Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Posts of the Decade

The 21st century hasn't been kind to many of us. My blog isn't quite a decade old yet, but since everyone is doing lists for everything, here are my top posts of the decade. These were chosen not because they were particularly well-written but because they stood for the things I've learned.


Maligayang Pasko ...in which I deal with my father's passing.


Of Deaths and Wakes ...in which I deal with a few more deaths.
Puppy Love ...in which I feel sympathy from a non-human being.
I Heart Manila ...in which I unearth good in all the dirt.
Of Postmodern Sex ...in which I give up on cybersex.


Worthless Filipino ...in which I learn all about public finance.
Transitions to Adulthood ...in which I realise my own mortality.
Baptism of Fire ...in which I feel genuine outrage.
Driving While Female ...in which I celebrate womanhood in a naughty way.


Dialektik ...in which I write philosophy in poetry.
In a Wowowee State of Mind ...in which my brows hit the roof at another blogger's condescension.
Communists are dead ...in which I bemoan the lack of some serious scholarship of Marx.
On Bilingualism ...in which I show off my skillful tongue.
Justice Cruz just doesn't know when to quit ...in which I enjoy the first newspaper columnists smackdown of my lifetime.
Social (Cyber)spaces ...in which I come to fully appreciate the power of the world wide web.
Rape, Hypermasculinity and Philippine-American Relations ...in which I write my first gendered politics post.


I love America, I hate America ...in which I fully understand the extent of our Americanisation.
In Manila ...in which I miss Frenetic Manila.
Peeling Boredom ...in which the Philippines transforms into paradise.
The Philippines as Open Pussy Country ...in which I feel for the first time what its like to be the 'Other.'
Excising Cinderella, Maria Clara and Inang Maria ...in which I first realise the import of the femininity of motherland.
Freudian Sleep ...in which I realise I am my parents' daughter.
Putting on the Other's Shoe ...in which I learn empathy is what makes us human...which makes Malu Fernandez bovine.


Our (Post)modern Revolution and the Tyranny of the Apolitical ...in which I call on the blind to see.
In Defense of the Public ...in which I see the importance of public spaces.
Are We Poor Because We're Lazy? ...in which Gramsci mediates between Hegel and Marx.
Deconstructing Celine Lopez' Book Report ...in which I realise Philippine 'elites' are losers.
In Defense of the Truly Talented and the Merit of Merit ...in which I bemoan the state of our culture.
Seduction ...in which I realise my brain was in danger of draining.
Pieces ...in which my body and soul were cleaved apart.
De-Everything ...in which I re-learn the skills needed to survive in Manila.
Meaning ...in which I cope with a student's suicide.
I am Harvey Dent ...in which I don my superhero cape.
The Depoliticisation of the Filipino and the Marketisation of Everything ...in which the postmodern has truly arrived in the Philippines.


The Authenticity of Mar Roxas ...in which I am severely underwhelmed by an otherwise okay politico.
Myth-making in a time of Fragmentation ....in which I realise the power of myths.
Fruits of her Labour ...in which I was I help usher in a cultural revolution.
Order, Politesse ...in which I spit on the well-behaved.
Doomed to Leisure ...in which the soul of Jean Baudrillard inhabits my shell of a body.
Blogging at Pulitika ...in which I fight for the right to speak regardless.
A Hope-full Encounter with Bernard Bernardo ....in which I see hope in the young.
Tendre ...in which I have my heart broken.
Beaten Black and Blue ...in which I witness carnage.
The Yellow-toothed Woman and the Book Blockade ...in which I do not champion books.
Roses and Other things that Wither in the Night ...in which I see the ghosts of Malate.
Castrated by Vacuous Argument for the Sake of Vacuous Argument ...in which the rabid democrat in meet is let loose.
Clarity from the Left ....in which I still bemoan the lack of serious scholarship on Marx.
Unpacking Choice and Reproductive Rights ...in which I learn to hate the clergy.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Avatar's Fantasmagorical, Hegemonic Apologies

In the year 2009, the peoples of the Earth convened in a country called Denmark. Over one hundred world leaders met to save the world's atmosphere from man-made pollutants. Due to much dickering, short-sightedness, pride and old-fashioned greed, the climate summit failed. Peoples of Earth carry on as they have for over a hundred years. They continue to reproduce their ways of living on carbon-based energy.

It is the year 2154 in James Cameron's cinematic tour de force. Human beings have gutted the world for all it's worth and is exploring the universe for resources. A mining company from Earth is on planet Pandora to harvest a 20-million dollar per kilo mineral called 'Unobtainium.' The only catch - the planet has a resistant indigenous population.

Ten minutes into the film, I thought, no American will have written this movie. "Is James Cameron Australian?" I whispered to my friend. "I'm not sure. Or Kiwi," he whispered back. True enough, later I found out Cameron is Canadian. And much of the CG work is done by a Kiwi visual effects studio WETA (of Lord of the Rings fame).

The film is a thinly veiled self-recrimination over America's imperial posturings this past decade. Had an American made the film, he'd have been accused of treason. Had this been 2003 instead of 2009, this film would never have been made! As the corporate suit, played by Giovanni Ribisi, coldly explains, the mining company isn't on Pandora to make nice or to bring enlightenment. They are there for the precious mineral unobtanium. In case the audience don't catch on, Cameron uses the terms 'pre-emptive strike' and 'shock and awe' near the end of the film, evidently alluding to the decision to invade Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003.

Avatar is a social artifact of the times, much as the Star Wars trilogy was a product of the Cold War. This time however, Cameron's evil empire is not another country, but greed in the heart of the rich industrial West. The green message is also pretty clear. As my friend says, the humans are plugged-in to machines while the Nabi are quite literally plugged-in to nature.

And because this is the age of the 'glocal' (global + local), the film also reminded me of the uphill battle being waged by the Mangyan in Mindoro against evil Norwegian mining company Intex. The animated version of lead character JakeSully resembled Mangyan leader Kuya P., long braid and all. Like the film, their story has so far ended happily.

The film is over two hours long but one never notices. A visual feast, the film's narrative grabs viewers and never lets go until the very last bombastic end. One almost forgets those are moving pixels 'acting' on the screen. I particularly loved the voice acting of Zoe Saldana. I even shed tears during a moving moment. The only false note was the love scene between the animated characters. I wasn't the only one who snickered. In all, I recommend you see this film. Even if the geo-political (over?)undertones escape you, Avatar is a rip-roaring fantasmagorical extravaganza.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


When I was in sixth grade, I remember students from UP coming to speak with us on the issue of the Philippine debt. At the time, they said the sum was one trillion pesos. To a twelve year-old, that amount was unimaginable.

This last quarter, Philippine debt hit P4.338 trillion. This is an all-time high. The number is expected to increase next year. Each Filipino owes about P47,000+ to creditors. Each Filipino incurred this debt without so much as a by-your-leave from government. This simply means that the incumbent's choices in economic managers (those charged with budget and finance, banking and fiscal policies, NEDA, government financial institutions) are crucial because they make big decisions with long-term effects and work largely away from the public gaze. We don't get to vet who they are. Their assignations are entirely up to the caprice of the Executive.

See the history of Philippine debt from 1995 here.

Read also:
Third World Financial Crises
Dependency, Debt and the End of Resistance
World and Philippine Debt Figures