Saturday, September 29, 2007

Racism and the invention of corruption

The outspoken Senator Santiago, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign relations, is not known for taking back her words, but she found herself in a rare embarrassing situation when in an emotional outburst during the Senate investigation on the controversial ZTE broadband deal she blurted out that the "Intsik" invented civilization and are also the inventors of corruption. "China invented civilization in the East, but as well it invented corruption for all of human civilization," the senator said.

She has immediately retracted her statements, but the Chinese embassy and the Federation of Filipino-Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry Inc. did not let the racial slur go uncommented. Senator Santiago, in her defense, claimed she would never malign the Chinese because, in fact, she is an admirer of their civilization and that her husband is half-Chinese. She said she was also recently diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome.

This is the problem with the anomalous ZTE deal. It is bringing to the fore the hitherto latent anti-Chinese sentiment of Filipinos. Just a few more nudges here and there and we might have full-blown China-bashing, with Chinese-Filipinos browbeaten for being ethnically associated with Mainland Chinese.

The problem, however, with this, as Dean Pangalangan writes here, is that Filipinos are racists at home, but are at the receiving end of racism abroad. Since a huge number of Filipinos are now migrating abroad to look for work, the forces of karma are now operating as they encounter Western prejudice and discrimination firsthand.

Filipinos like to think of themselves as cosmopolitan, relatively sophisticated and living in an open, non-discriminatory society. They are quick to deny that they too are purveyors of discrimination, but yes, they, we, all are. Only that in the Philippines the victims of that discrimination and prejudice are the indigenous peoples, the Muslim in Mindanao, the occasional black tourists and yes the "Intsik beho."

GMA is looking for envi TV host

GMA7 Public Affairs is currently looking for a host for its new program which will seek to promote environmental awareness. Interested applicants should be:

For Male Host:

Good-looking with good body built
At least 5'7 in height
18-30 years old
A nature-lover
An animal lover
An environment advocate
Has wide experience exploring/saving the environment
Smart and opinionated
Has excellent communication skills in both English and Tagalog

For Female Host:

Physically fit
At least 5'2 in height
18-27 years old
A nature-lover
An animal lover
An environment advocate
Has wide experience exploring/saving the environment
Smart and opinionated
Has excellent communication skills in both English and Tagalog

If you think you got what it takes, kindly e-mail a comprehensive resume (and state your environment related experiences) with at least three photos (close-up and whole body) at Qualified applicants will be privately called for an audition. Submission ends on October 5, 2007.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Waiting for people power in Burma

After twenty long years, there's again a people power movement to oust the repressive military junta in Burma.

These are highly emotional times in Burma. Triggered by rising fuel costs, monks for the past days have been marching, calling for an end to military rule, which has isolated the country and depressed the local economy. The leading opposition leader, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, is still under house arrest, but is now reported to have been moved by the military out of her house and transferred to prison.

The military has also started to attack the monks with tear gas. Many people around the world fear that soon the military will start shooting them, as it did in 1988.

Filipino friends of the Burmese people, led by the Free Burma Coalition, are planning to join the Burmese people in protests. Here are the tentative dates, hope you could join any one of them:

*Friday, September 28 *- solidarity picket in front of Burma Embassy at
10:30 am sponsored by Partido ng Manggagawa (PM)

*Saturday, September 29* - solidarity activity at the Quezon Memorial
Circle - 8888 faces for a free Burma photo campaign booth (to be
confirmed) sponsored by IID and FBC

*Monday, October 1* - solidarity picket in front of Burma Embassy at
10:30 am sponsored by Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP)

*Tuesday or Wednesday, October 2 or 3* - solidarity picket in front of
Burma Embassy at 10:30 am sponsored by Alliance of Progressive Labor
(APL) - final date to be confirmed

*Tuesday or Wednesday, October 2 or 3 *- solidarity picket in front of
Burma Embassy at 10:30 am sponsored by Akbayan Citizen's Action Party
(AKBAYAN) - final date to be confirmed

(some of the pickets may be staged at China Embassy or DFA.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

If voting were held today, JPEPA would be junked

The Daily Manila Shimbun, the Philippine Daily Inquirer,and GMA 7 report on the rather disastrous turn of events for the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) when it defended the JPEPA during the first hearing for the agreement's ratification in the Philippine Senate.

In separate media interviews after the hearing, Senators Enrile,Defensor-Santiago, Roxas said that the government was unable to make a sound defense of the JPEPA. Senator Roxas was "underwhelmed." The Junk JPEPA Coalition was more prepared than the government officials, according to Senator Defensor-Santiago. This was despite the fact that there was a full ensemble of top government officials defending the JPEPA (Secretary Favila, Usec Aquino, Secretary Gary Teves,etc)versus only one from the Magkaisa Junk JPEPA COalition: Atty Golda Benjamin of the alternative legal group IDEALS.Senator Enrile said that the pro-JPEPA panel was resorting to scare tactics to bully the senators to vote for JPEPA, the agreement's merits being incomprehensible to ordinary Filipinos.

Also, the invited Japanese panelist, the VP of the Japanese chamber of commerce, did not help the case of the pro-JPEPA panel, with senators pouncing on his casual remark that the Philippines "does not have a good image" in Japan. Senators Gordon and Enrile asked if JPEPA will improve that image and bring in the investments from Japan.

You can see the report of GMA 7 below:

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Philippine security and Chinese ZTE Broadband

There are many compelling reasons why the ZTE Broadband project should be scrapped; today's Manila Times editorial outlines most of them. But what is never mentioned is that the project, which will build the Philippine backbone for multi-media interconnectivity among government offices, might endanger Philippine national security by potentially allowing China unfettered access to government information.

China is indeed interested in information. Recently, there were reports that the government and military networks of Germany, Britain, and the United States sustained cyber attacks by Chinese hackers testing information technology defenses. Now, there's this news saying that France sustained similar cyber attacks from China. The attacks targeted the French defense ministry's public Internet site.

What was the purpose of such attacks? Critics say motives for such hacking include stealing of secrets or confidential technology, probing for system weaknesses and placing hidden viruses that could be activated in a conflict.

So far, no official complaint has been made to China for those attacks. The governments concerned are only saying the the attacks can be traced back to China, but not necessarily to the People's Liberation Army.

US State Department officials believe that that every telecommunications company in China is linked to the Ministry of Post and Communications and/or the military. There is, therefore, a distinct possibility that China could be bugging our proposed ZTE broadband network, wiring our government offices directly to Chinese intelligence. The ZTE broadband scandal may not solely be about who got how much bribes. Perhaps the stratospheric bribe offers from ZTE could be explained by the fact that China has political and strategic interests in the completion of the project.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Full circle for Chairman Abalos

If Chairman Abalos does not resign, he may very well be impeached. And it seems he has no intention of resigning because he's digging in and declaring a position of absolute innocence.

Iloilo Vice Governor Rolex Suplico will be filing an impeachment complaint against Chairman Abalos next week and, despite this report that claims the Speaker will not use his clout to promote the impeachment complaint, one can not reasonably expect the Speaker to block Abalos's impeachment with the same energy and stamina he blocked the impeachment complaint against President Arroyo since his own son is an aggrieved party in this deal. When someone is implying your son is a liar, it's hard to be totally neutral. Blood, after all, is thicker than anything.

The knives are out. The people who failed to get Chairman Abalos for the Mega Pacific deal are probably lining up to get him this time. And the stars are starting to align against him: the business groups calling for his resignation, Church members calling for Neri to testify "to save his soul," allegations of sexual marathon with nubile Chinese women, and, in an interview today on the radio, a distressed Abalos complaining that his wife and children are being ostracized by their peers.

All this is bad for the Philippines and also bad for China. First, there was the contaminated White Rabbit. Second, there's the perception China's taking over some of Philippine agricultural land. Now, a Chinese company is corrupting our government, offering scandalously high bribes for a project that has an indefensible rationale.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Sa pintig ng cursor, ideolohiya

From Richard Ernacio of the Tinig yahoogroup:

Inaanyayahan kayo ng LIKHAAN: UP institusyon ng malikhaing pagsulat (UP ICW) na dumalo sa "lecture" ni Dr. ROLAND TOLENTINO na pinamagatang "SA PINTIG NG CURSOR, IDEOLOHIYA)" na gaganapin sa SEPT. 14 (BIYERNES), 2:30 pm sa VARGAS MUSEUM. ITO AY WALANG BAYAD

Si dr. tolentino ay kasalukuyang guro sa UP Film Institute at associate sa fiction ng UP ICW.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

A salve to one's solitude

The sad death of another student desiring of acceptance to a fraternity has reminded me once again how despite all the affectations we may assume, in spite of all the sophistication we from time to time want to convey to the world, we are all, deep inside, just a solitary people needing the warmth of other people's friendship.

How else would you explain the deep aspiration for a seemingly intelligent young man to subject himself to physical torture just to belong to a clique he can call his own?

Aristotle wrote that a man who doesn't need the companionship of other people, who doesn't feel the need to join the polis, is either a god or a beast. Yet, irony of ironies, the ideal good life outlined by Aristotle in the Nicomachean Ethics, is one that is meditative, a solitary pursuit.

How does one join other people in various human pursuits and still retain the space to privately pursue a meditative life? If you pursue the warmth of human companionship, you, surely at one point, are bound to be disappointed, even brutally hurt and disillusioned. Friends betray each other, lovers part for newfound love, an apprentice trumps his master, a UP pledge sometimes get beaten to death all in the hope of human friendship and fraternity.

Really, what is the value of a human relationship attained thus? It must needs be better to be a hungry wolf that hunts the world in solitude. You may not be Aristotle's solitary god, but a troglodytic beast will survive in the wild best.