MRT Ticket Shortage Fun

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Alright listen up.

I have with me a GENUINE RARE STORED VALUE MRT TICKET. March 2010 mint, limited edition, autographed by window cashier. 100 peso face value. Never been used, with faint scent of sweat used to acquire this darling piece of heaven. One of the last 100 in existence.

If you use the MRT as much as I do then you know that there is a retarded unexplainable shortage of tickets. Possible reasons I can think of so far are as follows:

1. Dear Leader Arroyo wants her face on every ticket (she almost already does actually) and she wants her face now on both sides, full body shot.

2. We will be replacing the ticketing system soon with Smartmatic scanners that will only let you in if you shade the Administration bets.

3. The MRT is running out of supplementary diet advertisements featuring either Chinese people or mediocre celebrities nobody remembers anymore. Less stored value tickets = less bonus rides = more profit = fuck you, dear commuter.

4. The stored value tickets are now being hoarded by a secret syndicate that wishes to open an underground economy of scalped tickets.

5. We will be releasing new MRT SVT prints that feature rising ABSCBN stars for no real reason at all. Nope. No real reason.

Anyway, best bid at the end of the day wins.

LRT New Operation Hours

Monday, March 15, 2010

For the information of the real environmentalists, LRT operation hours have now been adjusted to the following:

Last train ride to Monumento (weekdays): Departs from Baclaran at 9:30 PM
Last train ride to Baclaran (weekdays): Departs from Monumento at 10:00 PM
Last train ride to Monumento (weekends): Departs from Baclaran at 9:00 PM
Last train ride to Baclaran (weekends): Departs from Monumento at 9:30 PM

I'll take heed to your environmentalism babble after you get off that stupid car of yours and commute like me, as God intended.

Random Musings

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Why do we have postcards of Philippine Presidents? I can't imagine a situation that a tourist or anybody who uses postcards for that matter would need to send somebody that kind of postcard. "Hi Anna! I'm in the Philippines right now, and I feel that you need to know what the deceased 2nd president of their country looks like." WISH YOU WERE WITH HIM.

Last year, MMDA banned sexy advertisements in EDSA, and I support that, granted that a few years back, an Ashanti picture nearly sent me flying over the Magallanes cloverleaf. But WHY is it that the new rule only applies to females, while male models are centimeters away from revealing their testicles on a 50x50 canvas? If a tourist were to observe how we cover our girls and make sure our men are stark naked in our ads, they'd think our whole country is gay.

The Country Of Dreams

Friday, March 05, 2010

by Hasna Usman, GW

Poverty is a state of mind.

Most people would, when confronted by this phrase, immediately disagree. Others would nod in an instant. To the disagreeing lot, poverty is a result of ill character, bad luck, and falling victim to an ever vicious cycle of materialism rampant in our society today. To the agreeing lot, poverty is but a hurdle to get over for the willing. Who wants to be poor, they'll ask. The answer to that question is indisputable.

I say both cases remain true, for there is potential in everybody to overcome poverty, and at the same time there exists a widespread vice-like grip that prevents our brothers from rising beyond what fate has laid out - absolute despair.

Consider the word "Dream". For such a short word, I cannot think any other can rival the weight it carries in its meaning: aspirations, ardent wishes, lifelong goals, and hope. It is a heavy word, for everything begins with a dream. Every good thing begins as somebody's wild thought, escaping from the mind that spawns it and then made a reality. Everybody has a tale of how some idea revolutionized the lives it touched, dreams that came true. Dreams are the seeds that sprout and give people the fulfillment in life that they seek. When it comes to dreams, our country is never poor.

The Philippines is a country of dreams. Honest dreams made by enthusiastic young spirits. Dreams that can make lives better.

It is sad to say however, that ours is not a country where dreams can truly thrive in. We live with a culture that urges us to keep in line, to do what society dictates us to do. For every dream that a child can come up with, there is an equivalent looming despair that will prevent that dream from ever becoming more than a moment's reverie.

It is said that James Watt, inventor of the modern steam engine, was no older than six when he first started his fascination with steam power after seeing the boiling kettle. Schooled by nobody other than his own mother, he was explained the basics of steam. Twenty or so years later, he went on to create a machine that would catapult civilization into the industrialized age that we live in today.

James had the simple dream of harnessing that simple energy, a dream kindled by his first educator, James' mother. She could not have possibly imagined how such a simple lesson about steam back then would have changed the world as we know it today.

At school we are taught, if you learn this and that, you will eventually be able to get this or that job, you will not find it fulfilling, but your stomach will not grow hungry. We are taught, if we know slightly more than the other student, we will be more successful than him or her someday. In our minds, we are made to believe that everything we will ever need to succeed in the books. Anything that we do outside those precepts will only make us miserable. Breaking out of your mold will just give you despair.

But is this ever the case? William Gates III, the world's richest man never finished college. Steve Jobs, a man who revolutionized computers as we know it did not even complete two years of college. These people had dreams, and they realized success could not be achieved without them. There are countless more examples, people who realized something that many of us still haven't - the value of real education, one that we currently do not have.

Yes, the greatest failing of our educational system is that the youth of today are given poverty as a state of mind. Not physical poverty, but one that takes root in our mind. One that gives us despairs for every dream that we try to fulfill. This is not real education.

Real education is one that fosters what's already intrinsic in man - to be innovative, to rise above expectations, to find a vision, and make it real. Real education is one that goes beyond teaching a person. Real education inspires. Real education is the cure to the poverty as a state of the mind, and eventually the same cure that will remove poverty itself.

I have a vision. One day I can walk into any academic institution and see how it provides real education to its students. One day there will be schools that let its students realize that the distance between where the ground that they stand on and their lifelong goals are not too far away; schools where dreaming is encouraged, supported, and helped in realization.

And you'd think this is all farfetched, of how we are surrounded with rigid walls, built by tradition, closed-mindedness, and a vicious cycle of do-unto-others-what-had-been-done-to-thee. I tell you, my fellow country man, this is not far from what can happen. For a long as there is a single principal, a single teacher, a single parent believing that education is more than just learning to earn one's keep, that education is more than just memorizing the established, that education is questioning and seeking answers, and that education is a process of dreaming and realizing dreams, this ideal will remain moving towards the eventuality. This I can tell you.

No, this is not a dream. The Philippines empowered by a real concept of education is coming into fruition. A revolution is happening as you read this sentence, in the rurals, in the impoverished areas of Manila, in the words of the mother slowly but surely gifting his child with the light of literacy through a worn out pencil and a piece of paper, in the heart of the working student curiously looking at steam rising from the meal he is cooking.

Deep inside you, deep inside me is a piece of this country of dreams, with eyes that open little by little through education, waking up with the grand vision of the beautiful tomorrow, the only Philippines that we should be aiming for.

A country of realizing dreams.

Philippine Bond Investment 101

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

A few months ago I wrote a couple of articles here about stock trading here in the Philippines.

Stock Market 101 (part 1)

Stock Market 101 (part 2)

Between that time and now, I tried to refine my stock trading skills and at the same time, while I also studied and entered into other investment instruments. One of the better investment instruments that you may be interested in is the bond, which is like the more mellow, less drug-addled brother of the stock.

(more after jump)

First things first. A bond differs from a stock in a sense that a stock is a unit of ownership of a company while a bond is a unit of ownership of a debt (i.e. somebody owes you, and not the other way around, because in that case, we'd all be bigtime bond holders already).

In terms of income, a stock, like a company, may give you earnings but it is not guaranteed the if and the when, becuase not all companies have a steady source of earnings. A bond, being debt, will give you yearly "repayment interest" based on the agreed upon interest rate or "coupon rate", which is guaranteed, to some extent anyway.

The biggest risk of a bond is when the debtor becomes no longer able to pay for the debt, or refuses to do so. We will discuss this scenario in a bit. There are two types of bonds - corporate issued and government issued. Corporate bonds are generally with more interest but at a bigger risk of not being repaid due to the company folding.

Government bonds hold the same risk, but come on, when was the last time a government went totally bankrupt? As in not threaten to go bankrupt but completely bankrupt, Mr-President-Will-Sleep-In-The-Streets-Tonight bankrupt. Another risk is the government totally disappearing due to civil revolt, a war, or a giant meteor crashing down on your country (tough luck). The new government that will replace the old has the option to no longer recognize debt from the previous government. The same way we no longer recognize non-electronic, non sports-related stuff we gave to our exs. But then again if those things ever happen, not getting your bonds back will be the least of your worries.

Long story short, as far as investments are concerned, government bonds are a hellot more secure. And although it's not nearly as high yielding as stocks, it certainly beats the shit out of time deposits anyday of the week.

The lowest dollar bond I can see right now is at a coupon rate of 6.35% per annum, whereas the best dollar time deposit wont even reach the lower limit of 0.5% per annum. See the difference?

Bonds are usually issued per series. Philippine Government bonds are coded ROP's, followed by a series number that identifies it from other bonds. This number has no apparent pattern, and I've long since given up trying to figure out how they come up with it. Counting the number of hair strands left on the Banko Sentral Governor's head sounds like a sound explanation.

Anyway, bonds are usually sold to banks first, who then sell their acquired bonds to their higher end customers. By higher end, I mean minimum unit investments are large. Whereas a time deposite requires 5k and stock trading requires 10k, bonds usually trade on the range of 100k pesos or 10k dollars for foreign denominations. I'm not too sure on this, but that's what I've learned so far. Lower end investors are allowed to join mutual funds that pool the money that they have to avail of the larger investment requirements. (hence the term mutual fund)

Bonds also come with a number of years before the bond is paid back in full. For example, a bond that matures 2016 at a coupon rate of 10% will have 6 years (as of this writing) that will pay the bond owner 10% of the original amount EVERY year. Then on 2016, the amount is returned to the lender, by then the capital would have grown by 60%. (ridiculous, but it happens). Each ROP series will have a different maturity year and a different coupon rate, since the time each series is issued is different.
As a rule of thumb, bonds issued during times of prosper have high interest rates, while bonds during recessions have very low interest rates. One reason for this is becuase during good years, it's easier to make your money grow on any other investment than bonds, so the government has to sweeten the deal just to get people to buy. And vice versa.

Now, sometimes Bonds have a maturity date of almost 30 years. (mine wont mature until 2036, for example). What if you need to lose it? Answer: Sell it to some other guy at a price he's willing to get it for. Hence the bonds market.

The bonds market is kind of like a stock market for bonds belonging to previous owners of bonds that were issued during the initial government issuance. Kinda like a buy and sell lot for government debt. If you want to sell a bond, the price is usually affected by #1 the potential of a bond and the willingness of a buyer to buy your bond at your set price. The potential is usually obeserved by how much higher the coupon rate is and the number of years left in a bond before maturity. The higher the rate and the longer the number of years, the more value a bond holds. (need to check on the effect of years though). The willingness of buyers can usually be affected by a lot of things, too many to mention here but the majority is as follows (i.e. these things will drive the demand up):

1. Stock market/economic instability
2. Banks lowering their interest rates to entice borrowers
3. Overall inflation increasing.

The opposite of course will drive the bond prices down instead.

1. Stock Market bull runs, economic recoveries
2. Banks gradually increasing interest rates
3. Inflation dropping or going neutral

Of course somestimes, the price is pushed down lower than its actual face value. A 100$ bond sometimes gets sold at 86$, which is already a solid bargain, because on top of the interest you get, you will get another 14$ if you sell on the date of maturity, or more if ever the demand pushes bond prices higher than 100$ and you decide to sell.

If you're interested in this sort of investment, the best person to talk about it is your bank manager (as long as youre not in a rural, blood, or sperm bank), who should be more than happy to assist you. Transactions through the bank are usually charged with a 2% comission for both sales and acquisitions.

Short of it? Bonds are a good investment to fight off cash depreciation. A good percentage of your dormant money can be stored here at very little risk and it's a good investment tool to compliment stock trading if you can't afford to stake it all in the high risk game of stocks.

Good hunting.


Tuesday, March 02, 2010

"God damn, that's one sexy poster. Are we rocking or what?"

"Oh hell yeah. If the hands in the pocket doesn't tell everybody we're game, I don't know what will"

"Hang up. I got another idea. Dude's going to be so hard, panties will come flying at us at supersonic speeds"

"Okay, what's the plan?"

"Break the goddamn leg."

"Wait, you can't do that. Remember the last time we tried that with one of the models? It was a bitch having to haul the body to Cavite"

"Alright. I got this covered. Do you have a copy of MS Paint?"


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