Finalist-PhilBlogAwards 2010

Finalist-PhilBlogAwards 2010
Finalist for society, politics, history blogs



Thursday, September 01, 2016




Erle Frayne D. Argonza



Magandang umaga sa inyo! Good morning to you all!


Let me re-echo the theme of physical fitness in this note, with my contention being that fitness regimen contributes immensely to capacity-building. Conversely, the neglect of a fitness program—sustained across time—would incapacitate a person in no small measure, leading to even greater risks of physical degeneration and short life-span.


I have already tackled fitness programming numerous times in the past, notably in speeches on development, health and wellness. I’ve likewise wrote notes about the matter, with one note posted in my wisdom & self-development blogs (“Health & wellness: promoting longevity, prosperity, harmony,” in,


Rest assured, I shall never get tired of re-echoing the theme. Whatever one wishes to use fitness program for, whether for advancing one’s material well-being (profession, craft, business) or spiritual self-development, the lesson should be as clear as the most transparent water: build and sustain a fitness program to capacitate you for your short- and long-term goal attainment.


To note, urban life and the rat race are skyrocketing to take up the largest chunks of peoples’ attention, and that chunk of attention includes neglecting fitness in favor of conspicuous consumption and toxin build-up of the biophysical body. Every kind of rationalization is advanced by the working folks to justify the neglect of fitness program, and they’d blame every external factor (work, their boss, career, money…) to cover up for their personal weakness in neglecting a very basic practice in life: fitness regimen.


I do resonate with the physical education professors, such as Prof. Mar Panganiban of the University of the Philippines Manila (a former colleague at my home College of Arts & Sciences), when they cogitate that “the amount of inputs ingested in the body should be commensurately followed by an equivalent quantity of outputs.” Input means, of course, sums of food intakes; outputs, the burning of calories and detoxification through physical exercises.


To take the argument further, “should you put excessive inputs in the body but output is less than the input, than you build up unwanted fats and toxins.” That is classic systems analysis, where a system breakdown if the output can’t churn out much to correspond to high input levels.


So the logical conclusion is: ensure that output level (exercises and related detoxifications) should catch up with, or level with, the level of input. If a person inputs 2,000 calories per day or 14,000 calories per week, but output consists mainly of work routines and mobility exertion routines (driving or riding to work and back home), then chances are that the output is lower than the input.


The average weight for that calorie level is middle weight (for man or woman), or approximately 145-160 pounds. So if a person of this weight range ingests such levels of inputs, the demand for output is clear: let fitness exercise be added on top of your work regimen and mobility exertions. Aside from that, find ways to detoxify through regular drinking of herbal teas averaging two (2) mugs a day.


Avoid sweets, carbonated drinks (eliminate them if possible) and junk foods. If it can’t be avoided that you take caffeine (to waken up for the day) accompanied by sugar, then that’s alright, provided that you burn the sugar and detoxify the excess through herbal teas at night time (they can serve as beverage accompanying dinner).


And please drink enough water every day. In my experience, I drink a minimum of fifteen (15) glasses/mugs of water daily. That includes water used for mixing my coffee before breakfast, milk choco accompanying breakfast, two (2) coffees in to go with afternoon snacks, and the two (2) mugs of herbal tea at night. My last glass of water is consumed in sips every time I wake up at night to pee. The coffee and herbal teas that I drink are diuretics that aid the water to be released, taking out the toxins in the process.


As a testimony, it was my fitness programs (swim & jug in the 80s, powerlifting since 1990) that capacitated me to work longer hours daily. Without a fitness regimen, I would already feel fatigued before 5:00 p.m. (I really felt such a bad state in 1981 & ‘82 as a starting young professional). With fitness program in hand, I can begin work at 6 a.m. (prep for breakfast & work) and end up at past 10 p.m. (I’d be meeting fellow professionals or development clients, or drafting documents).


After decades of fitness regimen, my body has become so primed up that today I had cut down on exercises and still remain physically adroit the whole day. I’ve also cut down on inputs (diet) to accompany my cutting down of burning regimen. Whereas I used to gym for four (4) days a week, today I sustain it with only two (2) days plus another three (3) days of walking (at least 45 minutes leisurely walk).


It surely pays to listen to your body, conscience and experience that are your teachers along your way. And, it pays never to listen to your ‘inner demon’ that would do everything to get you out of a fitness regimen, make you lazy and rush you to hospitals later for repetitive ailment attacks.


So the choice is really yours. Change your lifestyle now, include fitness regimen in it, or retain your lazy bone lifestyle and deposit as many fats and toxins in your system. Go ahead and make the choice.


[Philippines, 18 September 2010]








Tuesday, August 23, 2016




Erle Frayne D. Argonza


Good morning to all ye global citizens! Goodwill and peace to you!


For this day I chose to peregrinate on the 3-Gorges Dam of China, a project that cost a whopping $23 Billion to build. The eco-fascist detractors of the project raised the specter of catastrophe that could result from a collapse of the dam infrastructure, so maybe its time to reflect about the giant energy project.


I just arrived from overseas assignment in 2002 when I had the opportunity to discuss the 3-Gorges dam in my social science classes in Manila. At that time, I was offered a Director post in a think-tank of the Augustinian sisters, a stint that gave me opportunity to mine enormous data about the latest development engagements nationally and globally. I also taught as lecturer while directing research, which surely offered me a privileged position to reflect about global issues.


Being one who has been involved in the planning works on ambitious development projects (e.g. industrial estate/free trade zone, economic support projects for marginal sectors worth hundreds of millions of dollars) as a practitioner, I was truly appreciative of the efforts of China’s state to tame the Yangtze and tap its power-packed waters for electrification, irrigation, and subsidiary purposes. Though environmentally-driven myself, I am not wont to deliver satirical and destructive remarks about such a project as the 3-Gorges Dam that can benefit a greater section of China’s population and economy.


There are always negative trade-offs to any big endeavor, such as the displacement of 1.4 million folks along the reservoir area of the dam. What project of such a stature in the world doesn’t have a downside to it anyway? The downsides are the ones highlighted the most by paid hacksters of the West’s financier oligarchs, notably the political greenies whose obsessive-compulsive reflexes are unmatched anywhere in the world.


The USA had its own taste of baptism of fire from destructive commentators when the FD Roosevelt regime built the Hoover Dam. A pioneering infrastructure and energy project during its own time, the project received enormous media detractions that were paid by Nazi  oligarchs in the homeland who, not to say the least, owned and controlled America’s giant media outfits (they own media till these days). The detractors did everything in the books in fact to destroy FDR for his innovative New Deal measures that included massive infrastructures as pump priming tool to take out America from the Great Depression towards recovery and prosperity.


As one can see, the Hoover Dam stood the test of time, and it remains as one of the marvels of America’s public works. It is too early to say about what can happen to the 3-Gorges Dam, but it has parallelisms to the Hoover Dam and other ambitious infrastructure projects of the New Deal heydays, projects that the predatory financiers in America couldn’t play their hands with as they are primarily state-sponsored.


Understandably, the West’s financiers can not benefit directly from projects initiated by China’s government, even as it is now too late for destructive Western forces to take down China’s economy through massive looting of the financial markets the way they’ve done to their own domestic economies in the EU and USA. So they employ those civil society groups that receive funds from the financiers’ ‘corporate social responsibility’ coffers, with the expectation that the activist funds recipients would drum up the destructive impacts of projects they cannot control such as the 3-Gorges Dam.


In the event of heavy rainfalls however, there is reason to keep watch over the waters’ possible exceeding the 175-meter limit of the dam’s reservoir. As shown by our own precedents in the Philippines, the dam’s administrators used the contingency tool of releasing parts of the waters before the same could ever do damage on the dam through an overflow that could trigger a catastrophic burst of the infrastructure.


With decades of hydraulics experience behind our local experts here, this much I can say: so far so good! True, there were casualties who suffered from the inundations caused by the contingency releases of the rising floodwaters. But no single dam ever burst catastrophically yet, a catastrophe that could have resulted to higher casualties of at least a couple of millions of folks.


It’s now the start of the ‘ember’ months, and so far we are witness to the 3-Gorges Dam standing tall. So far so good! There are still three (3) more months to hurdle before the storms will bring heavy rainfalls, but so far the indications are the dam administrators can manage the hydraulic flows efficaciously.


If there is any message I can deliver to the eco-fascist blabbermouths, they should spread themselves across the world’s continents and plant trees in the de-forested boondocks. This behavior would be truly exemplary, as it will show that sociopathic groups and persons can also exhibit productive behavior during times of crisis.


[Philippines, 15 September 2010]








Wednesday, August 10, 2016




Erle Frayne D. Argonza


Good Day from the suburbs south of Manila!


Another gladdening news for us global citizens just came out recently from the heraldry mills: that of Asians leading the way to fuel-saving behavior. For those advocates of mitigating ‘greenhouse effect’ gas emissions through direct motorist interventions, the news surely comes as a refreshing one.


In a report summarized in the Philippine Daily Inquirer (by Amy R. Remo, 22 August 2012), the Shell corporation accordingly conducted a research which shows the greater inclination of Asians for fuel saving then the Europeans. 3,300 drivers across Asia and Europe served as respondents, and was released by the Shell FuelSave Report.


The motivation for fuel-saving, as validated by the research, were (a) the prospect of saving money and (b) being environmentally responsible. One can see, from the report, how economics has been merging with ecological balance concerns for the entire Asian continent, a reality that wasn’t there two (2) decades back.


The increased awareness of Asian motorists towards fuel utilization efficiency clearly deconstructs those contorted notions that developing countries are too low in environmental awareness. It’s plain stereotyping, this protestation from Western/Northern countries that Asians can’t commit to cutting down fossil fuel emissions as their development path still lingers on in the phase of ‘smokestack economy’ of yesteryears.


Fact is, the research findings coincides with the recent manifestation of exemplary behavior by Asian countries in re-engineering their policy environments to shift their power production and fuel consumption towards more clean energy in the foreseeable future. It is the Northern/Western countries that have been remiss in this regard, as one can see, with the USA leading the way to stubborn non-commitment to international protocols on cutting down fossil fuel emissions.


The report accordingly conducted online interviews beginning March 21 this year in the following countries: Philippines, UK, Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Germany, Turkey, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand.   


My own country, the Philippines, has been among the most applauded internationally as it had reshaped its policy environment to develop and mass produce green energy fuel sources. Hybrid engines are now available in the country that utilize a combination of alternative and fossil fuel sources, while solar-powered vehicular prototypes are being designed across the country (even university students are vying for exemplary prototypes that can be mass produced locally and abroad).


The resort to fuel saving is a transitory phase towards a shift to total clean energy sources (solar, fuel cells, to the more ambitious gravitic and plasma technologies) that will be the viable option in the near future. My own forecast is that it won’t take till 2025 when the total shift can be accomplished across Asia, with the emerging markets of today leading the way towards that ambitious goal.


[Philippines, 12 September 2012]



Tuesday, July 26, 2016




Erle Frayne D. Argonza



Peace be with you! To all devout sons and daughters of Allah, love and peace!


Permit me, through this note, to commend an ongoing project in Mindanao (Philippines) that showcases the theme of ‘infrastructure for peace’. This is the GEM Project, short for Growth with Equity in Mindanao. Funded by the United States A.I.D., the GEM will ensue till 2012 yet.


A report titled “GEM program continues in Mindanao” (Manila Bulletin, 25 July 2010) gave a brief update about the GEM situation particularly for the province of Lanao del Norte.


To reminisce a bit, Lanao was among the provinces where the insurgent MNLF (Moro National Liberation Front) operated most actively, and was among territories that could have seceded from the Philippines. A peace pact was signed between the MNLF and the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) in the 1990s, during the incumbency of Fidel V. Ramos as president, thus ending decades of conflict.


The conflict down south led to casualties of over 100,000, while another 500,000+ Mindanaoans (mostly Muslims) migrated from the island to more peaceful areas across the Philippines and in Sabah (over 250,000 alone ran to Sabah and are still residing there). That conflict explains why there are so many Muslims in Manila today.


The GEM infrastructures, dubbed as BIPs or Barangay Infrastructure Projects, are showcases of development engagements that were able to take off and prosper largely due to the cessation of hostilities between state and rebel armies. As reported in the news, there are 44 BIP projects alone in Lanao del Norte, all of which are proceeding well thanks to the strategic peace in the area.


What the GEM narrative is telling us is that total cessation of hostilities is a pre-requisite for development engagements to prosper in any given area particularly in the hinterlands. There is no chicken-and-egg debate whatsoever when it comes to development work: build and cement peace in the area as sine qua non, and development engagements can take take off to induce growth in the affected area.


Having been a development worker for so long in my life, a work that almost got myself dead after contracting falciparum malaria in the early 80s, I resonate with those stakeholders who opine that development cannot proceed in an area where violence prevails as the norm. Such violence could be due to insurgency, warlordism, clan wars, and/or upscaled criminal activities (e.g. drug cartels and gambling chiefs lording it over in the area).


I have already gotten tired of the psychopathic propaganda of rebel Pied Pipers who peddle the lie that “insurgency has been caused by poverty, by the absence of development projects” verbiage, which is toxic mental junk. Certain insurgent groups are no revolutionaries but criminals cashing on the support of patrimonial interest groups, and role-playing social predators in their areas of operations.


A cursory psychoanalysis of the individual members of those insurgent groups would reveal psychopaths or sociopaths who are acutely sick of personality disorder, or at the minimum possess what Theodore Adorno termed as ‘authoritarian personality’. They are drawn to fanatical movements that cohere with their psyche and warped sense of justice, such as racist, jihadist, and communist groups.


Such persons, to my mind, are no longer humans in the truest sense of the word but are rather demoniacs who prey on helpless folks that suffer the most from their violent operations. Possessing borderline personalities or intelligence levels (sub-human levels), they are likewise those who join mafia groups.


Absent those demoniacs in the area, and you would have the environment for building peace, cooperation, and growth. That experience is what is now happening in Lanao del Norte where the BIPs of GEM are now going on.  


To date, 23 BIPs were already accomplished (finished contract) and are now usable, comprising of slab bridges and solar dryers for grains. You could just imagine the glee of the village folks currently utilizing those infrastructures, folks who for so long had no access to simple infrastructures such as slab bridges.


Let me re-echo my commendations to the GEM project and the stakeholders directly involved in their planning, implementation, and utilization. Let the GEM story reach the widest latitudes of Mindanao and the planet to remind warring stakeholders of what zero hostilities can do to build life in their given areas of operations.


[Philippines, 12 September 2010]






Saturday, July 16, 2016




Erle Frayne D. Argonza


Good evening from the Pearl of the Orient!


Marikina shoes, the top pioneering shoe industry in Southeast Asia after World War II, has been among the carcass industries in the aftermath of globalization. Lately though, the industry has been re-surging from the doldrums, so let me share some notes about the matter.


Marikina is a city to the east of Old Manila and is among the model cities for couples of reasons. It’s former administrators, the Fernando couple (a developmentalist couple), were able to tap official development assistance (ODA) funds directly for local infrastructures without needing securitization from national government, thus kicking off a new trend in development financing and urbanization pursuits.


Officially a part of metropolitan Manila that is the ‘Manila of the present’ (old Manila is ancient and diminutive in size), Marikina had been emulated for its cleanliness, efficient traffic management, and participative local governance. It had set off a trend for local governments to embark on ambitious projects without being subsidized by national government.


Those feats are part of the new image of Marikina, just to make it clear. For Marikina also has an older image as the home of the Philippines’ pioneer shoe industry. At one time the exemplar of Asia in shoe-making, Marikina’s exquisite shoes have straddled the planet like conquering commodity champions worth the possession of rising middle class members aspiring to acquire apparel items worth their pockets’ powers and esteem.


Marikina shoes have thus enabled the flourishing of backward linkages such as leather tannery, dye industry, and shoe accessories. Upon attaining industrial maturity circa late 60s through the 70s, product quality was at par with the best that the West can manufacture. And, Marikina shoes were priced so affordably, selling at around merely 1/5 to 1/3 of the western counterpart items.


Trade liberalization however struck a bitter chord in the 1980s, and down came Marikina shoes with globalization’s ascent. Former shoe factories closed shop, tens of thousands of shoe workers were laid off, and shoe retail shops followed the pattern of foreclosures. At the end of the day, only a few notable Marikina brands stood tall amid the storms caused by trade liberalization and serial recessions.


I won’t be surprised to find out that similar industries elsewhere, inclusive of the USA’s, will be shutting down due to the same reason: globalization. The trend is now hitting shoe factories in the USA that closed down production in the homeland as the same (production) were outsourced to developing countries where labor and capital goods (leather, dyes, chemicals) are priced cheaper than the homeland.


As Europe’s economies literally burn, its consumers are cutting down on luxuries, thus opting to buy essentials that are more affordably priced, such as garments & apparel. We shouldn’t be surprised if the prime shoe brands of Italy and France would be knocked out cold turkey by the economic storm in the continent.


Incidentally, Marikina’s local stakeholders were able to address some core social issues concerning their dying shoe industry in the 1990s yet. Those strategic measures, such as relief funds for affected industries, are now reaping fruits for the industry players.


As a whole, Marikina’s show industry was reduced to carcass indeed, but a carcass that is able to stand up at certain junctures. With the wave of China shoes conquering so many shores worldwide, Marikina shoe industry is again getting whacked heavily and paying the price of slow adjustments to make their products more competitive (i.e. attain greater comparative advantage)


Another tranche of relief subsidies for affected industries, akin to a stimulus package on a local level, is now out-flowing from the city government’s coffers. Whether the said funds are able to stave off potential deaths on specific factories and outlets remains to be seen.


For the moment, let me declare that all of my leather shoes are Marikina products. I’ve already decided to shy away from Western imports, and I’m saying no to China shoes that suffer from quality problems. This is my own way of appreciating the craftsmanship of Markina’s shoe designers and the labors of shoe workers in the city.


[Philippines, 11 September 2010]





Wednesday, July 06, 2016




Erle Frayne D. Argonza


Good evening from the suburban boondocks south of Manila!


It’s playing Latin music in my multimedia at home right now. As I play the danceable tunes by Buena Vista Social Club, my eyes are focused on the news “Some Chile miners showing mental crack” in the world news of the Philippine Daily Inquirer (Aug. 29, 2010).  


Let me then dedicate this piece to the task of mining as a way to honor the miners of the world. Honoring them means that eventually the human miners will retire from the job, with robots taking over those rather hazardous tasks related to mineral extraction.


To quote the report’s inception, “Five of the miners trapped underground in Chile for months to come are struggling psychologically, officials said on Friday, as engineers prepared to start drilling an escape shaft.”


The news coming from Copiaco, Chile further heralded, “While the rest of the 33 trapped miners were happy to take part in a video to show families they were bearing up despite what has so far been a three-week ordeal, the smaller group refused and were exhibiting signs of depression.” [AFP Report]


Well, what else can we expect from toiling workers trapped deep down underground, with hardly much hope for coming back to the planet’s surface till after months of hard rescue operations to come. Even a person who doesn’t suffer from manic-depressive disorder can crack up and manifest depression when confronting such a life-threatening situation.


If we go back to the times of the Roman republic, and maybe backtrack 2,000 years earlier than Rome, we can review their mining practices then. Mind you, contrast our mining extraction today with those of ancient times, and you just might have the shock of your life to find out that there isn’t much contrast really.


The technology of extracting minerals down underground remains to be dependent on human or anthropocentric labor for thousands of years now. Not even the impressive engineering works to dig the minerals from rocks down under can impress me much at all, they remain the same technology: human-driven extraction.


While the miners of antiquity were slaves of the imperial deus ex machina, today’s miners are cogs of the business empires’ deus ex machina. Marginal or small-scale miners, like the ones we have in the boondocks of northern and southern tips of the Philippines, are all the more risk-prone to the appalling extraction conditions and backward technology as they can be buried anytime by mining-related calamities without healthcare or ‘life plan’ to compensate them.


A cursory examination of the Chilean miners’ condition allows this analyst to facilely forecast that at least 1/3 of them (around 2 persons) will be in advanced form of depression and nervous breakdown as soon as the rescue operators reach them. Tragic, simply tragic!


That’s how human labor is treated by corporate capital since the birth of the money economy anyway: mere objects worth throwing away if they die during production operations. Miners are among the most classic cases of how capital treats human labor as cheap dirty eater stuff.


If indeed corporate capital—and its cultural deodorant ‘corporate social responsibility’—has the sanguine love for human miners, it should strive pronto to innovate on robotics that can do the work for the miners. Retire all the miners of today pronto, compensate them for social security and healthcare, and then gradually employ the robot miners.


Only token labor—comprising of technicians and engineers—are needed to operate robotics-driven mining. Robots won’t suffer from depression in case of mishaps, they won’t require healthcare and social security but rather maintenance expenditures appropriate and sufficient for their upkeep.


Retired miners can then afford to exhibit more productive engagements such as to serve as eco-tourist guides for students and visitors who may wish to examine former open-pit mines that have been re-greened with lush vegetation. They can likewise do some tour guide tasks for mine visits that would be as less risk-prone as their previous jobs.


Meantime, let me share my own lines of solidarity to all those suffering miners in Chile and the rest of the planet. May they find light at the end of the tunnel of oligarchic pseudo-slavery down shafts and pits, and tell their narratives to the planet as part of our human history heritage.


[Philippines, 10 September 2010]