The Philippines has always been proud of being a so-called "democratic" country. Becoming a republic in 1898 after three centuries of Spanish domination, only to become an American colony. Given a Commonwealth status and slated to transition into an independent country only to be spoiled by the ravages of war as Japan kicked out the Americans. The country got its independence only to spiral out into disunity and factionalism as crooked politicians and corrupt system transformed this proud country into a "sick man of the region."

Elections in the Philippines is like a mashup of everything that you can see in a movie. Action-packed political assassinations, melodramatic public appeals, comedic campaign jingles, dirty political intrigues, and serious political debates rolled into one. When it comes to election campaigns, we can say that the political candidates are creative for all the wrong reasons. They master the art of lying and deception with their catchy and attention-grabbing jingles. No platforms, all bullshits. They try to do whatever it takes to reach the electorate's heads and influence them to sell their votes.

There is the rise of what you called "epals" - thick-faced and spineless politicians who disregard public morality with their blatant disregard of pasting their ugly faces on every imaginable space that they see. It is an utter mess that even public service is overshadowed by their obsession of their political self-image. Psy of Gangnam fame has said that he allows everyone to use his song. That means, we will hear a lot of Gangnam this coming election. It is really a disgraceful act but many Filipinos continue to vote the same old politicians who are doing the same old tricks. These guys spend a lot of money during the election campaign but barely provide public service (because the utter lack of funds, the usual excuse). When they do provide public projects, most are public works from bridges to roads that are often overpriced.

Here are some videos that will show you how rampant this practice is.

Philippine politics is a circus with names and faces of politicians on billboards, bus stops, road projects, and even on electric posts. What makes it worse, it happens all year round! They talk about empty promises and provide false hopes. They don't speak about their political platforms in their ads because they let our favorite artistas do the talking for them. Talk about articulating their political agenda, they don't! Whether we believe it or not, these artistas are not even genuinely politically educated because they all get paid to do their part (of course they won't admit it right?).

What are the worst campaign ads ever?

Team Unity Ad (2007) - They tried to form a rag-tag team of unproven wannabe politicos and old guard trapos and mashed it up with Queen's favorite rock single "We Will Rock You."

Zubiri Ad (2007) - Zubiri Idol ka. Boom tarat tarat. That says it all, what more can I say?

Pichay Ad (2007) - Although he spent a lot of advertising money to promote himself but I don't understand why the imagery is focused on the fact that Butch's name sounds like pechay, thus "Itanim sa Senado." As they say in Tagalog, "...pupulutin sa kangkungan..." so maybe he has to say "Pangarap kong pangarapin ang mga pangarap n'yo."

Villar Ad (2007) - This could be the most over-played political ad ever. I got sick to my stomach every time I hear it. No offense but its being looped over and over again.

Don't be surprised to see politicians jumping in the Gangnam bandwagon. What do you think is the worst election campaign ad ever?

Video Credits: Youtube

I was supposed to go home to the Philippines last Christmas but I decided to postpone it because of the fact that it is a hassle for me to line up and get an OEC. I know it is requirement for everyone who wants to go out of the country to work elsewhere but why do we have to do it? To prevent human trafficking? Nah!

Added bureaucratic red tape is really annoying. I have valid travel documents like my passport, my working visa, and work permit. Isn't that enough? I have my contract and payslips to go, do they have to sift through my banks account just to prove that I'm really working legitimately? Oh well, that's how they are going to repay us after delivering billions upon billions of dollars in "needed" government revenues. "Bagong bayanis" but hassled in a highway-robbery like manner.

Do you still remember the time when our teachers told us that we have an out-of-school activity and we have to get our parent's permit? That's how I see it. Immigration playing like big brother by determining who can go out of the country and who can't. Smugglers can easily get in the country while corrupt officials can easily go on an overseas holiday, isn't that easy?

Anyhooo, it has been said that there were rumors to get rid of the OEC because it is open to a lot of abuses. However, it is still enforced so some of my fellow OFWs still have to line up while others are barred from getting into their flights without that "parents permit" este OEC.

It's difficult to enjoy a short vacation when 1 day is allocated to just lining up for OEC. Here what you need just to renew:
Workers are required to present the following:
-Passport valid for 6 months from time of departure
-Valid working visa/work permit
-Proof of employment such as Certificate of Employment, Company ID, payslip and other
equivalent document

Of course, you have to pay $10 for OWWA too! Unfortunately, we don't have POLO here so I have to get one when I get home.

Photo Credits:

Every year, there is always a huge spike of burn injuries and dismemberment brought about by firecrackers that victimize those who play with it and bystanders who join the revelry of the holiday celebrations. Most victims are children, who play with these deadly firecrackers like harmless child's-play toys. What's sad is that many victims, who suffered the consequences of that explosion, collect unexploded firecrackers that eventually blow up in their faces and hands unexpectedly.

Curiosity also bring kids to experiment by collecting the firecracker powder by creating their own "bomb." They fill out cans with the powder and cover it tight before trying to blow it up but the shrapnel fragments can fly in the air uncontrollably so the risk of injury is certain. Getting burned on the hands by firecracker powder that is ignited accidentally is also possible. Every year, about 200-300 cases of firecracker-related injuries are reported and mostly are from Metro Manila. How many people have to suffer from these needless waste of money for such noise-making celebration? How many fingers do you have to lose just to learn the hard lesson?

It is a Filipino tradition inherited from the Chinese that firecrackers can drive out all the bad luck from the previous year but the unintended consequence is the same bad luck that will hunt us for the rest of our lives especially if we lose our fingers and limbs. Such tradition is hard to break especially when most of us take pride of it. Some people go to the extreme by buying the most powerful, explosive, and deadly firecrackers just to show off. In fact, many of these firecrackers are not firecrackers at all - these are dynamites, bombs, and improvised explosive devices masquerading as firecrackers. If you check out the streets before and after the New Year's Day celebration, it will remind you the shock and awe atmosphere of Baghdad and the wartime mayhem of wartime Berlin rolled into one!

Whether getting them at the firecracker capital of Bocaue, Bulacan or importing unmarked and erroneously labeled Chinese ones, hearing a loud bang and smelling the gunpowder is the usual aftermath of our New Year celebration. Vendors have become creative in selling their deadly products by wrapping them in Christmas wrappers and providing harmless and interesting names from Piccolo to Gangnam Bomb. What are the deadliest firecrackers in the Philippines that the government decided to put a list of banned firecrackers?

I'm no firecracker expert but I believe these are most deadliest firecrackers in the Philippines in no particular order:

Goodbye Philippines / Goodbye World
These are the so-called "mother of all firecrackers" because technically, these are huge bombs that can kill you! And the name itself, it is suicidal to play around with it because even if you try to get out of the way because shrapnel can hurt you.

Bin Laden
This is not a tribute to the Al-Qaeda leader but the Bin Laden firecracker packs a strong punch that can dismember you. Manufacturers want to name it for a menacing effect and never thought it was named after a person responsible for countless deaths.

It may sound like a cartoon character but its destructive force is just like that green alien guy from Dragon Ball Z. Small but terrible, piccolo claims so many victims - mostly kids who collect unexploded pieces on the street.

Watusi or the “dancing firecracker”
It was initially allowed for sale and manufacture under Republic Act 7183, but it was eventually banned because it causes poisoning when ingested, especially among children.

Super Lolo and Atomic Big Triangulo
These two big firecrackers are very dangerous if not handled properly.

Mother Rockets
These are firecrackers with a stick designed as a propellant upon lighting the wick.

Lolo Thunder
This is a powerful firecracker twice the size of a Five Star.

This is a firecracker that causes a series of sparks when lit.

Although not a firecracker, this traditional canon made from PVC pipe using denatured alcohol as explosive ingredient can be dangerous if it explodes in your face. It looks like a bazooka or RPG.

Big Judas Belt
It is a string of firecrackers consisting of smaller firecrackers that number up to a hundred, and culminating in a larger and more powerful firecracker.

Big Bawang
Literally means "big garlic," this is a firecracker packed in cardboard tied around with abaca strings.

This triangle-sized explosive is twice the size and lethality of a Pla-pla.

Whistle Bomb
This is one of the most recognizable firecrackers, it is designed to emit a whistle-like sound before exploding.

Other banned firecrackers include the “Atomic Bomb,” Five Star, Pla-pla, Og, Giant Whistle Bomb, and unlabelled firecrackers.

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{picture#} JP Canonigo is a historian, professional blogger and copywriter, online content specialist, copywriter, video game junkie, sports fanatic and jack-of-all trades. {facebook#} {twitter#} {google#}
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