opinion

When jeepney drivers cross the line

January 21, 2020

BY the time this column sees print, we may only have a few more days left before we enter February, the second month of the year and this means I only have a few more days left to spend with family before heading back to the US. Suffice it to say that I have enjoyed my time back home in Cagayan de Oro City and nearby Tagoloan town in Misamis Oriental and God willing, I pray that my husband Ronnie and I don’t encounter any last minute inconveniences or anything major that may happen in the remaining days of my vacation in this City of Golden Friendship. It’s a lot more worrisome in Luzon, where Taal Volcano is supposed to erupt any time soon.  In fact based on my monitoring, the canceled flights heading to Manila may or may not impact on my scheduled trip back to the US and I may have to do some last minute re-scheduling which I hope not to do. At any rate, it’s been quite a treat meeting old and new friends, spending quality time with my family and grandchildren and touching base with old media colleagues from way back.  It’s especially nice spending Christmas and New Year here in Cagayan de Oro City even with the occasional ground ‘hiccup’ or quake that rattled the nerves. Aside from former media colleagues, I also chatted and spent time with old classmates—an alumni homecoming at the St. Mary’s Academy of Tagoloan town—at the and old co-workers at the local judiciary where I spent my early professional career before venturing into the local mainstream media.  Good times to say the least.                       ******************* Last week, I did talk about in passing the confrontation between drivers of the modernized public utility vehicles (PUVs) that serviced commuters heading to and out of Bugo and the drivers of the decrepit, aging passenger jeepneys who felt threatened by their competition. Based on what I read online, the passenger jeepney drivers were supposedly angry enough to demand that passengers get off the modern air-conditioned passenger vehicles and transfer to their aging, decrepit units.  As to how the passengers reacted, your guess is as good as mine. Suffice it to say that there was no violence other than the angry outbursts typical of any heated confrontation between conflicting parties that if left unchecked would border close to the edge of something a bit more dangerous which nobody especially the passengers want or need. While I am grateful that I can either ride a taxi or have Ronnie drive me around, even if driving in the city’s streets ticks him off to no end,  I can still remember my days riding jeepneys especially during my youth in Tagoloan town or even during my mainstream media days. And if in my old age I would still be riding jeepneys I just might, just might be confronting those jeepney drivers who demanded those passengers of modernized passenger vehicles to get off and transfer to their old, smoke-belching jeepneys without any legal, moral or what have you grounds to justify such outrage.                       ********************* The owner of these modernized passenger vehicles, a cooperative, said they are willing to dialogue with these drivers but these drivers have yet to show their faces much less signify their willingness and objectivity to accept said invite for a dialogue preferably mediated by both City Hall and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB). But should these drivers show up and make a scene again, and bully the passengers into transferring to their jeepneys, then they will invite not only legal action but public antagonism for their stubborn refusal to comply with the government’s modernized public utility vehicle (MPUV) program. Last I heard the commuters who rode these modernized passenger vehicles have not been complaining about anything and have in fact enjoyed riding them.  Would the drivers and operators of these decrepit, smoke-belching jeepneys deprive said commuters of this convenience just so they can earn money from their expense? A dialogue is in order and based on my reading the riding public is open to having better passenger vehicles plying Cagayan de Oro City’s streets than the ones they have been riding on for all these years.  I hope this will be but the first step towards modernizing mass transport here in the city.

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Unlimited time off

January 21, 2020

CRITICS say giving workers unlimited time off can actually deter them from taking holidays - so are minimum leave policies the answer? An interesting question by BBC-author Maya Yang... . It reminds me on my own. For example, I decided to stop teaching. I found out, that from month to month, I really got only very limited time for myself and my family. In 2014, the leadership at social media management company Buffer noticed something odd. Despite an unlimited leave policy implemented in 2012, employees were barely taking any holidays. To encourage people to take more time off, Buffer – which employs remote workers globally, primarily in the US and Europe – introduced an incentive: a $1,000 annual holiday bonus to each employee (and an additional $500 per partner or family member). It was a roaring success. In fact, it was too successful, costing the company too much money. Buffer pulled the plug on the policy in June 2016. Later that year, Buffer changed tack: instead of offering unlimited leave, it decided to strongly encourage employees to take a minimum of 15 work days off per year. Using an online planner, employees input leave requests and HR personnel track the number of days people take off via a collective calendar. Buffer’s minimum leave policy is unusual, even for a tech company. Unlimited time off is a much more common perk among start-ups and other tech firms – but despite the name, unlimited leave can feel like anything but. Often, workers are at the mercy of their workloads, managers and company culture, a situation which can discourage people to take a fair amount of leave. Could insisting that people take a minimum number of days off be a better way to ward off burnout? Well, maybe. Talking again myself: I am in the great situation deciding about my days off and and a maybe unlimited time off. Just to avoid a burnout... . How about millions of Filipino workers? It's interesting to know, that  every country in the European Union is required by law to offer at least four weeks of paid holiday, with varying accrual policies per country (Austria takes the lead with 35 days of annual paid holiday). Similarly, in New Zealand, employers must provide employees with at least four weeks of paid holiday, not including public holidays or sick leave. Philippines is much more different. Yes, I know... . While still staying in Germany, I had the pressure of needing to prove myself and the mentality that I shouldn’t take many days off. Most often, it’s up to management to create a culture where workers feel comfortable taking leave, says Sir Cary Cooper, an organisational psychology professor at the University of Manchester. Many bosses lack the social and perceptive skills to detect employee burnout and remind ambitious employees of the importance of taking breaks. Creating choices? Why not. While minimum leave policies don’t operate solely on ‘trust’ placed in employees, it’s not a model that is feasible for all companies – for those with tens of thousands of employees, tracking individual and collective leave, let alone scheduling individual holiday check-ins and reminders, would be very difficult to scale. +++ Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me in Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter or visit my www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.koausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com.

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Mankind’s survival hangs in efficient communication

January 21, 2020

WE write about the coming of the new age as the year 2020 unfolds. At the start of the year in January 2020, everyone is apprehensive when the Iran-US conflict almost blow out of proportion. Fearful of the possible consequences, the community of nations watched the Iran-US tirade with cautions. The angst -ridden doomsayers paint crimson red the Middle East as the horror of a nuclear war circulates around the world. Not an exception, the Philippines banned Iran-Iraq bound overseas foreign workers. The availability of the state-of-the-art communication technology provided the world an updated development as Iran and United States exchanged barbs. The incident was the offshoot of the killing of Iran’s top General Qassem Soleimani. The US admitted to have perpetrated the killing using an armed military drone. An updated information provides the protagonists an accurate view of the condition unfolding between the two countries. The community of nations also heaved a sigh of relief as the high emotions between Iran and US subsided amid threats of major attacks. Had it not for the accurate and timely information about the real condition of the US-based troops in Iraq, things would have been different. The Iran-US simmering barbs remind us of the various war events that shaped the world. For instance, the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand of Austria started a chain of events leading to WW1 in 1914, which ended in 1918. The WWII (1936-1945) was caused by Germany’s violation of the Versailles Treaty. The peace treaty was signed by Germany, Japan, and Italy, which ended WW1. While scholars and war analysts outlined a number of causes that precipitated world war the issue about misunderstanding and miscommunication among diplomats was listed as one of the top causes of war. An accurate and timely information through an efficient and effective communication between arguing countries is an ingredient to prevent the possible escalation of conflict. Certainly, the prudent exercise of timely and accurate communication has prevented the rash and aggressive moves of either Iran nor US that might have ended in a major armed conflict in the Middle East. With the cooling down of Iran and the US, the world appears to be safer at the moment. In spite of the thaw, the relationship between the two countries remains fragile. In no time, the Iran-US conflict might erupt anew. However, with an efficient communication and adept diplomacy, world leaders believed that a major armed conflict could be easily resolved. The world is fortunate to have been gifted of an advance communication technology as the new millennium sits in. In the years ahead, communication technology will dictate the fate of the human race.

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Cebu’s devious hotel owners blaspheme ‘Sinulog’ festival

January 18, 2020

CEBU'S Sinulog festival has become one of the notorious seasons for unscrupulous entrepreneurs, especially hotels, inns, and lodging house owners. For instance, on normal days, the hotel room rates of Cebu’s middle-class hotels are pegged at P 600.00 to P 800.00 per day. During Sinulog, the hotel rates of middle-class hotels and Inns are up four times from its original rates. Thus, the P 600 per day room rates becomes P 2,400 more or less per day. A new rate for the 2020 Sinulog is now also adopted by the calloused hotelier in Cebu City. There are reports that the daily Sinulog rates of P 600.00 have been increased to P 4,000.00. The hotel and Inn owners would no longer accept a daily stay – take note, a daily stay. Instead, the hotel has imposed a three-day stay for prospective visitors. In other words, the visitor would now pay a total of P 12,000 before they could stay in the hotel during the duration of the Sinulog. Blasphemous! There are many complaints, least the Cebu media about the exorbitant rates. Isn’t it a sacrilege? A Cebu journalist confided that their complaints were turned on deaf ears by hoteliers, inns, and lodging house owners. “The hotel and restaurant owners have reportedly agreed about the notorious Sinulog rates,” he said. Incredulous! While these rates are adopted in the city’s downtown areas, it is also lamentable that the Cebu city government is turning a blind eye about the scandalous hotel rates. More often, one could not but admit the thoughts that the Filipino traits are actually “shrewd,” “opportunists,” and “insensitive.” The Cebuano hoteliers appear to demonstrate the Filipino’s negative values, in stark contrast to the much ballyhooed “hospitable” Filipino character. However, there are exceptions. There few decent and unknown hotels, inns, and middle-class lodging houses in Cebu City. The owners and management of these hotels and inns still maintain the daily room rates on ordinary days. Hotels in the neighboring outskirts of Mabolo, Mandaue, and Talisay are still on normal daily rates. Considering the traffic and the distance, the visitors prefer to stay in the city’s downtown district. Here the hotel owners make a killing. Others are for members only. Discriminatory! Since the Sinulog festival is basically a tourism-oriented event, the Cebu City’s Tourism Office must innovate to resolve the issue. One, is allowing “tent visitors” to utilize the Plaza Independencia. The Plaza Independencia is ideal because it is within walking distance to the Santo Niño de Basilica, home of the venerated Santo Niño and Magellan Cross. Making Plaza Independencia a “tent city” during Sinulog would be an added revenue to the city’s tourism. They could collect a maximum of P 500.00 per day to tent owners -regardless of the number of occupants. However, the city’s tourism office must secure the area from possible intruders by hiring security personnel and police to secure the area. Latrines for bathing and relieving could be installed in the plaza’s safe corner. Here at P 10.00 for each who relieves and another P 10.00 for bathing would be fair. For those without tents, the tourism office could rent some. With this, the unscrupulous hotels, inns, and lodging house owners will ultimately return the room rates to ordinary day.

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Bambi: The Man of the Masses II

January 17, 2020

Gov. Bambi Emano, of Misamis Oriental, has taken much of the traits of the late venerable “Dongkoy” Emano. Everyone knows that “Dongkoy” spent his life in serving the less fortunate, especially the deprived tribal folks. The Lumads in Misamis Oriental christened the late “Dongkoy” Emano as “Datu Pilipino” in a tribal ceremony attended by the seven tribal leaders of Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon. Datu is the highest position of any member of the tribal community. Bambi might pale in comparison to his father “Dongkoy” as the man of the masses. However, Bambi’s warm treatment of the tribal folks clearly indicates that Bambi inherits the priceless values from his father. While the provincial government was celebrating the “Kuyamis Festival” in festive mood this year, Emano visited a tribal community in Sinalac, a hinterland in the town of Initao. Sinalac, a hinterland village, is home to the Higa-onon community. Accompanied by the Mindanao Overland Expedition, a group of off-road enthusiasts from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, Emano distributed food supply to the tribal community. So grateful of the tribal community that Datu Mabalao Aniano Cunomon warmly thanked Gov. Bambi Emano of the magnanimous gesture. “The administration of Bambi Emano brings us back the memories of the late “Dongkoy” Emano as the only administration that gives importance and shows concern to the plight of the tribal folks in Misamis Oriental,” Cunomon said. Bae Joy, another Higa-onon, also expressed gratitude to the “Magbabaya” (Tribal God) for making Bambi Emano an instrument of the blessings that the tribal community did not expect from past provincial administration. "Salamat sa blessing nga gihatag karon ug wala ko damha nga moabot kini sa akong kinabuhi, dili nako matukib ang akong pasalamat sa halangdon Gobernador Bambi Emano” (We thank you for the blessings because we never expect this to come us. We will never forget the generosity of Gov. Emano), Bae Joy said. No doubt, Bambi has inherited the most valuable trait of his late father “Dongkoy.” As a boy, Bambi always accompanies his father’s visits of the Lumads in the hinterland villages of Misamis Oriental. Bambi witnessed how the Lumads loved his father then. Certainly, “Dongkoy” did not fail in nurturing Bambi into a man of the deprived and the less fortunate. The legacy of being loved by the people is enshrined in Bambi’s heart as an heir apparent of the well-deserved accolade: The “Man of the Masses II.”

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Being deep in thought

January 16, 2020

VERY often - sometimes too often! - the thought is back! If we wake up in the morning (or even many times in the middle of the night), the thought is back. Sometimes, the thought will not let us sleep. The "act of thinking". the "reflection", the "opinion" or the "serious consideration", no matter, how we describe it - our memory and conscience is always with us as a permanent companion. We brood over unsettled problem. Sometimes we bear unfair treatments, arrogance, ignorance, incompetent know-it-all-betters, and unbearable oddballs, who inexorable love to make our life a hell while living themselves a disorderly life. We would not like to be distracted, but we're toying with some good ideas how we could throw overboard all that "human garbage". What will come next is a matter of conjecture. Of course, I've got my ideas, but I'm not a mind reader. Too many trains of thought make us thoughtless and absent-minded especially in difficult and important daily life situations. Does waiting and/or sleeping solve our problems? Or is it just again in time? Our life's central idea should not be, that while waiting, time solves all our problems. Thoughts should intensify, condense and deepen plans follow by actions. It's good and helpful to carry thoughts in us all the time. Incomprehensible, or better unfinished and unmatured thoughts, no matter whether positive or negative, should be slept on, before tiredness outstrips us with supersonic speed. Sometimes, we feel that our thoughts and ideas can't be fulfilled with life. Where the heart is willing, it will find a thousand ways; but where the heart is weak, it will find a thousands excuses. If doubts begin to take roots, we should rouse from pink-tinted idealism or wear down and annihilate nightmares and erase and wipe out such thoughts and ideas. If our thoughts are good and have the chance to be fulfilled in action, especially if "the other side" is prepared and willing to step on to such a bridge of life, we might get a support and words of encouragement. And, if not? No action? Maybe it is God's will to keep and protect us from a careless, rash, disadvantageous and uneasy action. Every new day gives us new inexhaustible possibilities to survive, to bear trials and to start a new beginning. We overlook and fail to notice many chances in lie through our sluggishness and laziness while thinking and dreaming of unequaled and unfulfilled ideas. +++ Email: doringklaus@gmail.com or follow me on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter or visit www.germanexpatinthephilippines.blogspot.com or www.klausdoringsclassicalmusic.blogspot.com.

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