Sunday, June 18, 2006

how the thesis is progressing

i promised to talk about my thesis in a previous entry. when i first started thinking about a thesis problem to work on, of course i was not set to save the world. keep it 'smart' was what a former professor and idol said: simple, measurable, achievable, reasonable, and tolerable. at that time, i didn't know what she meant by those words, but now i am starting to understand.

anyhoo, i am working on measuring the different costs that households of different income-assets levels incur in accessing various services and resources. my hypothesis: people are poor because they do not have access to the services and resources they need to enable them to get out of poverty. accessibility has always been mentioned as an aspect of poverty, but it is seldom measured, and if it is, most often than not, the measurements are based on flimsy assumptions.

to do my research, i went to the south of the philippines, in an agricultural community found in the mountainous region of northern mindanao. in the study area, i grouped the households by income and assets class (high, middle, low) to compare their different travel costs and then to check if the differences are statistically significant (at alpha level 0.05). the actual travel distance traversed by people to get to the services and resources they need to sustain their livelihoods were measured in the field using global positioning system (gps) receivers. i rode the different transport modes that they actually use: animal cart, motorbike, jeep, and walking (!). using newly-developed algorithms for transport/accessibility analysis in geographic information systems (gis), my aim is to have a field-level and more accurate measurement of accessibility costs (in travel time and fare units).

i am not yet finished with my analysis, but partial results show that poor households in the study area incur higher costs in getting to their destinations compared to relatively richer households. and the differences i found are (statistically) significant!

this may seem trivial to some, but what i aim to prove in this study is that there is an empirically high correlation between accessibility and poverty. at a time when the prudent use of development fund is more important than ever, the methodology that i used can be applied to improve the identification of areas that require livelihood assistance as well as to provide better recomendations for building roads and infrastructures in rural planning. it can also be used to identify locations which are vulnerable to natural disasters and to effectively plan mitigation measures for such future events.

i know that ending poverty is a long shot from what i am studying, but i believe that it can be addressed if people would have improved access to services and resources.

maybe this is a side of me that i seldom share in this blog because what i usually write about are my heartaches, and lately my heart-gains. but this is my real passion: working with the rural-poor in the mountains towards poverty alleviation in ways that a geek like me can.

indeed i am geeky, but i try to connect my brain to my heart.

listening to: myself spit the seeds while eating a sweet and juicy slice of watermelon from almeria, spain ;)

this is marc's version of the truth, sometime at 6:09 PM 0 comments if you can't live with it, he can.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

not ranting today

i noticed that i rant about school only twice a year: in early january and early june. these dates, of course, coincide with exam months here in brussels, so forgive the student in me.

anyhoo, i am not complaining this time despite the stress i've been experiencing lately. i even found time to help the partner move in to his new apartment. how sweet, no? have i mentioned that we counted 130-plus boxes?! i can't believe that a person can own so much "worldly possessions" (as i put it to him). but since they were mostly books and cds, i forgive him. if i moved out myself, it would be cds and books as well, but probably not the same bulk as he had.

with one last exam this week to write on environmental ethics, my MS student life is almost over. there is still the thesis to finish, but i know i'll breeze through it.

what's next after this? i am still thinking.

listening to the deafening silence while theki and kimat are studying.

this is marc's version of the truth, sometime at 7:41 PM 0 comments if you can't live with it, he can.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

because i am happy lately

like the scene candy remembered in felicity, for the mean time i am keeping away my sarah mclachlan cds.

it's mozart for now and some jazzy nina simone. the other day, i brought out brand new heavies and incognito. if i still get a little sentimental, jeff buckley will stay playing in the background.

*can you tell?

this is marc's version of the truth, sometime at 9:57 AM 1 comments if you can't live with it, he can.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

gentle reminders

exams are coming up next week. waiting for positive news from the UK and my thesis promoter. thesis work needs more attention. abstracts now for review in bucharest and beijing. these are the gentle reminders of student life peeking its (ugly) head.

but who's complaining?

not me. the partner and i will be going to austria (salzburg and vienna) for five days in july. that's more than enough to motivate me.

*studying in the library

this is marc's version of the truth, sometime at 10:30 AM 1 comments if you can't live with it, he can.

Monday, June 05, 2006

my oh my.

two months after missing in action, i know i have to resuscitate my blog. lately i've been very busy, either with school work or catching a movie or a going to a painting exhibition or watching concerts or having a dinner date. sometimes all of them in a span of 12 hours.

even with all this running round the city, i've gained weight. and that's why my exercise routine needs some stepping up. lucky that i'm still doing yoga or else i'll be a flab. i promise to start jogging in parc leopold tomorrow to jiggle a bit the fat i've stored over the winter.

in between crunching numbers for my thesis, i have had time to go for a lenten confession in banneux, watch two movies in the pink screens (gay film festival), go to the garden of the belgian royal family in heysel, celebrate gay pride in brussels (wearing a pink shirt, of course!), spend 3 fun-filled days in paris with mimoy (and fall in love with the city all over again!), watch movies at the film museum and the flagey, cook dinner for friends, spend geeky time at the library beside la monnaie, enjoy the opera in liege, go to the edvard munch exhibition, dance the afternoon away at the brussels jazz fest, and meet new friends. like this wonderful guy i met.

spring time has been not as spectacular as it should be with day temperatures often reaching a horrible 8 degrees! but like what i learned from alexie, it is better to bring good weather with you all the time, if you can help it. or from isabel who said i shouldn't miss out when the sun peeks out over brussels as it seldom happens. profit from the sun is what ate lea would say.

and oh by the way, about this wonderful guy i met, have i told you that we're now a twosome?

*street scene in paris

this is marc's version of the truth, sometime at 11:56 AM 1 comments if you can't live with it, he can.