they do buy at hospital pharmacies, likely they would pay double as per Uy’s claim especially private hospitals. Far as I know, items readily available at the hospital pharmacies are the dextrose, cotton and aspirin or paracetamol. And this is where health insurance should come in and I must say that whatever one’s sentiments about it, it does reduce the anxiety and inconvenience on the part of patients and their families concerning the payment of their medical bills which include the medicines bought at the hospital pharmacy, the dextrose, lab exams, meals, doctor’s fees, confinement at hospital rooms and so on. Unfortunately, awareness of and access to health insurance is severely limited here in the country most especially to the poor who have to rely on the charity of others especially their local officials and legislators in Congress to pay for most, if not all their medical bills. That’s both tragic and frustrating for those who wish that the government can do something more to provide for the Filipinos especially the poorest of the poor. There will be arguments on how this can be achieved and I won’t go into political debates about it. Suffice it to say that the Department of Health (DOH) through its Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has the authority to regulate and even impose price controls on medicines should the situation require it. That’s what Uy and others who experienced being shortchanged by private hospitals are calling on the DOH to do and it seems the agency doesn’t want to do so. Whether one likes it or not, hospitals are run like any other business and they, particularly their doctors, do earn profit from the medicines sold by those multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical companies. How the national and local governments specifically Cagayan de Oro City Hall deal with that situation is anyone’s guess. For now, the DOH, FDA and the pharmacies operating in the city should shed light on why it is so expensive to buy medicines here. (For questions and comments email me at susanap@yahoo.com)

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Are you a worrier?

February 1, 2020

  LIFE is better than ever, so, why so many people seem to be unhappy? Whenever I hear people saying that everything is bad, I think of my late grandmother, born in 1899 (!) into a really awful world in Germany and its surroundings. Yes, I wrote about it already several years ago.  The so-called "Golden Twenties" between the two World Wars (now 100 years ago!) have been everything but golden for her, my relatives and millions of people. "Lola" never complained, even during the sorrowful time in the former East Germany, the "German Democratic Republic". Lola reached the ripe old age of almost 86. We hardly count our blessings. I really count them daily. And praise the Lord for everything! Most people enjoy counting their crosses. Instead of gains, they count our losses. Actually, they don't have to do all that counting - computers do it for us. Information is easily had. Just remember this: Opportunity doesn't just knock - it jiggles the doorknob, and "your friend" - the worrier, is with you day and night, at every corner, following your every step. Complaining and grumbling are good excuses, aren't they? We have time and opportunities to do almost anything. So why haven't we done it? We have the freedom of bondage or restraint, every one of us in his or her very special way - but, we're still our old inferior selves. The job is boring! I don't find a good job! The house is an unpleasing mixture of tidy and dirty things. It's a mess! I am not in the mood to arrange my garden. I can't afford a gardener. That's life. How sad! No, it's not MY fault. Of course not! The whole world is an awful place filled with dreadful and horrible negativism. No wonder, if you look around right now. Yes, I confess, I am also surrounded by many worriers who put their fears into me! Politicians, i.e., many times love to search for some grave alarm that will cause individuals to abandon their separate concerns and act in concert, so that politicians can wield the baton. Calls to fatal struggles and fights are forever being surrounded. The over-bearing person, who tyrannizes the weak, the person, who wants to domineer and to bluster, is simply nothing else than a worrier, who might claim to be a friend. But he isn't! Really not! The bullying of fellow citizens by means of dread and fright has been going on since Paleolithic times. The night wolf is eating the moon. Give me silver, and I'll make him spit out. Well, when will we start counting our courage and not our fears, or enjoy instead our woes? Worrying itself is pointless. Of course,  no society has achieved perfectly rules of law, never-ending education or unique responsible governments. Let's seek out the worries but avoid the worriers, because they try to avoid liberty. +++ Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter or visit www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com.

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The other side of coronavirus

February 1, 2020

BUTUAN City--As I write this piece, panic  over the Wuhan coronavirus has spread like the Australian wildfires — global as it were. The truth of the matter  is that  Wuhan coronavirus have  a low fatality rate, and most patients make full recoveries. Therefore global  panic  at this point is unproductive and unwarranted because, for all we must know, the other side of  the coin is yet  to be told. And experts  say that for the most part,  social media has failed to do its share  along this line. For the record, the  fifth coronavirus-infected patient was cured in Beijing and discharged from the hospital on Jan. 30, 2020. Many patients with coronavirus have already made full recoveries. According to Chinese officials, most of those who died were elderly,  or had other ailments that compromised their immune systems. Perhaps  what is most urgent now is  public awareness, not public panic. People should take precautions to avoid getting sick, but the most effective preventative measures are everyday actions like increased handwashing and proper diet. At this age of fake news, a united front in informing and educating the general public is urgently needed —to paint the  real score  on  the reported  presence of the novel CoronaVirus in the country. To defuse that unwarranted tension, social media should be more circumspect in spreading false information that would only cause confusion and panic. A campaign should focus more on the prevention rather than creating confusion. Just observe basic hygiene like washing of hands thoroughly to avoid contracting the virus. Simple as that. That said,  public is urged not to believe everything they see in social media. (ruffy44_ph2000@yahoo.com)

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