Occam’s Razor

December 21, 2007

Rounding Up 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — lesturla @ 11:17 am

Although 2007 started with me confined at the Medical City for pneumonia, the rest of the year has been great. I’ve been in four countries this year (may still reach 5 countries if we can make a quick dash to Cambodia next week) and had realized quite a few dreams. Work has been ok, too, while on the other hand love life came full circle to the inevitable.

And to remind myself that I have a lot to thank for amid all the bumps on the road I came up with a Top Ten list a la Letterman for:

The Highlights of My Year:

   10. Connections made while travelling
Met a Japanese businessman while stranded in NAIA who gave me his business card and offered to house me in Tokyo if I ever I go visit. Met an AVP of a bank in Jakarta who made the same offer. Met an IT Director based in Paris who asked for my resume. Met a French Embassy atache, a French Doctor on a medical mission in Hanoi and plenty of backpackers whose business cards are all carefully tucked in my backpack. What really mattered was I was not my usual snobbish Les anymore. And while in lay overs, planes, boats, or just plain walking around or having coffee I started talking to people again and in return enriched my knowledge of humanity and the world.

9. Turning 28
Helped me put things in perspective. This year made me realize my dreams more clearly. I also learned that no dream is ever silly be it meeting your sports heroes or pursuing law school studies in New York…

    8. Cullen
Every single day of the year my son never failed to surprise me with his wisdom. He’s one person whom I know loves me unconditionally and returns the love I shower him ten-fold. When as a parent seeing your child happy is more than enough reward, Cullen takes it even further. As young as he is, Cullen cared for me in his own Cullen way which is unimaginable for a two year old. His ability to learn, how intelligent he is, how he understands things even if we don’t try to explain them is simply amazing. The night before they were to fly back to Manila his eyes said it all. I know that someone out there loves me unconditionally without asking for anything in return.

    7. Seeing the Petronas Twin Towers at night
I’ve never really thought much about it until of course I was there and saw how magnificent it really was at night. Sigh.

    6. Going to Ha Long Bay
This world heritage site was a sight to behold. Splendid scenery and history. Breathtaking views. Top it off with meeting backpackers along the way and chatting them up sharing travel experiences. By the time you have to leave Ha Long Bay you’ll have been rich in more ways than one. Rich in friends, experiences, knowledge and overall rich as a resident of Earth.

    5. Discovering Photography
A hobby that I have long practiced in my head finally became a reality. I still have a long way to go but the important thing is that I have already begun what I have always wanted to do.

    4. Living in Hanoi
So far my most favorite city on Earth — and I’ve been in quite a few cities. For its people, sceneries, values, culture, the trees, lakes, weather, for its being a cusp between a city and a province, for its respect for the old and for how it embraces the lost foreigner by cradling it safely in its old quarters and ultimately for having a sense of pride and yet not too aware of how great it is while never hesitating on making its guests feel great about who they are. Ahhh Hanoi, love it heaps!

    3. Having a blast at Sinulog with friends
For all the Januaries that I had spent in Cebu, this year was my first Sinulog experience. Really got down and dirty with it dancing in the street, walking under the heat of the furious sun, meeting people, taking pictures, saying some prayers and actually “getting” the whole experience’s sense.

2. Going back to writing (via blogging)
I have broken my silence and secret fear of “going back to writing”. The result was I was read ALL OVER THE WORLD! I know that this novelty might not count much since there are way too many bloggers out there who can make a similar claim but that is entirely beside the point. Whatever it is, the fact remains that ALL OVER THE WORLD some people bothered to read, and that alone counts for SOMETHING.

    1. Being inches away from Roger Federer and Pete Sampras
I have yapped endlessly on this. I met my sports superheroes and the feeling was far greater than I had imagined. I’m a hardcore tennis aficionado and Federer and Sampras in one court is as hardcore as it can get.

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December 12, 2007

Jesus Walks

My years in UP taught me this: the amount of human rights violations transpiring in our country is directly proportional to the number of poor people we have multiplied many times over. Even further, massive land grabbing is not a myth but its pervasiveness has elevated itself to a non-crime leaving a long trail of generational wounds in its path. Case in point: the plight of the Sumilao farmers.

It’s not difficult to understand their story as it is after all the stuff that makes our history. We were, as a matter of fact, mere settlers in our own country fighting off a deluge of imperial armies once upon a time. The battlecry then was that we were here first. We live here. This is our country, we cried.

A few hundred years after we are still hearing the same cry, but this time around from the Sumilao farmers. They were mere settlers in Sumilao Bukidnon when nobody else lived there. When it was a mere piece of land, they toiled and made it productive and raised generations of their families there. Until of course the rich and powerful forcibly evicted them in the 1940s.

While I am won’t to generalize the extremely rich as matapobre who given a chance would quash humanity out of the destitute, I also know this: A potent combination of knowledge/power/money versus a people with limited (if at all) amount of knowledge/education/money/power — the latter is always at the losing end. And most of the time they lose in the saddest of manners, scratching their heads as they retreat in defeat not having a full grasp of what had just swept through them.

In the case of the Sumilao farmers, when this first happened it was that time again to worry where and how to get the next meal. An ordeal, I am sure that is not unfamiliar to them but when the event seemed to have drawn its final curtains it was an ordeal that may prove to stay longer and more frequently than usual.

While it is a sad legal fact that the Supreme Court has determined that they have no legal claim to the land, it is also a fact that legalities can be mere technicalities that can cripple the power of law. In this case of mere average legal complications, surely lawmakers can do better than limit their view with a few legal merits. After all this is one of those times that the human element of the law comes into full productive practice.

To begin with, that piece of land is already rightfully theirs until someone who knew better “legally” grabbed it from them. There is CARP, too. And I leave it to my lawyer friends to explain it in its intricate details. But while we’re at the business of studying legalities, we might as well take a look at how the CARP’s execution (or lack thereof) comes in the uh, legal picture.

When the land titles of the poor farmers were cancelled after the Supreme Court ruled to grant Quisumbing’s request to convert his land, it was under the condition of his 5-year development plan. This approval to convert his land from agricultural to agro-industrial effectively avoided CARP ruling which would have granted the titles to the Sumilao farmers.

The 5-year plan did not materialize. Quisumbing decided to sell the land to the San Miguel Foods Inc. who then opted to turn the land into a “world-class” piggery. Such irony.

The Sumilao farmers’ voice is now clear and obviously more informed, revoke the land conversion order since the 5-year development plan which was the foothold of Quisumbing’s conversion request did not materialize. The land too is a prime agricultural land anyway, and this alone disqualifies it from any form of conversion under the DAR Administrative Order No. 20, Series 1992.

Strewn in the middle of the Sumilao fight are gaps that I trust our legislators and lawyer friends to settle inside the courtroom for it is a matter of fact that we have a lot of good men and women out there.

While I see the protest of the Sumilao farmers as a sign of progress (it is a relief to see the less priveleged find their voice in a peaceful manner instead of retreating in fear), I also feel that it’s sad that issues are not given the attention they deserve until something dramatic similar to “a march of a thousand miles on foot” happens.

I believe in the law. And I am inclined to believe that one good thing that happened in our history which granted us our country is not forgotten. We got justice and freedom when we got our country back from the imperial powers. In a country of lawmakers who treasure their independence and nationality, the Sumilao farmers will get their land back.

_______

Please support the Sumilao Farmers. Had info from Rico that it’s best to visit them at the Dept. of Agrarian Reform (QC Circle area) early tomorrow since they have activities early the following morning. They need blankets since it’s been getting cold at nights in Manila and they don’t have enough blankets.

Online Petition: Click Here
More Info: Lakaw Sumilao

November 30, 2007

How To Make The Trillaneses Lose In The Elections

Filed under: Uncategorized — lesturla @ 12:14 pm

There really is no better time than now to show us that the mood to which we set our Elections will pretty much determine how the nation will run after the last vote has been cast. And as elections go in the Philippines, there’s just way too much drama engulfing the nation. From how the candidates are chosen by the parties, to how they make their political ads, their speeches and ultimately on how the voters decide who to vote — drama. No surprises then that we’re swallowed by this joke of a national soap.

Other than possible cheating (another facet of the electoral process anyway) what explains how a jailed soldier gets elected as a Senator? Oh yeah, that’s actually very simple: Drum up the frustration of the voters to the administration. Use the fact that said soldier bravely tried to unseat the president by staging a coup. Package him as a hero and lace him up in messiah ribbons. There, you got a shiny new Senator. There’s nothing like touching the Filipino heart to get to a government office.

This is precisely the reason why I vomit when I see people making decisions based on emotions. I couldn’t imagine how anything good will come out of that decision making philosophy – be it at work or for the national interest. Emotions are good but when you use it to determine your business or nation’s fate it can get really messy. Here’s to a nation raised by ABS-CBN and GMA 7! After all, weren’t these two networks responsible for injecting drama in our households? Remember being held hostage by your nannies while they watch Anna Luna, Mara Clara, Flor DeLuna or whatever Maria Somethings that they come up with? Is it really too much to link these two? I think not. The api mentality has got to come from somewhere or at the very least these soaps amplify its national presence. No surprise then that our national spouting is nothing else but that: dramatic garbage.

Typical and tired as it may sound, media has got to do some additional due diligence on how they treat Elections coverage. This will create the biggest initial impact on how leaders are selected in the Philippines. Simplistic yeah, but don’t forget that we are also a nation of short collective memories. The 8 weeks leading to the elections are very crucial on how Filipinos choose our leaders. If during the several weeks of media coverage leading to the elections, real issues, qualifications and solid platforms are what media highlights and puts under scrutiny as opposed to popularity ratings and heart wrenching life stories – during those weeks we’ll have set our people in a better position in choosing the right leaders. Give the Filipino brain a feast. That’s how we get good leaders!

Let’s not fall to the trap of the drama of Political Sloganeering like “this candidate is a housewife who knows what mothers want for the country” or “this candidate is a teacher and will teach the nation ABC,” or whatever puke inducing campaigns they come up with. Since we all know it’s BS anyway, let’s just not give the candidates the chance to harp on the national weakness on drama. The moment they try, cut to commercial. Knowing the candidates’ propensity to crutching to dramatics during their campaign, that would translate to lots of commercials for the networks.

Here’s to hoping that once this is done, we won’t have Senators with egos bigger than the national interest and also in this case bigger than the law and judicial system. There is something awfully wrong with a Senator who squeezes his way out of contempt of court by staging a coup! Let this be, the worst that it could get. As a nation we’ve been dragged with way too much drama already. At some point it has got to stop. And this is that point in time where we stop and actually change things. We’ve had our drama fix, now let’s get our brains to work.

November 13, 2007

Britney Spears, The Blue Pill, Filling up Space and More Travel

(I know that’s a mouthful of a title for this entry. But I’ve been silent for quite a while so…)

I’ve finally upgraded to the 160 GB iPod Classic. I guess that sums up my silence over the past week or so. Too many space to fill up. It doesn’t help to know that I have unwittingly deleted my Beatles, DMB, Smashing Pumpkins, REM, U2 and STP discographies. The hassle of getting them all together again complete with Album Art and making sure that the tracks’ details have the correct capitalization etc.

You see, with my previous 80 GB video iPod I have been very systematic. My playlists were carefully thought of. And for the thousands of stray tracks that I have stored in my computer I make sure that I type in the correct information for each of them. Can’t put Elvis’ Love Me Tender in the wrong album otherwise I’d lose sleep. (Excuse me while I dial my shrink.)

I so far have only filled up 100GB and I cheated at that by storing some of my work files in the iPods mobile hard disk function. But I’m in the process of loading up the complete The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen and *Nsync (chuckles) discographies so in a week’s time I’d have filled up this shiny new toy to its full capacity.

The interface of this new iPod rocks. I’m lovin the coverflow addition. And don’t even start me with the new games they load these monsters with. LOVE them heaps — and I didn’t even use to play with my previous iPod’s games!

So in the process of loading up discographies I chanced upon Britney Spears’ new record Blackout. I’ve never been a fan but I find her music a bit amusing and I have to admit at times entertaining, too. But lately my interest in her was leaning more on the fact that she’s a parent in the midst of a custody battle amid allegations of drug abuse and recklessness. Being a parent is tough and we may never know how it’s like to have all that Britney has and, well, has to deal with as a consequence. But I feel that there are very few excuses in this world on why a parent can fail at fulfilling their role. And to fail miserably at it can have dire lifelong consequences to another person’s life. That other person, incidentally, is a helpless child that a parent brought to this world. All in all what I’m really trying to say is that although Britney sucks as a parent, her new cd strangely entertains.

Going back to life here in Hanoi, the transition from fall to winter has been so erratic that I’m now nursing the annoying sniffles. Same with Cullen so the other night we went to a nearby pharmacy to get some Vitamin C supplement. And then Les Turla had a crazy idea…

Viagra. Yes. Crazy.

Now before you start having some funny ideas, the pipe is in good health and working very well, thank you very much. I mean, since this pill’s conception many years ago, I’ve never really felt silly enough to try it out unlike many of my friends who have. I remember that episode in Sex and the City when Samantha and the guy she was sleeping with in that particular episode popping viagra recreationally claiming that it provides them with a certain kind of sexual “high” (as if they needed to get higher than they already are.) And then there’s this friend of mine who boasted of a 3-hour woody. And then, there were those who died of it.

In any case my motivation was simple. Is this little blue pill really the miracle drug that people claim it to be?

The moment we got home I secretly popped one pill. I timed it and checked the pipe after 30 minutes. Nothing. 1 hour. Nothing. Turns out you need to be doing something sexual for it to work. That or I got a fake one. Anti-climax, noh!

Now, I wouldn’t say what happened afterwards anymore since TMI na (too much info — wait when did this ever stop me? :D). But let’s just say pareho lang.

Next week we’ll be in Kuala Lumpur and finally I’ll be able to see Roger Federer, Pete Sampras and Rafael Nadal play some tennis in person. TJ has been ironing out the details of our vacation for two weeks already that sometimes we laugh due to the over-preparation. We’ll be on vacay for one week lang and it’s like we’re moving to the Bahamas for a lifetime with all the preparation. Will definitely blog about that after the vacay.

I’ll be in the East Coast (NY, NJ, FL) next year, too, by the way. Just came from the US Embassy this morning for the interview and I loooove how quickly they process things here. The moment I got at the window the consul was handing me the stub na after a minute and said I can claim my passport with the new visa THE NEXT DAY. No waiting weeks on end ha. You can schedule the appointment on a Monday, have an interview on a Tuesday and then get your visa on a Wednesday. Loooove it heaps!

Anyway, here are some of the most recent photos we have here in Hanoi:






Top – Bottom:
Cullen at the start of his toothache;
Toothache na puro kasi chocolates eh;
This is what happens when you can’t read the menu na o-over order haha!;
Plane ride;
His toys lined up before the dinner yan

October 26, 2007

Are You Kidding Me?!@

Filed under: Uncategorized — lesturla @ 1:19 pm

An executive pardon??? Are you fuckin kidding me? Could that midget of a President be more guilty of all the allegations thrown at her? Don’t you fuckin forget that you were propelled to your position by people who marched to unseat that filthy bastard out of Malacanang!

I for one marched along EDSA during that time. So it fucking irritates me that you’d pardon the sonofabitch and put to waste what I, along with millions of Filipinos, fought for. And what you say is your reason? Fuck your reasons. We all know why you did this!

Oh you’re so quivering with fear right now because you know you were exposed and are vulnerable. So you had to use a lifeline. While you do this shitty stunt, I want you to know that you disgust me! I am ashamed that you are the President of my country!

P.S.

Hoy GMA, that corrupt sonofabitch was convicted of stealing from the country’s coffers. Meaning yung tax na binabayaran ko for years binulsa nya! That’s one-and-a-half iPod Classic worth of my salary EVERY FREAKIN month. Put that in perspective, in a few months meron na dapat akong MacBook Pro! Pero I gave that to the government and this mofo stole it. Same case sa mga ibang Pinoy — that dude stole from us. we put you on your seat para lang you can pardon this bastardous thief? Some bitch you are!

October 14, 2007

On What’s Up

Filed under: Uncategorized — lesturla @ 5:32 pm

October has been one heck of a busy month. It’s only the 14th and I feel as though I’ve put in one whole month of work already. So now I blog and there are some bits and pieces that have happened here in Hanoi that I haven’t blogged about yet.

For example a few months back we had a chance to meet some Pinoys here in Hanoi. It was quite an impressive mix of people, we’ve got an international lawyer, diplomats who work for the Philippine Embassy, an Urban Planner who works for the World Bank and of course a Global Outsourcing Professional (ako yun, I just made my job title a little, err, high fallutin). We had dinner at this swanky, over-priced resto-bar in Hanoi Towers and proceeded to have coffee at Highlands Coffee (their version of Starfucks oops Starbucks pala). We talked about Manila and how each of the people round the table misses Manila already. But that conversation didn’t really stick to me coz at that time I was at a stage of thinking that missing Manila is a bit ridiculous since, well, I was just in Manila a few weeks back then.

I remembered though the conversation about the Chocolate Buffet at Sofitel Metropole which Thea and I still haven’t tried yet so must make mental note to go there soon. I have however, during one wandering-around-Hanoi noon-time, tried their lunch buffet. It was actually pretty good my Shang and Marriott raised palate was treated to a wide selection of European dishes. I totally snubbed their Japanese food section although I am a Japanese food fiend. I especially loved their selection of cheese and scooped up their unending serving of caviar with matching Italian red wine. The best thing about going to good restos here in Hanoi is that the waitresses speak French. So with all the Sofitel ambience and European food feeling mo talaga nasa Paris ka. My conversation with the waitress:

Me: Parlez-vous l’anglais? (although I knew she could speak some English)
Waitress: Oui! Comment est-ce que je peux vous aider?
Me: Je voudrais essayer le votre secoue.

Basically, meaningless and I’m pretty sure mispronounced French. Nonetheless I had a blast.

A few weeks back I also finally decided to cut my hair. My motivation to have it long then was that I never really had it long before. And my motivation to cut it short now? I was starting to look like a dirty professor when I go to work — the type you’d make fun with kasi hindi nagsusuklay. Good thing that they have Toni&Guy here although I never really tried T&G in Manila but their stylist here was really good.

Oh, and I also took to heart our Vietnamese life and leased a motorbike. This actually made people at work so excited that I have locals asking me left and right how I find it. I tell them it’s fun coz during the weekends when you use the motorbike for pasyal it can be fun. But heck when you have to ride it going to work amid the Hanoi traffic:

it can really bad. But I have since learned to drive through the pavement albeit ever so carefully in traffic cases like the one in this photo. And cussing in English goes a long way here. Who would have thought that yelling “Outta my way styoopid fart!” can make people freeze in their tracks? But some of the disturbing things I’ve noticed was that motorists here can get really hot tempered. Geez, ilang suntukan na sa daan ang na witness namin ni Thea. And everytime we make usyoso talaga the classic Pinoy way with Thea providing commentaries like, “Oh my god, I think he’s really gonna kill the other guy na!” or, blow! “Ay!” blow! “Ay!”. One time a motorist ran to a sidewalk vendor and got the poor vendor’s knife to make saksak his kalaban with in the street duel. I stared at them and thought shet parang Fernando Poe movie. Asiong Salonga in Hanoi!

I also experienced getting caught in the rain on my way to work. So you could imagine how much cursing was involved while I got wet and gooey. Compound that with the fact na it’s autumn here and it can get a bit cold especially when it rains so I was wet and cold and I didn’t really like the fact that I was scampering like a literal na basang sisiw looking for a shed while I wait for the rain to stop. Eeeek!

On a darker note, just yesterday we saw a guy killed in a motor accident as in with oozing blood from the face and a desperate man (whom we thought was the one responsible for the accident) trying to shake him up in a desperate attempt to wake him up. Our reactions:

Thea: “Oh my god, may patay sa daan Boo!”
Me: “Huh?” I slowed down, got about 10 feet away from the mob of people making usyoso. I didn’t speak further as I tried to analyze the crime scene a la Grissom of CSI. With distraction of the mob and all the shock that comes with seeing the scene I didn’t get much out of it.
Thea: “Did these people bother calling 911 or an ambulance man lang? Oh my God, I think he’s dead!”

Sadly the other man kept shaking the victim. If the victim were merely unconscious with all the injuries he’d have had he would have had died because of the shaking that could have snapped his spine and stopped blood flow to his brain. Even more sad is that amid all the bickering and analyzing we did nothing to help. We felt a bit guilty later on for not calling 911 or its equivalent here coz well, we didn’t know 911’s equivalent here and we were shocked! We treaded on with the speed of a turtle on tranquilizers and went to the dentist for our appointment. It was not the first time we saw a bloody scene in the streets of Hanoi due to motorcycle accident but seeing death freezes us and saps out something in us — that thing that would be bibo enough to do something significant to help.

If you can see the photo of the traffic above you’d notice how motorists don’t bother wearing helmets. Very few people actually wear helmets here. Relatively speaking, motorbiking in Hanoi should not be all too dangerous because the streets are narrow like that of Italy’s and the traffic is not really that fast. But some motorists like anywhere else in the world really want to be daredevils and like the man from yesterday, they don’t bother putting on helmets. From all that I’ve seen, the novelty of riding motorbikes has surely ended. I’ll just finish the lease and settle with riding cabs after. Nonetheless, I promise to ride ever so carefully and I would never forget my helmet.

On a lighter note Thea and I got influenced by Cullen to try on new things like, kiddie slides and rides:


Anyway, what else has been keeping me busy? This:

My endless fascination with my Roger Federer – Pete Sampras and Nadal – Gasquet exhibition tickets. Also my Krzysztof Kieślowski collection. Thea and I just finished watching Blue from the Three Colors cycle. Stars Juliette Binoche (nurse Hanna in The English Patient and star of Chocolat). I am convinced completely that Kieslowski is a genius of the lens. Each frame in this movie is a meaningful photograph with carefully choreographed pans of the camera and oh so lovely splashes of blue here and there. No wonder Blue consistently makes it in the listS of greatest movies ever made. Will tell you more when I finish his collection especially when I finish the highly acclaimed Decalogue. I’m also starting on The Sopranos. Will fill you in soon with the experience. Right now my two-year old is bugging me to sing the Barney song. So next time.

October 9, 2007

Vampire Runs

Filed under: Uncategorized — lesturla @ 10:21 am

I’ve never been one to like outdoor activities, heck I don’t even like the beach save for Bora or some awesome Carribean beach I’m destined to see someday. In fact, I secretly define outdoor running as a desperate attempt to achieving distance when glaring and/or throwing invectives don’t work in throwing disgusting humanoids off of my periphery.

Having said that, why then was I out of town for two days getting all outdoorsy and running with a fierce smile?

It was for a good cause… Alright, i’m kidding! Although in a genuinely non-sarcastic manner, that is also true. We took existing and potential leaders in the company I work for to a two-day out of town leadership training.

Oh, and there was a team competition involved a la Amazing Race but with five members and no flights to catch involved. Or at least that’s how I treated it to be, since I am unforgivably, intrinsically and neurotically competitive (imagine Cristina Yang of Grey’s Anatomy screaming “What’s up!?!” and “Come on!@!” at every challenge a la Lleyton Hewitt).

I thought this is it! All those dreams of joining the Amazing Race have finally come to these two glorious days! My team will win! (Insert cracking knuckles, neck bending and jumping in position emoticons here. Alternatively, you can imagine Gollum saying, “My preciousssss!” That’s how bad it is.)

I was still asleep when I got to the pick up point and officially woke up only when we got to the “Lake House” the venue for the leadership training. Hence I was in an extremely gullible state during the bus ride. Proof:


Owing to the fact that I am wearing army type Abercrombie shorts and “Vietcong Style” cap, they asked me to make a Vietcong pose but I didn’t hear clearly coz I was still technically asleep. So I did it again, here:


Boy, I suck at being a soldier. Anyway, I lost interest in the story that I was gonna say. Plus I’m busy making the slide show for the event. So here are the pictures:

 

Team cheer? Like song and dance? We’re so fucked! I couldn’t dance to save my life!

Roll the lemmins! Yay we won here, we also won in charades, pick the balloon, pretty much during day one my team dominated save for the cursed Team Cheer competition.

 

Passing the French, Chinese, Filipino and Vietnamese message.

 


Photo Op


Second place finish here. The Quack Quack team!

Day two: exercise with Ric.

The most stable tower. Basically we scare off the judge and say, IT’S STABLE!!!

How very kanto boy running with no shoes!

My first time to experience water falls! That fat naked idiot at the top is me!

I totally fell in love with the lake here!


Oh and before I forget, my team was overall champion. Teehee!

September 26, 2007

Buti Na Lang

Filed under: Uncategorized — lesturla @ 6:14 pm

What the fuck am I doing up this late when I gotsta go to work in the morneng? I can’t sleep. I’m having one of them “too-many-shit-cycloning-in-my-mind” spells. Was having terrible migraine already this afternoon because of too much thinking all day so I had to take 2 glasses (not cups) of unadulterated Vietnamese coffee. Migraine gone but shit cyclone went on full throttle. You guessed it right, migraine looms anew in a few hours unless of course I get to sleep. Which won’t happen because of the freakin effective coffee.

Anyway, on a positive note, buti na lang TJ brainwashed me to drop the Bangkok Open at buti na lang din I found out that Rafa will be in KL on November so I willingly obliged with no hard feelings to forego Bangkok — why? Coz Rafa, Nole, Roddick (the top three seeds) withdrew from the poor tournament in Bangkok. Which means Tommy Haas na lang the one worthy to watch. Other almost worthy names also got eliminated during the early rounds so if ever I pushed through I would have probably be cursing at the high skies by now.

These big tennis stars what I hate about them is how obviously Asian tourney are no biggie for them. They withdraw from the tournament with no remorse and can cite a plethora of reasons. The easiest of course will be injuries. At the same time it’s hard to blame them coz these are like latak tournaments na, what with all the 4 Grand Slams done already obviously they’d only want to win these small tourneys if number 1. they need the money, 2. they need those points to end the year at number 1. Eh does not apply to any of them, it’s not like anyone can topple Roger at the top anytime soon. And since they are the top players, they get millions from endorsement deals so what for do they need the barya they can win from say the Bangkok Open?

You know it’s a bad thing that I am up at this time coz fuck I’m speaking this horrible hybrid language again. Must get sleep and hopefully tomorrow I’m a normal person again sans this horrible language deficiency.

September 20, 2007

Classmate

Filed under: Uncategorized — lesturla @ 7:34 am

Over the past few days I have been thinking a lot on how classmates from grade school, high school and college are doing now. My hope of course is that everyone’s enjoying their bliss or at least are having a great time pursuing them.

It started with a YM conference that I had with Joy and Ryan. We were having casual discussion on how life has been for us. Joy is now an expectant mother and has since established a career as an Industrial Engineer. Ryan has passed the Medical Board exams and is keen on becoming an extraordinary doctor along the lines of Burke of Grey’s. A lot of our classmates have made it big already and quite a number of them are at least pursuing their dreams. I’ve always maintained that the pursuit of dreams often provides for more meaningful joy than its achievement, so I had my peace. In essence I was glad that people are doing well.

It disturbs me however that last night, I was laughing my head off upon discovering that one of our classmates is now pursuing a career as a Jollibee mascot. Right there on his online profile, was a photo of him wearing Jollibee’s costume with Jollibee’s head in his right hand as though it were some helmet that he just took off. The caption read: I’m Jollibee. How freaky is that? He is Jollibee and it dawned to me that fuck, I used to be classmates with Jollibee!

I first thought that it was some really good albeit sick joke that he was playing but then when I clicked for the next photo, he was with ten other Jollibee mascots.

Apparently, the Jollibees were in a meeting of sorts. Imagine how the boardroom talks go with them bees all in one room.

At this point I couldn’t hold my laughter anymore and I had to share it with someone, so I pinged Stine in Chicago and showed her the pictures. We spent the next 15 minutes or so in a good cross continental laugh.

And then I started to think, was it such a mean thing for me to be laughing that way?

I’m giving myself a break here, after all I chunk mimes, clowns and mascots into the collective freak category. Call me a wuss but they scare me on end although from a distance I find them a bit hilarious. I am laughing not because of the odd career choice but with the fact that I can now call Jollibee a former classmate. Perfect! Even more, the sight of ten Jollibees in one place making weird poses is much too freaky funny for me. I immediately imagined being in a room full of Jollibees and I imagined myself scared at wits end possibly screaming with fear like a total wimp.

Is it possible that I have turned into a horrible human being who laughs at possibly another clear reminder of the lack of choices in our homeland? Or perhaps, was I ridiculing what could be a downright passion to being a mascot? Or is it because I laugh at almost anything that I see?

Whatever it is, the laughter sure didn’t last long.

September 13, 2007

Harvard Commencement Remark of Bill Gates

Filed under: Uncategorized — lesturla @ 6:06 am

 

(Text as prepared for delivery)

President Bok, former President Rudenstine, incoming President Faust, members of the Harvard Corporation and the Board of Overseers, members of the faculty, parents, and especially, the graduates:

I’ve been waiting more than 30 years to say this: “Dad, I always told you I’d come back and get my degree.”

I want to thank Harvard for this timely honor. I’ll be changing my job next year … and it will be nice to finally have a college degree on my resume.

I applaud the graduates today for taking a much more direct route to your degrees. For my part, I’m just happy that the Crimson has called me “Harvard’s most successful dropout.” I guess that makes me valedictorian of my own special class … I did the best of everyone who failed.

But I also want to be recognized as the guy who got Steve Ballmer to drop out of business school. I’m a bad influence. That’s why I was invited to speak at your graduation. If I had spoken at your orientation, fewer of you might be here today.

Harvard was just a phenomenal experience for me. Academic life was fascinating. I used to sit in on lots of classes I hadn’t even signed up for. And dorm life was terrific. I lived up at Radcliffe, in Currier House. There were always lots of people in my dorm room late at night discussing things, because everyone knew I didn’t worry about getting up in the morning. That’s how I came to be the leader of the anti-social group. We clung to each other as a way of validating our rejection of all those social people.

Radcliffe was a great place to live. There were more women up there, and most of the guys were science-math types. That combination offered me the best odds, if you know what I mean. This is where I learned the sad lesson that improving your odds doesn’t guarantee success.

One of my biggest memories of Harvard came in January 1975, when I made a call from Currier House to a company in Albuquerque that had begun making the world’s first personal computers. I offered to sell them software.

I worried that they would realize I was just a student in a dorm and hang up on me. Instead they said: “We’re not quite ready, come see us in a month,” which was a good thing, because we hadn’t written the software yet. From that moment, I worked day and night on this little extra credit project that marked the end of my college education and the beginning of a remarkable journey with Microsoft.

What I remember above all about Harvard was being in the midst of so much energy and intelligence. It could be exhilarating, intimidating, sometimes even discouraging, but always challenging. It was an amazing privilege – and though I left early, I was transformed by my years at Harvard, the friendships I made, and the ideas I worked on.

But taking a serious look back … I do have one big regret.

I left Harvard with no real awareness of the awful inequities in the world – the appalling disparities of health, and wealth, and opportunity that condemn millions of people to lives of despair.

I learned a lot here at Harvard about new ideas in economics and politics. I got great exposure to the advances being made in the sciences.

But humanity’s greatest advances are not in its discoveries – but in how those discoveries are applied to reduce inequity. Whether through democracy, strong public education, quality health care, or broad economic opportunity – reducing inequity is the highest human achievement.

I left campus knowing little about the millions of young people cheated out of educational opportunities here in this country. And I knew nothing about the millions of people living in unspeakable poverty and disease in developing countries.

It took me decades to find out.

You graduates came to Harvard at a different time. You know more about the world’s inequities than the classes that came before. In your years here, I hope you’ve had a chance to think about how – in this age of accelerating technology – we can finally take on these inequities, and we can solve them.

Imagine, just for the sake of discussion, that you had a few hours a week and a few dollars a month to donate to a cause – and you wanted to spend that time and money where it would have the greatest impact in saving and improving lives. Where would you spend it?

For Melinda and for me, the challenge is the same: how can we do the most good for the greatest number with the resources we have.

During our discussions on this question, Melinda and I read an article about the millions of children who were dying every year in poor countries from diseases that we had long ago made harmless in this country. Measles, malaria, pneumonia, hepatitis B, yellow fever. One disease I had never even heard of, rotavirus, was killing half a million kids each year – none of them in the United States.

We were shocked. We had just assumed that if millions of children were dying and they could be saved, the world would make it a priority to discover and deliver the medicines to save them. But it did not. For under a dollar, there were interventions that could save lives that just weren’t being delivered.

If you believe that every life has equal value, it’s revolting to learn that some lives are seen as worth saving and others are not. We said to ourselves: “This can’t be true. But if it is true, it deserves to be the priority of our giving.”

So we began our work in the same way anyone here would begin it. We asked: “How could the world let these children die?”

The answer is simple, and harsh. The market did not reward saving the lives of these children, and governments did not subsidize it. So the children died because their mothers and their fathers had no power in the market and no voice in the system.

But you and I have both.

We can make market forces work better for the poor if we can develop a more creative capitalism – if we can stretch the reach of market forces so that more people can make a profit, or at least make a living, serving people who are suffering from the worst inequities. We also can press governments around the world to spend taxpayer money in ways that better reflect the values of the people who pay the taxes.

If we can find approaches that meet the needs of the poor in ways that generate profits for business and votes for politicians, we will have found a sustainable way to reduce inequity in the world. This task is open-ended. It can never be finished. But a conscious effort to answer this challenge will change the world.

I am optimistic that we can do this, but I talk to skeptics who claim there is no hope. They say: “Inequity has been with us since the beginning, and will be with us till the end – because people just … don’t … care.” I completely disagree.

I believe we have more caring than we know what to do with.

All of us here in this Yard, at one time or another, have seen human tragedies that broke our hearts, and yet we did nothing – not because we didn’t care, but because we didn’t know what to do. If we had known how to help, we would have acted.

The barrier to change is not too little caring; it is too much complexity.

To turn caring into action, we need to see a problem, see a solution, and see the impact. But complexity blocks all three steps.

Even with the advent of the Internet and 24-hour news, it is still a complex enterprise to get people to truly see the problems. When an airplane crashes, officials immediately call a press conference. They promise to investigate, determine the cause, and prevent similar crashes in the future.

But if the officials were brutally honest, they would say: “Of all the people in the world who died today from preventable causes, one half of one percent of them were on this plane. We’re determined to do everything possible to solve the problem that took the lives of the one half of one percent.”

The bigger problem is not the plane crash, but the millions of preventable deaths.

We don’t read much about these deaths. The media covers what’s new – and millions of people dying is nothing new. So it stays in the background, where it’s easier to ignore. But even when we do see it or read about it, it’s difficult to keep our eyes on the problem. It’s hard to look at suffering if the situation is so complex that we don’t know how to help. And so we look away.

If we can really see a problem, which is the first step, we come to the second step: cutting through the complexity to find a solution.

Finding solutions is essential if we want to make the most of our caring. If we have clear and proven answers anytime an organization or individual asks “How can I help?,” then we can get action – and we can make sure that none of the caring in the world is wasted. But complexity makes it hard to mark a path of action for everyone who cares — and that makes it hard for their caring to matter.

Cutting through complexity to find a solution runs through four predictable stages: determine a goal, find the highest-leverage approach, discover the ideal technology for that approach, and in the meantime, make the smartest application of the technology that you already have — whether it’s something sophisticated, like a drug, or something simpler, like a bednet.

The AIDS epidemic offers an example. The broad goal, of course, is to end the disease. The highest-leverage approach is prevention. The ideal technology would be a vaccine that gives lifetime immunity with a single dose. So governments, drug companies, and foundations fund vaccine research. But their work is likely to take more than a decade, so in the meantime, we have to work with what we have in hand – and the best prevention approach we have now is getting people to avoid risky behavior.

Pursuing that goal starts the four-step cycle again. This is the pattern. The crucial thing is to never stop thinking and working – and never do what we did with malaria and tuberculosis in the 20th century – which is to surrender to complexity and quit.

The final step – after seeing the problem and finding an approach – is to measure the impact of your work and share your successes and failures so that others learn from your efforts.

You have to have the statistics, of course. You have to be able to show that a program is vaccinating millions more children. You have to be able to show a decline in the number of children dying from these diseases. This is essential not just to improve the program, but also to help draw more investment from business and government.

But if you want to inspire people to participate, you have to show more than numbers; you have to convey the human impact of the work – so people can feel what saving a life means to the families affected.

I remember going to Davos some years back and sitting on a global health panel that was discussing ways to save millions of lives. Millions! Think of the thrill of saving just one person’s life – then multiply that by millions. … Yet this was the most boring panel I’ve ever been on – ever. So boring even I couldn’t bear it.

What made that experience especially striking was that I had just come from an event where we were introducing version 13 of some piece of software, and we had people jumping and shouting with excitement. I love getting people excited about software – but why can’t we generate even more excitement for saving lives?

You can’t get people excited unless you can help them see and feel the impact. And how you do that – is a complex question.

Still, I’m optimistic. Yes, inequity has been with us forever, but the new tools we have to cut through complexity have not been with us forever. They are new – they can help us make the most of our caring – and that’s why the future can be different from the past.

The defining and ongoing innovations of this age – biotechnology, the computer, the Internet – give us a chance we’ve never had before to end extreme poverty and end death from preventable disease.

Sixty years ago, George Marshall came to this commencement and announced a plan to assist the nations of post-war Europe. He said: “I think one difficulty is that the problem is one of such enormous complexity that the very mass of facts presented to the public by press and radio make it exceedingly difficult for the man in the street to reach a clear appraisement of the situation. It is virtually impossible at this distance to grasp at all the real significance of the situation.”

Thirty years after Marshall made his address, as my class graduated without me, technology was emerging that would make the world smaller, more open, more visible, less distant.

The emergence of low-cost personal computers gave rise to a powerful network that has transformed opportunities for learning and communicating.

The magical thing about this network is not just that it collapses distance and makes everyone your neighbor. It also dramatically increases the number of brilliant minds we can have working together on the same problem – and that scales up the rate of innovation to a staggering degree.

At the same time, for every person in the world who has access to this technology, five people don’t. That means many creative minds are left out of this discussion — smart people with practical intelligence and relevant experience who don’t have the technology to hone their talents or contribute their ideas to the world.

We need as many people as possible to have access to this technology, because these advances are triggering a revolution in what human beings can do for one another. They are making it possible not just for national governments, but for universities, corporations, smaller organizations, and even individuals to see problems, see approaches, and measure the impact of their efforts to address the hunger, poverty, and desperation George Marshall spoke of 60 years ago.

Members of the Harvard Family: Here in the Yard is one of the great collections of intellectual talent in the world.

What for?

There is no question that the faculty, the alumni, the students, and the benefactors of Harvard have used their power to improve the lives of people here and around the world. But can we do more? Can Harvard dedicate its intellect to improving the lives of people who will never even hear its name?

Let me make a request of the deans and the professors – the intellectual leaders here at Harvard: As you hire new faculty, award tenure, review curriculum, and determine degree requirements, please ask yourselves:

Should our best minds be dedicated to solving our biggest problems?

Should Harvard encourage its faculty to take on the world’s worst inequities? Should Harvard students learn about the depth of global poverty … the prevalence of world hunger … the scarcity of clean water …the girls kept out of school … the children who die from diseases we can cure?

Should the world’s most privileged people learn about the lives of the world’s least privileged?

These are not rhetorical questions – you will answer with your policies.

My mother, who was filled with pride the day I was admitted here – never stopped pressing me to do more for others. A few days before my wedding, she hosted a bridal event, at which she read aloud a letter about marriage that she had written to Melinda. My mother was very ill with cancer at the time, but she saw one more opportunity to deliver her message, and at the close of the letter she said: “From those to whom much is given, much is expected.”

When you consider what those of us here in this Yard have been given – in talent, privilege, and opportunity – there is almost no limit to what the world has a right to expect from us.

In line with the promise of this age, I want to exhort each of the graduates here to take on an issue – a complex problem, a deep inequity, and become a specialist on it. If you make it the focus of your career, that would be phenomenal. But you don’t have to do that to make an impact. For a few hours every week, you can use the growing power of the Internet to get informed, find others with the same interests, see the barriers, and find ways to cut through them.

Don’t let complexity stop you. Be activists. Take on the big inequities. It will be one of the great experiences of your lives.

You graduates are coming of age in an amazing time. As you leave Harvard, you have technology that members of my class never had. You have awareness of global inequity, which we did not have. And with that awareness, you likely also have an informed conscience that will torment you if you abandon these people whose lives you could change with very little effort. You have more than we had; you must start sooner, and carry on longer.

Knowing what you know, how could you not?

And I hope you will come back here to Harvard 30 years from now and reflect on what you have done with your talent and your energy. I hope you will judge yourselves not on your professional accomplishments alone, but also on how well you have addressed the world’s deepest inequities … on how well you treated people a world away who have nothing in common with you but their humanity.

Good luck.

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