Friday, December 31, 2004

Quote of the day
"It does not take a majority to prevail ... but rather an irate, tireless minority, keen on setting brushfires of freedom in the minds of men." --Samuel Adams

Thursday, December 30, 2004

The Associated Press reports that wildlife officials in Sri Lanka were surprised that they found no evidence of large-scale animal deaths from the tsunamis — indicating that animals may have sensed the wave coming and fled to higher ground. Human corpses were all over the place, the report says, but animal corpses could hardly be seen. Either the animals had a sixth sense or they just ran faster than humans.
What a few minutes could have accomplished
Having grown up in a coastal town, I've come to think of the sea as an intimate friend. So when I saw video footages of the tsunamis pounding the coasts of Thailand, Sri Lanka and Aceh, I felt not only shock but a sense of betrayal, as if a friend knifed me at the back. For someone who has spent some of the happiest moments of his life along the shores of the Pacific, it's simply hard to fathom that the sea can be such a malevolent force.

A blogger from Sri Lanka relates that when the shoreline receded prior to the tsunamis (see satellite images from DigitalGlobe), children flocked to the rock pools left behind by the receding water. The survivors in Phuket also described their sense of wonder when they saw the receding shores. Had I been there, I probably would have chased the tides too. I can only imagine now; the receding shore lines would have yielded quite a sight! I've been to the sea at low tide and there are parts of the shore, those rock pools for one, where you can see starfishes, sea urchins, sea cucumbers, seaweed, kelp and other marine cratures. As a young boy, I've spent hours just staring at a starfish and watching it move.

What was tragic about this disaster (a disaster so huge some scientists are using the adjective biblical to describe it) was that US scientists in Hawaii detected the earthquake off the coast of Sumatra and knew that tsunamis were about to strike, but didn't quite know whom to warn. USA Today reports that e-mails had been dispatched to Indonesian officials. The American scientists, I think, made a major oversight: Nobody reads the e-mails during the holidays. The Indonesians are predominantly Muslims, alright, but I think they are also on secular holidays during Christmas, aren't they? Besides, if those Indonesians had limited inboxes and had yet to switch to the excellent Gmail service, the warning e-mails probably bounced and got lost.

The above ruminations may sound tongue-in-cheek, but the fact remains that there was a critical failure of communication. One survivor interviewed by CNN was saying that a mere couple of minutes would have saved thousands of lives. (In Thailand, apparently, a warning had been dispatched to resort owners, but the notice was ignored.) After this disaster, the communication infrastructure between what are supposedly collegial scientific institutions must be put in place. I wonder whether our own PAG-ASA has the proper communication channels.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Fellowship program for Fil-Ams
The Filipino-American Youth Leaders Fellowship Program is now accepting applications. Here are the application form (doc), the guidelines (doc), and the website.

The Filipino-American Youth Leaders Fellowship Program is an 8-week summer work program for Filipino-Americans who want to contribute to social development in the Philippines through firsthand exposure, experience and action.

Fifteen to twenty fellows that are bright, self-motivated individuals of Filipino heritage, who are proven and emerging leaders committed to ethical and effective leadership, will be chosen to participate on a summer training and work program in the Philippines. The objectives of the Filipino-American Youth Leaders Fellowship Program are:

* To make the fellows proud of their heritage by reconnecting them with their Filipino roots;
* To transform the fellows into advocates in the U.S. for the Philippines and Filipinos; and
* To foster a mutually beneficial exchange between the fellows, host organizations and host families.

The program includes:

* A series of workshops on the Filipino cultural identity; with visits to selected sites of historical and cultural interest.
* A meaningful, relevant work program with a host educational institution, a non-government organization, or a government agency. Fellows will be housed with a Filipino host family in their areas of assignment.
* Documentation by the fellow to enable him/her to impart the experience to other Fil-Ams in the US.
* Fellows, upon their return to the U.S., are expected to extend their fellowship by engaging in activities benefiting the program and the host organizations.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Web prowl
Time magazine elects US President George W Bush as its Person of the Year. Newsbreak recommends five money management books for 2005. Papers and presentations from the Better Air Quality (BAQ) 2004 Workshop (Agra, India 6-8 Dec) are now available at the BAQ website. Inside prison walls, an inmate sets his mind free through literature. The Economist has the past year in verse.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

The passing of a man beloved
Watching the multitude of people mourning the death of Fernando Poe Jr, I remember President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who, when asked by Cheche Lazaro who her friends were, pensively said she had none.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Currently reading:

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
To see a world in a grain of sand
Over the weekend, with all the flurry of FPJ news emanating from Sto. Domingo and the fire at the Speaker's residence, it was quite easy to miss the most important story of all: the announcement by Google, the operator of the world's most popular Internet search engine, to digitize and make freely available the collections of the libraries at Oxford, the University of Michigan, Harvard, Stanford and the New York Public Library.

Google's project, of course, is necessarily non-exhaustive as copyrights need to be protected. The New York Times reported that:

Google plans to digitize nearly all the eight million books in Stanford's collection and the seven million at Michigan. The Harvard project will initially be limited to only about 40,000 volumes. The scanning at Bodleian Library at Oxford will be limited to an unspecified number of books published before 1900, while the New York Public Library project will involve fragile material not under copyright that library officials said would be of interest primarily to scholars.

Still, Google's digitization project is a momentous step--the biggest so far--toward a vision close to the heart of every computer nerd: the world liberation of human knowledge. It would be no stretch to say that we are at a critical juncture in the history of the dissemination of knowledge, perhaps as critical as that episode when Gutenberg started printing or when the Holy Bible was translated into the vernacular. It's mind-boggling to imagine the possible political repercussions of an online reading room accessible to anyone with internet access.

Google is already reaping praises in the superlative. And deservedly so. The last time mankind attempted an effort comparable to Google's project was when Ptolemy I set up the library in Alexandria, which was meant to hold every book on every imaginable subject. Tech Central Station asks: Is Google God? Not content with the presumptuous (and sacrilegious) question, the article also compared Google's effort to that of the legendary Prometheus, the god who stole fire from heaven for the benefit of men. Yet some people are wary of Google's ambition and point out the lesson of the Tower of Babel in the Bible: that it is human folly to desire and attempt intellectual omniscience.

We have to cross our fingers and wait to see how all this will play out in the coming years. Two cheers for Google for now!

Monday, December 20, 2004

Call for papers
Kasalukuyan na pong tumatanggap ng mga pananaliksik, pagsusuri, at rebyu para sa ikalawang isyu ng Lagda: Opisyal na Journal ng Departamento ng Filipino at Panitikan ng Pilipinas. Paksain ng inihahandang publikasyon sa panitikan, sekswalidad, at kasarian; panitikan at kulturang popular; at panitikang popular. Nilalayon ng isyu na itanghal ang mga bagong pag-aaral ukol sa mga nabanggit. Magsisilbi rin itong kapanabay na babasahin ng mga mag-aaral sa ating kursong Pan Pil 19 at Pan Pil 17.

Narito ang mga suhestiyon ng lupon ng mga editor kaugnay sa mga paksang maaaring talakayin:

1. Bagong Popular na babasahin ukol sa Kasarian at Sexualidad (gay magasin, metrosexuality, male studies, queer theory, dulang Penis Talks at Hipo, aklat ng wastong pag-uugali ng mga bakla "The Library Foundation", at mga bagong-lathalang a ng mga lesbiyana at bakla sa bansa)
2. Mga Bagong Chic Literature (nobela ng Cosmopolitan Philippines, etc.)
3. Programang Pantasya o Fantaserye (Mulawin, Kristala, Marina, etc.)
4. Nobelang Pantasya
5. MMDA Art (Urinals, Pedestrian Overpass, Megatrain, Street signages, Street Paintings)
6. Reality Television (Born Diva, Extra Challenge etc.)
7. Popular na nobela (aklat ni Bob Ong, Zsazsa Zaturna, Philippine Ghost Stories)
8. Comedy Bars (Klownz etc.)
9. Alternatibong Paglalathala at Produksiyon (blog, independent films, Ikot poetry, Virtual Diary, Zines, Fan Fiction, Slash Fiction etc.) at
10. Novelty Songs (Lito Camo, Sex Bomb, Maskulado, etc.)

Gabay sa mga Mag-aambag ng Artikulo:

1. Kailangang orihinal at hindi pa nailalathala sa limbag o elektronikong anyo ang isusumiteng manuskrito, nakasulat sa wikang Filipino.
2. Hindi kukulangin sa 20 pahina, naka-encode, at doble-espasyo. Lakipan ng abstrak ang pag-aaral na hindi lalagpas sa tatlong daang (300) salita.
3. Hindi lalagpas sa sampung pahina ang mga rebyu (tulad ng pelikula, programang pantelebisyon, aklat, musika, atbp.)
4. Maghanda ng isang talatang tala sa manunulat.
5. Isumite rin ang tatlong (3) hard copy at isang soft copy na nasa Rich Text Format.
6. Humingi ng permiso sa anumang materyal (larawan, pabalat ng aklat, ilustrasyon, mapa, atbp.) na ilalahok sa inyong manuskrito.
7. Kailangang sagutan ng mag-aambag ang form na mukukuha sa opisina ng DFPP na nagpapahayag na hindi pa nailalathala ang inyong akda at kung sino ang mga posibleng tagasuri sa inyong pag-aaral.

Ipadala ang mga artikulo sa Lupon ng Editor: Prop. Eugene Y. Evasco, Prop. Will Ortiz, o Prop. Michael Andrada. Tawagan lamang ang numerong 0917-8344746 kung mayroong mga katanungan.

Huling Araw ng Pagsusumite: Unang Linggo ng Pebrero, 2005
Scholar Rescue Fund Fellowships
The Institute of International Education's Scholar Rescue Fund provides fellowships for scholars whose lives and work are threatened in their home countries. These fellowships permit scholars to find temporary refuge at universities and colleges anywhere in the world, enabling them to pursue their academic work and to continue to share their knowledge with students, colleagues, and the community at large. When conditions improve, these scholars will return home to help rebuild universities and societies ravaged by fear, conflict and repression.

How the Scholar Rescue Fund Works:

* Academics, researchers and independent scholars from any country, field or discipline may qualify. Preference is given to scholars with a Ph.D. or other highest degree in their field; who have been employed in scholarly activities at a university, college or other institution of higher learning during the last four years (excluding displacement or prohibition); who demonstrate superior academic accomplishment or promise; and whose selection is likely to benefit the academic
community in the home and/or host country or region. Applications from
female scholars and under-represented groups are strongly encouraged.

* Universities, colleges and research centers in any country may apply to serve as hosts.

* Applications and nominations should be made to the Fund's Selection Committee. Institutions interested in hosting a particular scholar should submit a letter with the scholar's application. Fellowships are awarded to institutions for support of specific individuals, to be matched in most cases by the institution or third-party. Fellowship recipients are expected to continue their work in safety at the host institution-teaching, lecturing, conducting research, writing and publishing. Fellowships from 3 months to one calendar year will be considered with up to 25 fellowships awarded annually. The maximum award is US $20,000.

* Applications are accepted at any time. Emergency applications receive urgent consideration. Non-emergency applications will be considered according to the following schedule:

Winter 2005: Applications received by January 1; decision by March 1.

Spring 2005: Applications received by April 1; decision by June 1.

Fall 2005: Applications received by October 1; decision by December 1.

How to apply:

To apply or to learn how your institution might host an SRF scholar, contact:

IIE Scholar Rescue Fund Fellowships
809 U.N. Plaza, Second Floor
New York, New York 10017
Tel: (USA) 1-212-984-5588
Fax: (USA) 1-212-984-5401

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

A wonderful world
TIME Magazine has the past year in wonderful pictures.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Leverage at the World Trade Organization (WTO): At Whose Expense?

A roundtable discussion with Prof. Reginald Green, Professor at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, UK


Atty. Wigberto Tañada, Fair Trade Alliance
Joseph Purugganan, Focus on the Global South
Rebecca Malay, Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM)
As invited Panel of Reactors

16 December 2004, 12nn - 4pm
Conspiracy Garden Café
Visayas Ave., Quezon City

Please send confirmation to the Freedom from Debt Coalition Office, Fax # 9246399 Attn: Dinah Fuentesfina or email address For more information you may call 9211985 / 09209054576.

Monday, December 13, 2004

History repeats and repeats and repeats
No sooner had the last corpse been extricated from the muck than our government started paring its earlier total log ban pronouncement. So in the next few months, after all the corpses have been consigned to the grave and the media have surceased their acrimony, we can reasonably expect the loggers--legal and illegal--to return to status quo ante. Until the next catastrophe.

It might very well be, as some public officals say, that a total log ban is suboptimal public policy, but a selective log ban (with all those exceptions) is unenforceable and notoriously open to corruption and bribery. If forests are to be saved, all trees must be protected.As Neal Cruz points out: is common practice now for logging concessionaires to cut timber illegally outside their concessions and then claim they came from their own concessions. The DENR's forest rangers cannot prove otherwise. And anyway they are so poorly paid that it is easy for the loggers to convince them that they have not done anything wrong. With a total log ban, this ploy will no longer work. A log is illegally cut wherever it comes from.

Currently reading:

Jarhead by Anthony Swofford

Friday, December 10, 2004

OPM Songs
One member of an e-group I subscribe to was asking about favorite OPM songs. Here are some of mine:

Walang hanggang paalam by Joey Ayala
Can we just stop and talk awhile by Jose Mari Chan
Huling El Bimbo/Magasin/Pare ko/ Minsan by Eraserheads
Kahit Kaunti By Gary Granada
Kahit maputi na ang buhok ko
Bakit ngayon ka lang by Freestyle
Di bale na lang by Gary Valenciano
Kanlungan by Noel Cabangon
Binibirocha by Andrew E.
Nosi ba lasi by Sampaguita
Annie Batungbakal by Hotdog
Kumusta ka by Freddie Aguilar
Jeproks by Mike Hanopol
Pagdating ng panahon by Aiza Seguerra
Currently reading:

Bachelor of Arts by R.K. Narayan
Web prowl
After the battering we took from the tetralogy of typhoons, some of you may be interested in the presentations and background materials of the symposium on Climate and Extreme Events in Asia Pacific: Enhancing Resilience and Improving Decision Making sposored by the the East-West Center. From the Lee Kuan Yew School Of Government in Singapore, here's India: An Integral part of New Asia (pdf).

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Temporary respite
I've been unable to blog for some days now. Will be back as soon as I get my PC fixed.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Invitation to a lecture
Shrinking the Government and Expanding the Economy

Mr. Bienvenido "Nonoy" Oplas, Jr.
Chairman, Minimal Government
December 3, 2004 (Friday), 3:30 PM
UP School of Economics Rm. 103
The sin of Corazon Aquino
The Manila Times reports that during the press conference of Happy Together, Kris Aquino rose to the defense of former President Corazon Aquino:

Other than being a Cojuangco, my mom really has nothing to do with Hacienda Luisita. She is not a member of the board and doesn’t occupy any position in the management of the agricultural estate. That’s why it is not right to say anything against her, in relation to whatever is going on there

Kris Aquino is not exactly being truthful here. One, her mom has something to do with Hacienda Luisita if only for the fact that the former president is a part-owner. (Six Cojuangco siblings equally own Hacienda Luisita, although the former President owns only now a half of one-sixth because of divestment during the martial-law years.) Two, President Aquino failed to deliver her 1986 campaign promise to make "Land-to-the-tiller...a reality, instead of an empty slogan." During her political campaign in the 1986 snap elections, President Aquino was also explicit that land reform would apply to her own family's Hacienda Luisita.

After the euphoric EDSA People Power of 1986, President Aquino had revolutionary powers. With one big stroke of her pen, she could have assumed the role Gen. McArthur played in Japan, the Kuomintang in Taiwan, and Mao Zedong in China: dissolve the landowning families once and for all. But what the former president did was to simply sit on her revolutionary powers. If not for the disastrous Mendiola Massacre, Corazon Aquino, perhaps in between recitations of the holy mysteries, would have conveniently forgotten the plight of the farmers in this country.

Before her revolutionary decree-making powers expired in 1987, Aquino proclaimed an agrarian reform program. But the important details of timing, priorities, and minimum legal holdings were left to be determined by the new Congress of landowners, who promptly circumvented the historical intent of land reform through the provision that allowed large landowners to transfer a portion of the respective corporation's total assets equivalent in value to that of its land assets, in lieu of the land being subdivided and distributed to tenants and farm laborers.

A land reform program without a division of the land is a joke. And Corazon Aquino was partially culpable for that joke.

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Web prowl
The Economist makes its list of 2004's best books. From the Eurozine, a historian's perspective of the political crisis in ukraine.
Currently reading:

Love, Sex, and the Filipino Communist by Patricio N. Abinales

Friday, November 26, 2004

the first major concert of Noel Cabangon

The concert is inspired by his two latest albums which are pioneering works for him -- MEDJAS which is his first attempt at singing jazz songs, and NOEL which is Cabangon's first Christmas album. His concert lineup will include Tinamaan M (featured in his Medjas album), which won best jazz recording in the recent AWIT awards. The concert will feature guest artists Aiza Seguerra and Cooky Chua and will be held on Saturday, 27 November 2004, 7:30 pm, at Teatro Aguinaldo.

Make it a different and special Christmas season! Watch Medjas ni Noel and let your ears fill with Noel Cabangon's sockful of musical delights.

Tickets are priced at P150, P300, and P500, and may be bought at JesCom (Sonolux Building, Seminary Drive, Ateneo de Manila University campus, Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City), the Tanging Yaman store in the Loyola House of Studies (Ateneo de Manila University campus, Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City), and all Tanging Yaman/JesCom kiosks in SM Megamall (5th Level, Bridgeway), SM North Edsa (Lower Ground), Robinsons Manila (2nd Level) and Robinsons Galleria (2nd Level).

For inquiries, please call 426-5971/72 or email
Emily Dickinson:
This is my letter to the world,
That never wrote to me, --
The simple news that Nature told,
With tender majesty.
Historically deferred value
The London Review of Books has an excellent review essay on Trotsky, entitled Victory in Defeat:

An average British history graduate today will have been taught to evaluate revolutions on a simple humanitarian scale. Did they kill a lot of people? Then they were bad. Showing that some of those killed were even more bloodthirsty than their killers is no extenuation. Neither is the plea that violence and privation, the sacrifice of the present, may be the price of breaking through to a better future. George Kline dismissed this in The Trotsky Reappraisal (1992) as ‘the fallacy of historically deferred value . . . a moral monstrosity’. Monstrous or not, it’s a bargain with the future which, as anyone over 60 will remember, Europeans of all political outlooks were once accustomed to strike. But today ‘presentism’ rules, and the young read the ‘short 20th century’ as the final demonstration that evil means are never justified by high ends.

If pressed to take a side, I'd say evil means can sometimes be justified by high ends. But the question though is how far should we be willing to take the means of evil to get to a heavenly goal? How many corpses and atrocities before we say we have had enough and pack up our rifles? The Revolution will continue long after we have forgotten what it was all about in the first place.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Health nat sit
I'm currently attending a two-day conference on health issues convened by Akbayan and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. Health issues are totally new to me so hearing NGO people talk about reproductive and sexual health, IPR regime with regard to medicines, treacherous pharmaceutical companies, community-based healh care was a heady experience.

If you think you are too perky or Panglossian for your own good, try attending this kind of meetings. In no time you'd be needing Prozac. Prof. Michael Tan, inter alia, discussed the National Demographic and Health Survey. I was particularly struck by the 25,000 Filipinos who needlessly die each year of tuberculosis, a preventable and supposedly manageable disease. Dr. Jaime Galvez-Tan announced that the Generics Law is dead, that 9,000 doctors have become nurses, and that there are district hospitals in some areas where not a single doctor or nurse can be found. Atty. Susan Villanueva talked about how giant pharmaceutical companies and the US are conspiring to keep medicine prices in the Philippines higher than in all Southeast Asian countries.

It's depressing--hearing about all these problems and being powerless to do anything about it.
Gen. Carlos Garcia as a young man
No matter how hard I try to construct im ny mind its plausibility, I find it hard to imagine Second Lieutenant Rolly Joaquin, a PMA valedictorian no less, actually committing the stupid crime for which he will be facing court-martial soon. US authorities reported that Joaquin was caught by surveillance cameras removing a 50-cent discount tag from one CD and affixing it to another CD priced at $12, which he tried to buy. Exactly what was the CD he tried to buy? I wonder. Was it Usher, Beyonce, or Eminem?

I too have been tempted time and again to shoplift from the pricey classical section of Tower Records. But why shoplift when you can download? Joaquin may have never heard of online downloading, but as one music aficionado to another, I humbly offer him these links: Kazaa and Edonkey. Sir yes sir they're good.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Invitation to a forum on the challenges in the power industry
Confronting a Crisis: The Philippine Power Sector

The Philippine power industry is undergoing reforms triggered by the 2001 passage of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), which sought to further enhance and promote industry competition. In spite of this, the country is faced with an impending power shortage by 2008 in Luzon and possibly earlier in Visayas and Mindanao.

In light of this scenario, the AIM Policy Center and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation are organizing the forum The State of the Philippine Power Industry: Challenges in Financing Privatization, to be held on November 30, 2004 from 8:30 am-12 noon at the AIM-World Bank’s Global Distance Learning Center located at the Asian Institute of Management, 123 Paseo de Roxas, Makati City.

The objectives of the forum are as follows:

1. To develop insights on effective power restructuring to install new generating capacity and efficient power privatization

2. To present the views of financial institutions on solutions to problems in financing privatization given the prevailing political and regulatory environment

3. To hear the reactions of government representatives on the solutions proposed by financial institutions

4. To get the insights of the international community (Mongolia, Papua New Guinea, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Sri Lanka) based on their countries’ experiences


Welcome Remarks
Dr. Roberto F. De Ocampo
President, Asian Institute of Management

Power Restructuring
Yongping Zhai
Senior Energy Specialist, Asian Development Bank

Solutions in Financing Privatization Problems
Richard Ondrik
Chief Country Officer, Asian Development Bank

Anil Kumar Yadav
Director-Project Export and Finance
HVB Corporates and Markets

Government Reactors
Hon. Vicente Perez, Jr.
Secretary, Department of Energy

Hon. Exequiel Javier
Senior Vice-Chairman, Committee on Energy
House of Representatives

Synthesis and Closing Remarks
Prof. Fernando Roxas
Asian Institute of Management

The conference is FREE OF CHARGE and seats are limited. For inquiries, please contact Mr. Jaime Singson at (632) 7501010 local 2018 or at
Cuentos Filipinos At Instituto Cervantes
The Department of Modern Languages' CUENTOS FILIPINOS by Jose Montero y Vidal will be presented at the Instituto Cervantes on Tuesday, 23 November 2004, 7pm, in its Salon de Actos.

Translated from the original Spanish by Renan Prado, Evelyn Soriano, Heide Aquino, and Shirley Torres and edited by Renan Prado and Lourdes Brillantes, these nine short stories by Jose Montero y Vidal portray the life and times in nineteenth-century Philippines. The colorful and graphic vignettes describing the customs and traditions of the country come alive as the characters weave in and out of a historically and culturally documented milieu. In this journey through time, the natural richness of the Philippines surfaces and the interior wealth of the mountains reveals an astounding diversity of ethnic groups.

This translation makes creative works in Spanish about the Philippines more accessible to everyone, lending greater knowledge and awareness of our past in order to make our understanding and appreciation of the present more profound.

The publication of CUENTOS FILIPINOS was made possible through assistance from the Office of the President and a grant from the Program for Cultural Cooperation between the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports of Spain and Universities in the Philippines and the Pacific Islands.

Instituto Cervantes de Manila: 2515 Leon Guinto cor Estrada Sts., Malate, Manila
Tel 526-1482 to 85;

Monday, November 22, 2004

Currently reading:

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Invitation to a lecture
On Wednesday, November 24, 2004, the Ateneo de Manila School of Humanities, Office of Research and Publications, and the University Press will present scholar and literary critic Father Miguel A. Bernad S.J., at a public lecture, "Dante's Cosmic Journey," 10 to 11.30 am, at the Audio-Visual Room of the Social Sciences Bldg., Ateneo de Manila University, Quezon City.

Dante's DIVINE COMEDY is one of the world's great literary works. But it is more than that. It is a compendium of humanistic knowledge of the Middle Ages. Philosophy, Theology, Astronomy,History, Mythology, international politics and much else are all woven together into one great literary epic, and expressed in the beautiful but strictly controlled rhyme-scheme of the terza rima. This stupendous work requires several months of study, but Father Bernad will attempt to give a brief outline, indicating some of the paradoxes in the poem, and mentioning briefly some of the theological issues raised in it. This poem describes a fictional trip through hell, purgatory, and heaven, without losing constant touch with things on earth.

On this occasion as well, Father Bernad's latest books will be presented to the public: THE GOLDEN WORLD AND THE DARKNESS: Shakespeare Plays and Their Performance (DLSU Press); THE NATIVE SKY: Studies in the Life and Writings of Jose Rizal (ORP); and THE GREAT ISLAND: Studies in the Exploration and Evangelization of Mindanao (Ateneo Press).

Father Bernad has taught at the Ateneo de Manila University and at Xavier University in Cagayan de Oro City for more than fifty years. He is a member of the Philippine Academy of the Spanish Language, and of the Manila Critics Circle. He is founding editor of Kinaadman, Journal of the Southern Philippines, and writes a weekly column for Philippine Star.

The books will be available during the lecture-launch at special prices. (DLSU Press: 4003752; ORP: 4266001 ext 5180; Ateneo Press: 02-4265984)

Tel 63-2-4265984; 4266001 ext 4613

Friday, November 19, 2004

On the so-called agents provocateurs at the Hacienda Luisita
The Manila Times, attempting editorial objectiveness, evenly distributed the blame for the Hacieda Luisita imbroglio, but at the same time couldn't help but quip that "A greater part of the blame...must be borne by those who 'politicized' the strike and turned the sugar estate workers into pawns in a game of dubious aims."

The above is exactly what the management of the hacienda had been stressing in every interview it granted, that the workers in strike had been infiltrated, supported and egged on by outsiders. Is this true? Most probably, but I don't see how this changes things. Just like in any other strike that happens here in the country, a significant percentage of the crowd that we see are supporters of the workers, showing their solidarity. This is precisely what alliances among labor unions are for: to lend mutual succor in times of feudal/industrial distress. When Karl Marx enjoined workers to unite and dump their chains, he didn't mean them to break into diverse discussion groups and talk among themselves intrahacienda. So it is but natural for outsiders to be present in the wildcat strike. What the Aquinos call infiltration, others would term class solidarity.
Alexander Martin Remollino writes:
(Kay Kris Aquino, matapos niyang ipagmalaking ang kanyang mga alahas ay "katas ng Hacienda Luisita")

Gaano maaaring kumapal ang mukha ng tao?
Higit pa sa kapal ng etera
ng buong kalawakan.

Kaya naman nasisikmurang magyabang ng tao
kung kanyang naipambibili ng pinakamahal na mga alahas
ang dugong piniga mula sa nag-uusliang ugat
ng mga manggagawa't sakada sa tubuhan.

Ngunit hanggang saan makalilipad ang kapalaluan?
Hindi sapat ang kislap ng mga alahas
upang pawiin ang pagdidilim ng karangalan.

ngayon pa lamang ay nalulusaw na ang inyong pangalan
sa naglalagablab na panduduro ng kasaysayan
na magsasalaysay ng inyong kaimpaktuhan.
Invitation to a lecture
On November 23, National Artist for Literature and Ramon Magsaysay Awardee, F. Sionil Jose will deliver a public lecture at the University of the Philippines on "The University and the Revolution" at the Faculty Conference (FC) Hall, U.P. Diliman at 1:30P.M.

The world renowned novelist was personally invited to speak at UP by outgoing U.P. President Nemenzo, a long-time friend and reader of JOSE. The lecture will be the latest in a series of recent visits to U.P. by cultural icons including ballerina Lisa Macuja-Elizalde, fimmaker Marilou Diaz-Abaya and National Artist for Dance Leonor Orosa Goquingco.

A distinguished panel of academics will repond to Jose's lecture composed of Professor Randy David, Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera and Dean Zosimo Lee.

The lecture is FREE and open to all.
Excellent free wares
Via Prem, I've learned that Gmail now has POP access, which means that through e-mail programs like Thunderbird or Outlook Express one can now download messages for offline viewing. I still have six Gmail invitations in my possession so if you want a Gmail account (it provides 1 GB of inbox) please post your e-mail in the comments section for me to send you an invitation. For those who are still using the Explorer browser, Firefox 1.0 (a much better browser) is now available.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Suckers for morsels of national pride
I never quite understood our national preoccupation with stacking up national pride points from relatively minor and personal achievements of our fellow citizens. Take the case of Faye, who allegedly won in a quiz in Australia despite receiving no support from the Philippines whatsoever. Extemporaneous speaker Patricia Evangelista, whose English was praised by the British stiff upper lips (and thereby confirming that we brown monkeys can also speak the Queen's language), brought Faye's case of lack of publicity to the fleeceable bourgeoisie of our sorry republic, who, it must be said, still yearn for the imprimatur of the superior WASPs more than half a century since national independence.

Yes, it's nice that some of our countrymen win in student competitions abroad from time to time, but they should not expect to end up front page everytime, that the whole country would go gaga over them--as in the case of Ms. Evangelista, who was asked everywhere she went to re-deliver her "extemporaneous" speech on cue like a pretty parrot. (The first time I heard Ms. Evangelista "extemporaneously" deliver her piece on tv about how she dreamed of blue eyes, the first thought I had in mind was how similar her opening lines were to the opening passages of Toni Morrison's Blue Eyes.)

I find these ephemeral celebrations of national pride obscene. Are we this devoid of sources of national pride that we must hitch our national wagon to every student star who has won an international prize, however minor or, in the case of Faye, illusory it may be?

Let's admit it: We are all like Faye's delusional mother. She wanted to get back at her husband so she invented the story of her daughter's achievement; we want to feel good about ourselves so we go ecstatic at the news of every international contest result. This episode should teach us all a lesson, to put things into proper perspective. All the student prizes in the world will not compel the world to treat us as equals when we have a president who kisses white ass.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Currently reading:

Raise the Red Lantern by Su Tong
From The Sorrows of Young Werther by Goethe:
O my friend! why is it that the torrent of genius so seldom bursts forth, so seldom rolls in full-flowing stream, overwhelming your astounded soul? Because, on either side of this stream, cold and respectable persons have taken up their abodes, and, forsooth, their summer-houses and tulip-beds would suffer from the torrent; wherefore they dig trenches, and raise embankments betimes, in order to avert the impending danger.

Napoleon Bonaparte must have loved this passage. The Sorrows of Young Werther is said to have been one of his favorite books (he carried the book in his pocket during his campaigns in Egypt and boasted of having read it seven times), and the passage surely has a Napoleonic ring to it.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Americans apologize to the world
Click here for heartwarming pics of Americans apologizing to the world for Bush's re-election.

Sorry about Bush
Prana Escalante, 21
Prana Escalante, a townmate of mine from Sorsogon, was found dead today. According to the Inquirer, she set off alone to climb Mt. Halcon in Mindoro Oriental at past midnight of Oct. 29. Her friends, who started climbing a day earlier, were waiting for her. The Inquirer reports that:

Members of a group belonging to the Pilipinas Sierra said they saw her resting at the second stream and subsequently tried to convince her to join them. But she refused and went on her way, saying that she knew the trail....

On Nov. 2, her friends came down from Halcon without her.

The GMA report showed one classmate, a certain Dennis Dy, telling the reporter that he was sure he and Prana would meet again in another lifetime. Her name, the report told us, means life-force in Hindi. And she probably was a life-force.

I didn't really know Prana, but somehow the image of her setting off to climb the mountain in the middle of the night to rendezvous with death (when she was expecting friends) has taken a grip on my mind. What is it that is so romantic about dying in a mountain trek? I am filled with such admiration for her indomitable spirit. What audacity! What youthfulness! To plunge into life and embrace all its dangers!

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Currently reading:

My Invented Country by Isabel Allende
Call for student papers
The International Association of Political Science Students (IAPSS) is proud to announce that POLITIKON - The IAPSS Journal has reached its 9th issue. POLITIKON is an academic journal meant to offer a proper framework for students -under and postgraduate- who have a special interest in Political Science.

It is a unique opportunity for you to contribute to the political science community by having your paper reviewed and published in our journal!

Do you want your paper to be discovered by people from more than fifty countries?
Respond to our challenge: Is democracy working? You can follow these guidelines:

- Democracy - more than an electoral process
- The erosion of classic democracies
- Young democracies at work
- Democracy - a universal solution or not
- The democratic peace theory
- etc

The requirements for the papers are:

- English language
- A half page abstract
- A minimum of 15 pages and a maximum of 25 pages written in Times New Roman, size 12, 1.5 lines
- Bibliography (minimum 5 references, see the rules for references in the attached document)

The deadline for submitting the papers is the 20th of January 2005.

The articles should be sent at the following address:

For questions and suggestions, please feel free to write us at the e-mail address mentioned above.

International Association for Political Science Students
Kongresni trg 12
1000 Ljubljana - Slovenia
Tel +386 1 2443730
Fax +386 1 2443731

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Joke joke joke
The first time I heard about House Bill 2895 filed by Cavite Rep. Crispin Remulla, I thought the neophyte congressman was straining the legislative right to drollery.

The bill would require all private citizens to file a statement of assets, liabilities and net worth to check if they are paying the correct taxes. Under Remulla’s bill, every individual who earns an income of more than P200,000 and owns real and personal properties worth at least P500,000 shall file a statement with the Bureau of Internal Revenue at the end of every year.

My gulay, we can't even pin the tax cheats among our SAL-filing public officials! Now we want more SALs! Who will sift through all those documents? The PCIJ can only do so much.

The bill simply doesn't make sense, as the Manila Times points in its main editorial today. Before becoming an unwitting sponsor to another ludicrous piece of legislation, Rep. Remulla would probably do better to consult his brother Gilbert first. That's what ties that bind are for.
Web prowl
I know we have had an overdose of analysis of the US presidential elections, but Simon Schama is too good to pass up. Were the 2008 elections to be held today, who would be the front-runners? During the European Social Forum in London 2004, the Seattle to Brussels Network (S2B) - a pan-European network challenging the corporate driven agenda of global trade and investment liberalisation of Europe - launched its latest publication: From Cancun to Hong Kong: challenging corporate-led trade liberalisation (pdf). UCLA Prof. George Garrett explains in a Foreign Affairs essay how globalization is shortchanging middle-income countries. Papers for the workshop Political Theory and Cultural Pluralism: New Directions are availbale online. Newsweek interview Carlos Fuentes.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Musicians Unite for Freedom in Burma!
Twenty seven music stars including U2, R.E.M., Eric Clapton, Avril Lavigne, Peter Gabriel, Coldplay, and Pearl Jam have released "For the Lady," a brand-new double CD set dedicated to freeing the world's only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Aung San Suu Kyi and the 50 million people of Burma.

"For The Lady" features unreleased material by R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Tom Morello's The Nightwatchman, Damien Rice, Lili Hadyn and Better Than Ezra.

The album also features a song in Burmese written by a jailed student democracy activist. Like the leaders of former communist states, Burma's military regime is fearful of the power of rock and roll, and singing a freedom song can result in a seven-year prison sentence.

Proceeds from the CD go to the U.S. Campaign for Burma.
Privatising the Welfarist State:
Neo-liberalism and the Health Care Sector


Dr. Chan Chee Khoon

12 November 2004, Wednesday, 4:00 p.m.
Institute of Philippine Culture, Ateneo de Manila University
Social Development Complex, Loyola Heights, Quezon City

In its ceaseless search for opportunities for profitable deployment and redeployment, globally mobile capital has contributed to the undermining of the welfarist state through several modalities. In conjunction with neo-liberal trade policies, globally mobile capital has fostered a "race to the bottom" and has thereby reduced the fiscal capacity of states. At the same time, finance capital has exerted an overriding concern with inflation and balanced budgets in the countries where it circulates. Wary of activist Keynesianism, it imparts a deflationary bias to national economies, demanding fiscal discipline to reduce public spending and budget deficits through its threat of withdrawal and flight. One result has been the widening imbalance between accumulation and consumption, manifested as overcapacity and demand deficit.

Pressure has built up to extend the circuit of capital into new arenas for accumulation, encroaching into a hitherto non-commercial public sector domain, i.e. the privatization and dismembering the welfarist state, including health services. This presentation will describe and analyze the privatization (commodification) of Malaysian health care as an intersection of these broad global currents with local political and economic contingencies. It will attempt to draw generic lessons that may have relevance to the Philippines.

Dr. Chan is an Associate Professor of the School of Social Sciences, Universiti Sains Malaysia. He is currently an Asian Public Intellectual Fellow and an affiliate of the Institute of Philippine Culture.

For confirmation of your attendance, please call tel. nos. 426-6067/68, or 426-6001 loc. 4651. Please look for Faith Arce or Cecille Bartolome.
Ukay-ukay culture
In a poignant commentary, The Philippine Graphic asks: Is the Philippines a tabula rasa or a palimpsest? What triggered the question was the writer’s observations that real estate bosses in the country, who are presumed to know the preferences of the Philippine rich and upper-middle-class, name and design properties in ritzy, foreign fashion: Westgrove Heights, White Plains, Bellagio, Eastwood, Canyon Woods, Greenbelt, Tuscany Apartments, etc.

I personally don't have a problem with this kind of borrowing from foreign sources, although I admit there's something seriously amiss when we name something Canyon Woods when there's neither canyon nor woods. This practice of borrowing mostly American references is troubling only when you begin to juxtapose it with the interminable queus in the US Embassy. And you reach this conclusion: The middle classes and the rich who for the meantime opt to stay in the Philippines are, however superficially, transforming the country into the foreign place they would have lived in had they left--like souls trapped in purgatory waiting for the beacon of the stars and stripes of heaven.

Setting aside the American neo-colonial aspect to it, the question remains: Are we so devoid of native culture that we must perforce borrow? I don't know.

I suspect we are being too hard on ourselves. In a globalized and Americanized world, it is inevitable that we adopt American characteristics. Culture, after all, follows the direction of power. Even the Americans, when they were not a major world power yet, were heavy cultural borrowers. Some would be inclined to think of the columns in the White House as Greek kitsch.

If we must perforce borrow, might as well be eclectic about it. Because if the Philippines is going to look, sound, and feel Stateside, then what is to stop Filipinos from getting a visa and leaving for the real McCoy?

Monday, November 08, 2004

Currently reading:

The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Review (sort of): Tabloid Dreams by Robert Olen Butler
By the standard set by his previous short-stories collection A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, Butler's Tabloid Dreams is so-so, but still arguably very good. Butler reconstructs the stories behind the tabloid headlines. The book is so readable (with a generous use of the comma splice) I finished it in no time.

There's the story about the nine-year-old boy assassin whose fingers barely reach the trigger of his gun, but was efficient in taking down targets for a hundred dollars. The boy got pissed off when his boss refused to give him ten thousand dollars to buy his mama new fancy clothes (he had enough of seeing her walking in her slip in their house.) In Woman Loses Cookie Bake-off, Sets Self on Fire, a wife whose husband has recently died joined a baking contest and, suddenly struck by the thought that all her life she was baking those fancy cookies her husband loved, decided in a moment of rebellion, to dump her Peanut Butter Bouquets and bake simple CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES (in bold letters) instead. She lost the contest, needless to say, and while her best friend was being announced the winner, she set herself on fire. In Doomsday Meteor is Coming, a guy, convinced that a meteor is fast approaching to kill all life on earth, decided to yield to the request of his girlfriend to have their nipples pierced.

The best story, I think, was the last: the story of a proud suffragette in the Titanic who chose to die reading Edith Wharton in her room rather than save herself from the sinking ship, but one man asked him to board a boat ("I told him I did not know why I should live and he said 'Because I ask you to.'")and she did, and she hated the thought that she was saved because of her sex.


Sunday, November 07, 2004

Currently reading:

Tabloid Dreams by Robert Olen Butler Posted by Hello
History reads
Via Pupu Platter, here are links to books available online:

True Version of the Philippine Revolution
by Don Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy

The Philippine Islands, 1493-1803 (Volume 1, 2, 4, 6, 7, 8)
edited by Emma Helen Blair and James Alexander Robertson

The Philippines: Past and Present, Volume 1
by Dean C. Worcester
Name the prize
The FILM ACADEMY OF THE PHILIPPINES is out with a new contest - NAME THE STATUETTE - with total prizes of 20,000 pesos plus free pass to the Academy Awards night in March, 2005. Full mechanics can be seen in Submission of entries is via the website only so please visit and submit your entry.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

The race in retrospect
From The Economist:

Flip-flop of the campaign
“I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it.”

John Kerry tries to explain the Senate voting system. March 16th

Bumper-sticker of the campaign (1)
John Kerry—bringing complete sentences back to the White House

Bumper-sticker of the campaign (2)
Bush-Cheney—Four More Wars

Endorsement of the campaign
“I wouldn't kick President Bush out of my bed, although I do think he needs some sassy highlights.”

Carson Kressley of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”. “The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch”, CNBC, February 4th

Heart-throb of the campaign
“He walked right up to me and gave me a hug and I almost fainted. His skin was so soft. He smelled so good. His cologne lingers on my jacket. I am never washing it.”

Barbara Pratte of Nashua, New Hampshire, on John Edwards. Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 27th

Bushism of the campaign
“Too many good docs are getting out of business. Too many OB/GYNs aren't able to practise their love with women all across this country.”

George Bush suggests something inappropriate while campaigning in Missouri. September 6th

And looking forward
“Absolutely. I think, you know, because why not?”

Arnold Schwarzenegger favours amending the constitution to allow foreign-born Americans to run for president. “60 Minutes”, CBS, October 31st
Web prowl
With Yasser Arafat teetering on the brink of death in France, it's time to read on the Future of Palestine on the latest Foreign Affairs. Harvard professor Cary Coglianese argues in The Internet and Citizen Participation in Rulemaking (pdf) that existing efforts to apply information technology to rulemaking will not noticeably affect citizen participation. The New Yorker profiles Amos Oz, who, at 24, declared himself a writer, triggering an intense discussion among the leders of his kibbutz: “Who is declare himself a writer? What if everyone calls himself an artist? Who will milk the cows and plow the land?” Also from the same magazine, a story on Nancy Drew, who turns 75 next year. The Washington Post reconsiders J.D. Salingers A Catcher in the Rye.

Friday, November 05, 2004

From The Analects of Confucius:
When a country is well governed, poverty and a mean condition are things to be ashamed of. When a country is ill governed, riches and honor are things to be ashamed of.
Through a glass darkly
She was ransacking the lipstick rack, looking for a color darker than the one she was holding on her hand. Showing me a color which I imagined what chololate would look like if it were mixed with laterite, she asked, "Do you think this would look good on me?"

Flustered, I tried to summon an opinion, but couldn't really tell. Ever since my grade school teacher thought I was stupid for coloring a tree's bole green, the color wheel has been one big blur in my head. So I stalled, muttering an idiotical, "Ahh...." Observing how she pursed her lips, signalling she was again irritated by my lack of opinion, I tried to salvage the situation with St. Exupery (knowing she loved The Little Prince): "Besides what is significant is invisible to the eyes."

She curtly said thanks to the saleslady, who seemed to have been expecting a sell. Turning toward me as we headed to buy a horse shampoo, she said: "Didn't you know that in a world of such ugliness the only remaining true protest is to be beautiful?"

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Multilateralism by any other name...
Henry Kissinger, writing for Newsweek on the contours of the emerging post-Westphalia security environment, argues for multilateralism both in Iraq and North Korea, albeit in not so many words, which is understandable since multilateralism (or internationalization in Kissinger's more euphemistic terms) has been associated with both girlie men and cheese-eating surrender monkeys. Here's what he has to say:

Meaningful internationalization requires a focus other than security and the participation of countries other than—or in addition to—NATO. After the January elections, an international contact group, under U.N. auspices, to advise on Iraq's political evolution is therefore desirable. Logical members would be countries that have experience with militant Islam and much to lose by the radicalization of Iraq—countries such as India, Turkey, Russia, Algeria, in addition to the United States and Britain. This is not an abdication to consensus. The United States, by virtue of its military presence and financial role, would retain the leading position. The issue of military contribution by other nations, including NATO, can be raised again at a later stage in a more favorable political environment as a means to protect the governmental process.

Also in the same essay, Kissinger says that the rise of China as a potential superpower eclipsing the United States is an event of greater historical significance than the unification of Germany a century ago since it shifts the center of gravity of world affairs from the Atlantic to the Pacific:

To be sure, China is unlikely to rely on military power as its principal instrument to achieve international status. For one thing, China's leaders are (or at least have been) more careful, more deliberate, more prone to accumulate advantages by nuance than the impetuous German leaders after Bismarck's retirement. More importantly, with modern technology war between major powers is an absolutely last resort, not a political option. America should maintain its traditional opposition to hegemonial aspirations over Asia. But the long-term relationship with China should not be driven by expectations of a strategic showdown. China will not conduct as imprudent a policy as the Soviet Union, which threatened all its neighbors simultaneously and challenged the United States to a contest of survival. The special case of Taiwan aside, it will seek influence commensurate with its growth by diplomatic and political means.

How can we be sure that China will be, in diplomatese, a status quo power, as Kissinger believes it willl be? How will the Chinese play the diplomacy game in the future? Kissinger says the Chinese are neiji players, not chess players like the West:

Chess has only two outcomes: draw and checkmate. The objective of the game is absolute advantage—that is to say, its outcome is total victory or defeat—and the battle is conducted head-on, in the center of the board. The aim of go is relative advantage; the game is played all over the board, and the objective is to increase one's options and reduce those of the adversary. The goal is less victory than persistent strategic progress.

I myself wouldn't bet on this board analogy. The crouching tiger may want to play go today, but the leaping tiger may aspire to play chess tomorrow. You never know.
Disaster in America
What's there left to say about the great disappointment that's Bush's re-election (read Economist account)? That John Kerry wasn't macho enough ? That provincials always trump cosmopolitans ? That Americans in their resoluteness don't care about what the rest of the world think?

Bush won in the electoral college and took the popular vote as well by a margin of up to 3 million. As if this weren't enough, the leader of the Democrats in the US Senate, Sen. Tom Daschle, also had to lose to a Bush-backed and telegenic younger Republican. Aargh.

In a way, Bush's victory makes sense. In dangerous and insecure times, people don't like polite and intellectual leaders; they feel safer under the fold of a tough-talking simple-minded bully. Oh well, let's just console ourselves with the thought that even Richard Nixon enjoyed a landslide victory in a Vietnam War election. As some Democrats opine, this election was a good one to lose. With a declining US economy and continuing attrition in Iraq, Americans, it is claimed, would end up blaming the Republican Party big-time.

The Democrats must find 2008 presidentiables fast. As the American Prospect points out, it would also greatly help if the candidate can plausibly say Grace without feeling sanctimonious.

BTW, did you notice that while every other network with international pretensions was hyperventilating about the American elections, China's CCTV was imperturbably in regular programming, as if haughtily saying that whatever happens, the Middle Kingdom would remain the Middle Kingdom, undisturbed by the electoral happenings of a global power that has begun its terminal decline.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Saw Zhang Ziyi in The House of Flying Daggers today. The opening dance scene where she taps the drums using the long elegant sleeves of her brocade robe was consummate. And Takeshi Kaneshiro shooting arrows from across the wheatfield to save her was as awe-inspiring as that other gifted archer Legolas shinnying up a back leg of an oliphaunt. The laws of aerodynamics are freely dispensed with in The House of Fling Daggers: arrows and daggers (thanks to CGI) zip through the air like guided missiles. Also, the expression in Zhang Ziyi's weary face--the steely vulnerability of a blind warrior in constant mortal fear that in the midst of battle her hearing might fail her--is priceless.

(Nevertheless, I'm still partial to that scene in Hero where Jet Li and Maggie Cheung fend off volleys of arrows from the Emperor's army to save a calligraphy school. As the New Yorker review of the movie memorably put it: the pen may be mightier than the sword, but neither is mightier than billowing chiffon.)

Go watch The House of Flying Daggers. It is overly melodramatic at the end, yes; but in order to watch excellent ass-kicking wuxia action, who's not willing to put up with a little syrupy drivel? Not me for sure.
While I was busy buffing this blog with links to my must-reads, my pc conked out. I'll probably be unable to post regular entries for a few days.
November 1 musing
If I were to have my way, I'd be cremated, my ashes dispersed in the nondescript air, thereby freeing my descendants from the tedious, superficial displays of filial piety required on November 1.
Call for Submissions: RATTLE
RATTLE is currently looking for poetry submissions from Filipino writers for a tribute section in issue #24, due out December 2005. All writers of Philippine origin are welcome to submit, but we're especially interested in works by authors living outside the U.S., and translations from various Philippine languages.

Anyone interested, please send 3-5 poems – previously unpublished in any North America journal – along with your name, address, cover letter, and SASE to:


12411 Ventura Blvd

Studio City, CA 91604

Alternately, you may paste your submission into the body of an email (sorry, we're unable to accept attachments), and send it to

We also print 5 or 6 reviews of 250 words per issue, welcome at any time, but please make a note if you'd like it to appear in the Philippines tribute issue.

The deadline for this feature is July 15th, 2005, but we encourage you to submit sooner. You will receive two copies as payment. All rights revert back to the author upon publication, and we post the poems online in our back issues section, unless you request removal.

RATTLE is a semi-annual print journal based in Los Angeles, California, in its tenth year. The page count for each issue is in the range of 200, with a print run of 4000 copies per issue, and is distributed by Ingram, DeBore, and Armadillo. Ingram supplies Borders and Barnes & Noble, but all three supply independent
bookstores throughout the USA. Each issue contains essays, reviews, and two conversations with people who are leaving their mark in today's literature, along with the work of poets from all walks of life, and this diversity is what we feel makes us special. For more information, please visit us at

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at 818-505-6777 or email

We plan on making this a very special issue. I hope that you will want to be part of it.

Best wishes,
Timothy Green
Goodbye to FEER
First it was Asiaweek. Now the Far Eastern Economic Review has also announced it is discontinuing publication, but will be relaunched as a monthly commentary magazine on issues and ideas. What is to happen to Asia news junkies who don't subscribe to (and would not be bothered with) the Asian Wall Street Journal? There's the Asia Times to satiate the craving from time to time, but I will sorely miss seeing the magazine--and surreptitiously reading it--in the bookstore.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Currently reading:

The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass Posted by Hello

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Web prowl
The Economist endorses John Kerry here and reports here on the Homo floresiensis, the new hominid species discovered in Indonesia. Read The Transparency International
Corruption Perceptions Index 2004
, where the Philippines ranked alongside Eritrea and Uganda. Here's a blog for classical music aficionados by the classical music critic of The Hudson Review. Download the eDonkey, the p2p program that has recently overtaken Kazaa in popularity.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Why we read blogs
In the novel Checkpoint, Jay, the exasperated former teacher who plots to assassinate President Bush, says that he spends hours reading blogs. A would-be assassin reading blogs—stretching our credulity? Nah. Blogs are so ubiquitous and popular now that a would-be assassin reading blogs is just as natural and plausible as a pimply fourteen-year-old writing one.

Why do we bother reading blogs? There are far too many books to read and too little time to read them before we die, why spend precious time reading, much less commenting on, blogs?

I myself mostly read informational blogs with links to articles/essays I would otherwise have missed, but from time to time I chance to find interesting blogs that are online journals of anonymous bloggers. Most of these blogs are uninteresting and juvenile, but some are as engrossing as any other good pulp fiction. Sometimes, the anonymous blogger’s personality would so pique my interest that I would begin clicking the archives beginning from day one. On this day in September, this particular blogger tells us, she and her boyfriend broke up on account of a singularly slutty girl from the neighboring College of Arts and Letters, who inexplicably dazzled her boyfriend with Shakespeare and Dostoevsky. Another blogger writes that on such and such night, while clubbing at Eastwood, he was suddenly confronted by the cosmic insufficiency of his physical looks upon sharing a table with Cogie Domingo. Yet another blogger writes about the dilemma he faced when he met Imelda Marcos in the living room of a friend’s house: should he harangue Mrs. Marcos on the human rights abuses of the conjugal dictatorship? Or would a stiff upper lip suffice to protest?

For readers with more voyeuristic inclinations, there are also bloggers who chronicle their sexual activities a la Xerex or Anais Nin. But as far as I know, no Filipino blog yet corresponds with the now defunct British Belle de jour, the, er, vivid blog of a high-class call girl.

I have friends who write blogs, but, no matter how I prod them, they never deign to give me their web addresses. And I understand. They pour out their deepest sentiments onto their blogs and to let someone they actually know get access to those sentiments can be, well, frightening. They are, in their writing, exposing vulnerabilities, telling their blog readers things about themselves they would normally be ashamed or diffident to tell people they actually know.

In the secular and godless world of our country’s youth, the blogosphere has taken the place of the confessional, each comment triggered by each post an absolution. Through these confessional blogs, we meet people without the civilizational affectations they put on in the outside world, offering us a view of pure undistilled humanity.

Reading all those blogs, what have I learned? That bloggers are just like normal people we meet during the course of our lives. They are either:
1) happily in love ; 2) has fallen out of love and; 3) desperately wanting to fall in love. All of us, of course, think we’re just in a transition, that the youthful exuberance of our days can somehow deny the inevitable possibility that we could be stuck for good.
Second Call for Proposals for the year 2005/2006 -- European Commission's (EC) Erasmus Mundus Programme
The programme supports European top quality Masters Courses and provides EU-funded scholarships for third country nationals participating in these Masters Courses as well as scholarships for EU nationals studying in third countries. The programme comprises four concrete actions, namely : (Action 1) Erasmus Mundus Masters Courses; (Action 2) Erasmus Mundus Scholarships; (Action 3) Partnerships; and (Action 4) Enhancing Attractiveness. Participation of third country nationals is foreseen in Actions 2, 3 and 4. The deadlines are as follows: Action 1 - 31 October 2004, Action 2 - 31 March 2005, and Action 3 - 31 May 2005. Click here for the website.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Che Guevara, On revolutionary medicine:
We must review again each of our lives, what we did and thought... We must do this with profound critical zeal and arrive finally at the conclusion that almost everything we thought and felt in that past period ought to be deposited in an archive, and a new type of human being created.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Song of the moment
Currently listening to Jiang Jun by Zhou Jie Lun (the music video’s cool too):

The tip of time all pointing towards you, losing the place to which you will return,
You will advance but in the end you still have to get used to surrendering
The results have been determined, the 6th step will be your greatest mistake,
I restrain from making any movement, used to plotting in silence
First hand with a cannon is just a polite gesture
Horse acting as a screen, remaining calm so that I can overcome strength with gentleness

This bloodless battle will only have the pride wounded
The rules of winner and loser is no different from the reality,

Watch me, my fingers relaxed, my eyes sharp as a dragon, treat the enemy as invisible
Having endless strategies, my attack swift as the wind, with a single chariot running over your dispirited face

Facing the tides, I am deducing what is overcoming movement with inactivity, wondering if the mist in the woods can be a smokescreen

In the end, my plot will succeed and you will give up defending,
I looked up into the sunset, your head lowered leaving the scene in silence
Listening to me as I talk about success and failure is common, you don’t have to take it to heart, because I am only fitted to be the one and only.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The General joins The Lady
While we are immersed in the spectacular fall of our own Gen. Garcia (courtesy of his reckless son and multiloquent wife), here comes news from Burma of a far more spectacular fall: Gen. Khin Nyunt, the prime minister, has been arrested on charges of corruption and is now, as BBC reports, under house arrest.

Khin Nyunt belongs to the troika of powerful generals--the other two are Than Shwe and Maung Aye--who control the military junta in Burma. It was only a year ago when Khin Nyunt was demoted to the prime ministership. His arrest now can thus be seen as the culmination of the long-rumored power struggle among the three generals.

This is sad news for Burmese democracy activists all around the world. Khin Nyunt was widely seen as the more progressive and reasonable of the generals, favouring talks with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi. After his appointment as prime minister, he announced a seven-point roadmap to democracy.

It has been a favorite political pipe dream in many a Burmese activist's mind that Khin Nyunt would bolt out of the SPDC, ally himself with Aung San Suu Kyi and seize power in a People Power revolution. Who could have known he'd just end up under house arrest himself? Tsk, truly sad news.

Monday, October 18, 2004

Hong Kong, Southeast Asia
Yesterday night I happened to catch my sister watching a Hong Kong travelogue with Korina Sanchez on ABS-CBN.. Hoping that my sister would gradually lose interest and surrender the remote to me, I stayed for some time in front of the TV, intent on switching to Channel V the soonest I get the chance.

So there I was half-heartedly watching when suddenly I heard Korina saying that Hong Kong can be found in Southeast Asia. I almost fell off my chair: Hong Kong is certainly NOT in Southeast Asia--unless there had been some major tectonic movement in the past week.

And then after a few minutes, to further plunge the nation into hitherto unexplored depths of ignorance, Korina introduced an aquarium in Hong Kong as being “the biggest in the world.” How could that possibly be when I saw in one documentary a far bigger aquarium in Okinawa, Japan. That one had a whale inside; all I saw on Korina’s purported biggest aquarium in the world was a fairly large stingray.

The travelogue also featured Taheebo, a medicinal concoction, Korina informed us, that is imported from Brazil. Now, why would she think we would be interested to hear about Taheebo from Brazil on a Hong Kong travelogue? That portion, it turned out, was brought to her TV audience courtesy of Taheebo the company itself.

Has Sunday night primetime programming on ABS-CBN fallen this low? Or was Korina’s staff so smitten with Hong Kong it had no time to check the facts?

Saturday, October 16, 2004

The snoring general
Obstructive sleep apnea, the ailment that has prevented Gen. Garcia from attending the investigations in aid of legislation (i.e. congressional circus), is, according to this Manila Times editorial, nothing worse than snoring. Well, doctors can be just as misleading as lawyers once they put their mind into it.
ASEAN Research Scholars
The Asia Research Institute of the National University of Singapore invites applications from ASEAN citizens (except Singaporeans) enrolled for an advanced degree at a university in an ASEAN country for consideration as ASEAN Research Scholars. These fellowships are offered to students working in the Humanities and Social Sciences on Asian topics, and will allow the recipients to be based at NUS for a period of three months. The aim of the fellowships is to enable scholars to make full use of the wide range of resources held in the libraries of NUS and the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Scholars will be expected to commence on 1 April 2005.

Successful candidates can expect the following benefits:

a. A monthly allowance of SGD$1,750 which will be subject to tax
b. A one time travel subsidy of up to SGD$1,000 on a reimbursement basis upon being accepted for the fellowship.
c. Access to library and computer resources on campus.

Applicants are invited to email/facsimile/mail their curriculum vitae, a 2-page outline of their research proposal in English (this may be accompanied by a longer statement in a Southeast Asian language) to the address below by 15 November 2004. Arrangements should also be made by which at least two letters of reference, one of which is from your principal supervisor, are sent confidentially to the same address by the same deadline. The research proposal must include the following details:
1) how the fellowship will contribute to the research; 2) the types of
sources to be consulted in Singapore; 3) proposed work plan during the

You can look forward to excellent library and internet computer facilities at NUS' main library
(<library at the Institute of South East Asian Studies (ISEAS) [<
Asia Research Institute
5 Arts Link
Level 4 Shaw Foundation Building, AS7
Singapore 117570
Fax : 65 67791428
Website: <

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Utada Hikaru
The Washington Post has a feature story on Japanese pop princess Utada Hikaru, who has recently dropped out from Columbia because "it wasn't as difficult as I was hoping it would be." She also has recently released her first English album. Here is what she has to say about her early marriage (she married at 19):

"When I first got married, everyone said, 'You're too young' and 'Why don't you wait?' I figured a lot of marriages fail, right? . . . If I waited until I was 35, I wouldn't be better equipped or more prepared to be married than I am now."
Inaanyayahan po namin kayo sa taunang Lilt & the Verve isang poetry reading na gaganapin sa BOBS CAFE, torre lorenzo towers,taft cor vito cruz, manila(below Starbucks) sa October 22,2004 ng 7:30 ng gabi.

Isang maliit po itong selebrasyon para ipagdiwang ang pang 20 taon namin bilang literary and arts folio ng De La Salle University.

Ibebenta po ang mga tickets ng P 75 na may kasamang libreng 'drink' at finger foods. Sana suportahan po natin dahil parte ng malilikom na halaga ay mapupunta sa fund ng isang premyadong manunulat na syang unang bumuo ng aming organisasyon noon 1980's.

Salamat at mabuhay po ang mga alagad ng sining! Kung interesado po kayong magperform ng spoken word or poetry performance-hybrid itext nyo lang po ako ASAP sa numerong
09166108151 para maayos po natin sa programa.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

The rich are different from you and me
What was Gen, Garcia's wife thinking when she made all those incriminating declarations of affluence? Was she on medication or what? The haughtiness was reminiscent of Queen Antoinette of France who, when told the people of Paris had no bread to eat, memorably quipped, "Let them eat cake." The queen's head was hacked off; it is doubtful whether Gen. Garcia would ever spend a day in jail.

I myself have grown jaded with systemic government corruption that my thinking now is that: If you must corrupt the government's coffers, please be at least discreet about it because I don't want to read about all the venal details on the papers. It is unnerving for proles to hear tales of grandeur.

Few weeks ago, I had the same feeling when I heard of GSIS executive Garcia's taking a loan to buy a Volvo. How would you feel about the Volvo if you were on those GSIS queus waiting for your benefits to be released for the fourth week? The gall.

Now, I don't know whether the allegations hurled against him are true, but this I know: Garcia must be incompetent. Why? Because it is a basic principle of sound personal financial management never to buy a car using a loan. A car is a non-performing asset; it doesn't earn you anything. (Even Megastar Sharon Cuneta knows this. I saw her dispensing financial advise on young stars once, telling them not to buy a car unless they are in solid enough financial situation to buy three or four of them.) Garcia is also probably married so he wouldn't be wanting to impress the girls with a brand new car now, would he?

How can we we expect Garcia to soundly manage GSIS finances when he himself doesn't know how to manage his. With his Volvo-buying-on-a-loan spendthrift ways, he would probably end up bankrupt soon.
How will American novelists vote?
Amy Tan is for Kerry "because I have a brain and so does he." Jonathan Franzen is also for Kerry because inter alia Kerry's wife is "hot hot hot." See your favorite American novelists' political preference here.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

From The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath:
I said maybe if you loved a woman it wouldn't seem so boring, but Eric said it would be spoiled by thinking this woman too was just an animal like the rest, so if he loved anybody he would never go to bed with her. He'd go to a whore if he had to and keep the woman he loved free of all that dirty business.
Time magazine interviews Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai.

Sunday, October 10, 2004

Che Guevara in Peronist Argentina
He helped liberate Cuba, tried to foment a revolution in Zaire, unsuccessfully led an insurrection in Bolivia; but why did the internationalist Che Guevara overlook his home country Argentina?

When asked why he wouldn't join the protests against the authoritarian regime of Juan Peron (Che's parents were rabidly anti-Peronist and, of course, upper middle class), the young Che was reported to have testily retorted, "only if you would give me a gun."

Incidentally, did you know that, contrary to what was portrayed in a famous musical, Che Guevara's only interaction with Evita Peron was when he in his youth wrote her a letter asking for a Jeep? I often wonder whatever happened to that letter: the most famous Latin American in twentieth century addressing the most powerful woman in perhaps all of the continent's history.
The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
I would never have picked up The Bell Jar had it not been the selection of the online book club I joined recently. Sylvia Plath was the poet who killed herself by shoving her head into the oven. I had consciously avoided authors like Sylvia Plath for a long time ever since reading about a character in Larry Mcmurtry' Evening Star who was obsessed with Camus and ended up in prison with a shitty view of life and human nature. I had then lumped Camus, Woolf, Dostoevsky, Sartre (exactly how many philo majors had this philosopher corrupted? was my thought then) under the heading "suspect literature," never to be touched.

The nice thing about being forced to read a book (like in school) is that sometimes you end up really liking it. As I did The Bell Jar. The book is an autobiographical story of a girl's descent into madness and subsequent rehabilitation. It is more or less a retelling of Plath's actual experiences when she was about to graduate from her college: her winning of writing prizes, her straight A's, her being rejected in a creative-writing class, her early suicide attempts.

How to describe the book? The narrator Esther is Holden Caulfield-- only female, smarter and neurotic. If you are interested to know how it is to more or less suffer a nervous breakdown and spend time in a mental asylum, reading The Bell Jar would be time well spent. I found the ending particularly touching. Esther was waiting to be called for her final interview before she gets approved to leave the mental asylum for good, and she was not quite sure whether she was sane enough:

But I wasn't sure. I wasn't sure at all. How did I know that someday - at college, in Europe, somewhere, anywhere - the bell jar, with its stifling distortions, wouldn't descend again?
I had hoped, at my departure, I would feel sure and knowledgeable about everything that lay ahead - after all, I had been "analyzed." Instead, all I could see were question marks. I kept shooting impatient glances at the closed boardroom door. My stocking seams were straight, my black shoes cracked, but polished, and my red wool suit flamboyant as my plans. Something old, something new. . .

But I wasn't getting married. There ought, I thought, to be a ritual for being born twice - patched, retreaded and approved for the road, I was trying to think of an appropriate one when Doctor Nolan appeared from nowhere and touched me on the shoulder.

"All right, Esther."I rose and followed her to the open door.

Pausing, for a brief breath, on the threshold, I saw the silver-haired doctor who had told me about the rivers and the Pilgrims on my first day, and the pocked, cadaverous face of Miss Huey, and eyes I thought I had recognized over white masks.
The eyes and the faces all turned themselves toward me, and guiding myself by them, as by a magical thread, I stepped into the room.

We know that years after that incident, the bell jar again descended on Sylvia Plath. In the imagination of every student of literature, Sylvia Plath in her kitchen dying of gas asphyxiation looms as large as the image of Virginia Woolf wading into the river to drown, or closer to home, Maningning Miclat jumping off the FEU building with a bunch of flowers.
Book launch
Liktao at Epiko: Ang Takip ng Tapayang Libingan ng Libmanan, Camarines Sur by Dr. Zeus Salazar will be launched at the Museo Conciliar del Seminario de Nueva Caceres in Naga City on October 15 at 2:00 P.M.

The archaelogical find (liktao) is a burial jar cover found in Libmanan, Camarines Sur which has since been donated to the Museo by collector and archaelogy enthusiast Ermelo M. Almeda. The find has been a subject of an earlier study by retired UP professor Dr. Ma. Lilia F. Realubit and Ermelo M. Almeda. UP professor Dr. Ma. Lilia F. Realubit says, “Liktao at Epiko provides archaelogical evidence for the Bicol epic of Ibalong and the kingdom of Handiong.”

Salazar provides a detailed analysis of the jar cover and links it to other Philippine and Asian cultural traditions. Writing in Filipino, Salazar provides evidence that Libmanan could well be the first socio-political center in the Bicol peninsula. “Ang Libmanan ay isa sa mga imporanteng sentro ng pagbubuo ng estado sa Pilipinas mula pa noong unang mga dantaon B.K.”

Dr. Zeus A. Salazar received his doctorate in ethnology from Sorbonne University and degree in AB History (summa cum laude) at UP. Salazar was among those anthropologists who revealed the “Tasaday Hoax” and conceptualized the “Pantayaong Pananaw and “Bagong Historiograpiyang Filipino”. Now retired from teaching, Salazar devotes his time to writing. He also just finished a two-volume book on Pres. Estrada. Salazar hails from Tiwi, Albay.

Dr. Realubit, chair of the book launch, says that a lecture by the author will follow the book launch.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Songs heard lately
Obsesion by Aventura
Infinitely danceable sound from a bachata band from the Dominican Republic. Currently number one in at least one world music chart I saw.

All Nite by Janet Jackson
Janet Jackson may no longer be Beyonce hot as she was in the eighties, but she still has her groove. Definitely bigger than Michael Jackson now. Wardrobe malfunction was a good career move.

Let's get it started by Black Eyed Peas
Weeks ago, I was talking about Black Eyed Peas with a fifty-year-old man. I was surprised Black Eyed Peas has such a huge fan base. Apparently, the man was fascinated by the life story of Apol, which he saw on Maalaala Mo Kaya ( or magpakailanman? ). He said he couldn't help but listen to the band because his son, a huge fan, is practicing some dance steps for school. I suspect even Digs Dilangalen is a fan.

Burn by Usher
Usher has given the phrase kiss and tell a whole new dimension. And only a genuine megawatt superstar can get away with such a girlie dance sequence (as Usher can be seen executing at the end of his Burn music video).

If I Ain't Got You by Alicia Keys
Keys seems to me a Mary J. Blige wannabee, but in this song at least she pulls it off.