The Philippines is on the verge of a special election. Never before has so many cared so intensely over the outcome. Perhaps it’s “People Power fatigue”. That is, perhaps many feel that the past revolutions could have been avoided if only the right leaders were elected in the first place. The fact that the last two presidents have been convicted or arrested is a stark reminder of past mistakes. Following the steady improvement in the economy over the past several years, many wish that a second phase of development would ensue: social. Alas, the road to a more egalitarian or at least meritocratic society is found to be a long way to go. Exposed in the recent virtual civil war are the deep divisions in social class, geopolitical affiliations, and religious ideologies.

In order to vote, you need to be an adult (defined as at least 18 years of age). The idea is that you have matured enough to make a sensible decision that should bear consequence. Once again, I am disappointed. The real world is not a fairy tale; the choice is not as clear-cut as Harry Potter vs Voldemort. That’s not how life is; grow up. No candidate is ever going to be perfect: not JFK, not Churchill. Nobody. Yes, you will find a true and legitimate fact that is undesirable or even illegal about any candidate. No, that should not be automatic definitive grounds to dismiss that candidate.

A good way to illustrate a sensible way to go about the selection process would be an analogy. Suppose that you are going out for lunch to a restaurant that only offers set meals: a main dish, a salad, two side dishes, and a dessert. There is no set meal wherein you like all of the components; you always dislike at least one thing about it. It would be foolish not to eat lunch entirely. It would be childish to go for the comfortable but whimsical choice: the set meal with the best dessert. The logical choice would be the set wherein you like the main dish the best. Perhaps the accompanying salad is repulsive. However, it is the most sensible choice. It is of paramount importance to identify what are the most important qualities.

I am not going to be a pussy and simply imply my choice. Who am I afraid of, you? Fat chance. But before all that, let me emphasize two things. Firstly, I will keep it short. Propaganda and discussions have been done to death on social media already. Secondly, I do not put much weight on things that have been said or done over the last few months. I value what has been done over the past years, decades even.

I think Noynoy Aquino is a relatively good president. The GDP growth over his tenure attests to this. However, Mar Roxas is not Noynoy. Even if Noynoy’s endorsement of Roxas is sincere, as opposed to a mere repayment of his debt from the 2010 elections, it does not count for much to me. Michael Jordan is the greatest basketball player of all time and yet many of his basketball opinions post-retirement are widely considered to be poorly judged. Mar’s promise of continuity from Aquino is nothing but a pipe dream. He has shown himself to be grossly incompetent in handling the typhoon Haiyan and obviously ineffective as secretary of transport (see state of the MRT). His publicity stunts, like directing traffic and pretending to be an MRT commuter, just show how lowly he thinks of the masses’ intelligence.

Poe is effectively an American whose main claim to relevance is her lineage. At the very least, serve the country for more than one term before claiming to be deserving of the highest position in the country! Binay may have been effective and even transformative for Makati once upon a time. However, he has become rotten to the core with corruption. The most obvious example of which are the grossly overpriced buildings in Makati. Perhaps the final proof that he is unsuitable to be the president is the fact that even after 6 years as vice president, all he ever talks about is his beloved accomplishments in Makati. Miriam is very obviously not healthy enough for the office of the president. Even if she is, let’s not forget that leadership is largely about people, not academics. She does not have the same team as the others, who have the capability and dedication to at least try to execute the vision of their leader.

Competence, service, and leadership with minimal corruption are part of the “main dish” of my presidential set meal. That is why Duterte is my choice. What he has done for Davao is outstanding; just google the details. It is what has been done over decades that matters more, not what has been said in the past few months. Is he perfect? No. Will he get some things wrong? Yes. Is he the best option? In my opinion, yes.

I’ll be even more succinct with my thoughts on the VP race. Leni’s main claim to relevance is her husband; she is not much outside of his legacy. All she ever does is repeatedly play the woman card and sell a “Nora Aunor”-like story of “I am one of you”. Chiz’s star power has faded. He was once a champion of the anti-Gloria sentiment. However, the VP debates showed to me that he is a person who has a bent for criticism but he lacks direction when left on his own. Trillanes is like a poor man’s version of Chiz. His illegal and petty acts of late even makes it worse. Cayetano may be genuinely sincere, not just riding Duterte’s coattails. However, he has not much to offer outside of Duterte’s vision. Check Marcos’ senate bills and executive experience. He has done more than the other candidates. On the VP debate, he was the most articulate and diplomatic of all the candidates. Let me make a quick note about #neveragain, which is meant to be “never again to Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law”. Yes, I agree. Never again. In fact, it can never be again because your hated dictator has been long dead. It is not fair or sensible to transfer Ferdinand Marcos’ or his cronies’ atrocities to his son who was just a teenager then. What were the other candidates doing in their teens? What were you doing in your teens? Be fair.

In summary: grow up.


Occam’s razor

Try to pay via Nets FlashPay in Singapore; it will probably be an enlightening experience.

Nets Flashpay is a way to do small purchases without the need for a signature via NFC (near field communication). It is meant to be fast and eliminate the need for pesky small change. It is this efficient service that I intended to avail of. Instead, I got so much more. Within the span of a few minutes, I got a privileged peek into the mindset of a lot of people. Mind you, this is not a one-time incident; it happens all the time.

The typical first instinct of a novice cashier is lazy association. His mind hears “Nets” and blocks out the rest. He will try to complete the transaction via Nets card, which is a different payment mode. One fundamental difference is that a Nets card requires direct electrical contact between the reader and the card, Nets FlashPay does not. A variant of this pattern of behavior is to pick up on “Pay” and invent the rest of the phrase. To my astonishment, some cashiers attempt to complete the transaction via Visa payWave.

The next phase is an attempt at recovery, an attempt to make sense of what is happening. Clearly, this guy is referring to a payment mode that is via NFC. Never mind what the customer actually said. Never mind the words clearly written on the card itself and even the reader. I, the cashier, know this one. The mystery is solved. It’s EZ-Link!

It cannot be. I have already tried everything that I know of. Therefore, the only logical conclusion is that this card is not supported. So, I confidently claim it to be so.

What’s this? The customer makes the argument that it cannot be so. He says that I have the reader, therefore it must be supported. Oh, I see. Mea culpa. Therefore, the only logical conclusion is that the reader is broken. Again, the customer challenges this by pointing out that he has, in fact, paid via Nets FlashPay on this very same counter last week with a different cashier. That lying piece of shit!

Let’s get back to a more rational mind shall we?

Apparently, to a lot of cashiers, it just cannot be that they simply don’t know how to perform the procedure. Their mind will search the furthest edges of the universe for fantastic perversions of reality, anything but the simple truth.

You thought it ends there, don’t you? Oh, we haven’t gotten to the pièce de résistance of this bizarre mindset just yet.

Since I sometimes hold up the queue with this kind of discussion, I acquiesce to pay via cash. However, since I frequently come back to the same shop to purchase more or less the same item, I make a request to the cashier to learn how to do it for next time. It is within the scope of his job. Most of these shops actually have it written somewhere that they accept Nets FlashPay. What response do I get?

“Mister, please just avoid me next time. Pay at another cashier.” *internally to the customer: … you fucking troublemaker*

There you go, boys and girls. Is he willing to analyze the problem properly? No. Does he even acknowledge the existence of a gap in his knowledge? No. Is he willing to learn? Of course not.

Typically, I’d continue this by ranting on about a facet of life. However, dear readers, we’ve been friends for so long that I have full confidence that you can arrive at the conclusion on your own.

Occam’s razor



Above are the books that I have on my phone. I am now on “Sons of Wichita”; I’ve read the others. What’s the unifying theme between these books? Yes, you’ve guessed it. *roll eyes, lol* By size, the big three are: finance, energy, tech. The same three tops the list for career lucrativeness. Consulting is a field that can be a practice on any industry.

You may have heard of “new normal” in finance. You may have heard of the shale oil boom in the USA. The point is, it’s no longer your grandpa’s world. It’s no longer your father’s world. Soon, it won’t even be your world. Old news, right?

Not quite.

Everyone had big dreams when they were kids. As the streets are not flooded with astronauts, a vast majority of those dreams have died. Quietly, because it has always been the norm. Systematically, via the usual distractions of yuppie life (ex. travel).

For driven individuals, the last embers of those dreams typically burn out in the 30s. If we’re all being completely honest, it happens much earlier for most. In the 30s, many people feel like they have “paid their dues”. Having studied & worked hard, this is when you start to separate from the pack. This is when the comfortable life your parents always wanted for you starts to become reality. This is when oblivion begins.

Nothing is worse than oblivion.

If you are to avoid this fate, your 30s should not be for settling into the comfortable middle class. No, it’s the time to fail. It’s the time to learn. It’s the time to evolve, faster than ever before.

Old news again, right? No. This isn’t you as a fresh uni grad, this you with years of experience. As such, it is wise to aim your efforts on things that you already know a bit about. In the 20s, you were exploring semi-blindly. In the 30s, you should be refining your skills & possibly your entrepreneurial aspirations.

So, what do we have here? We have two things: a severe time constraint & a plethora of opportunities. Your realistic chance at your childhood dreams, analogously with ovarian reserve, fades way faster than most people realize. The opportunities are rife but so are the obstacles. This is your dream’s end game stages, impeccable strategy & execution is absolutely required.

Yup, I’ve got my plans all drawn up. I bet there are a few thousand with the exact same plan, competencies & opportunities. By the brutal definition of success, most of us will fail. Let the games begin.

Incidentally, this is my first post written from my phone. Welcome to the new world.