10 Jan2007


Few inanimate objects of an electrical nature cause me to throw up just by looking at them. So scary is this street lamp, it should be included in a Fear Factor episode! These sidewalk lamps reportedly cost PHP90-95,000 PER PIECE. And the DPWH and organizers of the 12th ASEAN Summit have seen fit to install 1,860 pieces of this atrocious, ridiculously lamp2overpriced (in my opinion, and that of the local press outlets) lamp along say a 10-15 kilometer official route of ASEAN delegates here in Cebu. In some areas, they are just 10-15 meters apart. If those prices are correct, that means nearly PHP170 MILLION pesos was spent on these eyesores! Painted red, blue and white, the main pole is like a large cylinder, with holes punched in its midsection with one long bulb in the center, then the top is like an upturned toilet seat cover. They will not only have questionable utility over the next few days that the delegates are here, but will likely become rusting eyesores within weeks. And worse, on a short stretch of the road I passed last night, a good 5-10% of the newly installed lamps DO NOT EVEN WORK! And add that to street surveillance cameras that are less much slower than specified, and other roadside white elephants, and all this Imeldific type of sprucing up has reportedly cost PHP800 Million from the DPWH budget alone. Why is this material that should have heads rolling? Why am I so outraged?

First, because we are a poor country! That is a known fact. Because our average per capita income is less than ONE HALF A BLOODY LAMP on average! There are just so lamp3many other higher priority things we could have purchased with that money. Second, because the delegates DON’T FRIGGING CARE WHATSOEVER about the FRIGGING LAMPS. The route is so ugly to begin with because it is filled with squatters, run-down homes, businesses who spill out on the streets, nonexistent sidewalks, etc. and the lamps won’t make up of for the plain the fact that there is indeed a lot of squalor and poverty unaddressed out there. In fact, behind one of the hotels the delegates are billeted in, there are hillsides filled with squatters homes, in plain view of the conference participants. Third, because the windows of the BMW fleet of cars are so heavily tinted that they WON’T EVEN NOTICE THE BLOODY LAMPS, and there are already existing and functioning streetlamps that illuminate (albeit barely) the roadways. Fourth, I consider myself Cebuano, and I am totally embarrassed, chagrined and infuriated that this incredible waste of public resources was done in the city in which I was born. Cebu is a city and province known for its frugality and careful use of hard-earned money. My grandparents, parents and all other dead relatives are rolling in their graves and churning in their urns at this apparent waste of money! Because I have been at the helm of companies in the past year and have paid a PHENOMENAL amount of taxes, I am outraged that in effect, government officials may have purchased several hundreds of this lamps on the honest taxes that we have paid!

And just in case you think I am merely being critical and unconstructive, here goes the Marketman list of suggestions of how I THINK they could have done this better, if only they were intelligent enough to ask me (yes, I am being presumptuous, but yes, too, would I have used the funds more effectively and efficiently)! If the objective was “welcome” the delegates, illuminate the roadway, and give them a dose of local hospitality here are some initial ideas, instead of the godawful lamps:

1. Line the streets with schoolchildren in their uniforms holding a lit candle for a 1-2 hour period when the delegates are to pass every night for say 4 nights. This move will show not only how utterly and impressively fertile the Filipinos are for having so many offspring, but also that we can mobilize everyone to step out to greet the dignitaries. If you want a real “line of fire” this would require roughly 30,000 kids and 120,000 (4 nights) candles and the total cost, say just PHP600,000 to PHP1,000,000, a savings of PHP169,000,000.

2. If you think the kids should get something for their time and effort, you could let them hold sparklers instead, with the rest of the box of sparklers for them to take home…total cost up by say another 3-4 million. Alternatively, they could have flashlights or torches of some sort that they can keep for future use. Again, we would have saved hundreds of millions.

3. Alternatively, kids could carry low cost flags of all the Asean nations and wave them in addition to holding a source of light. In fact, in school, the kids could have made a lantern out of papel de japon and bamboo and there would be 30,000 different homemade lanterns lighting the path. They would be environmentally conscious and beautiful to behold.

The point is, there is no other explanation for the profligate waste of money other than utter stupidity or some form of other dubious vested interest. It boggles the mind we have not thought to protest more this outrageous waste of public money. lamp4On the ride down from my hotel this morning (I am in Cebu), I was thinking of several great ways to get my indignation across. If only 1,860 like-minded folks would join me, we should have white t-shirts printed with “90,000 PESOS” and chain ourselves to the lamps for every ASEAN delegate to see what kind of bizarre behavior their conference has wrought. It’s bad enough the convention center was leaking buckets of water and barely finished in time for the conference. It’s bad enough they used as an excuse the weather to cancel the summit last December when Cebu received nothing more than a sprinkling of rain. It’s bad enough the headlines in today’s news report nuns praying for sunshine and truckloads of eggs being offered to the Gods of sunshine and warm weather. What a joke. What a total and embarrassing joke… And as if that wasn’t enough, the last picture here is of the Waterfront hotel in the background, all lit up in garish casino-appropriate colors, behind a pile of uncollected garbage roadside. Welcome delegates to the 12th Asean Summit…



  1. ykmd says:

    Wow, that is outrageous! And if you are right and those lamps start rusting in a few weeks, then I’m sure someone would (again?) make a pretty sum “cleaning” up. I love Cebu and I agree that that money could have been put to much better use. That “papel de hapon lanterns lining the route” was a neat idea. They should make you a consultant the next time around :)

    Jan 10, 2007 | 12:27 pm


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  3. TOPING says:

    Yay, those lamps are truly butt-ugly! The DPWH (or city hall) could have done much better simply by hiring the people in charge of sprucing up the local Ayala district during the holidays; those people know how to do the festive look on the cheap. But what was I thinking? The bureaucrats and contractors won’t make money that way!

    Cebu is beautiful as it is. It’s these corrupt civil “servants” that make the place stink. Someone should haul their asses to the Ombudsman’s office!

    Jan 10, 2007 | 1:03 pm

  4. Jacqui says:

    A colleague based in Mactan was sharing that the organizers even bought decorative plants worth thousands to line the streets where the delegates will pass. And since the summit was postponed, those plants are now all wilted. Can’t they at least take care and water those expensive decorations? What a big waste of money and resources!

    Jan 10, 2007 | 1:12 pm

  5. consol says:

    Hay naku MM, onli in da Pilipins. Remember the chameleon changes of the islands along the streets of Manila and Pasay? One moment they’re made of solid concrete painted white or dull gray, in a flash they’re made of terracotta bricks (daw) with a hodgepodge of plants and stuff overflowing. Oh and the same atrocious lamps are found along Roxas Boulevard, too!

    Jan 10, 2007 | 1:16 pm

  6. Maria Clara says:

    Nothing is new. The same story way back the administration of the first President of our Republic. Our housing problems have been lingering for decades which contribute great part of the ongoing sanitation and garbage dilemma. We are one of the most industrious, intelligent and hardworking people on the face of the universe. It is a repugnant and sickening situation especially our public restrooms in centralized air-conditioned malls and airports. Enough have been said, my heart goes to Juan and Juana dela Cruz who makes both ends meet – working early in the morning or accepting job abroad leaving his wife and children behind to make a sustainable income for his family.

    Jan 10, 2007 | 1:41 pm

  7. lee says:

    P 90,000!!!! F@#k the cosmetic uplifment when there are hungry mouths to feed!!! now some assholes are getting fat from commissions and I slave away, pay my taxes and try hard to make ends meet! This is a crime against humanity.

    P 90,000 for a stupid lamp, I honestly have P 90.00 in my pocket right now and I’m waiting that I can make it to payday still sane on Monday. Most don’t even have 9 pesos as of this moment. Our leaders are still the same insensitive and greedy show-offs with no intention to make our country great. Damn!!

    Jan 10, 2007 | 1:44 pm

  8. tulip says:

    I thought it was just me and my being against with the too Imeldific preparation that tends to be yabang of the government with regards to the summit. It is so untimely. Been there before the holidays, I’m not impressed at all, and I doubt if the real price was Php 90,000-95,000 a piece!Probably true to a good quality lamp but with those along the highway? And in fact the surveillance cameras aren’t functioning well as of now. Alloting such budget is one thing, buying “dispalinghado” is another, and “pagbubulsa” is definitely grrrrr!

    Jan 10, 2007 | 1:48 pm

  9. wysgal says:

    Those are quite fugly lamps. Things will only get worse with the elections coming this year.

    Jan 10, 2007 | 1:49 pm

  10. Lei says:

    When you mentioned the word ‘tax’, you sturck a very raw nerve in me. It is frustrating and depressing to know that they waste or should we say keep in their own filthy pockets those hard earned money that hosest citizens contribute to our nation. I for one am a regular and humble contributor to those taxes and I would want them be used properly. Oh, we are really sometimes pathetic when it comes to gov’t services.

    Jan 10, 2007 | 5:00 pm

  11. bembet says:

    asar!inis!nakaka-highblood to,ha!!!they could’ve spent that money for more important things the people really.shows the things this goverment of ours prioritizes.so hypocrite.

    Jan 10, 2007 | 5:59 pm

  12. Chinachix says:

    Remember the horrible globe lamps along Roxas Blvd. that Mayor Lito Atienza initiated? They are a terrible waste of taxpayers’ money…

    Jan 10, 2007 | 7:56 pm

  13. elit says:

    a very deep “sigh”…….pano pa kaya makabangon ang Pilipinas noh?

    Jan 10, 2007 | 8:07 pm

  14. Juls says:

    If you think P90,000 was stupid, rumor has it that the City of Manila spent P600,000 per lamp. I say bring back the death penaly but only for plunder.

    Jan 10, 2007 | 9:28 pm

  15. Fabian Mangahas says:

    ugh. story of atrocious corrupt spending for super ugly useless fixtures. old, enervating infuriating story.

    i want to do something. marketman if you have any ideas, im sure more than a few people will join you, me included. we all gotta start somewhere. down with fugly lamps!

    Jan 10, 2007 | 9:48 pm

  16. Marketman says:

    Juls, I agree any amount above PHP1,000 for THESE lamps is ludicrous…but in Cebu, they installed 1,860 (!) pieces, compared to Manila’s few dozen, if I am not mistaken…but yes, both are despicable examples of the worst kind of government “expenditures…”

    Jan 10, 2007 | 9:53 pm

  17. lojet says:

    I can’t help thinking that that kind of mentality pervades the whole country. Like my relatives who goes all out and spend for a fiesta and struggle the other 364 days of the year. Of course there’s the other incentive of padding the costs to line their pockets and having no bones spending the peoples money.

    Jan 11, 2007 | 1:00 am

  18. Mariz says:

    lack of transparency, accountability and decency in gov’t. that’s why we are in this rot. hopeless na ba talaga ang pinas?

    Jan 11, 2007 | 3:40 am

  19. Blance says:

    Oh my God!!!!! where the hell they found this lamp?…..and who the hell decided to put them up?….My God what can I say………Its blooddddddddddyyyyyyyyy stupid……….sorry about my language.it’s just so terrible

    Jan 11, 2007 | 7:47 am

  20. Sidekick says:

    My husband’s additional comment this morning is; if people in Cebu can be painted they will paint them too to do perfect cosmetics of the entire city…ha..ha..ha.

    Jan 11, 2007 | 8:25 am

  21. Larees says:

    Truly an eyesore and a waste of our taxes!

    Jan 11, 2007 | 8:40 am

  22. jen says:

    if they wanted to spend that much, they could have bought solar-powered streetlights for less than PhP75k. Cebuanos would not be paying for electricity charges if that was done. Argh!

    Jan 11, 2007 | 9:19 am

  23. Booey says:

    Count me in the 1860 volunteers willing to be chained to the butt-ugly lamps… even if im 9 months pregnant…Call me idealistic but I beleieve that there is still a good no. of Filipinos who care about their country and are just thinking things through on what is the best course of action against the greedy, stinky “public servants” we have… Throw in a couple of kilos of the Sr. Pedro’s lechon manok and you’ll have your 1890 volunteers in no time…

    Jan 11, 2007 | 10:38 am

  24. stadaenko says:

    P95K for 1,890 streetlamps. P170M! all spent for the asean summit. the govt won’t spend P170M on building schools, feeding the hungry, or housing the poor.

    hell, they won’t even spend the same effing amount buying the same effing streetlamps for the filipinos, who last time i checked shelled out the effing money in the first place.

    they will, however, eagerly spend the P170M for a bunch of asian dignitaries who might just happen to have a glimpse of these lamps. the national statistics office or nso reported a 60% statistical chance that, if the visitors squint a little and tilt their heads, they will spot these lamps– provided these asians aren’t checking out the lovely cebuanas walking the streets. well, that just got me off my point, didnt it? my point is this–> these lamps could be beautiful for all i care, designed by philip starck even. still, it would be tasteless, and utterly devoid of any intelligence, responsibilty and relevance in so many levels!

    Jan 11, 2007 | 12:04 pm

  25. izang says:

    the questions are:

    who proposed the lamps?
    who estimated the cost?
    who approved the budget?
    who is the contractor?

    connivance is very common in government projects….baka isang grupo lang lahat ito……

    Jan 11, 2007 | 12:27 pm

  26. bohemyo says:

    some people got their pockets full again. these scumbags ought to be hung on those posts and lit up. line ’em up!

    Jan 11, 2007 | 2:07 pm

  27. stadaenko says:

    well, here’s my guess:

    goofy proposed the lamps
    dick dastardly estimated the cost
    jughead approved the budget
    mr. bean is the contractor

    i’m not really confident i got everybody right, but i’m certain the results would’ve been just the same at any rate.

    i don’t know but i think incinerating these guys while crucified on the streetlamps is just toooo humane.

    Jan 11, 2007 | 3:24 pm

  28. det says:

    mm,i wasnt really shocked with what you said.palagi namang ganyan ang ginagawa nila,imean the govt.officials.when iread your blog about the preparations they did in cebu i told myself.whats new?you are damned right,they could have spent the money to feed hungry filipinos and am sure they will get points from above.haaaay,kahit ganyan sa atin i still want to go home as frequent as my pocket book can afford.

    Jan 11, 2007 | 5:40 pm

  29. filet minion says:

    thank you for this rant. i think we should all rant about outrageous corrupt practices that happen in our country. stupidity among our public officials is somewhat acceptable, but corruption can never be tolerated. if you have any data or source that indeed 90k was spent per lamp, and somehow have some sort of assessment that the actual value is only a fraction of what was reportedly spent on it, i’ll help out with filing a complaint/case against the retards that entered into this transaction grossly and patently disadvantegous to the government, and make sure the ombudsman acts on it. Although the integrity of the office of the ombudsman (the head honcho no less) is highly questionable itself, surprisingly, i have met some minions there who are at the bottom of the foodchain and are idealistic and honest. and while the investigation proceeds, there ought to be some public clamor to ensure that they expeditiously find the crooks and make them liable.

    btw, i think your schoolchildren-light-a-candle/lantern/sparklers idea is so creatively fabulous! i agree that you really should be made special consultant for aesthetics and sanity! [not sanitation, but sanity really, cos these officials seem to do everything but sane]

    i would also love to chain myself to a lantern with the 90k shirt! that’s a great idea!!! maybe after the summit? or during sinulog? but for now, i want to support the government (no matter how despicable the personalities involved are) in this international endeavor and hope for its success, instead of embarassing it any further. ayoko na muna magdagdag sa pagpapahiya sa pinas, although gusto ko yung mga kurakot mapahiya na ng husto at makulong at matuto na ng leksyon.

    Jan 11, 2007 | 6:01 pm

  30. Marketman says:

    filet minion, OMG, are you a lawyer? I wouldn’t have guessed it. More like crusading mountain climber with a degree in Economics or Languages…heehee. No seriously, I got the PHP90-95,000 peso figure per lamp from news broadcasts in Cebu and the papers as well, so its a frequently bandied number in those parts. As for the filing, seems someone beat us to the punch with a group filing a complaint at the Ombudsmans office yesterday or today. It seems the ombudsmans office is also making sounds that they will review the contract and see if “there was overcharging”… As for the Summit itself, it sounds like only a fraction of the folks who were supposed to be here in December are coming back…some leaders will probably fly in and out for a photo opportunity only…

    Jan 11, 2007 | 6:10 pm

  31. mia says:

    Hmm. These look suspiciously similar to the ones along Roxas Boulevard, and much like the ones in Bicutan…looks like one guy is laughing his way to the bank.

    Jan 11, 2007 | 9:19 pm

  32. Jacqui says:

    A reporter friend quoted the Summit’s press officer saying the lamps did cost organizers P93,000 each.

    Jan 12, 2007 | 1:17 am

  33. Ted says:

    I was watching “Unang Hirit” on GMA tv last Monday, and the summit was one of the topics of their conversation. One of host commented, “why build when we already have the PICC, why waste those money just like they did in Clark” and he goes on saying what happened to the other places which they built for these purpose and now is either dilapidated or just wasting away….Bakit nga ba nag build pa sa Cebu when it can be held somewhere? Do we always have to show our “pinoy yabang”…I was also reading an article earlier, about the cha-cha and so on…and I saw this comment, which is very true…”The Philippines does not need a change OF leaders but a change in repeat a change IN leaders”.

    Jan 12, 2007 | 4:16 am

  34. Frayed says:

    These ugly lamps made their debut at Roxas Blvd c/o the great mayor of Manila. Then they started spreading more of them (“moderne”) all over Malate which was supposed to be left quaint. On the plaza in front of Malate Church alone, there are 5-6 different styles of lamps..in one square! There’s the nice old fashioned ones, there’s the tacky “Cibo-Chow King” lamps (as someone coined them), there are some “marine, sail shaped lamp bec the City Hall engineer is supposedly into that, there’s still the originial old standard balls, then there are those atrocious lollipop lamps… which by the way, on paper, allegedly cost P300,000 EACH. No need to go to Cebu to get all riled up.

    Oh and of course, those modern lamps on MH del Pilar are pundido. Zero maintenance but we knew that would happen.

    Jan 12, 2007 | 7:38 am

  35. marco says:

    this is one of the ways the politicians “make money”. i know someone who work for the “mayor”, actually a city engineer. he says the bricks that were used for pavement were overpriced. he said that the “quotation” for EVERY BRICK was 60 PESOS! when in fact it was way lower, maybe even 5 pesos a piece! that way, the budget would increase a thousandfold. the “excess” money would definitely be going into the people involved, like the mayor, engineers, accountants, etc. this trend was started by the “mayor” and is now being copied by others so as to generate income.
    have you guys been to tagaytay recently? i think i saw similar looking lamps being installed! while i agree that the roads definitely need lighting, i would have been contented with ugly lamps that light well than fancy ones that give less light and that cost a bloody fortune!

    Jan 12, 2007 | 8:09 am

  36. filet minion says:

    hahaha mm oh how i wish i were a mountain climber! haven’t had any rugged adventures in awhile cos of work. your perception of me is as far-off as how we all thought you’d look like an old fat man with bayong in tow (little did we know that you’re a deadringer for james bond pala)! i suppose your guess was pretty close, if restudying french at the foreign service institute constitutes a degree in languages. and well, i did study management economics undergrad but couldn’t hack the math, got kicked out of the program junior year and ended up a lawyer instead!

    anyway, i’m dead serious about joining you in the chain-yourself-to the-atrocious-90k lamp-parade!!! please fix the date so we can all arrange our sked and buy tickets in advance!!! i think the sinulog festival would be a good time to go if you’re there for work

    Jan 12, 2007 | 6:42 pm

  37. neil says:

    Those lamps must be Philippe Starck-designed to command that exorbitant price tag! Too bad they look awfully ordinary it would be so hard to convince anyone they really cost that much to build. Any investigation made into this yet?

    This country is totally hopeless and I really hope I could be proven wrong in the foreseeable future.

    More power to you!


    Jan 20, 2007 | 4:26 am

  38. pilar says:

    Just watched it on channel 2 news. They government will start an investigation on these deco lamps on why it’s SO overpriced! Lagot ang DPWH!

    Mar 19, 2007 | 9:20 pm

  39. sometime_lurker says:

    Agh, I didn’t hear about this at all but here and it’s crazy that I read it just now!

    So saddened by this…I cried. Not proud of it but hey, an understatement compared to this rant. I never knew this before I left the country and I’m so sorry to say that this is one of the reasons why I did leave… Helplessness and hopelessness with our govt. This is just so downright absurd that I can’t believe there’s not one decent body of govt left to check these numerous, inhumane projects.

    I’m now going to research more about this and if there has been any developments on the complaints. I will not, and will refuse to as long as I can, let this go silently.

    Thank you for the informative rant, MM.

    May 25, 2007 | 3:43 pm

  40. Blaise says:

    I wonder where our politicians seek for consultation to spend such big amounts of money.. or do they actually make consultations?

    Aug 16, 2007 | 1:48 pm


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