Pre-pandemic, the country's state of education was already beset with a multitude of issues and concerns such as overcrowded classrooms, unattractive compensation packages for educators and poor public education infrastructure quality. As a further indication of the state of our education, the Philippines ranked lowest out of 79 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Program for International Student Assessment in 2018.

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only claimed the lives of so many Filipinos but also taken away work and earning opportunities for many willing and able workers due to forced closures brought about by periodic lockdowns. In August 2021, the unemployment rate rose to 8.1% or equivalent to about 3.9 million jobless Filipinos as the country went back to implementing harsh lockdowns due to the rapid transmission of the Delta variant.

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdowns across many parts of the Philippines exacerbated poverty levels in the country as poverty incidence in 2020 rose to 20% of the population or equivalent to about 22 million poor Filipinos (from pre-pandemic figures of about 17.7 million in 2018). The loss of jobs by over 8.7 million Filipinos in April 2020 is also considered a major contributing factor to the sharp increase in poverty incidence. Based on studies by the Philippine Disaster and Resilience Foundation, about 70% of businesses were forced to closed due to the implemented restrictions.

MUCH has been done at the feet of political campaigns. In order to win, branding and positioning are tools of the craft that have often used to capture the imagination of the voters. The 2016 elections taught us why authenticity was important because with it, candidates became close to the voters by being themselves; less luster and brilliance but appearing or sounding like voters gave candidates the chance to open the door and leave it ajar as the campaign progressed. Problems have croppped up when candidates positioned themselves according to some preconceived packaging so that the brand could shine or be made better. But fitting it to the candidate is the challenge. That is why some would rather be presented as is with less retouching and just plain persona. That is one of the strategies of PRRD that will have an influence in May 2022: who is authentic?

In their October 16 press release, The Social Security System (SSS) has approved over P1.923 billion loans under its enhanced Pension Loan Program (PLP) from January to August 2021, benefitting 43,424 retirement pensioners. Read the full press release here:

THERE is a difference between being good and being the best, and the Nobel Prize has been arguably the most prestigious award in the world. Meant to be for "those who, during the preceding year, have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind," according to Alfred Nobel's will, it has been tarnishing its reputation in the Peace Prize category to the extent that it is increasingly looked down on by much of the world.

In their October 4 press release, the De La Salle University’s non-stock, non-profit institute unveiled their newest president to the public. Read the full press release here:

It's still the economy, stupid!

 

The next administration faces a serious challenge on how to revive an ailing economy severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A PRESIDENTIAL candidate once said that positions should not be inherited (hindi pinamamana). This mayor thought it would be a clear contrast and an early dig at a sitting president. If you look at the Philippines and other countries, there are dynastic influences whether at the national or local levels. Dynasties also fall because the nature of elections is one person, one vote. There are good and bad dynasties too. And that is what separates Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio from the rest of the kids of politicians: she does not want to be with her father in an election contest. It's either her or the father. It's her team or none. It's her way of running things or she walks away. Clearly, Duterte-Carpio does not want to be defined by anyone. Duterte-Carpio is her own person, and that is why today, she is not a presidential candidate.

AND with that, boxing legend and Sen. Emmanuel "Manny" Pacquiao, the champ mentioned in same breath as Muhammad Ali, apologized to his worldwide fans for not winning the Pacquiao-Ugás fight. He said thanks several times in all his post-fight interviews. What Manny has done in boxing is truly a mark of a sportsman. Pacquiao, likewise, thanked Ugás and his team. His record stands at 72 fights, 62 wins and 8 losses.

WHAT does it take to be president of this country? Why would a Mindanaoan, the first from the island, be seen in a very different light? Is it because we have often been used to looking at our country through the lens of Luzon? We are reminded of Gramsci's center-periphery model, a "spatial metaphor, which describes and attempts to explain the structural relationship between the advanced or metropolitan 'center' and less developed 'periphery'" either within a particular country or as applied in economic development." Then, there is also the "hegemonic culture" that propagates its own values and norms so that they become the "common sense" values of all and thus maintain the status quo.

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is doing battle on several fronts for the May 2022 elections: ensuring there is honest, orderly and peaceful elections by warning that he would use the military, getting ahead of the Commission on Elections, which technically has control over the military and police during the campaign period and on election day; signing his certificate of nomination and acceptance, and making the affair public for everyone to see that he is serious about running for vice president; and releasing the names of the administration's Senate slate.