Monthly Archives: June 2007

Blog Lecture No. 76: Ostentatious Display of Wealth

Just a quick lecture. There’s no recitation involved even.

Like you, I’m getting sickened by the great wealth divide in our dear country, which seems to get wider by the day. There are people who enjoy decadent lifestyles in the face of increasing poverty. Only a few people live in lavish mansions in the face of people being forcibly evicted and herded off like animals.

We see on the television lavish weddings and parties of celebrities in the face of growing hunger.

And we see some of these gatherings involving our very dear government officials.

So let’s do a survey on the “austerity laws” here in the Philippines.

One of the first things a law student learns is this provision in the Civil Code of the Philippines:

Article 25. Thoughtless extravagance in expenses for pleasure or display during a period of acute public want or emergency may be stopped by order of the courts at the instance of any government or private charitable institution.

But as the law states, such extravagance can be stopped by a court order initiated by a case filed by a government or private charitable institution. I personally think a taxpayer should be able to file one of these cases but with the increased filing fees, I don’t think it will be feasible.

For our dear government officials, we have this Constitutional provision (Article XI):

Section 1. Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must, at all times, be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency; act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.

This principle is likewise echoed in Section 4 (h) of Republic Act No. 6713:

Section 4. Norms of Conduct of Public Officials and Employees. – (A) Every public official and employee shall observe the following as standards of personal conduct in the discharge and execution of official duties:

xxx

(h) Simple living. – Public officials and employees and their families shall lead modest lives appropriate to their positions and income. They shall not indulge in extravagant or ostentatious display of wealth in any form.

The operative phrase there is “lead modest lives.” But we see a lot of them in mortally sinful gaz-guzzling cars going to lavish parties and living decadent lifestyles.

Some pubic officials (especially the elective ones) may argue that they were already rich to begin with and as such, they are simply living the lifestyle appropriate to their positions and income. But these public officials should lead by example by living austere lives.

Of course there are remedies to this like initiating a lifestyle check. The Ombudsman now allows for online filing of complaints (or requests for assistance). But of course, there must be some follow-through.

And that, my friends, depends on you.

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Dangerous Blogging Mentalities

First off, let me put out a disclaimer. This is merely my opinion only. You may agree or disagree with me. You may argue with me or try to convince me otherwise, you’re pretty much welcome to it. I may even be convinced, no problem. That’s what blogging is about. And that’s what I love about it.

I’m becoming increasingly afraid of the direction blogging is going. As you have known, I entered into the world of blogging (I really hate the word “blogosphere,” sorry) for personal reasons and a chance to practice my writing. But some, have other intentions. You notice the symptoms:

1. The “keyword” mentality

Yes, I know a lot of people do make their living off blogging (and living well, if I may add, judging from the toys they have acquired) and I do not want to deprive them of their means to feed their family, or to buy their toys.

But do you really have to sacrifice valid, credible and quotable content for the sake of sneaking in those crucial SEO keywords you would get from Google Zeitgeist? Sound too much of a compromise to me.

Sorry, I still believe that while you may get hits for “keyword blogging,” credible, readable and entertaining content will maintain those hits, and maintain the revenue stream. (And for me personally, the revenue is secondary, maybe because I still have a day job).

2. The MLM mentality

For those of your who do not know, “MLM” stands for multi-level marketing.

I feel that the Philippine Blogging Scene has shades of this. The first one to bring in the concept of links gets to be on the top of the pyramid and all blogs here funnel all their links to it, and a piece of all the revenue from all the blog’s “downlines.”

There’s really nothing wrong with this, really. But again, it does not matter what kind of blog that top one is. The search engines simply judge this an “important” blog and hence puts it on the top of the food chain. And that’s wrong on multiple levels.

3. The “clique” mentality

I’ve met a lot of these people, both online and offline (never mind their names because I may hurt their “feelings,” but then again, I think they don’t care anyway). Does not matter what kind of blogger we are when we meet them, they’re simply snooty and elitist (for me, the ones I hate the most, well not the most, at least they’re snooty and elitist up front. It’s the “plastics” that I hate the most).

But we exist and you owe some of your revenue from us little guys. You are on the top of the foodchain because of the links we give you.

So give at least the time of day and not treat us as organisms lower that paramecia. Like it or not, you owe us.

But make no mistake, I met a lot of wonderful, friendly and credible people behind the blogs and I still welcome the chance to meet all kinds of people I meet on the net. I’m not referring to them, of course.

4. The “journalist” mentality

Yes, I know bloggers are getting more and more respect and are increasingly shaping public opinion. But I tend to agree with Adel Gabot on this one (read the latest Mobile Philippines issue). Bloggers are not journalists. And blogs are not columns or print articles. We have to know our place.

Yes, I know the old “anti-journalist” argument of bloggers of being beholden to the higher ups or higher interests. But just the same, I don’t believe anything I find on the net. And so should you.

Well, that’s it. Again, feel free to disagree. But discussions are always helpful.

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