Saturday, January 31, 2004

History of Southeast Asia
The ASEAN Focus Group's History of Southeast Asia is available online.
Mahathir's Malay Dilemma
After a million procrastinations, I have finally found the time to read Mahathir's controversial Malay Dilemma. First things first: The book is politically incorrect, arguably racist, contemptously prescriptive--and totally wonderful.

Malay Dilemma belongs to that genre of books written during the author's political nadir, like Machiavelli's Prince and Hitler's Mein Kampf. Mahathir wrote the book after he was expelled from UMNO because of an open letter he wrote attacking then Malaysian Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman for neglecting the Malay community. What is so interesting about reading books of this genre is their extremely reflective--almost meditative--reflection on human nature. For example, Hitler's analysis of the psychology of the poor Germans is so cogent that even a reader fifty years removed from the book's original publication, almost instinctively understands how Hitler enraptured the German public using that knowledge.

Of course, books of this genre are flailed in graduate seminars. In fact, according to Mahathir his motivation for writing the book was the dressing down he got in a graduate seminar when he suggested that the Malays as a race lagged behind the Chinese because of certain race characteristics.

Mahathir thinks that the Malays in Malaysian history had it so good--nice weather, food readily available from the fields, no political upheavals--that they have incorporated a certain economic languor into the Malay culture. The Chinese, on the other hand, are a hardy migrant people who faced famine, political revolutions, and economic displacements in China. So when the Chinese came, their memories of crushing hardships in their own land provided the driving force for their economic enterprises in Malaysia. The Malays, the Bumiputras (sons of the soil), according to Mahathir, were too polite, non-confrontational and socially courteous that they allowed the foreign Chinese to slowly usurp the economic life of Malaysia. And that politeness the Chinese interpreted as timidity. Mahathir also mentioned about the Malays' calling foreigners tuan (master). He said that the foreigners came to believe that, in fact, they were masters of the Malay people.

The Malays are faced therefore with a dilemma. If they allow the Chinese total control of the economy, Malaysia will prosper fast, but doing so would reduce them, the original sons of Malaysia, to second-class citizenship, which, according to Mahathir, is patently not right. The Chinese are foreigners; Malaysia belongs to Malays. If the Chinese want to live in Malaysia, they must follow the rules of Malays.

Mahathir said that the Malays, through a policy of preferential treatment for Malays in business, are only getting back what was taken from them because of their politeness.

What I find amusing is Mahathir's dissection of the Chinese business practices. He observed, for example, that the Chinese are extremely frugal so capital is always boosted by savings. The Chinese also do not pay for labor because family members are employed. Mahathir also talked about the Chinese way of extending credit so as to attract Malay customers. This extension of credit, according to Mahathir, is so successful that Malays invariably abandon their own cooperatives to patronize Chinese stores.

Mahathir wrote the book in 1970. After some years in the political wilderness, he was invited back to UMNO and later became prime minister of Malaysia.

Reading the book I got to thinking about the Philippines' deficiency of books written by politicians (or perhaps I just do not know of them). Certainly, there is no Philippine equivalent of Malay Dilemma. Marcos wrote one about his revolution from the center but it does not have a personal touch (it was allegedly ghostwritten) and reads like a political science paper.

Former Senate President Salonga is writing some, but still nothing beats a book written by an ambitious young man-- like Mahathir-- confronting political ignominy. (If Erap were more intelellectually inclined, he probably would make waves writing a critique on people power and the Philippines' elite democracy.)

There is simply no intensity in Salonga's books, written as they were in the twilight of his career. Salonga's readers do not get a feeling of political immediacy. There is perhaps enlightenment but no sting. Mahatfirs book has plenty of the latter.

Friday, January 30, 2004

A First Things essay discusses Mansfield Park and argues that Jane Austen was a public theologian and a social conservative rallying against individualism.
That's Mr. Poe if you're nasty
After building up the supposed invincibility of FPJ and now that an FPJ presidency is in the opinion of almost everybody just about round the corner, the Inquirer has started its demolition job on FPJ the same way it subtly bulldozed buddy Erap--insider stories on the person's gaffes.

The Philippine Star also reports on the same subject, how FPJ got vexed with the myriad questions being thrown at him. He was asked about his opinion on, among other things, economic program and the death penalty.

Apparently FPJ was irked that some reporters were voicing faults with his economic program when he, in fact, has not announced it yet. Well, he has a point on that. One cannot find fault on something that does not exist yet.

FPJ is not used to ubiquitous inquisitorial reporters asking his opinion on almost everything under the political sun. Even as a movie star he never promotes his movies, guests on variety shows and have reporters ask him questions. He had a royal aloofness and movie reporters did not transgress that. News reporters, on the other hand, are all too ready to expose FPJ's political ignorance as long as it would make good copy.

FPJ is uncomfortable fielding the reporters' questions. He knows nothing about those things and he knows it. I seriously doubt if he read the broadsheets for most of his adult life. He is not politically conversant and is vexed that reporters should expect him to be so.

Miriam says FPJ is having some tutoring from UP professors (probably from the College of Public Administartion), but we have to see yet the result of that tutoring. FPJ still has no witty one-liners on every issue.

Running for president, unfortunately, is like joining a beauty contest. One has to memorize prepared answers for every imaginable question. How do we achieve world peace? What is the essence of a woman? All that crap.

Erap was better coached when he ran for presidency. Whenever asked to comment on a particular policy issue he never had time to ask about from his advisers, Erap would give a wry smile to the reporter and say that rest assured he would always consider "the greatest good of the greatest number." Erap had Jeremy Bentham then to parry the assaults of the reporters. FPJ should find his own handy philosopher--but then again public administration professors are not know to be philosophical.
Marco Garrido writing for the Asia Times on FPJ's citizenship and the possibility of American statehood for the Philippines. Human Rights Watch in its annual global survey says that the war in Iraq is not a humanitarian intervention. The inimitable Arundhati Roy writing for The Nation, lashing the new American century.

Thursday, January 29, 2004

Lecture on the Legacy of Mahatma Gandhi
Building a Character of Integrity, Harmony and Peace


Pascal Alan Nazareth
Former Ambassador, Embassy of India
Co-Founder and Managing Trustee,
Sarvodaya International Trust
(International Mahatma Gandhi Movement)

at four o'clock in the afternoon of Wednesday, 4 February 2004 at the Rev. Henry Lee Irwin Theatre Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights, Quezon City.

Guests are requested to be seated by 3:15 P.M.
Imelda incarcerated
Read Inquirer's feature on PCGG Commissioner Ruben Carranza:

The PCGG has so far filed close to 1000 civil cases against the Marcoses and their cronies, says Carranza, 43 of them before the Ombudsman. "We only need one conviction to put Imelda in jail."

THe PCGG would need a lot of of support as the coming FPJ presidency does not bode well for those cases . I saw how Susan Roces swooned at the presence of the Great Prodigal Imelda, probably titillated at the idea that she would be one day wearing the shoes Imelda once wore.

If only people would see Imelda in jail, then they would know that indeed she and her husband did something wrong. As things are now, people, especially those who were too young to experience the Marcos years firsthand, are all too ready to give her the benefit of the doubt.

It would also be a great downer for people who hitherto idolize the brazenness of the Marcoses in enriching themselves. It is a real shock, I know, but not a few UP students have this inchoate admiration for the Marcoses, especially the much-vaunted brilliance daw of Apo Marcos, which, Conrado de Quiros, assures us, is more a product of PR than real substance. (Marcos was real smart though in skirting all the rules, but smartness and brilliance are not the same. Everybody can be smart.)

I remember seeing Imelda confronted on TV about the prospect of her going to jail someday. You know what she said? If imprisoned and persecuted, she said, in the characteristic Imeldific just-about-to-cry-over-your-shoulder look, she will end up like Nelson Mandela and win the Nobel Prize. No matter how hard I try, I cannot imagine the Stockholm citation.
DionaText: Cellphone Text Poetry writing Contest
The National Commission for Culture and the Arts in cooperation with the Filipinas Institute of Translation, Inc., Unyon ng mga Manunulat sa Pilipinas and the UP Institute of Creative Writing launch DIONATEXT, a text (SMS) poetry writing contest. The contest aims to popularize and revitalize the tradition of one of the oldest forms of poetry by using modern technology. The diona is a short poem composed of three versified rhyming lines. Each line consists only of seven syllables expressing a complete thought. DIONATEXT entries must be written in Filipino and must express love within the family. Here’s an old example:

magkapatid mang buo,
kundi kapuwa suyo,
parang pinsang malayo.

Contestants must submit their entries through text to any of the following numbers: (0927) 4641814 at (0918) 2252718. Entries must be accompanied by the name and address of the author. Entries must be received not later than 5 p.m. every Friday of the contest week. Every week for the month of February, judges will pick 2 winners (Text Makata ng linggo) who will receive P5,000 each. Eight consolation prizes of P2,000 will be awarded. The winning entries will be compiled in a book which will be released at the awarding ceremonies.

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Forum on cellphones and campaigns
Liberal Philippines magazine, the country’s newest political quarterly, and Media G8way, a leader in information technology publishing, have teamed up for a breakthrough event entitled Cell Phones and Campaigns. In this public forum, industry leaders and service providers will discuss the many innovative uses of the cell phone in launching a campaign in marketing, public service, health, education, and even in elections. With 15 million Filipinos using cell phones, indeed this gadget is the way to communicate.

Among speakers are officials from the country’s respected telecommunications companies, content and service providers and technical experts -- several of whom will also provide demonstrations of new and exciting services. We would like to invite you to join us in this public forum Cell Phones and Campaigns to be held on 29 January 2004, 9am in the Skytop of the Hotel Intercontinental, Makati City. Entrance is free of charge.
Howard Dean loses New Hampshire primary
I guess it is now official that Howard Dean will never be the Democratic candidate to challenge Bush come November. Senator John Kerry has scored a double whammy with his win, this time, in Dean's own turf New Hampshire. Kerry carried Iowa and, now, New Hampshire.

I guess it is all for the good of the party as Kerry is widely perceived to be more acceptable and electable by the general electorate. Dean is more idiosyncratic in style, i.e., weird. His " I Have a Scream" speech is now legendary. But I cannot help but commiserate. I can just imagine the heartbreak of hundreds of Dean's youth volunteers, his bloggers and all those who contributed their hundred dollars via the internet. It is Dean among the presidential contenders who has real grassroots support--especially in the internet.

If it is Kerry who has a greater chance to oust Bush from the White House, then so be it. Now that Dean seems to have faded from the scene, the Democratic Party now must buckle up and figure out how to get rid of Bush--for the benefit of the American people and all mankind.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

I have recently stumbled on the Global Development Network's toolkit for proposal writing. Not only does it have tips on writing, it also has sections on networking and potential donors.

Monday, January 26, 2004

Newsweek has an interview with Imelda Marcos. She is as histrionic as ever.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Is Stephen Hawking a battered husband?
A report carried by The Times of India asks the question. Apparently, police detectives were expressing frustration that the scientist was refusing to cooperate to explain repeated instances of broken wrists, gashes to the face and throat, lip cuts and heat stroke.
We told Bush so
Fareed Zakaria, the resident pundit at Newsweek, writes about the ascendancy of Shiite Grand Ayatollah Sistani, how he has hostaged the American occupation of Iraq because of US"s lack of legitimacy in the region. Fearful that Ayatollah Sistani would declare the US an invader, the US is kowtowing to Ayatollah Sistani's demands.

Ayatollah Sistani is having an inordinate share of power now because the US unilateral invasion lacked legitimacy and is therefore in no position to antagonize Ayatollah however reasonably warranted--as in the case of the US's plan for a phased transition. (Ayatollah Sistani wants elections pronto.)

The American occupiers are now belatedly realizing the importance of multilateral action, the legitimacy that it bestows. The UN can do unpopular things without being accused of being colonizers. After dismissing the UN as irrelevant and going it alone in the invasion of Iraq, the Bush administration is now courting the UN for favors. Zakaria writes:

American policymakers made two grave mistakes after the war. The first was to occupy the country with too few troops, creating a security vacuum. This image of weakness was reinforced when Washington caved in to Sistani's objections last June, junked its original transition plan and sped things up to coincide with the American elections. The second mistake was to dismiss from the start the need for allies and international institutions. As a result, Washington is now governing Iraq with neither power nor legitimacy.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

James Fallows annotates US President Bush's State of the Union speech here.
Favorite Songs
Suddenly inspired by Nick Hornby’s list of favorite songs (see previous blog entry), I have taken the time to list my own. Here are some of my favorites:

Hava Nageela, Harry Belafonte
Thunder Road, Bruce Springsteen
Respect, Aretha Franklin
Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien, Edith Piaf
Take On Me, A-ha
Walang Hanggang Paalam, Joey Ayala
I’ll Be There, Michael Jackson
Where Have All the Flowers Gone, Kingston Trio
Kanlungan, Noel Cabangon
Livin’ On a Prayer, Bon Jovi
Father and Son, Cat Stevens
Eternal Flame, Bangles
Esa Noche, Café Tacuba
El Pueblo Unido, Intillimani
Cool Change, Little River Band
Nomakanjani, Brenda Fassie
Forever Young, Alphaville
Kokomo, Beach Boys
All Day Love, Leon Lai
Dancing in the Moonlight, Toploader
No Woman, No Cry, Bob Marley
Let’s Fall In Love, Diana Krall
Xing Qing, Jay Chou

Friday, January 23, 2004

Job opening
The Philippine Daily Inquirer is looking for desk editors. PDI's human-resources management services head can be reached at this email:
Teodoro Valencia Lecture Series on Journalism and Mass Communication
The 16th Teodoro F. Valencia Lecture Series on Journalism and Mass Communication will be held Jan. 30 March 19 at the T.F. Valencia Media Study Center at the Rizal Park. The lectures will be held every Friday 2:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. Selected students of journalism and mass communication from 12 leading universities in Metro Manila will attend the lecture. Among the lecturers will be Manila Bulletin associate editor Ramon Francisco, Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist Conrado de Quiros, Philippine Star entertainment associate editor Ricky F. Lo, Abante managing editor Nick V. Quijano, Manila Bulletin and Agriculture Magazine editor Zac Sarian, Philippine Star columnist and Malacañang reporter Marichu Villanueva, Prof. Dr. Ceciliano-Jose Cruz and photo journalist Anjo Perez.
COMELEC: FPJ is fit to be president
COMELEC has declared FPJ a natural-born Filipino citizen and thus qualified to become the president. Business World has an informative report on the decision. This is not yet the end of the matter. We will hear more of this citizenship business in the coming days because the issue has been brought to the Supreme Court.
The Inquirer asks "Who is Ricardo Manapat?" The Observer reviews VS Naipaul's Literary Occasions.
Justice Philippe Kirsch, president of the International Criminal Court, talks about the structure and goals of the ICC. He does not answer hypothetical questions though so all the interesting questions are left unanswered, e.g., the Guantanamo incarcerations and the Iraq invasion.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

The joys of popular music
For anybody here who loves popular music and has not yet gone classical, you may be interested to check out the following songs. They are Nick Hornby's favorites, which he individually discussed in his Songbook, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism.

Teenage Fanclub, "Your Love Is The Place That I Come From"
Bruce Springsteen, "Thunder Road"
Nelly Furtado, "I'm Like A Bird"
Led Zeppelin, "Heartbreaker"
Rufus Wainwright, "One Man Guy"
Santana, "Samba Pa Ti"
Rod Stewart, Mama, "You Been On My Mind"
Bob Dylan, "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window?"
The Beatles, "Rain"
Ani DiFranco, "You Had Time"
Aimee Mann, "I've Had It"
Paul Westerberg, "Born For Me"
Suicide, "Frankie Teardrop"
Teenage Fanclub, "Ain't That Enough"
J. Geils Band, "First I Look At The Purse"
Ben Folds Five, "Smoke"
Badly Drawn Boy, "A Minor Incident"
The Bible, "Glorybound"
Van Morrison, "Caravan"
Butch Hancock and Marce LaCouture, "So I'll Run"
Gregory Isaacs, "Puff The Magic Dragon"
Ian Dury, "Reasons To Be Cheerful"
Richard and Linda Thompson, "Calvary Cross"
Jackson Browne, "Late For The Sky"
Mark Mulcahy, "Hey Self-Defeater"
The Velvelettes, "Needle In A Haystack"
O.V. Wright, "Let's Straighten It Out"
Royksopp, "Royksopp's Night Out"
The Avalanches, "Frontier Psychiatrist"
Soulwax, "No Fun / Push It"
Patti Smith, "Pissing In A River"

The UP Press is interested in a collection of stories on the supernatural for the UP Jubilee Student Edition. These stories should be short and should have a strong Filipino element. They may be scary, funny, romantic, or action-packed, as long as they deal with the supernatural and are told in the mode of popular literature, i.e., light. We are also open to stories told in comics form (as long as they are done in black and white).

Please submit your contributions to:

Supernatural Story Collection editors
University of the Philippines Press
UP Press Bldg
E de los Santos St., UP Campus
Diliman, Quezon City

Or email Indicate `supernatural story' in the subject.

Deadline for submission is on February 20, 2004. Manuscripts should be no more than 10 pages long, double-spaced, on short bond paper. Please submit three (3) copies in a brown envelope and include your contact information.

The editors will select 10-20 stories for a total book-length of around 100 pages. The chosen authors will be given a copy of the book and will be included in promotional material during the UP Press Book Caravan and other marketing activities involving the Student Edition line.

Previously published material will be considered. Please make sure to include bibliographic information regarding the initial publication.
Angara to talk in UP
Senator Angara will be at the University of the Philippines to deliver a talk on Choosing the Next President at the Sta Ana Room of the university's College of Law, January 27, 3:30-5:00 PM. Come if you can. It would be a good venue to heckle Angara. It is sponsored though by Sigma Rho, so prepare yourself for fraternity boys.
The original manuscript of Bicol's Sarung Banggi has been burned in a fire in Sto. Domingo, Albay, the Inquirer reports. An archives official at the University of the Philippines tells how microfilm can be faked. Observing the paintings of Mindanao artist Bert Monterona in a Vancouver exhibit, Alan Haig-Brown asks the question "Can a Man Be a Feminist?" in MindaNews. Michael Tan, on the occasion of the Chinese New Year, writes on the confusing diversities of calendars across cultures.
Is Manapat smarter than others?
After wondering for days if the Ricardo Manapat of recent controversy is the same Manapat who digged the dirt on the Marcoses with the book Some are Smarter Than Others, I finally found out that they are, in fact, one and the same. And more: Manapat, it turned out, has been doing work for Ramos and Almonte digging up dirt on their political enemies. Manapat was also behind the questioning of Alfredo Lim's citizenship some years ago. (COMELEC then held that Lim is a natural-born Filipino.) For a background on the recent job positions of Manapat, read this Manila Times story.

Manapat has three documents from the National Archives: the birth certificate of FPJ, the marriage certificate of FPJ's parents and another certificate of a prior marriage of FPJ's father to another woman.

The birth certificate is supposed to show us that FPJ's father was a Spanish citizen and his mother an American. Do such protestations in a birth certificate constitute conclusive proof of one's and one's parents' citizenships? No. So there goes down the drain the much-ballyhooed birth certificate.

The presumption is that FPJ's father was a Filipino by virtue of Philippine Bill of 1902 which granted automatic Filipino citizenship for the Spanish citizens living in the Philippines when Spain ceded control of the islands in the Treaty of Paris. Unless Manapat can show that FPJ's old man actively renounced his Filipino citizenship and vowed allegiance to Spain, the presumption is that he was a Filipino. He served the Philippines during World War II. He even was supposedly the model for the UP Oblation.

With regard to the marriage certificate: Let us suppose that indeed FPJ is an illegitimate son, but his father was Filipino as argued above. There is, as father Bernas recognizes, case law that says illegitimate children follow the citizenship of their mothers. Following case law therefore, FPJ would follow the citizenship of the mother, which was American. However, the 1935 Constitution was clear that children born of Filipino fathers are Filipinos themselves.

Father Bernas therefore holds that FPJ is a natural-born Filipino--but may be a dual citizen of the Philippines and the United States. The legal question for Father Bernas now is: Can a dual citizen be president of the Philippines?

My personal opinion though is that FPJ is a Filipino pure and simple. The case law holding that illegitimate children follow the citizenship of the mothers must give way to the constitutional provision in the 1935 Constitution that children of Filipino fathers are Filipinos. We simply cannot afford to disqualify a front-runner on flimsy legal nitpicking. It is undemocratic. FPJ is not qualified to be president, but he CAN run and win if people want him.

The COMELEC is expected to render its decision this week. If it finds FPJ unqualified to run for president, FPJ is expected to appeal to the Supreme Court. Well and good. FPJ's citizenship must be decided NOW before he becomes president. Imagine the chaos if the Supreme Court were to pronounce a sitting president constitutionally unqualified to be president. The Davide impeachment brouhaha would pale in comparison by at least a thousand degrees.

So is Ricardo Manapat smarter than others? Well, not in this case. He wrote an interesting book though. Read Some are Smarter Than Others and know the dirt on Danding Cojuanco, Lucio Tan, the Tantocos of Rustans and other people.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

A short survey of the freedom enjoyed by the the 20 million ethnic Chinese in Southeast Asia. Disgust is a disease-avoidance mechanism, according to this Economist article. Columbia Professor Jagdish Bhagwati is interviewed by the Council on Foreign Relations on the subject of free trade. Click here for the transcript.
Starvation diet
I was bowled over by this so-called calorie-restriction diet that some people are on to prolong their individual life spans. Newsweek has an article on its latest issue. Apparently, food-deprived rats lived longer and looked younger than those that ate normally.

The effect has been seen in animals from fruit flies to roundworms to mice: reduce food intake by roughly a third, while maintaining adequate nutrition, and life span goes up by about 30 percent.

So some people are trying it as well. How is this calorie restriction supposed to work to humans? Here's one theory:

... calorie restriction slows metabolism, the burning of glucose for energy. This effect—which presumably serves the evolutionary purpose of conserving calories during periods of famine—is well known to dieters; as they eat less, their metabolic rate drops, and it becomes progressively harder to burn off fat. It's clear that metabolism slows in people on CR regimens; in one study, core body temperature dropped by one full degree. Metabolism, an essential life process, is also a destructive one; it produces free radicals, unstable molecules that can damage the structures of living cells by the process known as oxidation. Antioxidant vitamins and supplements ranging from vitamin C to green-tea extracts have been the rage for decades, though there is little evidence that they have any effect on longevity; calorie-restriction diets reduce oxygenating compounds at their source—a plausible, if equally unproved, mechanism for extending life.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Great website
If you want to listen to radio interviews of your favorite authors, here's the site for you: Don Swaim's audio interviews on Wired for Books. I have just found the site this morning and I was able to listen to a thirty-minute interview with Jeffrey Archer. I never knew Sir Jeffrey Archer was such a lively speaker. He loves making these long sentences in his high-pitch voice that makes him eerily sound like a character in some Victorian English novel. Totally endearing, if I may say so.

The particular interview I listened to was the one where Archer was discussing his novel As the Crow Flies. When I heard Archer discussing the costermonger protagonist in the novel and how the character's ambition propelled him to buying the whole block of property in the novel, I felt so nostalgic about reading Archer novels that if I have time I probably would sit down and gulp more of them. Archer was one of my great reads in high school, my first favorite author. In fact, my first interest in politics and government was sparked by my reading his The Prodigal Daughter. If anybody of you want to read about ambition, drive and stamina, then Archer is the author to read. Great entertainment too.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Job Opening
KAISAHAN tungo sa Kaunlaran ng Kanayunan at Repormang Pansakahan is a social development organization involved in agrarian reform, local governance, and sustainable integrated area development. Its Policy Research and Advocacy Unit is in urgent need of a:


The tasks of the officer would focus on:

- Collating, consolidating, analyzing issues for advocacy and translating these into policy formulation

- Conducting policy researches on key AR/LG issues affecting partner communities

- Advocating and lobbying for specific policy recommendations and the release of pro-AR/LG issuances from both the legislative and executive branches

- Developing and writing position papers, briefers, bills, issuances, letters to the editor and press releases

- Networking with like-minded POs, NGOs, GAs in pushing for policy reforms

- Organizing policy conferences and other advocacy fora

Applicants must:

- Be a graduate of communication arts or any 4-year social science course

- Have at least 2 years experience in related NGO work, preferably agrarian reform, local governance and land use

- Have excellent research and writing skills

- Be willing to travel

For inquiries, please look for Lia or Nina. Interested applicants should send their application letter, résumé and sample written work to:

Atty. Magistrado Mendoza
Executive Director
KAISAHAN tungo sa Kaunlaran ng Kanayunan at Repormang Pansakahan
#3 Mahabagin Street, Teachers’ Village West, Quezon City
Tel. Nos.: 433-0760, 925-4303, 925-4307 Telefax: 926-6042

Deadline for submission of applications is on 24th January 2004.
U2's Bono has an op-ed on Burma's lonely heroine of democracy Aung San Suu Kyi.
Ateneo lecture

in cooperation with the Ateneo de Manila Press, the Ateneo History Department, the Dean's Office of the School of Social Sciences and the Institute of Philippine Culture

Welcomes you to a lecture by


"The Noli Quantified: Reflections on the Origins of Rizalian Nationalism,"

This will be followed by the launching of the Philippine edition of Prof. Anderson's

The Spectre of Comparisons"

Tuesday, January 27, 4.30 to 6.30 pm, SDC Conference Hall, Social Development Complex, ADMU campus.

Professor Benedict R. O'G. Anderson, until his recent retirement, was Aaron L. Binenkorb, Professor of International Studies and former Director of the Southeast Asia Program at Cornell University. He is the author of the highly influential Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (1983, 1991). His other books include Java in a Time of Revolution (1972), Literature and Politics in Siam in the American Era (1985), and Language and Power: Exploring Political Cultures in Indonesia (1990).

Sunday, January 18, 2004

The Nation compares the lives and memoirs of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Mario Vargas Llosa. Quick differences: Vargas LLosa was an early success while Garcia Marquez faced a tough battle in the beginning. Vargas Llosa got a scholarship to Madrid right after graduation from the university, where he apprenticed with an eminent historian. Garcia Marquez dropped out of law school to pursue what in his parents' mind was a thankless profession: journalism and writing. Of course, the rest is literary history.

Needless to say, another difference is in their politics. Vargas Llosa solidly belongs to the right, a disciple of Thatcher, and possibly a neoconservative. Garcia Marquez identifies with the political Left, and a friend of Fidel Castro.

Friday, January 16, 2004

Italian PM Belusconi gets a facelift. Also learn from the linked article that the abrasive Berlusconi is a mere 5'6", small for Italian standard.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

The decision of the Supreme Court voiding the billion-peso contract for automated counting machines is now online. Click here.
Call for Papers
New Southeast Asian Cinemas Conference: Where Big Budget Meets No Budget

May 3rd-4th 2004, Singapore

The last few years have seen the emergence of art films from Southeast Asian countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia and Singapore even as authoritarian regimes collapsed, and the ensuing economic downturn signaled the end or near-ending of mainstream filmmaking industries. These films, sometimes little known or unpopular in their own countries, have been making the international film festivals circuit and attracting much critical attention from Cannes to Singapore to Japan, Vancouver and Montreal. Concurrently, there has also been a revival of more commercial films such as Iron Ladies, Ong Bak, Suriyothai (Thailand) and Ada Apa Dengan Cinta (Indonesia) in local cinemas. Globalization, the internet, video piracy and the creation of niche market art cinemas have also meant that films from neighbouring ASEAN countries are being viewed in metropolitan cities like Bangkok, Singapore, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. In addition, the development of digital video technology has spawned groups of young eager filmmakers and video activists throughout the region who are producing quick, low-budget films. Confronting budget constraints, those trained in the west in film and video production have also seized the new media to make newer cheaper films.

How are these films breaking from the moulds of their national cinematic traditions? In establishing difference from the commercial mainstream of melodramas or ‘bomba’ cinemas, are SEAsian avant garde films merely reverting to an older Western avant garde cinematic tradition like the French New Wave? Or are there other trends that are equally influential in this deterritorialised space and age? Are we beyond theories of postcolonial Third Cinema? How do filmmakers balance popular viewing desires with their own desire for making art? What makes a Malaysian film uniquely Malaysian? Can these Third World narratives be read as national allegories? If not, how should they be read and in what context?

This conference seeks to showcase and create academic and social discourse among scholars, film critics, buffs and media activists about the multiple new cinemas from the region. We want to create better awareness of film as both an artistic expression and ideological and educational tool and to provide a forum and international networking for participants.

We hope to publish selected papers in an edited book on Emerging Southeast Asian Cinemas after the conference.

We welcome paper abstracts that:
* explore and analyse the complexities and problems of the current industries in any Southeast Asian country: effects of funding, censorship, bureaucratic and state policies in production, distribution, exhibition, etc.
* employ critical approaches from film theory, film aesthetics and reception studies to discuss Southeast Asian films
* focus on sociological, anthropological, cultural, postcolonial aspects (including questions of race, gender, class, sexual/queer identities, ideology) of Southeast Asian films
* discuss independent filmmaking as opposed to mainstream national cinema
* reflect SEAsian diasporic film perspectives of SEAsia
* deal in-depth with specific SEAsian film genres: horror, romance, comedy, melodrama, documentary, war, video essay, sexploitation/bomba, etc.

deadline: February 15th, 2004

Please submit a 250-300 word abstract to Khoo Gaik Cheng:
BENEDICT ANDERSON, Cornell University
Public Lecture

"The French Connection: Rizal, Decadence, and Revolutionary Anarchism"

Friday, 23 January 2004
2:30-5:00 pm
Pulungang Claro M. Recto
Bulwagang Rizal (Faculty Center)

BENEDICT ANDERSON is Aaron L. Binenkorb Professor of International Studies, Emeritus, Cornell University. He is the author of Java in the Time of Revolution (1972), Imagined Communities (1983), Language and Power (1990), The Spectre of Comparisons (1998), and Violence and the State in Suharto’s Indonesia (2001) among others.

Organized by the UP Office of the President, College of Arts and Letters, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy and the Third World Studies Center.
A Swedish parliamentarian has nominated soccer for a Nobel Peace Prize. Pure hogwash, says this Foreign Policy essay. Soccer deserves a Nobel for Economics.
India versus China? Peter Drucker says it's India as quoted in this International Herald Tribune article.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

On FPJ's citizenship once again
Today has a lead editorial and a column by Bernas on this topic. Put them together and you get this: FPJ is a natural-born Filipino.

FPJ's father seems to be a Filipino by virtue of the Philippine Bill of 1902 granting mass naturalization. He also served the Philippine army and was a decorated veteran of Bataan. The issue thus remaining is whether FPJ's being an illegitimate child makes him an American, following his mother's citizenship rather than the father's. Bernas has this to say:

I grant that there are decisions, which say that the citizenship of the child follows the citizenship of the mother. The basis for such a decision could very well be statutory. But there is nothing in our Constitutions which says that recognition of citizenship, based on that of the mother’s, has the effect of stripping the child of citizenship received from the father. I suggest that such a child would have dual citizenship. The next question, of course, would be whether one who has dual citizenship, Philippine and another, is not qualified to become president.
FPJ supposedly taking charge
Former Senator Ernesto Maceda, to counter everybody's opinion of FPJ's proxying for other people (Angara et al) in his bid for the presidency, cites an instance of FPJ's hands-on management style: the KNP's photo shoots.

Maceda went to great lengths to describe how FPJ personally selected the photos for each of the candidates and how he requested a platform on which to stand for Legarda since she's shorter than FPJ. And after this lengthy anecdote of the photo shoot, Maceda concludes:

FPJ was in control. He knows what he wants, what he intends to do.

Don't underestimate him anymore. He is the leader of the opposition team and he is ready to slug it out with two fists blazing away. He is Da King.

I wonder how Maceda came to that conclusion. Personally supervising the taking of pictures does not mean one is also capable of personally supervising a presidency. The two are markedly different. Is Maceda losing his wits or was he simply being cute? (Mind you, Maceda was the man who predicted the EDSA 2 crowd would pack up and ask for Erap's forgiveness in 4 days.)

Maceda is wrong again this time, UNLESS he believes that the coming FPJ presidency would be just one big photo op.
Call for literary works
Dear friends of Manoa journal,

For an upcoming issue of Manoa, I would like to gather international writing from younger authors from throughout the Pacific region, without regard to national boundaries. As you know, over the last several years, we've been focusing on specific countries. I'd like us to break out of this format, at least for now, and showcase a greater mixture of voices, all bound together.

I'm requesting that Manoa corresponding editors and friends please join in collaborating on this issue, which we will call, unglamorously for now, "The Pacific Hemisphere Under Thirty-Five: Younger Writers from Asia, the Pacific, and the Americas." For now, I'm looking for prose only: either fiction or literary nonfiction. (Perhaps we can do a volume of poetry like this later. )

The age "thirty-five" is pretty arbitrary; the impulse here is simply to see what upcoming---rather than beginner or established---writers around the region are doing. I am not seeking experimentation for its own sake, so the work need not be explicitly "post-" anything. Good writing is hard enough to find without putting too many requisites on its form or content. In this case, age, hemisphere, and quality are enough restrictions.

Please look around your region for what you think are the best stories by younger authors and send them to me by no later than the first week of March 2004---or have the authors send them directly.

Send as many as you like, and tell others if you like---but really I'm depending on each of you as individuals that I trust. The works should be previously unpublished---or, they may be previously published provided they have had only limited distribution, not worldwide, and have no unreasonable copyright restrictions on them. The works may be written originally in any language, but they need to be sent to me in translation and will be published in English. All of you who send submissions and suggestions will be credited with editing the book; Manoa's general editor and staff will make final final selections. Of course I would like to have as broad and equitable arepresentation of voices as possible, but that is not the book's goal and will not drive the final contents.

Authors, translators, and contributing editors will receive multiple copies of the book, but shouldn't expect a fee. We are too poor. The book, however, will be beautiful and the content as wonderful and surprising as we (with your help) can make it.

Thanks very much. As usual, you can send things by post to:

Manoa Journal
Department of English
University of Hawaii
1733 Donaghho Road
Honolulu HI 96822 USA

Best wishes and aloha for the new year,


Frank Stewart, Editor
Tel: 808-956-3059
Job Opening
ICANVAS MEDIA is looking for editorial assistant/ staff writer for their in house operations. The applicant must be good in writing business/ technical correspondences and reports. Please send your sample work and resume directly to

Call Cholo at 09179335670 or 9950201 ASAP

Monday, January 12, 2004

Marites Vitug, writing for Newsweek, on Filipinos trading their politicians for movie stars. George Soros, writing for the Atlantic Monthly, on the bubble of American supremacy.
Funny story on a couple running against each other for the post of mayor in Lanao. Onli in da Pilipins.
More on the Sandiganbayan faux pa
Former Senate President Jovito Salonga and UP Professor Florin Hilbay wrote this Inquirer op-ed on the volte-face of the Sandiganbayan granting Estrada the permission to seek medical help abroad. The two opine that "Beyond the inexplicable bases for the resolution of the Sandiganbayan special division is the unimpeachable information that the special division was constituted in violation of the Rules of Procedure of the Sandiganbayan." The op-ed adds that:

Rule XIII, 1(b) of the Rules of Procedure of the Sandiganbayan provides that in cases where no unanimous vote of the three members of a division is obtained, a special division of five should be constituted with the two members being designated by raffle on a rotation basis.

Apparently, the voting conducted last Dec. 18 resulted in Justices Chico-Nazario and Leonardo-de Castro going in favor of the motion and Justice Sandoval dissenting.
As no unanimous vote was had, this should have resulted in a raffle to determine the two special members of the division.

However, Bantay Katarungan has found out that, instead of a raffle as provided for in the rules, the two special members-Justices Diosdado M. Peralta and Norbert Y. Geraldez Sr.-were merely handpicked by the presiding justice.

From whom did Salonga and Hilbay got that unimpeachable information? The op-ed did not say. But it confirms the suspicion by many of us that the turnaround by the Sandiganbayan was motivated by something more than simple judicious rumination of the issues involved.
Si Poe ay Filipino?
The Manila Times quotes GMA as believing Fernando Poe is a Filipino. In a statement released by Malacanang, GMA has apparently offered FPJ help to expedite the resolution of FPJ's citizenship issue.

I get confused though with GMA's coming forth protesting that she believes FPJ is a Filipino. She probably should have stated that she believed FPJ is a natural-born Filipino if she wished to dispel rumors that she is behind the attack on FPJ, apparently aimed at pre-emptively disqualifying FPJ for the presidential run.

The make-or-break issue here is not the citizenship per se of FPJ, but the manner by which FPJ bacame a Filipino. Apparently, FPJ has the documents to prove his citizenship: passport issued to his name, for example. But not all Filipinos can run for president; those qualified are people who were born Filipino and did not have to do anything to perfect their Filipino citizenship.

Sunday, January 11, 2004


Big Sky Mind Artists’ Projects Foundation, an independent artist-run organization based in Manila, Philippines, offers studio residencies to young visual artists at the 18th Avenue Artists Compound in Cubao, Quezon City.

Located in a warehouse complex, Big Sky Mind offers young artists space to create and develop their work amidst an environment of community, camaraderie and professional support. Its Residency Program grants one-year studio residencies to young Filipino visual artists and short-term residencies to foreign visiting artists.

The Compound has three studios for local artists and one studio for foreign artists. Technical and support facilities include a library of books, magazines, catalogues, portfolios and other reference material on contemporary art, a computer lab with cable internet access, scanner, printer, fax, CD burner and video editing equipment.

Each quarter, Big Sky Mind hosts exhibitions by the resident artists, providing them with a platform to present their work to a wider public. Talks and
workshops are also held in order to broaden public awareness on contemporary art and practice.

The 2004 Residency period is from July 1, 2004 ­ June 30, 2005. Artists who wish to apply may submit their cv, portfolios, and other supporting documents from 15 January ­ 15 March 2004. Artists also need to submit a clear, concise proposal of works to be developed during the residency. Qualified applicants will be notified by April 2004.

Big Sky Mind
70 18th Avenue, Murphy,
Cubao, Quezon City

Tel/Fax 421-2125

Office Hours: Wednesday ­ Saturday, 9 am ­ 12 nn, 1 ­ 6 pm.
Job opening
San Min Book Co., Ltd, one of Taiwan's best-known publishers, seeks experienced writers who are interested in writing English short stories/articles for EFL students and already have works waiting to be published. The target readers are Taiwanese EFL students (children, ages 7-12, or teenagers, ages 13-18).

Manuscript length varies from 300-1500 words. Welcomes various topics and forms of writing, especially a series of creative stories. Guidelines available upon request. Applicants please send resume and writing samples to: (please note on the title of your e- mail "application for children's writer" or "application for teenagers' writer").

Deadline: January 31

Show of power
The NPAs have been quite busy these days. Not only have they been collecting money for permits to campaign on their supposedly controlled areas, they have also been engaging in terrorist acts like trying to blow up power plants, like the one in Calaca.

The Philippine Star reports that Sorsogon Representatice Jose Solis, a former army man, has been accosted by the NPAs and told that he was unwelcomed in Barangay Union, Gubat since he refused to pay for a campaign permit. His driver was shot and seriously wounded, but Solis was unharmed. This is the first election-related incident in the country. Solis is running for a re-election in the second district of Sorsogon.
The Weekly Standard, Bush's favorite journal, writes about the two Americans dubbed by Philippine immigration authorities as undesirable aliens, who have been allegedly interacting with Al Qaeda cells here.
Is FPJ a natural-born Filipino?
If all the facts Fornier was saying on TV are true, then, FPJ is clearly not. According to Fornier, both parents of FPJ were not Filipinos and even if his father were Filipino, FPJ would follow the citizenship of his mother because marriage of his parents was void. Therefore, FPJ is an illegitimate son and followed the American citizenship of his mother.

The Department of Foreign Affairs, perhaps under pressure from Malacanang, has now become less enthusiastic in declaring FPJ a Filipino. Foreign Affairs spokesman Julia Heidemann now stressed that having a Philippine passport is not conclusive proof that Poe is a natural-born Filipino. I remember seeing someone from the DFA--maybe it was she--confirming that FPJ is a Filipino quite matter-of-factly.

Or perhaps there is just a slight misunderstanding here: FPJ could be a Filipino without being a natural-born Filipino. They are not the same. Natural-born citizens, the only people allowed by law to be president, are those Filipino citizens who did not have to perform any act to acquire or perfect their citizenship. Thus, FPJ can be Filipino and still not qualify as president.

Max Soliven shares in his column a brief backgrounder on Fornier. Fornier is the younger brother of the Fornier who complained about Alfredo Lim's citizenship during the last presidential elections. Lim was then declared a Filipino by the COMELEC at the eleventh hour, thus, damaging his campaign.

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Wow Mali!
The Philippine Star has this really funny story on the damage control being done by the Palace to counter the public sour-graping of Lakas spokesperson Heherson Alvarez. Apparently, Alvarez was faxed a copy, by mistake obviously, of the directive instructing political strategists on how to deal with his public grousing.

Somebody near the office's fax machine obviously doesn't know how to read. Well, at least K-4's vice-president does.
Interview with Loida Nicolas-Lewis
Click here to read the transcript of an interview with Sorsogon-born Loida Nicolas-Lewis, chairperson and CEO of TLC Beatrice International Holdings, Inc. and one of the wealthiest women in the United States.

She says her fondest memories of Sorsogon include weekends on Rizal Beach. Reading the interview made me feel a little bit nostalgic of Sorsogon. (Sometimes you miss the place more than the people.)

Anyway, here's something for women readers:

HW: What is your advice to women who are trying to reach their personal best?

LNL: They cannot do it all. They cannot have four -- a happy family life, a very satisfying career, an economically advanced home and personal satisfaction. They can only choose three, they have to give up one. Either they have a very happy family life, they have personal satisfaction, they are economically well-off but she's not in her profession. Or she's active in her profession, is very economically well-off and has personal satisfaction but her husband leaves her or her children are drug addicts. They cannot have it all. I chose the three. My husband was successful, my daughters were successful, we had a very economically viable [home] but personal satisfaction in the sense that i was a senior partner in a law firm, that did not happen. I chose to have a 9 to 5 job in the government as an immigration lawyer so I can attend to my husband and my children. So don't make any mistake women. You cannot have it all and you choose. After you choose, after prayer, be happy with it and live with it.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Job Openings
I got this from the e-mail today and I am relaying it here. From now on, I will be posting job openings and other announcements in this blog.

Tambuyog Development Center is in need of the following:

1) 2 Community Development Workers (CDWs);
2) 1 Team Leader (TL), and;
3) Enterprise Development Officer (EDO)

for its project with Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) called Fisheries Resources Management Project in Lingayen Gulf.

The CWDs job is to organize and capacitate fihserfolk organizations and cooperatives and assist them in their livelihood and enterprise projects.

He or she must be of good health, must be able to speak ilocano, willing to stay in coastal barangays for extended period of time, can build trust and confidence with the fisherfolk. Must have at least one year experience in organizing work in rural communities.

The TL is to lead a team of CDWs, giving them proper and timely assistance in their work, do advocacy and coordination work with the municipal agriculture office and municipal officials, do network or linkage with offices/agencies, government or private in support of the work in the project.

He or she must be of good health, willling to stay in the project area for extended period of time, a team builder and can build confidence and self-steem of CDWs, and must have at least three years experience in organizing in rural communities. Good at oral and written communications.

The EDO is to assist fisherfolk organizations and cooperatives in their savings and credit porject and capital build up, assist them in making feasibility studies, proposals and/or business plans. Assist the organizations and cooperatives to link production of the local communities with back up or ancilliary industies, and with local and distant markets.

He or she must be competent in making feasibility studies and business plans. Can analyze and match physical, material, and financial resources with human capabilities.

Applicants can send their application letter and biodata addressed to The Administrative Officer through this email address or at or mail to Tambuyog Development Center, # 91 V. Luna Rd. Ext., Sikatuna Village, Q.C. not later than January 31, 2004.
Newsbreak reports on the incompetence of COMELEC Chairman Benjamin Abalos, who is too busy playing golf that he is rarely seen in his office.
PM THaksin: Cruisin' for bruisin' ?
Newsweek has an article on Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin's version of Keynesian spending, which, at least for now, seems to be working. Newsweek reports:

Thaksin's new paradigm is actually an old formula of Keynesian public spending and loose credit to boost consumption. This can be healthy, if the credit goes to productive uses and stays under control. The state-run banks have doled out $3.4 billion to small and medium enterprises. That's a significant sum in a $130 billion economy, yet entrepreneurial production appears to be playing a small part in the boom. Many borrowers are using state credit to buy mobile phones or motorcycles or repay old debts, even though the fund is intended solely for new businesses.

The article points out that in the long-term Thaksin may be able to pull it off if the credit extensions he has been giving to Thais propels a new entrepreneurial class in Thailand's provinces. And they better work. Thaksin is not a man of modest ambitions. This early, he seems to be gunning to replace PM Mahathir of Malaysia as the dominant leader in Southeast Asia. He has, in fact, tried exporing his Thaksinomics to the Philippines. He has also brokered the roadmap proposed by the Burmese military government to reconcile with the opposition led by the jailed Aung San Suu Kyi.

Thaksin is running on 80% popularity rating in Thailand. His family owns all TV stations in Thailand so that helps tremendously in publicizing his government's efforts. What remains to be seen though is whether these good times in Thailand can be sustained in the long run or fizzle out in a flash--and ruin Thaksin's pretensions to the throne of SE Asia.
The Guardian has a story on the media-shy Anne Tyler, author of the Pulitzer-winning Breathing Lessons.
Read AS Byatt's shorter version of her introduction to The Annotated Brothers Grimm by Maria Tatar, to be published in the US in June by WW Norton.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

Personal ads for love
The Sydney Morning Herald has an amusing article on the very amusing practice of placing ads looking for love in highbrow publications like the New York Review of Books.

One ad read: "Before I turn 67 - next March - I would like to have lots of sex with a man I like. If you want to talk first, Trollope works for me." Another one read: "Tap-dancing Classics lecturer. Chilling isn't it? (M, 38)." And: "Some chances are once in a lifetime. Not this one, I've been in the last 12 issues. Either I strike gold this time or I become a lesbian. Man, 43."
Asian Fellows Awards 2004
If you wish to do social science research on an Asian country and has the necessary education to do it, then you might be interested in applying for an AFA grant. Here's the application form.
Demographic politics
Sheila Coronel in Who wants to be a President? points out that:

For some time now, young voters have made up the bulk of the electorate. Today a little more than half of the more than 39 million voters are below 35, with a significant number of them aged 18 to 25. In all, two-thirds of the electorate is below 45.

At the same time, the 2000 census shows that 48 percent of Filipinos now live in urban areas, compared to 37.5 percent in 1980 and 32 percent in 1970. The latest National Statistics Office bulletin says that five of the top 10 vote-rich provinces are also the most urbanized in the country. Cavite and Laguna, for example, are now more than 80 percent urban.

Wednesday, January 07, 2004

New identification procedures for visitors to the US
The United States has beefed up its defense against unwelcome terrorist visitors by now requiring all visitors, save from Canada and European countries, to be photographed and biometrically profiled upon arrival in the US. The reaction from around the world has been varied, but one Brazilian judge, as the New York Times reprts, was so furious that Brazilians would have to be fingerprinted and photographed that he took revenge.

"I consider the act absolutely brutal, threatening human rights, violating human dignity, xenophobic and worthy of the worst horrors committed by the Nazis," the judge, Julier Sebastiao da Silva, said last week in a court order subjecting all Americans entering Brazil to the same practice.

Visitors from the Philippines are probably not exempted from the hassle of profiling, but Singapore is exempted though as the above report tells us.

Online Newshour discusses the pros and cons of the new ID procedures with Mark Kirkorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, and Jeanne Butterfield, head of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

Tuesday, January 06, 2004

Click here to find that humanities professors say you know and uh 4.85 times per minute, social scientists 3.84 and natural science professors 1.39 times.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Slate on hooking up with your professors.
Kritika Kultura Lecture Series 2004
"'Dignity - always dignity': Isolationism vs. Colonialism"

by Dr. Victor Bascara
Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin, Madison

January 7, Wednesday, 4 p.m.
English Department, de la Costa bldg.
Ateneo de Manila


Recent developments in American studies have well established the previously unacknowledged significance of U.S. colonialism in the Pacific at the turn of the century. Just as importantly, that scholarship makes a strong case for that unacknowledgment as perhaps the great amnesia of the American Century. Much path-breaking research has drawn that occluded history into visibility, at least for an American Studies with scales before its eyes.

This current ongoing work explores the historical understandings and misunderstandings that cemented that amnesia, an amnesia that now, with current geopolitical crises and the overwhelming evidence of American colonialism brought to light by a generation of revisionism, seems too hard to believe ever could have existed.

Toward tracking the receding of empire in American culture, Dr. Bascara is examining the period in which, for reasons that may be altogether plausible, American colonialism effectively disappeared. Part of a larger project on isolationism, the presentation considers how American popular culture texts of and about the 1920s and 30s, including Frank Capra's Prelude to War (1942), the adaptation of James M. Cain's Double Indemnity (1936, adapted for film in 1944), and Gene Kelly's Singin' in the Rain (1952). Of particular importance to the latter two texts is the curious emergence and disappearance of Filipino migrant labor.

Brief CV

Dr. Victor Bascara has been Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin at Madison (English and Asian American Studies) since 2001. He received his B.A. University of California at Berkeley (English) 1992; M.A. Berkeley (English) 1994; Ph.D. Columbia University (English and Comparative Literature) 2000. His book, Unburdening Empire: Asian
American Cultural Politics and the Emergence of United States Imperialism, will be published soon by the University of Minnesota Press.

Among the courses he has been teaching are "American Literature and Empire," "Survey of Asian American Literature," "Asian American Cultural Politics," "Law, Literature, and Critical Race Theory," "Asian Americans and Popular Culture," "Violence and Legitimation: Comparative Asian American and African American Studies."
New York Times reports on the communist revival in the Philippines.

Newsweek's Malcolm Beith reports from the Shan State of Burma, bordering China, and finds that:

In Burma it's hard to know what year it is, let alone what time it is. The country is stuck in 1962, when it invented a brand of socialism that's a bit like the abandoned sandals I saw lying on the main road in Kengtung—as if one day the Burmese simply stopped walking with the rest of the world. Water buffalo have yet to be replaced by modern agricultural equipment. The traditional longyi (sarong) is still largely favored over trousers by men both young and old. In Kengtung, nighttime activity is usually conducted by candlelight, thanks to lack of power.

Friday, January 02, 2004

The New York Times reports that Philippine authorities are deporting two American brothers arrested for suspected links to terrorism. One of the men worked until 2000 for the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the laboratory said.
A mess of political parties
Today has this op-ed on the mess of the political parties in the Philippines. The op-ed specifically points to the split in the LDP caused by the serious dispute between the Angara-led bloc and that of the party secretary-general, Agapito "Butz" Aquino. The op-ed points out that "When people can not be trusted to stay loyal to their party, it would be the height of stupidity to believe they can be trusted to carry out grand visions of government."

The recent lists of candidates showing a dearth of political talents (thus the need to recruit celebrities with no political background at all aside from their pretty faces) point to another pernicious problem with our political parties: they never develop political stars inside their parties, but simply coopt people from outside.

Our political parties, devoid of any youth component, fails in one important function of a political party in a democracy, that of apprenticing young people for future public office. We are faced therefore with candidates like Bong Revilla who has a perverse way of assessing his political bankability.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Recent developments
The Manila Times reports that MMDA Chairman Bayani Fernando won't be running as vice president now that Arroyo has chosen Kabayan Noli de Castro as her running mate. Wise move. Fernando would be better off MMDA chairman than vice president. His work sprucing up metropolitan Manila can serve as a platform for a run for higher office later. If he can do to Metro Manila what he did in Marikina, popular approval will propel him to, not the vice presidency (that oh-so inconsequential office), but to the top post that requires residence in the palace.

For the opposition (the FPJ side of it, anyway), it looks like it would be Loren Legarda after all who would be the sarimanok for vice president. Estrada is said to prefer Miriam Santiago or Honasan since Legarda was markedly anti-Estrada during the impeachment trial. The choice of Legarda as vice-president could mean that either FPJ is having a slight tiff with his erstwhile buddy or is simply learning fast in the Philippine art of political accomodation. I wonder though where Loren Legarda gets the stomach to run as vice president of FPJ. It was she after all who cried when Estrada's trial broke up. Whither the tears now?