Friday, December 26, 2008

From Sabbath to Sunday Theologian, Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi Died Age 70

I have some sad news. Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi died from his battle with 4th stage liver cancer shortly after midnight on Saturday December 20, 2008 — one day short of his 47th wedding anniversary. He died surrounded by his three children and his wife Anna.

Dr. Samuele Bacchiocchi was one of the most well-known scholars on the topic of the biblical fourth commandment, the seventh-day Sabbath.

Best known for his work, From Sabbath to Sunday : A Historical Investigation of the Rise of Sunday Observance in Early Christianity, Bacchiocchi added scholarly support that the Ten Commandments, which includes the seventh-day Sabbath commandment (Saturday), is still valid today since it was etched in stone by the hand of God.

Dr. Bacchiocchi was a retired Professor of Theology and Church History at Andrews University where he taught for 26 years. He received his college education at Newbold College in England, his seminary training at Andrews University in Michigan, and his Doctoratus in Church History at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. Pope Paul VI awarded him a gold medal for attaining the summa cum laude academic distinction. He authored 17 books and hundreds of articles.

It is my hope his family will continue his ministry and drive the biblical truth behind man's attempt to change God's laws.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas and Recession

Merry Christmas to all!

In times of economic hardship and when we are limited on what we can buy our love ones, Christmas can still be special. I would argue that it is better in hard times because our gifts have more meaning, and our thoughts are more pronounced.

In recessions, Christmas is less commercialized. It isn't about the newest gadget, or the coolest new toy anymore. It is about the spirit of giving, and the spirit of shared sacrifice. So Merry Christmas to you and your family, celebrate these holidays even when you had bad luck because you are rich in love with your friends and family.

God bless,

Don & family

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Philippines Aquaponics: Self-Sustaining Agriculture and Aquaculture

Believe it or not...I did this on accident.

Labor Day 2008: I have nothing to do on my vacation. I'm 10,000 miles away from the United States, sitting idle on an island, one out of the 7,100 islands in the Philippines. As I went through my normal selfish list of what to do on Labor Day, I thought to myself, maybe I would do something different this year?

Then I realized...the house I'm renting has an empty unused pond with a small idol of Mary. Maybe I could put fish in the pond and my baby girl could enjoy watching it? (My advice to Catholic friends: Mary was a respectable woman, but don't worship humans, especially human idols. Please read the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20: "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them." You now have been taught the correct doctrine. You are now accountable to it.)

Summary 1: Laziness Breeds Ideas

As I thought of what type of fish I could put in the pond, I then remembered my teenage years when I owned an aquarium. It was a disaster. My laziness killed my pet goldfish in the past. I didn't change the water and they all died. Why in the world would I try that again? I certainly don't want to change the water in a 300 liter pond (400 liters with other additions)! But I still want my baby girl to see fish swimming about. Hmmm.... How to grow fish without doing much maintenance work...

Summary 2: Looking at Nature/Science

I started researching what type of filter could automatically remove fish waste (ammonia/nitrite/nitrate) from my pond without me having to change the water. Alas, there was none! A water exchange was still necessary with most mechanical filters. Then I turned to biological filters ... this is when I found aquaponics, the combination of fish farming (aquaculture) and growing plants without soil (hydroponics).

In nature, we see it all the time in swamps and ponds. Plants that grow near the water or on the water absorb the nutrients from the fish waste and help clean the water.

Fish can even survive in closed loop environments because of this natural occurrence. For example, bass in many of Florida's lakes and ponds which have no natural springs.

Summary 3: The Build

When I mentioned to my family I was going to start a project that would grow fish (tilapia) that could be harvested plus it would grow plants that required no soil -- they thought I was crazy. But I wanted to create a project that would be productive, something cool for my baby girl to play with, and at the same time, help reduce the cost of food.

I initially bought two aquarium pumps, one aerator, two hoses, and some plastic bins as a growth bed. I planted Chinese upland kang kong and they grew fine. I then upgraded it to a bigger growth bed and even added two rain gutters to test out the nutrient film technique (NFT). Hydroponic growers use NFT systems and introduce small trace elements of nutrients to grow their plants -- I'm doing the same thing except my nutrients come directly from fish and they clean the water for the fish to continue to live and reproduce.

Summary 4: No Fish Kill w/ Zero Exchange in Water!

I have so far introduced 160 fish and the only kills I got were during the transfer process. My tilapia fish that died was due to the rapid change in temperature, but once they were in the pond and initially lived through the shock of being taken away from their previous environments, they lived and grew big! No fish kills post-transfer and I didn't do any exchange of water. The plants reduced the fish waste by themselves without me having to exchange the water! The only water added are the ones lost in evaporation (estimate about 10% of the volume a month).

Summary 5: The Bacteria Cycle Took About Two Weeks

There's a natural cycle when bacteria starts growing and it starts breaking down the waste products of the fish into usable trace elements that the plants could eat. It took roughly about two weeks. Thankfully, tilapia are tough fish and they survived fine through this cycle.

Summary 6: The Plants Bear Fruit Early and Grow Fast

I planted two sets of upland kangkung plants, one on the ground and one on the growth bed. The ones on the growth were 2x-3x taller than the ones on the ground, suggesting this little experiment might actually work. (Why couldn't I think of this during high school, I would have won so many science fair awards?)

Summary 7: What This Experiment Means For Farmers

This is doable commercially. Imagine growing crops on an entire field without chemical fertilizers, growing without being infected by soil based diseases, and at the same time, you have a fish farm that requires no additional water and it doesn't pollute the water in your area. It is a self sustaining system. You can also introduce solar pumps and solar aeration, something I did recently to reduce my dependency on electricity.

Plus it's a cool thing to show to my 2 year old daughter -- she feeds the fish with plants from the growth beds every day.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Why I Still Don't Eat Pig

New discovery: Ebola in pigs

The Ebola virus scare people to death.

What if I told you there's a possibility you ate a certain strain of this virus when you ate pork? Just north of Manila, Philippines, scientists recently discovered that pigs may be a potential reservoir for this virus among other diseases that we already know pigs are known to carry. Its African strains are notorious for wiping out people, and now we are finding it maybe found in pigs.

Sometime ago I created a blog post about an ancient diet in the Bible that promotes long life. I also posted how science is starting to catch up.

Folks that do follow through with the diet are healthier and are proven to live longer. Better cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, less cancer, etc.

More findings to support God's wisdom

In Leviticus 11:7, God said not to eat pig. He said it was unclean meat. This isn't a moral law such as don't murder people but rather God's advise to man:
"hey, I created this stuff, don't eat the recycling bins of nature."

My colleagues that love pork would often say, "well I eat my pork from safe farms" -- but I still don't know why they think that's reasonable when nature's trash will continue to be nature's trash wherever you put it. Even the cleanest human being will still continue to have genetic defects, diseases, and inclinations because it is stamped in his DNA. How much worst is a pig, that's crowded in together and catch diseases quite easily from each other.

The healthy vs. the unhealthy

Transport yourself back to 2600 years ago in Babylon, the most powerful country on earth. A God believing man named Daniel and his three friends were forcibly removed from their home land and was asked by their conquerors to eat the meat outside of the biblical diet. According to the Cuneiform Texts from Baylonian Tablets, the Babylonians were known to eat pork as their primary source of meat.

As recorded in the Book of Daniel, ch 1, the four Jews refused to eat the king's meat and was only going to eat based on God's wisdom. They told the Babylonians to wait 10 days to see who is healthier. You can find the excerpt here:

Daniel 1 Excerpt
15 And at the end of ten days their countenances appeared fairer and fatter in the flesh than all the children which did eat the portion of the king's meat.
16 Thus Melzar took away the portion of their meat, and the wine that they should drink; and gave them pulse.
17 As for these four children, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.
18 Now at the end of the days that the king had said he should bring them in, then the prince of the eunuchs brought them in before Nebuchadnezzar.
19 And the king communed with them; and among them all was found none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah: therefore stood they before the king.

They were found to be the most intelligent and healthiest out of the kingdom.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Transporting golf clubs internationally

I'm attempting to pick up golf and will need to transport my clubs internationally. I will be flying out on Northwest Airlines soon but I have one issue -- I don't know where to get golf cases. Thankfully, I found this on Amazon!

We will see how well this performs when I fly out.

Update 12/8/2008: The golf clubs arrived with no problems and the case was locked all throughout the journey, thanks in part to its TSA approved lock. Spectacular! Because the weight of my golf clubs plus the case were less than 50 pounds, I was able to check it in on my Northwest (now Delta) Airlines flight with no extra charges. I was even able to put in a small fishing pole.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

How The Social Conservatives Won in 2008

How They Won

Exit polls clearly showed that President-elect Obama and the Democratic winners in Congress won largely in part due to the economic crisis. Since the nation perceived that this looming recession was due to the Republicans [partially false, Democrats held the congressional majority since 2006], all Republican incumbents were on the defense. Hence, Senate Democrat majority leader, Sen. Harry Reid, clearly and accurately stated: "This is not a mandate for a political party or an ideology."

To illustrate his point, you could simply take a look at California and Florida, which gave their electoral votes to the Democrats but the same voters actually went against the Democrats' agenda of same sex marriage. The majority of the people voted to ban same sex marriage. Instead of voting for a liberal, progressive idea, the voters voted conservatively, opting for the traditional cultural and religious values that they identify with.

This type of social conservatism isn't going away any time soon. Even the fastest growing voting block, American minorities such as Asians, blacks, and Hispanics, are attached to the traditional definition of marriage: that it should be between a man and a woman.

Social conservatives aren't going away soon, in fact, in this election, it showed it's still strong and growing.

The Election Roundup

Map source:

Elections: Summary

Rougly 52% of Americans voted for Senator Obama and 46.3% voted for Senator McCain. Obama's fight wasn't easy, but the economic mess and the perception of the nation that the Republicans were the cause, gave him the luckiest break in history.

McCain clearly recognized he was the underdog after the economic slump in September 2008. The fact that he was ahead in the polls mid-September was a miracle in itself. The Republicans already faced an uphill battle with an unpopular president and an unpopular war. But the economy was the nail in the coffin. I don't think anyone else could have pulled better election results than McCain from the Republican side.

The Palin effect

Some pundits have stated McCain would have been worst off, if it wasn't for social conservatives actually voting for him, thanks in part to his choice of Gov. Palin as his running mate. Her pro-life, pro-gun, evangelical Christian views was the most electrifying part of the campaign -- more people came to Palin rallies than to McCain rallies. While McCain needed independents like me to gain traction in terms of single percentage points, he needed his double digit base to even look formidable in the election.

"I Have A Dream"

What's clear -- this was a historic election. Obama will be the first black, dark-colored president of the United States. Martin Luther King can now rest in peace that his dreams were fulfilled. Note, there were other presidents with African ancestry like Abraham Lincoln, but Lincoln and others were able to pass off as pure "white" because their skin color wasn't dark.

While there's still racial elements in the country, this election clearly showed that they are a minority. America has grown up and its sins of the past has come back full circle. The White House, which was partially built through African slave labor, will now have an African American sitting on it as their president.

Ironic justice?

Respecting the Office

While over 46% of the nation didn't vote for Sen. Obama, including myself, we have to come to terms with the results and be able to live with it and respect the office of the president.

While many may disagree with the tax and spend policies, and pro-choice positions of Obama, we must trust in the U.S. Constitution as our supreme law of the land and follow the principle that's inked in our dollar bills -- "In God We Trust".

A man named Saul, who killed innocent people until he saw the light and was renamed to Paul, wrote in the Book of Romans (chapter 13, verse 1), very enlightening words of wisdom that's applicable to these troubled times:

"Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God."

To keep it short -- let God's will be done. Do your best [vote] and He'll do the rest.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bush's economic policies were bad? Really?

More wonderful reading: The Constitution says Congress regulates the economy not the President! Since 2006, Democrats ran Congress. Uh oh.

On CNN Late Edition today, Senator Evan Bayh (D - Indiana) commented that McCain was going to carry on Bush's economic policies if he was elected. Yet, Bayh couldn't exactly pinpoint which specific Bush policies were wrong. Was it the tax cuts that created jobs after 9/11 and dot com bubble recession (from Clinton's time)? Bayh also commented that McCain voted "with Bush" 90% of the time -- yet he failed to mention Obama voted 40% of the time "with Bush" in 2007.

Government 101 - Who makes "policies?"
Let's go to government 101 and analyze some basics about the structure of the executive and the legislative branch. I want to highlight this because Senator Bayh seems to be confusing people when he says "Bush's policies".

The president signs bills into law. The policies from those bills, that affect the housing market, tax rates, minimum wage, welfare, declaration of war, job creation -- all of those details are sorted out by....Congress! Which party actually has the majority in both houses of Congress since 2006? The Democrats. Hmmm... The plot thickens. For the past two years, government policy, and potential economic reform has been under the approval or disapproval of the Democratic majority.

Obama votes present on unpopular bills instead of 'yes' or 'no'
The percentage of Obama's agreement on "Bush's policies" would have probably been higher if Obama actually had an opinion on 129 bills, where instead of voting "yes" or "no", he politically postured to vote "present" to avoid being held accountable for it in future political debates. For instance, he voted "present" on legislation where victims of rape and sex crimes could have their courts sealed. Anything that smells of controversy and could hold him accountable to the public, he seem to have avoided. He only agreed to vote on what's popular. Ouch.

Bad economic policy?
The cause of the economic crisis no doubt came directly from a bad housing market...but that started in the Clinton administration. In 2006, it was actually Senator McCain that tried to regulate the housing market but the Democratic majority in Congress said no way...

In 2006, McCain demanded reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, whose collapse ultimately precipitated the financial crisis now gripping the world.

As American citizens, we have every right to constructively criticize our government and our elected officials. But we have to do this with proper knowledge. The constant attack of "Bush policies", if you research further, points back to the Democrats, who controlled the legislative branches for the past two years.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Sanctity of Life - the Issue Above the Economy

Out of all the issues, the sanctity of life hasn't grabbed the headlines. But that's okay, because the people that believe in such sanctity will reveal its importance through one action -- voting their conscience on November 4th, 2008.

Obama takes a shot at the Bible

An interesting clip...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Is socialism a sin? A biblical analysis

God commands you to work and if you don't, you shouldn't eat

The humanistic viewpoint of socialism, where those that work hard, are forced by the government, to share with those that do not, strikes against a core biblical principle of the Bible.

If you are a believer in God, you are commanded in the fourth commandment to work: Six days you will work, and on the seventh day you rest.

The commandment to "rest" (Sabbath) has a precondition -- that is for that person to work. This is further expanded upon in the New Testament in II Thessalonians 3:6-12. This is where we get the principle of, "...if any would not work, neither should he eat."

How about those that are disabled or can't work?

The Bible has clear guidance on what happens to the elderly, the single mothers, the disabled, and it is laid out both in the Old Testament and the New Testament. For instance, in 1 Timothy 5, the first point of contact should be the extended family members. The second point of contact should be the church.

1 Tim 5:3-4 (NIV): "Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God."

Ask yourself: does this chapter or any other biblical verse talk about asking for the secular government (Roman empire) to come in and help? Do the verses say, "ask Pilate to spread the wealth around"? The answer is clearly no.

The effects of humanistic socialism

The effects of this type of government is laziness. It encourages people that are able to carry on a job to not work. Don't take my word for it. Consider this family that never worked for three generations. Why not? Because the U.K. government and its European socialistic policies have encouraged such behavior.

One of the youngest family members, Jessica, sum's it all up on why we should avoid a society where "spreading the wealth" is advocated as a right:

"I don't like the idea of having to be bossed around at work and I don't want to go to college or anything because I like to stay in bed in the morning. In the meantime, it's my right to claim benefits. One day I'd like a council flat [government housing]."

Yep that's right, God's Ten Commandments is still relevant today.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Pandora proof PSPs?

WARNING: This post is a bit geeky.

PlayStation Portable (PSP) News: Pandora Proof

I always bring an old PSP when I travel. I can look for wifi locations, view web sites, play games, view pictures, movies, and much more. Its also fun doing PSP hacks and mods from time to time. But I discovered a couple of things that's probably going to scare potential PSP home brewers out there.

So far in the past four weeks I've come across two PSPs from Japan (piano black) and the United States ( black regular) where the pandora battery is not working. The 'magic' memory stick and the pandora battery works on all other phats and slims, but on these particular two units, the only response was:

  • Auto-on, green light / no other lights
  • Black screen

    What's causing this problem? Apparently a new CPU which Sony may have done on purpose (or accidentally) to block any pandora-based hacks or mods. Here's a more technical explanation: Dark Alex's Flowchart
  • Monday, October 13, 2008

    Scared rich? An economic reflection

    The sun is setting here in Tokyo, Japan as I'm typing this short reflection on our current economic crisis.

    I have always thought that the end of the world would be some sort of nuclear holocaust, but clearly this week showed us there's more than one way to end the world. I don't want to scare you or worry you too much, as we have the ability to rise above this crisis if we want to.

    After scouring through my normal weekly reading of TIME, Forbes, US News, Washington Post, and reading through CNBC reports, listening to economists and their disagreements, I have come to one solid conclusion: most of this is in our heads.

    Here's the basics:

    1. The banks don't trust each other so they don't lend money. According to Mortgage Bankers Association chief economist Jay Brinkmann, 1.4 million mortgages are in foreclosure out of 51 million. So roughly 3% are toxic assets based on foreclosure rates and if I was a betting man (I'm not), I would hedge that conservatively up to 7%-9% for those mortgages that are going to be in default.

    Financial institutions do not know how exposed their colleagues are, so they aren't lending each other money due to the fact that they don't know who is affected, or by how much.

    This has immediate impacts to middle size companies and small businesses, as their lines of credit could potentially shrink as their banks are running out of cash. An example of this would be your local McDonalds franchise having to spend cash on hand instead of their line of credit to order their next month's supply of burgers and fries.

    2. Investors are freaked out by the news. The Internet, the global information superhighway, satellite broadcasts, and other media vehicles can bring the news to anyone in the world in seconds. This gives us a great advantage in breaking down cultural and political boundaries...but it also exposes us to a great risk. Our ability to take in information and react to it (in this case, "panic"), has revealed our biggest weakness in this globally connected economy. The easily influenced masses that are driven purely by what they see on TV or what they hear from friends are selling off their portfolios.

    In the United States, according to Forbes, American citizens have roughly $7.4 trillion dollars saved in their bank account and another $4.1 trillion in bonds and the Treasury. We are not in a depression where we have no cash and doctors are lining up to soup kitchens like in the 1920s and 30s, but we could potentially put ourselves there if we continue to be scared from coming out of our homes and stop investing.

    But worst case scenario, I have a plan - let's find some land and plant and live like farmers.

    Sunday, October 05, 2008

    Bad mortgages caused the financial crisis

    Credit crunch, housing did it all begin? A quick look at our history shows a different story. Know your history, know the truth, then spread it.

    Fannie Mae Eases Credit To Aid Mortgage Lending

    New York Times

    Published: September 30, 1999

    In a move that could help increase home ownership rates among minorities and low-income consumers, the Fannie Mae Corporation is easing the credit requirements on loans that it will purchase from banks and other lenders.

    The action, which will begin as a pilot program involving 24 banks in 15 markets -- including the New York metropolitan region -- will encourage those banks to extend home mortgages to individuals whose credit is generally not good enough to qualify for conventional loans. Fannie Mae officials say they hope to make it a nationwide program by next spring.

    Fannie Mae, the nation's biggest underwriter of home mortgages, has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.

    In addition, banks, thrift institutions and mortgage companies have been pressing Fannie Mae to help them make more loans to so-called subprime borrowers. These borrowers whose incomes, credit ratings and savings are not good enough to qualify for conventional loans, can only get loans from finance companies that charge much higher interest rates -- anywhere from three to four percentage points higher than conventional loans.

    ''Fannie Mae has expanded home ownership for millions of families in the 1990's by reducing down payment requirements,'' said Franklin D. Raines, Fannie Mae's chairman and chief executive officer. ''Yet there remain too many borrowers whose credit is just a notch below what our underwriting has required who have been relegated to paying significantly higher mortgage rates in the so-called subprime market.''

    cont'd (Please see New York Times for past archives)

    Saturday, September 20, 2008

    Filipino Civilians Raise A Militia To Defend Themselves

    In 1775, a man by the name of Paul Revere rode out from Boston to Lexington to warn civilians that British regulars were coming to attack and capture American patriots and their gun powder. He rode out in the middle of the night to warn civilians to "arm themselves". As the poem goes, "TO ARMS! TO ARMS! THE BRITISH ARE COMING!"

    Thanks to his warning, militias were able to form and fend off the invading British advance.

    In 2008, the Philippines is facing a similar dilemma. A 10,000-strong band of Muslim bandits are harassing Christian and Muslim villages. Only this time, Paul Revere has been replaced with the typical Nokia cell phone and the text messages read, "ARM YOURSELVES! THE TERRORISTS ARE COMING!"

    Islamic terrorists connected to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) burned down houses and killed civilians in Dualing village, Aleosan town of North Cotabato, Philippines on August 14, 2008. Over 1,000 guerrillas swooped in and occupied the area. They were protesting the Philippines government's stalled peace talks. Their violent reaction was the result of a failed peace plan that was rejected by the Philippines Supreme Court. The peace plan would have seceded some territorities to the MILF as autonomous regions.

    The Military Response and MILF Deniability

    The military overtook the fortified positions of the rebels in less than a week, signaling the MILF's weak capabilities to be able to go head to head with a full response from the Philippines military. Backed by attack helicopters and armored vehicles, the MILF was pushed back further south.

    Officially, the MILF chairman Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said on an August 20, 2008 TV interview with ABS-CBN that the attacks on North Cotabato and Lanao del Norte were the result of "frustrations of MILF ground commanders" and that he ordered them to stop. He also stated that he did not sanction those attacks.

    He said the two commanders, Abdurahman Macapaar alias 'Commander Bravo' and Commander Ameril Umbra Kato, led the violence that killed up to 38 civilians. However, they will not be released to the Philippines government because they are revolutionaries and an investigation would be done under MILF's jurisdiction.

    The Civilian Response: The Awakening of the Rat

    The civilians in North Cotabato were innocent and had no part in signing the failed peace deals -- yet they were the ones targeted by the MILF. While the government was able to secure the villages after the attacks occurred, it was too late, the civilians were killed and the houses were burnt down.

    The calls for justice has been ringing around the Christian cities and towns of Mindanao. The elders of these towns have faced similar atrocities before. In the 1970s and the 1980s, communist rebels and Islamic extremists attacked Mindanao villages, collected "revolutionary taxes" from businesses, and killed anyone that didn't pay. I was there. I witnessed the mass graves, and the communists attempt to extort money from my family. The military (those that were not corrupt) was too stretched to be able to respond.

    When the government is not able to defend its own people quickly enough, the people must stand up to defend themselves. This idea of bearing arms for self defense should be a constitutional right as it is with the United States' second ammendment. The Bible tells us that we should not live by the sword, but we have to balance this in context -- that we should protect our children and protect our family. You put the two things together what you find is a person that doesn't want to fight, but will fight out of self necessity in order to protect the family.

    This is the very essence of a civil defense movement in the 1970s and the 1980s called Ilaga (the 'rat' in English). When civilians defended their neighborhood as a united front, they fended off heavily armed communist rebels and Islamic terrorists.

    The criminals once thought the towns they preyed on were weak, yet as the calls for justice continued to call out from the graves of the oppressed, the criminals saw their days were numbered and the communist and Islamic strongholds of Mindanao quickly were eradicated as they no longer had strongholds to hide in. The militias made it easier for the military to conduct military strikes. When guerillas couldn't find hiding places in towns, they had to cluster together and that's when military strikes are most effective.

    The Reformed Ilaga Movement

    The Ilaga movement were predominantly Ilongos or Hiligaynon. Ilongos from the Panay island and Negros Occidental areas went to Mindanao in search for a better life (similar to the 'Western' frontier expansion in the 19th century by U.S. farmers). They moved to Mindanao to buy cheap farm land for their families since most of the lands in the Visayas were already owned. However, when it came to harvest, abusive Islamic criminals demanded their share. Here's a Laguna resident explaining what the hardships Illongos faced:

    "A friend of mine was there in the 70's when it all started, he was only a kid back then. They went to Mindanao, their whole family of 17, to buy and till land, because during those times and up till now the lands in Panay and Negros were already mostly if not all, owned. They bought the land from the Muslims and worked on it, and when harvest time arrived the Moros also arrived. They demanded that half the harvest be given to them because it was their ancestral land. My friends' family refused. 15 of them were slaughtered, including women and children. Only 2 survived, my friend and his cousin. They were raised by Ilonggo friends who were mostly Ilaga, so thereafter they joined. He told me they have avenged the debt the muslims owed them plus interest."

    The calls for the old heroes to awaken have been heard. As you can see from the picture below, young and old have heeded the call. You see World War II class weapons mixed in with modern weapons. The Reformed Ilaga Movement has vowed to bring the two rebel commanders to justice and while the MILF's 10,000-strong army might be a strong opponent, the Ilaga movement's membership easily exceeds 20,000. The single detachment below was a group of 300 militia members -- all of which can freely move in Mindanao without being harassed by the government.

    An Opportunity for Peace

    Once the adrenaline runs out and the perpetrators are captured, at the end of the day, the farmers need to go back to farming and the military can go back to its exercises and civil infrastructure projects.

    Those that belong to the MILF need to realize that they belong to a democratic country -- if they want to be a part of it, they are welcome to, but if they continue to go against it, they will only land in jail, or worst, six feet under the ground.

    The claims of ancestral domain will never come back -- it's politically impossible and violence is the wrong way to convince the world otherwise. It only brings shame to the native Moros, and a shame on the Koran. Stop dying over land your ancestors had, but rather, be successful and cultivate the land that you already have.

    Store your weapons and enjoy peace, or the cycle of violence just continues to go on and on and on.

    Friday, August 29, 2008

    Experience and Qualifications - My Thoughts On Biden

    Lots of experience and nice resumes...but no action

    Washington State Republican Party Chairman Luke Esser commented to the press that "...the Obama-Biden ticket is big on talk, the McCain-Palin ticket is big on results. To truly change Washington, it's going to take a team who has a record of accomplishment in shaking up the status quo. Gov. Palin's experience in doing that for her own state is exactly what is needed in Washington, D.C., and it's the same kind of change we need in Olympia this year."

    This about sums up about my concerns with Obama and Biden. Despite all their combined years in Washington, there's not much to speak about. While Obama criticized Clinton and talked up that he didn't vote for the war in Iraq -- he didn't have to make that choice, he wasn't there when we were facing enemies, at a pinnacle time when religious zealots wanted to blow us up.

    What's the purpose of the "experience card" when it brings no results? When we talk specifically about Biden or Obama's foreign policy experience, aside from their criticism of everything the United States does on foreign soil, what have they done to contribute? Have they stabilized Iraq by supporting additional troops? No. In fact, Biden's idea of a safe Iraq was to segregate the country instead of unify it. That's like saying let's have the North and South versus a Union. We know how that went. We should attempt to learn from our own history before we start implying we can just segregate a country without consequence.

    With all of the years experience, did these two give anything back to their constituents? Were they able to consistently balance state budgets, give money back from oil to their people in their respective states? Were they able to secure a natural gas pipeline for America so we could bring energy prices down or secure supply?

    The answer is no to all of these questions.

    So where does experience really matter when there's no action? To make the 3:00 AM call about emergency matters from far away lands? How about the normal calls at 3pm? What has that experience brought to us in regards to domestic policy, or common good will to be able to bring back to the general population?

    I dare argue that Gov. Palin might be the boldest VP pick in history, but also one of the smartest. Within her short time track record, she has been able to balance budgets, fight people in her own party that were corrupt, bring money back to the people of Alaska, so on and so forth -- and that, in less than two years. What is not impressive is that the previous governors and politicians of Alaska were not able to pull off such results in a short time, while this relatively "new" politician was able to do so.

    Perhaps it isn't about "qualifications" and "experience" -- those things do matter -- but about the will to actually change things, not just talk it. Let the results speak, not just your speeches.

    P.S. -- Someone might mention Gov. Plain's under an ethics investigation because her staff wanted her brother in law fired for being a state trooper. Why? He was a wife beater and tasered his child. Someone should give her a reward. Only in D.C. politics when doing what's right is wrong. Idiots.

    The hottest story since women's suffrage: Woman governor as Republican VP candidate

    McCain's vice president pick is a hit to fiscal conservatives, Christians, married women, and reformists

    In the 20th century, women were finally allowed to vote in the United States. On Friday, August 29, 2008, the United States made history again in this regard. Republican presidential nomineee Senator John McCain chose the governor of Alaska, Gov. Sarah Palin, a woman, a mother of five, and a known maverick in her state to be his running mate.

    Her experience
    Gov. Palin, compared to Obama, Biden, and McCain -- is technically, the only one in the national stage that has executive experience, managing the state of Alaska.

    We can definitely look at her results. Within two years, she's met her budgets. She's driven energy independence in her state from foreign oil. She cut spending in all levels of government, and she has attacked corruption -- removing powerful politicians out of their posts and office even from her own Republican party, she rejected the bridge to nowhere, and delivered results to her state with a 90% approval rating.


    Domestic vs. foreign policy
    Gov. Palin's foreign policy experience has been minimal. She's a governor of her own state and her interests were surrounded in fixing domestic issues -- the economy, gas prices, inflation, and corruption. We already know McCain has a strong foreign policy and a national security resume, but Palin's resume is totally different.

    She approaches the small town crowd, she is not an elitist or someone exceptionally rich -- she is local, a mom, and someone that was brought to the stage of leadership, not because she wanted to, but because nobody else was willing to do it.

    Gun rights
    She knows how to fish and hunt. She's a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association (NRA). She will win every Republican household and conservative household from the rough necks in Florida to the Rocky Mountain elk hunters in Colorado.

    Maverick Reformist
    When she tookover as the governor, the first thing she did was undo the damage from the previous governor -- who was a Republican. She fought against her party and even sold the government jet. She had someone put it on eBay and it was sold at a profit.

    This was a wild pick for John McCain, but it also shows wisdom. She brings a lot of strengths that McCain does not have -- youthfulness, excitement, increased historical impact, a non-Washington resume ("change"), and solid social conservative foundations.

    As an independent voter, I consider this ticket to be very attractive, very solid, and a breath of fresh air.

    Friday, August 22, 2008

    Think outside the box: How to beat back rising food prices

    Food prices are rising. From corn to rice, all of the basic food staples are increasing. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), food prices are going to be increasing around the 5 to 6 percent mark this year, marking it the highest increase in food prices since 1990.

    Since June 2008, I have been looking to reduce the impact of these increases and have made some success in doing so through my own home garden. In the next few paragraphs, I'll attempt to you show you how I saved roughly $4,400/year by using 10sqm of unused land that otherwise would have been "grass" or a "lawn".

    My point of view:

    1. PRICES WILL CONTINUE TO GO UP. Food prices will continue to go up for geopolitical reasons, rise in oil (USA: 5% of world's population, but uses 26% of world's energy), increased demand as poverty decreases, reduction of farm land, utilization of farm resources for renewable energy initiatives, and the refusal for some cultures to change their main staples.

    2. KNOW YOUR SITUATION. Vendors, clients, businesses, employers -- are all looking to cut costs yet the average Joe thinks their company should pay more (who doesn't want more money right?). For instance, a good chunk of workers across the world look for wage increases during an economic recession. Yet these are the exact times when employers are looking to save.

    For instance, if you are paid $7/hour and a competitive company is paying $9/hour -- surely you would want to move over? But what if that $9/hour company is putting itself at risk? Does the extra money help if you can't trust it for stability? My point is: unless employers get increased revenues -- there is no way they can afford wage increases. Either find a way to help your company increase revenues (remember, it's not a bank), or stop dreaming of wage increases.

    Put yourself in your employer's shoes, do you want to remain profitable to be able to pay for everyone or start hurting your bottom line and in the end leave everyone jobless? Increased costs without increased revenue equals doom. Now think differently: how do I help my company increase revenue so we can have fun things like bonuses and incentives?

    3. MAKE LIFESTYLE CHANGES. The easiest way to save money and sometimes the hardest choices for some, is to adjust their lifestyles. Reduce unnecessary costs. My advice for folks that drink alcohol and smoke: that's the first that should go before you ever complain about not having money. That only shows irresponsibility of money vs. the lack of money.

    4. GROW YOUR OWN FOOD. At first glance, people will probably say this is absurd. But more and more people are jumping "back to basics", where communities survived not because they knew how to buy food from McDonalds or from supermarkets but because of their ability to utilize their land for food. No, I'm not saying buy farm lands but utilize the soil that you currently have -- especially in urban areas! Food for thought:

    • According to The Peri-Urban Interface, nearly 50% of the world's population is located in urban areas.
    • According to a United Nations HABITAT study, called "Guidelines for Municipal Policymaking on Urban Agriculture", roughly 40% to 60% of the income in some urban areas are spent on food alone. Now that's absurd!

    If you can save 40% to 60% by growing your own food, why not do it? In June 2008, I started planting at the cost of roughly $19 USD worth of seeds and small plants -- planting corn, watermelon, tomatoes, eggplants, Chinese cabbage (pechay), bananas, Chinese kangkong, mung beans, etc.

    Now I'm reaping the benefits, with my food costs dropping from $500/mo (household of eight), to roughly about $130/mo. Within the next few months, I should be able to have surpluses and be able to actually gain. All of this on roughly 10sqm of land. That's a savings of more than $44,400 in 10 years and if my plans of 0% cost on food happens, that brings the savings up to $60,000 in 10 years.

    Let's start using the land that we are given and the rain that falls on us for free.

    Friday, July 11, 2008

    An Ancient Secret - The Diet That Brings Long Life

    Mission Verse: "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body," (1 Cor. 6:19-20) NIV


    There are many ways to honor God, but one of the main ones, is how you treat your body. Specifically today, I want to talk about personal diets -- the biggest influence on your health.

    I often hear the phrase that "knowledge is power" but let me try to tie that up with something that's real: knowledge is power only if it is used.

    Live Longer - What Science Says

    The November 2005 issue of National Geographic magazine features the Loma Linda University Adventist Health Study in an article titled “The Secrets of Living Longer.”

    Written by Dan Buettner and photographed by David McLain, the article interviews residents of Okinawa, Sardinia, and Loma Linda—who, according to the article, “live longer, healthier lives than just about anyone else on Earth.”

    Mr. Buettner writes that from 1976 to 1988, the National Institutes of Health “funded a study of 34,000 California Adventists to see whether their health-oriented lifestyle affected their life expectancy and the risk of heart disease and cancer.”

    The study found that their diet lowered the risk of developing certain types of cancers.

    Mr. Buettner writes: “In the end the study reached a stunning conclusion, says Gary Fraser of Loma Linda University: The average Adventist lived four to ten years longer than the average Californian. That makes the Adventists one of the nation’s most convincing cultures of longevity.”

    An Ancient Diet

    Adventists did not invent this diet. The knowledge has been with man since the beginning of time -- yet only a few seek to act on it.

    Verse "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food." (Genesis 1:29) NIV

    Later in the Bible, when plants and trees were damaged in the world due to a worldwide flood, God made sure that mankind had another source of sustenance: clean animals. The worldwide flood event is recorded in some shape or form in hundreds of civilizations and also in the Bible. Noah was given instructions to over supply on clean animals and minimize the unclean animals.

    Verse "Take with you seven [a] of every kind of clean animal, a male and its mate, and two of every kind of unclean animal, a male and its mate... (Gen 7:2) NIV

    We can find a breakdown of specific animals that are considered clean and unclean in Leveticus 11. Clean animals like fish and chicken are considered clean while animals like pig and shrimp are not.


    The knowledge of what to eat and what not to eat has been with us for a long time through the pages of the Bible. Yet its only been in recent years that science has proven that God was right. Those that accepted the Word of God immediately reaped the benefits and are continuing to as we speak -- so what does it take for you to change your diet? God? Science? Heart Attack? Cancer?

    There are those even within the Christian community that states "all things are made clean by God" yet to this day, pigs still have a CDC warning about trichinellosis (CDC is the world Centers for Disease Control). Indeed, there are some verses in the New Testament, used inappropriately, one could rationalize bad diets as "safe".

    Let's face it, if you do not change your diet and lifestyle, you will remain the same and the typical health problems associated with your diet will stay with you and carry over to people that look up to you.

    Mission Verse: "Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body," (1 Cor. 6:19-20) NIV

    Monday, June 23, 2008

    Typhoon Frank causes mayhem in the Philippines

    Ferry capsizes, 800+ missing, 36 survived.

    Typhoon Frank (Fengshen) tore through the island nation of the Philippines causing severe flooding, landslides, and damage to livestock and crops. But so far the biggest single tragedy was a ferry accident. A 7-storey, 23,824 ton ship, the MV Princess of the Stars, capsized in the midst of the typhoon carrying with it over 800 people and over 30 children.

    The ship has been found upside down near the Romblon province with a hole in its hull. Philippine navy divers reported there was no signs of life around the ship. They tapped on the hull and have not received any replies back. Philippine officials, giving interviews with ABS-CBN tonight, reported they will attempt to enter the ship when it is safe. Additionally, President Arroyo asked the United States for help and the U.S. Pacific Command is promptly sent a rescue ship with helicopters from Japan. A U.S. Navy surveillance plane also has been ordered to the Philippines to look for survivors.

    I heard about a group of 28 survivors from reporters sitting with me at the airport 8:00am Manila. With the 4 that was already accounted for yesterday, that's a total of 32 survivors. An ABS-CBN broadcast reported a total of 36 survivors so far as of 7:38pm Manila time. The day by day increase of survivors is giving anxious families hope, as there maybe a chance that more people may have survived and not accounted for.

    Iloilo: "This is the worst flash flood that the province has experienced..."

    Jerry Bionat, executive officer of the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC) said, “This is the worst flash flood that the province has experienced.” Over 42 towns are under water in Iloilo. Iloilo Mayor Jerry Trenas in a phone interview appealed for donations of water, clothing, and ready to eat food, “We need all the help that we can get.”

    How You Can Help

    So far one of the Philippines' largest media company, ABS-CBN, has provided a venue on how to help. ABS-CBN's "Sagip Kapamilya" has provided a way for local Filipinos and international residents to donate.

    Sagip Kapamilya is appealing for donation to serve more families through donations of rice, canned goods, blankets, noodles, sleeping mats and clothes.

    These can be brought to No. 13 Examiner St., West Triangle, Quezon City.

    Cash donations may be sent to BDO account no. 5630020111. For more information, please call (63)-2-411-4995 or if you are dialing from the United States, you would dial 011-63-2-411-4995.

    I'm still waiting on other aid agencies in setting up specific donor accounts for these tragedies so I can publish them here.

    Sunday, May 25, 2008

    Marijuana a safe drug? Tell that to accident victims.

    Is Marijuana A Safe Drug?
    In 2001, I once had a colleague that kept arguing with me that smoking pot was absolutely safe. He even argued that it made him learn faster. He was probably in his mid-50's and he kept telling others around him that it was fine.

    A few years later, I caught up with him again and I visited his house to see how he was doing. He was unemployed in an area with 3% unemployment, depressed, and he threatened to kill people that "did him wrong". It seems like his heavy use on marijuana, coupled with whatever issues that was troubling him, has brought on severe paranoia, laziness, and depression. Thankfully, he did seek professional help.

    The most intelligent civilizations on earth has smoked weed, from the Assyrians to the Chou Dynasty. They were all essentially wiped out of course (probably by non-users - lol). While this practice is ancient, its only within the last few years that people started learning its harmful effects not only on mental behavior but its effects physically.

    While tobacco use in the United States is becoming less and less an acceptable vice, marijuana use is increasing especially in junior high and high school.

    Where Marijuana Is More Dangerous Than Tobacco

    Read a compiled list of recent studies showing where marijuana is more dangerous than tobacco, not only in terms of mental ailments but physical effects.

    Saturday, May 24, 2008

    Philippines RCBC bank massacre ignites outrage

    "For the love of money is the root of all evil..." 1 Tim 6:10 (KJV)

    An Entire Country Grieves
    Since I have been preparing to move, I haven't seen any local news as of late. When I went to an RCBC bank, my teller friend asked me with a sad expression if I heard the news. I wished I didn't ask, but I was too curious. "What news?", I said. "They killed everyone at our branch location in Laguna."

    I was extremely saddened to hear this. And to hear it from a member of the RCBC family and seeing the hurt, that was even more distressing.

    While bank robberies are common throughout the world, it is very uncommon for bank robbers to kill unarmed people. A thief isn't usually a murderer, unless he is already a murderer and he turned into a thief. When a Fifth Third bank I frequented often in Florida was robbed, nobody got hurt.

    So I'm puzzled about this bank robbery. Such madness, why would you seek to kill if your only motivation was to steal? Take the money and go, don't hurt civilians and innocents who are only trying to earn a living.

    Judging from the other photos (I didn't post the pictures inside the bank for the respect of the victims and their family), this robbery was well planned. They broke in, they lined up the employees, and executed them at their post. This fiasco wasn't a crime of passion, it was a cold, calculated murder.

    Root of All Evil
    One of the most misquoted verses in the Bible is found 1 Tim 6:10. Some people tend to pass over this and say that "money is the root of all evil" when the exact verse states the "love of money" is the root of all evil (or to be exact, the Greek context says all kinds of evil).

    For sure, the love of money was the prime motivator of this massacre and it is an example of how such lust for greed no matter what the cost can sow the seeds of strife in our hearts.

    I'm saddened to hear news reports that this could possibly involve law enforcement or military personnel. To those that are highly esteemed in public office, to those that we trust to keep our safety -- take the full, stern warning of this biblical advice. The way to this dark road is a subtle one. You compromise one decision at a time and in the end, you find yourself in a situation where your public office, your position of trust is nullified to a position of corruption.

    May the victims rest in peace, may God comfort those families that are hurting, and I pray for those troubled souls that committed this crime, it is better to give up now or face justice in the end.

    "Cursed is the man who accepts a bribe to kill an innocent person." Deuteronomy 27:25


    1. 2 of 6 bank robbers were 'allegedly' men in uniform
    2. RCBC's Official Statement

    Help needed in Burma!

    Luke 12:48, "For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required..."

    ADRA is already responding. Help us.

    May 16, 2008

    As told by TEDDY DINH (Associate Country Director for ADRA Myanmar)

    "Everything is lost. Everything," said Teddy Dinh, associate country director for ADRA Myanmar, in a telephone interview in which he recounted his near death experience in the Irrawady Delta when Cyclone Nargis came ashore.
    What is left of the hospital in Piyansalu. ADRA is providing food to the survivors in this area.

    When the cyclone hit, Teddy and his staff were busy constructing a jetty as part of a tsunami rehabilitation project in Amageley village in Pyinsalu Sub-Township, a distant patchwork of islands and rivers in the extreme south of the delta region. Although the storm grew near on Friday, May 2, Dinh and his staff continued their work despite hearing radio reports of 50-60 mph winds. Even as news of strengthening winds continued, they remained certain that the storm would pass south of their location, and that the impact of the cyclone would not amount to much.

    Around 3 p.m., and with winds starting to blow stronger, it became apparent to them that the storm would in fact be serious, if not deadly.

    "We have to run," his staff insisted.

    Teddy grabbed a sleeping bag and a blanket, and together with his son and his staff began looking for a hiding place to ride out the storm. By now, it was obvious that they would not be able to escape the approaching storm. The boat they planned to use was gone. Trying to run was not possible either, as the winds were too strong, and they could not even open their eyes. They managed to run to a rice storage facility, packed with seven or eight feet of rice, where they took shelter with 150 other people.

    Through the evening the water level around them continued to climb. When the water reached the building, it rose to three or four feet above the rice.

    "It was like a tsunami," he said.

    Outside, the winds had reached cyclonic speeds. He and others inside the warehouse held onto posts to avoid being blown away. They remained hiding from 5 p.m. until midnight, when the storm began to subside, and the water level started to recede. At that point, they decided to look for a new place to hide, and went to a Baptist church in the village where they could spend the rest of the night.
    People in the Labutta camps using the cooking equipment distributed by ADRA to cook the rice that is also being distributed by ADRA

    "It is normally a 10 minute trip," he said. "But this time it took hours, because of all of the debris on the road."

    When they arrived at the church, they found nothing but devastation, as the building had been completely flattened by the cyclone, with the bodies of 25 people, mostly women and children, still inside. They walked on, finally finding shelter in a partially collapsed building, where they huddled together with other survivors, waiting for dawn to arrive.

    When Saturday morning came, they returned to the church where they found the dead. They dug a mass grave and buried all the bodies in it.
    Streets in Labutta are crowded with people who have lost everything ADRA prepares to distribute medical aid

    Dinh, his son, and staff were very hungry and thirsty, since they had not eaten any food since Friday. They drank coconut water and ate the meat from the top of the coconut. Some of the other survivors ate the meat of the livestock carcasses lying in the streets.

    By 6 p.m., Dinh had arrived on foot at another village. Here, he borrowed a boat and returned to Piensalu to look for the rest of his staff. When he arrived, there was complete devastation. Nearly everything was destroyed and many bodies were floating in the water. The staff, however, had only suffered minor cuts.

    Despite the tragedy, Dinh remains undaunted.

    "The staff really feels the need to help the people there," he said, "and every day they travel back to Piensalu helping to clean, distribute food, and transport people back to Labutta, and Myaungmya."

    ADRA is already responding. Help us.

    Saturday, May 10, 2008

    Kudos to sisters - Stacey wins film award; Trish wins election

    Going to get some bragging points out regarding my sisters.

    Congratulations to my sister, Stacey, for winning the Audience Choice Award in the SONscreen Film Festival on April 10-12! Only in her starting years as a film student, she's already winning awards in California. Woo hoo!

    Please include me in all your film credits as "Dohboy" please.

    And my youngest sister Trish gets re-elected again to the student council! This time, she gets the majority vote and is the new president. She's now in Washington, D.C. in student leadership seminars.

    First, school elections. Second, run for governor. Next, U.S. presidency. Then world domination.

    Kudos to Stacey and Trish!