Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Today, the long awaited showdown at Meralco’s stockholders meeting is about to start. Already, vehicles with anti Garcia stickers and banners are being reported to be all over the compound’s parking lot. Meralco linemen and bill collectors are also all over the place carrying banners supporting the present leadership. This early, GSIS’s Garcia’s prediction of organized heckling, to counter his attempt to get reelected to the board and hopefully, effect a change in the leadership of the power company seems to be coming into fruition.

For a backgrounder, Garcia who controls a little more than 30% of the company through government shares in Meralco, is wanting to outseat the ruling Lopez family. This officially started when President GMA publicly asked for the support of big businesses in taking out the present leadership whom a lot of people accuse of cheating the public and charging exorbitant electric rates. On a personal level, Garcia has been feuding withthe present leadership since he took note of several matters which he perceive as inefficiencies and bad corporate governance. To begin with, Garcia raises hell over the fact that items to be taken up in monthly board meetings are only given to him on the Saturday prior to the Monday meet. Of course, such deprives him (and other board members) of sufficient time to study all matters and act accordingly. Another issue which caught his ire is the management’s refusal to give him copies of supply contracts entered into by Meralco.

On the public front, Meralco has been accused of passing its electrical costs on to its customers, something which is outrageous because all businesses do that. If a company will not make its customers pay for its costs, how will it profit? The real questions should be focused on sweetheart deals between the Lopez businesses and Meralco and if it is profiting outrageously.

On the profit side, Meralco is a monopoly and not subjected to the rigors of competition. Therefore, the government should see to it that it doesn’t overcharge the public. In regard to the sweetheart deals, The government should see to it that Meralco is not spending too much on shiploads of coal and fuel for its power plants and that it isn’t buying electricity at outrageous terms from the Lopez companies or any supplier for that matter. If it does, that’s where the Lopezes are making themselves fatter- by milking Meralco. The government should also make sure that Meralco is not charging the electrical consumption of its sister companies like ABS-CBN to the general public. The problem is, Meralco refuses to be transparent and that’s where its enemies are getting the ammunition in its war against the Lopezes.

If the government will succeed in taking out Meralco, is it automatic that the public will benefit in the long run? Maybe not. Its track record in running corporations is spotty at best. And besides, government ownership of Meralco is just an added opportunity for corrupt officials. With the Lopez companies out of the picture, the possibility that supply contracts will now be awarded as political favors is not at all remote.

Replacing the Lopezes may actually prove to be worse for the publc.

One thing though. I would like to know if the Meralco employees that are now in the stockholders’ meeting are on leave or drawing salaries (plus incentives) on this day. I believe that the linemen have a lot of areas to take care of today and it is not their business to be at the Meralco compound and take part in boardroom politics.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Personal Financial Advice for Filipinos

For those needing some badly wanted credit card debt relief, here are some possible options.
  • Get a low or zero interest salary loan from your office and pay off your loan. I have an officemate who borrowed the maximum allowable amount form the company and deposited the money in high interest paying accounts like the AFP savings and Loans. In a year, she was able to earn a lot.
  • Get a mortgage. A home mortgage allows people to pay their loans at comfortable repayment terms and lower interest rates.
  • Should the above two be inapplicable, get another credit card while your loans haven’t reached past due. Use the new credit card to pay off your exiting loan but this time, carefully plan the repayment of the new loan. Credit cards charge very high rates and repayment should be a top priority.
  • All the above should give you an idea of the other variants.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Strikers Stinking Sense of Logic

Following these people’s logic, I therefore recommend that the government start individually profiling and visiting them in their houses. I further recommend that the military bring heavy guns, send the ugliest and foul mouthed soldiers and talk them into not joining any protest from now on. After all, if we will follow the strikers’ logic. Intimidating them is simply part of the convincing process.

Hey GMA, I need a well deserved award for this. I’m so brilliant, Am I not?

For the past several years, strikers in this country have resorted to unlawful and highly unethical ways of getting their messages across. They use harassment and intimidation through the use of barricades, burning tires, metal spikes and even bodily harm to discourage public transport and even private vehicles from using the roads for the duration of transport and labor strikes. While this has not been very successful in Metro Manila within the last decade, the practice is very effective in the provinces where fear is easier to sow due to the lack of effective peace and order system.

The objective of transport paralysis, even through artificial means, is to project an image of strength to be able to force the government, whoever the president may be, to succumb to the demands of the strikers.

During one strike, a transport leader, when confronted over the radio about reports of intimidation, defends such move, calling it a part of their attempts to persuade drivers into joining them. If I may quote, he said something like, “Ang tingin naming dito ay bahagi sa proceso ng panghihikayat…”


Coming from the same people who cry against violence, this system of intimidation is very ironic at the very least. If one will examine these militant groups, it will be easy to identify which ones are allied with one another. If one will closely observe their marches, one will easily be able to separate and group them together based on their methods, banners and slogans. Yes, the harassers are the very same people who cry against military and government abuse, intimidation, “hamleting”, violence, etc.

Following these people’s logic, I therefore recommend that the government start individually profiling and visiting them in their houses. I further recommend that the military bring heavy guns, send the ugliest and foul mouthed soldiers and talk them into not joining any protest from now on. After all, if we will follow the strikers’ logic. Intimidating them is simply part of the convincing process.

Hey GMA, I need a well deserved award for this. I’m so brilliant, Am I not?

These people, for all the validity of their complaints are as guilty of committing the same sins to the masses.

Pinoy Home Office

This week, I discovered the beauty of having using my dining room furniture as my temporary office. The table itself is more than enough for the tons of documents that I have to examine and the chairs are just high enough for my hands to rest on top of the table. Even my laptop looks good in it. Whew! It looks like, I will like working from home. With internet, who needs the office?

Battle With the Bulge

For quite some time now, friends have been asking about the supposed diet pill that works. I do not have any opinion about it, being a true blue drill til you drop type of individual. However, there has been plenty of comments about certain products that are hot in the market now that I can’t help but start thinking about it. I have realized that the battle against the bulge gets harder each year and at a certain point, I may have to ask for some help.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Cheap Medicines: At long last?

Perhaps, the biggest headline this week (other than the rice issue), is the passage of the cheaper medicines law. One important provision in this law is the parallel importation of certain brands of patented medicine in countries where it is cheaper.

A lot of congressmen claim that the new law is ineffective because of certain provisions that they proposed which failed to make it in the final draft. They are talking about the “generics only” provision which requires doctors to write only the generic names of the drugs that they will describe. The current law specifies that generic names of medicines be written by doctors in their prescriptions to give patients the option to shop around for cheaper brands.

Maybe they are correct but FOR NOW, this blog thinks that such provision is not needed. A comparison of prices of certain medicines shows that generic brands are also very expensive. This means that generics manufacturers, even without costly investments in Research and Development (R & D) are selling at the price that will cost patients their arms, in addition to their legs and their only necks!

Let’s take for example, the price of Ponstan (Mefenamic Acid), 500mg capsules. Quezon Vice Gov Suplico observed its retail price in India to be as low as P5.00. In contrast, generic brands (in tablet form) in the Philippines are selling at P5.50 while Ponstan itself can be bought at P25.00.

It means that generic brands are selling the tablet form higher than the original capsule while the manufacturer is trying to suck money from 80++ million Pinoys by selling it at 500% higher than their selling price in India. There are also observations that certain brands of generic medicine are ineffective. Perhaps, substandard meds have now penetrated the local pharmacies.

For the purpose of today’s post, let us make a price comparison of certain medicines:

NORVASC (Antihypertensive), 10mg tab , 2x10's
Philippine Government Retail Price : P29.90
Current Market Price (Philippines) : 74.75 ~ P80
Observed Retail price in INDIA : P8.00 <--Price difference = 1000% --- WHOA!

PONSTAN (Pain reliever), 500mg tab
Philippine Government Retail Price: P7.00
Current Market Price (Philippines): P25.50
Observed Retail price in INDIA: P5.00 <--Price difference = 500% --- WHOA!

Enclosed is the pricelist of the Government owned Botika ng Bayan. You will notice that a price difference of 100~150% is so common. What more if we are to buy it at retail prices in India? Please click the image to enlarge.

I will have a follow up post regarding this matter.

Source: http://www.pitc.gov.ph/pricelist.htm

Wood is wood

With the current log ban in the Philippines, I found out just now that replacing my wood shutterswill be very costly. Friends suggest that I use the resin alternatives that are cheaper, look almost as good as natural wood and are much more durable. The suggestion is probably a good one but I will have to study it a bit. For a lot of people and that includes me. Wood is wood and there is something about it that is keeping me from shifting to other materials.

Summer Tourism

It’s summer in the Philippines and the advent of the same season in some other countries. By now, a lot of North Americans are desperately punching their keys in search for cheap flights. I hope that our Palawan, Tubataha, Boracay and a few other destinations get a surge in tourist arrivals and I hope that those vacationers will spend a lot of money that will provide the much needed income for our people. I am not talking exclusively about the expensive hotels. I wish that the lonely barbecue stands by the beach also makes good honest money this vacation.

A billionaire below the age of 40

At this point, Dell has gone a long way from the customized PC’s that Michael dell used to sell from his dormitory room. He has reached the top of the IT world by dominating the global supply market of computers. The company has become so sophisticated that there are now independent companies specializing in dell memory upgrades. That’s how the business had grown. A dealer can now prosper simply by dealing with those upgrades.

Recommendation of the week

For all the mp3 enthusiasts out there, this one is way too cool!

We all know about Limewire, Imesh, Kazaa and other music sharing sites but this one is the latest toast of the internet world. It functions in a way that is very similar to limewire but my experience says that it facilitates faster downloads. In addition, it also comes with TV, Radio, and Games channels that makes it a more comprehensive tool for most of the things that one needs online. MP3 Rocket is my current choice for free music downloads and more. By the way, don’t get scared by its name. One can search for and download all file types and not just MP3. I’m not really a frequent searcher of things to download but whenever I need one, this software is my current favorite.


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