Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Web prowl
Time magazine reports on the Abu Sayyaf's masterminding the Superferry bombing last February. Also from the magazine, a profile of MILF Chairman Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim. Covering more or less the same ground, Newsweek also reports this week on Mindanao. The Chief of Staff of the US Army provides a reading list for military personnel. Finally, the UP economics paper that has launched a hundred commentaries is available here.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Literary awakening
I watched a thoroughly delightful movie yesterday, and even today I am still thinking of Dai Sijie's Balzac and the little Chinese seamstress. The movie is about two teenage boys sent to a remote mountain-top village for a re-education with the peasants during China's Cultural Revolution. The boys were banished from the city of Chengdu for being the children of reactionary parents who have been branded enemies of the people.

During their re-education of hard labor, they discovered a suitcase full of forbidden books, and so they surreptitiously read Balzac, Dumas, Stendhal, Dostoevsky, Gogol, etc. One of the boys, enamored by the daughter of the local tailor (the little Chinese seamstress of the title), set out on a mission to instill culture on the girl by reading her Balzac. They fell in love, the girl got pregnant and had an abortion. The movie ends with the little Chinese seamstress leaving her village to seek her fortune in the city, abandoning the boy she has fallen in love with. When the boy ran after her and asked why she was leaving him without even saying goodbye, the girl said she learnt one thing from Balzac: that a woman's beauty is a treasure beyond price.

The movie was shot on a heartbreakingly beautiful mountain, and many times I thought I'd want to be re-educated there myself ( Oh Chairman Mao, where are you now when I need you? ). But what I really found affecting about the story was the intensity of the literary awakening of the characters. The boys were quite taken, mesmerized even, by Balzac's Ursule Mirouet, astonished by its realistic depiction of love, female beauty and sexual desire. Any reader who watches the movie--or read the novel on which it was based--would surely remember that distant time when he too made the first encounter wiith great literary characters.

I myself cannot cannot help but remember with an air of nostalgia my first encounter with great literary characters. The first one I met was the adulterer Hester Prynne of Nathaniel Hawthorne's Scarlet Letter. I borrowed the book from a classmate for a book review assigned in class and little did I know then that it would change my life's perspective. The book's personal meaning for me is that sometimes the people we condemn as degenerate are, in point of truth only discernable to God, morally superior.

The Scarlet Letter had such deep effect on me. In our small town in Bicol during the time I was in high school, there was this lovely woman who was widely rumored to be a prostitute of some sort. I didn't really know for sure whether she really was a prostitute, and I was also hesitant to believe the rumors because in our uptight town in Bicol ( local townspeople would point out with pride that we are the most religious in the Philippines ), the people have a marked tendency to brand any unmarried girl who had sex as pokpok.

Once when my friends and classmates were on the beach, the woman who was rumored to be a prostitute happened to pass by the beach hut we were then occupying. There was instantaneous hooting and teasing, calling the woman by her name. Some people around us were even making obscene gestures, while others throw meaningful smiles. Some of the men on the beach, not content with teasing the poor woman, even accosted her, blocking her path many times before she was let go.

I was filled then with great sadness in my realization that we were no better than the people who plagued Hester Prynne. What frustrated me was the fact that I was such a coward to stop the whole injustice being done on that hapless woman. For what was I to do ? Tell all those people that what they were doing was wrong ? I am no hero. God knows I even have a problem defending myself. How was I to take the cudgels for other people ? I thought then, What if she really were a prostitute? Did it give us a right to do this to her?

Had I not read The Scarlet Letter, my thoughts would have been less tortured. But instead of stopping, I continued my literary exploration. It was a happenstance that the next two great books I read were about other social outcasts: Philip Carey with his club foot and Silas Marner with his fortune stolen.

The literary awakening of the characters in Balzac and the little Chinese seamstress brought them to a deeper undestanding of the nature of love. Unfortunately, because of my unhappy choice of novels first read, mine led me to searing discontent.

Lecture Forum
Peace, Demilitarization, and the War against Terror
1 September 2004
2:00-4:30 p.m.
UP Asian Center Conference Room
UP Diliman, Quezon City

Friday, August 27, 2004

The pleasures of fiction
I haven't read any fiction for quite some time now. (There was a brief utilitarian time I even felt it was quite a waste of time reading something of no practical purpose.) Having decided to once again read fiction, I wanted to begin with something not too heavy. So I took David Lodge's Changing Places from the shelf, where it was gathering dust for a little over three years now. I didn't know anything about the book or its author when I bought it from a book sale. The thing that recommended the book to me was the recommendation of one blurb, which promised "the cool, cruel detachment of Evelyn Waugh."

And so I began reading with no expectations at all. After some time, my jaw started to hurt because, it turned out, I was in a state of perpetual grin while reading. Philip Swallow of UK"s Rummidge University swaps with the UCLA-modelled Euphoria State University's Morris Zapp in an annual scheme of exchanging professors.

The book's extremely funny, and I wish I can retell here all the funny episodes. Here's one: Rummaging through old issues of The Times Literary Supplement, Zapp found out that an article he wrote for a festschrift was reviewed as a monument to imbecility and perversity in scholarship in the pages of the TLS four years ago. Excerpt from the book ( Zapp in a dilemma):

And my enemy, who is he? Some Ph.D. student I flunked? Some limey scholar whose book i chewed up in a footnote? Some guy whose mother I ran over in my car without noticing? Do you remember, Desiree, any exceptionally heavy bump in the road, driving somewhere four or five years ago?

Prof. Swalllow also devised a game called Humiliation, in which each person had to think of a well-known book he hadn't read, and scored a point for every person present who had read it. He disastrously introduced the game to a party of the English Department at Euphoria, In the course of the game it was learned that the Chair of the department has never read Paradise Regained. Another professor, trailing behind in points and desperately wanting to catch up blurted, Hamlet! Needless to say, that professor who publicly admitted to not having read Hamlet was denied tenure.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Gawad ka Amado 2004
"Mga Karanasan ng Pangingibang Bayan"

Tula, Maikling Kwento, Awit at Sining Biswal

Deadline 5:00pm October 29, 2004

Ipadala sa P.O. BOX 700, Araneta Center P.O, Cubao Q.C. 1135 o sa 3B J.Bugallon St., Project 4, Quezon City, Phillippines 1109

Para sa mga katanungan tumawag sa 4219427 o mag-email sa gawadkaamado@yahoo.com o tumingin sa

Monday, August 23, 2004

Web prowl
Slate compares and contrasts the different diet books in the market, from Atkins to Okinawa. At the 440 B.C. Olympic Games, a hot young author made the scene—Herodotus! Vietnam's Prime Minister Phan Van Khai defends ASEAN's policy of consensus and non-intervention in this ASEAN lecture delivered on the occasion of the regional organization's 37th anniversary. Psychicpants has an excerpt of a one-act play wriiten by FHM's Eric Ramos.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Democracy and its discontent
From Le Monde Diplomatique, the novelist Jose Saramago calls for a reinvention of today's democracy, noting that while democracy has often been touted as the least bad of the systems of government, "No one seems to realise that resigned acceptance of the least bad is a brake on the search for something better." Saramago laments the fact that the poor are called to elect leaders, but are never called to govern. Elections in today's democracy, according to him, are more like wholesale abdication of civic responsibility rather than genuine exercises in political choice.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

The language of the revolution
A rather interesting exchange has developed in the editorial pages of Today. Manuel Buencamino in an op-ed entitled An open letter to Joma brought to task the erstwhile chairman of the NDF for being a little too touchy about the US State Department's tagging the CPP-NDF as terrorist. In the course of the open letter, Buencamino marshals some nasty things to say about Sison, among which was the latter's apparent need for a makeover (Paging: Queer Eye for the Revolutionary Guy). But what drew sharp rebuttal was Buencamino's comments on Sison's use of the English language:

...you [Sison} should stop using laborious phrases like “U.S. imperialism and its die-hard puppets.” They date you, because no one talks that way anymore. If you were to appear in a televised interview, subtitles would be needed.

The very next day Dean Luis Teodoro came up with a rejoinder column bitingly entitled To whom it may concern, defending Sison and his language:

It’s true no one talks like that anymore -- at least not in the respectable, albeit “radical” circles of Philippine NGOs.... Academics favor indirection, subtlety, obscure phrases. Unfortunately, again as Daroy noted, Sison doesn’t write for academics but for the many who actually make history

Teodoro further adds that Sison's prose of "brutal, sometimes awkward directness" is explained by Sison's interest in "naming things for what they really were" and "communicating to the legions of the poor."

Was Buencamino really being "academic" in his taking to task Sison's language ? This is funny because, I don't know if it is just me, but I have always thought of Sison as the professorial, academic type, more like Karl Marx than Lenin.

I, however, can totally understand where Buencamino was coming from. There is really something jarring in the image of Sison presented to us by TV clips: the revolutionary in a business suit, going about the peace negotiations like a Makati Business Club executive going over the day's acquisitions. Truth be told, Sison has no charm whatsoever for the cellphone-holding, cono-aspiring collegiates. He inspires not even an iota of curiousity outside social science and national democratic circles. If, for example, the undergraduates at, say, UP were to be quizzed on Sison and the movement he led, the campus would bleed red--for the failing marks, that is. Even among the more progressive Philippine campuses, the national democratic youth are now seen by the majority as nothing more than a campus curiousity. I was told by a friend that if Sison only knew the now reactionary politics of the journalists' guild he founded at the UP College of Mass Communications, he would desist his correspondence to the organization at once.

Sison is, in many ways, the most divisive figure today in Philippine politics, more divisive than Imelda Marcos, for in the latter, no matter how we may loathe or love the Marcos regime, we can always agree on the charm of its first lady. In the case of Joma , there seems to be an invisible hand directing one to either love or hate him.

What is undeniable though is that no matter how people may hate him for the great expectations he unleashed but never quite led to political fruition, Sison was the revolutionary who midwifed the birth of the vibrant civil society we have today. Scratch the resume of any NGO worker or, just about anybody with a genuine interest in Philippine politics (save the dynastic political families, of course) and you will find national democratic roots.

The last decade has spawned many nemeses of Sison even in the Philippine Left. Some have been disenchanted, others took a break and raised families, still others were turned off by the Stalinist purges. Yet one thing is clear: Sison is the Alpha of the Philippine civil society; what is stilll in doubt is whether he too will be its Omega. Probably not. But who can tell? The wheel is still in spin,as Bob Dylan put it, and history, pace Francis Fukuyama, has no ending--at least, not just yet.

Sometimes when we touch
From the Wily Filipino, Filipino translations of some well-known songs:

Imagine - Mantakin Mo
Bluer Than Blue - Malapit Na Sa Hukay
Tonight's The Night - Patay Kang Bata Ka
Hey Jude - Hoy Hudas!
Power of Love - Buntis
Three Times a Lady - Super Bakla
More Than A Woman - Tomboy
Can't Be With You Tonight - Meron Ako Ngayon
Don't Let Me Be The Last To Know - Huwag Mo Kong Gawing Tanga
You Should Know By Now - Alam Mo Na Dapat Ngayon Yan, Tanga!
Sometimes When We Touch - Minsan Kapag Tayo'y Naghihipuan
Touch Me In The Morning - Hipuan Mo Ako Sa Umaga
Stairway To Heaven - Mula Paa Hanggang Singit
Got To Believe In Magic - Walang Himala
Total Eclipse Of The Heart - Maitim ang Puso
King & Queen Of Hearts - Tong-it Na Ko Sa Jack
Macho Man - Walang Ganyan Sa Opis
Pretty Woman - Walang Ring Ganyan Sa Opis
How Deep Is Your Love - Magkano Ang Iyong Deposito sa Bangko
The snobbish Manila Times
The editorial staff of the Manila Times must have a very high regard for the intelligence of their readers. How else can we explain their decision to hire Prof. Escultura as a columnist (who, incidentally, is a townmate)? Just a fortnight ago, the professor was explaining in prose a proof of Fermat's last theorem; today, he is educating his graduate students on the dead ends of mathematics, which he says are foundations, number theory, real and complex analysis, abstract algebra, topology and category theory. (Don't ask me, I have no idea what those are.)

Friday, August 20, 2004

The landlessness of the Muslim people
Eric Gutierrez and Saturnino Borras Jr present an economic interpretation of the insurgency in Mindanao in The Moro Conflict: Landlessness and Misdirected Policies. They argue that it is landlessness that is at the root of the problem. Unfortunately, according to the authors, landlessness never figured prominently as a strategic issue in all the government's negotiations with both the MNLF and the MILF. The CARP also did not solve the problem and, arguably, has even exacerbated it by giving preference to actual farmhands ( usually Christians who have earlier displaced Muslims and lumad ) tilling the land.

If landlessness is such a central issue as Gutierrez and Borras say it is, then what explains the benign neglect of our peace negotiators ? A simple case of middle-age absent-mindedness perhaps ?

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Public forum
Voices from the Global South: Women’s Perspective on War and Globalization

Main Speakers:

Ofelia Ortega
Presbyterian minister and member, Central Committee, WCC Principal of the Evangelical Theological Seminary, Mantanzas, Cuba Vice-president of the Ecumenical Council of Cuba

Helen Wangusa
Coordinator of African Women’s Empowerment Network (AWEPON) Chairperson, International South Group Network.(ISGN)

Namsoon Kang
Dean of Programme for Theology and Culture in Asia (PTCA) Co-moderator of Congress of Asian Theologians (CATS) Vice-president of World Conference of Assns. of Theological Institutions

This will be on 30 AUGUST 2004 at the UCCP Shalom Centre, 1660 Luis Ma. Guerrero St., Malate, Manila from 9.00 a.m. – 12.00 nn.

Organized by The People’s Forum on Peace for Life, World Council of Churches (WCC), National Council of Churches in the Philippines(NCCP), Ecumenical Women’s Forum and Pilgrims for Peace

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The true results of the 2004 presidential elections
Roberto Verzola's paper referred to below is available on the web here.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Who shall guard the guardians themselves?
Former COMELEC Commissioner Luzviminda Tancangco must be extremely happy these days. Her erstwhile bete noire, the NAMFREL, is finally on the receiving end of public ridicule following Roberto Verzola’s allegations that the watchdog organization was guilty of bias in favor of President Arroyo during the last presidential elections.

Verzola says that the
NAMFREL tally shows clear signs of manipulation through selective tabulation in favor of GMA, making her lead appear to be larger than it really was. As an observer of the NAMFREL operations, Verzola noticed that the NAMFREL was counting GMA’s votes faster than FPJ’s, making it appear GMA had a more sizeable lead than she probably, in truth, had. The votes from known bailiwicks of FPJ, according to Verzola, were suspiciously de-prioritized in the tabulation. Also without completely counting all the votes, the COMELEC pronounced GMA the winner by a lead of 681, 000 votes. Given the trending skew of NAMFREL in favor of GMA, saving FPJ’s votes for last, and the incompleteness of NAMFREL’s tabulations of votes, there is, according to Verzola, a slight possibility that it was FPJ who actually won the elections albeit by a slim margin.

Verzola says that:

NAMFREL officials appear to be keeping the truth from the public, by 1) not including in their system design a provincial or regional breakdown of precincts counted; 2) not releasing this breakdown despite strong demands by the opposition, the media and election watchers; 3) continuing to refuse to release this information today despite repeated requests, and 4) keeping silent on the major discrepancies between their tally and the Congress canvass.

With NAMFREL’s reputation now in question, who shall we trust to tell us the truth the next time we have elections? Or should we begin reading Tancangco’s dissertation on the questionable performance of NAMFREL in the1986 snap elections?

As time goes by
Exactly who is Mark Macapagal kidding? His Old is in in the
Manila Times today reads much like what you say to yourself on your birthday when you are depressed and feeling, well, old.

Do people really feel better that they are older? Oh, come on. Perhaps some do, but surely in Macapagal’s
paean to senescence, he is guilty of some misrepresentation, to say the least, of the virtues of youth.

I remember one professor, in a side note to a lecture on the young and impetuous Alcibiades ( who famously tried to seduce Socrates and probably inspired The Symposium ), said to our class that we should read as many books as we could while still young and matriculating because we would have no more time to read when we get older. (If only I took his advise to heart and didn't spend so much time daydreaming then ! ) The professor added that in no time again would we find ourselves as curious, as intuitive and as good-smelling. And true enough, now that I am older I find myself not as curious, not as intuitive and certainly not as good-smelling as I used to be. Also, did not Turgenev say something about that bittersweet depression that only the very young can feel?

If we were to tabulate the virtues of the young and old, which tally would end up more substantial in our estimation?
The vampires had the best of both worlds: the looks and the agility of the young, and the hoary experience of the old. But that means, of course, we would have to drink blood in exchange. I am presently reading Bill Clinton’s My Life and there was this part there where Clinton recalls an old friend from college as saying:

“You know…life is organized backwards. You spend the best years studying, then working. When you retire at sixty-five, you’re too old to enjoy it. People should retire between the ages of twenty-one and thirty-five, then work like hell till they die.”

Oo nga naman
That way you maximize the virtues of youth when you are still young and the virtues of age when you are old. A happy solution that, unfortunately, can never be.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Job opening

Date of Posting: August 2004
We are a non-government organization working on intervention for girls at risk from the streets, and/or abused and expolited. We are looking for a SOCIAL WORKER CENTER DIRECTOR for TAHANAN STA. LUISA Crisis Intervention Center for Sexually Abused/Street Girls. She must at least be an MSW or BSWW graduate with 2 to 3 years experience in a center-based program for street children.


• A graduate of Bachelor of Science in Social Work.
• With at least two (2) years experience working with street children
• Preferably with training on psychosocial intervention and counseling with children in need of special protection.

Interested applicants can send their resume to CHILDHOPE ASIA PHILIPPINES, INC., 1210 Penafrancia Extension, Paco 1007 Manila or chap@childhope.org.ph or contact Ms. Lourdes Ilagan at tel. no. 563-4647 / telefax 563-2242.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Ateneo the plagiarist

Fresh from a concert in Toronto, Jim Paredes of the APO blogs on how the Ateneo school anthem, the same song we hear at the UAAP, was ripped off from the Canadian national anthem.

The sound and the fury

Keana Reeves's expose of the thriving escort industry has turned out into a bigger story than I previously thought. But unfortunately, she chickened out at the last minute despite the coaxing of Rep. Liza Maza so we will never know now exactly who was the congressman she worked for and what were the particular services she performed on the honorable. Ah, these are the times we wish Maceda were in the Senate again.

Limpbwizit though is far from being amused by all the commotion created by Ms. Reeves:

e kung di naman sya gaga di ba, sa dami na pala ng mga kongresman na naka-kangkang sa kanya, ngayong lalabas pa ang pelikula nya at tsaka sya na-death threat. at eto na't nade-death threat sya at lahat, ayaw pa nyang i-suplong kung sino ang mga kumangkang sa kanya at nang maimbestigahan na at makasuhan ng grave threats yong mga in-escortan nya.

medyo nakakabwiset na kasi na lagi na lang sa news, isang segment tungkol sa mga putatsing na yan yong binabalita, e kahit obvious naman na sa pagmumukha pa lang ng mga hindot na 'yan, mahal na ang gumastos ng isang libo

Reeves's revelations have piqued the curiosity of the public regarding the hidden sex lives of the powerful. We all wonder now exactly what a pork barrel does to one's sex life, to what exotic pleasures can it lead to. My fascination though in the issue is with regard to the exorbitant price tags escorts carry --- 25,000 to 125,000 daw. Why, these are the ugly excesses of a deregulated industry! With the prevailing stratospheric prices, how can we expect a common man to afford a piece of Ms. Reeves or other starlets. Surely, if there is any justice in this world, the DTI should make market inspections a la Mar Roxas and institute price caps at once.

If you are still interested in hearing or reading about the sex lives of people in politics, you can look to the other end of the political spectrum and make do with PN Abinales's forthcoming book, Love, Sex, and the Filipino Communist (or Hinggil sa Pagpipigil ng Panggigigil), as announcedby the Wily Filipino.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Ateneo workshop

The Ateneo Institute for Literary Arts and Practices (AILAP) is now accepting applications for the 4th Ateneo National Writers Workshop to be held on Oct. 18 to 22.

Applicants must submit a portfolio of works containing five poems or three short stories written in Filipino or English, together with a title page containing the author's pseudonym and a table of contents. The portfolio must be accompanied by a diskette containing the file of the documents in rich text format (rtf).

All submissions must also include a sealed envelope containing the author's real name, address, contact number and one-page biodata with a 2x2 ID picture.

Twelve fellowships will be awarded to writers from all over the country and will include travel fare, food and accommodations.

Entries must be addressed to: Dr. Benilda Santos, The Director, Ateneo National Writers Workshop, c/o the Filipino Department, Dela Costa Building, Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights, Quezon City.

Deadline of submission is on Aug. 27, 2004.

For inquiries, please contact
Mr. Jason Jacobo at 426-6011 local 5321 or 5323 or
Mr. Lawrence Ypil at local 426-6001 local 5311.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Hell hath no fury like an author scorned

The Manila Times reports today that Joma Sison wants the peace talks cancelled because the the US treasury froze royalties on sales of his book. The book referred to is Jose Maria Sison: At Home in the World (Portrait of a Revolutionary), Conversations with Ninotchka Rosca, whose title refers to its New York-based coauthor (who, incidentally, will do a book signing for the same title in Manila come August 19, see earlier blog below).

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The corruption of the media

When a journalist is murdered, it isn't always a case of a society's deteriorating respect for press freedom. Sometimes it is just karmic retribution. Professor Luis Teodoro brings to our attention that despicable brand of journalists who have been corrupted by their part-time practice of the profession:

Many journalists in the communities are not professionals in several senses. They were not trained in journalism. Many do what they think is “journalism” part-time. Still others do it for no other purpose than to use the media for narrow, personal ends.
Many “journalists” in the communities, to sum up, are caught in a web of complex relationships in which they invariably accumulate enemies, in addition to their doing violence to the core ethical and professional values of journalism. General Santos radio reporter Abayon, for example, was described by those who knew him as not likely to have been shot because of his work, perhaps because he fit the description of many local “journalists” who have one foot in the media but who have the other -- and probably both arms as well -- in other pursuits.

One of these complications is the common practice of serving as the attack dogs of these interests, which in many instances has led to inaccurate and biased reporting, virulent attacks on their patrons’ rivals, libel and slander, and plain, garden-variety lying.Some victims of journalistic malpractice have gone so far as to declare that filing libel suits is too good for those who habitually destroy reputations and who poison the well of public opinion by spreading lies rather than the truth that’s the fundamental responsibility of journalists to report.

Bushism of the week

"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we."
---U.S. President George W. Bush, at the signing of a new $417 billion defense-spending bill

Book signing

IBON Books invites you to a

Book Signing by Ms. Ninotchka Rosca of her new book

Jose Maria Sison: At Home in the World: Portrait of a Revolutionary

August 19, 2004 6:00pm
POWERBOOKS-Greenbelt (near Landmark)
Makati City, Philippines

Ms. Ninotchka Rosca, recipient of the American Book Award for Excellence in Literature, is coming to the Philippines to launch her latest book. She has written five books, including the two highly acclaimed novels State of War and Twice Blessed. Her novels have been translated into Dutch, German and Catalan. Now based in New York, she one of the internationally best-known Filipino writers.

For confirmation, please call Gina, Mario or Mena at (63-2) 7132729 or (63-2) 7132737 or visit http://www.ibon.org.

Monday, August 09, 2004

2004 Maningning Miclat Award for Painting

The Maningning Miclat Art Foundation, Inc. (MMAFI) announces the launching of the 2004 Maningning Miclat Painting Competition. Open to all young painters age 28 and below, the open art competition Grand Prize winner will be awarded a Ramon Orlina sculpture trophy and PHP 28,000.00 cash prize.

MMAFI, in cooperation with Shangri-La Plaza, will accept entries at the Shangri-La Plaza's Gallerie 828 at Edsa cor. Shaw Blvd., Mandaluyong City. Entries may be done in oil, watercolor, acrylic or mixed media. Three dimensional works are allowed, provided the final product is wall-bound. All artwork must be original and done within the period 2003-2004. Entries must be framed, with a minimum size of 45 cm x 60 cm and maximum size of 120 cm x 180 cm or equivalent area without the frame. The winner and the semi-finalists will be included in the exhibition/sale at Shangri-la's Art Plaza.

The Award is named after the late Maningning Miclat , a multi-awarded artist, trilingual poet and creative writer, translator and art instructor. She won the 1992 Art Association of the Philippines Grand Prize for her abstract painting, "Trouble in Paradise" while a BS Fine Arts student at the University of the Philippines. She had published a book of poetry in English, Filipino and Chinese, "Voice from the Underworld". Maningning was named one of the World's Top-rate 39 Women Poets writing in Chinese in an anthology published in Beijing.

For the 2004 Maningning Miclat Painting Award Contest Rules, email : acmiclat2004@yahoo.com or call Shangri-la Events at 633-7851, loc 151/107. You can also log on at www.maningning.com .


1. The contest is an open art competition open to all painters, age 28 and below. A painter can submit only one entry.
2. Entries may be done in oil, watercolor, acrylic or mixed media. Three dimensional works are allowed, provided the final product is wall-bound.
3. Entries must be original and executed in 2003-2004.
4. Work which has been entered in another contest is not qualified for the award.
5. Work which has been exhibited earlier may be entered in the contest.
6. Entries must be framed. The minimum size is 45 cm x 60 cm and the maximum size is 120 cm x 180 cm or equivalent area, without the frame.
7. Each entry must have taped to its lower right hand corner the pen name of the artist, title of the painting, medium, size (width & height ) and the price if it is for sale. No artist signature must appear on the image side of the painting. Signatures may be covered with tape for the competition. Real name and pen name of the artist should be submitted in a sealed envelop together with a biodata, copy of birth certificate and a notarized declaration of originality and authenticity of authorship of the entry.
8. Entries must be submitted to the Gallerie 828, Art Plaza, 4th Level, Shangri-la Plaza, Edsa cor. Shaw Blvd. on September 14-15, 2004 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Late entries will not be accepted. The painter is responsible for transporting and submitting entries to and from the Shangri-la Plaza. The painter hereby releases the Shangri-la Plaza and the Maningning Miclat Art Foundation from any claims of damage to artwork due to storage or transport in connection with the competition.
9. Only one Grand Prize winner will be awarded. The prize consists of a Ramon Orlina Glass Sculpture trophy and P28,000.00 . The winner and the semi-finalists will be included in an exhibition/sale to open on the Award Ceremony on September 29, 2004. The winner and the semi-finalists will be notified before the opening. Due to space limitation, not all entries can be exhibited. The Board of Judges has the sole discretion to choose the paintings to be exhibited.
10. Paintings to be exhibited may be for sale. A 30% commission shall be retained on all sales during the exhibit from
September 17 -29, 2004 for the benefit of the Maningning Miclat Art Foundation and Gallerie 828.
11. All entries must be claimed on September 30 from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
12. MMAFI is granted the right to use the name and photo of the painters and the entries for free in any broadcast, telecast, print or electronic medium.
13. Forgery is anathema to the contest and MMAFI has the right of action against the author, if it may be later on discovered that said person is not the creator or owner of the winning work. The foundation shall not be liable to any court action if a third party files a case against the winner who forged the work of the said third party.
14. The Board of Judges shall have the discretion not to award any prize if in its judgment, no meritorious entry had been submitted.
15. MMAFI has the sole right to designate the persons who shall constitute the Board of Judges. The decision of the Board of Judges shall be final.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

The more, the poorer?

Many people are amazed that President Arroyo, a former economics professor, would display a cavalier attitude toward the need for population control to alleviate poverty. Why, GMA should be having fits by now, they say. With a population now estimated to be 84 million and growing 2.3 % in a year (a "ticking time bomb," according to Senator Biazon), why does GMA not place population control high on her agenda? Is this intellectual dishonesty, or a case of presidential pandering to men in robes?

Hardly. While the popular press may think that there is a necessary inverse link between population growth and development, truth, however, is that there is little empirical foundation to support such conclusion. More people do not necessarily mean poorer households. The economists Sudhir Anand and Jonathan Morduch in Poverty and the Population problem, suggest, based on their observations in Bangladesh, that while poverty MAY be immiserizing in the short term, people act rationally in having more children because more children CAN mean better economic security in the long term. They write:

Thus,despite there possibly being a positive correlation between income-focused poverty and household size, reducing household numbers will not necessarily improve the welfare of poor households,and in the long-run it may exacerbate poverty --both narrowly and broadly construed.

The evidence on scale economies from Bangladesh suggests that adding children is likely to be much less costly than often thought, and the consequences for income-focused poverty may be considerably over-stated.

The economist Amartya Sen, writing for the New York Review of Books, also has this to say:

The appeal of such slogans as "family planning first" rests partly on misconceptions about what is needed to reduce fertility rates, but also on mistaken beliefs about the excessive costs of social development, including education and health care. As has been discussed, both these activities are highly labor intensive, and thus relatively inexpensive even in very poor economies. In fact, Kerala, India's star performer in expanding education and reducing both death rates and birth rates, is among the poorer Indian states. Its domestically produced income is quite low—lower indeed in per capita terms than even the Indian average—even if this is somewhat deceptive, for the greatest expansion of Kerala's earnings derives from citizens who work outside the state. Kerala's ability to finance adequately both educational expansion and health coverage depends on both activities being labor-intensive; they can be made available even in a low-income economy when there is the political will to use them. Despite its economic backwardness, an issue which Kerala will undoubtedly have to address before long (perhaps by reducing bureaucratic controls over agriculture and industry, which have stagnated), its level of social development has been remarkable, and that has turned out to be crucial in reducing fertility rates. Kerala's fertility rate of 1.8 not only compares well with China's 2.0, but also with the US's and Sweden's 2.1, Canada's 1.9, and Britain's and France's 1.8.

So if there is no incontrovertible proof in economics that a big population harms a country's development, why should we ever bother planning families? Because one documented problem with high fertility rates is that girls and women bear a disproportionate burden associated with the high fertility rates. The mothers needlessly face death every delivery and female children get served last during meals. ( Ever wondered why the women in destitute families are so skinny while the men seem to enjoy robust growth?) The issue therefore shifts from development (which has been our preoccupation hitherto) to gender.

What is to be done? Must the women suffer high fertility rates? Echoing Andre Gide in Corydon, Today half-seriously considers same-sex relationships as a possible low-budget solution since they offer " the same measure of pleasure without the demographic consequences deplored by Edcel Lagman."

But why is the president dismissive of overpopulation? Why does she prefer to focus on macroeconomics instead?

Not because she is pandering to the Catholic Church (although her stance now has the felicitous indirect effect of gratifying the priests) but because it is the pragmatic thing to do. Notwithstanding the vast literature on population and development, creating the conditions in which people decide to have fewer children has usually been a matter of improvisation. And that improvisation is too risky to undertake now that we are running stratospheric budget deficits. The President is right: all her energies, isandaang porsyentong lakas in anime-speak, must be applied into getting the nation's macroeconomics right-- before anything else.

As Newsbreak reported in an earlier issue, government debt is now 80% of the GDP. It goes as high as 127 % of GDP if the obligations of money-losing state firms are included in the computation. The clear and present danger is in the country's macroeconomics, not in our fertility rate as a people. Pace Rep. Lagman, the President needs to get our macroeconomic figures right first before worrying about fringe issues, our "overpopulation" included.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Web prowl

The New England Journal of Medicine writes on the complicity of doctors and medical personnel in the tortures in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay. The London Review of Books digests the Atkins diet. On the eve of the Olympics in Athens, The Economist ( here and here ) features the uneasy relationship between sports and drugs.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

The sins of Pablo Neruda

On the centennial of Neruda's birth, the Weekly Standard calls the Chilean poet "a bad writer and a bad man," and his poetry, "doggerel."