Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Dams be Damned - Part 2 (Sep 28 09)

Typhoon Visits Kingsville Subdivision

This is my email to the Computer Science Faculty of Ateneo:

Please be informed that Typhoon Andoy also visited the Ateneo Faculty Housing in Kingsville Subdivision, Antipolo City. The flood near Gate 3 on Marcos Highway was one of the last Metro Manila floods to subside. Affected are the families of Dr. Jose Marasigan, Dr. Manny Dy, Dr. Pablo Manalastas, Dra. Baby Angtuaco, Mr. Pete San Pedro, Mr. Fred Oafallas (brother of Oafallas of Registrar's Office), and many others whose names I do not remember (part of being a senior citizen).

My house is about one meter above Ateneo Road in Kingsville, and Ateneo Road is about the same level as Marcos Highway. My driveway is two feet lower than my house. Under the worst floods we ever had in 23 years, the flood water never went above one foot from my driveway.

On Saturday, the flooding on my driveway reached about one foot high, when the rain stopped. The household thought that the flood will not reach any higher, because of historical experience. But the rain has already stopped for some time, and still the water rose higher. When the water level started reaching my floor at the sala, my household started moving stuff up the second floor attic, and then the worst flood came over our house. Inside the house the water level was waist-deep, but outside it was neck-high. Five of my ten dogs drowned in the flood and one of my two cats also drowned. Today I must bury six live beings. Our Honda City was submerged and full of mud and could not yet be revived. The keys on the piano at the sala stuck together and can not be played anymore. One TV is now caput. Water entered all our cabinets and all our clothes were soaked and muddied. And worst of all, my wife and I were not even at home, since I drove her to the office in the early morning of Saturday. We were not able to drive back home Saturday afternoon during the height of the flood. We tried going back home Sunday morning at 5:00 AM, got diverted by the stalled traffic into Marikina, but had to return to Ateneo, because there was no way to reach Marcos Highway from Marikina that was not flooded. My wife and I got home Sunday evening at 7:00 PM.

Everyone is alive and safe, but not okay.

Our relatives were calling us, but our mobile phones were running out of charge. We had relatives from Los Angeles telling us that for the past weeks, LA newspapers were warning that Angat dam could fail if water is not released to safe levels. I checked the online version of Inquirer, and I found this news item:
Waters in Bulacan dams breach maximum levels - 9/26/09
26 Sep 2009 ...
PDCC reports said the water level at the Angat Dam in Norzagaray town ... administering these dams ordered the release of excess water to ease the ...

Curiously, this article has been taken down (by order of Malacanang?)

My daughter reported that the rains have already stopped and the water level is hardly above my driveway. The big flood came long after the rain has stopped, and it came very quickly, hardly the result of heavy rain. The onrush of the flood can only be explained by a mathematical technique called Catastrophe Theory, since regular heavy rain will produce regularly rising flood levels, not the catastrophic onrush of water released from catastrophic source. So the massive flooding and mass killing of flood victims was probably a result of the release of water from Angat and Ipo.

The least this government can do is to ensure that this event is not repeated -- for heaven's sake, warn the people that you intend to release water from the dams weeks ahead of time, so that they can move to safer grounds. Don't mask your evil intentions under the cover of heavy rain, and blame the flooding on the rain! Face up to your responsibility.

The fairest this government can do is to compensate the victims!

~Pablo Manalastas~

The Dams be Damned? (Sep 28, 09)

We live at Ateneo Street, Kingsville Subdivision, Antipolo City. Kingsville is at the boundary of Antipolo and Marikina. Our Gate 3 is at Marcos Highway, and you just need to cross Marcos Highway to get to Marikina. Our neighbors are Filinvest East which is still in Antipolo and Town and Country in Pasig City. A little more to the east and you have Robinsons East Mall and Sta Lucia Mall.

We left the house on Saturday at 7:45 AM. The weather was fine and the traffic was light, it being Eid el'Ftr holiday. There was a slight drizzle but we had no indication of any impending doom. We reached my wife's office on Banawe Street Quezon City at 8:20 AM and a travel time of 35 minutes from Kingsville to Banawe is actually record time, travelling at a slow 50 kph. I had my usual breakfast of rice and eggs at Jollibee Siena and drove back to UP, hoping to read the transcripts of the congressional deliberations on Section 12 of RA-9369 at the CenPEG office, before going back home. On my drive to UP, the heavy rains started. Quezon Avenue in front of Children's Hospital was already flooding. Elliptical Road in front of Quezon City Hall was flooded and I had to carefully select the least-flooded lane. I reached UP and parked at the CSWCD, waiting for Roda Manalac, who was bringing the transcripts with her. Roda was taking public transport, and was texting me the progress of her travel. At about 11:00 am she told me that she was already near the Petron Station on Katipunan, near Sta Maria de la Strada Church. I decided to drive to Katipunan and then to proceed back home. I would then drop Roda at Robinsons, so she can take her ride home from there. But when I tried to exit UP, the guards at the Velasquez gate told me that CP Garcia was already flooded and I should take the Nawasa Gate. So I did, but I had to take east-bound counterflow lane of Katipunan instead of the west bound lane, because all the drivers were doing it. Before reaching the CP Garcia intersection, the traffic was already at a standstill, so I had to turn back intoUP Campus.

(I'm already running out of battery charge on my Wind laptop, so I will continue this post when we get our electricity back in a few days)

This post will try to point the connection between the release of water from Angat and Ipo dams to the massive destruction and death that occurred as a result of flooding in Central Luzon and in Cainta-Marikina-Pasig-Antipolo and surrounding areas. Please see:

[Bye for now, or till we get our power back. To my friends: My mobile phone has no more battery power, and we have no electricity. We are too busy cleaning out the mud from our house, and burrying five dead dogs and one cat. I wonder if we can resurrect our Honda City and the piano?]

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Is the War Ended? (Sep 25 09)

I saw on cable TV a movie on the British American war. Near the end of the movie a young woman asks her mother, "Is the war ended?", to which the mother replied, "As long as there is a British soldier on American soil, the war is not ended".

Nais ko rin sanang tanungin kayo, "Ang ating laban ba ay tapos na?". Sa aking palagay, hanggang may isang sundalong Kano na nananatili sa lupang Pinoy o dagat ng Pinoy dahil sa VFA ay hindi pa tapos ang ating laban. Hanggang may isang sundalong Smith na nanggagahasa sa ating kababaihan at pagkatapos ay pakakawalan ng ganoon na lamang, ay hindi pa tapos ang ating laban. Hanggang may mga mambabatas na magpapahayag na ang karagatang nasa pagitan ng ating mga isla ay hindi bahagi ng ating teritoryo ay hindi pa tapos ang ating laban. Hanggang may mga Pinoy na sa isip at sa puso ay nanaisin pang maging estado ng Amerika ang Pilipinas, ay hindi pa tapos ang ating laban. Hanggang tayo ay umaasa pa sa pag-angkat ng ating pagkain at iba pang gamit galing sa ibang bansa, hindi pa tapos ang ating laban.

Napakarami nating dapat gawin upang mapag-isa ang mga Pilipino sa isip, salita at sa gawa, upang matutunan nating mahalin ang ating bayan, sapagka't tayo lamang ang maaaring magmahal sa ating kapwa Pilipino.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Death of Election 2010 Source Code Review (Sep 23 09)

If you saw the ANC special on Election 2010 at 8:00 o'clock PM on Monday night, where I asked Comelec when the source code of the Election 2010 computer programs will be released for review by interested political parties and groups, Director Rafanan said that CenPEG will not do a source code review, but a international certification agency will do the review as a prerequisite to TEC certification. After customization in November 2009, and after code review by that international certification agency in February 2010, the source code will be "shown" to interested political parties, but not reviewed by them. The PPCRV representative and Ramon Casiple and Renato Garcia even added that the source code will be presented in much the same manner that a company shows its financial statements to the public.

My daughter Karen keeps telling me that I should not cite the law, RA-9369 Section 12, which reads:

"Once an AES technology is selected for implementation, the Commission shall promptly make the source code of that technology available and open to any interested political party or groups which may conduct their own review thereof."

She says that I should not cite the law to the lawyers of COMELEC, since they are better at the law, and they can can twist the meaning of the law to whatever they want the law to look like. But I argue with her that this provision is not just a question of law, but a question of computer technology as well, at which I am slightly better than the lawyers of COMELEC. No matter how I twist and turn and squeeze and pull and push these words of Section 12, I see no way out but for COMELEC to release the source code to the political parties and groups who are interested, and showing them the advertizing page of a company giving a healthy financial statement of the company is not a substitute for source code review. Ask any computer programmer, ask Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio, ask the members of the Philippine Linux Users' Group and they will NEVER agree that showing the public a certification by an international certification agency that states that the Dominion Voting Systems "Democracy Suite Ballot Marking System plus the Democracy Suite Image Cast" has been certified and is suitable for use in the Primaries in New York, is not an acceptable certification that the "Democracy Suite Image Cast" alone (which Smartmatic has renamed to SAES-1800 PCOS computer) is suitable for use in the Philippines.

What I do not understand is why "computer security experts" like Mr. Mata and others from the CyberSecurity groups do not want the political parties to do a source code review. Why should reviewing the source code make the election programs more susceptible to external attacks? Have they not seen the experience of Linux and OpenOffice and GIMP and so many other programs that are freely available on the Net? Their source codes are available for ANYONE to download and review and modify to their hearts' content, and never have I seen a report stating that the security of Linux or OpenOffice or GIMP has been compromised as a result of these reviews. On the other hand, the source code of Microsoft Windows XP and Vista, are not available for download anywhere, and yet there are gazillions of viruses and vulnerabilities of Windows. This is because opening up the source code for review allows more people to study and to help correct the vulnerabilities. These corrections for improvement can be accepted by COMELEC, if it wants and rejected otherwise. It is still COMELEC's call. It is COMELEC's acceptance or rejection of suggestions for improvements that will determine the future quality of the election programs, not the source code review itself.

But Director Rafanan has already made his final word on the issue, and I believe Director Rafanan's word is god's word. May God bless COMELEC, and may I ask, like Jesus asked, to "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do".

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Installing MPI (Sep 20 09)

My daughter (Karen) and I are studying parallel programming in MPI. We have these beautiful books, "Parallel Programming in C with MPI and OpenMP" by Michael Quinn and "Parallel Programming with MPI" by Peter Pacheco to serve as guides. All we need are the actual MPI support libraries and include files. Karen intends to run parallel programs on her four-node Rockscluster at the UP-NIMBB. For test-programming at home, we need to try out our ideas on our personal laptops, before trying on the cluster.

We decided to standardize on the MPI implementation MPICH from Argonne National Laboratories, since our friend Allan Espinosa works there, and should we get into problems, we can always email him. On Karen's Ubuntu Jaunty laptop, all she needed to do start Synaptic Package Manager, select mpich2 and mpich2-dev, and everything is installed for her. Ubuntu is truly friendly to human beings (specially the parallel computing kind).

On my Fedora Leonidas laptop, typing the command "yum install mpich2 mpich2-devel" does not work. I had to do a manual rpmfind to locate the rpms that I need. If you use Leonidas, you will need to get the following:

Use the "rpm -i" command to install these rpms. The MPI header file will be installed in /usr/include/mpich2/mpi.h, and the libraries will be installed in /usr/lib/mpich2/", which are fairly standard places. Thus our C source code should have the include directive


and our gcc command line should look like

gcc myprog.c ... -L/usr/lib/mpich2 -lmpich -o myprog

Thus we need to add -L and -l among other compiler directives.

Since building a compute cluster is fairly cheap at current Gilmore prices, and since the necessary development tools are freely downloadable, every scientist can now experiment with parallel computing, and pretend that you were using a Cray computer, while sipping Philippine Barako coffee. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Election 2010 Wallpaper (Sep 10 09)

If you are looking for a wallpaper for your laptop or desktop computer, here is the wallpaper that is strongly recommended for your use. The wallpaper is not only beautiful, but is also cool to the eyes, because green is known to be a restful color. Also we have here a plea, a request, a prayer, for COMELEC to release the source code of the election 2010 computer programs, because that is the honorable thing to do. It is the lawful thing to do. Comelec should not keep promising to the electorate that it will release the source code, should not keep making press releases that it will release the source code, when in reality it has no intention to do so, and has in fact written to CenPEG, and has given impossible conditions for CenPEG to join a Dominion-Smartmatic-Comelec-supervised closed-door, no external communication, review of some source code, which may not even be the source code of the election 2010 computer programs!

Where is the source code that is supposed to be in escrow at the Central Bank? Where is the source code that Comelec is supposed to release to all interested political parties and groups, for their "own review", as soon as the technology is chosen (for implementation) in the second week of June? It has been three months since the technology was chosen for implementation, and yet there is no source code. Chairman Melo, Commisioner Rene Sarmiento, Executive Director Tolentino, SBAC Chief Atty Rafanan, CAC Chair Mr. Roxas-Chua, CAC member Mr. Garcia, COMELEC TEC Chair and ASTI Director Denis Villorente, members of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee, where are the source codes of the PCOS and CCS computer programs? Why don't you obey the law and prove that Comelec is a law-abiding government agency?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Supreme Court Upholds Poll Automation (Sep 09 09)

In a news report at Inquirer.Net, Comelec Chairman Melo announced that the Supreme Court has ruled that the automation of the 2010 elections is legal. I do not understand why Chairman Melo is making this announcement and not the Supreme Court. You can read the rest of the Inquirer report here:

Where does that leave Atty Harry Roque and the Concerned Citizens' Movement? I was at the Supreme Court during the pleadings, and I personally believe that Atty Roque made more sense (to me as an IT person), than either the government counsel for Comelec, or Atty Lazatin for Smartmatic. But the Supreme Court has decided, and we have to respect the decision of the highest court of the land.

My heart goes to Atty Harry Roque, though.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Ateneo 150 Fedora Linux Wallpaper (Sep 07 09)

On the occasion of the Ateneo sesquicentennial (150th anniversary 1859-2009), I am posting a modified version of the Fedora 11 Leonidas Noontime wallpaper. You can use this as wallpaper for any of your GNU/Linux distro (Ubuntu, Fedora, Debian, CentOS) or even as a wallpaper for your Windows Vista / Windows7 desktop, if you are not too particular about your Windows loyalty. I think the wallpaper is simple but pretty. Also it reminds you that your school has been around for 150 years, educating the Filipino with its ratio studiorum, with the required readings in literature, theology, history, philosophy, with the problem sets in mathematics and physics, with the rigor of legal training, and now with clinical work in medicine. Which school is crazy enough to want to mold Filipinos with Christian, Catholic, Filipino and Jesuit values?

Only Ateneo!

Saturday, September 05, 2009

The Women of Gabriela (Sep 06 09)

On Saturday, August 29, 2009, the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG) gave a briefing on the Automated Election System (AES) 2010 to the members of Gabriela in its offices in Quezon City. Miss Elsa Gines gave a presentation on the "Five Technical Vulnerabilities of AES2010", and Mr. Bobby Tuazon gave a presentation on the "Vulnerabilities in the Management and Legal Aspects of AES2010". The room was full of women participants, although there were a few men and some children around. The women were serious and were intent at listening to the presentations. And they were taking notes! An open forum followed after the talks. The two most important questions were: (1) What procedures have been put in place in case a machine breaks down and there are no replacement machines available? (2) We want to be poll watchers -- how do we watch the fully computerized election of May 2010? I think these are two questions which COMELEC has to answer, and answer soon.

CenPEG has given many briefings about the AES2010 -- to teachers of ACT, to lawyers of the UP College of Law, to members of the Concerned Citizens Movement, to the nuns (and priests) of the Association of Major Religious Superiors, and to other groups. The women of Gabriela are my personal favorites. They are serious, they are involved, and they want to take correct action.

Long live the women of Gabriela!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Parallel Programming with MPI and OpenMP (Sep 02 09)

Last week, I attended the course "Multi-Core Faculty Training" given by Intel at the Department of Computer Science of the University of the Philippines - Diliman. Our trainors were Rama Malladi and Vipin Kumar of Intel-India. The participants were computer science faculty of various universities in the Philippines. The training was about programming threads on Intel multi-processor computers, called Intel multi-core computers, without the need to use the POSIX threads application programming interface (API) [1]. In particular, we used the Intel Threading Building Blocks [2], which is actually an implementation of the OpenMP [3] standard. The laboratory exercises were done on Intel Core2 Quad (four-processor) computers with one MB ram, running 64-bit Windows XP Professional. We used Microsoft Visual Studio with Intel C/C++ compilers, Intel VTune Performance Analyzer, Intel Thread Checker, and Intel Thread Profiler. It was a pretty interesting course, made slightly less interesting by the fact that we used Windows when professional scientific practice on multi-threading almost always happens on Linux scientific clusters. This is a slight oversight on the part of Intel, which is, after all, a closed-source commercial software vendor like Microsoft.

After the course, I decided to find out what similar tools are available for Linux, and I found that all recent versions of the GNU compiler collection [4] already support OpenMP, including the most recent gcc-4.4 C/C++ compiler. This means that all the friendly tools like Eclipse and similar IDEs automatically support OpenMP. I also found a beautiful book, "Parallel Programming in C with MPI and OpenMP" by Michael Quinn [5]. MPI stands for message passing interface [6], and it is a tool for dividing up a big program into smaller pieces for execution in several separate computers connected by fast network switches. OpenMP, on the other hand, is a tool for executing a program as several threads in one multi-core computer, without the programmer worrying about API calls like pthread_create() and pthread_join(). So MPI and OpenMP are the tools that we need for programming clusters of Intel Core2 Duo/Quad/etc computers.

Today, even the poor computing science researcher can construct using commodity products, compute clusters of cheap Intel multi-core computers, and pretend that they are gods computing with very expensive Cray super computers. Isn't life beautiful?

End notes:

[1] On a Linux box, type the command "man pthreads" to get an idea of the POSIX threads API.

[2] The Intel TBB documentation can be found here:

[3] The official website of OpenMP is

[4] The GNU compiler collection is supplied as standard on most Linux distributions. Its documentation is available froma the website

[5] Michael Quinn, "Parallel Programming in C with MPI and OpenMP", McGraw-Hill, NY, 2004, xiv + 529 pages

[6] Documentation for MPI is available from