Saturday, December 26, 2015

How a Bad Design Ruined Miss Universe 2015

A few days after the universal drama that is Miss Universe 2015 coronation night unfolded,  it is still the hottest topic around. The internet is littered with it, it is the buzz around office and still the subject on most lunch and dinners. Ironically, In the middle of it was a prominently mustached man sporting a bald head, Steve Harvey.

I had to admit, I didn't know who the guy was, until a friend told me what he does for a living. When I saw Mr. Harvey for the first time, my thought was, "Richard Pryor (RIP) is hosting the show. Lol.

I immediately noticed that he look nervous,  unnatural and seems a little bit distracted, so I figured that maybe being around 80 plus pretty ladies and hosting a live show with millions of audience around the globe has something to do with that. In any case, to me he doesn't look like he's doing a good job.

In my opinion there are 2 major factors that contributed to all this brouhaha.
  1. Lack of preparation from the emcee. My observation was confirmed when it was reported that Mr. Harvey didn't practice the announcement of the winners.
  2. And a Failed design. Failed what? Did I just incorporate my work skills in this? Yes, I just did. Let me explain.

More than a decade ago, when I was just starting my career in what they call now as "IT", I attended a company paid traning for Systems Analysis and Design. There are a few things that stuck with me from that week-long  training, and one of those is the proper way of designing trade documents or any documents for that matter.

Back in the days, Erap jokes were very popular and the trainer made a hilarious joke about him. Here it is: When Erap is filling up his COC form,  (certificate of candidacy) with FVR and Miriam, he looked at it, he saw the field "Surname", so he wrote down his name, then wrote down his first name across the field "Firstname" and so on and so fort. Pretty soon he came across a field for "Sex", he hesitated. He casually glanced at FVR's form and saw  that FVR wrote "M" in it. Curiously he took a peek at Miriam's COC and saw that she scribbled "F". At that moment, he let out a naughty  smirk and wrote down "M-W-F".

A great example of failed document design, not to mention funny. A better design would be to put 2 check-boxes along with the letters "M" and "F" beside each other of course.

Now why is this relevant to the bungled announcement of the Miss Universe 2015? Well like I said before, one of the factors that made all of this to happen is the poor design. In this case, the result card.

Look at the way the result card was presented. On the left side, starting from the top, the 2nd runner-up and the 1st runner-up results one on top of the other. It barely occupies the card vertically, there is more than half of empty space after that. On the right side, there is a text that says, "Miss Universe 2015" with big fonts, more that 2 times the font size of the the "runner-ups" fonts. An then, below it is the winner with tiny fonts. The most questionable in design is why the heck it is placed at the lower right side of the card? It broke the continuity of information in the card. Normally people would read from top to bottom, from left to right.

When Mr. Harvey announced the winner he was holding the card by his right hand. Anybody holding a card on his right hand would tend to grab it on the lower right side, exactly where the words "Philippines" was pasted on.

The recipe for disaster is now complete. Lack of preparation on the part of the emcee, a badly designed result card plus the fact that he seem a bit uneasy.

Now, when he read the result, he can clearly see the "2nd Runner up" and the "1st Runner up" and after that an empty space, he probably gazed on the upper right side of the card and still empty. At this point the big font "Miss Universe 2015" looks like an elaborated footnote only, the title of the event.

So, after he announced the 2nd runner up, all he could see now is the 1st runner up and nothing else. At that moment his eyes made him believe that that is gonna be the last announcement he would make that night and his mind was probably processing 3 things, the word "1st" then nothing else, last announcement, winner.  And so just like what they always say, the rest is history.

If only the result card had a better design, it could have neutralized Mr. Harvey's lack of practice. If only the winner was placed immediately after the 1st runner up or even just  above the right side of the card, the day could have been saved.

Our Confidently Beautiful Queen with a Heart would have taken her traditional victory walk and it would have spared us all from seeing the ugly side of some bitter contestants.

If I were Miss Montenegro or Miss Germany or Miss Colombia, I would sue the designer of the result card.


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Hearing Mass 101

"Who was the first man who received the holy communion and then left the gathering?", our parish priest blurted out right before the choir sang the song they prepared for Offering that Sunday evening.


Everybody was caught by surprise. I was. For a second or two I thought he is pin pointing somebody in the crowd and I was kind of expecting someone to raise his shaky hand. After a momentary confusion it became apparent that he is trying to make point.


That question swirled my mind the for the next 20 minutes or so.


Before the communion rites he said, "The first man who received the holy communion and left the gathering was JUDAS."


As a background, our priest has always been very vocal on how he hates a plethora of people would leave the church right after receiving the holy communion. That is of course is wrong, very very wrong.


I studied in a catholic school ran by the sisters of saint Paul along R. Hidalgo street in Quiapo right in the heart of Manila. We have a nun for our Religion class or Social Ethics as we call it back then. For some reason, I love the subject it is one of my favourites. On why, that is an entirely different story which I hope I could write about someday.


Anyway, from that class I have learnt how to properly hear a mass and I have shared it with my kids a few times. It's a shame that most Catholics doesn't know about it probably because nobody ever told them how. So now, I'm gonna enumerate and share what I have learned.


Here goes. You didn't hear mass if you:


  1. Failed to arrive before the first words of the Holy Gospel has been pronounced.
  2. Didn't participate in the singing.
  3. Didn't participate in the prayers, obviously.
  4. Didn't offer anything except if you are really really tight on budget.
  5. Failed to receive the FINAL BLESSING.


The last one is what our priest is trying to convey. Your whole 1 hour or so of going to church, participating in the responsorial psalm, singing even though you sounded like a cat and your tail has just been stepped on, prayed so hard that sweat comes out of your forehead in an air-conditioned church and even pulled out a fat fifty dollar bill for your offering. All that will go to waste if you failed to hear the Final Blessing.


The mass isn't over when you receive the holy host dear brothers and sisters. You have to be there when the final blessing is given out.


And by the way, Masses are not like TV Shows or Movies, if you arrive late and failed to hear the Holy Gospel, you need to hear the entirety of the next scheduled mass.


I hope this could reach out to a number of Catholics out there. So that the next time you hear a similar question like what our priest asked us, you won't feel like a silver-hungry-traitor like the infamous Mr. Iscariot.


Be blessed everyone! :o)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Pinoy ka ba?

By: Erwin L. Sison

Taglish ang gagamitin kong medium of writing dahil di ko gusto maintindihan ng ibang lahi ang mga sasabihin ko.

Having spent more than eight years sa labas ng Pinas, naging saksi ako on how our culture is applied sa social integration ng ibang bansa. Singapore is a multi-cultural country, madaming lahi ang nakatira dito actually too many considering kung gaano kaliit ito.

Isa sa mga lahing nandito ay ang mga Pilipino. We have our fair share of the population here. May mga maids, healthcare workers, engineers, IT professionals at iba pang engaged sa iba't ibang line of work. Our presence is definitely undeniable. 

Anyway, I am writing this just to make a point on how we were brought up and kung papano ito nakaka-apekto sa pakikisalamuha natin sa ibang nationality.

Disclaimer agad: This is my personal opinion, it might rub you the wrong way pero it might also inspire you.

Majority of pinoys are Catholic, that is a fact. So from childhood we were taught to be humble and give the other cheek. Tahimik lang tayo. We believe na our work or our attitude will speak for us. Naniniwala tayo na action speaks louder than words.

Pasensyoso tayo, as much as possible ayaw natin ng confrontation. We'd rather suffer quietly than make a big fuss out of something na we think we can still bear. Most of the time sinasabi natin "Dyos na bahala" o "ipagpapa sa Dyos ko na lang yan". We prefer to be in the background kaysa maging parang KSP.

Negative ang pagiging ambisyoso, we despise them. Kapag na labelan ka na ambisyoso o ambisyosa parang may social stigma ka na.

I'm telling you right now, all of the above are CRAP! Stop reading if I came down too hard and please start hating me now. If you wanna know my reason please proceed.

I'm not saying na ayaw ko ang way ng pagpapalaki sakin ng magulang ko, they are the best gift anyone could ever have and I love them and will continue to do so until I take my last breath.

I'm not saying na hate ko ang pagiging pinoy ko because I am truly proud of my roots, my race at mahal ko ang bansa ko. In fact my love for my country ang isa sa mga dahilan bakit ko sinusulat ito.

Having said that, gusto ko i-highlight na may mali sa ating kultura.

Hindi tama para sa akin na mag-suffer quietly dahil lang ayaw nating ng confrontation. Hindi tama na magsawalang kibo kahit nahihirapan dahil lang ayaw natin maka istorbo ng ibang tao. Hindi tama na manahimik lalo na kapag inaapakan ka na.

Tama ang maging ambisyoso o ambisyosa tama ang magkaron ng pangarap o ambition tama na may aim ka sa buhay. At higit sa lahat ayaw na ayaw ko na palagi na lang ipinagpapa sa dyos ang lahat! I hate that so much!

Binigyan ka ng kamay at paa, kumilos ka! Binigyan ka ng bibig magsalita ka! Express your feelings, do what you need to do but never deprive yourself of something that you think you deserve. Lumaban ka! Huwag kang kikimi-kimi.

Dito sa Singapore madaming lahi,  napapansin ko most of the time nagta-take advantage sila sa pagiging pinoy natin kasi alam nila na bihira sa atin ang nagsasalita o lumalaban o nag-iinitiate ng confrontation. Hindi ko gusto yun and hindi ako ganun.

My fellow pinoys na kilala ako ay alam nila na I won't take crap from anybody specially sa ibang lahi. I am not afraid to stir things up to defend myself, my belief and my pride. They know na I won't shun away from confrontation and won't hesitate na i-declare ang unhappiness ko kapag feel ko I am being treated unfairly.

In short, I am not a push-over. At ito ang tinuturo ko sa mga anak ko, I just hope na ma-adopt nila ito.

Bakit ba naging masyado tayong pasensyoso? Bakit ba ang pinoy tahimik lang most of the time? Duwag ba tayo? Papano ba tayo naging ganito as a country, as a race?

To answer this we need to take a look at our history.

For approximately 300 years nasa ilalim tayo ng spanish occupation sila ang nag-gogovern ng bansa at ng buhay natin. 300 years, isipin mo, ang tagal nun. Papano nila nagawa yun? Nagyari yun dahil bukod sa espada, gumamit din sila ng religion, Catholicism.

Naging way ito para mahawakan tayo for as long as they want. Itinuro nila sa atin na masama ang maging ambisyoso, ipagpa-sa dyos ang lahat at huwag masyado mataas ang pangarap. Mahirap syempre i-supress ang isang bansa na marunong mag ambisyon o maging palaban.

So nagkarooon ng  negative conotation ang pagiging aggresive at pagiging assertive.

After ng Spaniards the Americans came and they did almost the same thing. In fact they played a major part in choosing our martyr national hero who doesn't even want to go to war in the first place instead of an aggressive, change-seeking, freedom fighter.

Even folklores such as "Biag ni Lam-Ang" were banned during those times so not to inspire Filipinos to seek for freedom. Bilang oppressor ayaw mo ito, and that is what they did.

To sum things up, dahil sa history natin na palagi na lang tayong may tormentor we were taught and trained to be happy with what we have and as much as possible huwag mangarap.

Times have changed at hindi na natin dapat ine-embrace ang ganung thinking, if we want to progress as a nation as a race we have to be assertive and most of all act towards the direction of what we want to achieve.

Hindi na pwede yung bow na lang ng bow. Matagal na umalis mga hapon sa bansa natin. This is the time to assert ourselves kaya tayo binu-bully ng China e.

50 or 60 years ago mas maunlad tayo sa mga katabi nating bansa. Today, maunlad na sila tayo parang lalo pang umatras. Yes, one of the reason is our corrupt government pero look at the mirror, malaking factor dito ang ating acquired (and taught) inferiority complex.

Parents should start changing the way na palakihin ang mga anak natin, dapat tutuan silang maging competitive and to reach for their dreams with all they got. No boundaries, no limits.

Hindi na applicable na antayin mo ang grasya na lapitan ka, have we not learned anything from Juan Tamad? We need to go for it, paminsan-minsan kailangan mo iangat ang sarili mong bangko. Who knows, 3 centuries hence we'll be one of the super powers of the world. Hindi impossible considering our natural born talent to excel.

Change is in order. Change is what we need. The time is now. Let us start with the man in the mirror.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

How Dare You Anderson Cooper

How Dare You Anderson Cooper!

by: Erwin L. Sison

Recently a certain Anderson Cooper who made some remarks through CNN regarding the way the Philippine Government is handling the situation in Tacloban City.

He was quoted as saying, “It's a miserable, miserable situation here. It is not getting better day-by-day. We're now entering the fifth day since the storm hit here in Tacloban ... You would expect maybe a feeding center that has been set up five days after the storm. We haven't seen that, certainly not in this area."

As to who's in charge of the Philippine side of the whole operation, that is not really clear. I'm just surprised that on this day 5, maybe I've gotten here late, that things would be well in hand. It does not seem like that,” Cooper continued.

He even compared the situation to Japan during the tsunami in 2011, “When I was in Japan, right after the tsunami there two years ago, within a day or two, you had Japanese defense forces going out, carving up cities into grids and going out on foot looking for people, walking through the wreckage. We have not seen that here in any kind of large-scale operation,” Cooper said.

My take? I am offended as a Filipino.

How dare you Anderson Cooper to belittle the Filipino resolve. It might be true that there is no BIG military presence on the same spot that you are standing on but you should be sensible enough to know that the disaster covers a very very large area spanning from Eastern Samar, Tacloban, Masbate, Cebu, Palawan, Davao all the way to Negros Occidental. That is almost half of the country and these places are separate islands across the archipelago.

How dare you Anderson Cooper to speak as if you are an expert in handling natural disasters telling the whole world what Filipino Government should have done in this situation. YOU’RE NOT AN EXPERT Mr. Cooper you’re just a spectator making a living out of these disasters! I watch basketball almost everyday does it make me an EXPERT? Does it mean I can be the head coach on the Miami Heat? Your remarks are downright absurd and irresponsible.

How dare you Anderson Cooper comparing us with the way the Japanese handled the situation in Japan during the 2011 tsunami. That is totally a different condition, geographically speaking, in Japan the areas heavily affected were the shorelines and rescuers can still move from the northeast side of the country towards southwest, unlike in our situation where the whole island is affected. In times like these mobility is one of the key factors and we simply don’t have that in this particular state (I am not an expert). You should know that right?

How dare you Anderson Cooper forgetting to compare our condition to your home country when Hurricane Katrina struck America and there was widespread violence, looting, rape, hunger and killings because the US Government DID NOT RESPOND properly and on time. You were there, have you forgotten about that? Isn’t that the closest comparison to our situation instead of the tsunami?

And finally, how dare you Anderson Cooper being a veteran journalist barking out all these nonsense on international TV disregarding the effect of your irresponsible reporting (barks) to the entire Philippine nation who is reeling from the effects of the strongest typhoon ever recorded in the history of mankind. It was like rubbing salt to a wound.

Note: Anderson Cooper is an American journalist labeled as “emo-anchor”. In my opinion the label is very close to “an Actor”. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

In Pursuit of (Momentary) Happiness

It is safe to say that everybody wants to be happy.

Will everybody be happy? I'd boldly say YES. Intrigued? Go on.

To start with, happiness is one of the biggest misconceptions in life. Most of us think that it is the ultimate goal,  something that eludes us until we finally hit the jackpot. People spend a lifetime pursuing it, trying to force it and at the end of the day when they feel their time is almost up, they'll ask themselves, "Am I happy?".  If I were to ask that question to myself knowing that my end is just around the corner then my answer would be a crispy "Hell no!", that would probably qualify as one of the most upsetting moment of my life. But if I were to ask myself, "Was I happy?" then my answer could have been different.

My point is, Happiness is not the jackpot that we long for nor the ultimate goal that we seek. Well it is a goal in a manner of speaking but it isn't as grand as we perceive it to be.

Happiness is a state of a moment, an instance or an event of being happy. More often, it is just a temporary feeling. But although it diminishes real fast, it is quickly replaced by our unending drive to be happy again

Humans are programmed to chase happiness. It is what we always aim for. The best thing about it is, we are capable of achieving it at least once a day and that my friends is what keeps us moving forward, what keeps us in our pursuit of a momentary happiness.

Life they say is a cycle, a series of ups and downs. I strongly agree. One moment we are happy the next moment we are gearing up to seize it back again. 

So kick that ball, score that goal and once you did score, savour the moment, celebrate, be happy then run back out again and plan for your next attack. 


Friday, August 17, 2012

Mano Po

A Filipino Family Value
"Let me tell you this, I don't care if it is part of your culture but it is not proper to grab my hand and place it onto your forehead." The priest warned before he gave his final blessing.

I was standing there shocked.

"Asking for my blessing after you have received the ultimate blessing from God is an insult to God himself." He continued.

I am still frozen, unable to process what I just heard. Obviously referring to us Filipinos inside the church.

I glanced at my children and saw the confusion on their faces, I shook my head, a sign of disapproval from what we just heard. In my mind, I was like; I need to correct this nonsense.

Why would the priest say that? What is his basis? Did he just attack our Filipino Family Values? There were so many questions running through my mind.

There must be a logical explanation to his behavior. A behavior which to be honest, took away a huge chunk of respect I had for him.

Slowly, I tried to dissect what just happened and make a sense out of it. Here is what common sense dictated. 

The priest, being a non-Filipino doesn't have a clue on what he is saying. In our church, after the mass, these priests would stand next to the exit and shakes hand with their parishioners as they go out.

For Filipinos, we don’t shake hands with priests; we bestow the highest respect to them by raising their hand to touch our forehead. We give them "Mano" and this is probably where the culture gap sets is. Or should I say, Ignorance. Not by the priest but Ignorance of my fellow Filipinos.

Why do I blame my fellow Filipinos? Because I know the priest, he is one of the most sensible priests I have ever listened to. And he won't be so insensitive about matters like these if he didn't do his own little research. 

What could have happened? 

Our church, just like any other place here in Singapore is a multi-cultural environment. A lot of Filipinos volunteers for church work, me included. So, if there is non-Filipino from the church wants to know our ways, there is always somebody nearby, a Filipino to ask from. 

The priest was probably puzzled on why we aren't shaking hands with them instead; we pull their hands and place it onto our forehead. So what would a smart priest do if in doubt? Yes, he would ask a Filipino what that gesture is and what it is for. 

Since all of us know that "Mano" is a Tagalog word, the fellow probably converted it to English, and what do we commonly call "mano" in English? Yes, we commonly call it "Bless". Probably the guy even go further by telling the priest that it is an act of asking for a blessing, thus the priest stance on "mano".

Looking at the priest's point of view, I couldn't blame him. The problem was, he was misinformed.
Let's do a quick analogy of the term that we use for "mano" and it's REAL meaning.

Mano is a Spanish word, which directly translates to Hand. That is why when we want to give respect to our elders we say, "mano po" which directly translates to "hand please".

Now where did the term "bless" come around? It came around because when we give this highest gesture of respect to our elders, especially our parents, they would normally say "Kaawaan ka ng Diyos" which translates to "May the Lord BLESS you". 

During the course of time, we have identified "mano" with "bless" and eventually these two words became synonymous to each other. Our parents would normally tell us "mag-bless ka" if they would ask us to pay our respect to our grandparents. The more appropriate or more accurate term for that matter should have been "Pay your respect". 

We are not asking for a blessing, we are paying our highest respect without asking anything in return when we "mano". Our elders’ response of "May the lord bless you" is just a voluntary prayer to reward the gesture

So could I blame the priest for his stance on "mano"? Certainly not. Should I blame the fellow Pinoy who imparted his thoughts to the priest? Partly, yes.

Did I mention that I was a volunteer in the church? What I asked my children to do is to continue to pay their respect to their mother and me by doing "mano" after each mass. Deep inside I am hoping the priest would notice and ask me about it. But that never happened.

It's been almost two years since that church incident happened. A lot of things have changed.  We moved to another house and also moved to another church. But up to this day, that incident haunts me.

Filipinos please be informed.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Chompin Humans

Does anybody ever wonder how much we, humans eat?

Ok. I may be a bit too fast. Let me tell you why this question popped out of my mind.


One night, just like any normal night I am sitting in front of my computer. My well cushioned seat is already warm with my natural butt warmth, a sign that I am still alive and clicking (mouse) and also an indication that I have been sitting there far too long. And what am I doing? I’m browsing a page popularly known as Facebook. Typing some comments on pictures and statuses of my friends which I hope would make me look either witty or funny.

Let’s face it, everyone does.

Facebook has become a phenomenon. It also defied all the privacy rules our elders once protected so valiantly during their days. Today most people who visit this so called social networking page do these; Allow their friends (and strangers) know where exactly they are at that precise moment, share what they are currently doing and feeling and tell and show what places they have visited.

In short, we allow other people to have a peek into our everyday lives and have a bit of an access to our brains as well. The scope of the word privacy is getting smaller each day.

Another fun thing that we love doing these days is posting pictures, everybody has gone digital when it comes to pictures. We now see it every single day. Face pictures with tongues sticking out , portraits of people flashing the “peace” sign (hippie’s rules!), photos of girls blowing their mouth which honestly looks ridiculous to me, photos of half-drunk men raising their glass to the person holding the camera, almost anything we think worth posting, we post.

But there is something I noticed which made me wonder on my very first question above.

For the past two or three years I have seen so many pictures of food which I only see on cookbooks and McDonalds counter before this phenomenon existed. All of a sudden, pictures of food and people eating are flooding the facebook pages. It doesn’t matter if they are showing the people with food or the food itself, they are everywhere.

We love food, period.

People gather for special occasions like birthdays, Christmases, Thanksgivings, weddings etc. And to make everybody happy we put food on the table. It won’t be a successful gathering if we go home with our bellies empty. Ninety-nine-point-nine percent of the time people come to eat. Every one is a cookie monster, so to speak. We chomp and we chomp and we chomp. We are all like a pacman, no wonder it was a phenomenon in its own right back in the eighties. We are born to live and to live we EAT, simple as that.

So it is now clearly established that people love to eat. We do this repetitively on an average of three times a day, seven days a week, thirty or so days a month and so on and so on. With this in mind and with information at my fingertips (google) I did some clickin, typin and computin ( I dunno, I just felt cool omitting the ‘g’ from those words). And what did I stumble upon will shock every human being who would read this (I am guessing somewhere between four and five, my wife and I included).

Are you ready? Here goes:

Fact, Earth is about 4.55 billion years old. Fact, there are currently close to 7 billion people on this planet. Fact, 50 years ago (1960) the population is almost half of the population today registered at just over 3 billion. Fact, the earth’s mass is 6.0 × 1024 kg, or simply 6,600,000,000,000,000,000,000 (6.6 sextillion) short tons (6.0 sextillion metric tons). Now that’s quite heavy.

Where am I getting at? Here, if our population growth becomes steady for the next millennium or two which means double every 50 years and each human continues to eat an average of 1 Kilogram of food per day, the mass of food we would have eaten would equal to the mass of… wait for it… the ENTIRE EARTH.

Yes, according to my calculations it is safe to say that we could have eaten the entire planet in a little over 15 centuries that is one and half millennium from today. You might say my theory is absurd and bizarre but it’s a plausible theory nonetheless.

Can you imagine? Us the people living on earth can actually eat food equal to the mass of the planet we are living in, less than two millenniums from today. That is mind boggling. It’s like Burrrrgggggee... (mind blowing, with hand gestures and spit flying).

Not to mention the amount of food we Homo sapiens have eaten for the past 4.55 billion years. WOW! That is awesome! Think about it.

Now, there are only two things I can conclude based from what I have written above, either I have a very playful imagination or I just have way too much free time on my hand to actually take notice of this.

You decide.

I’m HUNGRY. :o)