Public work, private life

The challenge of being in public service is that it can go as “public” as it can get. After the elections, I have decided not to write so much so as not to take sides in issues. I can’t help but take hold of my feelings whenever I have a personal opinion on matters which are controversial. For more than a year now, I have learned to discern and be critical in distinguishing what really matters.

Government service helped me become a more disciplined man. I learned how to face all sorts of people and take the blame for things which you have little or no control at all – from the cutting of trees along the MacArthur Highway to the yellow ribbon lanterns around the city – and a lot more issues sparked a debate between my friends and family.

As a private individual, it is very unusual not to open topics related to one’s work. In one of the gatherings of government officials in Naga last year, I shared my thought on how it is to be this young and become involved in governance. Yes, I still go to bars and hangout for coffee with my yuppie friends and during those moments, I always tell something about work. Sharing what I do will turn any conversation serious, gloomy and heartbreaking.  Funny thing is, just imagine me in a bar and shouting so loud for my friend to hear the latest scoop on corruption issues and government interventions! But this is the road I have chosen.

For 2011, and probably for the succeeding years, I will still be with the government. This is my contribution for my country. I may sound very nationalistic but I suppose this is the simplest way I can express my reason for staying in such a field. For as long as I can see passionate people willing to take on the challenge, I’m willing to stay. The upcoming months will be challenging, but the advocacy as imparted by the Institute for Solidarity in Asia (ISA) remains – to make governance a “shared responsibility.” And I am proud to be doing my role.

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Licenses to Kill

My non-professional driver’s license is worth 1,200.26 pesos to be exact, and it’s not worth it!

The Land Transportation Office (LTO) Regional desk in San Fernando, Pampanga is the worst government agency I have been through. July 22 and 23 were the most tiring day for first half of 2008 for me because of my experience at LTO. I came to LTO at around 7:00 in the morning of July 22 and I got my license at 3:30 pm of the next day.

It all started when I had to file an affidavit of loss because I was not able to keep the receipt of my Student Permit. Then I had to go through a medical check-up, a drug test, and some paperwork. All seemed pretty well and I thought I could finish everything before lunchtime; but I was wrong.

Due to technical problems (computer glitch), I had to come back the next day. I thought I would be able to get my license faster because I was able to accomplish some requirements the previous day. To my surprise, I had to experience falling in line again, waiting for an hour for my name, taking a “fake” test, and paying more money.

All LTO employees look very annoyed. They are not courteous and they seem very relaxed. With almost a hundred people waiting for the release of their licenses, it was obvious that all employees did not have any sense of urgency.

No seminar was given. Tests were faked (non-pro examiners only answered 7 out of 40 questions and pro examiners are required to answer 12 out of about 60 questions). This is the proof why the streets of the Philippines are filled with undisciplined and stupid drivers (especially jeepney drivers) who are not aware of traffic signs, regulations and defensive driving. I had to pay an extra 300 Php so as not to take the practical test. LTO’s pathetic reasons for doing these came straight from their employees’ mouths: Kapag nag-test kayo, hindi tayo matatapos at siguradong walang papasa dahil mahirap ang test. (If you take the exam, we will not be able to finish on time and no one will pass, too. The test is difficult.) LTO is practically giving away licenses to kill. Anyone can get a license for a price.

Now I have my non-professional driver’s license which will expire on my 23rd birthday. I hope by that time, LTO has changed.

Breakdown of license fees:

Php 100 (Affidavit of loss)

150 (Medical check-up)

250 (Drug test)

300 (fixer, who is an LTO employee) for not taking practical test

340.26 (actual price of license)

60 (so-called dup. Cert)

Thank you to my new friends, namely, Amy, Myel, and Rodel.

To my officemate Doods, I appreciate your dad’s letter which I actually didn’t use. I dared to get hold of my license on my own and here’s the price.

Red, White and Blue

I thought every Filipino who finished high school knows how to display the Philippine flag correctly – I was wrong. All establishments were required to display the national colors in commemoration of the country’s Independence Day. Our department received a lot of calls asking the correct way of displaying the Philippine flag which was supposed to be hung in front of our affiliates’ facades. Actually, this was taught in school when I was in grade school. It was one of the lessons during my Boy Scouting days as well. What’s wrong with Filipinos? Are we preoccupied by corruption and poverty that we are not aware of proper display of national symbols? I am neither a Philippine history expert nor an over-patriotic freak but at least, I know one basic Filipino rule. Here is the correct way of displaying the flag according to Republic Act 8491:

SECTION 7. The flag shall also be displayed in private buildings and residences or raised in the open on flag-staffs in front of said buildings every April 9 (Araw ng Kagitingan); May 1 (Labor Day); May 28 (National Flag Day) to June 12 (Independence Day); last Sunday of August (National Heroes Day); November 30 (Bonifacio Day); and December 30 (Rizal Day); and on such other days as may be declared by the President and/or local chief executives.

The flag may also be displayed throughout the year in private buildings or offices or raised in the open on flag-staffs in front of private buildings: Provided, That they observe flag-raising ceremonies in accordance with the rules and regulations to be issued by the Office of the President.

SECTION 8. All government agencies and instrumentalities, and local government offices, government-owned corporations and local government units are enjoined to observe flag day with appropriate ceremonies. Socio-civic groups, non-government organizations and the private sector are exhorted to cooperate in making the celebrations a success.

SECTION 9. The flag shall be flown on merchant ships of Philippine registry of more than one thousand (1000) gross tons and on all naval vessels.

On board naval vessels, the flag shall be displayed on the flag-staff at the stern when the ship is at anchor. The flag shall be hoisted to the gaff at the aftermast when the ship is at sea.

SECTION 10. The flag, if flown from a flagpole, shall have its blue field on top in time of peace and the red field on top in time of war; if in a hanging position, the blue field shall be to the right (left of the observer) in time of peace, and the red field to the right (left of the observer) in time of war.

The flagpole staff must be straight and slightly tapering at the top.

SECTION 11. If planted on the ground, the flagpole shall be at a prominent place and shall be of such height as would give the flag commanding position in relation to the buildings in the vicinity.

If attached to a building, the flagpole shall be on top of its roof or anchored on a sill projecting at an angle upward.

If on a stage or platform or government office, the flag shall be at the left (facing the stage) or the left of the office upon entering.

SECTION 12. When the Philippine flag is flown with another flag, the flags, if both are national flags, must be flown on separate staffs of the same height and shall be of equal size. The Philippine flag shall be hoisted first and lowered last.

If the other flag is not a national flag, it may be flown in the same lineyard as the Philippine flag but below the latter and it cannot be of greater size than the Philippine flag.

SECTION 13. When displayed with another flag, the Philippine flag shall be on the right of the other flag. If there is a line of other flags, the Philippine flag shall be in the middle of the line.

When carried in a parade with flags which are not national flags, the Philippine flag shall be in front of the center of the line.

SECTION 14. A flag worn out through wear and tear, shall not be thrown away. It shall be solemnly burned to avoid misuse or desecration. The flag shall be replaced immediately when it begins to show signs of wear and tear.

SECTION 15. The flag shall be raised at sunrise and lowered at sunset. It shall be on the mast at the start of official office hours, shall remain flying throughout the day.

SECTION 16. The flag may be displayed:
a) Inside or outside a building or on stationary flagpoles. If the flag is displayed indoors on a flagpole, it shall be placed at the left of the observer as one enters the room;

b) From the top of a flagpole, which shall be at a prominent place or a commanding position in relation to the surrounding buildings;

c) From a staff projecting upward from the window sill, canopy, balcony or facade of a building;

d) In a suspended position from a rope extending from a building to pole erected away from the building;

e) Flat against the wall vertically with the sun and stars on top; and

f) Hanging in a vertical position across a street, with the blue field pointing east, if the road is heading south or north, or pointing north if the road is heading east or west. The flag shall not be raised when the weather is inclement. If already raised, the flag shall not be lowered.