Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Kick in the Shorts, July 2012

Here are some shorts for your pondering:

"Afloat Forward Staging Bases"

The U.S. is reconfiguring its war-making capability. It has found that relying on "allies" like Pakistan for land bases can be troublesome, whereas the seas are open to all. So the latest development is to design ships that can serve as floating islands for a variety of purposes. Bunk combat troops. Land helicopters. Send out boats. Sweep for mines. Maybe fly some drones. The ship houses a hospital and water purification system. It's got everything a small army would need to start a war.

The first AFSB is a reconfigured transport ship, now cruising in the waters off the coast of Iran. In the pipeline are three or four specially designed floating bases. You see, the U.S. doesn't really have reliable friends in the Middle East. Every nation is a hotbed of religious and political animosity, so governments don't dare cozy up to the U.S. by offering land bases. A close relationship with the U.S. is bound to be offensive to some powerful group.

The Middle East is the Philippines on steroids.

So while the Philippines may object to a naval base at Subic, it could happily see a floating base on the other side of Scarborough Shoal in international waters (claimed by China).

These boats allow the U.S. to set up camp just about anywhere. I wonder what China thinks about that.

It's a Funny Way to Worship

What version of the Koran do these guys pack, anyway?

Suspected Muslim militants killed six rubber plantation workers and wounded 22 the other day in the Southern Philippines . They ambushed a truckload of unarmed people who did nothing but work for a living.

The company the victims worked for refused to pay extortion demands so the Muslim militants shot the workers. A bunch of innocent people killed in the name of God, I guess. Do you think they shouted "Allah is Great" as they mowed down innocent fathers and sons?

I never hear moderate Muslim leaders pounding a fist in outrage, that such people would so demean their faith. Why don't they disown these extremists? Why don't they demand that reporters call them  "Muslim outcasts" rather than "Muslim militants"? Why do they allow the stain to persist? Why do the Muslim faithful, the moderates, allow the kinder ideals of their faith to be kidnapped by thugs who are mainly extortion gangsters and murderers?

O' stand up, ye of great faith, and serve God better.

What to Do if You Spot an American?

Here are some general guidelines that will help Filipinos deal constructively with Americans they may meet on the street, at a bar, or at the fiesta:

  1. Immediately assume that they shit, shower, shave and deal with the rudiments of life just like an ordinary Filipino. So don't stare at them as if they were either God's representative on earth or covered in shit. They aren't.

  1. If you have to talk to one, understand that he is likely to be loud and opinionated, rather like a Senator Santiago in fatigue shorts and t-shirt, always having the answer to anything. She means no harm, nor does he. The Americans just have uglier legs.

  1. Do your own thing the way you would do it if no Americans were around. You want to burp, scratch, get drunk, dance gaily . . . do it. You see, bottom line, the Americans don't matter. Any larger than life or smaller than life imaginings you have about them is pure fiction. Don't be a lunatic and allow those ridiculous fictions to enter your life.

The Honorable Albert F. del Rosario, Bad Cop

The more I read about this guy, the more I wish he were younger and inclined to run for President. Here's what he had to say about China at the ASEAN powwow in Cambodia:

  • “If Philippine sovereignty and jurisdiction can be denigrated by a powerful country through pressure, duplicity, intimidation and the threat of the use of force, the international community should be concerned about the behavior.” [Source: The Inquirer]

He called it straight, creating considerable tension amongst participants, and leaving it to "good cop" Hillary Clinton to put the smoothing schmooze on the thuggish Goliath of the east. I find it interesting that some Filipinos cringe about taking a leadership stance. Their tendency is to criticize Del Rosario or President Aquino for being too aggressive. As if China would respect a lamb. As if the proper Filipino place were under the rug or behind the closet door rather than up front.

That Tourism Campaign, haha

Do you remember all the flack the Tourism people took when they announced the new slogan "It's more fun in the Philippines"? I have this nagging sense that the critics will soon be dining on crow, or hat, or whatever one eats in the Philippines when one is proved to be grossly mistaken. (Beef? Ahahahaha. The cows in the Philippines are purportedly made of shoe leather.)

Here's what I see: (1) A Tourism web site that is clean and modern and useful, not a self-praising worship of the people who work there, (2) A multi-billion peso investment in airports and airport access, (3) A Presidential Executive Order that places 78 top tourist draws off limits to mining, (4) An ingenious tourism organization that has a high-level management job assigned to cutting through red tape of other government agencies, (5) A prioritized and realistic tourism plan that identifies several top regional draws for preservation and enhancement, (6) A focus on tourists from Asia rather than the US; in other words real markets, (7) record numbers of tourist visits, and (8) a marketing campaign that is beautifully constructed and applied to sell the Philippines to outsiders.

This Country Is On the Move

I still think President Aquino has a shot at being considered one of the great leaders of the young Philippine democracy. Things are moving, you know? Peace talks with the MILF, tourism, call center growth, new casinos coming to town, a residential market boom in Manila, a real anti-corruption and incompetency push (firing 31 DENR workers in Mindanao for failing to stop illegal logging), a healthy relationship with the US, a focus on cleaning up Customs.  The economy is growing well, the peso has strengthened, and S&P ratings have gone up twice.

Here's a legacy-making idea for you, Mr. Aquino: get behind the HR Bill to prove that you are not locked into backward, dysfunctional social values like certain robed, self-appointed moral anchors hereabouts. Then get a divorce law in place so that we know you REALLY understand women and that it is wrong to hold them in bondage to abusive, deadbeat husbands. And for sure concentrate on Education and the Courts. Start on a long-term program to make them world class. This requires more than budget. More than adding two grades to primary education. More than replacing the Chief Justice.

You'd be a hero in my book.


  1. A darn good kick in the shorts Joe.

    I like your legacy counsel to the President, but would be nice if you let me add building the highway system throughout.

    Its Jack

    1. Thanks, Jack. Yes, highways are critical to keeping the nation moving. I didn't include it because I see a lot of work being done in my area, and I know there are freeways underway in Manila. It seems like there are fewer signs (I hated those Arroyo mugs everywhere) these days and more work. They completed the concrete circle around my island this past year, and the road across the middle (which got wiped out in a major storm).

      The US has layers of highways: national, state, county, and local. Funding comes from various places. I think the Philippines is a lot like that, too. So work is sporadic. I think the budget for roads for airport access and tourist spots is something like P 20 billion. I have no idea how you get Manila moving.

    2. Yeah Joe,

      I think NLEX and SLEX has been linked but SLEX stopped in Batangas. As a result, those provinces in the south of Manila such as Cavite, Laguna, and Batangas was featured in the PhilStar due to its economic boom. How wonderful, eh?

      Manila will be better off if they plan to dig a beltway tunnel linking the metropolis of 12 million people.

      Is it Ike who made the US Interstate highways possible? That is definitely what we need in Ph.

      Its Jack

    3. Getting roads through an established city is extraordinarily expensive and troublesome. I'd opt for zoning out the area between Clark and Subic and build the city where there is a core artery, very lightly used. Much easier. With train service to "Old Manila". Do a very fine job of zoning. Industry near Clark. A mall halfway. Residential towers instead of subdivisions. Leave the subdivisions along NLEX. Yours for applied imagination . . .

    4. Joe,

      Yeah, my brain cells razing for that applied imagination.

      You are most correct to build business infrastructure along NLEX between Clark and Subic. It is a great alternative to get a few millions of people out of Manila.

      Its Jack

  2. Hear! Hear!

    Love the shorts today (so long as they're not on some ugly American legs, like you say).

    And yeah, I'm really loving this Del Rosario guy right now. He's now my Filipino Idol, next to Jessica Sanchez. Oh wait, she's actually an American, so you go claim her and leave me be with my ADR.

    How good does it feel to have a Filipino showing some guts and gravitas on the world stage, ha? Makes one really proud to be a Filipino.Well, at lease until Maid Miriam takes her seat in the ICC.

    Aaah, what to about the lady? We don't really want her there, yet we don't want her here either. I actually have a few ideas but then they're mostly unprintable and completely illegal.

    Or how 'bout we just help Mr. @jim-e build his ark, and put the wonderful lady senator in there, all by herself; send it off to sea, post paid with no return address? (Sorry jim-e but for your own sake, we can't let you get in there too. You'd be better off drowning in the great flood with the rest of us.)


    1. Ah, Cha, and you are in excellent form today. Cracked me up. Condolences to Jim-e for getting kicked off the Ark. And congratulations on a kinder demise.

      I'm hoping the Lady will find her ego sufficiently stroked by being on such an important court that she behaves in a way that shines a good light on the Philippines.

      I shudder when I pass a lot of other Whities at the mall. I dress conservatively, shoes and long pants. I hate the too-casual look, shorts with white hairy knobby limbs stuck in brown shoes with black ankle socks. Even the Lady would dress better than that . . . I have no idea about Jim-e . . . ahahahahaha

    2. Joe and Cha are cracking me up. Luaghter is the best medicine and it works for me.

      I am a cerified leg man and I am sure Joe's leg is ugly with that blank socks, ouch.

      Its Jack

    3. Ha, My legs are gorgeous, but you'll never see them. It is Jim-e with the ugly ones.

    4. Gorgeous perhaps, but my standard says its still ugly and Jim-e is the ugliest haha. The only pretty leg belongs to girly girl.

      Who says we cant have fun on Sunday morning sun while the birds are chirping different from Jim-e.

      Hey Jim-e, just want to say hello.

      Its Jack

  3. I have to point out an error in your essay.

    "You see, the U.S. doesn't really have reliable friends in the Middle East. Every nation is a hotbed of religious and political animosity, so governments don't dare cozy up to the U.S. by offering land bases."

    In fact, Countries like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and others all maintain US Military Bases. Although, there are calls among certain sectors within these countries against US presence, the FACT is, the bases are there. I know because I was THERE.

    1. And the FACT is, I appreciate the correction. It is a very important one. Thanks. Are you in the Philippines now, or where did your jet lag take you?

    2. I'm in the Philippines at present. However, my "work" often takes me to interesting places.

    3. Ah, well traveling is enriching, for sure. Good of you to stop by and comment.

    4. Jetlag,

      It is just for clarification and that I dont doubt those bases you cited. I know for sure the US Air force has one in Saudi, the US Navy has one in Bahrain, not sure what kind of base we got in Kuwait perhaps a US Navy base.

      However, I have been in the Persian gulf several times aboard a US Navy ships (6th FLEET) and I dont recall making a port call there. Can you describe what kind of base is it?


      Its Jack

    5. If I'm not mistaken, there are seven US Bases still operating in Kuwait, most notably, Ali Al Salem Air Base. The US also maintains their base just south of the Iraq border just across the line from Route Tampa. US maintains bases in Qatar as well. And lets not forget Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. Although it is actually on the Horn of Africa, it is still considered within the operational range of CENTCOM as well as AFRICOM.

    6. Jetlag,

      Thanks a lot.

      Its Jack

  4. From: The cricket

    1. Thanks for the interesting "short subject" reviews!
    (good way to re-cap and save time for us "short-timers"!

    2. My take/comments/overview: The new USA "littorial
    (spelling?) Navy is tooling up for multi-tasking projects
    and programs, seems very interesting a
    "swiss knife" format! The asian rim community should
    be pleased that they do not have to host a "earth-bound"
    rape minded USA. I hope to see the over 500.000 MILITARY
    AND SUPPORT PERSONAL..... (present USA members and families)
    world military base empire called back to the USA and let
    the old hosting governments live in peace or whatever! The
    USA needs to learn to POLICE itself first before spending
    any more tax dollars "elsewhere"!

    Criminals can use the "color of the cloth/religion" to
    hide behind, but a crime is a crime. I still have
    some hope that the governments get on with the hot-
    persuit, capture, court processing and death penalty
    inforcement (don't bother with the upkeep of prison
    wearhouse costs...either a cash fine or death only

    Americans should travel more and get a chance to see
    the realities of the world so thay can keep their
    tax dollars working better--no matter how they choose
    to dress! I hope that some do gooding non-profit
    group can purchase enough one-way tickets off PH-islands
    for anyohe wishing to leave (and not have to join
    any church to do so) for "greener pastures"!

    China should know better than to be caught with
    it's "paw in the honey pot". They should also be
    invited to a dog or and chicken fight with the asian
    rim community to settle any so-called disputes (Let
    me paint a native PH-eagle white and or a native PH
    crok yellow (just saw off the tail)to be our "heros"
    for the fight! Note: World-Home box office proceeds
    to the winner infastructure improvement fund!
    (no, sooo sorry, can not be any other bloodletting,
    sports, casino gambeling, or any other form of game
    side- betting or lottery action to be allowed)

    If the new "tourism" creates good paying jobs for
    the "home team", eliminates pollution, flooding,
    improves the infastructure, motivates governmental
    reform, reduces the need for distruction of the
    natural resources, elimnates vehicle grid lock
    spurs on urban renewal, improves the public msss
    transit system, Gives reporductive rights to all
    citizens regadless of race, color or creed, gets
    beggers off the streets, updates the building codes,
    reduces the crime-rate, improves the median family
    income by 50%,motivates more fresh water dams,
    rainwater retain-ponds, builds a Manila Bay Bridge
    with Ocean breakwater features and motivates more
    sanitary sewar construction projects....etc.,
    then well and good! BUT...I just hope it does not
    backfire and we suffer the "flash burn"/fallout!

    Question: Why do you suppose that the MMDA,
    Chairperson/director-"Mr. T" has now decided it is
    time for the government to put out bids to relocate
    "metro manila cities" to the north? What is the
    "rest of the story"? chirp, CHIRP!

    I am all for electing, appointing, employment of any qualifed, experienced, educated, leader, administrator, manager
    who can get the job done and save the islands from "doom"!

    Now as I sit in my rocking chair and look back on my time
    on this earth, I feel well qualified to suggest that we
    look for this individual among the "distillers" of thr
    islands as they understand that good management makes for
    good brew, liquor, wine and other "stuff"..otherwise all
    you keep getting is vinegar!

    P.s., Please do not look for anyone who "smokes" anything
    in any form...!


    1. You never got to 3.

      Yes, Swiss Army knife. Very apt characterization, and, indeed, it should take some of the edge of the intercultural blow-ups which generally get magnified by a hyper-sensitive press which creates an angst that gets pasted on you and me alike. Although I think Angeles City and Subic Town private entrepreneurs of the female variety would prefer a land base and lots of drinking.

      I appreciate your peaceful mediation approach, the chicken fight method. Myself, I am rather more inclined to want to train up a frog man platoon operating within 200 miles by dark of night to drill holes in every Chinese boat discovered there. The bigger the boat, the bigger the hole. Before that, President Aquino needs to express loud and clear that Philippine territory is 200 nautical miles from large-island coastlines, including Palawan, as anything else would make a mockery of the notion of international rules. China does not unilaterally define the boundaries of other nations. Screw 'em. They won't listen. They won't bend. They want to divide in order to conquer, and had a very successful Asean conference in doing that. You can't talk to blind, deaf and dumb people. They'd never accept the chicken fight because there is a 50/50 chance they'd lose. They would find that unacceptable. Sink 'em.

      The revenue from tourism would do exactly the things you want done by providing the money to do them.

      Yes, it would be nice to find an executive politician, an manager. I'm thinking the guy who runs Tourism is that kind of guy. I need to research more.

  5. Hey Joe, it's been awhile.

    I think these mobile bases are a great innovation for the American Military. Not always a good thing for the rest of the world though.
    You have to admit, the USA is not an all-benevolent, it has its own people, its own interests. But as long as these bases are useful for the RP, these are good in my book.

    I laughed at tips for encountering Americans, especially at the 2nd one. For some reason, almost every American I've encountered was so energetic, I couldn't keep up with them.

    I'm happy with the investment on tourism. Can't wait to see the improvements on the airports.

    1. AJ, nice to see you popping in. Most Americans are "benign blowhards". I don't know how it is that we developed that way. Some combination of Germanic, Italian, Irish roots that got a short in the circuits.

      The US for sure pursues its own interests and gets pushy. Overall, the principles are good. The execution is sometimes not so hot. Viet Nam and Iraq stand as examples of gross wrong-headedness. But overall, the world is a better place for US engagements.

      I agree on tourism. There are so many jewels here, but they need polishing.


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