Best use of land, again

So. Now that we’re seeing the physical form of the choice in the use of the land occupied by the country’s “greatest mall”, are we happy? On the promontory facing the Convention Center, we see a “fun-filled” park better appreciated at night because then everything’s lit up helping to make things appear “magical”. Then, we see the giant “water scooper in the sky.”

On the other side of this now private property, fronting University of the Cordilleras, where the old pine trees that had occupied it were supposedly safely “tree balled” (to where, one wonders), what looks like a parking building is slowly but surely rising from the ground.  Ah-ha-ha, and everybody thought the fight’s over there at Burnham Park (well, that’s the next one).

The real value of this once forested public space is its economic cost.  Unlike accounting cost that everybody’s familiar with, economic cost takes into account implicit cost which is the opportunity cost or simply what the community gives up or sacrifices for taking on a choice.  In this case, this mountain city has given up, practically, it’s oxygen and respiratory system in order to have a go at a ferris wheel and provide shade for it’s cars (not even public transport, mind you).  For what the community sacrificed, are the elation gained from the rides and the roof over private cars a good business choice? productive use of resource? ethical even?

There’s a reason why City Hall was designed to be the endpoint (or, start) of Session Road.  Every time it makes a choice for the community, that choice goes out of the hall either to facilitate the end of the community or its beginning.


What are we instruments of?

I’m reading Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling by Arlie Russell Hochschild. No, it’s not a romance novel. But, yes, it’s all about emotion. Emotional labor. Totally riveting concept of work. Here’s an excerpt:

In a section in Das Kapital entitled “The Working Day,” Karl Marx examines depositions submitted in 1863 to the Children’s Employment Commission in England. One deposition was given by the mother of a child laborer in a wallpaper factory: “When he was seven years old I used to carry him (to work) on my back to and fro through the snow, and he used to work 16 hours a day…I have often knelt down to feed him, as he stood by the machine, for he could not leave it or stop.” Fed meals as he worked, as a steam engine is fed coal and water, this child was “an instrument of labor.” Marx questioned how many hours a day it was fair to use a human being as an instrument… But he was also concerned with something he thought more fundamental: the human cost of becoming an “instrument of labor” at all.

On another continent 117 years later, a twenty-year old flight attendant trainee sat with 122 others listening to a pilot speak in the auditorium of the Delta Airlines Stewardess Training Center…

The young trainee sitting next to me wrote on her notepad,”Important to smile. Don’t forget to smile.”…

…the value of a personal smile is groomed to reflect the company’s disposition–its confidence that its planes will not crash, its reassurance that departures and arrivals will be on time, its welcome and its invitation to return. Trainers take it as their job to attach to the trainee’s smile an attitude, a viewpoint, a rhythm of feeling… This deeper extension of the professional smile is not always easy to retract at the end of the workday, as one worker in her first year at World Airways noted: “Sometimes I come off a long trip in a state of utter exhaustion, but I find I can’t relax… It’s as if I can’t release myself froman artificially created elation that kept me ‘up’ on the trip…

As the PSA jingle says, ” Our smiles are not just painted on.”… There is a smile-like strip of paint on the nose of each PSA plane. Indeed, the plane and the flight attendant advertise each other…

The work done by the boy in the wallpaper factory called for a coordination of mind and arm, mind and finger, and mind and shoulder. We refer to it simply as physical labor. The flight attendant does physical labor when she pushes heavy metal carts through the aisles, and she does mental work when she prepares for and actually organizes emergency landings and evacuations. But in the course of doing this physical and mental labor, she is also doing something more, something I define as emotional labor

Beneath the difference between physical and emotional labor there lies a similarity in the possible cost of doing the work: the worker can become estranged or alienated from an aspect of self–either the body or the margins of the soul–that is used to do the work. The factory boy’s arm functioned like a piece of machinery used to produce wallpaper. His employer, regarding that arm as an instrument, claimed control over its speed and motions. In this situation, what was the relation between the boy’s arm and his mind? Was his arm in any meaningful sense his own?

When she came off the job, what relation had the flight attendant to the “artificial elation” she had induced on the job? In what sense was it her own elation on the job? … The workers I talked to often spoke of their smiles as being on them but not of them. They were seen as an extension of the make-up, the uniform, the recorded music, the soothing pastel colors of the airplane decor, and the daytime drinks, which taken together orchestrate the mood of the passengers. The final commodity is not a certain number of smiles to be counted like rolls of wallpaper. For the flight attendant, the smiles are a part of her work, a part that requires her to coordinate self and feeling so that the work seems to be effortless… for otherwise the labor would show in an unseemly way, and the product–passenger contentment–would be damaged…

There have always beenpublic-service jobs, of course; what’s new is that they are now socially engineered and thoroughly organized from the top…

Emotional labor is potentially good. No customer wants to deal with a surly waitress, a crabbg bank clerk, or a flight attendant who avoids eye contact in order to avoid getting a request. Lapses in courtesy by those paid tobe courteous are very real and fairly common. What they show us is how fragile public civility really is. We are brought back to the question of what the social carpet actually consists of and what it requires of those who are supposed to keep it beautiful. The laggards and sluff-offs of emotional labor return us to the basic questions. What is emotional labor? What do we do when we manage emotion? What, in fact, is emotion? What are the costs and benefits of managing emotion, in private life and at work?

Our search for answers to these questions leads to three separate but equally relevant discourses: one concerning labor, one concerning display, and one concerning emotion



Twitterlandia today is abuzz with condolences for US Senator’s John McCain passing due to brain cancer. Wishers including former US Presidents mentioned the Senator’s heroism. That is little known to most. How is John McCain a hero?

McCain’s conduct during nearly six years in a North Vietnamese prison, the infamous Hanoi Hilton, had become the stuff of legend. In 1968, less than a year after his Navy bomber was shot down, the imprisoned McCain was abruptly offered unconditional release by the North Vietnamese, perhaps because his father had just been named the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific. McCain was still badly crippled from his crash and the poor medical treatment that followed, yet he adhered to the P.O.W. code of honor and refused to be repatriated ahead of American prisoners who had been in captivity longer than he. His refusal was adamant. His guard told him, “Now, McCain, it will be very bad for you.” He was tortured for his defiance, and ultimately spent more than two years in solitary confinement. The abuse, combined with the after-effects of his injuries, left him physically marked. He could have avoided it all, but out of loyalty and—one has to name it—love for his comrades, he chose not to.

James Carroll. July 21, 2017. The True Nature of John McCain’s Heroism, The New Yorker

Wow. This makes me think about the Philippine Congress and the men and women in there. Who among them posess that McCain-like character? Sadly, no one. Everybody in there flaunt themselves as men and women of privilege (choosing the supposedly people-focused SONA to parade that), landowners from the Spanish colonial times, who consistently show themselves entitled to royal treatment from their own colleagues and servitude from the people.Not a bone of true heroism in them. And since it’s Sunday, I recall the city of Sodom .It would’ve been spared from God’s wrath if there were 30 good persons in it. Apparently only Lot and his family were all the good ones. They were told to flee the city before it was burned down. The present Philippine Congress finds itself in a similar situation. The good ones among them will save it But, will they have the courage?

Launching in July: 2018 State of the World Volunteerism Report

via @EvidenceUNV. FIRST PRINT of the 2018 State of the World Volunteerism Report, with the title ‘The Thread That Binds: Volunteerism and Community Resilience’

FINALLY, the much-awaited UN Volunteers flagship report 2018 State of the World Volunteerism Report (SWVR) with the theme Building Community Resilience in a Turbulent World which “sets out the value of volunteerism in relation to other types of resilience interventions” will be launched during the UN High Level Political Forum (HLPF) on the Sustainable Development Goals on 9 to 18 July 2018 in New York City. The year-long journey to the launch has been tremendously challenging considering the scale of work in putting everything together – largely done by volunteers no less – but ultimately rewarding for all involved.

Focus of the research were on these key questions: 1) in what ways do the distinctive characteristics of volunteerism help or hinder resilience?, and 2) what wider structures, policies, and norms affect volunteerism for community resilience? Field research was done simultaneously in 15 countries including the Philippines in 2017.

Development of the research conceptual framework, training of the international team of volunteers, and writing of the world report was commissioned to the research lead/consultant Benjamin Lough of the University of Illinois. Country researches were done by international and national volunteer-researchers in coordination with national UNV partner-organizations, and guided by international mentors, also volunteers, who served as link between the researcher-volunteers and the UNV team in Bonn.

On completion of the field research and country reports, a series of voluntary discussions were organized worldwide to obtain wider policy recommendations based on emerging findings culled from the country researches. Strategic “soft launches” such as at UN Climate Conference (COP 23) were also done.

It is the objective of SWVR 2018  that in the HLPF, member States, will have greater insight into the role and impact of volunteers and volunteerism and thus adopt the necessary policy measures to encourage and sustain volunteerism and support volunteers for resilience building.

Followers and readers of this blog are enjoined to visit the SWVR dedicated webpage on the UNV site here and here for more background information on the research process and related resources. On Twitter, follow @EvidenceUNV for updates. On Facebook, UNV will facilitate during the launch a live conversation between volunteers, member states and development partners on how best to collaborate with communities to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Agenda 2030. Audiences are invited to send polling questions, live comments and tweets using #SWVR18.

Also visit the High Level Political Forum 2018 website here for more information on the Forum (including countries’ Voluntary National Reviews on the SDGs (Philippines’ 2016 here)).


Probably the most feminist statement of the century


US First Lady Melania Trump continues to receive flak from US media for the statement on her jacket I really don’t care, do you? that she wore on her visit to the Mexico border amid public furor over immigrant children being forcibly separated from their parents. The media says she’s dumb for donning it at this particular time. But I think otherwise. Behind the seemingly silent, stoic, and reticent facade, I see a very smart and astute woman. And remember she was previously a model, used to projecting statements using face and body.

So let’s see. To me, the statement is satirical. It could actually be saying, hey, look, I left my hot bubble bath as soon as I could to be with these families, but where the fuck is everybody? Where?

In more detail, the statement could be directed to:

a) President Trump: Babe, where in god shit are you? How could I be here and you…there?

b) Media: I know it’s a bad time for you to leave the studio when you’re being dolled up for the cameras but…wouldja please put on your field jackets and get your insured asses over here?

c) Government of Mexico: They’re your people, no?

d) US Government / Congress: Look at what you made me do!

e) Everybody who care: Come om over or sponsor a migrant family.

e) The rest of the world, with eyes and can see: If you don’t have anything positive to contribute, just please…shut up!


On tambays

I don’t know why media people are reacting to old news as if they’ve just been born the past hour. Their strange reaction undoubtedly picked up by the viewing or listening public is bad influence. Bad as in fake as in divisive as in disinformative. As expected, they are quick to comment reacting without thinking apparently with no depth of knowledge on the subject of their report. Parents, if they cared at all, would unfailingly tell their children to get home straight away from school “hwag tumambay kung saan saan” malls (millenials’ favorite tambayan) included. Have media people forgotten that they too at one time have been recipients of the fair warning from their own parents?

The opposite of vagrancy or loitering is purpose. What the law in effect asks of citizens is to be aware, to be mindful of what we do. To be good citizens of the Republic. The law challenges citizens to work out for ourselves purpose-driven lives. We won’t achieve that with mindless behavior.


Why am I shrieking Guns n’ Roses at 10,000 decibels in the middle of the night in the middle of the street of 100,000 schoolgoing children and working people inside 10,000 houses both sides? Why am I doing it? Why am I drinking myself to death, as if there’s no tomorrow, with the street as my table and bed as well? Why am I doing it? Am I even aware of the repercussions? Why do I walk about in the street with my shirt off and expect others to regard it as normal whereas if I’m female and I do the same thing I’d be ridiculed even stoned? If we can justify these behavior without feeling an ounce of guilt or doubt then we’re vagrants– mindless people. People who don’t give a shit at all about themselves and others. It’s like committing suicide and murder at the same time only that the infliction on their victims (self and the others) is beyond physical. It’s on the mind and the psyche, until all sense of self respect becomes convoluted.

For people who know better to do nothing about the malady (it is, considering vagrancy was unheard of or minimal in our grandparents time) constitutes gross neglect. To apprehend the behavior now is actually saving the person before it’s too late. Apparently, families and communities fail to do that forcing the State’s hand on the matter.

The President merely reiterated a long neglected provision of the law that sitting ducks ie. local government units specifically the barangay, well, sat on. The provision in the Revised Penal Code on vagrancy has been established constitutional provided certain standards are in place. The following SC decision explains why it is so.


Ynares-Santiago, J . (Chairperson),
– versus – Chico-Nazario,
Velasco, Jr.,
Peralta, and
Bersamin*, JJ .
Respondents. September 18, 2009
x —————————————————————————————- x


If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of Heaven and Earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari is the July 29, 2005 Order of Branch 11, Davao City Regional Trial Court in Special Civil Case No. 30-500-2004 granting respondents Petition for Certiorari and declaring paragraph 2 of Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code unconstitutional.

Respondents Evangeline Siton and Krystel Kate Sagarano were charged with vagrancy pursuant to Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code in two separate Informations dated November 18, 2003, docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 115,716-C-2003 and 115,717-C-2003 and raffled to Branch 3 of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Davao City. The Informations, read:

That on or about November 14, 2003, in the City of Davao, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-mentioned accused, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously wandered and loitered around San Pedro and Legaspi Streets, this City, without any visible means to support herself nor lawful and justifiable purpose.

The first statute punishing vagrancy Act No. 519 was modeled after American vagrancy statutes and passed by the Philippine Commission in 1902. The Penal Code of Spain of 1870 which was in force in this country up to December 31, 1931 did not contain a provision on vagrancy. While historically an Anglo-American concept of crime prevention, the law on vagrancy was included by the Philippine legislature as a permanent feature of the Revised Penal Code in Article 202 thereof which, to repeat, provides:

ART. 202. Vagrants and prostitutes; penalty . The following are vagrants:

  1. Any person having no apparent means of subsistence, who has the physical ability to work and who neglects to apply himself or herself to some lawful calling;
  2. Any person found loitering about public or semi-public buildings or places, or tramping or wandering about the country or the streets without visible means of support;
  3. Any idle or dissolute person who lodges in houses of ill-fame; ruffians or pimps and those who habitually associate with prostitutes;
  4. Any person who, not being included in the provisions of other articles of this Code, shall be found loitering in any inhabited or uninhabited place belonging to another without any lawful or justifiable purpose;

The Regional Trial Court, in asserting the unconstitutionality of Article 202, take support mainly from the U.S. Supreme Courts opinion in the Papachristou v. City of Jacksonville case.

The underlying principles in Papachristou are that: 1) the assailed Jacksonville ordinance fails to give a person of ordinary intelligence fair notice that his contemplated conduct is forbidden by the statute; and 2) it encourages or promotes opportunities for the application of discriminatory law enforcement.

The said underlying principle in Papachristou that the Jacksonville ordinance, or Article 202 in this case, fails to give fair notice of what constitutes forbidden conduct, finds no application here because under our legal system, ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance therewith. This principle is of Spanish origin, and we adopted it to govern and limit legal conduct in this jurisdiction. Under American law, ignorance of the law is merely a traditional rule that admits of exceptions.

Moreover, the Jacksonville ordinance was declared unconstitutional on account of specific provisions thereof, which are not found in Article 202. The ordinance (Jacksonville Ordinance Code 257) provided, as follows:

Rogues and vagabonds, or dissolute persons who go about begging; common gamblers, persons who use juggling or unlawful games or plays, common drunkards, common night walkers, thieves, pilferers or pickpockets, traders in stolen property, lewd, wanton and lascivious persons, keepers of gambling places, common railers and brawlers, persons wandering or strolling around from place to place without any lawful purpose or object, habitual loafers, disorderly persons, persons neglecting all lawful business and habitually spending their time by frequenting houses of ill fame, gaming houses, or places where alcoholic beverages are sold or served, persons able to work but habitually living upon the earnings of their wives or minor children shall be deemed vagrants and, upon conviction in the Municipal Court shall be punished as provided for Class D offenses.

Thus, the U.S. Supreme Court in Jacksonville declared the ordinance unconstitutional, because such activities or habits as nightwalking, wandering or strolling around without any lawful purpose or object , habitual loafing , habitual spending of time at places where alcoholic beverages are sold or served , and living upon the earnings of wives or minor children , which are otherwise common and normal, were declared illegal. But these are specific acts or activities not found in Article 202. The closest to Article 202 any person found loitering about public or semi-public buildings or places, or tramping or wandering about the country or the streets without visible means of support from the Jacksonville ordinance, would be persons wandering or strolling around from place to place without any lawful purpose or object. But these two acts are still not the same: Article 202 is qualified by without visible means of support while the Jacksonville ordinance prohibits wandering or strolling without any lawful purpose or object, which was held by the U.S. Supreme Court to constitute a trap for innocent acts.

Under the Constitution, the people are guaranteed the right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized. Thus, as with any other act or offense, the requirement of probable cause provides an acceptable limit on police or executive authority that may otherwise be abused in relation to the search or arrest of persons found to be violating Article 202. The fear exhibited by the respondents, echoing Jacksonville , that unfettered discretion is placed in the hands of the police to make an arrest or search, is therefore assuaged by the constitutional requirement of probable cause, which is one less than certainty or proof, but more than suspicion or possibility.

Evidently, the requirement of probable cause cannot be done away with arbitrarily without pain of punishment, for, absent this requirement, the authorities are necessarily guilty of abuse. The grounds of suspicion are reasonable when, in the absence of actual belief of the arresting officers, the suspicion that the person to be arrested is probably guilty of committing the offense, is based on actual facts, i.e. , supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to create the probable cause of guilt of the person to be arrested. A reasonable suspicion therefore must be founded on probable cause, coupled with good faith of the peace officers making the arrest.

The State cannot in a cavalier fashion intrude into the persons of its citizens as well as into their houses, papers and effects. The constitutional provision sheathes the private individual with an impenetrable armor against unreasonable searches and seizures. It protects the privacy and sanctity of the person himself against unlawful arrests and other forms of restraint, and prevents him from being irreversibly cut off from that domestic security which renders the lives of the most unhappy in some measure agreeable.

As applied to the instant case, it appears that the police authorities have been conducting previous surveillance operations on respondents prior to their arrest. On the surface, this satisfies the probable cause requirement under our Constitution. For this reason, we are not moved by respondents trepidation that Article 202 could have been a source of police abuse in their case.

Since the Revised Penal Code took effect in 1932, no challenge has ever been made upon the constitutionality of Article 202 except now. Instead, throughout the years, we have witnessed the streets and parks become dangerous and unsafe, a haven for beggars, harassing watch-your-car boys, petty thieves and robbers, pickpockets, swindlers, gangs, prostitutes, and individuals performing acts that go beyond decency and morality, if not basic humanity. The streets and parks have become the training ground for petty offenders who graduate into hardened and battle-scarred criminals. Everyday, the news is rife with reports of innocent and hardworking people being robbed, swindled, harassed or mauled if not killed by the scourge of the streets. Blue collar workers are robbed straight from withdrawing hard-earned money from the ATMs (automated teller machines); students are held up for having to use and thus exhibit publicly their mobile phones; frail and helpless men are mauled by thrill-seeking gangs; innocent passers-by are stabbed to death by rowdy drunken men walking the streets; fair-looking or pretty women are stalked and harassed, if not abducted, raped and then killed; robbers, thieves, pickpockets and snatchers case streets and parks for possible victims; the old are swindled of their life savings by conniving streetsmart bilkers and con artists on the prowl; beggars endlessly pester and panhandle pedestrians and commuters, posing a health threat and putting law-abiding drivers and citizens at risk of running them over. All these happen on the streets and in public places, day or night.

The streets must be protected. Our people should never dread having to ply them each day, or else we can never say that we have performed our task to our brothers and sisters. We must rid the streets of the scourge of humanity, and restore order, peace, civility, decency and morality in them.

This is exactly why we have public order laws, to which Article 202 belongs. These laws were crafted to maintain minimum standards of decency, morality and civility in human society . These laws may be traced all the way back to ancient times, and today, they have also come to be associated with the struggle to improve the citizens quality of life, which is guaranteed by our Constitution. Civilly , they are covered by the abuse of rights doctrine embodied in the preliminary articles of the Civil Code concerning Human Relations, to the end, in part, that any person who willfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals , good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for the damage. This provision is, together with the succeeding articles on human relations, intended to embody certain basic principles that are to be observed for the rightful relationship between human beings and for the stability of the social order.

Article 202 does not violate the equal protection clause; neither does it discriminate against the poor and the unemployed. Offenders of public order laws are punished not for their status, as for being poor or unemployed, but for conducting themselves under such circumstances as to endanger the public peace or cause alarm and apprehension in the community. Being poor or unemployed is not a license or a justification to act indecently or to engage in immoral conduct.

Vagrancy must not be so lightly treated as to be considered constitutionally offensive. It is a public order crime which punishes persons for conducting themselves, at a certain place and time which orderly society finds unusual, under such conditions that are repugnant and outrageous to the common standards and norms of decency and morality in a just, civilized and ordered society, as would engender a justifiable concern for the safety and well-being of members of the community.

Instead of taking an active position declaring public order laws unconstitutional, the State should train its eye on their effective implementation, because it is in this area that the Court perceives difficulties. Red light districts abound, gangs work the streets in the wee hours of the morning, dangerous robbers and thieves ply their trade in the trains stations, drunken men terrorize law-abiding citizens late at night and urinate on otherwise decent corners of our streets. Rugby-sniffing individuals crowd our national parks and busy intersections. Prostitutes wait for customers by the roadside all around the metropolis, some even venture in bars and restaurants. Drug-crazed men loiter around dark avenues waiting to pounce on helpless citizens. Dangerous groups wander around, casing homes and establishments for their next hit. The streets must be made safe once more.

Though a mans house is his castle, outside on the streets, the king is fair game.

The dangerous streets must surrender to orderly society.

It must not be forgotten that police power is an inherent attribute of sovereignty. It has been defined as the power vested by the Constitution in the legislature to make, ordain, and establish all manner of wholesome and reasonable laws, statutes and ordinances, either with penalties or without, not repugnant to the Constitution, as they shall judge to be for the good and welfare of the commonwealth, and for the subjects of the same.

The power is plenary and its scope is vast and pervasive, reaching and justifying measures for public health, public safety, public morals, and the general welfare. As an obvious police power measure, Article 202 must therefore be viewed in a constitutional light.

WHEREFORE , the petition is GRANTED . The Decision of
Branch 11 of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City in Special Civil Case No. 30-500-2004 declaring Article 202, paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code UNCONSTITUTIONAL is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.

– Read the complete ruling at

Lessons on labor “importation” from hiring dynamics in football

The World Cup kicks off today in Russia, and for the players who perform well, it could earn them a transformative move to a European club. Are these moves a boon for fans and development, or are they an example of how migration and money have gone too far?

But with only 11 players starting per football club, isn’t this a classic case of another migrant taking a job that would otherwise be done by a native? And isn’t the amount of money completely disproportionate to the talent? And what has football really got to do with real life?

Are footballers just a lump of labour?

In general, the idea that when migrants arrive they deprive a “native” of a job is a fallacy both theoretically (because the migrant’s consumption creates jobs) and empirically (because large influxes of migrants don’t increase unemployment). This is known as the “lump of labour fallacy.”

While it’s true that in football there are only 11 players in the starting line-up, the extra quality that migrants bring to a league attracts new supporters, which in turn creates new jobs on the playing staff (through bigger squads), in coaching, TV, and on the commercial side.

Pairing the best players with the biggest platforms makes sense for fans and players alike. The infrastructure of stadia, leagues, and television technology at the big clubs enable more fans to appreciate a player. This is the same as migration everywhere—pairing ability and commitment with the capital creates more output.

But aren’t players paid too much?

Top footballers do indeed earn too much because TV money is inflated by clubs’ market power. But while competition authorities allow football to generate huge sums, who other than the players deserve them? Their earnings largely reflect that so many of us are willing to pay to watch them, and television technology means that we can.
Take the Champions League final a fortnight ago between Liverpool and Real Madrid—similar past audiences were estimated at around 180 million people . If each subscriber paid €10, then the revenue would be €1.8 billion. Who deserves that? The stadium owners, the TV crew, presenter, and commentator need some—but it’s the players who create the spectacle. For 48 squad members, that’s over €37 million each.

These substantial financial rewards attract talent. They create incentives for Bale, Ronaldo, or Salah and their parents to devote their lives to practising football and tempt them away from other careers.

Science, football, and life

But what has all this got to do with real life? Surely football is just a sport. Football is unique because skill level is almost completely observable. So, talent is recognised and rewarded quickly. It’s clear that Messi, Ronaldo, Pele, and Maradona are the best—and even an amateur fan can see it. The best players are easy to spot and fans quickly accept them in their teams for the same reason.

Contrast this with talent in other sectors, like science or entrepreneurship. Imagine if the Pele of science was in Russia or Saudi Arabia. With the best equipment and colleagues, perhaps that scientist could cure cancer, or make the key breakthrough in mitigating climate change—but will he or she be spotted and allowed to move?

Top-level football is remarkably liberal when it comes to migration, and the world’s audience and players both reap the benefits.

World Cup 2018: The World’s Biggest Open Audition, Ian Mitchell, Center for Global Development

On the ongoing reality at the US-Mexico border


International NGOs supporting children and their development have this mantra: children cannot wait. On that note, US President Donald Trump’s relatively quick response to events at it’s border with Mexico is commendable. Separation of children (to social welfare centers) and their parents (to jail), according to the Executive Order, is an unanticipated negative side effect of the administration’s border policy. The Order should mitigate that.

Nations should now be over the time in world history when children are taken away into institutions just because adults deemed their thoughts, words, and deeds immoral or queer. We know more now about child development. We know now that the attitude and belief toward children then were a grave and sad mistake.

Migration has to be understood as a symptom, an effect, of an emerging phenomenon everywhere but especially felt in countries with weak institutions: insecurity in an all-encompassing sense. Conflict, discrimination, unemployment and joblessness, emergencies and disasters both natural and climate-induced, resource depletion caused by indiscriminate corporate practices, land grabbing by transnational corporations, etc. When the grass is as green as that next door why would people want to permanently leave their homelands?

Developed countries need to own part of the problem. After all, they were the key players that produced this modern world and it’s inherent issues. Sure, illegal immigration should be addressed. But, to punish children who are the least responsible? If there should be anybody responsible, it would have to be the originating country’s government. What are they also doing to address illegal outmigration of their people? And what neighboring countries should do now, proactively, is to talk and include in their bilateral agreements provisions on migration/border management.

Culture and the build, build, build strategy

Today on GMA’s 24 Oras were featured potholes on asphalted sections of EDSA, newly-damaged from the recent habagat rain. DPWH personnel who were interviewed cited as cause “heavy and frequent vehicular usage of the national highway”. My god. Who do they think believe the crap they say?

The reasoning is in stark contrast to the national strategy in this sector of build, build, build and people would like to believe that quality is inherent in this strategy, because who is the government that would build, build, build houses out of sticks? But, that’s what DPWH frontliners are effectively communicating: the asphalt roads they built, built, built could easily be blown off by a mere few breaths of a medium-sized wolf of a habagat.

Pinoys here need to cast off their pwede na mindset once and for all. Quality work should be a habit not an act. If we continue with pwede na, this country will never attain the desired level of progress even with the right development strategies in place.


But who sets culture? When ‘HR’ at the organization I was working had been changed to ‘People and Culture’ following the trend internationally, we wondered what in the world does it mean? How is HR the right “person” to manage culture or even set the culture? We were right, eventually. The lesson learned was,


Similarly, when quality in roadworks is not set and demanded as a standard by DPWH managers, then it’s personnel and vendors that will dictate the result which could be anything. When DPWH managers go by the same inane reasoning of their staff, then woe to the nation. When they sign off on vendor payments, salaries, and wages despite non-delivery of contract provisions, then woe to taxpayers. As managers, they are responsible for the result – the brand – that the agency is reputed for.

What then is the right fit of people – managers, supervisors – that DPWH ought to hire into its build, build, build strategy? I suggest that the agency go back to its hiring mantra and practices and make changes.