Theories are ivory towers. Models are only good when assumptions are valid. Social distancing and community quarantines are effective measures to prevent the spread of the virus in theory, but in reality that isn’t all that that matters. Real people are more than just a breeding ground for viruses unlike the theoretical biological entities that is assumed in biology books. Unlike simulations on epidemics, real people are not dots that does brownian motions on a 2-dimensional plane. Real people have concepts of economics and psychology which should also be taken into consideration when making political decisions. Real people have feelings. Distancing ourselves from other people is even against our survival mechanism since it’s through being close to each other in groups that we survived primitive times.

These are complicated times. The problems that we are facing now can’t be solved just by a single approach. Just because we are facing a pandemic, doesn’t mean that other equally important problems we have in our society such as poverty and corruption are irrelevant. As a matter of fact, the pandemic magnifies these problems and makes it stare at us right in the eyes if only we dare open them.

While it’s important that we follow health protocols that will prevent the spread of the disease, it’s also equally important to keep an open eye against people who will try to take advantage of the situation for their own benefit. It’s also important to take into consideration the plights of the less advantaged for they are human too.

To quote my professor in linear models; “Always think multivariate”.


A recent study conducted by the world bank revealed that over the past three years, Filipino workers’ output per hour is growing steadily, but average wage mostly remained stagnant. Although this trend is already seen in most developed countries, the problem in the Philippines is a little special.

Simple intuition suggest that if output per hour – or productivity – increases, wage should also increase. But since the dawn of the information age, everything is so efficient to the point that one man can do the job that 15 people used to do. Productivity steadily increased, exponentially. This made businessmen shift investment away from the people and towards technology.

Now, the problem is, the skill that is needed to master such technology is minimal. It’s almost a basic requirement in the job market to be knowledgeable with technology. This led to the oversupply of skilled workers. Recall high school economics: The larger the supply, hold demand constant, and the price goes down. If we assume that the demand for skilled workers remained the same, this means that wages for skilled workers is going to go down. But again, technology decreased the demand for skilled workers. Now it’s clear where the stagnation came from.

See, “average” is not really a good statistic to look at especially when it comes to skewed distributions, like wage or income. It fails to capture the information about how the income are distributed in the workforce. When inequality is high, the average moves farther away from the median, and thus we see stagnation even though the increase is actually there. But where is it?

Of course, to the corporations themselves. Top corporations in the Philippines are outpacing even the national average growth rate according to *insert source here*. These corporations -mostly chinese owned like SM and JFC- invested in technology to eliminate most of their need for human resources. Add to the mix the fact that their contractualization scheme isn’t making things better for filipino workers.

The Duterte administration certainly didn’t make things better either by cutting ties with the EU, leading to less investments from their more strategic and job creating companies, and overemphasis on chinese investments that doesn’t even create jobs for the filipino people. Take the Kaliwa Dam creation for example, albeit technically it’s not really a chinese investment.

Filipinos are becoming slaves in their own country. And in the looming danger of a global economic crisis brought by the shifting away from oil, if this wage problem isn’t solved soon, we might as well be cadavers in our own country. (i know i suck at making conclusions and this is a first draft)

Two years ago on this day, I graduated from college. It didn’t feel celebratory. It was expected to happen, and I don’t have any latin honor to consider it special. My parents didn’t even feel the need to come to the commencement exercises. They’d rather be 12 hours away and working. I fully understand the impracticality. It was even I who suggested them not to come.

Although now I must admit, I am disappointed. Not with them, because they actually didn’t come. But with myself, because I can’t make them come. I feel that I don’t deserve the time and effort they’ll spend just to see their son receive his diploma holder at some stage for approximately 5 seconds.

My mother used to think that I’ll be an achiever. I was a scholar and was at the dean’s list on my early college years. Those illusions shattered when one day I came up to her crying because I got two failed grades, both core courses. I was for termination on my scholarship. She has to find a work again so that I’d be able to finish.

Even if i got myself together again after a semester and a summer term – got my scholarship back, and was on the fast track to graduation – I still see myself as a failure. I blew up my chances for a latin honor, I blew up my chances for a nice job after college, and most of all, I blew up the faith my mother has in me. For the first time in my life, she actually thought that I’m not cut for something. That was when I applied for masters. She thinks that my two 5.0′s isn’t gonna pass any evaluation. And even if it did, there’s still no way I can pay for tuition without a scholarship. And during that time, I believed her.

But two years ago this day, everyone was happy. Everyone was celebrating the fact that they survived the first quarter of their lives. And I wanted mine to look like a celebration too. Or at least make it smell like one.

So I drowned myself in alcohol the night before. I didn’t remember being happy, nor did I remember it being a success. But I remember myself in there along with other graduates – hungover as fuck I can’t feel any other emotion.

Sometimes I want to post a long rant about why we should stand for the democracy of the country. But then I realized that my “woke” friends are already standing up, and based on debates I had with some Duterte supporters – they actually wanted this. To them, democracy is trash and we need to be more like North Korea. Because despite of the image that NK has internationally, they find dictatorship to be the Philippines’ only hope in order to “discipline” its people.

It’s sad because while it’s only today that we have lost our trust in the system, they have lost their trust in it a long time ago. To them, it’s only fitting that Sereno got ousted. Because as the chief justice, they felt that she – or the judiciary system as a whole – has done nothing to save them from the injustices that happens to them on a day to day basis.

I remember asking a guy in Dagohoy about why the streetlights are out. After telling me that the cables were stolen by guys from Old Balara, he proceeded to tell me that it’s actually better now. He told me that before the “tokhang” days, those Old Balara guys are unstoppable in their daily petty crimes. Worse, they in Dagohoy are taking the blame since the muggers of Old Balara run to Dagohoy to lose their victim. If you are part of this sector in our population, there’s nothing else you could see Duterte other than the hero who saved them from the bad guys. And from there, everything else that he does becomes heroic, and there’s nothing you could do to change their mind.

Unfortunately, while few of us are privileged enough to go to some good university and learn about what’s right and wrong, these guys – which comprises majority of the population – didn’t. They don’t care about the constitution, or democracy, or whatever intimidating words you have in your vocabulary. All they want is to get through the day and in their point of view, Duterte is the guy that makes that happen for them. If freedom means they get mugged again, then screw your bourgeois ass.

It’s not that I agree with them or what’s happening now. But this is what populism is. This is what the majority wants. I just hope we don’t come to regret this in the next few years.

I see Thanos as some sort of natural phenomenon. I think it’s a narrative on us humans. We are relentless in our pursuit of knowledge and advancement, dominating our way in the tree of evolution, to the point that we destroyed balance in nature itself. Thanos is like the inevitable thing that needs to happen in order to restore balance in nature. And we humans are like the Avengers, trying to stop that from happening because we are so convinced that what we are doing and what we believe is right. We believe we can stand even against the force of nature itself. But in the end, it’s our human nature – our flaws, emotions, and impulses – that eventually brought us to our demise.

Thanos, Overpopulation, and Suffering.

Thanos is the antagonist in the latest Avengers movie. Unlike Thanos in the comics who’s motivated by his infatuation with death, the Thanos of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has a more mathematical and socio-economic motivation in his goal of obtaining the infinity stones.

This version of Thanos had experienced first-hand what happens if population isn’t controlled. He was called a mad(titan)man by his fellow citizens in Titan for suggesting to kill half of their population at random because he had foreseen what’s about to happen. Without the will then to act on his belief, he saw with his two eyes how an advanced civilization fall to its knees. He saw death and suffering. He saw how people killed each other for limited resources then eventually die of starvation.

That picture in mind motivated him in his quest to kill half of the universe’s population. He didn’t want what happened in Titan to happen in other civilizations as well. He believes that the universe needs to save itself from itself. Its resources are limited, but its inhabitants have insatiable hunger. Thus, he ventured the galaxy with his children in search of the Infinity Stones, killing half of the population in every planet they come into contact with. The people in those planet saw him as a monster, but Thanos believed he was saving them. He believes he’s the only one who has the knowledge and he believes that it’s his obligation to act upon it, sacrificing everything that he has in the process.

When you see it from this perspective, even if Thanos is the antagonist, maybe he isn’t a villain, or the villain. He did not want the power of the infinity stones to rule over the universe, or to use it for some selfish reasons. He wanted it because he wanted to stabilize the universe. In his mind, suffering is inevitable but at least in his way, civilizations will survive and will be at peace. Just like what happened to Gamora’s planet, as what he claims.

But because we are human, we have human rights. In particular, we have decided that we have the right to live. We created Human Rights because we are aware that we as individuals are capable of suffering. Death causes suffering. That’s why it’s very hard to see Thanos to be other than the villain, since he only don’t plan to bring a little suffering, he plans to bring fourth half the universe’s worth of it.

The stance of humanity against the problem of overpopulation can be summarized in the following meme:Two plus two is four minus one that's three quick maths

Here, we can see how we humans value life in comparison to Thanos’ character. We prefer to find ways to provide rather than eliminate the excess. Actually that’s why we are planning to terraform Mars, because deep inside we know that Thanos is right. But we do not have the will to eliminate half of our planet’s population (actually Titans too).

But the problem is, population growth is exponential as well as our needs. Also there is social order, i.e. the Pareto Principle. The top 20% richest has the 80% of all wealth. The top 20% most powerful is in control of 80% of all power. It is in nature that even piglets at birth demonstrate this kind of social order. So that means even if we double our resources, it’s only going to benefit the rich/powerful. But the bottom 20%? Sorry to them. They are going to cram in the 1.5% of the remaining resources.

You might want to scream “Socialism is the answer” but that usually doesn’t end well, because 80% of all the work is done by only 20% of the population. This imbalance in nature is what causes war and suffering. We all want to fight for equality but in reality, nature isn’t fair and suffering is inevitable. And the greater the population becomes, the more the collective suffering is going to be.

So what’s the solution? Maybe Thanos actually has a point in proposing to minimize the population. There’s an optimal point where an average individual achieves contentment. There are studies which shows that power or wealth isn’t positively linear to happiness. That is, there is a peak point where power/wealth brings happiness to an individual. After that point, happiness goes a little bit down again because of the stress brought by the excess power/wealth in the individual.

The point is, the greater the population is, the lesser is the chance that the bottom 20% of the population is going to get close to this peak happiness threshold considering that resources are constant. But on the other hand, the lesser the population is, again considering that resources are constant, the greater are the chances that the lower 20% are gonna get close to the peak happiness. That means, less suffering and more stability. Turns out Thanos actually did the “simple calculus” because he knows what he’s doing.

But in the end, Thanos is a work of fiction. But overpopulation and suffering is real. And even if Thanos’ idea of wiping out half of the population is mathematically a good thing, it’s never going to pass as a solution in order for us humans to collectively reduce our carbon footprint. So maybe the best thing for us to do for now as individuals is to control our wastes. Ditching plastic bags once in a while collectively maybe could bring us a step farther from being the next Titan.

It’s also fun to check whether Thanos killed you here.


Weird. I am supposed to be happy. It’s been a while since I crossed something out in my bucket list. But, why do I feel nothing? Is it because this still does not compensate for the two 5.0′s i got two years ago? Is it because I don’t think i deserve it? Or is it because it’s not as glorious as I thought it would be? I still feel like something is lacking, like there should be something more to this than just a number. A feeling of validation perhaps. I want to feel that I am one of the smart people around. But why do I still feel dumb even though I topped a Stochastic Calculus for Finance course with PhD students and economists as classmates in UP? And most of all, why was it too easy? Did I suddenly became smarter the moment my right foot stepped in my dream school?

Or maybe it hasn’t sinked in yet. Because for now, I’m more excited of my two other grades, and if I would be chosen for next year’s conference. The latter is the one I wanted more. I want to build my name in this field, and I want to start now. I want a publication. I want to have something to be proud of when I move on to a PhD. I still want to be one of the smart people around. I want to prove that I am one of the smart people around.

My standards just can’t keep up with my expectations. When will I grow.

There was this behavioral study suggesting that blind obedience to authority leads turns people into psychopaths. Even a random, normal person could turn into a torturer once authority permits them to do so. There was replication of the study which proves its credibility.

As a matter of fact, the first few years of the martial law were “good” according to people, since there was discipline and all. But on the long run, that “good” became abuse, because the power that was given to authorities corrupted them, leading to massive human rights violations to literally just anyone. See the pattern?

Now, The martial law would have sounded reasonable even if it was the whole mindanao, if;
1. Two of the reasons why martial law was proclaimed wasn’t proven false, i.e., that beheaded baranggay captain and burned hospital.
2. Our leader is reasonable and consistent in his statements. “nag martial law tayo noon, may nangyari ba sa atin? wala”, “I will be harsh”, “mang-rape kayo ng tatlo, ako bahala”, and some other ridiculous shit, makes me want to think that he really is up to no good. What if his army decides to take these joke seriously?
3. The Maute are druglords. As if all of his creativity went down the drain and blamed it on the drugs again. I wouldn’t be shocked if some bomb went off somewhere in the visayas or luzon and he declares martial law in the whole Philippines, just for the reason that the drug problem that he claims can’t be stopped. Sounds like the marawi attack was a political propaganda after all.
4. The congress isn’t full of duterte’s crony. Yes, the constitution retains the power of the legislative and judiciary branches of the government. But that doesn’t mean he still can’t be a dictator, especially with that Aguirre guy around. The congress wasn’t even required to do a special session to deliberate the declaration of martial law. Bibigyan nalang daw sila ng copies ng report. Joke lang siguro ang martial law sa mga congressman.

If this is the commander in chief that the army pledges their allegiance to, plus the fact that your habeas corpus friend is now suspended, i would have second thoughts. The last thing that I want for our heroes is for them to become the villain. Again.

Schrodinger’s Chatbox

–(green) Online.
(grey) Offline.
(green) Should i say hi?
(grey) Maybe next time.
(green) Should i leave a message?
Maybe she’ll read it.
Maybe she’ll reply.
Probably she’ll–
(grey) forget it.
I have homework to do.
But instead i stared
at this contacts bar
for a couple of hours
only to see the green
turn to grey-
(green) Now we’re back in play.
What am i gonna say?
It’s late,
I should tell her to sleep.
What better way to start
a conversation than goodnight.
So now what will I do?
Maybe i’ll just open the chatbox
And see how it’ll brew.
(grey) Really.
Why am i always late
in decisions,
in actions,
in every relevant aspect of life?
Why am i only first
if the list is read from the last?
Why am i so afraid
to send two letters?
(green) It’s now or never!
I need to say something clever.
The moon is– erase, that’s asinine.
Are you still u– erase, of course, she’s online.
What’s keeping you– erase, too soon. Too soon.
Maybe i’ll just stare
at this blank screen
for the rest
of my life.