Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Wang Wang Ina Mo!

The vehicles with the privilege of using wang-wang:

1. uniformed police and military vehicles
2. Ambulance
3. Fire vehicles
4. Presidential car
5. Senate President's Car
6. Speaker of the House's Car

Lourd de Veyra rocks :)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

A Politics for Hope

If the writing is exceptional it shakes one's complacence, not make one roll one's eyes. It makes one want to act, not vomit. Reading should make one think and reflect. Like this 20 year-old Roselle. On the EDSA Revolution she writes:

Perhaps the error was in reinstating into power the very same bloc that dominated the pre-authoritarian clientilist State. Perhaps the blunder was in the return to State strategies that employed both discursive and actual violence that muffled alternative voices in the ground. Or did we perhaps commit a mistake in waging the Revolution, as it was just a blanket of fictitious hopefulness for the country? Reverting to the final explanation is dangerous: it invites the notion that revolutions are mere fantasy formations conjured out of thin air—a transitory drug that sterilizes dismal conditions in order to prepare for a bigger, brighter future where there can no longer be any faults. This perspective snatches away the interwoven narratives, experiences and struggles that lead up to a political revolution. Moreover, it relegates the animating spirit of revolutionary action into a mere mechanism of governmentality. In defining revolutions as such, we are courting the specters of anti-democracy—its ethereal charm, its powerful guarantees, its poisonous evocation of ungrounded victory—back into the polity. In contrast to all of these, revolutions are political encounters, exchanges, and even opposition by warm bodies in the public space.

In retrieving the spirit of the democratic revolution and allocating it to our own political topography, there is a supplemental need to reappraise our notions of hope and change. A metaphysics for these concepts is inspiring and a good critical juncture at best, but if we leave them hanging within the ranks of collective highfalutin phantasmagoria we betray the struggle purportedly waged in the name of politics. Freedom and democracy are far from empty words: they are charged with the baggage of history and a responsibility for the future. What is asked from us by the active reminder of our revolutionary past is a response in the form of a politics for hope—one that harks back to the past either to ensure that unfreedom will never happen again or to learn valuable lessons from it; one that toils with and for others at the present; and one that commits itself to a future that does not dictate a singular end. The radical democratic spirit solicits much from the ethos of revolutions (though not exclusively); hence, our commitments for democracy must go beyond the realm of attitudes and structures that coddle us from the ruggedness of genuine political life so that we may bring about a transformation of the very processes that shape our constitution as individuals and as a people.

See? She is critical minus the self-loathing. Substantial. Maybe a little difficult to read. And she doesn't make tautological explanations that essentially say - you're stupid because you're dumb!

My greatest pet peeve is writing with a sneer. Some people are able to carry it off because they're brilliant. Some just make me want to roll my eyes. Oh lordy, why do I have to suffer such affront. But hey, the web allocates space for bad prose and even worse political analysis. It is a democracy so all sorts are welcome. Now if only the voices amplified spoke on behalf those who can't and not waste space screaming you're stupid because you're dumb!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Notes from Fanon

“Intellectual alienation is a creation of middle-class society. What I call middle-class society is any society that becomes rigidified in predetermined forms, forbidding all evolution, all gains, all progress, all discovery.” – Frantz Fanon

Is it not possible to celebrate the self without false aggrandizement? To celebrate the self without auto-castigation for perceived overreach or exaggeration?

For the young to be so full of cynicism is a sin committed by those who have come before. For received claims of knowledge to be recycled, and with which to pummel ourselves in perpetuity is my generation’s greatest tragedy. Would some have us in a rotoscope loop to live and re-live the same piece of narrative over and over and over?

To make these claims would have our people frozen in time. If we cannot tell new stories, new stories of and for ourselves, then we should lay down our arms and cease to write.

I’d rather thought this anguish over self-identity was dated. But for it to be exhibited in a 21 year old shows me it is not.

Love, Passion and Patriotism

The book by Dr. Raquel A.G. Reyes Love, Passion and Patriotism: Sexuality and the Philippine Porpaganda MOvement 1882-1892 was featured on the Sunday Inquirer magazine today. It is locally available at the Ateneo University Press. It looks mighty interesting.

The blurb:
Love, Passion and Patriotism is an intimate account of the lives and experiences of a renowned group of young Filipino patriots whose propaganda campaign was a catalyst for the country's revolt against Spain. José Rizal, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Graciano López Jaena, and the brothers Juan and Antonio Luna were talented writers, artists and scientists who resided in Europe during the 1880s and 1890s. As expatriates, they lived outside the social constraints of their own society and were eager to explore all that Europe had to offer. Provoked by racism and allegations of effeminacy and childishness, they displayed their manliness and urbanity through fashionable European dress, careful grooming and deportment, and demonstrated their courage and virility through fencing, pistol-shooting and dueling.

Their studies exposed them to scientific discourses on the body and novel categorizations of pathology and disease, ideas they used to challenge the religious obscurantism and folk superstition they saw in their country. However, their experiences also radically shaped their ideas of sex and sexual nature of Filipino women. Raquel A. G. Reyes explores the paintings, photographs, political writings, novels and letters in their passionate patriotism, and their struggle to come to terms with the relative sexual freedom of European women, which they found both alluring and sordid.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

(Self)Critical without the (Self)-loathing

Since our "culture" seems to be under the microscope, here is a list of old blogposts that tackle culture. I think they are critical minus the hate.

What Damaged Culture?:

The point here is, cultures evolve and whether the evolution is judged "good" or "bad" is subjective. A culture is a way of life. And if our culture today means under-the-table deals, graft and corruption, crab mentality, then there was a reason for this. This culture didn't appear out of nowhere. And it is not a natural state of being.


If television is the modern opium of the masses, then our people today must be drugged beyond the absurd. Have you seen prime time TV shows lately? 4 to 5 solid hours of brain-frying hallucinogenic experience. And since there are two major stations airing them, then that makes 8 to 10 hours total. Whew. Who needs X when you've got GMA-ABS-CBN?

In a Wowowee State of Mind:

But poverty isn't merely a state of mind, it is a social condition. Contrary to little "nuggets of wisdom" we, the educated folk, have been taught since birth, poverty cannot be overcome by simple hard work. An ambulant vendor can work 15 hours a day every day for fifty years and still die with nothing to show for. And the "good life" these days mean that in order to be happy and fulfilled, we need a lot of things to show for.

Poverty is social because it does not mean anything divorced from the environment. Poverty is social because it is relative. Poverty can be measured by a sense of lack. And when we see people in our vicinity having many things that give them happiness, why should we begrudge ourselves of these essential elements of the good life?

The Alipin is not a Slave:

Far from arriving at the same conclusions as Idiot Savant, I read an entirely different insinuation from this American historian. Which really goes to show that we are all colored by our own individual mental/ideational maps. Which probably means it’s pointless to argue this point at all, because we not only see eye to eye, but see through different kinds of eyes entirely.

Rape, Hypermasculinity and Philippine-American Relations:

Was Nicole completely faultless? Did she know she was courting danger by having a few drinks and dancing with these killing machines? Could her rape have been avoided had she behaved more prudently? Had she been born elsewhere, had she not grown up in our post-colonial context with our post-colonial mental maps, then perhaps she would not have consorted with these men. Ours is a story of seduction and false promises. Our culture today is replete with evidence of surrendering to the seduction of a “superior” race. Our indoctrination in the early days has been: All things American is what you little brown brothers must aspire for. American education, government, culture, the American way of life. We are but extensions of the original. The Eve to his Adam.

The Philippines as Open Pussy Country?

Taken individually, these mentalities as aspects of our culture colour our perception of self-hood as a nation, and our identities as Filipinos and Filipinas. In combination, this three-pronged mentality is detrimental to the way we situate ourselves both locally and internationally. Our colonial mentality is deep-seated. Everything Western, particularly American, is superior by all counts. Which implies that what is local is necessarily inferior. The Americans have left decades past, but we have proven to be better colonial masters than they were. 70 years later, the colonial mentality is alive and well, nurtured by pop culture, by elite culture, by us all.

Excising Cinderella, Maria Clara and Inang Maria from Our Minds:

Let us go back then, to the Specters of Cinderella, Maria Clara and the forbearing Inang Maria haunting our nation. These (re)presentations are a product of a particular context in our history. They are a product of colonial enslavement and ideological inferiority. While those days are long over, these specters persist because they have been embedded deep in our culture. This explains the incongruence of these mentalities with the actual events of recent years.

Are We Poor Because We're Lazy?

I know there exist people who have absolutely no incentive to work - thus they laze. What little income they get they spend on non-wealth generating activities. One might say, they engage in rabid consumption - of alcohol and nicotine, gambling and entertainment (not coincidentally the more robust industries in our country). Some engage in criminal activities because in doing so their "talents" yield greater wealth. There are public criminals and there are private ones. Evidently, public criminality is the best means to accumulate wealth in our society. But we can't all be public criminals.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Capital's limitless growth

David Harvey suggests global capitalism's long-term survival is premised on a mathematical impossibility. He presents a truly radical idea - the world should aim for zero growth and distribution of wealth.

He distinguishes growth from development. "Development is about investing in people's creative capacities and powers. You don't need growth to do that. So you can have zero growth and at the same time you can also have radical transformation..."

I don't think the world has exhausted growth possibilities quite yet. There are still places on earth we have yet to plunder and emerging markets with new consumers. Imagine the huge Chinese and Indian markets. There are still virgin forests in Latin America and Africa. Plenty more oil to drill in Eurasia. And who knows what new treasures the ocean might offer once the technology becomes available?

I'll give it a century more. Then humanity will have to reckon with what it has created. We'll all be dead by then, so who cares.

Exporting Labor

A new typology in an era of transnationalized "flexible" labor is emerging in literatures as varied as sociology, anthropology, economics, international studies and political science. Scholars have called it the "labor-exporting state." Robyn Magalit Rodriguez calls it the "labor brokerage state."

In Migrants for Export she writes:
"Labor brokerage is a neoliberal strategy that is comprised of institutional and discursive practices through which the Philippine state mobilizes its citizens and sends them abroad to work for employers throughout the world while generating a profit from the remittances that migrants send back to their families and loved ones in the Philippines. The Philippine state negotiates with labor-receiving states to formalize outflows of migrant workers and thereby enables employers around the globe to avail themselves of temporary workers who can be summoned to work for finite periods of time and then returned to their homeland at the conclusion of their employment contracts."

It may well be that the period of migration-for-settlement is coming to an end. In the United States, by far the world's largest migrant-receiving nation, the debate rages whether they should expand their "guest-worker" programs. This would allow flexible labor in but would deny citizenship."Guest-worker" or contractual labor programs have long been the practice in the Middle East, the Asia Pacific and recently in Europe. Citizenship confers political rights. Temporary worker status does not. Should this trend continue, increased precariousness of immigrant workers should be expected.

In the literature on international migration the Philippines is considered the most organized labor-exporting state in the world. And there is evidence that our state institutions and practices are being copied elsewhere. As yet, there is no global regime that would oversee "trade in workers" as the WTO does trade in commodities and investments. But it is not improbable. As the Doha Round finds the WTO regime at an impasse, a spate of bilateral and multilateral trade agreements have been inked. In some cases they include provisions for worker mobility, as with the recently inked Australia-ASEAN-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Forgive me Iya, I no longer watch TV

My rejoinder was too philosophical and the kids seemed to have missed the point. So, here is a less abstract reply to a young disciple of Manong Benigs.

“Arnel Pineda, Charice Pempengco, and boxing champion Manny Pacquaio, these are the few world-renowned Filipinos who have instigated a sense of so-called “Pinoy Pride” among the attention-seeking Filipinos who, after realizing within themselves that as a state, we have achieved practically nothing, would bask in to the achievements of the individuals mentioned in order to feel some sense of self-worth. However, I do not blame people like Pacquaio for precipitating a false sense of pride among the Filipinos. After all, it’s not their fault their “kababayans” have a distorted culture.”

- It seems Ms. Justimbaste has been remiss in her history books. Her professors should be castigated. If she wants to measure Filipino pride on personalities, then let us mention a few Filipinos who are “world-renowned.” Let’s start with the first guy to use the word “Filipino” to mean all inhabitants of the Philippine islands – Jose Rizal. Indonesian revolutionaries greatly admired him long after his death. There are still Indonesians who name their children Rizal. There are scholars on either side of the Atlantic who have written about him and the Philippine revolution. Then there’s Cory Aquino. People Power is a big deal. We invented it. It is a formula that has been used successfully and unsuccessfully around the planet. Google “Tiananmen Square” and “Velvet Revolutions.” Cory was also one of the first female heads of state.

Sex Education and the Religious of the Virgin Mary

I got my period when I was 11 years old. Among my four friends, I was the late bloomer. The prettiest in our group, AA, got hers when she was 9. AB and LG got theirs when they were 10. CE got hers a few months before me.

I remember the day quite vividly, mostly because of what my paternal grandmother made me do. She said to soak my blood-stained underwear in warm water and to wash my face with the water so I don’t get pimples. My maternal grandmother was a little late on the scene, and she said I should’ve directly wiped the blood on my face. I was 11 years old, what the hell did I know?

Great Book Blockade Officially Over

Well, the Great Moled One signed EO 885 before the end of her term. Better late than never.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

(Blogwatch) Remitting love in a time of global recession

In sterile, technical language, what the finance bureaucrats are reporting this month basically means love trumps global financial crises. “Notwithstanding concerns over sovereign-debt problems in some European countries, remittances from overseas Filipinos continued to show strength amid the gradual recovery of the global economy,” says the governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. From January to April this year, $5.9 billion worth of love poured in the country, 6.6 percent more than the same period last year. Standard & Poor's, a company that assesses the credit-worthiness of countries, is essentially saying remittances comprise a force-field protecting the country from "global turbulence."

Read the rest at the Philippine Online Chronicles.

(Kamundohan) Anatomy of high-tech suicide at Foxconn

China is now the world's largest producer of electronic products. In its industrial zones, all along the coastline, reside high-tech factories which supply the world’s largest multinationals. American-owned Hewlett-Packard and Dell, Taiwanese-owned Acer and Chinese-owned Lenovo all make up nearly half of the global PC market. From mobile phones, motherboards, computer chips and optical mice, Chinese workers produce them all for an increasingly hungry global market. They ship to other Asian countries, to North America, Europe and even Africa. China has become the world’s factory, producing everything from milk to shoes to flat screens. But at what cost?

Read the rest at the Philippine Online Chronicles.

Friday, June 18, 2010

In Celebration of the World Cup

Like many Filipinos, I don't really follow the sport. But in solidarity with peoples of the Earth, I'll do the next best thing - look for World Cup hotties. Ugh. What a chore.

Here they are in no particular order.....

Argentina's Mario Bolatti

So many good-looking Argentines. His eyes match the color of their flag!

New Zealand's Winston Reid

Without a doubt the most good-looking Kiwi I have ever laid my eyes on.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Malacañang’s Magic Machine

I completely understand why our new president, Noynoy Aquino, is hesitant to live in Malacañang. After nearly a decade of having been inhabited by its current occupant, it now comes equipped with its own version of reality. It is a kind of “virtual” reality, an alternate universe separate from that which unfolds outside its walls. In this parallel universe, all data, all information, can be manipulated to reflect a world of one’s own choosing.

Read the rest at the Philippine Online Chronicles.

Friday, June 11, 2010

(Kamundohan) Gaza Strip Blockade: Security vs. Humanitarian Imperatives

Israel and Palestine have been at an impasse for over half a century, their hot and cold wars a rich source of human misery. As the oil flows all around these two nations, so too, it seems, does the blood. All too easily the conflict might be misconstrued to be rooted in religion, as often protagonists invoke the name of the Almighty in all its permutations. In the name of Allah, in the name of Yahweh, in the name of God, flags have been waved, battles waged. These kinds of assumptions do not form the whole picture however, and may even be precarious assumptions to make. Because in dealing with absolute faith, it would be difficult to find a resolution based on reason.

Read the rest over at the Philippine Online Chronicles.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

(Kamundohan) North Korea: Fighting to Stay on the Axis of Evil?

In an age of unprecedented cross-border exchange of goods, capital, people and ideas, North Korea is something of an anachronism. Where Cuba at least welcomes clandestine tourists from all over, Kim Jong Il’s little kingdom remains tightly sealed from the outside world. Here is a living, breathing relic of the Cold War era, widely regarded as a loose cannon this side of the Pacific. It is led by an icon of sorts, much derided for his oversized sunnies, his bouffant hair-do and his penchant for elevator boots.

Read the rest over at the Philippine Online Chronicles.

(Blogwatch) Rh, elections and the Catholic vote

For four Congresses, the Catholic hierarchy has been successful in putting pressure on the legislature not to pass the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill. An effective tactic employed is the threat of the “Catholic Vote.” Through the pulpit, the clergy would wield its influence on the faithful, enjoining them to shun electoral candidates who strayed from the path of the straight and narrow.

Read the rest over at the Philippine Online Chronicles

Friday, June 04, 2010

The Dancers on CP Garcia

As dancers glide from stage left to right, their feet took tiny steps as they crossed CP Garcia. His skin of dark hue set off her fair. Locked in a lovers' embrace, his right hand was sunk deep in her shoulder-length hair. Her head turned upwards, eyes fixed at some point in the early evening sky. I slowed the car, uncomprehending.

I had come from Chinese class, full of sheer joy in learning. I could read characters now. I could read! Laoshi showed us a nifty little Word download that would turn pinyin into script. Like a child with a new toy I was so eager to get home to try it on my computer. These days I so very rarely get this simple unadulterated feeling. It is cool-warm, a lightness of breath, an anticipation. But the joy was short-lived, aborted by the dancers on CP Garcia.

They grew large as I drove close. At full stop I let them cross, a lissome pair locked in tandem. Where before I could not make out his face now I see it to be distorted. His teeth are bared as he whispered her sweet nothings. Her face I could not see, but her neck was long, distended. His hand in her hair pulled closer, I see her body acknowledge the pain.

It couldn't have lasted more than mere moments but the image of the pair was imprinted on my brain. As I drove on past I imagined him doing to her what he could barely suppress in public. I winced. My neck hurt, my jaw ached, the floor fell from underneath my feet. My skull crawled as bright lights exploded behind my eyeballs. The little spurt of joy was extinguished and it stung. But I knew it was nothing compared to her pain.

Picking on Esperanza Cabral

Recently I went to a conference and met an awe-inspiring Thai pharmacologist, Dr. Krisana Kraisintu. For the last eight years she has been helping peoples all over Africa to produce and distribute essential medicines that would combat Malaria and HIV/AIDS. Without a doubt, of all regions of the world, Africa is devastated the most by HIV/AIDS. There are over twenty million people now living with the disease in the poorest countries. Liberia, Burundi, Mozambique, Botswana. Dr. Kraisintu also served in the Thai Ministry of Health.

As pictures of her flashed on the screen I couldn’t help remember the predicament of our own Department of Health Secretary, Esperanza Cabral. Here was a Thai doctor, from a still developing country, now able to transfer knowledge on how to combat a fatal disease to even poorer countries. In the Philippines, Sec. Cabral was excoriated by the Catholic Church for daring to give out condoms last Valentine’s Day in an effort to raise AIDS awareness. When she refused to back down, the bishops wanted her axed.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Dora the Explorer: Exploring the America's Illegally?

For over a decade, Dora the Explorer has been regaling children in the United States and elsewhere with her tales of fun and adventure. A creation of Nickelodeon, the Spanish-speaking cartoon character now finds herself in the middle of the immigration debate. Last week, various American media outlets picked up this composite picture of Dora’s mug shot as an “illegal immigrant.”

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Black Keys - Brothers

The Black Keys have a new album out entitled "Brothers." I.Am.Ecstatic. They don't make the blues as good as this anymore. And these boys make 'em just like how I prefer my ice cream - dirty. Yum.