Thursday, August 17, 2006

An Open Letter to the Management of Smart Communications, Inc. on SMART BRO

Dear Sir/Madam:

We are some of the subscribers of your SMART BRO Wireless Broadband Internet Service.

We all experience similar and recurring problems with your SMART BRO. Everyday, we experience intermittent signals and we cannot get continued internet service. Although there were some days that the service is disrupted only about 20% of the time, the disruption is often more than 50% of the time. There are days even that we cannot receive any service at all.

Many of us are planning to discontinue our subscription but we are still hoping that you will improve your service. We are sure you know that we cling to this hope mainly because we are subject to a hefty pre-termination fee once we discontinue our subscription!

Meanwhile, when we contact your customer service numbers to complain, we were answered by your customer service staffs who seem not aware of the problems that we encounter. Please understand when we feel disrespected by your staffs who try to sound as if our bad experience is unique and isolated when we are sure it isn't so.

You may please note that our experience is the exact opposite of your ongoing advertisements which promises among others “Anytime, Always on, unlimited Internet Access”. Our experience is better described as “Sometimes on, Sometimes off, Intermittent Internet Access”. Your wireless broadband service is "Disgusting" rather than "Amazing". Therefore, it is not only our satisfaction that is at stake here but your corporate integrity as well.

We therefore hope you will find a way to inform us of what you are doing to correct the situation and how soon improvements will be realized. In the meantime, if you still have not done so, we suggest you reimburse our payments for days when your internet service is disrupted. Also, kindly wave your pre-termination fee for those subscriber who opt to discontinue their subscription.

Finally, we also suggest that you taper down your advertisements to avoid further insulting the unsatisfied subscribers that we are.


SMART BRO Subscribers

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Can we do anything about flash floods?

So far, the problems discussed here in this blogsite entails solutions that are to be acted upon by the government (and not by individual Pinoys). Big solutions are needed to solve big problems, not just small solutions that everyone can do.

How can we, for example, stop Buses or Jeepneys from loading/unloading anywhere they like? Only the MMDA, or the LTFRB, or the Police, or the Mayor have the solutions for this. How can we stop corruption when you wouldn't know who is not involved in it? The only participation ordinary Pinoys can make is not to vote for the people directly responsible or the people who appoint people who are directly responsible to solve the problems. But do we actually have a choice?

Now that rainy days are here with us and still ahead, we see floods happening again and again. There are places that have floods even when there is no rain. What are the solutions to stop flood water rising? Hmmm, how about proper garbage disposal and management.

Here is one where every individual can help. Do not throw trash not just anywhere! I guess that is all we can do. Yes, sad to say, that's it. The question is if we are not to throw not just anywhere, where can we throw our garbage if the same are not properly collected?

I think government should agree with themselves and come up with one good big policy on how to manage our garbage. Should we do more of recycling and how? Shall we separate which garbage from what and how can classifying garbage be encouraged or forced. City/Town governments should have good garbage collection policies. They should provide big trash bins around and everywhere and which all should be properly and regularly collected. They should regularly clean the esteros and other waterways. Anti-littering rules should strictly be implemented.

It is as if I said there is nothing we can do about it.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Garbage-Free EDSA

I have been travelling by EDSA, from Magallanes to Balintawak and it is only now that I realize that EDSA is trash-free (at least those that I regularly see). Earlier, I also noticed that there are no grafittis written on the walls and MRT posts in EDSA. Plants are also growing on the center island while new signposts are being erected too.

Meanwhile, although the pink fences are sore to the eyes and the U-turn slots are sometimes confusing or even dangerous, it seems that they are doing what they are supposed to do, lessen the traffic at EDSA. Even the men's sidewalk urinals are also working well - there are no more guys seen peeing on walls!

I really cannot help now but notice, that all in all, EDSA is most improved. There are improvement also in the other roads supervised by the MMDA, but improvements in EDSA are most noticeable, coming from how it was before!

Congratulations to MMDA chairman Bayani Fernando and his team. Please, keep up the good work.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Jeepneys do it too!

Last time, I talked about how buses load and unload their passengers across EDSA. I rode the bus and heard the term they use... "nakabalagbag".

Jeepneys do it too... But since they ply single lane roads rather than routes with more lanes such as EDSA, and they are not as long as the buses, "balagbag" doesnt really apply to them. They are more of like a head coach of the train. When they stop to load/unload, everyone stops. When they wait for passengers, everyone behind them does that too. They do it mostly near or on the intersection, where there are more passengers, and where traffic is heaviest. Most jeepney drivers wont bother even if you honk from behind. "Trabaho lang po" is what they have in mind.

Again, we cannot blame them. The system is made for that to happen. We can only change the situation by changing the system.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Solving Heavy Traffic (one thought at a time)

How do you solve a problem like heavy traffic? When everyone wants to go home and fast, there'll be traffic everywhere. I guess the solution is not to want to go somewhere at the same time. But that is running against the tide... on a waterfall..., something that is impossible to do.

In order to pose a solution to any problem, we might as well think of how the problem happens in the first place. Why is there traffic? That is the question we should answer... and here are some of those reasons:

1. Buses that are "nakabalandra"

You see this in EDSA everyday. The MMDA calls this "nagbubuntis". I prefer to call it "bumabalandra". When buses go out of their lane, and returns to it by crossing 3 to 4 lanes of EDSA and stop to load/unload, that is when that bus is "nakabalandra" or simply "nakaharang".

For the bus drivers, there are two reasons they do this: (a) They want to get ahead of the other buses (that is why they go to the outer lanes) yet (b) they do not want those same other buses to overtake them (that is why they are "bumabalandra").

Now imagine every bus driver trying to do the same thing and you will now have the traffic that EDSA is famous (infamous) for.

But hey, we cannot blame the bus drivers. Their employment contract is designed for them to do that. They are purely compensated on commission basis, therefore they have to get as many passengers as they can on their single run. Kapag hindi sila bumalandra, liliit ang kikitain nila, and it is as simple as that. Now tell me, who would volunteer to have smaller pay?

Meanwhile, the bus companies doesn't want to pay their drivers on a regular basis because they are not sure of their own profitability when they do that. These are the usual small thinking business style that Filipino businesses are mostly doing - spreading the risks as small as possible, and thinking profit in the shortest of term.

Is the problem purely economics then?

I agree, MMDA should implement the rules on EDSA, and they should set rules against "pagbalandra" (I am sure there is already some rules against that). MMDA (or the others mandated to do so) should apprehend drivers as they break the rules.

But the LTFRB (if I have it right) should also set some kind of rules for bus owners whereas the latter have to change the way drivers and conductors are compensated. A commission basis compensation may pose less risk to a start-up bus company, and beneficial to a driver who get more pay in the short term, but it is not to the benefit of the riding public. Meanwhile, this compensation style is not even good for the bus companies themselves in the long term, because they end up paying more to their employees, while they have less passengers because of the traffic. Even for the drivers and conductors, this is not beneficial in the long run, because they will never be assured of long term employment and they would never have the benefits that goes with regular employment.

And of course, traffic because of "pagbabalandra" is never beneficial to anybody, not to the riding public, not to the bus drivers, not to the bus companies, not to anyone.

Friday, March 31, 2006


How can I miss this one? Corruption is our biggest problem yet I did not mention it in my 10 biggest problems! I am not trying to justify my forgetfulness but perhaps I forgot it because corruption is so rampant that I cannot recognize it anymore when I see it?

And where do we usually see corruption?

I know that public utility vehicle drivers regularly give traffic enforcers something (money) to get them off the hook everytime they are caught with violations. In fact many times I saw drivers apprehended yet never have I seen any driver who got a ticket. Surely, they gave the traffic officer some Pesos 20 to 50, which the drivers themselves boasted to have done, as they ride back their vehicles. There are even drivers who have some kind of a letter or a calling card to show a traffic officer, who will then not issue them tickets. I saw one calling card of a supposed high ranking officer that said "sa akin to pare" (this is mine) scribbled at the back.

It is so common when anybody need some documents from a goverment agency, to suffer long hours waiting in line. Everyone knows how long it takes to get your license renewed, or to get some police or NBI clearance, or get a passport. I always wonder why inside the offices of the many government agencies, there are people there that are obviously non employees. Many look like fixers (these are so obvious before when renewing driver's licenses, but I remember things started to change at the time of Oscar Orbos as secretary of the DOTC). Some even look like the ones that just arrived or that was in line behind me earlier! Surely there is corruption taking place here.

Still, there are a lot of places where corruption is taking place. We can name them all here, if readers of this blog would help me. We have to know how, when and where corruption happens even before we attempt to propose a solution to stop them.

But stop them soon we should.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

The Ten biggest problems facing the Philippines today

In order to find any solution, one must know the problem. So let us make a list of the biggest problems facing our country today. Here is my list of 10 and everyone is invited to tell me which problems I missed or which problems should have been not included:

1. Heavy Traffic
2. Trash
3. Flooding everytime there is rain
4. High crime rates
5. Drugs
6. Poor Educational System
7. Poverty as seen in the squatter areas
8. Too much politics
9. Pollution
10. Poor healthcare

So there it goes. One by one, let us find solutions to solve them, won't we?

Friday, March 24, 2006

The Pinoy Solutions

I am in the Philippines almost everyday of my life. I was born here. I live here. I studied here. I am working here. And I am raising a family here (or at least trying to).

And everyday I see problems besetting Filipinos here from all walks of life. Problems such as traffic, floods, poverty, poor healthcare, etc. are everyday occurences and should be addressed. Someone said that no one would help the Philippines but the Filipinos themselves. Well, I am a Filipino and I guess it is my responsibility to help any which way I can.

However, as an ordinary citizen, there is nothing in my arsenal that can help me solve problems of the country. In fact, the problems are so beyond me. I cannot even define the problems clearly in my mind so how can I even find a solution to solve them? Perhaps this blog could enlighten me and enlighten some poor other Filipino souls who would somehow venture here.

Let us define our problems and find solutions to them... solutions that may be carried out by ordinary folks like you and me. We may not find a solution, yet, but who knows. Maybe someone somewhere might get an idea or two that would eventually lead us all to a better future.