Sunday, July 18, 2010

Comings and goings

Eight days. Leaving in eight days. I haven't packed. I haven't been obsessing about travel details. I remember what it was like before I left for Oz over three years ago - excited, nervous, ecstatic. Now I feel strangely calm. Like my trip isn't going to take me to live in another country for the next four years. But Singapore is close, so maybe my subconscious figured it would be like a trip to Davao or something. I don't have a place to stay yet, and for the first week I'll be slumming at a student hostel. But I'm not panicking. I guess age brings chill.

(Blogwatch) Engendering rights and other things of ambition

In August last year the Magna Carta of Women finally came out of the legislative wringer and was signed into law. Many feminists were ecstatic, despite a close call just as the bill had been consolidated at the bicameral level. Literally a call from a man of cloth had delayed the bill’s transmission from the House to the office of the President. But no matter, the temporary delay was a mere hiccup in the nearly decade-long history of this piece of legislation. The men of cloth were particularly wary of some provisions on reproductive health services and the prohibition of the expulsion of female faculty and students on account of getting pregnant. But nevertheless these provisions survived intact.

Read the rest at the Philippine Online Chronicles.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Inception - not so much a review as a blubbering fan-girl rave

I didn't bother to read the plot, I just knew it was Chris Nolan and that it was some type of sci-fi flick. From the moment I discovered Memento, I was hooked. For the more Hollywood-friendly flicks he revived the Batman franchise. I've seen The Prestige thrice, and I don't rewatch films often. But this is the first film I've ever seen where half-way through I thought I needed to see it again. Nolan makes you work hard. I had my brows creased a good majority of the movie. If you drop your concentration you'll lose the thread of the narrative but rest assured you will be rewarded for your efforts.

This is a thinking man's film. It references psychoanalysis, physics, principles of art, postmodern philosophy and god knows what else. Its ambitious in scope and in the technicalities of film making. I don't know who Nolan's editor is but he or she should win an award for this one. In hands less adept this could've turned out to be a first class disaster. Ask M. Night Shyamalan.

Watch Inception. This film will literally blow your mind.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Inequality is literally bad for your health

I should like to get a "copy" of The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger. Alas, the pirates of the internets have yet to make them available online.I will have to wait to get to a library :-)

The blurb:
It is well established that in rich societies the poor have shorter lives and suffer more from almost every social problem. Now a groundbreaking book, based on thirty years’ research, takes an important step past this idea. The Spirit Level shows that there is one common factor that links the healthiest and happiest societies: the degree of equality among their members. Not wealth; not resources; not culture, climate, diet, or system of government. Furthermore, more-unequal societies are bad for almost everyone within them—the well-off as well as the poor.

The remarkable data assembled in The Spirit Level reveals striking differences, not only among the nations of the first world but even within America’s fifty states. Almost every modern social problem—ill-health, violence, lack of community life, teen pregnancy, mental illness—is more likely to occur in a less-equal society. This is why America, by most measures the richest country on earth, has per capita shorter average lifespan, more cases of mental illness, more obesity, and more of its citizens in prison than any other developed nation.
Wilkinson and Pickett lay bare the contradiction between material success and social failure in today’s world, but they do not simply provide a diagnosis of our woes. They offer readers a way toward a new political outlook, shifting from self-interested consumerism to a friendlier, more sustainable society. The Spirit Level is pioneering in its research, powerful in its revelations, and inspiring in its conclusion: Armed with this new understanding of why communities prosper, we have the tools to revitalize our politics and help all our fellow citizens, from the bottom of the ladder to the top.

Here is an excellent review.

And here is a podcast with the authors discussing the book along with Barbara Ehrenreich and Harry Holzer.

(Blogwatch) Health Secretary Ona supports artificial FP

President Noynoy Aquino was notoriously vague on his stand on the Reproductive Health bill during the election campaign. On principle he was not against artificial family planning but did he or did he not support public funding on family planning commodities such as condoms and pills? Was he purposely being vague so as not to antagonize the church? Did he replace former Health Secretary Cabral, a staunch RH advocate, with La Sallite Brother Armin Luistro to please the bishops? Well, now we wonder no more.

Read the rest at the Philippine Online Chronicles.

(Kamundohan) Global land grabbing: When bankers turn to farming

In recent years global “land grabbing” has been fueled by food insecurity and a chance to cash in on biofuels demand. Arable land-scarce countries are looking at “outsourcing” their agricultural production to other nations. Some have responded to the demand for biofuels after the spike in petroleum oil prices in 2008. Apart from governments seeking to secure their population's food security, investors as varied as agro-industrial corporations, investment banks, hedge funds, commodity traders, sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and foundations are looking to lease or purchase foreign land. The global financial crisis of 2008 may have also spurred the acquisition of more “solid” investments as prices of liquid assets fell or disappeared into thin air.

Read the rest at the Philippine Online Chronicles.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Defective Filipinos and Values-formation for Migrants

“Filipinos suffer from a cancer, a cancer that starts here and that we take with us abroad, a cancer that needs to be cured even before you leave. Values, priorities, beliefs, attitudes: this is defective in the Pinoy.”

- Instructor, Pre-departure Orientation Seminar, POEA

Quote lifted from Robyn Magalit Rodriguez' Migrants for Export: How the Philippine State Brokers Labor to the World.

This kind of 'values-formation' training has been fully internalized by Pinoy expats here. It seems to me that the psychology of the Benign0 school of thought is a complex mix of love and hate.


Sunday, July 04, 2010

Unpacking the Church

In "Chastising Democracy: Does the 'Conservative Turn' among Filipino Catholic Bishops Mean a Retreat from (Democratic) Politics?" Prof. Raneses argues the Church, despite itself, may help deepen democracy in the Philippines. The liberal and leftist critiques of the church as an actor dismiss its role in pluralizing voices.

The article also provides a review of literature on the Philippines and theories of democratization.


Chastising Democracy: Does the “Conservative Turn” among Filipino Catholic Bishops Mean a Retreat from (Dem...

Thursday, July 01, 2010

(Blogwatch) It Augurs Well

We’re inclined to believe the worst in our leaders. It is the automatic option. Faced with a choice between blind faith and skepticism, we are apostates. Is it borne of our revolutionary tradition, this distrust of authority? Or more a fruit of our useless labors throughout the years? How does one cope with perpetual disappointment? A refusal to believe in the possibility of anything.

Read the rest at the Philippine Online Chronicles.