The modernization trend, which is evident in the several structures rising in different parts of the country, had caught up with a humble but idyllic place in Marinduque.
A world-class “green” building will rise within Mogpog Central School (MCS) through a collaborative effort of teachers, parents and the local government within a 200-square meter area.
Spearheaded by the MCS Alumni Association, Inc. ( MCSAAi) officers and members with the support of teachers and students, the building will be a gift to the people of Mogpog and the Island of Marinduque.
The project is the biggest, most ambitious of the MCSAAi yet, organized less than a year ago, to inspire a sense of renewal and competitiveness among the residents of the town and the province.
During the building’s groundbreaking, the school’s alumni also held a “Family Fun Daze” event, a momentous milestone marking the school’s first-ever sportsfest. The smiles on the children’s faces mirror learning spiced with the element of fun.
The green building’s structure will be designed to efficiently use energy and water, while it will be partially powered by solar energy.
It will also feature pollution and waste reduction systems that allow for recycling of waste materials.
Also the characters of the revolutionary edifice are the circulation of natural air quality and the consideration of the environment in its design and construction.
Adaptation to a changing environment will also be part of its design. The purpose and layout of the building are both oriented to encouraging students to achieve their potentials.
The expansive ground floor of the building envisions the a modern cafeteria, the second floor will have a full-floored library as a way to encourage students to embrace books and the habit of reading, while the third floor will feature a play area complete with interactive games and recreation facilities to improve students’ active faculties and hone technological skills.
A multi-purpose social hall will be housed at the fourth floor where a theater room and mini offices will be located.
Set the goal and make it happen — goes the motto that leads to the realization of the progressive MCSAAi project.
Photos by David John Cubangbang
Asia rises together
While Western countries have mostly gone solo in the fight against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Asian nations are taking the solidarity path by combining forces which was part of the significant outcomes of the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Asian Development Bank.
Ministers in the region decided to form a united front in which the ADB will provide the financial muscle to the recovery effort.
To get over the virus hump, the ADB pledged to coordinate with global institutions such as the World Health Organization and the global vaccine alliance of giant drug firms in obtaining a COVID-19 cure.
ADB had released to members $7.2 billion in financing related to the campaign against the plague, with $4 billion in replenishment through the Asian Development Fund.
To effectively battle the pathogen, the multilateral agency is also setting up a center for Asian countries to draw experiences in the raising of needed government funds.
After effectively battling and surviving the contagion, a united Asia is expected to reassume its role as the main engine of global growth.
Raring to bounce back
The Philippines successfully reenergized its trade momentum after its significant role in a major Chinese business exposition.
As the government takes the careful steps in rebooting businesses, the sale of goods abroad had shown improvement to reflect the resilience of local industries.
The latest report of the Philippine Statistics Authority showed the country’s total merchandise trade growth remained at a 9.6 percent contraction in July, which was the first time since the quarantine period started in March 2020 that the negative figure moderated to a single digit.
A local delegation attended the China International Fair for Investment and Trade (CIFIT) recently as the fair’s guests of honor.
The exhibition was significant for Asia because among its participants are Chinese firms craving for expansion primarily within the region after their plans were rudely disrupted by the pandemic.
The Department of Trade and Industy unveiled a new international investment brand, “Make It Happen in the Philippines,” during CIFIT to draw in the needed foreign investments.
The Philippines is being tipped to lead the surge of economic revival in Asia, which is an aspiration that was its clear message to China during the milestone event.
Conquering menace as one
The participation of the private sector in augmenting government assistance to Filipinos during the lingering health crisis has been a factor in strengthening the resolve, particularly of those in the frontline during the difficult battle.
One of those which had provided a constant stream of assistance is One Meralco Foundation (OMF), the social responsibility arm of the the country’s biggest power distributor, Manila Electric Co.
Thousands of the power utility firm’s employees devote their time, talent and resources to aid marginalized communities through the foundation even before the start of the pandemic.
Throughout the year, employees of Meralco and its subsidiaries take part in the Foundation’s work by supporting its fund raising campaigns and volunteering in the implementation of its programs.
The OMF team is made up of dedicated individuals who spearhead an average of 300 activities every year, which are projects that had reasonably increased after the outbreak of the disease. Some of the undertakings are in far-flung and hard-to-reach villages.
No foe is unbeatable with the combination of the muscle of private corporations and government in keeping the people’s hopes up, primarily of the marginalized, during this difficult period.
MSME must survive
The Bayanihan We Recover As One Act or Bayanihan 2 specifically provided that all purchases from the billions of pesos of funds to be allocated to government agencies as additional budget and private businesses in the form of subsidies should give priority to local products in purchases made.
Just recently, local manufacturers of personal protective equipment complained that the government imported such materials to their detriment since several local factories were repurposed to meet requirements in the battle against the coronavirus disease.
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez gave an assurance that Bayanihan 2 will plug loopholes in terms of preference for local products. Lopez has a key role in inserting the provision since he knows the life and death situation that local industries particularly the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) face during the pandemic.
MSME make up the majority of export firms which are all labor intensive and, thus, give employment to more than 60 percent of the labor force.
Thus, assuring the survival of small companies will also mean securing the livelihood of majority of Filipinos, which makes a lot of sense coming from the DTI chief who has long been a proponent of the advancement of small businesses.
Nuclear comes clean
The health emergency had brought out the need for a reliable electricity service particularly in hospitals and other medical centers, which are thick into the battle against the debilitating coronavirus.
The energy situation is dependable at the moment since majority of industries have halted or scaled down operations due to the quarantine protocols that limits human interactions.
The situation will be different when a semblance of normalcy is attained through the intervention of a vaccine or some propitious event that will end the blight.
What is expected by then would be a furious resurgence of the economy that may catch policy planners flat-footed.
The Department of Energy, thus, wanted to come up with a definite policy on the use of nuclear energy as the fastest and most efficient solution in matching power supply with the demand of a growing economy.
Technological advances had resulted to the development of compact nuclear reactors that do not need to be housed in monstrous generator plants.
The same leaps in science had made nuclear technology far safer than before.
If not for the uninformed and those who refuse to know, the nation would have long been part of the world, which is benefiting immensely from the most powerful source of energy known to man.
Hold head up
Knights in the Middle ages fanned out in search of the holy grail which, based on a myth, will make those who drink from it immortal.
The modern version of the quest is the hunt for a cure, in the form of vaccine or otherwise, to end the coronavirus disease 2019 curse.
Several things are going in favor of the nation in the search for an antidote, mainly from countries, which the Duterte administration had strengthened relations with under its independent foreign policy, such as Japan, Russia and China.
Russia boasted pioneering the release of a tested vaccine called Sputnik V, which will undergo Food and Drug Administration (FDA) certification as soon as late this month.
The Chinese Embassy also indicated FDA approval was obtained for drug Lian Hua Qing Wen, which is a COVID-19 treatment for mild and moderate cases widely used in China.
Japan’s anti-viral Avigan, which is considered a potential cure, also arrived in the country last 7 August and is now being tested on 100 patients.
The nation, nonetheless, should not fall into complacency as the process of applying the solution to end the plague takes time and the intervening period may mean more lives lost needlessly.
The role of government remains crucial in being on top of the situation and ensure that nobody is left behind.
Judgment of Solomon
The most difficult decision a leader is asked to make is the choice between preventing deaths from the coronavirus disease and keeping the lifeblood of the economy flowing even as restrictions on human movement are imposed.
Nothing less than the wisdom of King Solomon is needed to divine the narrow path in balancing diverse interests during the health emergency without falling into perdition.
Recent events proved the hard decision making required under the current emergency situation.
Community quarantines imposed on the country were considered among the strictest in the world, which confound the allegations of critics that the Duterte administration failed to apply decisive measures to fend off infections from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The price for it was costly. The economy, which just a few months ago was among the fastest growing in the world, contracted by an unseen 16.5 percent in the first half of the year.
Still, President Rodrigo Duterte decided to return Metro Manila and suburbs into a modified enhanced community quarantine, which means most businesses are again on a standstill, something which governments of most nations such as the United States did not have enough will to muster in imposing.
The decision was based on the President’s precept that saving the life of even one Filipino is more urgent than fully giving in to the frantic pleas of his economic managers.
Charge of Sultan’s brigade
On 9 February 2013, a group calling themselves Royal Sulu Army entered Malaysian waters on a boat and began to gather in stages at Felda Sahabat 17, Kampung Tanduo in Lahad Datu.
Two days later, the group was discovered by fishermen who reported to the Malaysian police that 100 armed men in army fatigues were putting up tents in Kampung Tandou.
The group knowing that their cover was blown broke into smaller groups and entered Sungai Bakau village, village Surau and the house of one Ahmad Malandi, also known as Mad Bon.
Then Prime Minister Najib Razak said the Malaysian government would negotiate to handle the intrusion before using force.
On 16 February, Malaysian Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said members of the ragtag group were not considered terrorists but supporters of the Sulu Sultanate.
The Sulu army, nonetheless, said it is enforcing the Sulu Sultanate’s ownership of Sabah.
By March, Malaysia ordered an offensive after a small group of intruders tried to break a police blockade in Kampung Tanduo, resulting in two police commandos dead and three others injured.
A skirmish happened with a predictable result as the Sultanate’s army had mostly swords and bolos as weapons against the modern firearms of the Malaysian forces.
Then President Noynoy Aquino merely left the situation to Razak’s decision despite hundreds and even thousands of Filipinos, counting the residents of Sabah who Malaysia refuses to recognize, were involved.
In the end, 60 members of the Sultan’s army and a few Malaysian troopers were killed in the battle.
Years after the quixotic charge, many are now asking if the Filipinos who enforced a rightful claim on Sabah were heroes or heels. Time will tell.
Fist bump COVID off
In his past State of the Nation Addresses (SoNA), President Rodrigo Duterte talked of the difficult balancing acts he takes as leader of the nation.
In the final turn of his six-year term, it gets tougher. The leader who started out and has succeeded in defeating corruption, crime and the drugs menace is now faced with the greatest enemy of mankind called the coronavirus disease COVID-19 which is the deadliest malignancy known in history.
While narcotics syndicates can be defeated with determined government effort and political will, the new enemy can’t even be seen while exacting an even bigger damage than all the challenges in the past three years of President Duterte combined.
Also the coronavirus disease now threatens to undo what was painstakingly achieved under the current regime in terms of providing a more comfortable life to most Filipinos.
The focus in the final two years will undoubtedly be to keep the economy in a steady flow even as the world waits for a cure or whatever solution through science to defeat the microscopic beast.
The President, as in the war against drugs, criminality and corruption, will again call for Filipinos to stand together against a common adversary.
Now more than ever, unity counts since it is a matter of life and death to many who are threatened by the disease.
Heed whatever the President says as it will all be for the better of the nation.