Kudos to the 30 years of Cokaliong Shipping
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Valeriano Avila (The Freeman) - December 6, 2019 - 12:00am

First off, I would like to express my heartfelt congratulations to the Cokaliong Family on the 30th anniversary of Cokaliong Shipping Lines, Inc., most especially to its chairman and president, Georgia G. Cokaliong, and my good friend, Chester Cokaliong. A senior citizen like me has seen shipping lines come and go like William Lines, Sweet Lines, and even the Aboitiz Shipping that gave the Aboitiz company its name.

But whenever Chester Cokaliong invites us to inaugurate their newly-acquired vessels, I can’t help but notice Chester going about the vessel, most especially the engine room, showing to the media how super clean they are. If a ship’s engine room is clean, where passengers do not see it, therefore it also goes that the rest of the vessel is also just as clean. This is what Cokaliong has done for the maritime industry for the last 30 years; giving its passengers a clean and comfortable vessel to go to their home provinces. Congratulations, Cokaliong Shipping Lines!

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Here is another distressing news. Of the 79 participating countries and economies, the Philippines scored the lowest in reading comprehension in the 2018 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), according to the results released last Tuesday. Apparently PISA is a worldwide study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that examines students’ knowledge in reading, mathematics, and science. Hmmm…it just makes me wonder how the United Nations ranked the Philippines as the most literate in Southeast Asia during the National Literacy Month. This only proves that the UN isn’t a perfect organization.

During my trips abroad, where I usually visit libraries or bookstores, the youth occupy all available space in bookstores or libraries, for instance in Vietnam. I saw this also in Singapore and in Taiwan. But I dare you to look in our National Bookstore or Fully Booked and you will find mostly foreigners inside. I really don’t know if these bookstores sell the right books to our youth.

The first edition of Big Bad Wolf at the International Eucharistic year was truly surprising, with so many people buying books well into midnight. But during the event this year, the number of book buyers dwindled. At this point, I would like to see our schools and universities conduct a thorough study on why our literacy rate was the highest in Southeast Asia, but we scored the lowest in reading comprehension.

Reading was the main subject assessed among 15-year-old students in the 2018 PISA. The Philippines had an average reading score of 340, more than 200 points below China (555) and more than 100 points less than the OECD average (487). As the summary of the PISA 2018 results reads “Reading proficiency is essential for a wide variety of human activities from following instructions in a manual; to finding out the who, what, when, where, and why of an event; to communicating with others for a specific purpose or transaction.”

The Philippines has the largest percentage of low performers in reading among socio-economically disadvantaged students. With this knowledge, I exhort the Department of Education to work harder to teach our children that reading is the best way to improve on one’s education. It’s time to focus on this issue. I hope Secretary Briones will look into this.

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When Bong Go ran for senator, many of his detractors asked what he could do in the Senate as he was not really senatorial material. Well, we just learned that Pres. Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte just signed Go’s priority bill into law, which is known as Republic Act 11463 or the Malasakit Center Act of 2019 during a ceremony at Malacañang. This makes us wonder how many laws by our senators were approved as a law by the president since the elections were done.

If I recall a Malasakit center is a one-stop shop where poor patients can seek financial assistance for their medical needs from four government agencies: the Department of Health, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, the Philippine Health Insurance Corp., and the Department of Social Welfare and Development. The law provides that Malasakit centers be established in every government hospital. Correct me if I’m wrong, but the first Malasakit Center was brought into light right here at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center.


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