smoke

I write better when I smoke. Don’t ask me to reduce it to a science.

Let the bosses speak up then

The limitations on the term of the President of the Republic of the Philippines are enshrined in the 1987 Constitution as a repudiation by the Filipino people of the idea that no President is so good that he should not be replaced when his term ends.

This is important because the mandatory replacement of Presidents after six years protects the Filipino nation from the depredations of would be tyrants. It ensures that the font of leadership is continuously refreshed and therefore kept clean, reasonably free from the taint of vested interests and despotism, no matter how benign it may seem at the moment.

To eliminate those term limitations, while it may permit a good President to seek a fresh mandate, would be to render the nation vulnerable to whims and caprices of a bad President in the event that such a one ever manages to occupy the highest public office. In essence, therefore, eliminating those limitations is tantamount to sacrificing long-term security for the mere possibility that the present occupant might do more good, and banking on the hope that he won’t eventually turn bad himself.

Today, we face those limitations face the strongest and most credible threat ever brought against it. It is true that others may have sought to eliminate those limitations before, but never has that move been endorsed by anyone as influential as the current President.

And it is precisely under these circumstances that the Filipino people must be most vigilant. To his credit, the current President has won the respect of many for his stance on corruption and his reformatory zeal. Neither his accomplishments however, nor his perceived incorruptibility are reason enough to sanction a virtual return to monarchy.

If the President is sincere in his desire to see his reforms continued – and there is no reason to believe otherwise – there are avenues open to him to accomplish exactly that without riding roughshod over the Charter.

He has repeatedly said that he will listen to the voice of his bosses. This petition seeks only to offer him the true voice of his bosses – the Filipino nation that is composed not only of those who believe in him, but also of those who feel that the opportunity for change should not be undermined.

 

PETITION

 

Filed under: Filipino

AKRHO is not a fraternity (Corrected – AKRHO NOT INVOLVED)

Alpha Kappa Rho is not a fraternity, it’s a street gang. Regardless of its fairly decent roots in UST (where it was founded by a bunch of Commerce students and one Med student), the organization as it exists now has devolved into lawlessness and atavistic barbarism. The death of Guillo Cesar Servando is proof of that.

EDIT: It has come to light that it wasn’t AKRHO that was involved in the death of Servs (as his HS friends called Giullo Servando), but Tau Gamma Phi. While I stand by my opinion of AKRHO, it is not fair for them to be mentioned in connection with this incident. I apologize for that.

As for Tau Gamma, I daresay you can take my first paragraph, replace AKRHO with Tau Gamma, replace UST with UP, and it’d still be accurate as hell. Tau Gamma has, in fact, devolved into a street gang whose grubby members are given to vandalizing property with spray painted triskelions.

Admittedly, in both cases, the original members – and perhaps several generations of members – remain true to the mission of their founding fathers, but it would be wishful thinking of the worst sort to deny that the adoption of their name and style by thugs and hoodlums has not done their organizations any good.

Time to crack down, before someone else dies.

How many more of these young people have to die before schools and the Department of Education take concrete steps? The Anti-Hazing Law is one of the most pointless statutes in the books. In my experience, it ranks up there with “Terms and Policies of Use” as the most un-read and ignored documents anywhere. Hell, the title itself gives the damned thing away: AN ACT REGULATING HAZING AND OTHER FORMS OF INITIATION RITES IN FRATERNITIES, SORORITIES, AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS AND PROVIDING PENALTIES THEREFOR.

Even better, check out Section 4:

Section 4. If the person subjected to hazing or other forms of initiation rites suffers any physical injury or dies as a result thereof, the officers and members of the fraternity, sorority or organization who actually participated in the infliction of physical harm shall be liable as principals.

The provision starts with a big IF, and that IF has been the dodge for every fraternity and sorority. If there is physical injury, you’re in trouble, so NO PHYSICAL VIOLENCE. But what authorities ignore is the fact that this actually gives permission for initiation masters to do everything short of breaking skin and drawing blood. And of course, even if you start out with small acts of violence masquerading as taunts, the atmosphere in an initiation is so heady that it becomes easy to graduate to bigger and bigger acts of overt violence.

The rest of the law is no better.

Section 1. Hazing, as used in this Act, is an initiation rite or practice as a prerequisite for admission into membership in a fraternity, sorority or organization by placing the recruit, neophyte or applicant in some embarrassing or humiliating situations such as forcing him to do menial, silly, foolish and other similar tasks or activities or otherwise subjecting him to physical or psychological suffering or injury.

The term “organization” shall include any club or the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Philippine Military Academy, or officer and cadet corp of the Citizen’s Military Training and Citizen’s Army Training. The physical, mental and psychological testing and training procedure and practices to determine and enhance the physical, mental and psychological fitness of prospective regular members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police as approved ny the Secretary of National Defense and the National Police Commission duly recommended by the Chief of Staff, Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Director General of the Philippine National Police shall not be considered as hazing for the purposes of this Act.

The definition of hazing is retarded. It swings wildly from overbreadth (silly tasks is hazing???) to setting up internal inconsistencies (mentions psychological suffering or injury as a form of hazing but punishes only physical injury).

Section 2. No hazing or initiation rites in any form or manner by a fraternity, sorority or organization shall be allowed without prior written notice to the school authorities or head of organization seven (7) days before the conduct of such initiation. The written notice shall indicate the period of the initiation activities which shall not exceed three (3) days, shall include the names of those to be subjected to such activities, and shall further contain an undertaking that no physical violence be employed by anybody during such initiation rites.

So, it’s the anti-hazing law, but hazing is actually allowed IF with prior notice. Talk about undermining yourself.

Section 3. The head of the school or organization or their representatives must assign at least two (2) representatives of the school or organization, as the case may be, to be present during the initiation. It is the duty of such representative to see to it that no physical harm of any kind shall be inflicted upon a recruit, neophyte or applicant.

Here, notice the preferential attention given to “physical injuries” despite mentioning psychological suffering in Section 1. This is significant because psychological torture acts a a gateway to physical abuse. When a person inflict psychological suffering on someone, his levels of aggression increase in inverse proportion to the ability of the victim to vocalize resistance. In other words, the more aggressive the initiator is, the less likely the neophyte will be able to shout FOUL! And in that situation, the cocktail of power over a submissive predisposes to the infliction of greater and greater pain.

Notice also that there is no indication of the representatives’ qualifications. They can literally be students themselves. And even if they were faculty, the law does not provide for any mechanism – such as the requirement to submit a report – that would ensure that these representatives actually do what the law intends for them to do.

Section 4. If the person subjected to hazing or other forms of initiation rites suffers any physical injury or dies as a result thereof, the officers and members of the fraternity, sorority or organization who actually participated in the infliction of physical harm shall be liable as principals. The person or persons who participated in the hazing shall suffer:

1. The penalty of reclusion perpetua (life imprisonment) if death, rape, sodomy or mutilation results there from.

2. The penalty of reclusion temporal in its maximum period (17 years, 4 months and 1 day to 20 years) if in consequence of the hazing the victim shall become insane, imbecile, impotent or blind.

3. The penalty of reclusion temporal in its medium period (14 years, 8 months and one day to 17 years and 4 months) if in consequence of the hazing the victim shall have lost the use of speech or the power to hear or to smell, or shall have lost an eye, a hand, a foot, an arm or a leg or shall have lost the use of any such member shall have become incapacitated for the activity or work in which he was habitually engaged.

4. The penalty of reclusion temporal in its minimum period (12 years and one day to 14 years and 8 months) if in consequence of the hazing the victim shall become deformed or shall have lost any other part of his body, or shall have lost the use thereof, or shall have been ill or incapacitated for the performance on the activity or work in which he was habitually engaged for a period of more than ninety (90) days.

5. The penalty of prison mayor in its maximum period (10 years and one day to 12 years) if in consequence of the hazing the victim shall have been ill or incapacitated for the performance on the activity or work in which he was habitually engaged for a period of more than thirty (30) days.

6. The penalty of prison mayor in its medium period (8 years and one day to 10 years) if in consequence of the hazing the victim shall have been ill or incapacitated for the performance on the activity or work in which he was habitually engaged for a period of ten (10) days or more, or that the injury sustained shall require medical assistance for the same period.

7. The penalty of prison mayor in its minimum period (6 years and one day to 8 years) if in consequence of the hazing the victim shall have been ill or incapacitated for the performance on the activity or work in which he was habitually engaged from one (1) to nine (9) days, or that the injury sustained shall require medical assistance for the same period.

8. The penalty of prison correccional in its maximum period (4 years, 2 months and one day to 6 years) if in consequence of the hazing the victim sustained physical injuries which do not prevent him from engaging in his habitual activity or work nor require medical attendance.

The responsible officials of the school or of the police, military or citizen’s army training organization, may impose the appropriate administrative sanctions on the person or the persons charged under this provision even before their conviction. The maximum penalty herein provided shall be imposed in any of the following instances:

(a) when the recruitment is accompanied by force, violence, threat, intimidation or deceit on the person of the recruit who refuses to join;

(b) when the recruit, neophyte or applicant initially consents to join but upon learning that hazing will be committed on his person, is prevented from quitting;

(c) when the recruit, neophyte or applicant having undergone hazing is prevented from reporting the unlawful act to his parents or guardians, to the proper school authorities, or to the police authorities, through force, violence, threat or intimidation;

(d) when the hazing is committed outside of the school or institution; or

(e) when the victim is below twelve (12) years of age at the time of the hazing.

The owner of the place where hazing is conducted shall be liable as an accomplice, when he has actual knowledge of the hazing conducted therein but failed to take any action to prevent the same from occurring. If the hazing is held in the home of one of the officers or members of the fraternity, group, or organization, the parents shall be held liable as principals when they have actual knowledge of the hazing conducted therein but failed to take any action to prevent the same from occurring.

The school authorities including faculty members who consent to the hazing or who have actual knowledge thereof, but failed to take any action to prevent the same from occurring shall be punished as accomplices for the acts of hazing committed by the perpetrators.

The officers, former officers, or alumni of the organization, group, fraternity or sorority who actually planned the hazing although not present when the acts constituting the hazing were committed shall be liable as principals. A fraternity or sorority’s adviser who is present when the acts constituting the hazing were committed and failed to take action to prevent the same from occurring shall be liable as principal.

The presence of any person during the hazing is prima facie evidence of participation therein as principal unless he prevented the commission of the acts punishable herein.

Any person charged under this provision shall not be entitled to the mitigating circumstance that there was no intention to commit so grave a wrong.

This section shall apply to the president, manager, director or other responsible officer of a corporation engaged in hazing as a requirement for employment in the manner provided herein.

Apart from the stupid use of IF at the very top of what should have been the most substantial part of this law, Section 4 is mostly concerned with assigning liability. Which is fine, but again, it detracts from what the primary focus of this law ought to be: preventing hazing from happening.

Now it can be argued that the fear of punishment acts as a deterrent to wrong-doing. True enough, but only when the fear of punishment is presented as a credible threat. Simply naming the people who will be punished – but not laying out the means by which the wrong-doing can be discovered and therefore brought into the criminal justice system – does not establish credibility. At most, this provision creates a kind of frisson of excitement that wrong-doing is being committed with impunity.

Everything else that follows is blah blah.

Section 5. If any provision or part of this Act is declared invalid or unconstitutional, the other parts or provisions thereof shall remain valid and effective.

Section 6. All laws, orders, rules or regulations which are inconsistent with or contrary to the provisions of this Act are hereby amended or repealed accordingly.

Section 7. This Act shall take effect fifteen (15) calendar days after its publication in at least two (2) national newspapers of general circulation.

What’s missing in this law?

A prohibition against drinking, for one. This law – despite it’s high-flown title – pretty much just sets out the penalties for hazing, but does not address the known antecedents of hazing, such as the consumption of alcohol. I daresay in some of the shadier organizations, drug use would be involved as well.

Qualifications for the school representatives and a reporting requirement would be very helpful too. Again, what’s the point of assigning representatives when those reps can be practically anyone. It would be better, in fact, if the law could mandate all schools have a designated overseer for all student organizations. Most Guidance Counselor’s offices are already set up for that anyway. Some schools even have that already.

Except, in at least one instance, that “overseer” role has been assigned to the school’s head of security. Stupid. Hazing isn’t a security problem. It’s a lack-of-guidance problem.

Oh and, how about getting rid of all the limp-wristed provisions of this law? Yeah, how about that? How about revisiting this law and making sure that there is no equivocation in its language and that there is no watering down of the protections being given to students.

I understand the fraternity/sorority culture. I am a Greek letter chick myself. And I remain convinced that this culture is a necessary and beneficial part of university life. When things are going great, we provide friendship and support for people who would otherwise be adrift – far from home, bombarded by academic demands and pulled in the opposite direction by the lure of freedom from parental supervision. But we are people too, and people tend to abuse freedoms. So I’m all in favor of clamping down on hazing, not by pretending to eliminate it (which can’t be done) but by providing safety nets and regulations that ensure the survival of everyone who goes through that gauntlet.

If this law were tougher, if it were better crafted, if we had rational regulations, then perhaps people like Servando could be graduating in a year’s time instead of just being dead right now.

Filed under: education, Filipino, , , , , , , , , , ,

On that Singaporean’s hate blog

I recently flew in from Singapore and, in short order, stumbled on this blogpost: Filipino infestation in Singapore-5 point guide to showing displeasure without breaking the law.

Obviously, my first reaction was outrage. And then I thought about the piece some more and realized, no, this isn’t outrageous. It’s funny!

No really. Look.

1. Reject, and ask for replacement

If you encounter a Pinoy waiter/waitress or customer service officer, tell them this: ” Could you kindly ask a Singaporean staff to speak to me? Your standard of English-there is much left to be desired.” If the idiot continues rambling on, tell him/her with a smile:” Your English sucks,  capisce?  Get the fuck out of my uncaring face and find me someone else pronto.”

If you’ve ever been to Singapore, you’ll know that Singlish is, easily, the worst mutilation of English ever. They even have actual projects to get Singaporeans to speak better Engrish! If yuh ha a pobrerm wi dat, wats di veedeo.

So you see, the writer is actually just projecting his own linguistic shortcomings to Filipinos, for clearly satirical effect. I mean who better to mock-accuse of bad english than the best english teachers in the world, yeah?

2. Step on ’em, push or shove’em

When the Peenoise get rowdy or obviously do not observe basic social decorum, a little “nudge” in the right direction won’t harm. Just make it look accidental. Pump your fist in victory later when they are out of your sight. We understand sometimes they just don’t get it, so a little more force must be employed. Like what this unsung hero did: This morning at Bishan Circle Line MRT I pushed a Pinoy out of the train before door closes.

Peenoise! Now that’s funny. Apart from that, though, the author is obviously taking a dig at Singapore’s fairly repressive public behavior laws – the basis for “basic social decorum” in that fine city.

image

(Image credit: http://the-hiking-highheel.com)

And the example linked to? Well, that’s clearly a stand-in for how Singaporeans feel about the restrictions imposed on them, acted out on Filipinos who, they know, aren’t treated the same way.

Look. I know it’s funny, but with this one, I don’t think we should be laughing. I mean, how would WE feel if our government actually passed a law prohibiting chewing gum? No. Singaporeans can laugh at themselves if they want to, but we should pity Singaporeans for being deprived of such simple pleasures.

3. Create an artistic mess on your plate when dining at Jolibee

Or any other Filipino themed restaurant/ food outlet. Toss food into your mouth, chew thoroughly, then spit it out. Bite another morsel and repeat. Do this till your plate is a masterpiece of regurgitated nastiness. Ask for the bill (pay in cash), scribble “Pinoy food fucking tastes like shit” on the receipt and remember to leave that piece of paper behind.

And here again, we see the blogger’s masterful use of satire. Notice how, number one, the blogger prescribes “chewing thoroughly.” Obviously, this is so that whoever does this gets the full flavor benefits of Filipino cooking. But, number two, you have to spit it out. That’s like the Singaporean equivalent of what the French do when they love the food so much that they have to eat more despite being filled to capacity. The French throw the food up to make room for more, the Singaporeans spit. Because that’s what they do.

And embedded in a joke is the common fear of Singaporeans – getting tracked down. Which is why, number three, the blogger prescribes paying in cash. No records, y’all.

Okay. So maybe that last one isn’t funny. Cries for help, after all, should never be cause for levity.

4. Never render help when Filipinos are involved in serious traffic accidents

Stand on the side with your arms folded across your chest, peering curiously at the bloody setpiece. Do not call the ambulance. But you have our permission to take photographs so they can be tweeted later with the caption: Hopefully another Pinoy has breathed his last on the little red dot. RIP.NOT.

Well, duh. Obviously Singaporeans should not feel obliged to help. After all, Filipinos will always rush to the side of their fallen compatriots. Singaporeans would probably just get in the way, la?

But since this is a joke post, they had to add the “eww factor:” taking pictures of accident scenes. Now, if you haven’t heard, a high eww factor – that is to say the level of icky-ness – is a great way to identify fake rumors on the internet. Which is why the gross out stories and pictures floating around on-line are usually fake. It’s the same with this one, and the eww factor was clearly put in there to signal to you, the discerning reader, not to take everything too seriously.

5. Pray for a flood of blibical proportions to descend upon Orchard Road on 8 June

Go to the nearest church and pray. Pray hard for divine intervention aloud. Make sure God (and the Pinoy sitting next to you on the same bench) hears every word.
There will be no Noah’s Ark to save the partying Filipino motherfuckers when hell breaks loose, because Noah sure ain’t Pinoy when we last checked. Let’s watch them drown whilst eating popcorn on our HD TVs.

Edit: The event to celebrate Pinoy National Day has been called off. Glory to Jesus ! A-fucking-MEN!

Because the Filipino national day celebs were actually cancelled – Oli Pettigrew even tweeted about it – this one might fool you into taking it seriously. Don’t let it!

What the blogger is saying is that she actually wishes she could be AT the party instead of being stuck at home watching TV. And why would she be stuck at home? Obviously because, like Noah, she ain’t Filipino.

In fact, most Singaporeans are so used to being left out that it’s made it’s way into their urban-speak. Bo Jio!

On another level, this particular item on her list is the blogger’s way of lashing out at the fact that, in order to get a chance to frolic in the water, she’d actually have to pay lots of money just to get to a beach. Clearly, this blogger has heard of how awesome – and awesomely free – beaches are in the Philippines. And in true satirical fashion, wishes the exact opposite on Filipino revelers.

Genius!

And finally,

6. ( bonus point) Actually this is our favourite. If you see a Pinoy cashier at NTUC, Cold Storage or Giant, throw a can of Baygon into your shopping before approaching him/her to make payment. When the cashier picks up the insecticide spray ready to do a barcode scan, ask him/her wryly: ” Is this effective against Filipinos?  Sorry, I meant cockroaches. “

LOL! The blogger truly saved the best for last because, MY GOD HAVE YOU SEEN THE COCKROACHES IN SINGAPORE?

image

They have serious sanitation problems over there!

And you know that the reason the sight of a Filipino might remind them that they need bugspray is because Filipinos are known to be clean folk who don’t tolerate vermin in their homes. So, seeing a Filipino actually shames this blogger into doing something about roaches in her couches!

I don’t know about you, but reading this blogger’s post has given me a bellyful of air from laughing. I’m so glad that Singaporeans aren’t as rude or as stuck up as a lot of people think they are. It’s good to see that they can laugh at themselves too.

And trust me, they need to be able to do that.

Filed under: Filipino, , ,

Why I don’t believe John

Over at POC, Cocoy writes about the plight of John de la Cruz, effective framing the piece via the title: “Why Filipinos shouldn’t work in Vietnam.” Having once been offered precisely that opportunity, I was naturally curious. But what I was hoping would be a rational piece explaining why employment in Vietnam would be a bad idea for the descendants of Jose Rizal, turned out to be nothing more than an exercise in jingoistic chest beating.

John de la Cruz – in case you didn’t get it the first time around, Juan de la Cruz – claims to have been “unjustly” terminated and complains to the Philippine Ambassador to Vietnam. Presumably – the piece doesn’t provide a lot of background information – he did so seeking legal assistance to pursue his claim against his employer. Again presumably, this claim included a recitation of his employer’s “many violations.” What those violations are, the piece forgets to detail.

Anyway, as it turns out, the employer actually replies:

“He wants all things at GLN have to follow him, even me,” Bui Thi Le Hang wrote. She goes on. “He didn’t respect my request/ email. He always said that I am so nice with everyone. Yes, I am nice and patient enough to work but I am too headache to listening complaints about his behavior from our Branch Manager. Once customers complaint about his teaching style, we gave this comments to him and he started to fight with our students, this behavior made our students scare to study with him and they had asked to change to other class or change to other teacher many times. Some students even not returned to continue their study with him even their tuition fee still left. We have lost a lot of customer due to this behavior but he never accepts or agrees that it’s because of his service, he will blame because of our staffs or our student. Therefore, it’s really dangerous to giving him a class. We had reduced this risky by offer him a position as Head teacher as his request and our Academic Manager’s request but his behavior still not change.

Moreover, he refused to work on Sunday as in the contract, this day he should work from Sunday to Friday. Although he used to beg for this favor from me, I did not agree with that but he always said to staffs/Branch Manager he worked with me already and I agreed. He only worked on Sunday if we have marketing events/workshop. In addition to this, he also refused to work at Nguyen Thi Dinh branch as our request.”

Breaking that down, the Vietnamese employer seems to be complaining, first, that Johnny didn’t go what he was asked; second, that Johnny had been complained about by the employer’s branch manager, and the school’s students; third, that confronted with these complaints, Johnny had tried to pass the blame on to other staff and had actually taken it out on the students and that some students had actually packed up and left the school because of him; fourth, that, confoundingly, Johnny had actually been given the position of Head Teacher but that the promotion had not mellowed him out; and fifth, that he refused to work Sundays, even if it was in his contract.

In reply, Johnny wrote the Ambassador.

Dela Cruz argued in his letter to Ambassador Santos that he did not refuse the work. He simply wished that the class be moved to his branch.

“I was the Head Teacher at the main branch and I had a lot of duties. I did not refuse the class, I wanted it moved to my branch where I work because since my contract ends in May, I wanted to have the opportunity to train the teachers, and I had other responsibilities in my branch given to me by the Owner/BOD: Ms. Bui Thi Le Hang, and Senior Admissions Officer: Ha Thuc Dieu Linh.”

In his letter to the ambassador, dela Cruz wrote many alleged violations of GLN English Learning Center. In July 2010, according to Dela Cruz, General Manager Bui Thi Le Hang ordered then Tran Dai Nghia Branch Manager Hoang Nhung to forcibly take the Philippine passport of one Filipina teacher there. In the same year an electrical fire broke out at the Nguen Thi Dinh branch. According to his account, there were no fire extinguishers and no fire safety procedures in place, which he said was in violation of the Vietnam’s Labor Code. According to him, there were still no fire extinguishers when he left their employ.

According to Dela Cruz, on February 21, 2013, at 2pm, a meeting was held at GLN’s Head Office. GLN’s HR Manager Nguyen Thi Lan Huong and Keangnam Senior Admissions Officer Ha Thuc Dieu Linh represented the company. The Philippine Consul joined dela Cruz in that meeting. The Human Resources Manager, according to dela Cruz talked about his poor performance.

Dela Cruz countered with an annual performance appraisal letter, congratulating him of his achievements and a hand written note from the General Manager over New Year’s saying that she liked how dela Cruz “strictly follow rules and regulations”. Dela Cruz argued that there were no official records of complaint filed against him by students. Dela Cruz claims that the company falsified public documents. Dela Cruz said his work visa was for “Business Staff”, but his contract stated that he was an “ESL Teacher”.

So, Johnny’s response to the five points raised by his employer?

  1. That he did not refuse the Sunday class, but that he had wanted it moved to the branch where he was.
  2. That his employer were guilty of many violations, although he specified only two: the taking of the passport of one of the Filipina teachers, and the lack of fire extinguishers in the place.
  3. That, in response to allegations of poor performance, he had a positive annual performance appraisal letter and a hand-written note from the General Manager saying that she liked him being a stickler for the rules.
  4. That there was no official record of complaints filed against him; and
  5. That his contract called him an “ESL Teacher” but his work visa said “Business Staff,” and that therefore, his employer was guilty of falsifying public records.

In a Skype chat, the piece reports, Johnny goes on to drop the statement that the owner “explicitly said” that she can hire Filipinos anytime, and that she once refused to see the Filipino consul.

All of this, of course, goes to the argument that Filipinos are – as Johnny said – brutalized, mistreated by Vietnamese employers, and therefore, Vietnamese employers should be prevented from hiring Filipinos.

Whoa, right?

First of all, shouldn’t we ask Johnny why the company had to move the class to his branch, just because he said so? And if the company refused to do as he said, would that refusal justify anything other than his compliance with the terms of his contract? I can think of several reasons why the company would refuse to move a class from one branch to another, but at the top of that list would be the students. Why should one teacher’s preference be paramount over the paying clientele’s convenience?

Second, the employer’s behavior – for which we only have Johnny’s word, btw – towards any other Filipino employee, is hardly a justifiable reason for Johnny to be anything less than a good employee himself. Neither is the absence of fire extinguishers a good excuse. Seriously, if the working conditions made him that uncomfortable, Johnny should have just upped and left. But he didn’t, did he?

Third, a positive annual performance appraisal letter doesn’t guarantee that an employee will always be a model employee. In fact, the usual track is for people to start out spectacularly and for performance to dip over time, as things like ennui or complacency creep in. At best, this claim by Johnny only proves that he had at least one good year with the company – a situation not incompatible with a later deterioration of his desirability.

Fourth, the fact that there were no official records of complaints against him proves squat. For one thing, any description of the character traits of Vietnamese will include assertions that they are timid, polite, easily frightened – remember how his employer said “[his] behavior made our students scare to study with him?” – and not very self-confident, preferring instead the strength that comes from collective action. None of these character traits would seem to predispose to the filing of official complaints against a person in authority. In other words, the absence of such complaints seems, in fact, inevitable.

And fifth, I can’t help but wonder why he didn’t bring up the disparity in job titles earlier. Also, there seems to be no great difference between business staff and esl teacher, with the former being a more generic description of his relationship to his employer, and the latter being a more specific designation of his duties within the business. And besides, what the heck does any of that have to do with his termination???

As for the claims he made via Skype – presumably talking with the author of the piece, or at least someone already predisposed to accepting his sob story – about how Filipinos can be hired anytime, well, don’t we go to Vietnam to work? How is this particularly offensive? In a similar vein, are we supposed to get all offended when a foreign national, on her native soil, refuses to see our diplomat? While it may have been bad manners for his employer to not come out to see the consul, can that snub really be significant to the question of whether he was unlawfully terminated?

Hardly.

Reading this piece, which intrinsically exhorts a kind of stop deployment order for Vietnam and is marketed on Twitter as a call for Filipinos to avoid employment in Vietnam on the basis of one disgruntled employee’s largely incoherent claims of unfair treatment, I imagine that the more responsible take would be an attempt to discover whether the 30-day notice requirement was actually complied with. But then again, this didn’t seem to be the goal in the first place.

Instead, this piece clearly set out to portray the Filipino as a victim, once again; tapping into the collective outrage at Filipinos being mistreated as a kind of shortcut to generating support for this particular Filipino. Better by far to have just avoided the victim card altogether.

So why don’t I believe John? I don’t believe him because he – and the author of this piece – seems content to just paint a picture of himself as an oppressed Filipino without bothering to clearly and definitively debunk the accusations against him. That’s lazy and it doesn’t do justice to all the other Filipinos who, by hard work and integrity, have made it abroad.

Filed under: Filipino, international, ,

Nationality means nothing

In several FV posts, benign0 has been asking a very difficult question:  What does the “Filipino” stand for? Quite predictably – and prolly because of who asked the question rather than because of the question itself – the horde replied quite emotionally.

It’s actually a very simple question with a very simple answer: Filipino stands for parochial.

Parochial means – insular: narrowly restricted in outlook or scope; being provincial, being narrow in scope, or considering only small sections of an issue; narrow-minded. Ever heard a more concise description of a Filipino?

Flag-wavers of every stripe will of course complain. Not a few will trot out examples of ‘global Filipinos’ or some such bullshit. But, puh-leeze. To every general rule, there is an exception; and if you try to find a definition that will include even the exceptions, you’re gonna be looking for a very long time.

Filed under: Filipino,

Audio/Video

AUDIO

A tip o’ the beret to LaTtEX for this ‘un. garygGary Granada takes on GMA Kapuso Foundation for using his revisions to their lyrics (for a jingle he was commissioned to compose) without attribution – and here’s the kicker – using an audio-cast! Pure public relations genius, that! On one level, you’d think that the choice of medium – new media – was prolly a no-brainer. Granada was talking about music and lyrical composition after all, and it packs a helluva lot more punch to have the audience actually hear the claimed IP klepto-ing than to just say “I wuz robbed!” But on a PR level, Granada got his side out first, and did it in a way that puts GMA on the defensive in a really bad way. For one thing, Granada’s tone was calm and even throughout – not hysterical in the slightest. That alone clues you in that this is serious. But not so serious that he doesn’t joke a little. The touch of humor tells you that he isn’t desperate for sympathy – and by extension, that he’s not desperate for allies and is not out to raise a jihad. Like a general closely following Sun-Tzu’s play, Granada has chosen his battleground, and has clearly chosen it well. GMA is now on a slippery slope that it will, perforce, have to try to defend using legalese. In a country positively exhausted with the concept of “legally-right even if morally-questionable,” good luck with that

!

SIDEBAR: My quick and dirty analysis of the situation: Granada isn’t claiming that GMA used his music. What he claims is that GMA used his revisions of the lyrics – original copy was given to him and he tweaked it to fit the music he wrote – and set it to someone else’s music. According to Granada, the industry practice is that if the client isn’t happy with the work and decides to give it to someone else, then the client ought to give the new artist the original copy and let that new guy tweak it himself. GMA, according to Granada didn’t do that. Instead, GMA gave the new artist the lyrics as tweaked by Granada. Granada in effect says that the tweaking he did constitutes intellectual property, and that the use of his tweaked lyrics sans attribution is, at the very least, objectionable. I haven’t read GMA’s reply, but from what Granada himself quoted, it seems that GMA’s tack has been to claim that the tweaking of the lyrics was a ‘group effort.’ Granada admits that at least some of the changes were made during a pow-wow with GMA’s creatives – where presumably he suggested a few changes that the creatives agreed with. But he takes exception that that made it a group effort. At this point in the audiocast, Granada attempts to distinguish a song-writer from a copy-writer. Listen to the ‘cast and come to your own conclusions of course, but Granada’s distinctions seemed logical if a bit fuzzy. He basically says that adapting written copy – essentially a kind of poetic prose – to fit a song is something that only a song-writer can do; and that even if a song-writer does the tweaking in the company of a group of copy-writers who eventually agree, that still cannot qualify as group-writing. Group-writing to me implies that there was cooperative give and take; that it wasn’t Granada alone who made the changes but that some of the changes were proposed by the copyists. GMA may be implying that this is exactly how it went down, and Granda himself does not clearly refute this. He only sez that it’s ridiculous to call it a group effort. Like I said, fuzzy. Also: It is important to note that GMA has already telegraphed it’s potential defense that Granda’s tweaking was too minor to transform the original lyrics – copyright owned by GMA obviously – into a new work whose copyright belongs to Granada. But then again, even if the tweaks were major enough to create a new work out of the old, looking at the situation from an IP p-o-v, it is fairly safe to say that even tho’ the person who commissions the work does not necessarily own the copyright, he will usually have the right to use the work for the purpose for which the work was commissioned. And if GMA actually paid Granada for his work, you can imagine that it’ll be even easier to assume that GMA did have the right to use the work for their ad. On the other hand, the creator – Granada (assuming that the tweaked lyrics can be considered a new original) – also has the moral right to attribution. Now he can take action if the work is attributed to someone else, but does he have an actionable right if there was no attribution at all? Again, with only Granada’s ‘cast to go by, still pretty fuzzy. You can bet everything you own that this will be GMA’s playground if this tiff with Granada gets any bigger.

Over-all, even if GMA does prove that it owes Granada nothing, it will still come off as the bad-guy in this story. And for that, Granada has to be thankful to the power of new media. Me, I’m inclined to go with the moral aspect – the moral obligation of GMA to attribute at least some of the work to Granada. Besides, having Granada’s name attached to the project can only bring greater goodwill. Ironic that GMA apparently ignored that truth. VIDEO Hat tip to TSD for this one: Apparently, some people are starting to grumble about this ad, complaining about how it portrays Filipinos as ‘hungry’ and prone to violence. The prone to violence aspect is obvious. As for the ‘hungry,’ that can only make sense in the original tagalog idiom: patay-gutom. A better translation for that would be ‘greedy’ I guess. Or ‘greedy-guts.’ Whatevs. You get the point. Course, I would be happier if the guy who broke the mirror weren’t Filipino. But since he is, I have to wonder: so the fuck what? On another note, doesn’t the Skittles guy look familiar?

separated

Filed under: blogging, Filipino, international, pop-culture, , , ,

Wrong on so many levels

Like everyone else, I was really stoked to find out that Charice Pempengco, that little girl with the big growling voice, was going to sing at one of the pre-inaugural balls for the new American President.

At least I was until I found out what she was going to sing.

The kid is singing God Bless America. Now that is just so wrong on so many levels.

God Bless America, 
Land that I love. 
Stand beside her, and guide her 
Thru the night with a light from above. 
From the mountains, to the prairies, 
To the oceans, white with foam 
God bless America, My home sweet home.

While we must of course avoid being too literal minded about songs and such, the fact remains that this is not an ordinary song. As far as anthems go, God Bless America is right up there with the Star-Spangled Banner and Hail to the Chief. 

It’s a song that is so steeped in American tradition and sentiment that, one would think, it is a song that only an American should sing. Or a foreigner wanting to become an American.

After all, what is she supposed to sing? God Bless America, land that you love,  your home sweet home?

charicesmoke

Filed under: fandom, Filipino, pop-culture, society, vacuity, , , ,

benign0 answers

Read B.A.D., then this.

Go ahead.

I’ll wait …

nuninuninuni … oh. you’re back. Good.

Here’ what benign0 wrote:

 

smoke, thanks for the interest in my piece. I have a response to it that can be summarised in two words:

Filipino Chinese.

– ;)

 

The link to Filipino Chinese goes to benign0’s homepage. Here’s what it says:

 

We don’t have to look too far to find cultural success stories. Right under our noses, the Filipino-Chinese community had gone from Third Class Citizenry to Captains of Industry. Although this phenomenon is by no means unique to the Philippines, we like other Third World cultures, have been on the front row to a self-development show that we have slept through for centuries. And during our waking hours, we as a people focused our efforts on mediocre and corrupt politicking and self-pity activism.

So how does one explain an ethnic underclass that succeeds in hurdling prejudice, poverty, and cultural isolation to turn their ghettoes into today’s prime real estate while the indigenous people bred chaos, mutual oppression, and decay? In this light, any kind of excuse is invalidated. Bad governance and lack of education are the top scapegoats, for example. They simply beg the question: the Chinese community was with us through countless corrupt and inept administrations, they had to register their businesses in the same public offices, and they paid taxes to the same government. Furthermore, they landed on our shores, speaking not a word of English or Tagalog. Now, their volunteer fire brigade is far more reliable (and honest) than the government-run force.

Enough books and studies have been made on Chinese culture to help anyone figure out why things are this way. This does not mean, that we have to undertake a massive effort to analyse Philippine culture to figure out how we move forward from here. The bottom line is that the Chinese community in the Philippines is a shining example of the precept that we, as a people, have not worked hard enough at overcoming obstacles to development. 

Can it get any simpler than that?

 

There is no denying that the Filipino Chinese represent a tremendous success story (and my dad would kill me if I disagreed anyway! LOL!). However, the question really is, can the success of that relatively small – and fiercely self-contained – community be emulated by an entire country? 

Let’s take one ingredient of FilChi success, for instance: self-containment. 

The FilChi community is an incestuous little bunch that – during their rising years – was nearly impossible for outsiders to penetrate. As a result, their culture remained isolated from others and their mores – as well as their business gumption – got passed on to their inheritors with very little degradation. 

Just as importantly, this self-containment pretty much assured that the money never strayed too far from the community. If Ji Wen Ja, f’rinstance, needed bearings for his manufacturing business, he wouldn’t dream of going to Joe Smith. He’d much rather go to Li Fang, even though Li Fang’s product might not be as good as Smith’s. Now this kind of arrangement made it possible for the FilChi to engage in predatory pricing, which basically cut the legs out from under his not-chinese competitors. And of course, after several decades of that, is it any surprising that they’ve risen to the top.

Parenthetically, this was also – in several parts of Europe anyway, particularly pre-Nazi Germany – the model of Jewish prosperity. Like the Chinese, European Jews were pretty self-contained, treating outsiders as mere consumers. Which calls to mind another of bening0’s assertions: that the Chinese were an ethnic underclass.

Being an ‘underclass’ seems to me to be a matter of perception. The Chinese, and the Jews, were derided as mere merchants. But did they care? They were rolling in money. Who cared if the stupid consumers thought little of them? Officially, then, they may have been an underclass. But in many of the ways that mattered, they were far better off than the people who needed official labels to feel good about themselves.

And this kind of phenom isn’t extinct either. Many of us today are still surprised to see street vendors along Ilaya in Divisoria getting picked up by luxury vans. The surprise is a direct result of our impression – whether we acknowledge it or not – that these street vendors are a kind of ‘underclass.’ While we talk to them condescendingly; while we snigger at getting them to knock 100% off of their asking price; and while we go home to our dinky little houses, they’re laughing at us all the way to their homes in White Plains. 

Another thing that made the FilChi rise to the top possible – inevitable even – was the fact that for a long time, competition in the general marketplace from not-chinese businesses was virtually non-existent. That virtual monopoly might even have pre-dated the Spanish colonization. And during Spanish times, Europeans brought in their wares, of course, but mostly for other Europeans as well, totally inaccessible to the masses. The Chinese had a corner on the masses. So is it surprising that they’re on top now? Hardly. 

Now, as benign0 would have us do, compare that with the native Filipino. When the Chinese already had an entire business district named after them, the Filipinos were not even allowed to think of themselves as a nation. With a headstart like that, what would be surprising is if the FilChi didn’t end up on top.

All told, I don’t want to trivialize the role of culture in FilChi success. But even benign0 has to admit that it wasn’t just culture. It was also that the FilChi have been doing business longer than Filipinos have had the freedom to even call themselves a nation; it was also that the FilChi have a strong sense of identity – allowing the phenom of self-containment – which FIlipinos have been denied; and it was also that the FilCHi community is not exactly a country – it’s not even a democracy. 

Now, the question is, is your typical Filipino standing on equal footing as the FilChi such that a valid comparison can be made between the two? 

That should be simple question to answer.

Filed under: Filipino, society, ,

B.A.D.

Seriously. People should really think abut renaming the Blog Action Day, if only to avoid the lousy acronym. 

….

Over at FV, benign0 has made something of a slogan of “It’s simple, really.” And sometimes, reading his posts, I have to wonder whether he means ‘simple’ as in ‘not complicated,’ or ‘simple’ as in ‘retarded.’

In the case of benign0’s poverty post, I daresay it’s the second one. Poverty is never a simple issue andhis textual equation (as he calls it) is a canard. He writes:

Poverty in the Philippines is a simple issue to me as it comes down to this simple textual equation:

We locked ourselves into commitments beyond any inherent ability in us to honour them.

It’s a self-evident formula that is applicable across four inescapable parameters around which our utter failure to prosper as a society can be quantified in black-and-white in a balanced scorecard:

) Population
) Consumption

( Production
( Capital

The first two, population and consumption, are relevant to the first part of the sentence, and the latter two are relevant to the second part. We laughed our way through the first two, and muddled along the latter two.

Result: POVERTY on a grand national scale.

One gets the feeling that benign0 spends the better part of everyday sitting around trying to reduce everything into pseudo-koans like that. That simplistic (in the sense of uncomplicated) reasoning is pretty attractive because it seems to put the whole problem comfortably into a nutshell. But hell. Any reasoning that fits in a nutshell belongs there. 

First off, benign0’s pseudo-koan totally ignores the fact that there are many factors that bring about poverty – especially on a ‘grand national scale’ – apart from the four he mentioned. Sure we’re over-populated, and yeah, the vast majority of Filipinos live beyond their means, but these two factors alone do not sum up the reasons why there is widespread poverty, that is to say – contrary to benign0’s sweeping generalization – Filipinos are not the only ones to blame for the widespread poverty we have now.  In fact, I would go further to say that with all these handicaps, even if the entire nation woke up one morning fitting benign0’s conception of what the perfect Filipino should be, we still wouldn’t be able to get out this quagmire within his lifetime.

Lest anyone forget, we Filipinos were doing relatively ok until the dictatorship ravaged us and left us saddled with a ginormous debt. Granted debt servicing should never have been made automatic, but the mere fact that the lion’s share of the budget goes to paying off those Marcos-era debts simply means that there’s just too little money to go around to adequately address poverty. Can you imagine just how awash in cash we would be if, for one year, we didn’t service our debts?

Can this be part of what benign0 meant when he wrote that we had ‘locked ourselves into committments …” Probably. But the thing is, even if we didn’t have autmatic debt servicing, we would still have pay our debts back. And since we started out with so much debt, it was inevitable that we would have to borrow more and more money, which really only aggravated our situation. And then too factors like the Asian financial crisis, Bush the first’s war in Iraq,  and Dubya’s war among other things have conspired to make it difficult for our country to rise above our woes.

But in his haste to pin everything on what he perceives to be the dysfunctional Filipino – hasn’t bening0 ignored all these things?

Secondly, benign0 insists that we ‘muddled along (production) and (capital). And just so we’re clear: benign0’s use of the word ‘muddled’ very clearly implies that mediocrity is what he actually means. 

Normally, I would not disagree. Most Filipinos are so besotted with small-time success that we often lose sight of the need to basically aim high. Worse, we are under the thumb of a Church that has so relentlessly pushed the message of nobility in poverty that we have entire generations lacking the motivation – the ambition – to rise beyond a certain level of comfort. And anyone who acts otherwise is often stigmatized as being too big for his britches or something similarly moronic. As a result, mediocrity is almost our default state. 

However, my disagreement with benign0 has to do with his assumption that these mediocre ones determine the fate of the nation. They do not. The prosperity of a nation ultimately lies in the hands of the ruling middle class. The people who, precisely because they are not mediocre, have managed to put up businesses that employ other people; and to end up in leadership positions where they are able to influence the growth and development of the nation. The problem with these people is, therefore, not so much mediocrity as corruption.

Our leaders, in general, are fairly competent. It’s just that they are so damned crooked. And their competence is channeled, not for the nation’s good, but for the purpose of making themselves rich. Their depradations are yet another factor that benign0 has chosen to ignore in favor of simplicity. 

I am familar with the argument that says corruption, if predictable, is not a hindrance to business. In fact, I subscribe to that belief. However, I would that for corruption to be an insignificant factor, it should not just be predicatable, it should also not be over-the-top. As one rather cynical businessman once told me, the government should strive for a 70-30 mix. 70 percent of their effort should go to serving the country; 30 percent should go to serving their own interests.

In more practical terms, it’s ok to take money from a supplier, for as long as the goods or services being supplied are not worthless. Our problem is that corrupt government usually doesn’t care how shitty the product or the service is as long as it gets its cut. That isn’t mediocrity. That’s blinding greed. And i don’t see that anywhere in benign0’s pseudo-koan.

And lastly, I take issue with benign0’s use of the word ‘inherent.’ It implies that Filipinos have some sort of limitation in terms of what we can achieve. This is bullshit. Our problem is not some glass ceiling. Our problem is that our leaders have not provided us with a ladder tall and sturdy enough to enable us to reach – and shatter – that glass ceiling. 

Poverty isn’t simple. Calling it simple … now that’s simple. And I don’t mean uncomplicated.

Filed under: church and state, Filipino, musings, politics, society, ,

youarenotninoy … still

A writer I respect deeply recently wrote of my previous post:

clearly the information is inadequate, therefore the concluson is flawed.

in fact ninoy was one of those “who stayed and lived their lives in constant danger of death”. he was not one of those who fled, like oppositionists heherson and manglapus and maceda a.k.a. “steak commandoes” in america demonstrating against the dictator and martial law from afar. ninoy did not flee to america, he was offered medical treatment in america when his heart began to fail after 7 years and 7 months in jail. and once he was well, he could think of nothing but the homeland and going home, even if it meant going back to his prison cell.

From the iamninoy website, however, we find this:

Ninoy was moved to the Philippine Heart Center, where he suffered another heart attack. Refusing to be treated at the Center for fear of threats on his life, he requested permission to go to the US for treatment or be brought back to his cell.

His request was granted and Ninoy was allowed to go to the US for surgery, together with his entire family. This was arranged after a secret hospital visit by Imelda Marcos. This “emergency leave” was set when Ninoy supposedly agreed to the First Lady’s 2 conditions: that if he leaves, he will return; and while in America, he should not speak out against the Marcos regime.

Ninoy was operated in Dallas, Texas and made a quick recovery. After which, he decided to renounce the agreement saying, “a pact with the devil is no pact at all”.

Note the internal struggle to deal with this awkward part of the mythos. In the second paragraph, the narrative says that Ninoy ‘supposedly’ agreed to the Marcos’ terms. And yet, in the third paragraph, Ninoy himself repudiates the ‘pact.’ One does not repudiate a pact that does not exist.

Nevertheless, even after deciding that his agreement with Marcos was void,

He, Cory and their children started a new life in Massachusetts. He continued to work on two books and gave a series of lectures while on fellowship grants from Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His travels across the US had become opportunities for him to deliver speeches critical of the Marcos government.

Doesn’t that seem at all similar to what the respected writer wrote of manglapus et all?

… oppositionists heherson and manglapus and maceda a.k.a. “steak commandoes” in america demonstrating against the dictator and martial law from afar.

As for ‘being in constant danger of death,’ it’s well documented that Ninoy had profound respect for Marcos’ intellect, and that respect was returned in equal measure. It was a dance between the two, and both knew that neither would do anything to end the dance prematurely. Ninoy had a death sentence that was not carried out; and even with that, he was allowed to run for Congress. Despite imprisonment, I daresay Ninoy’s death at Marcos’ hands was a remote possibility at best. Not like the daily reality that it was for some people.

Ah. But one could argue he was merely waiting for the right time to return, as opposed to manglapus et al who may have been waiting simply for the marcoses to die off. And so, when did the idea of returning become irresistible to ninoy? Again, from the website:

For the next three years in self-imposed exile, Ninoy’s love for his country and countrymen did not diminish but only grew stronger. By beginning of 1983, he was determined to return especially after having heard of the declining political situation in the Philippines, as well as Marcos’ growing health risk due to lupus.

His original intention in coming home was to talk earnestly to Marcos and convince him to restore democracy through peaceful means. Though realizing that this may be futile, it did not stop him from wanting to return knowing that , “I will never be able to forgive myself if I did not at least try.”

Despite orders not to issue him a passport; threatening airlines that they will be denied landing rights if they fly him in; and threats of imprisonment and even death, Aquino persevered insisting that “If it’s my fate to die by an assassin’s bullet, so be it… the Filipino is worth dying for.”

Other accounts are less conflicted about Ninoy’s motivations, but the kernel of truth is there, despite attempts to gloss it over. Ninoy sensed his political opponent weakening, and knew that his time to return was approaching.

Now, looking at this situation without being overly-awed by Ninoy – and cognizant of the fact that Ninoy remained a consummate politician – it can be easily understood that his decision was a political gamble. If he stayed in the States and Marcos died, he would have no claim to power. But if he went home and lived, he would be the next president almost by default. Getting killed, therefore, was a calculated risk.

In fact, Ninoy spared no effort to tell the Philippines – and the world – that he was on his way home. He was, one could argue (if one were able to argue about this topic dispassionately) that Ninoy was setting up a grand homecoming. He knew that if he talked about it enough, there was a chance that Marcos would not have him killed. After all, what idiot would willingly play the role of murderer so craftily prepared by the victim himself? Unfortunately for Ninoy, the smart man he knew would never walk into his trap wasn’t totally in control. Morons were running the show, and morons tend to ignore even traps festooned with neon lights.

And besides, I never said Ninoy didn’t have a strong sense of destiny.

Next, my previous post was quoted thus:

Ninoy Aquino’s death didn’t free us.

We freed ourselves.

In fact, the EDSA revolution wasn’t even about Ninoy, was it? It was about Enrile and Ramos battling their way out of corners they’d found themselves painted into. It was Cardinal Sin who turned it into a Ninoy Aquino lovefest – and to great effect. The soldiers Enrile and Ramos were smart enough to recognize a tactical advantage and were quick to jump on the bandwagon.

What sets him apart from all his peers – people like Tanada and Salonga – is that his death happened at the right time and under the right circumstances that allowed it to be used by US as the seed of OUR revolution. The idea of him being killed by the dictator gave us the focal point we needed for our simmering discontent to boil over into massive mobilization. Except, of course, if Ninoy hadn’t died, he would have succeeded Marcos (prolly) and his feet would be touching the same base clay as Salonga and Tanada, and the discontent would have escaped into the atmosphere as nothing more than so much vented steam.”

This was followed by the question: “if EDSA were about ramos and enrile, why then did enrile not end up the president?”

What my post actually looked like was:

When he returned and died everyone rallied around him as a SYMBOL. And that’s what made him the hero he is today. As heroes go, he is being packaged as a kind of messianic figure – a secular Jesus almost – whose greatest contribution was that his death moved US to fight for our freedom.

Get that right.

Ninoy Aquino’s death didn’t free us.

We freed ourselves.

What sets him apart from all his peers – people like Tanada and Salonga – is that his death happened at the right time and under the right circumstances that allowed it to be used by US as the seed of OUR revolution. The idea of him being killed by the dictator gave us the focal point we needed for our simmering discontent to boil over into massive mobilization. Except, of course, if Ninoy hadn’t died, he would have succeeded Marcos (prolly) and his feet would be touching the same base clay as Salonga and Tanada, and the discontent would have escaped into the atmosphere as nothing more than so much vented steam.

In fact, the EDSA revolution wasn’t even about Ninoy, was it? It was about Enrile and Ramos battling their way out of corners they’d found themselves painted into. It was Cardinal Sin who turned it into a Ninoy Aquino lovefest – and to great effect. The soldiers Enrile and Ramos were smart enough to recognize a tactical advantage and were quick to jump on the bandwagon.

But when the smoke had cleared, the two soldiers parted ways: Enrile clandestinely sought to continue his coopted coup – making the Cory Administration the most coup-bedeviled regime; while Ramos embraced the new order and ended up President.

Notice how the last paragraph was inadvertently omitted? That last paragraph would have answered the enrile question. Enrile didn’t become president because his revolution was coopted; but his subsequent actions clearly indicated that he didn’t enjoy it. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and all that. When Cory had the people eating out of the palm of her hand, basking in the reflected glory of the Martyr, Enrile knew that it was pointless -possibly even fatal – for him to argue. So he went with the flow. Him and Ramos both. Only Enrile started counter-flowing, while Eddie simply let himself coast with the current. And that’s why Enrile didn’t end up as President.

And as for Ninoy being a humdinger of a President, well, who’s to say?

The Aztecs have a story about twin brothers who were commissioned to create stone calendars for a new temple. The competition was fierce between the brothers as each poured all his craft into the work. On the day of the unveiling, one brother went first. He revealed the Sun Stone, a stone calendar that exists to this day and is still hailed as a high point in Aztec culture.

The other brother’s work – which people called the Moon Stone – however, was lost in the deep lake surrounding Tenochtitlan, the capital city during transport. It was completely covered when i rolled off the causeway and disappeared beneath the waters. No one ever got a chance to see it.

Upon hearing this news, the first brother killed himself, knowing that his work would forever be considered inferior to his brother’s. Nothing tangible, he understood, would ever stand a chance of being better than something that would forever remain in the realm of people’s expectations.

Ninoy, I think, is our Moon Stone.

Filed under: blogging, Filipino, politics, pop-culture, society, stories,