Friday, April 18, 2008

For The Things that Really Matter

Image modified - source from lankalibrary

My long absence and silence from my blogs had a reason. Breaking this silence has its reason too.

For some time now I have observed this government slowly sink into the dark pits of its own making. Allowing the corrupt among high levels of government to feed on the lifeblood of its people has led to mismanagement of the basic things that really matter; food, water, shelter and clothing...the simple things. The corrupting influence has now matured even affecting the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court itself. But of course this has already been predicted.

The current problem with the food crisis has also been foreseen. Unknown to these dark creatures installed or appointed into the corridors of power, their very action of corrupt and abusive practice led to what the nation is now. This had happened in the very unfortunate period of our nation. If only properly managed, by this time the idle barren lands would be full of fruit bearing Jatropha a source of biofuel and would have lessened our nation’s dependence on oil (I wonder what happened to the five billion peso allocation for this.) More importantly this plant could have been a stopgap for whatever happens to the unstable world conditions which has a steadily growing number of disasters, whether natural or man-made. By this time, our millions of hectares of undeveloped and idle agricultural land should have provided us with farm produce enabling us to attain food sufficiency and security.

What had happened in the years that passed? The unresolved fertilizer scam is only the tip of the corruption iceberg, compared to the avalanche of neglect for our country’s future. Even now, you could inspect the massive unnecessary infrastructures built by government which leads one to conclude that up to now the “moderate” or “immoderate” corruption mechanism is still in effect. Instead of money being spent to aid our countrymen develop their idle land, government pours down money where an effective conduit for corrupt pay-offs to flourish. Perpetrators of this have created a mechanism which extends from municipal level up to the national level. This is not new and they want to make sure it stays that way.

Image from

As of recent, government official and unofficial “spokesmen” say that there is no rice crisis; this of course is another half-truth. There may not be a CURRENT rice crisis in a proportion some imagined; however there is an actual PROJECTED rice crisis caused by calamities happening in countries all over the world, which includes our nation. Trying to allay the fears of the citizenry while they quietly try to fix the mess we’re in is a typical standard move of the administration; in any case this may be beside the point. The point is that there is a deficit in rice production for our country and that we cannot attain self sufficiency now and in the immediate future.

If the natural calamities continue in our nation and Southeast Asian region, even if we boost development of our long neglected
irrigation system, it may well nigh be too late. The effect of corruption is exponential, therefore something committed years ago would affect the condition of the “now” and in this instance the health of our agriculture industry and food self sufficiency. More that two years ago this deficit has been headline news, yet instead of taking action, those in position took the money and laughed all the way to the bank. The administration instituted a system of sycophancy, within Congress, the National Police, the Armed Forces and now the Supreme Court; as such the disaster looms nearer and is at a real loss for a permanent solution.

As I have said, most of these sycophants whose brain power is often limited to self-interest, preserving power, preserving those who GIVE power, and money to name a few; these poor sods don’t know what’s coming to them. The only sad thing here is … their greed, abuse and arrogance would take the rest of the country to chaos with them, including you, me … us. The results of their sin will be upon us and the sin of the substantial number of our countrymen who have doped themselves with creature comforts, computers, fashion, fame and other Metropolitan pleasures to escape the reality of declining standard of morals within our leadership and society will for certain heavily contribute to the looming catastrophe.

Already the crops of the last season failed in Mindanao and Visayas because of strong untimely rains. Freak weather conditions (Ever heard of tornadoes with hail and ice in the southern Philippines before?) have become the norm yet we fail to diagnosis this fact and prepare for any impending crisis. Two or three planting seasons that fails in the Southeast Asian region would spell disaster in a nation lacking in food surplus, guess which nation fail in this regard? …the nation that does not have adequate food stock and production surplus. You don’t have to look far.

An untimely combination of calamities, forest denudation, water pollution and growing population could result in raging discontent within the populace. Making matters worse, the type of discontent would be something which would hit closer to home … our stomachs and our pockets.

The only solution I can think of right now is a shift of food crops for production. To start weaning our populace from the water intensive and sensitive rice produce. At most, a hectare of ricefield can produce 100 sacks or approximately 5 tons of palay, which converts to about 3 tons of rice. Hybrid rice may increase this yield (perhaps double this) but in reality not significantly so; this is because of the dependence of high yield rice to fertilizers and pesticides (Nice work, colonial mentality led us to develop rice hybrids heavily dependent on imported chemicals.) Either lack or too much rain equally decreases the yield of any rice variety, whether hybrid or not.

Another calamity that is besetting our ricefields is the Blackbug. This pest strip the rice stalks of its sustenance. This insect is also highly resistant to pesticide. The “Light Trap” (High intensity light is used to draw these horde of insects since they are attracted to light sources during the night) is only a stopgap solution which never really got rid of this problem. So
where do we go from here? The answer is development of a different food crop source. And I would volunteer one word … Sweet Potato.

I have read this in an article somewhere, in any case I would not go into the details. I would rather let the lazy corrupt sycophants in office figure this out as this is their original job in the first place.

So one might ask why I choose to tell all of this knowing that I would also be helping out the graft ridden people, currently wallowing in a disgusting system which this administration has created, to think. For months now I was torn between letting this administration drown in a coming disaster of its own making (along with the rest of us) or giving a sound suggestion for the sake of love for my countrymen.

After more than a month of reflection, eventually my love for my countrymen won out over my disgust for this government. Besides, this administration would likely not listen anyway (or at least pretend not to but would do it several months down the line and crow about their brilliance) and by the time they do, and if these calamities continue their course, it would be too late. They have several years to do this or else it will be for naught. (Divine
Providence might forgive us yet and give us some slack; however, gauging by our collective behavior, I would not heavily bet on it.) Who knows, if this government and my apathetic fellow countrymen come to their senses, I may volunteer more information on the suggested alternate food source … or then again, maybe I would not.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Philippine Oligarchic Syndicracy Diagram (Courtesy of Romulo Neri)

click above diagram to enlarge

I got this Oligarchic Syndicracy Diagram (a form of government that I coined which means "a government run by the rich and criminal syndicates") from Manuel L. Quezon III's site under the topic, Dodging Concrete Demands. Some describe it as a Booty Capitalism Chart. Whatever it's description, this diagram shows the plight of our nation under unscrupulous powers that be. This chart was given by Secretary Neri to Columnist Lito Banayo and presented in the Philippine Senate for investigation.

Know Yourself, it was said then we knew People Power; now it is time to Know Our Enemies.

As cvj had said, we need this chart for "future spring cleaning."

A comment from Manolo Quezon went "
What’s interesting is his (Neri's) focus is on six captive industries, revolving around Alcantara, Aboitiz, Razon, Tan, and Gokongwei. The bubbles are, apparently, his view of “circles of influence.”"

I suspect the battle lines will soon be drawn.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Of Symbols and Manifestos

Protest movements, especially in the Philippines, have a very prolific way of creating symbols, slogans, manifestos, labels, logos and what not. Even the beeps of car horns and whistles carry their meaning. For example if the slogan is “Gloria Resign!”, the horn goes Beeep Beeep, Bi-Bip. It is actually similar to Marcos’ old horn beat derived from the slogan “Marcos, Pa Rin!” Cory Aquino’s horn beat repeatedly goes Beeep Beeep, for the “Co-ry! Co-ry!” chant. So now I present the Gloria Resign movement its own set of symbols, labels, logos, and manifestos which are posted below.

(All photos below from Kabayan)

Do you wish more? Just post in the comment section...

Friday, February 29, 2008

For Whom do We Fight For? (Conclusion)

(continued from For Whom do We Fight For? (Part 1))

Photo by Kabayan

What am I talking about here? Is it social welfare? Is it socialism? Is it enlightened capitalism? None of those mentioned. This is a system of Common Sense; simple principles like; do not seek what is really far in excess of what you need, do not steal even if the one you’re robbing is rich, do not steal even if you claim you’ll give the funds to the needy, do not kill including those babies in the womb for the sake of population control, do not force people but rather teach and enlighten them, be a good example so that people will emulate your goodness.

As such I would like to throw all those violent and twisted philosophies which encourage greed, violence, absolute political control whether by an individual, junta, clique, an oligarchy or Politburo. For those light on their tongue, do not criticize the people as stupid but rather be there and patiently teach them and lead them by example.

Going back to my interview of Aling Cynthia and Buboy, why do I even bother with what some consider as “small people”? In truth the moral backbone of a government is how much and how efficient is it in helping these people grow and stand on their own two feet. A caring government is a powerful government as it draws its power from the virtues of the ordinary man; not from man-made laws, legalism, strategies, manipulation and hypocrisy. The same is true for society, the moral backbone of society is how much and how efficient is it in helping these people have a better and stable life.

Photo by Kabayan

How are we faring so far, have we done enough? How about for these destitute mothers with their newborn children, have we done enough?

Photo by Kabayan

Is it enough to criticize, point out philosophical and political imperfections caused by what some considered as a dumb sector of society then huffily go back to posh homes, snazzy cars, DVD, TV, PC, IPOD, PDA or whatever acronyms which are synonymous with the good life? Is working 10 hours a day for one’s personal benefit really necessary while one already earns millions on interest deposits alone? Do we feel that we solely deserve what we have because we’re smart and others dumb? Do you feel pricked by these previous questions I gave? If you are, then probably need to reflect your life and basic common sense values. For me being rich gained through honest work is acceptable, but let us not forget that even the crumbs we nonchalantly waste are actually enough to create a small vibrant business for others.

As such I offer a new paradigm, to make yourself rich you must make those below your economic standing richer so that they can afford to buy what you’re selling or offering. In effect they are rich and as natural consequence, you too get richer. For example, San Miguel beer commercials waste hundreds of millions of pesos for a grand advertisement which simply makes rich hired celebrities even richer. They would have fared better in marketing their beers if they aid farmers to plant more coconut trees and other farm products.

Jet Li, superstar of a San Miguel Beer commercial

How about us? Do we really need to spend tens of thousands to have front row seats of concerts just to be near enough to see the sweat of foreign singers? Do we really need that new cell phone just because it has a small extra feature or because it carries an electronic chip model 8.071 instead of a model 8.07?

Beyonce Knowles in Manila

(photo from

For whom do we fight for then? It is not for a President or representative of our government. It is not for big business or helping another country fight its wars. It is not for a kind or system of government with all its “isms” (Capitalism, Socialism, Fascism etc.) and struggle for control of politics, influence, money and power.

We fight for our own development and upliftment as a people.

We fight for those who have lesser in life so that they too can feel what it is to have freedom from extreme poverty.

We fight so we have a good moderate living where life is more valuable than money, where values count more than wealth.

We fight so as we could go back to the roots of why we really are here in this Earth. To help one another, to enjoy each other’s company, to have relative freedom from want, and to put it in a more spiritual context, to Love God, Love our fellow human beings and Love Nature which sustains and nurture us. For some a billion dollars is not enough, but for others P 50 pesos is the world to them since that is the budget of a poor family’s daily meal.

We fight in a way were as much as possible, no blood will be shed since sometimes those whom we fight are fellow Filipinos who are just as trapped in an evil system as we too are.

We fight for society and we fight with out ideas, our words, our courage, our strength, and in extreme instances even with our lives.

In retrospect, have we given our small share to raise up these people till there be no more dregs of society? As such I do not talk only about money here but also service, have we truly been patient enough to educate them on the right way of life and living? But then that begs the question, are we also doing right and good living ourselves?

When I started to leave, Aling Cynthia offered to sell her softdrinks, while Buboy offered his hopia, I was not thirsty and I do not really like hopia but I bought them just the same. Buboy passed the Sparkle softdrink to me and mistakenly undercharged me by half, Cynthia lightly castigated him while the apprentice scratched his head. I finally waved and bid them farewell.

Some people were leaving now but more are still arriving. Those who have arrived many hours early were replaced by newcomers. I suspect that the 8 pm deadline for the rally permit cannot be imposed.

As I walked back home, I saw and picked up a 10 centavo coin. It has been a strange occurrence in my life that every time I did something good or worthwhile that I pick up assorted type of coins, colorful marbles and nice curios after my deed. I mused upon the coin; I guess it was a job well done. Getting my camera batteries drained may simply have been an opportunity to know and touch the lives of people whom society has taken for granted. Perhaps losing my opportunity to bring back quality photos of the momentous event was not such a bad thing after all.

*** Fin ***

For Whom do We Fight For? (Part I)

(story continued from Amid the Flags and Banners)

Jostling for a space to pass through, I was briefly distracted by some pretty girls in the group warily guarded by nuns. Pushing and squeezing to my destination my head turned on another comely batch of ladies from UP. Focus, I said to myself. Finally I arrived to the place I wanted, a middle aged softdrink vendor with a gangly “blondied” teenage assistant. We exchanged pleasantries and given the crowd, music, the general festivities and the feeling that we as a people have the power, they were animated and more than willing to talk.

Street Vendor

The object of my informal interview was Aling Cynthia, a 37 year old vendor, unusually bouncy and youthful looking for her age. I could sense a positive aura from her, perhaps it was because of the general vibrant atmosphere of the massive protest rally. Beside Cynthia was her 19 year assistant “padawan” apprentice, Buboy, gamely pushing his hopia in a box for sale to those who approached. Aling Cynthia was already 15 years in the business and been the breadwinner of the family for 12 years.

Her husband, now 45, suffered a partial paralysis of one of his legs which resulted from a series of bad luck where a leg boil got infected by a powder spark from a firecracker. Her husband’s leg got swollen expanding to about 3 times its size. Finally when the boil burst and oozed its unsavory contents, complications arose which nearly killed her husband. In short, her husband was unable to properly walk and took care of their children and house chores while she had to be the family breadwinner for more than a decade. I wondered how she managed to survive on sidewalk vending alone since she has 4 children, one of them in 2nd year high, while the others in grade school. What’s more she has to pay rent for living space in a squatter shanty in Divisoria for P 1,000 a month. (Her landlords is Buboy’s parents so I kidded Buboy as being a “rich kid” which he replied with denials and a toothy grin)

Asking her what she expected of these rallies, she said that she hopes that Gloria Arroyo will be removed from office and things would get better. Buboy echoed the same sentiment. I then asked the two whom they wish to replace Gloria Arroyo with. I was half expecting they were going to choose Noli de Castro but their answer differed. Buboy chose Mayor Alfredo Lim; that was unexpected. On the other hand Aling Cynthia chose Erap Estrada. Buboy chose Lim as he expected better things for his community which is in Divisoria. Understandable since it was a local choice with him expecting better benefits to be given to his own community. For Aling Cynthia, I asked why she chose Estrada. Her answer was that they get better benefits and that if it were not for Chavit Singson, he would not have been deposed. I then asked her several times about the ex-president’s involvement in mulcting funds from illegal gambling activities; Cynthia never really answered the question.

Mayor Alfredo Lim
(Image from ABS-CBN news online)

So going to specifics, I shifted my tack and asked what do they REALLY want after Gloria resigns and is replaced. Their answer took me aback. They simply wanted a place where they can sell their wares. They intimated that there was just no space available in the city for them and they were constantly being chased by the authorities each time they set up shop. I asked them if they were willing to pay for the location if indeed they get one, the unified answer was yes. Buboy said they would pay if they were issued a “ticket”, I guess that means a payment for a day’s stay and vending in a particular area. Deep in thought, I had no heart to say to them that it is unlikely that even a new president would be able to think much less prioritize such an “insignificant” request. So I went along with their simple dreams, so I asked them if they are willing to be relocated in that Reclamation Area facing the Manila Bay, even though it is not exactly a place where people frequent. Still they agreed.

Thinking about it more, it is still possible for these people to business in a semi-desolate place if they would be there in greater numbers, set it up like a flea shop, set up something unique to promote the place and of course the occasional traveling carnival may help. However this would definitely entail the help of the local or even national government. Here are people willing to work just as long as they have a place to stay and are not lacking in drive and enthusiasm in their own little way. Governance for many decades had been more focused in dole-outs and social help, which is good. But there still an apparent lack of projects which promotes development where the ones who would design and spearhead these economic development are the people themselves. A softdrink vending cart is still a business; a small one but still a business.

A poor family economically improved in practical terms actually also means more business for those higher up in the totem pole. If made economically strong and independent, they can begin to afford to buy things that only the middle or even upper class people of society can buy. Economy and manufacturing becomes vibrant. Everyone will feel good about themselves. Debilitating poverty, ignorance, and despair will be reduced to a minimum if not eradicated completely. These are supposed to be the goal not only of governance but of society as well. We, who have a bit more than those in the slums have the capability of making things better. Not necessarily through dole-outs but also through the proverbial “teaching the people to fish, providing them the fishing reel and rod, and give them a week supply of food while the newly trained fisherman tries to catch adequate fish supply for himself and his family.”

(Image from Yahara Fishing Club)

(Continued to article - For Whom do We Fight For? (Conclusion))

Amid the Flags and Banners

Strolling leisurely and expectantly last February 29, 2008, I had a silly grin on my face. It was getting dark but a lot of people were busy walking to and fro; after all it was Protest Day in Makati. Photo exposure was bad but still took a shot of police vehicles, its occupants relaxed and seemingly indifferent to the masses of people in Paseo de Roxas corner Ayala Avenue.

Photo by Kabayan

As I rounded the corner, I was pleased to discover that compared to the last Feb 15, 2008 rally where I had to walk a kilometer before seeing any sign of a substantial gathering, this time I was immediately greeted by the sight of these line of jeepneys with flags stuck out from different places of its body. There are indeed signs of far more numerous protesters this time around.

Photo by Kabayan
Walking along the avenue, I saw a clump of seminarians walking along Ayala. I was elated expecting that this trip would produce one of the more prolific photo shoots I ever had. I checked my camera, I got worried as the exposure was poor and the shot results leave much to be desired. Photo by Kabayan

Finally I saw the edge of the gathering of people with flags and banners visible from afar. I also saw some white foreigners with their cameras slung over their shoulders. Either they are reporters or tourists, I thought. Lining up a shot on a large contingent of seminarians, I clicked my camera and then *@#%^&*! I ran out of battery power! I tried resetting the camera several times but to no avail. The battery was dead. Going back home was no option; it was already nightfall and public transports were filled.

Swallowing my chagrin, I just have to make my trip worth my while, after all expressing outrage against massive government corruption and abuses was the main reason I was there in the first place. As I went nearer to the center of the rally, I eventually bumped into a wall of people. This is as far as I can go. The view was exhilarating, flags and banners of different colors. The red banners and flags which is usually seen in former rallies now represent a fraction of the blues, greens, whites and yellows now waving amid the spotlights. A band called “The Woods” was belting out the music of the times. The tune and beat was actually quite good and the message just as penetrating. A section of the song goes … “May kuliling ang pagdinig, May kuliling ang pagdinig,” apparently referring to Gloria Arroyo’s attitude of not listening to people with legitimate grievances. Now the small group of people she ignored before became a massive gathering. This time Gloria took notice and showed this by cowering inside Camp Crame. Hers now, as some describe, is a Throne of Bayonets; for me I can describe her new found refuge more as a Cage of Bayonets. She is now a prisoner of her own making, unable to safely go out without the army of men and steel which used to be the principled Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police. Now many officers in high positions have become beholden to a corrupt person who plays them like a fiddle.

I tried my camera again to capture the moment, the people, the faces and other unforgettable images. No luck. Battery remained dead as a doornail. I just have to make the best of the situation. I looked for a human angle to this mass, trying to look for interesting trees in the thick forest. I spied on a vendor and a curious looking teenager assistant with his hair dyed blonde. Maybe it’s time to focus on people who are most in need yet often ignored in our society. I squeezed through the crowd and headed towards their direction. It’s time to have a chat. (Continued to article - For whom do we fight for (Part 1))

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo Resign ! (3rd Blogswarm)

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo Resign Now!
Because we're fed up with Buwayas in Government

feed upon the future of people including their children and children's children
Everybody is talking about it and the masses of Filipino people want you out...
He wants you out
We want you out
If it can speak this dog wants you out, you're giving dogs a bad name
Above photos in this article by Kabayan
So Gloria Arroyo, Resign Now!
Blogswarm image below courtesy of Tongue-in-Anew