Sunday, August 24, 2008

Some people are just too dumb lucky!

Yesterday, I had to wake up early as I had to accompany my eldest son to the hospital who was due for an operation. He developed an epidermal cyst on his right thigh which alarmed me and my wife. Thank God that it looked harmless to the doctor although she said it has to be removed just the same. We will know for sure as soon as the result of the biopsy comes out.

So, with nothing to do, I bought a newspaper, tried doing the sudoku and the crossword puzzles, when both cannot be finished (had to redo the sudoku on another paper at home as I used ballpen which cannot be erased) I read the paper which as usual contained news on the MILF and the GSIS vs. Meralco. What struck me was that it also contained a story on the 15 richest monarchs in the world as covered by Forbes Magazine. It turns out that the king of Thailand is the richest with a net worth of $35 billion and the king of Swaziland as number 15 with $200 million. The list is as follows:

1. King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Thailand - 80 yrs. old) $35 billion
2. Sheikh Kalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan - (UAE, 60 yrs old) $23 billion
3. King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz (Saudi Arabia, 84 yrs old) $21 billion
4. Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah (Brunei, 62 yrs. old) $20 billion
5. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid (Al Maktoum Dubai - 58 yrs. old) $18 billion
6. Prince Hans-Adam von und zu Liechtenstein (Liechtenstein, 63 yrs. old)$5 billion
7. Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani (Qatar, 56 yrs. old) $2 billion
8. King Mohammed VI (Morocco, 46 yrs. old) $1.5 billion
9. Prince Albert II (Monaco, 50 yrs. old) $1.4 billion
10. Sultan Qaboos bin Said (Oman, 67 yrs. old) $1.1 billion
11. Prince Karim Al Hussein (Aga Khan, 71 yrs. old) $1 billion
12. Queen Elizabeth II (UK, 82 yrs. old) $650 million
13. Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah (Kuwait, 79 yrs. old) $500 million
14. Queen Beatrix Wilhelmina Armgard (Netherlands, 70 yrs. old) $300 million
15. King Maswati III (Swaziland, 40 yrs. old) $200 million

Looking at the list, my wife, exasperated just looking at the list said, "samantalang tayo, utang yan" (we may have that much although in the form of debt). Come to think about it. How much does the country owe now? Maybe we can get these guys to donate a billion, each?

What piqued my interest is that it seems that these guys really had it good in life. What did they do to deserve this vast wealth? Why are they so special? I am sure they also eat for sustenance, go to the toilet to relieve themselves, cater to the same human needs. My only consolation is that knowing that they are human beings like me, they also have their own problems. Maybe even more. Kings have been assassinated even by their own blood, solely because of the power and the money they have. Maybe the real monarch who thinks about the common man, works just as hard to keep his nation afloat, and that is not an easy job. Who knows? All I know is that I am contented with my family, a small house on a small piece of land I call my own (well as soon as I have paid the mortgage completely, hehe) afford a few luxuries in life. And that is all I prayed for. So I will always work hard and stay poor.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Lecture in Makati

Having worked in Alabang for so long, I have not been attuned with the streets of Makati. I am a virtual tanga when it comes to the city. Last Saturday, I had to attend a lecture given by Paolo Manalo who is here on a short respite from his tedious studies in Scotland, initiated by my poetry group, Pinoy Poets at the Filipinas Heritage Library. Being a self-taught, poet enthusiast, I would like to take advantage of the opportunity to listen to a lecture in poetry and learn. I need all the help I can get no matter in what form. So, venue is not a problem for me. All I have to do is ask around. Well, I cheated a little. I coaxed my daughter who works within the city to take me there. It proved to be a little costly.

First, I had to lure my daughter to go to Makati on a Saturday, her rest day. To do that, I told her we were going to eat at Avenetto at the Glorietta. My other daughter learned about it and wanted to tag along, and she did. Lunch was splendid! We ordered two plates of the seafood pesto, a chef's salad and a pizza. I consumed one plate while they shared with the other one. What can I do? I go bonkers with good pasta. The chef's salad was so-so. Not as good as Italianni's or even Sbarro but on a hungry stomach, that'll do.

Here's the catch. My daughters did not know where the library was either. As it was still early, we went window shopping, my first born found a shoe to her liking, bought it and took me to Landmark. "Okay, this is Makati Avenue. Where did they say the Library was?" I had no clue. My friend just told me it is along the avenue. Yo make matters worse, my battery was about to die on me. I told my kids to go head for home. I will find my way.

I asked around around but nobody could give me a response with complete certainty. When I reached Ayala Museum, I knew the library would be at the other side. How do I get there? I couldn't find the imderpass to cross the street. I texted my friend, praying that my battery would be enough to send and receive a reply. He did and confirmed that the library was in front of the Manila Pen. I decided to go back to Greenbelt and just grab a cab! I never take my car to Makati. I don't want to get lost and waste precious gasoline.

To make the story short, I found it. The lecture was held at the Filipiniana section at the basement of the library. It was biting cold down there. Too bad, we didn't have time to browse their collection. The lecture was very informative. Paolo talked about how and why we rhyme the way we do. He gave examples of sonnets written by Juan Salazar aka J. F. Sinukuan, Angela Manalang Gloria, Jose Garcia Villa and others. The lecture was wittingly entitled, Our love for Glove Doves. How many words rhyme with love? Not too many! Glove, dove, and near rhymes like of, grove, prove, jove. There were other things he discussed but I don't think you'd be interested anyway.

After the lecture, we had dinner at Cafe Bola! (So that's where the freaking underpass is!) and went for a bucket of beer at Oody's, both in Greenbelt. All in all, I'd say it was a well spent day. Can't wait for the next lecture.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Inherent powers

I had been absent from the blogging world for almost two weeks since my sister's passing. Not that I had nothing to write about but my pen, or should I say my fingers couldn't find the words on my keyboard. Suffice it to say that I was not in the mood. The words just could not come out. My sister's passing, although was expected, still brought pain as she is the first sibling to pass away. At any rate, life has to move on for after all, struggles, pain and suffering are all for the living. I might as well face it now and wake from my useless slumber.

I was reading the paper this morning when an article written by Mr. Neal Cruz caught my attention. In the article, Mr. Neal Cruz writes about how the city government of Quezon City plans to widen a sidewalk in Novaliches without paying the rightful owners.

When I was still studying, I was taught that there are three inherent powers of the state. These are police power, taxation and eminent domain. Eminent domain is the right of the state "to seize a citizen's private property, expropriate property, or rights in property with due monetary compensation..." A landowner, whose land sits on a track of land that is proposed to be part of a public hiway, for example, cannot deny the state to have his/her land expropriated, but with due compensation. This can be what the Quezon City is probably exercising when it told residents of the Susano Road to give up three meters of their property for its sidewalk widening project. However, the city government seems to have abused its power for it does not want to pay for the land it is getting from the rightful owners. Never mind that the cost of land in this part of the country is at Php30,000 per square meter. The city government can always pay for a lesser price.

The thing is it does not want to spend a single centavo. Too bad that not only does City Administrator Tadeo Palma insists that they shall not pay for the expropriated land, the owners will retain ownership. What does this mean? Several things: The owners have land that they cannot use, the commercial establishments lose merchandise in favor of illegal sidewalk vendors and unfortunately, would probably be asked to pay for the land's real estate tax! What utter misfortune lies in wait for these land owners? What have they done to deserve this injustice?