Archive for the ‘Kolum’ Category


June 25, 2009


 Written by: DATUAN SOLAIMAN PANOLIMBA-North Cotabato, Philippines

 Bismillaher Rahmaner Raheem. Asalamo Alaykum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuho.

 The Bangsamoro Muslims of Mindanao and its islands have fought the longest and bloodiest struggle in the entire history of mankind in the world which extends to about four hundred eighty seven (487) years already up to this writing. First, the Bangsamoro people fought, without let up, against the Spanish colonial power for 377 years from 1521 to 1898. Second, they fought a bloody war against the American imperialist from 1898 up to 1946.And third, they are still fighting against the Philippine neo-colonial power from 1946 up to the present.

 In fact the present JIHAD FIY SABILILLAH waged by the Bangsamoro people is a continuation of the struggle which had been fought by their ancestors and forebears demanding for freedom and independence. The 487-year war which has been fought by the Bangsamoro is replete with historical facts.

 “But what is surprising is despite of the long period of war being fought for; the Bangsamoro people are still engaged in a war for freedom and independence. The struggle which has been fought by the Bangsamoro in four hundred eighty seven years (487) had extensively covered by the Muslim historians and authors in their books such as Dr. Cesar Adib Majul in his “Muslims in the Philippines, 1973, Manila, Philippines, ” Dr. Alunan C. Glang in “Muslim Secession or Integration, 1969, Quezon City, Philippines, ” and Salah Jubair in “Bangsamoro: A Nation Under Endless Tyranny, 1997, Lahore, Pakistan.”


 After securing the friendship with Rajah Humabon of Cebu, Ferdinand Magellan, who led the Spanish colonial adventure in the Far East, invaded the small kingdom of Mactan in 1521. The island was then ruled by Rajah Lapu-Lapu who did not want to be a friend of foreign colonizer.

 It can be noted, therefore, that Visayas before was believed under the influence if not one of the principalities controlled by the Moro Sultanate of Sulu or Maguindanao at that early period of time. See Map of Moro Sultanate, principalities and areas in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao at the time of the arrival of Spaniards in 1521. (Source: London Library and Museum). Unfortunately, Magellan died in action on April 27, 1521 that drove the Spaniards back to the West and by such incident, they had narrated their fiasco under the hands of the native inhabitants.

 Thus, Lapu_Lapu stood as the first native chieftain who fought against foreign attempt to colonize the Moro homeland.

The Spanish dream had yet started so that in 1522, with Captain Sebastian Del Cano at the head of the Spanish survivors, Spain became the first circumnavigator of the globe as declared.


 Crown Prince Felipe, known as King Philip II of Spain, directed Captain Miguel Lopez de Legaspi, the viceroy of Mexico, to go to the Philippine island and to make it a permanent Spanish colony. He landed at Cebu where he had established the first Spanish settlement in 1565. In 1569, he proceeded to Panay where a second Spanish settlement was created.

 After quelling some minor resistances staged by the native inhabitants, he sent Captain Martin de Goiti to Luzon, particularly in Manila where a well-fortified Moro principality was located. It was ruled by Rajah Solaiman and assisted by Rajah Matanda. Tondo then was ruled by Rajah Lakandula. Records has showed that these Manila chieftains where of Bornean origin. In fact, their relationship with the Sultan of Borneo was categorized as very closed to each other.

 Rajah Solaiman who led the fight for freedom and independence, declared to the foreign aggressors the following words: ” WE WISH TO BE THEN FRIENDS OF ALL NATIONS. BUT THEY MUST UNDERSTAND THAT WE CANNOT TOLERATE ANY ABUSE. ON THE CONTRARY, WE WILL REPAY WITH DEATH THE LEAST THING THAT TOUCHES OUR HONOR.”Unfortunately, on June 3, 1571, Rajah Solaiman perished at the historic Battle of Bangkusay, a place off the coast of Tondo, but he left with a patriotic landmark in his defense of freedom and independence of the country. The next to fall, despite of a fierce defense by the native inhabitants, was the Muslim principality of Mindoro in 1574.

 Then came the short-lived Magat Salamat Uprising in 1587. Emerging victorious over the pockets of resistance were the Spanish conquistadors. So that within a span of 11years, they were able to overlord the territory of Luzon and Visayas. Legaspi, who was appointed as the first Governor-General, had made Manila as the seat of Spanish colony in Luzon and Visayas, which was collectively called as “Filipinas” or “Philippine Islands” eventually.

 “Salah Jubair succinctly wrote “it is necessary to clarify, contrary to popular perception, two important points in history: Firstly, the first group of people whom the Spaniards in 1570 called “Moros” were those in Manila and environs and not the Islamized natives in Mindanao and Sulu and secondly, the first Moro-Spanish War was not fought in Mindanao and Sulu but right in what is Metropolitan Manila.


 The 377 year of Moro-Spanish War represents an uninterrupted bloody war which had been fought by the Moros against the Spaniard’s attempt to subjugate them as a people. At first, the Spaniards thought that Borneo was more of a threat to the Manila colony than the Muslims of Mindanao and Sulu. So they invaded Borneo in 1578. However, after their Bornean expedition, the Spaniards had turned their eyes on the Moros in the South, particularly, Sulu which they were suspecting of having an alliance with the Borneans.

 The Spanish colony towards the Moros was basically spelled out in the instructions of Governor-General Francisco de Sande to Captain Esteban Rodriguez de Figueroa in May of 1578. Figueroa was officially commissioned to subdue the Moro Sultanate of Mindanao and Sulu.

 It was clear then from the instructions given to him, Spain sought to achieve two things with respect to the Moros of Mindanao namely: 1. Get them to acknowledge Spanish sovereignty over their territory. 2. Promote trade with them, limiting their trade to the Philippine islands and exploring natural resources of Moro land with a view to their commercial exploitations. 3. Bring an end to Moro “piracy” against Spanish shipping, and an end to Moro raids on the Christianized settlements of the Visayas and Southern Luzon. 4. Hispanize and Christianize the Moros, along the same lines followed with respect to other lowland Filipino (Indio) groups.

 According to Dr Peter G. Gowing, the last line Spanish policy was the reason if not the root of the Moro’s fierce resistance to the Spaniards and their Christianized Filipino allies. Capt. Figueroa was instructed to order the Moro chief not to admit any more “preachers of the doctrine of Mahomet since it is evil and false, and that of the Christianity alone is good.” Ad-dressing himself to the “Lord of Mindanao, ” the instruction includes: “You shall tell him that our object is that he be converted to Christianity and that he must allow us freely to preach the law of the Christians, and the natives must be allowed to go and hear the preaching and to be converted, without receiving any harm from the chiefs.

 “Furthermore, Figueroa was instructed to ascertain who the preachers of Islam were so that they can be arrested and brought them before the Governor-general. He was also commanded to destroy any Masjeed he founded “where that accursed doctrine has been preached and you shall order that it be not be rebuilt. “As he was instructed to meet force with force and to punish the Moros as he deemed best “taking special care not to trust them…..,” the Moros responded to such designs with violence and warfare. In 1596, during the initial Spanish campaign in Buhayan (Buayan) in the heart of Mindanao, Figueroa met his disastrous defeat.

 The erstwhile Spanish conquistador suffered death at the hands of the Moro warriors led by Datu Ubal (Mangubal in Moro tradition). The initial Spanish campaign in Mindanao had ignited and caused the series of bloody encounters between the Moros and the Spaniards, in which,it was carried up to the coming of the Americans in 1899.


 In retaliation to the Spanish cruelty, the Moros had carried out the war to the Spanish settlements in Luzon and Visayas. In 1599 led by Datu Sirongan and Datu Salikula of Mindanao, the Moros raided the northern islands and return home with rich war booty including several captives. The Moro actions had created fear and anxiety among the Spanish and Filipino settlements in Luzon and Visayas.

 In succeeding years, the Moro buccaneers harassed Spanish shipping, and so were dubbed “pirates”. But to the Moros they believed they were fighting a war in defense of freedom and independence. Thus, Sultan Kudarat I, after his ascension to power to the Sultanate of Mindanao in 1619, declared a Jihad against Spain whom he had emboldened more than ever the Moros to fight for home, country and Islam. Their expeditions carried Jihad to the coasts of Visayas and Luzon.

 From then on, the Moro war vessels periodically raided, killed and plunders Spanish settlements. Thus, it was dubbed really a bloody war. The Spaniards counter move was seen in their series of punitive expeditions against the Moros. The expeditions were made up of Spanish-led Christian Filipino forces. Which eventually, the Spaniards had succeeded to establish forts in Moro homeland, however, their colonies were only confined inside their fortified garrisons. They failed to subdue the Moros who were periodically attacking their forts.

 From the 18th up to the 19th centuries of Spanish successive engagement in the “Moro Wars”, it was never followed by effective and permanent occupation of the Bangsamoro ancestral homeland. The American historian Dr. Najeeb Saleeby rightly observed that “the Moros fought for home and country, for freedom to pursue their religion and way of life, and for liberty to rove the seas whichever they would.” For over 300years, they had made a shamble of Spain’s Moro policy.

 Even with the importation of Spanish war vessels in the middle of the 19th century did not stop the Moro raids of Spanish and Filipino settlements of Visayas and Luzon. Despite of being guerilla fighters, the Moro exacted a heavy toll of casualties, however, when entrenched in their ‘cota’ (fort) they simply could not be rooted out.

 When situation demanded they would have readily killed their wounded and gave no quarter to the Spanish and Christian Filipino enemy. They fought ferociously, and their usual tactic was to wear down the attackers, obliging them eventually to withdraw. At the close of the 19th century, the Spanish colonial power in Luzon and Visayas was threatened by the Filipino Revolution of 1896 and the coming of the American colonial power in 1898.

 Subsequently, the Treaty of Paris was concluded on December 10, 1898 between the United States of America and Spain wherein the latter had ceded to the Americans her former colony in Mexico, Honolulu and the Philippine Islands with the amount of $20 million. With this treaty, the Spaniards abandoned their colony in the north by virtue of the Treaty of Paris. So that the Moros of the south remained a free and independent people. Thus, they were not subjugated by their conquistadors.


 The Bangsamoro people of Mindanao were already enjoying freedom and independence when the Filipinos declared a revolution against Spain in 1896. When the Americans arrived in the Philippine islands in 1898, the Philippine Revolution was already in progress in Luzon and Visayas. The so called “Spanish-American war” was also nearing its end.

 For instance, Commodore George Dewey, commanding the American naval flotilla, defeated the Spanish Pacific Squadron during “Battle of Manila Bay” on May 1, 1898. Subsequently, the United States of America assumed the authority in the Philippine Islands by virtue of the Treaty of Paris on December 10, 1898. But the Filipinos, who declared the independence of the First Philippine Republic on June 1, 1898, had to fight a new imperialist power.

 Maverick as it was, the Americans sought the forging of the Bates-Kiram Agreement on August 20, 1899 with a view to neutralizing the Moros of the south while they were still engaging the forces of President Emilio Aguinaldo in the north.

 After three years of Filipino-American war, the Americans were able to crush the Philippine revolution and declared a general amnesty in 1902. The Americans, after having a unilateral abrogation of the Bates-Kiram Agreement, had now turn their eyes to the Moros of Mindanao.

 In May 1899, the first US Army contingent landed in Jolo, Sulu. The US troops had also occupied Zamboanga on November 16 and followed the Cotabato areas in December. This began the American occupation of Mindanao which ended in May 1920 when the Department of Mindanao and Sulu was abolished as a government unit.


 For all practical reasons, the American occupation of the Moro land was a direct affront to the freedom and independence of the Moros. The lesson from the Spanish policy of subjugation was still fresh in the minds and hearts of the Moros. With the Americans, the Moros have had similar views, as a threat, and a change of colonial master which had the same intention with that of their predecessor, that is, to subjugate them as a people.

 Thus trouble had erupted as early as May 1899. But this time, the next generation of Moros took the cudgel. Soon various confrontations flared up in Mindanao and Sulu. This led J. Ralston Hayden, an American writer, to note that “never during the entire continental expansion of the United States had armed encounters been as frequent and serious as that between the Moros and American troops.”

 The Moros’ determination to defend their religion and country had prompted the American colonizers to comment that “THE ONLY GOOD MORO IS A DEAD MORO.” Record has showed that there were at least 20,000 Moros who were killed in action from 1899 to 1916. From 1904 to 1906 alone, the Moros suffered about 3,000 killed as against 70 Americans.

 Large-scale engagements were recorded between the American troops and the Moro warriors in several parts of Mindanao and Sulu from 1902 to 1935. The most serious were those staged by Panglima Hassan, Datu Ali, Datu AmpuanAgaus and Jikiri.

 Shortly after the establishment of the Philippine Commonwealth Government on November 15, 1935 with Manuel L. Quezon as the first President, the Moros had viewed it as the transfer of colonial government to a new master. It could be noted, therefore, that Mindanao and Sulu were forcefully annexed to the Commonwealth government. Again, the Moros rose in arms in defense of their freedom and independence.

 The most serious armed rebellion that took place in Mindanao was happened in June 1936. It was spearheaded by Hadji Abdulhamid Bungabong of Unayan, Lanao del Sur and lasted for several years. The Moros fought gallantry and heroically in a series of wars called “COTA WARS”. The grievances were contained in a petition letter sent to the President of the United States of America. The issues presented were:

 1. Moros had become second class citizens.

 2. The Moro Province be segregated once independence is given to the Filipinos.

 3. Acquisition of lands in the Moro Province be reserved for the Moros.

 4. Islam must not be curtailed in any manner.

 The uprising lasted until the dawning of the Japanese interregnums in 1941. The Moros were once again caught in the crossfire between two colonial masters. But now between the Americans and the Japanese which saw its peak from 1942 to 1945.


 In 1946 it saw the final annexation of the Moro land to the new Philippine Republic. Historians, in the likes of Salah Jubair, have succinctly observed that “The U.S. colonial government and the succeeding Filipino neo – colonial power have utterly failed to stamp out Moro resistance. But they have succeeded in rendering the Moro traditional power structure effete and almost obsolete.”

 “The main casualties were the sultans and datus, whose authority had been squelched to the extent, that they had become mere symbols of the past and mute relics of history,” he pointed out. “The sultan-people direct dealing, ” he continued “has been almost severed and , to get rid of the evils of dual rule, meaning sultan and government ruling simultaneously, the Commonwealth government directed all state-installed officials in 1936 to take over the roles so far exercised by the sultans and datus.”

 Elaborating that the disintegration of the traditional socio-political order and the ever-tightening imposition of the secular-materialistic concept of life bequeathed by the Americans, Salah Jubair said that it has created an extensively difficult situation for the Moros. Consequently, those who were won over to the American side, freely or under duress, were the ones who with their pens, slogans and orations adopted and pursued the parliamentary or unarmed way of struggle.

 These crops of Moro intellectuals asked the United States government to separate the Moro Province, either as colony or as independent state. Singly or in chorus, they unanimously refused to join the Filipinos in their demand for independence. It was true that they did not succeed, neither did they achieve anything of consequence in terms of the real liberation of the Moros-that obviously, was already fore doomed from the start.

 But there is no gain slaying the fact that they did their best in their own way. Yet, on the other hand, by following the unarmed way of struggle, they were deeply entangled into the Americans cobweb and continued to become subservient to the whims and caprices of the new colonial masters.

 Failing to achieve their aspiration to be free and independent during the American colonial days, the Moro parliamentary struggle dragged to the post-war Philippine administrations. Couple with some isolated disturbances, armed clashes between Moro warriors and government troops were reported in various parts of Mindanao.

 The off-and-on armed skirmishes continued to plague the countryside in open defiance of government authorities. Whatever it may said about the post-war pocket uprisings in Mindanao and Sulu, it could be attributed to the fact that the Moros have never abandoned their desire to be free and independent from the clutches of neo-colonialism in their sacred and ancestral homeland. Nurtured by socio-cultural discrimination, the most known of these uprisings were those led by Kamlon Hajji, Abdulmajid Panondiongan, Tawantawan and Hadjal Uh. It took billions of pesos from the national coffers in quelling these insurrections.

 Such that amid cries of national neglect and apathy, Congressman Ombra Amilbangsa of Sulu Province had gone to extent of sponsoring a bill in Philippine Congress in 1961 which sought to declare the independence of the Province of Sulu from the Philippine Republic. The Moro solon was disgusted by the chronic ills and inequities prevalent in the Philippine society where the Moros were the direct victims. His bill did not merit the attention of his colleagues in Congress and his move was simply dismissed as a “drama” or “attention-calling.”


 In 1968, the then Governor Datu Udtog Matalam of the empire Cotabato Province created the Mindanao Independence Movement (MIM) seeking the separation of Mindanao, Sulu, Basilan, Tawitawi and Palawan from the Republic of the Philippines and to establish an Islamic State in the sacred and ancestral homeland of the Bangsamoro people. But the dream and aspiration of the grand old man of Cotabato failed.

 Finally in 1972, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and its military wings, the Bangsamoro Army led by Prof. Nur Misuari went public declaring armed struggle as its principal instrument in the formation of a Bangsamoro Republik encompassing Mindanao, Sulu, Basilan, Tawitawi and Palawan. It sought to liberate Moro people and homeland from Philippine colonialism.

 The reverberating sounds of the firearms and mortars of the Bangsamoro Revolution led by the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) pressured the Philippine government under the then dictator President Ferdinand Marcos to entered into an agreement with the MNLF leadership in December 23, 1976. The agreement was known as “Tripoli Agreement of 1976.” It sought to establish an autonomous government for Muslims in South of the Philippines under its sovereignty and territorial integrity. But Pres. Marcos grossly violated the letter and spirit of the entire agreement.

 Then President Corazon (Cory) Aquino catapulted to the Philippine presidency in 1986 because of the Peoples Power Revolution against Pres. Marcos, she created the Autonomous Region Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), but still failed to finally solved the Bangsamoro problem in Mindanao and its islands.

 Until in 1992, when President Fidel V. Ramos became president of the Philippines after President Cory Aquino, his government negotiated with the MNLF leadership which resulted to the creation of Southern Philippine Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD) on September 2, 1996. But still the Bangsamoro dream of freedom and independence became more obscure. It was because of the fact that all agreements entered by and between the MNLF and GRP are only a showpiece of the Philippine government in order to smokescreen the oppression, colonization, exploitation and extermination of the Bangsamoro people. This regional set-up of government is nothing but an adjunct of the Filipino colonial government. It is being used by the Philippine government to further fortify the Filipino colonialism over the Bangsamoro people and their ancestral homeland.

 So that when the MNLF leadership compromised the liberty and independence of the Bangsamoro people in December 1976, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), chaired by the late Ameril Mujahideen Ustadz Salamat Hashim went public assuming and leading the JIHAD FEY SABILILLAH of the Bangsamoro people for final liberation, freedom and independence, nsALLAH SUBHANAHO WA’TAALA.

 Late Ustadz Salamat Hashim, then Ameril Mujahideen and Chairman, Central Committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) said and we quote, “Any solution less than full independence of the Bangsamoro people will not work. Past experiences since the be-

ginning of the annexation of the Bangsamoro homeland to the Philippines in 1935, have proven that the Bangsamoro Muslims could not live a normal life under a corrupt and secular government and that the two nations, the Bangsamoros and the Filipinos, could not get along with each other because of their distinct religions, customs and traditions. It will be for the best interests of the Bangsamoros and the Filipinos if both are free” and quote.

 Wasalamu Alaykum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuho.

Advocate’s Overview: The threatened Cordillera forest

March 8, 2009


The role of the Cordillera forest as the watershed of Northern Luzon has been the focus of public discourse lately. The region serves as the water source of at least 13 major rivers flowing down the Ilocos and Cagayan Valleys, and as far as Central Luzon.

It became also the center of discourse due to the climate change phenomena.

As an environmentalist friend says, the forest cover of the region proved that it is critical due to the warmer weather even during the so-called cold spell.

DENR-CAR data show that the region’s forest cover is critically below the 40% of the total land area of 1.8 million hectares. The ideal ratio for a region’s forest cover should be 40% of the area while 60 % alienable and disposable, the government environment watchdog claimed.

With the above reality, the battle cry seems to be reforestation. Since the government has limited funds, loan is always its welcome option. The Asian Development Bank, the regional counterpart of the World Bank, already committed $80 million loan for reforestation projects of various watersheds in the country, including that of the Agno and Chico rivers watershed.

No matter how noble the intention of the government is, however, it must be pointed out that this is a loan. Loan is paid by the people through the state extraction known as taxes.

In my interaction and interviews with community organizations in the region, they have various issues raised on the government reforestation project.

First, the government has conflicting policies.Manifested by the government’s encouragement of investments – both local and foreign corporations – on industries that rape the environment like its revitalization of the mining industry.

At present, the total mine application in the Cordillera is 1,111,995.4351 hectares from the region’s 1.8 million hectares land area. Elders pointed that the government views separately the land – from forest, mineral, national park, and agricultural lands and not holistically as indigenous peoples do.

Second, the projects cannot be fully implemented due to systemic graft and corruption. In the past, they cited that these reforestation projects had been milking cow even up to the extent of ghost projects. The best approach is to encourage community participation and strengthening of their on going forest management system.

Third, in the whole Cordillera, the various ethno-linguistic groups have various forest management systems. Elders I interviewed said that such systems continuously exist in varying degrees. In Sagada, Mountain Province, they have the batangan; the muyong in Ifugao; the pirahwa in Tulgao, Tinglayan, Kalinga; among others.

These elders claimed that the forest cover of the Cordillera was mainly due to their indigenous system. In fact it was the government policies, like logging, mining and destructive industries, that reduced the forest cover to its present 36% cover.

I am just wondering that while we have these indigenous forest management systems, the concerned government agencies should adopt these indigenous systems if the government is really concern with the environment and climate change. #

Konteksto: Pagtuturo’t paggamit ng droga

February 4, 2009

Danilo Araña Arao

KUNG masusunod ang Commission on Higher Education (CHED), ang buwan ng Pebrero ang simula ng random drug testing sa mga nagtuturo sa kolehiyo’t unibersidad.

Aaminin kong bilang guro sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas (UP), magkahalong pagkabahala’t pagkainis ang naramdaman ko nang mabasa ko ang balita sa noong Enero 27 na pinamagatang Professors to undergo drug test.”

Pagkabahala ang aking naramdaman hindi dahil may itinatago ako – alam naman ng malalapit na kaibiga’t kakilala na wala akong bisyo sa katawan! – kundi dahil ipinapakita ng ”solusyon” ng pamahalaan ang kawalan ng matino’t malalimang pagsusuri sa pagkalat ng ilegal na droga sa bansa.

Samantala, ang aking pagkainis ay dahil sa ”espesyal” na atensiyong ibinibigay ngayon sa mga gurong katulad ko. Ano ba ang pagkakaiba ng sektor ng edukasyon sa iba pa? Talamak ba ang paggamit ng droga sa propesyon ng pagtuturo kaya kailangan nang isailalim sa random drug testing ang mga guro? Maipapakita ba sa pamamagitan ng masusing pag-aaral ang koneksiyon ng pagtuturo sa pagkalulong sa droga?

Maraming tanong na kailangang sagutin, pero ang tanging katwiran lang ng mga nasa kapangyarihan ay bahagi ito ng isang malawakang kampanya. Ang drug testing diumano ay paraan ng pag-iwas (preventive measure) sa paggamit ng ilegal na droga.

Madaling ikatwiran ng mga nasa kapangyarihan na wala namang dapat ikabahala ang mga walang itinatago, at ang mga tutol lang sa random drug testing ay ang mga gumagamit ng ilegal na droga. Sa isang normal na sitwasyong ang mga pulis at iba pang opisyal ng pamahalaan ay may tiwala ng mamamayan, siguro’y hindi masyadong aalma ang karamihan at baka nga boluntaryo pa nilang ibigay ang mahahalagang impormasyong kailangang malaman.

Pero alam nating lahat na talamak ngayon ang katiwalian sa pamahalaan. Kahit ang kampanya sa pagkapangulo noon ni Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ay pinondohan diumano ng isang drug lord sa Pampanga. Muli, madaling sabihing ”tsismis” lang ang akusasyon laban sa nagbigay ng malaking kontribusyon sa kampanya ni Macapagal-Arroyo. Pero sa konteksto ng napakaraming iskandalong pilit ibinabaon sa limot ng mga nasa kapangyarihan, hindi pa rin maiwasang magduda ng nakararaming mamamayan.

Masusukat lang natin ang kaseryosohan ng pamahalaan sa giyera nito laban sa ilegal na droga kung gagawin nito ang sumusunod:

  1. Magsagawa ng malalimang pag-aaral sa sitwasyon ng narcopolitics sa Pilipinas (kung hindi alam ng mga nasa kapangyarihan ang ibig sabihin ng narcopolitics, baka mainam na pag-aralan muna ang sitwasyon ng underground economy sa Colombia).

  2. Pagawin ng sworn statement ang lahat ng opisyal ng Malakanyang, Senado, Kamara de Representante, Philippine National Police (PNP) at Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) na kahit kailan ay hindi sila gumamit o nagtulak ng ilegal na droga at wala silang intensiyong gawin ito sa hinaharap. Kung sakaling sila ay mapatunayang nagsisinungaling, boluntaryo silang magpapakulong at tatanggapin nila ang anumang parusa, gaano man kabigat ito.

  3. Ipakita ang imbentaryo ng mga nakumpiskang ilegal na droga sa mga nagdaang taon. Kung may nawawala sa imbentaryo, kailangang isapubliko ang mga detalye nito.

  4. Siguraduhing mababawasan, kung hindi man tuluyang mawawala, ang smuggling sa bansa sa pamamagitan ng reorganisasyon sa Bureau of Customs, Philippine Ports Authority at iba pang ahensiyang may kinalaman sa mga daungan ng bansa. Ang mga opisyal na itatalaga sa mga ahensiyang ito’y dapat na may malinaw na rekord sa paglaban sa katiwalian.

  5. Magbigay ng mataas na pabuya sa kung sinumang makapagbibigay ng ebidensiya laban sa mga drug lord. Kaugnay nito, maaari ding ibigay ang 10 porsiyento ng halaga ng nasamsam na ilegal na droga sa impormante. Ang huli’y dapat na ipasok sa witness protection program (WPP) o pondohan ang pansamantalang pangingibang-bansa para hindi makompromiso ang kanyang buhay.

  6. Hindi dapat makontento ang kapulisan sa pagpapakulong sa mga drug pusher. Mananatiling hindi resolbado ang isang kaso hangga’t hindi natutukoy ang mga supplier ng droga at ang mga opisyal na kasabwat nito (kung mayroon man).

  7. Magsagawa ng malawakang kampanya sa midya, lalo na sa telebisyon, kung paano matutukoy ng isang ordinaryong mamamayan ang isang drug lord o drug pusher at kung paano siya mabilis na makapagsusumbong sa kinauukulan.

  8. Pakilusin ang mga lokal na pamahalaan hanggang sa antas ng baranggay sa pamamagitan ng pagbibigay ng kaukulang insentibo sa mga lugar na may pinakamaraming maipapakulong na drug lord at drug pusher sa loob ng isang taon.

  9. Pabilisin ang paglilitis sa mga kasong may kinalaman sa ilegal na droga sa pamamagitan ng maayos na pagpapatakbo sa mga special court sa lahat ng bahagi ng Pilipinas.

  10. Isailailim sa drug testing ang lahat ng miyembro ng Unang Pamilya para patunayang hindi sila gumagamit ng ilegal na droga. Kumbaga sa wikang Ingles, ang kailangan sa puntong ito ay ”leadership by example.”

Mapapansing ang mga rekomendasyong ito ay nakatutok lang sa mga drug lord at drug pusher. Bagama’t ang paggamit ng droga ng iilang mamamayan ay isang problema, naniniwala akong epektibo itong matutugunan kung mawawalan sila ng suplay. Ang mga nalululong sa ilegal na droga ay masasabing biktima rin ng isang sistemang hinahayaan ang ilegal na kalakaran ng mga nasa kapangyarihan.

Dahil sa kawalan ng komprehensibong programa laban sa ilegal na droga (na kailangang batay sa mga siyentipikong pag-aaral), hindi masisisi ang marami kung iisipin nilang ang isasagawang random drug testing ngayong buwan sa mga eskuwelahan ay hindi kagyat na solusyon, kundi malinaw na pagkukunwari lang ng pamahalaan na may ginagawa ito.

At kung isasakonteksto pa natin sa nangyayaring panunupil ng estado sa batayang karapatan ng mamamayan (lalo na ang malawakang pagpatay sa mga lumalaban sa katiwalian), puwede ring tingnan ang random drug testing bilang isang paraan ng intimidasyon sa mga nasa akademyang patuloy na tumutuligsa sa mga nasa kapangyarihan.

Para makipag-ugnayan sa awtor, pumunta sa

Larga Vista: Kaso ng Hacienda San Antonio- Sta. Isabel: Patunay na kontra-magsasaka ang CARP

February 4, 2009

Elizabeth Principe

HAYAAN ninyong isalaysay ko ang nangyari sa Hacienda San Antonio- Sta. Isabel (HSA-SI). Malawak na matabang kapatagan ang HSA-IS. Ang 13,085 ektarya nito ay tahanan sa higit na limang libong pamilya ng magsasaka sa mga bayan ng Ilagan, Delfin-Albano, at Quirino sa Isabela. Bago ito inagaw ng mga Kastila, pinagpala ng matabang lupa at ilog ang mga Ibanag na tubo sa lugar. Ngunit nang inagaw ito ng Kastilang Compania de Tabacalera, itinakdang tabako lamang ang itanim, at para matrabaho ang malawak na lugar, kumuha ng mga Ilocano mula rehiyon ng Ilocos, mga kilalang masisipag at batido na sa pagtatanim ng tabako.

Sa kasunduan ng Compania de Tabacalera at kolonyal na gobyerno ng Pilipinas, makaraan ang 100 taon (1882-1982) saka lamang maisasarili ang lupa ng mga magsasaka. Ang tabako na halos taun-taon ay nananalo ng ginto sa internasyunal na mga paligsahan ay bunga ng dugo, pawis, at luha ng mga magsasaka. Dinaya sila ng Tabacalera sa timbangan at klasipikasyon ng tabako; ang kaunting perang kabayaran sa kanila ay kulang na kulang na ipambili ng makakain at iba pang pangangailangan. Latigo at pagpaso ng sigarilyo sa katawan ng magsasaka ang parusa ng tauhan ng Tabacalera kapag nahuli silang nagbenta ng tabako sa negosyante sa mahusay na presyo. Maraming inalila at hinalay na kababaihan na ang pamilya ay may malaking utang o di makabayad ng utang. Sa 100 taon, tiniis ng mga magsasaka ang pagtatanim ng tabako na may pinakamabigat na trabaho sa lahat ng itinatanim na produkto sa bansa.

Ang saya ng mga magsasaka nang magtatapos na ang 100 taon; sa wakas, mapapasakanila na ang lupa na minana pa sa ninuno ang pagbubungkal. Subalit napunas ang galak nang pumasok noong 1979 ang ANCA (kumpanya ni Antonio Carag, isang dummy ni Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr.). Sinimulan nang patalsikin ang mga magsasaka para itransporma sa agribusiness ang lugar.

Nagkutsabahan sina Eduardo Cojuanco, Jr. at ang diktador na si Ferdinand Marcos sa plano na agawin ang lupa. Para maipatupad ito, masidhing karahasang militar ang ipinakat ng diktadura, kinordon ng kampo-militar ang maraming baryo. Maraming labanan ang naganap sa pagitan ng Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine Constabulary, at New People’s Army. Maraming lider-masa at rebolusyonaryo ang pinatay, tinortyur, ikinulong, hinalay at tinakot; maraming bahay at bukid ang binuldoser. Tinakot, hinaras, at tiniktikan maging ang mga taong-simbahan.

Tumutol at lumaban ang mga magsasaka, sinuportahan sila ng simbahan at ginabayan ng rebolusyonaryong kilusan. Naganap ang hindi malilimutang pangyayari na hindi nagmisa si Obispo Purungganan sa bisperas ng Pasko bilang protesta sa karahasang militar na ang pinakahuli ay ang pagsalakay sa palasyo ng obispo. Ilang kumpanya ang narekluta ng NPA mula sa lugar. Sa paglaban sa diktadura, dakila ang pakikibaka ng masa na ginanap sa HSA-SI. Malawak ang pagkilos ng masa na legal, mala-legal, at ilegal. Nagrurok ito noong 1982 nang 30,000 magsasaka nga HSA-SI at sa mga paligid pang asyenda ang tumawid ng Ilog Cagayan sa gitna ng gabi para makarating sila kinabukasan sa kapitolyo ng Ilagan para magmartsa. Di alintana ang mga baril ng militar, itinaas nila ang mga plakard na may nakasulat na “Ariin nang Libre ang Lupa.”

Napanday ang malapad na suporta para sa magsasaka sa probinsya, sa bansa at maging sa labas ng bansa; nailantad at naihiwalay naman ang tambalang Marcos-Cojuangco, Jr. hanggang napilitang umatras ang ANCA. Subalit sa halip na ibalik sa magsasaka ang lupa, inagaw ng diktador ang tagumpay, ipinailalim ito sa bogus nitong reporma sa lupa, ang Presidential Decree 27. Nangahulugan ito na magbabayad pa ng amortisasyon ng 15 taon ang mga magsasaka.

Napilitan ang mga magsasaka na mag-amortisa mula 1983. Ngunit nang naging batas noong ika-10 ng Hunyo, 1988 ang Republic Act 6657 o Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law, na mas kilala bilang Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program, pinag-ulit sa Year 1 ang pagbabayad ng amortisasyon ng 30 taon ng mga magsasaka.

Sa pagdaan ng panahon, may ilan lamang ang tuluy-tuloy na nakapag-amortisa, marami ang di tuluy-tuloy na nakabayad dahil sa taas ng amortisasyon at palaging lugi ang magsasaka sa paglalim ng bagsak sa presyo ng produkto nila gayung walang humpay ang pagtaas ng gastusin sa produksiyon.

Hanggang noong taong 2005, inanunsiyo ng Land Bank of the Philippines na ipo-foreclose na ang buong asyenda sa loob ng dalawa hanggang apat na taon. Dahil marami raw ang hindi nakasunod sa regular na amortisasyon at hindi na “economically feasible,” ayon sa Section 65 ng RA 6657 at Section 20 ng Local Government Code. Damay pati ang iilan na regular na nakapag-amortisa. Saan na napunta ang perang inihulog ng mga regular at di-regular na nag-amortisa?

Kanino na mapupunta ang lupa? Kay Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr. Itutuloy niya ang nauntol na pangangamkam noong 1982. Gagawing agribusiness ang lugar, patatamnan ng cassava, at iba pa. Lalong lumayo na mapasamagsasaka ang lupa na pangako ng CARP. Mabuti pa ang pangako na 100 taon ng Tabacalera, tinotoo nilang iniwan ang lugar. Subalit sa bogus, kontra-magsasaka, at mapanlinlang na reporma sa lupa, isinabatas na mawawalan ng karapatan sa lupa ang mga magsasaka hindi lamang sa dami ng butas ng CARP kundi sa aktuwal na nilalaman nito.

Lumipad na sa hangin ang magic ng CARP. Matapos ang mahabang panahon, nailantad na ang mga pangil ng mapangamkam nitong layunin.

Adhikain at pangarap ng mga magsasaka na Ariin nang Libre ang Lupa. Binayaran na nila ito ng dugo, luha, at pawis nang higit pa sa 126 taon. Hindi ba morally at historically na makatarungan na sa kanila ang lupa nang walang binabayarang amortisasyon?

Husgahan Natin: Pagbabago ng modelo bilang solusyon sa krisis

February 4, 2009

Atty. Remigio D. Saladero Jr.

NALATHALA sa mga peryodiko kailan lamang ang panukala na ginawa ni Senador Chiz Escudero ng oposisyon kay Pang. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo kung paano dapat harapin ang napipintong economic recession na inaasahang makakaapekto sa milyun-milyong Pilipino na nagtatrabaho sa ibang bansa.

Isa sa mga paraan umano na inihayag ni Sen. Escudero ay ang pagpalakas sa lokal na merkado at posibleng pagtigil sa eksportasyon ng ating financial resources. Binanggit ng senador na panahon na siguro para ang mga government financial institutions tulad ng Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) at Social Security System (SSS) ang gumastos ng kanilang pera para sa lokal na mga proyekto o investments at hindi para sa mga foreign financial investments. Nang sa ganoon, sabi ng senador, makakatulong ang perang galing dito para makapagtayo ng lokal na negosyo na tiyak na magbibigay ng dagdag na trabaho sa ating mga mamamayan, hindi tulad ng global o foreign investments na nagbabagsakan na dahil sa global economic meltdown. Dapat ding samahan ito, ayon kay Sen. Escudero, ng pagsulong sa patakarang “Buy Filipino” upang mapalakas ang lokal na ekonomiya. Sa ganitong paraan, makakapagbigay tayo ng maraming trabaho, makakaimpok ng dolyar, maiiwasan ang pagsara ng mga pabrika at makakaiwas din sa smuggling.

Sang-ayon kami dito sa panukala ni Sen. Escudero. Kung tutuusin, matagal na itong panukala ng ating makabayang mga mambabatas (Bayan Muna, Anakpawis at Gabriela) at makabayang mga ekonomista tulad ni Alejandro Lichauco at Hilarion Henares. Pero hindi ito pinapaniwalaan ng rehimeng Arroyo. Bagkus, pinaparatangan pang komunista at kaaway ng gobyerno ang mga lider-masa na aktibong nakikipaglaban para sa panukalang ito. Pero kung ating pag-aaralang mabuti at balikan ang ating kasaysayan, makikita natin na ang ugat ng ating paghihirap ay ang “export-oriented, outward-looking development policy” ng ating pamahalaan na lalong kilala ngayon sa pangalang globalisasyon.

Magsimula tayo sa panahon ng mga Kastila. Bilang mga kolonyalista, pinagsamantalahan ng mga Kastila ang ating likas na kayamanan at walang intensiyong magtayo ng lokal na industriya para sa ating kapakanan. Ito ay nagsadlak sa atin sa matinding kahirapan.

Nang dumating ang mga Amerikano, pormal nilang isinailalim ang Pilipinas sa patakarang “free trade” sa pamamagitan ng Payne-Aldrich Act na nagkabisa noong 1909. Makakabuti raw sa Pilipinas ang malayang pamilihan. Ayon kay Claro M. Recto, nakabuti ito sa Estados Unidos ngunit hindi sa Pilipinas. Bagamat maaari tayong mag-eksport sa US, walang laban ang ating mga produkto sa produkto nila kaya walang bumibili ng ating eskport. Pagdating naman sa import, wala pa ring laban ang ating lokal na produkto sa produktong ini-eksport ng US kaya nawalan ng gana ang mga Pilipinong negosyante na magtayo ng negosyo o paunlarin ang lokal na industriya dahil puro produktong US ang binibili ng mga tao. Dahil dito, nanatili tayong isang underdeveloped country na nakasandal sa US.

Pagkatapos tayo mabigyan ng US ng huwad na kalayaan noong 1946, ang sistemang free trade ay nagpatuloy sa pamamagitan ng Bell Trade Act na nagbigay ng parity rights sa mga Amerikano. Noong 1962, tinanggal ng Pilipinas ang exchange control na ang ibig sabihin ay higit na kalayaan sa mga dayuhang korporasyon sa kanilang pagninegosyo sa ating bansa. Dito na pati nagsimulang lumaki ang ating pagkakautang sa International Monetary Funds at World Bank na ang hinihinging kondisyon sa pagpapautang ay ibayong pagbubukas ng ating ekonomiya sa dayuhang negosyante. Nitong 1990s naman nauso ang salitang globalisasyon bunga sa pagsali natin sa World Trade Organization kung saan export-oriented o outward-looking pa rin ang tinuturo sa preskripsiyon para sa pag-unlad.

Ngunit umunlad ba tayo sa preskripsiyong ito? Gumanda ba ang ating ekonomiya dahil sa “export-oriented, outward-looking development model” na ito? Hindi, mga kasama. Lalo tayong nabaun sa kahirapan at isa sa pinakakulelat na bansa sa Asya ngayon.

Panahon na para ibahin natin ang ating paraan para sa pag-unlad. Panahon na para maging inward-looking naman tayo sa ating mga patakaran. Panahon na para ibasura ang globalisasyon at bigyan ng proteksiyon ang naghihingalo na industriyang Pilipino sa ating bansa. Kung malakas at puwede nang makipagkumpetensiya sa dayuhang mga produkto ang ating lokal na produkto, maaari na tayong maging “outward looking.” Ngunit hanggang mahina pa tayo, dapat munang bigyan ng proteksiyon ng pamahalaan ang sariling atin.

Libo-libong Santo Niño

January 21, 2009

Ang erehiya sa debosyon ay naisasakatuparan ng sagutan ng pito. Habang tumatagal, sumisikip ang prusisyon. Natransforma ang relihiyosong prusisyon sa sekular na parada. At sa aming pag-uwi, naiwan ang nag-uumpukang magkakaibigan, nagkukwentuhan ukol sa parada at sa kanilang partisisipasyon dito, may nag-iinuman sa sidewalk at kalsada, may nagwawalis na rin ng kalsada. Bumabalik ang kalsada sa dati nitong gawi. Gayunpaman, “Viva Señor, Viva Santo Niño” hindi para sa orihinal kundi pa sa reprodusabilidad nito sa bawat nagpruprusisyon, naglalantad ng sexualidad, tumutunghay, nag-iinom, sumasayaw na kopya ng poon.


Matagal ko nang nababalitaan ang prusisyon ng mga Santo Niño sa Tundo. Nagpunta kami ng kaibigan ko noong Sabado, 17 Enero 2009, sa imbitasyon ng kagurong si Ferdie Lopez ng UST. Bisperas ng pista ang prusisyon. At kakaiba ito sa mga prusisyon na nasubaybayan ko.

Mas lantad ang erehiya (“heresy” na hindi naman maling pananampalataya kundi ang pagsasalin ng pananampalaya sa labas ng relihiyosong domeyn nito). Nagmimistulang trespassing sabjek ang mga kasama sa prosisyon, maging ang periperal na kalahok dito, tulad ng mga magkakabarkadang babaeng nakikisayaw at harutan sa hanay ng nanonood ng prusisyon.

Nagbukas ang prusisyon sa mga pari at relihiyosong nagbebendisyon ng mga sanggol. Matapos ay ang imahen ng “orihinal” na Santo Niño ng Tundo. Nang nakaraang taon, ito ang grand finale pero dahil sa malaganapang erehiyang natutunghayan, minabuti ngayong taon na unahin na ito. Kasunod ng poon ang San Jose de Navotas, na tunay namang taon-taon ay ini-import mula sa Navotas dahil nga kinikilala ito bilang ama ng poong bata.

Ang hindi maawat ay ang pwersa ng estado, sa figura at ngalan ng politikong tampok sa prusisyon at sa tarpaulin na kanilang inisponsor. Si Mayor Alfredo Lim, nakasuot ng t-shirt na “Los Angeles”, ang pinaka-patron nito sa prusisyon. Nasa likuran siya ng poon bilang kasalukuyang politikal na ama nito, at higit pa sa poon, paratihang humihinto sa sinumang gustong makipag-piktyuran sa kanya. Hindi inantala ang mabagal na ngang ritmo ng prusisyon, hanggang sa lumaki nang lumaki ang puwang sa harap na bahagi nito.

May mga lokal na politiko rin, pati ang banggit ni Ferdie na bading na personahe na ngayon ay kagawad. Bata pa raw si Ferdie ay nakikita na niya ang kagawad, naka-makeup at ngayong taon ay ginawang headdress ang umiilaw na Santo Niño. Pulis at tanod ang namamatrol sa daloy ng prusisyon, pati ang trafficking ng pagpapakuha ng litratong kasama ang mayor. Sila ang nagkukurdon ng mga malalaking personahe, pati na rin ang pagtiyak ng daloy ng prusisyon. Dagdag pa rito ang plastic na strips na dekorasyon sa kalsada—blue at pink na kulay ng isang nagpapakomersyal na sa sinehan para sa pagtakbo sa pagkapresidente sa 2010!

Matapos nitong pinakamalaking bugso ng representasyon ng simbahan at pamahalaang Maynila, ang tunay na prusisyon ang mas interesanteng pinakakaabangan. “Hot Stuff” ng gay icon na Donna Summer ang tugtog sa harapang banda nang mapadaan ito sa balkon ng bahay na pinanonooran namin. Nakahanda na ang balkon, tulad ng mga katapat at katabi nito. May mga upuan at inumin na para mapanood ang prusisyon sa kalsada. Kaya pala ang mga bahay sa kalsada sa bahaging ito ng Tundo ay puro may balkon o tarangkahan sa unang palapag, para panooran nga ng prusisyon.

Ang partisispasyon sa prusisyon ay kinakailangan ng pagiging kasapi ng mga organisasyon para sa Santo Niño. May mga organisasyong pangkalsada, pang-zona, fraternity, at iba pa pa na pawang kinatatampukan ng hanggang dalawang daang unipormadong walang sawa at pagod na choreographed na sumasayaw hanggang sa pagtatapos ng prusisyon. At hindi simpleng sayaw ang ginagawa, may choreography na binabago at pinapagyaman bawat taon, dagdag pa ang ilang araw rin na ensayo nito bago ang araw ng prusisyon. Bukod pa ito sa sayaw na ginagawa sa poon, pati ang paghaltak at indayog sa Santo Niño nakasakay ng bangka.

Libo-libong poon ang iprinuprusisyon, iba pa ang nakaantay na isinasayaw sa labas ng prusisyon. Banggit ni Ferdie, kung gaano raw karami ang kasapi ng pamilya, ganoon din karami ang bilang ng poon. Kaya pala, di tulad sa Nazareno sa Quiapo na nagkakandakumahog ang mga tao para salatin at punasan ng bimbo at panyo ang poon, ay halos hindi napapansin ang orihinal na poon. Nagkalat kasi ang erehiyang mga poon na nakakapanlusaw sa kapangyarihan ng orihinal.

Nakakapanlusaw sa isang banda dahil nga mas personalisado ang relasyon sa mini-me na poon. Dinadamitan ito, tulad ng Barbie Doll. Mayroong Santo Niño na naka-diaper lang, naka-camouflage, naka-fur na pula at dilaw, naka-basketball jersey, naka-atiatihan na costume, naka-windbreaker, Bumbay na Santo Niño, environmental na Santo Niño, at Donya Santo Niño. May iba-ibang props din na bitbit, di lang ang tipikal na globe o supot para sa berdeng Santo Niño. May hand bag, net na panghuli ng isda, bonnet, at headress. May iba-iba ring personahe: Santo Niño na palaboy, Santo Niño sa kariton. At isinasayaw rin ito sa taas ng ulo kaya mas intimate ang relasyon sa Santo Niño sa kani-kanilang bahay.

Para ring bagong taon sa paputok. Hindi relihiyoso siempre ang tugtog sa hanay ng mga inarkila at homegrown na banda ng tambol. Parang Caribbean at Miami Sound Machine ang kumpas sa matutunghayan na musika ng “Spaghetti” at “Macarena”. Napapagitnaan ang banda—na hinahatak ng mga maliliit na bata ang tambol na nakapwesto sa sasakyang may gulong—ng naka-umpok pero disiplinadong hanay ng nakauniporme at choreographed na nagsasayaw na kasapi ng organisasyon. Sa isip ko, pwede na itong pang-opening ceremonies ng Olympics. Tunay na hitik sa enerhiya ng kalsada ang drum at bugle na banda ng kabataang lalake. May mga higanteng drum ng tubig—bakal at plastic—na nakapwesto sa karitong mahahatak ng kahit paslit.

Ang koordinasyon ng dalawang bahagi ng nagsasayaw, pati na rin ang kumpas sa banda, ay hinuhudyat ng sagutan ng pito ng mga nakatokang personahe ng organisasyon. Malinaw ang kumpas ng mga choreographer sa harap ng dalawang bahagi ng pulutong, pati ang nakatabi sa banda, at ang naghuhudyat ng sinkronisadong performance sa kalsada, pati ang pagpapadaloy ng prusisyon ay nakaangkla sa nasingsing koordinasyon ng pito.

At di mabibilang ang organisasyong kalahok at naghanda para sa prusisyon. Ang Herbosa Group ay nakadilaw na t-shirt. Ang Samahang Mangingisda ay may Santo Niño na nakasakay sa maliit na bangka at ang pagkilos ay nagsasaad ng indayog ng alon at kaguluhan sa bagyo sa karagatan. May organisasyon na ang tawag sa sarili ay “Kabataang Iwas Droga”, “Batang Hamog, Trop. Pacute”, “Tau Gamma Phi Roxas Chapter”, “Tribung Pacheco” at “Magsaysay Tribe”. At banggit ni Ferdie, mayroon ding organisasyon na puro gwapo ang kasapi, at mayroon pang screening para matiyak ito. May organisasyon na nakabase sa gym na puro nakahubad na nagsasayaw na lalaki ang nasa prusisyon. Dati raw ay ito ang unang bumubulagta sa prusisyon—mga lalakeng gym bods na nakatapis lang.

Ang grupong Gin Patayo ay nakapula at nakasuot ng asul at pulang t-shirt na may pangalan ng organisasyon. May ilang mas matitikas na lalake na naka-Clockwork Orange na putting mascara. May grupo na naka-itim, may grupo na naka-violet. Ang Pitong Gatang ay tampok parati ang mga mujer na bading, kuntodo costume na pumaparadang parang starlets at panandaliang nakikipag-umpukan sa kakilalang bading sa labas ng prusisyon. May grupo na ang mottong nakatatak sa t-shirt ay “One beat, one dance, one vision”. At may grupong ang logo ay Hello Kitty, na ang sponsor raw ay galing pa sa OCW na deboto sa Japan.

Ang choreography ay may halay factor, tulad ng paggiling ng macho dancer at grind ng mga babaeng African American. Parang sinapian ang lahat ng pagiging disipulo ng Aldeguer Sisters, ang “classy” na uri ng costume na choreography sa panahon ni Marcos. May bahagi pa ng choreography na babaklas ang nakauniporme sa hanay at gagawa ng iba’t ibang tumpok. May ihahagis na mas maliit na kasapi sa ere, parang Pep Squad, o bigla na lang sabay-sabay na gigiling na parang nakakawala sa nasusunog na gay bar. May sumasayaw na grupo sa tugtog ng “Legs” ng Hagibis.

Ang mga mas matatandang lalake ay tinatagayan ng gin. Ang mas bata ay may bitbit na Red Horse habang nagsasayaw sa kalsada. Pero ang matingkad sa prusisyong ito ay ang display ng akto ng sexualidad. Mula batang bading na may pride lang sa ginagawang pagsasayaw, hanggang sa mga magkakabarkadang teenager na babae na nanghihipo sa katawan ng lalakeng natipuhan nila sa loob ng prusisyon, pati na rin ang pagtutulakan para makahalik sa lalake, namumutiktik ang atensyon sa pamumukadkad at pagtanggap sa samu’t saring sexualidad.

At hindi ba kakatwa ito na ang debosyon para sa poon ay naisasalin sa paglalantad ng nakatagong isyu ng sexualidad? Macho dancer, giling ng egay, vogue ng mga bading ang tampok sa choreography na isinasayaw na may uri ng misrekognisyon sa pagsasalin nito sa iba’t ibang grupo—ang tampok na pagkilala ng indayog sa expresyon ng kolektibidad at hindi pa ang orihinal na pinanggalingan nitong sityo ng sexualidad. Ang interaktibong katangian ng parada—na pati ang nasa labas ng parada ay may antas ng paglahok sa loob—ay ang ugnay para magkaroon ng kinetisismo ng akto ng sexualidad.

Sa kabilang banda, ang libo-libong Santo Niño ay simulacrum pa rin ng orihinal, kasama ang kalakaran, ideolohiya at ethos nito. Extensyon pa rin ito ng orihinal na debosyon at rehimentasyon ng paniniwala. Gayunpaman, sa anim hanggang walong oras, sa bisperas ng rurok ng pagdiriwang ng kapistahan ng poon, ang poon ay di dinadambana sa simbahan kundi sa kalsada. At ang kalakarang nakakapagdambana sa poon ay hindi nito lubos na ikatutuwa. Temporal na napipigtas ang ideolohiya ng relihiyon ng simbahan para sa praxis ng ideolohiya ng relihiyon ng kalsada.

Ang erehiya sa debosyon ay naisasakatuparan ng sagutan ng pito. Habang tumatagal, sumisikip ang prusisyon. Natransforma ang relihiyosong prusisyon sa sekular na parada.

At sa aming pag-uwi, naiwan ang nag-uumpukang magkakaibigan, nagkukwentuhan ukol sa parada at sa kanilang partisisipasyon dito, may nag-iinuman sa sidewalk at kalsada, may nagwawalis na rin ng kalsada. Bumabalik ang kalsada sa dati nitong gawi.

Gayunpaman, “Viva Señor, Viva Santo Niño” hindi para sa orihinal kundi pa sa reprodusabilidad nito sa bawat nagpruprusisyon, naglalantad ng sexualidad, tumutunghay, nag-iinom, sumasayaw na kopya ng poon.(

Weekly Reflections: Living in a foreign land

January 12, 2009


“Esther, do not imagine that you are safer than any of the other Jews in the Empire. If you keep quiet at a time like this, help will come to the Jews in some other way and they will be saved, but you will die and your father’s family will come to an end. Yet who knows? Maybe it was for a time like this that you were made queen!” – Esther 4:14

Filipinos in Adelaide

It was a delightful opportunity for Pearl and I to be invited to a Filipino celebration of Christmas Eve in Adelaide, South Australia. Our kind and gracious host, Lyn Leane, made this thing possible. A former UCCP Bradford Church member, David Cho, now a Filipino Australian and member of the Uniting Church, warmly welcomed us with his Filipino group of about three hundred people.

We immediately felt a festive mode as we entered the social hall of the St. John the Baptist Parish where the gathering was held. The group was a good mixture of adults, young people, and children. Some of them have big name tags wherein names of big politicians and film stars at home were written. Obviously, this was just part of the fun.

The program already started when we arrived. It was some sort of a variety show with indoor games, dancing, singing, and role playing. We were introduced to the group together with other Filipino couples who also joined the celebration for the first time. We participated in the activities, especially in the indoor games. A Filipino Baptist preacher, Edwin del Pilar, who hails from La Union but now serving a small Filipino congregation in Adelaide, led the Christmas prayer.

Few minutes before midnight, the whole group joined in the countdown. At exactly midnight, they shouted “Merry Christmas!” and everyone started greeting each other with a hug, handshake, and lots of smile and laughter. Then, the feasting began. There were varieties of Filipino and Australian food set on the table. Tropical fruits, like mangoes and watermelons, were even available. We were told they came from Queensland with a climate similar to the Philippines.

Obviously, the adults in the group still spoke with a strongly accented Filipino English, but the young people and children already spoke with an Australian accent. We were able to speak to some of the adults and had come to know which part in our country they originated from. Most of them, we were told, had come from the Lahar Region. Perhaps, the Pinatubo tragedy in 1991 had driven people out of the country.

On our way home to Lynn’s house where we were staying, we had a chance to talk more deeply with David on the situation of Filipinos in Adelaide. According to him, one of the biggest problems they face as a Filipino community in Australia is the fact that they are hopelessly divided; each one would like to put up his or her own group. It used to be that there was only one Filipino organization in Adelaide, which was put up by David and his group, but as soon as new members were adjusted to the Australian society, they started splitting up. Now, an important question comes to mind: How should Filipinos live in a foreign land?

Israelites in Persia

Perhaps, we could learn from the experiences of the Israelites in Persia. Israel became a colony of the Persian Empire when Babylon fell into the hands of the Persians in 538 BC under the leadership of Cyrus the Great. Although the Persian Emperor issued a decree allowing those in Exile to return to their homeland, a lot of Israelites decided to stay in Babylon, now part of the Persian Empire.

This was the historical context of the fascinating story of Queen Esther as recorded in the Scriptures. She was a Jewish orphan brought up by her own cousin and (foster father) Mordecai. Because of her beauty, she was chosen to become the Queen of Persia. In the story, Mordecai refused to kneel down before Haman, a close aide of the Emperor. Thus, Haman made the Emperor issue a decree punishing by execution all those following different customs and not obeying the laws of the Empire. According to the decree, all Jews were to be killed, destroyed and annihilated (Esther 3:13).

And so, Mordecai asked the help of Queen Esther. He said to her, “Esther, do not imagine that you are safer than any of the other Jews in the Empire. If you keep quiet at a time like this, help will come to the Jews in some other way and they will be saved, but you will die and your father’s family will come to an end. Yet who knows? Maybe it was for a time like this that you were made queen!” (Esther 4:14). When Queen Esther heard this, she followed a careful and clever plan to save her own people together with Mordecai. She risked her own life and future for the sake of her fellow Israelites, including herself. Finally, she was successful in saving her own people, and Haman, the man who planned evil against the Israelites, was the one who was hanged instead (Esther 7).

To live in a foreign land victoriously would mean to stick together, to help each other, to “bear one another’s burden.” This is an enduring lesson Filipinos living abroad should learn from the painful experiences of Israelites who in many times in their history were also living in a foreign land. #

Smorgasbord: Jesus Christ and Christmas commercialism (2/2)

January 12, 2009


Second of two parts (Click here for the first part)

The booty capitalists of our days are worse than the rich man Jesus encountered.  Not only do they refuse to share their wealth (unless sharing means tax deductions for them), they also exploit the  working class’ labor   to expand their capital. They have resorted to all schemes imaginable to steal the actual pecuniary  cost of the proletariat’s  sweat. Mining companies are raking in billions of pesos  from the muckers’ labor.

Everyday, the workers risk their lives as they descend into the bowels of the earth to look for gold. And the mining companies boast, “We pay the miners more than the minimum wage.” Hah!

The minimum wage  is not necessarily decent wage. What is legal is not necessarily moral. I bet my life that the Philippine minimum wage law would  not impress Jesus especially as it was crafted by an institution protective of  booty capitalism’s interest.

Jesus disdained profiteers.  When he went to a temple, there were so many merchants – money changers and people selling doves.  In those days, doves were sacrificed in the temple by the poor who could not afford sheep and goats. Enraged, Jesus  turned the tables upside down, cracked a whip he made and drove out the merchants while denouncing them for converting the temple into a den of thieves. The merchants must have been reaping more profit than what reason permitted. Why else did the reasonable Jesus call them thieves?

Profiteering in those days is nothing compared to today’s.  For instance, the oil companies keep raising prices to intolerable levels using the fluctuation in the world market as excuse. Then they reduce the price but not back to the previous price level. Consumers feel grateful for the reduction,  not realizing they had been had.

Philippine landlords  just sit around waiting for profit from the peasants’ harvests. The latter  have become prisoners of the land owned by the former. In spite of its deficiencies, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) could have helped  break, by a little stretch,  the chains of the peasants’ bondage were it not for  lackadaisical if not insincere implementation. Worse,  it  was to end last month. Farmers, with bishops and priests,  went  on hunger strike  to pressure Congress to extend the CARP and reform  the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law. The “Honorables,” however, were  bent on ignoring the call, giving a token extension of only six months.  Many of them are landowners themselves who are too greedy to  even consider parting with a square meter of their hundreds of hectares of land.  They are more interested in concocting ways to extend the Arroyo Regime which fiercely protects their  interests.  This regime does not serve the masses made up of workers and peasants. It serves  the profiteering oligarchy and    their wealth.

Christmas is no longer an occasion to celebrate the life of a man who turned the tables of profiteers upside down. It is the Feast of  Capitalism as we are   pressured to do a lot of spending, even beyond our means. The real winners of the season are the booty capitalists who, through multi-million advertisements make us feel guilty when we do not hit their malls to shop until we drop.  Christmas today, insults Jesus’ teachings.

Che Guevara, a man born to  privilege, chose to spend his life promoting socialism and dismantling structures of capitalism. The profiteers hated him. After his death, they  raked-in enormous revenues  selling his image.

Like Che Guevara, Jesus Christ, the man who disdained flagrant commercialism, is its biggest victim on his birthday. #

Economics and Society 101: US policies under Obama

January 12, 2009


The topic really is on the direction of U.S. imperialism under the presidency of Barak Obama who will assume the US presidency soon. Some readers understandably prefer the current title. Using whichever of the two frameworks or title, however, will not invalidate the content of this column.

The direction of U.S. policies under Obama has four basic characteristics.

Firstly , the country will remain imperialists but this time it will become relatively green as an imperialist nation. Instead of adopting technologies unselectively, American capitalism under Obama will embark on a direction that has been increasingly popular in recent years: green technologies and technologies that protect the environment.

American capitalism will in fact seek more: it will aspire to be the leader in green technologies. In contrast, years earlier, it has continually rejected a mainly anthropogenic explanation of the ongoing global warming.

This should not be strange because not all of capitalism is founded on fossil fuels. There are green capitalists because not all of capitalism derive their profits from non-green capital. In fact, green products and technologies have a market. They represent the new products on the block that have the greatest potentials for earning profits today.

There is even a race among the great country powers for one of them to become the great green super power capitalist.

Secondly , in the face of an economic crises widely described as worse than the great depression, U.S. imperialism will have to repair or build social or national solidarity on its home front. An economic depression can trigger a widespread social unrest. It can even trigger a revolution. The situation today is similar to the great depression of the 1930s when the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt adopted populist policies. For instance, under the Roosevelt presidency two key laws provided relief to workers under the first great depression: the first one was on social security and the second on trade union rights.

The U.S. Social Security Act created promises of economic security for the elderly and the sick. It is similar to our version of the SSS that makes the same promise and never mind if the government reneged on the promise for several times. At the same time, the U.S. Wagner Act under the Roosevelt administration recognized workers rights to organize unions, engage in collective bargaining and participate in strikes. The latter is consistent with the Barak Obama policy posture today of seeking an increase in the minimum wage, indexing wages to inflation, protecting striking workers, ensuring the freedom to unionize, and the like.

Concern for the survival of the system is paramount over other concerns in a situation of crisis.

Thirdly , wars of aggression will continue under Obama. This column has discussed the matter in earlier issues of Nordis. This time, however, the combatants will don reconstruction clothes and will be more precise in their war against the Al Qaeda and the Talibans. The priority targets are countries like Iran and Afghanistan.

The U.S. in the time of the once popular Franklin Delano Roosevelt continued to occupy semi-colonies like the Philippines. Similarly, there is no reason why it will stop occupying semi-colonies under the equally popular Barak Obama.

Lastly or fourthly , the Barak Obama presidency will enforce pump-priming measures a la Keynesian. There have been statements made by Obama to this effect and this was the same policy framework that the U.S. adopted during the great depression of the 1930s with Roosevelt at the helm of leadership. Pump-priming is the use of government funds to generate employment. Franklin Roosevelt has used this policy and conventional economists have questioned whether or not the policy has been economically effective. However, even if they are not economically effective, the policies will be part of the Obama presidency because they are needed to enhance social cohesion and national solidarity. #

(The writer maintains a blog at Comments can be coursed through,, and +63927-536-8431)

Advocate’s Overview: The national legal system on land and resources

January 12, 2009


Centuries ago, in the period of mercantilism at the dawn of capitalism, two powerful maritime states were emerging: Portugal and Spain. They began to explore and conquer new territories and, with the Pope’s intervention, agreed to divide the world: one division open for colonization by Portugal and the other by Spain.

This led to the “discovery” of the Philippine islands. Invoking the feudal conquest theory, they declared all the lands and resources in their “newly discovered” territories as owned by the Spanish crown. This theory is now known in the legal circles as the Regalian Doctrine.

Through the Treaty of Paris of December 10, 1898, our next colonial master – the United States of America after it paid $20 million to Spain – adopted the Regalian Doctrine with the same motive as its predecessor. The American regime passed laws that legally grabbed vast land and resources within its newly acquired Philippine colony.

We can clearly see that the most basic laws on land and resources were never neutral. Instead, they were enacted to further the basic socio-economic interests of the colonial rulers.

The U.S. colonizers imposed their own concepts of land usage and ownership system to combine with the Spanish colonial land system. Under the Torrens system, land ownership was proven only through a piece of paper called the Torrens Title. Lands not covered by such paper titles were automatically deemed part of the public domain, owned by the State, which has the sole right for disposition.

This colonial land system continued even after the so-called Philippine “independence” from the U.S.A. Even the fundamental laws of the land – the 1935, 1973, and 1987 Constitutions – contained the Regalian Doctrine. Thus, became institutionalized the State’s grabbing of land and resources.

The state ownership of land and resources within the Philippine territory is contained under the 1987 Philippine Constitution. Under Section 2, Article XII it states: “All lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, fisheries, forests or timber, wildlife, flora and fauna, and other natural resources are owned by the state.”

This is the Regalian Doctrine provision, a legacy of the colonial past.

The Constitution classifies the public domain into agricultural lands, forest or timber, mineral lands, and national parks. Only agricultural lands are alienable and disposable, where the state can grant title to qualified Filipino citizen and after such citizen had undergone the long, tedious, and rigid processes outlined by the government.

Forest or timber, mineral lands, and national parks are inalienable and not disposable, they cannot be owned by anybody. Several and long line of cases decided by the Supreme Court, otherwise known as Philippine jurisprudence supported the above concept. The latest was Gordulla vs. CA (January 22, 1998) where the Supreme Court ruled: “Forestlands, being self-replenishing, versatile and all-important natural resource that they are, need to be reserved and saved to promote the peoples’ welfare.

By their very nature or by executive or statutory fiat, they are outside the commerce of man, not susceptible of private appropriation in any form, and inconvertible into any character less than of inalienable public domain, regardless of their actual state, for as long as the reservation subsists and it is not revoked by a subsequent valid declassification.”

The Supreme Court further stated: “Once again, we reiterate the rule enunciated by this Court in the Director of Forestry vs. Muñoz and consistently adhered to a long line of cases the more recent of which is Republic vs. CA, that forest lands or forests reserves are incapable of private appropriation, and possession thereof, however long, cannot convert them into private properties. This ruling is premised on the Regalian Doctrine enshrined not only in the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions but also in the 1987 Constitution.”

As the final arbiter of any legal controversy, the Supreme Court clears doubt that until now we are still under the aegis of the Regalian Doctrine. #

(Next Issue: Constitutional provisions affecting indigenous peoples.)

Weekly Reflections: Christmas as partnership

January 11, 2009


“She gave birth to her first sone, wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger—there was no room for them to stay in the inn.” — Luke 2:7


Pearl and I had the chance to visit and speak to churches while in Australia. One of the questions frequently asked during the interviews had something to do with the challenges of the Christian ministry that we are facing in our country today, especially in the area of theological education. I think one of the most important challenges that ministerial formation centers in our country are facing today is the challenge of preparing servants of God to be prophets and pastors at the same time. They have to be fully equipped to be courageous to proclaim the truth with love.

It is indeed ironic that sometimes it is quite difficult to be truly Christian in a Christian country. It is hard to stand up for truth if everybody is telling lies. It is almost impossible to be honest if everybody around us is corrupt. And worst of all, the Christian faith is used to cover that up or to make it appear good in the eyes of people or even of God.

There are lots of differences between Australia and the Philippines, culturally and physically. The people’s way of life is quite different from ours. They have so much land, but very little rain; while we have so much rain (and floods even), but very little land. They have large houses, but few people living inside these houses; while we have small houses, but so many people are cramped inside.

The common denominator is that we are all human beings, as David said. He was one among young Australians who came to the Philippines in July for exposure. We met him again in his own home church. This is where the partnership between and among various nationalities would come in: we have to partner with each other, because we are all human beings.

No room in the Inn

This reminds us of the story of Jesus’ birth. According to Luke, he was born in a manger, because there was “no room in the inn” (Lk. 2:1-7). Luke wrote in his Gospel, “(Mary) gave birth to her first son, wrapped him in cloths and laid him in a manger – there was no room for them to stay in the inn” (Luke 2:7).

But why there was no room in the inn? Biblical scholars and theologians had various speculations on this matter. Some are saying there might be a lot of people who had come home to Bethlehem at that time for the census. And so, all the inns were already filled up. But I would say that what happened was more of a social rejection.

First of all, Mary and Joseph came from Galilee, and at that time Judeans seemed to have negative attitudes against the Galileans. Galilee was the base of revolutionaries fighting against the Roman Empire.

Thus, coming from Galilee is like coming from a rebel-infested area today, where everyone is treated like a rebel-suspect. That is why there were comments later on about Jesus and his disciples like, “Is there anything good coming out of Galilee?”

Moreover, Mary and Joseph were not like King Herod and the Herodians – the powers-that-be in Galilee. Certainly, it would be different if the Herods were the ones looking for an inn in Bethlehem – there will be room for them, definitely!

Mary and Joseph were just ordinary couple. Perhaps, they would even look like they would not be able to pay the bills.

This reminds me of an incident sometime ago when Aetas from Zambales who were on exposure trip in Metro-Manila were not allowed to see the inside of Manila Hotel, simply because they were not wearing decent clothes!

Luke would interpret the story of Jesus’ birth in a manger theologically. It would mean that God in Jesus Christ identifies with the least in the world. God in Jesus Christ saves not only the Jews but also the Gentiles, not only the righteous but also the sinners, not only the rich but also the wretched poor.

Indeed, Christmas – the coming of God in Jesus Christ in the world – is an affirmation of God’s partnership with the world, which is the theological basis of any partnership between peoples, churches, and nations today. We identify with each other’s sufferings and hopes, because God in Jesus Christ has identified with us.

There is room in the inn for us

Unlike Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem, there is a big “room in the inn” for us in Australia. We have been warmly and graciously welcomed by partners and friends into their homes. We stayed in big and beautiful Australian houses one after another, particularly in the weekends when we go around visiting churches.

For instance, we stayed this weekend in the house of Collin and Lindsay, sister and brother-in-law of Lynn, our host. Collin is a nurse and Lindsay is a freelance skilled carpenter. Their huge house was built in a large property. Inside the house is like a five-star hotel; in front, outside the house is a big beautiful fountain.

If a carpenter in Australia, like Lindsay, has a big mansion; how much more for the rich Australians! Lynn was saying that the rich would own many big and fancy houses and vacation homes. Then, I began to wonder how come in our country a skilled carpenter only have a shanty for a home. #

Smorgasbord: Jesus Christ and Christmas commercialism (1/2)

January 11, 2009


First of two parts

“Jesus is the reason for the Christmas season,” says a message circulating in cyberspace.

December 25 is the presumed birthday of Jesus Christ. This is debatable because when he was born, shepherds were out watching their flocks at night. In those days, flock-watching in the fields was possible from spring to autumn. During winter, the sheep were sheltered in the shepherds’ homes. Israel’s temperature can drop to really low levels in winter. It must have been lower in the old days when global warming was unimaginable. The biting cold could pose an insurmountable obstacle to shepherds attending to their flocks at night.

Moreover, when Jesus’ birth was drawing nigh, Augustus Caesar ordered a census in the Roman Empire and everyone was mandated to be counted. In Jesus’ place and time, you did not wait for census officers to knock on your door. You had to register in the town of your lineage. Which was why the young couple, Joseph and the very pregnant Mary, hit the road to Bethlehem, the town of King David who was Joseph’s ancestor. An important undertaking like a census could not have been scheduled in winter when the weather was harsh for travel.

Historians say that December 25 was deliberately chosen as it was also the day Pagans honored the sun god Mithras. The celebrations were synchronized to accelerate the acquiescence by pagans to Christianity when it was declared as the Roman Empire’s official religion . In other words, choosing December 25 was a calculated political move.

That aside, it remains that Christmas has always been traditionally about Jesus Christ. And yet, it is not about him at all. The crass commercialism characterizing the season goes against everything he advocated.

Jesus is one of the leading figures in human history. Christians believe that he came as God. There are not a few skeptics who doubt this, but no one can deny that he came as a man. In a world of misery and greed such as the one we have today, it is worth looking into his life, at least as a man. He had more than a mouthful to say against greed and oppression.

He lived a life of purpose. “I came,” he said, “that they might have life, and that they might have it abundantly.” By they, he was referring to the poor and the oppressed. To propagate his ideology, he chose members of the working class as assistants. He and his disciples walked the streets and went to all corners their sandaled feet could take them to preach about loving one’s neighbors as loving oneself and doing unto others what one wanted done unto oneself. He exhorted everyone to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, help the sick and share resources. He put the welfare of others above his personal comfort. The issues of the poor and the powerless found a champion in him.

A recurring theme in his speeches was socialism or something akin to it. He said one cannot serve both God and wealth. Once, he delivered a sermon and, at midday, commanded that loaves and fish in a boy’s lunch basket be shared by everyone. At another time,a rich man asked him what he needed to do to have eternal life. Jesus recited the Ten Commandments. The young man said, “I have done all of that. What do I need to do further?” Jesus told him, “Sell your possessions, give to the poor.” The man of immense wealth left with a heavy heart for he could not do as Jesus asked. “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter heaven,” Jesus remarked sadly.

Brutally Frank: Christmas is not Christ’s birth (2)

January 11, 2009


Click here for the first part

Early Europeans believed in evil spirits, witches, ghosts and trolls. As the winter solstice approached, with its long cold nights and short days, many people feared the sun would not return. Special rituals and celebrations were held to welcome back the sun.

In Scandinavia, the Norse celebrated Yule from December 21, the winter solstice, through January. During the winter months the sun would disappear for many days. After 35 days, scouts would be sent to the mountain tops to look for the return of the sun. When the first light was seen the scouts would return with the good news. In recognition of the return of the sun, fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days. The Norse believed that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born during the coming year. This great festival was called the Yuletide and the special feast would be served around the fire burning with the Yule log. In some areas people would tie apples to branches of trees to remind themselves that spring and summer would return.

The ancient Greeks held a festival similar to that of the Zagmuk/Sacaea festivals to assist their god Kronos who would battle the god Zeus and his Titans.

In Germany, people honored the pagan god Oden during the mid-winter holiday. Germans were terrified of Oden, as they believed he made nocturnal flights through the sky to observe his people, and then decide who would prosper or perish. Because of his presence, many people chose to stay inside.

The Roman’s celebrated their god Saturn, the god of agriculture. Their festival was called Saturnalia which began the middle of December and ended January 1st. Saturnalia was a hedonistic time, when food and drinks were plentiful and the normal Roman social order was turned upside down. For a month, the slaves would become masters. Peasants were in command of the city. Business and schools were closed so that everyone can join the fun. With cries of “Jo Saturnalia!” the celebration would include masquerades in the streets, big festive meals, visiting friends and the exchange of good-luck gifts called Strenae (lucky fruits). The Romans decked their halls with garlands of laurel and green trees lit with candles.

Also around the time of the winter solstice, Romans observed Juvenalia, a feast honoring the children of Rome. In addition, members of the upper classes often celebrated the birthday of Mithra, the god of the unconquerable sun, on December 25. It was believed that Mithra, an infant god, was born of a rock. For some Romans, Mithra’s birthday was the most sacred day of the year.

“Jo Saturnalia!” was a fun and festive time for the Romans, but the Christians thought it an abomination to honor the pagan god. The early Christians wanted to keep the birthday of their Christ child a solemn and religious holiday, not one of cheer and merriment as was the pagan Saturnalia. In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday; the birth of Jesus was not celebrated.

But as Christianity spread they were alarmed by the continuing celebration of pagan customs and Saturnalia among their converts. At first the Church forbade this kind of celebration. But it was to no avail. Eventually it was decided that the celebration would be tamed and made into a celebration fit for the Christian Son of God.

Some legends claim that the Christian “Christmas” celebration was invented to compete against the pagan celebrations of December. The 25th was not only sacred to the Romans but also the Persians whose religion Mithraism was one of Christianity’s main rivals at that time. The Church eventually was successful in taking the merriment, lights and gifts from the Saturnalia festival and bringing them to the celebration of Christmas.

The exact day of the Christ child’s birth has never been pinpointed. Traditions say that it has been celebrated since the year 98 AD. In 137 AD the Bishop of Rome ordered the birthday of the Christ Child celebrated as a solemn feast. In 350 AD another Bishop of Rome, Julius I, choose December 25th as the observance of Christmas. #

Advocate’s Overview: Hurling shoes at Bush: a noble act?

January 11, 2009


Muntadhar al-Zeide, an Iraqui journalist of the Cairo-based Al-Bahgdadia, hurled his shoes to USA Pres. George Bush while the latter was having a press conference with the Iraqui president. Muntadhar became an instant hero worldwide despite being jailed in Iraq after that event.

Here in the Baguio City, a friend challenges us – Philippine-based journalists – if we can also do that. Though he made it more as a joke, nobody took his challenge. Of course that is understandable for Muntadhar as Iraq is the number one country on earth where journalists are not safe. Iraq had the most killed journalists while the Philippines came at second.

Muntadhar hurling of his shoes to Bush is a normal a reaction. In front of the journalists, Bush was lying as to the reason why they deployed and continuously had their troops in that country. It must be known that when USA and its allied troops drove out Iraqui troops from Kuwait in 1990, they were justified in doing so as Iraq under then Saddam Hussein violated United Nations policies in its invasion of Kuwait.

The US and its allied troops’ invasion of Iraq in 2001 is another story. US alleged that Iraq was producing and stockpiling weapons of mass destruction. While the UN agencies had not yet wrapped up its report in investigating Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, the US and its allied troops invaded the oil-rich country. It led to the destruction of cultural institutions like museums where materials proving the early civilization of Mesopotamia (the old name of Iraq) were kept. These institutions were number two as to be protected by the allied troops when they launched their war of invasion.

It was proven though that the most protected areas during that invasion were the oilfields. It actually showed the reason of that invasion – oil. After the invasion, the UN found out that Iraq had no capacity to produce and stockpile weapons for mass destruction but US and its allied troops had made the damage – the most to human.

After Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, the UN imposed economic embargo to Iraq. This embargo was criticized as the most affected from that embargo were the civilians, particularly the women and children where at least 250,000 died as a result.

It is from the above background that anybody, regardless of whether you are a journalist, that you may do the act of Muntadhar. Even if he is the president of the world’s advance state, you can hurl your shoes against him if he still lied in front of the people where he led the commission of a crime against humanity.

Back in the Philippines, I got a justification from my friend that the Philippines is just the number two state on earth where journalists are not safe. Maybe hurling shoes is not yet justified.

I withdrew that kind of reasoning however. I pointed to him that I could also do that hurling of shoes if the President of the Philippines will also tell lies that mining benefits the indigenous peoples. Let her try that in front indigenous journalists and she will taste my shoes.

  • * * * *

To all our contributors, readers, supporters and friends, may I take this opportunity to greet all of you of a Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year. #

Radical Pinoy: Mga kaganapan noong 2008 sa saliw ng pop songs

January 8, 2009

Vencer Crisostomo

PARA sa ilan sa mga kaibigan, “life-changing” daw ang 2008. Ang iba, ayaw pa itong matapos. Marami naman, nalulula sa dami ng mga nangyari, pero bitin pa rin.

Balikan natin ang mga tampok na kaganapan para sa progresibong kilusang kabataan, sa saliw ng mga cool na cool na awiting nakapagpa-LSS sa atin noong 2008.

Soundtrack: Crank That/Superman (Soulja Boy)

Sa pagputok ng kontrobersiyang ZTE at pagbabalik ni Jun Lozada, naging sing-uso ng bagong dance step ang noise barrage, mga protesta sa kampus at malalaking mga martsa sa kalsada. Talaga namang pinanindigan ng mga kabataan ang pagiging soldier boys and girls para sa katotohanan at pagbabago.

Pinanunganahan ng YOUTH ACT NOW! ang masisiglang pagkilos at paglahok ng kabataan, at sinamantala ang iba’t ibang mga mapanlikhang porma para iparating ang paninidigan.

Soundtrack: Susundan (Calla Lily)

Susundan kahit san man magpunta… ng protesta ang mga amuyong ni Gloria Arroyo. Kahit sa mga graduation ceremonies, protesta ang itinambad ng mga kabataang mag-aaral. Tampok ang pananalita ni Eduardo Ermita sa PUP, na binulabog ng protesta ng mga bagong tapos.

Soundtrack: Umbrella (Rihanna)

Pila.. pila.. ehh.. ehh…

Pila kung pila sa NFA rice dahil sa sirit ng pagtaas ng presyo ng bigas. Todo protesta naman ang itinapat sa mga piket sa NFA, paglalantad sa pananagutan ng gubyerno sa krisis at pangangailangan ng higit na pagkilos para sa pagpapatalsik kay Gloria.

Sountrack: With You (Chris Brown)

Boksingero ang Person of the Year ng masa, pero hindi si Manny Pacquiao. Mas mabagsik siya rito. Hindi nagluroy sa kayamanan, at nanatiling matibay ang prinsipyo’t paninindigan para sa interes ng mga mamamayan. Ang pagkamatay ni Ka Bel ay nagpakita ng tunay na paninidigan ng kilusang mapagpalaya para sa masa at bayan.

Tunay na idol ng kabataan at masa, kaya naman sa pagkamatay niya, lahat ay kasama sa pagdakila at pagpaparangal.

Soundtrack: Keep Bleeding (Leona Lewis)

Pagdating ng pasukan, talaga namang duduguin ang mga magulang sa taas ng matrikula sa mga pamantasan. Kaya naman protesta ang ibinungad sa enrolment pa lang. Nagbitiw ng salita ang gobyerno na wala raw magtataas ng matrikula, pero too late na, boladas lang din pala.

Soundtrack: Always Be My Baby (David Cook)

You’ll always be a part of me na ang mga pagtaas ng presyo ng langis. Halos linggu-linggo ang pagsirit ng presyo. Sunud-sunod din na militanteng mga aksiyon ang pinangunahan ng mga kabataan sa mga opisina ng mga kompanya ng langis sa Makati, hanggang sa Oil Depot sa Pandacan.

Soundtrack: Imposible (KC Concepcion)

Hindi na raw para sa henerasyong ito ang malakihang mga pagkilos ng mga kabataan at walk-outs. Wala raw mainit na kontrobersiya na gaya ng noong unang kuwarto. Pero ang inaakalang imposible, nangyari noong Hulyo. Libu-libo ang lumabas sa kanilang klase at nagmartsa sa Kamaynilaan. Bitbit ang panawagan ‘di lang ng mga mag-aaral kundi ng mga mamamayan: pagpigil sa pagtaas ng presyo ng langis, pagtatanggal sa VAT at pagtataas ng sahod ng manggagawa.

Soundtrack: Betamax (Sandwich)

Wala pa noong Myx, wala pa noong MTV…

Tila blast from the past ang pagdiriwang ng anibersaryo ng League of Filipino Students noong ika-11 ng Setyembre, na kinatampukan ng isang produksiyon at pananalita ng mga naging kabahagi ng 31 taon ng liga. At siyempre, nagtapos ito sa isang lighting rally na muling kumalampag sa seal ng US Embassy habang sumisigaw ng “Imperyalismo, Ibagsak!”

Soundtrack: Pare Ko (Eraserheads)

Kasabay ng euphoria ng Eraserheads reunion, mapapakanta ka ng: “O, Diyos ko, ano ba naman ito! Di ba, @#$%!” Dahil sa paglulunsad ni Arroyo ng todong digma sa Mindanao na ang ipinalusot pang dahilan ay ang MOA-AD. Hinarap ito ng mga forum at mga candle lighting protests sa mga paaralan.

Soundtrack: Low low low (Waray Version)

Dahil sa pagsigabo ng kilusang kabataan, talaga namang low, low, low na sa kawalanghiyaan ang mga pamamaraan ng rehimen sa panunupil at karahasan. ‘Di makatarungang pinatalsik ang mga mag-aaral ng JRU, nahuli ang mga ahente ng militar na nanghaharas sa PUP, at samu’t saring mga kaso pa ng paglabag sa karapatan ang natala sa mga kampus. Dagdag pa ang pekeng Magna Carta na pinakana ng mga nagpapanggap na progresibo sa Kongreso.

Soundtrack: I’m Yours (Jason Mraz)

Kanilang-kanila talaga ang suporta ng mga kabataan na araw-araw na natulog at dumagsa sa picketline ng Kowloon at dumayo din sa iba’t iba pang mga picketline gaya ng sa Advan, Far East Garments at iba pa, lalo na noong panahon ng bakasyon.

Soundtrack: No Air (Jordin Sparks)

Naubusan man ng hangin sa pagsasalin at pagsasalita ng Ingles, todo ang paglahok ng mga organisasyon ng kabataan sa internasyunal na kaganapang ito na nagpakita na puro hangin lang talaga ang sinasabing ginhawa ng buhay at pag-unlad sa pamamagitan ng pangingibang-bayan.

Soundtrack: I Will Always Love You (Charice Pempenco)

Todo kung todo sa pagbirit ang rehimen sa pagtutulak na makapanatili sa puwesto at maisulong ang interes ng dayuhan. Cha-Cha pa rin ang sayaw ng rehimen, kilusang masa naman ang pantapat ng bayan. At showdown kung showdown ang tapatan, na siya pa ring posibleng maging tono sa pagpasok ng 2009. Pumiyok na ang rehimen, habang papabuwelo pa lang ang mga mamamayan.

Nakakitaan ang kabataan ng sigasig sa pagtugon sa mga isyung pambayan ang mga kabataan noong 2008, at unti-unti, nauunawaan nito ng higit ang kahulugan ng pagiging pag-asa ng bayan. Pero marami pang kailangang pag-aralan, paghusayan at paunlarin para higit pang mag-ambag sa pagbabagong panlipunan.

Mitsa pa lang sa excitement ang 2008, mas malaki pang mga pasabog na tagumpay katapat ng pagsambulat ng krisis ang naghihintay sa susunod na taon.

Maligaya at makabuluhang 2009! Tuloy-tuloy sa pagkilos, paglilingkod at paglaban!

Konteksto: Kultural na epekto ng papalalang krisis

January 8, 2009

Danilo Araña Arao

MARAMING nagsasabing mas mararamdaman ng Pilipinas ang pandaigdigang krisis pampinansiya sa taong 2009. May dahilan ba para mag-alala ang mga mamamayan?

Para sa iyo, maaaring ang sagot ay ”oo” dahil tayong lahat ay apektado ng pang-ekonomiyang kalagayan, mahirap man o mayaman. Pero sang-ayon ka namang may iba’t ibang antas ng epekto ang isang krisis depende sa iyong pampinansiyang katayuan.

Kung mayaman ka’t may sapat na naipon, kayang-kaya mong mapanatili ang nakagisnang marangyang pamumuhay. Pero kung mahirap ka’t walang mapagkukunan ng pera, mas matindi ang epekto ng inaasahang pagtaas ng presyo ng bilihin dahil sa krisis.

Maraming indikasyon nitong mga nakaraang araw ng pangkalahatang pagtitipid ng mga mamamayan. Kapansin-pansin ang matumal na bentahan sa palengke noong Pasko’t Bagong Taon. Kahit na sabihing may epekto ang pag-ulan noong Disyembre 31, ang napabalitang mas mababang bilang ng mga isinugod sa ospital dahil sa paputok ay posibleng bunsod ng mas mababang bilang ng mga taong bumili ng mga paputok kumpara sa mga nagdaang taon.

Maganda mang balita ang pagbaba ng presyo ng mga produktong petrolyo – bagama’t hindi sapat ang mga ipinatupad na rollback kung susuriin ang presyo ng krudo sa pandaigdigang pamilihan – hindi ba’t nakababahala ang napabalitang kakulangan sa suplay ng LPG (liquefied petroleum gas)?

Wala pang malinaw na ebidensiya kung totoo nga ba ito at kung sino ang responsable kung sakali. Pero kailangang tandaang ang isang indikasyon ng krisis ang pagtatago ng mga kapitalista sa kanilang suplay at pagbebenta nito kapag tumaas na ang presyo. Sa konteksto ng pandaigdigang krisis pampinansiya, lubhang kailangang bantayan ang suplay ng mga sensitibong produkto tulad ng LPG.

Alam nating lahat na anumang pagkukulang sa suplay ay magreresulta sa pagtaas ng demand sa produkto. Ang mataas na demand sa isang produkto ay mangangahulugan ng pagtaas sa presyo nito.
Para sa isang mahirap na pamilya, malaking sakit ng ulo ang sitwasyon ng pagtaas ng presyo. Kung ang mga hindi kinakailangang gastusin ay madaling isakripisyo, hindi ganito ang kaso para sa mga batayang pangangailangan tulad ng pagkain at gamot. Kailangang maging mapanlikha ang isang tao para makatipid at mabuhay araw-araw.

Ang pagiging mapanlikha ay may epekto sa kultura ng mahihirap, at ang manipestasyon nito ay kapansin-pansin na.

Sa mga karinderya’t turo-turo, halimbawa, maaari nang bumili ng kalahating kanin at ulam lang. Sa halip na tatlong beses kumain bawat araw, maaaring dalawa o isang beses na lang – narinig mo na siguro ang terminong ”altanghap” na pinagsamang almusal, tanghalian at hapunan. Ang instant noodles ay ginagawa na ring ulam ngayon at hinahalo sa kanin, kahit malinaw na wala itong nutritional value at maraming preservatives. Mayroon namang bumibili ng kanin at nakikiusap na lang na lagyan ng sarsa ng adobo o apritada sa ibabaw. Kahit walang ulam, puwede na kahit sarsa! Aba, kahit ang tsaa ay natitipid na rin sa pamamagitan ng paulit-ulit na paggamit ng tea bag.

Sa konteksto ng krisis, wala sa kultura ng mahihirap ang mabusog. Para sa isang manggagawang kailangan ang lakas para makapagtrabaho, ang kailangan lang ay magkalaman ang tiyan para magampanan ang gawain at makuha ang kakarampot na suweldo.

At kung talagang wala nang pambili ng pagkain, alam mo ba ang ginagawang pantawid-gutom? Sa maniwala ka’t hindi, gin! Mura lang ang tinatawag na ”bilog” at mabilis ka raw tatamaan kahit ilang shot lang nito. Kapag lasing ka na, hindi mo na mararamdaman ang kalam ng iyong tiyan. (Ang alak, tulad ng droga, ay nagsisilbing pangunahing instrumento ng pagtakas sa malupit na realidad ng lipunan.)

Ito ang dahilan kung bakit sa mahihirap na lugar, nakakakita ka ng mga nanay na umiinom ng gin kahit tanghaling tapat. Huwag mo sanang agad na husgahan sila bilang mga lasenggera’t iresponsableng nanay, dahil may posibilidad na bilang ilaw ng tahanan, naubusan na sila ng pagkain dahil inuna nila ang kanilang asawa’t mga anak.
Kung ang pagkain ay natitipid, pati na rin ang gamot. Nagiging gawi na rin ng mahihirap na pamilya na hatiin ang mga binibiling gamot dahil kaya naman daw na mapagaling ang isang may sakit kahit limitado ang dosage.

Ang isang hinating tabletang paracetamol, halimbawa, ay ginagamit para pagalingin ang lagnat ng dalawang tao. Kung may gamot na ang prescription ay para sa apat na araw, ang binibiling suplay ay para lang sa dalawang araw. Hindi man tuluyang mapagaling ang isang may-sakit, may paniniwalang makakaya na niyang makapagtrabahong muli dahil sa limitadong bisa ng gamot na kinuha niya.

Pero ano ang epekto sa kalusugan ng kultura ng limitadong pagkain? Paano na kung lumala ang kalagayan ng isang tao dahil sa hindi pagkuha ng sapat na gamot?

Ang pag-iisip ng kawalang pag-asa ay hindi katanggap-tanggap sa sitwasyong ito dahil higit pa sa pagtitipid ang dapat gawin. Ang pagiging mapanlikha ay kinakailangan sa panahon ng krisis pero hindi ito dapat maging bahagi ng ating kultura.

Para makipag-ugnayan sa awtor, pumunta sa

Husgahan Natin: Kahalagahan ng preliminary investigation

January 8, 2009

Atty. Remigio D. Saladero Jr.

SINASABI ng batas na bago sampahan ng kaso sa husgado ang isang tao, kailangang dumaan muna siya sa tinatawag na preliminary investigation. Napakahalaga ng prosesong ito. Ito ang yugto kung kailan gumagawa ng imbestigasyon ang prosecutor (taga-usig) kung ang isang reklamo ay makatotohanan ba at dapat bang isampa sa husgado.

Ginagawa ng prosecutor ang imbestigasyong ito sa pamamagitan ng masusing pag-aaral sa ebidensiya ng bawa’t panig. Una muna ay tinitingnan niya ang salaysay ng nagrereklamo. Pangalawa ay pinapadalhan niya ng kopya ng demanda ang inirereklamo at binibigyan ang huli ng pagkakataong magbigay ng kanyang kontra-salaysay. Pagkatapos ay pag-aaralan niya ang salaysay ng nagrereklamo at kontra-salaysay ng inirereklamo at kung tingin niya ay may posibilidad na totoo ang reklamo, saka pa lamang siya gagawa ng information o pormal na habla para sa husgado. Pagdating sa husgado, muling pag-aaralan ng hukom ang papeles ng kaso at kung tingin niya ay tama ang prosecutor, saka pa lamang siya maglalabas ng warrant of arrest.

Tulad ng nasabi ko na, napakahalaga ng preliminary investigation. Sa pamamagitan nito ay nasasala ang mga kasong dapat isampa sa husgado at naiiwasan ang pagsampa ng mga kasong walang kabuluhan o walang kaebi-ebidensiya.

May mga pagkakataon na hindi na kailangang dumaan sa preliminary investigation ang isang kaso. Tulad halimbawa, kung nahuli ka ng mga awtoridad sa akto ng pagsagawa ng isang krimen. Dito, puwede nang magsampa ng pormal na habla ang prosecutor na hindi dadaan sa preliminary investigation. O di kaya, kung minor offenses lamang ang habla o iyong mga krimeng hindi lalampas sa apat na taon at dalawang buwan lamang ng pagkakulong ang parusa. Hindi na rin kailangan ang preliminary investigation sa pagkakataong ito.

Subalit sa iba pang uri ng mga kaso, tulad halimbawa ng murder, robbery, kidnapping, o mga kaso sa droga, basta’t hindi sa akto nahuli ang nasasakdal, kailangan ang preliminary investigation. At hindi basta lamang preliminary investigation. Kailangang ang preliminary investigation na ito ay mahigpit na sumusunod sa tamang proseso at hindi “moro-moro” lamang.

Sa kasong “Vicente P. Ladlad, vs. Senior State Prosecutor Emmanuel Velasco,” (G.R. No. 172070-72) na denisisyunan ng Korte Suprema noong Hunyo 1, 2007, hindi sinunod ng prosecutor ang tamang proseso sa pagsagawa ng preliminary investigation. Hindi pinanumpaan ng mga pulis na testigo ang kanilang salaysay sa harap ng prosecutor. Mayroong isang testigo na nanumpa sa harap ng prosecutor ngunit siya ay nakamaskara. Pagkatapos niya manumpa, binigay ng prosecutor ang kanyang salaysay sa mga kasapi ng mass media na nandoon, hindi sa mga akusado.

Nagreklamo ang mga akusado sa Department of Justice kung bakit ganoon ang proseso ngunit hindi sila pinakinggan. Napilitan silang dalhin sa Korte Suprema ang kaso.

Pinanigan ng Korte Suprema ang mga akusado. Sinabi ng Korte Suprema na mali ang proseso ng preliminary investigation na isinagawa ng prosecutor at kung baga, para itong palabas o “moro-moro” lamang. Ito ay lumalabag sa karapatan sa “due process” ng mga akusado. Napakahalaga ng prosesong ito, paliwanag ng Korte Suprema, dahil dito pa lamang malalaman na kung dapat isampa sa kortre ang isang kaso o hindi. Dahil sa pagbabalewala nito ng prosecutor, depektibo ang kasong isinampa nito sa korte at dapat lamang itong ibasura. Kaya, pinawalang bisa ng Korte Suprema ang kasong isinampa laban sa mga akusado.

Bakit ito naman ang napili kong pag-usapan sa ating kolum ngayon, mga mambabasa? Sapagkat tulad ng kaso nina Vicente Ladlad ay hindi rin dumaan sa tamang preliminary investigation ang aming kaso. At tulad sa kaso ni Vicente Ladlad, at iba pang kaso kung saan napahiya ang rehimeng Arroyo ay umaasa rin kaming ibabasura ng husgado ang aming kaso.

WAYWARD AND FANCIFUL: Small and Terrible. By Gail Ilagan

January 4, 2009

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/15 Dec) — “It only takes two or three outsiders to make trouble,” mused Uttoh Salem Cutan, former Executive Director of the defunct Southern Philippine Council for Peace and Development (SPCPD), in an interview with this writer last 06 December 2008. He was getting ready to explain what he viewed as the greatest threat to the peace and stability of the MNLF communities.

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His statement, however, could very well apply to any other community. With the technological advancement in weaponry, it does take only a few persons to wreak major havoc. Anyone seriously considering solutions to ending the insurgency wars has to factor in the fact that numbers don’t count as much any more.

Over the years, technological innovations have exponentially increased the lethality of the battlefield such that, according to security analyst Dencio Acop, the AFP may now very well be confronting enemies that are actually better equipped than our soldiers. As our foot-weary Mindanao troops can attest, the lack of numbers counts in the favor of these highly mobile rebel assault teams, be they ASG, LMG, or – to round off the 3-letter acronyms most favored by the military establishment – CTM. These rebel forces are a lot harder to locate and pursuing troops find it almost next to impossible to catch up with them and bring them to justice.

(That might give pause to those who think that the impending MILF fragmentation would be a good thing for when the talks do break down and war needs to be fought in earnest again. We might find bite-size pieces that hit and run a lot harder to chew. Think Kato. Think Bravo. Oh, alright – think bin Laden. It’s no secret that bigger targets are easier to hit. Think World Trade Center. Think Pacquiao.)

Meanwhile, our men come home in caskets courtesy of well-placed ambush landmines that, despite the 1997 Ottawa Convention prohibiting the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of antipersonnel mines, are being used against government troops. (Forgive me for bringing that up. You’re right. We shouldn’t expect people who have been called terrorists to subscribe to international treaties.)

As numbers go, we may have more soldiers but they seem to have less bullets. So it’s no surprise when our men get abducted after they run out of ammunition during a firefight. But such twists of fate are in the cards for any of our soldiers. When stuff like that happens, the rest of us shrug it off.

Those who care enough for abducted soldiers end up quarreling with the AFP’s no-negotiation policy. Negotiating for the release of the homesick soldier is best left to Loren Legarda (think Obillo, Montealto and Buan) and Digong Duterte (think Manero and maybe Cammayo) who, by negotiating with the forces that be, lend legitimacy to the reason ostensibly claimed by the abductors for the abduction. What’s in store for soldiers who return from abduction that way? Would it be something they’d spend the rest of their lives thanking Legarda and Duterte for?

In any case, until they hit a well-placed ambush landmine or are abducted after they’d run out of ammunition during a firefight, credit our gallant men for trying. This year, for example, our troops have claimed several enemy camps in the forested areas of Compostela Valley, Surigao, and Bukidnon. The last, to my knowledge, was the one found early last week in New Bataan, Compostela Valley by elements of the Philippine Army’s 1001st Brigade. According to the 10th Infantry Division spokesperson, this camp is believed to have been “intended as a convergence point by rebels prior to their offensive on soft targets in commemoration of the founding anniversary of the Communist Party of the Philippines” on 26 December.

(Gag! – I wonder if the spokesperson paused for breath anywhere while feeding that line. What’s a soft target? Sir, please speak English. The message doesn’t get through when the reader doesn’t speak the jargon. I’m sure that was something important you wanted to convey with that statement. My sorrow — no comprendo.)

Many of these rebel camps were actually taken over by government troops without a firefight. That’s because the camps were found abandoned. Gee, I did say “highly mobile” earlier, didn’t I? See, one doesn’t have to stay in place any more to operate in a particular area. Unlike, say, the 1001st IB and the 10th ID that need to be housed in camps, rebel troops seem to have ceased to view camps as territorial investments that have to be protected for the armaments housed there. The weapons of destruction now come in pick-up-and-go sizes.

True enough, many of these camps were too small to be considered a prize worth taking and gloating over. At most, these camps could accommodate thirty people. Case in point is that rebel camp found by the 1001st IB troops on 08 December in Sitio Taytayan, Barangay Andap, New Bataan. Evidently, it did not even have enough manpower to decamp with the television set (PhP1,200), generators (PhP20,000) and supplies for making improvised explosive devices (PhP10,000?). These, along with the requisite educational documents (P2,000), ended up as balato (giveaways – like on Wowowee).

The television set is a puzzle though. Without the videocam that could go with it, we could only surmise about the nature of the guerilla filmmaking they were undertaking. Without the VCR and the tapes that would tell us what they were using the TV for, we have to rethink our image of the communist rebel. He can’t be watching Willy Revillame at noon. He can’t be glued to the TV screen while texting Deal or No Deal for a chance to be the lucky home partner.

Or can he now?

It has become a force of habit for many of us to evaluate how the insurgency war is going by factoring in the numbers. These days, however, it’s dangerous to assume that a sizeable decimation in number of rebel troops would mean a corresponding decrease in the havoc that their landmines and abductions could create. As Cutan said, “It only takes two or three outsiders” to the community to make trouble there and send our foot-weary troops on a wild goose chase all over the battle-scarred landscape.

User-friendly technology compensates for lack of extensive training on the part of the user. At least, where wreaking mayhem is concerned, it doesn’t matter whether the targets come as softened, hardened, or none of the above. They all add up to the same thing: There they go round the upland banana patch.

Just last week, I was asked for an estimate of the number of NPA troops operating in Comval. Well, gee, that’s a hard question as some of those who find it convenient to go by the name NPA may not necessarily be NPA. A true revolutionary for the people would not do extortion, banditry, brigandage, or just crass, out-and-out highway robbery. KH. As in “Que horror.”

Unless, that behavioral prescription is something we all have to rethink also. Maybe the true revolutionary has gone the way of the gentleman while I was not looking.

So anyway, I was asked how many they are.

Really, now. How could I know exactly? But reckoning from the rebels’ audacity at maneuvering to get the military to halt its sustained offensives in Comval, I can only estimate that there must be enough of them there to keep our troops hopping. Two or three, at least.

(Wayward and Fanciful is Gail Ilagan’s column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Ilagan teaches Social Justice, Family Sociology, Theories of Socialization and Psychology at the Ateneo de Davao University where she is also the associate editor of Tambara. You may send comments to
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“Send at the risk of a reply,” she says.)

Kulturang Popular: Kulturang Popular sa Pagtatapos ng Taon

December 28, 2008

Heto ang aking sampung obserbasyon sa kulturang popular ng 2008. Hindi ito syentifiko, simpleng natukoy na kalakaran sa isang phenomenon na nasa syudad, karanasang tumbok ang indibidual na kasiyahan kahit pa para sa kita naman talaga ito ng negosyo, ang pagsantabi sa artikulasyon ng pasakit at pighati rito, pati ang transformasyon tungo sa depolitisisadong docile na sabjek.


Heto ang aking sampung obserbasyon sa kulturang popular ng 2008. Hindi ito syentifiko, simpleng natukoy na kalakaran sa isang phenomenon na nasa syudad, karanasang tumbok ang indibidual na kasiyahan kahit pa para sa kita naman talaga ito ng negosyo, ang pagsantabi sa artikulasyon ng pasakit at pighati rito, pati ang transformasyon tungo sa depolitisisadong docile na sabjek.

1. Second-generation mallsifikasyon

Tila ang North EDSA ang ground zero ng ikalawang henerasyon ng malls at mallsifikasyon. Bilang malls, naipaloob nito ang nasa labas: parke at hayagang plaza—mas matingkad na combo meal ng gitnang uring libangan at pagkamamayan–sa sentro ng establisyimento sa SM West at Trinoma Malls. Mas malinaw rin ang distinksyon ng mamahaling shops at demarkasyon ng uri. Hindi na lamang simpleng palapalapag na habang tumataas, tulad sa Megamall, ay mas nagiging exklusibo ang mga tindahan.

Ang buong The Block ng SM West ay high-end (mas malakas ang aircon dito kaysa sa naunang mga struktura), ang talukap na bahaging nasa Mindanao Avenue sa Trinoma ang mas eklusibo sa exklusibong espasyo. Bilang mallsifikasyon, ang malls ay integral sa kalkulasyon ng MRT na trafiko, support sa call center na negosyo, pinakaaksesorya sa condo boom—pawang mga indikasyon ng fantasya ng lokal na modernidad at kosmopolitanismo.

2. Building frenzy sa exklusibong enclaves ng syudad

Patuloy ang construction boom sa The Fort at Libis. Maging sa Ortigas at UP-Ayala Techno Hub. Sentro ng konstruksyon ang mga sumusunod na henerasyon din ng condo building—matatayog na modernong industrial na salamin at bakal, na siempre ay heavy ang reliance sa aircon at steady na supply ng kuryente at teknolohiya. Pang-OCW ang mga ito, pero hindi para sa lahat—pang-middle at upper management at career level na migranteng manggagawa na maliit na bahagdan ng suma-total na bilang.

Susunod ay ang mga gusali para sa call centers. Matatayog ito sa Ortigas at Makati. Mga tig-apat na palapag sa UP-Ayala Techno Hub sa Commonwealth. At mula sa bagong gitnang uring may bagong akses sa yaman, ang litanya ng mga serbisyo at establisyimentong nakaukol sa kanila: 24/7 na convenience store, buffet breakfast na nagsisimula ng hatinggabi, inuman at bilyaran, delivery service ng mga fastfood outlets, mas mumurahing condos, at iba pa.

3. Dekadenteng subkultura ng call center na negosyo

Dahil bagong-yaman ang mga 200,000 nagtratrabaho sa call center, tulad ng nauna sa kanilang henerasyon ng mga kabataan sa subcontractual work sa fastfood at iba pang retail na negosyo, may personal na pakiwari ng empowerment ang nabiyayaan at nagpursiging magtrabaho sa precarious na gawain ng call center. Night shift, virtual ang performance ng gawain, pati ang kausap, nakakaburyong kundi man nakaka-harass, mababa ang self-esteem, nagkakaroon ng short-term deficiency disorder, ibang uri ng STD, tunay na para lamang sa matatapang at pinaka-entusiastikong kumita ang ganitong gawain.

Ang bunsod nito dati ay ang proliferasyon ng gamit sa droga, tulad ng tinaguriang “pedestrianong trabaho” ng pagmamaneho ng taxi at bus, macho dancer at GRO para lamang manatiling gising na vampire sa gabi. Dahil sa spot-check na drug test, tila nabawasan na ito. At para bumaba naman ang tama, matapos ng adrenalin rush sa pagmimiko sa American twang, inom naman paglabas sa madaling umaga. Ngayon, ang balita ko ay tumataas ang insidente ng unprotected sex sa call center na estabilisyimento, at pati ang HIV. May narinig pa akong overnight trip sa di-kalayuang lugar para mag-orgy.

Pasintabi lang—hindi naman lahat ng call center agents ay lulon sa ganitong kondisyon. Kaya nga turing ko rito ay ang “dekadenteng subkultura.”

4. Disposable na katawan at ang perfektong imahen nito

Tignan ang nangyari sa katawan ni Dingdong Dantes. Naging maskulado ito, kaya napahubad bilang exemplar ng Bench underwear na imahen:overtly virile, exhibisyonista pa nga kahit wholesome pa rin. Kung tutunghayan ang mga ulat sa nakaraang fashion event ng Bench, naetsapwera na nga niya ang dating kaedad na endorser nito, sina Richard Gutierrez ng Kapuso at Jake Cuenca ng Kapamilya Channels (bilang indikasyon ng komersyal na “political correctness”).

Ang counterpart ni Dantes ay hindi naman nakakapagtakang si Marian Rivera, ang telebiswal at pelikulang ka-loveteam nito. Sexy, feminine, magaling gumiling pero sensitibo at mataray si Rivera. Di nga ba’t siya pa ang umanong naging dahilan sa paghihiwalay ng “tunay” na mag-sweetheart na Dantes at Karylle? Ang solusyon ni Karylle umano ay mag-pose rin na sexy para sa Bench. Disposable ang katawan, at ang ideal nito ay ang makabagong gitnang uring feminidad at maskulinidad.

At sa susunod na mga taon, tulad ng naging gulanit na underwear at mananakaw na cellphone, may papalit at papalit na mga mas kabataang representatibo nito. Hindi nga ba’t sina Richard Gomez, Wendell Ramos at Jomarie Yllana, sa isang pang ad ng Bench, ay nagmistulan na lamang stage fathers para sa pictorial na tinampok ang kanilang mga anak para sa Bench Kids line ng kompanya?

5. Mainstream na indie cinema

Sa mainstreaming ng indie film sa dalawang pangunahing negosyong sponsor nito, Tony Boy Cojuangco at Star Cinema ng mga Lopez, namamayagpag na ang “mainstream look” sa indie films. Tanging ang labi na lamang ay ang paksa, mga subaltern identities pa rin—binubugbog na musmos na naging rekurso ay pag-aaral ng violin at call center agents, halimbawa. Wala na ang stilong nakaugnay sa limitadong budget, ang neorealismo ng day-in-the-life na paglalahad ng naratibo ng subaltern na identidad.

At ang tingin nga kasi sa indie cinema ay bilang kultural na kapital ng mga kalahok dito. Credentials para sa finafantasyang tunay na mainstreaming ng indie cinema—pananalo sa international film festival abroad (the search is still on para sa unang pelikulang Filipino na mananalo ng major prize sa isa sa top four first-tier festival), o pagpasok sa mainstream creative industries.

Kaya, paratihan ang diin sa diskusyon ng ganitong indie film ay ang pagpapalawak ng audience na makakapagbayad. Kaya ang sinisisi sa di-pagpasok ng indie film sa mayor na mga sinehan ay ang audience na hindi nanonood nito.

6. Bading films bilang bagong bomba

Ito na ang bagong bomba film. Pinakamarami na yata ang bilang nito sa indie cinema, maging yaong prinodyus ng subsidiary ng major studios. Bomba dahil namumutiktik pa rin ang tampok sa subgenre ng melodramang ito: sex scenes. Dahil sa pagbabawal ng SM cinemas na may hawak ng mayorya ng sinehan sa bansa ng R-rated films, walang nakakapasok na “adult-theme” na pelikula rito. Namamayagpag, kahit pa sa limitadong paraan, ang gay film sa pagtuklas ng niche market ng pelikula.

At ito ang tagumpay ng kapitalismo sa indie cinema, ang pagtuklas ng niche market sa pelikula. Gay films para sa pink peso ng gitna at mataas na uri ng bading. At dahil nga proaktibo ang mga institusyong kalahok sa indie cinema na gawing mainstream (komersyal) ang indie films, makakahanap pa ng ibang niche market ito: art festival market, soft-porn, instructional videos, at iba pa.

7. Japanese surplus bilang bagong ukay

May bagong ukay-ukay na hindi na lamang mga damit ang ibinebenta sa mga outlets ng mga run-down na establisyimento. Ito ang Japanese surplus na bode-bodegang bagsakan ng mga bagay na galing sa Japan: furnitures, platera, kama, tatami mats, pinggan, ceramics, shades, bisikleta, at kung ano-ano pang gamit. Tulad sa ukay-ukay, manunuyod ka ng bargains. Uuwi kang nanggigitata sa alikabok at pawis.

Pero di tulad ng ukay-ukay, mas upscale ang presyo ng mga muwebles na umaabot ng libo. Tanging maliliit na items lamang ang mabibili mula beinte hanggang singkwenta pesos. Wala pa rin akong naririnig na sale pero may tawaran, tulad sa ukay-ukay. Kaya kung gustong magkaroon ng muwebles at gamit sa bahay na kakaiba, hanapin ang pinakamalapit na Japanese surplus sa inyo.

8. Paalam Friendster, helu Facebook

Sa isang ulat daw, sinabing may makauring karakter ang social networking ng mga Pinoy sa internet. Ang mababang uri ay nasa Friendster pa rin, at ang mas mataas na uri, pati ang may internasyunal na konek ay nas Facebook naman. Mas maraming gitnang uring marka ang kailangan sa Facebook: digicam dahil mas mabilis mag-upload ng sandamakmak na litrato rito, mas mabilis ang palitan ng messages at pag-uulat kung ano ang gagawin ng may account sa kanyang araw.

Marami ring kaeklatan ang Facebook, nakasentro sa pagbibigay ng kung ano-anong virtual gifts: communist items, Pinoy food, Japanese drink, drugs, at iba pa. Kaya rin mas matingkad ang advertising sa site na ito. Hindi naman talaga ang layunin ay iugnay ang magkakaibigan kundi matagumpay na iugnay para kumita ng bilyones ang nag-develop ng site. Hindi nga ba’t bilyones ang halaga nang ibenta ang Youtube, at nang tangkaing bilhin din ang Google? At alam na nagtagumpay na ang Facebook dahil salita at brand na siya. “I-Facebook mo naman ang mga kinuhang litrato?” “I-Facebook kita para mabalitaan kita.” “Magfe-Facebook muna ako.”

9. Reality television rules

Dalawang uri ito: una, ay ang pinagsama-samang maiikling docus na kalakhan ay galing ng US, at ni-repackage sa lokal na telebisyon; at ikalawa, ang franchise nito tulad ng Fear Factor, Philippine Idol, Survivor o yung sumusunod sa format ng US na telebisyon, tulad ng mga nagsho-showcase ng iba’t ibang galing ng mga Filipino, mula sa paghi-hiphop hanggang sa pang-circus na acts.

Quest narrative ang mga ito, na ang pinaka-deserving batay sa mantra ng social Darwinism (survival of the fittest) ang magtatagumpay. Siempre, tulad ng anumang palabas sa bansa, may inside story ng karukhaan at Cinderella story na itinatampok sa palabas. Para sa huli, ang pinaka-morally deserving ang magkakaroon ng pagsasagip ng negosyo at estado, kahit pa may interaktibong text voting mula sa audience, na isa pa ring paraan ng pagkita para sa prodyuser ng palabas.

Social Darwinism rin bilang mudra (mode) ng pagkamamamayan. Na-reduce ang mamamayan bilang charity project, na kailangan nitong magpa-project ng kabutihang loob para magkaroon ng panlipunang redemption na itatangi bilang mudra para sa lahat.

10. Mga bagong luma mula sa gwapo

Anim na buwan matapos magawa ang dinadambana ng interfacing ng bicycle at pedestrian lane, u-turn slots, pag-iilaw at pagpapalawak ng highway sa Commonwealth Avenue, tila luma na kaagad ito. Mayroong di natapos: ang kumpletong pag-iilaw ng highway, ang pananatiling makitid ng kalsada pagpasok ng Fairview area na nagdudulot ng malawakang trafiko sa rush hour. Mayroong sablay ang pagtatapos, ang pagkitid sa daan para sa built-in hindi lang blokeng pantapal sa u-turn slots. Hindi konektado ang bicycle lanes sa ibang bahagi.

At sa maraming bahagi ng syudad ngayong magpapasko, wala nang kalsada ang hindi nakakaranas ng trafiko. Nandoon pa rin ang maraming tarpaulins ni Bayani Fernando. Naangkat na rin sa iba pang lugar, tulad ng kanyang pagdalaw sa probinsya. Sa pagbubukas ng ni-renovate na Carillon sa UP, may tarpaulin na naman ito. At habang nagsasalita na nangangampanya na, parang ganito ang kanyang sinabi: kapag matanggap siya ay mayroon nang political will ang mga Filipino, kapag hindi ay nananatili ito sa kanyang dating gawi.

Hindi ba siya natatapat sa salamin o sa kumpisalan?

Sa malawakang depolitisasyon ng kultura sa pang-araw-araw, naging mayabong ang tugon ng kilusang masa. Ang People’s Caravan ay nagpapatuloy makapagmulat at magpakilos nang higit na nakararawi para sa panlipunang katotohanan. Isinadula ng Sinagbayan ang Lorena, na nailangkap ang una at makabagong figura ng makabayang martir na kababaihan. Patuloy ang alternative cinema ng kilusan. Patuloy ang pagyabong ng sining biswal sa effigy at tarpaulin ni Arroyo.

Patuloy ang makauring tunggalian para sa sining at bayan. (

Women’s Front: For the defense of HR women defenders

December 21, 2008


Dear sisters and fellow human rights advocates,

Political persecution is on the rise and human rights violations remain unabated in the Philippines. As extra-judicial killings, abductions and disappearances continue, leaders and members of militant and progressive organizations in the Southern Tagalog region now face fabricated legal offensives in an attempt to immobilize those critical of the Arroyo administration.

Last September 26, 72 leaders and spokespersons of progressive organizations, and political activists from Southern Tagalog were charged with murder and multiple frustrated murder for the alleged assault of a police detachment in Puerto Galera, Mindoro Oriental. Since October 23, 2008, six of the 72 individuals have already been arrested and detained.

Among those charged and facing possible arrest are 20 women leaders,activists and women rights defenders including: Helen Asdolo, Gabriela Southern Tagalog secretary-general and Gabriela Women’s Party 5th nominee; Regional Coordinator Amelita Sto. Tomas, Gabriela and Gabriela Women’s Party Provincial Coordinator for CaviteLuz Baculo, Pagkakaisa ng Manggagawa sa Timog Katagalugan (Pamantik-KMU) secretary-general; Doris Cuario, Karapatan Southern Tagalog secretary-general; Dina Capetillo. Karapatan Batangas spokesperson; Sheryll Villegas, Bayan-Cavite secretary- general; and Karen Ortiz, Cavite Ecumenical Movement for Justice and Peace Deputy secretary-general.

We appeal for your support. Together let us bring due attention to the criminalization of activists, the political persecution, human rights violations and injustice that the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime has unleashed anew against women rights defenders in the Southern Tagalog region. #

Weekly Reflections: The stolen generations

December 21, 2008


“For when we are in unionwith Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor the lack of it makes any difference at all; what matters is faith that works through love.” – Galatians 5:6


Our extremely generous Australian host, Lyn and Mike Leanne, brought Pearl and I to a very timely movie entitled Australia. Watching movies purposively is one thing I have never done for years. I seldom watch movies, but Australia is one movie that is worth watching. Anyone interested of Australia’s aboriginal history should not miss it.

The movie addresses the very sensitive aboriginal issues of land and aboriginal assimilation. Australia is populated by numerous aboriginal peoples long before the Europeans and other immigrants came. But when the Europeans landed in the shores of this huge and beautiful country, they tried to impose upon the aboriginal people their own culture and way of life. They had an assimilation policy that was abolished only in 1973. They would take the aboriginal children away from their own homes, bring them to the so-called mission islands, and would try to Europeanize them – to make them think and behave like them.

Those victims of this policy are now known as the stolen generations. Truly, they were stolen not only from their own homes literally, but rather they were also stolen and alienated from their own culture and way of life. Just recently, the Australian Prime Minister issued a public apology to the aboriginal people for the sins of the past. Issuing an apology may not be enough, but at least it is a good start.

Apology can be a sign of remorse that may hopefully lead to forgiveness, healing, and restoration. Definitely, what was stolen must be restored.

Mission island strategy

The mission island strategy of assimilating aboriginal peoples into the European dominated culture was actually no different from that of the mission compound strategy of American Protestant missionaries in the Philippines at the turn of the 20th Century.  In a typical mission compound, there would be a church, a school, and a hospital.  All these three institutions would help each other to change the culture of a Filipino and to make him or her little brown American.

To be a Christian, therefore, is to embrace the American culture and way of life. Similarly, the aboriginal peoples of Australia were also assimilated into the European dominated culture in order to be truly Australian and Christian at the same time. The Australian government’s abolition of its assimilation policy in 1973 and the Prime Minister’s issuance of apology recently are indicative of the fact that an Australian can actually be an aboriginal and Christian at the same time without necessarily embracing the European culture.

Paul and the Gentile Christians

This reminds us of Apostle Paul’s mission to the Gentiles. The Jewish Christian leaders in Jerusalem questioned his apostleship for passionately preaching the Gospel to the Gentiles. A question was asked as to who really was a true Christian. The Jewish Christians would not consider the Gentile Christians genuine if they would not be circumcised and observe the Jewish food laws like themselves. They themselves and their cultural practices now became the standard of the Christian faith.

However, Apostle Paul insisted that we are all one in Christ Jesus (cf. Gal. 3:28). He said, “For when we are in union with Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor the lack of it makes any difference at all; what matters is faith that works through love” (Gal. 5:6). Indeed, what matters in life are not so much the rituals and ceremonies that we practice externally, but rather the faith that works through love that springs out from the depths of our human heart. #

Smorgasbord: Marky, reshaping Igorot image

December 21, 2008


Charles de Gaulle said, “The grave is full of indispensable people.” Last Sunday, Marky Cielo is now among these “indispensable people.”

He was at the height of his popularity. As I write this, the nation grieves over his unexpected demise . It will take a long time for the Cordillera to come to terms with the death of this young man who will always be a model to peoples struggling with their indigenous identities and against racial prejudice.

Mark Angelo Cadaweng Cielo was an ordinary person with extraordinary achievements the least being that he reshaped the Igorot consciousness of that strange planet called show business.

Igorots are not fascinated by the world of celebrities – a world scourged with scandals and intrigues alien to our cultures. Showbiz is like oxygen to us –we know it exists but we hardly notice it. In Baguio City, celebrities come and go but no one mobs them.

To a certain degree, Marky eroded this nonchalance when he joined Starstruck, a national talent search show. On Day One, the boy, all too cognizant that there is an overwhelming ethnic bias against Igorots, declared, “I am an Igorot,” like it was a badge of honor. Articulating on national television the bigotry against indigenous peoples, another contestant revealed dislike for Marky on account of the latter’s “Igorotness.”

The eyes of a people that used to ignore show business got glued to the television screen. The Igorots’ collective heart was touched by Marky’s proud acknowledgment of his indigenous roots while their collective pride was seriously wounded by ethnic discrimination. As their ancestors congregated around their love for liberty to resist Spanish colonization, they united around their ethnic identity to rise against chauvinism. History was repeating itself.

In the 1950’s, Carlos Romulo’s effigy was burned in Baguio’s Malcolm Square, now People’s Park. What did Romulo do to whip up impassioned ire? In his book Mother America, he wrote: “The fact remains that the Igorot is not Filipino and we are not related, and it hurts our feelings to see him pictured in American newspapers under such captions as ‘Typical Filipino Tribesman.’”

Igorot students, now our parents and grandparents, mobilized one of the biggest mass actions in Baguio City. Aside from Romulo’s effigy, several copies of the book were reduced to ashes. The former UN President, UN Security Council Chairman and Pulitzer prize winner, was forced to apologize.

That was a moment for the Igorots.

The opportunity to again rally around our besieged ethnic identity came in 1988. Ramon Labo, then Baguo City Mayor was quoted by Manila Chronicle to have said: “We will not lose (the elections) to those Igorots. They urinate anywhere . . . that is why we club them. . . The Igorots are traitors. They are civil in front of you, but once you turn your back they stab you.” Like a blitzkrieg, a massive rally confronted him. I was among the incensed young people in that momentous gathering.

With the same outrage that spurred the burning of Romulo’s effigy and book and the protest against Labo in his own kingdom, Igorots, here and abroad, tremendously supported Marky with text and internet votes. The candid, talented boy topped the competition. Right after his victory, Harry Basingat, moderator of Bibaknets, the biggest online Igorot forum, predicted that Marky’s victory, which he helped propel by spearheading an international text brigade, would make Igorots – even those “in the closet” – proud of their ethnic heritage. It did.

As Marky reawakened the Igorots’ consciousness of their identity, he also helped reshape the outsiders’ awareness of Igorots.

Igorot history has long been a victim of suppression. Historian William Henry Scott wrote: “It is a strange thing that history textbooks commonly in use in”the Philippines never mention the fact that the Igorot peoples of Northern Luzon fought for their liberty against foreign aggression during the 350 years that their lowland brethren were being ruled over by Spanish invaders.”

Because of our ancestors’ record of resistance to foreign colonization, the colonizers cast Igorots as uncivilized people. The word “igolot” which means “from the mountains” was bastardized. It became synonymous to inferiority, backwardness or ignorance. The bigotry became ingrained in the national consciousness, thanks in large part to the educational system and the media that perpetuated it.

As a university student, I used to catch people in awe that a top student was an Igorot.

Our parents and grandparents talk about how the unenlightened country would goad them about their tails!

The stigma remains strong that some feel the need to capitulate to prejudice by denying their Igorot identity. A girl who grew up among the Igorot community in St. Lukes Hospital Compound in Quezon City was then asked if she is an Igorot, she replied, “No. It is my parents who are Igorots.” To this day, many Ifugaos and Kalingas, perhaps to insulate themselves from ethnic bias, refuse to be called Igorots. With Marky’s victory, many also soared above prejudice and are now proud to claim their Igorot roots.

Marky’s success did not totally surface our suppressed history, but it contributed to the rectification of outsiders’ misconceptions and the emergence of many Igorots from their cocoon of cultural inferiority. In media events which are powerful purveyors of consciousness, he would claim his Igorot roots when the opportunity presented itself. Since he lived an unblemished life, the cultural majority’s group psyche long soaked in stereotypes and bigotry against Igorots, underwent restructuring. Marky was the specimen of the Igorots. On the part of the cultural majority, disdain slowly took the form of admiration. On the part of closet Igorots, shame slowly metamorphosed into pride.

In show business where scandals are so generic, Marky was a cut above the rest with no smear on his reputation and not a whisper implicated him in anything disgraceful. He lived beyond reproach, and this was itself a war against the prejudices against his people, a war where he had the upper hand. He showed the world that the Igorot is not uncivilized, is courteous, humble, and is talented. There are Igorots who are evil, but are there not such scum in every ethno-linguistic group?

The Arroyo administration’s record on human rights violation is telltale sign of erosion of civilization, and Arroyo and her henchmen responsible for it are not Igorots.

In death as in life, Marky continues to shatter stereotypes against Igorots. I surfed the net and read hundreds of entries about him. Every article that spoke of the boy’s remarkable character mentioned that he was an Igorot.

Manang Mildred, Marky’s mother hoped people would remember him for the good he has done. Her son’s life will be fossilized in our memory, if not in future history books. He has left footprints that Igorots can always follow. This is a legacy.

For me, his contribution to our struggle as indigenous peoples is that he united Igorots from around their beleaguered ethnic identity, a reassurance that the Igorots are not a vanishing species, a guarantee that Igorots will not succumb to ethnic discrimination, a ray of hope that the ethnic prejudice will one day be conquered.

Albert Einstein said, “Our death is not an end if we can live on in our children and the younger generation. For they are us, our bodies are only wilted leaves on the tree of life.”

A young star burst but its light will shine eternal in the hearts of a people proud of him for being proud of them in spite of the formidable odds.

Rest in peace, Marky. Thank you for your life. #

( http://beautybeyondbeauty.blogspot.com

From Under This Hat: Text messaging and humanity

December 21, 2008


Manong Del sent (texted) me this quote. “Two most important thoughts a person should bear in mind: 1. Use things, not people. . . 2. Love people not things.”

It was a thoughtful reminder and I thanked him for it. I believe it should have been also sent to Malacanang.

When joining an organization or an endeavor with others, each participant to the organization or the endeavor must clearly understand the purpose to which he or she is participating or committing time to. Definitely, many of us want it to be materially rewarding though some only ask for it to be heart-filling and most make sure it is morally good.

If the objectives are clear with everyone supporting it and the contributions or tasks are shared and understood then everybody would work with each other and build the trust in each other and respect for one another then surely they would achieve results that all will be happy with.

But then discord and strife can creep in when individuals bring along their single-minded purposes and ambitions. Selfishness can drive a wedge right through the heart of this organized, agreed-on endeavor and tear it and make it good only for the dust bin.

Manong then sent me, “What is charity? It is silence when your words would hurt. It is deafness when scandal flows. It is thoughtfulness for another’s woes. It is sharing whatever little we have, and it is being kind rather than being right most of the time.”

For me, this is one kind of short messaging useful to me at coping with the confusion the world bears on us today.

  • * *

December 10, marks 60 years since countries agreed and so declared to uphold and respect Human Rights (HR). I am afraid that my country’s representative on that faithful day only signed it because his president was licking the boots of uncle Sam. A disgusting thought one might say.

But look at the human rights record of the country today. One commentator (gender insensitive) said if the human rights record of this country was a man he would describe it as “a two timing sonnamagun unfit of … but then it seems to be a woman!”

Government tally board for its HR violations forgot to count-in many incidents and some media people say it is in conflict with non-government groups’ count. What is very sure with both records are: that there are violations and that it is relatively a high number of deplorable acts against humanity especially under this “modern times” and particularly against Filipino citizens.

From February 2001 to June of 2008 independent HR groups counted 910 extra-judicial killings (EJK) – 20 since January 2008, and 193 enforced disappearances (ED).

EJK and ED are particularly defined as State-perpetrated which makes it so alarming because it could actually mean that the government organized to serve the citizens -the tax supported and citizen mandated system – is being used against the people? Is this really happening?

If James Balao is surfaced today that would change his status as the lone ED in the Cordillera in 2008. #

Pls. send your comments, inquiries and suggestions to

Women’s Front: Unite vs GMA’s fierce attacks

December 20, 2008


For most of the course of the Philippine history, Filipino women have always struggled to break free from the bondage of prejudice. They have been victims of gender-biased crimes, they were ignored and they were restricted by the image, which was propagated by Jose Rizal in the character of “Maria Clara” in his Noli me Tangere who portrayed a Filipino woman being bound to the works in the home, in the church and in the family. They are reared to accept things with a grain of salt. This identification of Filipino women is a feudal-patriarchal culture inculcated by the Spanish occupation. This was no less the case when the Americans came to the country.

The participation of Filipino women in the social arena began with the examples of Gabriela Silang, Teodora Alonso, Trinidad Tecson and countless others who inspired Filipino women to follow their steps in liberating women.

Lately, the oppression suffered by Filipino women goes beyond the struggle for identity and recognition. The Filipino women’s movement continues to battle State repression but with a bitter twist. Filipino women are now battling for their life. Our Filipino women are betrayed by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. GMA has failed to provide Filipino women with decent lives.

More and more Filipino women and mothers are dealing with much poverty and hunger. Urban poor women are faced with joblessness, low salaries and high prices of basic commodities. This is also the case for indigenous women in the countryside. Compounded by development aggression set by the government and big companies, the land which is the life of indigenous peoples is in grave danger.

Since Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime assumed office in 2001, around 107 women have been victims of extra-judicial killings. To date, 31 women have disappeared, 271 were victims of illegal detention and 22 are political prisoners. These women are leaders, members and supporters of progressive people’s organization and militant party groups. The number is still rising and the harassments continue. Just this last quarter, Mary Grace Delicano, a member and staff of Gabriela Negros was arrested and charged with robbery in band. Helen Asdolo, secretary-general of Gabriela Southern Tagalog and Amy Sto. Tomas of Cavite are facing the same fate.

The Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime undoubtedly uses terror as its defense and strategy hold her power into place. With the worsening economic crisis in the country and the controversial acts of corruption and plunder in her administration, GMA is extending her power to pacify the threats to her power and kill these burning issues.

This year, Innabuyog-Gabriela, Gabriela Women’s Party-Cordillera and Cordillera Women’s Education Action Research Center are forging greater unity among women in the Cordillera. We continue to fight against political repression.

The campaign to stop political persecution on women human rights workers and other activists remains a strong point in this year’s celebration of the 16-Day Campaign to Eliminate Violence Against Women.

The participation of each and every woman in the remolding of the society is no less important. Year in and year out, Filipino women will continue the militancy that this country direly needs. #

Weekly Reflections: Blessing in disguise

December 20, 2008


“I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. Now do not be upset or blame yourselves because you sold me here. It was really God who sent me ahead of you to save people’s lives.” – Genesis 45:4-5

Trip to Australia

Our partners in Australia had given my wife and me an opportunity to take time to do some study and writing at least for a month. My wife Pearl will do some exposures in the churches and in the library of our sister seminary in Adelaide, while I will do some research and writing. Thanks to Lyn Leane of the South Synod of the Uniting Church in Australia, for making all the arrangements, especially the funds for our trip. Also, thanks to Andrew Dutney, the Principal of the Parkin-Wesley Theological College, for inviting us to do our work in their college and use their library. Parkin-Wesley is our sister seminary in Adelaide.

Pearl and I were already lining up to check in at Ninoy Aquino International Airport for our Qantas flight to Adelaide via Sydney when we were informed that our flight would be delayed for about eight hours because there was an emergency closure of the airport. The Qantas management did not mention in the formal letter of explanation and apology, but we came to know later from its staff that the airport was closed and tightly guarded for President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s departure to Hong Kong. Who knows, some militants might do a Bangkok or Mumbai-like incident?

Many of the passengers were quite disappointed for the delay of their flight, especially those with connecting flights using other airlines. But we could not do anything. Apparently, the president’s security is given more priority than anything else. Qantas Airways had to make hotel arrangements for the 150 passengers.

For Pearl and I, what happened was a blessing in disguise. It was our first time to stay in a five-star hotel. We have read and heard a lot about Manila Hotel, where important gatherings were usually held. We have seen it many times from the outside, but we never had the chance to see the inside of the hotel.

Manila Hotel was originally designed by David Burnham, an American architect who also designed Baguio City, especially the famous park named after him. Later on, the renovation of the hotel was done by the internationally known Filipino architect, Leandro Locsin. Pearl and I never imagined staying in this famous hotel even just for a few hours. Indeed, if our flight were not delayed, if the NAIA were not closed, perhaps we were not given the opportunity to stay at the Manila Hotel.

Joseph and his brothers

This reminds me about the Biblical story of Joseph and his brothers (Gen. 37-47). Joseph’s brothers hated him so much for being their father’s favorite. And so, they sold him to slavery and lied to their own father, telling him their brother was killed by a wild animal. By the turn of events, their brother Joseph, however, became later on a high official of the Egyptian Empire.

Then, there was a famine in Canaan, and Joseph’s brothers had to go to Egypt to look for food. They never realized that the one who sold them food was no other than their own brother whom they sold to slavery. Joseph introduced himself to his brothers, who were quite upset, saying: “I am your brother Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. Now do not be upset or blame yourselves because you sold me here. It was really God who sent me ahead of you to save people’s lives” (Genesis 45:4-5).

Turning tragedies into blessings

Joseph firmly believed that God is the one guiding the course of history, even personal and family history. Human beings, because of their greed and selfishness or even jealousy, can cause tragedies, hurts and misfortunes to their fellow human beings, even to their own brother or sister, but God in mysterious ways can turn those things into blessings. Indeed, human beings propose but God disposes. Joseph’s brother sold him into slavery, but God guided him all the way into becoming one of the rulers of Egypt and through him his own brothers who hurt him were saved from possible death due to famine.

Our host in Australia, Lyn Leane, told us this morning that due to the world financial crisis, the New Zealand mining company operating in Northeast Luzon affecting the lives of indigenous peoples in the area, had finally canceled its operation. Of course, we should not also discount the fact that the local people strongly oppose the mining operation in the area. Also personally, without the emergency closure of NAIA affecting us and other passengers, perhaps we have not experienced staying in a five-star hotel.

Indeed, God can turn our misfortunes and tragedies into blessings. God is a God of history, a God who guides the life of humankind. But when would the likes of Joseph’s brothers today ever learn and realize that the God who made the heavens and the earth is the Lord of history, and so, they must turn away from their wicked ways? #

Smorgasbord: Democracy: an illusion in the Philippines

December 20, 2008


I am able to write this piece not because of democracy but in spite of its absence.

The past weeks, thousands of protesters took over Thailand’s main airport to force the resignation of Prime Minister Somchai, brother-in-law of former Prime Minister Thaksin who was ousted on charges of corruption. They did not destroy a single airport equipment. A Thai court dissolved the ruling party and banned Somchai from exercising powers as Prime Minister after a party executive was convicted of electoral fraud.

Asked to comment on the events in Thailand, presidential mouthpiece Roilo Golez declared that the Thai experience will not happen in the Philippines “because our people have reached a high degree of political maturity whereby our people respect due process and the rule of law.”

What gumption! Kulkumut Sinharana Ayudhaya, Thai Ambassador to the Philippines, was quick to demand an apology from Golez. He said, “The protest is only an indication that the Thai people are free to exercise their political right based on democracy.”

Golez should be red in the face now. Kulkumut’s retort is a veiled rebuke on the state of the Philippine political climate. Philippine democracy is an illusion. Our human rights record states it in the plainest language. The Thai envoy knew he was standing on moral high ground when he demanded an apology from Golez.

Contrary to Golez’s claim, there is no rule of law in this country. His boss who mastered sinister Machiavellian tactics placed herself way above it. We have a Rule of Arroyo characterized by repression. The Constitution which says that the Philippines is a republican and democratic state, that sovereignty resides in the people and that all governmental authority emanates from them, is just a scrap of paper.

How can authority emanate from people who shiver in fear of their government?

In a democracy, people can dethrone officials who seriously violate their trust even if they have to seize control of airports to do it. If officials betray the public trust by stealing votes, by bargaining away part of Philippine territory for political expediency, or by ordering the murder or abduction of political dissidents, the people may oust them. It is not only an act of political maturity, it is also an act of sovereignty. In fact, when people revolt against a despotic regime, they do not violate the Constitution. To assert sovereignty is to uphold the Constitution.

The Philippine political climate hinders political discourse which thrives in democracy. A friend serving as a Philippine Consul-General in Europe said to me: “You cannot say that the Philippines is not democratic. You are still free to speak out.” In a democracy, you say the truth without fear of the whip or the gun. In this country, you do so conscious that you invite great peril unto yourself. You condemn corruption in the military, you are court-martialed. You protect the rights of indigenous peoples, you are forcibly disappeared. You fight for the rights of peasants and laborers, you will be indicted for rebellion. You expose the involvement of the First Family in corrupt acts of unparalleled magnitude, your father gets booted out as Speaker of the House of Representatives. You defend human rights, you are targeted as a terrorist.

Is this democracy? This is totalitarianism and it is flourishing in a country that ratified most core human rights instruments enshrining political participation and which was one of the first 48 UN members to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 1948. The rule of law means nothing to Golez’ boss. Philippine democracy has been purged of spirit.

Close to a thousand activists and journalists have fallen victims to extra-judicial killings and hundreds became desaparecidos during the eight-year rule of Arroyo. This shames the record of the Marcos dictatorship which lasted for over two decades. The Philippines remains unbeaten in its record as the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. According to the National Union of Journalists in the Philippines, Areteo Padrigao is the 62nd (not 52nd as I earlier wrote) journalist killed since 2001.

Journalists and scribes in Manipur, India are still on strike over the murder of their colleague, Konsam Rishikanta on 17 November 2008, the same day Padrigao was killed. Publications suspended operations to demonstrate their righteous indignation. Lawyer Babloo Loitongbam of the Manipur-based Human Rights Alert furnished me a record showing that Rishikanta is the fifth journalist to be killed in that state since 1993. Padrigao is the sixth this year!

Yet, how is the Filipino nation responding? Not with political maturity because unlike the Thais, we are not “free to exercise (our) political right based on democracy.” Except for the privilege speech of Senator Richard Gordon, the murder of Padrigao did not stir up a hornet’s nest. Has the spate of killings desensitized us that one more name added to statistics on the murdered no longer shocks us?

Prof. Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-judicial, Summary and Arbitrary Executions said: “(N)umbers are not what count. The impact of even a limited number of killings of the type alleged is corrosive in many ways. It intimidates vast numbers of civil society actors, it sends a message of vulnerability to all but the most well connected, and it severely undermines the political discourse which is central to a resolution of the problems confronting this country.”

The political atmosphere is ripe for protests if not a popular uprising or a revolution. But the Filipino people have been rendered politically immature. If one death is enough to send a chilling message, consider that there are more than 900 deaths and hundreds of enforced disappearances under the Rule of Arroyo.

Mr. Golez, the Filipino national apathy is not sign of political maturity; it is symptomatic of alienation, of resignation, of hopelessness, of many other things, not least of all the death of democracy.

Your boss has been presiding over its wake and you are a pallbearer. #

From Under This Hat: No to human rights violation

December 20, 2008


Last Friday afternoon where women and women’s rights advocates gathered to observe the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, one woman stood out. She was a sister, a mother and a friend to people in the crowd and many more. She had an urgent plea, a strong message and heart-wrenching story that was not hers alone anymore. Her voice above the crowd was so familiar already as if those meant to hear it were plugging their ears and playing deaf and dumb. Her story was a testimony of state violence against women, children, against communities of indigenous peoples, against human beings.

She said …

“This organization deals with the many cases of violation against women. The problems continue to pour in, and we are given time and space to be here. In behalf of Jane Balao, our mother, Nonette and I, Joni have a testimony to tell.

We are the mother and sisters of James Balao.

How much pain can a woman bear? Sometimes we ask ourselves, why does it have to happen to particularly me or us? We also do not know why. But things like this should not happen, by God’s law, and by the humanitarian acts law in the Philippines. To violate someone’s being is no practice of a person deserving to survive in this world.

James was abducted in Tomay by five armed men proven to be in the military.

A mother bears sons and daughters to love and nurture and when they have grown they find their way out in society to do what they like doing best. James loves people. And people love him. What pride must a mother have when she bore a son who applies what he learned in school to reach out to the people selflessly and full of compassion…. we, his sisters, we also looked up to him. He holds our hearts with so much respect for him. This man deserves to live.

And what feeling must a mother have if her sons and daughters are abductors, a killer, cuts heads, tortures a fellow man for money or for promotion of rank in office or military status? Pity to the mother and father and kin to this sons and daughters. These people violate the lives of those that deserve to keep on living. These people forget to help the suffering people, they only help themselves. They are blinded by greed and their hearts have turned dark. Their lies become natural to them, they can lie so well rehearsed in front of you and if you cannot see it you will believe them. These people do not deserve to walk the surface of the earth.

Women, friends, we are all in this together. We cry for all the pains, so unbearable, it is a pain so deep. When this month reaches the 17th, this will be the 3rd month that James is still held by his captors.

Gloria’s wrath and her clutches have reached our territory. What is our strength compared to hers?

Mabtad Tako Amin Apo. Bumala Tako am-in ibugao tako’y sakit ni nemnem man bibinnadang tako ay maninap sin kabsat tako ay malit-litao.

Un awas kiton emin jen mangibugao salit ni nemnem. Mantitinulong kiton mengenap niya agi tayon na-tiw!”.

The people now only have themselves to depend on to help each other, so shall we, please help each other prevent any more violation to our human rights? #

Economics and Society 101: A tribute to Andres Bonifacio and his kind

December 20, 2008


I am writing a series for Nordis on the US crisis but I feel that the heroism of Andres Bonifacio must not be taken lightly. Bonifacio is proletarian and nationalist worth emulating today even as we exhaust the peaceful avenues for justice, freedom, and democracy.

Bonifacio was not into armed struggle in the early 1890s. This is proof that like many revolutionaries, he too had striven to give peace a chance. Andres Bonifacio was a founding member of the Liga Filipina. Jose Rizal had co-founded and led La Liga upon his return to the Philippines in 1892. The goals of Liga Filipina included the unity of the whole archipelago, mutual protection, defense against all violence and injustice, promotion of socio-economic work (instruction, agriculture, and commerce) and reforms.

In 1975, Renato Constantino described Bonifacio’s efforts to organize Liga Filipina chapters in Manila. He said the leading council of the Liga Filipina dissolved Liga Filipina only after just a few months of being active because the council leaders found out that most of the chapters organized by Bonifacio refused to give financial support to propagandists based in Spain after becoming convinced that peaceful agitations for reforms were useless.

After the dissolution of the Liga Filipino, the reformists organized the Cuerpo de Compromisarios and continued the reformist agenda as well as the tasks of supporting the propagandists based in Madrid, Spain. Radicals led by Bonifacio devoted themselves to establishing an underground organization called the Katipunan that was formally organized on June 19, 1892.

In direct contrast with the Cuerpo de Compromisarios, the Katipunan declared for its goal the realization of Philippine independence from Spain. According to Constantino, the aim of the Cuerpo de Compromisarios had been assimilation or the conversion of the Philippines into a province of Spain. The Philippines, of course, was a colony and not a province of Spain in the 1890s.

Other than declaring freedom from Spanish rule, the Katipunan also declared in its constitution that everybody is equal and that members must work to ensure that the country becomes free from all foreign bondage. Members were exhorted to procure guns and other necessary military logistics in the fight for independence.

At first, the Katipunan was an ultra-secret society: members do not know other members but only those who directly recruited them. However, rosters of chapter members were required beginning January 9, 1893 such that the Katipunan became a mass organization: chapter members knew each other and execute various types of plans and organizational work. On May 5, 1893, Andres Bonifacio even called for mass recruitments and issued a call to speed up recruitment work.

The Katipunan adheres to a code of discipline: bandits are excluded from membership, habitual drunkards are expelled from membership, members are instructed not to take things that do not belong to them, gamblers are severely punished or expelled from membership. The code of discipline was promoted by Bonifacio.

Does Bonifacio lack organizational skills? Hardly. In a memorandum executed by the Katipunan Supreme Government led by Bonifacio dated January 4, 1894, the following orders were issued: definitions of the duties of the Presiding Judge, Treasurer, Court Secretaries, Town Presidents, Members of Town Presidents’ circle, Secretary to Town Presidents, and the like. In addition, standard operation procedures were defined such as the logging of all orders, maintenance of a roster and recording of transactions. In other words, the organization of operations of the Katipunan shadow government was defined and articulated by the Supreme Government of the Katipunan led by Bonifacio in its order of January 4, 1894.

I am not privy to documents of revolutionary groups but I suppose that no other revolutionary group in the Philippines has achieved what Bonifacio has achieved for the revolutionary movement under his command: a code of operations for both the national and local governments led by revolutionaries.

On January 30, 1895, the official roster of membership of the Katipunan counted 12,613 members with a fund of at least P22,000 from members’ contribution. On June 30 1895, the Katipunan had good enough funds such that it decided to send a mission to Japan to procure arms. The assistance of Apolinario Mabini was sought in drafting the authorization letter for the revolutionary group tasked to implement the mission. Katipunan funds grew to P53,000 in Manila alone as of May 1896. In addition, by this time, the Katipunan had been getting pledges from individuals belonging to wealthy classes. Pledges as high as P10,000 were being obtained from individuals alone. #

(The writer maintains a blog at Comments can be coursed through,, and +63927-536-8431)

Weekly Reflections: Who is like Jesus Christ

December 20, 2008


“The chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask Pilate to set Barabbas free and have Jesus put to death.” — Matthew 27:20

GMA and Jesus Christ

The meeting of the Committee on Justice of the House of Representatives last November 25, which was meant to discuss the impeachment complaint against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA), became a theological discussion, when the oldest member of the chamber, Pablo Garcia of Cebu, an avid supporter of GMA, started claiming that the President is like Jesus Christ our Lord.

Congressman Garcia passionately said in his speech, “More than 2,000 years ago, our Lord Jesus Christ was crucified because of an opinion survey. Pontius Pilate presented our Lord to the crowd and said, ‘Whom would you prefer, Barabbas or Christ to crucify? Our Lord Jesus Christ lost in the survey. Is that how we are going to judge our President because of an opinion survey?

Reacting to the speech afterwards, Former Speaker Jose de Venecia, a supporter of the impeachment complaint against the president filed by his own son, Joey de Venecia, said, “We should not take the name of our God, Jesus, lightly. We should not compare GMA to Jesus who is our Lord God. President Arroyo is not our Lord.”

Politicians becoming theologians

Here is a classic example of how politicians try to become theologians, in the same manner that theologians also try sometimes to become politicians. This would show to us that we cannot really divorce religion from politics. What is important, however, is what kind of politics or theology do we have. Is it a politics that exploits the people or a politics that serves the people? Is it a theology that justifies the status quo or a theology that transforms the status quo?

The problem with politicians trying to become theologians is the fact that they often distort Christian doctrine to suit their own political interests. What Congressman Garcia tried to do is to desperately justify the status quo by using a distorted view of the Christ. Jesus Christ our Lord was never crucified because of an opinion survey. He was crucified because he was a victim of injustice. He was a victim of a miscarriage of justice or a judicial killing. He was a victim of what Congressman Garcia has been precisely doing.

Historical Jesus

Perhaps, it would be good for us to go back to the historical Jesus and understand why he was crucified. According to the authorities, Jesus Christ our Lord allegedly claimed to be “the King of the Jews.” He was officially charged for the crime of rebellion (cf. Mt.27:37). It was punishable by death on the cross. This was the crime written above his head when he was crucified.

Jesus’ crucifixion was actually the consequence of the life he lived. If Jesus did not cure the sick, feed the hungry, set free the oppressed, forgive the sinners, denounce the hypocrites, call Herod a fox, cleanse the Temple of grafters and thieves and challenge the powers-that-be, perhaps he would not be considered a threat to the status quo and he would not be crucified at all. Perhaps, he would have died of old age or of natural death. But no, Jesus Christ our Lord gave his life in the service of the people (cf. Mk. 10:45). And for this reason, he was crucified by the powers-that-be.

Genuine comparison

And so, who is Jesus today? Definitely, it is not GMA. Rather, the crucified Jesus today is seen in the masses of people who are victims of the GMA administration: the victims of graft and corruption; the victims of judicial killings, extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances; the victims of all-out war and anti-terrorism policies. These are the crucified Jesus of today.

When Saul, who later on became Apostle Paul, was persecuting the Christians in the Early Church, he was struck blind on the Road to Damascus. Then, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul! Why do you persecute me?” “Who are you, Lord?” he asked. “I am Jesus, whom you persecute,” the voice said. Indeed, Jesus our Lord is seen the face of the persecuted.

If we would like to compare GMA to the time of Jesus, perhaps she would be like Pilate, Herod, and Annas and Caiaphas. Like Pilate, who released Barabbas, a convicted murder, instead of Jesus, an innocent man; GMA also released Teehankee, a convicted murderer; and Erap, a convicted plunderer, for political exigencies; and allow the innocent activists locked in jail.

Like Herod who tried to use everything including bribery and murder to ensure his hold on to power together with the members of his family; GMA is also using everything, including bribery, to ensure her hold on to power together with the members of her family even beyond 2010.

And like Annas and Caiaphas, who plotted behind the scenes against Jesus or anyone who tried to interfere in their business and corrupt practices in the Temple; GMA and her followers are also trying to silence those who are exposing graft and corruptions in the government, and kill any attempt to make her answer and give explanations about all these allegations.

It is not bad to use theology to address political issues. But theology should not be used to justify the status quo, but rather theology in order to be genuine must enlighten and transform the status quo. #(NorDis)

Streetlight: Growing into the people’s movement

December 20, 2008


I joined the contingent of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA’s) Regional Council to Bagtangan, Gambang, Bakun last October 15 to support the community’s opposition to the exploration of Royalco Mining Company. It was an inspiring day to learn about the people’s struggles against destructive mining.

There were the powerful speeches and cultural presentations, the unending tallak and takik, the sharing of wat-wat and original song compositions among others.

Many students, from Grades 1 to 6 of the host elementary school offered their presentations reflecting their situation. Their songs were written amid the threat of destruction brought about by the exploration and possible and actual operation of Royalco.

In the sharing of insights and experiences by the Itogon contingent, an Ibaloi speaker said she was an elementary pupil when she got involved in the movement against destructive mining. From there on, she gave her wholehearted commitment to support the community struggle in any way possible as she challenged the people in Gambang to draw lessons from their own experiences in Itogon.

She was in Grade 2 when the barricade in Keystone, Ucab started against the open-pit mining operation of Benguet Corporation (BC). One day, she went to the barricade with her cousins, joining her parents who were then consistently fighting the open-pit mining operations. When they came to the site, women were already prepared to block a bulldozer. She and her cousins, despite their fragile young bodies, joined the women in the front line.

When the bulldozer continued to advance, she and her cousins decided to lie in front of the machine’s tracked-wheels thus immobilizing it. They did not leave their position until the police came, grabbed and dragged them towards the police station. Hundreds of them, women and children, were detained at the station until the police realized they could not feed them. They were subsequently released.

Their detention did not stop the people’s opposition. Despite the many sacrifices, they were able to sustain the barricade for nine months. This Grade 2 pupil and many other children in the community comprised the Anti-Open Pit Mining Kids (AOPM Kids) who came up with their own speeches and cultural presentations in many a barangay-hopping they did then. Due to sustained actions of the community and support from various organizations and sectors, BC stopped mining Ucab and eventually closed its open-pit operations in Loacan.

Today, the once Grade 2 pupil is already a 26-year-old mother and full- time community organizer. Her community in Itogon was devastated by more than 100 years of operation by BC and other companies. They lack water, their land plundered and their resources depleted. If they did not oppose these when she was little, what more devastation on their land could have happened?

True, the people’s struggles persist through generations. What she fought for when she was in Grade 2 are the same issues confronting many indigenous peoples’ communities today. She may not be too young now, but she keeps the spirit of resistance alive. She did not only grow in years, but also into the people’s movement.

Who could have imagined that the act of a Grade 2 pupil would help change the future of a community? As the saying goes “age does not matter.” #(Nordis)

Smorgasbord: Of heroes and heroism

December 20, 2008


Under a regime anchored on falsehood, all it takes to be a hero is to tell the truth.

During the National Union of Peoples Lawyers first anniversary, Jun Lozada, the whistle-blower who linked the First Family to the multi-billion ZTE bribery scandal said, “They say I am a hero because I came forward to tell the truth. I did not know that just by telling the truth, one becomes a hero.”

Heroes do not rise in times of comfort. While ideal, telling the truth at such a time is not heroic, but in times when to tell the truth is to invite a tyrant to train her gun to your head, it is heroic. The Arroyo administration has invested most of the resources at its disposal to kill truth. It dreads truth, as the Spanish colonizers feared a mass revolution. At that time, you rose up in arms, you were marked for death. In our time, you tell the truth, you are marked for death or enforced disappearance. Yes, Jun Lozada, you are a hero.

To the Arroyo administration, Lozada is no hero. He is a termite threatening falsehood, the foundation of its tyranny. Her heroes are abroad. Annually, she presides over the Bagong Bayani Award and lauds them – Filipinos pushed to seek greener pastures from the desert that is the Philippine economy where employment is a miracle. Why, their dollar remittances are saving the Philippines from certain economic doom resulting from economic mismanagement. Indeed, no one can deny the contributions of our overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). But far from being heroes, they are victims.

One does not rise to heroism from being a victim, as what Arroyo made of Angelo dela Cruz, a truck driver abducted in Iraq by Islamic militants with threats to behead him unless the Philippines pulled out its troops from Iraq. He was released after 17 days. The accidental hero is no hero. Heroes are conscious of the risks they assume for the common weal. Andres Bonifacio whose birthday we celebrate on 30 November knew that by leading the Philippine revolution against Spain, he could lose his life. Yet, the ferment of his spirit urged him to resist colonization. Our OFWs took plane rides out of the country not to keep Arroyo’s economy afloat but to silence grumbling stomachs.

Arroyo’s definition of heroism removes the element of struggle against an oppressive structure. It removes the issue of truth. Which present day Philippine heroism must push to the fore. Which she wants to shove into a shredder. The human rights defenders and journalists in the forefront of resistance to lies are the heroes in these times, but Arroyo tagged them Abu Sayyaf lovers, communists and terrorists. One by one, they are being killed or are made to disappear. The perpetrators obviously believe that they do not only abduct and kill people; they also abduct and kill truth.

From its early days, Arroyo and her minions have been telling lies after lies to the Filipino people, suppressing truth when it slackened her grip on power. Her decision to run for President in 2004 after she made an announcement not to a few months earlier was a portent of more lies to spew out of her mouth. When the Senate, through its congressional investigations, was piecing truths about her regimes’ lies, she issued E.O. No. 464 preventing cabinet members, police and military generals, senior national security officials, and “such other officers as may be determined by the President” to attend congressional hearings without her permission. With that EO she had power over truth and lies. The wimp Romulo Neri appeared before the Senate but refused to tell the truth. He got the top Social Security System post as a prize!

The House of Representatives has always been a willing instrument to promote the Arroyo regime’s falsehood. In 2005, the House schemed to kill the truth about fraud in the 2004 presidential elections. Last Wednesday, in behalf of Arroyo who is quaking in fear over the possibility of the truth about her role in the ZTE scandal being exposed, it put the impeachment complaint into a train bound for eternal damnation. Even the most hallowed vanguard of truth became a tool to perpetuate an environment of falsehood and promote a national consciousness pervaded by lies. In the Neri case, the Supreme Court ruled that to hide the truth is protected by executive privilege. So what if the truth will set the Filipino nation free?

It has been oft-repeated that truth sets us free. Truth presided over the ouster of the Marcos and the end of the Estrada regime. Unfortunately, the truth that quashed the Estrada regime saw the rise of the Arroyo principality of falsehood.

Every move of the Arroyo regime is calculated to ensure her stay in power, not to increase the purchasing power of the poor family’s peso. By that, it has to promote lies, using money from the public coffers. Even before former House Speaker Jose de Venecia announced last week that legislators were bought in 2005 to vote against the impeachment complaint, the fact was already well-known. Equally well-known is that many local government officials are given money and legislators are taken to junkets abroad, at the expense of the public, to buy their loyalty to her lies.

With a huge chunk of the Philippine budget allotted for the promotion of falsehood, it is no wonder the national consciousness is a false consciousness. In an atmosphere of lies, the casualty is freedom: freedom from repression, even freedom from hunger. The streets are begging for mass actions like the ones staged during previous regimes. As long as Arroyo keeps feeding the falsehood machines and neglects restructuring the economy, however, the masses will continue to be weighed down by worries over the next meal. The crowds in the mass protests will continue to thin, while queues in offices releasing passports and foreign visas grow day by day.

Hunger, which is worse now than it has ever been in the country, has driven the people to a state of lethargy if not apathy. Enforced on the nation, hunger is a form of repression. It silences protest and resistance to falsehood with as much force as the barrel of a gun.

Dire hunger among the masses, enforced disappearance of activists and freedom fighters, slay the heroes and slay the truth, but sustains legislators and officials. A combination of all these has given teeth to a tyranny of unparalleled magnitude in the Philippines.

These are the times of living most dangerously, but these are the times that call on us to emulate Andres Bonifacio and be heroes like him.

These are the times to speak the truth and reject lies. #

(Atty. Cheryl L. Daytec-Yangot, is Associate Professor at Saint Louis University. She has been writing for Nordis for quite some time and has decided to do a regular column starting this issue. For more of her writings, please log on to:, )

Konteksto: Para sa estudyante ni Prop. Sarah Raymundo

December 14, 2008

Danilo Araña Arao

DAHIL nag-aaral ka sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas (UP), alam mo na siguro ang nangyari kay ”Ma’am Sarah.” Kalat na kalat sa loob ng kampus sa Diliman at naging laman ng mga blog, discussion forum at social networking site ang masakit niyang kinahinatnan.

Kung sakaling hindi mo pa alam: Sinabihan siya ng tagapangulo ng Departamento ng Sosyolohiya noong Nobyembre 6 (panahon ng rehistrasyon) na ang kanyang halos-isang-taong-nakasalang na aplikasyon para magkaroon ng tenure ay hindi inaprubahan ng tenured faculty ng nasabing departamento.

Ano kaya ang dahilan? Hanggang ngayo’y walang malinaw na paliwanag na ibinigay sa kanya. (Unang una, hindi siya pormal na sinulatan noong Nobyembre.)

May tatlong minimum na kinakailangan para magkaroon ng tenure ang isang guro sa UP. Una ay ang master’s degree, ikalawa ay ang pagkakaroon ng magandang ebalwasyon sa pagtuturo at ikatlo ay ang publikasyon sa isang refereed journal. Lahat ng mga ito ay mayroon si Sarah.

Maaaring magtakda ng karagdagang kwalipikasyon ang isang yunit pero malinaw ang nakasaad sa Faculty Manual Update (Enero 2005) ng UP Diliman: ”Units may impose higher requirements provided these are approved by the College, the Chancellor, the President, and the Board of Regents…Units are, however, advised to put their procedures and requirements in writing so as to guide tenure-track and tenured faculty alike, ensure that policies are followed, minimize conflict, and facilitate the review and improvement of policies and processes (p. 21-22).”

Batay sa mapagkakatiwalaang impormante, mayroon daw siyang ginawang ”breach of professional ethics.” Kahit si Sarah ay hindi alam ang detalye ng sinasabing paglabag, at mas lalong nakababahala ang diumanong pahayag ng tagapangulo ng kanyang departamento na kinokonsulta niya ang UP Legal Office hinggil sa susunod na hakbang. Sa pagkakaalam niya, wala namang isinampang kaso laban sa kanya.

Ang tanging alam lang niya at ng mga nakakakilala sa kanya (tulad ko) ay aktibo siyang opisyal o miyembro ng maraming progresibong organisasyon sa loob at labas ng kampus. Madalas siyang makita sa iba’t ibang porma ng kilos-protesta at parati siyang handang maglahad ng kanyang pulitikal na paninindigan sa kung sinumang nais makinig.

Sa madaling salita, isa siyang ”aktibista,” isang bagay na hindi naman niya itinatago sa lahat, lalo na sa mga estudyante’t kapwa guro. May kaugnayan kaya ang kanyang pulitikal na paniniwala sa hindi-inaasahang pagkakait sa kanya ng tenure?

Dahil hindi nabigyan si Sarah ng malinaw at nakasulat na paliwanag mula sa Departamento ng Sosyolohiya, hindi masisisi ang organisasyong kinabibilangan niya, ang Congress of Teachers/Educators for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND), na sabihin sa isang pahayag na ang dahilan ng pagkakait sa kanya ng tenure ay ”ang kanyang mayamang rekord sa progresibo at makabayang kilusan…Hindi maikukubli ng mga nagpoposturang liberal na ang tunay na dahilan sa likod ng kanilang desisyon ay ang progresibong paninindigan ni (Sarah). Malinaw na isa itong kaso ng witch-hunting at pulitikal na represyon.” (Kailangang malaman ng mambabasa na ako ay naging tagapangulo ng CONTEND at naging bahagi nito nang magsimula akong magturo nang full-time sa UP noong 2001.)

Ano ang implikasyon ng hindi pagkakaloob ng tenure kay Sarah? Sa pagtatapos ng kanyang kontrata sa Mayo 31, 2009, tanggal na siya bilang assistant professor ng unibersidad sa kabila ng kanyang halos sampung taong panunungkulan bilang regular na faculty.

Tulad mo, may mga propesor akong inaasam na matanggal o magbitiw sa unibersidad dahil sa kanilang kawalan ng paninindigan o likas na kabobohan. Ito ang mga taong inabuso ang tenure na ibinigay sa kanila dahil hindi pumapasok sa klase, walang sapat na kaalaman sa mga kursong hinahawakan nila at, higit sa lahat, ginagamit ang posisyon bilang propesor hindi para makatulong sa kapwa kundi para magkamal ng maraming pera.

Siguro’y alam mo ang tunay na dahilan ng patuloy na pananatili ng mga ganitong klaseng taong ayaw kong matawag na ”kapwa guro” – kahit na mababa ang suweldo sa UP, kaya pa rin nilang gamitin ang prestihiyo ng unibersidad para mas mahusay na ibenta ang sarili sa mga nasa kapangyarihan. Handa nilang ibenta kahit ang sariling kaluluwa kahit na nangangahulugan ito ng pagkadungis sa pamantasang pinaglilingkuran nila.

Alam mong ibang-iba si Sarah sa mga tiwaling propesor na ito. Batay sa malaking suportang nakukuha niya mula sa iba’t ibang tao sa loob at labas ng bansa, may malaking pagkilala sa kanyang kahusayan bilang isang guro.

Hindi totoong wala kang sapat na kapangyarihan bilang estudyante kung may nais kang mapatalsik o mapanatili sa isang posisyon ng kapangyarihan, maging Pangulo man ng isang bansa o propesor ng pinakamamahal mong unibersidad.

Ikaw ay isang mamamayang nagkaroon ng mga karapatan dahil ipinaglaban ang mga ito ng ating ninuno. Ikaw ay isang estudyante ng UP, at inaasahan ang aktibo mong paglahok para makamit ang hustisya.

Ngayong nais tanggalin ang propesor na sa tingin mo’y nararapat lang na manatili sa ating pamantasang hirang, ano pa ang hinihintay mo?

Para makipag-ugnayan sa awtor, pumunta sa

Husgahan Natin: Buhay bilanggo

December 14, 2008

Atty. Remigio D. Saladero Jr.

ANG UNANG tanong kaagad ng mga kaibigang dumadalaw sa amin dito sa kulungan ay kung maayos ang aming kalagayan. Para mapayapa ang kanilang damdamin, sinasabi naming maayos naman. Subalit nababasa namin sa kanilang mga kilos na para bang hindi sila naniniwala at nagdududa sa aming sinasabi.

Hindi namin sila masisisi. Alam naman ng lahat na sa kalagayan ng mga bilangguan dito sa ating bansa ngayon, imposible para sa isang bilanggo ang maging nasa maayos na kalagayan.

Tulad halimbawa ng aming kinapipiitan ngayon dito sa provincial jail ng Oriental Mindoro. Mahigit 360 kaming lahat na nakabilanggo rito. Sari-sari ang aming mga kaso. Mayroong murder, robbery, rape, at mayroon ding tungkol sa paggamit o pagbenta ng ipinagbabawal na gamot. Ang mahigit 360 bilanggong ito ay nahahati sa mga selda na kung tawagin ay brigade.

Ang aming selda na kung tawagin ay brigade uno, ay may laman na animnapu’t anim (66) na bilanggo. May luwang itong mga 7 x 7 metro kuwadrado kaya wala ka na halos magalawan sa kasikipan nito. Kung may umutot sa mga bilanggo, tiyak na langhap ng buong selda dahil sa kasikipan nito.

Kung problema ang kasikipan, lalong problema ang tulugan. Sa aming selda ay may labinlimang (15) double-deck na higaan na gawa sa kawayan o sa plywood. Ang tawag sa mga higaang ito sa lengguwahe ng mga bilanggo ay tarima. Bawa’t tarima ay dalawang bilanggo ang natutulog kaya’t bale apat lahat ang kasya sa isang double-deck bed. Dahil kami ay animnapu’t anim lahat, hindi sapat ang bilang ng mga higaan o tarima at ang iba sa amin ay sa malamig na sahig na lamang natutulog. Noong bago pa lamang akong dating ay sa sahig din ako natutulog at kamakailan lamang ako nabigyan ng sarili kong higaan.

Ngunit hindi basta mayroon ka nang tarima ibig sabihi’y komportable ka na sa iyong pagtulog. Masikip para sa dalawang tao ang isang tarima. Upang hindi ka maka-istorbo sa iyong kasama samantalang kayo ay natutulog, kailangang manatili ka sa isang posisyon lamang. Hindi ka maaring gumalaw nang gumalaw o bumalikwas nang bumalikwas sapagka’t tiyak na magigising ang iyong kasama. Ngunit maraming surot sa mga tarima. Marahil, ito ay sa dahilang yari ito sa plywood o di kaya’y sa kawayan. Kaya kung mahimbing na sana ang iyong pagtulog dahil sa hindi magalaw ang iyong kasama, tiyak na mabubulabog ka at magigising dahil sa kagat ng mga surot.

Kung siksikan kami sa pagtulog ay siksikan din kami sa pag-ihi, pagdumi at pagligo. Sa bawat selda o brigade ay mayroong isang maliit na kubeta lamang. Ang kubetang ito ay siya ring nagsisilbing paliguan o banyo ng mga bilanggo. Dahil sa kakulangan ng tubig ay maari lamang maligo mula alas-kuwatro ng umaga hanggang alas-nuwebe ng gabi. Dahil sa animnapu’t anim (66) kaming lahat na gumagamit sa kubetang ito, madalas kaming magkasabay-sabay sa paggamit nito. Halimbawa, dumudumi ang isa samantalang umiihi ang dalawa. O di kaya, naliligo ang dalawa samantalang umiihi naman ang isa. Mahirap makakita ng pagkakataon na masosolo mo ang kubeta dahil sa sobrang dami ng bilanggo na gumagamit nito. Kaya kung nasanay kang mag-isa at matagal sa pribado ninyong kubeta o sa banyo sa inyong bahay, kalimutan mo na ang lahat ng ito. Mababago ang lahat ng toilet manners mo pagdating sa bilangguan.

Lalong malaking pagbabago ang iyong kakailanganin sa iyong ugali pagdating sa pagkain. Kung sa labas ay nasanay kang kumain sa mga restawran, fast food chains, o di kaya ay sa katahimikan ng inyong tahanan habang nilalasap ang pagkaing luto ng iyong maybahay, sa bilangguan ay kalimutan mo na ang mga ito. Paano mo pa matitikman ang mga ito sa katiting na budget na binibigay ng pamahalaan para sa pagkain ng mga bilanggo? Dito sa Oriental Mindoro Provincial Jail, halimbawa, ang budget ng pamahalaan para sa pagkain ng mga bilanggo ay P23.00 tuwing araw. Pumapatak lamang ito sa bale P7.33 tuwing kain. Paano ngayon makakabili ng masustansiya at sapat na ulam ang ganito kaliit na halaga? Eh di, kapiranggot na isdang tamban na pinaksiw ang ulam sa umaga, kapiranggot na isdang tamban (na naman) na sinigang ang ulam sa tanghali, at ginisang kalabasa ang ulam sa gabi. Paulit-ulit ito at walang pagbabago sa araw-araw. Kung kaya’t dito sa provincial jail, hindi na isdang bangus na naturingang pambansang isda. Ang naturingang pambansang isda rito ay ang tamban.

Ganito lamang mga mambabasa, ang buhay dito sa bilangguan. At ganitong buhay ngayon ang ating hinaharap dahil sa pang-aapi at panggigipit ng rehimeng Arroyo.

Larga Vista: Illegal logging nga ba ang tunay na dahilan ng malaking baha sa Isabela at Cagayan?

December 14, 2008

Elizabeth Principe

SA MATA ng nasa kapangyarihan, ilegal na pagtotroso ang dahilan ng malaking baha, kasalanang ipinupukol sa ordinaryong mga sibilyan na gumagamit ng chainsaw, nagbubuhat at naghihila ng mga tabla. Pinawawalang-sala ang mga korporadong pagtotroso, dahil legal daw ang mga ito. Tignan muna natin kung sinu-sino ang sumisira ng kagubatan bago sagutin ang tunay na dahilan ng malaking baha.

Una rito, ang korporadong pagtotroso. Ito ang malalaking kompanya na may-ari, kumokontrol at gumagamit sa malalaki at modernong makinarya sa pagbagsak, pagkarga, at paglabas ng malalaking troso. Higit-higit ang nailalabas nitong kahoy kumpara sa sinasabing ilegal na pagtotroso. May lisensiya silang magtroso sa konsesyon ng daan-daang libong ektarya ng kagubatan. Kinakategorya ang mga ito na legal, kahit na lampas-lampas sa itakdang bilang ng board feet ang kanilang kinukulimbat dahil may pahintulot na nakuha mula sa padulas na daang libo hanggang milyong piso sa DENR, militar at kay Mayor.

Higit pa sa animnapung taon na pinapanot ng korporadong pagtotroso ang kagubatan ng Isabela at Cagayan, bagamat malaki na ang paghupa nito sa pagbabawal ng rebolusyonaryong kilusan. Mula nang ideklara ang batas militar, pinangunahan ng pamilya Dy ang pagtotroso sa Isabela; pati ang mga makinarya ng DPWH sa probinsiya ay nagagamit sa paggawa ng daan sa gubat. Hanggang ngayon, tumitira pa rin ang mga Dy, minus ang kagamitan ng DPWH.

Pangalawa, kahit tapat si Gob. Padaca sa paglaban sa pagtotroso, ang mga meyor ang pumapaspas sa kani-kanilang saklaw na bundok, gamit ang permit sa Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA) na maaaring kanila o nagbabayad ng royalty sa pulitikong may permit.

Sa pamamagitan ng padulas na pera, hawak ni Mayor ang Community Environment and Natural Resources Officer (CENRO), mga pulis at militar na may mga kampo sa bayan. Bawat kampo at tsekpoint ng 5th ID, sumusungkit ng P300 – P500 bawat trak na dumadaan sa kanila papasok sa gubat. Iba pa ang bigay kay CO.

Sumesegunda sa korporadong pagtotroso ang pag-aari, kontrol at gamit ni Mayor sa mga makinarya sa pagtotroso. Maraming pag-aaring trak at chainsaw, at may ilang buldoser si Mayor. Kumakabit kay Mayor ang mga taong may-ari ng isa o dalawang trak. Magbabayad lang sila kay Mayor na siyang may “lisensiya.” Nakakonsentra kay Mayor at sa mga furniture maker ang mga tabla na galing sa “illegal loggers“.

Ikatlo ang kinakategoryang “ilegal,” yaong mga ordinaryong sibilyan, gamit ang chainsaw sa pagbuwal at pagtatabla ng kahoy. Nahahati sila sa may-ari ng kagamitan sa produksiyon at yaong walang pag-aari kundi lakas.

Karaniwan na mataas na gitna at mayamang magsasaka ang may-ari ng chainsaw; may inuupahan silang chainsaw operator at katulong.

Ang walang kagamitan ay ang dating mga maralita at mababa gitnang magsasaka, at ang mga manggagawang bukid. Sila ang gumaganap na chainsaw operator at helper nito, at mga bogador, yaong nagbubuhat, naghihila, at naglalangoy ng mga tabla sa ilog. Kadalasan, nakautang na ang mga ito ng pagkain na babawiin sa gubat at ang iiwan para sa pamilya, bago pa sila umakyat sa bundok. Mura na nga ang bayad sa bawat board feet kapag “illegal loggers” ang nagbenta, lalo pang nababarat kapag naiutang na nila ang ibubuwal pa lamang na kahoy.

Sila ang kumukuha ng yaman ng gubat. Nasa ibaba ng tatsulok ang mga ilegal, at nasa itaas ang mga korporadong pagtotroso. Marami nang nagpahinto sa pagtotroso, isa na ang simbahan ng Isabela; ang pinakamatagal at pursigido ay ang rebolusyonaryong kilusan. Pinahihinto nitong huli ang mga korporado at di-korporadong pagtotroso sa mga lugar na may kakayahan itong pahintuin. Sa mga taumbaryo, matagal na itong nagbibigay ng mga pag-aaral sa ugat ng kahirapan at sa pangangalaga ng kalikasan kasabay ng pagpapatupad ng rebolusyong agraryo – ang pagpapababa ng upa sa lupa, kalabaw, makina, at interes sa usura, at pagpapataas ng presyo ng palay at mais. Para maengganyo ang mga maralitang taumbaryo na magbungkal ng lupa.

Samantala, kontrapelo ang AFP; masipag silang magbuwag ng mga tunay na organisasyon ng magsasaka. Sa ganitong kalagayan, disbentahe ang paisa-isang magsasaka sa paglaban sa kahirapan.

Ang malaganap at malalang kahirapan sa kanayunan ang nagtutulak sa maraming tao na humanap ng ikabubuhay sa gubat gayong napakamapanganib at mabigat ang gawaing magbagsak ng troso, magkarga sa balikat o ulo ng mga tabla, maglangoy nito sa mga diyablong ilog, maabutan ng bagyo at maubusan ng pagkain sa gubat. Doble pang mapanganib kapag “nabangga” sila ng mga Cafgu na nagsasagawa rin ng illegal logging. Pero kahit anong hirap at pagbabawal, patuloy pa rin silang magtotroso dahil wala silang ipapakain sa mga anak at sa sarili.

Bakit ba isinumpa sa kahirapan ang kanayunan? Unang dahilan ang kawalan ng sariling lupa, ang malawakang pang-aagaw ng lupa ng magsasaka, at mataas na upa sa lupa. Detalyehin natin ito.

Sa silangan ng Cagayan Valley, kung saan naroon ang Sierra Madre, napagdadamutan ng gobyerno ang maraming magsasaka roon sa di pagkilala sa kanilang karapatan sa lupang magmula pa dekada ’50 nabubungkal. Nang-aagaw ng lupa ang mga mapanlinlang na proyektong Integrated Social Forestry (ISF) at Community Based Forest Management (CBFM). Ayon sa mga ito’y walang karapatan ang mga magsasaka sa lupang pinagyaman nila at maaari silang mapaalis doon ng gobyerno anumang oras.

Nang-aagaw rin ng lupa ang kontra-magsasakang Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (Carp). Malawak na lupain sa saklaw nito ang napo-foreclose, nakakansela ang mga Emancipation Patent (EP) at Certificate of Land Transfer Award (Cloa) tulad sa 31,000 ektarya ng Hacienda San Antonio – Sta. Isabel, at 3,000 parsela sa Hacienda Dimzon at Hac. Zulueta. At marami pang ibang katulad na hindi kinaya ng magsasaka ang regular na amortisasyon sa Carp. Makakain nga lamang ng magsasaka ay problema na, amortisasyon pa kaya?

Sa kaso ng Hac. Dimzon, nakatakdang mapalayas ang mga magsasaka nitong Nobyembre 23, 2008 gayong 1913 pa nagbabayad ng upa sa panginoong maylupa ang pamilya’t ninuno nila bago ipinaloob sa Carp. Balak kasing gawing plantasyon para sa biofuel (ethanol) at tabako ang lupa. Sa Hacienda San Antonio – Sta. Isabel, matapos magtanim para sa kastila (Compania Tabacalera) ng 100 taon, ipinailalaim sa CARP ang lupa at saka pa mapapatalsik ang mga magsasaka para maging lugar ng agribisnes ni Danding Cojuangco.

Marami pang lupang naka-Carp, matagal nang nahuhulugan ng amortisasyon ang nagagawang maibalik sa panginoong maylupa sa pamamagitan ng butas sa land conversion, sa pakikipagkutsabahan ng Municipal Agrarian Officer (Maro).

Naaagaw na ang lupa ng mga magsasaka sa Carp, pati pa ang mga naunang naihulog na pera sa amortisasyon lumipad na sa hangin.

Isa pang nakakaagaw ng lupa ng mga magsasaka ang pagmimina. Sa kabuuang 2,683,758 ek. sa Cagayan Valley, umaabot ng 785,708.1 ek. ang aprobado na at nasa proseso na ang Financial and Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA), Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA), at Exploration Permits (EP).

Maliliit pero maraming parsela ng lupa ang nakakamkam ng mga komersiyante-usurero sa mabigat na patakaran ng sangla (salda-patay ang isang tipo) at pag-singil sa utang ng magsasaka. Mabilis na nagiging panginoong may-lupa ang mga komersiyante-usurero habang nagiging kasamà ang magsasaka.

Marami ring kaso ng pang-aagaw ng lupa ang mga indibidwal na panginoong maylupa, mayamang magsasaka, mga maton sa baryo, mga dating militar at sindikato sa loob ng DAR.

Kung naagaw at nawalan ng lupang bubungkalin ang dumaraming magsasaka, mataas na upa sa lupa naman ang problema ng may bubungkalin pa. Kasunduang 70-30 at 50-50 (0 30% at 50% ang makukuha ng may-ari ng lupa) ang umiiral na upa sa lugar na hindi pa inaabot ng rebolusyong agraryo. Sa kaso ng 70-30, binabalikat ng magsasaka ang lahat ng gastos at lahat ng pagod; ikatlo kaagad ang bawas sa inani bilang upa sa lupa.

Ikalawang dahilan ng malala at malawakang kahirapan ang maling patakaran ng sunud-sunod na rehimen – ang export-oriented, import-dependent na patakaran sa eko. Sa patakarang ito, ang nais bilhin ng mga imperyalistang bansa ang pinoprodyus natin habang binibili natin sa ibang bansa ang mga kailangan rito. Ito ang paliwanag kung bakit hindi pinapaunlad ang agrikultura.

Ayon sa goberno – mas mura ang mag-angkat ng bigas kaysa paunlarin ang agrikultura ng bansa. Globalisasyong neoliberal ang patakaran para sa layunin ng imperyalistang intrusyon at pangingibabaw sa agrikultura sa Pilipinas. Iyan ang dahilan kung bakit pinilit mapalitan ang dating mabubuting binhi (wagwag, atbp.) na puwedeng ulit-uliting itanim, para palitan ng binhi ng Syngenta at Monsanto na uulit-uliting bilhin. Iyan ang nasa likod kung bakit ang mahal ng bigas ng Vietnam at Thailand ang inaaangkat ng NFA gayung bunabarat ang binibiling isang porsiyento ng palay sa Pilipinas. Iyan ang dahilan kung bakit pinabayaan ang irigasyon at korupsiyon ng NIA, ang patuloy na pagmaha na mga binhi, abono, pestisidyo, mulosidyo, traktora, atbp. Pawang naglulubog sa kumunoy ng utang sa nga magsasaka. P35,000 – P40,000 na ngayon ang gastos sa produksiyon sa isang ektarya.

Deka-dekadang tinitiis ng magsasaka ang 300% na interes sa pautang ng mga usurero, gayong palaging bagsak ang presyo ng palay at mais. Tatamaan pa ng bagyo ang pananim sa inutang mula pag-aararo. Wala namang maisuporta ang gobyerno maliban sa ilang pirasong noodles at isa hanggang dalawang kilo ng bigas. Uulitin muli nilang umutang at magtanim hanggang wala nang gustong magpautang.

Ngayon, maraming magsasaka ang nakasuhan ng estafa, at hindi mabilang ang naging manggagawang bukid ang nawalan ng mapagtatrabahuan sa paglaganap ng gamit ng mga makinarya (handtraktor, traktor, baby thresher) kahit sa mga gitnang magsasaka. Nataboy sila sa bundok at naghangad na kumuha ng kapurit na parte sa yamang gubat na dati’y mga korporadong nagtotroso lamang ang nagmomonopolyo.

Hindi mapahinto maging ng AFP ang maramihang pagpasok sa gubat, nagtayo na lamang sila ng mga network ng mga Civilian Informer (CI) sa mga “ilegal” na nagtotroso. Grupu-grupo maging ang mga Cafgu sa pagtotroso. Lahat ito, nagkokotong sa militar.

Mawawala ang ilegal na pagtotroso kapag nalutas ang kahirapan sa kanayunan. Ibig sabihin, malaganap na maipatupad ang agraryong rebolusyong at maitayo ang ekonomya ng bansa na nagsasarilim malaya sa imperyalistang pagsasamantala, laan sa pangangailangan ng at nagsisilbi sa mga mamamayan. Makasusulong ang pagpapanumbalik at pangangalaga sa kalikasan, masasawata ang korporadong pagtotroso kapag napunas ang burukrata-kapitalista – ang bulok na pulitiko pati bulok na pagpapatakbo ng mga ahensiya ng gobyerno, tulad ng DENR, DAR, DA atbp; at mapalitan ng mga taong tunay na tagapaglingkod ng mga mamamayan.

Saka lamang maiiwasan ang dumadaluyong na baha at mahahabang tikag.

(Noong Nobyembre 28, ginunita ng mga tagasuporta at kaanak ni Elizabeth Principe ang unang taon ng pagkakapiit niya. – Ed.)

Kulturang Popular: Blast from the Past na Palabas ng Politika

December 4, 2008

At ito ang aking blast from the past na umantig hindi pa sa aking politika, kundi sa politika ng pagtatanghal ng politika. Ang pananatili ng sistematikong kondisyon ng estado ay nangangahulugan ng pananatili at reimbensyon ng politikal, hindi lamang simpleng pagtatanghal nito, o lalo nang pagbabatikos nito ng walang rekurso sa labas ng indibidualistikong introspeksyon. Ang sining ay nananatiling para sa pagpapakilos ng mamamayan para sa kolektibong kabutihan.

Kulturang Popular Kultura

Noong nakaraang linggo, nanood ako na dalawang palabas. Hinigop ako sa isang dating politika na matagal ko nang pinagdaanan. Kaya nang muli itong humarap sa akin, tila ito magnanakaw na mas ikinagulat ko pa ang panghihimasok kaysa sa pakiwaring may natangay sa akin. Luma na itong politika, at muling nailalapag sa iba’t ibang motibasyon sa kasalukuyan.

Kapag sinabi kasing “blast from the past,” tunay namang bomba nukleyar ang balik ng isang karanasan sa nakaraan. At ang pagbabalik ay naghuhudyat ng kapasidad nitong manglusaw sa kasalukuyan. Bagamat hindi ko matitiyak ang intensyon ng mga palabas o ng kanilang mga awtor, ang pagtatangkang muling buhayin ang nakaraan para sa interogasyon di lamang nito kundi lalo na ng kasalukuyan ang nais kong tukuyin rito. Kung ano ang kinalabasang manipulasyon ng panahon, para kaninong interes, at ang resultant na politikal na proyekto.

Una ay ang panonood ko ng dulang “Gerilya ng Powell” na hinalaw ni Rody Vera, batay sa unang nobela ni Benjamin “Boying” Pimentel. Ang nobela at dula ay ukol sa mga nagtatandaang Filipino, na sa nag-aantay sa ekonomikong kapantayan sa mga sundalong Amerikanong nanilbihan rin sa World War II, at mula sa San Francisco (California, di Del Monte), isa-isa nang nangangamatay sa pag-aantay sa wala. Para itong dulang “Waiting for Godot,” na ang mga tauhan ay nag-aantay, nakikipagkwentuhan tungkol sa pagdating ni Godot, pero sa huli ay hindi naman dumating ang inaantay.

Ang kaganapan ay isang imahen lamang. Paano mag-antay sa anino ng magpapantay na kagalingan? Paano mag-antay sa tiyak na darating, ang imperatibo ng kamatayan? Ang proyekto ng naratibo (ng dula at nobela) ay pag-ugnayin ang mga imahen—mga anino, multo, kaluluwa, pagkatao, at iba pa. At ang labi ng pag-uugnay na ito ay panghihinayang, hindi pa sa akto ng pag-aantay, kundi sa politika kung bakit sila nag-aantay.

May tatlong panahon na pinag-uugnay ay ang mga sumusunod: una, ang panahon ng giyera laban sa mga Hapon, at ang pagpanig ng mga Filipinong sundalo hindi pa sa Hukbalap na mananatiling buhay matapos ng giyera, kundi sa giyera ng Amerikano; ikalawa, ang panahon ng batas militar hanggang sa biyakan ng Kaliwang kilusan, at ang pagpanig hindi pa sa tagumpay ng anti-diktador na pakikibaka kundi sa indictment ng pagiging loser ng lihim na kilusan, ayon sa naratibo, na pumapatay ng kauri nito; at ang kasalukuyang panahon na ang pag-aantay ay reunion of sorts ng mga multong pagkatao (dating gerilya na ngayon ay tambay sa Powell Street, at ang biktima ng purging).

Ang tatlong panahon na ito ay nagtatago sa isang transnasyonal na lokasyon, ang Powell Street na publikong tambayan ng mga “manong,” na dating pantukoy sa mga lalaking unang nangibang-bayan sa Amerika bilang manggagawa sa canneries at agricultural belt, at sa sumunod sa mga nakapag-immigrate sa US bilang pabuya sa kanilang paglahok sa giyera ng US noong World War II. At malapit sa Powell Street, ang mumurahing kwarto at apartment na tinutuluyan ng mga manong.

Ang Powell Street ang naging sentral na lunan ng pagtatagpo ng mga manong. Ito ay may pisikal na sityo, doon sila nagkukwentuhan, nagtse-chess at nagkakantyawan. Ito ang natural na lagusan ng mga pribadong pagkatao ng mga manong, kahit pa sa dula, may aksyon ding nagaganap sa apartment at tirahan. Ang Powell Street ay metapisikal na lunan din. Ito ang kumpulan ng mga nagtatagpo at dumarating na kaluluwa ng mga manong, maging ang interaksyon ng biktima ng purge sa mga manong.

Dispalsipikado ang interaksyong ito, inilalagay sa lunan ng metapisikal na spero kaysa sa materyal na kalagayan. At kung metapisikal na spero, maari lamang magtanong dahil wala namang masinop na tugon sa existential na isyu. Kung gayon, ang politika ay na-reduce sa kapantayan ng karapatan ng mga Filipino at Amerikanong beterano, na dinaot din sa naratibo: hindi ito darating, at kung dumating man, mabibilang na lamang ang makikinabang dito.

At kung magpakaganito, nauwi sa humanistikong appeal ang naratibo. Puro tanong at naturalistang pagtalakay sa mga buhay ng mga multo kahit pa nga absurdo ang paraan ng pag-unlad ng naratibo. Na ang mismong manunulat ay nanggagaling sa San Francisco, at may reputasyong unang Filipinong journalist na kinuha ng San Francisco Chronicler, chronicler ng dating buhay ng martir ng kilusang si Edgar “Edjop” Jopson, at muling nag-reissue nito na may hypothetical na kondisyon na kung nabuhay kaya si Edjop sa panahon ng disoryentasyon, ano ang kanyang gagawin, tunay na ipinipinta ni Pimentel ang kanyang sarili ng kanto ng kwarto.

Existential ang pagposisyon ni Pimentel kung wala siyang ugnay sa anumang faksyon ng kilusang kanyang tinatalakay, ang material na batayan na nagbigay sa kanya ng kultural na kapital. Pero sa nananatiling tunay na kilusan, ang nananatiling pinakamalawak pa rin na hanay ng Kaliwa at organisadong mamamayan, malisyoso ang mga tanong ni Pimentel. Walang paglulugar ang malikhaing tugon niya sa kanyang proyektong paglusaw sa pananatili ng pambansang demokratikong kilusan.

Kulang ang personal na introspeksyon sa kanyang inilunsad sa mga proyekto—sa personal na antas, sa indibidual na introspeksyong mamumukadkad ang panlipunan at historikal na tugon sa sistematikong paghihirap, pangungurakot at pagmimintina ng naghaharing uri. Alam nating hindi kaya ng introspeksyon at indibidualismo bilang tugon sa pang-uring tunggalian ng estado at mamamayan.

Ang ikalawang napanood ko ay hindi mas hayag ang politikal na proyekto. Ito ang concert reunion ng korong grupong Patatag. Ang okasyon ay para makalikom ng karagdagang pondo para sa pagpapagamot ng dating kasamahang may kanser. Dalawampu’t apat na taon matapos silang unang itatag, matapos ng mahaba-haba ring panahong hindi sila aktibo, naganap ang konsierto sa Bistro 70s.

Na hindi rin naman tulad ng mega-hype sa reunion concert ng Eraserheads, walang malawakang hype at transgenerational na fans na dumalo sa okasyon ng Patatag. Mga loyalist fans ito, kasama ng iba pang aktibo sa kilusan na napukaw ang kanilang musical fare ng cassette tapes at awit na pinopopularisa ng Patatag. Maliban sa ilang factual na intro sa mga awit—kung sino ang nag-compose, nagsalin, kailan inawit at sumikat ang awit—marami sa spiels ay hiwalay na sa nakaraan, at nakatuon na sa kasalukuyang estado ng mga miyembro.

Parating banggit ng mga nagpapakilala “marami na kaming tinahak na iba’t ibang landas” bilang paukol sa kanilang naging buhay matapos ang Patatag. Halos mahulog lang ako sa aking upuan nang ipakilala ang kantang “Santa Filomena” na ukol sa hamletting, mula sa punto-de-bista ng ibong langaylangayan, sinabi ng tagapagpakilala na parang tema ito ng buhay nila dahil marami na rin daw nangibang-bayan at nagkahiwalay ng landas sa grupo. Samakatuwid, ang mga awit ay nakabatay na sa personal na ugnay, hindi na sa politikal na larangan.

Tatlong CD ang kabahagi ng bayad sa tiket. Ito ang mga digital remastered na audio ng cassette tapes ng Patatag. Mapapansin ang purposiveness ng unang dalawa—awiting pesante at agraryo ang una, ang ikalawa ay ukol sa base militar ng US sa bansa. Ang pangatlo ay spiritual, at ito ang pinakaspektakular ang vocal harmony ng grupo. Ang Patatag ay kilala sa kanilang pag-render ng mga progresibong awit sa areglong masusundan ng mga kasapi ng kilusan. Ang ikatlong CD ay nagtri-triple somersault in the air, at matapos ng release nito, naging inaktibo na ang grupo.

Nostalgic ang mga tao sa muling pagtitipon at konsierto ng grupo, na antithetical sa dating diwa ng Patatag—ang libreng pagtatanghal sa lansangan, piket at mass actions. Maging ang ilang hindi naman lumaki sa panahon ng Patatag, sa musika lamang sa disembodiment ng grupo, ay nakatunghay sa kanya sa isang pantapat na benyu. At maging ang hindi na aktibista ay naki-sing-along pa rin sa pagbabalik-tanaw sa tila isang golden age.

Pero walang golden age na nangyari. Walang aaming maganda ang musika habang minamasaker ang mamamayan ng diktdura at ng rehimen ni Cory Aquino. Ang idealisasyon ng nakaraan ang tanging nangyari sa Patatag at sa Powell Street. Ang musika ng Patatag ay nagpapatuloy, dahil hindi na ito sa Patatag lamang. Ito ay inako na ng kilusan, at maging ang “underground” RJ station. Ang una ay nagpapatuloy ng kanyang politikal na proyekto, ang ikalawa ay ang nostalgia trip nito sa naging kabahagi ng henerasyon ng Patatag.

At ito ang aking blast from the past na umantig hindi pa sa aking politika, kundi sa politika ng pagtatanghal ng politika. Ang pananatili ng sistematikong kondisyon ng estado ay nangangahulugan ng pananatili at reimbensyon ng politikal, hindi lamang simpleng pagtatanghal nito, o lalo nang pagbabatikos nito ng walang rekurso sa labas ng indibidualistikong introspeksyon. Ang sining ay nananatiling para sa pagpapakilos ng mamamayan para sa kolektibong kabutihan.(

Advocate’s Overview: Philippines is fast turning into a police state

November 18, 2008


PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa claimed when he was appointed into that position to make a difference. His leadership will respect human rights, usually alleged to be violated by members of the PNP institution.

Lately, however, his promise evaporated like a bubble. He issued a directive to ban the public, including the media, from access to the police blotters.

The reactions of the public, including the media, were condemnation for Verzosa’s directive which is understandable.

Verzosa’s directive is an act which reveals his true character – a dictatorial tendency. Or to say it more precise, it is a part of a creeping authoritarianism.

It must be remembered that all the acts of Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo which transgress basic rights were thrashed by the Supreme Court. Remember the SC’s decision that Proclamation 1017 which put the country into an emergency is unconstitutional as it transgresses basic rights and no law to limit her power; remember their decision which declared the Calibrated Preemptive Response that prohibits peaceful assembly and freedoms of expressions and speech as unconstitutional.

Verzosa’s directive, like the above cases, contravenes the basic rights in our constitution. The Bill of Rights provides that the people have the right to information on matters of public concern. They are granted the access to these public records or documents, which include police blotter. It is because of this right to information and access to public records or documents that media exercise their role to bring it to the public. And it must be pointed out that this is mandated by the 1987 Constitution’s Bill of Rights which is generally self-executory. Clearly, therefore, Verzoza’s directive has no leg to stand on but only shows a dictatorial tendency.

Of course, we have that rule that documents or records classified as confidential in relation with national security can be denied access to the public. But is reporting a crime or felony, or accident, contained in the blotter of the PNP an issue tainted with national security? Ow come on Gen.Verzoza! How could you now be different from the past PNP heads?

The Commission on Human Rights has been very strong at reiterating the respect for rights. CHR Chair De Lima strongly holds her constitutional mandate in pushing for the realization of these constitutionally enshrined rights. I personally admire her for her positions on, including that on Verzosa’s directive, and where she said that full access to, and enjoyment of, the right to information must be respected at all times.

I join my colleagues in the media this early to raise that Verzosa’s directive is a violation of the people’s right to information on matters of public concern. And I also join them in urging Gen. Verzosa to immediately withdraw his directive for the abovementioned reasons.#

Economics and Society 101: Significance of the Obama win

November 18, 2008


The American people rejoice in the victory of Barack Obama, its new president-elect. This column joins the American people in the celebration of that victory even as it is skeptical whether Obama’s win will really bring about long-lasting positive regime change in the world’s most powerful nation.

True, the victory of Barack Obama has genuine significance.

Firstly, Obama is the first black American to win the U.S. presidency. This is a 180-degrees-about-face of America. Blacks were the Whiteman’s slaves. The whites discriminated against the indigenous peoples of America: the American Indians. In fact, the whites decimated the Indians, populated America, procured slaves, and secured immigrants as immigrants are discriminated against.

Thus, the victory of Obama implies this important lesson: minorities need not always be minorities. The discriminated need not always be discriminated and racial discrimination can end. Similarly, indigenous peoples who have less voice in society can become the majority. They need not be discriminated forever.

Secondly, Obama is also the first American with a Muslim background to win the U.S. presidency. If discrimination based on races can end, so can the discrimination based on religion can end. If the social divide based on races can come nearer to an end, this also implies that the social divide produced by faith can also come nearer to its end.

Thus, the victory of Obama has important significance not only for the people of the United States but also for the people of the world. His win implies oppression and discrimination are not eternal. Through struggle, both discrimination and oppression can end.

Needless, to say the Obama win is a product of struggle of peoples all over the world. People who stood up against slavery, people who fought against discrimination and racism, and people who stood for equality regardless of faith, race, and creed.

This is not to say, however, that the victory of the American people has been completed.

There are signs that the discrimination against Muslims will continue inspite of the Obama win.

One of those signs is that Obama has declared the war in Iraq will have a responsible ending. This is like “responsible mining,” something akin to a “responsible rape.” Degradation of the environment continues with “responsible mining” and so a “responsible” ending to war can mean that the war on Iraq can continue under a different name. For instance, in Vietnam, the war against the Vietnamese people continued once under the name of “civic action.”

Another sign is that Obama has declared that he will move to increase the size of the U.S. armed forces under his term by around 65,000 more troops. A responsible “ending” to war accompanied by an increase of troops? Baloney.

Further, on Iran, Obama says the use of force has not been ruled out. This is similar to the imposition of bullies: be good to me so that I will be good to you.

In short, although the victory of Obama is not only a victory of the American people but also of all peoples of the world, the fight for a better world has not yet ended with the electoral victory of Obama.

Obama’s victory can also mean that U.S. annexations and dominance of the world will assume a new face. One side can be benign but the other side can be as violent as before. Nevertheless, the Peace Combatant expresses his greetings to the victory of the American people and of people of the world.

(The author maintains a website at and can be contacted through artboquiren2040@ and 0927-536-8431)

Streetlights: When war is defeaning, the earth whispers

November 18, 2008


I was lucky to be invited to a film showing entitled Hunghong sa Yuta (Earth’s Whisper) by Arnel Mardoquio, a two-time Palanca awardee. A good friend, Sr. Lulu Dulay ICM, the Directress of St. Louis Center organized the film showing. She was so eager to invite various groups to watch the movie with her. True enough, it was a powerful and thought-evoking film which dissected the Mindanao conflict in a very courageous way.

The film is narrated and seen through the eyes of a deaf mute Moro boy named Makdung. At the beginning he is seen holding a torch in front of a river, wishing that someday peace would finally reach his land. He comes from a farflung community called Hinyok, a place where children are all deaf and mute. They survived earlier attacks to their lives but not without a war-related trauma and a man-made disability. Only their mothers are left with them in the village to go through the daily demands of survival.

One day, a teacher-to-the-barrio reached Hinyok, to the mixed surprise and doubt of the villagers. His endearing and innovative means to communicate with them, however, earns the respect and acceptance of Makdung’s family and especially the children who hungered to learn and rest from the destruction of war. Despite doubts and fear, Hinyok accepts the stranger who, they later addressed as “maestro.”

The maestro teaches the community (both young and old) the sign language, the ABC’s and basic math. The maestro convinces them to replace their guns with the kulintang and helps them heal their wounds with education and laughter. Most of all, the maestro teaches them how to love life again. It will later be revealed that this was the maestro’s way of coping with a deep personal loss in his life.

Some of Hinyok’s residents cast doubts on the maestro, even hinting that he might be an infiltrator who wants to know the activities in Hinyok. The maestro witnesses children training for war under the moonlight, under the supervision of two men who clandestinely slip into the village every now and then. One of them is Makdung’s loving father who visits his son at night; the other one is a brusque husband who always demands pleasure from his wife but is mean to his stepson.

The twist – the brusque husband who feeds intrigue among the villagers about the maestro being an infiltrator is actually the real stranger. Early on, he dramatized his entry into Hinyok by pretending to be injured from battle. He later got a wife in Hinyok and joined the remaining man in securing Hinyok. More than Hinyok’s security, both of them also waited for the MILF orders.

This pretender named Taok is actually a power-hungry soldier who wants prominence and promotions which he planned to do by destroying Hinyok. He is a military deep-penetration agent, taking commands from high-ranking military officials, government officials and the United States government who all want to exploit the resources of Hinyok and the whole of Mindanao while pretending to be one with the Moros, the Lumads and the Christians. Towards the end, he goes berserk – he goes on a killing spree. He kills the community leader, the maestro, the women and the only man. In cold blood, he holds the children hostage and commands his troops to await the liberation of child warriors. He is eventually killed by his wife.

After the destruction, Hinyok survives with the children and a woman. All of them travel on a bamboo raft towards a new destination, where Hinyok would live again, while crying for kalinaw (peace) in Mindanao.

It is hard to discuss the entire film. It is even harder to make emotions flow with the words. After the viewing, we all applauded in amazement and deep emotions. Reactions to Hunghong sa Yuta were shared by the audience during the open forum.

I do hope that the earth’s whisper will be heard by all those who are advocating and working for peace, those whose lives were torn by unjust wars, those who resist involvement in many social concerns and those who are overpowered by greed and power.

Soon, we will all hear the earth’s whisper through a calming sound of peace.

Congratulations to the men and women behind Hunghong sa Yuta. #

*pen name(NorDis)

Advocate’s Overview: Right to reply bill: an affront to press freedom

November 18, 2008


The Baguio-Benguet chapter of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines was busy these past two weeks. On Monday, October 20, the NUJP officers and council appeared before the sala of Executive Judge Edilberto Claravall, not for any cases but for us to take our oath to defend “press freedom without any reservations.” A brief meeting for plans was done afterwards.

On Wednesday, October 29, we had a media training on human rights and poverty reporting at the Inglay’s Restaurant in La Trinidad. The activity was to hone our skills in reporting human rights and poverty, two issues that are uninteresting to some of our fellow journalists. The training was fruitful and the challenge was left for the participants to come out with stories on the ugly and varied faces of poverty and human rights in the region. Stories may be sent to the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR).

On the other hand, as if secretly, the Philippine Senate came up with a legislation that greatly affects press freedom. If passed on third reading the right of reply bill, from the title alone, it seems that this bill is good in relation to the freedom of the press and of expression. But this is more a threat to the said basic rights instituted in the Bill of Rights of our fundamental law.

The Senate Bill No. 2150 is entitled an act granting the right to reply and providing penalties for violation thereof. In its Section 1, it states that all persons, whether natural or juridical, who are accused directly or indirectly of committing or of intending to commit any crime or offense defined by law or are criticized by innuendo, suggestion or rumor for any lapse in behavior in public or private life shall have the right to reply to any charges published or printed in newspapers, magazines, newsletters or publications circulated commercially or for free, or to criticisms aired or broadcast over radio, television, websites, or through any electronic device.

If approved into law, the bill, including its counterpart House Bill 1001, would systematically institutionalize the transgression of our fundamental freedoms of the press and of expression.

Freedoms of the press and of expression are among the rights contained in the Bill of Rights of our constitution. The Bill of Rights is generally self-executory, meaning the state does not need any legislation before these rights can be exercised. Their mere institution in the Bill of Rights makes them self-executory and the state must primarily protect it. Congress can however adopt a law for the penalization of the violations of these rights like what they (Congress) did when they passed a law that would penalize any person, particularly the police and military, who violate the rights of a person under custodial investigation, like the violation of his rights to counses and to remain silent which entails heavy penalty and fine by the said law.

However, in the case of the right to reply, it does, in itself, penalize the exercise of these freedoms of expression and of the press. It imposes on the editor-in-chief, publisher or station manager, or owner of the broadcast medium to provide the same space and air time for the reply on the charges published or aired. It sanctions a penalty up to P 50,000.00, and allows to file other appropriate case or cases against them. If this is approved into law, it can be questioned in court for it is patently unconstitutional. It transgresses the freedoms of the press and of expression. Like water cannot flow higher than the spring it comes from. In this case, the bill (a law, if passed) cannot alter the rights under the constitution, particularly the bill of rights.

An example, when a story is made on any person and it was published or printed, or aired (including in website), the person is granted the right to reply under SB No. 2150. If the bill is passed into law, it will make the following illegal: writing a story of an accused (but of course the story would not be jeopardized), or when you write an article based from the police blotter which is the journalist’ beat, or when you write an article based on an a person’s actual act of committing a crime but was the subject of a citizens’ arrest.

When a journalist criticizes a person by innuendo, made suggestion or rumor for any lapse in behavior in public or private life, then the latter is entitled to a right of reply under this bill. Under the present system, a columnist or host in a talk show can criticize any person (or make suggestion) as a part of the exercise of their press freedom. Under this bill however, it violates press freedom as it interferes with contents. It dictates what are not to be reported and what are to be reported. It therefore transgresses the journalists’ constitutionally-provided right to provide information of public interest.

The penalty is also harsh and inhuman. The head of a media institution who fails or refuses to broadcast or publish the reply would be penalized a maximum amount of P50,000.00. The reply, which is mandatory to be printed or aired, should also occupy the same space or air time of the media outlet. The penalty maybe considered cheap if we are to talk about big media networks. But Philippine reality shows that we have more of the smaller or struggling media institutions.

If the penalty would be imposed and the same space or air time should be followed, these small media institutions would close shop. Their closure would be denial of the publics’-interest for information brought by these grassroots media institutions. Remember that it is the small media institutions that have the courage to raise the people’s issues. Instead of using these spaces or air time to earn a bit to subsidize their (media) expenses, it is taken by law for free.

What is amusing with the bill is its sunset clause. If this bill will be passed into law, it will be effective for seven years. It would lapse though after that seven years. If it would be approved by this present congress, then journalists cannot criticize the personalities or report any issues against personalities who have plans in the 2010 and the elections within these seven years. They would be afraid on the spaces and air time that would taken for free. Or they (media) are afraid of the penalty of a maximum of P 50,000.00. The bill is a self-serving for these politicians. And I am wondering why Senator Nene Pimentel and Chiz Escudero from the opposition co-sponsored this bill which if approved is patently unconstitutional and anti-press freedom.

Every working journalist, organization and advocate must read and come up with critique on this bill. The Senate already passed it in its third reading and the House would surely come up with its approved version. Let us exercise our press freedom by campaigning for the non-approval of this bill. And let us urge these Senators should utilize the public funds where it is due. Not for this non-sense press legislation. #

Ecomics and Society 101: Great depression of the 1930s

November 18, 2008


The ongoing global crisis is popularly believed to have its origin in the ongoing United States crisis. At the same time, today’s US crisis is also believed to be worst than the great depression of the 1930s.

What does history tells us on the great depression? What happened during the great depression?

The fall in stock market prices from 3 September to 13 November 1929 is considered as the trigger of the great depression. During this period of 71 days, stock market prices went down by 47.9%. In other words, stock prices went down by around half of their values in about 2 months. This is equivalent to a drop in the value of everybody’s wealth by half during the period.

The fall in stock market prices in 1929 was followed up by a great fall of 86% from 17 April 1930 to 8 July 1932 (813 days). In short, after the fall in stock prices that reduced wealth by half in only 2 months in 1929, wealth was further reduced by 86%, making a rough total of 90% in wealth reduction.

For more accuracy, let us see real stock price charts.

Analyzing the Dow Jones Industrial Average Index (DJIA), for example, we see that the DJIA index went down from 381.17 in 1929 (before the fall) to 41.22 in 1932 or –89.19%. This is equivalent to a reduction of wealth of 89%. People that held a million dollars in 1929 before the great depression found they are holding only $110,000 in 1932.

Incredible? No. This is really possible in today’s crisis. In early October this 2008, for example, the news dailies reported that close to P554 billion of value were lost in the Philippine stock market in only six days. Think of this in terms of a reduction in demand. This is also equivalent to shrinkage in the market that eventually affects production.

The reduction in stock prices represents the perception of business on the economy. Inevitably, perception will have an effect on the real economy. In the first of the seven series of Economics and Society 101 on the current global crisis (Nordis, 19 October 2008), this column noted that in the 1930s, real US gross national product (GDP) at their 2000 value went from $865.2 billion in 1929 to $790.7 billion in 1930, to US$739.9 billion in 1931, to US$643.7 billion in 1932, and to US$635.5 billion in 1933.

The crisis was accompanied by dropping prices. In 1929, prices did not increase in the US but went down by 2.5% in the 1930. Prices went down by 8.8% in 1931 and 10.3% in 1932. Inflation was negative 5.1% in 1933 and it was only in 1934 that prices went up by 3.3%. In summary, therefore, the decline in US output was accompanied by deflation. In contrast, the market price of gold was stable during the crisis years.

Did quality of life improved with lower prices? No. This is why the great depression of the 1930s was called a crisis. Real gross domestic product per capita in year 2000 values went down from US$7,099 in 1929 to US$6,418 in 1930. In 1931, GDP per capita in the US went down further to US$5,960 and down further to US$5,152 in 1932. In 1933, real GDP per capita went down to US$5,056.

Similarly, in the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, inflation was –0.92% in 1929, -3.83% in 1930, -6.94% in 1931, -2.14 in 1932, and –2.19 in 1933. In contrast, UK real output in 2000 values went down from 207,431 billion British pounds in 1929 to only 205,780 billion in 1930, £196,234 billion in 1931, and £196,234 billion in 1932.

As a result of the great depression of the 1930s, Philippine total exports went down from P623.2 million in 1929 to P512.5 million in 1930, to P406.3 million in 1931, and P349.5 million in 1932.

Onofre D. Corpuz in “An Economic History of the Philippines” says that the crisis hit foreign trade first then agriculture, business, and government finance. The birth of the old Communist Party of the Philippines in the 1930s is also being partially attributed to the increasing economic difficulties during the period in which the US economy was on a sickbed.

Thus, we have good evidence to claim that the US crisis even during the 1930s was a global crisis. It is even correct to say that every crisis of capitalism is a global crisis. As they say, when the US catches cold, countries like the Philippines catch flu.

When capitalism acquired colonies and semi-colonies, capitalist crises are inherently global because colonies and semi-colonies are not only sources of raw materials, markets, and cheap labor, but they are also locations for export of crises.

(The author maintains a blog at and can be contacted through and +63927-536-8431)

(Pasintabi) Nakawan ng pribadong pag-aari at gitnang uri

November 14, 2008

UMUWI ako ng hatinggabi kamakailan lang. Sa di ko maipaliwanag, hindi ko kaagad mabuksan ang maliit na gate. Wala ring ilaw sa bukanang pinto ng bahay. Nakarinig ako ng tunog ng chime kahit walang hangin. At ang galasgas ng tila hayop sa halaman, inakala kong pusang nakapasok sa loob ng bahay.

Tulad ng mga gabi, uminom ako ng dalawang kutsarang VCO (virgin coconut oil) at dalawang kapsula ng Vitamin C, at tumungo na ako sa kwarto sa itaas. Tulad ng mga gabi, mabilis kong sinara ang pinto, handa ng maghilamos at magpalit ng pantulog. Pero di tulad ng gabi, natagpuan ko ang ilang gamit sa loob ng kwarto na magulo ang ayos. Nawawala ang ilang laman ng container sa may TV, at paling ang mga painting sa ibabaw ng kinalalagyan.

Hindi ko na natiis, hiniyaw ko ang pangalan ng katiwala. Kundi man nakaligtaang magligpit, may hindi awtorisadong paghahalungkat sa kwarto. Imumustra ko na ang kaguluhan ng ilang gamit nang biglang may sumulpot sa ilalim ng kama. Napasukan kami sa loob ng bahay.

Napatakbo palabas ng kwarto ang kasambahay. Natagpuan ko ang sarili kong nakikipagtitigan sa taong nakahubad, nakatitig rin sa akin. Sa labas ng kwarto ay inutusan ko ang katiwala na kunin ang yantok sa kanyang kwarto, pati na rin kutsilyo. Sa pagkaripas ko sa hagdan, tumawag ako ng numero ng guardhouse. Madali kong pinakiusapan ang nakausap na tumungo kaagad sa bahay.

Ilang minuto pa ay nakapasok na ang gwardya. Sinabihan kong nasa tagiliran ng sahig ng kama ang magnanakaw. Bigla na lang nabuo sa isipan ko ang akmang identidad ng tao sa sahig. Ilang saglit pa ay binababa na nila ang lalake, nakasuot na ng tshirt at tila emo ang buhok. Sinabihan ako ng gwardya na antabayanan ko na lang ang sasakyan ng baranggay.

Umakyat kami ng katiwala, tinignan kung ano ang nangawala. Bukod sa mga ilang lalagyan na naglaho ang lamang abibot—rosaryong galing sa Vatican, medalyon, napigtas na beads, isang asul na antigong necklage mula sa Ifugao, at iba pang bracelets na bigay—wala akong natagpuang tunay na mahalagang nawala.

Sa baranggay ay kinuha ang mga pangalan namin, kasama ang guard na nakahuli. Sinabihan kaming dalawa na bumalik kinabukasan para sa inquest. At kinulong ang magnanakaw sa selda, sabay upak ng isang detenido.

Hindi ako nakatulog kaagad. Tinignan ko muna ang bawat sulok ng bahay na maaring pagtaguan pa ng tao: ilalim ng hagdan, ilalim ng kama, shower area ng banyo, sulok ng mga mwebles, at iba pa. Pasilip-silip akong muli sa ilalim ng kama, at sa bintana ng kwartong nakadungaw sa bubong ng kusina, ang pinagpasukan ng magnanakaw.

Kinaumagahan ay sinundo ko ang off-duty na guard at tumungo kami sa presinto. Pinatignan sa amin ang statement. Kinorek namin ang spelling ng aming pangalan. Dahil raw wala namang halaga ang nakuha, “attempted robbery” lang daw ang pwede. Sabi ko ay mayroon namang halaga, at pinasabi sa pulis ang mga item at kanilang halaga. Naging “robbery” ang kaso.

Parang kalahating oras kami ng guard na nag-aantay. Mabagal mag-computer ang pulis, mas mabagal ang dot-matrix na printer. Nang matapos ay tumungo kami sa selda. Pinosasan ang magnanakaw, kasama ng isa pang may kaso ng cellphone snatching. Magkakasama kami ng pulis, akusado, guard at ang nanakawan ng cellphone na nagsisiksikan sa kotse ko para tumungo sa City Hall.

Nakipagkwentuhan ako sa babaeng nanakawan ng cellphone ng alas-tres ng umagang iyon. Call center agent pala siya. Nanlaban siya kaya nahuli ang bumutas sa kanyang shorts para dakmain ang cellphone. Pero hindi na gumagana ang cellphone niya. Malaki ang kanyang paghihinayang dahil siya raw ang gumastos rito.

Dumating kami sa City Hall, umibis sila habang ako ay naghanap pa ng parking. Sa fourth floor ng Hall of Justice, natagpuan ko ang sarili na kasunod ng pulis. Nagpaxerox ito, bumili ng kendi at ako ang pinagbayad. Yung mga nakaposas—wala pa ring tsinelas man lang ang magnanakaw sa bahay—ay pinasunod sa inquest. Sa fiskal, isa-isang mabilis na dininig ang mga kaso.

Pag dating sa akin, tinanong kami ng magnanakaw kung magkakilala ba kami. Tinanong din kami kung magkarelasyon ba kami. Bakla ang lalaking natagpuan sa sahig sa kama sa kwarto ko. Nauna pa ang lalake na tumanggi sa sinabi ng fiskal. Tig-100,000 piso ang bail para sa robbery at cellphone snatching. Labinglimang araw pa ang unang hearing daw. Mabubulok ang mga inaresto sa isang kwartong kasing laki lang ng opisina ko, magkakasama ang mga 20 pang detenido.

Sa paghatid sa mga inaresto at pulis pabalik sa presinto, naalaala ko ang tanong ng fiskal sa inaakusahang nagnakaw ng cellphone, “Binugbog ka ba?” Bago makasagot ang nakaposas ay sinalo na kaagad ng pulis, “Nagkagulo lang po.” Maraming tuyong dugo ang nakaposas, “Sinaksak po ako niya,” sabay turo sa babae. Pero hindi na ito pinahalagahan.

Ibinaba ko ang babae sa kanto ng Congressional at Mindanao. Bumalik kami ang natira sa presinto. Mahaba ang gabi at umaga ng eksena ng nakawan. Pareho kami ng sentimiento ng call center agent. Paglabag ito sa aming pinaghirapang pag-aari. At habang pabalik ako sa akin talagang pupuntahan, naisip kong ang aming asersyon ng pagiging gitnang uri ang siyang yumuyurak sa mas mababa sa amin.

Na kahit walang kalatoy-latoy ang proseso, at ang infrastruktura ng katarungan, maging ang pulisya, sa amin pa rin pala ito nakakiling. At mas lalo akong nalungkot sa kinasadlakan ko, lampas pa sa eksena sa horror film nang matagpuan ko ang katawan ng lalakeng nakapasok sa loob ng kwarto ko.

Ang kwarto ko, ang buhay ko, ang predikamento ko, metapisikal ang pagkakulong sa gitnang uri. Ang mga inarestong tao, naging magnanakaw na, nakakulong na. Hindi pinagsalita, at kahit magsalita, ayaw rin namang pakinggan. Kasing lagkit ng putik sa kotseng nabasa ng mabilisang ulan at dumaan sa makikitid na kalsada ng kapuranggot na lugar sa syudad ang pakiramdam ko.

(Larga Vista) Pagdakip at pagpapahirap sa akin

November 13, 2008

Elizabeth Principe

HAYAAN muna ninyong pasalamatan ko ang Karapatan-Ilocos at Dinteg sa Baguio City sa suporta nila sa kaso kong rebelyon sa Condon City. Na-dismiss ang kaso ko doon noong ika-22 ng Oktubre 2008. Sa katunayan, nagulat akong nalaman na may kaso ako sa Condon City – Hindi pa nga ako nakatuntong ng Ilocos bago ang arraignment.

Nakagaan sa akin ang dismissal, nabawasan ang apat kong kaso. Natitira pa ang dalawang (2) kaso ng robbery with murder at isa pang rebellion. Binuntunan ako ng kriminal na mga kaso para hindi makapagpiyansa.

Nagsimula ang kalbaryo ko noong ika-28 ng Nobyembre, sa pagdukot sa akin ng Intelligence Security Group (ISG) sa ibaba ng Fern Laboratory sa Cubao, Quezon City. Katatapos ko lamang magpa-x-ray at magpa-ECG sa Fern Lab kung saan mura. Mga mula sa mababang uri at saray ang nakasabay ko sa check-up.

Mabuti nga na may kolum ako rito sa PW, para mailinaw na di sa Ali Mall ako dinukot. Galing sa AFP ang balitang nagmo-malling ako nang madukot. Paninira nila sa kilusan na ang mga kasapi nito ay sa mall o sa sabungan nadarakip gayung naghihirap ang mga mamamayang Pilipino.

Sumigaw muna ng “Pulis kami” saka pilit na isinakay ng dalawang matitipunong lalaki sa nakabara-sa-daan na van na may sakay pang mga lalaki. Piniringan, pinosasan ako kaagad; inagaw at kinalkal ang bag ko. Nang tinanong ko bakit ginawa nila iyon sa akin, tape sa bibig ko ang sagot nila. Hindi nila kilala si Miranda, manapa’y nilampaso si Miranda at ang kanyang mga karapatan.

Unang araw pa lamang, walong (8) beses akong ininteroga. Tuluy-tuloy ang piring, posas at pasak sa tainga nang 72 oras.

Sa interogasyon, napako kami sa pangalan pa lamang. Hindi ko inamin ang tunay kong pangalan sa dami ng nakasampang kasong kriminal at mabibigat sa nagngangalang Elizabeth Principe. Baka nga kapag nalaman nila na ako si EP ay tabunan nila ako ng isang trak ng basura o isimento nila sa dram saka ihulog sa dagat o ipasok sa loob ng patumpatong na goma saka sunugin. Di nga ba ang daming missing, pati ang mahal kong asawa, si Leo Velasco.

Modelo ko sa bahagi ng interogasyon ang isang kakilala ko na dalawang taong nakulong ngunit di inamin sa lahat ng interogasyon niya ang tunay niyang pangalan. Ayaw niyang ipaalam na ikalawang beses na niyang pagkadakip iyon. Tumimo sa akin nang husto ang tibay niyang pinanindigan ang pangalang Marcial, hindi ko na tuloy maalala ang tunay niyang pangalan.

Sa unang sandali pa lamang na naisakay ako sa van, alam ko nang nadukot ako at tinanggap ko ang kamatayan. Hindi ako natatakot mamatay, o tumagal at mabulok sa bilangguan, sinabi ko ito sa mga interogador. Sa dami ba naman ng na-missing at na-extra-judicial killing, hindi ko iniisip na maiiba ang aking istorya.

Ang mga tula ni Jose Ma. Sison sa loob ng bilangguan ang nagbigay ng lakas-loob sa akin. “Mas mahirap ang naging kalagayan niya pero nakaya niya, dapat ko ring kayanin ito,” kako. Dagdag pa ang kuwento ng may karanasan sa mga hulihan – na ang hindi natakot sa kamatayan at tortyur ang hindi bumigay sa interogasyon at hindi naipagkanulo ang mga mamamayan. Sa kabilang panig, kapag pinangangalagaan ang buhay, lalo itong nawawala pati ang dignidad.

Sa mga gabi, problema ko kung paano matulog sa kalagayang walang humpay ang tunog ng nakapasok sa aking tainga na MP3. Binabago ko ang posisyon ng pasak para mapahina ang tunog pero agad nalalaman ng aking dalawang 24-oras na guwardiya. Dito ko natantiyang may kamerang nakatutok sa akin. Iniangal ko sa guwardiya na tortyur ang walang tigil na tunog na nagpapasakit sa ulo ko. Mag-enjoy na lang kaya ako sa tunog, kako. Pumuwede rin ng ilang oras.

Minsan napagalit ko ang guwardiya nang binago ko ang puwesto ng earplug, lubha niyang hinigpitan ang piring ko. Maliban dito, hindi ako pisikal na sinaktan. Soft approach at pananakot ang ginamit sa akin ng militar.

Ikinakaila nila sa akin ang totoong oras. Ibinibigay ang gamot na panggabi kahit tanghali pa lamang. Sinabing tatlong araw na akong naroon gayung isang araw pa lamang. Buti na lamang may alaga silang tandang na manok, salamat sa tilaok nito. Nagbilang ako ng pagdaan ng mga eroplano sa bawat araw para maging alerto at aktibo ang isip ko.

Ika-1 ng Disyembre nang inakay ako ng mga guwardiya na maligo. Nagtaka ako dahil dati-rati’y ako ang nagsasabi kung anong oras ako maliligo. Pagkaligo, inalis ang tsinelas ko, ipinalit ang sandals ko. Isinakay ako sa kotseng mabango, may aircon at malambot ang upuan. Isip ko, kung ihuhukay o susunugin na ako, dapat karag-karag na lang na sasakyan at di na ako pinaligo. Wala pang limang minuto, huminto na kami at naghintay nang matagal. Tinantiya ko na ipiprisinta ako sa midya, narinig ko kasi sa radyo ng kotse ang pahayag ng opisyal-militar na nadakip na nila si EP. Pinag-isipan ko na kung ano ang isisigaw ko pagharap sa midya. Taranta naman ang dalawang babaing pulis kung paano nila tatakpan ang maraming pasa sa aking kamay at bibig.

Bakit ako inilitaw? Tantiya ko’y inilabas ako para ma-divert ang isyu at makaalpas ang AFP at PNP sa sangkaterba na puna ng mga mamamayan, lalo ng midya sa magaspang na pagresolba sa naganap sa Manila Peninsula noong Nobyembre 29. At kapwa siraan ang grupo ni Sen. Trillanes-Lim at ang CPP-NPA-NDF sa paratang na nagsabwatan ito sa naganap sa Manila Pen. Sinampal ako ng paratang na kasama raw ako sa nagplano. Ngi! Hindi ko nga alam na naganap iyon at hindi ko pa nakita sa buong buhay ko si Sen. Trillanes at mga kasamahan niya.

Matapos akong iprisinta sa midya, balik piring, posas at pasak sa tainga; at balik pinanggalingan. Waring gustong iparinig sa akin, may nagsabing “5th ID pala ang nakahuli.” Nais akong linlangin ng mga ito, sabi ko sa sarili. Ang isa nama’y ibinulong sa aking ang “Kung makatakas ka o makalaya, ako ang papatay sa iyo.” Sinagot ko siya kaagad ng “Bakit ka nananakot?” Itong panakot na ito ang isang batayan ng pagsasampa ng petisyon para sa writ of amparo, na dinismis naman ng Special 8th Division ng Court of Appeals (hep-hep, fast forward na ito).

Alas-dos ng hapon, inilipat ako sa CIDG. Doon ko nakita ang mahal kong mga anak, mga miyembro ng Karapatan, Desaparecidos, EMJP, mga galing ng Cagayan Valley, at mga biktima at kamag-anak ng mga biktima ng karahasang militar. Pinagpiyano ako, saka ibinalik ang handbag ko na kinumpiska ng mga dumukot sa akin. Nawalan ng P12,000 ang pera ko, nagdagdagan ng planted na Ang Bayan. Ipina-nota ko sa CIDG ang nawala at planted.

Ipina-medical ako – doon nanota ng doktor ang marami kong pasa sa dalawang kamay at bisig. Sa daan pa-medical, na-interbyu ako ng ABS-CBN pero hindi naman lumabas sa TV. Maraming pa noong kaso na nai-interbyu ako at mga anak ko noong may hearing sa Court of Appeals pero di lumalabas sa TV.

Sunod, inilagak na ako sa Custodial Center kung saan ako ikinulong. Kinuha lahat ng pulis doon ang mga gamot ko, baka ko raw inumin nang sabay-sabay. Hihingi raw ako sa kanila sa bawat pag-inom ko.

Isang linggo akong padlock, di puwedeng lumabas ng selda. Abogado lamang ang puwedeng bumisita, di puwede kahit kamag-anak. Kahit nga si Cong. Satur Ocampo ay di pinayagang makadalaw sa akin (Dami pa naman niyang dalang pagkain).

Binilinan ng mga opisyal ng Custodial na huwag makipag-usap sa akin ang ibang detainee, baka raw bigla ko lang karatehin sila at pilipilitin ang leeg. Isang buwan na wala akong kasama sa selda na ayon sa kuwento ay may multo; itinoka ako sa higaan ng taong nagpakamatay. Makaraan ang ilang panahon, tinanong ako ng ibang detainee kung bakit hindi ako natatakot sa mga multo at walang nagpakitang multo sa akin. Sagot ko’y “Mga kakosa ko kasi ang mga pinatay dito.”

Nagtataka ang mga naunang detainee bakit hindi ako umiyak noong mga unang araw ko at waring magaan pa ang dating ko sa kanila. Sabi ko’y “Ang isang paa ko’y nasa hukay nitong nakaraang ilang araw, pasalamat ako’t inalis doon at di naisama sa bilang ng mga nangawala at napatay.”

Nakatulong sa aking ang pag-iisip ng positibo para di lubhang ma-depress sa bagong mundo ko. Mula sa ekta-ektaryang luntian ang pinagpipiyestahan ng mga mata ko, naging 2-by-3 metro kuwadrado na lamang ang pinagtitiyagaan ng mata ko. Pero ang isip ko’y milya-milya, daan-daang milya, libu-libo, milyun-milyong milya sa ilang daang taon ang inilalarawan. Ang isip ko’t diwa ay di naikulong.

(Radical Pinoy) Pagdaig sa panghahati, pagtapos sa paghahari

November 13, 2008

Vencer Crisostomo

ANG MATAPANG na pahayag ng limang Katolikong obispo na nanawagan sa mga mamamayan na ”maghanda para sa isang bagong gobyerno,” gayundin ang muling pag-init ng kontrobersiya sa pagbabalik ni Joc-Joc Bolante, ay nagiging tuntungan ngayon ng malawak na kilusang anti-Arroyo upang muling magsama-sama at isikad ang kilusang masa para sa pagpapatalsik sa kinamumuhiang rehimen.

Batid ng marami na gagawin ni Arroyo ang lahat para manatili sa puwesto lagpas sa 2010 o kung hindi’y sisiguruhing ang hahalili sa kanya ay magtitiyak ng hindi niya pananagot sa mga kasalanan sa taumbayan. Inaasahan ang muling pag-init ng sitwasyong pampulitika sa mga susunod na buwan habang nakahanay na todong pakawalan ng rehimen ang mga pakanang pang-tiraniya: charter change, konsolidasyon ng kanyang partido at paninira sa oposisyon, kampanya ng pasistang paniniil sa mga progresibo at kilalang personaheng anti-Arroyo, hanggang sa lantarang pagpapataw ng emergency rule o batas militar.

Marapat lamang na tapatan ng higit na malakas at determinadong kilusan ng mga mamamayan ang mga maitim na balakin ng rehimen. Habang higit na nagiging desperado si Arroyo, higit namang umiinam ang sitwasyon para mapagkaisa at mapakilos ang mga mamamayan. Ngunit maraming dapat matutunan ang kilusang anti-Arroyo mula sa mga karanasan kung layon nitong dalhin sa isang bago at mas mataas na antas ang laban.

Matapos ang pagkilos sa Ayala noong Pebrero, hindi na muling nakapagtipon ng kasinglaking bilang sa lansangan — na umabot sa lagpas 80,000 — ang mga organisasyon at pwersang anti-Arroyo. Itinurong salarin ang pagpasok ng bakasyon ng mga estudyante na tintignang balon ng mga napapadalo sa mga pagkilos. Bagamat mahahalagang salik ito, may mga usaping dapat ding tignan hinggil sa naging mga kaganapan sa hanay ng prenteng anti-Arroyo.

Mabilis na nasamantala noon ng administrasyon ang mga sumingaw na negatibong reaksiyon ng ilang kampo hinggil sa pag-akyat ng mga pulitiko, partikular ni Estrada sa entablado ng rali. Bagamat maaaring sabihing may pinagmumulan ang kanilang pagkadismaya, at may mga dahilan kung bakit nila ito piniling ihayag sa publiko, binigyan ang kamaliang ito ng pagkakataon ang administrasyon na pulaan ang makasaysayang protesta bilang pamumulitika, ipakitang hati-hati ang kilusang anti-Arroyo, at maliitin ang tagumpay ng makaysayang pagtitipon.

Nasundan pa ito ng mga paninira at intrigang kumalat sa mga paaralan at mga organisasyon laban sa Kaliwa na pumigil sa higit sanang paglaki ng protesta sa mga sumunod na linggo. Mas malaki pa sana ang makakalahok sa pagkilos na pinangunahan ng mga grupo ng kabataan pagdating ng Marso kung hindi kumalat ang mga tsismis na pinasok ng mga terorista at pinangungunahan ng mga komunista ang mga pagkilos, at kung buong sumuporta ang iba’t iba pang mga grupo na sa panahong ito ay naging malamya ang pagtugon.

Hindi rin nakatulong na malabo ang naging mga posisyon at panawagang inilabas ng simbahan. Bagamat may ilang mga mas radikal na obispo at sa kalakhan anti-Arroyo ang mga pahayag nila, ang labnaw at kawalan ng kategorikal na mga pahayag ay nagamit ng administrasyon para hatiin ang mga Katoliko at lituhin ang publiko. Mararamdaman din ang paguurong-sulong at hindi buong pagkasa ng makinarya ng simbahan sa pagpapakilos.

Ang ilan pa sa mga mas konserbatibong seksiyon ng simbahan, bagamat pumoposturang anti-Arroyo at kumikilos sa balangkas ng ”katotohanan, katarungan at pagbabago,” ay nagdeklara ng pagtutol sa people power at panawagang talsik. Sa halip, nagpatihulog sila sa bitag ng rehimen na nagsasabing maghanda na lamang para sa 2010 kung kaya’t naunahan pa nila ang mga presidentiable sa pagtanaw sa eleksiyon at nailayo ang atensiyon ng marami sa kilusang masa.

Mahalaga ring banggitin na ang pagsusulong ng gobyerno ng Reproductive Health Bill na sumulpot matapos ang pagdedeklara ng ilang mga obispo laban sa Oil Deregulation Law noong nakaraang buwan, ay maaaring isang pakana para lituhin ang simbahan at ibaling ang atensiyon nito palayo sa kilusang masang anti-Arroyo. Kung gayun nga, ipinapakita ng pagpatol ng simbahan dito ang bulnerabilidad nito sa mga panghahati at panlilito.

Sa huli’t huli, kailangang maunawaan ng marami na ang magiging mapagpasya pa rin sa pagpapatalsik sa remihen ay ang pagpapalakas at pagpapalawak ng kilusang masa. Dapat palakasin ang kampanya at pagpapakilos lalo na ng mga pwersang progresibo sa mga komunidad, paaralan, pagawaan, at iba pa. Ang daang libong bilang na nagmamartsa sa kalsada ang makapangyarihang sandata na tatapos sa gobyernong ito. Kasabay nito kailangang puksain ang pesimismo ng ibang mga kampo at pag-asam sa mga milagro o di kaya’y sa aksiyong militar lamang.

Kailangang matuto ang mga organisasyon ng kabataan at mga mamamayan sa mga karanasan nito ng pagpapakilos nitong nakaraang taon at paghusayan ang mga porma ng aksiyon na magpapakilos sa mas maraming bilang ng mga mamamayan. Sa isang banda, ang pagtitiyak din nito ang magbibigay ng higit namang tatag at lakas ng loob sa iba’t ibang seksiyon ng malawak na prenteng anti-Arroyo at sasalag sa mga panghahati ng rehimen sa nagkakaisang pagkilos ng taumbayan.

Kailangan ding maunawaan ng mga nag-aambisyong kandidato para sa 2010 na higit sa paghahanda para sa pangangampanya, kailangan silang maging bahagi ng kilusang masa laban sa tiraniya. Sa hanay ng mga ito, bagamat alam nila na maraming ipapakana si Arroyo at maaaring pigilan o maniobrahin pa nito ang eleksiyon, namamayani ang pag-iisip na ”maghanda na rin sila kung sakali.” Pero natuto na ang publiko sa Edsa 2, at ayaw na ayaw na nila ng mga hitchhiker at mga mapagsamantala na aani lamang ng tagumpay na kilusang masa ang nagtanim.

(KONTEKSTO) Komplikasyon sa simpleng blotter

November 13, 2008

Danilo Araña Arao

NARINIG ko sa radyo kahapon (Nobyembre 6) ang balitang hindi na maaaring basahin ng midya’t publiko ang blotter sa anumang istasyon ng pulis kung walang pahintulot ng station commander o kautusan mula sa korte.

Ayon sa memorandum noong Oktubre 20 ni Philippine National Police (PNP) Director-General Jesus Versoza na may titulong “Decentralization of the Functions of the Public Information Office (PIO),” ang impormasyon hinggil sa isang kaso ay eksklusibong makukuha na lamang sa PIO o tagapagsalita ng isang istasyon. (Pero posible pa ring ang mismong hepe ng istasyon o ang kanyang kinatawan ang gagawa ng pagsasapubliko ng impormasyon.)

Sinabi ni PNP Spokesperson Nicanor Bartolome na kailangang gawin ng PNP ang pagbabawal sa pagbabasa ng blotter dahil gusto ng ilang biktima na huwag isapubliko ang kanilang mga reklamo. Layunin ding protektahan ang mga babae’t batang suspek sa isang kaso.

Sa unang tingin, walang masama sa alituntuning ito. Bukod sa pagbibigay ng karampatang proteksiyon sa mga sangkot sa isang kaso, madali naming maintindihan ang pangangailangang magkaroon ng organisadong paraan ng pagbibigay ng impormasyon. Kung may PIO o tagapagsalita sa isang istasyon, mas madali para sa midya’t publiko na kumuha ng kinakailangan nilang impormasyon.

Pero tila nakalimutan na ng pulisya ang dahilan ng pagkakaroon ng blotter sa isang istasyon: Ito ay para magkaroon ng rekord ng mga dumudulog sa istasyon at ang mahahalagang detalye hinggil sa reklamo nila. Kung masinop ang pagsusulat ng isang pulis dito, makikita sa blotter ang petsa’t oras ng pagdulog ng isang tao at kung ano ang ginawa ng pulis hinggil sa sumbong niya.

Kahit sino’y maaaring makabasa nito para malaman hindi lang ang mga reklamo kundi ang aksiyong ginawa ng mga pulis hinggil sa mga ito. Para sa mga peryodista, mahalaga ang blotter bilang pagkukunan ng ideya ng mga balitang ilalabas.

Maging malinaw po sana tayo sa terminong ginagamit. Ideya lamang po ang habol ng isang peryodista sa pagbabasa ng blotter, at hindi niya inaasahang lahat ng mga datos ay maaaring makuha mula rito.

Ang isang kaso ng pagnanakaw, halimbawa, ay maaari niyang mabasa roon, pero ang mga datos na malamang na makukuha lang niya ay ang petsa’t oras ng reklamo at ang pangalan at tirahan ng mga sangkot (i.e., mga nagreklamo at suspek).

Kung sa tingin niya’y kailangan niyang isulat ang balita, trabaho ng peryodistang kunin ang impormasyon hindi lang sa mga nag-iimbestiga ng kaso kundi sa lahat ng panig.

Bagama’t naiintindihan ang pahayag ng pulis na kailangang protektahan ang mga biktima sa mga sensitibong kaso ng panggagahasa, halimbawa, dapat ding maging malinaw na nasa etika sa pamamahayag ang tamang paraan ng pag-uulat sa mga kasong ito.

Kung sakaling may pang-aabuso sa bahagi ng midya sa pag-uulat, ang pulis o kahit na sino’y maaaring magreklamo sa mismong organisasyong pang-midya o anumang grupong kinabibilangan nito tulad ng Philippine Press Institute (PPI) at Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP). Ang anumang kamalian o pagkukulang ng ilang peryodista ay hindi nasosolusyunan ng pagkakait ng impormasyon sa lahat.

Nakakalungkot na sa bahagi ni Versoza, hindi niya lubusang naiintindihan ang kalakaran sa midya at ang pangangailangang maging bukas sa pagbibigay ng impormasyon. Hindi rin malinaw para sa kanya ang pagiging bukas sa publiko hinggil sa ginagawa ng mga pulis sa isang istasyon.

Ayaw kong isiping may gusto silang pagtakpan dahil sa sunud-sunod na balita hinggil sa pagnanakaw sa iba’t ibang establisimyento, gayundin ang kontrobersiyang kinakaharap ng ilang opisyal ng PNP dahil sa hindi maipaliwanag na milyun-milyong pisong dala nila sa isang komperensiya sa Rusya.

Pero isipin mong mabuti: Kung hindi nga naman mababasa ng mga peryodista ang blotter, baka maging mas kaunti na lang ang mga balita hinggil sa krimen at iba pang kaso dahil may mahahalagang pangyayaring hindi maiuulat. Sino ang makikinabang sa sitwasyong ang publiko ay hindi na makakabasa, makakapakinig o makakapanood ng mahahalagang kontrobersiya, lalo na’t sangkot ang mga nasa kapangyarihan?

Totoong simpleng blotter lang ang pinag-aawayan ngayon, pero may malaking implikasyon ito sa pagbabalita sa kalagayan ng kapayapaan sa ating lipunan.

Para makipag-ugnayan sa awtor, pumunta sa

Ang Pelikula bilang Pabaong Amerikano at Inobasyong Filipino

November 1, 2008

Ang kasaysayan ng pelikulang Filipino, dulot ng simulain at pabaong ng Amerikanong kolonialismo, ay kasaysayan ng politika at politikal na ideolohiya. Ang isa ring ginawa ng postwar na pamamayagpag at pagiging global na dominant ng Hollywood films ay dalawang bagay: una, panghinain ang lokal na industriya ng maraming bansa, kasama ang Pilipinas sa huling bahagi ng 1990s, at pag-takeover ng Hollywood hindi lang sa boxoffice kundi pati na rin ang mimicking ng lokal na pelikula sa narrative conventions ng Hollywood films; ikalawa, ang umiigting na softselling ng Hollywood sa ideolohiyang Amerikano na dati ay pumapabor sa Cold War na naging neoliberal rhetorics sa kasalukuyan, o ang pamamayagpag naman ng ideolohikal na cover ng Amerikanong pragmatikong ideolohiya sa kanyang global war on terror na nag-iwan sa bansang ito bilang natitirang global hegemon sa militar na usapin. Hindi kakatwa na matagal nang naging global hegemon ang pelikulang nito, ang Hollywood, bago pa man maabot ng US ang pagiging pinakamilitaristikong kapangyarihan sa mundo.

Ang huli kong nais tumbukin ay ang isa pang inobasyon ng lokal na industriya ng pelikula sa Hollywood—ang pagsasalin ng kolektibong ethos sa pribadong karakter at bida sa pelikula.


Malinaw ang simulain at intensyon ng pagdala ng kolonialismong Amerikano ng pelikula. Kahit pa nauna nang pumasok ang pelikula sa Pilipinas sa kasagsagan ng paghahanda para sa digmaan laban sa mga Kastila noong 1895, ang taon din ng pagpasok ng unang planta ng kuryente sa bansa, at ilan pang pag-aangkat ng teknikal na inobasyon sa pagtangkilik matapos nito, taong 1898 na halos magkasabay na bumaba si Adminal George Dewey matapos ng matagumpay na maigsing Battle of Manila Bay, at ang cameraman nito para mag-record ng pang-araw-araw na buhay sa bagong Amerikanong kolonya.

Kikilalanin ang mga pelikula bilang bahagi ng paperprint collection na matatagpuan pa rin sa Library of Cognress, at may mga titulo ito, tulad ng Rout of the Filipinos; Capture of the Trenches in Candaba; Aguinaldo’s Navy; Battle of Mr. Ariat (sic); An Historic Feat; Pack Train, General Bell’s Expedition; 25th Infantry; Bridge Traffic, Manila; The Escalta (sic), Manila; A Filipino Cock Fight; Unloading Lighters, Manila; Water Buffalo, Manila; Troops Ships for the Philippines; at Filipino Scouts, Musical Drill, at St. Louis Exposition.

Ang “Philippine insurgency” ay magka-capture sa imahinasyon ng Amerika na magbabago ang global na demand mula sa dokumentaryong uri ng pelikula tungo sa maiikling naratibo. Ang mga “actuality films” ay shinoot sa likod-bahay ng imbentor na si Thomas Edison sa New Jersey, at ang mga aktor na gumaganap na Filipino, tulad nang depiksyon sa Amerikanong negro, ay pinintahan ng itim sa mukha at katawan. Ni-restage ang digmaan sa studio, at may mga titulo itong tulad ng U.S. Troops and Red Cross in the Trenches Before Caloocan (June 5, 1899), Advance of Kansas Volunteers at Caloocan (June 5, 1899), at The American Soldier in Love and War (July 9, 1903).

Hindi ito ang unang pagkakataon na gagamitin ng US ang pelikula para sa hayagang ideolohikal na proyekto nito. Sa panahon ng Cold War, tatampok ang relasyon ng US sa Pilipinas bilang mahalagang lunsaran ng anti-komunismo. Ayon sa US National Archives and Records Administration, “mayroong nakalistang 48 produksyon ang US Information Agency at USAID para o tungkol sa Pilipinas.” Kasama rito ang tig-isang pelikulang gawa ni Manuel Conde, Give Us This Day, at Lamberto Avellana, Huk sa Bagong Pamumuhay, dalawa sa pinakamahalagang direktor sa kasaysayan ng pelikula sa bansa. May account din na si Conde ay gumawa pa ng isang pelikula, Krus sa Kawayan (1956) na mayroong tatlong bersyon sa wikang Tagalog, Vietnamese at ingles.

Aangakatin din ng Pilipinas ang ilang modelo ng Amerikanong filmmaking: ang studio system bilang business model sa efisyenteng paggawa ng pelikula (na sa bansa ay magkakaroon ng kakatwang gendered na perspektiba sa paghawak ng matriaka sa mga studio, mula kay Dona Sisang ng LVN hanggang kay Mother Lily ng Regal Films, at mga Tsino at lokal na negosyante may ugnay sa mga politiko at ibang industriya sa bansa); ang star system na lumilikha ng di lamang ng ikonikong status ng bida kundi pati na rin ang sentralidad ng bida sa proseso ng produksyon; at mula rito—at malamang, higit sa lahat—ang pag-aartista bilang lehitimong aspirasyon ng panlipunang mobilidad ng kabataan: lalo na sa kasalukuyan, na ang pag-aartista ay rurok ng magiging pag-unlad ng katawang kapital (body/corporeal capital); kaya rito, ang kakatwang formasyon ng kasalukuyang studio bilang kabahagi ng media conglomerates na nagtitiyak ng patuloy na sirkulasyon ng pelikula bilang sentral sa multi-media na produksyon (glossy magazines, recording studio, television companies, events management, cable television, at talent management), at kung gayon, ang pananatili ng kabataang katawan bilang sentral sa pribadong pangangapital.

Hindi naman reaktibo ang pambansang industriya at pamahalaan sa pagpasok ng pabaon ng Amerikanong kolonialismo. May continuity itong reappropriation ng pelikula ng lokal na makinarya ng pelikula. Namayagpag na sa apat na golden age ng cinema, o ang mayayabong na yugto ng masining at mapanuring pelikula sa kasaysayan nito sa bansa: una, sa prewar period na umabot na sa 50 pelikula ang nalilikha kada taon, at tanging apat na pelikula na lamang ang may nananatiling extant mula sa panahong ito; ikalawa, ang 1950s na unang nagpakilala sa lokal na industriya sa global na pamilihan, tulad ng Genghis Khan, Anak Dalita, at Badjao; ikatlo, ang panahon ng Marcos dictatorship, mula 1970s hanggang 1980s na bookended ng mga pelikula ni Lino Brocka na Maynila sa Kuko ng Liwanag (1975) at Orapronobis (1989); at ang kasalukuyang pamamayagpag ng tinatawag na Philippine independent cinema, na gawa sa mas demokratikong teknolohiya ng digicam, mas maliit na budget at lahok ang mga karakter aktor.

Si Ferdinand Marcos ang unang epektibong gagamit sa pelikula bilang politikal na instrumento. Integral ang pelikulang Iginuhit ng Tadhana (1965) sa kanyang pagkahalal at ang Pinagbuklod ng Langit (1969) para sa kanyang reeleksyon. Ang nauna sa kanya, si Diosdado Macapagal ay gumamit ng The Macapagal Story (1963) at Ang Daigdig ng mga Api (1965), ang bio at campaign movie na ipinantapat sa biofilm ni Marcos, at idinirek nina Lamberto Avellana, Eddie Romero at Gerardo de Leon, mga importanteng figura na magiging National Artists sa hinaharap. Si Gerry de Leon din ang nagdirek ng kasabayang pelikula ni Marcos. Ang sinimulang produksyon ng biofilm sa panahong ito ay mamamayagpag sa susunod na mga pambansang eleksyon sa post-Marcos era, na may resultang hindi katagumpayan. Bawat mahahalagang politikong nagnais mahalal bilang senador at pangulo ay nagkaroon ng biofilm, tulad nina Ruben Torres at Alredo Lim. Ang pinakamatagumpay na gagamit ng pelikula para sa politika ay ang mga ikonikong artistang hinubog ng sarili nilang studio, sina Joseph Estrada at Fernando Poe, Jr. na ang substansya ay ang kolektibong identifikasyon sa inaaping masa. Kakatwa na mula sa pelikulang bakbakan nanggagaling ang kasalukuyang mga senador, kasama ang second-generation na action stars, tulad nina Lito Lapid, Bong Revilla, Jr., at Jinggoy Estrada.

Ang kasaysayan ng pelikulang Filipino, dulot ng simulain at pabaong ng Amerikanong kolonialismo, ay kasaysayan ng politika at politikal na ideolohiya. Ang isa ring ginawa ng postwar na pamamayagpag at pagiging global na dominant ng Hollywood films ay dalawang bagay: una, panghinain ang lokal na industriya ng maraming bansa, kasama ang Pilipinas sa huling bahagi ng 1990s, at pag-takeover ng Hollywood hindi lang sa boxoffice kundi pati na rin ang mimicking ng lokal na pelikula sa narrative conventions ng Hollywood films; ikalawa, ang umiigting na softselling ng Hollywood sa ideolohiyang Amerikano na dati ay pumapabor sa Cold War na naging neoliberal rhetorics sa kasalukuyan, o ang pamamayagpag naman ng ideolohikal na cover ng Amerikanong pragmatikong ideolohiya sa kanyang global war on terror na nag-iwan sa bansang ito bilang natitirang global hegemon sa militar na usapin. Hindi kakatwa na matagal nang naging global hegemon ang pelikulang nito, ang Hollywood, bago pa man maabot ng US ang pagiging pinakamilitaristikong kapangyarihan sa mundo.

Ang huli kong nais tumbukin ay ang isa pang inobasyon ng lokal na industriya ng pelikula sa Hollywood—ang pagsasalin ng kolektibong ethos sa pribadong karakter at bida sa pelikula. Sa pamamagitan ng melodrama na matatagpuan sa lahat ng genre ng pelikula—mula social melodrama hanggang aksyon na ang bida ay lalake, sa bomba film hanggang sa horror film—ang anxiedad ng kolektibo ay natutunghayan, mapapalawig pero sa katapusan ng pelikula, magkakaroon lamang ng rekurso, tulad sa panlipunang antas, sa indibidwal na resolusyon. Mabigat ang mga pelikulang Filipino—kung bomba, ito ay ukol sa gahasa at kahalayan ng babaeng bida; sa aksyon, ang pang-aabuso sa moral na lalake, at ang kanyang panunumbas at paghahanap ng katarungan—na sa kabigatan nito, o ang kapasidad na ilahok ang historikal sa indibidwal na problema, ay hindi kailanman lubos na natutumbasan ng pagwawakas ng pelikula.

At ito ang pelikulang pinapanood ng marami, kahit pa naging tunay na gitnang uring karanasan ang aktwal na panonood sa multiplex na sinehan. Sa kasalukuyang indie cinema at ang propensidad nitong itampok ang mga karakter na latak sa pinakalatak, ito ang governmentalidad o ang kalakaran ng kalakaran ng governance, o ng maigting nitong failure sa buhay ng mamamayan ng bansa sa pang-araw-araw na pagdanas ng kanilang buhay. Kung sa panahon ng golden age ni Marcos ay natutunghayan ang dialog sa diktadura—dahil wala namang hayag na bumatikos sa martial law nito—sa pamamagitan ng affect ng masisikip at claustrophobic na lugar at mga mabubuting taong lumulubog unti-unti sa kumunoy ng panlipunang kasadlakan, ang kasalukuyang pelikula ay nagdadala sa usapin ng mas matingkad na voyeurismo, dahil sa kasalukuyang dispensasyon ng kapangyarihan, sa imeldific legacy ni Imelda kay Bayani Fernando, halimbawa, nililikha ang naghihikahos na mamamayan bilang invisible. Ang melodrama sa pelikula ang nagpapakita na hindi ito lubos na nagaganap.(

Sipi mula kay Jose B. Capino, “Prsethetic Hysteria: Staging the Cold War in Filipino/American Docudrama”

Women’s Front: We fight hunger, we fight poverty! We assert our survival!

October 22, 2008


The government says you live with P46 a day or P16,810 in a year (US358). This is the poverty threshold in the Cordillera according to the National Statistics Coordinating Board (NSCB). This is half the poverty threshold, which is US$2 a day as prescribed by the World Bank and International Labor Organization.

Rural and urban poor women say this is not even enough for one person’s square meals. On the other hand, the government also says, the daily family living wage in the Cordillera is P834 (US$17.7) and 20% of this is allocated for food.

Women say, with their current income of P50-250 (US$1-5.3) a day, 80-100% of their family income is spent on food. Oftentimes, the income is not even enough to buy the family’s food of rice and viand.

The current level of poverty in the Cordillera region and in the country gives women an added burden of stretching the measly resources of their families.

According to indigenous peasant women in Conner, Apayao, what used to be food for the family is now brought to market in order to get additional cash for the family. Before, it was easy to share rice, vegetables, fruits and other food products to neighbors and relatives. With the economic crisis now, women find it hard to share any food item.

What little produce that the family may spare, are sold to buy other food needs. The produce is not even enough for the family with production getting costlier, the attack of pests, irrigation problems and change in climate pattern. What used to be part of the meal like meat, fish and milk for the children, are reduced if not stricken out from the list. This situation is echoed by other women in other parts of the region, in the interior villages, in town and urban centers.

The face of hunger and poverty in the Cordillera may not have reached starvation levels but obviously, families are forced to adjust in the volume and quality of food for their families. Women say what cannot be absent in their kitchen is rice thus all means to provide and seek is done by them and their husbands. This usually means separation of family members as one parent, even women, go to other places for wage labor or overseas as domestic workers.

All remedies to ensure food for the family are sought by women — vending, wage labor, loans and availing of small government livelihood projects which hardly help in alleviating the rural women’s economic conditions. Indeed this situation creates the vulnerability of women to deception, patronage and even to engagement in anti-social activities, like prostitution.

Today, we observe the 13th year of the World Rural Women’s Day and the 29th year of World Food Day. As rural indigenous women, we no longer enjoy abundance of food in our farms and kitchens. As toiling women in town and urban centers, we do not have just wages and secured livelihood to feed our children with the right volume and quality of food.

Families living under the poverty threshold in the Cordillera increased to 28.8% as compared to 25.8% in 2003 (NSCB). Cordillera provinces except for Benguet are part of the top 20 poorest provinces in the country. Apayao and Abra top the poverty incidence of 57.5% and 50% respectively.

The real poverty situation among rural and urban poor women is more downright than these government indicators.

Hunger and poverty is worsened by the inflation rate of 11.4%, the highest in the last 14 years. Rice price rose by 60%, other food commodities followed suit, aggravated by the non-stop oil price hikes of more than P20 per liter.

Hunger and poverty is also worsened by the continuing militarization of the countrysides and the government’s national mineral liberalization program that offered more than 60% of the Cordillera land to foreign mining corporations.

Hunger and poverty has been acknowledged by the Department of Education as the cause for the increased drop-outs among children. The malnutrition rate remains high among rural children in the region despite government’s Food-for- School Program.

National governments and international economic institutions speak about solving the global hunger and poverty problem targeting to reduce global poverty by one half in 2015 through the Millennium Development Plan. It is alarming that 1.4 billion people or almost a quarter of the world’s population, live below the international poverty line, or earning below US$1.25 a day (World Bank). Each year, 5.6 million children aged 5 years and below die as a result of malnutrition. The hunger and poverty situation is aggravated by the soaring of food prices which became particularly steep in the 1st months of 2008(report of the UNSR on Food). Overall, the price of food commodities rose by 83% over the last 36 months.

However, the current global food crisis should not be used by the GMA government as its excuse for the country’s food and economic crisis. It only shows the vulnerability of the Philippine economy being export-oriented and import dependent and driven by neo-liberal globalization. While the GMA government has earmarked P366 billion for it’s Anti-poverty Program which is distributed to National Social Welfare program amounting to P45 billion, the Noah’s Ark Framework amounting to P316 billion and Hunger Mitigation Program amounting to P5 billion, the results of these programs have yet to be seen in the quality of life of poor indigenous women and their communities.

The indigenous peasant women’s organizations in the Cordillera and Innabuyog join rural women and the peasant organizations in the country and the whole world in their actions to decry the hunger and poverty situation and assert their food sovereignty. At the international level, Innabuyog links with the efforts of the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS), Pesticide Action Network-Asia Pacific (PAN-AP), the Don’t Globalize Hunger campaign of the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), Asia Peasant Coalition and the Asia Rural Women’s Coalition.

Innabuyog asserts that food can only be secured with a healthy economic condition where the government has the political will to address the age-old problem of land reform, enable the development of national industries that truly develops national economy, support for domestic food production, respect for indigenous peoples’ rights to their ancestral lands and of their resources and get rid of liberalization policies which kill the development of agriculture and domestic food production.

As we assert our survival and the survival of future generations, we will not allow ourselves to be defeated by dole-outs, state terrorism and never will we bow down to the capitalist greed on our land and food resources. We will continue to assert our right to our land , and defend our food resources and harvest. #

From Under This Hat: It has been 32 days

October 22, 2008


It has been 32 days now since James M. Balao fell victim of enforced diasappearance.

Last Friday in a rally organized by colleagues, family and friends a mabtad was re-echoed. It is fetad against enforced disappearances.

One speaker in the rally from central Bontoc who found it in her heart to pitch in her much valued help, seemed scared to be among angry militant organizations and their red banners. Apparently her rage at the violent abduction and more so that it can only be an enforced disappearance made her speak strongly against the act and the enforcers.

She made it clear that she was no member of any of the organizations in the rally but nevertheless she called on her townmates and fellow Cordillerans to cooperate, help find and surface James for it is the right thing to do.

She believed this abduction could not be done by a Cordilleran (“saan tayo nga aramid dayta”), she expressed this taboo was respected by the people of these mountains. She illustrated this as she narrated a community mobilization in Bontoc she had participated in to express her vehement condemnation of what was done to James.

She said, there was one time when the New People’s Army had captured seven soldiers of the Philippine military in the Mt. Province, the elders of the community with her among them called a mabtad to bring these soldiers back safe and alive.

For a few emotionally tensed and fired-up days, they negotiated, stood vigil through the night and pleaded for their release. The “prisoners of war” were safely handed over to them. They even had to make sure the military command will not maltreat them or count them as casualties when the community handed them over to the local command.

The people’s concern and value for life was very high and clearly expressed in this community action. The people together, in the face of a vengeful military and the NPA revolutionaries, showed no fear just the overwhelming concern for the lives and safety of the prisoners.

She strongly pleaded publicly to those who took James to surface him. And, as other speakers also expressed “for the abductors to find courage in themselves to surface him and if he had committed any crime together let us deal with it in the proper and legal process.”

  • * * * * *

Milestones: My family, colleagues and I would like to express through this column our deepest sympathies to the family of the late Bishop Richard Abellon Sr. who passed away October 16.

The grandfather, father, mentor, Bishop and my, along with others, refuge when my young son and I were abducted by the military some sixteen years ago. May his lifework be an inspiration to all of us whose lives he has, in one way or many other ways, touched. To his children and grand children, his good service and life experience is the weight of the Cordillera on our shoulders that we can generously share among others to continue guiding us thru strife and peace. #

Economics and Society 101: Keynesian and Marxist perspectives on the US crisis

October 22, 2008


The United States economic crisis of 2008 illustrates that while the US prescribes laissez faire or free trade, the US actually implement a corrupted or bastardized version of Keynesian economics in its homeland. Adam Smith originally formally prescribed laissez faire or free market economics in his book, The Wealth of Nations.

However, throwing aside the flowery words or capitalist niceties, it is not through laissez faire but through arms that the US and many capitalist countries accumulated the wealth that they enjoy today. Colonialism and neo-colonialism are actually monopolies or oligopolies on trade and economies of colonies and semi-colonies. In the colonies and semi-colonies, the economies dominated by monopolies and oligopolies are misrepresented by capitalism as free markets.

Monopolies refer to markets dominated by a single firm or entity while oligopolies refer to markets dominated by a few. The single firm or the few firms are actually a firm or firms of the colonizers enjoying privileges from the elite of developed countries. On the other hand, free markets are supposedly economies in which no firm exercise effective monopoly or influence on prices. In economic parlance, all economic agents in a free market are supposedly “price-takers.”

Leading analysts believe that today’s US economic crisis will become a difficulty, worse than the US great depression of the 1930s. In the 1930s, real US gross national product (GDP) at their 2000 values went from $865.2 billion in 1929 to $790.7 billion in 1930, to US$739.9 billion in 1931, to US$643.7 billion in 1932, and to US$635.5 billion in 1933.

As a US government response, US President Hoover created the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to boost economic activity by lending money in 1932. In 1935, US President Roosevelt created the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation to buy $3 billion in bad mortgages from the banks. Many believe the actions were instrumental in arresting the downward slide of the US GDP such that GDP in 2000 value increased to US$704.2 billion in 1934, and US$766.9 billion in 1935.

GDP increased to their 1929 value only in 1936. Thus, it can be said that in spite of the US government bailouts in 1932 and 1933, the crisis took at least seven years to be arrested (here we are not even talking of GDP per capita). We can infer therefore that even if the US$700 bailout really materialize, US recovery from today’s crisis may take seven years because the current US crisis is described as a crisis worse than the Great Depression.

The dominant paradigm in today’s theoretical economics has been the New Classical perspective also known as the “rational expectations” economics. However, what is implemented during times of crises is a corrupted version of Keynesian economics. John Maynard Keynes, in his 1930 book, prescribed that state action to promote economic growth can range from the use of fiscal policy, organization of investment, and policies that alter the distribution of income.

The original Keynesian prescriptions has been bastardized or corrupted: modern economists twisted the teachings of Keynes on state action into something limited only to the use of fiscal and monetary policies. In short, government actions are only limited to policies involving government spending and interest rates and do not cover the organization of investments or improving the distribution of incomes which are also Keynesian prescriptions.

Many of the early Keynesians were even mistaken as communists. T he early Keynesians were not communists, of course, as they were staunch defenders of private property. Keynesians believe that private business is inherently not stable because business outlook can be affected by self-fulfilling prophecies. For example, if private businesses have a bleak outlook on the future, the future can actually be bleak as businessmen become afraid to invest. For Keynesians, governments must lead and wake up the “animal spirit” among investors so economic activity can be propped up. For the early Keynesians, the government can organize and lead private business but business must remain private.

On the other hand, a Marxist perspective to the crisis holds that the US crisis emerged because of the inherent nature of capitalism to overproduce or oversupply. Competition leads capitalism to a situation where goods and services are way beyond that can be absorbed by the market. Marxists hold that crises in capitalism are systemic and recurring because of the concentration of wealth and production in the hands of a few. For Marxists, crises of capitalism are actually crises of overproduction even if the immediate origin can be self-fulfilling prophecies. Further, the root of crises is politico-economic rather than purely economic.

Meanwhile, although the country’s financial system may be insulated from the crisis because only less than 1% of the banking system has been exposed to the crisis (but the US crisis can also escalate and its effect on the Philippines can likewise escalate), the country will be significantly by the crisis as more than 23% of Philippine exports are marketed to the US and a significant client of call centers are US firms. Further, a large part of overseas contract workers are employed in the US. This being the case, the expectation is that the Philippines will be hardly hit by the crisis even if Philippine economic growth will be at 3.9% for 2008 (expected earlier at 6%) and 3.4% for 2009 (expected earlier at 6.2%). The economic growth rates, however, will not mean that millions of people will not be hard up. Millions of people in the country will continue to suffer from extreme poverty.

The author maintains a blog at and can be contacted through and +63927-536-8431. #

(Pasintabi) Melamine

October 21, 2008

Pasintabi | Rolando B. Tolentino

ITO ang lasong kasama sa gatas, karamihan ay angkat mula China. Apat na sanggol na ang namatay, at 54,000 sanggol sa China ang nagkasakit dahil sa melamine sa gatas.

Ayon kay Dr. Romeo Quijano, ang melamine ay isang sintetikong kemikal na gamit sa maraming produkto, tulad ng panghugas sa kusina, utensil, panlinis sa bahay at furniture, glue, fertilizer at iba pang gamit. Ito ay byproduct ng cyromazine, isang trianzine na pestisidyo na gamit sa gulayan at manukan.

Lason ang melamine, at maaaring maging dahilan ng “adverse reproductive effects, may affect genetic material and may cause bladder cancer, based on animal data. It may also cause skin, eye and respiratory tract irritation and irritation of the digestive tract with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, and may damage the urinary system.”

Ang lason na hinayaang makapasok sa bansa sa gatas at ice cream ay ngayo’y ginagamit ng mga pulitiko para “mag-cleansing” sa dalawang antas: una, ang pagba-ban sa mga produkto – gatas lamang – na may halo nito; at ikalawa, ang pagpapakuha ng pogi at ganda points sa peryodikong inspeksiyon ng mga gatas sa groseriya at pagpapa-press conference ng findings hinggil sa lason sa mga gatas.

Ang pulitiko ay nagkakaroon ng kakatwang papel sa labas ng mundo ng pulitika: ang pagiging syentista. Seryosong blangko ang mga mukha, nagpapahiwatig ng detachment sa media gayong uma-acting naman talaga ang mukha at katawan para sa bitbit na media. Tulad ng Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, kahit pamali-mali ang pagtukoy ng mga produkto sa groseriya, maski hindi galing sa China, ay nagmamarunong lang naman.

Si Gloria Arroyo ay hindi rin nakatiis, nag-media mileage rin sa pag-inspeksiyon ng gatas sa groseriya kahit hindi naman alam kung ano ang gagawin sa mga dinadampot na karton. Tunay na “melamine moment” ang media-op (opportunity) na ito dahil ang melamine ay resin ng plastic. Hindi ba’t tunay na orocan-tupperware ang ganitong nagdidispley ng dunong at ganda sa mga bagay na hindi naman nila sakop?

Sinasabing gumamit ng melamine sa gatas para malusutan ang inspeksiyon ng pamahalaan ng China. Sa pamamagitan ng pagdagdag ng tubig, napapataas ng melamine ang protein content ng gatas. Tinatayang 20 porsyento ng mga dairy companies na tinest sa China ay nagbebenta ng produktong may halong melamine.

Kung gayon, ang melamine ay produkto ng pagiging gahaman ng negosyo, at ng pagmamaganda ng gobyernong nagsasaad ng kapangyarihang regulasyon ng mga lampasang ambisyon ng negosyo. May usap-usapan pang hihingi ang gobyerno ni Arroyo ng kompensasyon sa ngalan ng lokal na negosyo para sa damage na nalikha ng “melamine scare.”

Ang hindi isinasaad ni Arroyo ay ang nagiging puwang ng puso nito sa mga mas malalaking negosyo ng China. Hindi ba’t ang naunsyaming NBN-ZTE Broadband deal ay tinungo pa ni Arroyo sa Mainland China mula sa opisyal na biyahe sa Hong Kong para mag-golfing at makikain kasama ng negosyanteng nag-alok sa kanyang gobyerno? At ang nagmomodernisa sa sistema ng tren sa Luzon ay isa ring korporasyong China?

“Made in China” na tunay na may halaga kay Arroyo – una, bilang balon ng pangungurakot at sistema ng partihan para sa kanyang naghaharing paksiyon; at ikalawa, bilang kahalintulad na balon na pinagtatapunan ng bahong maididiskarga sa kanyang administrasyon. Win-win situation ang China para kay Arroyo, kahit pa ito rin ang nagdidirekta ng pambansang pagturing at chauvinismo sa China at mga Tsino, maging ang Tsinoy sa bansa.

Kung makakamura – at kung gayon, mapapahalagahan ang pera – ang China at ang nasyonal nito, na hindi hiwalay ang turing sa mga Tsinoy, ay ang balon ng pinagmumulan ng pinansyal na kapital. Sila ang mga Taipan na positibong role-model ng entrepreneurship na pinapangarap ng maraming kumukuha ng komersiyo sa kolehiyo.

Pero ang China, Tsino at Tsinoy ang tampulan din ng pukol ng pagiging hindi matuwid sa negosyo, ng pagiging gahaman at walang pagsasaalang-alang sa buhay, lalo na ng “lokal na nasyonal.” Kaya sila ang dine-demonyo sa pagkakataong tulad ng melamine scare, kahit sa nakaraang alaala ng pantabulosong opening at closing ceremonies ng 2008 Olympic Games, sila na ang bagong superpower ng mundo.

Gobyerno ni Arroyo ang namumukol sa hitik na bunga ng China. At ang epekto nito ang nagbibigay ng pambansang direksiyon sa pang-araw-araw na turing sa China at nasyonal nito. Sino at ano ang tunay na lason? Ang negosyo ng China na nagpakalat ng melamine para palabnawin ang gatas o ang goberyno ni Arroyo na nagpapalaganap ng tasitong rasismo at kultural na chauvinismo, kung mapapakinabangan, para maibsan ang kanyang administrasyong hitik sa pagmamaniobrang kitilin ang kalidad ng pambansang buhay ng kanyang mismong mamamayan?

Tulad ng isang na-shipwreck na nagdedeliryo sa karagatan dahil sa pagkauhaw, kay daming gatas pero walang ligtas na mainom na gatas.(PinoyWeekly)

(Radical Pinoy) Baguhin ang talakayan: Makiisa sa laban ng bayan

October 21, 2008

Vencer Crisostomo

BINABATI ko ang mga kasamahan sa Bloggers’ Kapihan sa matagumpay na pangunguna sa Blog Action Day 08 sa Pilipinas at pangunguna sa panawagan na manindigan laban sa kahirapan.

Para sa mga progresibo, kakaibang kapangahasan ang kinailangan para pangunahan ang pagpapanawagan ng aktibidad, na magsasalang ng kanilang paninindigan sa kahirapan, – isang usaping masasabing malapit sa puso ng mga progresibo – laban sa mga namamayaning pagtingin dito ng blogosphere.

Kung tatawirin ang, at babasahin ang ilang tampok na blogs na lumahok, siguro mauunawaan kung ano ang tinutukoy ko sa ”namamayaning pagtingin.” Sa mga mabilis makaamoy, medyo pamilyar na ang eksena na dati nang sinubukang ibenta. May bakas ito ng mga kampanyang pa-cool na gumamit pa ng mga artista at banda sa pangunguna ng mga institusyong pinopondohan ng malalaking kumpanya.

Sa madaling sabi, something’s fishy. Subukan nating unawain saglit.

Hindi magbablog ang mahirap

Hindi na siguro kailangan sabihin, pero sa araw na ito, hindi mga mahihirap ang magkukuwento. Wala namang nagsabi na araw ito para magblog ang mahihirap. Sa madaling sabi, tungkol sa mga mahihirap at sa kahirapan ang istorya, pero hindi mula sa perspektiba ng mga dumadanas. O at least, hindi sa mga aminadong dumadanas nito.

Kung gayon, ang kahirapan ay ineeksamin ng mga hindi dumadanas nito, o at least ng hindi mulat na dumadanas. Parang ”others” na pinag-uusapan ang mahihirap at iba sa mga nag-uusap ang kahirapan. Hindi naman masyadong importante kung anong epekto noon sa mahihirap mismo, dahil hindi naman sila nagbablog at wala ring internet. Pero mas mahalagang tignan, na pinatitigas nito ang posisyon at ilusyon ng middle-class bloggers na hindi sila mahirap, wala silang kinalaman sa mga naghihirap (bukos sa ”concerned” sila sa kanila), at iba sila sa kanila.

Kahirapan sa pag-unawa

Kaya hindi na nakapagtataka kung maliitin ng blogosphere ang usapin ng kahirapan na tila isa lang sa mga topic na isusulat nila sa kanilang entry, kapantay siguro ng usaping pangkalikasan, kultura, TV show, o web design. Tinitignan ang problema ng kahirapan bilang isa lamang sa maraming mga prublema, walang mas matimbang at mas magaan, at hindi ang pangunahing prublemang bumabagabag sa sandaigdigan. Hindi na baleng higit kalahati ng daigdig ang dumadanas nito.

Sa marami, para lamang kakaibang pangyayari ang kahirapan na maaring solusyunan sa balangkas ng kasalukuyang set-up na panlipunan. Kailangan lang natin, halimbawa, magblog, magdonate, bumili ng kape na may flavor of the month na tumutulong sa mahihirap sa Aprika, at iba pa.

Para bagang iilang tao lang ang naghihirap at ”abnormal” ito sa lipunan, gayong sa totoo’y ito ang kalakaran. Dumadami pa nga ang naghihirap habang tumatagal. Para bagang lahat ng tao ay may ”pantay na oportunidad” at may kakayanang yumaman basta mag-sikap-at-tiyaga lang.

Pero malaking kalokohan ang mga pagtinging ito. Sinusubukan nitong burahin ang katotohanan na nabubuhay ang sistema sa kasalukuyan sa pagsasamantala sa nakararaming mamamayan. Ang kahirapan ay hindi exception to the rule, kundi ang rule mismo. Sa ilalim ng sistema na nakokonsentra lamang sa iilan ang yaman at pinipiga ang todo-todong pagsasamantala sa mga manggagawa at mamamayan, natural ang kahirapan. At kahirapan ito na hindi dulot ng kung anupaman, kundi ng pagsasamantala ng naghaharing iilan. At hangga’t hindi nagbabago ang lipunan, hindi matatapos ang kahirapan.

Eto ang ilan sa mga makikita sa mga listahang lumabas sa malalaking sites hinggil sa mga ”pwedeng gawin” laban sa kahirapan: magpayaman (oo, meron nito), magbawas ng pagkain ng karne, mag-ampon ng mga bata, magdonate sa mga institusyon, bumili ng mga produkto na may ”malasakit”, at iba pa. Ito ang hindi matatagpuan: kumilos para sa panlipunang pagbabago, mag-organisa para wakasan ang imperyalismo, ipaglaban ang mga batayang interes at kapakanan ng mamamayan sa sahod, trabaho at karapatan.

Baguhin ang talakayan, patindihin ang pagkilos

Kaya tunay lamang na dapat ”baguhin ang talakayan.” At para sa mga progresibong blogger, hindi lamang ito retorika kundi seryosong usapan.

Layon nating ipakita sa bloggers na kung tunay na gusto nilang gapiin ang kahirapan, dapat na magsimula ng pagbabagong panlipunan. Kung sa estudyante, ang sigaw nati’y “wag makulong sa apat na sulok ng paaralan”, pwede sa bloggers: “wag makulong sa apat na sulok ng computer screens.” Ang rebolusyong kailangan ay hindi virtual.

Sa Blog Action Day ’08, magaganda ang posts ng mga progresibo. Si Anton, nagyaya sa piketlayn ng mga manggagawa ng Kowloon. Si Bikoy at si Prof. Danny Arao, naglinaw hinggil sa mga maling pag-unawa sa kahirapan. Si Tonyo, pinagpugayan ang mga bayani ng mahihirap na nakikibaka at inilantad ang ugat ng kahirapan. Si Nato, pinakita kung paano pinahihirapan na nga, niloloko pa ng mga kinatawan ng mga naghahari ang mamamayan.

Sana pagkatapos ng Blog Action Day, marami pa ang magsimula ng tunay na talakayan. Hindi lang sa blogosphere, kundi sa mga pabrika, komunidad, sakahan at lansangan. Hindi lang para magsalaysay at maglahad, kundi para makisangkot sa pagbabagong panlipunan na tunay na siyang magwawakas sa kahirapan.