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Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

For Generations To Come

In Society, Updates on March 9, 2014 at 9:20 am

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With several major stage-plays now showing in the metropolis, which one should you watch if you can see only one? Ask me and I’d say the more exclusive one, the one that demands knowledge of rarer context, the one that costs the most to comprehend and cherish.

So yes, I’d say Rak of Aegis is the one you can’t miss. I mean, to suffer a calamity that submerges entire lives in the waist-deep excrement of sprawling squalid cities, and then to persevere with smiles, laughter and turns at the karaoke mike, well that’s something very few in the whole world can claim doing—something you wouldn’t wish on just anybody, as a matter of fact.

A narrative punctuated with the soaring emotions possible only through song, you know you’re getting the most out of the show when you tear up, often because of laughter, and so many times because of remembered anguish. You know you’re getting the most out of the show when you hear both despair and hope in the phrase, “tayo na lang ang magtulungan.”

So, like I told the good folks performing at PETA today, this the last day of their regular run, the show simply can’t end, not yet, and not for a very long time. It has to be seen on-stage by my kids, and then by their kids after that.

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A Few Good Congressmen

In Society on October 2, 2013 at 12:11 pm

(a sketch that doesn’t really change much in the classic scene from “A Few Good Men”)

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Marine:  Congressman, did you cause the shutdown ?!

Party: You don’t have to answer that question!

Congressman:  I’ll answer the question. You want answers?

Marine: I think I’m entitled!

Congressman: You want answers ?!

Marine: I want the truth!

Congressman:  YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!  Son, we live in a world that has laws, and those laws have to be passed by men like me. Who’s gonna do it? You? You, Senate President? I have greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep because of the shutdown and you curse Congress. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know, that the shutdown, while tragic, stops spending.  And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves money! You don’t want the truth, because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on those laws.  You need me on those laws. We use words like “ultimatum”, “brinkmanship”, “blackmail”.  We use these words as the backbone of our strategy. You use them as a punchline.  I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very budget that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it!  I would rather you just said “thank you”, and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up your weapon, and stand to post. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to!

Marine: Did you cause the shutdown?

Congressman: I did the job that—-

Marine: Did you cause the shutdown?!!

Congressman:  YOU’RE GODDAMN RIGHT I DID!!

Unintended Consequences

In Society, Technology on July 2, 2013 at 10:57 pm

When Edward Snowden blew the whistle on domestic spying by the National Security Agency (NSA), he essentially held the US Government accountable for the unintended consequences of compromises it had made in the hot pursuit of those who would threaten his nation.

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Now, his flight from prosecution while bearing several laptops that he used to gain access to sensitive NSA documents has brought him, and those secrets, first to China and then to Russia. While he waits without valid passport at a Moscow airport terminal, Snowden’s itinerary and outstanding applications for political asylum are being influenced by Wikileaks protagonist Julian Assange, the self-styled anti-secrecy hacker. Read the rest of this entry »

Death of a Fisherman

In Society on May 19, 2013 at 3:24 am

DOING IT THE HARD WAY–Taiwan’s response to the May 9 incident shows it finding ways to use the death of a fisherman to acquire fishing rights in Philippine waters.  With economic sanctions that have led to harassment of OFWs, and a military exercise that showcases its superior arms, Taiwan is pushing for a fishery agreement that would conveniently upstage the maritime incident. The Philippines has not taken the bait, focusing first on a thorough investigation of the fatal incident, and taking the time to examine the UNCLOS convention that Taiwan invokes but has never ratified.

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Currently being investigated for the possible conviction–or exoneration–of the crew of Philippine Coast Guard vessel MCS 3001, the May 9 incident that led to the death of 65 year old Taiwanese fisherman Hong Shih-Cheng occurred at coordinates 20.12°N, 123.03°E in waters east of Basco, Batanes.  Taiwan refers to the location as being within an area where its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) overlaps with that of the Philippines, and has made the incident cause for demanding that the two countries strike up a fishery agreement. Read the rest of this entry »

Chips Digest Couch Potato, News At 11

In Society, Updates on February 1, 2013 at 12:16 pm

My favorite shoes are 15 years old. The leather has gone raw, giving up any pretense of being oiled or polished. But the skin is as intact as the callouses they shield. The rubber is still springy because, well, because it is rubber. Not the foamy stuff that mysteriously crumbles to powder when kept on the shelves. The uppers are still nicely wed to the soles with strong nylon stitching. Not by magic adhesives that come from, and prefer, climes north of the equator. And they’re simple oxfords. Simple enough, dare I say elegant even, to have come back into fashion once, then a second time for good as a classic artifact of my era (not that I claim an era, not just yet). So why this desire for a new pair of browns?

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Conspicuous consumption: an alliteration that has floated repeatedly through our country’s consciousness as a sin, a misstep into political incorrectness, during our many episodes of shrinkage and austerity. A criticism one can make of persons, it’s when the culprit keeps wearing new things, using new things, playing with new things that he would otherwise not have to be bothered with if he didn’t buy the things in the first place. A curious case of the tail wagging the dog, the chips digesting the couch potato. Read the rest of this entry »

Why Les Miserables Begs To Be Shared

In Society, Updates on January 31, 2013 at 10:36 am

Have you seen Les Miserables? A sincere question when spoken by most. Not a mere kicker for other queries about where you saw it—at the Mecca of London’s West End, among the new world cousins of Broadway, maybe at a local production that just barely managed to pay the franchise, or now finally at a nearby cinema. The question does not lead to any measurement of the cost or quality of the performance you watched. Only a probing of how deeply you have been immersed in it. Because seeing the musical is like finding religion. Not a particular one but the salvation that all religions offer.

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Do you hear the people sing? I am fond of the song and its refrains. But I cannot peg it as my favorite. Not when I am drawn by so many others that cause all sorts of different tremors: Master of the House, hedonistic boast of the hilarious Thenardiers; Stars, the beautifully terrifying oath of righteous yet barren Javert; On My Own, the triumph of unloved though loving Eponine; Drink With Me, the lament of rebels who would know greatness but are certain too of their imminent end; Bring Him Home, Valjean’s soulful prayer for a stranger loved by a daughter not wholly his; and Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, Marius’ guilt-laden eulogy for friends he was fated to join but was blessed to outlive. Read the rest of this entry »

Notary Me

In Society, Updates on October 3, 2012 at 9:58 am

Does the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 turn me into my own personal notary public?

In his legal note titled “Notary Publics” (see http://globalnation.inquirer.net/cebudailynews/news/view/20080429-133416/Notary_Public_), Judge Gabriel T. Ingles described notaries as being empowered to acknowledge documents and, by affixing their notarial seals, convert these from private to public statements.

But the new law already treats my online content as public and published, while making me attest to its truthfulness under threat of possible prosecution. And, in a sense, my online stuff is even more accessible than the “public” copies stored in the filing cabinets of notary publics.

If so, I’d lobby that ALL elected officials have personal accounts for publishing ALL of their statements, ALL of which will now have the weight of actual affidavits. For example (I repeat, these are just examples), I’d like to see the following as sworn statements:

  • “I did not plagiarize.” – Subscribed and sworn to before all Facebook users on this 11th day of September, 2012 by Sen. Tito Sotto.
  • “I signed the Anti-Cybercrime Law by mistake.” – Subscribed and sworn to before all Twitter users on this 12th day of August, 2012 by Sen. Chiz Escudero.

Right now, I’m thinking of building an Affidavit App for Facebook.

Of Cybercrime Laws And Criminally Awful Movies

In Media, Society, Technology on September 28, 2012 at 12:33 am
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The Internet was conceived to be an immensely robust network of interconnected networks—infrastructure that would survive, as a whole or as a fraction of itself, even the ravages of a holocaust. Such durable reach comes at the cost of complete decentralization, of utter freedom, of unqualified chaos. And this is why we treat the Web as a place where the default posture is of desire trumping diligence, of people believing and writing what they damned well want to.

So every time real world denizens admit to using an Internet source, their friends would naturally roll their eyes before giving them more rope and asking who else, among common buddies or elite celebrities, might support their views. But without this crowd-sourced credibility, any online content is greeted as entertainment or the effluence of crackpot rants. Social media is not a place for facts but rather for doubts and for questions often asinine but also, on rare yet globally vindicating occasions, sometimes profound. It is where outsiders looking in can interrogate any establishment, asking “if that were absolutely true then why is it other guys say …” It’s where anything can be scrutinized with varying degrees of competence yes, but also with the constant of some user’s personal investment.

Users of social media trend themselves into natural agitators for the establishment’s accountability. In response, with frank if not proud admission of being meant to enforce accountability among erstwhile bloggers, the anti-cybercrime law provides the establishment with the supreme defense, a direct and countering offense. So the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 does not just even the playing field, but turns the tables on these online critics.

But, this other world, this channel for passionate opinion from people who might otherwise remain unengaged, is what transforms our ideals of tolerance and integrity into actual imperatives for humane coexistence, for it is in this other world where we keep or set the pace along with the other peoples of our planet. The new social of this new media world is the old subversive of old-school thought. So to keep our small part of this other world in the backwaters of censorship would be to invite the kind of regression that made men murderous as they avenged a B movie’s besmirching of their God’s prophet.

The Numbers Add Up

In Society on September 10, 2012 at 9:03 am
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Jueteng gives our leaders clay feet. With pervasive play making it easy to speculate on huge and frequent pay-offs to local up through national hierarchies, the mere whisper of the vice finding its way into our government’s halls is already an occasion for scandal: On first blush because of how base our leaders appear, having dipped into such a petty racket, and on second glance because of how large the numbers must be to be of interest to political operatives. The argument for condemnation is self-sustaining.

If I were an organization looking to discredit the government or any other institution, I would take my turn, as critics of both church and administrations did in the past, and again poke the beehive that is the country’s numbers racket. Its an issue easy to twist into news cycles to evoke feelings of betrayal among constituents. Its not even like kicking a sleeping dog. And, there is no elephant in the room to whisper about. Jueteng is so deeply blended into city neighborhood and small town color that to live in these without it would be like being transplanted to a land without sari-sari stores.

Just a fun, harmless vice with better odds than the lotto? For the man on street maybe. But not to its operators and certainly not to the those who would benefit by occasionally citing its scandalous existence.

How to stop it? First option is to replace it with even more lotto rounds that are cheaper, more frequent, and can be sold through the one man operations that are now your friendly neighborhood bookies–just as the national lotto once had the ambition to do. Or second, stigmatize it and not only make it a crime but also depict it as a foolish weakness that perpetuates the traditional politics that we now abhor, and that erode away our children’s futures. Elegantly, if we help with the second option, simple economics will make the first option more attractive to those in authority.

So, instead of hackneyed gossip that usually single out a particular politician or cleric, I’d prefer to hear outright sermons about the evils of petty vice, watch information campaigns about the unintended consequences that millions of jueteng players should also be held accountable for, and see more parents keeping coins in pocket and away from a not so harmless racket.

The Fifth Estate

In Media, Society on August 30, 2012 at 9:31 am
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John Paul II’s papacy caused the dissolution of the USSR. 1989 Europe: The Soviet house of cards collapsed, from Poland down south to Hungary, back north again to Czechoslovakia, west to East Germany and then the breakout further west that demolished the Berlin Wall and reunified Germany. Before it all, diplomatically, saintly, pervasively and while holding back his own dogs of war, the man born Karol Wojtyla of Wadowice sought congress with the Soviets and caused the return of the Catholic Church to his Poland. The churches then became the backdrops for the stump speeches of the shipyard worker who would be president of the new Poland, Lech Walesa. The rest is recent history.

Any institution has political power, and occasionally, enough power to cause revolution. The Catholic Church is one of the most powerful institutions the world has ever seen. And, it not only knows the game, it is one of the few remaining entities that invented it. Now, those tactics of contriving consensus to create it, of asking for forgiveness after the fact instead of permission for the acts, and of testing the thin boundaries between them and the state, shows us that they retain the political will to defend their precepts.

In their measure, and as history’s record may eventually concur, their current crusade for families of heterosexual parents and for their unborn flock is of the same ilk as their incursions to bring religious freedom back into the Communist Bloc. It is just that the roles have now been reversed. The difference now, more than two decades later, is that their intent aligns them with the status quo. It is a static and necessarily overt campaign. Instead of digging out the ground from under creaky conventions, failing experiments and declining superpowers, it is them who now have to protect the ramparts, man the battlements and be ever vigilant against efforts to undermine their walls.

My point is this:  The Catholic Church will and must find ways to be a part of the conversation.  And the New World ideal of separating church and state is not a crucifix that common men can now turn on them like they are the monsters. Hardly monsters, just men with a mission. Men who are well schooled and very competent in the politics of all men. In this Digital Age of blogs, citizen journalism and the ubiquitous tweet, do not be surprised, do not feign scandal, if they find ways to maneuver and outflank opponents despite being anchored to old principles. Whether for or against them, we all would do better if we remember that they are serious political operatives, and treat them as such.

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