Saturday, August 28, 2010

Taekwondo for Kids

Recently I had the chance to meet one of my college friends who is currently teaching Taekwondo for kids. He has been training children since 1998 and his students joined a lot of tournaments over the years. My wife and I have been contemplating to enroll our son to his class for him to have a venue to use his energy other than at home and to learn discipline and sportsmanship at a young age. Coach Stauro Punongbayan has been involved with the Milo Summer Sports Clinic which is also under the supervision of Philippine Taekwondo Association.

Coach Stauro teaches taekwondo to kids at several locations in Metro Manila. Here are the venues and time slots:

1. Dance Theater Arts, 5th floor Walter Mart Makati (beside Timezone) - Saturday and Sunday, 4:30 PM (call 487-6083, 0917-6420123)
2. Kalayaan Badminton Center, Kalayaan Avenue Diliman, Quezon City - Saturday 1 PM (545-9778, 0917-6420123)
3. Higher Ground Baptist Academy, Malabon City - Saturday 8 AM (545-9778, 0917-6420123)
4. State Fitness Gym, Malabon City - Saturday 10 AM (545-9778, 0917-6420123)

Coach Stauro's class consists of kids as young as 4 years old up to full grown adults. Taekwondo is not just for competition but for exercise and self discipline. Here are the benefits of the sport:

1. Enhance Self Esteem by heightening your physical and mental powers.
2. Build Confidence by encouraging you to succeed and to take control of your life.
3. Develop Discipline by thoroughly training your body and mind by the tenets and techniques of Taekwondo.
4. Teach Self Defense by training you to recognize situations in which physical self defense may be necessary and teaching you how to control such situations to your advantage.
5. Strengthen your mind and body through increased physical coordination and mental discipline. (

To learn more about Coach Stauro's class, visit his site at: or you may email him at

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Hacienda Luisita and the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program

It was news two days ago that the infamous Hacienda Luisita dispute has been partially resolved. After 21 years of conflict and death of farmers during the Cory Aquino administration, the owners of the land and the farmers have made a compromise giving farm workers two options - to receive land parcels or retain their Hacienda Luisita Inc. stocks ( Although "only" 1400 hectares will be awarded to the farmers from the total 6453-hectare plantation, i think it is a good compromise, not the best, but a good start.

This issue, which hounds President Noynoy Aquino, even before the start of the campaign period has become a torn to his popularity. Even though Noynoy's share is just a small percentage of the 6453 hectares, his opponents are trying their best to link his name to the death of the farmers who perished during the Hacienda Luisita massacre during his mother's administration. I was too young when the massacre happened and the media nowadays are just highlighting the deaths but not what transpired that led to the bloodshed.

Under the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, which was enacted by the 8th Congress of the Philippines and signed by President Corazon Aquino on June 10, 1988, and individual cannot own more than 7 hectares of land. If this will happen, the remaining area will be parceled out and will be divided into individual tenants. Such tenant may enjoy a maximum of three hectares of irrigated land, or five hectares of unused land, where the new owners will pay royalty taxes and the computable amount of land to the original landholders for a maximum of fifteen years ( This law will make farmers landowners and will prevent them from being just tenants forever by wealthy landowners. It is a good tool for dividing wealth to promote equality among landowners and small farmers.

Hopefully the issue will then be laid to rest and farmers will get a fair share of the land they have been fighting to own for more than 20 years of their lifetime. It is a good sign for Noynoy's administration and a big help to the farmers in Tarlac. The CARP is a good program but farmers should also be aware that there is a limit for lands that will be rewarded to them. CARP may be seen as an unfair law for the wealthy since they can always argue that their parents or grandparents have worked hard to purchase lands as an investment for the children's future which will later be taken away from them by the government and awarded to the farmers who live on these lands. They should also put themselves on the landowners shoes where they will be forced to give up their lands because it is a law passed by government officials and representatives they elected from their communities.

Monday, August 2, 2010

LTO Registration Renewal

I just renewed our vehicle registration today. I am 2 days late because I did not had the time to renew last month (since our car plate ends in 7). I was willing to pay the penalty expecting it would be a relatively low amount but I was proven wrong. Here were the fees I paid today:

1. Smoke Emission - P 420
2. Mandatory Insurance - P 990
3. Vehicle Registration plus other fees - P 2200
4. Late Registration Penalty - P 1000

Total fees paid: P 4610.00

I could have saved 1000 if I registered on the right month but I guess its a lesson for me. I was expecting an amount not higher than 500 but I was wrong. Well, I have to be sure next year that I register on the right month to avoid the late penalty. What aggravated my experience today was the usual slow process of renewing your vehicle registration to the LTO. I was expecting an improved service since LTO leadership was changed but again, I was wrong. Here is my experience.

1. Smoke Emission Test - 10 minutes
2. Stencil - 5 minutes
3. Insurance application and payment - 1 hour (the computers were off line during peak hours)
4. Payment of registration - 30 minutes
5. Release of Stickers and official receipt - 1 hour

Total: 2 hours and 45 minutes

Payment was really slow moving since the La Loma, Quezon City LTO office only has 2 cashiers and the registration forms are piling up. There is no system of lining the registration forms (first in first out should always be observed) and payments are just stapled to forms. Release of the official receipt and car plate stickers are also piling up since only 2 employees are matching the receipts to the forms and issuing stickers. Delays are caused by problems with registration names, vehicle makes, and other minor details to be edited on the official receipt. People who know employees inside the LTO office are given priority and people who do not know anyone will just have to wait for more than an hour. This is the sad state of our Land Transportation Office and you can just imagine how inefficient the system at the Main LTO Office at East Avenue, Quezon City. Hopefully, new leaders will step in and change their system. Filipinos are so fed up with red tape and other "palakasan" system on government offices which is one of the main reasons why graft and corruption is still very visible.