Friday, November 30, 2007

Flushing the coup b'etat

It's quite fashionable nowadays to ask the President to step down, but if it's only Trillanes and cohorts who would initiate another uprising in a manner like yesterday's event, honestly, I'd rather stay home and sip tsokolate while watching all the drama unfold on TV. It's one thing to express dissent and to act on it -- hey, didn't we do just that in EDSA 2? -- but for a duly elected senator to walk out of a court proceeding, and take over a hotel with armed men -- I think we should draw the line. This was the same guy who struck fear among the citizenry by planting explosives around a Makati mall complex a few years back in a similar attempt to take power from a legally-sitting president, however spotty her reputation is. If I were still the impressionable UP freshman who was constantly exposed to ideas that we should fight for our rights, that the government is evil and change should start with the people (and so on), I would have said "Go Trillanes! Down with the Government! Behead the bastards!" But the years have made me realize that the most effective way to initiate change is from the inside. He was already there, for some reason allowed to run for office and actually won as senator, but he blew his chances. Okay, so he said he wasn't allowed to do his job as senator. But with his history of mouthing slogans, conspiracy theories, disrupting peace and disrespecting procedures that the law (which he is expected to uphold) has put in place, I think that's understandable. And staging a coup attempt on the eve of Bonifacio's birth anniversary? How tacky! So does he think he's the new Bonifacio?

The police reaction to the attempted coup was understandable, but admittedly a bit overkill. Trillanes' men were armed, and the state has the right to defend itself from those who would attempt to seize control of the government. But to ram a tank through the lobby entrance? Welcome to sunny Beirut! And what about the handcuffing of media people? Was that really necessary? The police explanation was they're just making sure that no Magdalo soldiers were pretending to be media people (indeed, two Magdalo soldiers were later discovered hiding in one of the rooms). The explanation kinda makes sense, but press people have huge IDs on their chests which would have really made it easier for them to be identified. The police could have just asked, or they could have just taken them to a nearby ballroom for identification, instead of handcuffing them and then hauling them inside a bus and taking them to police headquarters. I think the police officers were well-meaning; they just didn't see the negative impact their actions will have.

(Props to Ces Drilon et al for once again showing the true journalists they really are, as opposed to being just plain newsreaders. Take that, Korina Sanchez!)

Curfew? Again quite understandable especially as people from the slums were reportedly being made hakot (again) by the opposition to provide warm bodies for yet another People Power-ish shebang scheduled supposedly for today. But was it really legal? Enough grounds na ba ito to have curfew not just in Metro Manila but also in Central Luzon and the Calabarzon areas? Besides, curfews are scary because they remind people of Martial Law. Not now creeps, I'm trying to grow my hair long!

(Photo from

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Look what the cat dragged in...

Or to be precise, look what I found in Quiapo last weekend.

The band logos are stickers, so is the Billboard logo, while the Skid Row and Guns N Roses pictures are just that, pictures. I bought them in a store along Quezon Boulevard that used to be a record bar, and I think these are authentic relics from the 80s because the store still has lots of them, bundled in plastic bags, yellowing and covered in dust. Wow. I remember growing up in the province and seeing these stickers in tricycles and in my classmates' notebooks. And I remember that (badly printed) photos of bands (and also song lyrics with illustrations in them) were big with high school students in the late 80s and early 90s, buying them at the palengke and giving them away to friends and crushes with dedications at the back, or they (we) just inserted them under the plastic covers of their (our) books and notebooks.

I started high school in '89, and back then, my classmates were huge fans of hair metal bands, especially Guns N Roses (G'N'R), Skid Row, Poison, and Bon Jovi. At that time it briefly occurred to me that there must be something wrong with me because I wasn't into rock (I was heavily into...Technotronic and Roxette). But how come when Metallica released "Enter Sandman" and Nirvana came out with "Smells Like Teen Spirit" mere months apart in 1991, I immediately liked them? It was only recently that it occurred to me that maybe at that age I already had taste in music, hindi kaya? (pump up the jam, pump it up, while your feet are stompin', and the jam is pumpin', look at here the crowd is jumpin'...)

But now I appreciate those hair metal bands, in an ironic sort of way. I realized they're campy as hell. Now that they're fat and bald (serves you right for destroying the ozone with your Aqua Net!), they're now even more hilarious because some of them still seriously think that they have made a great contribution to humanity and that they were/are the bomb. Well, for a short period of time now relegated to our subconscious, they were.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Birth = Death!

November 28, 1976:

135,928 People

Strangely reassuring!

Friday, November 16, 2007

It's about time

It's that time of the year again when the editors of Time magazine deliberate on who would be its Person of the Year. Some of the names that have come up so far: Al Gore, Hillary Clinton, Steve Jobs, Condoleeza Rice, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. They're not going to give it to Ahmadinejad because, though the the Person of the Year title is given to one who had the most impact on the world (yes, world, not just America), they usually give it to someone who had a positive impact (like in 2001, when they gave it to Rudy Giuliani rather than to Osama Bin Laden). They're not going to give it to Al Gore, because they should probably have done that last year. They're not going to give it to Hillary; they'll probably wait till 2008. Last year, the distinction was given to "You." meaning us, for changing the internet through user-generated content through sites like YouTube and MySpace.

For this year, the editors of Time should consider giving the title Persons of the Year to ordinary folks who try to keep democracy alive wherever they are. I'm talking about the monks of Burma, and other demonstrators in countries like Pakistan, Malaysia, the Philippines, or wherever democracy is threatened by their own governments. I would also like to see the title given to the bloggers of the world, for tirelessly writing about things not usually covered by the media, and, especially those from places like China, the Middle East, and Africa, for fearlessly bringing to the world's attention unspeakable atrocities that their own governments try to hide. More than any other big personalities in the world, the common people, who usually only have the shirts on their back, a strong conviction (and an internet connection), without the support of influential friends and the machinery of a political party, deserve the world's praise and honor. It's about time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Diwali Mela at Mall of Asia

I made a pilgrimage to the SM Mall of Asia last Sunday to celebrate Diwali with our Indian-Filipino brothers and sisters. Diwali, also known as Deepavali or the Festival of Lights, marks the victory of good over evil, and uplifting of spiritual darkness. Symbolically it marks the homecoming of goodwill and faith after an absence, as suggested by the story of Ramayana. It is a special occasion to worship Lord Vishnu, Lord Ganesha, and the Goddess Lakshmi. In certain parts of India, Diwali is considered the start of the new year.

(This event made me realize that, hey, there are a lot of Indian-Filipinos. That yes, they are as Filipino as you and me as many of them were already born here, and therefore, wouldn't it be nice if we could all hang out every now and then to enrich each other's Filipino experience?)

I'm a huge fan of Indian culture so it was easy for me to decide to go. The fact that Pinikpikan was also the featured band was icing on the cake. Speaking of cake, the event was also an excuse for me to wolf down authentic Indian food from Queens and Kashmir restaurants, like vegetable samosas, chicken tikka, and roti chanai (ok, this last one is actually Malaysian). Sarap!

Pinikpikan played four songs as the largely-Indian audience trickled in. They weren't their energetic selves maybe because of the crowd that probably haven't heard about them, but I really liked when they did an Indian song. I thought that was it for the band; it turned out it was just warm-up for the guys. The national anthems of the Philippines and India were played afterwards, followed by a lighting of the lamps ceremony. Several Indian dances performed by Filipino dancers followed, though I wished Indian nationals did it instead because I think Filipino dancers are too graceful for the frenetic body and hand-eye movements that characterize Indian dances. Pinikpikan then took the stage again for a scorching rendition of Kahimanawari and Maski Diin, accompanied by the dancers doing both Indian and Filipino dances. The audience liked it a lot.

After a short fashion show, then came what I would call the Bollywood Diva Showdown. Eight girls went onstage to take turns imitating popular Bollywood actresses like Aishwarya Rai, Madhuri Dixit, Sushmita Sen, Kareena Kapoor, and Priyanka Chopra. My reaction was, no, you're not Aishwarya Rai. It came this close to being hideous, but the audience's enthusiastic response to the girls saved the number (which went almost as long as a Bollywood film).

There was a very mom-and-pop feel to the program, like when there's a family celebration and the children are forced to sing or dance in front of everybody. Even the decorations seemed home-made. It feels like an authentic Indian celebration, and I feel privileged to be there.

Pinikpikan came on again, after being fittingly introduced as the best band in the Philippines (cue applause from three people including me). They launched into Una Kaya, which most of the audience took as their cue to stand up, not to dance, but to head for the food stands or make chika or beso to the other guests. The children were more appreciative, as some of them went onstage to dance with the band. The band played several more songs until finally they brought out the gangsas for Kalipay, dancing and playing among the audience.

A fireworks display followed, as I stuffed my mouth with more Indian food, a perfect way to end the night.

Or so we thought. As we were all leaving, Sing India took the stage and before we knew it, a bhangra par-tay was in full swing.

By the way, the Indian Chamber of Commerce distributed free CDs of a mix labeled Diwali Mela 2007. If you have a Multiply account, get the sounds for your next masala party HERE.

Happy Diwali everyone!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Never underestimate the power of expression

Reposting the statement from the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) regarding the declaration of martial law in Pakistan. ANFREL was established in 1997 as Asia’s first regional network of civil society organizations. It strives to promote and support democratization at national and regional levels in Asia. Since it was founded, it has served towards strengthening the democratization of countries such as Sri Lanka, Nepal, Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, East Timor and Indonesia. From 1997 onwards until today, ANFREL has also been active in contributing its efforts to capacity building of member and non-member organizations on issues related to election observation, voter/civic education, electoral reform and public awareness for good democratic governance. I have been an ANFREL international election observer in the past and am looking forward to more missions with them.

Asian Civil Society Call for People's Power to be Returned, Constitution and Fundamental Freedoms Must be Upheld in Pakistan

9 November, 2007

We, the undersigned Asian Civil Society groups and organizations, oppose the imposition of emergency rule and suspension of the fundamental rights of the people of Pakistan. General Musharraf’s use of the situation in the country and justifications for the imposition of emergency rule violate the non-derogable rights, and therefore are in contravention of the international law.

We strongly condemn the arrests of the members of civil society, lawyers and concerned citizens, all of whom can be considered human rights defenders. It has been learnt that the protestors have been badly beaten, arrested and detained. The freedoms of expression, assembly and association have been severely curtailed by the General and all private media channels are unable to relay their news and bring the facts of the events to the people of Pakistan and the international community.

According to news reports, the general elections may be held by mid-January 2008. News reports in the DAWN (daily newspaper of Pakistan) have also quoted Attorney-General Malik Abdul Qayyum as saying that the National and provincial assemblies would be dissolved in 10 days’ time and the general elections held within the next 60 days’.

We reject the sham statement of the Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, who was quoted as saying, “We don’t want to disrupt the election process. We want a free election”. We vehemently oppose all the measures currently used by General Musharraf, which are violating the human rights and democratic principles in the country, while also stringently curtailing the freedoms of thought, expression, assembly and association, fundamental and necessary for a free and fair election in Pakistan.

We call upon the international community to apply pressure to General Musharraf to restore civilian rule and the constitutional order, and to release all the political detainees and human rights defenders. We also call for the restoration of the freedom of the media, to respect the independence of the judiciary, and to hold free and fair elections on time.

Finally, we call for the democratic environment to be re-established and full restoration of all fundamental rights to be upheld before the holding of any electoral activities.

We the undersigned

ASIAN organizations from 15 countries
(Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Philippines, East Timor, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nepal, India, Japan, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia, 2 regional and 1 international organizations)

1. Campaign Committee for Human Rights (CCHR-Thailand)
2. Independent Committee for Election Monitoring in Indonesia (KIPP-Indonesia)
3. Human Rights & Peace Society (HURPES-Nepal)
4. International Friends for Global Peace (IFGP-Sri Lanka)
5. World Forum Democracy in Asian (WFDA- Taiwan.)
6. Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD- Taiwan.)
7. Free and Fair Elections Foundation for Afghanistan (FEFA-Afghanistan)
8. The Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia (COMFREL-Cambodia)
9. The National Institute for Electoral Integrity (NIEI- Malaysia)
10. Institute for Political and Electoral Reform (IPER-Philippines)
11. Friend of the Third World (FTW –Sri Lanka)
12. InterBand (Yokohama-Japan)
13. Hong Kong Human Rights Monitor (HKHRM - Hong Kong)
14. Women Caucus for Politic in Timor Leste (WCPT-East Timor)
15. Judicial System Monitoring Program (JSMP- East Timor)
16. The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV-Philippines)
17. Movement for Democracy and Anti Corruption – (MDAC- Malaysian)
18. Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC- Afghanistan)
19. Working Group on Indigenous Communities (YAKSHI -India)
20. Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU - Australia)
21. Women Working Group on Livestock Development (Anthra-India)
22. Meepura Publication (Sri Lanka)
23 Centre for Electoral Reform (CETRO - Indonesia)
24. Komunitas SIAGA (Indonesia)
25. Sahabat Tjiliwung (Indonesia)
26. Yayasan Sepakat Musara (Aceh-Indonesia)
27. Yayasan Al-Fatha (Aceh-Indonesia)
28. Yayasan Bina Tani Mandiri (Aceh Indonesia).
29. Democracy Watch (Indonesia)
30. For Indonesian Development (4-indep/Indonesia)
31. PAPAN Foundation (Aceh – Indonesia)
32. Jaringan Pendidikan Pemilih untuk Rakyat (JPPR – Indonesia)
33. Center for Peoples Dialogue (Sri Lanka)
34. Democracy and Justice (DEKA-Indonesia)
35. Kelompok Lingkar Study –(KELADI Indonesia)
36. Democratic Commission for Human Development (Pakistan)
37. Thai Action Committee for Democracy in Burma (TACDB-Thailand)
38. Working Group on Justice for Peace (WGJP-Thailand)
39. Union for Civil Society (UCL-Thailand)
40. Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF-Thailand)
41. Young People for Democracy Movement (YPD - Thailand)
42. Human Rights and Development Foundation (HRDF-Thailand)
43. Thai Working Group for an ASEAN Human Rights Mechanism (Thailand)
44. The Midnight University (Thailand)
45. Environmental Litigation and Advocacy for the Wants (ENLAW-Thailand)
46. Student Federation of Thailand (SFT- Thailand)
47. Labor Rights Promotion Network (LPN-Thailand)
48. Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL- Regional)
49. Asian Institute for Human Rights (AIHR- Regional)
50. South East Asia Regional Initiatives for Community Empowerment (SEARICE-

For further information pls. contact Mr. Ichal Supriadi at 085 8229002 and Mr. Metha Matkow at 081 4555928, Bangkok, Thailand

* * * * *

I would also like to repost here something I got through e-mail calling for citizens' response to the declaration of martial law. Translation follows below.

English translation as it appeared in the e-mail from Aimal Khan.

Are you afraid to Speak AGAINST the Ruling Dictatorship?



Are you concerned about the Emergency Situation Imposed by Musharraf?

Do you want to see a Better, Peaceful, Progressive and Stable Pakistan?


As an Individual You can:

1. Tie Black Arm Bands/ Wrist Bands/ Head Bands

As a family you can:

2. Hoist a Black Flag on your Home/ Car

As a responsible citizen of Pakistan:

3. You can encourage this Peaceful Protest and spread the word on Black Bands.

REMEMBER: Silence is a form of Admission!


Never Underestimate the Power of Expression!

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Ano ga a-re?

(Note: This is the introduction to my new blog, Taaleño, which will deal with stuff about living in my hometown of Taal, Batangas. The language I will use for this blog is conversational Batangueño -- kasi, wala lang -- as spoken in our town. Stress on that one because Batangueño is spoken differently in each town; heck, even in each barrio. The blog is located at I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'd actually have time to write on it.)

Areng blog na a-re ay tungkol sa aking naging buhay sa aming bayan ng Taal, Batangas, pati na ang aking pagmumuni-muni sa kung anu-anong bagay tungkol sa pamumuhay duon ngay-on. Ang ginamit kong salita ay "doon" dahil sa Maynila na ako nakatira pamula pa nuong ako'y nag-college nuong 1993, pero tinuturing ko pa rin ang sarili ko na isang Taaleño, tuto-ong Batangueño. Pa-minsan-minsan na laang akong nakaka-uwi, pag Pasko, Bagong Taon, Mahal na Araw, Araw ng mga Patay, piyesta, at pag may padasal o may namamatay sa pamilya. Pero sa tuto-o laang, kahit hindi ako umuwi, kahit saan man ako makarating, nakatali pa rin ang pusod ko sa Taal, kung saan ako nagkamuni, natutong mabuhay, at nagkalaman ang sintido.

Dahil ito'y isang blog, ang mga opinyon at saloobin dito ay sa akin laang. Hindi ko ginustong magsalita para sa aking mga kababayan. Pero kung sinu man ang magbabasa, sana naman ay may mapulot kayong bago, o maengganyong dumalaw sa aming bayan, na sa aking opinyon ay siya pa ring pinakamagandang bayan sa aming probinsya ng Batangas.

How addicted to blogging are you?

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Okay, maybe not that addicted, but anything more would be too much for me.