Achieving Happiness

May 31, 2010

Ka Bel, the book

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 8:32 am

Ka Bel told me of his life during those long afternoons at the Philippine Heart Center and he was a political prisoner of the US-Macapagal-Arroyo government. I sat next to him on the hospital sofa and told him,”Let’s write a book, Ka Bel! Your life is so full of drama and action!”

He smiled and asked, “Would anyone read a book about me? Why would they? I’m just a run-of-the-mill labor unionist…” He pretended to shake his head to clear it and let the memories tumble out so we could sort them and put them in some kind of order.

“Maybe you’re right,” he said. “My life wasn’t boring at all.” Then he laughed.

Ka Bel was many things — a devoted father, a loving husband, a charismatic labor leader, a militant congressman, a true comrade, and a genuine revolutionary. All these aspects of his personal life and life in the national democratic movement I saw through the total of 12 years that I worked for and with him, and again on those afternoons we spent documenting his life.

To Ka Bel, you could only be three things: a friend and defender of the poor; an enemy of the people; or a clueless individual who should be awakened and convinced to take sides, preferably with the oppressed. He was a simple man with simple needs, but his dreams were massive, and they were all for the country he loved. He lived his life trying to convince as many Filipinos as he could that to wage revolution against injustice was everyone’s duty. He made enemies, true; but even his enemies could not help but respect his strong commitment to his cause.

This book is about Ka Bel and his ordinary life made extraordinary because of his love for the worker and the Filipino people. For the workers, for the country. Serve the people. Fight for national democracy and socialism. These were the words he lived by, and up to the last moment, he remained true to them.

Three years after I first began to write it, three years after he edited the first three chapters, I finally finished the book on Ka Bel’s life. I hope that many people would read it and learn from the life he lived. He was not run-of-the-mill, and like he himself said, his life wasn’t boring at all. It was for the people who knew him best and for those he served, a life lived in greatness.

March 2007-April 2010

May 18, 2010

Waiting with E. Annie Proulx

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 5:42 am

Waiting, waiting, and while I wait, I read. Just finished E. Annie Proulx ‘That Old Ace in the Hole’ and again, it was time well spent. Ms. Proulx took me and protagonist Bob Dollar on an extensive tour of the Texas Pandhandle and introduced me a to a way of life of a section of America which the other, more cosmopolitan and modern sections take to parodying, ridiculing and outrightly mocking: redneck cowboys, cattle rustlers, community mothers, and small-town social climbers.

What I love about Ms. Proulx’s books is how she describes her characters so extensively, yet not cloyingly: their little habits and idiosyncrasies, how they think the way they do and why, how they look and dress, how they eat and sleep. And the details are both banal and interesting, mundane and unique. Because she makes her characters live and breath, they are imperfect and hence representative members of humanity, and they are all trying to make sense of the world in their own ways. They are hardly intellectuals, but some of them are sharp in the same way that pins are sharp:they can prick things and make you bleed.

She also paints pictures of context — the grass is not only green, but each blade of it is cover for gophers or medicine for cats with tummy aches. A plain field is full of various machinery in topsy turvy positions, and everything looks like a giant hand playfully arranged them there. A cowboy is more than his hat, his spurs and neckerchief: they are tall and some of them have faces like a bread loaf crumbling in high noon; or when they sing, their voices can be rough like rocks or smooth like newly separated cream. They way she describes places or objects are stories unto themselves because she doesn’t merely say that the windmill is made of steel, but she says how the feel of the tower can send electric shocks up your arm on a windy day and the sand is blowing full force.

Unapologetic, that’s what she is. She has no characters that are completely flawed or completely perfect. Each person, man, woman, child is a product of personal history that seemingly existed even before Ms. Proulx described them. They have likes and dislikes and biases and stupid fears and lovable traits. Ms. Proulx is a story-teller, and it’s like she’s telling her stories right as they happened.

She can also break your heart and it’s a gentle kind of breaking. Bit by bit, you learn to be comfortable with the people in her stories and you begin to wish them well (or agitate that they get their comeuppance for some annoying misdeed committed) and then something happens — they are struck with some tragedy, whether its minor or major, and you begin to worry for their plight.

In ‘That Old Ace in the Hole,’ Bob is desperate to secure a commitment for his employer Global Pork Rind, but to wish Bob well (because he is, after all, a very likeable and earnest young man) would mean success for those awful hog harms where pigs are maltreated and abused and the stench and ammonia fumes are more than enough to send one to the hospital with various respiratory diseases. You are torn between seeing Bob succeed and hoping that he fails.In the meantime, you wait and learn things along the way even as Bob waits and learns from his new acquaintances and experiences.

The first Annie Prould book I read was ‘The Shipping News and I was in awe at how simple yet beautiful her storytelling was. No pretentious language, but words hale and hearty, chunky and beefy even when describing the most fragile things like crystal filigree and heartbroken women with a shy way of walking. Her prose is lyrical but stout and healthy — it feeds you and it feeds your imagination and wherever it is that she wants to take you is the best place to be because even in their desolation or quiet, she is able to show beauty.

Even in the plain Quoyle she created a hero. Oh he wasn’t a hero in any Superman sense, not even an activist or anything like that, but a hero all the same. Quoyle was a father with two little daughters and he struggled to pick up the pieces of his heart as he tried to build a new life in a place where he knew no one. He dared not to hope, but at least he took courage, and he made do with what he had, and wished for the best. I call that heroism — having the strength to get up when all you want to do is die because you love your children and you know that the time will come when the days won’t be as bad as the day that made you want to die. A simple man with simple dreams, Quoyle; but his dreams were beautiful because they were full of love for his family and affection and concern for his friends and so he aimed to do his best even with mediocre jobs. This is what made him a good man, and a good man, in any day and age is a hero.

So I’m waiting and waiting and sometimes the waiting is unbearable because patience has never really been my strong suit. I am glad that I have E. Annie Proulx to keep me company, and I can travel with her and learn from her and her narrative is never boring just as her stories are always interesting — they are written like real experiences, and really, what else is more interesting than other peoples lives?

May 13, 2010

Homer Simpson makes a comeback as Philippine Prez

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 7:01 am

Homer Simpson is making a big comeback in the Philippines and now he’s become political: he is being used as an icon to describe no less than the president-elect Benigno ‘Noynoy’ C. Aquino III.

I found it so telling that in his endorsement spiels, he kept saying ‘Kailangan ko sila’ after introducing his senatorial line-up. He REALLY does need able people around him because by himself, it’s not likely that he’ll be able to do much work. He has been, compared to his political contemporaries (or even ordinary people his age with jobs), very lazy. A genuine non-achiever, and it’s really a leap of faith on the part of those who voted for him and supported him that they believe that Noynoy can take on the problems Macapagal-Arroyo is leaving behind on top of the other deeper, more systemic crises the Philippines is suffering from.

It’s difficult to see how his more vocal and articulate supporters justify their faith in Noynoy because the man has done nothing much for most of his life (and he’s already 50 years old). Maybe they’re expecting Noynoy to suddenly transform into some kind of superman and he’ll prove to be merely like Clark Kent hiding behind glasses but with real superhero skills which will emerge when the right moment comes.

In any case, the challenges are myriad and the problems are nothing to scoff at. He promises to end poverty, and he has to come up with a concrete plan of action on how to go about it. At the onset, he should address once and for all the issue of Hacienda Luisita and free the workers and their families from bondage. This is the litmus test for his intentions and his sincerity. If he fails even this — because it’s not much compared to, say, implementing genuine agrarian reform for all of the country’s farmers and putting an end to their poverty — what else can be expected from him?

Besides implementing land reform, Noynoy has to 1) ensure that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is made to pay for her crimes committed in office; 2) Increase wages; 3) Lower taxes or at least improve the taxation system and lift the tax burdens of the poor; 4) come up with an employment generation plan (and not call center jobs or export labor but real, honest to goodness sustainable jobs in solid industries); 5) address the debt servicing issue; 6) improve social services in terms of quality, accessibility and affordability; 7) address the issue of environmental destruction at the hands of mining firms; 8) put the oil, electricity and water firms in their place and put an end to their abuses; 9) improve the human rights situation and put and end to extrajudicial killings, go after the perpetrators among the military and paramilitary forces; and 10) address the issue of the Marcos wealth and indemnification and justice for the victims of the dictatorship.

As for Homer Simpson, I never really liked him because he’s always so dumb!

Yesterday there was a report on GMANews.TV wherein Noynoy was asked if he was willing to work with Jejomar Binay if the latter wins the vice-presidency. Noynoy answered, and quite arrogantly I think, “”I guess you should ask Mayor Binay if he’s
prepared to work FOR me because I am chief executive.”

The man hasn’t even been proclaimed and sworn in yet, but he’s already conceited. Gaaaaad.

Isn’t it the most annoying and hateful combination of traits? Being a certified lazybones non-achiever on the one hand, but being arrogant on the other?
I don’t want to keep writing about Noynoy Aquino and being constantly annoyed and frustrated, but I can’t seem to help it.

Miko’s yaya, our Nanay Helen, voted for Noynoy despite all my warnings, and why? Because, she said, his campaign commercials were convincing and he was, after all, Cory and Ninoy’s son. Aaaaaargh!

After weeks of saying that she was voting for either Dick Gordon or Manny Villar, she was tempted at the last moment and jumped on the popularity bandwagon. At least she had the good grace to look sheepish and even embarrassed.

Kris Aquino, umalis ka na ng Pilipinas, please!!!

I will now scrape enough money together and watch IronMan 2. Since Ka Satur and Ka Liza didn’t win the elections, I am trying my darnest to cheer myself up. I can’t believe Bong Revilla is still senator. I don’t have a problem with Jinggoy Estrada because I think he’s been a very effective senator so far (he chairs the senate Committee on Labor), but Revilla?! Gad. And Lito Lapid! Aaaargh!

The Communist Party of the Philippines has issued a statement laying down the challenges in store for Nonoy, and boy, they’re a real handful! Given how the Liberal Party and Noynoy himself went on and on and on about the necessity for social change and how Noynoy himself is THE agent of said change and how he will bring the Philippines towards moral recovery, economic prosperity and political stability by ending corruption, well! Let’s see how Noynoy will act on the people’s demands.

People will confront incoming Aquino regime with pressing demands
Communist Party of the Philippines
May 13, 2010

With the reactionary elections coming to a close, it now appears that the Philippine neocolonial state will be headed next by Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

Once Aquino assumes power on June 30, the Filipino people are intent on immediately confronting his presidency with the most pressing issues arising from the basic political and socio-economic problems they have been suffering under the prevailing rotten semi-colonial and semifeudal system.

The Number One immediate demand of the Filipino people is the prosecution and punishment of Gloria Arroyo and her ilk for all the crimes they have committed while in power.

They demand justice for numerous crimes of plunder including the ZTE national broadband network deal, the IMPSA deal, the Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard scam, the Fertilizer Fund scam, the Swine Fund scam, and several other cases of gross plunder.

They demand redress of grievances and remuneration for the numerous crimes against humanity and violations of human rights in the conduct of the US-Arroyo regime’s Oplan Bantay Laya 1 and 2. Justice is demanded by human rights advocates and the families, friends and supporters of more than a thousand victims of extrajudicial killings, thousands more illegally arrested, tortured and detained, abducted and involuntarily disappeared, and millions of victims of forced evacuation, looting and razing of their homes and farms by the fascist troops under her command.

Any vacillation on Aquino’s part to pursue, prosecute, arrest and punish Arroyo and her ilk will be roundly rejected by the people.

There remains the threat of Arroyo’s power perpetuation schemes through the backdoor of Congress by seizing the Speakership, weakening the executive branch, pursuing charter change and eventually repositioning herself as Prime Minister. Arroyo will be bankrolling efforts to seize the Speakership with billions of pesos accumulated through plunder. She will rely on the loyalty of key officials in the military, especially of newly appointed Chief of Staff Gen. Delfin Bangit and her other loyal generals at the top of the AFP, as well as her majority of loyalists in the Supreme Court, including the incoming Chief Justice Renato Corona, whom she has just appointed.

Aquino’s impending assumption of the presidency significantly facilitates the return to power of the Aquino-Cojuangco haciendero clan. His presidency will be highlighted by the demand of the restive peasantry for genuine land reform, including the scrapping of the fake stock distribution option, the immediate distribution to the tillers of their family’s vast landholdings, and the dispensation of justice to the victims of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre.

Given the Aquino-Cojuangco clan’s insistence on holding on to Hacienda Luisita and Aquino’s own evasiveness regarding the issue of genuine land reform, his presidency will be marked by a nationwide upsurge of the revolutionary struggle for genuine land reform and the emancipation of the peasantry from feudal bondage.

Aquino and the clique of US-led foreign chambers of commerce, big landlords, big compradors, the Aquino-Cojuangco clan and pseudo-reformists behind him are bearers of neocolonial, feudal and elitist policies.

In the face of all this, the Filipino people are determined to confront the new presidency with pressing demands for more significant socio-economic reforms. They demand an end to, and the reversal of, the IMF-dictated neoliberal policies obsequiously implemented by the US-Arroyo regime and other regimes before it. They demand a stop to opening up vast tracts of the nation’s agricultural land and natural resources to the gross plunder and wanton destruction of imperialist, big comprador and big bureaucrat capitalist corporations.

They demand the establishment of real national industries instead of export processing zones, sweat shops and outsourcing centers. They demand an end to the labor-export policy, the creation of solid instead of casual and contractual domestic jobs, and the guarantee of just and sufficient wage increases to meet the highly increased costs of living. The continuing and worsening international and domestic crises are pushing the Filipino toiling masses and impoverished people to tread the path of militant struggle.

Aquino will be confronted as well with the people’s patriotic demand to put an end to the permanent presence of US military troops in the Philippines and an end to the unequal military treaties with the US superpower. Patriotic forces and the people demand an end to the intervention of US troops and advisers in the country’s internal military affairs, including the US military’s role in designing and planning the AFP’s campaigns of suppression against the anti-imperialist, progressive and democratic forces.

US imperialism maintains its interest in keeping the ruling political system and neocolonial state stabilized and, thus, securing the long-term economic, political and military interests of the US in the Philippines. US imperialism thus pushed hard on Arroyo and rivals among the ruling classes to make the just concluded reactionary elections appear more orderly and conclusive than previous ones in the hope of mitigating the contradictions among the rival factions of the reactionary ruling classes.

The deepening economic crisis, the diminishing state resources for sharing the spoils of power and the continuing tightness of their power struggles, however, continue to further intensify the contradictions and violence among the rival reactionary factions. The crisis of the ruling political system will further deepen and escalate as Aquino tries to assume power while Arroyo continues to scheme her way to perpetuate herself in power and evade prosecution and punishment.

The puppet reactionary state will continue to be rocked by contradictions among the ruling classes and and by the intensification of the people’s struggles.

The revolutionary forces are facing an excellent opportunity to step up the revolutionary struggle. They are determined to pursue the path of people’s war to advance the national and democratic aspirations of the Filipino people.

May 12, 2010

Goodluck, Noynoy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 4:42 am

For a moment I will vent and pretend that I don’t know that there are infinitely greater alternatives to the kind of society we have now, that there are more important tasks than winning reactionary elections.

Give me this moment to vent, to be angry, to be sad, to be disgusted, and to express how appalled I am at what kind of nation we are because we elect ham actors to the senate and their wives to congress, because we try to re-eelct ex presidents ousted for plunder, because we let our votes be bought and sold, because the Marcoses are back big time (Sen. Bong-Bong, Honorable Rep. Imelda Marcos, the stuff of nightmares and outrage), because we give our votes to candidates because they have celebrity sisters even if they have zero experience in good and capable leadership.

So Noynoy Aquino won the elections. I’m not surprised at all — annoyed, but not surprised –and I am actually looking forward to an Aquino presidency because, well, I am certain that Noynoy Aquino will not live up to his promises and he will prove yet another idol with clay feet. Is it so bad that I am eager to see the man making a mess of the presidency? Maybe, but hey, I’m venting. Really, I can’t wait to see what Ugat-Lahi will come up with when its time to make a Noynoy effigy, and whether there will be reasons to burn it. Maybe not, maybe yes, but whatever happens, one thing’s for certain: we will be watching Noynoy closely.

He is beholden to so many financial backers among big business groups and enterprises, will he show them his gratitude first and at the expense of the Filipino people? He has already shown signs of willingness to do what the US government says, what kind of foreign policy will he implement? How will he act on the issues of foreign debt servicing, continued US interference in the country’s military, economic and political affairs, depressed wages, massive unemployment, landlessness, high and regressive taxes, and the utter lack of the most basic social services for the poor?

I am angry that he won because he did not deserve to be given the people’s trust. I am angry because the media backed him despite his poor record of public service, I am angry because they all fooled voters into believing that he is some kind of savior, I am angry because Noynoy Aquino is certain to prove to be a great disappointment and the only thing to look forward to under an Aquino presidency — given Noynoy’s antipathy towards the Left and his arrogant refusal to admit his family’s accountability for the lives destroyed in the Hacienda Luisita Massacre — are protests and rallies against more human rights violations and curtailment of civil rights. I hardly see Noynoy as a champion of the poor and their welfare. he can’t even commit to helping the farmworkers in his own backyard!

So far he has said that he will undo all of Macapagal-Arroyo’s midnight appointments and call for the reopening of the Hello, Garci scam. The question on everyone’s mind is this: will he finally address the issue of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre and finally allow the land to be given to the farmers? And will he finally agree to a psych test and admit to all and sundry what his psychological state really was prior to the elections and when he was still attending the Ateneo?

Now he’s busy thinking of his cabinet and whom to appoint to the various departments and agencies. Gudlak na lang kung sino ang ilalagay niya sa department of labor at sa department of agrarian reform. Gudlak na rin how he will repay and reward those who helped him on his campaign — the various hanger-ons, the sycophants, the flatterers who made him believe that by just thinking it (and with the help of image consultants, columnists, fashion stylists, and wig-makers) he will be a good president.

Hey, am I getting excited or what? Walang honeymoon period with the Aquino presidency! Ngayon at hanggang 2016 he will have to make good on ALL of his promises re good governance and improving the lives of Filipinos. Pag hindi daang matuwid ang dinaanan ng gobyerno niya, hala siya, matindi ang singilan! He has to produce more jobs, and ensure bigger incomes for the working people , to say nothing of improved social services. Malalaki ang mga pinangako niya, he has to live up to those promises.

The campaign Noynoy and the Liberal Party waged was dirty and despicable, and by no means did it assure those who were critical of Noynoy that he has the patience, compassion and humanity necessary to the post of president. Noynoy himself was frequently an arrogant putz. Now, sa dami ng problema na haharapin nya, if he loses his temper like he is often wont to do, what the hell will happen. How will he respond to calls for wage hikes and the scrapping of the EVAT? Can he stand up to criticism if and when he delivers a stand on the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) that goes against the call of patriotic groups? It’s also a question now if he will support calls for the resumption of peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). If he does, well, maybe there’s hope for him yet. If he doesn’t, well…

Baligtad ano, now Noynoy will have to present his program of government, his agenda for governance. The entire campaign period all he did was make promises and endorsements, but not once did he present a concrete platform. His propaganda team was composed of magicians and hypnotists because they were successful in making Filipinos ignore how he WAS COMPLETELY without a concrete platform and his work record sucked big time. We can only hope for the sake of all those Filipinos who put their trust in him and his promises that he will be different from Macapagal-Arroyo in the sense that he will not be as bad. Sorry, but that’s the most I can wish wish him. Good luck, Noynoy — you’ll freaking need it. Wishful thinking na lang that you will have the humility to listen to the demands of the progressive people’s organizations even if right now (and because of YOUR doing), they feel ill everytime they see you smile on tv as you relish your undeserved victory.

Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza did not make it to the top 12, and this is a shame, but instead of wallowing in despair (because it’s not exactly happy news, is it), I have chosen to strive for objectivity and to remember that elections in this country remain dominated by the rich and the influential, and democratic space is still very small for those who speak for the poor and defend them against ruling elite. It’s all a popularity contest, and jeez, we’re not used wearing cosmetics and showbiz proclamations. It’s also a dirty game, and we’re used to being pristine.

To be honest, from the beginning I’ve had fears that they would not win, nevermind how exceedingly qualified they are. Very limited funds and resources were the least of their problems –they also had to contend with the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ relentless black propaganda and the attacks of close military allies like Akbayan and its standard bearers.

Still and all, three million votes! That’s a lot of people supporting Ka Satur and Ka Liza and their brand of politics! If people knew how limited operational funds were (kanya-kanyang baon; volunteers had to buy the baller IDs and other election paraphernalia apart from the posters), they would be amazed at how successful Satur and Liza’s respective campaigns have actually been in reaching so many Filipinos.

I have no doubt if it were a general senate election year (24 senatorial posts open), both of them would have made it. Also, if the elections weren’t rigged (that’s another thing — I am highly skeptical that the May 10 polls are as clean as the Comelec and Smartmatic have been crowing that it is. The counting is computerized — how do we verify the numbers and how sure are we that they haven’t been monkeyed around with?), it’s certain that they would’ve gotten more votes.

I am proud to say that I voted only for Satur and Liza among all the senatorial candidates. I had to travel two hours to get to the precinct, brave the afternoon heat, almost slip on a squashed nilagang saging na saba along a dirty corridor strewn with sample ballots and various kinds of trash, and it was well worth it to be able to shade the circles next to their names.

Congratulations are well due Satur and Liza and all the people who worked hard in their campaigns, and those who braved the heat and suffered through the crowds and the chaos last May 10 just to make sure that votes are cast for the two best candidates in the 2010 senatorial elections. Congratulations to Team Satur Ocampo and Team Liza Maza, Makabayan, and all the progressive party-lists who campaigned for these two amazing individuals! For the love of Satur and Liza, for the love of the national democratic movement and the struggle for genuine social and political change, you all fought the good fight!

I do feel bad for Ka Satur and Ka Liza though because, gad, walang pahinga ang pakikibaka para sa tunay na pagbabago! The new presidency doesn’t mean things have changed and that, automatically, things will change for the better. Andyan pa si Macapagal-Arroyo and she has to be made to account for her countless crimes committed in office. Satur and Liza remain staunch members of the political opposition, and they will keep an eagle eye on the declarations, proclamations and steps of the new presidency to address this and many related issues.

Kris Aquino said previously that if her brother wins, she will leave the country and work elsewhere. Ngawa pa siya nang ngawa when she said this. Now that Noynoy is president, it’s time for Kris to pack and her bags. Gad, this is the first happy news I’ve heard in a week — the Philippines finally being rid of Kris Aquino!

May 7, 2010

On May 10, bring Satur and Liza to the senate!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Ina Alleco @ 3:29 am

The elections are on Monday and it feels like we are all on the brink of something potentially cataclysmic. Okay,so maybe I exaggerate; but you must admit that what happens on May 10 and the next few weeks after will have impact on the lives of Filipinos in varying degrees from serious to very serious.

Nerves are frayed to the limit and tempers are exploding left and right as everyone with access to a computer tries to out-insult, out-attack, out-expose those who did not share their political views and choice of candidates. If there was literally mud being thrown in tandem with the political mudslinging, we’d all be covered from head to toe. This has been the case for the last three months and I have had my share of headaches trying to explain and debunk and correct and frankly, I’ve felt more than a little disgusted with it all. Why? Because the two candidates I do support without reservation, without doubt and without the slightest hesitation — Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza — are beyond the filth and slime of the electoral exercise, and more so the causes they espouse.

This may sound simplistic to others, but to me it’s the weightiest commendation: they are national democrats, and in the last decade or so national democrats have struggled painstakingly to uphold the highest possible standard of both personal and political credibility. This is not to say that national democrats are perfect: far from it; but they DO try harder to fight personal flaws and weaknesses which in turn affect how they come up with decisions and implement them. But I digress.

Satur Ocampo and Liza are two candidates who are worthy of and deserve all the support they have been getting and NONE of the blame or accusations insinuated or hurled against them. They are two politicians who are non-traditional to the core and whose commitment is genuine and unselfish and completely untainted with self-serving motives. They are human rights activists and advocates of causes that fully embrace the welfare and best economic, political, social and cultural interests of the Filipino people. They are individuals who have for decades given all the best of themselves to the cause of the poor and the oppressed.

If I feel disgusted with how the electoral campaign has run (thanks to the mudslinging of the Liberal Party, sheesh), one can only imagine how Satur and Liza feel. Only the myopic, narrow-minded and from-the-beginning-biased will conclude that Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza have sold out by becoming guest candidates of a major traditional political party.

It has to be said: throughout the campaign period Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza have fought the good fight and fought cleanly, honestly and with dignity and credibility. They conducted themselves worthy of the trust we give them, and they have been above reproach. They are the best candidates the Filipino people can ever hope to elect, and they should be elected so there will be genuine representation of the poor and marginalized in the senate.

Their records speak for themselves, and even the younger Liza already leaves a mark on Philippine political history: she and Ka Satur dared to go against the tide of traditional politics and represent the Filipino poor. Utilizing only the resources and contributions from supporters and compromising no ideals or principles, they offered themselves to the electorate as genuine alternatives to the current crop of corrupt, traditional and parochial leaders of government, presented a legislative agenda crafted fully to support and strengthen the rights of the marginalized sectors, and campaigned with no personal malice, no antipathy, and no ill wishes against others. Their intentions are purely unselfish: to serve the people, and to defend their rights. They are a credit to the people who believe in them and will vote for them, and they will always prove worthy of the trust they have been given.

Mabuhay kayo, Ka Satur, Ka Liza! Kayo ang mga senador ng mamamayan! At mabuhay ang lahat ng nagtataguyod ng tunay at makabuluhang pagbabago sa Pilipinas!

The election campaign of 2010 has seen the likes of formerly-respected columnist Conrado de Quiros lose all sense of fairness, objectivity and, well, common sense. He wrote well and wrote eloquently about his choice for president, but it cannot be denied that he also deliberately and glaringly chose to omit facts about his candidate: that his choice had accomplished nothing in the nine years he spent as a congressman and in three years he was a senator; that his candidate was primarily pushed into the limelight because of his mother’s death and his sister’s celebrity status and not because he himself possessed any obvious qualities of true leadership, intelligence or personal strength.

De Quiros extolled the imaginary values and qualities of his candidate and with his writing skill painted a picture of the man as savior of the Philippines, nevermind that his candidate — if he was really awake all this time — had been as inconsequential and apathetic in the last nine years as the Macapagal-Arroyo government systematically cheated, stole, lied and killed. His candidate, de Quiros pontificates, is untainted by corruption and he will never steal because his parents never did either. Yes, I agree — if de Quiros’ candidate wins, he won’t steal but those around him will and he will be powerless and useless against their influence over him and the debt of gratitude he has to them for having taken him out of the gutter of mediocrity.

The election campaign of 2010 saw the major news networks launch their own black propaganda campaigns against leading candidates and to shamelessly bat for others. ABS-CBN and GMA-7 (but ABS-CBN was worse) came out with supposed exposes against a leading presidential candidate, deliberately exaggerating issues against the man while at the same time downplaying scandals relating to the candidate they support. The same went for the Philippine Daily Inquirer which twisted stories and used malicious angles when it came to handling stories about the presidential candidate it didn’t choose while giving full coverage to even the most trivial and pithy details about and declarations of the candidate it did pick.

The election campaign of 2010 also completely exposed the deep and essential similarities between fake progressives like Risa Hontiveros-Baraquel and butcher Jovito Palparan.

In her attacks against Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza, Baraquel echoed Palparan completely, proving herself to be an advocate of violence against members of people’s organizations, human rights groups and progressive party-lists led by Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela Women’s Party and Kabataan. Her false charges and malicious attempts to link Satur and Liza to the New People’s Army (NPA) showed that her allegiances were really with the likes of Palparan and the Macapagal-Arroyo government who have been using the same tactics.

Hontiveros-Baraquel also proved the corruption of her personal brand of politics when it embraced the candidacy of Noynoy Aquino: she and her group Akbayan rode on the unexpected and undeserved popularity of Aquino and drew a curtain against all proof that Aquino is not presidential material (he’s not even barangay captain material, no offense to our baranggay officials). Having worked with Aquino in the House of Representatives the past six years, Baraquel KNOWS that Aquino is a boring, uninspired and uninspiring politician who stood (or dozed) in the sidelines as congress debated over measures that had serious implications on the welfare and future of Filipinos. Yet she still jumped on his bandwagon. Talk about opportunism. So much for principles.

The election campaign of 2010 also saw more of Kris Aquino pretending to be patriot and a lover of truth and democracy, a champion of champions against corruption while during her showbiz talkshow she continued to be rude and condescending to co-hosts and guests. Her latest victim is KC Concepcion who, while sharing her story about selling personal effects on E-bay so she could come up with more funds to donate to the Unicef feeding program, Aquino proceeded to look bored and uninterested. KC was barely finished talking when Aquino turned to Boy Abunda and squealed that it was some mutual friend’s birthday, had he forgotten?

On Monday, May 10, we will all troop to the precincts and vote the candidates we deserve. The poet Axel Pinpin gives this reminder:Isang pagkakamali mo sa Lunes, tatlo hanggang anim na taon mong ikaiinis.

Ako, I am personally prepared regardless who wins the polls. It will not change how I view Philippine society and its ills; it will not alter my convictions on what will truly bring a just and lasting peace to the Philippines. This is the electoral exercise of a corrupt and degenerate system of government, and my expectations of it are very low even as my esteem for the genuine progressives who have engaged in it are very high: their reasons are political, and they are in service of larger goals for the future of this nation and its people. This is why I have striven hard not to make enemies with those who did not agree with the Makabayan Coalition’s decision to support Manny Villar’s candidacy. Hindi eleksyon ang ubod ng pagkakaisa o ng pagkakaroon ng hidwaan — hindi ito ang magwawakas sa mga problema ng bansa, hindi ito ang magtatakda ng tunay na direksyon ng lipunan.

Kita-kits sa Mayo 10!