Saturday, July 21, 2007

Everyday Islam photo contest

Photographers are invited to send entries to a photography contest that aims to depict Muslim integration in the Philippines, following the legacy of UK’s renowned photographer and Muslim convert Peter Sanders.

Sponsored by the British Embassy in partnership with Newsbreak, the competition has two categories: professional, for those who earn a living from photography or are hobbyists who have participated in photo contests; and amateur, for those who do not earn a living from photography and who may submit photos taken with their mobile phone cameras.

Each entry must consist of one (1) full color, 8” x 10” photograph, accompanied by a caption. The photographer should not put his name or any distinguishing marks on the photograph. A separate paper containing the caption and the name and contact details of the photographer should be submitted with the photograph. Contestants are requested to submit as well the original or raw files of their entries.

A contestant may submit as many entries as he or she desires. Employees of the British Embassy and Newsbreak and their relatives up to the fourth degree of consanguinity are not allowed to participate in the competition.

Entries should be received by Newsbreak before or on August 31, Friday. They may be hand-carried or mailed to Room 1402-A West Tower, Philippine Stock Exchange Centre, Exchange Road, Ortigas Center, Pasig City.

A board of judges composed of professionals chosen by the British Embassy, the British Council, and Newsbreak will pick two winners in each category, or a total of four winners. In the professional category, P25,000 awaits the first prize winner, and P10,000 the second prize winner. In the amateur category, the first and second prize winners will receive P15,000 and P5,000, respectively.

Winners will be announced in the last week of September as the Peter Sanders exhibition tour starts its Mindanao leg. Winning entries will be featured on the British Embassy and Newsbreak websites.

Ownership of the photographs shall remain with the photographers, but the entries shall be made part of the British Embassy’s photobank, which it can use at no extra cost for future projects related to its Engaging with the Islamic World program.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Invitation to a forum on regional literature

Mga Suliranin ng Panitik Mulang Rehiyon

Inaanyayahan ang lahat na dumalo sa Mga Suliranin ng Panitik Mulang Rehiyon, isang talakayan na inihahandog ng Linangan sa Imahen, Retorika, at Anyo (LIRA) sa pakikipagtulungan ng UST Center for Creative Writing and Studies. Gaganapin po ito sa UST Thomas Aquinas Research Center Seminar Room A sa ika-21 ng Hulyo, mula ala-una hanggang alas-singko ng hapon. Ang talakayan pong ito ay dadaluhan ng manunulat na mula sa labas ng Maynila, tulad ni Abdon Balde, Jr. na galing Bikol, at Jose Bragado na isa namang Iloko. Ito po ay walang bayad at bukas sa publiko. Magbibigay po ng sertipiko sa mga makapag-aabiso ng kanilang pagdalo bago ang naturang pangyayari. Mangyari na lamang pong makipag-ugnayan kay Nanoy sa 0918-2442553, di kaya magpadala ng e-mail sa

Everyone is invited to attend Mga Suliranin ng Panitik Mulang Rehiyon ( The Challenges of Literature from the Regions), a forum brought to you by Linangan sa Imagen, Retorika, at Anyo (LIRA) in cooperation with UST Center for Creative Writing and Studies. The forum will be held at the UST Thomas Aquinas Research Center Seminar Room A on July 21, from 1pm-5pm. The speakers who will be attending the forum are writers from outside of Manila, like Abdon Balde, Jr. who hails from Bicol, and Jose Bragado who is an Iloko. The forum is free and open to the public. Certificates will be given to those who will confirm their attendance before the event, those interested may course their requests or inquiries through Nanoy at 0918-2442553 or

Monday, July 16, 2007

Magkaisa Junk JPEPA press con

The Magkaisa Junk JPEPA Coalition, of which I am a part, held today a press con at Miriam College. It was nice of former Vice President Tito Guingona, Rep Risa Hontiveros, Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) President Leah Paquiz and Atty Tanya Lat to have all come. Read about the event at the Magkaisa Junk JPEPA Coalition blog.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Senator Pimentel is okay with repeal of Human Security Act, notwithstanding his voting for it in the Senate

During a Kilusan sa Makabansang Ekonomiya (KME) summit held at Maryhill School of Theology in Quezon City this morning, Sen. Nene Pimentel was justifing his participation in the Senate debate on the Human Security Act (pdf). The original version of the law, he said, was so atrociously bad that had he kept silent, never introduced his many amendments, and simply voted nay, the Human Security Act now would have been a lot more draconian.

All of Sen. Pimentel's amendments seem to be quite reasonable: the maximum of three days of detention without judicial warrant of arrest (rather than the originally proposed three months!); the Executive Secretary (rather than the unsuable president herself)as chair of the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC); suspension of the law three months surrounding any election; designation of a Court of Appeals division to review decisions made by the ATC; the P500,000 per day penalty for unlawful detention; the requirement for probable cause, etc.

Sen. Pimentel, however, categorically said, he would welcome if the Human Security Act is repealed or voided. Anyway, since the crimes in the Human Security Act are already designated as crimes in the Revised Penal Code, there's really no pressing need for it. The military, even sans the law, is also quite capable of forcefully abducting people in the streets.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich:

"Oh, you mustn't pray for that either," said Alyosha, horrified. "Why do you want freedom? In freedom your last grain of faith will be choked with weeds. You should rejoice that you're in prison. Here you have time to think about your soul. As the Apostle Paul wrote: 'Why all these tears?'

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Book Donation at Asian Development Bank (ADB) Library

The ADB Library recently weeded books from its collection and is inviting government/state academic and research libraries to avail of these books, on a first-come, first-served basis. The books are mostly in the subject areas of economics, business, management as well as other areas of social sciences. Books are for pick-up at the ADB Library, located at No.6, ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila. If interested, please call Riza Villafana at telephone number 632-4270, Gina San Buenaventura at 632-4272 or Nelia Balagapo, associate librarian, at 632-4914.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Unknown pleasures

The Philippines Star reports today that a man in Plaridel, Bulacan is being hunted down for, take this, raping a chicken -- apparently a prized Texas breeder. The aggrieved owner said that the hen was gasping for breath when he caught the man and the hen in flagrante delicto. The hen was so traumatized by the whole incident it subsequently died-- of multiple lacerations, needless to say.

Some people may be reminded of that teenage flick American Pie, where the lead actor attempted to make love to an apple pie, but the most celebrated description of such unconventional desires can be found in Philip Roth's Portnoy's Complaint, wherein the teenage Portnoy made love to a liver (beef, I think, for the family was Jewish), which his mother served for dinner later. Read the book, or ( as de rigeur in reading such dirty novel)just the relevant passages, and see how Portnoy agonized over the dinner table that night. For how can you eat something you've just made love to? That's practically cannibalism, definitely not kosher.

Given the slow-as-molasses turning of the wheels of justice in this country, the man from Bulacan who raped the hen may never be meted punishment for his gallinaceous indiscretion. What did Karl Marx say? To each according to his needs -- right. All I know is that somewhere in a coop in Bulacan, a rooster is plotting vengeance.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

The cost of joining the yen bloc

Mr Roberto Romulo's op-ed "Time to strengthen RP capacity for trade negotiations," which appeared on the Philippine Star last June 28, hit the nail right on its head when it called for an inter-agency trade negotiating body that would oversee the country's trade negotations and ensure that they are well synchronized with and supportive of domestic policies.

However, Mr. Romulo's endorsement — in the very same article — of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) seems to fly in the face of his own trenchant analysis.

The reasons he set forth in favor of an inter-agency negotiating body—i.e. the need to build national consensus and develop local expertise in articulating the country's trade interests—are, in fact, the very same bones that those who criticize the JPEPA have been picking on.

Mr Romulo wrote that our present ad hoc negotiating teams, composed as they are of co-equal governmental bodies, cannot make objective decisions because of their naturally divergent mandates and constituencies. This is precisely why the toxics waste brouhaha in the JPEPA had to happen. The DENR vigorously opposed the inclusion of wastes, but the DTI, a co-equal body but the lead negotiator, nevertheless went ahead. Even President Arroyo, as former DENR Secretary Mike Defensor acknowledged, was not informed of the waste trade provisions when she signed the JPEPA in Helsinki.

The JPEPA was also negotiated without "a sustainable national consensus," because the details about the agreement were so jealously guarded by the DTI that one civil society group felt compelled to petition the Supreme Court to (quite embarrassingly) ask for a copy.

It is important to remember that a bilateral agreement such as the JPEPA is not a free trade agreement. It lowers the tariff barriers between Japan and the Philippines to the exclusion of all others. While much is made of the forecast that the JPEPA will improve the Philippine GDP by 0.09 %, nothing is said about how the JPEPA will impact on our other equally vital economic relationships with the United States, the ASEAN or Japan's competitor in the region, China.

If we join the yen bloc that Japan is building in the region, how exactly will it impact on, to use the colorful words of John Maynard Keynes, the "separate [trade] blocs and all the friction and loss of friendship they must bring with them?" It is a distinct possibility that rather than creating and expanding trade, JPEPA might just be diverting it toward Japan, to the detriment of our political friendship with other countries.

We must negotiate our bilateral trade agreements with extreme caution and not fool ourselves that by virtue of those agreements alone we are expanding the sphere of freedom in commerce. Mr Romulo's proposal for an inter-agency negotiating body is a big step toward the right direction, but free, fair and expanding trade can only be achieved by an inclusive process that will deliberate on exactly where our national trade--and political--interests lie.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Don't count on numbers

UP Professor Felipe Medalla during a colloquium organized by Foundation for Economic Freedom(FEF), a report of which event you can read here, was talking about how the growth statistics being bandied about by the government may not be real.

Medalla pointed out that that there is a persistent discrepancy between GDP figures on the one hand and figures for consumption, tax collection, investment, government spending and exports (i.e the components of GDP). He further noted that considering the country's historical record, if the official growth rates being churned out by the government were true we would have been experiencing high inflation and interest rates.

According to the disappointingly short write-up by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation of the event, Medalla concluded that the official statistics have become too, er, optimistic.

Optimistic? I think Prof Medalla minced his adjectives here. A forecast may be said to be opimistic alright, but a GDP, although an estimate in some aspects, is not a forecast and therefore the right adjective should have been unreliable, or spurious, or phony. Not optimistic.

Whenever a SONA is made by the president, so many people dispute the wonderland that she paints in her speech. A more substantial refutation of GMA's hallucinatory SONA could probably be had following Medalla's lead.

President Arroyo, through Garci, padded election tallies; she also solved the classroom shortage by a simple re-definition of what constitutes a shortage (and voila ! a classroom for every pupil). I think it would at least be funny to know she is pole-vaulting the country to First World status by the sheer strength of her imagination, which she probably got at (the aptly named) Assumption.