Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Cops for Sale in Olongapo

Tamana. Enough. LTO has been running shakedowns in Barrio Barretto and Baloy and Cali beaches for years. Their favorite tickets are motorists without seatbelts and cyclists without helmets. Tickets are easily avoided with P500 to P1000 payoff. One of the maddening things is that one vehicle is allowed to pass with no windshield, no brakelights, bald tires, trailing a smoke stream but wearing a seatbelt. These are the people who should be apprehended and ticketed and removed from the roads. Instead it is much easier to ticket the person in a well tended vehicle but not wearing a seatbelt who forks over the P1000 to avoid the trip to the LTO office. President Aquino is trying to put a stop to corruption in the country. These LTO clowns are a big part of the problem. Let's put them on trial along with the Chief Justice.

Fasten your seatbelts...

 Have you been shaken down by the police or LTO in Olongapo?

Monday, January 30, 2012

Helping Poor Hanjin Subic Save Money

The government is working to give Hanjin a 20 to 30 percent discount on power rates. In light of the amount of power being used by the shipyard, that will likely account to millions of pesos, if not more.

We're guessing that savings won't be invested back into employee wages and benefits, or into improving the work conditions or safety of employees.
Should Hanjin be given a discount on its power consumption bill?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

People Power on the Road

An interesting thing happened at the new Kalaklan gate. People instead of government have dictated the driving rules applicable to the new situation. On the highway side of the bridge the two lanes going toward Barretto have been reversed to two lanes coming down the hill: one for a right turn into SBMA and one toward Olongapo. Opposite that a new left turn lane was citizen generated when government failed to provide it. Without any signs or asphalt arrows to help motorists, they themselves have created a safe, sane, common sense traffic pattern that works.

What are your experiences on the national highway near Kalaklan gate?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Goodbye Olongapo City Life, Hello Malls

The troubles with the big malls invading Olongapo are multiple. Already the mom and pop stores are disappearing. Things like shoe stores, bicycle shops, ice cream parlors, flower sellers, bakeries, barber and beauty parlors get absorbed by the big boys and store fronts close on main street. Ok, so prices come down. The money generated in these malls is then trucked out of our community in armored cars and invested elsewhere.

Four hundred outside businesses are moving in to one of the malls… and at least 400 local businesses with have to close.

Is it worth having a once proud Olongapo resident and shoe store owner turned into a low paid gremlin sweeping the high rise parking lot?

Hanjin Subic: Turning Rainforests into Slums


Comment from a reader on the post The Hanjin Killing Fields of Subic:

Concerns over changing the conditions of the investment by obligating Hanjin to treat their workers decently and make minimal investments in a safe workplace are ridiculous. When governments grant concessions to large investors — especially a deal as attractive as Hanjin's — the implicit bargain is that they will be good corporate citizens. Good companies stress safety, if for no other reason, because dead bodies are bad for business. Also keep in mind that negligence when it leads to deaths is a crime. The Philippine Government may just need to apply the law to everyone, even Korean shipbuilders.

From the Bugle;
Sadly, these factors don’t appear to be at play when it comes to the Hanjin investment in Subic. The investment is huge – it is the fourth largest shipbuilding facility in the world – and Subic administrators were desperate for investment so they sold out on even the most basic worker protection. They also allowed Hanjin to build a Korean tenement building in the middle of the Subic rainforest so their management would not need to associate with local people.

There is no market incentive for Hanjin to operate responsibly. Their customers are energy companies buying multi-million dollar tankers. They have zero interest in corporate social responsibility. They are interested in 1. quality and 2. cost.

Also, the Hanjin shipyard is located in a remote area of Subic Bay. SBMA officials need to ask permission and seek transport in order to inspect the Hanjin site. But that is generally not necessary as Hanjin’s compliance with worker safety, environmental regulations and other laws is done on an honor basis.

Unfortunately, Hanjin has showed itself to be a dishonorable company.

Friday, January 27, 2012

What Happened to the Subic Miracle?

What happened to the Subic miracle? The economic engine that drove the freeport seems to have stalled in the past few years. Construction projects are half finished or abandoned completely. Signal lights do not work. Roads are pock marked with deep crevices. Waterfront Road is ghost-town empty except on holidays and week ends. Once busy, bustling banks where you had to take a number are now empty. Conversely, Clark Development seems to be bustling with activity and energy. And their traffic lights actually work.

What happened to SBMA?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Hanjin Killing Fields of Subic

For those who haven’t had a close look at what is happening across the bay, Al Jazeera has produced a powerful documentary about the way Hanjin treats it workers in Subic.

Hanjin pays skilled welders doing dangerous work a wage less than what many housekeepers in Manila earn and cuts corners everywhere it can when it comes to safety. 

Check it out:
 Workers at a South Korean-run shipyard in the Philippines are fighting back against a deadly safety record.

Is Hanjin a good investor in Subic? What do you think?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Weed Rocks?

We would like to be more outraged at the graffiti in some of the housing areas of SBMA but it is difficult. There is an element of innocence to it. These definitely are not the Crips and Bloods battling for territory in South Central Los Angeles.  

Anyone who is smoking marijuana is not running around at night spray-painting bus stops. They are sitting on their couch watching reruns of Conan O’Brien and eating Dunkin’ Donuts. We’re not saying we disagree with their message. Weed may rock, but screwing up the bus stop doesn’t.

If you were a graffiti artist in Subic, what would you write?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

An Electrifying Experience in Subic

Subic’s struggling tourism industry has definitely been helped by Tree Top adventure. The series of zip lines and canopy walks are fun (for those who have the nerve to give it a try) and pretty affordable. Multiple activity packages range from 400 to 1120 pesos.

Zip lines seem to have taken over the Philippines. They are everywhere. Even in gritty, urban Manila, you can find people zipping high above the pavement. It’s good that Subic has joined the trend.

At Subic Tree Top, they offer more than zip lines. They also offer the a 60 foot drop from a tree. We recommend packing a fresh pair of underpants before enjoying this activity.

Tree Top appears to be careful about safety, which is critical in these types of activities. But there is one very disturbing apparent lapse. The superman zipline ride has a live, electric line running UNDER the ride. One snap of the line of the and riders will sizzle.

This video shows the electric wire running under the ride: 

 If you fall off the Subic Tree Top superman zip line, would you like to be prepared rare, medium or well done?

Monday, January 23, 2012

Let's Save Santa Monica

Santa Monica has been the only legitimate 'off-base' subdivision for over thirty years. Considered safe and modern, it was the American military's first choice for families when on-post housing was unavailable. The floods of 1997 knocked the bloom off the rose when the entire development suffered two meter deep mud-waters. Recently the developers pulled all gate security from the housing area leaving the residents vulnerable to the robberies and burglaries common in the surrounding areas.  Indeed a rash of break-ins has sent property values plummeting. "For rent" signs have popped up where there was once a waiting list to get in.

Has your house in Santa Monica been broken into?