SSSH. NOTES FROM THE UNDERGROUND: So a few days ago, I got some inquiries on www.twitter.com from Venice Film Festival award-winning film-maker and I believe, a relative of both my wife and sister-in-law, Pepe Diokno (Yes, my brother and I married cousins). Pepe questioned Gilbert Teodoro's AFP record, Gibo's request for more funding for the AFP, and his involvement in AFP Human rights abuses. So I sent a message out to my network and asked for some answers to Pepe's very valid questions:
MY MESSAGE: Hey guys, I got a message today on twitter from @pepediokno, He brings up some very interesting issues:
"@carlosceldran (...) I thnk 1 of d biggest probs is d politicization of AFP. Gibo wants more funding 4 AFP. So he shd address human rights."
"@carlosceldran Alleged or not, directly linkd or not, as DND Sec, GIbo has respnsiblty. I wnt 2 knw wht he did abt these HR violations (...)"
Also, some people want to have answers about Gibo and his term at DND and how did he address the Melissa Roxas abduction and killings by Jovito Palparan.
Would you have an answer to this? It's from Pepe Diokno. It's his make or break issue with Gibo, he says. Can you give him a good answer?
And I got a reply today. A VERY interesting reply from a really swell media guy who has for now asked me to keep him anonymous. So instead of paraphrasing his answer and using my voice, I will just print it here verbatim, directly from the underground. I personally think it's clear. I really couldn't have said it better.
The theme that runs through the questions is whether Gibo is guilty by association or command responsibility. That's like blaming the US Defense Department for every act of torture or atrocity committed on the ground in Iraq or Afghanistan. Still, was Gibo aware and tacitly involved?
1. On Gibo's plan to increase military spending and the size of the AFP.
This issue sits well with the AFP and businessmen. Clearly, the Philippines has one of the smallest and least equipped armed forces in Southeast Asia. A troubling reality for a country that faces serious internal security threats from the NPA, MILF, rogue MNLF, Abu Sayyaf, bandit groups, kidnap syndicates, Magdalo rebels, etc. The AFP is miniscule in size and equipment in comparison to countries with no such threats like Singapore and Malaysia (never mind militarist states like Vietnam). The problem in the Philippines is even more pronounced because its an archipelago - and moving troops around is a major logistical problem.
Without the presence of a larger army to hold areas - and not merely to troubleshoot and then leave - security and economic development in the remotest places (and often the richest in resources) is impossible as rebel groups (and armed syndicates) simply return to the area.
Expanding the military has always been a politically controversial issue as the shadow of Marcos continues to haunt the current political discourse. The left has been successful in equating the expansion and upgrading of the military with the return of fascism and militarization. They have been successful getting media, NGOs and liberal politicians to buy this line. Without US aid and training the current budget allocation is terribly inadequate to finance all the war and peace keeping efforts of the AFP (wars are very expensive and we're only talking about internal conflicts not external defense which requires battle ships, fighter planes, etc).
The agenda of the left is to impoverish the army so that guerilla fronts can expand unimpeded. As for bleeding heart liberals in government and civil society, they simply cannot accommodate war as a policy against rebellion. The "why can't we all just get along" worldview of theirs simply blocks out the truth that rebels and terrorists simply want power and that violent overthrow is their way to achieve it.
They should listen to Obama's Nobel Prize speech and see how this most liberal American politician defends war as an instrument of peace. For liberals, poverty is the issue. They don't realize that poverty exists because investments (and basic governance) are impossible in areas where terrorists, bandits and rebels control the countryside.
For non-ideological pragmatists, the problem is the politicalization and corruption of the top brass. They believe that so long as generals are corrupt and allow themselves to be manipulated by their political patrons, expanding the size of the military is useless.
Gibo has mentioned a holistic, but non-ideological approach to the problem: expand and professionalize the AFP. By expanding the army you can hold areas longer and eliminate the role of potentially abusive private armies as proxies of the military and police in the process.
But high numbers alone are irrelevant if morale is low. The military must be armed and trained properly. This is where both the budget and the continuation of security relationships with the US play a role. The left, the pseudo nationalists and liberals cry imperialism but this is more a pragmatic geo-political policy (and in our case also a funding thing) rather than a sell-out of national dignity. (Singapore continues its security ties with the US as a counter to Malaysia and China even if they continue to finance the US treasury!).
Professionalizing the AFP and neutralizing corruption is also critical. Under Gibo, no financial scandal has been reported in the AFP and DND. His critics are trying to trace the cache of arms unearthed in Maguindanao to the DND under Gibo but Teodoro himself has confidently called for an investigation. Insiders know that the ammunition (which is just at 10 percent of the cache found) got there through rogue elements in the local military.
Another fact: under Gibo, the military has been least restive since Arroyo took over the presdiency in 2001. Not just becasue he is a civilian, but because he has earned the respect of the top brass, junior officers and enlisted soldiers. Under Gibo there has been no chatter about coups and mutinies - in fact, we haven't seen a military this quiet in a very long time.
So is human rights training the end all and be all of our problems with the military as suggested by some? Hardly. Human rights is currently in the curriculum of the PMA and training of enlisted troops but that hasn't stopped abuses here and there (though clearly military-led abuses are no longer in the scale of atrocities committed during Marcos and Aquino's time as president). The solution is a pragmatic one: expand the army to eliminate the role of non-professional and private armed groups and professionalize the army so that loyalties are to the State and not to local padrinos and mafia bosses.
2. On whether Gibo is linked to HR abuses himself like the Roxas case and if he allowed killings by ret. Gen Palparan.
Counter-insurgency is a very complex affair as by its very nature there is no transparency in any such campaign to fight forces in the underground. Why? The armed Left (or even terrorists) do not identify themselves as such. The revolution is waged via an intricate network of legal fronts and underground cells where there is no distinction between combatant and political organizer just like there is no disticntion between soldier in battle and unarmed military intelligence operative. Both are part of an armed group whether they carry guns or not.
This explains why no President of the Republic has his or her hands clean. In fact, no head of state of any country dealing with insurgency and separatists has his or her hands clean. Be it the UK government's campaign against the IRA, the US govt and the Taliban, Spain and the ETA - counter insurgency is a dirty war because there are no open rules in waging it. For all the petitions for Cory Aquino's sainthood and Time magazine's own canonization of Cory as the saint of Philippine democracy - she left a stream of bloody incidents involving suspected members of the left - cases where justice was never realized: the Mendiola massacre of farmers, the murder and torture of KMU leader Rolano Olalia, the ambush of former NPA leader Dante Buscayno, the killing of Bayan leader Lean Alejandro - and many more lesser known activists and organizers who were massacred, found salvaged or have disappeared.This was during Cory's time, the arch-liberal and human rights advocate, remember?
Still, torture today should not be tolerated and more so should killings. Wouldn't it be better if arrests could just be made and due process followed? Sure, even if rebellion is close to impossible to prove in court. Most of us are liberals and that's what we believe anyway.
So did Gibo willingly tolerate abuses as DND chief? He can easily answer that for himself.
As for encouraging Jovito Palparan's notorious witchunt - at least that can be answered easily with the facts. Palparan retired in 2006 while Teodoro was appointed DND chief in 2007. So that would have been impossible.
And there you have it Pepe. I hope this is good enough? Cheers man.
It was quite surprising to hear staunch GMA hater Manuel Buencamino try to convince his "daughter" to vote for Gilbert Teodoro in this article. Being pro Gibo myself, I thought it was nice for him to try and explain to his daughter that there is more behind the man than what is expected. Unfortunately, his brilliant daughter seems to be smarter than him (or so he portrayed), so perhaps we need a mother's point of view to iron things out here with such a cynical daughter. Hay nako.
Once you've read the original, read this new version with Mommy CARLOS butting in...
CARLOS PLAYS MOMMY TO MANUEL BUENCAMINO'S DAUGHTER...
I (Manuel Buencamino) tried to sell Gilbert Teodoro to my daughter.
“I am impressed by Gibo Teodoro’s quick and decisive reaction to the Maguindanao massacre. He displayed courageous leadership,” I said.
“Why, what did he do?”
“Plenty. He visited Vice Mayor Ismael Mangudadatu right after the massacre, went with him when he filed his certificate of candidacy for governor, and appointed him new provincial chairman of Lakas-Kampi after the Ampatuans were expelled.”
“You’re impressed that a presidential candidate took sides in a power struggle between warlords?”
OH, BUT WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE HIJA? I KNOW YOU ARE SCHOOLED. I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW SINCE YOU HAVE SUCH EXTENSIVE KNOWLEDGE ON AN ISSUE THAT HAS BEEN KEPT DORMANT FOR DECADES IN THE RP.
HIJA. A SIDE HAD TO BE TAKEN. ONE SIDE WAS OBVIOUSLY HIDEOUSLY ABUSED AND TO WAIT LONGER AND NOT HELP A PERSON (THAT YOU KNEW BEFORE THE MASSACRE) WOULD ALSO BE A TERRIBLE SITUATION, DON'T YOU THINK? TIME IS OF THE ELEMENT.
“Why, what did the other candidates do?” I challenged her.
“The other candidates immediately called for justice for the victims and the immediate arrest of suspects. Isn’t that better than taking sides in a clan war?”
BUT HIJA, THE SUSPECTS WERE ARRESTED (PERHAPS THIS CONVERSATION BETWEEN MARTIAL LAW) AND THE OPPOSING CAMP HAD TO BE PROTECTED. MR. TEODORO IS FAMILIAR WITH THE ISSUE, HE TRIED TO MEDIATE BETWEEN THE TWO FAMILIES BEFORE THE MASSACRE HAPPENED. HIJA, IT'S NOT AS SIMPLE AS YOU THINK. IT REALLY... REALLY... IS NOT. AND I REALLY DON'T SEE HOW CALLING FOR JUSTICE WOULD BE EFFECTIVE EXCEPT FOR WELL, CALLING FOR JUSTICE. ACTIONS ARE BETTER THAN WORDS NO? LOOK AT THE BIGGER PICTURE.
“But isn’t it admirable that Gibo expelled the Ampatuans from Lakas-Kampi?” I asked.
“That was just a facial!”
A FACIAL? A TREATMENT TO EXFOLIATE?
I was outraged by her cynicism. I decided to set the record straight.
“Lakas-Kampi said the expulsion of the Ampatuans was part of the coalition party’s cleansing process,” I said.
“Ayun, eh di facial nga!” she exclaimed.
THAT IS CALLED A COLONIC, HIJA. AND IT HAS BEEN HAPPENING WAY BEFORE THE MASSACRE. LOOK AT ALL THE OPPORTUNISTS FROM LAKAS THAT DITCHED KNOWING THAT THEY CAN'T GET THE SAME FAVORS UNDER GIBO AS THEY DID WITH GLORIA.
“He expelled the Ampatuans but kept Gloria Arroyo, her children and in-laws as party members of good standing along with other well-known crooks, warlords and human-rights violators. They are not included in the cleansing process, why?” she asked.
AH. SO GLORIA ALSO MASSACRED 56 PEOPLE? IS THE CRIME DIRECTLY RELATED TO HER NOW, HIJA? TRUE. SHE DID KEEP THEM IN POWER. BUT THEIR CODDLING CAN BE TRACED ALL THE WAY BACK TO CORY, NO? GLORIA WAS THE PRESIDENT OF THE PARTY. GIBO RESPECTS THE INSTITUTION AND PARTY RULES. HE IS STRENGTHENING THE LAKAS PARTY. NOT BLOATING IT, LIKE WELL, A FEW OTHER OPPOSING CAMPS.
“Don’t draw conclusions too quickly, maybe he will expel them all.”
“And who’s going to be left in the coalition if he does that?” She laughed.
“Ramos said Gibo’s decision to expel the Ampatuans ‘seemed like withdrawal of support’ for Gloria,” I said.
“Gibo, the man who said, ‘For me now to say I will turn my back and bite the person who gave me a break will be the height of ingratitude,’ has gone rogue? C’mon….”
GRATITUDE IS A BETTER VALUE IN MY EYES, THAN BEING BALIMBING, HIJA. AND MANY MANY PEOPLE HAVE SERVED WELL UNDER QUESTIONABLE CIRCUMSTANCES. LIKE HOW NINOY'S DAD WAS VICE PRESIDENT UNDER THE JAPANESE. DID YOU KNOW THAT? NOW, I WOULD NOT LIKE TO BLAME ALL THE ABUSES WE EXPERIENCED IN WW2 ON HIM EVEN IF HE DID KNOW IT WAS HAPPENING. WOULD YOU? WOULD YOU?
“He did it on his own,” I insisted.
“What was his position on Proclamation 1959?”
“He said he would wait for the justifications and reasons for it,” I replied.
“He was waiting for instructions,” she said.
“That’s not fair.”
“Well, Gloria already lifted martial law and he still has not told the country whether he was for or against it.”
WHAT DOES IT MATTER WHAT HIS STATEMENTS ARE ABOUT A SITUATION THAT HE HAS NO RIGHT TO CONTROL? HE IS NO LONGER DND SECRETARY. WHY ARE WORDS ONCE AGAIN MORE IMPORTANT THAN ACTIONS, HIJA?
“He has a mind of his own,” I repeated.
“Huh? What is his platform?”
GIBO.PH. CLICK ON HIS PLAN FOR EACH REGION OF THE PHILIPPINES
She recited his platform from memory, “Ang policy ko ay ituloy ang mga programa ng administrasyon at ang pinakamalaking policy ko ay, oras na manalo ako, hihikayatin ko ang Kongreso mag-Charter change tayo—sa con-con [My policy is to continue the administration’s programs and, as soon as I win, my biggest policy will be to ask Congress for Charter change through a constitutional convention].”
BUT HIJA THE CHARTER NEEDS TO BE CHANGED. NOT JUST THE PRESIDENTIAL VIS A VIS FEDERAL BUT ALSO IN MANY OF THE OTHER ASPECTS LIKE IT'S ECONOMIC PARTS. IT IS WELL KNOWN THAT CORY'S CONSTITUTION IS FLAWED AND SET THE FRAMEWORK FOR WHY WE ARE IN THE MESS WE ARE IN TODAY. AND ONCE GLORIA STEPS DOWN, YOU THINK SHE WILL GET THE NUMBERS IN HER PARTY TO MAKE HER PRIME MINISTER, ESPECIALLY SINCE A LOT OF LAKAS FOLK HAVE GRAVITATED TOWARDS OTHER PARTIES. SHE IS TOXIC EVEN WITHIN HER OWN PARTY. A LOT OF THE PEOPLE WHO SUPPORTED GLORIA HAVE NOW FLED TO OTHER PARTIES TOO, WHAT DOES THAT SAY ABOUT THEM AND THE PARTY THAT ACCEPTED THEM? HMM? HIJA?
“So are you saying Gibo is Gloria’s stunt double?”
“He said it, I didn’t.”
“I’m sure he meant that he would continue the good programs of Gloria but not her shenanigans,” I explained.
“He’s going to fight corruption and hold crooks accountable?”
“He is the standard-bearer of the party of corruption and impunity, doesn’t that tell you anything?”
“But he’s a nice guy,” I said.
“Yes, he’s a nice guy. Unfortunately, he fell in with a bad crowd,” she lamented. “He should have resigned from the coalition instead of expelling the Ampatuans.”
UM BAD CROWD?? MORE LIKE WHAT CROWD?? IF YOU WANT SCARY, LOOK AT ALL THE OTHER BLOATED POLITICAL PARTIES OUT THERE, HIJA. RESIGNING ONLY WOULD HAVE CREATED USELESS DRAMA AND NOT HELPED ANY SITUATION. IT'S SAD THAT YOU CAN'T SEE THAT CHANGES CAN HAPPEN FROM WITHIN. WHAT WOULD RESIGNING HAVE DONE? WOULD THAT ONE DRAMATIC MOVE MAKE YOU VOTE FOR HIM? HIJA. LOOK AT THE BIGGER PICTURE. IF AN ACTION NEEDS TO BE DONE, IT HAS TO BE MORE THAN SYMBOLIC, HIJA.
“Because expelling the Ampatuans is a ruse if no action is taken against the little girl who created, armed and coddled them. If he does not leave the party, then he is an accomplice to the machinations to clear Gloria of any responsibility for the Ampatuans….”
THE ACTION TAKEN AGAINST HER SHOULD BE DONE BY THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM NOT MALACANANG. THE PRESIDENCY SHOULD NEVER BE USED AS A TOOL FOR REVENGE. HIJA, I'D BE MORE AFRAID OF ANY PARTY THAT PROMISES REVENGE OUTSIDE OF THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM BECAUSE THAT WAY, NOBODY WOULD BE SAFE.
ONCE AGAIN, HIJA. SEE THE BIGGER PICTURE.
“I’m not done yet….”
“Sorry, go on.”
“As I was about to say…if he sticks with Gloria, then he validates nine years of impunity, corruption, human-rights violations and the destruction of institutions.”
“That’s harsh,” I said
“No,” she replied. “He has to be clear about Gloria. He’s either with her or against her.”
“But she is not a candidate for president.”
“All the more reason he has to prove he is not her stunt double.”
“Is there no a middle ground for him?” I asked.
“Sure, there is one. And he’s already there. It’s called limbo.”
AND LIMBO STILL HAS A CHANCE. BETTER THAN BEING IN A PARTY THAT LOOKS LIKE IT'S GOING TO HELL, HIJA.
It's World AIDS DAY. Get informed, everyone. And I mean EVERYONE. Log onto www.Spot.ph to see HIV/AIDS advocates wear nothing but red ribbons to highlight the importance of safe sex and getting oneself checked. Check out the article here.
In case you haven't realized that theswankstyle.blogspot.com is one of the best reads in town, please do so now and log on so that you can read this rather old, but still relevant article. It proves my theory that Quezon City fast becoming the cool place to be in the metropolis and that Malate and downtown still has a lot of catching up to do to. Thanks Jerome, for the mention... Above, artist Robert Langenegger, below, Donna Miranda, Peewee Roldan, and Joaquin. Read the article here:
Yo! I just got a new shipment of Groovy Map n' Guides to MANILA and loads of other places in the region. I have now become the only official distributor of Groovy Map n' Guides in the Philippines. So this Christmas, give your friends and family some sense of place and direction as a gift! Buy them a Groovy Map n' Guide to MANILA. Only Php300.00 at La Monja Loca.
or text 9209092021 and we'll find a way to get it to you.
ART FLOOD: An Art Collectors’ Sale and Auction at Silverlens Gallery for the Benefit of the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC)
Acknowledging the profound impact of the recent typhoons, Silverlens Gallery would like to invite you to ART FLOOD, an art collectors’ sale of modern and contemporary pieces that will run from November 12-14, 1-8PM at Silverlens Gallery.
ART FLOOD seeks to display and sell modern and contemporary pieces at reasonable prices. Silverlens has chosen the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) as its beneficiary. In addition to helping rebuild the lives of displaced Metro Manila residents, ART FLOOD will also provide an opportunity to bring affordable art to new collectors.
Artwork by Gus Albor, Edgar Alegre, Ang Kiukok, Angelito Antonio, Janet Balbarona, Allan Ballisi, Renato Barja, Don Barranco, John Bautista, Jeho Bitancor, BenCab, Benjie Cabangis, Zean Cabangis, Benjie Torrado Cabrera, Ronald Caringal, Ernesto Carratala, Mariano Ching, Julius Clar, Daniel Coquilla, Louie Cordero, Jigger Cruz, Marina Cruz, Jon Cuyson, Dalena, Don Dalmacio, Joselito Dayono, RM de Leon, Cajipe Endaya, Kiko Escora, Noel El Farol, Alfredo Esquillo, Gilda Cordero Fernando, Dina Gadia, Marciano Galang, Genodepa, Joe Geraldo, Michael Gonzalez, Waling Waling Gorospe, Guerrero Habulan, Mia Herbosa, Riel Hilario, Eugene Jarque, Geraldine Javier, Amihan Jumalon, Erwin Leaño, Gilberto Magpantay, Lotsu Manes, Joven Mansit, Lito Mayo, Kat Medina, Benjamin Mendoza, Mintio, Edsel Mosloso, Leeroy New, Justin Nuyda, Jonathan Olazo, Jayson Oliveria, Renato Ong, Jim Orencio, Bernardo Pacquing, Mikel Parrial, Gary Ross Pastrana, Brenda Praico, Cid Reyes, Rene Robles, Reynaldo Rodriguez, Elmer Roslin, Stanley Ruiz, Susan Stair, Jose Tence Ruiz, Juni Salvador, Rodolfo Samonte, Jaypee Samson, Carlo Saavedra, Popo San Pascual, Art Sanchez, Emmanuel Santos, Gromyko Semper, Yasmin Sison, Gerardo Tan, Wire Tuazon, Mac Valdezco, Trek Valdizno, Mark Valenzuela, Roy Veneracion, Chris Villanueva, Alvin Villaruel, Francisco Pellicer Viri, Wawi Navarroza, Costantino Zicarelli, and a growing roster of new and established artists' work will be available at ART FLOOD.
In solidarity with Silverlens, Galleria Duemila, blanc, and Art Informal will also be selling pieces from their individual gallery collections.
For more information on the event please contact Cathy Paras-Lara at firstname.lastname@example.org or 816-0044.
ART FLOOD AUCTION GUIDELINES
1. Registration for paddles begins on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 1PM and ends on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 5 PM. There is a security deposit of Php 1,000.00 per paddle that must be paid upon registration and can be collected upon return of the paddle. Sign in as a bidder by filling out your name and complete contact information on the bidder sheet located at the Registration Table.
2. The auction begins at 6 pm on Nov. 14, 2009. Bidding may be done in person, through a representative in the room, or by bids placed with Silverlens auctioneer by phone (816-0044) or email (email@example.com). Deadline for auctioneer bids is 5 pm Nov. 14, 2009. The auctioneer for ART FLOOD is Mr. Carlos Celdran.
3. The pieces for auction are on Silverlens’ website at www.silverlensphoto.com and will be exhibited at SLab (Silverlens Lab) throughout ART FLOOD. On the night of the auction, auction pieces will no longer be on display but will instead be projected for bidders to see.
4. The initial bid shall not be less than the starting bid shown on the bidding registration list and as announced by the auctioneer. Each succeeding bid must equal or exceed the required increment as shown on the auction list and as announced by the auctioneer. Increment bids are as follows within the price ranges:
PhP 15,000 – P 30,000 : P2,000 increments PhP 30,000 – PhP 50,000: P 3,000 increments PhP 50,000 – 100,000: P 5,000.00 increments PhP100,000 – 150,000: P 10,000 increments
5. The winning bidder will be notified and acknowledged in person on the night of the auction itself at Silverlens Gallery by the auctioneer. If the bidder is not present, the bidder will be notified immediately via telephone.
6. All sales are final. All art purchased must be paid in full on Saturday, Nov. 14 by Philippine Peso, check, VISA, Mastercard or bank transfer if paying from abroad.
Silverlens Bank Details: UnionBank of the Philippines, Pasong Tamo Extension Branch , Priscilla 100 Building, 2297 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City, Philippines Bank Code/Swift: UBPHPHMM; Account Number: 023-10-1-00626-0 Beneficiary Name: Silverlens Inc. Intermediary Bank Details (for friends abroad): Bank Name: Standard Chartered Bank Bank Code/Swift: SCBLUS33
The winning bidder must leave with the artwork purchased on Saturday, Nov. 14. Arrangements can be made for shipping purchased art (for bidders abroad). Winning bidders based abroad will be notified by Silverlens Gallery to confirm shipping arrangements after a successful bid. Shipping and delivery costs are for the account of the buyer.
Photo above: "Monsters in the Orchestra 2" by Alfred Esquillo.
You make a 1 to 5 minute digital film about climate change in Asia & the Pacific, and we’ll get the world to watch it.
Your film can be in any digital video format – you can even use your mobile phone. We accept films in any genre, including but not limited to animation, documentary, drama, experimental, art, testimonial, etc.
Videos can be in any language, though contestants are strongly encouraged to include subtitles and a full length script in English, in order to facilitate public outreach and the contest process.
Wow man. You print an negative article about the Philippines, people complain. So you print a positive article, and people STILL complain. Whatever. It seems more than apparent that there is no common agreement about what image we Filipinos should project upon the world.
So if I must be the only one living in some delusional bubble where it's all deliriously happy Filipinos spontaneously dancing in a parking lot in Makati sometime in the late 1970's doing choreography highly inspired by Jesus Christ Superstar set to music highly inspired by the BeeGees, then so be it. It's a world that I'd rather live in. Pffft. Blebo. Che kayong lahat with extra rice.
To paraphrase future Philippine National Artist for Literature, Miss Melanie Marquez, "I'm cutting us some slacks."
I received this in the email today. I'm printing this as my own way of balancing recent reports on our "hopelessness" and "misery". It's from an Australian national who also happens to be upset about our one dimensional image in international media. I just wonder who the German "journalist" who he mentioned in the article might be...
Viewing The Philippines In A Different Light
by Scott Allford
October 18, 2009
If you live outside of the Philippines and you watch or read the news you may feel very justified in believing that the Philippines is a very dangerous country, savaged by typhoons, earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, and terrorist attacks. You may also be assured in your belief that it is a poor country with images of children picking through garbage, slums, and corruption scandals broadcast in most international news reports. I am not going to deny that these things are true, however, they are not all that the country contains. Not every person in the Philippines is poor, a terrorist or a victim of terror. In fact other countries around the world suffer from these same problems yet they do not become iconic images of those nations.
The Common View of the Philippines
A few months ago I was at a roof-top birthday party in Makati filled with socialites and expats. Whilst there I was introduced to a German ‘journalist’, and my friend asked him why the Philippines is portrayed in such a negative light in the foreign media. His response was in two parts; Firstly because in his experience he could not sell stories about the Philippines in Germany if they were not about poverty, violence or corruption. Secondly, he said that because there is so much poverty, violence, and corruption, there is nothing else to report on. After saying this, he sipped his glass of red wine and was whisked away into a group of Filipino socialites.
Perhaps the red wine was ‘poor’ in taste, or the fact that that particular roof-top was one of the few in Makati which doesn’t have a swimming pool made him focus on the poverty in the Philippines, or maybe the sounds of merrymaking were ‘violent’ on his ears. I think that it was none of these things. Germany, a developed country, has slums. But if the focus can be moved away from the poverty in the developed countries and put on some islands way out in the Pacific Ocean, then people in developed countries can feel a little bit better.
I remember growing up in Australia, taking garbage out to the dump after cleaning up the garden. I would see Aboriginals picking through the garbage for food. Yet that has never been an iconic image of Australia. I went to ‘water villages’ in Malaysia and Brunei and thought how similar they look to slums in Manila. Yet ‘water villages’ are tourist attractions and the slums here are not. I lived in South Korea a few hundred kilometres away from the DMZ, with jets and helicopters flying overhead all the time it felt like a war zone. In the spring I would have 40 tanks facing in the direction of my apartment. Yet South Korea is generally not viewed or branded as a dangerous country. And South Korea has slums too. Perhaps the time will come when people outside the Philippines will come to realize that the branded image of the Philippines portrayed in the media is only a small piece of the full picture of this country.
A Different View
Since the Philippines was settled by people 30,000 years ago, this country has blossomed into a mix of over 180 indigenous ethnic groups, over half of which also represent unique linguistic groups. This array of cultures, languages and cultural artifacts cannot be matched by most nations of the world. From the Ilocano, Pangasinense, Kapampangan, Tagalog, Bicolano, and Visayans to the Binukid, Moros, Ati, Igorot, and the T’boli, just to name a few. These cultures are rich, strong and proud and in most cases the people that make up these cultures are very friendly and welcoming to outsiders. On a trip to Sagada I was welcomed into a very warm and friendly Kankanaey family. T hey showed us around Sagada and told us stories of Kankanaey cultural practices. They even taught me how to wear a traditional bahag (a hand-loomed loin cloth or G-string).
Neighbouring Sagada is Ifugao, with vast rice terraces that shape the mountains of the region. The oldest rice terraces are 6,000 years old, which is 1,000 years older than the oldest pyramid in Egypt. If put end to end the rice terraces dwarf the Great Wall of China, and the rice terraces were not made by using slave labor like most other ancient wonders of the world.
The Banaue Rice Terraces are a UNESCO World Heritage site. But they are not alone. The Philippines have numerous UNESCO world heritage sites including the Baroque churches of San Agustin Church in Manila, Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion in Santa Maria, Ilocos Sur, San Agustin Church in Paoay, Ilocos Norte, and Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Church in Miag-ao, Iloilo. There is also the beautiful and historic town of Vigan in Ilocos Sur. Furthermore, there are the natural UNESCO World Heritage sites of the Puerto-Princesa Subterranean River National Park and the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park.
Lastly, the Philippines consists of 7,107 beautiful islands. These islands contain remote beaches and amazing rock formations as well as other natural wonders like the Chocolate Hills in Bohol, the perfectly conical Mt. Mayon volcano or the stunning Bacuit Bay in El Nido, Palwan. B ut also on these islands is a range of biodiversity not seen in most other places on the planet. In Romblon, Sibuyan Island is known as the Galapagos of Asia as it contains such a diverse range of species which can be found nowhere else on the planet. If you get off these islands and dive into the cool blue-turquoise waters of the Philippines, you may also see some of the richest biodiversity in the world’s seas. The Verde Island Passage has been named as the ‘centre of the centre’ of marine biodiversity in the world. It has over 300 species of corals as well as vast numbers of fish that you will not find anywhere else.
With all that this country has to offer, I am baffled as to why it has been branded in such a negative way by the international media. However, I think that more and more people are starting to discover that there is a different side to the Philippines to the one they have been bombarded with for the past few decades. Those who come to the Philippines to seek out the beauty of this country will not be disappointed. However, first time travelers to the Philippines should beware, just like me and many other foreigners, this amazing country may compel you to stay quite a bit longer than you initially planned.
Scott M. Allford
has lived and worked in Australia and South Korea and has traveled extensively throughout Asia - Mongolia, China, Tibet, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Indonesia and Japan – fell in love with the Philippines and decided to allocate at least two years to comprehensively cover the country.
DOUCHE OF THE MONTH: THE HONOLULU ADVERTISER AND RICHARD HALLORAN
Ladies and Gentlemen, allow me to present to you perhaps this year's worst article about the Philippines - both in content and it the way it was written. It's an article that is pointlessly denigrating, badly researched, badly written, and badly classified as the local news in the Honolulu Advertiser. Who the hell is this fart Richard Halloran? Why does he think we are in East Asia? Why won't he name the sources of some of his 'quotes'? And why was he given a damn Pulitzer Prize*? Wha? So please, tell me what you think. Click on the article HERE.
And while you are at it, tell him and the Honolulu Advertiser as well.
firstname.lastname@example.org and @honadv
*And seriously, his Pulitzer doesn't say much. Look up another Pulitzer Prize winner named Walter Duranty (above)...
SOFIA Celebrates the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage
As one of the lead organizations dedicated to the cause of audiovisual preservation in the country, The Society of Filipino Archivists for Film (SOFIA) has lined-up a series of activities in celebration of the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage on October 27, 2009, at the Cultural Center of the Philippines starting at 9am.
As declared by the UNESCO, October 27 has been designated as the World Day for AV Heritage to raise awareness to the significance of AV documents and to draw attention to the need to safeguard them. With this year's theme “Fading Heritage: We Can Save It” as backdrop, the following activities have been slated:
Seminar workshop on the basic handling and preservation of audiovisual materials. To be conducted by SOFIA officers Makk Junio, Emma Rey and Mary del Pliar, this workshop will cover storage, handling, restoration methods, equipment recommendations and disaster preparedness.
Launching of the SOFIA website. SOFIA goes online with the launch of its official website where visitors can learn more about the organization and its various programs and activities, receive the latest news and updates, as well procedures on how to volunteer and be a member.
Screening of Richard Abelardo's Mutya ng Pasig. To cap off the day's events, and to honor the memory of film preservation stalwart Alexis Tioseco, there will be a screening of Richard Abelardo's classic 1950's film Mutya ng Pasig.
A fee of 500.00 pesos will be charged per participant and is inclusive of a workshop kit, snacks, certificate of participation and membership to SOFIA.
For more details, please contact Vicky Belarmino at 832-1125 loc. 1704 to 1705 or Monchito Nocon at 0920 2836393 or email email@example.com
I'm convinced that the internet is becoming the world's new confessional. I received this letter a couple of days ago from a Catolico Cerrado who just had to get some things off her chest.
Date: Tue, 13 Oct 2009 From: DOLORES Subject: Looking for 20 Filipinos to speak up To: firstname.lastname@example.org
I have long been for the passage of the RH bill and would really want to help. Unfortunately, "I ain't got no balls".
My family, especially my in-laws are mostly "Saradong Katoliko" and so are many of my dearest friends. They follow whatever the church dictates. It's very difficult for me. I am also a practicing Catholic and wonder why I so don't agree with the church on this issue. I support the bill but I'm afraid to speak up because I don't want to be condemned or ostracized especially by my friends.
The church has been such a big bully in all this. Although I'm sure you can find 20 people to speak up, I think there are perhaps more people who are just like me, supporting the bill but not openly.
Over the weekend I was with a mixed group of ladies, chatting while preparing food for typhoon victims. The question was asked "So how do you feel about Noynoy supporting the RH bill?'' to a lady whose family was working very hard to convince people to reject the bill but at the same time will be supporting Noynoy. She replied saying that they will be "working" on him to convince him to change his stand.
Many months ago, or was it maybe a year or so ago, (when this issue was all over the news), my parish church was working very hard to get our support for their anti-RH stand. They would pass a paper for us to sign DURING THE MASS--how desperate, I thought. I didn't sign it and I think a lot just passed it on without signing also. We've also recently had speeches from members of the parish talking about the "evils" of the bill, before the mass ended which meant that they had a captive market.
Also about the same time, I got into a discussion about this with a very close friend who was anti-RH bill. After I put forth all my arguments and she was kinda "losing the debate", she told me even then that anyway, this was not going to be passed because the church had already convinced GMA not to sign this. I guess this meant that even if I was right, it didn't matter because they were stronger and worked harder to block it.
In my daughter's school, they are always praying that the bill will not be passed. I, on the other hand, have been praying but for the passage of the bill and for the enlightenment of those working against its passage. My daughter knows how I feel about this bill but I told her to just follow what the school says so she doesn't get into trouble.
I feel for you because you are working so hard for this and I so agree we need this bill. I don't need to give you my reasons because you know more than me the merits and importance of this bill. I have in fact become convinced because of what I've read mostly from you.
Sorry if I seem like a big coward to you. I don't really think I can handle going up against the church. I'm no David against that Goliath.
Well, maybe you should take a poll on just how many there are of us--who are Catholics and support the bill but are afraid to openly go against the church. Maybe there's a way those of us who are not so courageous can show our numbers without identifying ourselves.
From: carlos celdran To: DOLORES Sent: Tuesday, October 13, 2009 18:08:03 Subject: RE: Looking for 20 Filipinos to speak up Hi there. Thank you so much for emailing me. I am amazed at the responses I have had these past few hours. So much support. And although there really is no way to help if you hide your identity (Really, there isn't. Either one speaks up or doesnt'. There are no grey areas), I think you have already done quite enough. Just speaking up with your family at the dinner table and instilling your values to your children and not allowing your kids to get brainwashed is already a courageous act. Not all battles have to be big ones. You are taking little steps. Good for you. It's better than not doing anything at all. Once again, thanks so much for emailing me. It's really sweet of you. And trust me, although the bullies may have won this battle through unfair methods, people of my ilk are now realizing that we are not alone. The movement has started. And we are active. And we are thinkers. We'll get far. Maybe not tomorrow. But soon. Trust me. All the best. Carlos
I wonder how many Dolores' there are out there. It really made me think. And really made me more determined to keep this discussion going. And how about you? Pipi ka ba O Pepe?
The makers of those great maps/guides that I've been hawking around town are looking for a dedicated hard working Filipino to join their team. Please contact Groovy Map n' Guides of Bangkok for an amazing opportunity to work with really amazing people. I would apply for the job myself if I wasn't so damned busy.
GROOVY MAP N' GUIDES BANGKOK is looking for a dedicated sales person here to take charge of our international sales and distribution, make contacts with international (ASEAN region) customers and generally help build our regional distribution.
They are looking for someone personable, fluent in English, and willing to do some travelling around the region! If you think you are that person, email my friend Niki at the address below and send her your CV. Think about it. Fun! Travel! Bangkok!
The Cultural Center of the Philippines will be hosting an artist-led fundraising event for Ondoy and Pepeng typhoon victims. It will be the whole day of Oct 25, Sunday from 10am till 10pm. Visual artists will be auctioning off a collaborative mural, Rock Ed will be hosting a medicine drive at the front ramp, and stand up comedians will perform in a show called "Comic Relief" at the CCP Main Theater. Classical artists will also perform at the Little theater.
You all better be there. It's a great way to spend a Sunday.
Read some excellent words from Miss Shirin Bhandari on Ana Santos' blog. So glad that she had the strength to speak freely about what's on her mind. She is amazingly articulate about her experiences with Catholicism. I'm looking forward to hearing more testimonies from folks like her.
Seriously, there are modern day Damasos in our society. It's time to start the discussion and continue what Jose Rizal started.
So. Pipi ka ba o Pepe?
Oh, and in support of the RH Bill (which can still be refiled in the next Congress) both Mag:net venues will host "Wombrock" a fund raising campaign organized by the Family Planning Organization of the Philippines (FPOP):
KAPISANAN, the premier Philippine arts/cultural organization of Toronto, has recently received funding to create a brand new website. They are seeking illustrators to support it's overall vision and art direction. The chosen illustrator will be working under the Creative Director (Christine Mangosing - www.christinemangosing.com).
We are looking for 3 main illustrations (to represent 3 main sections of the site) which we will be taking pieces of to complete the overall look of the entire website.
The illustrations created will visually represent the KAPISANAN Centre and should evoke the mood/ambience/energy of the Centre and its people through the recommended styles described below to be used as the foundation of the new design for www.kapisanancentre.com.
• Point of reference is Scandinavian folk art, as adapted by illustrator Sanna Annukka (http://www.sanna-annukka.com/ or images also attached)
• Make use of the simplified forms (icons), repetition and organic flow of elements characteristic of the style, while incorporating elements specific to Philippine culture.
Make use of:
- flora and fauna native to the Philippines (ie. sampaguita, gumamela (hibiscus), anahaw palm leaves, santan, waling-waling, pineapples, papayas, mangoes, etc)
- stylistic elements found in architecture, furniture and textiles from both indigenous and post-Spanish culture (ie. T'boli tribe (below) t'nalak patterns, embroidery on barongs, geometric tattoo patterns from northern Luzon mountain tribes, Philippine Art Nouveau embroidery and decor from the turn of the century (EXAMPLE: THE Manila Metropolitan Theater (above), etc)
- objects common to the daily life of a Filipino (paypay (fan), banig, fork + spoon, jeepney, tricycle, rice cooker, etc)
BE CREATIVE, make it your own, make it FILIPINO, do your research, have fun!
Illustrations can be hand-drawn/hand-made using media of your choice (as long as it can be digitized and further manipulated -- scanned and vectorized) or digitally re-produced.
Please contact email@example.com if you are interested in this job.
Ok. So I guess you've all heard the news by now. Barring Congress' sudden refocus of priorities, The Reproductive Health Bill HB5043 will not pass during this Congress. I know. It's both infuriating and bewildering but as you know, this administration has been notorious for not giving the people what they want - nor deserve. Especially infuriating were reports that it was PGMA herself who called up Speaker of the House Nograles to push for the cancellation of the interpollation/discussion/vote on HB5043 in favor of rushing talks of their budget allotments. Money is apparently all that they want to talk about for the next month, then afterwards, it's the filing of candidacies for their re-election and game over. The bill will be archived and we have to re-file and start from frigging scratch after the May 2010 elections. Jeez. I am convinced now more than ever that some government officials hate their own people and perhaps even derive thrills from the thought of malnourished babies and mothers. (Shot of starting point, the Sandiganbayan on Commonwealth Ave.)
But nevertheless, we're not giving up. This is only a minor obstacle. Plan B is in the works. The war isn't over yet. Meanwhile. here are some shots from our march to Congress last Sept. 22. (yours truly joining the march, above).
Pregnant women from the low income sector protesting the government's denial of their rights to reproductive health information and services (above).
Just a few words for y'all.
Reproductive health advocates Jun and Beth leading the march.
Even kids know that this country needs the Reproductive Health Bill passed.
Protesters from various citizen's groups marching from Commonwealth to the gates of the Batasang Pambansa (Philippine Congress). We were almost eight hundred all in all. Then again, I'm not good in gauging numbers. It could have been more.
Arrival at the gates of Congress.
Representative Risa Hontiveros of Akbayan addressing the crowd. She part of the Noynoy-Mar ticket. I'm voting for her.
The super chica wrangler. She didn't break out into a sweat at all during the rally. Snack break. Protesting can really work up an appetite and there is really nothing more satisfying than the "rally cuisine" of Manila. I'm sure some of you know what I'm talking about. Ayala Avenue rallies usually have a better spread, but dirty ice cream is always a mob pleaser.
Shot of some congressman's Jaguar driving through the mob into the gate (above). Gross. Infuriating. Disgusting juxtaposition. Really.
And finally, shots of the Batasang Pambansa's manicured lawns and plush plenary hall. (above)
So when thinking about who to vote for this coming 2010 elections, think of this issue. And if you want to know who were the personalities who rabidly spread lies about HB5043 and worked the hardest to deprive impoverished women of their rights to plan a family and aggravate our population problems, I've enclosed a list for your perusal. Check 'em out. Some of them are really surprising. I've also included their phone numbers. ;o)
Abante, Bienvenido Jr. 6th Manila 9518965 Antonino, Rodolfo W. 4th Nueva Ecija 931-6042 Apostol, Trinidad "Ebbie" G. 2nd Leyte 931-5415 Bagatsing, Amado S. 5th Manila 951-0918 Bonoan-David, Ma. Theresa 4th Manila 931-5445 Chatto, Edgardo M. 1st Bohol 931-5258 Coscolluela Ma. Carissa O. Partylist BUHAY 9316442 Crisologo, Vincent P. 1st Quezon City 951-0892 Del Mar, Raul V. 1st Cebu City 9315804 Garcia, Albert S. 2nd Bataan 931-5891 Garcia, Pablo John F. 3rd Cebu 931-6261 Garcia, Pablo P. 2nd Cebu 931-5197 Golez, Roilo S. 2nd Parañaque City 931-6624 Gullas, Eduardo R. 1st Cebu RVMB 951-8924 Locsin, Teodoro Jr. 1st Makati City 931-5883 Mandanas , Hermilando I. 2nd Batangas 931-5582 Mercado, Roger Gaviola Lone Southern Leyte 932-9196 Mitra, Abraham Kahlil B. 2nd Palawan 951-8922 Piamonte, Mariano Jr. Partylist A Teacher 931-5210 Rodriguez, Rufus B. 2nd Cagayan De Oro City 931-6730 Romulo, Roman T. Lone Pasig City S 931-6283 Susano, Mary Ann L. 2nd Quezon City N 931-5116 Tieng, William Irwin C. Partylist BUHAY N - 606 931-5547 Velarde, Rene M. Partylist BUHAY 9315974 Vinzons-Chato, Liwayway P. Lone Camarines Norte 931-5320 Zialcita, Eduardo C. 1st Parañaque 9518923
So c'mon. Call 'em up and tell them what's on your mind.
TIME AFTER TIME... Some of my quotes were mentioned in an article in Time Magazine once again. And although any mention of my name inside Time Magazine would be a thrill, it's unfortuate that it has to be about such a tragic event in our city's history. Read the article here.
And worse, another typhoon is expected to follow it's heels in a few hours.
Bloated Pasig River. Note vagrant defacating into river. Interviewed him after his dump. He said flooding was not so bad. Only up to knee. Underpass of Jones Bridge was pretty bad though.
The underpass next to Jones Bridge next to Manila Post Office. This was taken behind Manila Press Club. Water was higher than a person's forehead.
View from Intramuros wall overlooking golf course. Taken near Puerta Santa Lucia near San Agustin Monastery.
A completely submerged Puerta Real Gate. Waist high water at least.
A completely flooded entrance to Puerta Real.
Puerta Real Gardens next to Pamantasan ng Maynila. This was once a lawn where concerts are held.
Note submerged silver carozza. Entrance to Puerta Real.
This was once a garden. Now it's a lagoon. View towards Department of Labor.
Puerta Real Gate from the interior.
Side view of Puerta Real Gate.
Puerta Parian Gate near Manila City Hall. This is the office of my friends over at Kabayan. Their communications equipment was damaged. But computers safe. They told me about two deaths last night that happened near the area. One was an 18 year old on his way to pick up his girlfriend. While wading through chest high water, he touched a live wire. So sad.
Top view of flooded. Note the watermark on the little huts.
Another shot of area. But despite low elevation and close proximity of Intramuros to sea and Pasig River, the damage was not as bad as that in Marikina and Pasig.
The damaged base of the radio system of the Kabayan Security folks. Anyone know where I can have it repaired or how much a new one is? Security communications is an ABSOLUTE necessity inside Intramuros.
Sandbags outside San Agustin Museum. Water reached below the knee. No damage to any artifacts reported.
And despite this all. A wedding was still in progess.
Ah, the resiliency of the Filipino Spirit.
Now I'm off to volunteer for the Noynoy/Mar folk or Team Manila. Depends on which place I'm able to reach in this traffic.