Monday, April 27, 2009

Learning from poker

Poker is not a game of chance. Losing a hand is not a matter of not having the right cards. This is what I learned after wasting hours trying to raise hundreds of dollars of play money online.

Politicians running in the 2010 race can learn a lot from the game. Philippine politics is no numbers game. Neither is it solely a money game. Strategy is a must. Aside from having the right cards, bluffing, calling at the right time and raising the ante need mathematical precision.

Unlike chess, where nothing is hidden, poker is a game of “imperfect information.” So is politics. There’s so much information concealed from other players. Winning does not depend on luck alone.

Manny Villar may have the money, Chiz Escudero the numbers and Mar Roxas the cards, but the game will depend on how they will play.

Poker-playing strategists are now in the employ of politicians, especially those running for high office. I have seen some of them joining tables online and betting thousands of dollar of play money. Some are careless, others are trying to learn the ropes, many have flawless but predictable strategies.

It would be exciting how they would play for real in 2010 (at kung sino ang uuwing luhaan o kung kaninong bulsa - o mukha - ang kakapal).

Meanwhile, let me go back to the games.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


It's no easy task.

We must do it.

We have to learn the ways of the modern world to survive.

Stephen King's Cell, "an apocalyptic novel" about an artist who struggled to survive after a "pulse" broadcast over the cell phone network turned people crazy, is a warning about the dangers of technology.

But technology we must master, especially for those in the media industry.

I have a blog since 2003. It was just for fun then. Something to while the time.

These days, however, I have to do research on the rationale and mechanics of blogging.

I have to give a seminar on blogging.

Somebody has to do it.

And it's no easy task.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

News from Sri Lanka

A desperate appeal for prayers came from a missionary friend of mine, a roommate in the seminary.

Whatever is going on there, I hope that they will be safe. Please join me in hoping for the best for those still alive in our neighboring countries. Here's his email:

i am having a problem right now. you may be wondering why no news from me, although the situation is hopeless.

the army officers came in search of me and i was out on that day.They have found out that i am sending documents and pictures to outside and inside the country. They have opened my email id . And they have made a clear warning... not to repeat. Otherwise this will be dealt seriously.

Please pray for us. it is a very difficult situation.
Praying for God's intervention.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Back from vacation

After days of wandering, trying to look for a muse in so many places, I'm back here in front of two experts discussing a controversial book project that unfortunately I cannot divulge this time.

It can now be told, however. that a new online media project is about to be launched, hopefully to contribute to the growing vibrancy of the new media community.

Unfortunately the birthing of the project encountered several snags. Despite the advancement of technology, many Filipino journalists are not yet ready to venture into the new medium.

Filipino journalists must "retool" themselves to be relevant in the "new order" of things. There is no space for complacency anymore.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Inagine a world without Filipinos

"So if Filipinos decided one day to stop working or go on strike for any reason, who would transport oil, food and heavy equipment across the world? We can only imagine the disaster that would happen."

Read on: Imagine a world without Filipinos

Thursday, April 02, 2009

35 journalists killed in 16 countries in 3 months

There were 35 journalists killed in 16 countries in the past three months. Last year 20 journalists were killed during the same period.

The deadliest country for journalists in recent months is Pakistan with five journalists killed, followed by Gaza and Iraq with four each, Mexico (3), Russia (3), Somalia (2), Sri Lanka (2), Nepal (2), Venezuela
(2), Afghanistan (2), and one in each of the following: Kenya, Philippines, Madagascar, Columbia, India and Honduras.

In the Philippines, the Unesco director general is following up the Arroyo government on its investigations of the 2006 killings of six Filipino journalists. See Vera Files story.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

War in the sports front

War seems to have intensified in the sports front as the Billiards & Snooker Congress of the Philippines issued a statement today lambasting POC president Jose Cojuangco Jr.

For a background of the controversy, see POC chief Cojuangco’s NSA faces leadership dispute.

Below is the statement of the Billiards & Snooker Congress of the Philippines:

FOR sheer shamelessness, the order of POC president Jose Cojuangco Jr. to the Billiards & Snooker Congress of the Philippines (BSCP) to hold elections using a 2005 voting list instead of a current one is only exceeded by his postponement of the board elections of his own Equestrian Association of the Philippines (EAP) to 2012. In the latter he saved his skin by avoiding certain defeat in the voting scheduled yesterday, March 31. In the former, he effected leadership change in an NSA that voted against him last November by manufacturing a majority out of resigned and dismissed members of the billiards association.

Cojuangco would not allow the use of the BSCP membership list for 2009, 2008, 2007 and 2006 because his dark purpose of transferring control of the association to Aristeo Puyat and his cohorts would not succeed. Only the 2005 list would suffice because it alone included all the names of Puyat and his cohorts, and it excluded the names of new members of the association that have been added in the interval.

In so doing, this supposed leader of all of Philippine sports not only installed by POC edict his favored group of would-be billiard leaders, he wiped away over three years of history of the association – a time when significantly major national and international billiards events were held in the country, when the number of players rose to a record five million, and when the Philippines was labeled by no less than Billiards Digest magazine as “the new epicenter of international pool.”

As with other NSA’s that have been thrown into limbo by his arbitrary acts in office, Cojuangco – supported by the POC executive board – has carried out his scheme in billiards believing that the amendments they smuggled by subterfuge into the POC constitution and by-laws in January 2007 empower them to interfere in the internal affairs of any NSA and install at will supposed leaders who kowtow to his wishes. The lamentable saga has happened in the associations for archery, cycling, swimming, badminton, dragon boat and volleyball – accomplishing in each instance the objective Cojuangco desired. Or so he and his cohorts believe.

Do Cojuangco and the POC board really have the power to reign over Philippine sports in this way? Who conferred on them these magisterial powers that rival those of kings and despots?

Certainly not the Olympic Charter which is the reason for being of the Philippine Olympic Committee. To the contrary, Cojuangco and his amendments are a perversion of the Olympic Charter and of the collegiality that is supposed to exist between the POC and individual NSA’s. Under the Charter, “rights and obligations are reciprocal” among and between the different constituent groups comprising the Olympic Movement, including the International Olympic Committee, the national Olympic committees, the international federations and the national federations. Nobody exercises dictatorial power over any member of the movement because “the Olympic spirit requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”

Neither is this power to reign over sports derived from Philippine laws governing non-profit organizations and corporations. Under our laws and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) which enforce them, there are clear rules for the conduct of elections, for the induction and dismissal of members, the maintenance of members or voters list, and for the conduct of the business and general work of associations. The BSCP and other affected NSA’s have followed these rules being under the SEC system. The POC has not because significantly it is not a registered organization with the SEC.

From the language of Cojuangco and his board, the powers have come to them by virtue of the fact that they have been written into the constitution and by-laws of the POC. In other words, they are self-ordained. They can dictate on the NSA’s because they wrote the provisions to read and mean as such.

What Cojuangco and the POC board do not realize is that their exercise of these magisterial powers is a travesty of the Olympic Charter. They have arrogated powers that they should not have. And they can be challenged and made to account for it before the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Fair play and reciprocity are cardinal principles of the Olympic movement. And these are the last things to describe POC’s actions toward the different NSA’s that have suffered the heel of Cojuangco’s boot. In the case of the BSCP, the POC disregarded the association’s call for its general membership meeting and board elections on December 5, 2008, and proceeded instead to bless an irregular election call by non-members for March 31. It blessed the irregular elections by blatantly lying that no elections had been called since 2005 (a BSCP election was held in 2006), and conveniently forgetting that it requested the BSCP to defer its planned elections on December 5 last year.

The avowed Olympic purpose of advancing and promoting sports has been turned over on its head in the POC’s action against BSCP. The leaders and members who have been principally responsible for the dynamic growth and expansion of billiard sports in the country have been “displaced” by former members who distinguished themselves mainly by either (1) not participating and helping in BSCP programs and absenting themselves from meetings and events, or worse, (2) by obstructing and subverting the association’s programs and events. These are the people who will be in command of Philippine billiards if Cojuangco has his way.

This pattern of disenfranchisement and displacement of true members and leaders has been replicated many times over in many of the country’s sports associations. And what has happened to them has been transmogrified in Philippine sports as a whole.

The organization that was singularly responsible for the Philippine debacle in the Beijing Olympics last August – the Philippine Olympic Committee – instead of atoning for our shameful performance in Beijing, is throwing its weight around, lording over everything in our sports firmament and preventing any possibility of reform and change to sporting life in the country.

The situation could not be more detrimental to the development of Philippine sports. With such roguish leadership in control, there is no way for our sports to go but down. With the Cojuangco board on such a rampage, there may be nothing to salvage within a year.

What then is to be done? How can the menace be checked?

Many in our sports community are of the common belief that certain steps can and must be taken by those who want to save Philippine sports from Cojuangco and his cohorts. Among these are:

First, the aggrieved federations should collectively bring their plight to the attention of the IOC on the grounds that their rights have been trampled on by the POC in violation of the Olympic Charter. There are avenues and precedents for this in the Olympic system.

Second, the affected federations should bring suit against Cojuangco and the POC board before Philippine courts on the grounds that POC’s actions have violated the federations’ rights under the nation’s laws. It does not matter that the POC is not a registered organization; it is still responsible for its dictatorial actions and abuses.

Third, a concerted campaign should immediately be launched to bring an end once and for all to the presidency of Jose Cojuangco Jr. of the Philippine Olympic Committee on the grounds that it is the first and necessary step for the salvation of Philippine sports.

If presidents can be taken down from their pedestals in this country, surely a president of a committee that is not even registered as an organization can be made to account for his grave abuse of office and many acts of irresponsibility at the helm of Philippine sports.

Signed by the Directors, Officers and Members
of the Billiards & Snooker Congress of the Philippines