Canceled names exceed new voters by 3.4 M

BY SOPHIA DEDACE, GMANews.TV
09/25/2009 | 01:17 PM

| | More With only a month to go before the registration period for the 2010 elections ends, the number of names purged from the voters’ list is more than twice the number of new voters that have signed up so far, according to records obtained from the Commission on Elections (COMELEC).

As of July 2009, a total of 2.7 million new voters have signed up since the registration period started in December 2008, figures culled from Comelec records by GMA News Research show.

During the same period, however, the number of names that have been purged from the list of registered voters has reached 6.1 million. Most of them, or about 5.6 million, are Filipinos who did not vote in the last two elections.

James Jimenez, head of the poll body’s Education and Information Department, said the figures should not give the impression that there is a low turnout of new registrants because more voters have been stricken off the voters’ list.

“There is a misconception that there is a target that we’re trying to reach in terms of the number of new registrants. There is not,” Jimenez told GMANews.TV.

He said hundreds of new registrants have been trooping to Comelec offices in recent weeks to beat the October 31 deadline. For the 2010 elections, “We are looking at 46 to 47 million voters,” he said.

As of July 20, 2009, Comelec records showed that there are 45,487,634 registered voters in the country. Deactivated and canceled voters are not included in the list.

According to the Commission on Population, there were 88.57 million Filipinos as of August 1, 2007.

For the 2007 polls, records show that 6.4 million potential voters did not register at all. Of this number, 832,000 came from the youth sector and 624,000 did not know that they had to register before voting.

Cleansing of voters’ list

Jimenez said the cleansing of the voters’ list is a continuing project of the Comelec to ensure that “suspicious” names and those ineligible to vote cannot participate in the electoral process.

Source: Comelec

The Comelec lists the following factors as causes for removal from the voters’ list:

Sentence by final judgment to imprisonment of not less than a year

Sentence by final judgment of crimes involving disloyalty to the duly constituted government or any crime against national security

Declared by competent authority to be insane or incompetent

Failure to vote in two successive preceding regular elections

Loss of Filipino citizenship

Excluded per court order

Death

Transfer to another municipality

Double registration

Double entry

Voters who failed to vote in the past two elections are only deactivated and can register again.

Asked whether the public should be alarmed with the large number of voters whose names have been removed from the list, Jimenez said that it is not a “cause for worry.”

He said the mass cleansing of the voters’ list is a necessary step in ensuring clean and honest elections, and should not be linked to the number of new registrants.

“Voter cleansing and voter registration are two different matters. The right to register to vote is a choice, but cleaning the voters’ list is a must,” Jimenez said. – with GMA NEWS RESEARCH, GMANews.TV

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Prepared Remarks of Barack Obama:Back-to-School Event

Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama
Back to School Event

Arlington, Virginia
September 8, 2009

The President: Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.
I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.
I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.
Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, “This is no picnic for me either, buster.”
So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.
Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.
I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.
I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.
I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.
But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.
And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.
Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.
Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.
And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.
And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.
You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.
We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.
Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.
I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.
So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.
But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.
Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.
But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.
Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.
That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.
Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.
I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.
And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.
Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.
That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.
Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.
I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work — that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.
But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.
That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, “I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.
No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.
And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.
The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.
It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.
So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?
Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

Yes, the Miss Universe

By Danton Remoto
REMOTE CONTROL
Views and analysis
http://www.abs-cbnnews.com
1st of September 2009

(Excerpt from Wings of Desire, a novel)

The Bank for International Reconstruction and Development (BIRD) based in Washington, D.C., held their XXth Annual Meeting in Manila.

“This historical event,” crowed the President that night on all the TV stations (which again zapped Wonder Woman off the screen, she who pilots an invisible plane) “proves that the bankers of the world agree that we have indeed marshaled our resources very well and turned our history of defeat into a future of hope.”

From that point, a flurry of questions had to be answered. How to house the world’s bankers in the luxury they had been accustomed to? Faster than Harry Houdini, the money from the Development and Aid Package of BIRD was diverted to the construction of seven new five-star hotels.

And so the commuters and office workers from Manila to Makati had to suffer monstrous traffic jams as one hotel rose after another by the bayside. One wag compounded the nightmare by suggesting that brick walls be erected between the city and the bay. The people protested it would deprive them of a view of Manila’s magnificent sunset. Others grumbled the government only wanted to hide the squatters, who had begun to build their shanties of tin roof and cardboard, by the seawall. The truly wicked said no, the government only wanted to raise more revenue by charging P50 for anybody who wanted to see the sunset flaming barbarously beyond the wall.

Both hotels and fences were finished, along with a sprawling international convention center that could rival anything found in Japan. What about the bankers’ cars? Seven hundred late-model Benzes were imported, and the citizens of Manila were treated to the sight of Benzes gliding by, absorbing the shocks from the potholes and the uneven paving of the roads, their windows tinted against the harsh tropical sun.

After the bankers, the beauty contest.

Margarita Mon Amor was chosen Miss Philippines the previous year. Many people thought the judges should have chosen somebody fairer, with a more aquiline nose, to represent the country in the Miss Universe contest held in Athens. They said Margarita won only because she graduated summa cum laude from an exclusive girls’ school and had a grandfather who was a Justice in the Supreme Court.

But Margarita – with her wide forehead, her big and intelligent eyes, her full, sensuous lips – won in Athens. Even before the coronation night, the Greek press was already gushing about the “dusky beauty from the Philippines who walked regally like a queen.” “Like Helen,” another paper gushed, “who could launch a thousand wars, er, ships.” And so on coronation night itself, Margarita Mon Amor went to the Parthenon in a simple silk gown the color of mother-of-pearl shell, her blue-black hair in a bun. She played a haunting kundiman on the bamboo nose flute before the stunned audience, and went through the rigmarole of the Q & A.

Bob Barker: “Miss Philippines, what is the square root of 11,250 divided by 40 then multiplied by 99?

Margarita Mon Amor: “How much time do I have?”

And now she was here, walking on the stage of the Folk Arts Theater, while the wind from the sea fanned the audience crowded in the First Lady’s latest project. Manila being Manila – this mad, maternal city of our myths and memories – everybody was jumping at the prospect of the city hosting Miss Universe that year. The machos were especially ecstatic, as day by day the tabloids splashed photos of their favorite candidates in their skimpiest bathing suits, getting their lovely tan from the Philippine sun.
So on this night of nights, the candidates flounced onstage, speaking in various tongues, a babel of greetings that were beamed worldwide. Miss Brazil came in a dress whose colors could make the parakeets in her country blush. Miss United States of America came from Texas and wore the tightest cowgirl jeans Manila had ever seen. Miss Philippines was Guadalajara de Abanico, a mestiza who had the habit of turning her finely-chiseled nose up at every social function and who, Manila’s reporters’ complained, always arrived late. “I’m sure there’s a friar somewhere in the family line,” snapped Istariray X., mother hen of Manila’s society columnists, in her bitchy column called W.O.W. (“Woman of the World”).

The favorites of the Manila press included Miss Wales, Helen Morgan, because she had pendulous breasts; Miss Spain, Amparo Muñoz, the 20-year-old señorita from Barcelona who looked like the Blessed Virgin Mary; and Miss Finland, Johanna Raunio, because she looked like the girl in the Bear Brand milk commercial. The country exploded with joy when the three were called as finalists, along with Miss Aruba, Maureen Ava Viera, whom the Manila press called “Black Beauty” even if she were brown, and the señorita from Colombia, Ella Cecilia Escandon, who had the face of an angel.

The judges, please:

1) Gloria Diaz who won the Miss Universe in 1969, just when the Americans were landing on the moon. Like Margarita Mon Amor, she was not your typical Filipina beauty queen, for she was short, brown, sassy, and smart. After she won, she was asked if she had a message for the three American astronauts. She said: “The United States has conquered the moon, but the Philippines has conquered the universe.”

2) Zenaida Carajo, also called Baby, who smiled through her tenth face-lifting and had difficulty walking, because on her neck, arms and fingers glittered the country’s second-heaviest diamonds (after the First Lady’s). She also wore makeup so thick that people called her Kabuki Lady behind her back. Or even espasol, the dessert from the south smothered in layers of flour.

3) Joseph Carajo, Baby’s cousin, who taxed the country’s seven million farmers with a levy ostensibly to fund the planting of mahogany trees to produce “modern antique furniture,” but the funds have allegedly been siphoned off to places as far as the Netherlands Antilles.

4) Richard Head, the American Ambassador, called Dick Head by two camps: the grim-and-determined Marxists and the applicants denied visas by His Honor’s consuls.

5) Bernardo Tulingan, who called himself the country’s finest painter, with his grotesqueries hanging like chopping boards in Manila’s seafood restaurants.

6) Zosimo Zaymo, a successful talent manager famous for pimping his female models in Brunei and fondling the male ones before hidden cameras.

7) The young Emmanuel, bright and beady-eyed, opinion columnist par excellence, thinking how soon he could bed as many contestants as possible.

9) Mother China, the country’s number one movie producer, who loved to have zombies in her movies.

10) And of course, the First Lady herself, the Chair of the Board of Judges, Her Majesty Infinitely Brighter than the Blaze of Ten Thousand Suns.

One by one the winners were called, to thunderous applause: Miss Aruba, third runner-up; Miss Colombia, second runner-up; and Miss Finland, first runner-up. And then, only Miss Wales and Spain were left. Both held hands and braced themselves for the announcement, their eyes closed, chins quivering.

Between Big Boobs and the Blessed Virgin Mary, of course the latter would win in this country. After she was called as the newest Miss Universe, Amparo Muñoz gave the crowd a beatific smile, tears running down her face, ruining her makeup. But never mind, for here was Margarita Mon Amor, gliding on the stage, relinquishing cape, crown and scepter, and then the señorita walked around the stage, the flashbulbs popping forever.

Miss Universe would constantly visit Manila as part of the First Lady’s entourage of royalty and celebs, who would be flown to the city to inaugurate a massive new building (part of what critics called the First Lady’s edifice complex), or just have a party aboard the presidential yacht RPS Ang Pangulo on Manila Bay. Later, Amparo Muñoz would star in porno movies in her country, precious copies of which were smuggled into Manila and shown at the parties of the rich and the brain-dead, for they married within the family to keep their fabulous, feudal wealth intact.

Helen Morgan would bare her humongous breasts in a Filipino movie called Nagalit ang Umaga Dahil sa Sobrang Haba ng Gabi (The Morning Got Mad Because the Night was Too Long), then returned to her cold, gray island after the movie flopped.

Johanna Raunio joined the Miss International contest in Tokyo and won. Ella Cecilia Escandon became a writer of Latin American telenovelas, the most popular of which –Mari Mar, Ay! – was shown in an obscure Philippine station, promptly became number one, and wiped the smug grins off the faces of the smart suits running the number-one network. And Maureen Ava Viera married a wealthy Filipino, divorced him, then returned to the Caribbean, to run as governor of Aruba.

* * *

News Item: A Surprise for Miss Nicaragua

During the Parade of Beauties of the Miss Universe contestants on Roxas Boulevard, one man jumped aboard the float of Miss Nicaragua, Mildred de Ortega, and hugged her. Filipino security agents, quick as ever, were already dragging the man away “for routine investigation,” when the Miss Universe contestant, who was then already in tears, said, “No, no, please, por favor.”

It turned out the man, who was a mestizo, was the brother of Miss Nicaragua. Danilo de Ortega had been in exile for five years. “I was glad to know that my sister had been chosen Miss Nicaragua. I flew from L.A. just to see her. I miss her and my family.”

Why did Danilo flee his country?

Perhaps it must have been the series of terrible earthquakes, forcing Danilo to emigrate from his beautiful and peaceful country, opined the columnist Juan Tabaco, a highly-paid columnist and a friend of the President. In a party, said the clandestine Opposition press, a member of the Opposition – with much help from Johnny Walker Black – stood before Señor Tabaco and began to sing, “How Much is that Puppy in the Window, arf arf.” And the eyes of Señor Tabaco – who used to write novels before the dictatorship co-opted him – began to fill with bitter tears.

But when he was interviewed, Danilo Ortega simply said, “I cannot stand the military dictatorship in my country.”

His statement was dutifully reported by Philippine media whose prime passion and major mania was the government-dictated policy of “developmental journalism.”

* * *

This, of course, is a fictional rewriting of the 1974 Miss Universe in Manila under the Marcos regime. Comments can be sent to http://www.dantonremoto2010.blogspot.com

Book sector not spared by downturn

By Jessica Annde D. Hermosa, BusinessWorld | 09/01/2009 12:20 AM

MANILA – The global economic downturn has not spared the domestic book industry, hitting sales and investment plans and limiting the production of new titles, industry officials said.

Limits posed by the local market are also to blame for the industry’s laggard performance, they added.

But a plan to award grants to authors and recommendations to focus on foreign markets and improve the education system could pull the sector out of its rut, National Book Development Board officials said.

“This year, there are almost no expansions except for a few stores in the new malls. Companies are focusing on training and retooling to prepare for the recovery,” Jose Paolo M. Sibal, Philippine Book Sellers Association president, said in a telephone interview on Friday.

Publishers, likewise, have hesitated from growing their businesses with only one firm availing of incentives to import more printing equipment this year, National Book Development Board Executive Director Andrea Pasion-Flores said in another interview.

“And as to sales, some of the publishers claim there has been a dip. Sales have been slightly affected,” the board’s chairman, Dennis T. Gonzales, said.

Mr. Sibal confirmed this, saying that demand, particularly for “pocket books,” has decreased.

The production of new titles, meanwhile, has proven a bit hardier.

“On average, there is a 5% growth every year in terms of new titles. It seems like the crisis has not affected this much. People are still producing which is a sign that there is still a market for new books,” Mr. Gonzales said.

The resilience however is only observed because “we didn’t boom, so we really won’t bust,” Ms. Pasion-Flores said.

To address this, the board is banking on a P150-million authorship trust fund that will be ready for disbursal, ideally, by 2011.

Implementing rules for the fund, created by Republic Act 9521 or the National Book Development Trust Fund Act, are “being finalized,” Mr. Gonzales said.

Interest from the fund will be awarded as grants to qualified authors, particularly those who pledge to produce new titles for science and technology, he said.

The fund will also go to cultural book projects which may not be commercially viable such as compilations of folklore or translations of important works into regional dialects.

Book sales, meanwhile, can be boosted by developing the local market and also marketing to buyers abroad, Mr. Gonzales said.

“In our case it’s really because of poverty and the quality of education. These affect book readership. It will take some time to radically increase local readership,” he said.

In the meantime, publishers would do well to target foreign markets, particularly for books that teach the English language.

“Many of our publishers are quite conservative in going to the international market… But there is a very big international market,” Mr. Gonzales said.