Sunday, March 28, 2010


(This is the speech that I delivered in a Recognition Ceremony at Dumaguete City last March 29, 2010)

Never underestimate the power of a dream!

When I graduated in 2001, I can still recall our graduation song. In fact, I will volunteer myself to sing a few lines of it. Bear with me, I am a member of MBSS! “Masyadong Bilib sa Sarili. And here it goes, “Yes, it all begins with a dream. Something inside that we really believe. There’s so much we can do. We can make it come true. Yes it all begins with a dream”.

As early as now, think of what you would love to do. What is your passion? What do you enjoy doing? If you can answer these questions, then that is your dream. That will be you 4-8 years from now. That will serve as your compass to guide you. So never lose your dream. Never lose sight and most of all never give up your dream! It’s very hard to get lost especially when you are already advanced in age.

In 2007, I ran my first marathon here in Dumaguete. Remember the 34th milo marathon? Yes, I was one of the runners in…, guess what category? Well for someone like me who is a member of MBSS, I enlisted in the 21-kilometers category. You know what happened? Well, I was able to run halfway, and then I hitched to the traffic enforcer whom is following me because I was the last runner of the race. But wait, I gave up not because I am ashamed of being the last runner, but because I have realized I have chosen the wrong category. Sometimes, it’s negative to be a in the elite circle of MBSS! Kidding aside! It happens! We have to carefully choose our own battle. We have to know when to stop and try again. I may have failed in 2007, but I did not allow myself to get stuck and wallow in self-pity, that I can never make it. Last year, 2009, I ran again, and this time in the 10-kilometers category and I am proud that I finished on time and got for myself a finisher certificate.

Failure is simply defined as the state or condition of not meeting a desirable or intended objective. According to Dr. Robert Schuller, “Failure doesn’t mean you are a failure. It just means you haven’t succeeded yet. Failure does not mean you have accomplished nothing. It does mean you have learned something. Failure doesn’t mean you’ve been a fool to try. It means you were brave, you had nerve, you had courage; be proud of your self. Failure does not mean you’ll never make it. It does mean it will take longer. Failure does not mean you’re finished. It does mean you have a chance to start all over again, try something new. Failure doesn’t mean God has abandoned you. It does mean He has a better idea. So it is true, failure is never final.

Consider the following real stories. Woody Allen – Academy Award-winning writer, producer and director flunked motion picture production at New York University and the City College of New York. He also failed English at New York University. When Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, he tried over 2,000 experiments before he got it to work. A young reporter asked him how it felt to fail so many times. He said, “I never failed once. I invented the light bulb. It just happened to be a 2,000-step process. General Douglas MacArthur might never have gained power and fame without persistence. When he applied for admission to West Point, he was turned down, not once but twice. But he tried a third time, was accepted and marched into the history books.

Now, I have a warning to make. Be careful of dream stealers! Who are they? They are people who will discourage you to pursue your dream. They are people who will tell you straight in your face, you can never make it. They are people who will tell you, Oh my God, look at you, “Is that even possible?

A teacher asked her students to draw their dream. After an hour, Jimmy went to the teacher’s table and proudly presented his drawing of a big ranch with all kind of animals he could possibly imagine. The teacher praised Jimmy for a beautiful drawing but continued saying, your grandfather is poor, your father is poor, you cannot have that ranch. Jimmy, draw something achievable or else I will give you an F. So Jimmy went home very sad and told his dad about it. His father told him, It is up to you son, you can either keep your dreams or allow people to steal it away from you. The next day, Jimmy valiantly went to his teacher and presented his same drawing. The teacher angrily told him, “Jimmy, are you testing my patience? But Jimmy just smiled and replied, “It’s okay ma’am, you can give me an F but I choose to keep my dreams.”

This time, I’d like to address the parents and relatives of our outstanding students, “Congratulations for the achievements of your son or daughter, but please, don’t steal their dreams. Your role is just to support and guide them.

To you outstanding students, you who have chosen that excellence matters, you don’t have to know how your dream will come true. Just dream it. The path will reveal itself, little by little, in due time. Your role is simply to follow your dream.

Once again, Congratuations!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Let Us Join Earth Hour!

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Toastmasters - Not Speaking English

So you think toastmasters group themselves with the rostrum, gavel, and microphone in their midst? And speak in kilometric phrases?

Not until March 13, 2010 when Div D let go of their consciousness to say ah’s, uhm’s, and other verbal crutches and headed their way to CICM, Talisay City for a day of physical activities, food trip, endless chit-chats, relaxation, nap, sleep, singing, and even not doing anything or “sight-seeing”. The last word is in quotation to mean their connotations. Well, that’s just a theory.

A day before, I made sure that I have my required 6-7 hours of sleep to be in attendance of what they officially call “Division D Sports fest”. This means I canceled my Friday nocturnal socializing. Oh, there’s the quotation again. That’s because I destined that day as a day to relax, sleep maybe in 10 minutes, breathe another quality of air, and not think of anything. If you have read my previous blog, you will know that I badly needed this R and R.

Mcdo Lacson served as the assembly place but ironically when I arrived, not a single soul is present. I sent a text message to TM Jaclyn whom I met before I came in and replied that all of them including Gov. Cherrie flocked to Jollibee for their breakfast. Poor Mcdonalds!

Eight o-clock ticked in my cellphone clock when I saw a group in yellow polo-shirt and the hair of the long-absent toastmaster Jabez. Then I saw Gov. Cherrie in grinning face and waved hi and hello. And suddenly TM Grazy caught my vision as she made a pose beside the huge façade of Mcdo. And the talking went louder and louder. The people around us might just be very tolerant. Forgive our being us.

And then I saw the “demanding” presence of TM Boy. Demanding because he was wearing fuchsia pink. Ahah! And here comes myself in black and white not knowing, it’s actually our official color. Who to blame? Not me.

Off we paraded the long but not winding Lacson street and before I knew it, we were at the venue, CICM. This is my second visit of the place which is really best for contemplation, retrospection and introspection.

The main event commenced with football with a twist. A perfect start maybe? I played football in college as part of my four PE subjects. I could still remember we trotted for long hours under the sweltering heat of the sun with my classmates in the huge Silliman ballfield for the love of the sport and the grade as well. Did my introduction reveal the winner? Hehehe.

Then volleyball came in next. I was told by TM Cyrus that we can’t possibly participate for the lack of a 6-player team. Out of my ferocious spirit, I made myself near to TM Boy G and said that we will compete anyway. The ambitious 4-player team is composed of TM Jabez (serves us our inspiration), the equally strong in spirit Cyrus, and the gregarious daughter of a toastmaster from Sparkle TMC. The sun at 11:30 am may be fierce but not as fierce compared to our doggedness to topple the complete 6-player team from NOCECO. We may be quantatively deficient, but we are qualitatively superior. Peace to Gov Cherrie. Hehehehe.

The “Dama” event was quite interesting. For the innumerable times that I have played the game and at some point in time considered myself a “dama” elite, I didn’t know that it is governed by international rules. Whoa! A game for the prisoners behind bar has international rules?! If you can’t play chess, you play “dama” and that’s me. Hehe. And by the way, if you are interested with the international ruling, you may contact Cyrus of FFTMC.

The cheering competition was the most exciting maybe. It was a showcase of cheers and yells which are statements of exaggeration and falsehood. Peace with a smile. Sparkle amazed the audience (composed of Emmylou, Jabez, Cyrus, and I) with their multihued costume and props, grace in dancing, unity in singing, and mastery in choreography. OMG! I didn’t know I am evaluating already! Huh! Am I in for a trouble! Wait, let me find my way out. Two other clubs also kissed our eyes with beauty and our ears with wit should I say.

We kissed the serenity of CICM with happy thoughts. Enough to create bonds together. Enough to foster new friendship. Enough to forget the busyness of city life.

Monday, March 8, 2010

I Kiss FARMVILLE Goodbye

I used to detest Farmville or what they say, virtual farming. It’s loathsome to listen to two individuals exchanging stories like the seeds they have planted, their acquisition of a house or a barn, how much money they have, and how high their levels have gone up.

Until one day, out of…well… clichéd reason…curiosity that I develop an irresistible addiction to it.

The addiction is spelled as waking up in the late hours of the evening just to harves, plow the fields, and plant seeds again. It’s a mortal sin to have plants just wither and die.

One toastmaster friend said to me in the most persuasive way she could, “Honestly Jay, you need a life outside of Farmville”. At that time, I am still into it, meaning, I enjoyed and get relaxed every second doing farming activities. So I did not bother considering her advise.

There were days when I plant seeds and harvest in a span of only four hours just to accumulate more coins and level up. There was stiff competition among virtual farmers. So I make it a point to plant a seed that will give me more coins and more experience points the shortest possible time. Planning is involved here in case you’re asking for a benefit. There was never a day in the office that we will not talk about the seeds we planted, the gifts that we want to receive, and ribbons we have acquired, and the bonuses we have to immediately click before others get the chance. The whole thing was very addicting…at first. Not to mention how proud I was when I bought my Villa worth one million coins.

I was online one time, when another toastmaster friend popped-up a chat message saying, “You are not anymore a child. Stop Farmville and went offline right away”. My chemistry professor even asked me if I already have fresh harvest of milk, poultry, meat, and fruits in my farm. They were not successful.

Gaming is not a bad idea. Farmville is not a bad idea. I bid goodbye because I have exhausted all the fun that it has to offer. Thanks to Farmville for those days that I was inspired and look forward to living each day because I have to plant, plow, and harvest and get richer.

P.S. To all my neighbors who still derive much joy in farming at Farmville, go for gold! Starting today, I will not be anymore sending gifts.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Let's go straight to the point! W-W stands for Work on a Weekend. Sigh. Sob.

If you have just watched a movie on a Saturday or on a Sunday, I envy you. If you have just relaxed thru a body massage and spa, on these days, you're one lucky person! If you have just gulped a cup of caramel macchiato at Starbucks, I hate you so much! These are the things absent in my activity list this particular weekend and its making me sigh and …sob a bit.

Although sometimes, I get burned out or deprived due to the demands of work, I still consider it a blessing. One colleague made a remark when he heard someone who said, "I have so many things to do!". Maybe a little exasperated, he said in reply, "You should be grateful you're busy. That means you are still indispensable in the company. You rant if you have nothing to do. That means, you're near your expiration date." It may be a joke, but I always regard the wisdom of that joke.

Last Friday, I was invited by a friend to a attend a seminar at Business Inn. I am not certain about the content of the seminar but one is for sure. It comes with a free dinner! So who am I to refuse?

After we eat, oh by the way its worth mentioning that the food was great, the real business followed. It’s all about enjoying your holiday vacation at a cheaper cost in the chain of hotels of Astoria Plaza. Membership that is! Well I am fascinated with their package offers which will last for 30 years plus the limitless choice of 5star hotels that you can choose from where you will splurge your money. But I am more fascinated with the length of time their staff can speak, and not only that, speak with zest and gusto and speak to persuade. I am fascinated with their overflowing energy to cajole every prospective customer to buy their product. That must be tedious.

Yes, I am lucky that I don’t need kilometric words to get compensated plus I get my OT pay. Moreover, I didn’t get the opportunity to spend?! That means I should neither sigh nor sob?!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Brace for Magnitude 7 quake

Brace for Magnitude 7 quake
Developing a culture of safety is awareness of hazards by everyone in a community.

By Alfredo Mahar Lagmay
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 17:42:00 01/23/2010

Filed Under: Earthquake, Housing & Urban Planning, Infrastructure, Safety of Citizens

THERE ARE no earthquakes in a perfect world. Too bad we don’t live in such a place, as the staggering scope of the destruction in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, reminds us.

In more ways than one, the geological history of the Philippines is similar to that of the island of Hispaniola, where the sovereign states of Haiti and the Dominican Republic are located.

Like the Philippines, Hispaniola harbors pristine beaches and places where jungles blanket mountains of gold.

Sadly, where gold is found, earthquake faults lurk and spoil the calm of island paradises.

Faults in Haiti

The Enriquillo-Plantain Garden Fault in the southern part of Haiti was responsible for the destruction of its capital on January 12.

One of the two faults that straddle the east-west trending island of Hispaniola, the fault generated 7-magnitude earthquakes in centuries past.

The strongest in historical record was the 7.5-magnitude earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince in 1770.

The recent tremor originated 13 kilometers below the surface and released about 32 megatons of energy, comparable to the simultaneous detonation of 1,000 Nagasaki atom bombs.

Compressive stresses

The faults in Hispaniola were formed because of compressive stresses generated throughout millions of years by the unhampered westward movement of the western Atlantic seafloor underneath the Caribbean.

Hispaniola succumbed to these stresses and broke apart to form fractures that slip from time to time at intervals from a few decades to a few centuries.

When the fracture slips damaging earthquakes are spawned.

As a rule of thumb, the longer the time an active fault does not move, the larger the next earthquake will be along that fault or fault segment.

Unfortunately for Haiti, the last rupture of the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden Fault was in 1860.

Most feared

The Philippine Fault is no different from the active faults that traverse Hispaniola.

Both are left-lateral strike-slip faults, which means that if you stand straddling the rupturing fault during an earthquake, your left foot would move back and your right foot, forward.

Both are also part of the list of the longest known active strike-slip faults in the world along with the San Andreas Fault of California, Denali Fault in Alaska and the North Anatolian Fault of Turkey.

Given that length of fault rupture is directly related to earthquake magnitude, it is no wonder that the Philippine Fault is one of the most feared faults on Earth.

Like how the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden Fault of Haiti formed, faults in the Philippines are the product of the collision of the northwestward- moving Pacific Ocean floor with the South China Sea floor.

Brittle Philippine crust

In the grip of two colliding masses, the brittle Philippine crust cracked and formed many faults, the closest to Metro Manila being the Marikina Valley Fault.

Whenever these faults slip, stored energy is released and earthquakes occur.

This network of faults is responsible for the 5,000 to 7,000 island temblors recorded each year in the Philippine archipelago.

Most of these, however, are unfelt.

Quakes in Manila

Manila has been devastated by at least six large tremors between 1589 and 1864, experiencing heavy ground shaking in 1599, 1601, 1658, 1700, 1766 and 1863, according to a report published in 1985 by the Southeast Asia Association of Seismology and Earthquake Engineering.

The tally of earthquakes with intensity 6 or greater felt in Manila from 1589 to 2000 was placed at 23 in an updated study of historical quakes, with 13 causing significant damage.

The deadliest among these were the 1863 and 1880 earthquakes, which were comparable to the impact of the 1990 Luzon seismic event.

Ruby Tower

One of the latest devastating seismic events that affected Metro Manila was the 1968 Casiguran, Aurora earthquake.

Infamously known as the Ruby Tower earthquake, its name is derived from the six-story apartment building in Binondo, Manila, which collapsed like a house of cards, killing 342 of its more than 600 tenants.

Most residents of Metro Manila, who are at least 25 years old, remember the earthquake of June 16, 1990.

1990 Luzon temblor

Known as the Luzon earthquake, the 7.8-magnitude temblor, which originated in Nueva Ecija, was felt as intensity 6 in Quezon City and as intensity 7 in the low-lying areas of Manila.

Although nearer to the earthquake epicenter, the tremor registered lower in the intensity scale in Quezon City because of its relatively firmer ground composed of adobe.

Unlike Quezon City, Manila’s subsurface is dominated by unconsolidated river and coastal sand, ground that is more unstable and prone to liquefaction.

Marikina Valley Fault

The name “Marikina Valley Fault” was first coined by Dr. Carlo Arcilla of the National Institute of Geological Sciences in a monograph published in 1983.

Based on his field research in San Mateo, Rizal, Arcilla, who was then only 21 years old, described two fault structures that caused the Marikina Valley to sink relative to Quezon City and the hillsides of San Mateo and Montalban.

At the time, it was not known that the Marikina Fault was actively moving and it took nearly a decade before the Marikina Fault was finally established as active through detailed investigation by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) and by paleoseismologists of the United States Geological Survey (USGS).

The name “Marikina Valley Fault” was changed to the “Valley Fault System” when the local government complained that the fault’s name might affect the economy of the city.

Tagaytay Ridge

Since the western part of the Marikina Valley Fault System extends up to Tagaytay Ridge, it was deemed unfair to call it by its original name. Hence, the change of term. (See map.)

Some contend, however, that such change in nomenclature is not standard practice in the field of Geology, since the locality of the fault structure is usually attached to the place where it is best exposed and first described.

I believe this is rightfully so, because the name “Valley Fault System” may refer to any valley in the world – imagine calling the “San Andreas Fault” the “Fault.”

Science in its true form does not buckle from political, economic and even religious pressure.

The study by Allan R. Nelson and others of the USGS and Phivolcs, published in the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, reports the Marikina Fault as having moved at least two and perhaps four times over the past 1,300 to 1,700 years.

A range of 200 to 400 years is estimated as the recurrence interval of the studied part of the Marikina Valley Fault, with the most recent rupture occurring probably some 200 years ago.

A 6 to 7-magnitude earthquake is expected based on the predicted rupture length of the Marikina Valley Fault, according to Nelson.

The Metro Manila Earthquake Impact Reduction Study, designed to reduce the impact of hazards in the metropolis, predicts a slightly larger 7.2-magnitude event. [See damage in Metro Manila.]

Like branch of tree

The paleoseismic study by Nelson and others was conducted on a splay of the West Marikina Valley Fault.

A fault splay is like the branch of a tree reaching outward from the main trunk.

The main trunk of the Marikina Valley Fault is easily traceable since its surface expression is quite distinct.

Splays of the Marikina Fault, however, are more difficult to find because they are less prominent and are often masked by urban concrete.

High-rise buildings

In some instances, these fault splays crop up when large pits as deep as 20 meters are excavated during the early construction stages of high-rise buildings in areas like Muntinlupa, Fort Bonifacio, Ortigas and Quezon City.

Whenever these faults are seen, it is important that an in-depth study is made to determine the fault’s activity or inactivity and its relationship with the Marikina Valley Fault.

It is irresponsible to dismiss the fault when it is found because the possible consequences are dire.

I would recommend full disclosure by property developers of the underlying geology, including the presence of faults, if any, to prospective- building tenants, a practice observed in the United States.

Culture of safety

To prepare ourselves for any disaster we need to develop a culture of safety.

It is not difficult to demonstrate that we lack this culture. For instance, cyclists take the wrong lane without helmets and reflectors, and search-and-rescue teams don’t know where to find rubber boats to save flood victims.

Developing a culture of safety is awareness of hazards by everyone in a community.

It means active participation of all sectors in disaster-mitigation efforts following the lead of civil authorities, long before catastrophe strikes.

It is not taking short cuts or condoning illegal acquisition of environmental and building permits because business is more important.

A society with a culture of safety invests heavily in knowledge and treats disasters not as rare events but as unresolved problems in developmental planning.

We have to be smart about living with natural hazards because nature will not adjust to people. It is society that must adjust.
(Alfredo Mahar Lagmay is an associate professor at the National Institute of Geological Sciences, University of the Philippines. He holds a Ph.D. in geology from the University of Cambridge and was a visiting scientist at the Geophysics Department of Stanford University.)
Expected damage in Metro Manila from 7.2-magnitude quake

Number of people killed

Number of dead from 500 simultaneous fires

Number of injured

3 million
Number of residents who will flee

Number of buildings destroyed

30 to 35
Percentage of public buildings damaged

Sources: Metro Manila Earthquake Impact
Reduction Study (2004) and inquirer reports