Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Not Your Everyday Cloud Formation

After just backing out of the house, saw this rather unusual cloud formation looking up at the eastern skies off Cagayan de Oro at 8:45 on a clear bright morning.

Shots taken by a point-and-shoot camera, filtered by the windshield tint inside the car.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Child’s Face

One bright morning furtively seated on the warming sidewalk by her lonesome, this forlorn child maybe no more than 10 looks up with those sad eyes, conveying maybe a world of privation, loneliness, and definitely hunger.

But what change a somewhat curt offer of a few pieces of bread can bring to a child’s face. It is definitely enough to warm one’s heart, a truly valuable exchange for a pittance of an offer.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Made-In-China Motorbikes

So are we still looking with askance at products made in China?

Consider a few facts. The other day the on-line news broke the story about China being now the biggest exporter in the world, finally overhauling leader Germany for the first time. Granted per capita Germany still leads. Also, for long enough China has enjoyed the position of being the 3rd largest economy in the world, outstripped only by leader US of A and second-placer Japan. But it is expected that China will take over the second slot.

And lastly, the news also highlighted the fact that China is also now the biggest auto market in the world with its over one-billion population finding new purchasing power to get into the markets. And the Chinese government stung by the global recession has been focusing efforts on domestic markets to move its excess products.

So are we then surprised that China-made vehicles are finding market niches in other parts of Asia, and the rest of the globe, too?

Here in our little corner of the world, Cagayan de Oro, China-made motorbikes are making crucial inroads rigorously competing with industry leaders like Yamaha, Honda, Kawasaki, and Suzuki. With one overall advantage – price affordability. And where price differentials can range as high as 100%. Thus, a China-made bike could be priced at 50,000 pesos while comparable units of the other brands are going for 100,000 pesos.

Are they comparable or better than the other well-known brands?

Personally, I believe the jury is still out, and thus it remains to be seen. Though China-made bikes have been in the local markets for several years. Some reports have been negative, but admittedly one sees on the city streets some of these bikes still operating decently and looking good.

But credit China for competing very well in the looks and design departments. Take a look at this.

It is a Dayun 125cc, single cylinder but twin exhaust pipes, street bike that sells complete with crashguard and carrier at the back. Carrying a curb net weight of 126kgs, or 277lbs. It sells for under 50,000 pesos (about 1,000 US dollars) where comparable bikes could sell as low as 75,000 to as high as 100,000 pesos.

It is obvious to see that its looks and designs mimic those of the classic Hondas or Yamahas, or the European models like BMW and Triumph, etc. One more expensive model is trumpeted as a BMW look-alike.

And many China companies are competing for these same markets. You see such strange names aside from the one above as Skygo, Longin, Motorsport, PMR, Kimbo, etc.

Some parting words. Remember it was not too long ago like in the 90’s that fledging upstart Hyundai from Korea started marketing cars in the US. Many consumers snickered at its first models. Now it has become mainstream. Same with Kia.

And in the 70's Honda first marketed in the US its 1000cc Civic touting it as the American consumer's "fun second car".

Pretty soon these Chinese models will become mainstream, too.

Just wait and see.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A Layman's Political Look At Voters In Cagayan de Oro

Okay, so I have averred on several occasions that the population of the City of Cagayan de Oro may top over a million. Nobody really knows for sure anyway, so it appears as valid as any guess.

Anyway, here are some irrefutable facts. For the last election cycle in 2007, the total number of registered city voters came out at 219,206. Of that number about 76%voted, coming out to a total of 166,451.

For the current election cycle it is forecasted based on early new registration returns that an increase of 10% will be added to the election rolls, for a total of about 240,000. If we get the same number of people voting during this cycle we should have 182,000 actual voters. Remember both 2007 and 2010 are national elections.

As is arguably implied, three candidates from a total of seven for the city’s top executive position are expected to slug it out for the prize – the incumbent Vice-Mayor, the current Congressman of the 1st district, and our outlier dark horse, former councilor Berchmans Abejuela. A close struggle is expected to ensue, dividing city votes 3 ways. If true as projected, a candidate who is able to garner at least 60,000 votes has a good chance of winning, assuming the two other candidates are able to accumulate similar numbers of votes.

So where are the votes for each major candidate expected to come from?

For the current congressman of the 1st district, he is expected to perform well in his own bailiwick. He resides in Carmen, a district that already has over 20,000 registered voters.

Surprisingly, the entire poblacion of 40 barangays has a total voting population of only about 22K, topping 25K taking into account the projected increase, with Carmen projected to register 22K. Both Carmen and the poblacion pegged 74% actual votes from registered voters during the last cycle.

The first district has total registered voters of 92,929, quite less than the 2nd district’s 126,237.

Aside from Carmen, the first district has the following heavily populated areas registering voters in the high four figures – Balulang, Patag, Kauswagan, and Bulua.

But the 2nd district aside from the poblacion also has high concentration areas like Camaman-an, Macasandig, Bugo, Gusa, Macabalan, Puntod, and with Lapasan registering at the low five figures. Others figuring out prominently are Agusan, Cugman, and Tablon.

We expect Berchmans to perform well with the younger, more motivated and untainted voters so the populations from four city universities will be a constituency that he could court, impress and win over as a solid core constituency.

Another huge, though seethingly silent and disgruntled, constituency should be the many disaffected Cagayanons scattered throughout the city, who have been resigned over these many years to the doggone idea that they have lost their city in many respects. Berchmans comes across as one of them – giving flesh and expression to their once devoted concerns and homegrown values.

Both contending opponents are not only well-entrenched politicians with deep pockets, but are currently public officials which undoubtedly give them better exposure and access to resources not otherwise available to an outside non-officeholder. Look around, on government-installed billboards, signs and images plastered conspicuously on government vehicles, etc, and it is easy to see why they do. Government largesse, or call it pork or whatever, from the ways it is disbursed and accounted for is mistakenly acknowledged to have originated from the personal resources of the government officials named. When in fact since it comes from tax money, really comes from the people themselves.

The current Vice-Mayor of course is the uncrowned kingpin in the city. He had served forever as mayor, governor, and then slid down to vice-mayor because ostensibly it was the only way to perpetuate power. And now, he wants to reclaim his much-desired title.

This will be an interesting election, hopefully a hotly-contested joust majoring in clashes of ideas and public programs of government, rather than the typical toss-up between candidates spiraling down the path of who can outspend whom, or a flagrant contest of temerity or gall to finagle ways to a dubious, or less than honorable, victory.

In the issue of honest transparency and to better appreciate the attendant political capability and credibility of each candidate it is hoped that public forums or debates are held before election time.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Local Politics: Cagayan de Oro Style

The tropical New Year not only turned on the heat of the local weather, it also ushered in the building cauldron generated by local political stirrings.

2010, in May specifically and a mere five months away, brings on elections in the Philippines – from the national down to the local elective offices.

Today, I got re-introduced to one of the unlikely candidates vying for City Mayor. His name is Berchmans D. Abejuela. A true Atenean and maybe the only blue-blooded Atenean in the fulsome line-up of seven for the same position.

Knew Berchmans from childhood and was almost a neighbor in the small tight neighborhood our family grew up in. He lived in old Dolores St. while we lived along Del Mar St., the latter intersecting with the former two blocks away to the south.

I should have you know that given his very uncommon and unique first name, he most probably was named after a Jesuit missionary and now a saint of the Church, John Berchmans. So he is more like an Atenean since birth!

We both not only graduated from Ateneo de Cagayan (now Xavier University) for our studies, but also both taught high school in the same place at the time when Fr. James O’Donnell was principal.

He went on to take up law and again like a true Atenean, dedicated to be a man for others, entered into politics at a young age fired with the youthful idealism borne from years spent in a Jesuit institution. He won a seat in the local council.

We lost touch since I left the country. Many decades later and we reconnect. In true fashion, Berchmans likes another stab at local politics, no doubt greatly frustrated with how local politics have devolved into, and still fired up with red-hot enthusiasm to try to personally do some things about the dire conditions not only in local government, but most especially in the rueful neglect of the general citizenry brought about by a pernicious kind of identity and patronage politics spawned during the many years of my absence.

Berchmans is teaming up with the polls-surging group of NoyNoy Aquino and Mar Roxas under the banner of the Liberal Party. From all indications, this national tandem appears headed for victory and Berchmans made the right decision to share platforms and ideals with them.

Needless to state, I personally find Berchmans a good match for the position.