No place for a good tax payer

I’m VAT registered. This means I am required to add the 12% VAT on any service I offer. I am also required by the Bureau of Internal Revenue to declare my Output and Input VAT regularly.

But this is not the reason why I demand Official Receipts from establishments. Rather, it’s because I am actually a good tax payer. Give to Caesar what is to Caesar … you know what I mean.

It’s been a rough ride though trying to wring out official receipts from establishments – my co-businessmen. Some establishments, albeit not following the rules, are easier to deal with. For example, I am a suki at Marks and Spencer in Shangri-la. Unfortunately, they also a habit of issuing me sales invoices instead of official receipts. However, whenever I ask me to issue an OR instead, they unhesitatingly give me one.

Just recently, I had a very unusual problem in my (now ex-) favorite shop: PC Express in Shaw Boulevard. Since I am in an IT business, we spend a lot of money on PC Express. I cannot count the number of motherboards, processors, casings, RAMs, and hard drives that we have bought from them.

As most PC Express fanatics probably know, they are not the type to issue official receipts. They would rather give you their standard Order Slip which you hand to the guy in the claims area. But they never gave me a hard time whenever I request for an OR. Until recently.

Last March 11, I ordered a motherboard in PC Express, handed my money to the cashier, and requested an official receipt. The cashier nodded, got a booklet, and handed me a piece of paper. I looked at it, and saw the words Sales invoice stamped on top.

“Madam, hindi po OR ito. Sales invoice lang po,” I said.

The girl replied: “Ito talaga ang binibigay namin sa customers.” I later found out her name was Katherine.

“Bawal kasi sa min. Kailangan OR lang ang tanggapin namin,” I explained. “Pwede pong humingi ng OR?”

“Kasi po nag-iissue lang kami ng OR pag services ang kinuha nyo. Hindi sa products,” Katherine said.

“Pinayagan kayo ng BIR sa sistema nyo?” I asked incredulously.

“Basta po ganun yung sistema namin,” she said.

She was unwilling to budge. This conversation actually went on for 20 freaking minutes.

Finally, she crisply said: “Kung gusto nyo ng OR, kailangan kayo tumawag sa director ng Accounting namin sa Head Office.”

I nodded my agreement. She wrote the number down on a slip of paper, which she handed to me.

She probably thought I will call the guy when I get home, because she got startled when I asked to use her phone. I called the so-called person in charge, someone named Boots. When Boots answered the phone, I simply explained that their cashier refuses to give me an OR.

Boots said “Binago po talaga naming ang sistema namin. Di na kami nag-iissue ng OR.”

I was tired, and lost all the courtesies, “Requirement po ng BIR and mag-issue kayo ng OR. Period.”

He requested me to hand the phone over to the cashier, Katherine. After they talked for a few seconds, she put down the phone, got a booklet from her desk, and issued me an OR.


Last March 18, I went to CD-R King in Cybermall, Eastwood City. I was prepared. Before I purchased anything, I asked the girl if they issue official receipts. She proudly showed me her booklet with the words Cash Invoice.

“Ito lang po talaga ang pinagamit sa min dito sa CD-R King,” she said.

Talaga naman …

Learn more on On-Time Locksmiths

A Podcast Late Bloomer

What is the best way to introduce me to podcasts? Strap me to the passenger seat, hook up the iPod into the car’s stereo system, and force me to listen to an entire episode of Security Now.

Not exactly subtle, but it worked. After all, who can refuse a half hour with Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte, who, in my opinion, are two of the most interesting people in the world? (And did I mention that I find geeks very sexy? ;) )

By the way, I would be using the word podcasts and netcasts interchangeably. I have more preference to the latter, if only because podcast is too associated with the iPod (who everyone knows I don’t find exactly amazing … yet).

Yes, I have a thing against iPods. However, let’s move on before I distract myself even further and start rambling about Apple’s vertical monopoly (but let me get this out the way: iTunes suck).

The term "podcast" combines the words: broadcast and (egad) iPod. The term has been redefined to mean personal-on-demand or personal audio. A netcast/podcast is an audio (or video) file which you can download or listen to online. Think of it as listening to your favorite radio talk show – on demand.

In my initial search for available netcasts, Yahoo didn’t let me down. Just as it was my first search directory, it again became my first netcast haven. Just recently, I’ve shifted to Odeo, as it allowed me to subscribe to netcasts without the need to install any software.

I also installed Juice, which is what you call a netcast aggregator. It basically alerts you when there are new episodes available, and allows you to download these episodes directly to your hard drive.

Convenient, no?

The National Language of the Philippines

The Knee Jerk Reaction

Any discussion on Filipino vs. English as the national language has always struck a nerve, as I have been brought up using these two languages interchangeably, and have experienced being labeled “un-nationalistic” by some.

As with the other people of my generation, I, too, was brought up with the words: “Ang di marunong magmahal ng sariling wika ay higit pa sa amoy ng malansang isda.”

The education system and culture in Metro Manila reinforced this belief — that shame is the only natural reaction for not being able to speak the Filipino language as fluently as what is expected.


In 1937, the Philippines declared Tagalog as the national language — this, despite the fact that there were 172 native languages and dialects in the Philippines, and the fact that more people spoke Cebuano at that time.

But the country was just enjoying the beginnings of independence, and there was a great need to rediscover the “real Filipino identity;” thus, enforcing and promoting one common language became a prime agenda. Tagalog was chosen, and it was a victory for the then Tagalog President, Manual Quezon.

And back again

The national language has undergone many transformations — from being renamed Pilipino in 1961, and later to Filipino in 1987. There were also at least two major changes in the alphabet alone.

Despite this rapid evolution, the banking, academe, and even government sectors in the Philippines still use English as the primary language, even if Filipino is the language (or lingua franca) of choice in the Metro Manila based broadcast stations. And yes, majority of the Cebuanos still consider English, over Filipino, as their 2nd language.

Strong Filipino language advocates abhor any non-use of the Filipino language, and pronounce the use of English as a primary evidence of neocolonialism and disregard for the Filipino identity.

A personal view

National language has always been closely associated with nationalism. It is, after all, one of the few things which we were taught as the unique representation of the identity nation. The valiant heroes and former Presidents of our country also have given documented importance on the use of the native tongue.

But the term national language is a misnomer. Being designated by the government, Filipino is actually more an official language than a national one. A national language cannot be forced to a nation. For a national language to be embraced, it must be the de facto, not the de jure. A national language should be what the people actually use to communicate.

Using neocolonialism as a reason not to use a language that is not considered “native” is like giving a total disregard to the history of the Philippines. Our country has been, since the beginning of time, a melting pot of diverse cultures. The Philippine tradition, language, and norms are the result of a colorful blend of the cultures of our visitors, inhabitants, and yes, even our colonizers. Embracing a culture and embedding it into an existing one is not a sign of disrespect to our country — it is a sign of sensitivity and understanding to other cultures, and the wisdom and prudence to adapt those we find suitable.

Language diversity is a key aspect of our heritage. It is one of our biggest strengths, and should not be stifled but rather developed. We are in the position to reap the economic and social benefits of who we actually are.

The sooner we accept the linguistic duality of our nation, the more we can concentrate on being real Filipinos. Because above all things — above language, physical appearances, attitude, norms, and even above citizenship — true nationalism does not lie on what our tongues speak, but what our hearts utter.

"The national language of the Philippines is Filipino. As it evolves, it shall be further developed and enriched on the basis of existing Philippine and other languages."
– The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines

Creating a favicon using Adobe Photoshop

A favicon, shortcut for Favorites Icon, adds a subtle touch of individuality to a website. It is a graphic which is typically displayed next to the website’s name in a browser’s bookmarks or address bar.

Most favicons have a dimension of 16 x 16 pixels, and use the .ico file format. Some newer browsers, however, already support .gif and .png.

  1. Download the ICO plugin for Adobe Photoshop at the Telegraphics website. To install, extract the file to your Photoshop’s file format folder. This is typically located at C:\Program Files\Adobe\Adobe Photoshop CS2\Plug-Ins\File Formats

    Take note that you can use other tools to create favicons. I also use Microangelo and IrfanView. I have a personal preference in the Photoshop-plugin technique because of its flexibility.

  2. Using your favorite graphics program (such as Adobe Photoshop or Macromedia Fireworks), create a new canvas. It is recommended that you use a canvas size with a multiple of 16, such as 64 x 64 pixels.
  3. Create your graphic. Keep it simple, and don’t apply too much anti-aliasing.
  4. (Continued)

  5. Resize your graphic to 16 x 16 pixels. If you are using Adobe Photoshop, navigate to Image > Image Size, and enter 16 pixels in Width and Height. Next, to minimize blurring, select Bicubic Sharper from the drop down. Click OK.

    If the graphic looks blurry, experiment with the aliasing and the sharpening filters.

  6. It’s now time to convert your image to the .ico format. If you created your file in another graphics program, load it now in Photoshop. From the menu, go to File > Save As. The Save As dialog box will appear. Under Format, select ICO (Windows Icon) from the dropdown. In File name, enter favicon. Click Save.

  7. Upload the favicon.ico file in your web directory.
  8. In the web pages that you want your favicon to appear, include the following code between the <head> tags:
    <link rel="shortcut icon" href="/main/images/favicon.ico" />

    Make sure that you enter the correct path to your favicon in the code. For example, for this website, the following code was used:

    <link rel="shortcut icon" href="/main/images/favicon.ico" />

Backing up your website

Not long ago, I interviewed approximately twenty website administrators who were in charge of the management and administration of at least two websites. One of the questions I raised was how often they backup their website.

The results:

  • Daily — 1
  • Weekly — 3
  • When I am reminded to do so — 10
  • Never — 6

Hopefully, the results are not representative of the web development community because, oh boy, are we gonna be in trouble :)

Why backup

Backup is something we website administrators take for granted — maybe because we are blessed with reliable web hosting companies, or maybe because the content is not updated regularly that it seems like a waste of time.

But there are reasons why you should keep your own separate backup:

  • A lot of webhosting companies do not restore backups for free. One of my web hosting accounts actually charged $25 when we requested a backup restoration.
  • Mistakes and accidents happen. Even if your web hosting company perform daily backups, there is still a possibility that they won’t back it up at least once. And, depending on your luck, it may happen at the same time that you accidentally delete a file.
  • One word: Hacking. You are particularly susceptible if you are using very popular open-source scripts, particularly bulletin board systems.
  • If your site has a forum or has a lot of user-submitted content, your website data actually becomes more crucial. Not only because your website has a greater amount of content, it also has a greater amount of server load.
  • If you have a full backup of the site in handy, it is very convenient to give a copy to your client when they need it.
  • Some hosting companies, despite their claims, actually do not have a regular backup system in place.
  • Web hosting companies do close down. And when they do, so do any other means of getting in touch with them.

When to backup

How often you should perform a backup will depend on a number of factors:

  • Availability of the resources you need in order to perform the backup operation;
  • Frequency of content updates in your website;
  • Amount of updates; and
  • Importance of the website to the organization.

What to backup up

For most cases, there are two things that need to be backed up:

  1. Database. If you are using one of the popular open source content management systems (CMS) to maintain your website, there is a great possibility that your content is saved on a database.
  2. Web files. These are the files accessed by your users (PHP, HTM, images, etc.), and are usually saved in a directory called public_html or www. Note: If your website writes or reads files in another directory, whether remote or above the public_html directory, then these should be backed up too.

Backing it up

In a nutshell: The easiest way to backup your site is by compressing all your HTML/PHP/etc. files, and then downloading the compressed files. Here’s how to do it:

Step 1: Get shell access to your account. If you don’t have one, ask your web hosting provider nicely :) For security reasons, this is usually disabled by default.

A shell allows you to access your server thru a command-line interface (think DOS). With shell access, you can FTP, debug CGI scripts, set permissions, and even read your email.

If your web hosting provider refuses to grant you an SSH/Telnet access, you have no choice but to download each of your file via FTP, which is a time-consuming process.

Step 2: Get a Telnet/SSH client. I personally use PuTTY, a free telnet/SSH client.

Step 3: Login to your account. Open PuTTY (or your favorite SSH/Telnet client). Under Host Name, enter your domain name or IP address. Under Protocol, it is highly recommended that you select SSH instead of Telnet. Click the Open button at the bottom of the window to connect to your server.

You will be asked to enter your account’s username and password. If your login is successful, you will be taken to the prompt, which is typically represented by a dollar sign ($)

Step 4: Backup your database. Enter the following commands:


Replace USERNAME with the username of your database, replace PASSWORD with the password of your database, replace DATABASENAME with the name of your database, and replace BACKUPNAME with the desired filename of your backup.

When completed, you will be taken back to the prompt. Verify that the BACKUPNAME.sql is in the path you specified. You can compress this file by following similar commands at the next step.

Step 5: Backup your web files.

Go to the directory that you want to backup.

To view the contents of a directoty, enter the following commands:


To change directories, just enter the following:


Replace DIRECTORYNAME with the desired directory name, For example:

cd public_html

And finally, to compress/archive all the files and subdirectories in that directory, enter the following commands:

tar -cvzf FILENAME.tar.gz *

Replace FILENAME with the desired filename of your backup. Verify that the backup was successfully created. You can do an ls, or view your directory using your FTP client.

Step 5: Download the backup files. Use your favorite download manager. I personally use ReGet and GetRight.

Pretty nifty, huh? Hope this helps.

There are no words – Working around Windows XP’s file search

Searching for files in Microsoft Windows XP is a breeze if you’re merely searching by file name. However, if you are using the "A word or phrase in the file" search criterion, the default setting does not work as it did in Microsoft Windows 2000.

The Problem

When you use Windows XP’s search "A word or phrase in the file" search criterion, it will only look into selected document types such as HTML 3.0, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, plain text, and MIME. It actually won’t search through other file types such as .php, .cpp, .c, and .log. So, even if the phrase you’re searching for is included in a file called index.php, that file will not be included in the search results.

The Solution

You can use the solution as detailed in Microsoft’s website. Alternatively, you can do the following:

  1. Install the latest service pack for Microsoft Windows XP. As of this writing, it is Service Pack 2.
  2. Go to Start > Search > For Files or Folders. The Search Results Window should appear.

  3. In the Search Results Window, select Change Preferences

  4. Select Without Indexing Service or With Indexing Service (depending on whether this is turned on or off)

  5. Select Change Indexing Service settings (Advanced). The Indexing Service window should appear.

  6. On the toolbar of the Indexing Service window, click on the Show/Hide Console Tree icon.

  7. In the left pane, right click on Indexing Service on Local Machine, and select Properties.

  8. Check Index files with unknown extensions. Click OK.

And it’s Joomla!

The identity of the CMS-formerly-known-as-Mambo is finally revealed. And as I shouted right at ya, it’s Joomla!

After getting an influx of suggestions from the members of the very active forum of Open Source Matters, the Core Team of the CMS-formerly-known-as-Mambo released the new name to the public on Thursday September 1st, 18:00GMT (or rather, 5 minutes after this article was posted. As Elpie would say, it’s like waiting for Santa Claus.).

To those of you who are not in the know, Open Source Matters is the lifeboat of the sinking ship called Mambo. Well at least it became a sinking ship when the iceberg called Miro decided to hit it.

Click here to read the official press release

More flashbacks:

May 2001, Miro International Pty Ltd, the company whose claim to fame is being included in the default copyright notice in all Mambo installations, placed Mambo SiteServer in Sourceforge under the GPL license, with the intention of gathering source contributions to improve it, until they can release it as a commercial product.

Early 2002, Robert Castley discovered Mambo 3.0.7 in Sourceforge. He contacted Miro to express his interest in continuing to develop the open source version. Robert Castley became the first Project Director of Mambo. The name was then changed from Mambo SiteServer to Mambo Open Source.

April 2003, Robert resigned as Project Director.

May 2003, Miro withdrew the Mambo code from Sourceforge in order to "change the license to one that is more reflective of our intentions."

2003, Castley accepted Miro’s offer to resume his role as Project Director.

August 2003, Miro released Mambo CMS, a commercial version of Mambo Open Source. Miro claims that Mambo CMS does not contain any source added to Mambo after it was made open source.

2003 is also the year when the user base of Mambo started to rapidly escalate.

Castley resigned once again as Project Director.

November 2004, Andrew Eddie became new Project Director.

In the year 2005, the Mambo community notices Miro’s attempts to take a more active role in Mambo.

February 2005, Peter Lamont of Miro reveals plans for 3rd Party Developer certification.

Also early on in 2005, Mambo CMS was renamed to Jango, while Mambo Open Source was renamed to Mambo.

August 9, 2005, Mambo defeated the likes of Mozilla Firefox by grabbing the Best Open Source Solution award at the LinuxWorld Conference and Expo in San Francisco.

August 10, 2005, Peter Lamont (aka seal_ho), President of Miro, announced the formation of the Mambo Foundation. He also announced his chairmanship of the said foundation, and that he had taken the liberty of handpicking the members of the board. Speculations arose on whether the Core Team was actually consulted in the formation of this foundation.

August 12, 2005 is the speculated date that the Open Source Matters forum was setup, based on the registered date of the Core Team as forum members.

August 16, 2005, the domain name was registered, according to whois data.

August 17 or 18, Andrew Eddie (aka MasterChief) issued a public statement that the Core Team will continue to develop and improve a version of the Mambo project, and effectively splits from Miro.

And Mambo-Miro is history. Or at least, we hope. Cheers to Joomla!

Chette will appreciate any corrections on the timeline :)

The Easter Egg Hunt Story

Clang clang clang! And the Easter Egg Hunt officially began!

The Yellow Group ran in full speed. They were warned beforehand that the yellow eggs were a lot smaller than the red and blue ones, and they have no time to lose.

The Blue and Red Group had an edge – their assigned eggs were not only bigger, the team is composed of older children, too.

The Type 1 Parents ran after their kids, cameras swaying on their necks. They’re the ones who stay in the background just to take pictures and carry their kid’s pile of prizes.

The Type 2 Parents, however, don’t carry cameras. They wear running shoes, and are ready to cheat, er, “help,” their kids in each activity, despite assurances that all kids are guaranteed to get a prize.

The Blue Group decided to strategize. They divided themselves into smaller groups to handle the different areas of the village. The Red Group and Yellow Group, on the other hand, decided to stick with their other teammates.

The clock is ticking, and they only have a few minutes to spare. Energy was running high. Everyone was aggressively crawling under the bushes, and lifting pots and plants. A victory scream signals a newly discovered hiding place – and an obvious message to the rest to run towards the source of the scream.

Children seem to be more mindful of the rules, and do not hesitate to reprimand: “Mommy, don’t touch the blue eggs! We can only touch red!”

But Type 2’s don’t listen. They deprive the children the glory of finding the eggs themselves, and they deprive the other adults of hearing more pleasing victory screams.

Clang clang clang! The 15 minutes are up! High pitched screams filled the air, as the kids ran at full speed towards the Gazebo.

The Type 2s can still be found on their knees looking for the hidden eggs.

The Type 1s were unmindful of them, and ran back with their kids, cheering, laughing, cameras clicking.

And the winner is: the Yellow Group! The Gazebo was shaking with kids jumping up and down. Delighted shrieks came from the Blue and Red Group, who didn’t expect that they would be given “consolation” prizes.

The egg counting was finished, and all prizes awarded, and yet the Type 2’s were still trying to sneak in the eggs into their kids’ baskets.

But there was childlike laughter, tickles, giggles, and screams of delight, and suddenly, the Type 2s weren’t such a big deal anymore.

Chette is the unofficial organizer of various children’s activities. Preparing for the Easter Egg Hunt and Painting Contest took much of her Holy Week break, but she said it’s totally worth it.

She is looking forward to the upcoming Kite Flying and Halloween Costume Contest, and sincerely hopes that parents will finally learn to let go.

Hot Air Balloon Festival (Photo Gallery)

Date: February 13, 2005
Venue: Clark, Pampanga
Photos by: Chette Soriano

These photos were taken last February in the otherwise tidy surroundings of Clark, Pampanga.

Lesson learned: The Festival highlight is right before sunrise, when the balloons are being blown up and prepared for flight. The rest of the day is pretty much uneventful :)