Youth Anonymous

15 11 2010

Every generation has its trends and a predominant way of thinking. These trends change over the years. They change because just like any other thing in this world they are affected by wear and tear. In a much later history emerged the hippies which are our moms and dads. They are perhaps the more revolutionary ones since they resisted the institutionalization of war, conflict and oppression. Then came the yuppies who could be our elder brothers and sisters. The yuppies perhaps realized that there is no sense resisting change because they may have seen it as inevitable and so they sought to imbue themselves with these changes and give it a touch of their own. Then came the groupies which are derivatives from either the hippies or the yuppies. I refer to them as the groupies because after the yuppies, the generation that followed is a mix of pop culture, sub-cultures, and counter cultures that are short lived, sporadic but is definitely masterfully exploited and commercialized. The groupies would include the hip-hops, the rockers, the punks, the rastas, the emotivists or emos and other teenage mutated groupies which are unfortunately ruling the streets of Baguio.

 

What separates the groupies from the elder generations is the fact that this generation has simply no identity. The hippies had their music and their anti-establishmentarianist way of thinking. The yuppies had their liberal economic ideals. They are progressive minded. Though one may be different from the other ideologically, still both of these movements are geared towards a social identity of being one in committing a specific and coherent goal to dictate how things should be run and not merely be dictated by the system.

 

But what do we have now, an army of youth clinging to a movement that will only lead them nowhere. I may not be part of those days, but truly I am aware that gone are the days of nationalism and youth activism. The different youth groups or gangs that comprise this groupie generation make things a lot more complicated. Each gang is a vulture devouring the other and there is simply no cooperation. This generation is comparable to a huge dysfunctional ship lost in the middle of the ocean just waiting for it to sink. It has no sense of direction and is denied of faith.

 

Walk downtown Session or any street and you’d see this generation with their faces pierced, tattered jeans or loose pants, spiked hairs or tattooed necks, cigars and with the smell of alcohol, and their knife in their pocket; they’d look at you and hit you if you’d bat an eye no matter who you are and how old you are, there is simply no respect.

 

Just imagine when this generation will age. What future will we have for our sons and daughters? Will we even live long enough to have our own? What lesson will we teach them? What future will this country have if the men and women of this generation will rule? Will anyone follow or will each just keep that gangster mentality. I guess the remaining sane ones would just have to carry the rest on their shoulders and would have to work real hard for that burden. Or perhaps the tide will change and this generation will come to its senses. Perhaps.

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The Essence of Representation

15 11 2010

 

 

If one goes back to the state of nature, one could see that the world is filled with men trying to assert their will over the other.  This creates problems because one cannot simply assert his will against the world without injuring another man’s right. Hence people came to a truce for the common good and they came up with the social contract. The social contract between men basically provides that there is a need to establish a higher authority to suppress the tendency of each to impose his will to others without restraint. Hence they established the government. Part of the social contract provides that men would have to surrender some of their rights to the government and the latter will in turn secure that the people are well protected from the caprice of the other or the government itself. On the other hand, in order to secure government accountability, people will have the privilege to choose who to place in power. And it is logically assumed that whoever is it that they place in power will have to work for the will and the good of his constituents and not for his personal good nor the good of the ‘few’.

Such is the ideal. But in the real world, it is a totally different practice. We elect people into the government only to be victims of their caprices.  Case in point is the recent passing of a bill to convene a Constitutional Assembly to initiate constitutional changes. Statistics would show that majority of the Filipino people is opposed to the proposed constitutional change since it is perceived as a move to extend the seat of those in power. Not only that, the ordinary people would rather have Congress focus on more immediate concerns. Yet what did our representatives do. They acted against the will of their constituent.

There were also other instances before that the popular will of the people was not represented in Congress. The popular will of the people would not like the presence of American forces in Philippine soil yet we have the Visiting Forces Agreement ratified by Congress. The popular will of the people dictated before that they would no longer like the current president to be in power yet when a resolution was initiated for her to be impeached, the same had been denied by Congress. The popular will of the people would rather have Congress work for the interest of the common man but it seems that the personal interest of those in power is placed over and above the duty they have sworn to fulfill and render to the sovereign people.

As amply pointed out in our preamble we are the sovereign people. All government power emanates from us. Hence, it is but right and just that the people in government respect our will as the true sovereign. But we are not being done justice. There is no accountability in this system we are in. Those we place in power corrupt the power they are entrusted to hold. Now are we represented? Not at all. As a government established under republican and democratic ideals, the government and the people should be bounded by accountability. That is the essence of what we have so declared in our Constitution. Is the government accountable to the people they are supposed to represent? I guess not. They are accountable to their own interest, they are accountable to the political faction they belong to, to their parties and the interest of their parties. The essence of representation is not realized. And until we act to correct this socio-political wrong, this system will subsist only to the further detriment of our society.





The Dire State of Philippine Entertainment

15 11 2010

**Here’s a draft of a speech I once delivered.

Today I want to share my observation on the dire state of Philippine entertainment.

I am sure that you share my sentiments on how predictable Filipino movies are. If it’s an action film, you can easily ascertain that the plot will go like this:

There is this poor simple character protagonist, that he is law enforcer, that he is engrossed in putting down a big drug  syndicate, along the process of fighting the drug syndicate, the drug syndicate would kidnap the protagonist’s daughter or wife; then the hero will become a one-man army as he would be attacking the ware house of the drug syndicate; then there would be an explosive gun fight where he will be killing all the villains, and then after killing all the villains, the cops would then be arriving.

When it comes to TV shows, the same disappointment is expected. Not only do they show extremely ridiculous twists, the artists that portray these roles are often times over the top. I guess the industry also admits of the poor writing skills of Filipino drama writers when they began flooding the airwaves with Koreanovelas or Chinovelas.

Worse, what TV stations are doing now is to recreate the Koreanovelas into Pinoy Telenovelas.

The same can be observed in the country’s music industry. Ever noticed how new music artists resort into reviving old songs rather than composing their own? The obvious case here is that, we have a lot of good voices out there, but not good songwriters. And sometimes it pains me to hear that a classic song is being desecrated by some artist reviving it in an over the top manner. Also I am sick of these artists who do nothing but imitate Hollywood stars.

The point here my friends is for us to raise our level of taste. I watched a documentary before about Director Brillante Mendoza. He is the famed director of the indie film Masahista. This director has been included as one of the world’s top 15 movie directors.

He is in the same higher echelon as with more famous Hollywood directors.

What he said makes sense, the indie films that he and his colleagues are creating are indeed top of the line movies. But these movies lack support here in the Philippines. Frankly, how many of us watched the movies he directed? These are indie films that depicted daily living in the Philippines.

Abroad, his films are being recognized. He is winning in the Cannes Festival. But here his films are “nilalangaw”.

His observation is that, the media filled the people with too much trash. He likened it to junk food. People like junk food because superficially they taste good. No one likes vegetables cause they do not taste that good. But sometimes what doesn’t taste good is what’s good for you.

So people watch junk movies because they are appear to be good, but these movies offer no educational value. They are just star studded but the quality of the story and the plotting is so poor.

People resort to fantaseryes for one reason. And that is, if I may quote my friend, “escapism”. No one wants to watch documentaries or movies that depict reality because people are  simply tired of seeing it in their daily living. They’d want to have a deviation which is what the magical world of fantaseryes is offering.

Brillante Mendoza said that the reason why people the movie industry creates junks is that because people like them. They demand junks. As a solution, elevating the taste of the Filipinos may make them demand class. The quality of movies is dependent on what people demand. So if somehow we would be able to elevate the standards of the Filipino viewers, we may be able to see quality Filipino movies in the near future.

As a closing remark, I would like to bring your attention to the fact that the entertainment industry is a capitalistic venture. It creates fads and popular culture. I know very well that in this class we know how to determine which is crap and which is not.

So by exercising our good judgment, we may hopefully be able to help elevate the Filipino’s taste when it comes to entertainment. Let me then invite you establish a counterculture. A culture of critique which may slay the junk dragon that is menacing the movie industry.





The Baguio I Know

15 11 2010

This month we celebrate the founding of the City of Baguio. I’ve spent my whole life in this city and that is 22 years out of its 99 years of existence as a city. And I could bet that it is within my generation where the most dramatic changes in this city had taken place. After the earthquake, she rose from the crumbles and became a major local tourist destination in the country hence became a boomtown in northern Luzon. Ten years ago I can still remember myself waking up early in the morning to buy pandesal from a local bakery. Pandesal then was just 50 cents per piece and I could just imagine that they were much bigger before. I don’t want to take a bath before going to school because the water is so cold in the morning especially so because our water is stored in containers that would have to weather the coldness of the night. Going to school, I would have to walk from Tabora Brgy all the way to Lucban Elementary School. This is a daily routine rain or shine. I would recognize almost everyone that I would pass by along the way. There were lesser jitneys before and the taxis are yellow. Our school was wider before. It has a wide array of seed beds and plots available for vegetable planting. We planted all sorts of vegetables then. After school we would drop by Police Station 2 just right outside our school. We would catch fishes from their mini pond that they used to have at the back of the police station. The Baguio-Trinidad flyover was not there yet. During Sundays, I would serve as a sacristan in the Don Bosco Chapel. I almost know all the churchgoers. I see them all the time every Sunday. During Saturdays, our barangay captain would initiate a general cleaning drive. He’d call on us to sweep the streets of Trancoville and Tabora. We would plant golden bush along the sidewalks and pull out the grasses. The elder guys would do a bayanihan to clean the Trancoville creek. Our prize thereafter would be some sort of a community meal to reward us with our effort. And during nighttime, tanods would be up to patrol our area.

 

Then came the infrastructures that generated jobs for the city. Flocks of people came into the city to work. Not only that, local universities expanded to accommodate the growing student population. Along with this increase in population came the need for more shelters to house these local tourists, students and workers. And of course more vehicles and wider roads to accommodate them. And so the road was widened and our school’s mini farmland allotted for agriculture was sacrificed. Every vacant lot was converted into a residential or business establishment. Apartments began to rise from one corner to the other due to the increasing demand for them. One morning I just woke up to find out that I have a new neighbor. Sadly, the neighborhood began to be overcrowded and there are more strangers than there are locals. Little by little, going out becomes more and more awkward. The neighborhood I used to know is now filled up with strangers. Our playground is gone – it is now an apartment building. The tree we used to climb is gone – replaced by another building. There are no more clean-up drives because we can no longer clean spaces that became privately owned. The creek is dirtier than ever due to the indiscriminate dumping of garbage mostly coming from apartment buildings.

 

This is not to despise people who came here for greener pastures. There is nothing wrong with that one. After all, nobody really owns this city. But the thing is, most of these people who came to try their luck in this city do not have the sense of communal ownership that is somehow inherent to people who grew up here. They come here to peddle their wares but do not care to pick or clean the mess they leave behind. They don’t understand why we say “dugad mo shalosim” because they did not partake in our effort to win our accolade as the cleanest and greenest city in the country – and I wonder if we will ever win that award again. They don’t bother to pocket their dirt and they just leave them anywhere. Most of them just do not feel an attachment to this place – after all, they just came here to do business. The sadder part is, it seems that we Baguio folks are being influenced and started to treat this city the way they do.

 

This is not to generalize all these people but what I have here is a valid observation. This city has given opportunities for countless individuals coming from different parts of the country. She produced outstanding students, topnotchers, artists and other social figures. It is right to give back to the city what is due to her. Though we can no longer restore Baguio the way she was, at least we as residents, though sojourning or permanent, should have the vigilance to save what is left of her. The remaining patches of greens should be protected with zeal. I appeal to all those who come here to pursue their endeavors and dreams. This city cannot sustain for long unless and until we start caring for her. We all benefit from the opportunities that this city opens for us. Let’s not wait or this city to deteriorate because if that day comes – no amount of regret can restore it’s glory.





Filipinolosophy

15 11 2010

 

History teaches us that people never learnt anything from history. There are so many things in the past that we just can not get over with as a people. Or we just do not understand them at all. We do not know why we consented the killing of Bonifacio and never let justice be served to a hero. We do not know why we sheltered colonizers then labeled them as liberators.  We went to the streets to shout democracy; corrupted leaders crumbled for a while. We felt good and powerful thereafter, and then soon enough we forget. We brought down despots and elected one after the other. Oh how quickly we forget. So quick that we never established closure. Hence in the end we are confused with the past, we simply do not know what just happened. We lost our grasp with the present. And now we are confused with our identity as a nation, we cannot move on.

One reason why we can not establish closure is the fact that we are a bandwagon nation. We simply go with the flow. We let one event cover up one event. Maybe we are benumbed by repetitive oppression. After all, prolonged exposure to all these maladies may have just wear our senses off. And all these lies that were told us through all these years may have become “truth” that we unconsciously accepted. This culture of uncritical thinking proved us all to be so weak against this dominant system of oppression.

Sometimes I even wonder, maybe we simply set up this government so that we would have someone to blame with all these problems. And sometimes we blame our forefathers for leading this nation the wrong way. But of course blame is to be equally shared by all, blame should not be pointed to one specific generation. We look at our youth now and we see hopelessness. I guess that was also the case when our fathers were looked upon by their fathers. Such is our situation as a nation. We are caught in the quagmire of political turmoil, historical uncertainty and a multitude of social inconsistencies.

But let us not be that apathetic. Most people think that they can escape this reality by numbing their senses with gin or by watching their favorite fantaserye. When Rizal saw the potential of the Filipino youth, his generation did not have that many schools. The proliferation of information was not that widespread. So why can not we see the same potential when in fact we are more educated and empowered. We need to be critical with the past, not dwell in it. Let us start this new movement of finding who we really are, because if we do not find this social self as a nation then that identity will forever be gone. And without an identity, we can never function as one nation.





Something About Earth Day

15 11 2010

 

 

Earth Day is perhaps one of the best successes accomplished by the proponents of sustainable development (until it was partly commercialized). Earth Day is supposed to serve as a perennial reminder to human beings of the value of sustainable development and what our roles are as stewards and caretakers of this planet, at the same time, it is supposed to be a celebration and appreciation of Earth’s beauty.

 

But since its recognition in 1970 as an international event, Earth Day has served as an underscore of the world’s growing economic and environmental problems. All these issues are highlighted every time this time of the year comes. One aspect I would like to discuss and relate with current issues is the “shortage of rice” which is apparently worldwide.

 

This current issue has reminded me of one of the most criticized thoughts of all time – the Malthusian Theory. This theory simply states that “Man will breed himself to hunger [extinction].” Is this true? Will man sooner or later outnumber the resources of this planet and eventually deplete everything? And his absurd solution is the occurrence of pestilence and war so as to reduce population thereby lessening consumption.

 

In the way things are going right now, it would seem that this theory is more real than ever. The “rice shortage” that the country is experiencing is coming to a toll so much so that it affected all other aspects in the society. The “shortage” has caused more political turmoil and likewise made economic life harder for everyone most especially the common tao. It had caused a domino effect in the local market as its price skyrocketed all the prices of other commodities skyrocketed. Unfortunately the domino effect cannot be transmuted towards the wage board. And it would seem that the only way to curb consumption is to reduce consumption by either lessening individual consumption or reducing the number of consumers.

 

But come to think of it, is there really a rice shortage or food shortage  for that matter? I really refuse to concur with Malthus or with any “doomsdayer”. I strongly believe that this planet can sustain human life until kingdom comes. We do not have to wait for a major war or another Black Death to significantly reduce the population just to have food for everybody. The real problem lies in the distribution of wealth and resources. The cartelization of major consumer products has led to a choke point to the flow of goods to the market. Rice, for instance, is not really a commodity that is scarce. The world, as of current IRRI (International Rice Research Institute) statistics, has produced 645 million tons of rice (since April last year). My rough calculation displays that there is about 80.625 kilos of rice available for each human being (consumable for one year). So if there are five members in a family then there is about 400 kilos available for them in a year. Note also that not all human being have rice as their staple food so there is really more than enough for a Filipino.

 

But where have all these rice gone? Again, we look at the question of proper distribution. These goods are not made accessible for everybody. The same is only accessible to those who can afford it and the others are left behind with no food on their plate. So even if there is actually enough for everybody, these resources are stocked somewhere until they are bought. The truth is, there is more than enough for everybody. The world produces more than it consumes, there are surpluses in production. It is just a matter of making those in control of the modes of production provide a fair scheme in the distribution of goods and services.





Curse of the Free Trade Market

15 11 2010


 

The free trade market was established to build economic partnerships among nations within regions and of course the world over and has been the centerpiece of economic liberalism. It was supposed to make developing nations realize their national goals with the help, of course, of the peripheral states or the first worlds as they love to call themselves. The free trade market brought the emergence of economic blocks and trading blocks such as the European Union and the ASEAN, hence, affirming the economic interdependence of nation-states. Interdependence that transcends beyond racial or political divide. The free trade enabled the free flow of goods coming from all corners of the world. With more things developed and introduced, man’s fetishes grew beyond what he actually needs.

One key factor that fuels the free market to prevail is consumerism which feeds on man’s basic desires. Those who have control over the modes of production produce our needs and wants. Through effective advertisement, they make us want things that we’d never thought we’d need had they not developed such. In time, we would have an “imagined need” for all these stuff which would drive consumers from all over the world to demand for more. Fortunately for us Filipinos, we seem to have got along with life even without much of life’s luxuries. But in highly industrialized countries like the USA, a luxurious life is a normal life. Hence, their demands are definitely higher and more expensive than ours. The American Dream that every American wish to live is not just a cliché in their culture. It is a driving motivation that makes every American to pursue a rich and bountiful life even beyond contentment. This very dream catapulted their nation to power and prosperity.

But everything has a limit, in one article I read, the author pointed out that the reason why there is an economic slump in the stock market is due to the risky gambles that corporations invested in the USA. Due to unpaid debts that accumulated over the years, some companies would have to close due to insolvency. And to save these stocks a multi-billion dollar bailout plan is  initiated by the US government – to buy and to takeover these companies or to pay the debts so as not to drive other companies to declare bankruptcy. But an underlying reason why the stock market nearly collapsed was missed and that is American Consumerism. The American culture of expenditure proved to be a double edged sword. It worked well for prosperity it also worked well for the opposite.  American consumerism is going beyond the original concept of the American Dream so much so that the ordinary American is actually spending more than what he could afford especially so that they have their credit cards which enable them to get what they want before they could actually pay for them. Hence, his debts accumulated until such time that his daily income can no longer suffice his luxuries. This in turn leaves the credit companies unpaid which drove them to insolvency.

And who’d have thought that their expensive lifestyle would take such a significant effect on the rest of the world’s economy. Who’d have thought that by living their life rich the rest of the world will take the fall – well almost. It took us time to notice and it’s just appalling how powerful this nation really is yet disgusting in some way because why should the rest of the world suffer due to one nation’s extravagant lifestyle. But going back to the original premise, due to the free trade we are interdependent – in sickness and in health. We do not only share goods, we also share the “bads”.  And needless to say, due to the large market that it fosters, the world needs a healthy America – whether we like it or not.








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