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Archive for the ‘Kultura’ Category

Making a case for the urban poor in the Black Bittern episode

From the original Facebook post that went viral

From the original Facebook post that went viral

I would love to be positive about the stricter wildlife protection rules in UP and the increased awareness on wildlife protection in the public, especially in the social media sphere, as a result of the Black Bittern killing in the UP Lagoon.

But beyond the concerned citizens that reported the incident and pursued the issue to ensure enforcement, some quarters are quick to dismiss the angle of the urban poor foragers; some are even wont to vilify the perpetrators.

That is exactly the reason why this is also an invitation to reflect on urban poor issues in the Philippines, not just a lesson learned on animal welfare. What social conditions enculturated them to browse for food instead of just buy them? Bakit nila kailangan ng inuman–kung kaya naghahanap sila ng pulutan, kung yun ang kaso dito?

Bakit wala silang kaalam-alam sa batas hinggil sa proteksyon ng mga hayop? Bakit wala silang kaalam-alam sa importansya ng mga ibon sa ekosistema in the first place?

Did we bother to ask these questions? Or were we contented with the fact that, whichever way authorities will decide, these animal killers will be dealt with accordingly? Going on a theoretical limb: what if it was a disaster survivor that caught any fauna for their desperate subsistence? Do the rules apply still?

The ‘urban poor’ lens, to me, is an important facet of studying–and changing–humanity’s relationship with its environment. It is the very reason why small-scale miners are always being vilified as the prime polluters in the mountains, or why the small fisherfolk are always to blame for the depletion of marine resources.

It is also the reason why we are grossly misinformed of the pros and cons of subsistent swidden agriculture, or misattribute small loggers with the massive deforestation we have faced and continue to face. Why are the small people always the most convenient culprits to blame, to make an example of? What about the big business polluters and plunderers? Where are our outcries against OceanaGold mining corporation in Nueva Vizcaya, where hornbills and other rare fauna are being displaced by their continuous operations?

Ang nakakainis pa, may nabasa pa akong komento na pinipintas ang kilusang estudyante ngayon. Bakit daw walang ‘Occupy Central in Hong Kong’ style ng pagkilos ngayon para sa ganitong mga isyu, puro hooliganism nalang daw? I’m sorry, those are apples and oranges, among so many things wrong about such a presumptuous statement.

Whenever we get these ‘small victories’ for wildlife conservation and protection, I cannot help but be frustrated how it always plays out like this. In the end, it is always the people in the margins that continue to be condemned in the margins, even in such issues as the environment.

Note: these views are entirely personal and does not reflect the views of my organization.


What’s jingoism and why is the hate towards van Beersum a perfect example of it?

The harassment and the fanning of hate towards Thomas van Beersum, a Dutch activist who decried human rights violations in PH, is what we call “Jingoism.” According to good old Wikipedia:

“Jingoism is extreme patriotism in the form of aggressive foreign policy.[1] In practice, it is a country’s advocation of the use of threats or actual force against other countries in order to safeguard what it perceives as its national interests. Colloquially, it refers to excessive bias in judging one’s own country as superior to others—an extreme type of nationalism.”

This is the same with the state-sponsored hate in the territorial standoff with China — which goes both ways for our government and China’s as well.

Its main purpose is to deceptively rally the people to national unity by exaggerating a foreign threat. We know it’s not genuine patriotism since we clearly see a double standard: We are made to hate China for its claim of our territories and resources, but we are silent on the permanent presence of US forces in our country and the rapes, wars and pollution they have brought upon us.

We are made to hate Thomas van Beersum for speaking out against injustice in our country when thousands upon thousands of Filipinos can’t even begin to gather enough courage and sense to decry the screwed up lives we are living in. Precisely because the government wants more Filipinos who can’t grow a spine, like docile lambs to the slaughter.

These spectacles are in fact no different from the government glorifying a Manny Pacquiao victory, or in case of defeat, channeling the national mourning over a Manny Pacquiao defeat. The same applies to victories by the Philippine Azkals, Gilas Pilipinas, and whatever incident that sparks extreme patriotism but does nothing to address the long-standing structural problems of hunger, poverty, lack of social services and plunder of our resources that we collectively face.

This “jingoism” is just one in the Aquino government’s arsenal of gimmickry to suppress discontent and cover up state incompetence and fascism. But this much is clear: governance under the Aquino regime has been nothing but a huge communication plan replete with  PR gimmickry, discombobulating half-truths and even emotional distractions trying to whitewash its flaws, mistakes and crimes.

The Musings of Marit the Dog’s Human

Our pioneer labrador, Marit. Rest in Peace, dear dog.

Our pioneer labrador, Marit. Rest in Peace, dear dog.

We didn’t see it coming.

Marit was one of two half-breed labradors who joined our family early this decade. You may have guessed it right if you got the M2M reference — the other lab, her sister, is named Marion.


Marit has been in the family for 12 years, give or take one or two. Her sister was adopted by a neighbor when both of them bore pups amounting to 16 and their upkeep became financially unsound for a lower middle class family like ours. That’s 84 years in human years.


Her passing away might thus be dismissed as mere old age, and I might be dismissed as the dog’s usual overly sentimental human. But I remember her frolicking inside the house just a week ago. There were no signs of slowing down, though her more than a month’s worth of unending hacking and gagging indicating a possible stuck piece of bone in the throat, and could have been a reason for her unexpected demise. Still, the coughing fits seemed like just an afterthought to her, gobbling up food like the stuck piece of bone was just another matter of fact.


The weight in my heart is still heavy as I write this, 30 minutes after realizing Marit is gone. I couldn’t help my father tucking her in a sack in preparation for burial. I couldn’t bear the thought of seeing her again, eyes vaguely open and just still all over. But I also couldn’t cry. The whole family already did a couple of years ago, when Marit chased and bit a huge toad in the front yard. She ended up not being able to stand in utter weakness, silently trembling and eyes in quiet pain. But after giving her aid, she was healthy and over-enthusiastic once again the following day. And all was well again.


Though I differ with their perspectives, Marit made me understand where animal welfare activists come from — pet dogs really are invaluable members of the family, a positive part of our environment. They are the ultimate stress-relieving furballs, waiting for you with exuberant barks and speed-demon tail wags when you come home from a day’s work of being an environmental activist taking on the country’s biggest ecological threats. Their poop is everywhere except their favorite spots to eat in. They are the most effective deterrents to security threats. And conveniently, they love left-overs.

Walang sinabi yung entertainment na nakukuha ng mga customer ng sabungan ng aso kumpara sa katuwaan na i-pet ang mga aso, kahit abutin ka pa ng oras. Kahit ilang oras pa. Gusto nila yun.


I will always remember you Marit, you who started out as a pup regularly terrified from the mean streets we call “our pre-teen stage”; You who became a fierce alpha-dog who threatened to bite us every time we attempted to force discipline; You who mellowed down into the loveable and loving chocolate brown lab as we got to know you more, got to treat you better, and got to be with you during our jubilations and tribulations. You left fine proteges in this world, Porkchop the black baby-face, and Chopsuey his cream-colored sister. May they continue your legacy.


All of us: me, my father, my mother who still doesn’t know this as of press time, my brother, his karelasyon, my karelasyon, Porkchop and Chopsuey — we will surely miss you. And we look forward to the day when all dogs will be able to live life fully like you did.


P.S. I googled for “dog is man’s best friend” for therapy. I finally found the tears when I saw this one:

This came from weheartit.com.

This came from weheartit.com.

Sa gitna hanggang paglaya

Sa gitna ng mga pagsasaliksik
Hinggil sa mga minahang toxic
Sa harap ng maraming isko at iska
Na sa ‘para saan at kanino’ ay musmos pa
Lalo sa kanilang mga nakalimot na yata



Sa dami ng pagsasanay na nakapila
Trainer, facilitator, logistics all-in-one na
Sa trabahong gabi hanggang hating-gabi
Sa pag-gising ng 5:30AM para sa PE
At sa pagkilos sa bawat minutong free



Sa gitna nitong lahat
Hanggang sa birthday mo ay tatapat
Sa bawat bente-kwatrong utang sa masa
Para ang 5 year na plan ay makamit na



Bigyan ang sarili ng puwang para
Namnamin ang araw na ito na
Paggunita sa naiambag at natamasa
Mula personal hanggang pambansa
Hanggang paglaya


Happy birthday sa kasintahan.

Wow Philippines! was better

In a defense of the new tourism tagline “It’s more fun in the Philippines” by the former tourism undersecretary responsible for the Pilipinas, Kay Ganda! fiasco, critics of the new promotional campaign are attacked for its supposed penchant for bashing. That the digging of dirt, such as the discovery of the 1951 Switzerland tourism ad using the same catchphrase, was a favorite pastime of Filipinos.

All legitimate criticisms, the article would have you believe, are self-serving and uninformed. “It’s more fun in the Philippines”, the article asserts, are based on extensive market research as Pilipinas, Kay Ganda! was. The tried and tested wisdom of “why fix something if it ain’t broke?” was, according to the article, an unsolicited cliché no longer applicable in the evolved animal that is tourism promotion.

In the author’s same breath, I guess he cannot be blamed for zeroing in on the foreign tourism market when it comes to tailoring our country’s tourism roadmap. After all, revenue statistics don’t lie, they point exactly to Japan as the number one source of tourists – not the Philippines itself. Advertising students are indoctrinated to cater everything to the target audience, and so why indeed would you promote “Wow Philippines!” which appeals to Filipino culture and sensibility but has resulted in decreasing profitability?

The controversial tag lines are only manifestations of a larger problem: PH tourism industry, no different from all other industries in the Philippines, is oriented to the demand of foreign markets. Indians are not the first to consider domestic tourism as an untapped gold mine. But true to our history of colonial subservience, the industry focuses on pimping our sights and services to foreign diaspora instead of promoting appreciation of our nature and culture to who needs it most: the Filipino people.

Sure, kudos to the advertising firm behind #1forfun’s potential to be viral, be it due to clean popularity or 9gag-type infamy (and the troll in me would wager it’s the latter). The possibilities of what is sardonically more fun in the Philippines is endless. Advertisers say that there is nothing new in the creative scene, only fresh applications of old ideas. I believe this, it’s called innovation. But I am also a believer of tourism as a tool for the promotion of nationalism, environmental concern and cultural heritage. That is something “Wow Philippines!” captured in just two words – and for a time, it was even in profit.

But #1forfun? It’s been a great meme, so far.

Yeah, we should be proud of what we do to our lands and culture. (Original photo from PCIJ.org)

Maligayang ika-90 na kaarawan sa lumikha kay Gumby

Sa gitna ng walang katapusang gawaing kampanya at propaganda, isang saglit na heart-warming break buhat ng casual click sa google.com:

Ang full cast ng Gumby ang star ngayon sa google logo.

90th birthday ni Art Clokey, ang lumikha sa clay stop-animation series na Gumby (pioneer siya sa larangang ito). Bakas sa alaala ng kabataan ko ang katuwaang makakita ng gumagalaw na clay – di tulad ng cartoons na sa naiimagine mo lang, kaakibat ng panonood nito ang alaala ng kamay sa saya ng paghulma ng clay figurines. Multi-sensory experience sa bawat episode.


Mabuhay ka, Art Clokey! Ganito ang mga porma ng kultura na magandang matutunan ng Pilipinas – maraming clay deposits sa Pilipinas. Hindi mo pa kailangang maging dependent sa multi-million budget at teknolohiyang pagmamay-ari ng mga pandaigdigang korporasyong transnasyunal.

Suman ang Imahen ng Kahirapan

Naglalakad papuntang Jollibee Philcoa para sa isang tagpuan. Ilang araw na ring umuulan at malakas ang agos ng tubig baha sa kanal ng tabing kalsada. Syempre, siksikan ang mga tao sa sidewalk. Naghihintay ng jeep. Naglalakad papunta’t paroon, umiiwas sa ulan. Karamihan, mga maninindang sa gitna ng bagyo ay naghihintay maambunan ng hindi pa dumadating na customers.


Mula sa kgrp1.files.wordpress.com

Nakarinig ako ng sigaw ng isang ale at napalingon. Akala ko may nanakawan, pero mas malupet pala: ang cart ng isang manininda ay nakatabig sa bilao ng suman. Si ale ang may-ari ng suman. Nakita niya, siguro sa slow-motion pati, ang pagdausdos ng lahat ng kanyang paninda diretso sa butas ng kanal. Nalubog sa rumaragasang tubig-baha. Dagdag parusa pa siguro yung pagiging barado ng kanal, hindi dumiretso sa baba ang kanyang paninda.

Andun lang, lumalangoy sa tubig-baha. Up-down, up-down. Nangungutyang sayaw habang makikita mong bakas sa mukha ni manang yung rebolusyong nagaganap sa utak niya: pupulutin ko pa ba? Hahayaan ba dyan o ililibing na parang nasawing mandirigma sa giyera ng araw-araw na pagtawid-gutom? Sisingilin at pagbabayarin ko ba si manong na nakatabig? Sa raw ba na ito ay uuwi akong umiiyak at gutom sa umiiyak at gutom kong pamilya?


Kung bakit ba naman sa umaga ko pa kailangang makita ang mga ganyang bagay. Note to self, idagdag ang suman sa personal na listahan ng mga imahen ng kahirapan.

  1. PET Bottles
  2. 2nd-hand Porsche
  3. Suman