Consecrated blocks

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    I FOUND this press release in my e-mail Thursday afternoon:

    Capitol to tap trained hallow block
    makers for infra-projects


    CITY OF SAN FERNANDO
    – In a bid to give job opportunity to the graduates of Provincial Manpower Training Center (PMTC) particularly the trainees on hallow block making, the provincial government is bent to tap the trained hallow block makers for the production of 95,000 pieces of hallow blocks for the infrastructure projects in Floridablanca National Agricultural School (FNAS)…

    I stopped reading there. The editor in me aghast at the kilometric lead – the opening paragraph of the news story – which runs much longer than the usually prescribed 30-to-40-word limit.

    The plain reader in me unnerved by the noun phrase hallow block not so much for its frequency in a single sentence – three times, as for its aptness in the context of its usage.

    Hallow block? I read on: Francis Maslog, head of the PMTC said that the equipment and materials needed for the production will be provided by the provincial government. “They will be paid one peso per piece of hallow block,” he said.

    It was learned that based on the computation of PMTC, the province can save on this scheme as they could also give employment opportunities to the trained Kapampangans…

    Hallow block.

    I stopped altogether, hard put to contemplate on the signifi cance, if not the ramifi cations, of this novelty.

    (Wonder how the suspended Rev. Fr. Ed Panlilio failed to come up with this during his watch at the Governor’s Office.) By getting itself into hallow block-making, isn’t the Capitol treading on ecclesiastical grounds, thereby transgressing the separation of Church and State?

    Careful, careful.

    Or the Capitol may have wanted to claim exclusivity in the supply of building blocks for churches, chapels, shrines, altars, pedestals for the images of saints, camposantos, or everything that has to do with the construction of anything with a religious theme. Ain’t that what hallow blocks are for?

    So how does the PMTC produce hallow blocks?

    Having no phone number of the agency concerned and pressed for time, I had to advance my own thoughtful, if sly, take on the matter. Two simple ways, really.

    One: sand, cement and some pints of used motor oil blended and then further mixed with holy water, molded into rectangular blocks, and then dried in the sun. Two: sand, cement and some pints of used motor oil blended and then further mixed with ordinary water, molded into rectangular blocks, dried in the sun and then sprinkled with holy water.

    Yeah, dummy, it is the holy water that makes the blocks hallow. Else, they would be simply hollow blocks, as we call these construction materials in the Philippines. I have to give it to the Capitol. Ever churning out novelties in the field of infrastructure development.

    Only last month, Headline reported that the provincial board planned a trip to Taiwan to “inspect Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) sheet files as part of the efforts of the Pampanga government to solve perennial flooding.”

    Yes, the Honorable BM Dinan Labung was quoted extensively in the story on the “viability and efficiency of the PVC sheet files extensively used in rivers, creeks and other bodies of water in China and Taiwan, also known as Chinese-Taipei”; on “the sheet files made of PVC (being) ‘light weight,’ allowing for ‘quick transfers and installations’” and, therefore, their appropriateness to “replace the sheet fi les made of cement and steel.”

    Labung even went out on a limb – in the Headline story – when he declared: “The PVC sheet files are also more durable and live longer than the ones we use made of steel and cement.”

    Labung though failed to say how these sheet files compared with sheet piles in the strength of materials test.

    Sheet files last month. Hallow blocks this month. What infra novelty will come out of the Capitol next?

    Maybe…rif-raf – in true Kafamfangan insistency (not to be confused with riffraff of the disreputable kind) – to prevent the scouring of the banks of the Gugu Creek and the Pasig- Potrero River.

    Yeah, inventions, innovations and interventions galore at the Capitol. Keep on trending.

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