Friday, December 08, 2006

Chacha once again

The first street action I ever participated in was an anti-chacha rally.

This was way back in 1998 or 1999, the time of deposed Pres. Joseph Estrada. I was part of Ateneo's Sanggunian then, and I think, if memory serves me right, this was after we had created the Union of Catholic Student Councils. We were there protesting the Estrada-led chacha not on the merits of any proposed ammendment to the Constitution, but on it being a thinly-veiled attempt to remove term limits.

"Dancing" the chacha seems to be a preoccupation of every administration after 1986 except Cory's. Pres. Ramos tried to do it, and, as mentioned above, so did Estrada. Gloria trying the same seems to be par for the course.

The end result of each chacha has always been the same: failure. Because they were all presented to the public as having a motive other than improving on the (IMHO) wonderful 1987 Constitution, chacha has always fallen flat on its face.

Yesterday, after marathon sessions, the House of Representatives approved a Resolution that would turn Congress into a Constituent Assembly. Today, news is rife on protest actions against this latest attempt to change the '87, inlcuding one next Friday that would see the Catholic Church and the Protestant churches unite for a massive rally versus the House resolution.

If this was pre-Gloriagate, I would say actions led by the Church have a very, very good chance of succeding. This is a country where religious forces have played a role as counter to excesses of the political forces. This is still a country with 80% of its population as Christians who, despite being lax in attending Sunday Mass or strictly following the precepts of their faith, hold their religious leaders in high regard much, much more than their political leaders.

I would like to see how this goes. I hope the planners of next Friday's mass action have taken into consideration the fact that a lot of things have changed since the failed power grab of 8 July 2005. Of course the Catholic Church can still call on one of its most powerful weapons, the Catholic Educators Association of the Philippines (CEAP), which oversees the Catholic schools. That is a force to reckon with, although the Catholic schools, specifically the UCSC, have not engaged in any mass action since the attempted ouster of Chief Justice Davide in 2003.

We'll see. This would be one interesting pageant to observe.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


It has been two weeks or so since the Philippines' Commission on Elections (COMELEC) came out with its decision on the LP leadership issue. I've taken this long to even begin commenting on the bloody thing not because we "lost" on some aspects of the case, but due to my... disbelief at the response of Drilon and his cabal over the whole fiasco.

Funny, but I actually can't find a word to describe my reaction to their responses. Disbelief? Astounded? Outraged? Maybe confused? No, not that one. I mean, the way they reacted - question the COMELEC resolution, question the COMELEC itself, when it was they who brought it to COMELEC for arbitration in the first place - was a high-probability Scenario. We all knew that short of, uh, "unconditional victory" for them, Drilon's faction would most likely not abide by any decision.

I heard the Abads are taking a hardline stance to this, as in no reconciliation with the Atienza faction, or at least the Mayor himself. That was the first shock, I guess. Assuming this is true, I would truly feel sad. All-throughout this fiasco, I have always maintained that the Abads were some of the moderating influences in the Drilon faction, that people like Chito and Chit are the hardliners, the ones who would advocate a "total surrender" and "scorched earth" policy to this political battle.

And then there's that question on the election. I remember feeling the outrage when Chito actually had the gall to, ah, accuse the Atienza group as having an "election mentality" during the hearings. It was like a "duh" statement. I almost forgot decorum then, wanting to shout at Chito, "dude, we're the Liberal Party, remember? Of course we'll always favor elections!" And now that COMELEC has decided only an election can solve this, they don't want to honor it.

That was the first disconnect. Neric was so arrogant in Cambodia to claim that they are the "soul" of liberalism (you know, that statement of sheer and utter arrogance has somehow stuck in my mind like bad, spent chewing gum on the soles of your shoes...). Taking off from that statement, one would assume that these people would subscribe to values that form the core of the liberal ideals.

Last time I looked, liberal democracy holds the ballot sacrosanct as the truest expression of the people's will. If there is a question of fairness and/or honesty in an election, you question the process after and present proof of wrongdoing, or you do a NAMFREL and design a mechanism that ensures the sanctity of the elections. You don't question the basic principle of the process. You don't say one side is bad because they have an "election mentality" and still lay claim to the title Liberal.

The second disconnect is there. These people have been claiming since July 8 that they represent the Party. That they did nothing wrong last July 8.

If so, logic dictates that the party in the right - pun not intended - in this contest should be confident, regardless of the situation. When the COMELEC said that, "ok, Atienza's little event last March 2 was indeed "rump", we're ordering him to refrain from representing the Party, but you, Mr. Drilon are not President anymore either so we're calling an election," the appropriate reaction for people supposedly in the "right" side of the contest should have been, "ah, ok. Kewl. When is this?"

This should be elementary. If one's hand was not in the cookie jar when mommy came back, one shouldn't be scared to face mommy.

But the first thing the Drilon cabal did was question COMELEC's right to hold the election and we've heard they're bringing it all the way to the Supreme Court.

"Duh" comes to mind.

On the question of COMELEC "interference" to what is essentially an internal Party matter, the answer can be found in the Resolution itself, something that any sane and rational individual without any other agenda than seeing the LP united again will say is appropriate: there is a sense of distrust between both camps.

Once again with the "duh" for the Drilon camp. Once again, it should be elementary, so much so that a streetkid of maybe 6 years old, if the language was devoid of legalistic and academic terms, would understand: how can one side hold an election that the other would recognize when its most likely each side would rather tear off the heads of the other?

Its so basic it almost hurts. Even a freshie in International Relations or Conflict Resolution will tell you that for two warring parties to come to an agreement, a third party is needed to broker talks. Does the third party dictate for the other two? They'd be morons to allow that. Someone is needed to ensure that a resolution is achieved, something that cannot happen if both sides in a conflict are left to their own devices.

Or, let's put it this way: snide remarks aside from the anti-Gloria camp, is it the COMELEC who elects your public official every three years?

If supervision of an election by a COMELEC means its that poll body that decides for those it merely supervises, than all elections in democratic societies worldwide are shams, because a third party other than those concerned ran them. Besides, basic english: there is a profound difference from supervise and select. Even Grade school students can tell you that, how much more people with the high academic credentials of the Drilon faction?

And what's this crap about bringing it all the way to the Supreme Court? Most likely, the high court will just throw away their petition. I mean, if I was an SC magistrate, I'd ask one simple question to Drilon: why not? I mean, why not an election? What's wrong with holding one and having COMELEC supervise it? Aren't you people in the LP going to elect these leaders anyway, and not the COMELEC?

I think the disconnect here is in my thinking that, at least, some of them have the welfare of the Party and its members in mind. We have been badly hit by this internal conflict. At least one Governor is gone, and several local leaders. All of our projects and programs are on hold. Far from just effectively stopping the LP's resurgence in its tracks, all the gains of the last six years or so may have just been obliterated by the irresponsible action - and their highly suspicious and insidious inaction, with regard to the call for a conveneing of the NECO - of less than two dozen people starting 8 July 2005. Liberal Philippines is gone, the Liberal Family is gone, Dr. Meinardus is gone, the Party's website should be renamed and even now those evil, evil people are trying to create their very own KALIPI, using Taiwanese money supposedly meant for "sectoral" development. Even worse for the LP, we should have been preparing for nextyear's mid-term elections some four months ago. Instead, we're stuck in a rut and the hole's getting deeper, wider and murkier every day.

Disconnect. In communications parlance, this points to a... disparity between what's being said, to what is actually happening. The Message is being contradicted by actions from the Sender, and so the Reciever at the very least is confused because the Message does not connect - hence, the "disconnect" - with other data coming from its Sender.

If they did no wrong to the Party, its leaders and its members, then they shouldn't be afraid to face an accounting.

If they are paragons of civil society and liberal democracy like they trumpet they are, then they shouldn't be afraid of any electoral process because the ballot is the essence of democracy.

If they truly had the interests of the Party at heart, and not see it simply as another tool to remove Gloria, then they should be of the mindset of ending this early, rather than using the legal system itself to stifle democracy.

Democracy can't be "conditional," in the sense that one group, simply because they label themselves the "good guys", can demand it while denying it to others when it doesn't suit their purposes. If they demanded democracy and freedom from Gloria, asking for the right to choose the leader they think is best, then they shouldn't deny the same to others when demanded of them.

You can't go around demanding the right to speak and then interrupting someone else when they start saying something you don't like or runs counter to your position, and still call yourself a liberal democrat. That goes counter to several core values of liberalism: tolerance and freedom, among others. Only Communists regard opinions other than that of theirs as wrong, and last time we heard, they were telling the worldwide liberal community that they were the soul of Philippine liberalism.

You can't keep saying one thing, especially over media, and do or demand another. That's disconnect. Too much, and static happens, or dissonance. PR and communication principles allow for the manipulation of information for a desired effect, but you can "weave" a reality only so much before it unravels in the face of its own contradictions.

If only it were just them who'd be affected by the unravelling. Because it looks like they're very, very much willing to take us all down with them...

Friday, October 06, 2006

When trust blinds

Actually, this was a post I was supposed to do last week. Unfortunately, the storm named Milenyo ("Millenium", in English) struck and the NCR was without electricity starting Thursday.

What sparked my reflections on the above was a conversation I witnessed during one event we attended. The focal point there was the statement of one of the persons in the conversation that, if he was still the leader of the LP's youth wing, KALIPI, he'd choose Drilon over Atienza, simply because all of our idols - Butch and Dina Abad, Mar Roxas, etc. - were there.

Once again, this brought home the value that Strategic Constituents have. Entities like the StratCons, because of the influence they exert on the thinking processes of those in their circle, have such a powerful sway over the way those that look to them for guidance decide on a campaign or issue.

But, there are certain targets that, theoretically, are not as affected by StratCons as, say, the general public. In the case of leaders of civil society, there is that certain expectation that, even given the role Strategic Constituents play in their decision-making, people working in the "Movment", well, think. Its not so much that you'd do what your StratCon says should be done but that the person has garnered so much of your respect that his/her opinion weighs heavily on the decisions you'll make.

This is partly why I... abhor the situation the LP is in, where KALIPI has been placed in. It was like the elders of ours, despite all the training and indoctrination they gave us under the liberal banner, would expect us to just accept the information they were giving.

Didn't they teach us to think, to discern? Didn't they encourage us to dissent if decency and the truth are on the line? Didn't they bring us up hating justifying the means used to achieve a certain end, to rail against injustice?

I wanted so ask my friend if he'll be of the same opinion if he knew the way Drilon and his people persecuted KALIPI for simply asking for explanations, for the youth wing doing its duty of calling its elders to rein in their impulses and follow the procedures of the Party. What would my friend say if I pointed out why Noynoy Aquino's memorandum following July 8 was the cloth used to cover up the lies of that date? What if I told him of what they did to me personally? Of the sheer underhandedness, of the black propaganda and character assasination, of the abridgement of the very essence of the ideology our elders on the other side supposedly stood for? Would my friend be able to justify what was done by CALD to Jan in Cambodia, or the fact that, for an organization supposedly made up of liberals and democrats, they used methods more akin to the Communist Party to vindicate their side?

In one sense, I am thankful for them, for tearing away the veil from my eyes. There was a time not so long ago that any pronouncements from my elders would have been taken as gospel truth. Now, given all they have done - and not done - just to see Gloria fall, I can nevermore be blinded by the trust I have given them.

Assuming, I can still trust them as much as I once did. If you can be sacrificed so easily for a goal that is in itself suspect and so filled with the taint of ambition and misguided self-righteousness, how can trust be restored?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Media, influencing perceptions and its impact on the truth

Whoever said information would be the key commodity of this new, digital world wasn't just spouting sci-fi gibberish.

But then, as a Communications major, I can appreciate the way information is processed both by the general public and the ones we mark as our "Targets" for the campaigns we design and execute. You have a message. It passess through a medium. It is transmitted to the intended (and unintended) reciever.

Of course, its never as simple as that. The old Sender->Reciever model of Communications cannot fully illustrate the complexities that come with information processing.

For one it doesn't take into account the role the Gatekeepers of Information play in the whole process. In most modern, (and ironically) democratic societies, the general public do not get the, ah, "raw data," or the information on an issue in its raw state. In most cases, people get their information from two sources: mainstream media, and the government. The problem here is that the latter usually tailors its information to make it look good, or at least to lessen the impact of bad news, while the former tailors its information to a specific agenda.

That's the Sender side of the equation. On the Reciever side, you have the Strategic Constituents, the persons that people consult with, or whose views on an issue are valued by a certain group, before a decision on an issue is made. If I remember my PR class right, StratCons are defined as people (or entities) that can "help or hinder your campaign."

All these, along with the biases of a culture and the personal history of an individual, all help to influence the way a particular piece of information is processed and, ultimately, determines its effects.

I gave that long-winded discussion on the Communications process in order to show how somethings we view as truth may just be a matter of perception.

For example: one of the primary stories in today's Philippine Daily Inquirer has as header, "GMA allies begin burial ceremony for impeach bid." This, ladies and gentlemen, is a story on the above-fold, front page area of the most widely-read and generally respected newspapers of the country.

There is this great debate on whether news should be of the "BBC" type - that is, shorn of sensationalism, given straight to the point and without any commentaries from those giving the report - to the "CNN" type, the so-called "distinctive" journalism where a newscaster is oftentimes asked by the anchor to give his or her views on the event.

Because the way information gets presented can and does determine how a reciever processes that information. Take away a large chunk of "objectivity" in a news report, and you'll end up with something that actually goes beyond simply informing the public to something that sets the agenda for the public.

But this somehow defeats the concept of information-sharing and dessimination in a democracy. Part of the reason why the Opinion section - with its biases and rhetoric - is in the middle of a paper,or why commentaries are shown separate from a newscast, is that you have a chance in the preceeding pages or through the 6:00 news to see the information in a more-or-less objective state. Its like eating; rumors are appetizers, the front page news is the main course, and the opinion page is either dessert or the patis and toyo that liven up the dish.

The problem here is that perceptions get formed not through the ideal way of a person getting information and then coming up with what we call an informed decision through deliberation and reflection, but through exposure to biases. In Comm parlance, the information recieved by the public is already "slanted", and when they talk to their StratCons, and somehow the "slant" resonates with the StratCon's ideas, it gets reinforced. There is no tension between competing data that allows for an informed decision because all the information someone gets is slanted one way.

And this should be a cause for concern. I once read something on the nursing leak, totally unrelated to the issue of Gloria's legitimacy. And yet, the letter sender somehow connected the two, even to saying that there is "overwhelming proof" of Gloria's cheating.

AGAIN, I will say that I do not like her and is not here to defend her. But the thing is... has there really been proof to the level that you can say, beyond reasonable doubt, that she did cheat? My information sources tell me that, at the very least, they all cheated. Or at least tried to; FPJ's group lacked the resources to do so. Besides, I have personal experience that acts as a tension to what mainstream media says, what PCIJ says and what even my own StratCon says.

But that's me. I was Trained as an intelligence operative, as an analyst within a security and intelligence context, so I'm usually paranoid of information I recieve. And, yes, being a Communications major, knowing that information can be manipulated to achieve a particular end, you tend to be careful of accepting something at face value.

What about the general public? What kind of defense does the people have when their sources of supposedly-reliabel information, or their Strategic Constituents, all seem to conspire to slant the information they recieve in order to advance their goals and private agendas?

People think its a truism that "Gloria cheated" or that there is "overwhelming proof" to her cheating not because there is... but because its all been made - by mainstream media, by PCIJ, by agenda-driven groups who used to be the respectable branch of Civil society - to appear that way. Because this is the Truth certain people want to be accepted as, and unfortunately for the general public they are in control of both the Gatekeepers of Information and are the Strategic Constituents themselves.

What can you consider as Truth then, when even supposed paragons and reliable sources of information start manipulating the facts and the presentation of information in order to make the Truth appear as they want it to be, and not as it should be?

Friday, July 28, 2006

Dictatorship as nightmare

And I mean that literally.

It was perhaps one of the weirdest dreams I've ever had. From what I can recall, the first scenes were of armed men storming a sleeping me in my house. The next scenes are held in a large complex that seems like a school and mall (in my Dreamscape, two regular areas I dream in is one that looks like the Ateneo, and another that seems to be a mall of some sort). Come to think of it, the layout appears to be similar to Ayala Alabang, although my spatial sense told me its somewhere in QC.

But more than the location, what bothered me, even after waking, was the palpable sense of... fear. Yes, fear. My dream-self was aware of the situation it was in - that of a dictatorship, or at least a regime under suppressed liberties - yet I could feel myself genuinely afraid. This isn't the common fear of dying (especially a potentially gruesome death) in nightmares. This is no "ordinary" nightmare horror but one that seems to cut deeper than the instinctive fear of the ending of one's life.

Understand that I have training to what some people might call as Dreamwalking. In most, if not all, my dreams, I am after a time aware that I am dreaming and can then exert a certain level of control over my dreamscape, although most times I let the whole dream be just to see where this latest story the supposed random firing of my synapses has made will lead to. Despite this, I've had really horrifying dreams but if anything I consider these nightmares as a "Danger Room" - in reference to the virtual-reality training facility of the X-men - where I can have a bit of training, at least in facing my fears and anxieties, so I let even these nightmares be and try to resolve them. Yet I have rarely been totally afraid in a dream or nightmare, and even rarer are the times when I resort to my training and wake myself up.

This was somehow... different. The... horror in the nightmare that was in the context of what may be Martial Rule stems, in my analysis, in the utter... helplessness in wishing to do or say something and not being able to do it for fear of the tools of a dictatorial state picking you up for transgressing its wishes. I wanted to scream. I wanted to rant at the state, to show my anger... but I couldn't. Something was holding me back. Something was pressing like a vise at the core of my soul and preventing me, somehow, even with the knowledge that it was a dream, from doing what I wanted to.

I think that is where the horror comes from. I wasn't born free, my mother having birthed me in 1977, or five years after Marcos declared Martial Law. But I did come of age in an era of democracy. One of my most vivid memories remains that of watching the Wall fall, and knowing at that moment, even as a pre-teen, how it felt, what it symbolized. I was a teenager in the time of the celebration of democracy and freedom, the first generation of Filipinos to know how it feels like to be free, and I became a young adult at a time when democracy and freedom seemed to be the common theme worldwide, despite all the troubles of the early 21st century.

The malls, the clubs, the coffee shops, the burning of our airwaves by celfones, our ubiquitous use of the internet, our generation's celebrated - and sometimes lamented - outspokenness and nature that abhors limitations and control, even our propensity to come home in the wee hours of the morning... these are all things that we take almost for granted as we do breathing, things that are only possible within the context of the democracy hard won against a two-decade conjugal dictatorship. Generation X and beyond cannot be what it is without these freedoms we enjoy and celebrate, even as some of us have joined official adulthood by having our own kids.

And that, perhaps, is what truly made my nightmare of a land under dictatorial rule frightening: the suppression of something that we have never experienced being without. I participated in the actions before, during and after the Second People Power. I have been with the youth movement at least since 1998. Yet in all this I remained operating within a more-or-less democratic system. We were free to raise our fists against the status quo. We were free to question and even take to task loudly those who rule us. We were even free to call the President of the Republic such horrid names that we wouldn't even use against our most bitter rivals.

True, for us who are active in the movement, who have the gall to call ourselves youth leaders, we know of those dark days of Martial Rule but we have known no other world except the one we came into consciousness. We were too young to have known the fear and anger and frustration of the dictatorship; all we know was we couldn't watch Voltes V nor play videogames anymore.

All we've ever known is a life where you can party till you drop the next morning (and on the streets, too!), play videogames until your eyes water, and watch all the animation, violent movies and adult flicks you can get your hands on. All we've known is a world where the worst we can get for speaking our mind and/or speaking out against our elders is a grounding or a slap on the wrist. Heck, it's even a world that encourages the young to speak out and challenge authority. Meek, silent and opinionless are just soo... uncool in the post-Martial Law Philippines.

But last night, confronted even with the simulacrum of the specter of despotism in a realm I was fully in control, I was powerless before it in fear despite my loathing and outrage at it. And all I could do, despite my training, despite all my experiences, was to press the mental equivalent of a reset button and wake up. Because I just couldn't imagine living in such a world where I was not free to do as I wish, when I want to.

I hope this is one nightmare that will not become a reality. For real life does not give you that option of waking up to a better existence, if the current one has become too horrible to live in.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Essay writing contest on human rights and democracy

The Ateneo Human Rights Center and the Friedrich Naumann Foundation Manila Office are sponsoring the above essay writing contest. For the mechanics, click on the image above for the link to the details found in the FNF site.

As for the prizes...

The 15 best essays shall receive prizes as follows: the top 4 -15 essays will receive P3,000 each, the third prize essay will receive P10,000, the second prize essay will receive P15,000, and the first prize essay will receive a trip to Germany and a seminar on human rights at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation Leadership Academy. Winning essays will also be published in a book.

I hope a lot of people join. I want to see just where the discussion on the topic will go to. The contest wishes to answer the question, Does the universality of Human Rights require a particular type of democracy? Even an initial survey of the data on this topic showed a promising amount of issues that encourages a lively debate.

And there is the trip to Germany, hehe. I miss the Academy...

Monday, July 24, 2006

Some thoughts on SONA 2006

What an... interesting SONA.

The President appeared to be in an upbeat mood... and was probably a little bit too excited for her SONA, as she stepped up to give her speech even before the singing of the National Anthem. Whoops. I expect several Protocol Officers to get a really good tongue lashing later, as well this little incident getting blown totally out of proportion by the media and her enemies.

Quite a bit of names congratulated there, and not a few ribbing. She even took a playful jab at Makati Rep. Teddy Boy Locsin.

She rattled off quite a good number of programs, nearly all of it infrastructure in nature: roads, sea and air facilities, railways... In one sense, the construction of all these transportation infrastructure makes sense on a strategic level: roads, rail facilities, seaports and aerodromes are not called "arteries" for nothing. These are the essential pipelines through which a nation's economy and growth flow through, and development is usually interconnected, pun not intended, with the level of development of such. A bad road usually means less progress coming into a locale, just as a well-paved and maintained highway quite literally speeds up the flow of investments and people into a place.

Of course, as the Prez continued to rattle off all those projects - some of which, she said, are in place already - my mind had one question: where are we going to get the money for all this?

Is that why she started her SONA by saying we not only have money to pay off the national debt, but to build needed infrastructure?

And I don't think she should have spent the amount of time she did in praising Gen. Palparan. She's currently under flak for the disappearance and deaths of Leftists; heaping such accolades on the man regarded as the foremost hunter of the Left in the Philippines might not be good PR. People would say she's sancitoning extra-judicial killings now, straight from her own mouth, even if there really is no proof until now that the military, and Palparan in particular, are behind many if not all of the deaths and disappearances.

It's also good to see a new guy at the helm of the Senate. I have nothing against a Senate that is indepedent and even critical of the Executive Branch; the principle of the Separation of Powers only holds if all three branches are strong. But, given the context of Frank Drilon's actions since 8 July 2005, the Senate's activities appeared to go beyond mere fiscalizing.

Now that a man without (immediate) ulterior motives on the Presidency is at the Senate's helm, perhaps it would be a more productive one, and not just plain destructively noisy.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Democracy and Stability Interrupted: casualties of the Israeli assault on Lebanon

I'm looking at the title right now and thinking, have I done a journalistic booboo? I've always hated titles that tend to titillate, but are so misleading based on the content and the context of the article it is heading. I try my best to teach people going into journ or writing to be responsible when it comes to heading their pieces.

But then, it is true: the assault by Israel on Hezbollah positions on Southern Lebanon is becoming a catastrophe. Far from destroying the militant group, Israel is actually making things more dangerous for itself because it may just have dealt a mortal blow to another developing democracy in the region.

I remember watching the return of democracy in Lebanon, and its slow, painful but sure steps to stability. Its cost was painful - the death of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Harriri was its catalyst, after all - but it proved that even in the war-torn and monarchy-controlled Middle East, there is a country whose people yearn for peace, stability and democracy, and who can cross religious lines to do what is right.

Lebanon is, after all, being touted as a showcase of not only religious tolerance but of harmony. Muslims and Christians live side-by-side there. They work, play and go through life without looking at each other with wary eyes and hidden weapons. Despite the presence of Hezbollah in its southern regions - admittedly a source of deep concern - Lebanon strikes one as a place not conducive to the growth of the extremist ideal. People here have long lived with people of other faiths beside them to be so easily hoodwinked by the fanatics.

I grieve for the Lebanese. Although I know the cause of the Israeli action, it is painful to see a people who have so recently won - on their own! - their right to democracy and to stability brought back to the nightmares of the past. And, like with the civil wars of 30 years ago, it largely isn't their fault. They were in the way. In fact, I am appalled by the amount of collateral damage the IDF is causing in trying to stamp out Hezbollah; it truly seems like the nightmarish realization of that age-old adage about using a cannon to kill a fly.

Have the Israelis not learned from America's mistakes? Did they not notice in Iraq what happens when you use an army to stamp out terrorists? Did they not know that the international community would be outraged at what appears to be a blatant disregard not only for the sovereignty of a state but of the callous disregard for the safety and security of that state's people? Or perhaps the leaders of Israel don't care anymore? But, truly, are the lives of three soldiers worth the stability of the region, the existence of a whole sovereign state, and the lives of millions of people in that state?

This must stop. There is so much potential for a stable and democratic Lebanon. It would be the fly in the fanatic's heady ointment, and a proof to the monarchies of the Middle East that democracy does work, even amidst the sands of Arabia. There are better, more effective ways to deal with unrepentant terrorists like Hezbollah than destroying half a country in the process. Because if Lebanon falls, then the Israelis may just have birthed a far bigger, nastier and deadlier monster than the one they currently are trying to kill

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Blood on the sand, once again

This is one of the things you fear.

What started as (a relatively simple) raid and hostage-taking has now escalated into a full blown invasion. I still don't call it a war simply because Lebanon, Syria or even Iran and Palestine has not retaliated with formal military maneuvers against Israel. But the whole situation is dangerously teetering on the edge of full-blown hostilities.

My first thoughts on the matter is how... wrongly Israel is going about the whole thing. True, the raid by Hamas-affiliated militants on an Israeli outpost in Gaza about a month or two ago was horrible - hello, the dug underneath the Barrier! - but Israel's response is equally alarming.

I can understand the concerns over the whole incident within Israel. The Barrier was meant to increase security along the border with Gaza, which is Hamas territory in fact if not name. That Hamas operates both as a legitimate political force - after all, it does have an overwhelming majority of seats in the nascent Palestinian parliament - and an armed force dedicated to the destruction of Israel is always a point of concern. Israel has every right to defend itself, regardless of what Hamas and its allies think, no matter how much they deny or refuse to recognize the existence of the Jewish state.

But Israel's heavy use of formal military power, largely against civilian areas... this goes against many tactical and strategic doctrines I was taught with. The use of overwhelming force appears as too much overkill, when surely the nation with one of the most elite intelligence corps in the world has the resources to do something equally or more so effective, with less complications? This only invites censure on the international scale, and paints Israel as the aggressor, regardless of who started the whole incident in the first place.

That they would attack with their full military might a country that is more or less leaning towards full democracy like Lebanon, is also the height of strategic incorrectness. The scenes broadcast over international television does harm to any justification the Israelis gave for their actions, and puts their allies in a tough spot indeed. Giving the United Nations the diplomatic equivalent of the finger also little helps their cause.

Yet there is also that fact: who started this whole thing in the first place? Before turning off the TV early this morning, I saw scenes from Iran and I think Syria over CNN. I was hearing things like how support should be given to the militants because they're Muslim, too, and how the killing of women and children by Israel must stop.

In every conflict that involves force in whatever form, this is one of the things that surprises me the most: the cry for vengeance for lives lost. This is, of course, a natural reaction. One of ours has been killed by them, and honor cries out for reparation. It comes as a surprise when soldiers and warriors say these things because our trade is conflict and death. Those who wield the sword, die by it (most of the time). As Gen. George Patton once said, the objective is not to die for one's country but to make the soldier of the other country die for theirs.

But most surprising in any conflict I have studied is the one on between Israel and the Muslim world. Of course there are a lot of mitigating circumstances and deep-seated reasons for the beginning and continual nature of this conflict. It is the behavior of Muslims over this issue, especially in the Middle East, that confounds me. Historical reasons aside, wasn't this latest chapter of the Arab-Israeli conflict started when several militants of Hamas tunneled underneath the Barrier between Gaza and Israel and attacked an outpost, taking one young Jewish soldier as prisoner? The effort alone involved in tunneling underneath that wall without getting noticed must have been immense. This was no spur-of-the-moment act of violence but a strike that was methodically and intelligently planned and executed. If warfare is murder, then this was as premeditated as it gets.

One scene last night showed a masked militant - and if he was so ready to die for his people and his faith, why did he hide his identity? - holding a gun and a copy of the Koran aloft. There is something frightening about that scene, something that elicits a reaction from one that, almost unconsciously, makes you want to draw your own weapon. It is the sign of the threat that wishes to do harm to you, akin to the chest-thumping and loud hoots of adult chimpanzees in displays of aggression. It is the clear indication of what the Other wishes to do to you and yours, and every instinct in your body and mind cries out for the proper response to such an overt implication of impending violence.

It was a clear symbol of what drives this conflict from the side opposite of the Israelis. Where the Jews are fighting for survival, especially in the context of the Holocaust and centuries of persecution after the Diaspora, their opponents are fired up by religious fanatics who have perverted the teachings of a religion that was designed to keep such aggression in check. Yes, there are other reasons behind the whole Arab-Israeli conflict - and some of them as much Israel's fault as any - but it has become nearly so impposible to resolve because religious fanatics from the Muslim world have so distorted the issue. You cannot reason out of something someone who was not reasoned into that something in the first place.

The Israelis must remember this. They have been so long without the overt manifestation of a massive threat to their survival as a nation and as a race that their numerous wars with the Arabs were, that perhaps they have forgotten what it is they face. Their enemies - and they are legion - are simply looking for the flimsiest excuse to call on holy war on Israel. No other religion than theo one the Israelis contend with has made such an... institution of holy war, that has made it so all-encompassing to make it so deadly.

This is no simple war for lebensraum or the ascendancy of one race over another. This is about a people who have been conditioned to think that any act against them is another in a long line of acts designed to keep them down and oppressed. This is a conflict that has been rooted by the leaders of a whole people in their religion, a faith that demands absolute belief in its tenets, and that any act of war from their opponents is also an act against God.

Israel must remember that, just like in a debate, when your opponent throws a holy book at you, then all discussions and debates end. And they, of all people in contemporary times, should know that when people start coming out in the streets with guns lofted alongside copies of the Koran, then the situation goes beyond a nation's need for security or justice over one trooper taken as an act of war.

To the opponents of the Israelis, this is no simple act of war on the mundane scale... but one that already involves God. And when God is part of the picture, how can one talk about securing borders and taking down militants? How can warfare be prevented from spilling into civilian areas and harming non-combatants? In holy war, there are no non-combatants.

Escalations are one of the things commanders try to avoid in warfare. As much as possible, a commander wishes to limit the factors and situations in a conflict into a more-or-less manageable system. Escalation in any conflict means more chances for the whole situation to go beyond one's control. And in warfare, once you have lost control, then disaster for your forces is not long in coming.

Israel must pull back, if only to consolidate and take a breather. Its initial anger is understandable, but to fight in the full of anger is also to invite disaster. They must exercise restraint, before this whole situation escalates beyond even their most worst-case scenario.

Monday, July 10, 2006

An interesting bit of news

Morning sometimes sees me doing monitoring. The advent of Net-based news, and the fact that Inq7 updates 24/7, means that something new might have come out that the morning newspaper's edition doesn't carry.

So I check. And I also check the blogs of note if I have the time (or inclination). And one of those I regularly check is Dr. Meinardus' blog, my liberal times. And he has this interesting post on something Prof. Mario Taguiwalo, President of the National Institute for Policy Studies (NIPS), wrote.

Actually, I was going to respond to the post, but it got long and rather, er, strong. So as not to put to risk Dr. M any further - some people in the other camp have been doing their damndest to get rid of him as Resident Representative - I have decided to make this post instead.

According to Dr. M, a commentary by Prof. Taguiwalo has appeared in a 4-page booklet entitled “Liberal Party on the Road not yet taken“. Dr. M quotes the following, and I extract this verbatim from his blog:

“Despite the fact that our shared position on GMA’s unfitness to remain president may have initially defined us (in contrast to other liberals who have a different opinion on this issue), being simply anti-GMA is not a fruitful, wise or sustainable direction for our political party. Being anti-GMA is not even the universe of liberal aspirations for our country. And worst of all, being anti-GMA is not the most productive way of applying liberal principles in serving our people at this time… Just as overwhelmingly being pro-GMA can warp one’s liberalism, being obsessively anti-GMA can pervert our liberalism.”

Well. That's interesting.

I've always said that what torpedoed the whole scenario the LP finds itself in right now was the rather intransigent position of some of those in the anti-GMA camp on the issue of July 8. They REFUSED to listen to the fact that so many of us who challenged the statement of July 8 weren't doing it on the grounds of whether we were pro- or anti-GMA but because it was a question of process, of the mechanisms for decision-making and consultation that is at the heart of what revived the LP in recent years.

If only the question of GMA's legitimacy could be divorced from that of what the Party did leading to July 8, then MAYBE we could get somewhere.

Seeing what Prof. Taguiwalo wrote gives me hope that some people, especially in Sen. Drilon's side, will start rethinking this whole thing. They HAVE to listen to Prof. Taguiwalo somehow.

My tirades against Sen. Drilon in this blog wasn't because I was pro-GMA (although I HAVE heard that some people in the Drilon camp are trying to paint it that way) - far from it: I DON'T agree with so many of what she has done since the Garci tapes came out - but because, as Staff of the HQ and an officer of the youth wing, I saw firsthand how this perversion of liberalism by some in Drilon's group happened. Heck, I AM, after all, a victim myself of this perversion.

When I speak out against Sen. Drilon and those around him, I don't do so because I am simply with the Atienza camp, but because I was taught one thing during my time with the LP and I saw another thing when 8 July 2005 happened and in the long months leading to 2 March 2006, how some of my elders acted contrary to what I was taught and made to believe.

I am in the Atienza camp not for anything some people - and they know who they are - say I am, but simply because I saw and experienced PERSONALLY how the values I was made to believe in as a member of this Party were twisted, manipulated and yes, perverted to support a particular action that has NO official sanction of the Party's majority.

You know, I was thinking this: those who went against GMA are the intellectual and moral elite of the Party. I have seen how they could tilt the balance in their favor during a NECO session simply by stating their case clearly and concisely.

I was thinking: what if Sen. Drilon, using his power and influence as LP President and Senate President, INSISTED to the NECO to convene on July 8, and allowed people like Mario Taguiwalo to present the case vs. GMA, allowed a full debate to happen? What are the chances they could have convinced a majority of the NECO to side with them?

How many were pro-Roco leading to the 2004 elections? Yet what happened after all the data came in from the process that was approved by the NECO in determining our standard bearer in the 2004 elections?

It's like what we said in KALIPI's position paper after July 8: who knows what the LP would have decided if we simply followed the processess we are known for as a Party? The anti-GMA group may just have won!

But July 8 had to happen. Even worse, they did nothing that could be termed as in keeping with the LP's traditions and processes in the months leading to March 2. Actually, much worse was the suppression, the cover ups, the PRs with so much false information fed to the media through our email and website. I think, if someone asks me why I posted all of those press releases in loudly proclaiming the LP's so-called stand on GMA, all I could answer is , it was my job to post them, and because my boss at the time said to put those up.

And then there's CALD. This is the most painful of all, because we had to include our sister parties abroad in this insanity.

You know, I wish COMELEC had asked for witnesses or some such. I wish my name had been called. I would have stood or sat there and told the Commissioners, your honors, do you want to know WHY March 2 happened? I would have answered, because Drilon and his people allowed it to happen. Because, contrary to the rules, traditions and ideals of the Liberal Party, they not only refused to convene the NECO for so long but did their damndest best to suppress anything that would have hinted at a division in the LP or a question from the ranks about July 8.

I would, perhaps half-rhetorically, ask the Commissioners... ask yourself, your honors: if Drilon had convened the NECO anytime between 8 July 2005 and maybe the anniversary of January 2006... do you think March 2 would have happened?

Like I have been saying for a long time now: was anyone suprised March 2 happened?

Unless, of course, Drilon and his people have started to believe their own propaganda. Now that is a problem, indeed. Because you cannot reason out of something anyone who was not reasoned into it in the first place. Or anyone who has deluded themselves into thinking that a particular position is the truth after telling a lie for so long.

And if you think my being in the LP's pro-GMA camp has perverted my sense of liberalism, then look here.

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Haha. Maybe I should write here, "Blogging fever grips Filipino young liberals!"

Although, when you think about it, it's rather ironic that KALIPI would just be one of the latest to have its own blog among the young liberals of the Philippines. I mean, compared to the blogs of, say, Donna and Tops, it really is lightyears behind.

And how come I can say stuff like that about our blog? Because I head KALIPI's Directorate for Communications and Public Relations (DCPR), and that little cybernook falls under my jurisdiction, wahaha!

Hey, it's my baby, too. And since we've been hyperlinking like crazy between all of our blogs, we hope to induce more netizens to start posting replies like crazy on our posts.

Anyway, click here to go to KaBlog!, the official web log of the Kabataang Liberal ng Pilipinas.

By the way: we have unconfirmed rumors - and, oh, how I wish I had not disbanded ISaAC; I miss my intelligence operatives - that the Drilon faction has formed its own liberal youth wing.

I have a lot of comments on this, but I guess I'll refrain going into details until I hear more. But, if this is true, all I can say in brief is:

A. They're certainly within their rights to make their own associations, but
B. Making another KALIPI - no matter the name - is rather:
C. Immature
D. Improper
E. Pathetic
F. Absurd
G. Really gets my blood pressure up

Whoops. Too much angst.

I'd rather they just continue with that "UMASA KA " thing that Chito and Rudy Santos thought about all those years back. Heck, I even gave them the concept paper for it. This, making their own KALIPI, is just soooo like spitting on our eyes.

Hey, whoever did this? If you can't stand KALIPI not going with what you want, then live with it! We are not your slaves, and we think, we discern, and we do not immediately jump to conclusions. Respect us, and we'll respect you.

Heck, what am I talking about? We've always respected them, eventhough they haven't us.

Okay. Stopping now. Angst level is getting high.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Getting past the Gatekeepers: Blogging and the reform of the Fourth Estate

Well, okay: mmmmaaaayyybbbeee not exactly the reform of the Fourth Estate. But media has been so much a Corporation these last few decades that they've seemingly forgotten why they heck the existed - and came to be regarded as a full "Estate" - in the first place.

Everytime I read , hear and/or see "mainstream" media, everytime I interact with media personnel, I always, always, go back to that one class in Journ 101 where Doreen Fernandez herself popped the bubble of idealism keeping afloat the rosy view of the media that we Atenean Comm sophomores still had. (Most) Media exists, even if they operate at a loss, not becuase of any idealism or even altruism, but because having your own media is having power. It would only be when P.R. class in fourth year started introducing us to Strategic Constituencies and the term Gatekeepers of Information that it all started to make sense, especially as it all dovetailed nicely into the modified Sender-Reciever models of modern communciations theory.

Blogging changed all that. Okay, that and the Internet. The former would probably have not flowered if not for the... insinuation of the latter in everyday human life. But no one today who has constant access to the Net can deny the... liberating power that blogging has brought to the whole system of information transfer that the 21st century is based on. William Gibson's near-prophetic vision of a humanity centered around information is here (albeit without the graphical complexity and granduer of a VR web, nor the dystopian atmosphere of his future. Well, not yet.), and now more than ever is the access to that information crucial to day-to-day living.

While channel surfing last night, I chanced upon an interview of Manolo Quezon on ANC, and he said there that he wishes more people would express their opinion. In a very real sense, this is what blogging does. Even those "simple", diary-like journals found among Friendster users are as important as the cutting edge blogs of known pundits simply because they add to the collective trove of information and experiences of the human race.

In essence, blogging is tantamount to staking one's very own real estate in the VR realm of the Worldwide Web and doing with it what you want, how you want it, and showing the rest of the world how you percieve reality. As a liberal, that is not only good, but truly astounding. Liberals revel in information. We seek the alternative viewpoint, no matter how offensive it can be to our sensibilities. We may hate what we see from someone's else's PoV, but at least we've seen another take on the issue.

And that's important. In an increasingly digital world whose backdrop is the increasing trend to security-over-freedom following 9/11 (augh! It's so... Gibsonesque! Why the hell must there always be some catastrophe or another that defines the future?! Can't it be something glorious instead like the Fall of the Wall? Why is Buffet's giving away NEARLY ALL of his money, and making a statement against "dynastic wealth" not as earth-shattering as the rise in oil prices?), keeping information from being interpreted by a single or select group of Gatekeepers is asking for trouble; in fact, controlling information is the true first step to the dark world Gibson portrayed in his books, most eloquently in the seminal Neuromancer.

Blogs - ironically, its rise is a by-product of the second Iraq war! - allow ordinary people to bypass an increasingly-monolithic Fourth Estate that is increasingly coming under the control of the First and the Third. As alternative sources of information to the traditional Gatekeeper that is mainstream media, they ensure that information stays free, dynamic and multi-facted. Sustaining a single worldview is Orwellian, just as the suppression of dissent and differing opinions (like some people I know and you know who you are!). Blogs - yes, even Friendster blogs - actually help keep Big Brother, in whatever forms or even gender it chooses to be, at bay through its affirmation of that essential cornerstone of demoracy which is the free access to information and the freedom to say what is in one's mind.

With increasingly-cheaper webspace available, and the blogging community not only constantly striving to better the medium but insistent in helping others get into this brave, new world, democracy has a new tool in its arsenal, one that is well beyond the capabilities of Government, Religion, Big Business and Mainstream Media to control.

And I don't know about you, but that is perhaps the best thing to happen since the Wall fell.

Blog owner's note: this post was inspired by the second seminar on blogging courtesy of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation's Manila Office. I was a participant in the first seminar they conducted last January, and although I have been blogging for quite some time now - two years this month! - it was only after the seminar that I started blogging seriously. Although many of the lessons I learned about blogging there were things I was doing for some time by then, the seminar gave me the drive and the confidence to at least be constant in posting.

I really owe a lot to the FNF and its wonderful Resident Representative, Dr. Ronald Meinardus, who's more like a mentor to me than anything else. Guess I never got around to thanking them fully for everything, so this is a nice opportunity to do so, hai?

Monday, July 03, 2006

An interesting view on the impeachment

Fr. Joaquin Bernas, SJ, presents an interesting view on impeachment that I never thought about before. Okay, fine: I did. Every person with a modicum of political training and exposure understands that impeachment is a political process.

What I guess most people, even pol ops, don't or vaguely know, is just how political the process is. Fr. Bernas emphasizes this when he said, "the impeachment process is not a judicial process but a political process. Its purpose is not to punish a malefactor but to protect the public from harm."

This has all been drilled into our minds during the impeachment of Erap in 2000-2001. Political, not Judicial. The way I understood this before, it meant that the processes of the judiciary would be utilized, but several principles don't apply. For one, if I remember my Erap Impeachment right, the principle of guilt beyond a shadow of a doubt that courts use for giving verdicts does not necessarily apply. All was needed, as I remember it, was enough information that would convict the accused.

Fr. Bernas further emphasizes the political nature of impeachment with two points: that it is partisan, and that "impeachment is political in the sense that what is involved is not just a legal decision but also a policy decision."

That's the new part for me. Impeachment as a policy decision. Quoting Fr. Bernas:

For that reason, the responsibility for impeachment has been given to a political (read: “policy-making”) body. When congressmen and congresswomen deliberate on whether to raise the complaint to the Senate, or when the senators deliberate on what verdict to support, the question they answer is not only whether there is evidence to support a “guilty” verdict, but also whether under the circumstances the preferred policy should be to remove the official on trial to allow someone else in. In other words, a verdict of “not guilty” does not necessarily mean “innocent.” It can also mean “guilty,” but keeping the person in is the wiser option now. What is often decisive is the legitimate gut feel or illegitimate interest of individual legislators.

Like I said, this is interesting. In the sense that the whole thing has been pursued under what is essentially the Black and White Movement's take on the whole issue: that there are no gray areas to the issue. It's either the President did wrong, or she didn't.

When Black and White came up with this kind of thinking, I thought they were missing the point. We would all love to have the utmost morality and integrity in governance. That is the ideal situation. But if anything my years in political operations has taught me, the world we all move in is far from being ideal. The same politicians who fight on either side of this issue were the ones who bandied around the term pragmatism as a justification to many (if not all) acts they have done in the political sphere.

I think that, given this way of looking at the whole impeachment process that Fr. Bernas illustrated, the anti-Gloria movement should think about revising their strategies and get down to the most fundamental of questions: if not Gloria, then who?

I would like to think that outrage isn't dead among us Filipinos, but because our political leaders have made pragmatism a byword in the public sphere, the public themselves have incorporated it into their psyche. So the president did wrong? Big deal: all you politicians cheat in the elections. It's like politician = cheater in this country. It's like the proverbial pot calling the kettle black.

If they look closely enough, the anti-Gloria people should have noticed that there is a shift in thinking in the public, that it is not anymore a question of impropriety and immorality, but whether a regime change would benefit the country more at this stage or not. The people are tired of regime change. They may not like Gloria, but the opposition to her has not even given clear alternatives to her. These are nearly the same people who ousted Erap and installed Gloria as an alternative. Now they want to oust her? To the rest of the public, this may sound weird.

Impeachment is not a contest of purely good vs. evil, moral vs. immoral, proper vs. improper, black vs. white. The most celebrated impeachment of the 20th century - that of Bill Clinton - should have taught everyone that. It is a question of whether, given the reasons for the impeachment, a president is fit to govern or not, or whether the removal of the current occupant of the Palace will make things better for the public.

Unless the opposition can fully appreciate this fact - they believe she should go, even to making her guilty in their minds sans proper, unbiased investigations, but have they been able to translate this belief into information that can convince the majority? - or the nature of impeachment change, then perhaps the opposition should just stop subjecting the Republic to more instability and just gird themselves to the electoral battle of 2007, where they have a better chance to change the dynamics of the situation to their favor.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

The horoscope signs of the LP

Ha, ha. Forgive me for laughing a bit, but I just found out what astrological signs the Liberal Party is under.

Since the LP's official website is still under Drilon's control (what are they doing to my baby? They're teaching it to lie so horribly and to suppress dissent and differing opinions! I swear, when I get my hands on my baby again, I shall cleanse it of their insanity!), we decided to use the tools of modern, Net-based media to come out with a blog for the LP. At the very least, this will give the "alternative" side on the issue.

One of the problems we encountered with the official break was that Drilon's faction had control of the Gatekeepers of Information and they enjoyed a better perception with the commentators and columnists. Like I said somewhere, their side had the "progressives" of the LP. We had to find a way to get our side of the story out, and hopefully the new blog will help even out the perception battle.

Anyway, what was funny was when I viewed the complete profile for the blog owner. We entered the official founding date of the LP - 19 January 1946 - forgetting that Blogger automatically lists the Western and Eastern Zodiac signs of the blog owner.

Now we know: the Liberal Party of the Philippines is Capricorn and a Rooster.


According to Yahoo Astrology, this is the forecast for the LP for 29 June 2006:

(For Capricorns)

Today's not a time for quick action. Contemplate your surroundings and just chill.

You might be inadvertently sending out mixed signals even as you focus single-mindedly on your goal. It's time to examine your innermost feelings even if you're the picture of ambition on the outside.

(For Roosters)

You'll feel stronger and more clear-sighted in life; you'll know how to look at things with more detachment in the face of certain difficult situations. Your judgment in financial matters will be rather shaky; therefore this will not be the time to embark on too important speculation deals. On the other hand, you'll be swamped with love waves. Some stomach problems, as well as irritations caused by your children, are to be expected.

Wahahaha. How funny. "Some stomach problems, as well as irritations caused by your children, asre to be expected."

Want to see the one for this week?

For Capricorns:

Reading the day's newspaper may be a source of great ideas for you on Monday. At the beginning of the week the muscles you're stretching are those that deal with being receptive, curious, and present. Newspapers are helpful in these areas. A complicated business puzzle takes up most of your day on Wednesday, and Thursday is beset by the demands of coworkers. But Friday and Saturday are productive, illuminating, even merry-making. You're so happy by the end of the week you'll most likely feel like working on Sunday.

"Working on sunday?" Nooooooooo!!!!

And here's the forecast for the Rooster this year:

Your personality will tend to bloom this year -- you'll be less secret, less withdrawn than usual; you'll look more for the company of others. The year will be most favorable to extolling your creative talents. The stars will incite you to exploit your hidden resources, and their usefulness will not be limited only to your affairs or to your home. Set your imagination free! Beware, however! Your tendency toward compassion will be increased this year. It's possible that it will induce you to take care of others to the point of imposing on yourself heavy financial or other burdens. Don't let yourself be moved by the misfortunes that others will describe to you in a deliberately tragic manner. Assure yourself of the validity of what people tell you before granting your aid. Besides, remember that well ordered charity begins with oneself.


Oh, good Lord, wehehe...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Braindead Eating

A simple incident on what to eat over lunch inspired this crazy little post. And since it has a wee bit (at the very least) of analytical value, as well as a pleasant change from all these Gloriagate shit that everyone refuses to let go, that I decided to post it here rather than on my Multiply account.

(People, just beat her in the next election, goodness gracious! If you people can insist on Drilon remaining LP president because he can't be removed until the end of his term, how much more Gloria?! You anti-Gloria people are not only so damnedly holier-than-thou, you're also irritatingly inconsistent!)


The issue with food came up because I couldn't decide what to eat with the, er, menu I was given. None of the choices particularly caught my stomach's attention - and I haven't had a decent breakfast, mind you - and there isn't a North Park near enough.

So, feeling rather uncreative with my lunch, I decided to go to the nearby Jolibee and order my usual 2-pc. Burgersteak + upsized drink + extra rice.

In my opinion, this is "braindead" eating, meaning you do not have to go thourgh the mental gymnastics of deciding what to eat. Fastfood was designed, after all, to not only cater to the workman's budget (although you have to ask if that's still the case today; I mean, when was the last time you got a decent meal, even from Jolibee, at less than PhP 50?) but to also be, well, fast. This is production-line eating, the only thing faster being grabbing a Lucky Me or Nissin Cup Noodles.

While munching on my burgersteak, I was thinking about how wonderful a gastronomical experience my best friend and I had the last time we were at North Park. We ate buttered chicken, and something else she made me eat that I forgot what it was. Of course, there's the customary Yang Chao rice (a single order of which is good for maybe four of people my and Reggie's size and food capacity). Being hungrier than she was, and being the gentleman in the equation, I made her choose from the A3-sized menu, but really, I was feeling uncreative that night too and just wanted buttered pork on my yang chao. If we had gone to the nearby Gerry's Grill, it'd most likely end up with pork sisig.

Ha, ha. That's the funny thing about the modern world. We live our lives so fast and so hectic that even our food has to not only be rapidly ready, but quickly-selected as well.

Some of the nicest moments I've had with both my family and barkada were those times we'd let the waiter stew awhile as we debate on what to eat. Poring over a menu can show a lot about how your friends and family think, and the... negotiations on what to eat and what not to eat, and what to eat instead, can be quite fun and... instructive.

And resto dining is about taking one's time with the food, akin to Starbucks coffee-drinking sessions. You're not rushed. You have time to savor the food. You have time to socialize with people. Heck, you have time to enjoy the food you're eating.

Fastfoods on the other hand, will simply fill your need to be filled. I even doubt fastfood truly makes one full because I feel hungry just four or so hours after. Aside from this, the "line" makes you rush with your order. Anybody who's ever been behind a slow customer knows that feeling of wishing the person would get on with it, so you tend to look once and have an idea what you want to get from the limited options available. And if you dine-in, you're also rushed in your eating since so many people are coming in to be fed and need the space you're occupying.

Ha, ha. Braindead eating. Too much instant food. Our world has become so hectic that even our food has to be eaten not only on the fly but also without any deeper consideration on what we're eating.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Litmus test for an ideology

Yesterday, Liberal International, the worldwide organization of liberals, began its 176th Executive Committee meeting here in Manila. Well, actually its in Pasay City, at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC). Of course, Drilon wants to avoid holding it in the City of Manila.

For all intents and purposes, this is my litmus test for the Liberal Democratic ideology. Gathered on the soil of my beloved country are the leaders of worldwide liberalism. These are the people who, (supposedly) more than any political force in the world, are at the forefront of the promotion, development and defense of the values that define liberal democracy: freedom of speech, expression, religion and creed, as well as that essential core concept that is truly the mark of a liberal, which is the respect for and appreciation of opinions and ideas contrary to the one espoused by one's self.

CALD has already gravely disappointed me. In one sense, I understand why the region's foremost organization for liberalism and democracy did so badly on so simple (relatively speaking, compared to the other things faced by CALD and its member parties in the region) an issue. But they are the regional leaders of liberal democracy. Even without the foreign equivalent of the LP's Basic Orientation on Liberal Democracy (BOLD) seminar, they should know the basic principles and protocols of the ideology they supposedly adhere to.

Drilon's people have, of course, done all that they can to keep us away from the delegates. But surely they are all aware of the current situation of the LP. As befits political leaders, I am sure that they are looking for information on this issue. Even without any countermove on our part, there should be at the very least an attempt among LI leaders to get the "other side of the story."

They may not be aware of it, and they may even not care, but I have a microscope aimed at the leaders and members of LI. How they act with regard to the LP situation now that they are here will be a crucial factor in answering several "Questions to Life" that I have been asking since last year.

Monday, June 19, 2006

From my IRL Diary: Musings on the Future and What to DO with it

I was going through some stuff when I chanced upon the last Diary I wrote on, IRL. The last entry, which was made 9 April 2006, at 10:40 p.m., is so... interesting from a Mentat point of view that I am posting it here rather than at my Multiply account.

9 April 2006, 10:40 p.m.

A hundred thoughts flit through my Mind. Hah: when has it not? In fact, I should feel insulted: just a hundred? Whatever happened to the formidable young man who could carry a thousand ideas, thoughts and strategies all at one Moment in his head?

That is, perhaps, the biggest thought of all: am I still the Mentat-Guardian of my generation, of this Republic, or has time come for me to depart from this field?

This new world is so much darker than the one we fought against in 2000 and 2001. I went back to my house one Saturday morning, January 2001, leaving a million people to finally get some sleep... and waking to a new dawn, a new country.

We won that day. But what did we win?

There will always be more people who care nothing more than to realize their dreams. This has always been my lesson to my proteges. Their dreams, I have always said, are no less greater than ours. And in ensuring that people can be free to dream those dreams - and, better, to realize them - we are also realizing our dreams as their Guardians, their leaders.

But what if the leaders and Guardians fall away to join themselves to the many, to insist that they, too, be allowed to realize their personal dreams?

This afternoon while at Mass, I had an idea: why not ask Bam to form a Shadow Cabinet? Instead of an Opposition forming this as foil to a sitting Government, the youth will form one versus their elders. But beyond simply proposing alternative policies, this Shadow Cabinet will execute them as well.

And why stop there? Why not gather representatives of our generation into a Congress? One that will set policies and objectives for our generation, the blueprints and plans to ensure that our future does not get mired in despair and hopelessness the way this present is as made by our parents.

But no sooner did I jot down my thoughts, the criticisms began to flow from my own Mind. The National Youth Parliament will object; if they did for something so... corollary to their work as the PUNK, how much more this? They will insist that they are the representatives of the Filipino youth. But the Parliament is as meaningless and inutile as the laws and policies they design and propose to the elder Congress. They will not be an obstacle, and if they insist on being one then something must be done to remove them from ever threatening the future of this country.

No: the true obstacle lies with us, with the supposed leaders, the ones who in 2000 and 2001 stood to fight for a nation.

But where are they now?

Soo many problems... Yet, the elders are so caught up in their powerplays and rivalries to do anything about these problems. And my generation's leaders are lost in their own lives, probably giving an excuse to themselves that someone else will deal with them. Or we will when the time has come.

If the latter is the case... such arrogance... Can't they see that the crises we will face have consequences that cannot be dealt with on the fly with patch-like solutions? These must be addressed now, while the problems are still in their infancy or we just may find ourselves surrounded by a flood without any way of preventing it sweeping away everything we have built up.

But... who is left? What is left? So many of the old tools lie broken so many old faces lost, blinded or corrupted...

And through it all, I feel, I think: if they have all gone, why should I stay? If the rest of the pack has gone... domestic, what more can one wolfhound do against the wolves and thieves that come to kill, devour and steal the sheep away?

Even worse, the Shepherd seems to stand silent while His wolfhound howls to the night, seeking answers and succor.

Why do I stay? Why do I still fight?

I have such a small window of opportunity left to salvage what I can of my life... so why do I not do so?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


In my Training, "ideological confusion," or the contradictions that come about between the declared tenets of a system of belief and the actions of (some of) its propenents, is something to be expected from either the extreme Left or Right, more with the former. A sample of "ideological confusion" is the Left's declaration that they are the true democracy when they suppress and even persecute any views contradictory to the one the Communist Party espouses.

The third hearing for the LP's leadership dispute last 8 June 2006 was a morning filled with confusion. Well, ok, I wasn't confused. What Chito was saying during the hearing wasn't anything new. Or unexpected. Duh. What else was I expecting? I think the better term would be... outraged?

I think I tuned his voice out somewhere near the end of his rant because it was getting grating and I have to watch my blood pressure. I guess I find it amazing how someone can, on the streets, demand for the right to be heard, for democratic processes, for extra-constitutional action when constitutional ones fail, while denying these same rights to others. Was it in one of Orson Scott Card's books where he said that freedom of speech is demanded by everyone until it conflicts with one's interests? Something like that.

I guess I found it utterly amazing. I almost forgot the rules of decorum there, wanting so badly to shout at Chito, so what made March 2 different from everything you people have been doing since July 8?

There he was, and Wilfred Asis, demanding - even commanding - the COMELEC to declare in their favor because the "rulebook" that was the LP Constitution said so. A constitution, by the way, that was crafted to favor Drilon. It's also incomplete. Want to see proof that they manipulate evidence? Check the small, italicized note at the end of the "Drilon" constitution, where it states that amendments were made November 2004. There should be another paragraph there that says the consti's provisions are incomplete becuase Chito failed to submit to us the definitions for four of the five new positions.

Amazing, isn't it? They're using an incomplete frankenstein of a document to defend their position. Too bad my own side didn't hear - and refuses to hear - me when I told them that. I should know because I'm the one who wrote in the corrections after the Nov. 2004 NECO meeting. Hah, I even told Chit that when I gave her the copies of the different constis back when I was still in the Makati HQ.

Nobody listens to me. Ha, ha; Chito's hatred of me has blinded him to the fact that, despite everything, I still possess the skills, talents and Training that made him notice me all those years back. He should remember that when I point something out, you should listen, because I was Trained to notice things.

Anyway. It's just... galling. This is why I am just so fed up with our elders. This policy of double-standards is what wrecked this country and is wrecking it still. When will these people stop? When there's nothing left of the Philippines and we have to start from scratch? And all they can say is, sorry?!


Sorry. I'm just really angry, I guess. People like Chito feel so god-dammed self righteous its so sickening. Its like they can do nothing wrong simply because it's them. It's like if they do the extra-constitutional actions, its okay because they're the fucking "good guys," but when other people do it not only are you oh-so-wrong, but they reduce the discussion to name calling and insults. "Lakas Pala?" The fuck? What is this, kindergarten? I wish I could post here their rejoinders and responses to our responses. You could see just how... shallow they can be.

Given all this, I think I am about ready to issue a final Call to my generation. We can't survive more of this; the future my generation will be living in will not survive more of this kind of "ironies" that the present generation of powers-that-be operate in.

Hah. I wonder how many will respond? These LightForsaken elders keep saying the young are the hope of the nation in one breath while they push us all away either to the call centers or nursing with the other. Hah, some mothers even teach their daughters what to ask and how to do the asking to foreigners over chat. Mothers. This is how we are valued by our elders. This is the way the hope of this nation is treated. Mothers selling their own daughters. Leaders espousing high ideals while having no qualms about lying and doing character-assasination just to get what they want.

What painful irony that is...

New look!!!!

Haha: look at that, a new template

I guess I got sick and tired of my old template. My Novus War Journal looked more professional and pleasing to the eye (well, at least to mine eyes) than this one, and Phoenix Eyrie is my first blog.

Okay, enough of this. The next post will be back to the I-am-a-Mentat posts, and oh, have I got some things to rant about...

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Maid in Makati!!!!!

Okay: I know I have been a VEEERRRRYYYYY delinquent blogger, but I will not restart my postings with another depressing analysis of current sociopolitical events. Life is sad enough for now for me to add some more to it.

Instead, I will make an unabashed plugging for a blog that has brought a lot of "feel good" moments for me these past few days: Maid in Makati.

This blog was found by one of my guildmates at Rising Force Online. And I'm glad my guildmate found it because it is more than just worth the read.

Leave your jadedness and cynicism at the door when you read the blog because it is one of the most fascinating and enjoyable reads I have ever had in a looooonnnnggggggg while.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Being Righteous

If there's one thing about this whole mess called Gloriagate has done for me, its allowed me to view my world in an entirely different light.

I've always mantained that what made People Power II different from the May 1 Mayhem was intent, and the people behind it. At that time, who could fault the intentions and probity of the leaders of the so-called "Middle Forces," the men and women we young guns looked up to?

When the Garci tapes took an... unusual twist on 8 July 2005, I think what happened put me into a certain type of crisis. Mostly, this was caused by the sudden shift by people I considered my paragons.

Another very important reason - especially to a Mentat - was the process involved. As a "moderate," I was brought up and trained to believe that the ends can never justify the means. Isn't that one of our major complaints against the Left and Right? All for the Revolution. All for the State (or for Persons in Authority).

Moderates - indeed, Liberals, the ones who hold the Center - pride themselves in an almost-fanatic adherence to processes, because these allow for the best expression of democratic decision-making. Processes have to exist and have to be equitable so that justice can be served and tyranny - whether of the majority or the minority - can be avoided.

The best example for me was the way the LP came up with the decision to support GMA's 2004 candidacy. All five major candidates were given a chance to convince the LP (and, haha, I think it was Ping Lacson who came in second; I have to look into that). I'm sure not everyone was happy with the result, but how can you challenge something that went through a process that not only had protocols approved by everybody but also allowed everybody to speak their mind? In the end, despite the stigma attached (even then) to the Gloria name, the LP had no difficulty defending its decision, and even came out on top of the other political forces.

This... conundrum faced by the Party has, essentially, ripped away much of the veil that idealism had on me with regard to those I considered our seniors in the Moderates. No matter their credentials, no matter how much respect I had for them, it still pales to the fact that they lied in order to get a result they wanted.

Perhaps if they had sat down with us and explained why not only was the Truth bent for their purposes but also why dissent and an honest attempt to come to the truth of the matter were suppressed. Perhaps I could understand. For no matter what their pronouncements were from July 8, it could not remove from my mind and heart the shadow of great doubt stemming from personal knowledge that, at least on the LP side of the incident, July 8 had been rigged. And that rather than face the consequences of their action, or at least provide an expalanation to the rest of their compatriots in the Party, we who stood against the few that obviously hijacked the Party on July 8 were run around in circles or otherwise suppressed.

But what struck me most is the... posturing. The insistence in something that is essentially an opinion - if not an outright lie, in the case of the LP - as truth. The truth. The part of me that was Trained by Moderates could not stomach, much less reconcile, the fact that these people defending the Drilon act of July 8 knew the truth yet not only refused to set things right but suppressed all attempts at correcting a misperception.

It was as if, suddenly, just because one thinks the cause is right - i.e. the ouster of Gloria based on tapes whose veracity has not been fully certified - all actions done for that cause is right.

If the person doing the act was a Leftist or a Rightist, I probably would not have a problem. But since these people claim to be "moderates," liberals and democrats even, then I think there is a problem there somewhere.

It was as if, like many of those holier-than-thou pastoral councils and religious groups. being righteous was an excuse to do away with things that do not subscribe to one's point of view.

I was told about what occured during the recent CALD conference in Cambodia. Jan Tolentino, KALIPI secgen and YLDA chair for membership, was asked by the latter org to attend for it, as YLDA was petitioning for membership in CALD and none of the other execom were available. Incidentally, LP DG Eli Quinto asked if Jan could bring SolGen Ed Nachura's letter to CALD's member-parties, asking that, if the alliance would not recognize the leadership elected by the Party's majority last March 2, CALD could at least temporarily give the chairmanship to another member-Party (the LP is this year's chair for CALD) pending the resolution of the petition filed by Drilon at the COMELEC. Jan gave the letters to the hotel's concierge for delivery to the addresse's rooms and never talked about it in the conference's sessions.

The next day, the five Drilon-affiliated LP congressmen gave him a thorough dressing-down. Jan claims that the more he explained, the more the congressmen raised their voices so he decided to shut up and take it all in stride.

Later on, CALD Exec. Dir. John Coronel and the representative for the host Sam Rainsy Party, told Jan that he should "voluntarily" withdraw from the conference or YLDA will be sanctioned. Jan left without a second thought.

There is a fact sheet circulating claiming that the actions against Jan were done because he had embarassed the LP delegation and was spreading black propaganda during the conference. I find these claims absurd because (1) the issue was not discussed by Jan in the conference itself, and (2) the letters given to the member-parties were not combative in nature but informative, even supplicatory. I should know that they didn't contain any black propa because I drafted those letters and saw them signed by SolGen Nachura.

Even more incredible was the action of CALD prior to Jan's dressing down. During its execom, CALD passed a resolution supporting the Drilon faction of the LP, without even hearing the other side. In fact, Neric Acosta was said to have commented that, althought the Drilon faction did not have the majority in the LP, it was the "soul" of the Party and therefore represented liberalism best in the Philippines. One member-party rep even was reported to have said, even if Neric, Drilon and co. were to leave the LP and/or form their own party, they were still welcome in CALD.

The last statement I can understand; I told EPQ that I had misgivings about the letters, since Neric was a close friend to many of the regular CALD delegates and participants, add to the fact that John Coronel is a known Drilon supporter and a close friend of Neric and Chito. EPQ said that I shouldn't worry soo much because I knew - as writer of the letters - that nothing bad was in the communiques, and that if CALD was true to its ideals then the very least it could do was listen to the other side of the story.

Yet... if an organization and political parties and leaders who claim to fight for democratic processes, human rights and free speech could (1) make a stand without hearing all sides, and (2) take sides and action without giving the accused a fair hearing...

This is a horrible experience for me. I remember Sam Rainsy being here and asking that proper democratic processes be followed with regard to his case in Cambodia. I know for a fact that free speech and the right to dissent is a cornerstone advocacy of nearly all CALD member parties. God's Most Sacred Light, but isn't it practically a mantra of the Drilon faction that they want Gloria out because not only did she lie and cheat, but she was suppressing the truth and free speech, and clamping down on dissent?

This is horrible.

Are today's liberal leaders merely communists or rightists in liberal clothing?

If liberalism and democracy makes its stands and positions based on factors other than established processes that guarantee fair treatment for all parties concerned, then what makes us different from communism and facism?

If the truth can be so conveniently disregarded, or a groups's opinions - and there is even the admittance that they are not the majority! - enforced so harshly and totally, what right do these people have to demand democracy, liberalism and human rights from those they contend with? How are they different, then?

This is horrible. Truly, truly horrible.

Is this the world even our own leaders in the liberal democratic movement - the so called "soul" of Philippine liberalism - wish to bequeath to us? A world either of corruption and deciet or heavy-handed, truth-suppressing, dissent-quashing self-righteousness?

Horrible. Truly, truly horrible.