Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Kyle Baleva's way of Changing Lives

When we were young, we always wanted to change the world, become Batman,Robin or Wonder-woman and save the world. We wanted to be heroes. But as we grow old, we learn that the world is full of 'bad' guys and we could not do it immediately. We could not don the flashy suit pants and help everyone. We become cynics as we see the seniors doing what is not right. We could not even distinguish outright the Right from Wrong. There are many gray areas. We become enclosed with our own world and problems that we forget to extend our hands to others.
"Hindi ko nga makayang solbahin problema ko, sa kanila pa kaya." We shrug off the social ills that slowly eating the system, the morality of this country. We busied ourselves with our work, our family, within our little own circle..thinking that it is enough to live.

But as I was browsing Inquirer, an article about a boy in Holland raises €1,000 for RP orphans made me think again. There are still people who wanted to be heroes in their own ways.

Kyle Baleva is just 12 years old! His father was a victim of torture of the 17th Infantry Battalion. They were in Netherlands for exile. He heard stories from his parents about forced disappearances, torture and abduction perpetrated by the military. The stories inspired him to train for the hike and collect 0.20 euros per kilometer he could walk. He trained with his father by walking five kilometers every week-end and gradually increasing it to 10, 20 and 30 Kms per day for three consecutive days.

The money he collected was for the children who were orphaned after one or both parents are killed or kidnapped by the state perpetrators, i.e. military. We all know areas with military intensive operations also records high human rights violations. Our state's definition of "terrorist", "enemy" and "communist" is grayer and dirtier than the murky waters.

This is one of the most inspiring story I read after reading too much greed and corruption on the daily newspapers. This is something inspiring that uplift the spirit and erases my cynicism.

Happy thoughts! ('0')

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

National Artists' Controversy

As if the Hello Garci, ZTE-NBN and lately LE Cirque gluttony, are not enough, the current administration has yet again found itself in another controversy. As the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) said, the administration corrupted the very sacred selection process of the National Artist's Award.

I just watched the ANC Media in Focus “Corruption of Culture” and was aghast by Carlo J Caparas’ too much belief in his self and his so called “artistic ability.” Okay let’s make a short rewind at what really happened.

The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and the National Culture of the Arts (NCCA) are the government bodies assigned to make a list of nominees for the conferment of the National Artist. As Mr. Buthc Dalisay said, “ A National Artist Award is the highest recognition to be bestowed to any artist. He or She is the best of the best in his/her field.” And with the prestige and money involved with this award, a rigid selection process is undertaken. The two bodies made a list with 4 nominees on it:
1. Ramon Santos for his compositions
2. Manuel Urbano a.k.a Manuel Conde for Film and Broadcast
3. Lazaro Francisco for Literature
4. Federico Aguilar Alcuaz for Visual Arts, Painting, Sculpture and Mixed Media

These four lists were submitted to the President for conferment. But through her “presidential prerogative”, she slashed Ramon Santos and added four new names:

a. Jose "Pitoy" Moreno for Fashion Design
b. Francisco Manosa for Architecture
c. Cecilia Guidote- Alvarez for theater and
d. Carlo J. Caparas for visual arts and film

But the artistic community has uproar for this blatant abuse of power. While mourning for the death of Pres. Aquino, eight of the 14 living National Artists, namely: Benedicto Cabrera (Visual Arts), F. Sionil Jose (Literature), Salvador Bernal (Theater and Film), Bienvenido Lumbera (Literature), Arturo Luz (Visual Arts), Napoleon Abueva (Sculpture), Eddie Romero (Film and Broadcast Arts), and Virgilio Almario (Literature) together with other prominent artists like Jim Paredes, Armida Siguion- Reyna, Juana Change mourn for the death and corruption in the selection process. The uproar is with the two added nominees, Alvarez and Caparas. And most of all with PGMA’s so called Honor’s Committee who made the list for the 4 new awardees.

While the previous Presidents like Ramos and Estrada also have used their "presidential prerogative", it was the FIRST TIME that the president not only named One artist but FOUR who were not on the list given by CCP and NCCA and were selected because of her prerogative.

(Photo CRedit to Wig Tsymans)

ALVAREZ: Delicadeza

Cecilia Guidote- Alvarez is presidential adviser on culture and NCCA executive director. As the top officer of NCCA, one of the governing bodies selecting the nominees, she is not qualified to be nominated. The NCCC Guidelines says so.

Section 5. NCCA and CCP Board members and consultants and NCCA and CCP officers and staff are automatically disqualified from being nominated."
I don’t know if she was able to read this.

CARLO J. CAPARAS: Massacre and the Masa Divide

When he was interviewed, he back lashed to Celeste Legaspi’s remarked that he could not draw so he brought his drawings to show that he is indeed an illustrator. He keep on saying that the members of the selection committee are elitist and only chooses “sectoral artists”. He keep on saying that because he came from the “masa”/ “bakya crowd” the other National Artists are envious. Notable names of National Artists for Film are Lino Brocka, Ismhael Bernal and MIke De Leon. They are not "elitist"; they have produced classical movies that paved way for our country to known. Caparas known as the "Massacre King" for his gory movies said he deserve the award because the masses identified with him and was able to produce popular movies. I beg to disagree. Popularity is not only the point here. He keeps on telling again and again that popular consumption is the key for the honor. As the jokes keeps on circulating in the net say, if that is the category then Tito, Vic and Joey, Rene Requestas, even Hayden Kho for his famous sex flicks should be awarded!

(Photo Credit to Peachy Atilano )

The award is about advancing the prestige of our culture and the arts and serving as an inspiration for the generations. He did not pass the entire selection process and the person who conferred him do not have the credibility to do so. Caparas is an artists but he was not able to pass the second level of the screening process. He and Alvarez are known as political allies of the President. What the majority of the artists bemoan is using the National Artist's award as a political payback.

But lately as I reflected on this, I came to conclude that Pinoys are so beholden with prestige and titles. As one anthropologist aptly put it, Pinoys are CREDENTIALIST. Our society clamors for more awards than other societies do. We are very particular with titles added before our names like ATTY, DR. We wanted titles, degrees and fame even as much as giving way to delicadeza. Some people even lobbied for themselves or was awarded because of their connections. This clamor for identifying the “great”, the “star” is also like setting apart a certain group from the rest of the group. That’s stratification. That's propagating the idea of inequality. In creating this certain standard, we might also be limiting creativity of our artists.

Now I am even wondering, how about our labels such as "Diamond Star", "Star for All Seasons", "Megastar", "Comedy King", is this also a part of our being credentialists? (",)

Happy thoughts!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Katakawan sa Pagkain at sa Kapangyarihan

Kahapon lang, nabasa ko na ang kasalukuyang administrasyon ng bayang ito ay meron na namang kahihiyang ginawa. Sa kanyang pagbisita sa Estados Unidos, ay heto na naman ang ating dakilang pangulo kasama ng kanyang mga alagad na kumain ng hapunan sa Le Cirque, isang mamahaling French restaurant at ang binayad lang naman ay $20,000! Kung ikoconvert natin yan sa peso sa P48= $1, umaabot lang naman sa P960, 000.
Heto ang kanilang mga inorder:

- 11 botelya ng Krug champagne na tig-$510 bawat isa

- Osetra caviar na tig-$1,400 bawat five ounces

-“Chef’s Tasting Menu” ng wine na may kasamang pagkain na nagkakahalaga ng $4,500 na may 25 orders

-three-course “Chef’s Seasonal Menu” at $1,450 for 25 orders

- pampagana tulad ng lobster salad, burgundy escargot at soft shell crab tempura.

(Aba, ako'y naglalaway na habang nababasa ito. At nag-effort ako para icheck kung ano ba talaga yung mga pinagkakain nila.)

Ang New York Post pa ang naunang naglabas ng ganitong balita at sinabi pang sa kabila ng kahirapan sa bansa, nakuha pa ng Presidente na gumastos ng ganito kalaki. Ni hindi nga naibalita kung ano yung resulta ng kanilang byahe, kung matagumpay man ito o hindi. Pero nakita ang napakalaking kabulustugan, na habang nagugutom ang 2.7 M na mamamayang Pilipino (ayon ito sa napakahuling SWS survey) at patuloy na lumulubog sa utang, heto naman ang ating opisyales na nagpapakasaya. At isa lang daw iyong simpleng hapunan ha.

Kung ating matatandaan ilang beses ng hinabol-habol ng Pangulo si Barack Obama at sa wakas nga pagkatapos ng kanyang SONA, eh pinagmayabang niya na inimbitahan siya sa White House para makausap ang unang pangulo ng Estados Unidos. Piling pili ang entourage ng pangulo para dito. Grabe, kahit nga si Sen. Lapid, biglang nagkaroon ng interes sa pulitika. Humiling talaga siya ng personal sa Pangulo na sumama dahil gusto niyang makapagpiktyur kasama si Obama, na diumano ay kanyang idolo. Waw! At ang kapalit? Sinabi ni LApid na siya ang tatakbo na governor sa ikatlong distrito ng Pampanga para matapos na ang isyu sa pagtakbo ni GMA dun pagkatapos ng kanyang termino. Wtf! Isa kang linta talaga. Sa kasamaang palad di man lang nakapag-photo-op ang entourage kay Obama dahil napakabusy nito. Haha!

At heto nga, nagluluksa ang bayan sa pagpanaw ng dating Pangulong Cory Aquino, at nagmadali sa pag-uwi si Gloria. Ngunit bago yun eh syempre kailangan munang magdiwang sa “matagumpay” na state visit at saan ba dapat gawin iyon? Sa Le Cirque, isang napakasikat na French restaurant kung saan kumakain ang mga sikat na celebrities. Ika pa nga ni Sen. Miriam Santiago, “it’s a place where you want to see and be seen..”

Sinabi naman ng Press Secretary Cerge Remonde na exaggeration lang daw ang balita. Ang perang ibinayad ay hindi daw galing sa taong bayan. At isang Congressman diumano ang sumagot sa bayad. Noong una di niya pinangalanan kung sino yung mayamang Kongresistang iyon. Nung nagsipaglabasan na ang kritisimo, sinabi nilang si Rep. Martin Romualdez, (Leyte, 1st District) ang sumagot ng bayad.

Hindi daw yun pera ng taong bayan at binayaran nga ng malaking kaalyado ng Pangulo na si Rep. Romualdez. Iyon ay bilang selebrasyon lang daw ng anibersaryo ng kasal ng First Couple. Matanong ko nga kayo? Naniniwala pa kayo na hindi ito galing sa kaban ng bayan? Alam natin sa bawat paglabas sa bansa o any official trip ng opisyales na ito ay sandamakmak na salapi ang dala. Any perang nilalagay sa bawat opisina ng mga kongresista ay walang klarong auditing procedure. As long as pumirma ang kongresista, ay tama na. Ilang milyon ba ang kanilang pork barrel? Ilang beses ba nasosobrahan sa paggasta ang mga ito? Ang terminong “reimbursement” ay naiisip ko din. Gagawa at gagawa ng paraan ang ating butihing Rep. Romualdez para maibalik ang perang iyon.

At ang kinakagalit ko, dito ba napupunta ang buwis na relihiyosong inaawas sa mga guro at mga empleyado (kabilang na ako!) buwan-buwan? Isa na akong taxpayer at may karapatan akong malaman saan napupunta ang perang nakakaltas sa aking sahod. Minsan naisip ko nga, sa kabila-kabilang eskandalo at korupsyon sa administrasyong ito, pwede kayang hindi magbayad ng buwis bilang protesta? Yan ang ginawa ni Conrado de Quiros at naisip ko, pwede ko rin kayang gawin yun bilang protesta?

Note: Ang mga larawan ay nanggaling sa Google Images.

Extending CARP: Travails of Farmers Young and Old

I would like to share this feature story I wrote during the campaign for the extension and reform of CARP. It was published in the local paper, Sunstar-Davao.

The two faces of AR struggle. Lola Inday (L) and Mark, the oldest and the youngest marchers calling for the immediate enactment of HB 4077.

It was nine o’clock in the morning of Easter Sunday. Some 120 agrarian reform beneficiaries (ARB) from Davao Province alongside farmers from Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, Davao del Sur and Davao City busied themselves preparing food, banners and streamers to continue their march-rally that started on Holy Thursday (April 9). The farmers are members of Ugnayan ng mga Nagkakaisang Organisasyon sa Kanayunan (UNORKA)- Mindanao.

Wearing her tattered peach jacket, shirt and cardigan, 66-year old Manang Eleuteria (or Lola Inday) joined the marchers to support the call for the immediate enactment of House Bill (HB) 4077 that aims to extend and reform the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP). As she sat on the stairway of the now abandoned former DAR Regional office, Lola Inday started sharing snippets of her life and endless struggles that she and her family had gone through in claiming their right to land.

Asked if she can still bear another five-kilometer walk to the Congressional Office in Davao City, Lola Inday nodded and smiled. “Mas layo pa ani ang akong nalakaw kaniadto. Kaya pa nako mulakaw aron musuporta sa pagpalawig sa CARP (I have walked longer before. I can still walk further to support CARP extension).”

Like Lola Inday, hundreds of women and men ARBs, farmers and farmworkers braved the sweltering heat of the sun and made a Via Crucis or station of the cross during the Lenten Season to call on the legislators particularly House Speaker Prospero Nograles (also representative of Davao City first district) to finally decide on the pending HB 4077 that contains salient provisions for reforms of the two-decade old agrarian reform program. Completion of the remaining 1.3 million of undistributed lands, recognizing women as beneficiaries and increased budget for support services are just some of the provisions in HB 4077 that aims to correct the errors from the past implementation of the program. The creation of an Oversight Committee that would supervise the completion and program implementation is an equally important provision of the HB 4077.

Asked why CARP should be extended, she looked away in deep thought and replied, “Naay dili maayong kaagi parehas sa amoa nga human nahatag among lupa, padayon gihapon among pag-antos. Apan kung wala mi nagtugot nga paabangan among yuta sa plantasyon basig mas maayo unta among sitwasyon. Daghan pa ang wala naapud-apud nga yuta ug angayang humanon gyud nila ang programa (There are bad experiences like in our case where after the land was awarded to us, we continue to suffer. But if we did not venture into that agreement, we could be in better situation now. There are still many undistributed lands and they should finish the program).”

Neck-deep in Debt

Lola Inday and her husband Manong Floy used to work as banana workers in the 689-hectare Checkered Farms in Carmen, Alejal, Davao del Norte. Checkered Farms, alongside with Diamond Farms and Golden Farms are Filipino corporations formed through House of Investments (HOI). HOI is a joint venture between Stanfilco and Yuchengco Group of Rizal Commerical and Banking Corporation. Stanfilco, later on became a division of Dole Philippines (de Leon & Escobido, 2004).

In 1996, Lola Inday was head of the cooperative of the Checkered Farms when she joined other workers in the plantation to petition the Department of Agrarian Reform for redistribution of the three plantations – Diamond Farms, Golden Farms and Checkered Farms. They organized themselves into a cooperative, thus Checkered Farms Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Cooperative (CFARBEMCO) was born. “Ang pagpanag-iya sa yuta nga imong gitikad sa pipila ka tuig usa ka daku nga kalingkawasan (Owning the land you used to till for how many years is a good start),” Lola Inday said, holding the placard as the march-rally started. She thought that having a title to certify their ownership of the land was enough.

But she was wrong.

Their move to organize CFARBEMCO was supposedly supported by Dole. The coop was able to enter into contract growing agreement with the former plantation owners, covering the 689-hectare banana plantation. “Apan sa mga negosasyon nga mga ningsunod, dunay mga arrangement nga gusto nila ipasulod sa kontrata. (In the succeeding negotiations, there were provisions that they wanted to include in the contract). ”

The agreement was controversial since the former farmworkers entered into a venture wherein they had to grow the cavendish bananas and all the inputs such as seedlings, fertilizers would be supplied by the company. The company agreed to buy all their bananas; however the buying price would depend on the quality standards that the company also set. And when the market conditions for banana export changed, the company would use the ‘quality standard issue” and had the option to purchase small amount of their produce. They did not understand fully the details of the contract. The DAR, Lola Inday said, should have acted as mediator between the cooperative and the company and ensured that the provisions in the agreement would benefit the farmers.

Later on, the farmers learned that there were provisions of the contract that worked to their disadvantages. The prices of the input such as the pesticides were so expensive while the price for the bananas was already set regardless of the increase in the global demand. Prior to land distribution, they were required by the company to ratify the contract in exchange for their severance pay as their employment contracts ended, they being the new landowners.

The contract was deemed onerous. However, the agreement was approved and upheld by the DAR. “Wala sad mi kasabot unsaon pagcompute kanang mga gastos aron makita unta namo kung makaganansya ba mi o makakuha ba mi ug maayong presyo sa among produkto. (We didn’t understand the computation on expenses so that we could determine whether we were gaining profit or we were able to get good prices for our produce.),” said Lola Inday, shaking her head while following the crowd.

Lola Inday further shared that their cooperative incurred debts from the company due to various “additional expenses”, “production costs” and other complex computations beyond their knowledge and understanding on how those expenses came to being. Aside from the PhP148 daily wage they received from the company and the PhP3,700 annual lease rental, their families had no other sources of income.

When their contracts as farmworkers ended, she lost all their medical and other benefits.
Losing all her medical and other benefits, she joined others in a picket but was dispersed by the members of the 432nd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Armed Forces. Lola Inday distinctly remembered the exact date and time - December 21, 1997 at 4:30 in the morning. A hundred people from their ranks were hurt. “Grabe gyud ato ang among gibuhat, nagvigil mi aron ipakita among protesta sa maayong pamaagi apan gipadal-an mi ug sundalo. unsoan man namo, mga armado man sila. (It was a difficult situation, we had our vigil to show our protest through peaceful means but they sent soldiers to disperse us. We could do nothing, they were armed.) “

They filed a case against the company but a counter-suit was filed by the company against them for disturbance and noncompliance of their contract. She shuddered at the thought of that incident. It has been 12 years and all of her four children are now married. The debts they incurred and the cases filed remain unsolved.

Struggling for Land Still

Across Lola Inday was Mark (not his real name), sitting on his father’s lap while his mother packs rice for their lunch. As the march began, Mark held a streamer. Finding the streamer to high for him to hold, he requested to use the megaphone instead.

As the march progressed, 11-year old Mark shouted loud into the megaphone, “Repormang Agraryo Ipadayon (Continue Agrarian Reform)! Only in the fourth grade, he might have been the youngest farmer in the group, but he is already aware of how important his parents’ cause is for his future. “Si Nanay ug tatay magtrabaho aron mapakaon mi, mutanom sila pero dili pa man amoa ang yuta. Unta amoa na to kay si Lolo pa dati ang nagtikad ato. (My mother and father are working in order to feed us, they toil the land but we do not own it. It should be ours since even my grandfather had tilled the same land.)

His grandfather was a migrant from Visayas and had long been cultivating the land in Ising, Carmen since 1960s. He was illiterate and did not bother to apply for land title. When the government opened the area for plantation expansion during the 1960s, the multinational corporations were given rights to cultivate the area. Stanfilco, with its joint venture agreement with HOI, organized Golden Farms. Golden Farms reportedly did the groundwork for enticing the farmers to enter into contract growing agreements with Stanfilco in 1967. Their grandfather was enticed into signing the contract offered by Stanfilco but the buying arrangement was no different with that of Lola Inday’s case. The price for bananas was already set by the company. They also incurred debts that eventually forced them to give up their lands to the company sometime in 1978.

When the agrarian reform program was enacted during the Aquino administration in 1988, they rejoiced thinking that they could finally own the land. But the program has provisions that enabled these corporations to evade the program. For instance, the agricultural areas intended for commercial farming of export crops such as bananas and pineapples were given a ten-year deferment (Sec. 11, RA 6657) . Thus, distribution of the 464-hectare land covering Golden Farms became a struggle for Mark’s family and other farmworkers.

Traversing Quimpo Boulevard, San Pedro then Quirino Avenue, the marchers finally reached the Congressional Office of House Speaker Nograles. Mark shouted louder. Lola Inday held the placard higher.

The marchers arrived at Speaker Nograles’ Office but were snubbed by the House Speakers’ staff. Their petition was not received.

Their travails indeed never end yet Lola Inday, Mark, and the hundreds of agrarian reform beneficiaries who made the Via Crucis, remain certain that every action is a way closer in realizing their right to land.#

Note: There’s consent from Lola Inday and Mark’s parents to publish their story as well as their picture. J

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Eulogies, Amnesia and Collective Action

The last five days is a big loss for the nation. Former President Aquino died. The whole nation went to grieve. But I confess, when I heard the news, I was indifferent. And today, I am so glad Emman was able to articulate my sentiments on his article published in PDI.

First, I could not really identify with EDSA I. It was not my generation's revolution. When my history teachers talk about EDSA, yellow colors, black and white pictures of nuns, priests and people from different sectors in human chain confronting the army are the images that conjured on my mind.

After Ninoy's assassination, she was asked by the opposition to run against the dictator. One million signatures (even more!) were gathered show the people's clamor for her give in and run during the snap election . A simple house wife that was catapulted to power by a peaceful revolution. Philippines became known and we added a new world's vocabulary- People Power.

It was a good start, a revolutionary government in transition for a better change. But instead of taking that chance to rebuild the nation, she made major mistakes.
1: She honored all debts incurred by Marcos up to the last centavo;
2. Mendiola Massacre; and
3. Luista Hacienda.

Due to her so called palabra de honor, she upheld onerous debts that Marcos incurred during his 20-year reign and made my generation until the next generation pay for it. And we have been spending billions of pesos with automatic debt servicing or payment of our debts from our yearly budget. Just this year, we have paid P14 Billion and it is just the interest!

I only witnessed EDSA I thru documentaries and accounts but Luisita Hacienda is another case. I remembered vividly the time we have a rally, signature campaign and raised funds for the farmers. Just when she could have initiated the land reform program, her family owned sugarland Hacienda Luisita was spared.
When she ran on 1986, she [promised the nation with this:

The two essential goals of land reform are greater productivity and equitable sharing of the benefits and ownership of the land. These two goals can conflict with each other. But together we will seek viable systems of land reform suited to the particular exigencies dictated not only by the quality of soil, the nature of the produce, and the agricultural inputs demanded, but above all by the needs of the small farmers, landless workers, and communities of tribal Filipinos whose lives and whose personal dignity depend on their just share in the abundance of the land.”

“You will probably ask me: Will I also apply it to my family’s Hacienda Luisita? My answer is yes, although sugarland is not covered by the land reform law, I shall sit down with my family and explore how the twin goals of maximum productivity and dispersal of ownership can be exemplified for the rest of the nation in Hacienda Luisita.

It was a premeditated action wherein loopholes of the law like the stock distribution Option (SDO)were added to ensure the ruling class' hold to land. Agrarian reform is a land distribution program but SDO is one dubious provision, a non-land transfer scheme for haciendas wherein shares of stocks are distributed instead of subdividing the hacienda and distributing the land to small farmers. Hacienda Luisita is a classic case of this bigotry.

The farmers as "part-owners" also keep on tilling the land, thinking in the end, collectively they will have a share on the produce of the land. But lo and behold, with all "managerial expenses", "losses", they only earn P15! The farmers formed union but was divided through buy-off and when they held a picket, they were dispersed violently.

This is in resonance of the Mendiola Massacre. The farmers who marched to Malacanang were dispersed and thirteen were killed.

These are the great errors of her time that should not be put into oblivion.

But when I saw the televised funeral march for her, I was amazed and awed. I would like to attribute it to media's glitz and people's collective memory loss. But when the common tao- drivers, security guards, manang labandera, middle class, waited patiently along side the road just to have a glimpse of her body amidst the unpredictable weather, I thought "SHE IS something!"

Then it dawned on me. The people are grieving of a loss of an icon of democracy. The people identified with her as the beacon who led the country and stop the dictator. She is also a person who did not cling to power unlike her predecessors (Ramos and GMA in particular)who wanted to change the Constitution Cory's administration drafted just to play with the president's term and change of government. She is not afraid to speak out her mind; she led the protests in GMA's corrupt government; she knows how to say sorry and be sincere about it. She is in a huge contrast to the next female president who was also catapulted to power by People Power.

Cory, is indeed a symbol of people's longing for change, for democracy and truth.Despite her weakness, she remains a political force to reckon with. Her funeral is not only about her death, it is the people's rage of the slow death of what the people hold dear-- democracy.

And as the nation collectively grieves, I do hope this time will also be used to reflect on our history,the unsung heroes and victims of the past and making the perpetrators accountable It is a time for renewal of aspirations for social change. This is the time to move on.

(I long for the time that we can proudly wave our flags again, to stood up and be proud as a nation.)

Photo credits to Rocky Chan.

Uyanguren and Korean Invasion

Yesterday, I went to Uyanguren to shop. Uyanguren is Davao City’s commercial hub. It’s like Davao’s version of Chinatown in Binondo, Manila. The place is an interesting landscape, and a hodge-podge of cultures and nationalities.

I observed that it is somewhat divided geographically albeit not so clear demarcation. On Lizada St. area, it is occupied usually by Maranao entrepreneurs venturing into Ukay-ukay business. If you want cheap finds of used clothing and bags, you can check the area. Along Governor Sales St. is the Chinese nationals domain. Along the Uyanguren avenue till the Magsaysay Avenue, on the other hand, is a mixture of Korean and Chinese. My favorite place to shop is DCLA Mall. It is full of stalls teeming cheap Chinese products from accessories, clothes, shoes, slippers, and house wares. It is a cornucopia for Korean businessmen and women who capitalize on Pinoy’s thrill for cheap fashion.

The busy street of Uyanguren

The colorful clothing and textiles sold at its stalls. Photo credit to Kitoy Bacongco.

I discovered the place when I was looking for gifts for relatives. I remembered those Korean proprietors. A “head sales lady” who is quite fluent with English will be the one who would converse or negotiate with the owner. A year after, I was amazed by the Koreans fluency of tagalong language. Every stall owner are now fluent and quite good with conversational tagalog. Blame it to Boys over Flowers and Korea’s economic boom. And it makes me think. They are here to stay, longer or even forever. And let me prophesize, as the new ‘Chinese”, they would surely conquer the business industry.

Refurbished blog

It’s been a while since my last post here. And now, I’m back. I refurbished the lay-out and look of this blog. Thanks for the template of Gisele Jaquenod.

I changed as well as the title and possibly the upcoming content of this blog. When I started this writing cyberspace, I wanted it to be a space for development issues affecting Mindanao. A fresh graduate and a neophyte in the non-government organization’s work, I long to show the “other stories”, or Backstories-- stories that were not usually given attention in the mainstream media especially about Mindanao. What do we read about Mindanao? Bombs, bombs and bombs! We only see the limelight when there is a blast in Cotabato, Sulu or Tawi-Tawi or the worsening poverty here despite the richness of the island.

Mindanao is always the “promised land”, “the food basket” yet majority of the population will yet have to see this. The island has always been the provider of export crops, agricultural produce to feed the country. Aside from these, we are home of plantations and mining activities. The government would say this if for “development”. But is it? And as “development worker” slash NGO worker, what’s my take on this?

Actually, I am uncomfortable with the tag “development worker”. The notion of working for “development” is something that is quite ideal, but also problematic. The very essence of “development” after all, is something that is very relative and vague. What is “development” for me might not be the kind of “development” the indigenous from Mt. Apo thinks. Who decides for “development”? I always quote unquote development because of its relativity.

As I am journeying on and continuing my learning with different spectrum of ideological battle, clashing personalities, I am also having my personal journey. What’s happening to my personal life affects my thoughts and as how I see the world.

So I decided from now on, this space would be a space for all narratives that I encounter.

Happy thoughts!


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