Wednesday, December 26, 2007


I AM A MARGINAL home PC owner and user who, four or five years ago, abandoned the idea of buying or owning another desktop dictated by the high cost of procuring and installing a licensed proprietary operating system, without which my desktop would just be considered a piece of junk. Even if I could afford, at a lower cost, for this software to be installed in my PC from third party sources, I don't see any reason to maintain the high cost of re-installing over and over again this operating system as it is susceptible to system crashes and quite vulnerable to viruses, internet worms and malicious software. Although there are plenty of pirated copies of this software sold in the sidewalks I was never tempted to buy one.

Last year I read about “free and open source software” (FOSS) through the newspapers and I learned that it was the “big thing” in some countries of Europe, in North and South America and in Asia where it is used extensively. I begun to study on my own about FOSS by surfing the Internet and finally found the freedom to use my home PC again by installing the equally user-friendly Ubuntu Linux 6.06 operating system, in which a free live CD installer was shipped to me free of charge courtesy of Canonical Ltd. As for the office applications (word documents, spreadsheets, presentations, etc.), I downloaded and installed OpenOffice 2.1 in my home, where documents produced are lighter in size, and I installed and used it extensively and that of AbiWord 2.4 (another open source word document application) in my workplace in lieu of a pre-installed proprietary office application software, of whose documents eat up so much disk space. As for my browsers, I use either Mozilla Firefox and Opera and found it to be much more stable, faster and safer than using a common pre-installed browser.

However, FOSS is still unknown to most Filipinos, especially to Cebuanos, and those who do are afraid to make the change or uncertain about its benefits? One great advantage about FOSS is cost. My migration from an expensive licensed software to GNU/Linux costs me nothing, except for the fifteen pesos (Php15.00) I spent by seating myself inside an Internet cafe for an hour to access the site of and ten pesos (Php10.00) for a blank CD to access, download and copy OpenOffice, Mozilla Firefox and Opera.

I benefited myself so
much by using FOSS. How much more would the government do, and the business sector, as well, and save those much-needed foreign exchange that are made to be spent to import those proprietary softwares? INTEL, a giant chip maker, reported a savings of over US$200 million by switching their servers from proprietary software to that of GNU/Linux while AMAZON reported a savings of US$17 million and beyond for migrating to GNU/Linux. DELL, a PC maker now market their desktops with pre-installed Ubuntu Linux operating systems at a much lower price than what they sold one having a pre-installed licensed software.

The New York Stock Exchange benefited much by migrating from proprietary mainframe software to that of Hewlett-Packard's AIX and of GNU/Linux operating systems by estimating their savings of about 35% to 65% and that “cost, cost and cost” has been the bottomline for that change of heart. I heard that the Vatican uses FOSS now and in Kerala state in India, the use of FOSS in public schools and offices became mandatory due to the great savings incurred by switching sides. Many organizations and several studies have shown that using FOSS in lieu of proprietary software results in significant cost savings of anywhere from 15% to 35% not only due to lower licensing costs but lower personnel and hardware costs.

Another great advantage in using FOSS is its flexibility (and so
development-friendly!) as its source codes - their DNA – can be accessed by users/consumers/developers/programmers who may opt to study, modify or customize the software according to their tastes and requirements. Because of this, the Advanced Science and Technology Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (ASTI-DOST) has developed the Bayanihan Linux 4, a complete open source-based desktop solution for office and school use, and Bayanihan Linux Server 2006, an easy-to-use Linux server for government agencies, schools and SMEs. These Bayanihan Linux programs can do everything that a licensed (and expensive!) proprietary operating system can do, except drain one’s pockets. In the first place, Bayanihan Linux is free.

Another FOSS advantage is its interoperability. It can adapt to existing open standards and can work across different platforms and protocols.

And finally, FOSS is safe. The opening of the source codes and the use of open standards have allowed hundreds of thousands of users around the globe to serve as a virtual research and development team, providing patches and solutions to bugs and glitches in real time over the Internet.

A study produced by the International Open Source Network (IOSN) and United Nations Development Program-Asia Pacific Development Information Programme (UNDP-APDIP) have identified the following strategic benefits of FOSS: (1) Developing local
capacity/industry; (2) Reducing imports/conserving foreign exchange; (3) Enhancing national security; (4) Reducing copyright infringements; and (5) Enabling localization.

The study also identified economic benefits as: (1) Increasing competition; (2) Reducing total cost of ownership; (3) Enhancing security; and (4) Achieving vendor independence.

Add to this the social benefit of increasing access to information.

As we slowly catch up with the rest of the world about using FOSS, the Honorable Teodoro Casiño of Bayan Muna party list, sponsored House Bill 5769, entitled the “FOSS Act of 2006”, in the Lower House of Congress. This bill will promote the development and usage of FOSS in the Philippines, particularly in the preference in procurement of ICT services and goods for government offices and schools favoring that of local open source developers and vendors and establishing for the implementation of school curriculum for students and teachers training in the use and development of FOSS in all levels of education; amending R.A. 3019, otherwise known as the “Intellectual Property Code of the Philippines”; providing penalties thereof and for other purposes. This is the right step in the right direction.

A breathe of fresh air.

Lastly, this document is done in OpenOffice 2.1 Writer, Trebuchet MS font, size 12.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


THE CEBU MOUNTAINEERING SOCIETY or CeMS, of which I am a member, recently celebrated Christmas party at Sierra Tree Farm in Gaas, Balamban, Cebu last December 8-9, 2007. Me and my youngest son, Cherokee, were there; as well, as members of CeMS, active or not, who all came strong and in high spirits with their backpacks, exchanging gift presents, foodstuffs, tents and all. Cliff and Claribel Abrahan even brought their two boys and their mansion-sized tent!

Hosted by Ramon and Ann Vidal, owners of Third World Outdoors (TWO) all-weather sandals favored by mountaineers and outdoor enthusiasts, they were very accommodating, especially with the use of their humble mountain refuge along with their beautiful and well-manicured frontyard lawn. All told there were 17 tents set up on the saddle of two peaks which afforded a very nice view of the rolling valley below and a glimpse, now and then, of Canlaon Volcano in the distance.

An induction climb for the incoming CeMS members preceded this event, where it started from Barangay Tabunan, Cebu City and traversing Mount Manunggal early in the morning of December 8. Later that evening, the five neophyte CeMS climbers were welcomed by the veterans led by the indefatigable Daddy Frank Cabigon and Doc Abe Manlawe and the incumbent CeMS president -- Rosebelle Daculan during the induction ceremony.

Present were past president Lilibeth Initan, Nonoy Edillor, Sarina Avellanosa and her daughter, Dennis Legaspi, Boy Olmedo, Roy Ragaza, Joy Tongco, Paeng Jura, Jon Consunji, Jecris, Andrew, Julienne, Pen-pen and daughter, Glen Domingo and daughter Sam, Glenn Lao, Joan, Brian Gera, Grace Ventic, Aldrich Apaypon and, of course, Ben Lao, who just returned home after a very long stint at Dagupan City in Pangasinan.

Ben brought a videoke machine for this purpose along with a 14” TV set, an amplifier and two 4-foot tall MB Quatro speaker baffles. I carried one of those heavy baffles on my shoulder thinking it would be a light workout, but, it was a killer exercise of futility that I got and I almost fainted negotiating that short 300-meter distance! Took me almost an hour negotiating the trail from the trans-central highway to the Vidal’s resthouse. Whew...tough course!

Then the party dinner started during nightfall where a special lechon baboy and lechon manok, pasta, fresh lumpia, ngo-hiong, fresh vegetables and steamed saang shells were served while the desserts consisted of fruit and macaroni salads, sweet pastries and pies and benignit, masi and botsi. The meals would not have been complete without the usual spirits which were served right after that to help in digestion.

Master of ceremonies was, no other than, Ramon V himself, the acknowledged dean of Cebu mountaineering. He gave life to the small party with his puns and antics, especially, during the “improvised” exchanging gifts episode which was the highlight of the event, after all, it was a Christmas party, wasn’t it? A time of gift-giving.

Distilled spirits brought out the singer in us as we competed with each other to reach the perfect score on Ben’s videoke machine and, so far, only the geckos and the moths seemed to applause us after every song we belted out, but, never mind, it was fun all the way that all of us will never forget. Our voices echoed even in the wee hours of the night until our throats got sore.

The second day in Gaas were appreciated very much by all of us as we decided to have a little excursion to stretch our muscles to beat the early morning cold. Some of us went to the nearby cave that claimed the life of Dr. Adolph Espina II of Speleo-Cebu just a week ago. The disturbed grasses all around bore and told a great activity of people gathering that centered around the rescue and retrieval of the body of the late doctor inside this partly-unexplored cave by Ramon V and company.

Fully satisfied with our own investigation we went back to the cabin to feast on breakfast of hot coffee, bread, some leftover pasta and food and fresh fruits and then it was time to break camp by folding our tents. We left at noon after feasting on a steaming native chicken soup. We took the trail down to where we came up from yesterday and bid goodbye to Ramon and Ann for home.

Document done in RoughDraft 3.0, Trebuchet MS font, size 12.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


TODAY, DECEMBER 13, IS the feast day of Saint Lucy (Santa Lucia), who was martyred for the cause of her faith and who is the patron saint of our little neighborhood here in Cebu City, the Philippines. She also happens to be the patron saint of all those who suffer from blindness and those who are suffering from different eye ailments.

Now let me tell you a story about my late grandfather, Atty. Gervasio Lavilles. At the turn of the 20th century when little Basyo was still five years old he suffered from blindness borne out of complications from the contraction of measles. It so happened that his mother, Sebastiana, was a devout Roman Catholic and prayed her special intentions for the speedy recovery of Basyo to Jesus through the intercession of St. Lucy.

She was doing the novena prayers for that purpose and on the ninth day of her novena she heard her little Basyo inside their room gleefully calling her mother to come inside and to watch a beautiful bird fluttering about inside the room. Together with relatives they decided to investigate Basyo's object of interest.

True, indeed! There was a beautiful bird that was rare in their locality of Lambunao, Iloilo and was fluttering about in the room until it flew out of an open window. But, wonder of wonders, little Basyo could see again!

In honor of St. Lucy, our neighborhood decided to erect a chapel in 1978 and celebrate her feast every December 13th of every year.
Tonight we will be having guests and we have prepared some special food.

Tomorrow, December 14, will be the 12th birthday of my youngest son, Cherokee. We decided to celebrate his birthday in advance today to coincide with the neighborhood fiesta. As we were eating breakfast today at 6:45 AM, two full rainbows appeared in the southwestern sky. Seeing rainbows in their full arch are rare nowadays, especially, if they are a pair!

May God bless us all!

Document done in Writer 2.2, Trebuchet MS font, size 12.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


AFTER AN ABSENCE OF more than two years, a home utility appliance reappeared in my home. Recently, last November 9, 2007, I bought a refrigerator -- a metallic-silver Condura 2-door -- and accommodated its valuable 10 cubic feet of cooled space into a vacant part of my house which was reserved, well, for a new refrigerator.

It replaced an ageing Hitachi 6 cubic feet box which has ceased to properly function owing to time and to wear and tear. Since 1989, the latter served my family’s needs and have been sturdy enough to survive several floods that occured in my old house during the ‘90s and in the early part of this decade.

The happiest member in my household would be my wife. She will now be free of the hassles of walking to and fro from the house and to the marketplace everyday for several times of the day be it under a sunny sky or a forlorn rainy evening to buy something to eat or to cook our meals. A stretch of roughly 400 meters which she will now see less and less.

The boys are happy too. They will not be coerced anymore into buying plastic-tubed ice.

But I’m the least happy. It would be another burden to pay the additional increase in our power consumption caused by the addition of the ref in our household’s use.

However, I made sure that the ref I bought has the lowest power consumption among the throng displayed in an appliance store -- 114 watts. It also has the highest energy efficiency rating at 232! So I feel safe with my choice there. I should be happy.

Right, I am happy about the requisition. I bought a Philippine-made appliance which indirectly helped the Philippine economy. It’s the least I can do for my beloved country and I feel happy about it to have reserved this article for my blog.

If it would be possible for you, buy a Philippine product.

Be a good citizen.

Done in RoughDraft 3.0, Trebuchet MS font, size 12.

Saturday, December 1, 2007


The Way of the Shield

THEY BLINDFOLDED ME on that early Saturday morning of March.

They made me stand up, my body bent forward while my hands held in support of my crotch, or should I say my “balls”. I was almost at the halfway point of this rite of passage. Of laying claim to be a part of a brotherhood of men.

Omega Pelta Kappa. Omega Pelta Kappa. Omega...,” I trembled as I recited those three Greek-sounding words over and over again like a mantra expecting a sudden whack from a wooden paddle from behind me. I received, I mentally counted, twenty-four paddle strikes at the back of my now tender thighs. The last one had been unpleasant for it had been done in a deliberate and chopping manner instead of the flat piece of the paddle hitting you. And the two before that on my poor rump...

WHACK!” Came the twenty-fifth!

Arrgh!” I jumped up and down as an agonizing pain swept up through my body from my swollen thighs, sweat poring down on my forehead. I began to doubt my brazen determination and my patience wore thin. Now how did it came to be that I was made to be a part of this extra-curricular foolishness? This weird and cruel test? This demeaning and humiliating initiation?


I remembered then about two months ago when I visited my girlfriend at her home and I noticed that she was not feeling well. Concerned with her condition, I offered to buy medications for her or, if need be, to accompany her to a doctor for a look-see. But she was adamant that there was nothing wrong with her.

Then at some point of our verbal see-saw she admitted that she just came from a sorority initiation. I saw bruises on her shoulders and arms and the marks of the paddle on the back of her legs. I was shocked! How could she do that? I was so stunned! It was she, of all people, who forbid me not to join a fraternity or else...

Wow! I got so envious of her. Believe me, she hurt my pride so bad back then that I felt myself to be just a miserable wimp incapable of protecting the woman of my affection. How could they do that to my girl? I will have my revenge (sic)!

The Crucible and the Acceptance

To be or not to be.” My thoughts debated if I should quit or not. To quit now meant I won't be able to savor that sweet smell of my own self-styled revenge and the pain won't go away if I suddenly halt abrupt this painful interlude. Besides, I will lose face. No, I have to go on. I have to go on and offer my behind to the divine dictum of the paddle wielder and face the consequences. I can stand the scoldings of my parents later, if they will know. Maybe I can stand the threat of a break up my girlfriend promised if I ever join a fraternity organization, if she will know. I have already burned my bridges behind. I cannot turn back now. Come hell or high water I have to continue this!

WHACK!” The fifty-seventh came as I have expected. The last ten paddles or so were now painless maybe because I know that the initiation is nearing its end or maybe because my legs were already so thick with the constant flogging and so severely numbed that the feeling of pain is now absent. Somebody removed my blindfold. Then I got my dues. Someone I knew shook my hand and called me “Brod” and so did the others. Then they sung the Peltan's Song. Everybody welcomed me as one new addition to their numbers. I cried that I passed my test of manhood. Elated, I forgot the pain. It was already dusk.

The Aftermath

I got home that night and nursed my swollen thighs. Reality came. It was hell removing the pair of jeans from my legs for my bloated skin adhered itself to the very grain of the thick fabric itself. I thought it looked like longaniza or a bloated sausage!

Monday morning came and it was the final examination day in my school. Still reeling from the bruises, the pains, the cramps, the aches and the who knows what from yesterday, I have to rise up from the comforts of my bed and it was pure torture when I stood up. My mind swam in dizziness and my eyes blinked as the pain swamped and shocked my very existence as I held on to my room's wall for balance. Then another torture came as I maneuvered my lumpy legs to fit inside a clean pair of jeans.

I walked slowly, slightly limping, and pain shot through me as I sat inside a PUJ. I let out an expletive under my breath as I tried to ease my legs from touching the seat. Reaching school, I went upstairs to take my exams at a room in the fourth floor! Hey, it was like carrying a cross to Calvary only my cross was my stubbornness. My willingness to accommodate pain in order to be a Peltan provided me those times of disquietude bereft of comfort. What a jerk I am.

Never again,” I said to myself.

Sure, you won't. Instead, you'll gonna be the one doing that thing to another, when you are fit.” My other conscience told me so.

it was all worth it.


I did some months later and it was already more than twenty-six years ago today. My parents never found out about my joining a fraternity. My girlfriend did found out about it and we broke up two months later. I am still a Peltan. In name only. I have been inactive for quite sometime.

But the Omega Pelta Kappa Fraternity and Sorority is still here and we just celebrated the 42nd Founding Anniversary last September 8, 2007 at D' Family Park in Nasipit, Talamban, Cebu City.

Peltans forever...!!!

This document is written in OpenOffice 2.1 Writer, Trebuchet MS, size 12.