Achieving Happiness

November 21, 2007

Lies of the Arroyo government and the AFP

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 7:53 am

Happy news first: Teddy and Ruth’s second son Emilio Rafael was born 1:31 am last night via C-section after two days of induced labor. The proud papa says he’s steeling himself to replace Ruth in the hospital: he thinks he might get a heart attack when the final hospital bill is tallied. Congrats Ruth and Ted!

Please check out Walkie’s Friendster account – she has embedded a video tribute for her dad Engr. Manuel Mirana Sr.who passed away two months ago. It’s a real labor of love. He was much loved, especially by his second daughter, his middle child. The video is something Walkie worked really hard to produce with the help of Karl Ramirez,  creative geek extraordinaire.  She was really proud of her dad and his legacy to his family.

I wish I had thought of doing the same thing — putting together a video tribute- when my own dad died in 2003. I still miss my father deeply, and the pain never goes away or lessens. One can only get stronger, because the pain never relents.

The World Bank has stopped the release of multi-million infrastructure loans to the Philippines because of the widespread corruption in the country. Gad, ngayon lang napansin ng WB?!

But it’s not like loans from international multilateral finance agencies like the WB genuinely benefit the Philippines or the people. These loans are not utilized to establish industries that will strengthen and develop the economic foundations of the country. All foreign loans have strings attached to them, or rather steel ropes, that bind the Philippines to the donor country in a slave-master relationship. Sa taas pa lang ng interest at bigat ng mga nakakabit na loan preconditions, the country’s sunk. The Philippines has had a long history of financial borrowing from foreign donors and where did it all lead? Nowhere. We are still as backward as ever. And we haven’t even factored in the systemic level of corruption in the Philippine government.

One must have faith and trust in the government before one can rest easy as a citizen.

Gad, this has yet to happen; and I doubt that it will happen any time soon.

In the last month, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Task Force Usig have been coming out with statements to the media about how a large number of the cases of extrajudicial killings of activists and human rights advocates have not been been perpetrated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and paramilitary groups. They even try to pass off a certain number of cases as the doings of forces of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and its own forces.

These allegations are so very difficult to swallow given the victims, how they were killed, the statements of witnesses and other circumstances surrounding the case.

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November 20, 2007

Throw-up stories

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 8:15 am

So I’ve been throwing up intermittently for the last week. This is hardly the thing I thought Inausea.gif‘d be writing about, but heck.
I don’t want this blog to be a Baby Blog, and it’s good that I’m not the mushy-for-motherhood type so I won’t be waxing rhapsodic about pregnancy any time soon. I’m a happy but worried pregnant woman, and I really want Egg to stay inside till he/she’s supposed to come out, but right now I really am not enjoying the experience of throwing up at various sights and smells. It’s weird knowing that I could be sensitive this way.

My mom says I should surround myself with beautiful things. Gad, I should go to Europe then and stay inside a museum or an old church. Otherwise I’m stuck here, making the daily commute in the polluted streets of Quezon City and always getting my heart stuck in my throat every morning when the jeepneys race each other through Commonwealth Avenue. In my head I’m talking to Egg and telling Egg that if Nanay had her way, we’d pack up and live in Baguio where we could walk everywhere and the pollution is not as bad. Beautiful, to me, is breathing clean air and vehicles not being driven like crazed beasts in the main roads.

Kim and I were at home when the bomb went off at the Batasan Complex last November 7. We heard the explosion, and at first we thought it was some sound effect that was part of the cheesy tv show we were watching at the time (Zaido, if you really must now), but it was too loud. Then the newsreport came in, and it was then that we started to worry.

Fast forward to what’s happening now. Gad, does the government think Filipinos are idiots? Are we a nation of fools? A bomb goes off on the 7th, the following day the police are rounding up suspects and lo an behold, they also find various incriminating materials in the supposed hide-out of the supposed perpetrators!

If I bombed a building, I’d make sure that I was a million miles away from the scene of the crime immediately after. And I as sure as hell wouldn’t keep with me material that would make me a suspect like license registration papers, license plates, or a t-shirt printed with the seal of the place I bombed.

Gad. Four people are dead including activist Marcial ‘Tatay Tibong’ Dumapias Taldo, and the government has hatched a cock and bull story about how the attack was the doing of Muslim extremists whom the police caught right next door in a nearby community.

Every time I throw up, it’s partly symbolic: I’m regurgitating all the lies the PNP and Malacanang are trying to force into my head.

mcleans-volcanic-liniment-2.jpgRight now I can feel my body telling me to slow down, lie down and sleep. I’ve yawned at least ten times in the last hour, and I’m sniffing liniment to keep awake and fight down the small waves of nausea. I can’t drink tea or coffee because I’m paranoid about what their effects on Egg might be. I wish I could just eat and eat so Egg would get everything he/she needs, but I’ve become a wee bit pickier than usual and I can’t stand even the thought of certain food.

I don’t know if it has anything to do with being preggers, but I’ve become disinterested about the daily political developments. Maybe it’s my brain and heart adjusting themselves to take in less stressful information.

What I’ve been monitoring the last couple of days is the controversy involving Carlene Aguilar, Cristine Reyes and Dennis Trillo. I was able t catch Carlene on The Buzz last Sunday night, and she looked and sounded intelligent and sensible. One telling sign that she wasn’t stupid was how she didn’t once invoked God’s name to show that she was being sincere or that she was telling the truth (“Alam ng diyos na hindi ako nagsisinungaling” or “Kung diyos nga nagpapatawad, ako pa!” go the usual showbiz lines that make the hair on my neck stand up – kilabutan talaga).

Anyways, I think Dennis Trillo is a heel and his armpits should be pricked by heated forks. Pinagsasabong niya ang dalawang babae one of whom was his girlfriend of five years and the mother of his newborn son. This is pathetic news, but gad, it has made the headlines of several tabloids and the major tv networks have alloted at hours of airtime to the freaking issue.

I think Egg is taking away some of my IQ points because suddenly I’m making opinions about showbiz people and talking about them with close friends (like Walkie last night. Naaliw naman yata siya).

November 16, 2007

Egg

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 6:04 am

So two lines appeared and immediately there was mayhem.

Well, at least as much mayhem as two people can make.

We call him/her “Egg” now, our three week-old, uh, egg. We talk to Egg every chance we get and whisper that he/she should stay put and wait for nine months before coming out. Of course by then Egg won’t be an egg anymore but a baBaby!by, and we will do everything within our extraordinary yet limited powers to make sure that he/she is healthy, smart and compassionate. He/she will be a reading and math baby; and he/she will be the combination of his/her parents’ best aspects and hopefully without their worst.

Right now both Egg’s parents are desperate to keep him/her intact, to make sure that Egg gets all the vitamins and protein he/she needs to form limbs and organs and skin and a wholly healthy and functional immune , digestive and respiratory systems.

We’ve waited for Egg for so long and we don’t want to lose him/her. We want to be able to see and hug and kiss and play with Egg and take Egg to the ballet or to doughnut store and hear Egg squeal with delight at her/his first taste of chocolate.

For most people I suppose pregnancy is not such a big deal -nothing to fret or worry about, but I’m a born worrier, and fretting is something I do quite expertly. I’ve stopped drinking cola, have started eating vegetables, and I take vitamins and folate capsules religiously. I drink at least two glasses of milk everyday, and I sleep whenever my body tells me to. I’ve been getting advice left and right, and it’s all good, but when I think about it it’s all pretty funny because Egg is still just an Egg, but friends are already telling me where I should enroll him/her for kindergarten to make sure that he/she gets a good headstart towards a brilliant college education.

Right now I only think of one thing for Egg: that he/she be completely healthy, whole and normal. Whatever greatness or talent or even giftedness she/might might possess is still a long way off – she/he has to be breathe first, and I do so want her/him to breathe!

Elias whom I’ve known for 15 years only last week told me that children born at this day and age are so unfortunate because they’re inheriting a world that’s so bereft of justice, where to eat at McDonald’s is considered a treat.

Most days I can’t help but agree. I think about how children die from the simplest diseases, or from starvation and malnutrition, and how among all of the worlds’ victims, children comprise the greatest number because they are so helpless and powerless, unable to speak for themselves, defend their rights, demand what they need.

This an article I wrote for a publication, and reading the materials was painful:

In late 2006, the representatives of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process, the GRP Panel, the GRP Monitoring Committee, the Philippine National Police/Task Force Usig; the Inter-Agency Legal Action Group (IALAG) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) formed a technical working group (TWG) “to clean up the different lists of incidents/cases of alleged political killings submitted by different groups for possible similarities, discrepancies, double count or inaccuracies.”

The TWG came out with a report  “to assist the Government in reading the “temperature” and address the situation on the ground, and provide inputs for an intelligible response to the local and international public regarding allegations against the State.”  The compilation of the report entailed  analyzing and deconstructing the complaints human rights organizations filed with the Joint Monitoring Committee against the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP), as well as the comprehensive list of the said HR groups of extrajudicial killings and abductions they charge to GRP Forces.

Included in the TWG’s report on the extrajudicial killings are 10 cases of  political killings involving 12 children and minors as victims,  all of  which  have been filed against the GRP: the Blanco children John Kevin (3), Dexter Blanco (1 and ½), and the then unborn baby (eight months), killed July 21, 2005; Mary Jane Jimelo (9), killed May 8, 2001; Nina Angela Apolinar (9), killed May 20, 2002; Bernie Ani (15), Mylene (11), and Raymond (4) Golloso, killed July 23, 2003; Joey Santos (15), killed January 29, 2004; Aldassir Padiwan (10), killed January 2, 2005; Dante Salgado (17), killed January 31, 2006; Amante Abelon Jr. (5), killed March 20, 2006; and Wilmer Masimid (3), killed April 25, 2003.

The TWG made the recommendation that the deaths of the children should be investigated so it can be determined   “if the children died in crossfire during military/police operations, massacres, direct assaults/killings, or were child combatants who participated in an encounter.” The fact that the TWG even dared to imply that the children were possible combatants and hence legitimate targets of GRP forces exposes an inherently malicious political agenda: that of deflecting blame that is rightfully directed against the GRP.

 The TWG, however, fails to accomplish this. Closer scrutiny of the cases reveal common circumstances that all contribute to establish the accountability of the GRP’s armed forces and to reveal a comprehensive campaign directed against political activists, sympathizers, and members and officials  of progressive party-list groups. The TWG also failed in its attempt to justify the killings as the result of military encounters; or to clear the military from accountability.

 The process the TWG utilized to select the 10 specific cases of political killings  of children and minors is not immediately apparent, but it appears that the cases were chosen randomly. At closer analysis of the report, however, it becomes obvious that the TWG had no intention of shedding light into the cases but instead do the opposite: obfuscate the truth and lay the grounds for conclusions that are unfounded, unjustified, and malicious.

 Concretely, the TWG made the barest and most inaccurate mention of the circumstances that led to the death of the children. It based its observations and conclusions on the complaints against the GRP, but deliberately or not, the TWG  reported certain inaccuracies on the hand (such as mistakes in the ages of the children victims), and neglecting to report that besides the children who were killed, the cases also involved other children and minors who survived (such as the cases involving Bernie; the Golloso children; Aldassir and Dante).  

 For instance, the TWG states that the three-year old Amante Jr. ‘died with his family when some armed men fired at them in Castillejos, Zambales.’  The fact that Amante Jr was shot once in the head and died helpless in the embrace of his mother who was also shot once in the head was not mentioned. The alleged intelligence agents shot and killed Amante Jr. when they failed their main objective to kill the father – they vented their frustration on the little boy. 

 The eight-year old Nina, according to the TWG, ‘died with her family in a mass killing.’ The TWG did not use the more apt term ‘massacre’ nor did it describe the brutality of the attack that killed Nina and her family wherein the perpetrators fired at least 53 M-16 bullets (based on the shells found surrounding the house).

 Neither did the TWG include the detail that 10-year old Aldassir was shot in the torso, and when he died while in the custody of his and his parents’ killers, the soldiers threw his  body out of the moving truck like a bag of garbage. Aldassir’s younger brother, eight-year old Almujayyal  whom the soldiers also took with them even heard one of the soldiers declare his brother dead (“Nagdaran pa in truck kiyaruk siya sin sundalu daing ha truck, miyatay na kunu”).

 While the TWG reported that nine-year old Mary Jane was raped and killed, it did not mention that the little girl was found stuffed in a sack and that her small body bore marks of strangulation and possible drowning.

 In the meantime, the TWG did not give the least consideration for the testimonies of witnesses in the killings. It disregarded the written and signed accounts of the witnesses including the parents of the children killed wherein they directly attributed the deaths to the military, citing specific names and battalion units.

 In the case of the Golloso children, the leadership of the barangay where the fatal shooting took place submitted an affidavit belying the assertion of the 2nd IBPA and CAFGU unit under the command of Col. Romeo Cabatic that the children were killed in an encounter between the soldiers and some other armed group.  Eleven barangay officials and 42 residents signed the affidavit.

 As for the 15-year old Aeta boy Joey, he was charged of being a member of ‘a rebel group’ and killed by the 69th IBPA led by Col. Herbert Yambing. This information the TWG included but not the fact that Joey’s own employer  submitted a signed affidavit stating that the boy tended carabaos and sold tomatoes for him and that on the day Joey was killed, he had asked permission to go and play basketball with other Aeta children in a nearby community.

 The  TWG also did not cite the fact that the families of the victims and the human rights groups who helped them file complaints went not only to the JMC but also to  the Commission on Human Rights and the courts. 

 It’s also noticeable how the TWG attempted to clear the AFP from criminal liability for the killings by insinuating in certain cases that the children were either combatants or were in the custody or company of  rebel groups to justify their killing.

 The 17-year old Dante was resting with other bamboo cutters inside a house when they were startled awake at 4:00 am by a loud burst of gunfire. Soon after at 7:00 am, Dante and his cousin Alan, 18, left to buy food for their breakfast. Then there was another round of gunfire which sent the workers running for cover. At 12:00 noon, four soldiers came and ordered those in the house to come out. The soldiers asked if any of their companions was missing and when they answered in the affirmative, they produced Allan. The soldiers left taking the boy with them. The next day both Allan and Dante were found by their relatives in a funeral parlor. Witnesses say the two boys were last seen alive while under the custody of elements of the 71st IBPA, but that the soldiers charged the two boys of being with the rebels.

 The three-year old Wilmer was playing inside the house of his paternal grandmother when the soldiers came and shot him. They also shot his father William who was resting in an upstairs room. William was accused of being a member of the NPA

 In summary, there are more important points that expose the 10 cases of political killings of minors and children  as directly perpetrated by the military or paramilitary such as the CAFGU, or,  at least, as a consequence of the GRP’s military campaign against political activists.

 First, the children in the 10 cases of political killings of children and minors were killed either in their own homes, their area of employment, or in the presence or company of their own parents.

 Second, they were killed while in the middle of activities that could hardly be categorized as actively hostile or military in character, for instance, Aldassir was sleeping, and so were Bernie and Nina; Joey was heading off to play basketball, Dante was buying food; Amante Jr was riding a motorcycle sandwiched between his mother and father, and the Blanco children were preparing to leave with their parents to go to the clinic because their mother was scheduled to give birth.

 Third, all the witnesses and direct eye-witnesses point to the military, paramilitary or intelligence agents as perpetrators who carried out the killings with complete impunity.

 Fourth, the victims either had parents who were activists (Nina’s  father and mother were affiliated with Bayan Muna and Gabriela respectively; Amante’s father Amante Sr. was with Anakpawis and vice-president of the Alyansa ng Magsasaka sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL); in the military’s Order of Battle (Wilmer’s father William was in the OB; Bernie’s father Ernesto was a barangay chairman who was accused of being an NPA sympathizer); or the victims themselves were ordinary civilians accused of being NPA members (Joey and Dante).

 Fifth, the killings were conducted in varying hours of the day, regardless of whether there were witnesses or that the killings were conducted in public. All this denotes impunity.

 All in all, the brutal execution of these children are all-too consistent with the GRP’s counterinsurgency programs including  Oplan Bantay Laya (Operation Freedom Watch), which the TWG report makes no mention of.  The GRP and its agencies deliberately hype the distorted concept of “child soldiers” and accuse the children it victimized and whose lives it destroyed of being armed and therefore legitimate combatants as a malicious means to  divert the attention from the true violators of children’s and human rights: the GRP and its armed forces. This twisted accusation that there are “child soldiers” in the Philippines all the more exposes children violence renders them vulnerable to the most vicious of human rights violations.

 The cases of extrajudicial killings of children filed against the GRP and included in the TWG report make up only a part of the hundreds of cases of children victims of human rights violations since Pres. Arroyo came into power in 2001. There are 54 cases (49 of which are well-documented) of children killed by the military during operations. Up to now, no justice has been given to these children and their families.

 Since Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo came to power, there has been a steep rise in the number of cases of children victimized by the GRP’s military operations. The GRP asserts that it upholds human rights, but the facts speak for themselves and sharply contradict this lie. 

 These recorded violations are proof that children are not spared by the all-out war the GRP wages against the Filipino people. The children of political activists and human rights workers fallen victim to extrajudicial killings are orphaned, their young lives marred and damaged by the experience of losing their parents to state violence. As for the child victims of extrajudicial killings themselves, their brutal killing at the hands of the military prove the extent of the AFP’s impunity is—not even the most innocent are spared.

 Upholding children’s rights necessitates much broader participation that goes beyond monitoring and reporting of human rights abuses. There must be a determined effort to prosecute offenders. This is precisely what the GRP has been deliberately hindering despite the establishment of supposed instrumentalities such as task forces and commissions to address the matter.  Any purported “mitigating circumstances” through which the GRP seeks to justify infringements of children’s rights in times of armed conflict must be seen for what they are: reprehensible and intolerable.

The GRP is signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and insists that it upholds laws and policies which promote the best interests of Filipino children. The long list of murdered and massacred children proves just how much the GRP gives importance to children’s rights: when not killing the parent, it kills the children. The Arroyo regime continues to absolve itself of blame for the lengthy series of human rights violations while heaping praise on the very same military officials who are being accused as perpetrators.

 In relation to this, it bears mentioning that the UNICEF in 2005 appealed to the United Nations Security Council to do more to protect the rights of children affected by armed conflict This following UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s submission of a report to the Security Council calling for targeted measures against those who violate children’s rights. The UNICEF said that the UN Security Council should make a ruling that  that peace deals and amnesties should not extend, in any circumstances, to those who commit “egregious crimes” against children. The GRP’s bloody record of extrajudicial killings of children is more than enough reason, as the 2nd Permanent People’s Tribunal (PPT) Second Session on the Philippines declared, to denounce the inclusion of the Republic of the Philippines in the UN  Human Rights Council as ‘unacceptable.’

 At the immediate, the NDFP demands that decisive steps must be initiated to bring the perpetrators of the EJKs of children and minors to justice. The GRP’s armed forces must be made to cease and desist from further committing atrocities against children, respect their rights as well as the fundamental human rights of all Filipinos. The NDFP holds the GRP accountable for the destruction of these children’s lives, and the overall worsening of human rights in the country.

 Finally, another issue that should be immediately addressed is the need for the rights of children to be discussed in the joint meetings between the two monitoring committees of the JMC. The first step towards these genuine, thorough, and objective investigations into the cases of  political killings of children and minors – as well the cases of harassment and general victimization of children by military and paramilitary elements — should be immediately initiated and pursued until they are justly resolved and the perpetrators are punished.

Based on principles of International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights,  “children in armed conflict” does not only refer to children who are made combatants or who have taken part in hostilities as soldiers, but also those who are caught in the middle of wars. There are many, many more children who have fallen victim to emotional/psychological stress from the trauma and effects of the GRP’s total war on families and communities.There is no questioning the duty of every enlightened government to protect and provide for the needs of its citizens, including their children.  The performance of this duty is rightly regarded as one of the most important of governmental functions, but there is much to be desired in how the GRP performs this function. All these issues serve as more compelling reasons for the GRP-MC and the NDFP-MC to convene and embark on joint investigations.

 The TWG has made similar recommendation in its report. The NDFP challenges the GRP to act on this same recommendation and approve the immediate conduct of investigations to be jointly led by the monitoring committees of the JMC. #

November 12, 2007

Delayed responses

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 7:56 am

I tried three times to write about what I thought and how I felt about the suicide of 11-year old Marinneth Amper last week, but failed. It was just too sad, and it was just too horrible to dissect. What else is there to say – a child took her own life because she was overcome by despair she was even too young to understand or rationalize. Despair over how poverty made it impossible to be hopeful or happy; ridiculous to even consider dreaming.

She wanted new shoes and a bag. She wanted work for her parents. She wanted a bicycle. She wanted to not miss school anymore and to be able to continue studying. She wanted to live, but what kind of life did she had and could possibly have in the future given what then constituted her present?

She chose to die instead. I imagine her thinking, thinking and then breaking down in grief as she realizes in her young mind that poverty is not something that one easily deals with and that she, as a child, was still helpless against it. She must have thought how unfair the world was, how painful her short life had been, how terrible it was that her small dreams could never breathe and must be stifled by hunger and hopelessness.

Ano pa ba ang masasabi mo sa isyung ito? At kanino pa ba dapat isisi?

There are so many children like Marineth all over the country, poor and hungry, but within them wishing hard that they could do something to help themselves and their families. The streets are literally overrun by children begging for alms, some of them genuinely desperate to get enough money so they can go to school the next day (“Pambaon lang sa eskwela bukas, ate…” Ten year old boys sniff rugby to stave off sharp hunger pangs. Much younger children scavenge in garbage dumps for food and materials (old cans, reusable bags, paper) they can salvage and sell. Girls on the verge of puberty jump inside jeepneys, shocking passengers as they feign wiping and shining shoes in exchange for a few coins, and the they jump out regardless of the moving traffic.In the news today there’s a report about a 29-year old farmer who hung himself from a tree, also committing suicide out of desperation: he was too poor to buy medicine for his illness, he didn’t have money for hospitalization, so he took his own life.

Filipinos are said to be among the happiest people in creation, able to laugh in the face of adversity and the direst circumstances, but I think the social situation now has become more unbearable and it’s become harder to smile. Smiling at problems will not make them go away, but what’s worse is that the problems emanate directly from the institutions that should be protecting the people and ensuring that they’re given everything they need to not only survive from day to day, but to develop as people, as human beings with skills and talents and gifts. Ano pa ba ang kwenta ng gobyerno kung wala naman itong naitutulong sa mamamayan? Kung bulok naman ang pamunuan?

Yesterday we attended one-year old Ginger Clotario-Concepcion’s birthday party, and she was so cute and regal in her red cheongsam and gold slippers. She was the picture of pink baby health, and her parents and kuya Wystan doted on her (although for the most part Ginger was quiet but observant, carefully taking in everything she saw. I was under the impression that though she deeply disapproved of the noise around her, she had resolved to be understanding). I wish her nothing but health and happiness – and everything good that can come with the intelligence she has inherited. I wish for her to never feel or experience any of the sadness that Marianeth had to contend with growing up.

November 7, 2007

An alternative career

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 8:28 am

shirt.jpgGad, there are days when I think that I would really, really enjoy being a showbiz writer. I find myself having strong opinions when it comes to local showbiz issues (who got whom pregnant and why he denied it; who’s to blame for the failure of this marriage or that; can this actor really act or is he just cute, etc). I suppose it says something about me that I actually enjoy showbiz reports — I don’t really get involved in the lives of my own friends (I don’t intrude, I rarely confide, but I do listen and give advice or help when asked), but when it comes to the lives of showbiz personalities — these so-called stars of the local cinema – I’m hooked.

Their lives are so not boring. For the most part they’re shallow and petty, but they’re far from being boring. They buy sunglasses and it makes the headlines of certain tabloids. They blow their noses from crying during some corny movie and it’s repackaged as a scandal by the weekend gossip shows. It’s insane, it’s inane, it’s disgusting, and it’s thoroughly enjoyable.

The top three showbiz issues that I’m intrigued about: 1) Was Snooky Serna really raped when she was 14 and why is it that she’s speaking about it now?

2) Is Martin Nievera really just a sunnavabitch and a male adulterer who cries really well on tv, and is his career in Las Vegas actually a non-career?

3) What the hell is wrong with Lolit Solis and she is so obsessed with whether or not Sam Milby and Piolo Pascual are gay?

People’s lives are so interesting, don’t you think?

I read at least five showbiz blogs during lunchbreak and gad, the volume of reactions and the passion that went into them! Unbelievable. The readers put more thought and emotion into the affairs of the artistas than they care about say, Macapagal-Arroyo’s bulok presidency. Gad! Imagine if all these showbiz followers (na parang mga middle class kasi, well, may regular access sila sa internet, they write in English etc) directed their time and energy towards desconstructing what kind of government we had and ranting about why GMA should be kicked out of office.

Tapos the blogs would be in showbiz lingo and the treatment of new stories would be like how showbiz stories are sometimes written:

“Gloria, taksil talaga sa bayan, dapat okrayin!” “Bulok ang government, shocking ang corruption – taumbayan sobrang imbierna na!”

If I were a showbiz writer (or worked in the entertainment press), I’d organize fora for the artistas and try to get them interested in politics. There are real similarities between Philippine politics and showbiz, after all: plastikan, bastusan, umuulan ng kasinungalingan, away sa pera, imoralidad at kawalan ng kahihiyahan o kakapalan ng mukha. Ang masama nga lang sa pulitika, it’s not just the lives of the politicians involved in the scams, scandals and controversies that are affected, but the lives of millions of others. At least sa showbiz, the individuals involved only get themselves into trouble (and not very serious trouble at that, just annoying, embarrassing or mortifying fixes) and everything blows over as soon as something juicier, messier and embarrassing comes along.

It’s just too bad that artistas in the Philippines do not seem to carry intelligent political opinions. Maybe they do have opinions, but they’re pretty dim (look at Richard Gomez and Cesar Montano trying to run for office with Arroyo’s loser slate back in May). It would be so good if they would care about series social and political issues — say, human rights; stand against urban poor demolitions, support women’s rights; pero not the burgis kind of involvement na hanggang antas photo-op lang, but genuine, active advocacy and involvement. Ano kaya kung sumama si Judy Ann Santos sa isang fact-finding mission sa Mindanao kung saan walang puknat ang paglabag ng mga sundalo sa karapatang pantao ng mga kapatid nating Muslim?

Officials of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Kabalikat ng Mamamayang Pilipino (KAMPI) party should get their stories straight because they’re contradicting each other left and right, and there seems to be a virulent case of “foot-in-mouth disease” going around in Malacanang.”

 

Kampi officials from DILG secretary Ronaldo Puno to Rep. Amelita Villarosa keep issuing conflicting stories, but all these only serve to bolster charges that massive corruption permeates Malacanang. It’s clear that there is truth to the adage that the truth will come out despite efforts to keep it hidden. Now, given Malacanang legal adviser Sergio Apostol’s order that Rep. Villarosa shut up and refrain from issuing more statements, it becomes clearer that there is more to this issue of gift giving in Malacanang than meets the eye.

 

Sec. Puno’s previous declarations of lack of knowledge about the cash distribution directly contradicts the statements of Rep. Villarosa and Rep. Benny Abante who himself admitted to receiving money from Villarosa.

 

So who’s telling the truth and who is lying? Is this a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing, or is this simply a case of KAMPI officials trying to cover up for themselves and their own corrupt practices? Are they getting their stories confused in the process of trying to protect KAMPI founder and head Pres. Arroyo from accountability?

 

We should give full support for calls that the House of Representatives’ ethics committee investigate the issue of the briberies, and said that the senate should also initiate its own investigations. In any case, this is a very large worm that cannot be forced back into the can. KAMPI officials have opened it, and they can’t close it by simply issuing denials. As a political party run and headed by the president, KAMPI’s reputation has been tarnished beyond repair.

There’s a serious case of foot-in-mouth disease going around. KAMPI and Malacanang officials may think that this is an issue that will blow away, but they are mistaken. Filipinos are sick to their stomach with how the Macapagal-Arroyo administration is running the government and how it has opted to use corruption and bribery and their main instruments to keep itself intact and its allies loyal. This bribery in the palace issue is more than enough grounds to call for the president’s resignation.

 

November 5, 2007

Stuffing ourselves

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 8:57 am

For three days in a row Kim and I hauled our overweight bodies to Trinoma to eat Brothers onion rings and burgers. Three days in a row. On the third day we were afraid that the counterpersons and waiters already recognized us and Kim had to give a fake name (“Dodong”) and we practically slinked into the store, desperately hoping that there’d be vacant seats (There were).

I have gained so much weight since I got married. When I compare my body now to how it was say, four, five years ago, I am shocked at how much I resembled a lollipop – stick body, big head (I remember Nova telling me that my head looked like it was going to fall off because of how thin my frame was). Now, well, I’ve been forced to give away most of my pants and get new old ones (ukay-ukay, ano pa ba) because it’s become an exercise in masochism to try to get into them.

I eat when Kim eats. Kim is worse, because when I’m full and my plate isn’t empty, he eats what’s left over. We’re a pair of slowly growing blimps. We shlump in front of the tv and eat crisps or whatever salty junkfood there is in the fridge. We have an agreement to eat in different places and rate them according to this standard: worth our money and we’re going to eat there again; waste of money because the food sucked big time; expensive-but-hey-we-salivated-all-throughout-the-meal; we will never eat there again because it’s so immoral to spend so much for one single meal.

I always tell myself that I will resume jogging. That I will eat healthier, that I will go to the doctor for a check-up, that I will quit the junkfood. Sorry to say that I haven’t done any of these things (but I do drink tea, if that’s a good thing. Tea is said to be good for digestion, and good health starts with good digestion, right?). Gad.

My oldest friends would be really surprised to know that I’ve become interested in food. Eating used to be something I did so I wouldn’t drop dead; it was hardly a pastime or an enjoyment. Now, well, food could be my friend, and we’re getting to know each other. I find food really friendly, and am not so shy anymore.

After the burgers, we resolved to walk around to help the food go down faster (and because we felt so bloated and full like a pair of slugs let loose on a field of whatever-it-is-slugs eat.

Kaso, napadaan naman sa DQ. Hay.

I thought that I would be able to use the four day break to do some serious writing; instead I ended up watching Grey’s Anatomy Season 3 nonstop until 4 in the morning. The most productive thing I was able to do was to clean my mom’s living room.
Since my dad died, the house has been in more or less chaotic state. In the last three years it has taken on the look and atmosphere of a a garage or an attic, and there’s a perpetual sale going on. Books piled on top of each other, DVDs mixed with music CDs, dusty picture frames, pens stuck in flowerpots, the eggshell tile floor has become more gray than white, that sort of thing. So last Sunday I thought, hell, this can’t go on. I armed myself with rags and cleanser , the broom and the dustpan and for the next six hours I swept and dusted, scrubbed and polished and re-arranged the furniture.

Very satisfying results.The spiders now hate me.

Arroyo’s allies in Pampanga are preparing a so-called People’s Congress for Unity and Peace and they’re coming out with a manifesto opposing the recent calls for Arroyo’s resignation issued by three CBCP bishops and former VP Teofisto Guingona.

Arroyo’s allies are ‘nauseated’ and ‘shocked’ by the resignation calls.

They’re shocked?! They’re nauseated?! What about the rest of us? We’re practically ill with disgust and outrage at how this government conducts itself; at how the corrupt and illegitimate executive continues to project an image of righteous magnanimity. It’s more than enough to make one throw up pints and end up in the hospital.

These politicians who align themselves with Arroyo call themselves Progressive and Responsive Organization for Genuine Leadership, Outstanding Reform Initiative and Action (Pro-Gloria) should get their heads examined simply for coming up with such an awful, super pilit acronym. Gad.

November

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 5:02 am

AVHRC

This is really something to look forward to, so whatever it is that you’re doing at 8:00pm on November 30, reschedule or cancel it and attend this concert instead.


It’s sickening how the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Task Force Usig are crowing about making headway in addressing the issue of extrajudicial killings in the country. We have yet to hear of military officials and elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) charged, investigated and then punished for the killings of which there are almost 900. Oplan Bantay Laya 2 remains in effect, and the Arroyo administration remains committed to its cause of protecting the AFP from criminal liability for the killings.

 

As we see it, Task Force Usig’s main work is to discredit and dismiss the biggest possible number of cases of extrajudicial killings or have them attributed to the New People’s Army (NPA) instead of the AFP. The PNP and Task Force Usig do not seek to solve the cases of extrajudicial killings or to find and punish the perpetrators – they want the issue to disappear. There is no credibility in the methods and processes being utilized by Task Force Usig to address the issue of the killings – it does not take into account the testimonies of eyewitnesses and family members that the victims were killed by elements of the AFP or paramilitary groups like the CAGFU. Task Force Usig mostly relies on police reports and so-called intelligence from their assets in the provinces where the killings took place.

Unless Task Force Usig dares to stand up against the AFP and initiate investigations into the battalions and commands named by the human rights groups as the units responsible for the atrocities, the task force cannot even begin to gain a patina of credibility.

 

The families of the victims of human rights violations and extrajudicial killings do not trust the PNP or Task Force Usig because from day one, the task force’s proclaimed agenda has not been to find justice for the victims, but to deflect blame from the AFP and the Arroyo administration, and direct it towards the NPA. No genuine, comprehensive and thorough-going investigations have been initiated to get to the truth behind specific cases wherein the perpetrators are clearly members of the military. Task Force Usig keeps a hands-off policy when it comes to the military.

 

In the meantime, there is reason to be gravely apprehensive regarding the PNP and the Task Force Usig’s boastful claim that they have rounded up suspects and that they are now incarcerated. The PNP has the habit of nabbing innocent civilians and using them as fallguys, presenting them to the media as apprehended suspects just so the PNP can look good and appear that it’s doing its job. There is the dire possibility that these so-called suspects and perpetrators are innocent civilians.

 

Instead of maintaining an arrogant and antagonistic stance against the human rights groups, Task Force Usig should instead be more cooperative and follow the leads that they have presented, instead of attacking or dismissing them. The PNP and Task Force Usig now stand as the AFP’s first line of defense when it comes to shaking off responsibility for the killings. Besides Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo herself, the PNP and Task Force Usig are among the staunchest defenders of the military.

 

 

mural-neo-angono1.jpg
Outrageous how the National Press Club unilaterally altered the images in this mural made by the Neo-Angono Arts Collective on the theme freedom of the press. The changes are shocking (and ugly – it’s like a vandal made them using a Pentel Pen and a P5 eraser), but what the entire issue implies is much more so — the NPC as an institution shirks away from its responsibility to take a genuine stand on press freedom and, by extension, human rights and the over-all state of the Philippines.

 

Just now one of the NPC’s spokespersons was interviewed on tv and the man sounded irate. He said that the painting was the NPC’s, and if they wanted to burn the mural, by golly they can burn the thing and no one can stop them!

Who owns the mural is not the issue here — it’s why the NPC made the changes in the mural, and what kind of changes they made.

The artists raising a furor over the issue is not surprising, but it’s not only because their work was tampered with without their knowledge or approval, but mostly because the changes were made to weaken the message of the mural, to placate Malacanang and the military who saw ‘leftist influences’ in the work.

So much for freedom of expression and the responsibility of media institutions to defend it: the NPC caved in like a pack of cards. They paid the artists P900,000 to paint the mural, but the money didn’t cover the artists’ convictions or political beliefs or their own commitment to the cause of freedom of the press. It’s so embarrassing and shameful how the NPC is even trying to justify its stupidity by saying that it paid for the mural so it could do whatever the heck it wanted with it. The NPC all the more exposes what kind of institution it is and what it stands for now at this age and age when press freedom and human rights are under attack — it wielded its own paintbrush and painted over the truth just because the military didn’t agree with it.