Pwede na muling mangarap…

Gusto kong maniwala na pwede na nga. Kung ako lang, baka nga. Kaso bigla kong naalala ang mga simpleng taong sinamahan ko nitong nakaraang dalawang taong mangarap. Paano nga pala kung tanungin ako nina Yoyong, Manang Hilda, Bajekjek at iba pang mga magsasaka ng Sumilao kung totoo ngang pwede na silang mangarap muli? Paano kung tatanungin ako nina Ka Zaldy, Ate Virgie at Tatay Ben at ibba pang mga magsasaka ng Baha at Talibayog sa Calatagan kung may pag-asa na ba ang kanilang mga pangarap na magsaka ng matiwasay at mapayapa at din a manganganib na agawan sila ng lupa ng kumpanya ng mina ni Ramon Ang?

sumilao

Pwede ko bang isagot ng buong katapatan na pwede na nga? Kaso pag sinagot ko sila na pwede na nga, nakikinita ko na ang susunod na tanong? Di ba hindi naman bumoto si Noynoy pabor sa CARPER? Di ba kahit pinangako ni Pangulong Cory na ipamahagi ang Hda. Luisita sa mga magsaka ay di naman naisakatuparan hanggang sa ngayon?

Para sa akin, hindi na mahalaga ang sagot sa kung bakit nag-abstain ka sa pagboto sa CARPER bill. Palagay ko ganun talaga, may interes ang iyong pamilya sa lupa at labag sa interes ng iyong pamilya ang repormang agraryo. Hindi man ako sasang-ayon sa iyong piniling pasya pero hindi na misteryo kung bakit, at hindi ko man yun tanggap subalit maiintidihan ko.

Nakaukit sa aking alaala ang bakas ng galit, pagkalugmok, kawalan ng pag-asa sa kanilang mga mukha noong hindi naipasa ang CARPER noong Disyembre 2008. Nangahas kasi silang mangarap na maipasa ang extension at pagreporma ng CARP at pinaghirapan nila ang pangarap na yon – naglakad ng malayo, nagpakagutom, iniwan ang kanilang mga pamilya para ilaban ang CARPER. Kaya nga ang laki ng tuwa nila na naipasa rin ang CARPER sa wakas. Yun lang, namatayan kami ng isang kasama, si Ka Rene.

Pagkatapos ng mahirap at mahabang pakikipaglaban naipasa rin ang CARPER at ngayo’y batas na. Sayang hindi ka namin nakasama sa laban na iyon. Pakiramdam siguro nila hindi ka nakinig, hindi mo pinansin ang kanilang mga sakripisyo at hindi ka nakiisa sa kanilang pangarap. Kaya nga hindi ko alam kung pwede kong sasabihing pwede na nga silang mangarap?

Pwede ba silang mangarap na sa ilalim ng administrasyon ni Noynoy Aquino ay maipatupad ng maayos ang batas na ipinaglaban nila? Pwede na ba silang mangarap na dahil nagbunga ang kanilang sakripisyo at pagpupunyagi at magkakaroon na sila ng sariling lupa? Pwede ba silang mangarap na matatapos na ang pamamahagi ng lupa sa loob ng limang taong inilalaan ng CARPER?

Ayokong sabihin na sa ilalim ng administrasyon ni Noynoy Aquino ay walang pag-asa ang agrarian reform at ang mga magsasakang walang lupa. Naalala ko na sinabi mo sa Club Filipino na aasahan ng mamamayan ang iyong political will sa pagtulak ng pagbabago. Naalala ko din na kasama sa team mo si Butch Abad na naging isang magiting na DAR secretary nung panahon ni Pangulong Cory, yun nga lang sinagasaan sya ng mga panginooong maylupa at limang beses na-bypass sa Committee on Appointments.

Mahalaga para repormang agraryo at sa mga magsasaka na kakampi nila ang namumuno sa Department of Agrarian Reform. Mahalaga na ang namumunosa Dar ay naniniwala sa tunay ng repormang agraryo, mahalaga na ang secretary at ang Pangulo ay mayroong sapat na political will na itulak ang compulsory acquisition sa mga natitirang mga luapin na dapat ipamahagi sa mga Magsasaka. Palagay ko para sa mga Magsasaka, kung tama ang pagkakakilala ko sa kanila, umuubra ang pagbibigay ng tamang ehemplo. Palagay ko, kung sasabihin mo rerepasuhin natin ang lahat ng mga lupaing isinalalim sa Stock Distribution Option (SDO), gaya ng Had. Luisita at ipapamahagi ang mga ito sa pamamagitan compulsory acquisition ay pagkakatiwalaan ka ng mga magsasaka. Naiintindihan nila ang lengwahe ng sakripisyo dahil sanay sila dito.

Kapag tinanong nila ako kung maari silang mangarap sa administrasyon ng ibang mga kumakandidato, tahasan kong sasabihin na malabo. Mahirap kasing maniwala kung ang nakaupo ay kilalang nang-aagaw ng lupa o kaya ay kurakot.

Pero kung ang tanong ay may pag-asa ba ang repormang agraryo at ang kanilang mga pangarap sa administrasyong Aquino, ang sagot ay nasa iyong mga kamay.

The Story of a Boy

Once upon a time there was a boy. His name was Rafael S. Gonzales, or me. I was born in July 17, 1997. Sometimes my parents still tell stories about me when I was a little baby. I started school some time in 2000.

Almost all the grades I got were outstanding except for my penmanship. I was even awarded most obedient, best in CLE, and best in Reading. When I turned kinder 1, my teachers said that I can easily make friends. When I was kinder 2 I was almost an independent learner, but because of my handwriting I wasn’t. When I turned grade one I had problems in Math and Filipino. Then when I turned grade 3 I felt strange because I realized I could draw really good, and was addicted to Naruto, I also got a gold medal in a chess tournament. In grade 4 I learned how to play Basketball. Now I’m in grade 5 I still have problems with Math and Filipino, and my penmanship. My story isn’t finished yet but that is how it ends, for now

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WHOA!!!! My little boy can write! The story I posted above is what Adee wrote for his assignment in his language class. It was originally posted by Mommy Jinkee as comment in my about page. Oh boy, Adee fills my heart with pride.  Adee, keep on writing anak. Love and miss you.

BBC’s Harry and Paul racist sketch against Pinays

Whew! when will it ever stop? After the Desperate Housewives insult on Philippine medical schools and Filipino doctors, here comes another racist and insulting episode from the British Broadcasting Company’s Harry and Paul show.

The less than 1 minute sketch  packed racist and sexist insults on Filipina domestic helpers abroad.

Yeah, yeah, yeah… one may say that we are just too onion-skinned to be hurt and insulted by comedians who get their breaks by dishing out “jokes’ like this. I wouldn’t find it funny even if it were a British maid who was portrayed in the sketch… nor any other woman of any nationality. It is simply disgusting and of bad taste. What makes more painful for Filipina domestics in particular is that the sketch has turned the violence and sexual abuse the Filipinas suffer abroad into something that is comic.

Yes, we Filipinos are fond of making fun out of ourselves, our situation, our problems, our culture and we, too, are fond of making jokes about other people. We, too, have a thousand and one racist and sexist jokes. BUT that does not make this offense against Filipinas less grievous. To portray a Filipina maid as a sexual object and make her plight something to be laughed at is entirely a different thing.

I support Rep. Risa Hontiveros’ call for an apology from the BBC for this grave insult.

BBC apology demanded for ‘racist’ show

By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:39:00 10/06/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) should apologize for airing a segment of a comedy show last month that was a “racist, humiliating, and disgusting” portrayal of a Filipina domestic helper, a lawmaker at the House of Representatives demanded Monday.

Akbayan partylist Representative Risa Hontiveros also asked the Department of Foreign Affairs to file a complaint against the British government so that the latter would “look into the issue and correct the sickening joke.”

Hontiveros was referring to a skit shown on “Harry and Paul” aired on BBC on September 26 that was also posted on
youtube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FL9KrTGx28E.

In the skit, a postman approached comedian Harry Enfield, who was agitated and was shouting at someone, and asked him what was going on.

It turned out that the co-host Paul Whitehouse was seated on a chair on his lawn and beside him was a gyrating young girl in a grey uniform and an apron.

Harry then told the postman that he was shouting at his Filipino maid to do her job and get his friend Paul to mate with her.

He kept ordering the girl to gyrate and dance in front of Paul and even instructed her to “hump him.” When an indifferent Paul stood up to go inside the house, Harry scolded the Filipina telling her to get out.

The scene ended with the postman sidling up to the Filipina and whispering to her as they walked off together.

“It was revolting. It was a disgusting and insensitive and racist attempt to satirize a scene of exploitation,” Hontiveros said.

She added that the show “trivializes an act of abuse commonly experienced by Filipina workers abroad.”

“This has to be corrected, otherwise, it would become easy for other media outfits to use Filipina workers abroad as an object of sexual ridicule. …The media should be a partner against human trafficking and not an unwitting promoter of abuse because of insensitive and racist portrayals of women in trafficking,” she said.

(youtube video courtesy of thetrueasiatictribe)

On the road again

In a couple of hours I will be going to Calatagan again (for the nth time). This time archbishop Pabillo will be visiting the Calatagan farmers in their homes and in their farms. Aside from the archbishop’s visit, my mission there is to look into the preparations of the Caltagan Farmers’ walk to Manila. Yes, the farmers will walk from Baha and Talibayog in Calatagan to Manila again.

This is the third time that farmers from Calatagan will walk to Manila. The first time they walked was last December when they joined the  Sumilao farmers who all all the 1,700 kilometers from Bukidnon to Manila. The Calatagan farmers walked side by side with the Sumilao farmers from Laguna to Manila just to show their solidarity. The second time they walked was last April. This time it was to campaign for their own land problem in Calatagan. Their sacrifices between April and June this year seem not sufficient enough for the calloused hearts of those in government.so they will walk again but thiis time it will be the original Emancipation Patent holders who will do the walking.

When they first suggested that they will walk again, I was a bit skeptical. Why walk again when they have already done it before? What’s new? the old farmers will do the walking they replied. when they asked for one week to consult the other farmers I did not expect more than 10 takers. The walk to Manila which is around 300 kilometers, though very short compared to the 1,700 kms of the Sumilao farmers, will be very difficult and risky for the old farmers. The next time we met they told us 42 farmers between the ages 50-70 years old agreed to participate in the walk.  They said they will walk in a pace that the slowest of them can go and as far as the weakest of them can take each day. They wont mind if it will take them a month to reach Manila. What is importan to them is that they will show how much the oldest among them can endure and sacrifice for the piece of land that is theirs and to fight the greedy who are intent on turning their farmlands into a mining area.

i do not know where they get their courage and strength to even think of walking that far. Maybe it is the threat of losing the farms which they have developed with their own hands. Maybe it is the desperation and frustration with the DENR and the DAR who seem to be blinded at their woes and their rights as agrarian reform beneficiaries. Maybe it is the seeming hopelessness in the fight against the destruction of their community and the environment around them.

I feel so small in the face these farmers who desperately seek to find hope through their own sacrifices. I feel so small in the face of these farmers who are willing to squeeze every  ounce of strength from their bodies to fight for their rights, defend their farms and their community. Maybe they are right, maybe the best way to fight corporate greed is through their selfless sacrifice.

They will walk again. May they find the hope that they seek and the victory that they deserve.

Gloria’s SONA version 8

New props…

New statistics…

New scapegoat…

Same old trying-hard-to-emote face…

Same old boring voice…

Unlike the previous years, yesterday I watched and listened to GMA’s SONA  with fascination. Of course I have already anticipated the props…. the AVP on that giant screen, the people from all walks of life that she paraded as if in an exposition of the success of her administration. I knew she would lie, that she would magnify the value of small gains and improvements and deflate the gravity of the problems. But I was curious about how her spin doctors will weave her speech and on whom or what the blame will fall. So I listened with fascination.

Gloria’s message was quite simple… she made unpopular economic policy reforms that made her suffer in the opinion polls, but the country was on its way not only to recovery but to progress at the start of the year unfortunately the world economic crisis and the food crisis swept all the gains like a “giant tsunami” that swept across the globe but fortunately because of her upnpopular reforms our strong economy cushioned the impact of the global crises.

So what she was really saying was don’t blame the rice crisis on me… its a worldwide problem. Don’t blame the rising prices of oil and all other commodities on me… its the state of the world economy. Don’t blame me… in fact thank me because my Presidency saved that nation from the full impact of the world’s problems. I’m sure the traditional politicians will buy that line. I don’t.

Yes. across the globe nations are facing a food crisis and we have been a net importer of rice since the Spanish time. But does that mean that our own rice crisis is not a result of wrong priorities? Countries like Vietnam and Thailand grew from net rice importers to being among Asia’s biggest exporters of rice. Yes the world is facing a food crisis but that doesn’t explain why the Philippines is not self-sufficient in terms of food. We are only affected by the crisis of rice because we import rice from the international market but it does not explain why we have to import rice in the first place.

For decades government sacrificed our agricultural lands in the name of industrialization – converting prime and irrigated agricultural lands  into industrial zones. What was left of our agricultural lands we devoted to export crops to give Japan and the rest of the world their bananas and pineapples for dessert. For decades the government left the farmers to fend for themselves with only a pittance of government support. Government opened our domestic market to allow foreign agricultural products (which  are highly  subsidized and therefore cheap) to compete with our own products. This killed the Filipino farmers who do not even have decent roads to bring their produce to the market.

Mrs. Arroyo. the rice crisis and the food crisis for that matter is not about the worldwide food crisis. It is about our government, yours and those before you neglecting our own agricultural sector. Together with the OFWs, our agricultural sector is what has been saving our economy for decades.

She extolled the VAT as the savior of our economy. Gloria said that the VAT gave government enough resources to subsidize the poor and protect them from the harsh impact of the worldwide economic slowdown. If only our politicians, the President and her family primary among them, will cut their corruption to half, we would have more than enough resources not only for subsidies but for strategic development programs and projects as well. She said P500 million was allocated for access to clean water but that is just 150% bigger than the P200M Chairman Ben Abalos offered  to  Chairman Romulo Neri as bribe in the ZTE scandal? That too is just equal to the P500M fertilizer scam of Jokjok Bolante.

She said she had allocated P3 billion to so that the Ombudsman can go after the thieves in government. Very wisely done indeed. Madame President. I almost forgot you are not under the jurisdiction of the Ombudsman. How much did you spend to prevent Congress from impeaching you?

GMA also boasted that her administration has exceeded its targets year after year in the last 7 years in distributing lands under agrarian reform. TRUE! But that is only because your administration targets only 100,000 each year compared to the targets of previous administrations which exceeded yours. By targetting only a mere 100,000 hectares annually for the last 7 years, you succeeded in delaying land distribution and that is the reason why the termination of the Agrarian Reform Fund has overtaken the agrarian reform implementation and is now in limbo. Should the farmers thank you for bringing them into this quagmire?

The State of the Nation Address is an opportunity for the President to share with the nation in general and the two Houses of Congress in particular on the directions that the Executive wishes to lead the country into. It is supposed to guide the legislative branch of government as to the priorities of the present administration so that they too can prioritize legislation to that direction. Yes Madame President, you can paint the State Of the Nation Address whichever way you want. In your administration it is not what your public pronouncements that matter to Congress and your government but how much pork barrel you release for them to make them follow your lead. In today’s Philippines, Madame President, it not not what you publicly declare that matters to Congress but what you wish to hide from the public. For the Congress of the Philippines, the political crisis that you have led us into is a big money-making machine. That is the real state of the nation.

Instant noodles para sa SONA ni Gloria

“Instant noodles – flavorful, cheap, but nutrition-wise empty – have become the staple food for millions of Filipinos. This summarizes the economic achievement of the Arroyo administration. This also symbolizes the failure of the government’s anti-poverty programs,” Hontiveros said.

According to the Inquirer.net that is how AKBAYAN Representative Risa Hontiveros – Baraquel describes what she expects of the State of the Nation Address (SONA) the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will deliver today at the joint session of the House of Representatives and the Senate. If I remember right, this is Gloria’s 8th SONA since she was catapulted into power after EDSA II and her fourth SONA since being declared winner of the 2004 Presidential Elections with the help of the great mathematician Mr. Virgilio “Hello Garci” Garcillano and his ilk in the COMELEC.

I do not think Risa was referring to the lifeless delivery of Gloria’s SONA (or any other speech for that matter) when she likened the SONA to “instant noodles” but the lack of substance. When we listen to Gloria deliver her SONA and all the claims she makes one cannot help but wonder if she is talking about the state of the Philippines and not some fictional country.

There are a few things I remember from the last year’s SONA – her mentioning of the opening of Jollibee in Basilan as proof of economic growth in the province; the litany of successes and many of them personal successes of individual Filipinos (si ganun nanalo sa ganitong award sa ganitong bansa, si ganito nanalo sa ganung contest sa ganireng bansa etc.) as proof that the country is doing well. But these are the least of her SONA’s faults.

What I find alarming is that she can be very blatant and shameless in her SONA. I remember her thanking General Palparan for his defense of democracy and human rights. I remember too, that she made special mention of the significance of the CYBER CORRIDOR which we later on learned meant the ZTE deal.

I do not know what boasts Gloria will make in this afternoon’s SONA but I am sure she will boast. She will find a way to devalue the crises our country is facing and inflate the value of her government’s “subsidies” for the poor. She will find a way to put the blame on the skyrocketing of the oil prices and exalt her government’s remedies for the poor. She will find a way to deflate the gravity of the food crisis and extol her dole-outs for the poor. She will find a way to hide the billions that she and her cabal are stealing from the country’s coffers and magnify the significance of the EVAT which is wringing the people dry.

Expect Gloria to scrape every scrap of good news to cover the rottenness of her administration. Expect Gloria bring every props she can carry to Congress to extol her performance… but in the end it will be very difficult to convince the hungry… yes expect her SONA to be flavorful and colorful but bereft of substance and bankrupt in the truth… YAKISONA nga eh.

Swimming against the current

From out of the dust bins of the House of Representatives, the Reproductive Health Bill authored by Rep. Edcel Lagman and 48 other members of the House of Representatives was thrown into the center-stage by the very strong and vocal opposition from no less than the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines. The bill was condemned as if it were the carved from the horns of the devil himself. Bishops all over the country, including the handful I admire and respect, issued pastoral statements and mobilized the faithful against it. From out of the storage bins of oblivion the Repro health bill has become a pariah that congressmen and women who will seek re-election in 2010 (a little more than a year from now) will not touch with a ten-foot pole. the President has given in to the pressures of the Catholic Church, co-authors have withdrawn and apologized to the church. With so much anger and condemnation that resulted in so much fear, the last nail had sealed the bills coffin. Rest in peace Reproductive Health Bill.

What saddens me is not really that the bill suffered a sudden death. This is not the first time that it has died. Every beginning of a new Congress a reproductive health bill is filed and every congress the bill is killed. Again what saddens me is not that it died but how it was killed. The Catholic church simply branded the bill as promoting abortion, that was the death sentence. It has been explained time and again that nowhere in the bill can you find a promotion of abortion. But on this issue, the church leaders will only listen to themselves.

What saddens me is the fact that the issues surrounding the need for a reproductive health bill to be enacted – poverty, high population growth, lack of access to health care and affordable medicines, widespread ignorance about reproductive health – were never raised. The death of the bill has left these issues and concerns unanswered and not addressed. What saddens me is that the church has merely used its coercive force to kill the bill and no debate on the merits and the issues ensued.

I stand in awe at the power and clout that the church is displaying nowadays. I just wished they have used the same power, influence and clout to push for the passage of the CARP reform and extension bill in Congress. I just wished that the church made a stand this strong against the corruption and the impunity that it has witnessed under the Arroyo regime.

Swimming against the current is difficult and painful. Once upon a time, a man swam against the currents of his time. He ended up hanging in glory on a cross. He gives us hope. Swim!