Overhauling the Philippine Education System

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IF I WERE THE NEXT PRESIDENT(Part 6 of a series)

By BEN R. PUNONGBAYAN

Founder, Buklod National Political Party

There is a common acknowledgement that the quality of our education system is quite low. This observation, without doubt, has been validated by the poor results of the performance of our students in periodic international assessments of achieved learning.

The most telling of these assessments is the very poor performance of our students in PISA (Programme for International Assessment) in 2018 for 15 year-olds where our students ranked lowest in reading and second lowest in mathematics and science, out of 79 countries. A humiliating results, indeed; but which brought a loud and clear confirmation that may drive us to action. Similarly, we did poorly in the ASEAN assessment in 2019 of Grade 5 students among six ASEAN countries.

In addition to the academic issue, the term I use to…

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Letter XIII Latrines

With all the sad news around, here is a snippet of the army life which might make you smile a little.

Pacific Paratrooper

High class facilities in the Philippines, 1944

Back in the states, people were still dancing to the tunes of The Dorsey Brothers, Count Basie and Artie Shaw.  They listened to the songs of Doris Day, the Andrew Sisters, Lena Horne and Rosemary Clooney.  But, some others weren’t so lucky, in the army there was always latrine duty, as depicted in the following letter from Smitty.

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Letter XIII                               Latrines                        Wednesday 9/5/44

Dear Mom,

Many are the times you have heard me refer to the latrines.  Never before had I any conception or realized the amount of genius and mathematical figuring that was necessary for the building of one of these casual looking comfort stations.

Yesterday I had the dubious honor of being selected, with four other disgruntled G.I.s, to labor on a detail whose sole aim and mission was the digging and building of a latrine.  It seems that in order…

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Encomienda in the Philippines

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Encomienda Drawing by Felipe Guaman Poma de Ayala

An encomienda was a system adopted in all the Spanish colonies based upon the practice of exacting tribute from Muslims and Jews during the Reconquista (Reconquest) of Muslim Spain. As legally defined in 1503, encomiendas (the term comes from Spanish encomendar, “to entrust”) were used to reward the long, loyal, or hazardous service to the Crown by military men who had participated in the conquest, mostly soldiers with Sargento mayor rank or above. It was also used to recognize and perpetuate Spanish class distinction in Asia. The receiver of the reward, the encomendero, was charged with a number of “Indios” living within a specific geographic area he was supposed to instruct in the Catholic faith and the Spanish language. The law limited the number of natives in an area to not more than 300, and the land value was limited to…

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SUBSTANTIALLY REDUCING POVERTY – Reducing Child Stunting

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IF I WERE THE NEXT PRESIDENT(Part 5 of a series)

By BEN R. PUNONGBAYAN

Founder, Buklod National Political Party

A heartbreaking face of poverty is the present-day preponderance of undernutrition of Filipino young children.

The leading single measure of this undernutrition, or malnutrition generally, is stunting—the health condition of children under five years old of having a height shorter, as defined, than the median of a reference population, which in our case is the Philippine population. Stunting is associated with the consequences of malnutrition, including brain underdevelopment.

The consequences of stunting are devastating—poor performance in school and low productivity as adults. The gravity of this health condition is further illustrated in a recent World Bank report on undernutrition in the Philippines. The report states that normal height growth and brain development not achieved during the first 1,000 days of a child’s life from conception (about two years…

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FDR’s New Deal and Sanders’ 3.5 Trillion Spending Spree

Your thoughts?

According to Washington Post today, “Bernie Sanders is on the cusp of leaving an indelible mark on the federal government, having shepherded a $3.5 trillion spending blueprint through the Senate this week. The legislation, backed by President Biden and Democratic congressional leaders, sets the stage for the most significant expansion of the federal social safety net in generations and the largest government response to climate change ever mounted. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) called the pending legislation – which could include free community college, paid family and medical leave, universal pre-K, vast clean energy investments, and the largest-ever proposed expansion of Medicare – a reckless taxing-and-spending spree that was authored by our self-described socialist colleague.”

Senator Schumer said, “The Democratic budget will be the most significant legislation for American families since the era of the New Deal and the Great Society. It is big, bold change — the kind of change America thirsts for.”

I’m afraid I have to disagree with Senator Schumer. It will bankrupt the country and burden the future generation with huge taxes and insurmountable national debt. Do we want that for our children and grandchildren?

The American people should go back in history and learn about FDR and the New Deal, which created the Great Depression. Are we going back to the same worst era of our history?

In 1932 Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt defeated Hoover in a landslide. Along with Washington and Lincoln, FDR is routinely listed in polls as among the “great” presidents. Many Americans believe his New Deal programs rescued the country from the grips of the Depression. In fact, under FDR, unemployment averaged a whopping 18 percent from 1933 to 1940.

One biographer said that there was no one more ignorant of economics than FDR. It showed. FDR knew nothing about how wealth was created. The legislation he called for was a patchwork of absurdities, sometimes at odds with each other and sometimes even at odds with themselves.

The National Industrial Recovery Act (NRA), which established the National Recovery Administration, was an enormous contradiction. On the one hand, it sought to keep wage rates high to give the consumer greater “purchasing power.” On the other hand, it established hundreds of legally sanctioned, industry-wide cartels that were allowed to establish standard wages, hours of operation, and minimum prices. The minimum prices meant businesses would be prevented mainly from underselling each other; everyone’s price had to be at least the prescribed minimum. The artificially high wages meant continuing unemployment, and the high prices meant hardship for nearly all Americans.

FDR’s agricultural policies were in a class of genius all their own. Not content with setting high prices for other goods, FDR moved on to food. He proposed to pay farmers for cutting back on production or producing nothing at all. The decrease in supply, he believed, would raise farm prices. But in the meantime, he had to deal with the existing bounty. The administration decided to destroy much of what had already been produced to create a shortage and thereby raise farm prices. Six million pigs were slaughtered, and ten million acres of cotton were destroyed.

The New Deal labor laws and the increased labor cost associated with Social Security further contributed to the unemployment problem to the tune of an additional 1.2 million unemployed by 1938, according to economists Richard Vedder and Lowell Gallaway. Unsure of what the federal government would do next and what other punitive measures would be imposed on them, businessmen and investors stopped investing. Businessmen took seriously the various ravings of the anti-business zealots who occupied the White House. Sounds familiar?

FDR gave a tremendous boost to organized labor with the National Labor Relations Act, better known as the Wagner Act of 1935. The standard textbook takes for granted that what is good for unions is good for workers (even though the whole purpose of a modern union is to exclude people from a trade in order to raise the wages of union workers). The fact says otherwise. The ways in which labor unions impoverish the society are legion, from distortions in the labor market to work rules that discourage efficiency and innovation.

The New Deal’s admirers assure us that FDR’s massive spending projects provided jobs and economic stimulus. But such jobs are funded by taking money from some people (taxpayers) and giving it to others, so there is no net stimulus. In fact, such programs are positively bad in that they divert capital from the private sector and inhibit healthy job creation. The various public works programs that FDR established and the billions of dollars he devoted to them only dried up capital in favor of government projects that were inherently wasteful since they lack the kind of profit-and-loss test that guides entrepreneurs in their investment decision.

FDR’s public-works projects were rife with corruption. Economic historians have been at pains to account for the distribution of these projects around the country – why, for example, did the South, where people were the poorest, receive the least assistance from FDR’s Works Progress Administration (WPA)? Several scholars, noting the rather curious preponderance of WPA projects in western states where FDR’s electoral margin had been thin in 1932, believe political considerations played an important role in how these projects were distributed. In other words, FDR was buying votes with make-work jobs.

WPA workers were often pressured to support FDR’s favored candidates, change their party affiliations, or “contribute” to FDRs’re-election campaign to remain employed. Registered Republicans on relief rolls were demanded to register as Democrats in order to keep their jobs.

This was by no means the only example of political intimidation that occurred during the FDR years. The standard textbook provides all the details of Watergate and Richard Nixon’s abuse of power (as indeed it should) but not a word about FDR as the pioneer of this activity.

“Why do the Democrats get away with anything?” one might ask. It is time we educate ourselves and voice our opinion to members of Congress.

References:

Washington Post article – Aug. 12, 2021

The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History – Thomas E. Woods, Jr. Ph.D.

An Easy-Care Rose (Knock Out) and a Motivational Tip for a Memorable Life

Stop and Smell the Roses - Stay Healthy and Stress Free


Knock Out® Roses, the easy-care roses hybridized by Wisconsin-born William J. (Bill) Radler, won the All-American Rose Selection (AARS) award in 2000. The Knock Out® Rose, Radler’s first commercial success, has broken all records for sales of a new rose. Today, the Knock Out® Rose is the most widely sold rose in North America.

The Knock Out® Family of Roses is highly disease-resistant roses, easy to grow and bloom repeatedly and profusely from spring until frost with healthy foliage that does not need the chemical spray program. Blooms are fire engine red in cool weather and cherry red in the summer months. The foliage is dark green and leathery with a burgundy hue. They are low-maintenance roses with a bloom cycle of about every 5-6 weeks and continue until the first hard frost. All of the Knock Out® Roses are self-cleaning, so there is no need…

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Solving the problem of homelessness

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IF I WERE THE NEXT PRESIDENT(Part 4 of a series)

ByBEN R. PUNONGBAYAN

Founder, Buklod National Political Party

The present widespread presence of homeless and informal settlers in our society is another tormenting face of dehumanizing poverty in our country.Improving their current condition clearly needs direct government intervention.Otherwise, this problem will persist for a long time. The normal course of events cannot make it disappear or even mitigate it to any reasonable extent.

Current available information about the homeless and informal settlers appears to be incomplete and dated. As such, these data may not give a reasonable measure of the scope of these two problems. Nevertheless, these may be helpful in providing an indication of the government assistance needed to deal effectively with these serious and utterly degrading human problem.

A summary brief prepared by an American public policy advocate entity in July 2020 indicates that…

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General Miguel Malvar and the Philippine Revolution – Conclusion

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On February 23, General Antonio Luna needed Malvar and his unit to participate in a Filipino counterattack planned to regain ground lost earlier by Filipinos and capture Manila. However, the Filipino offensive collapsed.

Early U.S. Operations in Southern Tagalog Region

In mid-March, an expeditionary force under Brig. Gen. Loyd Wheaton moved eastward, clearing Filipino troops from the vicinity of the Pasig River, assuring the Americans of riverine access to Laguna de Bay. About a month later, Major Gen. Henry Lawton led an expedition to Santa Cruz on the eastern shore of Laguna de Bay, where the Filipinos had a large concentration of troops. Lawton’s force engaged the enemy several times, occupied Santa Cruz briefly, reconnoitered the area, and then returned to Manila. The foray by Lawton caused great concern to the Filipino high command, for it seemed to presage the onset of a major American campaign in southern Luzon.

Aguinaldo’s…

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‘Siguradong sahod’ to substantially reduce poverty

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IF I WERE THE NEXT PRESIDENT(Part 3 of a series)

By BEN R. PUNONGBAYAN

Founder, Buklod National Political Party

If I were the next President, my overarching program is to substantially reduce poverty. There are several aspects to this great undertaking. I will deal first with what I call providing “Siguradong Sahod” to a targeted group–those families within the poverty threshold, as currently defined.

Widespread poverty in the Philippines has been a huge problem ever since one can remember. In fact, poverty has been the driving force for the communist insurgency that started a long time ago and which is still going on today. Widespread poverty continues to grow and all the government administrations since the proclamation of the Second Republic had not been able to stem the tide. I believe this problem has not been given the seriousness and the urgency and sufficiency of action that it rightfully…

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My forays into edibles. What’s yours?

I finally grow edibles!!!

Garden Gleanings

It took me 50 years to grow edibles finally. Since I had been gardening in 1971, I never ventured into planting vegetables except for a couple of tomatoes. I have grown roses, shrubs, bulbs, perennials, and a few trees. I managed to buy a grapevine three years ago, but that was about it for edibles.

With the onslaught of the pandemic last year, I decided to plant some more vegetables and herbs. It was a small step toward edibles.

I tried some herbs: sweet basil, thyme, rosemary, oregano, parsley, and cilantro. Every herb did well except for sweet basils, of which only two survived this year. I had better luck last year. Maybe I overwatered the sweet basil. Cilantro got choked by parsley that grows so huge in the same Grow Box. Thyme, rosemary, and oregano are doing great. I also grow scallions, but they are not green. They are…

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