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Re-defining Our Fight

August 7, 2009 15 comments

The death of Cory Aquino spurred an emotion of solidarity among the Filipinos especially those who have witnessed the downfall of the Philippine Republic under the dictatorship of Marcos. The yellow flowers, ribbons and scattered confetti reminded us of the glorious day when the dictator was finally subjected to the undying thirst for justice, peace and clean governance, and we started to redefine our stand in more solid ground. Then we found ourselves looking at the bright aspect delineated to the changes in socio-political affair.  We have become a proud nation to achieve much in the global scene by crowding the streets armed with sentiments like that of the First Quarter Storm and the huge thirst quenching the EDSA revolution. We won the fight like eager mice trudging the dangerous path packed with hungry cats and successfully grabbed a piece of cheese that is worth our nation’s pride: exactly what Prometheus did among the sleeping gods.

Yes, we have won the fight. The question is what kind of fight? I do not claim to know more than anyone else about the ordeal of our country, but since the problem is apparent and could easily be pondered over a cup of coffee or a simple mind break in carenderia, it is my wish to say something  of what I percieve about it. After all, things are seen in various epistemological angles and one has the right to say what he thinks of the current situation in our country that escalates between the believers and the incredulous. Mind you, the danger may all be depending on what we believe. Sometimes, it takes more than courage and pure whim to unravel what should be done to re-define our common ground in order to prosper as a nation. And yes, we are constantly struggling to find our way to fight the foes that hurdle us to this redefinition of ourselves. Again – What kind of fight?

When you look back to our history, we could see that the Filipino people are fighting all their lives. First we showed our valor by toppling the Spanish colonizers only to realize it was just a coy for the entrance of Americans after we had been sold for more than a million dollars. After realizing that we are like turn-tables that have been passed from one hand to another, we plotted skirmishes to highlight our willingness to stand for what is right even if  it meant sacrificing lives against the super-power nation. It was a kind of fight where we repelled invasion just to preserve our natural identity as Filipinos. And after each success we tend to drown into oblivion the essence of such revolutions as an initial ladder to realizing our long-search for true identity.

The second phase of revolution has taken a different form. Unlike the first one which can be regarded as an external fight to defend our sovereignty, the latter is a kind of introspection: Our fight is not against external forces but individuals amongst us. Examples of this are the EDSA 1 and 2 Revolutions where we ousted individuals who have been traitors to their own kind. Because of our nescience on which ground to stand on, we allowed the budding evil to morph with us that in the end caught us off-guard. People have suffered more than they have during colonization because the adversary knew the nook and crook of how to play the devil’s game.  Thus, we have to fight harder to reverse the damage they brought.

Then the pattern continues. This time revolution moves deeper. How many times have we rallied in the street to shout that the government step out and leave their seats? How many times did we condemn cheating and malevolence in the administration because they have not been stealing from the national treasury? If you still consider this a good fight, then you are merely stranded in the second phase of revolution. What I am trying to say is that there are wicked individuals we see apart from ourselves. If you come to think of it, the worst enemy is ourselves which we are collectively unmindful of. We can all attest to this from the simple instance of throwing our garbage on the street to preserving corrupt officials by being loyal to them because of utang ng loob. We may laugh at this at times because this is so trivial to take into account, but when you look at its effect, there is no sheer difference between you and the one you are loathing. You cannot simply wipe out the dirt by dirt. Thus, by reflecting on it, it all boils to one ultimate premise: The Self. This self is not just the battle of some or of groups of political factions but of every Filipino who are tired of the maelstrom of history where a single mistake in the past is revived back to the concurrent political arena.

Hence, it is when we have waged war against ourselves that we become infectious and worthy in re-defining our ground. Just imagine how a good self can transform other lives like what Mother Teresa and of John Paul II did. If you replicate it a hundred times, then this country may already be a happy nation. Yet no matter how ideal this may sound, it could be achieved when we will it to happen. With what’s happening to our country, amidst turmoil, I guess, the greatest message of the death of Ninoy and Cory is just one: Beware, we are our greatest enemy. And by taking this message by heart, only then shall we authentically define the real fight for our nation.ninoy

Traveling: My Mental Escapade

July 27, 2009 14 comments

drivingLiving 30 kms. outside the city of Iloilo, I have to get used to traveling everyday. That means if I want to be in the office at 8, I have to get ready before the sun rises to catch a transport bus to Tagbak Terminal at 6:30. Since it usually takes an hour of bus ride from our place to Tagbak Terminal, I usually disembark the bus at 7:30 and have to board a jeepney right away for the office. Sometimes it takes more than 30 minutes before I reach my destination depending on the speed of a jeepney. Presumptuously, my travel is far longer than the SONA that President Arroyo will be delivering this afternoon – for if you sum it all up, you will notice that I travel one and a half hours for just going to the office. Actually I really don’t mind because this seems to me a natural routine and I have been used to transporting myself to at least 76 kms (to the city and back) daily excluding the distance traveled during my field works. In short, I am a traveler by my own rights.

But the distance doesn’t matter to me.  As you might notice, I even enjoy it. The farthest my destination is, the better it becomes. Let alone the problem of fares for I have the way to abate it by showing my UP ID which will expire on 2012 pa (hehehe). Anyway, traveling is such a leisure for me despite trudging the same route everyday. Why? Because when I travel, my mind travels with me and I couldn’t help but to think deeply on some things that crosses my attention. Let me share some of the most apparent things that I noticed today:

UNO: While looking outside the bus, you could see that the election is steaming up. This might be the same with other places around the country where electric posts and school façades are awfully ornamented by smiles of the prospective presidentiables. In particular, have you noticed Villar’s visage is becoming ubiquitous? From congratulating the graduates to welcoming the freshmen, from greetings of Mother’s day to that of Father’s day, from simple punch lines of Sipag at Tiyaga to Murang Pabahay, from Iloilo, Banwa Ko to Villards-tulong sa pagsulong ng Philippine sports, you could see his smiling face  in every corner through tarpaulins and streamers. Quack! If you notice, he is actually standing for his motto Sipag at Tiyaga – that is why he is campaigning as early as now. But if you think deeply, it’s about Pera at Tiyaga. Remember that politics connotes a big-shot money game, and whoever has the biggest pocket coupled by publicity and Tiyaga will definitely triumph; and Villar knows that very well. Don’t be fooled brethren! I just hope when you look at his picture, you would also think of the price of his smile or what’s at stake behind his smile. It is only by that that we come to think of other prospects who possess characters like integrity, intelligence, managerial skills, etc; or try to turn our gaze to other candidates that doesn’t speak but has engraved remarkable accomplishments like Bayani and Gibo Teodoro. Just think wise.

DOS: Who cannot notice of garbage in our surroundings? It flies, it rolls, and it happily crosses the street when blown by the wind. Although it provides opportunities for the poor to make money out of it, it nevertheless remains an eyesore. Let’s accept it: there is no such thing as waste. When man creates something, I am sure he creates it out of necessity. Whatever man created surely has use and possesses potentiality for other uses. Take the example of a plastic bag: aside from using it as a basket, it could also serve several uses such as container for other things at home. What is more interesting about a plastic bag is the fact that it can be recycled. And this is not just about plastic: all non-living things especially non-biodegradable are all recyclable.  And when you come to think of it, cleaning our planet is always in our reach and all you have to do is to think that “there is no such thing as waste”. So, when necessity is the mother of all inventions, waste is the most foolish invention a man has ever had – and it is not created out of necessity but lavishness and lethargy.

TRES: From 2008-2009, Real Estate developments in Iloilo increased by more than 50%.  This is quite amazing in so far as real property tax is concerned but may endanger the agricultural production over the year. At about 30% of some agricultural lands are converted if not declared as idle lands for further residential developments. The result is the appearance of streamers and ads on “House for Sale” or “Lots for Sale” that competes with the face of Manny Villar. Because the market in Iloilo is big, streamers doubled up in a matter of just one month. Tsk tsk tsk….Oh, Lord what happened? You gave us the land for free but were subjected into the enterprising elements of some. First, the land was divided into continent (Fine). Then by country (still fine). Then by administrative areas (ok, still fine). But this was divided again into small pieces down to a basic square meter which costs more than an average annual income of the poor (very bad!). Please have pity, oh God.

CUATRO: From Tagbak Terminal to office, I had a funny time counting the many Purified Water and Refill stations. In a matter of 7 kms.interval between the bus terminal and my office, I counted 13 stations. The number is believed to be unlucky by popular culture. Of course, it is unlucky since it will be doubled in a year because the demand for mineral water is constantly increasing. And surely there will come a time that when you speak of water, it automatically entails money. It is just amusing that big cities as New York, calls for the residents to take underground water because it’s clean and free. But that’s not the case in the Philippines. Whew!

CINCO: Last but not the least: When you are riding a jeepney, who wouldn’t notice a sexy lady sitting in front of you? In my case, she wore a green spaghetti dress with a very short skirt that will make you wonder if there is a shortage of textile in global market.

You know, it’s a big irony that amidst the global warming, clothes are becoming shorter and skimpier when in fact they should be made to hide our skin against UV rays. I guess the trend had turned a total opposite now. Today, nakedness becomes a trend where minimal clothing will suffice (hahaha). However, it could also be seen in a different way. Since we are sweating like hell due to extreme heat, I guess the picture below has a very good point.

global-warming-underwear

Anyway, that’s all for my travel amusement. Got to watch GMA SONA pa…hope something good will come out of it.

***

P.S. 1. President’s SONA is done. Superb! If there is one thing that can attest to her accomplishments – it is the statistics. Numbers just dont lie.

2. How would you imagine our country being managed by Estrada and Villar, or by rhetorical Legarda and Escudero amidst the global crisis?  I just couldn’t imagine. What we definitely need is a managerial president who knows every nook and crook of governance and have strategies to keep it working. With all conviction, backed by my experience economic research and urban planning job, GMA has provided that well.

3. “Too much for  Cory’s matter. Let’s shift our attention to her hacienda,” says an uring anakpawis.

Reading and Poverty: A Re-post

June 25, 2009 9 comments

SalvaRobertoBy Roberto S. Salva

I began to read prodigiously when I was around 17 years old. I was trying to make it on my own in the big city and found myself diving into abject poverty. If one of the priest-speechwriters of Jaime Cardinal Sin had not hired me as his research assistant, I would have been a janitor.

I applied as a janitor. I already had a plan. I would mop floors and clean rooms, and at the end of the day, I would come home, turn my lamp on and read. I could not have wished for a more comfortable arrangement.

I did research, instead, and read for work until late in the evening. But I still found time to come home and read for myself.

I had not probed into the reasons why I read and why reading seemed to iron out all the wrinkles at the end of my everyday life then. It is only now that I am able to ponder on reading after seeing the results of the Reading Surveys done by the Social Weather Stations in early 2003 and late 2007.

According to the surveys, around 91 percent of Filipinos in 2003 and 85 percent in 2007 read non-school books to gain knowledge and more information. As a statistician, I feel that something is amiss in the crafting of that category. Or, many of the readers may not have captured perfectly the reason why they read. (The next consistent reason given is “enjoyment.”)

It is hard to nail down the one reason why we read, much like falling in love. If we do give reasons, they do not give justice at all to the act. Yet, we continue to read, just as we continue to love.

The reasons given also seem inconsistent with the books read by most. The list is topped by the Bible (67 percent in 2007), followed by romance or love novels (33 percent), cookbooks (28 percent), comic books (26 percent), and religious or inspirational books (20 percent).

Except for cookbooks, the books on the list are not the best books to read if we want to gain knowledge or more information. We do attain certain knowledge and get information from these books but if we are reading toward these ends, we are being inefficient. Enjoyment as the primary objective for reading would have made more sense, given that list.

But it would have been awkward for the survey respondents to give more emphasis on “enjoyment” rather than the more ideal reason of gaining knowledge as the reason for reading. We are a predominantly Catholic country after all, and we abhor any trace of pleasure in our bones.

Given also our education and our country’s poverty, reading for pleasure seems to be an impractical reason. And this is not the time to be impractical.

readerPerhaps reading is really not practical, especially if we are living in poverty. When I was 17 and poor, I did not read for some pragmatic results that reading would have in my life. But with my every reading, I was able to struggle with the imagination, rationality and ideas of Dickens, Chesterton, Camus, Kafka, Buber, Augustine, Marcel, Levinas, Chaim Potok, Fr. Roque J. Ferriols—some of the authors on my reading list then. (And yes, I am bragging a little.)

I found compassion and camaraderie in these authors. My own imagination and my own ideas surfaced and they were strengthened by being rubbed against their works. I had no illusions whatsoever that I was in their league. (But that is another one good thing about reading books: we rub elbows with the authors, even the big ones.)

Reading made me acknowledge the existence of my own imagination, my own ideas, and my own visions. My own mind. These were strengthened with every reading.

If you are poor and marginalized, you need to have your own mind for important discourses are taking place with every step you take toward development—every single step.

Being poor and marginalized—as I have observed in myself, in the urban poor I worked with before and among the people I am working with now—is like being stuck as a teenager. You do not seem to have control over your life. You don’t have your own money. Nobody seems to understand you. You hear a lot of voices telling you that you do not belong, how you should be, how you should live your life, how far you can go and what your limits are. The loudest voices come from within.

It is easy to be defeated by these voices when you do not have your own mind. It is easy to accept that you are poor because you are supposed to be lazy. You are a criminal because you live in the squatters’ area. You deserve to be ridiculed and treated badly because you are deaf or poor. You do not have to go to college because higher education is only for those who are “normal.” You do not have a future because you were born to a hopeless situation. You do not read because reading is only for the educated and the well-placed.

Most of the development initiatives do not touch upon the discourses going on in the mind of the poor and the sidelined. There may be livelihood projects, but do you know that many urban poor are paralyzed when they are asked to fill up a bio-data form or to take a personality test? Gawad Kalinga may build you a house, the microfinance institute may give you access to credit, and your community organization may give you a voice, but what happens when you have your house, money or voice?

Read.

[From the Philippine Daily Inquirer]

***

P.S. 1. In regard to learning, poverty is seen as the tallest bulwark to conquer. But hey, this boy proved that wrong by falling in love with books.  You know, it always saddens me to realize that we have a novelist as a national hero and yet we lack the love for books – books that are piling in the libraries that mingle with the dust of disinterest.  If books could  walk and speak, surely they’ll come knocking at our doorstep and urge us to make use of them. Alas, that will never happen.

2. My special thanks again to Mira for sharing this. Still, nobody beats her better with books. Should you like to take a peek, here’s a link to her blog : ஐ Les Fleurs d’un Livre ஐ.

Looking Back to the Ground

June 12, 2009 10 comments

PILIPINAS_by_luigi09 I watched the celebration of 111th Independence Day Celebration at Koronadal, South Cotabato at the local channel this morning. It was unusual for GMA to hold such celebrations outside Luzon when all memories lurk around the 8 provinces that fought the Spaniards during the 1896 Revolution. Though quite peculiar, I found the celebration very significant since independence is ought to be celebrated all throughout the country; not to mention, of course, the job packages that GMA had given the people of Koronadal.

Perhaps a lot of bloggers have posted the same topic over the net and my entry might seem a mere replica, if not, an elaboration of other posts. But I swear I haven’t read any of those yet and the thing that most intrigued me about our Independence Day may either be accepted or refuted. It is of the reader’s opinion which side he decides to camp with.

Does June 12 serve as authentic date of our independence? You may have encountered this query as often as the debate between Rizal and Bonifacio during college days; there is always the dispute between the June 12 and July 4 as to which should be the prime date to mark. Even the Philippine Historical Institute had found this very compromising and left the case to the national government to declare which date should be marked as the national holiday, and after a thorough consultation with historians and experts, June 12 was formally declared. And as far as my memory doesn’t betray me,  it was President Diosdado Macapagal (father of the current President) signed Republic Act No. 4166 into law, returning the Independence Day observance to June 12.Pilipinas kong mahal

The declaration was all based on one premise: June 12 was fought by Filipinos while July 4 was granted by Amboys. But we all know that the Aguinaldo’s declared republic in Kawit, Cavite didn’t last long when Americans took over our country. In fact, his government was never recognized outside the revolutionaries’ domain. One irony about it is the existence of a prior government that even Aguinaldo himself knew, and that could not be other than that of Bonifacio’s.

Andres (the Great Plebian), who existed in the other pact of KKK, had founded a government which he called “Katagalogan” far before Aguinaldo declared his own. Sad to say, only few know about this. I guess that Aguinaldo’s declaration became popular because of no complex reason except that the historians who wrote the first account of revolution were all Aguinaldo’s men. If ever there were independent chroniclers, they were too lazy to excavate the whole truth regarding the plight of the revolutionaries. So which is which? Should we not also consider the declaration of Bonifacio valid? If yes, then should we also consider Bonifacio as our 1st president?

Then came the Amboys. After the WW II, our country was finally given independence to start with the Philippine Second Republic which was eventually headed by Manuel Roxas. Unlike the 1st Republic, it wasn’t curtailed by colonization and this was the time Filipinos drafted a new constitution, though tinged with an American prototype. Although this was just granted and not fought for, it gave rise to what we have right now and that somehow shaped us as a country. I am not against June 12 so to say, but rather how it is implemented and how history should be “re-written” to make everybody critically understand about our past. Only then shall we redefine what constitute us as a nation with a profound past to start with. And lastly, if this conjecture is accepted, wouldn’t July 4 (Filipino-American Friendship Day) deserve to be marked red in our calendars too?

***
P.S. If Bonifacio’s presidency is accepted, then GMA is our 15th president. And if July 4 is marked as our Independence Day, then GMA falls as our 10th president.

The Worm Chronicle

February 18, 2009 11 comments
lemo-the-worm
lemo-the-worm

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Whether man dies and new species are born, the thread of earth will still remain a fertile breast to nourish the life that feeds on it. The worm, which is deemed gross by lovely ladies, filthy and disgusting by aristocrats has the profoundest wisdom to claim earth as the most wonderful habitat that sustains life even when other environmental cycles stop. This is the very claim of Lemo the worm, who thinks that even in death the food web under the earth continues like an endless feast of ambrosia for his own kind. The cadavers that are buried under it give them the wisdom that even humans are not capable of grasping. If birth and development belongs to the human mind, death and decomposition belong to the abysmal worms that either make use of the flesh to satisfy their carnal drive or to perpetuate their own role to nourish the earth. They alone tasted all sexes; they alone slept with heroes and traitors alike; they alone savoured the difference of a saint and a sinner or a billionaire and the lowliest man  that they have become human themselves by morphing with their lifeless bodies. And when humans hold them in their arms, they assume that these creatures are nothing but mere fish baits and they use them to feed themselves. Yet even nature functions in a samsaric scheme, that when human thinks profoundly, he and the worms are never different. They both belong to the earth and their bodies share the same compounds. So when human eats water creatures, is he not also savoring a part of the death eaters?

***

Afterthought: 1. It always feels good to think that we all share the same compound with the rest of the nature, thus we should never think that we have far dominion over anybody.

2. Philippines, what is your place in nature? Isn’t it ironical that your ground has been emptied by your people in thinking that life in other lands is far better than yours, yet foreign people come to crown you a laureate for beauty? Better are worms then for they continue to nourish the land without being demanded.

Categories: being pinoy, philosophy Tags:

Pax

December 24, 2008 4 comments
The Buddy Christ

The Buddy Christ

In this holiday season … “Jesus is the Man!”

Merry Christmas everyone.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/desi/9455/

Categories: being pinoy

Jingle Bells

December 19, 2008 12 comments

oblationI happened to pass Gen. Luna St. last Tuesday because my boss wanted me to schedule a meeting with the researchers and planners who happened to convene in Iloilo. Working in ADB is no easy job and arranging the schedules made me exceptionally busy especially that we were on a given study for LGUs. I was supposed to meet them early but I was unfortunately trapped for 30 minutes in a traffic jam along the parallel lanes of UP. When I inquired what it was that caused the delay, the driver said, “Oblation run sir.”

“It’s APO day,” I presumed, looking at the members who gathered in the street to watch their bold brethren run. Amused at the sight, I thought that APO indeed was a metaphoric version of the Jingle Bells. With their genitalia dangling from to left to right, it surely was a merry show more than any Christmas carol could offer.  Girls and faggots alike swarmed the street to take a glimpse, not of the essence of the activity, but of the display of “birdies”. “Ang cute,” one exclaimed. Another said, “Ang dumi naman ewww. Ba’t maitim-itim?” The funniest I heard was a voice from a group of gays shouting, “He is so tiny!!!” Most of the spectators were giddy, while others were even too conservative to glance at the spectacle.

But I will not dwell there, otherwise that would mean endless funny remarks. What I am wondering about is the reason why APO sustains this tradition. They say streaking is their way of shouting their sentiments of freedom. In short it stands as a symbol of freedom. But why cover their faces? What’s the difference between a fully clothed man with an exposed face and a naked man but with his face covered? Nothing, I dare say.

With this “streaking”, I suppose APO is just publicizing their fraternity; “Hey join us, we’re cool!” while missing out on the action to actually promulgate something for the realization of freedom.

In Britain, for example, there was one time where people ran stark naked for a cause despite the cold weather. The nice thing about it was that they posed in front of the camera with no qualms. I am just wondering if the British did it with no  clothing facade, why can’t you run in the same way when you uphold in fact  a nobler cause – freedom?  This perplexes me to unravel the logic of this annual activity thus, whatever the cause, it is inevitable for me to stand as arbiter of its verity. It is not my wish to criticize APO, but I really cannot find any significance in what they are doing. If they call for freedom, let them have it in different ways and not like this ribald event which I deem facile wrought by maudlin sentiments. How in the earth could one claim freedom by running in the street naked and holding roses like bozos? Remember that a symbol for freedom will never match an action towards it. If you are really after freedom, gather your members and organize a fruitful and sensible event that would lead to something useful that the country would be grateful of. Imagine if you could gather 10,000 of your members for a tree-planting activity, you will also have 10,000, new trees to help curtail carbon emission in the air- a fair response to the effect of global warming  to give us a cleaner breath for our quest of environmental freedom. This might not be known to everybody, but you will be proud to know that you acted beyond the symbol of freedom.

But if they still wanted to continue, at least have the guts to follow St. Francis of Assisi who took off his clothes in the middle of the crowd and gave his garment to the poor man beside him. He simply wanted freedom from the hedonistic world. He was not shy of what he did even though society was run by a stringent moral standard in his time. Hence, I suggest that next time they do this, they shouldn’t cover their faces. And bring books instead of wilted flowers, and instead of posing in front of women to offer them flowers, to which with your keen consciousness will never suffice the claim of letting your sentiment known, run to the nearest palaboy and give him a book. By doing this, your efforts might be appreciated, or they might become a source of inspiration for street children to seek education (which I always believe to be an effective phase in achieving freedom). You might be laughed at and everybody would deem you crazy, but deep inside, you know you are doing a better goodness. At least your “Jingle Bells” will have a better errand.