Archive for the ‘News’ category

RE-ECHOING CLEAN ENERGY

February 12, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

In the province of Ilocos Norte, in northern Philippines, is a pilot project for wind energy… Hydraulics application has already seen the rise of dams that generate at least couples of thousands of megawatts of power… Geothermal energy will be breaching the 3,000 megawatt level soon, making PH the world’s top geothermal power producer.

 

There are more such narratives of nascent and maturing power producers that tap alternative energy sources, or energy other than fossil fuel. We have vast reserves of natural gas in the country, which is fossil-related though clean energy in classification.

 

Solar power is a sunrise industry, and the good news is that our engineers here have exceeded the capability level of those in California and elsewhere in producing state-of-the-art solar panels. Ocean power research & development is proceeding at rapid pace, with installations projected in pilot areas in the short run.

 

Wind power potentials of the Philippines itself is projected at past the 70,000 megawatt level, which is a whopping figure that is over five (5) times the current electricity needs. Already, over 3,000 megawatts of wind power projects are in the pipeline, either as on-going or soon-to-start-installation projects.

 

In Manila, shuttle vehicles powered by electricity ferry shoppers at the Araneta Center and the Mall of Asia or MOA. Jeepneys in Makati using electricity are also shuttling shoppers as well as employees around the classy Ayala Central Business District, the country’s financial center. Tricycles powered by electricity are also rising, while motorbikes powered by electricity are now in use in Palawan.

 

The news about the usage of alternative energy is increasing by the day in the Philippines. Hopefully, the industrialized Northern countries will move ahead in shifting towards clean energy despite the economic downturns they are now experiencing. Emerging markets are surging ahead in this very dynamic field, and this phenomenon is causing me a sense of fulfillment and happiness being a habitué of the ASEAN.

 

In previous articles, I already shared the information about China’s perfection of the nuclear fusion technology. The news first reached my attention in 2007, and at that time it was projected that the first commercial prototypes for fusion breeder plants will be out in 10 years time. That means that as early as 2016 China will launch nuclear plants powered by fusion technology.

 

So dynamic is the field of alternative energy R & D that the sources of ideas for it are like oceans of thought. There simply are too many options for deriving alternative energy, so that in the not-so-distant future the starships for traversing space will be fueled by clean-recyclable-inexhaustible energy.

 

Let’s take the planet itself and its constant motion. As the planet moves around its axis, torque is generated. Torque is a potential source of energy, and for as long as the Earth revolves around its axis, torque will be inexhaustible. This is one area that I wish to be involved in the R&D phase itself.

 

Airplanes, airships, rockets and satellites can be fuelled in the future by torque among many options. By airships I mean maritime ships of today that can be retrofitted and re-engineered to be able to fly in the air, though at low altitudes, thus turning into a more efficient passenger vehicle more than today’s airplanes.

 

Another planetary source of energy for tomorrow is albedo. Around 1/3 of the heat that gets to the Earth from the Sun and other celestial sources escape as albedo. My thesis is that the escaping albedo can be tapped as an inexhaustible source of energy.

 

Necessarily, the policy environment and institutions that will propel clean energy and make it the sole energy source in the future should be prepared and strengthened early enough. Incidentally, the Philippines is among the countries with an exemplary policy environment for clean energy, and so industrialized and emerging markets can emulate the experience of my country in this line of endeavor.

 

The long-term goal, of course, is to rid the planet of fossil fuel. At some point in the future, extraction of oil & gas should be put to a stop. Prolonged extraction is causing imbalances in the geological structures of the planet, imbalances that can be irreparable in the long run. It would be best to carve out a global policy architecture to cease all fossil fuel extractions in the future, and enforce this strictly.

 

I would be celebrating the day when fossil fuel will cease to be the source of electricity and vehicular power in the foreseeable future. As far as electricity generation is concerned, the Philippines is almost there. But I shall wait a bit till electricity will be totally clean and using non-fossil energy sources.

 

[Philippines, 09 February 2011]

 

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PEACE TALKS BETWIXT PH GOVERNMENT & REBELS RESUME

February 8, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

We have a glad tiding of news coming from the Philippines as the stalled peace talks between government and rebel groups will resume again very soon. A heartwarming news this one is, as Filipinos are now very sick and tired of local wars. It’s time that total peace be achieved very soon.

To recall recent history, Maoist and Muslim insurgencies broke out in the Philippines way back in the early ‘70s. Martial Law, declared in 1972, was instrumental in further swelling the numbers of insurgents, leading at one point to conflicts bordering civil war proportions.

The Maoist New People’s Army, military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines or CPP, a ragtag band at its inception, grew to a huge size across the major island groups along the way. Smaller factions split off from the CPP-NPA, it shrank in size in the past decade, yet it continues to be a threat to the central government.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front or MILF was a splinter group from the Moro National Liberation Front or MNLF. The latter, original Muslim insurgency group agreed to a negotiated peace settlement in the ‘90s yet, so only the MILF eventually pursued the old dream of an independent state for provinces where Muslims have a strong presence. While the MNLF held a secular ideology, the MILF was largely a sectarian, Islamic movement.

Talks between both rebel groups and government stalled during the incumbency of the Gloria Arroyo regime. It was unfortunate and tragic a consequence of failed talks, as battlefronts across the islands continuously experience ambuscades and confrontations between warring forces. Collateral damage had already downsized, but it continues to be a phenomenal consequence of the hot wars.

I just hope that the peace talks won’t be for show, like a zarzuela of sorts. Like most compatriot Filipinos, I have grown tired of the wars though I see legitimacy in the advocacies of the insurgents. I myself am of the opinion that social causes are at an all-time relevance, yet these social causes can be fought for through legal and electoral means.

Filipinas has already urbanized across the decades, and urbanization is proceeding at a rapid pace. 2% of folks are added to urban population every year, while 2% are deducted from rural population during the same period. At 68% urban population today, Filipinos can better be convinced about pursuing social causes and advocacies via the ‘urban way’ of mass movements, civil society, and electoral contests rather than the bloody armed way of the old rural Philippines.

The Maoist Left and other Left groups have already proven the relative success of the ‘electoral way’ to institute structural and economic changes. It may be time now to fold up all rebel groups from the most secularly-oriented groups to the most sectarian-fundamentalist groups. The rugs under our feet are changing and the pace of change is fast, so ideological blocs should be fast enough in retooling themselves and co-directing the compass of change via the ‘urban way’.

Meantime, Norway has committed itself as a 3rd party to the talks with the Maoists, while Malaysia has done the same to the talks with the Muslim rebels. The Filipinos down the ground welcome the peace talks, and wouldn’t squirm at the venues of talks whether these be domestically located or overseas. What matters most is peace talks are resumed and warring parties are holding genuine dialogues.

So far, confidence-building measures were already done by the Aquino regime, with the release of political prisoners from the Left. Not only that, even the political prisoners from the military rebel group Magdalo were also released (the mutiny group is ragtag/no peace talks are necessary between it and government). Development projects in areas covered by Muslim rebels are being scaled up.

A nice beginning for the year 2011 indeed, as the crucible of dialogue pervades among warring camps. Let dialogue be the strategic expression, as conflict folds up and is consigned to historical archives.

[Philippines, 06 February 2011]

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RUSSIAN STATE’S KINDNESS TO THE MAFIA OLIGARCHS

February 8, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Russia’s federal state had exhibited kindness so far to the mafia oligarchs, one of whom is in jail (the top honcho in the energy industry). This is a clear departure from the Soviet days when organized crime leaders and subordinates were jailed by the thousands in ‘gulag archipelago’ conditions.

The Soviet days are long over in Russia, yet democracy is struggling to take root and governance institutions are strengthening from the fragmentation induced by the anarchic policies of Yeltsin who was, in reality, an agent of the British MI6. It will take some more time for democracy to show strength and resiliency, but clearly the urgency of clipping the powers of the mafia oligarchs is a matter of national security in FSB (KGB) country.

To replay recent history, the former Soviet Union fragmented in ’89 during Gorbachev’s leadership. The Russian Federation was then led by Yeltsin, puppet agent of the Anglo-European oligarchs, and got the largest shares of the pie of Soviet wealth, resources, and military assets (nuke missiles included).

Independent Russia, like the other states, was immediately confronted with the problem of shifting to a market economy. Enterprises were state-owned, and so a sacrosanct policy of the Western puppet Yeltsin was to privatize the firms upon the behest of the International Monetary Fund.

The question thereafter was: who in Russia possesses the money to buy state firms, such as those in heavy industries, oil & coal? Legitimate persons just couldn’t afford those firms no matter if the company prices are dirt cheap, so the option of buyers was the Russian mafia (organized crime groups) of which around forty-five (45) ‘families’ were the largest and most awash with money.

Such mafia groups were far more powerful, wealthy and dreadful than the Sicilian mafia from which the term ‘mafia’ originated. Without further ado, upon the go-signal from Yeltsin’s regime, mafia families gobbled up whatever firm they could lay their hands on. As a result, during the last years of Yeltsin, 80% of Russia’s corporate assets and incomes were in the hands of the mafia.

The dreadful scenario of the mafia taking hold of the nuclear and military assets of Russia soon confronted the patriots of the country. It seems that in the last instance, the FSB (former KGB) was the only institution that can mount a challenge to and clip the gargantuan influence and economic power of the mafia that was rapidly producing the new oligarchy of Yeltsin-era Russia.

And so the FSB, acting as a patriotic fraternal order of sorts, deposed Yeltsin in a silent coup of sorts. Putin, former KGB operative, became the favored leader by the chekka that decidedly took down Yeltsin. With Putin in power, returning Russia to a state of civility was now a huge task laid upon his shoulders.

Returning civility and re-asserting state sovereignty means taking back to Russia its economic powers. It was time to let the new mafia oligarchs taste justice and stop them from further fragmenting the federation. Russia was already on the verge of total fragmentation, and could have been balkanized into mini-states with Russian oligarchs taking over their own respective mini-state to govern, plunder and loot.

Thus was the British oligarchy and its MI6 dirty operators stopped from further destroying Russia and looting whatever they can from its fragile economy by buying dirt-cheap enterprises and joint venturing with Russian mafia families. Putin’s strong arm tactics, with aid from FSB, were necessary in order to restore Russia to its civility and sovereignty, without which the federation could have fragmented at the turn of the new century.

Observably, the FSB is the only solid institution that can face up to the dreaded mafia families and the Anglo-European oligarchs. In China, the equivalent group is the Communist Party that wields draconian powers to direct the compass of growth there. In Turkey, the Army is the one that performs the equivalent of a solid patriotic core that continues to modernize the country and prevent a restoration of the Caliphate.

Each country has its own set of gargantuan national security concerns to look up to, so one better understand Russia from within the context of its colossal dilemmas with the Frankenstein of mafia power. An oligarch in Russia is synonymous to a mafia godfather; oligarchic wealth, derived from criminal operations.

Hard tactics are best to clip the powers of mafia Frankensteins. However, such tactics can no longer recline on Stalinist repression or elimination as Russia is facing a new history of democratic governance. The ‘rule of law’ must be advanced to the max in a global context of strengthening democracies.

[Philippines, 04 February 2011]

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DRUG WAR IN MEXICO: HEIGHTENED PARANOIA TOWARDS MAFIA

February 8, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

Good day to all fellow global citizens!

 

In a previous article, I wrote about the possibility of mafia states rising to power. As tackled, Belarus could very well be the start of such a mafia state should it get entrenched for long, so the events there are worth watching. Meantime, a drug war ensues in Mexico, and so let us do some reflections about that war.

 

Over 36,000 were already declared dead due to the drug war in the country of patriot Emiliano Zapata. The war that was declared by then president Calderon ensues ceaselessly, deaths thus rising in seemingly exponential fashion by the year. That war is proving too tragic for the NAFTA country, and bodes ill for the entire North America as both the USA and Canada are experiencing their own hotfires of economic malaise.

 

To recall, Colombia was the nest of drug cartels’ power just about a decade ago. With the effective clipping of the powers of drug lords there, drug lords’ lairs became more diffused thereafter, no longer to be ever concentrated in just one country in Latin America.

 

Mexico, Jamaica, Brazil, and other countries are now experiencing the growing powers of mafia lords in Latin America. Mexico seems to be the most vulnerable to entrenchment by the drug cartels since the country is just a step away from the United States that is the main drug market in the Americas.

 

Americans indeed are the most voracious drug users, so that one may wonder whether Americans are still holding own to their nature as humans—that they haven’t already tipped over to their demonic side. A research done in the early 1980s yet showed that as much as 40% of high school students admitted to having used a narcotic at least once, with 20% admitting to having used narcotics repeatedly.

 

That was the 1980s cited, and it is now 2011 or the 2nd decade of the 21st century. Drug use there has been growing steadily, and so it is safe to infer that over half of Americans are hooked into narcotics. Those heavy users of drugs may be less than 10%, but that still counts around 25 to 29 millions of Americans forever dependent on narcotics.

 

Next to America would be the European Union or EU. Nobody knows exactly the level and frequency of drug use there. But given the huge 450 million population, even just a 5% heavy usage would translate to 22.5 millions of Europeans heavily dependent on narcotics. At least over a hundred millions more are moderate or non-dependent users.

 

So it isn’t difficult to see why drug trade is so lucrative a business. In my country alone, drug production and trade is a whopping $10 Billion industry, and that estimate could well be under-estimated. Drug user count here is moving up the ladder too, while the Asian and American markets are also active destinations of drug exports.

 

Going back to Mexico, it may not be accurate to just cite the American market as the sole impetus for drug production and trade there. Mexico itself has a large population, enough to absorb a very large portion of locally produced narcotics. And there is South America that very well serves as a huge backyard in the Latino world for any salivating drug lord to flood with low prized narcotics, thus ensuring big bucks to the criminal honchos’ pockets.

 

With a string of conservative governments installed from the late 90s through the present, the paranoia towards drug cartels is understandable. The same conservatives unleashed the sword of a crusade versus the drug lords who are now being hunted down in the same way that heretics were tracked down and massacred by the Church during the infamous Inquisitions around the globe.

 

Insurgents used to be top national security threats in Mexico, but that fizzled out much later. The last insurgent group Zapatistas were a ragtag peasant group in an erstwhile urban-led Mexico, and that group’s potency fizzled out as soon as its uprisings were mounted.

 

Now the drug mafias comprise the major national security threat to Mexico, or that is what the Inquisitionist conservatives want Mexicans to believe. So huge is the anti-drug Crusade that the entire machineries of military and police are engaged in large-scale offensive operations that are akin to facing men-at-war in a conventional war between conflicting nations.

 

Keen observers are noticeably irked at the rather excessive force being used to stump out drug mafias in the country. The paranoia is simply too much, the force is excessive, and so expectedly the ‘collateral damage’ of the war is proving too much for ordinary citizens caught in between the violent fireworks.

 

Mexicans should better exert efforts to bring down that paranoia and bring back the Mexican central government to reality. Mafia groups ought to be stumped out all right, but the war need not be in the vogue of a full-scale war akin to engagement in a world war.

 

[Philippines, 03 February 2011]

 

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WILL BELARUS BE THE START OF MAFIA STATES?

February 4, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

The month of February is the 2nd month of the year. 2 in numerology signifies change, whether this be change for the better or for worst. So let me take up with you the matter of change in states from legitimate to mafia regime.

 

The question worth reflecting is: is it possible for a mafia state to gel in the foreseeable future? We are witnessing today the rise to the executive department of a mafia power in Belarus, so let us continue to observe the events in that country.

 

By mafia state is meant the rise to power of a mafia group—a group engaged in organized crime—to state power and sustaining that power in the long run. Such a rise would then demolish the accepted rules of the game of governance, though the mafia regime may show semblance of legitimacy through electoral victories.

 

During the incumbency of any mafia regime, it is possible that mafia operations across the country concerned will become the norm more than the exception. Mafia groups will then declare cities and/or regions within the country as their enclave, and bless those elected and appointed officials there being the strategic powerbrokers.

 

From the advent of the Great Depression through the recovery era of the late ‘30s and early ‘40s, around five (5) cities in the United States were reputedly under the control of mafia groups. Had such a trend gained momentum in the manner of a domino effect, city after city and then state after state in the USA could have fallen into mafia hands, and it would just be a matter of time before the federal government itself will become the enclave of the most powerful mafia godfather in America.

 

The scenario of a mafia USA didn’t take place as early enough the trend towards a domino effect was nipped in the bud. Humbled by the power of central government that jailed the topnotch mafia lords, the mafia then became subordinate operators that can be tapped by Establishment rouge elements for sabotage and assassination operations, e.g. the assassination of John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert.

 

Fast forward to the year 1998, when the Philippines’ presidency of Joseph Estrada gelled. A scary regime it was, as Estrada himself was a growing mafia lord and his Mafiosi pals expropriated the presidential palace by night as a ‘midnight cabinet’. So corrupt was that regime, that the damage it had done to crime solution, fiscal balance, and good governance seem irreparable. It was overthrown in January 2001, and so the mafia state was nipped in the bud before it would calcify in the long run.

 

As the Philippine mafia was basking in power in 1998-2000, Colombia was showing a peculiar situation. Though its central government was no mafia at all, drug lords were literally the power brokers there. Drug lords were the real government in Colombia, while the central government was only the virtual government. It took about a decade for the legitimate state to re-assert its power and efface the power of the mafia lords who eventually faced squid tactics of elimination.

 

The situation of a mafia state almost calcified in Russia during Yeltsin’s incumbency as president. So sudden was the shift to capitalism then, as state enterprises were ordered privatized (from their original state-owned status). The only people with huge funds to buy state firms were the mafia families in Russia, so that before Yeltsin bowed out of power 80% of Russia’s corporate world was already in the hands of mafia lords.

 

That conundrum in Russia was reversed only with the ascent to power of Putin and the FSB (former KGB). The FSB knew that the emerging oligarchs of a capitalist Russia were actually mafia lords. It is within the context of dominating mafia power that the state sampled some oligarchs for jailing as a signal to all mafia groups that their powers are delimited. At a certain juncture, the mafia there knew that it cannot mutate to a political power broker without suffering the consequences.

 

Yet no matter what measures are done to clip mafia power, sooner or later there will be one state in the world where a long-term mafia state will succeed. It seems that Belarussia is the first such state to endure if ever. As of today though, forces in Germany and Poland are already working out to stamp out the Belorussian mafia from an enduring power entrenchment, and so the events there are worth watching.

 

A mafia state is like a ‘pacman fever’ (to recall that old video game), that once it is entrenched and endures through time, it can gobble up experientially other states as well. Those most contiguous to it could be the first to be infected. That is why Poland and Germany are bothered so badly, they are mobilizing resources for an overthrow of the mafia presidency in Belarussia.

 

[Philippines, 02 February 2011]

 

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AFRICA ON FIRE!

February 4, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

Africa is on fire. From north to south, east to west of the continent, politico-military turbulences are taking place, hence tending to confuse and scale up fear among the ordinary folks of the continent.

 

You can go ahead and harbor your own perspective in explaining the causes of the conflicts there. You can see the conflicts from a domestic vantage point, thus explaining turbulence based on internal factors such as religious, ethnic, and geopolitical factors. You can also choose to explain them from the vantage point of a globalist, thus explicating the turbulences as offshoots of global synarchy of chaos fomented by the financier oligarchs of the West.

 

At a time when a new millennium is accelerating momentum, bringing forth glad tidings of prosperity and relative peace, hot fires are taking place in Africa. Whether a single set of explanations would suffice to comprehend the predominance of negative imagery in the continent would be subject of debates. What is clear first of all is that the continental imagery tends to recline on the negative which bodes ill for the Africans.

 

To name a few representative projections of the turbulences: growing protests in Tunisia; contested poll results in Cote d’Ivory, spiraling into civil war proportions; paper governance in Somalia where pirates abound as offshoot of a failed state; still unabated turbulence in Zimbabwe, spilling off millions of migrants to South Africa; Sudan’s split between North and South as a result of religious and ethnic divergences; and, brewing conflict between Copts and Muslims in Egypt.

 

Those representative turbulences alone demonstrate that in every corridor of the continent—north, east, west, south—turbulence is the pattern. The anarchy practically overshadows or masks the peace, cooperation and development now going on in countries that have struggled hard to depart from the path of failed states that were balkanized by internecine wars.

 

Let us take the case of the Sahara. A gigantic effort to green the historically desert region has been going on for years now, which to me is a milestone event that will reverse the age-old desertification. With the turbulences going on in the cardinal corridors of the continent, who would now care to examine and extol the very admirable eco-balancing inter-country efforts in the pan-Sahara?

 

Tanzania and Ghana would also be worth your enquiry. Both countries are undertaking development efforts, with external investors showing great interest in both countries as showcase of cross-border direct foreign investments. Ghana is most especially important to my beloved Philippines, as many of its leaders were schooled by top universities in Manila. Who would ever care for such exemplary developments in both countries, with the media perpetually presenting staccato and crescendo of turbulences in the continent?

 

Africa is indeed on fire, all of its representative regions have their respective versions of hot spots, so the situation must first of all be accepted by all stakeholders there. There must be no denying about the hot fires and brewing caldrons, so that the alternative courses of action can be configured, and the compass of peace be identified and executed.

 

As an external observer who is keenly interested in seeing Africa accelerate its development and poverty-reduction, I am very supportive of efforts by all stakeholders in the continent to forge ahead the agenda for stamping out hot fires, contain brewing caldrons, and prevent other fires from igniting in the foreseeable future. Africans who wish for my moral support can go ahead and let me sign advocacy positions that need the support of solidarity groups and individuals outside of the continent as I’ve done in the past.

 

Watching those exemplars of positive development in the continent, I am optimistic that Africans will be able to transcend their predicaments, imbroglios, and anarchies in due time. I hope that the fast rising ‘emerging markets’ in other continents would expand and diversify on their support for peace and development in Africa, and reinforce their deployment of grassroots volunteers to the continent.

 

To all concerned Africans, Love & Peace! You shall overcome!

 

[Philippines, 01 February 2011]

 

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ZEST FITNESS GYM: PHILIPPINES’ POWERLIFTING TOPGUN

February 4, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

Magandang araw sa kapamilyang global! Good day to global community fellows!

 

This year 2011 will mark the 21st year that this analyst (sociologist, economist, political analyst) and self-development guru has been practicing powerlifting as a regular physical regimen. Being a former competitive athlete in national powerlifting Class A (equivalent to ‘professional’) in Ph, I will dedicate this note to the Zest Fitness Gym, the topgun powerlifing gym that made me into a national athlete and consistent gym weight burner.

 

This is the narrative of my physical history, fellows. I’ve been doing gym weight training for 21 years now, with no signs that I’d be dropping off powerlifting as my regular physical regimen. I owe it to the Zest gym this love for weight training and the scientific rigor that goes with that training.

 

I used to jog and swim for eight (8) years prior to my plunge into weight training in 1990. In 1982 I almost lost my life, neglectful as I was then for two (2) straight years of living an active professional and civil life but without a physical program. I contracted falciparum malaria along the way and almost died of it, and so the decision came to me never again to be remiss in my physical fitness programming.

 

Within a week I would jog for a day or two, and then in between jogging I would swim for at least a day or two in a week. I would jog for around 30-45 minutes, and swam 20 laps in the Olympic pool. My exercises were largely survival training types or non-competitive. I began to pump some weights in ‘86 through ‘89 to give some firmer shapes to my muscles while I continued with the jog & swim regimen.

 

Then in 1990 I decided to go straight gym or indoor workouts. I simply scorned the days when I couldn’t jog or swim due to heavy rains or inclement weather as the rains restrained me from getting exposed to the elements. So in 1990 I decided to go regular gym workouts, since I can do the workouts even if the stormy day is already whistling Signal No. 2 typhoon beacons.

 

I was then residing in Cubao, Quezon City, and from there I took a ride to University of the Philippines (Diliman) to do workouts at the PRO Gym. Barely just six (6) months in weight training then, I stumbled into the Zest gym just near my residential area. I was surprised that there was one gym there where topgun powerlifters trained, and it was just around 12 minutes walk from my home.

 

The gym got me curious about powerlifting, as I was then doing the typical body-building program. An orientation chat with Ramon ‘Mon’ Dabuque, owner and chief trainor of Zest, convinced me sufficiently to try out with the program. Powerlifting builds mass, power and agility, and that was enough to make me try it and linger on with it till now.

 

Sports science provided the core ‘best practices’ to the Zest weight training, a fact that fascinated me a lot. Being a former weightlifter at the University of the Philippines and a national athlete, Mon Dabuque was very meticulous in doing research and testing the applications of certain programmed practices. Even our diet regimen had to pass the rigors of R & D tested regimen for athletes.

 

It was through Zest, with its bounty of sports science magazines and literature, that informed me highly about the combinations of macrobiotics (65% carbo, 20% protein, 15% fats), sufficient microbiotic supplements (vitamins, minerals), and catalytic boosters. That knowledge was to be added to my arsenal of knowledge packages about health & wellness, at a time when I was already an advocate of alternative health paradigms.

 

The program for us athletes then was a combination of the Bulgarian program, Hawaiian program, regular (generic) powerlifting basics, and Mon Dabuque’s innovative experimental program. Scientific and very rigorous, couples of weakling types dropped out of the regimen, while couples of others, myself included, proceeded to take the challenge of winning head on via the rigorous and disciplined regimen.

 

The beauty with scientific programming is that even if the trainee doesn’t possess ‘muscular genetics’ (low muscular intelligence), the trainee can still be transformed into a topgun powerlifting athlete. Sports science is the cutting edge, and I am witness to the power of scientific training under a brilliant trainor/instructor. Many of us athltetes, myself included, possessed sloppy frail body types with no muscular genetics and yet made it to the top as national-level athletes while just new into powerlifting.

 

In less than a year of powerlifting training, I decided to try it out in the National Powerlifting Novice Competitions in 1991, and wondrously landed as Bronze Medalist on the Lightweight division. Emboldened by the victories of our Zest Team and the medal I won, I worked hard for a year to qualify for the National Class A Powerlifting Competitions in 1992, and landed as Silver Medalist in the Middleweight division.

 

During both competitions, I was witness to how the Zest Team lionized the greatest number of medals and bested all other gyms in the total Team scores. PH’s topgun powerlifters—Mon Dabuque, Tony Taguibao, Eddie Torres, Allan Paje, Erlina Pecante—whom we can correctly classify as ‘world class’ athletes today, are from Zest.

 

To be able to qualify as a national-to-international class athlete, one has to carry a total of over 7 X his/her body weight, by adding altogether his/her performance in Squat, Deadlift, and Bench Press. On my last competition, with body weight at around 68 kilograms, my Deadlift was 210 kg, Squat at 167 kg, and Bench Press at 92 kg. I was near that mark just barely 18 months or so into powerlifting, thanks to scientific training.

 

I also became a member of 200 Club, comprising those who can carry a load of over 200 kilograms in any event—I did it in deadlift. Later, I would learn that Eddie Torres and Mon Dabuque became members of the 300 Club, enabled as they were to carry a load breaching 300 kilograms in their deadlift and/or squat. I was truly ecstatic at my own feat, just 18 months into powerlifting then, and felt edified to have been a Team Mate with the topguns who also became my friends.

 

I was about to train for the Asian Powerlifting in 1993 when PH was entitled to send a double team (meaning two athletes per weight division). Unfortunately, I was knocked out cold by lingering tonsillitis, decidedly had to undergo surgery, and eventually led to the huge drop in my performance. Late that year, after surgery, I decided to retire from competitive sports, and focus instead on using power training as my regular physical fitness regimen.

 

Twenty-one years later, I still am a consummate gym worker amid my advancing age. Let me express herewith my gratitude to Zest gym and its core trainor Mon Dabuque, and my continuing appreciation and admiration of topguns Mon Dabuque, Eddie Torres, Erlina Pecante, Tony Taguibao, Allan Paje, and my other Team Mates.

 

To Zest Gym, Mabuhay!

 

[Philippines, 01 February 2011]

 

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Come Visit E. Argonza’s blogs anytime!

 

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FOR YOUR CONTINUING ESTEEM OF ME AS TOP BLOGGER, BLESSED 2011!

January 31, 2011

Prof. Erle Frayne D. Argonza / Guru Ra
January 2011

Manigong Bagong Taon! Prosperous New Year!

I hereby send my goodwill greetings to enthused readers and fellow analysts who continue to appreciate and spread my notes about social life, wisdom, arts & culture.

About three and a half years ago, there was scarce information about me on the internet. Today, as I’ve spread my messages of Light and hope to all of the corners of the globe via the blogs and social networks, many enthused souls responded through reading, exchanges of notes, and citations of my works. Finally, after your appreciation and support of my cyber-crusade, information about me on cyberspace increased by gigantic strides.

Special thanks to the following online news, magazines and portals for citing my notes as among the top blogs on cyberspace:

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For recognizing me as Finalist-Best Society, Politics & History Blog, special thanks to the Phiippine Blog Awards:

http://www.philippineblogawards.com.ph

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OPUS DEI ARMED SUDAN’S CHRISTIAN SOUTH

January 29, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Sudan is undergoing a schism, the dividing line being the north-south axis. North is the predominantly Muslim section, with large infusion of Arab genetics into the ancient black ethnicities of the area; south, the Christian section, with predominantly Negroid ethnicities as core population.

A cursory review of history would show us that the Arabs, who were at one time the nexus of world culture, easily reached Sudan and the northern African regions. Egypt, Sudan, Chad and other countries were a bit contiguous to Baghdad and Arabia, and so the Arabs could easily reach the area contrasted to the European lands near the Atlantic during their westward conquests.

We should also be reminded of the era of rise of capitalism when slave trade was a normal predilection of the British, Portuguese and other European powers. Arabs cashed in on the opportunity, raided Negro areas of northern and eastern Africa for the chattel (slaves). In the process, large numbers of Arabs decided to reside in Africa as new entrants or additions to northern Africans of Arab descent.

Let’s fast forward to the present when an authoritarian regime rules the whole of Sudan. Previous to the authoritarian drift of this nation, there were already covert operations by Christian clerico-fascist operators to enforce an agenda of creating a schism in the long run by carving out a Christian south.

The Opus Dei, to note, has been notoriously engaged as partner-operators of fascist forces for a long time. Having had practice in Spain as co-partners of the totalitarian Phalangist regime of Franco, the Opus Dei would later replicate their positioning for global power by arming and financially supporting Christian rebel forces such as the Irish Republican Army and the Croatian Army.

Croatia is an example of a mini-state carved out from a larger entity (former Yugoslavia) via an army that was practically entirely supported by the Opus Dei. For your own study of the subject matter, you may as well begin with the book Thy Kingdom Come by the controversy writer Robert Hutchison. From there you can branch out to other research materials regarding the fascistic group Opus Dei that aspires to be a modern Knights Templar aiming to defend the interests of the Papacy.

In my own country, the Philippines, couples of Christian militias suddenly cropped up in the southern island of Mindanao after the 2nd world war. The militias went on a rampage of massacre of Muslims there, supported as they were by the big landlords and the Christian Right. A most notorious group was the Tadtad, which revived after long dormancy to help the Establishment contain the rise of the guerilla Maoists and Muslim rebels.

As you can see, Christian ultra-conservatives or clerico-fascists are carving out their own spheres of influence. With so much money stashed in many banks and secret vaults across the different continents, aided by the previous policies of financial and monetary liberalization that permitted unhampered money laundering across borders, the Opus Dei is so powerful today as to be able to create new countries out of regions that are predominantly Christian more so Catholic.

Accordingly, so gargantuan are the tentacles of the Opus Dei, with mafia groups involved in its money laundering, arms trading, and other large-scale crimes across borders. The group was to a great extent responsible for the collapse of the Vatican banks in the 1980s, a crash aided by a mafia Masonic group. That crash led to the domino effect of financial crash of Italy as a whole.

When that crash was investigated by the newly installed Pope John Paul I, the pope was tragically assassinated barely a month into office. It was the same mafia cum Opus Dei operators that were responsible for the assassination of the pope. Now that the pope comes from the extreme Right, the Opus Dei has no worry about further machinations behind the scene.

We should therefore be not surprised if Pope Benedict mouths lines about Christians as the most victimized by terror attacks of a sectarian nature. These are mere cover ups or masks for covert operations being undertaken by Opus Dei and another powerful force, the Society of Jesus, to bring back the power of the papacy in the globe.

In the Philippines, both Opus Dei and Jesuits openly supported the candidacy of the moron blabbermouth Noynoy Aquino, son of the late Ninoy Aquino (husband of former president Corazon Aquino) who was a CIA operative. Both Opus Dei and Jesuits were well positioned in power during Corazon Aquino’s incumbency, so you can see how they have gotten back to power with the victory of their blabbermouth puppet.

Thus, it should not surprise us to find out that Benedict badmouths those who persecuted the Sudanese Christians, as both Opus Dei and Jesuits were behind Benedict’s ascent to the papacy. The involvement of the both religious groups in Sudan’s Christian insurgency and the campaign for an independent Christian Sudan is logically expected.

Now that the Opus Dei has a stronger position in Africa and its puppet state Croatia is in operation, where would the group strike next to enlarge its fascistic sphere of influence and control?

[Philippines, 21 January 2011]

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Come Visit E. Argonza’s blogs anytime!

Social Blogs:

IKONOKLAST: http://erleargonza.blogspot.com

UNLADTAU: https://unladtau.wordpress.com

Wisdom/Spiritual Blogs:

COSMICBUHAY: http://cosmicbuhay.blogspot.com

BRIGHTWORLD: http://erlefraynebrightworld.wordpress.com

Poetry & Art Blogs:

ARTBLOG: http://erleargonza.wordpress.com

ARGONZAPOEM: http://argonzapoem.blogspot.com

Mixed Blends Blogs:

@MULTIPLY: http://efdargon.multiply.com

@FRIENDSTER: http://erleargonza.blog.friendster.com

@SOULCAST: http://www.soulcast.com/efdargon

AFTER ARIZONA MASSACRE, WHAT’S NEXT IN ANGLO-SAXON AMERICA?

January 23, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Americans were shocked again by another event of mass murders done by an expectedly sociopathic man—a certain Mr. Loughner, 22 year-old White man. Just about a month ago, a White man in the east coast shocked Americans when he shot at a school board’s officials before shooting himself to death.

Aren’t Americans supposedly inured to such sociopathic murders already? Not only Americans, but White men and women shouldn’t be shocked at all over such tragic deaths, as White society has been showing increasing signs of madness over the last 150 years or so.

I’m sure nobody has forgotten Jack the Ripper. At the time the crimes of serial murders were done by the diabolical killer over a century ago, sociologists were busying themselves with studying the fragmentation of the collective mind in modern society, which has been the cause of crimes and suicides.

Just go back to the works of Emile Durkheim, George Simmel, Alexis de Tocqueville, Karl Marx, Max Weber, and you would browse for yourselves the painstaking inquiries and theorizing done by sociologists then to capture the fragmentary state that institutions and the collective mind were undergoing.

Onwards through the latter half of the 20th century, Western (read: Caucasian) thinkers haven’t ceased to capture in theory what was going on behind society’s structures that was cause behind fractured minds and sociopathic behavior. Felix Guattari, Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Julia Kristeva, Jacques Lacan, Jean Francois Lyotard, Jacques Baudrillard, to name a few luminaries, continued the tradition of studying the fragmenting society, psyche, and their expressions in symbolic constructs.

So, with the latest round of massacre expectedly by another White man, what else is new in Anglo-Saxon America? That gunner’s psyche is fragmenting, rendering him as a dangerous walking predator of sorts. Too many Anglo-Saxon men and women, followed by their colored people who were socialized into the Anglo-Saxon’s culture, are fragmenting in their psyche just as White society’s institutions have been disintegrating (read Baudrillard, Lyotard, Foucault).

Let’s get this straight: the phenomenon of sociopathic massacres is highest in the United States, though it is also prevalent in other Western countries. In contrast, such massacres are nearly absent in the ‘emerging markets’ that are today’s growth drivers of the global economy.

One need not even resort to using statistical correlates or chi square test to check whether being White man’s country is a predictor of such sociopathic murders. And among White man’s countries, the USA is topmost in the total incidence of such a ‘deviant’ or ‘abnormal’ behavior.

I did discuss the matter of mass massacres with my mother very recently. She acquired American citizenship and is already retired, though she chose to have a dual citizenship. She is very much aware of the social pathology that goes on in the USA, and was of the opinion that the next mass massacre is just around the bend.

So I raised the ‘research problem’ to my Mom about when would be the next massacre in case? Using intuitive forecasting, based on pass trends, I surmised that most likely over the next six (6) weeks at least, another massacre will take place somewhere in Anglo-Saxon America, and most likely it will be a White man committing the crime.

I won’t be surprised if my own estimate of one massacre in six weeks will turn out to be badly underestimated, that a couple or more will take place in the days ahead. A society that is in deep crisis—socially, culturally, economically, politically—is replete with possibilities of pathologically-induced massacres.

To comprehend their own states of being, I would counsel Americans (predominantly White Anglo-Saxon) to go back to the work of the late Pitirim Sorokin titled Crisis of our Age. Likewise read the works of Daniel Bell concerning the unfolding Post-Industrial society up North.

Well, there also was the late Jurgen Habermas who reflected on the ‘legitimation crisis’ and its attendant malaise in White societies. From Habermas you can branch out to the works of Erich Fromm, Herbert Marcuse, and Ernst Bloch.

But this is what Americans ought to think about: time is running out on America. Too many luminaries up North have written about the fragmentary society and psyche, yet Americans failed to grapple with the realities unfolding, failed to address the fragmentation process with ‘best practices’ done at all levels.  

Americans better be quick in altering the course of their history, for the compass of the unfolding history points towards sinking in quicksands of uncertainties, chaos, and a Dark Age.

[Philippines, 15 January 2011]

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PHILIPPINE STOCKS @4,200+ POINTS, WILL SURGE ANEW BY 2011

January 17, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Asian bourses continue to perform excellently, and the Philippines is a contributor to this bullish trend. In the past year, there were some junctures when the bourses did dip a bit, but never too dip as not to be able to surge back ahead. The bourses reflect the optimal growth patterns in Asia and are bound to replicate the feat in 2011.

By the start of 2010, I was of the opinion that the Philippine stock exchange will trade very bullishly, that it will eventually breach the all-time best record of 3,600+ points achieved during the era of the Ramos presidency yet. True enough, it did breach the 3,600 points and ended up at 4,200+ points by end of December 2010.

To recap, 2,000 points is the bourse’s psychological break point in my beloved Philippines. Quite a barometer of the economy’s health, the stock index says that the economy here is faltering when the bourse crashes below the 2,000 point barrier and stay down there for many months. At some time in 2009, that incident happened, though fortunately for the country the stock index climbed back past the 2,000-point threshold quickly.

Being among the Asian countries that have learned to insulate themselves from global economic downturns and great recessions, the Philippines did bounce back right away and saw the index breach the 3,000-point level in the first semester of 2010. This trend alone is cause enough for great hope for the coming months and years in this country.

With ‘smart money’ leaving the North due to stagnation and recession, it wasn’t long before the Ph bourse soon felt such ‘manna from heaven’ getting invested into its stock options. With that happening, the stocks  meteorically ascended the 4,000-point level in the 2nd semester, and was optimistically forecast to reach 4,600+ points by certain quarters.

Witnessing the pattern of periodic decreases amid a general trend of sharp climb, I did raise eyebrows over the mega-optimistic forecast. I was already happy to see the 3,600+ points breached, but a 4,600 point conclusion is far from achievable in 2010. And so, true to my intuitive forecast, it settled at 4,200+ points, or just 200+ points beyond the new barrier of 4,000 points.

As big ticket projects are now on the pipeline for negotiations and implementation soon, we can expect investments to surge upwards more sharply this 2011. This will be reinforced further by the upgrading by Moody’s of the country’s investment grade from “stable” to “positive” just as soon as the new year commenced.

An offshoot of the optimism in the investment field will be entry of more players locally to purchasing stocks in the new IPO options opened to the public. Furthermore, ‘smart money’ from overseas will inflow into the local bourse and capital markets, thus ensuring another year of surge in the stock index.

This time around, I will be among those who will accept a forecast of the Philippine bourse breaching the 4,600+ points at the end of 2011. Granted that fairness in the stock trading and surety of regulatory mechanisms will be stronger this year, the Philippine bourse will perform excellently again this year and facilely breach that new forecast level.

[Philippines, 13 January 2011]

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IS THE PHILIPPINES ALREADY INDUSTRIALIZED?

January 14, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

 

Let me continue with the reflections on my beloved Philippines’ economy. This effort is often part of my self-accepted duties to update myself and my compatriots about the state of the Philippine economy at the start of every year.

Just a week ago, I came across an article writ by one of the stock market columnists in the Philippine Daily Inquirer of PDI, that re-echoed an emerging perception in the international business community concerning the Philippine economy’s being ‘industrialized’ today. Coming from the business community itself, this evaluative perception is replete with many implications for the country. It bodes well for the country in fact.

I wish that the perception will resonate with greater power by the day so that those in academic and ideological circles will rethink their positions about the Philippine ‘mode of production’. As far as the Maoists are concerned, PH will always remain as semi-feudal/semi-colonial, backward, agrarian economy. Some academic circles will re-echo the same old worn out “PH is a service economy, with mixed economy features.”

This analyst still recalls very well the ‘mode of production’ debate that  reverberated the halls of the University of the Philippines in the 1980s. I graduated from this university in October 1980, then came back to take up graduate schooling in sociology from Nov. ‘83 to April ‘89, and so I was able to flow with the discussions and debates ensuing. The debate centered largely on whether the Philippines is semi-colonial/semi-feudal (Maoist) or capitalist mode (moderate Marxists, populists, social democrats).

By the mid-90s, the debate was already faltering and dying out. It was a dead debate when the year 2000 rang a sonorous beacon of the new millennium. But if you ask any of the competing ideological blocs today about their perceptions of Philippine reality, you will notice that they will churn out the same lines that they’ve been saying for decades.

As regards the perception that PH economy is a ‘service economy’, the criterion is largely based on what sector—agriculture & forestry? industry? services? –contribute the greatest to the gross domestic product or GDP. Since services contribute 55% to the GDP, then PH is a ‘service economy’.

That evaluative perception has a kindergarten undertone to it, as it relies on simplistic assumptions.  Just because the industrial sector, which churns out barely 30% (manufacturing + infrastructure combined) of the GDP, looks diminutive than services, doesn’t merit an economy to be judged as ‘services’ or ‘non-industrial’ economy.

To be fair to those opinion quarters who have their own paradigm that churn out specific evaluative judgements, the term ‘industrializing’ was used to label Philippine development since the 1980s. At one point, PH was included among the NIEs or ‘newly industrializing economies’, and so the reference point was industry more than services.

Let’s go back to the USA in the year 1900 when it was already adjudged as industrialized. Industries began to enable the imperialistic pursuits of the USA then, if you recall your history well. But at that time, agriculture was still employing over 90% of the workforce, and nary an evidence can be shown that industry had out-stripped agriculture at that juncture as the main contributor to the national income (today’s GDP) perentage-wise. Yet the USA was already adjudged as ‘industrial’ at that time!

If the criteria would be largely the (a) prevalence and (b) impact of capital goods or ‘reproducible goods’ industries, then the market players have clear evidences to show such increased prevalence and impact. Save for integrated steel and castings & forging industries, every vital capital goods are already being manufactured in PH today. Unless of course that the ‘services economy’ judges are blind to these developments.

The emerging perception and judgement about PH economy should be impetus enough to cause a re-tooling by the analysts and ‘best practices’ innovators. It would prove beneficial for everyone if coteries of opinion-makers, business executives and capitalists themselves would begin the ball rolling by publishing their emerging perception about the ‘emerging markets’ such as PH to be already ‘industrialized’.

As a related event, I just signaled the young Prof. John Ponsaran, head of the development studies program in the UP Manila, about the emerging perception. I once taught in the UP Manila’s department of social sciences, where development studies is niched, so I know the temper of the faculty there that goes for debating on anything under the sun. I hope the emerging perception will be tackled in that campus.   

[Philippines, 08 January 2011]

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WESTERN ECONOMIC SHRINKAGE A REALITY AS ASIA RISES

January 14, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza                                                       

 

Magandang araw sa kapamilyang global! Good day to fellow global citizens!

For three decades already, I have been echoing a prognostication that was already current stock within sociology, about the ‘decline of the west’. Let me return to the same theme, as the rapid decline of the West and the fast rise of Asia is now a reality of the current historical juncture.

Just a couple of days ago, the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s or PDI’s opinion pages published an article by the past recent premier of the UK, Gordon Brown (PDI, 7 January 2011). Titled “Reviving the West,” it was a rather straightforward admission of the techno-economic decline that the West had undergone and the rapid ascent of Asia as the global economy’s growth driver.

As Brown succinctly stressed, “Time is running out of the West, because both Europe and the United States have yet to digest the fact that all the individual crises of the last few years—from the sub-prime crisis and the collapse of the Lehman Brothers to Greek austerity and Ireland’s near-bankruptcy—are symptoms of a bigger problem: a world undergoing a far-reaching, irreversible and, indeed, unprecedented restructuring of economic power.”

That was the former premier speaking, a technocrat and economic manager prior to his premier stint, so it does carry weight as much as those of the globe-trotting former US president Bill Clinton. Gordon went on to demonstrate his deep knowledge of the rising middle class consumers of Asia who altogether will make the greatest consumers the world over in the foreseeable future.

Said Gordon:

Of course, we all know of Asia’s rise, and that China exports more than America and soon will manufacture and invest more as well. But we have not fully come to terms with the sweep of history. Western economic dominance—10 percent of the world’s population producing a majority of the world’s exports and investment—is finished, never to return. After two centuries in which Europe and America monopolized global economic activity, the West is now being out-produced, out-manufactured, out-traded, and out-invested by the rest of the world.

That indubitably is an empirical substantiation of the thesis long held by Western social forecasters about the ‘decline of the West’. Oswald Spengler, Arnold Toynbee, Daniel Bell, Alvin Toffler, and John Naisbitt have churned out voluminous prognosis and forewarnings about the same thesis within a century’s span…and that thesis is now a reality.

In the middle and last portions of Brown’s article, he admonished Americans in particular to re-invent the ‘American dream’. The way to the revival of the West, with the USA showcasing the compass, is to re-structure the economy altogether. Accordingly, the nascence of over a billion middle class Asian consumers is a huge opportunity for America to re-invent itself and revive a strong economy.

Brown also forewarned America’s politicians, notably the Right, about criminalizing external forces, such as China’s currency, as culprits behind the decline of the US economy. Intervention measures such as currency wars are flawed, precisely because they fail to address the internal factors that are truly the causes of the economic decline.

To a great extent, I do agree with the evaluations and interventions of Brown. Fact is, I have already begun to echo the theme that America and Europe ought to reverse the policies of liberalization, privatization, and deregulation that led to de-industrialization, agricultural decay, infrastructure decay, and the rise of a ‘virtual economy’ based on predatory finance (vulture funds, derivatives or hedge funds). As I had been saying all along, the West should go back to the principles of the ‘real economy’ where wealth is produced from agriculture, manufacturing, infrastructures, transportation & communications, and science & technology.

As a matter of fact, I have been among Asian analysts and development practitioners who have urged the Americans to go back to the economics of New Deal propounded by the late Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Likewise should the tried & tested policies upheld by Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick von List, and John F. Kennedy, policies that impelled the rise of the physical economy and brought bountiful prosperity to Americans (read: created a predominant middle class), be put to the fore in rebuilding America.

Gordon resonates somehow with the ‘physical economy’ framework, even as he heralded the need for a new Marshall Plan for the world. Accordingly, the Plan could help to recast the banking system that was dirtied by its engagements in speculative financing and contributed to creating financial bubbles. The Western peoples should better listen to him, more so the youth who will be tomorrow’s Western leaders.

Let me re-echo the same message I have been saying all along: that prosperity should be a win/win phenomenon. No one here in Asia would ever want the USA and Europe to go back to the era of ‘cave man’ economy of hunting & gathering. I’d be happier many more times if the West should re-invent itself, cease from playing the destructive game of win/lose logic in order to prosper, and move back to reconstruct its physical economy altogether.

Asian spiritual masters, who incidentally also discoursed on economic doctrines (i.e. Baha’ullah, Gandhi, Vivekananda, Sarkar, Sri Aurubindo), left us all the legacy of building prosperity through the way of peace, cooperation, and mutual-help. It’s time for the Western peoples to retool themselves, by throwing away the binary and destructive thought system they inherited from their forebears, and by learning from Asia’s spiritual and intellectual giants.

[Philippines, 09 January 2011]  

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PHILIPPINES’ FOREIGN EXCHANGE BREACHES $62 BILLIONS

January 12, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Good day to you, fellow global citizens!

 The newspapers this morning released a gladdening news about a macro-economic fundamental in my beloved Philippines: foreign exchange or FOREX reserves breached the U.S. $62 Billion mark. The news item means that my country has all the foreign currencies to purchase a year-long worth of imports and still end up with a surplus of money.

That is inarguably good news, a veritable proof of how strong the Philippine economy is. My country surely belongs to the ‘Asian economy’ and is part of the region that is intractably the growth driver of the global economy today. PH’s forex grew by almost 50% from $44 Billion in 2009 to $62 Billion in 2010, and that is a very newsworthy development.

Practically all of the major macro-economic indicators in the country ended up with good results as of end of December 2010, thus ensuring prognosis of healthy fundamentals in the foreseeable future. GDP growth rate is good (c. 7%), balance of payments is at surpluses worth billions of U.S. dollars, exports & imports have rebounded since the lamentable contraction in 2009 (affected by the North’s recessionary winds), wages have been going up, inflation rate has been a manageable 2.8%-4.2%, debts are manageable (no fiscal crisis in the short run), domestic market had expanded by double digit, and liquidity has been sustained at manageable level.

So far so good! I have no better wish than to see the rising forex levels sustained so that PH can breach forex reserves of $100 Billion as early as 2012. At that level, we can safely say that foreign currency (dollar, pound sterling, yen, euro) will be an over-the-counter commodity, thus ending decades of forex crisis that was a factor behind PH’s low capability to secure foreign loans for its big ticket development projects.

The days of the forex crisis—whence forex levels wasn’t even enough to pay for 1 month of imports—is way behind us now in the ‘pearl of the orient seas’. Our forex reserves, added to the other macro-economic fundamentals, have rendered our country as more than stable economically and financially, thus meriting an upgrade in its assessment by investment evaluators (e.g. Moody’s).

The only thing to watch out, in a cautionary manner, is the contribution of portfolio investments to the forex level of late. As the northern economies burn, ‘smart money’ has been departing from their niches and finding new havens in Asia. And so a substantial sum of billions of dollars of that ‘smart money’ found its way into the Philippine financial and capital markets.

Our financial markets here are very highly liberalized, so the danger that volatilities can bring to our very own forex reserves is there. Extreme volatilities elsewhere in the globe can lead to investors’ gross divestment of their portfolios, thus leading to a domino effect of economic crash.

I have no problem admitting that short-term investments do make an economy healthy enough, provided that the regulatory mechanisms—available as tool to address volatilities’ adverse effects—are strengthened or reinforced at this moment. We can never have a repeat again of the Asian financial meltdown in 1997, a meltdown that began with currency attacks and then led to domino effects of crashing blows on banking, realty, manufactures, infrastructures, and the other sectors as well. No sir! We can and should never have a repeat again of that Dark Year of ’97!

Short of installing capital control measures, such as what Mahathir Mohammad did for Malaysia, PH’s central bank and monetary board should evaluate quickly the impact of possible volatilities through simulation models at hand. Maybe more tighter regulatory interventions should be installed as options in case of the contingencies arising, measures other than manipulating the liquidities through interest rates or shoring up fiscal capabilities through extended treasuries sales.

Among the options to be taken is the imposition of a Tobin Tax on all cross-border financial transactions. I have been echoing this option since the late 1990s yet, and I will again echo it this time. Just by imposing 0.35% tax on all such transactions, the country can accumulate buffer stocks of monies for the rainy economic days, at the same time that it can contribute immensely to international organizations such as the UN (as per prescription by the late economist James Tobin).

Meantime, for the Filipinos and Asians, cheers over the buoyant forex reserves in Manila! Mabuhay!

[Philippines, 08 January 2011]

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WOMEN CHIEF EXECS: INCREASING COUNT, KUDOS TO WOMEN POWER!

January 10, 2011

Erle Frayne D. Argonza

Women are making themselves felt more and more in the field of state governance these days. It surely pays to reflect on the increasing ascent of women in this field of endeavor.

In my own country PH, women have since expanded their presence in the top management of state and business bureaucracies. Latest count by the commission on women puts the number at 40% of total exec seats held by women, which renders PH among the exemplars of women empowerment in Asia and the world.

Our immediate past president, Gloria Arroyo, showed her own executive acumen as the Philippines graduated to middle income status from that of a poor 3rd world country during her incumbency. In 1986, our first lady president Corazon Aquino became the iconic symbol of democracy domestically and worldwide. Both lady leaders joined the select coterie of globally influential lady execs for their exemplary feats.

The most recent additions to the lady chief execs are Australia’s Premier Julia Gillard and Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff. I’ve already expressed my kudos to the noblesse ladies, and I wish that they will propel their respective countries towards greater growth and magnanimity in the global community.

The latest gender report shows the following list of lady chief execs (see AFP, 2011):

Australia: Prime Minister Julia Gillard

Argentine: President Cristina Kirchner

Bangladesh: Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajed

Brazil: President Dilma Rousseff

Costa Rica: President Laura Chinchilla

Croatia: Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor

Finland: President Tarja Halonen

Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel

Iceland: Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir

India: President Pratibha Patil

Ireland: President Mary McAleese

Kyrgyztan: Interim President Roza Otunbayeva

Liberia: President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Lithuania: President Dalia Grybauskaite

Slovakia: Prime Minister Iveta Radicova

Switzerland: Confederal President Doris Leuthard

Trinidad & Tobago: Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar

Goodwill and best wishes to all the women chief execs! Mabuhay!

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