Saturday, August 29, 2009

Pass the RH Bill Now!

The window is getting narrower and we have until October to have the bill passed before Congress adjourns.

In this TV spot are:

Dr. Junice Melgar of Likhaan
Former Pres. Fidel V. Ramos
Beth Angsioco of the Reproductive Health Network
Alberto Romualdez, Former Health Secretary
Dr. Grace Cruz, UP Population Institute
Lea Salonga-Chien, Artist
Amina Rasul, Muslim Women Leader
Dr. Jondi Flavier, C-Men
Ben de Leon, Forum
Katwo Puertollano, Artist
Carlos Celdran, Blogger/Artist
Tado, TV/Radio Personality
Cesar Virata, former PM
Bishop Rodrigo Tano, Interfaith Partnership for Responsible Parenthood & Family

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Out of Date

The prince says
His mother's dignity rests
On dining at our expense
I say, neither position
Nor birth confer
Dignity, its dearth
Rather lies
In simple transgressions
Committed nonetheless
In such grand scale.

The poodles say
There are things
More important
Than dinner tabs or jet planes
I say, what is ever more
Important than querying
The whereabouts of an hour's worth
Of my labor, I proffer
To state coffers?

In days of old, dignity roots
From position
In society
Here today, dignity roots
From possession
Of self-worth, in merit
And hard work.

Out of date, these leaders
Need be led.

Monday, August 17, 2009

You Troublesome Middle Classes

Bad behavior inspires bad poetry. What can I say?

Oh you troublesome middle classes
Why must you always raise hell
Over every little thing?
Know your place, like the masses
Here it is, the order of things
When the boom comes a-swingin'
They know to duck and huddle
Waddle, roll over and play for dead
It is wisdom to know ahead
The rulemaker will not sway.

Oh you troublesome middle classes
Why must you constantly put up a fight?
With your quaint little ideals
And other inedible quibbles
Like justice and freedom and ethics
What useless calisthenics
Of words and ideas, they hold no sway
Over the real dynamics of powerplay

But then all you really have
Are words and a voice
When the true powerful and rich
Play with their currency of choice
So go ahead, raise a ruckus
Over every perceived slight
Because, in the end
The only language understood
Is might

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Mental Health Break: Pussy Love

Tinay likes to get drunk on strange things. My shoe...


and little sis Molly!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Honor, Shame

Along with the quaint idea of delicadeza, this country is now in dangerously short supply of honor and shame. Palace apologists are turning the tables on the media, with GMA lawyer Romulo Macalintal claiming the media is just as immoral as his boss.

What the fucking hell is going on? In a nutshell Macalintal is arguing - yeah, well everybody's morally bankrupt anyway, so sod off?

On Filipino Voices some people are also arguing, "well, its not taxpayers' money, so what's the big deal?"

First, whatever these public officials do once they finish their terms is their business. As private citizens they can do whatever the hell they want with their money. But President Arroyo is the highest (elected?) official in the land. She is the supreme holder of public trust. We also take in context the many, many allegations of corruption that has plagued her administration. And lately, there's the PCIJ report on the Arroyos spectacular amassing of wealth.

And here you tell me, there's nothing wrong with GMA spending almost 2 million pesos on 2 meals that we know of?!?!?

I repeat, what in the fucking hell is going on?!?!?!?! Is this some alternate universe where up is down and left is right? Excuse me while I vomit, I'm losing my bearings here. Before we completely lose sight of what is right and wrong, let me cite recent instances of normal reactions to allegations of wrongdoing.

In other countries the slightest hint of malfeasance has top officials on explanation mode. Let me cite Benign0's Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's car-dealership imbroglio. Rudd even goes so far as to guest in a popular talk show to air his side.

In South Korea, former President Roh Moo-Hyun committed suicide when his good name was sullied with corruption allegations.

And here our Speaker Nograles is telling us to move on, Rep. Romualdez who reportedly paid the bill is avoiding reporters and the President is essentially telling us to "Fuck Off"?????

Moderate the Feed

Upon learning of yet another thousand-dollar meal, my friend was so pissed off last night he made this:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cerge Remonde's Circus Tale

Cerge Remonde can't seem to keep his story straight on the details of President Arroyo's New Yawk dinnah. Others who have spoken up to ostensibly aid the press secretary are in fact giving information that do not coincide with his narrative.

On August 7, Saturday Remonde confirmed the dinner did in fact take place. He said it was Rep. Romualdez who paid for dinner and denied knowing how much it cost.
It was Congressman Martin Romualdez who invited the First Couple to dinner at Le Cirque in New York. As to how much the dinner costs, Malacañang does not know as it was the host who chose the menu and picked up the tab...
On August 9, he said the amount was exaggerated and said there were 15 to 20 people in their retinue. He also downplayed the "ritziness" of Le Cirque. I guess he forgot the a few clicks on the internet would disprove his claim. The dinner was not only "simple", it also lasted for "one hour." Exhibiting ignorance over who broke the news, Remonde conveniently pins the blame on the "communist front" Bayan "which has never ceased in its agitation propaganda against the government."

Sen. Miriam Santiago, who was with the Philippine delegation, was quick to say she did not join the Le Cirque diners. She even reproached the Palace:
Ang payo ko lang sa kanila ay huwag nang pagtakpan at sabihin ang totoo at mangako na hindi na uulitin. It was a mistake in judgment...
Sen. Santiago also said Sen. Lapid, who was one of the diners, did not enjoy the meal. [ETA 8:07 @popisunga on twitter also pointed out that Lapid saying "
Sabi niya, grabe naman itong restaurant na eto, katagal tagal dumating ng order" contradicts Remonde's claim that the whole shebang was over in an hour.]

On the same day, another Le Cirque diner Rep. Suarez also says it was Rep. Romualdez who paid for the bill at the invitation of the latter's brother who is an architect based in New York. But his story recounts 50 diners instead of the original 15-20.
We were more than 50 in our group, the President’s security and the secret service joined us.
Today, Rep. Romualdez' staff Nick Esmale denies it was the congressman who made the payment, but his architect brother.

In the past few days the story has changed but one thing has not been denied by the Romualdez camp, the amount of $20,000.

Maybe tomrrow will yield new information...abangan!

ETA 8/11:

The day isn't yet over and we already have new tidbits. Rep. Villarosa of last-minute-call-to-Speaker-Noggie-to-halt-transmission-of-the-Magna-Carta-for-Women fame said they also ate at Wolfgang Steakhouse and Rep. Mandanas recounts eating at Bouley's.

ETA 8/12:

As she trail-blazed through les États-Unis, GMA left thousand-dollar meals in her wake...and here they come a-haunting. The Washington Post reports GMA's retinue had a $15,000 meal at Bobby Van's Steakhouse. Hat tip to Manolo for breaking the news.
The group took over one of the restaurant's private rooms and dined on lobster, steak and fine wines; at the conclusion of the meal, an unidentified woman opened a handbag stuffed with cash, counted out bills and paid the $15,000 tab -- which included a generous tip. The Philippine Embassy did not return calls for comment Tuesday.
The NY Post does a follow-up, also reporting this other meal.

The wonders of globalization. Hayluveeeet.

To Get Rich is Gloria-ous!

The PCIJ reports Gloria Arroyo's wealth increased by the 2,000 percent in her incumbency from Senator in 1992 to President.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Pièce de Résistance

I laud Press Secretary Remonde for his keen powers of observation and commendable leaps of logic to explain to us, the hapless public, the ominous plot behind the news of President Arroyo's million-peso dinner.

In an elaborate scheme to sow the seeds of destruction of this country's democratic institutions, the communist front Bayan Muna has unleashed the world-renowned, and perhaps the most popular Filipino blogger, Bryanboy to sow black propaganda against the well-loved President of the Philippines.

In a seemingly harmless tweet at 8:04 am on August 7, Bryanboy reports: "from my friend in NYC: President Macapagal-Arroyo's dinner at Le Cirque here in NY cost the taxpayers of the Philippines $15,000 !!!

The New York Post would later report a bigger figure at $20,000. Profuse denials of using taxpayer money quickly ensued, with Rep. Romualdez reportedly picking up the tab.

And just like that, news of this million-Peso New York meal spread like wildfire in the blogosphere, eventually picked up by the mainstream media.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde is right on the money when he said this report “is the fruit of a poisonous tree, coming as it does from Bayan, which is a communist front organization dedicated to the overthrow of democratic governments in the Philippines...(It) will never cease spreading agitation propaganda against the administration of President Arroyo or any administration for that matter for as long as that administration is not headed by a communist president."

This elaborate, transnational conspiracy to destroy the Arroyo government spans the globe and intersects the worlds of the local, authentic revolutionaries, the cheeky tabloid New York press and the glamorous, gliterring espace de la haute couture mondiale.

Be vigilant, people. Be alert. Be afraid.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The Return of Delicadeza

Such a quaint word, delicadeza. In Spanish it can mean many things – ‘delicacy’, ‘kindness’, ‘tact.’ There doesn’t seem to be an equivalent in Filipino or English, but the word evokes a sense of propriety (what is proper and improper) as the situation calls for. The word implies a care for what others think and the accordant behavior this requires from us.

When one does not exhibit delicadeza then one does not care what others think and will behave despite what has been deemed ‘improper.’ Delicadeza, in this sense, can be seen to underline a sense of community - a device to identify what is indelicate, unkind or tactless – things that are harmful to societal harmony.

Digging deeper, why is there need for delicadeza? And why does the community, offended at improprieties, call for it? A harmonious society implies freedom from strife. This, in turn, implies a just community - where a person, ensconced in the networks of family, workplace and the public sphere – is treated and treats others fairly. Otherwise there is injustice, there is disharmony, there is no delicadeza.

These days hardly anyone uses the term. My generation certainly has no use for it. Our Anglo-Americanized culture now puts premium on absolute individualism. The care for community, for what others think are ‘traditional’ views, relics of the past.

But there are limits to the wants and will of the atomized individual. While Anglo-American culture has no word for ‘delicadeza’ it has other cultural devices designed to create the same kind of societal harmony. There are ‘limits to liberty’ and principles of not doing harm to others. There is ‘rule of law.’ The Anglo-American culture also has a deep well of tradition on what comprises ‘justice,’ that is, what is fair and due to each individual within a community.

I am afraid the past few months, if not years, has resurrected the call for delicadeza. I hear it now in response to the National Artist controversy and most recently the 1 million Peso dinner of President Arroyo and other government officials in New York. I am hesitant to attribute the death of President Aquino to the belated calls of propriety, of what is just and fair, especially of high-profile leaders of the country. But remembering Cory and her sense of delicadeza, I suppose it is not out of place to compare.

More importantly, I think the call for delicadeza is a sign that as a collective, we have allowed our leaders and each other to push beyond limits of basic decency. That is, beyond bounds of what is proper, what is just and what is fair.

If we talk of morality, let us talk of these values. I personally, shy away from talk of god. The deity is such. And we, we are human.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

To the Trough!

This news inspires poetry.

Behold the little pig
And her retinue of piglets
Come pour le dîner in the circus
Drunk in pompe et circonstance

Sip the skeins of success
In expensive bouteilles of power
Madame la Présidente,
A million clinks of shame

Friday, August 07, 2009

Kultura ng Korupson, Korupsyon ng Kultura

Marahil isang bagay ang naging maigting ngayong linggo sa diwa nating mga Pilipino – kung gaano kahalaga ang pagkatao ng ating mga pinuno at ang epekto nito sa pangkalahatang saliw ng buhay publiko.

Sa isang bahagi, ang pagkatao ng Pangulo ay produkto ng kulturang kinagisnan niya. At sa kabila naman, ang Pangulo ay humuhulma sa kultura ng kasalukuyan dulot ng kanyang impluwensya sa ating mga kinatawan at sa iba’t-ibang kagawarang pampamahalaan. Higit sa lahat na marahil, ang Pangulo ay ang pinakamaigting na personalidad ng ating pampublikong buhay. Siya ang tampulan ng parangal o kutya, depende sa galing o tumal ng kanyang pangangasiwa.

Ang kontrobersya ukol sa National Artists Award ay hindi kagulat-gulat. Ito ay umaayon lamang sa estilo ng pamamalakad ng Pamahalaang Arroyo. Sa Media in Focus kagabi, nabigyang diin ang pagsawalang-bahala sa proseso sa pagpili ng mga alagad ng sining na karapat-dapat parangalan. Sa pitong napili ng National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) at CCP, isa ang tinanggal at apat ang idinagdag ni Pangulong Arroyo.

Ayon kagabi sa isang tanyag na manunulat at miyembro ng NCCA na si Butch Dalisay, halos dalawang taon ang prosesong ito. Ang parangal na ito ay galing mismo sa mga kapwa alagad ng sining. Totoo nga namang ang mga ibang artist din ang maaring makasukat ng galing at kalinangan ng isa’t isa.

Ipinagtanggol ni Carlo J. Caparas kagabi ang kanyang sarili sa matinding kritikong natamo na’ng siya’y pangalanan ni Ginang Arroyo. Dalawang bagay ang mensaheng pinariinan niya. Una, binalewala niya ang pagtutol ng ilang miyembro ng NCCA at CCP sa pagbigay ng parangal sa kanya. Mas pinahalagahan niya ang pagpili sa kanya ng Pangulo. Pangalawa, inakusahan niya ng pagiging elitista ang mga tumututol sa kaniya. Aniya, ang sukatan daw ng galing ay sa takilya. Ipinamukha niya na tila siya’y minamaliit dahil siya’y pinarangalan sa komiks at ang komiks ay maka-masa.

Mali ang ganitong mga argumento ni Carlo J. Caparas. Sa larangan ng pelikula na halimbawa, hindi maaaring akusahan si Lino Brocka, isa nang National Artist, sa pagiging ‘elitista’, kung ang ibig sabihin ay hindi maka-masa. Ang mga pelikula ni Brocka ay walang tawad na tumutuligsa sa sistemang lumilikha ng api sa ating lipunan.

Isa pa’ng ibig sabihin ng ‘elite’ ay pinakamagaling. Hindi ba tama’ng piliin at ipagpugay ang pinakamagaling sa larangan ng sining? Sa gayon, ang standard ay mataas at ang mga nanalo ay maaaring magsilbing halimbawa sa iba pa’ng mga artist? Sa kahit ano’ng larangan, hindi ba’t tayo’y humahanga sa mga taong sa tingin natin ay magaling?

Ikalawa, tumaas ang kilay ko na’ng sinabi ni Caparas na mas pinahalagahan niya ang pagpili sa kanya ni Ginang Arroyo. Para ito’ng sampal sa mukha sa kapwa niya mga artist. Para nga namang nawalang saysay ang kategoryang ‘National Artist.’ Ang mensahe nito ay - ang parokyano ni Gloria Arroyo at nagsilbi ka sa kanya ng mabuti ay sinusuklian. Kung gayon – kung gusto mo’ng umasenso, tumanyag at gawaran ng parangal bilang artist – hindi mo na kailangang magpakadalubhasa. Lalong hindi mo kailangan ng respeto ng mga kapwa mo artists. Ang kailangan mo lang ay basbas ng Malacañang. Iba yatang set of skills ang kailangan mong hasain kung ganyan ang sukatan.

Ginawaran si Carlo J. Caparas ng award sa kategoryang “Visual Artist.” Pagkat may ibang umani ng parangal sa “Film”, hindi ito dahil sa sining ng kanyang mga massacre movies. Ito ay dahil sa kanyang gawa sa komiks.

Sa video na ito ipinaliwanag ni Gerry Alanguilan, isang comic artist, na hindi si Caparas ang “visual artist” ng mga komiks na pinatanyag niya. Iba ang mga nag-dibuho o nag-drawing. Si Caparas lamang ang nagsulat. Kung sa gayon, dapat siya’y pinarangalan sa kategoryang literatura.

Hindi sa pelikula, hindi sa visual arts at hindi sa literatura. Hindi tuloy maikaila na isiningit lamang talaga si Caparas at ang tatlong iba pa sa listahan ng mga nanalo. Ayon kay Dalisay kagabi, hanggang ngayon ay hindi pa rin lumalabas ang komite umano ng Palasyo na nagdagdag ng apat na ito.

Bilang isang ordinaryong mamamayan na wala’ng alam sa mundo ng sining, ito ang ilang obserbasyon ko. Walang sinasanto ang “executive privilege” ni Pangulong Arroyo. Ultimo National Artist award, pinapatos. At huli, kung hindi nangingiming magdagdag-bawas sa National Artist Award, lalo na siguro sa National Election ano?

Thursday, August 06, 2009

RIP President Arroyo

This is too good to pass up. Thanks to Ade for the head's up! On top of the multiple slips yesterday by news anchors, uttering GMA's name instead of Cory's....we have this on Manila Bulletin today. Ano 'to? Collective desires of our id?


Aaaaand...courtesy of E.P. LOLZ

ETA again:

They keep pouring in. Yahoo News

ETA 8/7

Via Nash

Monday, August 03, 2009

That Infallible Heart

I have searched for words to describe my reaction upon learning of Cory Aquino’s death. Days before, knowing she was terribly sick, I did not feel anything. Not grief nor sadness but a sense of inevitability. Nothing is finite and all beginnings must have an end. Since I do not have a god to which to pray, I had no recourse to the usual avenues of comfort.

On Saturday morning a friend alerted me to the news before I could plug in. The whole weekend I searched for a way to articulate my feelings and the thoughts in my head. I watched a few of her speeches on YouTube and sat teary-eyed every so often. I remembered what I had said earlier when the false news of her death had leaked, I’d said “Her death will mark a sunset to many things.”

Cory was our neighbor, my playmates said. She lived a few dozen meters down from my home in Kalookan. My playmates and I would come to her house and steal glimpses of her from outside her gates as she moved about her home preparing meals or scolding her children. We all wondered why she did not wear her trademark yellow. We reasoned, it must only be for her public appearances.

Much later I would realize that this woman was not in fact the new president of the country, as older folks would tell me. “No, that is not the President!” they would insist, but rather a look alike. My little heart was crushed as the reality dawned. And here I thought we had something special in our sleepy little neighborhood.

She has been described as many things – the mother of democracy, the homemaker, the politician’s wife, the reluctant president. As a child, she was an enigma, a leader so charismatic everyone spoke of her only in reverence. I would later come to know her politics in adulthood. I would know that she did not in fact deliver us from evil, that her constitution was a compromise, that the restoration of democracy would also restore the old power alignments peopled by old and new faces. Power alignments that had and indeed continue to threaten our fragile democracy. It is the same kind of realization one has when one realizes one’s parents are not infallible, that they in fact are human beings replete not only with strengths but also with weaknesses.

In adulthood we take responsibility for the successes and failures of the past. As our young nation gropes its way through the dark, we too make mistakes. We must all grow up one of these days.

Corazon Aquino’s death marks the sunset of the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship, where the people’s yearning for order gave way to the rot of centralized power and of centralized greed. That was the struggle of our parents and grandparents.

On Wednesday Corazon Aquino will be laid to rest. I can only hope that as any good daughter, we take with us the memories of her infallibility as child and what made her fallible as a grown-up. Our country’s democratizing project is far from over. It has only begun. Laban.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Corazon, Good Journey

Sparkast 1: Transformism

I am starting a series of podcasts reading sections of books and/or journal articles I think are worth sharing. I hope you like my first offering.

Taken from Chapter 2 of Eva-Lotta Hedman's In the Name of Civil Society: From Free Election Movements to People Power in the Philippines:

Transformism, Crises of Authority and the Dominant Bloc in the Philippines.

Download here.