Thursday, April 27, 2006

Surfing Everest

The two giant Philippine television networks and their respective Mount Everest climbers are racing to get to the peak and hoping to plant a flag of conquest and beam to the world their triumph over height, cold, snow, ice, wind, fatigue. It is not easy for those involved to admit that it is a race to the top. And it is not a question of who gets there first but whether anyone among the hopeful Filipinos there right now could get to the peak at all and come back in one piece.

One hears the usual cliché about conquest of self, that is, the Himalayas within, before triumph over the elements. That is indeed what it is. But when competing media networks—ABS-CBN and GMA-7—do a running coverage of this first-time effort of Filipinos whom the networks are betting on separately, one cannot help but worry. Climbing Everest is not an ordinary sport. It is a life-threatening endeavor, a conquest of a lifetime, if one makes it.

One cannot but be concerned about the safety of the climbers involved (a team for ABS-CBN and a lone climber for GMA-7) and also about how viewers would perceive this whole thing.

Is this about ratings again? Couldn’t the two networks just have covered everyone—the so-called Philippine team (ABS-CBN’s) and lone climber Romi Garduce (GMA-7)? After all the climbers are all carrying the Philippine flag. I don’t mean they have to take the same route. What if one network makes it and the other doesn’t? I dread to see the outcome of such a situation.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Elpidio de la Victoria, Earth Day martyr

Things were beginning to grind to a halt on Wednesday of Holy Week when the murderer struck. He chose the time when media coverage would be minimal, government offices would be closed and most people would be in their homes and in church or away somewhere.

In fact, news about the murder didn’t come out in the national print media until four days later on Easter Sunday. The Cebu media gave it major treatment though. The Inquirer had a brief account on page 20, part of which read:

``One of the city’s leading crusaders against illegal fishing died Thursday, a day after he was shot four times by an unidentified assailant while he was about to enter his house in Barangay Dauis, Talisay City.

``Elpidio de la Victoria, 46, program director of Cebu City’s Bantay Dagat Commission and the city’s market administrator, was shot in the back and arm and twice in the buttocks at around 3 p.m. on Wednesday. He died at the Chong Chua Hospital at 8:50 a.m. the next day.’’

Four shots in all. The killer wanted to be sure his prey died right there and then. (A suspect, a policeman, has been tagged.)

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Psalm 69 for our times

For this Holy Thursday, here is a variation on the theme of Psalm 69 that I had written for Holy Week in 1992. With a few changes here and there, it still applies 14 years later.

Save me, O God, for their diarrhea of words has come up to my chin. I am drowning in their slimy saliva and I slip everywhere I step. Into this depths I have been pushed and I am engulfed by the torrent of true lies and half-truths. I am weary from pleading that they shut up for a while and give my ears a rest. My throat is hoarse and dry.

More than the hair in their armpits and pubis are the dirt they have spread about one another. Oh, how they hate those who attack them. How they fight over the people’s loyalty. They strut about like angels and yet people know they have stolen, they have lied, they have killed, they have fornicated.

O God, you know I am not faultless but also know that I do not covet a government position.

Do not allow me to become too cynical and do not allow me to be dazzled either. Oh Lord, help me keep my conscience and my actions pure, equip me with the power to smell the rotten a kilometer away.

Thursday, April 6, 2006

From aviation to nursing

The previous column piece ``Mayday! Mayday! for the aviation industry’’ tried to bring to the fore the brain drain problem in the aviation industry which is becoming more acute because of foreign recruiters’ poaching expedition in the country. It is so easy for the foreign poachers to entice our highly trained aviation experts with high pay because the foreign aviation industry did not have to invest in long and expensive training.

That is what the locals are complaining about. It takes 10 years and more than P10 million in training investment to produce an airline captain. Aviation engineers aren’t simply plucked out of an aviation school, their skills are honed over the years. Now they are being snapped up faster than the local industry could produce their replacement.

I had spoken with very worried industry players who wanted to see some kind of moratorium on recruitment. But who can legislate against a person’s right to seek higher pay? Doctors-turned-nurses as well as educators might soon become a vanishing breed as they go away in droves. And now aviation experts who are sorely needed locally are flying away to seek bluer skies. Some are even shifting to nursing.

Here are some letters from those who know first-hand what’s ailing the aviation industry. They give us another view of what’s on the ground and in the sky.