Friday, June 12, 2020

I'm calling it: 4 more years

It's going to be four more years. He has a solid 30-40% base that won't budge and would almost surely vote. The other side has a solid 30-40% too (including anti-status quo independents), but they're concentrated in cities and already-blue states so in Electoral College terms they're a minority. Base-versus-base will surely go his way. The wavering independents and moderate conservatives need to be converted and vote against their party, but I don't see that happening at all. So it's 4 more years.

Prove me wrong in November.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020


I've always disliked ABS-CBN. It's a power peddler, using its privileged position as a broadcaster to lobby for the business interests of its controlling family. It has launched the political careers of several politicians, some more qualified than others, and relished in its ability to do so. More ethical broadcasters would reel at the suggestion of directly involving themselves with the first three estates.

But we need to put all that aside for now. What we have here is a state bent on controlling the media, trying to ensure that only its crafted narrative is heard. This is an existential threat to our democracy. We cannot let this happen. Congress should get off its ass, stop using the pandemic as an excuse, and immediately renew the broadcasting franchise. And I can go back to dissing ABS-CBN again.

Monday, March 23, 2020

An Act

An Act
By V.C. Sotto III and P.S. Cayetano

Strangely empty streets.
From one empty shelf to another
in supermarkets.
Closed shops.
Factory closures.
Curfews being implemented.
Military and medical personnel are manning checkpoints.
Class suspensions.

People are staying at home.
People are working from home.
Socializing is restricted.
Uncertainty and fear among people


Monday, May 13, 2019

Stupid, uneducated poor people are fucking up our country!

You hear that a lot when the "thinking" class' chosen candidates fail to win, with the assumption that those not in this class are not thinking. "Who else would vote for politicians known and jailed for corruption? Who else would reject very good candidates like human rights lawyers and people with Ivy League MBAs?"

Well, I have a few things to say about that.


I used to work in one of the more reputable socio-political polling companies. We also wondered why poor people would vote, in our view, against their clear economic interests. Why anyone would vote for a candidate "because he is handsome" or "because he was nice to me" or "because she is my idol's daughter" -- all things people from classes D and E actually said to our interviewers. Made no sense and seemed to reinforce thoughts about a hopelessly clueless poor electorate.

Then we dug deeper into our data, particularly the parts about personal vs national economic outlook as well as primary concerns and long-term planning. We found that the dissonance between personal and national outlook was starker among the poor; i.e., they don't see their personal economic outcome as necessarily tied to the national outcome. The country could go to the dogs but they will do ok, so most of the poor would say. They also had very immediate concerns about food and shelter and weren't thinking too far ahead -- something to be expected of people in poverty and living in very precarious situations.

All these pointed to cynicism among the poor: they did not believe in national institutions as doing anything good for them. They seemed to think that whoever was in power would not change their personal circumstances, and they only had themselves to rely on. They didn't see how changes in government -- and they've seen a few -- will change their economic circumstances. Whether the winner was red, yellow, blue, or whatever colour of the rainbow, the poor remained poor and had to fend for themselves. So they would vote for whoever made them feel good for the moment: the handsome one, the nice one, someone's daughter. They would vote for whoever gave them succor for the moment, the one who gave them groceries or medicines to get through the day. In their view, doing so is in their economic interests because whoever has been in power -- all of them elites of various parties and colours -- never delivered for them anyway.


Everyone who has ever led the country -- the shrewd lawyer, the widow, the general, the actor, the previous president's daughter, the previous president's son, the uncouth lawyer -- is a member of the elite. All the senators are elites and mostly from high-society families. Even the current occupier, who makes a big deal about preferring dried fish and mung bean pottage over foie gras and entrecote, had an elite upbringing outside Manila and studied in elite schools. Some of our leaders were preferred by elites, some were more popular among the poor, but all relied on elite machinery and patronage to get into power. And all have failed to make a significant dent out of poverty rates: our poverty headcount ratio (at the PPP 2011 USD 3.8 per person per day poverty line -- that's just enough to cover basic food and shelter needs and not enough to allow schooling or healthcare) went down by about 20 points over the past three decades, from 63% in 1981 to 43% in 2015. Sounds like an achievement, but not that impressive when you consider that poverty headcount reduction was more than 50 points in Indonesia and Thailand and more than 80 points in China and Vietnam during the same time.

All our leaders past and present are from the elites, but somehow it is the stupid, uneducated poor people who are ruining the country.


If you really think that the poor need more education and better judgement in their voting decisions, you can start by supporting and campaigning for policies that will give them a clear stake in national electoral outcomes. Like better public schools and hospitals, social protection and insurance, and access to safe public spaces and infrastructure. Among others that will actually help the poor. We can replace cash transfers from corrupt politicians with institutional and transparent unconditional cash transfers -- it might even be cheaper that way as we save the money that would've been siphoned off into politicians' accounts (hopefully).

Yes, all of these are expensive and will need to be funded. So perhaps you can also support policies that will tax you and your elite friends' incomes, properties, and inheritances. It makes no sense to tax wage income at a higher rate than capital income -- both labour and capital are needed for production. It makes no sense to tax savings in the form of deposits at a higher rate than savings in the form of property or stocks -- both are good for the economy. It also makes no sense to not tax unearned inheritances -- these are unproductive transfers and just perpetuate inequality.

So maybe you and your woke elite friends who form the thinking class can support fair and truly progressive tax policies. Or is that too much to ask? Much easier to blame the poor for their poverty, right?

Wednesday, February 20, 2019


I still can't process that you're gone. I'm not ready to face my own mortality, yet you bring it so close to home. My tears are unable to come out yet. Still thinking of your snark and sarcasm, and classic recount of our Junior Christmas party. Can't believe one of us -- us -- is gone. I know I should be saying a prayer or grieving or whatnot right now, but I can't. It's still not processing. Can't believe one of us is gone.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Allergy Note

English: I am extremely allergic to peanuts and tree nuts like walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, and others. If I ingest peanuts, tree nuts or products that contain them I will have a serious medical emergency. Please warn me if any of the food or drinks I am ordering contains peanuts, tree nuts, peanut oil, peanut butter, or other peanut or tree nut products. Thank you very much.

Bahasa Melayu: Saya sangat alah/alergi terhadap kacang tanah dan kacang yang tumbuh di pohon seperti walnut, badam (almond), kemiri (hazelnut) dan lain-lain. Jika saya menelan kacang-kacang tersebut atau produk yang mengandungi kacang-kacang tersebut, saya akan diserang oleh kecemasan perubatan yang serius. Mohon memberikan saya peringatan jika makanan atau minuman yang saya pesan atau diberikan kepada saya mengandungi kacang-kacang tersebut seperti minyak kacang tanah, mentega kacang dan lain-lain. Terima kasih banyak.

Spanish (Spain): ¡Hola! Soy un niño que padece una alergia muy grave a los frutos secos como cacahuetes, nueces, almendras, avellanas, etc., o a cualquier otro producto derivado de estos, como aceite de cacahuete, mantequilla de cacahuete, leche de almendras o similares. Si como alguno de estos productos tendría una reacción alérgica muy fuerte que podría suponer una emergencia médica. Por favor, avíseme si cualquiera de las comidas o bebidas que pida contiene frutos secos o sus derivados. ¡Muchísimas gracias!

Italian: Sono estremamente allergico alle arachidi e a tutti i tipi di noci, nocciole, noccioline, mandorle, pinoli, pistacchi e anche a tutti i prodotti e agli alimenti che li contengono. Se li ingerisco avrò dei gravissimi problemi di salute e avrò bisogno di assistenza medica immediatamente. La prego quindi di farmi sapere se il cibo o le bevande che sto ordinando contengono arachidi, noci, noccioline, mandorle, pinoli, pistacchi, olio di arachidi, burro di arachidi o altri alimenti simili. Grazie mille.

Chinese (Simplified): 我对各类坚果过敏 (花生,核桃,杏仁,榛子等)。如果我食用坚果或者用坚果制作的食品 ,我会有严重的过敏反应,并需要到医院急救。如果我点的菜或饮料含有坚果或坚果食品(比如花生酱,花生油,核桃油,以及花生核桃杏仁榛子的颗粒或粉末),请您提前告诉我。谢谢您!

Chinese (Traditional): 很不好意思,我的家人對各類堅果過敏(包括花生、核桃、杏仁及榛果等),如果不小心食用到含有堅果類的食品,我家人將有嚴重過敏反應,甚至需要前往醫院急救。因此,如果我點的食物中含有任何堅果或堅果類食品(包括花生醬、花生油或其他堅果類的顆粒或粉末),麻煩您提前告訴我,謝謝。

Bahasa Indonesia: Saya sangat alergi terhadap kacang tanah dan berbagai macam kacang seperti walnut, almond, hazelnut dan lain-lain. Jika saya memakan kacang-kacang tersebut atau produk yang mengandungi/terbuat dari kacang-kacang tersebut, saya akan menjadi sakit dan harus dilarikan ke rumah sakit. Mohon/harap memberikan saya peringatan jika makanan atau minuman yang saya pesan atau diberikan kepada saya mengandungi kacang-kacang tersebut seperti minyak kacang tanah, mentega kacang dan lain-lain. Terima kasih banyak atas perhatiannya.

German: Ich bin sehr ernste allergisch gegen Erdnüsse und Nüsse wie, z.B. Walnüsse, Mandeln, und Haselnüsse. Ebenfalls bin ich sehr allergisch
gegen Nahrungsmittel, die Erdnüsse oder Nüsse enthalten. Nach ihrem Verzehr tritt ein schwerwiegender medizinischer Notfall auf. Bitte teile mir mit, falls meine Bestellung Erdnüsse, Nüsse, Erdnussöl, Erdnussbutter oder andere Erdnuss- oder Baumnussprodukte enthält. Vielen Dank für ihr Verständnis.

Spanish (South America): Tengo una alergia muy severa a los frutos secos como el maní, nueces, almendras, avellanas, etc., o a cualquier otro producto derivado de estos, como aceite de maní, mantequilla de maní, leche de almendras o similares. Si como alguno de estos productos tendré una reacción alérgica muy fuerte que terminará en una emergencia médica. Por favor, avíseme si cualquiera de las comidas o bebidas que pida contiene frutos secos o cualquiera de sus derivados. ¡Muchísimas gracias!


پسرم به بادام زمینی و خشکبار مثل گردو، بادام، فندق و بقیه حساسیت شدید دار. اگر بادام زمینی یا دیگر خشکبارها یا موادی که حاوی آنها باشد را بخورد دچار وضعیت حاد پزشکی می شود. اگر غذا یا نوشابه ای که سفارش می دهم حاوی بادام زمینی، خشکبار، روغن بادام زمینی، کره بادام زمینی یا دیگر خشکبارهاست لطفاً به من اخطار دهید. با تشکر بسیار.

Japanese: 私はナッツアレルギーで、ピーナッツだけでなくウォールナッツ、アーモンド、ヘーゼルナッツなどのナッツ類も食べられません。ピーナッツや他のナッツ類、またはそれらを含む食品を食べると、救急医療が必要なほど深刻な症状が出ます。もし私が注文した食べ物や飲み物にピーナッツ、他のナッツ類、ピーナッツオイル、ピーナッツバターまたは他のナッツ製品が使用されている場合は教えて下さるようお願いします。
Products made in the same production line as the ones containing peanuts are ok, as long as peanuts is not used to make the food I eat: ピーナッツを含む製品と共通の設備で製造している食品でも、この食品の中にピーナッツが入っていなければ大丈夫です。

Hindi: मुझे मूँगफली, बादाम, अखरोट, पहाड़ी बादाम (हेज़लनट) और अन्य पेड़ के नट्स से बेहद एलर्जी है। यदि मैं मूंगफली, पेड़ के नट या उन उत्पादों जिसमे यह सब होता है को खाऊ तो मुझे एक गंभीर चिकित्सा आपातकालीन स्थिति हो सकती है। कृपया मुझे जरूर चेतावनी दीजिए अगर मैं कोई भी खाने या पीने की चीज़ मांग रहा हूं और उसमे मूंगफली, पेड़ के नट्स, मूंगफली का तेल, मूंगफली का मक्खन, या अन्य नट्स का पदार्थ शामिल हो। आपका बहुत बहुत धन्यवाद।
Non-spicy food for my son, please: मेरे बेटे के लीये तीखा खाना नही चाहीये, धन्यवाद।

Greek: Είμαι πολύ αλλεργικός στα φυστίκια και τους ξηρούς καρπούς από δέντρα όπως καρύδια, αμύγδαλα, φουντούκια κάστανα κ.λ.π. Εάν φάω τροφή που περιέχει προϊόντα ξηρών καρπών θα έχω σοβαρό αλλεργικό σοκ και θα πρέπει να μεταφερθώ στα επείγοντα ιατρικά περιστατικά. Σας παρακαλώ ενημερώστε με εαν το φαγητό ή το ποτό που έχω παραγγείλει περιέχει φυστίκια, ξηρούς καρπούς από δέντρα, ΦΥΣΤΙΚΕΛΑΙΟ (ίσως κατά την τηγάνιση), φυστικοβούτυρο ή προϊόντα ξηρών καρπών από δέντρα.
I suffered an allergic shock from nuts. PLEASE CALL AMBULANCE: Έπαθα αλλεργικό σοκ από ξηρούς καρπούς. ΚΑΛΕΣΤΕ ΑΣΘΕΝΟΦΟΡΟ ΣΑΣ ΠΑΡΑΚΑΛΩ.

Sinhalese: මට ඉතාමත් දරුණු ආසාත්මිකතාවයක් එහෙමත් නැත්නම් ඇලජික් තත්ත්වයක් තිබෙනවා ගස්වල හටගන්නා නට්ස් වර්ග එනම් රටකජු, කජු සහ ආමන්ඩ් වැනි ආහාර සමඟ. එබැවින් වැරදීමකින් හෝ මට එවැනි නට්ස් වර්ගයක් සෘජුව හෝ එවැනි නට්ස් වර්ග යොදා පිළියෙල කරගත් ආහාර වර්ග හෝ බීම වර්ග අනුභවයට ගතහොත් ඉතාමත් දරුණු ක්ෂණික රෝගී තත්ත්වයකට මා පත්විය හැක. මේ නිසා මා ආහාරයට සහ බීමට ලබා ගන්නා කිසිවක රටකජු කජු වැනි නට්ස් වර්ග හෝ ඒවා යොදා ගනිමින් සකස් කරන ලද බටර් සහ කිරි වර්ග අඩංගු නොවන බවට සහතික කරන මෙන් කාරුණිකව ඉල්ලා සිටිමි.
No spicy food for my son: මාගේ පුතාට ආහාරයට ගැනීමට සුදුසු සැරින් අඩු ආහාර වර්ග තිබේද
What are less spicy foods: සැර අඩු කෑම ජාති මොනවාද

Thai: ผมแพ้ถั่วลิสง และถั่วของนัทยืนต้น เช่น วอลนัท อัลมอนด์ เฮเซลนัท ฯลฯ และจะมีอาการแพ้อย่างรุนแรงหากกินถั่วเหล่านี้  โปรดเตือนหากอาหารที่ผมสั่งมีส่วนผสมของถั่วลิสง ถั่วนัทยืนต้น น้ำมันถั่วลิสง เนยถั่วลิสง หรืออื่นๆ ขอบคุณมากครับ

Portuguese: Sou extremamente alérgico a amendoins e todos os tipos de nozes, como amêndoas, avelãs, pinhões e outros. Se eu comer amendoim, qualquer tipo do nozes, ou integradas em molhos ou condimentos, mesmo que seja em pequena quantidade, terei uma emergência médica séria e podería morrer. Por favor, avise-me se algum dos alimentos ou bebidas que estou pedindo contiver amendoins, nozes, óleo de amendoim, manteiga de amendoim ou outros produtos de amendoim ou qualquer tipo de nozes. Muito obrigado.

Tagalog: Ako po ay lubos na maselan o allergic sa mani at nuwes tulad ng pili, walnut, almond, hazelnut, at iba pa. Kapag ako makakain ng mani, nuwes, o mga produktong may laman nito, ako ay magkakaroon ng nakamamatay na karamdaman. Pakibabalahan po ako kung ang pakain o inuming hiningi ko ay may lamang mani, nuwes, mantikilya o mantika na gawa sa mani o nuwes, o iba pang produktong gawa sa mani o nuwes. Maraming salamat po.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Don’t hold your breath, nothing’s coming

Fearmongering and hate always prevail. He will be vindicated, not repudiated in these polls. There will be no accountability, no checks and balances. Appealing to base fears and prejudices is a proven and reliable way to fire up voters.

It’s not the economy, stupid, it’s disease-ridden immigrants.

I have always bet on the worst outcome because humans. I only lost that bet in 2008.

Please make me lose again.

6 November 2018, 13:40 GMT+8