Future Culture

Futurist Writer Lei Kalina writes her tongue-in-cheek musings and ramblings on the growing worldwide phenomenon of the growth of the Future Culture in the 21st Century

Future Culture In The 21st Century

Future Culture In the 21st Century

Futures Studies, Foresight, or Futurology , according to Wikipedia, is the science, art and practice of postulating possible, probable, and preferable futures and the worldviews and myths that underlie them. Futures studies (colloquially called "Futures" by many of the field's practitioners) seeks to understand what is likely to continue, what is likely to change, and what is novel. Part of the discipline thus seeks a systematic and pattern-based understanding of past and present, and to determine the likelihood of future events and trends. Futures is an interdisciplinary field, studying yesterday's and today's changes, and aggregating and analyzing both lay and professional strategies, and opinions with respect to tomorrow.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Clever Ways To Sabotage Your IT Career , Among Other Things

“This isn’t what we were expecting.”

This caught my eye: a sure-fire way to sabotage your IT career, if you have nothing else smarter to do :)


“The dog ate my presentation.”
“We’ve decided to change directions.”
“I’m dumping this employee on you who has failed at every other thing we’ve assigned them.”

IT project managers have heard it all, but they still shudder when they hear these excuses because the number of things that can set a project behind schedule or completely off-course are numbered to infinity–but that’s not even the worst of it. Below, a round-up of the ten words and phrases that project managers say send such fear into their hearts, they must fight the urge to run for the hills.

1. “I have a challenge for you.” Often uttered by a CIO or high-level manager in an upbeat, enthusiastic tone, this proposition sends most project managers running in the other direction, as they know all-too-well that “challenge” usually means “the CEO has read something in an in-flight magazine and its now very, very important for us to embrace it to be ahead of the game,” says Cornelius Fichtner, an IT project manager based in Silverado, CA who produces The Project Management Podcast.

“That usually means that you’re about to get a project that is absolutely impossible to succeed with, impossible deadlines, no budget, no people and by the way you have to do this on top of everything else you need to do.”

2. “One minor change.” The only person who thinks this change is “minor” is the one requesting it, say project managers.

“The customer often thinks its a small thing but it’s actually a huge change in the philosophy and architecture of the project you’re doing,” said Fichtner. “But micro-changes will be exhausting as well… all of the ‘two moves to the left’ and ‘a hue bluer’–dozens of little things that require more work.”

3. “Rearchitecting” The decision to rebuild something from scratch rather than taking the time to make sense of the earlier work done on a project is rampant in project management, say its weathered team leaders, and it’s always because the predecessor had “no idea what they were doing.”

“Rearchitecting, it seems, is every engineer’s wet dream,” the software project manager behind the blog The Cranky Product Manager, tells ZDNet. “How could an engineer possibly be expected to understand the code their predecessor wrote? Better to tear down the entire house–even though its residents are perfectly sheltered–in order to remodel the bathroom or put a cover over the patio.”

4. “This new [fad] technology would be perfect.” Some project managers cringe at the words “fits perfectly,” because in most cases, is rarely is.

Says the Cranky Product Manager, those obsessed with the newest technologies often forget about little things like deadlines. This thing needs to be DONE in two weeks and we don’t have time for the developer to learn the latest resume-enhancing technology on the job while that clock is ticking,” she explains.

This phrase often goes hand-in-hand with “Let’s use this new, untested method instead,” when “untested” anything can be the bane of any project manager’s existence, says Thomas Cutting, a project manager who blogs at Cuttings Edge.

5. “I was too busy firefighting to finish.” More than a ‘dog ate my homework’-level excuse, employees assigned to projects that are only one piece of their grueling jobs is an unfortunate reality that project manager constantly deal with.

“I’d hear all the time that they had to put out a fire in their day job and they couldn’t meet the deliverable on your project,” explained Nehme Abouzeid, who spent more than four years as project manager before becoming the assistant director of business development at Las Vegas Sands. “At the heart of it, most people on your projects don’t report to you all the time, and you can’t control their schedules or blame them if they are stuck doing their other work… You will really need to use every trick in your arsenal to work around these limitations.”

6. “I’ve been reassigned.” It always happens to the person you need the most.

“You’re on a very important project and you come into work one day and your chief architect says ‘I’ve now been assigned to Project X and it’s been nice working with you,” said Fichtner, something that can set a project back weeks or months while the project manager scrambles to find a fitting replacement.

7. “Let’s add more people to this!” Published first in 1975, The Mythical Man Month was written by a software project manager at IBM. The central teaching of the book was that adding more people to a project that is already behind schedule will make it later, but despite these warnings, project managers are often told that this will be the solution to their scheduling problems.

“1 programmer for 12 months does not equal 12 programmers for 1 month,” reads the book’s introduction. “The performance of programming teams, in other words, does not ’scale’… The way to get a project back on schedule is to remove promised-but-not-yet-completed features, rather than multiplying worker bees. ”

8. “It would be technically impossible.” Phrases like this are all smoke and mirrors, says one project manager.

“When a developer claims that something is ‘technically impossible,’ in my experience, developers only claim that the really boring stuff is technically impossible,” explains The Cranky Product Manager.

“Saying something is ‘technically impossible’ makes marketing and non-tech types shake in their boots. … Perhaps the way the developer thinks is the ideal is technically impossible, but almost always the customer requirements can be met via a different, more earth-bound implementation.”

9. “Do you want full functionality or on time?” Telling a project manager that they need to choose between quality and executing on time is the quickest way to put them in a really bad mood, says Saeed Khan, a project management veteran who blogs at On Product Management.

“I’ve heard, look, we can deliver on time or with full functionality, or with high quality. Which ONE do you want?” says Khan. “Answer: I want a new development team that has a clue.”

10. “It’s not really what I expected.” Though it sounds just like that comic strip where the customer is billed for a roller coaster but only needed a tire swing, these words come out all the time in the final unveiling.

“If this happens, you’re not doing a good job because it should have happened a lot earlier, first walk-through show preliminary results to customer. Once the house is built, it’s a lot more of a disaster, like one of those redecorating shows where people are shown their redesigned living room and hate it,” said Fichtner.

Are there any they’ve missed?

Deb Perelman is a journalist in New York City with a focus on tech and the daily grind. See her full profile and disclosure of her industry affiliations.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Holy Smokes! Son of A SONA!


A HUNDRED FOUR TIMES of resounding applause for her "feel-good" speech --- description of her critics ---- as she unveiled her "admirable report card" for the Filipino people.

At the State of the Nation Address yesterday of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at the Second Regular Session of the 14th Congress at the House of Representatives, they all clapped, cheered , "hallelujahed", and met the little lady with all-smiles and thunderous applause for what seemed like a lengthy 57-minute announcement of good news of heaven's raining-mannah from up above.

Arroyo's contentions: one million new jobs and low inflation for the "strongest economic growth" by the end of year 2007 , PhP6 billion budget released last year for farm-to-market roads, RORO boats allegedly carried 33 million metric tons of cargo and 31 million passengers in 2007, and a "historic" 1.5 million hectares of irrigated lands.

And for the next 12 months: US agency Millennium Challenge Corporation reportedly gave PhP 1 Billion for the national anti-graft fund, adding to more than PhP 3 billion for the anti-graft fund ( "the largest in Philippine history yet"); an allocated PhP4 billion budget for the national rice self-sufficiency program, some PhP 2 billion for clean water for this year and the next , some PhP 2 billion budget for reforestation by year 2009, and the importance of Value Added Tax (VAT) for shoring up "fiscal independence" and consequently achieving every stateman's grand ambition: eradicating poverty in the Philippines.

The promise : a total of one trillion pesos for the 2009 national budget .

Add her good news for the employment industry: " P350 million training partnership with the private sector should qualify 60,000 for call centers, medical transcription, animation and software development, which have a projected demand of one million workers generating $13 billion by 2010."


Meantime, her critics are alternately snorting , snickering and smirking at her pronouncements.

The Alternative Law Groups (ALG) , an umbrella organization of activist lawyers, labeled her SONA as " a very long defensive statement for e-VAT and a poor attempt at presenting success stories in various parts of the country" ; ALG Coordinator Marlon Manuel said that with Arroyo's "hodge-podge of palliative reliefs," she countered her own SONA statement that the country needed long-term reforms to be able to rise from the rut amid the crises on food and fuel.

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Secretary General Renato Reyes Jr , said that it was "ridiculous" that VAT was seen by the President as the solution to the worsening poverty among majority of Filipinos, when "it is clearly anti-people".

VAT-VAT ng Pasakit:

And more of the SONA's VAT-full of woes: Anakpawis Representative Rafael Mariano belittled Arroyo's SONA "because the President did not tackle the P125 wage hike; the P3,000 salary increase for government workers; and the junking of the Oil Deregulation Law and the Electric Power Industry Reform Act" ; Bayan Muna Representative Teodoro CasiƱo echoed Mariano's statement, saying that "Arroyo failed to articulate the aspirations of poor Filipinos in her latest SONA" . For Senator Edgardo Angara , the subsidies from e-VAT , "though good, are not sustainable" .

From GMA TV's news report:

The VAT Reform Law gives the President the power to increase the VAT rate to 12 percent if (1) VAT collection-to-gross domestic product ratio for 2005 exceeds 2.8 percent or (2) if the national government deficit-to-GDP ratio for 2005 exceeds 1.5 percent.

The following goods have been subjected to the new VAT: coal, natural gas, and other indigenous fuels; petroleum products and their raw materials; power; electric cooperatives, domestic transport of passengers by air and sea; medical services; legal services; cotton and cotton seeds; non-food agricultural products; and work of art, literary works, and musical composition.

Check out the full transcript :

State of the Nation Address of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
2nd Regular Session of the 14th Congress
Republic of the Philippines
28 July 2008

Thank you, Speaker Nograles. Senate President Villar. Senators and Representatives. Vice President de Castro, President Ramos, Chief Justice Puno, members of the diplomatic corps, ladies and gentlemen:

I address you today at a crucial moment in world history.

Just a few months ago, we ended 2007 with the strongest economic growth in a generation. Inflation was low, the peso strong and a million new jobs were created. We were all looking to a better, brighter future.

Because tough choices were made, kumikilos na ang bayan sa wakas. Malapit na sana tayo sa pagbalanse ng budget. We were retiring debts in great amounts, reducing the drag on our country’s development, habang namumuhunan sa taong bayan.

Biglang-bigla, nabaligtad ang ekonomiya ng mundo. Ang pagtalon ng presyo ng langis at pagkain ay nagbunsod ng pandaigdigan krisis, the worst since the Great Depression and the end of World War II. Some blame speculators moving billions of dollars from subprime mortgages to commodities like fuel and food. Others point of the very real surge in demand as millions of Chinese and Indians move up to the middle class.

Whatever the reasons, we are on a roller coaster ride of oil price hikes, high food prices and looming economic recession in the US and other markets. Uncertainty has moved like a terrible tsunami around the globe, wiping away gains, erasing progress.

This is a complex time that defies simple and easy solutions. For starters, it is hard to identify villains, unlike in the 1997 financial crisis. Everyone seems to be a victim, rich countries and poor, though certainly some can take more punishment than others.

To address these global challenges, we must go on building and buttressing bridges to allies around the world: to bring in the rice to feed our people, investments to create jobs; and to keep the peace and maintain stability in our country and the rest of the world. Yet even as we reach out to those who need, and who may need us, we strive for greater self-reliance.

Because tough choices were made, the global crisis did not catch us helpless and unprepared. Through foresight, grit and political will, we built a shield around our country that has slowed down and somewhat softened the worst effects of the global crisis. We have the money to care for our people and pay for food when there are shortages; for fuel despite price spikes.

Neither we nor anyone else in the world expected this day to come so soon but we prepared for it. For the guts not to flinch in the face of tough choices, I thank God. For the wisdom to recognize how needed you are, I thank, you Congress. For footing the bill, I thank the taxpayers.

The result has been, on the one hand, ito ang nakasalba sa bayan; and, on the other, more unpopularity for myself in the opinion polls. Yet, even unfriendly polls show self-rated poverty down to its 20-year low in 2007.

My responsibility as President is to take care to solve the problems we are facing now and to provide a vision and direction for how our nation should advance in the future.

Many in this great hall live privileged lives and exert great influence in public affairs. I am accessible to you, but I spend time every day with the underprivileged and under represented who cannot get a grip on their lives in the daily, all-consuming struggle to make ends meet.

Nag-aalala ako para sa naka-aawang maybahay na pasan ang pananagutan para sa buong pamilya. Nag-aalala ako para sa magsasakang nasa unang hanay ng pambansang produksyon ng pagkain ngunit nagsisikap pakanin ang pamilya. I care for hardworking students soon to graduate and wanting to see hope of good job and a career prospect here at home.

Nag-aalala ako para sa 41-year old na padre de pamilya na di araw-araw ang trabaho, at nag-aabala sa asawa at tatlong anak, at dapat bigyan ng higit pang pagkakakitaan at dangal. I care for our teachers who gave the greatest gift we ever received – a good education – still trying to pass on the same gift to succeeding generations. I care for our OFWs, famed for their skill, integrity and untiring labor, who send home their pay as the only way to touch loved ones so far away. Nagpupugay ako ngayon sa kanilang mga karaniwang Pilipino.

My critics say this is fiction, along with other facts and figures I cite today. I call it heroism though they don’t need our praise. Each is already a hero to those who matter most, their families.

I said this is a global crisis where everyone is a victim. But only few can afford to avoid, or pay to delay, the worst effects.

Many more have nothing to protect them from the immediate blunt force trauma of the global crisis. Tulad ninyo, nag-aalala ako para sa kanila. Ito ang mga taong bayan na dapat samahan natin. Not only because of their sacrifices for our country but because they are our countrymen.

How do we solve these many complex challenges?

Sa kanilang kalagayan, the answer must be special care and attention in this great hour of need.

First, we must have a targeted strategy with set of precise prescriptions to ease the price challenges we are facing.

Second, food self-sufficiency; less energy dependence; greater self-reliance in our attitude as a people and in our posture as a nation.

Third, short-term relief cannot be at the expense of long term reforms. These reforms will benefit not just the next generation of Filipinos, but the next President as well.

Napakahalaga ang Value Added Tax sa pagharap sa mga hamong ito.

Itong programa ang sagot sa mga problemang namana natin.

Una, mabawasan ang ating mga utang and shore up our fiscal independence.

Pangalawa, higit na pamumuhunan para mamamayan at imprastraktura.

Pangatlo, sapat na pondo para sa mga programang pangmasa.

Thus, the infrastructure links programmed for the our poorest provinces like Northern Samar: Lao-ang-Lapinig-Arteche, right now ay maputik, San Isidro-Lope de Vega; the rehabilitation of Maharlika in Samar.

Take VAT away and you and I abdicate our responsibility as leaders and pull the rug from under our present and future progress, which may be compromised by the global crisis.

Lalong lumakas ang tiwala ng mga investor dahil sa VAT. Mula P56.50 kada dolyar, lumakas ang piso hanggang P40.20 bago bumalik sa P44 dahil sa mga pabigat ng pangdaigdigang ekonomiya. Kung alisin ang VAT, hihina ang kumpiyansa ng negosyo, lalong tataas ang interes, lalong bababa ang piso, lalong mamahal ang bilihin.

Kapag ibinasura ang VAT sa langis at kuryente, ang mas makikinabang ay ang mga may kaya na kumukonsumo ng 84% ng langis at 90% ng kuryente habang mas masasaktan ang mahihirap na mawawalan ng P80 billion para sa mga programang pinopondohan ngayon ng VAT. Take away VAT and we strip our people of the means to ride out the world food and energy crisis.

We have come too far and made too many sacrifices to turn back now on fiscal reforms. Leadership is not about doing the first easy thing that comes to mind; it is about doing what is necessary, however hard.

The government has persevered, without flip-flops, in its much-criticized but irreplaceable policies, including oil and power VAT and oil deregulation.

Patuloy na gagamitin ng pamahalaan ang lumalago nating yaman upang tulungan ang mga pamilyang naghihirap sa taas ng bilihin at hampas ng bagyo, habang nagpupundar upang sanggahan ang bayan sa mga krisis sa hinaharap.

Para sa mga namamasada at namamasahe sa dyip, sinusugpo natin ang kotong at colorum upang mapataas ang kita ng mga tsuper. Si Federico Alvarez kumikita ng P200 a day sa kaniyang rutang Cubao-Rosario. Tinaas ito ng anti-kotong, anti-colorum ngayon P500 na ang kita niya. Iyan ang paraan kung paano napananatili ang dagdag-pasahe sa piso lamang. Halaga lang ng isang text.

Texting is a way of life. I asked the telecoms to cut the cost of messages between networks. They responded. It is now down to 50 centavos.

Noong Hunyo, nagpalabas tayo ng apat na bilyong piso mula sa VAT sa langis—dalawang bilyong pambayad ng koryente ng apat na milyong mahihirap, isang bilyon para college scholarship o pautang sa 70,000 na estudyanteng maralita; kalahating bilyong pautang upang palitan ng mas matipid na LPG, CNG o biofuel ang motor ng libu-libong jeepney; at kalahating bilyong pampalit sa fluorescent sa mga pampublikong lugar.

Kung mapapalitan ng fluorescent ang lahat ng bumbilya, makatitipid tayo ng lampas P2 billion.

Sa sunod na katas ng VAT, may P1 billion na pambayad ng kuryente ng mahihirap; kalahating bilyon para sa matatandang di sakop ng SSS o GSIS; kalahating bilyong kapital para sa pamilya ng mga namamasada; kalahating bilyon upang mapataas ang kakayahan at equipment ng mga munting ospital sa mga lalawigan. At para sa mga kalamidad, angkop na halaga.

We released P1 billion for the victims of typhoon Frank. We support a supplemental Western Visayas calamity budget from VAT proceeds, as a tribute to the likes of Rodney Berdin, age 13, of Barangay Rombang, Belison, Antique, who saved his mother, brother and sister from the raging waters of Sibalom River.

Mula sa buwang ito, wala nang income tax ang sumusweldo ng P200,000 o mas mababa sa isang taon – P12 billion na bawas-buwis para sa maralita at middle class. Maraming salamat, Congress.

Ngayong may P32 na commercial rice, natugunan na natin ang problema sa pagkain sa kasalukuyan. Nagtagumpay tayo dahil sa pagtutulungan ng buong bayan sa pagsasaka, bantay-presyo at paghihigpit sa price manipulation, sa masipag na pamumuno ni Artie Yap.

Sa mga LGU at religious groups na tumutulong dalhin ang NFA rice sa mahihirap, maraming salamat sa inyo.

Dahil sa subsidy, NFA rice is among the region’s cheapest. While we can take some comfort that our situation is better than many other nations, there is no substitute for solving the problem of rice and fuel here at home. In doing so, let us be honest and clear eyed – there has been a fundamental shift in global economics. The price of food and fuel will likely remain high. Nothing will be easy; the government cannot solve these problems over night. But, we can work to ease the near-term pain while investing in long-term solutions.

Since 2001, new irrigation systems for 146,000 hectares, including Malmar in Maguindanao and North Cotabato, Lower Agusan, Casecnan and Aulo in Nueva Ecija, Abulog-Apayao in Cagayan and Apayao, Addalam in Quirino and Isabela, among others, and the restoration of old systems on another 980,000 hectares have increased our nation’s irrigated land to a historic 1.5 million hectares.

Edwin Bandila, 48 years old, of Ugalingan, Carmen, North Cotabato, cultivated one hectare and harvested 35 cavans. Thirteen years na ginawa iyong Malmar. In my first State of the Nation Address, sabi ko kung hindi matapos iyon sa Setyembre ay kakanselahin ko ang kontrata, papapasukin ko ang engineering brigade, natapos nila. With Malamar, now he cultivates five hectares and produces 97 cavans per hectare. Mabuhay, Edwin! VAT will complete the San Roque-Agno River project.

The Land Bank has quadrupled loans for farmers and fisherfolk. That is fact not fiction. Check it. For more effective credit utilization, I instructed DA to revitalize farmers cooperatives.

We are providing seeds at subsidized prices to help our farmers.

Incremental Malampaya national revenues of P4 billion will go to our rice self-sufficiency program.

Rice production since 2000 increased an average of 4.07% a year, twice the population growth rate. By promoting natural planning and female education, we have curbed population growth to 2.04% during our administration, down from the 2.36 in the 1990’s, when artificial birth control was pushed. Our campaign spreads awareness of responsible parenthood regarding birth spacing. Long years of pushing contraceptives made it synonymous to family planning. Therefore informed choice should mean letting more couples, who are mostly Catholics, know about natural family planning.

From 1978 to 1981, nag-export tayo ng bigas. Hindi tumagal. But let’s not be too hard on ourselves. Panahon pa ng Kastila bumibili na tayo ng bigas sa labas. While we may know how to grow rice well, topography doesn’t always cooperate.

Nature did not gift us with a mighty Mekong like Thailand and Vietnam, with their vast and naturally fertile plains. Nature instead put our islands ahead of our neighbours in the path of typhoons from the Pacific. So, we import 10% of the rice we consume.

To meet the challenge of today, we will feed our people now, not later, and help them get through these hard times. To meet the challenges of tomorrow, we must become more self-reliant, self-sufficient and independent, relying on ourselves more than on the world.

Now we come to the future of agrarian reform.

There are those who say it is a failure, that our rice importations prove it. There are those who say it is a success—if only because anything is better than nothing. Indeed, people are happier owning the land they work, no matter what the difficulties.

Sa SONA noong 2001, sinabi ko, bawat taon, mamamahagi tayo ng dalawang daang libong ektarya sa reporma sa lupa: 100,000 hectares of private farmland and 100,000 of public farmland, including ancestral domains. Di hamak mahigit sa target ang naipamahagi natin sa nakaraang pitong taon: 854,000 hectares of private farmland, 797,000 of public farmland, and Certificates of Ancestral Domain for 525,000 hectares. Including, over a 100,000 hectares for Bugkalots in Quirino, Aurora, and Nueva Vizcaya. After the release of their CADT, Rosario Camma, Bugkalot chieftain, and now mayor of Nagtipunan, helped his 15,000-member tribe develop irrigation, plant vegetables and corn and achieve food sufficiency. Mabuhay, Chief!

Agrarian reform should not merely subdivide misery, it must raise living standards. Ownership raises the farmer from his but productivity will keep him on his feet.

Sinimula ng aking ama ang land reform noong 1963. Upang mabuo ito, the extension of CARP with reforms is top priority. I will continue to do all I can for the rural as well as urban poor. Ayaw natin na paglaya ng tenant sa landlord, mapapasa-ilalim naman sa usurero. Former tenants must be empowered to become agribusinessmen by allowing their land to be used as collateral.

Dapat mapalaya ng reporma sa lupa ang magsasaka sa pagiging alipin sa iba. Dapat bigyan ang magsasaka ng dangal bilang taong malaya at di hawak ninuman. We must curb the recklessness that gives land without the means to make it productive and bites off more than beneficiaries can chew.

At the same time, I want the rackets out of agrarian reform: the threats to take and therefore undervalue land, the conspiracies to overvalue it.

Be with me on this. There must be a path where justice and progress converge. Let us find it before Christmas. Dapat nating linisin ang landas para sa mga ibig magpursige sa pagsasaka, taglay ang pananalig na ang lupa ay sasagip sa atin sa huli kung gamitin natin ito nang maayos.

Along with massive rice production, we are cutting costs through more efficient transport. For our farm-to-market roads, we released P6 billion in 2007.

On our nautical highways. RORO boats carried 33 million metric tons of cargo and 31 million passengers in 2007. We have built 39 RORO ports during our administration, 12 more are slated to start within the next two years. In 2003, we inaugurated the Western Nautical Highway from Batangas through Mindoro, Panay and Negros to Mindanao. This year we launched the Central Nautical Highway from Bicol mainland, through Masbate, Cebu, Bohol and Camiguin to Mindanao mainland. These developments strengthen our competitiveness.

Leading multinational company Nestle cut transport costs and offset higher milk prices abroad. Salamat, RORO. Transport costs have become so reasonable for bakeries like Gardenia, a loaf of its bread in Iloilo is priced the same as in Laguna and Manila. Salamat muli sa RORO.

To the many LGUs who have stopped collecting fees from cargo vehicles, maraming, maraming salamat.

We are repaving airports that are useful for agriculture, like Zamboanga City Airport.

Producing rice and moving it cheaper addresses the supply side of our rice needs. On the demand side, we are boosting the people’s buying power.

Ginagawa nating labor-intensive ang paggawa at pag-ayos ng kalsada at patubig. Noong SONA ng 2001, naglunsad tayo sa NCR ng patrabaho para sa 20,000 na out of school youth, na tinawag OYSTER. Ngayon, mahigit 20,000 ang ineempleyo ng OYSTER sa buong bansa. In disaster-stricken areas, we have a cash-for-work program.

In training, 7.74 million took technical and vocational courses over the last seven years, double the number in the previous 14 years. In 2007 alone, 1.7 million graduated. Among them are Jessica Barlomento now in Hanjin as supply officer, Shenve Catana, Marie Grace Comendador, and Marlyn Tusi, lady welders, congratulations.

In microfinance, loans have reached P102 billion or 30 times more than the P3 billion we started with in 2001, with a 98% repayment record, congratulations! Major lenders include the Land Bank with P69 billion, the Peoples’ Credit and Finance Corporation P8 billion, the National Livelihood Support Fund P3 billion, DBP P1 billion and the DSWD’s SEA-K P800 million. For partnering with us to unleash the entrepreneurial spirit, thank you, Go Negosyo and Joey Concepcion.

Upland development benefits farmers through agro-forestry initiatives. Rubber is especially strong in Zamboanga Sibugay and North Cotabato. Victoria Mindoro, 56 years old, used to earn P5,000 a month as farmer and factory worker. Now she owns 10 hectares in the Goodyear Agrarian Reform Community in Kabasalan, Zamboanga Sibugay, she earns P10,000 a week. With one hectare, Pedro and Concordia Faviolas of Makilala, North Cotabato, they sent their six children to college, bought two more hectares, and earn P15,000 a month. Congratulations!

Jatropha estates are starting in 900 hectares in and around Tamlang Valley in Negros Oriental; 200 in CamSur; 300 in GenSan, 500 in Fort Magsaysay near the Cordero Dam and 700 in Samar, among others.

In our 2006 SONA, our food baskets were identified as North Luzon and Mindanao.

The sad irony of Mindanao as food basket is that it has some of the highest hunger in our nation. It has large fields of high productivity, yet also six of our ten poorest provinces.

The prime reason is the endless Mindanao conflict. A comprehensive peace has eluded us for half a century. But last night, differences on the tough issue of ancestral domain were resolved. Yes, there are political dynamics among the people of Mindanao. Let us sort them out with the utmost sobriety, patience and restraint. I ask Congress to act on the legislative and political reforms that will lead to a just and lasting peace during our term of office.

The demands of decency and compassion urge dialogue. Better talk than fight, if nothing of sovereign value is anyway lost. Dialogue has achieved more than confrontation in many parts of the world. This was the message of the recent World Conference in Madrid organized by the King of Saudi Arabia, and the universal message of the Pope in Sydney.

Pope Benedict’s encyclical Deus Caritas Est reminds us: “There will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love for neighbour is indispensable."

Pinagsasama-sama natin ang mga programa ng DSWD, DOH, GSIS, SSS at iba pang lumalaban sa kahirapan sa isang National Social Welfare Program para proteksyonan ang pinaka-mahihirap mula sa pandaigdigang krisis, and to help those whose earnings are limited by illness, disability, loss of job, age and so on—through livelihood projects, microfinance, skills and technology transfer, emergency and temporary employment, pension funds, food aid and cash subsidies, child nutrition and adult health care, medical missions, salary loans, insurance, housing programs, educational and other savings schemes, and now cheaper medicine—Thanks to Congress.

The World Bank says that in Brazil, the income of the poorest 10% has grown 9% per year versus the 3% for the higher income levels due in large part to their family stipend program linking welfare checks to school attendance. We have introduced a similar program, Pantawid Pamilya.

Employers have funded the two increases in SSS benefits since 2005. Thank you, employers for paying the premiums.

GSIS pensions have been indexed to inflation and have increased every year since 2001. Its salary loan availments have increased from two months equivalent to 10 months, the highest of any system public or private—while repayments have been stretched out.

Pag-Ibig housing loans increased from P3.82 billion in 2001 to P22.6 billion in 2007. This year it experienced an 84% increase in the first four months alone. Super heating na. Dapat dagdagan ng GSIS at buksan muli ng SSS ang pautang sa pabahay. I ask Congress to pass a bill allowing SSS to do housing loans beyond the present 10% limitation.

Bago ako naging Pangulo, isa’t kalahating milyong maralita lamang ang may health insurance. Noong 2001, sabi natin, dadagdagan pa ng kalahating milyon. Sa taong iyon, mahigit isang milyon ang nabigyan natin. Ngayon, 65 milyong Pilipino na ang may health insurance, mahigit doble ng 2000, kasama ang labinlimang milyong maralita. Philhealth has paid P100 billion for hospitalization. The indigent beneficiaries largely come from West and Central Visayas, Central Luzon, and Ilocos. Patuloy nating palalawakin itong napaka-importanted programa, lalo na sa Tawi-Tawi, Zambo Norte, Maguindanao, Apayao, Dinagat, Lanao Sur, Northern Samar, Masbate, Abra and Misamis Occidental. Lalo na sa kanilang mga magsasaka at mangingisda.

In these provinces and in Agusan Sur, Kalinga, Surigao Sur and calamity-stricken areas, we will launch a massive school feeding program at P10 per child every school day.

Bukod sa libreng edukasyon sa elementarya at high school, nadoble ang pondo para sa mga college scholarships, while private high school scholarship funds from the government have quadrupled.

I have started reforming and clustering the programs of the DepEd, CHED and TESDA.

As with fiscal and food challenges, the global energy crunch demands better and more focused resource mobilization, conservation and management.

Government agencies are reducing their energy and fuel bills by 10%, emulating Texas Instruments and Philippine Stock Exchange who did it last year. Congratulations, Justice Vitug and Francis Lim.

To reduce power system losses, we count on government regulators and also on EPIRA amendments.

We are successful in increasing energy self-sufficiency—56%, the highest in our history. We promote natural gas and biofuel; geothermal fields, among the world’s largest; windmills like those in Ilocos and Batanes; and the solar cells lighting many communities in Mindanao. The new Galoc oil field can produce 17,000-22,000 barrels per day, 1/12 of our crude consumption.

The Renewable Energy Bill has passed the House. Thank you, Congressmen.

Our costly commodity imports like oil and rice should be offset by hard commodities exports like primary products, and soft ones like tourism and cyberservices, at which only India beats us.

Our P 350 million training partnership with the private sector should qualify 60,000 for call centers, medical transcription, animation and software development, which have a projected demand of one million workers generating $13 billion by 2010.

International finance agrees with our progress. Credit rating agencies have kept their positive or stable outlook on the country. Our world competitiveness ranking rose five notches. Congratulations to us.

We are sticking to, and widening, the fiscal reforms that have earned us their respect.

To our investors, thank you for your valuable role in our development. I invite you to invest not only in factories and services, but in profitable infrastructure, following the formula for the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway.

I ask business and civil society to continue to work for a socially equitable, economically viable balance of interests. Mining companies should ensure that host communities benefit substantively from their investments, and with no environmental damage from operations.

Our administration enacted the Solid Waste Management Act, Wildlife Act, Protection of Plant Varieties, Clean Water Act, Biofuels Act and various laws declaring protected areas.

For reforestation, for next year we have budgeted P2 billion. Not only do forests enhance the beauty of the land, they mitigate climate change, a key factor in increasing the frequency and intensity of typhoons and costing the country 0.5% of the GDP.

We have set up over 100 marine and fish sanctuaries since 2001. In the whaleshark sanctuary of Donsol, Sorsogon, Alan Amanse, 40-year-old college undergraduate and father of two, was earning P100 a day from fishing and driving a tricycle. Now as whaleshark-watching officer, he is earns P1,000 a day, ten times his former income.

For clean water, so important to health, there is P500 million this year and P1.5 billion for next year.

From just one sanitary landfill in 2001, we now have 21, with another 18 in the works.

We launched the Zero Basura Olympics to clear our communities of trash. Rather than more money, all that is needed is for each citizen to keep home and workplace clean, and for garbage officials to stop squabbling.

Our investments also include essential ways to strengthen our institutions of governance in order to fight the decades-old scourge of corruption. I will continue to fight this battle every single day. While others are happy with headlines through accusation without evidence and privilege speeches without accountability, we have allocated more than P3 billion – the largest anti-graft fund in our history – for real evidence gathering and vigorous prosecution.

From its dismal past record, the Ombudsman’s conviction rate has increased 500%. Lifestyle checks, never seriously implemented before our time, have led to the dismissal and/or criminal prosecution of dozens of corrupt officials.

I recently met with the Millennium Challenge Corporation, a US agency that provides grants to countries based on governance. They have commended our gains, contributed P1 billion to our fight against graft, and declared us eligible for more grants. Thank you!

Last September, we created the Procurement Transparency Group in the DBM and linked it with business, academe, and the Church, to deter or catch anomalies in government contracts.

On my instruction, the BIR and Customs established similar government-civil society tie-ups for information gathering and tax evasion and smuggling monitoring.

More advanced corruption practices require a commensurate advances in legislative responses. Colleagues in Congress, we need a more stringent Anti-Graft Act.

Sa pagmahal ng bilihin, hirap na ang mamimili – tapos, dadayain pa. Dapat itong mahinto. Hinihiling ko sa Kongreso na magpasa ng Consumer Bill of Rights laban sa price gouging, false advertising at iba pang gawain kontra sa mamimili.

I call on all our government workers at the national and local levels to be more responsive and accountable to the people. Panahon ito ng pagsubok. Kung saan kayang tumulong at dapat tumulong ang pamahalaan, we must be there with a helping hand. Where government can contribute nothing useful, stay away. Let’s be more helpful, more courteous, more quick.

Kaakibat ng ating mga adhikain ang tuloy na pagkalinga sa kapakanan ng bawat Pilipino. Iisa ang ating pangarap – maunlad at mapayapang lipunan, kung saan ang magandang kinabukasan ay hindi pangarap lamang, bagkus natutupad.

Sama-sama tayo sa tungkuling ito. May papel na gagampanan ang bawat mamamayan, negosyante, pinunong bayan at simbahan, sampu ng mga nasa lalawigan.

We are three branches but one government. We have our disagreements; we each have hopes, and ambitions that drive and divide us, be they personal, ethnic, religious and cultural. But we are one nation with one fate.

As your President, I care too much about this nation to let anyone stand in the way of our people’s wellbeing. Hindi ko papayagang humadlang ang sinuman sa pag-unlad at pagsagana ng taong bayan. I will let no one – and no one’s political plans – threaten our nation’s survival.

Our country and our people have never failed to be there for us. We must be there for them now.

Maraming salamat. Magandang hapon sa inyong lahat.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Asian Medical Tourism: Big Bucks, Big Business

ALMOST THREE MILLION TOURISTS visiting Thailand, India, Singapore, Malaysia and the Philippines last year, says statistical reports ( www.researchandmarkets.com ) : some two hundred thousand of them visiting the Philippines in 2006 --- as Manila struggles and keeps up behind said countries as 5th placing newcomer-player in the medical tourism ballgame.

But hope springs eternal.

This early , Gloria Arroyo’s Philippine government is strongly stressing the importance of developing this sector as it is perceived as a “strategic tourism niche” for the years to come , and the Tourism Department gears up , zeroing in on cosmetic surgery as the perfect pitch to surface in the global market , “now that it has jumped enthusiastically on board the medical tourism bandwagon.”

At our successful Manila Futurists Society-organized and sponsored event production at the Ateneo De Manila University’s Leong Hall Auditorium last July 25th, close to a hundred young Ateneans trooped to the venue, and checked out what MFS’ “medical tourism talk “ is all about.

Special guest speaker for the event is Dr. Rolando Cabatu, with sterling credentials: Diplomate from the Philippine Board of Surgery; Fellow, Philippine College of Surgeons ; Fellow, Philippine Society of General Surgeons ; Fellow, Philippine Society of Laparoscopic Surgeons; Ancillary Services Director from the University of Sto. Tomas, UST Hospital Medical Director from year 2004 to year 2007; and one of the more active proponents of Philippine medical tourism --- being the Vice-President of the Philippine Association of Health Organizations In Medical Tourism Inc.

Cabatu says: more than 200,000 tourists visiting the country in the past years have fueled the economy with an influx of dollars, considering 10 million OFWs also “acting as sales representative” in their respective work destinations to promote the country’s medical services --- which would translate to a minimum of 10 million “recruited-tourists” who can possibly visit Manila as patient availing of local medical services at a small fraction of the price as compared to prices in Western countries.

Medical tourism industry analysts’ observations: Malaysia and the Philippines, both relatively struggling newbies in the med tourism global market, will be strong contenders in the next five years .

And this early, the Philippines targets its future capture of a whopping US$2 billion revenue share in the Asian medical tourism market from the predicted scenario of the industry , expected to shoot up to being US$92-billion global market by 2012. “And countries such as Singapore will try to grab a US$6.8-billion share of this figure and already it is succeeding (www.travelweekly.web). “

And the figures speak for themselves.

Check out the numbers: according to TravelWeeklyWeb.com , Asia rides high with the most potential medical tourism market worldwide , generating 2007 revenues worth US$ 3.4 Billion, accounting for nearly 12.7% of the global market. And the global clientele is growing in numbers: “there will be more than 220 million aging baby boomers from the West, a large market with declining health ----who will be seeking inexpensive, high-quality medical care most likely in Asia. “

Price Waterhouse Coopers study says : seven percent of the world population in 2007, or 42 million people, were at least 65 years old and the figure was expected to double by 2015. That’s great clientele base for medical tourism.

Meantime, analysts reveal that Japan’s aging market --- with its population dominated by the elderly --- is touted as the largest client base for the global medical tourism market --- and the main focus that Asian destinations like the Philippines can get its hands on --- to make sure it meets its US$2 billion target share of the Asian industry’s revenues.

Recent studies by the Philippine Institute For Development studies show that as per

Japan’s Ministry of Health and Welfare estimates , the elderly needing nursing care will be over 2 million, set to increase to 4 million in year 2010 , and will increase more to as high as 5.2 million in year 2025.

More statistical figures and facts :

· As of Oct 2001, there are 10,137 Japanese officially residing in RP making it the 8th most popular destination in Asia next to China, Singapore, Thailand, Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia.

· Japan, ranked as the second largest tourism market (next to US), has contributed roughly US$270 million in direct revenues to the Philippine tourism industry.

· But RP has so far captured only 1.8% of the 20 million Japanese travelers

in the Asia-Pacific region.

· Japan’s aging market will be the largest medical tourism market in Asia, reason why Asian countries are aggressively positioning themselves to become the travel destination of this market, and eventually become the retirement choice.

· An average Japanese retiree spends at least US$2,400 annually in medical care ,With 20 million aging retirees having their regular medical check-ups or treatment, that translates to at least US$48 Billion. And the amount is even expected to go up.

· Great numbers for the Philippine medical tourism industry --- but RP ranks only 8th as popular retirement destination for Jap tourists ( in October 2001 study).

· In 2003, 1.9 million foreigners visited the Philippines, a number that has remained relatively stable since 2000. During that period, biggest volume of visitors came from US, Japan, South Korea, HK, and Taiwan. But tourism failed to flourish as a result of political and economic instability, among other factors. (www.hawaii.edu)

When the Arroyo government apparently got giddy with the astounding figures and is all poised to pursue the public sector-cum-private sector initiative with the Health Department, Tourism Department and private medical hospitals , facilities and practitioners , not a few wanted to join the burgeoning bandwagon for big bucks. Arroyo’s statement: “Cost is competitive and quality is high. Filipino professionals can serve the world right here at home, as we provide more jobs downstream and cut down poverty”

As industry experts see a strong Asian medical tourism market down the line, and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 17.6% between 2007 and 2012 (www.researchandmarkets.com), the Philippines can work on improving its facilities for bigger bucks in medical tourism where it is said to be “gaining a firm foothold”, as per Philippine Daily Inquirer reports.

The reports contend: The Philippines is known for its quality nurses and other health workers who have dominated the medical profession in such developed countries as the United States and Great Britain, reason for foreign patients to get assurance of getting the best in health care. The medical sector is working hard to see medical tourism flourish because they believe that the sector has the potential to address not only economic problems, but also the woes besetting our biggest exports: our human resources.

“Philippine medical facilities may, at this stage, still be building a reputation for service excellence, but they’ve put into place several mechanisms to cater to visiting patients.

Asian Hospital, St Luke’s and Medical City to name a few have set up special departments to deal only with foreign cases. For visitors from the US, the biggest motivation is the cost savings, as patients can receive US-standard healthcare from Asian healthcare facilities and internationally known doctors at a fifth of the price back home.”

Researchandmarkets.com’s figures: “Philippine medical tourism only started three years ago, in October 2005, but has already met sizable success. The overall income related to medical tourism was topping the 200 million USD threshold for the first year of operation.”

“Realizing the revenue potential of medical tourism, the Philippines is now exploring ways to take advantage of the growing trend. According to a Price Waterhouse Coopers study, 24 countries spent a combined $2.7 trillion on health and wellness in 2002 and the figures should rise to $10 trillion by 2020 (Philippine Daily Inquirer report).”

So who’s sorry now? Do we hear sour-graping??

From NaturalNews.com, writer Mike Adams reveals that yes, this 21st century phenomenon called medical tourism --- also called medical travel or health tourism ( “a term coined by travel agencies and the mass media to describe the rapidly-growing practice of traveling to another country to obtain healthcare”) may be good news for Asia. But it’s bad news for the US healthcare industry.

Mike Adams: “ Asian medical tourism is bad news for the US healthcare industry.

People will go overseas to get better medical care or a better value on surgical procedures, and the popularity of medical tourism is proving that.

“If healthcare becomes so expensive in the Western World, and that it's by far cheaper to buy an international plane ticket and get some medical procedure done overseas, then more and more people are going to take that option and go overseas. And as medical tourism becomes more popular, I think we're going to see the American Medical Association, hospital associations and maybe even the FDA up in arms, complaining about the loss of revenues for U.S. companies.”

“So in addition to exporting so many jobs from the IT industry, we will actually be exporting healthcare revenues to countries around the world. And these are substantial revenues; we're talking about billions of dollars at stake. Medical tourism is good news for Asia, and bad news for US’ healthcare industry.”

Adams further writes: “And if you want to have a healthcare system that works , you need to make it efficient. You need to get rid of the paperwork, the fraud and the waste, and have a system that offers medical procedures at a fair, affordable price. Let's face it: big medicine is big business. And organized medicine absolutely hates competition.”

The cost savings are incredible: a knee replacement surgery in an Asian high-tech hospital may only cost you $6,000 while it could cost $50,000 in the USA.

Heart bypass surgery in Asia costs around $10,000, while costing

6-8 times more in the US. Gastric bypass surgery in the U.S. can cost $10,000 to $20,000, while costing only under $5,000 overseas (www.naturalnews.com) .

“Medical tourism hospitals in the Philippines and other countries actually have to meet higher standards. They have to give you such a high-quality experience with such outstanding results that you go back home to the US and tell people. Because when you do that, they know it’s going to be great word-of- mouth marketing for that hospital.”

One downside of medical tourism: the World Health Organization (WHO) recently ranked the Philippines as one of the top five countries in the world for human organ trafficking, along with China, Pakistan, Egypt and Colombia.

Asia Times Online reports that the website www.liver4you.org advertises liver transplants for $130,000, but a foreign patient can expect to spend between $70,000 to $115,000 for a kidney transplant in one of 20 government-accredit ed medical facilities in the Philippines.

And as RP medical tourism booms , so does the influx of deep-pocketed foreigners who seek organ transplants, most commonly kidneys --- about 200,000 health tourists visited the Philippines in 2006,

according to official statistics.

Based on the Philippine Renal Disease Registry , kidney transplants in the Philippines has recently risen dramatically, climbing from 306 transplants in 2002 to 1,046 in 2007. Over half of the kidney recipients last year were foreigners, mostly from the Middle East.

Meantime, Dr. Cabatu says Thailand is top Asian country in the Asian medical tourism phenomenon, and not Singapore – as contrary to reports.

Wikipedia’s statistical data:

Thailand as a destination for medical treatment has rocketed in recent years and they have the statistics to prove it. Take just one country like the United Arab Emirates for example – over 60,000 of their citizens a year come to Thailand to enjoy treatment. Two of the Thailand’s top hospitals Bumrungrad and Samitivej treat patients of whom 40% are foreign – this kind of high percentage is quite phenomenal. “

“According to the Kasikorn Research Centre, 2005 alone attracted an unprecedented 1.28 million foreign medical travelers which generated revenue of 33 billion Baht. That means therefore, that on average each patient spent 25,800 Baht for their treatments. It was revealed in an article in Newsweek in 2006 that 400,000 foreign patients were treated at just Bumrungrad hospital in Bangkok. This prestigious world-class hospital has an outpatient capacity of 6,000 patients per day.”

Thailand presently has a free universal health program for its citizens with more than 600 hospitals and 400 medical facilities. Today, Thailand has proudly become a medical hub for patients from the United States, Europe, the surrounding countries, and the Middle East.”

Still, Singapore is touted as ranked close second to Thailand as “more than half a million international visitors visited the city-state in 2006 , boosting its medical tourism industry. Asia is becoming the medical travel hub of the world.”