Post for Mar 30-Apr 5 2014

TaN: [last-minute inclusion] A mid-week feature on a documentary series on television concerning the controversial issue of public availability of the SALN (Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net worth) of public officials and government employees touched on very interesting and vital issues but overlooked some salient points.

First, many public officials who refuse to provide their SALNs argue that they may become targets for whatever imagined threats to their security and safety.  The counter argument there is why are the SALNs of Mar Roxas and Albert Del Rosario made available upon request and their net worth is much more than most public officials — according to the television documentary series on Channel 11 (I think hosted by Malou Mangahas).

Second, I am sure that they are fully cognizant that one of the duties and obligations when entering into public service is the annual filing of the SALNs.  Given this, failure to do so is ground for removal — at the very least.

Third, it was argued that the public is not really interested in knowing about other aspects of their — i.e., the public officials — lives except for the financial, especially from the moment s/he entered public service.  People would like to know and monitor the fluctuation of the financial status of any and all public servant to ensure that they do not enrich themselves while in office.  I don’t think this is an unreasonable or unfair request — not unless they have something to hide.

Finally, corollary to the second point, if any public servant can not or will not bring themselves to comply with these simple conditions — i.e., full disclosure, open and transparent — it is best (for everyone concerned) that they not enter (if they are not yet in) or get out of public service (if they are already in).  Now, if the public officials are really paranoid as to their security and safety may be at risk, a compromise — which I do not agree with, even reluctantly — their SALNs can be made public but the sensitive portions (like the exact addresses & contact #s) can be blacked out, but all those pertinent to transparency and accountability must remain available.

TaN: A rehash of a previous TaN, the Biblical passage in 1 Timothy 6:10 — For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierce themselves through with many sorrows — it occurred to me that modern society is so focused on money (material wealth) that we even measure growth and development in terms of it.  One major sad consequence of this is the ever-widening gap between the haves and the have-nots.

Our obsession with material wealth (i.e., money) has distorted our values system so much that we tend to measure everything in terms of money — especially our success.  We tend to hold people with great wealth in high esteem, regard them as successful.  We tend to listen to what they have to say and regard their words as words of wisdom.  We tend to accord them (more) respect and to make them our role models.

Don’t get me wrong!  There are plenty of wealthy people out there truly worthy of emulation.  It is just that we have the propensity not to discern or discriminate between those who are truly emulate-able and those who become bad influences in our lives.

What brought this TaN about is the constant news items on how the economy grew by so many percentage points when those who benefited are only those in the top echelon of society — with nary a trickle reaching the lowest rung in society.  These boasts of progress and growth are empty and meaningless to a vast majority of the global population — who make up practically 99% of the humanity.  Unless and until those who really deserve it experience the (true) blessings of growth and progress, all the crowing of economic growth are hollow, void of any meaning or substance.

True growth means NO ONE IS LEFT BEHIND!  If a great majority of the population are wallowing in misery and depravity, then there is no true economic growth.  Whatever benefits so-called economic growth brings must benefit everyone — all the way down to the poorest of the poor — to be true growth.  As I had advocated in earlier posts and shall continue to do so, let us wake up from this zombie state of giving our imprimatur to those who are concerned only with amassing wealth without regard to — as differentiated from those who are wealthy but have true compassion for — others and the environment.

Finally, I am neither advocating the elimination of money.  Au contraire, money has its place in the scheme of things.  It provides a more exact means of measurement whenever measurements are called for.  It is a different story when we go overboard and give money a greater significance than what it is.  And, we should remember and ensure that we use money and not PERMIT MONEY USE US!

TaN: A great majority of Filipinos — and I think I can safely presume it extends to the rest of the world — that, in the light of the current issue of climate change-linked water conservation, it is the water that cleans.  Aside from its multitude of other uses, the average person wastes so much water in cleaning when, in truth, it is the mechanical action carried out during the process of cleaning that actually cleans.  The water only carries the unwanted substance away.  This is somewhat similar to the adage: A reminder to smokers — it is the cigarette that smokes; you are only the sucker.  If we really know the proper way of using water during cleaning, more than two-thirds (to as much as three quarters) of the water used can be “unused”.

The proper use of water during cleaning is: (1) wet the surface of whatever you wish (or have) to clean; (2) apply what cleaning agent — be it soap, detergent, or chemical solvents or compounds — and “work it in”; and, (3) when everything is ready for the water, apply the least amount of water that you need to wash it all away.

Let us illustrate with a simple case.  Suppose you want to wash a glass at the sink.  Open the tap and wet — not drown — the entire surface of the glass.  (Of course, you have to shut off the tap after.)  Apply soap or detergent — just the correct amount, because any more will not make it any cleaner.  After thoroughly lathering all the surfaces, re-open the tap but just small enough to permit a gentle flow as you move the glass around to let the water wash the cleaning agent away.  (Note: The tap should not be opened too narrow as you will get anxious at the slow pace of rinsing.)  When the glass is (literally) squeaky clean, turn off the tap.  The mark of any clean surface is that, when wet, the surface will not be spotty.  Water will simply sheet off it — the phenomenon of water “sliding” off any surface like a sheet of paper is called “sheeting”.

Because of the “adhesive” quality of water, it tends to cling to anything — which explains why it is more difficult to slip into a T-shirt or a garment when your skin is wet.  Water makes surfaces “stick” together.  So, when there are impurities or unclean surfaces — especially those too tiny for the eyes to normally see — droplets tend to form and, when the water evaporates, leaves a residue or “spot”.

It has been said that it takes 3-4 glasses of water to clean a glass.  This is generally true if one assumes that the person cleaning is ignorant of the proper way of using water during cleaning.

TaN: In this time of climate change (climate change deniers notwithstanding), it must be mandatory that products and services (and all other human activities) be sustainable.  But before we proceed, it is important that we defined properly and clearly what is meant by “sustainable”.

True sustainability is when little or no damage is done to the environment in the provision of the product or service.  Moreover, any discard or trash resulting from the provision of the product or service must either be recyclable or reusable and/or otherwise be biodegradable (i.e., will breakdown or decaying back into the soil within a short period of time, like in a month or not more than 6 months, because, to be technical about it, everything eventually degrades and breaks down).  In addition, “discards” will include packaging and all other incidentals that come after sales and they should likewise be recyclable or reusable or easily biodegradable.

In other words, as soon as possible — and the sooner the better, a lot better — laws, regulations, and policies must be in place to ensure that no product or service shall be permitted or approved unless and until it is completely and truly sustainable.  This time, there should not be any philosophizing or redefining the qualifying term “sustainable”.

As for those products and services that are already in the market, a reasonable grace period — say, from 6 months to 2 years, depending on the categorization to be conducted by an independent disinterested party — should be given in order for business to comply.  Consideration must be given because there may be a need to adjust, modify, replace existing equipment to effect the compliance.

TaN: The Philippines have shown a lot of progress but a great majority of the population have not yet advanced.  What I mean by “progress” is the superficial technological and material improvement where it is easy to keep up with the rest of the industrial world.  Most of the latest in the First World we also have or will soon have.

However, the “advancement” I refer to is psychological and emotional, the transformational growth that everyone must undergo to elevate ourselves into a higher plane of existence.  We have not yet “outgrown” our propensity or tendency to regard all things and people foreign (and fair skinned) as better…superior.  We continue to regard our own talents and capabilities as not good enough.  Unless and until we finally break the shackles of our colonial-mindedness, we will never realize our full potential and destiny and forever be unable to go beyond being a mediocre people with little or no self-respect and confidence on our own capabilities.

From what can be witnessed, most of us are stuck at the lowest level, where we constantly seek approval and acceptance from foreigners (mostly either Caucasians or citizens of the Western countries, especially the United States of America) as if they are the only ones who have talent, know everything, and are always correct.

In truth, every society has their own great men and their low life.  There is no such society nor country nor race (nor whatever) where all are good, where all are wealthy, where all are brilliant, where all are moral, etc — even in the richest of nations.  [In fact, even Heaven has a hierarchy, where the Father is the highest, then the Son, and all that way down to angels etc.]  So, why do (a great many) Filipinos hold First World Caucasians in such high esteem?

This propensity of Filipinos for holding fair-complexioned people on a pedestal is not a rare characteristic.  It appears in other cultures as well, especially the westernized Third World countries.  [“Westernized Third World” because there are many who may be considered “third world” by western standards — living in somewhat “primitive” ways — but who have a very strong sense of cultural self-worth and treat others as equals and not superior.]  However, it is much more intense or pronounced among many Filipinos — “many” because it does not appear to be prevalent among the educated (not necessarily or as differentiated from “literate”, where it only means that they have gone through some adequate level of schooling but not enough to change the attitude).

In any case, Filipinos — the great majority — like to delude themselves into thinking that the Philippines is progressing and employ the western so-called “standard” of basing it on how much increase in economic wealth has been achieved.  This is not only a poor but an inappropriate, superficial and deceptive method.

Any country using its increase in (economic) wealth as a measurement of its progressiveness fail to see that true progress is measured in the level of maturity of the people.  [Besides, the increase in wealth is all among the rich and powerful and the poorest got little or, in many instances, became worse off.]  And one manifestation of this maturity can be gleaned from the quantity and types of laws it has — the more laws, the more trivial the laws, and the more “illogical” the laws, the more immature and irresponsible are the people, for people who are mature do not require laws to ensure and “force” people to behave and act ethically and responsibly.

It is likened to saying that (primitive or backwards) man used his hands to bring food to his mouth whereas modern and sophisticated man uses utensils, as in spoon and fork and knife, to do the same thing.  Where is the progress there?  The only progress there is the addition of a tool to do what the hands used to do.  The tool only complicated the process.  In other words, true progress makes tasks simpler and easier to carry out.  True progress would be either the food will, on its own or through psychic means, move to the mouth with the use of hands or man would not need to eat anymore (to stay alive).  Now that would be real progress.

Feeble and simple-minded people always have the propensity to magnify his trivial accomplishments to make it appear as if it were some great achievement — much like the old and stupid practice of the youth to claim that they are different and unique by coloring their hair into different colors and making inane hair formations like spikes.  What pitiful attempts!  As if it is extremely difficult to color one’s hair and style it to make one look different.  I can easily do the same — it is just that I am not that desperate nor stupid to want to look like an idiot.

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