Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Why is China not a fan of the Philippines?

by Antonio C. Antonio
April 30, 2014

“Why is China not a fan of the Philippines?” is really a very intriguing question.  A quick review of Philippine exports will indicate that most of our natural resources (especially mineral products) are being exported to China.  But in spite of this, China is not too fond of us.  Really…  Why should a super power like China be a “fan” of a country like the Philippines?

There is a broad spectrum of reasons why China is not a fan of the Philippines.  Please allow me to narrow down these reasons to only three which I understand are the main concerns…

First:  The territorial claims.  The Philippines and China are locked in a territorial dispute in the West Philippine Sea (Filipino map) and the South China Sea (Chinese map).  The West Philippine Sea has closer proximity to the Philippines than South China Sea to mainland China.  Following the Chinese argument that this body of water (and everything in it) belongs to them simply because it was traditionally named “South China Sea”, then Australia (especially Perth) have a lot to worry about with “India” since their western coast faces up to what is traditionally called the South “Indian” Ocean.  If this is the case, Australia should be well-advised to re-name this body of water “West Australia Ocean” before India serves them a claimant’s notice.  This sort of argument makes China seem unreasonable in the eyes of the world.

Being right or wrong in territorial disputes oftentimes is not that important than who actually controls the disputed area.  Right now, the Philippine Navy has nine mighty Marines on board the junked and grounded BRP Sierra Madre on the Ayungin Shoal to show that we own the place.  On the other hand, China has nine maritime vessels, nine planes and nine armed divisions on Mischief Reef.  Isn’t this a mismatch?  Military superiority, however, doesn’t make China right.  There are international maritime laws that have to be respected such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

Second:  MDT (Mutual Defense Treaty) of 1951 and EDCA (Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement) of 2014.  The visit of US President Barak H. Obama to Manila last April 28 and 29, 2014 resulted to the signing of the EDCA which solidified the military alliance between the US and the Philippines… although the visit seem to have done little to improve the relationship between the Philippines and China.  With an “ironclad” commitment to defend the Philippines from the invasive aggression from any foreign country, the US gave notice to China to lean back on their bullying tactics in the West Philippine Sea.  Now, I really want to see if Yao Ming will still dare to bully tiny LA Tenorio now that big brother Lebron James wears a Ginebra San Miguel uniform. 

Stephen Collison of Agence France-Presse reported today that a Chinese government-run news agency called the Philippines a “troublemaking ally” of the United States.  The Filipino’s “amboy” image is a result of five decades of cooperative partnership and friendship between the Americans and Filipinos as evidenced by the MDT and the EDCA.  (“Amboy” is a 1970s slang that means “American boy.”)  Even if the EDCA did not strengthen the Philippine Armed Forces in terms of state-of-the-art military hardware, it is hopefully a step forward in improving our independent capability to defend ourselves sooner or later.  Let us hope, further, that we are not satisfied and end up complaisant by the “bragging rights” that EDCA provides.  But come to think of it, Robin Padilla was right to say:  “Bragging is not a crime.”  (Hindi krimen ang kayabangan.)  But braggadocio does not win disputes either.

Third:  The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP).  The TPP is a free trade agreement being negotiated by nine APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) – member countries:  The United States, Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.  Curiously, the Philippines was not even part of the TPP in its inception.  Pres. Obama, however, in his visit to Manila, was trying to sell this particular agreement to the Filipinos.  With this in the background, why should China worry about TPP?  China is undeniably a risen super power in Asia and they know their economic position of influence in the region.  But the TPP, however, is largely seen as a grand design to organize the Asia-Pacific region into an economic zone with the United States in the middle of this free trade economic alignment.  By all means, China does not like this.  An economic superstar like China will always want to see its name at the top of the marquee. 

Given the perception that the Philippines is an “Amboy”, China believes that the Philippines will blindly sign the TPP.  The display of warmth from the Filipino people and the friendly promises of protection from Mr. Obama earlier this week was enough to make the Chinese believe that the TPP is a done deal. 

These three reasons plus a lot more that you can think of makes it easy to understand why is China not a fan of the Philippines.

Just my little thoughts…

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What is Blogger?

by Antonio C. Antonio
April 29, 2014

Blogger, or blog, or blogging is a relatively new means for internet users to publish their ideas in written form.  These may come in the form of technical papers, reports, studies or as ordinary news or information articles.  The purpose and objective of Blogger is to expand the information data base in the Internet which anyone can contribute.  Blogs come in handy for people doing Internet-based research.  Blogger may also refer to a person who writes a blog or weblog or a web service for publishing blogs.

Blogger was launched by Pyra Labs in August 23, 1999 as one of the earliest dedicated blog-publishing tools which steadily gained popularity among bloggers.  Blogger was developed by Pyra Labs, which was bought by Google in February 2003.  Blogger is a blog-publishing service that allows multi-user blogs with time-stamped entries.  Generally, the blogs are hosted by Google at a subdomaine of “”.  A year after Google acquired the blog-publishing tools, the company also purchased Picasa and integrated its photo sharing utility (Hello) into Blogger which allowed users the ability to post photos to their blogs.  By May 2007, Blogger had completely moved over to Google operated servers.

Blogs are multi-disciplinary.  They cover most anything under the sun… if they don’t talk about the sun itself.  Depending on the background and concerns of the blogger, readers expect that his/her chosen subject is within his/her core competency.  Although blogs are very subjective, users and readers alike are expected to use their own discretion and acquired knowledge and understanding to decide on a synthesis for whatever idea or information that is being presented.

Just my little thoughts…

(Personal Note:  I would like to thank Dean Inocencio E. Buot, Jr. and Ms. Jacqueline E. Baula for encouraging me to blog.  You guys just don’t realize what you have unleashed on the world!)

The Problems of Philippine Urban Centers

by Antonio C. Antonio
April 29, 2014

From the environmental and ecological viewpoints, Philippine urban centers do have so many problems.  I have chosen to write about the urban problems and solutions of Metro Manila since this is where my family and I live.  As citizens of the biggest metropolis in the Philippines, we are exposed to its good and bad environment.  In constructing the table of problems and solutions, please allow me to add a “causes” column to enable me to pair better or match “solutions” knowing the actual “cause” of the “problem.”  Please note that this is just a matrix of my personal take… I’m sure you, after reading this, will have more to suggest.

Air Pollution
Old/Surplus vehicles.
Ban the importation of old and surplus motor vehicles.
Ban the entry of old vehicles into Metro Manila.
Pay higher motor vehicle registration fees for old vehicles.
More pavement and less trees.
Make tree planting a mandatory yearly activity for all schools and business enterprises with more than 20 personnel.
Waste Management
Gross apathy.
Strict implementation of RA No. 9003 or the Solid Waste Management Act.
No incentive.
Discipline and rewards program where model barangays and individuals are rewarded for their involvement and success in waste management.
Clean Air Act
Incineration was outlawed by the Clean Air Act while more advanced countries like Sweden, Japan and Germany use this technology.  Amend the Clean Air Act to allow controlled and modern incineration.
Water Pollution /
Safe Drinking Water
Antiquated water distribution lines.
Require the service providers (Maynilad and Manila Water) to rehabilitate existing water lines as part of their contracts and corporate social responsibility.
Illegal water connections.
Stiffer penalties for illegal connections and criminalize water theft.
Informal settlers
Migration from rural areas as agricultural activities cannot support large families.
Encourage businessmen to invest outside of Metro Manila through tax incentives, no-hassle processing of business licenses and permits, etc.
Less job opportunities in rural areas.
Inadequate resettlement areas especially jobs and livelihood.
Encourage manufacturing companies to establish their factories near relocation areas.
Unruly and undisciplined drivers.
Strict implementation of traffic rules and regulations.  Outright revocation of diving licenses for recurring and habitual offenses.
Too many vehicles.
Pay higher motor vehicle registration fees for older vehicles.
Inadequate road network.
Request subdivisions and villages to open up and allow access to vehicles.
Road obstructions.
Demolish traffic-causing structures (like sidewalk vendor stalls, basketball courts, etc.)
Too many empty public utility vehicles on the road.
Study the carrying capacity of roads and implement controls in the granting of franchises to public utility vehicles..
Silted and impeded esteros and creeks.
Clean up esteros and creeks.
Demolish obstructive structures along esteros and creeks.
Silted and impeded rivers.
Clean up rivers.
Demolish obstructive structures along the rivers.
Clogged drainage systems.
Clear-up drainage canals and implement a workable Barangay-level solid waste management system.
Stiff competition for jobs.
Encourage more job-generating business investments.
Lack of formal education.
Expanded skills development program.
Less job opportunities in the rural areas.
Encourage the setting up of businesses and factories in the countryside.
No workable population control program.
The Reproductive Health Bill.
Decent Housing
Affordability of houses.
Low cost and affordable housing project for legitimate urban poor.
Uncoordinated urban planning
Too many Mayors with kanya-kanya agenda.
Urban planning and development should be designed and planned by only one agency, say: MMDA.  Then all cities and municipalities will comply.
Inadequate healthcare
Poverty due to overpopulation.
Educational and information program aimed at making the urban poor aware of the economics of a big family.
Insufficient healthcare structure.
Additional budget allocation for health care services.
High criminality rate
Widespread poverty.
More police visibility.  Mandatory installation of CCTV system in all commercial establishments and encourage the installation of the same for those who can afford them.

Just my little thoughts…



Monday, April 28, 2014

The Landscape Ecology of Metro Manila

by Antonio C. Antonio
July 2, 2013

The most common definition: “Landscape Ecology is the science of studying and improving relationships between ecological processes in the environment and particular ecosystems.  This is done within a variety of landscape scales, development of spatial patterns and organizational levels of research and policy.”

I have chosen to write about Metro Manila as my landscape for the following reasons:  (a) It is where my family and I live; (b) It is the most modern metropolis in the country; and, (c) It is the most inhabited area in the Philippines.  It may not be the best cluster of cities in the world, in terms of urban planning, but this is my living environment and it would be best to focus on it… and, perhaps, understand and appreciate it better.

Metro Manila is composed of 16 cities and 1 municipality… namely; the cities of Manila, Caloocan, Las Pinas, Makati, Malabon, Mandaluyong, Marikina, Muntinlupa, Navotas, Paranaque, Pasay, Pasig, Quezon, San Juan, Taguig and Valenzuela and the municipality of Pateros.

Composition, structure, function and change are just some of the more important principles in understanding Landscape Ecology.  In general:

·         COMPOSITION involves the genetic makeup of populations, identity and abundance of species in the ecosystem, and the different types of communities present.

·         STRUCTURE involves the variety of habitat patches or ecosystems and their patterns.

·         FUNCTION involves climactic, geological, hydrological, ecological and evolutionary processes such as seed dispersion or gene flow.

·         CHANGE involves the continual state of flux present in ecosystems.

It is also important for to learn and understand the three main components of a landscape… namely:

·         MATRIX which is the dominant component in the landscape, is the most extensive and connected landscape type, and it plays the dominant role in landscape functioning.

·         PATCHES are nonlinear surface areas that differ in vegetation and landscape from their surroundings. They are units of land or habitat that are heterogeneous when compared to the whole.

·         CORRIDORS are the strip of land that differs from the matrix on either side. Corridors are areas that link patches together, serving as highways or conduits for organisms to transfer or move from patch to patch.

Using these principles and main components of a landscape, and applying such to my chosen area the following were observed using Google Earth image of Metro Manila:

1.     Metro Manila is a thickly populated area with infrastructure (buildings, houses and pavement) dominating the landscape which could be considered as its matrix.

2.     Metro Manila is one big habitat patch or ecosystem.

3.     No distinct corridors could be identified for Metro Manila.

4.     The weather in Metro Manila is characterized to be generally hot and humid.

5.     The function and structure of Metro Manila is mainly residential and business.

6.     On the North-Northeastern part of Metro Manila is a strip of blue (indicating water) surrounded green patch (indicating a forest area) which is the La Mesa Dam and La Mesa Eco Park.  Further North is Angat Lake.

7.     The western boundary of Metro Manila is Manila Bay and on the Southeast is Laguna de Bay.  A difference in color --- blue for Manila Bay and light moss green for Laguna de Bay --- seems to indicate the deteriorated state of Laguna de Bay.

8.     Change in landscape in Metro Manila is characterized by fast expansion to the Southern part towards Laguna and Cavite and to the East towards Rizal.

With a pollution index that is slightly above normal levels, Metro Manila is really not a “healthy” place to live in.  However, people have a tendency to flock in it since it is the where the center of business and economic activities are… not to mention that Metro Manila is also the center for socio-political activities considering that our central government is located here and it is also where the better schools are located.  Better urban planning and strict adherence to zoning laws and regulations could still make Metro Manila a better place to live in.

Just my little thoughts…