How A Loser Lived Forever and the Influence of the Roman Empire to the World


By his own account Quintus Horatius Flaccus was a rotten soldier. He fought for the losing side in the civil wars; when the order came to “Charge!” he dropped his shield and ran like mad in the wrong direction.

Back in Rome he landed a post as a petty bureaucrat, a quaestor’s clerk — not much of a job but one that left time for writing poetry on the side. He came to know great architects and builders, judges, sculptors, and political leaders. And Quintus Horatius Flaccus himself never governed a province, never built an aqueduct or temple, never created a striking bronze sculpture.

Still, when this Roman sat down in 23 B.C. to review his life’s accomplishments, he concluded that his contributions in poetry would outlast whatever the soldiers and builders had achieved:

Exegi monumentum aere perennius

Regalique situ pyramidum altius …

Non omnis moriar.

(I have erected a monument more lasting than bronze

And taller than the regal peak of the pyramids …

I shall never completely die.)

That famous epilogue from the third book of Odes has been endlessly quoted as testament to the immortality of literature and, most of all, its writer.

It was written by a man named in the entire known world as Horace. Read the rest of this entry

Slaughterhouse 44

By N Mark Castro

“All this happened, more or less.” – Slaughterhouse Five

Filipino elite cops remains arrive in Manila

This was the result of incompetence: pure and simple.

Because on January 25, 2015, suspended Philippine National Chief (PNP) Alan Purisima — who could not logically explain how he acquired his massive wealth before Congress — decided to initiate a plan to capture Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan.

Despite his suspension yet enjoying the confidence of President Benigno Aquino III, he hatched the plan and by-passed his direct superior, Secretary Mar Roxas of the Department of Local and Interior Government (DILG) and his replacement, Deputy Director General Leonardo Espina.

So under his delusions of success, suspended PNP Chief Alan Purisima ordered SAF Director Getulio Napeñas three platoons of the elite Special Action Force (SAF) police squad to enter the guerrilla enclave of Tukanalipao, Mindanao, Philippines, with the goal of detaining two high-ranking terrorists, Zulkifli Abdhir and Basit Usman. Read the rest of this entry

What To Tell Your Children About EDSA People’s Revolution

8-things-to-tell-your-children-about-the-1986-EDSA-People-Power-Revolution-TITLE-CIt consists of one word and a period, this is it:



A Test of Southeast Asian Leadership: Cebu Pacific, Air Asia, Lion Air

By N Mark Castro

This post focuses on Low Cost Carriers (LCCs) and their recent crises that have put forward crucial things in Brand Management, Crisis | Issues Management (Communications), and Leadership.

Here are the facts according to the dates they happened:

1. CEBU PACIFIC AIR (Philippines)

Between December 23 to 26, 2014, at the height of the Christmas season in the Philippines, Cebu Pacific Airlines suffered massive flight delays and cancellations, affecting at least 10,400 passengers.

It did not help that there was an absence of immediate announcement from Cebu Pacific officials and, worse, the carrier said that the delays and cancellations were also caused by congestion and bad weather. Read the rest of this entry

Taxing Indonesia’s Democracy

By N Mark Castro

jgThe banner says it all.

According to Jakarta Globe, “the tax office quietly issued a new regulation last week to link taxpayers’ tax identification number with their time deposits balance, bypassing Indonesia’s formidable banking secrecy, as it attempts to meet an ambitious tax revenue target this year.

The Finance Ministry’s tax office has been trying to gain access to Indonesian banks’ information for years in order to canvas new wealthy taxpayers or find clues that individuals under-reported their taxes.”

Indonesia’s tax-to-gross-domestic-product is the lowest among the region, which is at 12%. It’s as if the entire nation is saying to the government, “We know where the money will go so forget it.”

Read the rest of this entry

Perfect Angel Minnie Riperton: How A Lullaby Became A Legacy

By N Mark Castro


She was black and drop dead gorgeous.

She married a white man in an era when racial tensions in America was at its height. She bore two children that grew up well, adjusted well, but left behind at the age of 31.

And although she had recorded several albums, collaborated with other musicians, it was her one hit song that went global that continues to find new fans 35 years later.

Hip-hop fans might recognize samples of Riperton’s music in songs from artists such as A Tribe Called Quest and Mos Def. Her voice is everywhere — on your oldies station, your favorite hip-hop song, in the background of Stevie Wonder hits — and you might not have even known it was her.


What set Minnie Riperton apart from most solo female acts is that she’s naturally a coloratura soprano. Her ability to sing in the whistle register (the highest vocal register for a human voice) was a rare talent for most human beings, musically trained or otherwise. Some say her vocal range spanned five to five-and-a-half octaves, but what made her a cut above the rest was her ability to enunciate clearly and beautifully among other whistle-register singers, as evidenced below.

Read the rest of this entry


by N Mark Castro

The Facts

Police General Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan was appointed as a candidate for the National Police Chief by President Jokowi, a decision many feel to be influenced by Megawati, chief patron of the president’s political party, PDI-P. Budi is known to be close to Megawati, having served as her security aide during her presidency from 2001 to 2004.

According to this report:

The suspicion was first flagged by the government’s anti-money-laundering watchdog, the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center, or PPATK, in 2010. The KPK also reportedly issued a red flag against Budi when President Joko Widodo mulled recruiting him as a member of his cabinet prior to his announcement of the cabinet lineup in late October last year.

It was only early this month, however, that the KPK decided to name Budi a suspect, alarmed by the president’s nomination of him as the sole candidate for National Police chief. Read the rest of this entry

Megawati: The Most Powerful Serial Presidential Loser

jokowi-boneka-politik-megawatiDespite never having won any presidential elections she’s ever run, people are criticizing her perceived influence on President Jokowi, particularly, with the series of political appointees coming from her PDI-P party.

With the growing disappointment and frustration of the people, it’s best to understand that PDI-P has been known in the past to under-deliver its political campaign promises.

Bakrie: The Most Powerful Non-Elected Politician in Republic of Indonesia

By N Mark Castro


In one of the most lopsided, barbecued, and anticipated party elections in the world’s history, Aburizal Bakrie retained the chairmanship of the largest and oldest political party in the Republic of Indonesia.

Earlier reports stated that the political maneuvering of Bakrie’s group spelled the winning factor that allowed Bakrie to be voted by acclamation and not by direct election.

In an earlier development, it was reported that “Bakrie loyalists engineered a purge of the party’s reformers — including some its most-senior politicians — at the party’s congress at Nusa Dua, Bali. Seven members from the rebel group, the “Presidium of Golkar Party Saviors,” were all summarily dismissed for opposing the tycoon’s bid to hold on to the chairmanship.

The seven were Agung Laksono, Agun Gunandjar Sudarsa, Laurens Siburian, Leo Nababan, Priyo Budi Santoso, Yorrys Raweyai, and Zainuddin Amali. Three of these men are elected representatives, as is Nusron Wahid, who was also booted out for failing to toe the line set out by Bakrie.”

Read the rest of this entry

The Mother of all Cover Letters

By N Mark Castro

If you’re a writer or journalist and do not know Hunter S Thompson, then consider yourself lucky … at least you’re walking around on earth naive from its ills and divorced from malice.

If you happen to have come across this man, however, then welcome, my fellow crazy human being.

To say that Hunter reshaped global journalism as we know today is to be polite. He rocked it. And he rocked it hard. The Establishment was never the same again since then, either for good or bad, depending on which side of the fence you’re in.

It’s also the reason why most HR platforms don’t know how to measure effective talent when confronted with a seemingly despicable character. For instance, a local company bought the franchise of a media brand but gave the HR screening to corporate HR. They needed to fill in hundreds of positions but couldn’t find any that fit because most candidates kept failing their Psychological Test.

It was in this context that I told my friend she needed crazy but competent people to hire, and that none of her existing corporate HR models could be applied to the candidates she sought.

She asked why.

I told her that Mt Sinabung is currently spewing volcanic ash, erupting like hell, while thousands of people flee the vicinity.

Name me one corporate executive that enjoys free parking, an air conditioned cubicle with automatic coffee-machine, and a secretary, that would fly in to the disaster area, identify dead-bodies, dodge imminent death, fight off soldiers, and report the truth to the audience?

No, my friend, for that you need a different set of tools, something borne out of facing the ugly truth of war. You need different set of people: the daring ones, the crazy ones, the arrogant ones who don’t listen to authority, who respond only to the Truth.

I say this because my friend was complaining about the Cover Letter that she received from someone she was convinced was arrogant and had the gall to ask her: “Do you have disaster protocol? If not, then I won’t work for you.”

And that’s just a one-sentence telegram that got my friend into a frenzy.

So I told her that if she thought that was an arrogant Cover Letter, then she hasn’t seen mine. Nor has she seen a pre-fame Hunter S Thompson’s Cover Letter, before he redefined journalism, his best-selling books became Hollywood films, and a cult-figure for Gonzo journalists.

Of course, there are only certain industries to which it might work. Or, depending on your conviction, might work at all every where so long as you can back it up. Your integrity, personality, and honesty depend on it.

But what about you? What do you think?

Here’s Hunter S Thompson’ Cover Letter, if you were the editor, would you have accepted it?

Vancouver Sun


October 1, 1958 57 Perry Street New York City


I got a hell of a kick reading the piece Time magazine did this week on The Sun. In addition to wishing you the best of luck, I’d also like to offer my services.

Since I haven’t seen a copy of the “new” Sun yet, I’ll have to make this a tentative offer. I stepped into a dung-hole the last time I took a job with a paper I didn’t know anything about (see enclosed clippings) and I’m not quite ready to go charging up another blind alley.

By the time you get this letter, I’ll have gotten hold of some of the recent issues of The Sun. Unless it looks totally worthless, I’ll let my offer stand. And don’t think that my arrogance is unintentional: it’s just that I’d rather offend you now than after I started working for you.

I didn’t make myself clear to the last man I worked for until after I took the job. It was as if the Marquis de Sade had suddenly found himself working for Billy Graham. The man despised me, of course, and I had nothing but contempt for him and everything he stood for. If you asked him, he’d tell you that I’m “not very likable, (that I) hate people, (that I) just want to be left alone, and (that I) feel too superior to mingle with the average person.” (That’s a direct quote from a memo he sent to the publisher.)

Nothing beats having good references.

Of course if you asked some of the other people I’ve worked for, you’d get a different set of answers.If you’re interested enough to answer this letter, I’ll be glad to furnish you with a list of references — including the lad I work for now.

The enclosed clippings should give you a rough idea of who I am. It’s a year old, however, and I’ve changed a bit since it was written. I’ve taken some writing courses from Columbia in my spare time, learned a hell of a lot about the newspaper business, and developed a healthy contempt for journalism as a profession.

As far as I’m concerned, it’s a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity. If this is what you’re trying to get The Sun away from, then I think I’d like to work for you.

Most of my experience has been in sports writing, but I can write everything from warmongering propaganda to learned book reviews.

I can work 25 hours a day if necessary, live on any reasonable salary, and don’t give a black damn for job security, office politics, or adverse public relations.

I would rather be on the dole than work for a paper I was ashamed of.

It’s a long way from here to British Columbia, but I think I’d enjoy the trip.

If you think you can use me, drop me a line.

If not, good luck anyway.

Sincerely, Hunter S. Thompson


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