Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Who's Afraid of Charter Change?

Not me.

It's been 23 years since Cory's ass-sungots (assembly of ingots) last tinkered with our Constitution, inserting provisions they claimed to have leveled the playing field right after the Marcos dictatorship that virtually left the country in misery after the massive plundering by the strongman and his minions.

Understandably, the 1986 Constitution endeared Cory not only to the masses but also to the select few with whom the dictatorship has wronged. These select few would, of course, include the Lopezes who were able to stage a comeback only after the vestiges of dictatorship had been cleared. Or, were they really ever cleared? Not only these people came back; they also expanded far and wide beyond our imagination. It's back to business, and big business at that.

But why change the Constitution?

Overall, the 1986 version seems to be working just fine. But for whom?

Okay, by changing the charter, it simply calls for tinkering/fine tuning only some of its provision that are deemed outdated and tend to favor particular minority interests to the detriment of the majority.

One case in point is the blatant disregard of the separation between church and state. We all know what the church has been doing all these years and what our political leaders have not been doing all these years. I believe that provision there is a nuisance if not a silly joke because it is never adhered to. We can always argue that we have the best law, or the best Constitution for that matter; yet we also have the worst implementation/implementers of such laws. Which is which?

(photo courtesy of artfromthesoul.com)

Which brings me to my second point. Remember the proposal of Gringo and Flavier before of taxing the church. I may not have the record or evidence to prove but businesses owned and controlled by the church rake in millions, if not billions, every year. Where do all the monies go? Not the coffers of the national treasury, of course, but to their Vatican accounts. Let us do the math here: think of how much De La Salle, University of Asia and the Pacific, Ateneo de Manila, and University of Santo Tomas make each year from those expensive tuition and fees they charge each student? How much of that money is actually returned to the taxpayers, who pay for their access roads, foot bridges, and even security? How much of it is remitted to Benedict XVI?

That no institution would survive these days by giving away its services for free is not an argument. The argument really is: How much does an institution invest on social development? Is it enough to transform lives and communities? We do not have an accounting of their investments, thanks to that constitutional provision prohibiting taxing on church businesses cleverly disguised as social services which by decent definition should be very affordable, if not totally free.

Another important change in the Constitution has to do with population. Again, the influence of the church and its robed flock seem to scare politicians to hell to debate on the merits of a sensible and strong population management program. In this republic, we can only count with our fingers politicians, nay leaders, who can square off with a minister on contraceptives and other means of reducing population. But all these really lead us back to that provision on separation of church and state, which goes like this: What is good for the church is good for the government, and the country for that matter; what is good for the government is not necessarily beneficial to the church.

That is what is going on here and now. And it's been going on since the invention of commerce.

What is more crippling is the inability (or total disability) of our leaders to stand up to this medievalization. And of course, the 1986 Constitution had, in two decades, spawned a new class of vampires, err, oligarchs who have been sucking the resources of this country as if they never run dry. These are the very vampires who are against changing their enviable lifestyle as guaranteed by the Cory Constitution.

Other than these points, I believe the Constitution is still worth adhering to. Term limits? No. In fact, the term limit for a president should be shortened to, maybe, four years. A shorter term limit puts pressure to deliver, and save the country from a collective heart attack over the misdeeds of whoever is in power.

Business and land ownership? Well, when the framers of the 1986 Constitution were debating and deliberating, there was no Internet yet. No Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, AOL, etc. So, their definition of strategic interests were mainly confined to the old bastion of agriculture and its related industries. But big business, rather global business, has always a way of encroaching into protected domains for and in the name of profit.

Part of being Pinoy is to accept the truth and the fact that many companies doing small, medium, and big business earning small, medium, and huge profits everyday are dummies.

How do we manage this? Maybe the anti-Dummy law can handle this? Of course, only partly. The ever growing and hugely profitable dummy phenomenon is guaranteed by the Constitution through its tacit approval in liberalizing sectors in the name of investments that are admittedly hard to come by these days.

Who defines what is strategic and therefore off-limits to liberalization. Man, who else, but the same vampires we identified earlier.

It's really a no-brainer. Change the Constitution to get rid of these suckers! This is the long and short of it.

Approve the RH Bill Now!

Frankly, I have not read the entirety and the fine(r)print/point of the bill, so that puts me in a bind. But no, even without reading it, I could tell why it has become so controversial that bishops and self-proclaimed moralists are moving hell and high water to block its passage.

As usual, these idiots of churchmen do not and will never understand what it means to eke out a living simply because they live in tax-free charity. In other words, L I M O S. Men, they would argue for such entitlement since after all, they are working for the glory of God and salvation of mankind! F&%@#!G S^%T! Whoever told them to work for free? A moron, perhaps. In France, many religious organizations do their part in nation building. Yes, they do work. Members hang up their cassocks and get their hands dirty in factories and some offices to earn their keep. Not in the Philippines. Priests are lords here, especially in the rural areas where neocolonial/neo-feudal systems are very much in place.

The church, meaning all denominations who oppose the bill for that matter, simply speak from a position of comfort. And they are not bothered because after all, members of their congregation defer to their authority, nay, ignorance. This may not go for the men of the cloth who lead "double life" by taking the vow of celibacy and enjoying great sex--either with a male or a female partner--discreetly and siring children (in the case of a female partner) along the way!

(image courtesy of http://images.thetimes.co.uk)

But why is the church so against it? The passage, no, even the crafting, of the bill exposes, or better yet, reveals that the teachings of the church of Gaudencio, Manalo, Mike Velarde and Bro. Eddie were great failures as far as alleviating poverty in this country is to be measured. Why a failure! Simply because their "teachings" are mere supplications to ensure survival and in the case of Velarde and Villanueva, good life of their offspring. That is why Villanueva is not giving up on the presidency because aside from the power and the financial rewards of the office, he can afford to bankroll an expensive campaign. It seems pseudoreligion, like entrenched religion, is immune to the threats and dangers of economic recession. It seems the coffers at JIL never runs dry. Bless you Pilipinas, bumangon ka, bangon! The same goes for Mike Velarde, who is still hoping against hope that the balding bishops in Intramuros would annoint him for the 2010 derby. Oh Lord, what the fuck is happening in this country?

I am not advocating abortion, which is also NOT the gist of the RH bill, contrary to the misreading and misinterpretation of the misled bishops and self-proclaimed moralists who are trying to mislead people by their so unbiblical antics.

RH bill is about choice, or making people choose responsibly if only to help them manage their family, their finances especially. It's population management, as Rep. Lagman has been trying to explain it to the deaf and dumb bishops and so-called prolife advocates, another misled class in this overpopulated society.

(photo courtesy of flick.com)

I have been advocating, on a personal capacity, a stronger population management by this government and the reason I believe Gloria will not make a difference in her presidency is precisely her inability to resist from licking the (im)moral asses that that have been hounding her adminsitration and the seven-point agenda, specifically the one on population management. La Glora, Madam, it's time to shove these moral asses aside and move ahead with a stronger population management program.

Okay, let's call a spade a spade. I want a more aggressive population control measure in place. This governmnet cannot and must never be held hostage by the antiquated tenets of the church and the self-serving agenda of its leaders. This is sadly what most of us mere mortals fail to appreciate, nay, understand, or better yet, refuse to understand.

That population is power is only true when that population in empowered. But how can a hungry nation of 90 million people can ever exercise, or even possess, power? Will the church share its power, or its millions stashed in banks elsewhere? Will a daily dose of the gospel make people empowered? Will the sermons of Velarde and Villanueva combined really make the a dying country rise, as in Bangon Pilipinas, Bangon?

(I have to pause on a hungry note.)

Monday, June 1, 2009


Wow! Beautiful! Fantastic!

I would say it's wonderful! Or, as my Boholano friends would say, pwerti!

Indeed, the Pasundayag 2009, literally meaning show, was grander and far more sensible and worth attending than the ones going on in the senate these past few weeks. It was definitely more than a show by any standard. It was an experience that even experienced showgoers in the capital should not miss, or should have not missed as it was the closest thing to the real Bukidnon deal, at least for a Bukidnon like me. People, products, culture, life, art, traditions, beauties and charms (and babes, too). Name it, you'll definitely find it there.

Dick Gordon, the senator, was right in coming and standing grand on stage at the Pasundayag than grandstanding on the senate floor. He was right in not joining Sen. Bobong Revilla in his stupid and idiotic appraisal of events, actuations, and disruptions by so-called victims, perpetrators, and spectators, most notably Abner Afuang with whom Sen. Bobong suspected to be Hidden Hayden's cohort. Gordon, after all, was the prime mover of the Department of Tourism's WOW PHILIPPINES (the opposite of which is, well, YUCKY SENATE!). Of course, Gordon remains to be the public face of WOW PHILIPPINES what with all those paper fans, pamphlets, brochures, streamers, etc., bearing the familiar round basketball-like face of this erstwhile Mayor of Olongapo, SBMA Chair and, as his pep squad would claim triumphantly, "the Savior of Subic and Olongapo" (bless us, small Dick, amen). 

My friend James Fajarito, Letran's Language and Linguistics department chair, joined me at the Pasundayag even if he was nursing a bad cold. It was nothing to fear, he assured me, because it was not the dreaded AH1N1.

I was at the Clamshell 1, the venue of Pasundayag 2009, a couple of minutes before 4:00 pm, the start of the show but had to while some time because Gordon was nowhere in sight yet. There's nothing new about VIPs coming to events fashionably late. After all, he was to cut the ceremonial ribbon formally opening the exhibit. Not wasting my time waiting for the opening, I surveyed and took some photos of the different booths representing the unique products of Northern Mindanao, specifically Region 10, the region where I come from.

Region 10 is comprised of the following provinces: Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental and Misamis Occidental, Lanao del Norte, and Camiguin. A few years back, the region included Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur, minus Lanao del Norte and Camiguin was subprovince of Misamis Oriental. But bad politics, no, bad politicians, have their way of arranging, nay, tampering with geography. So, in honor of the bad politicians responsible for such tampering, let's just call it bad geography or, well, bad geopolitics.

While the addition of Lanao del Norte may not be correct (geo)politically, it offers some refreshment to the cultural landscape of the region. The infusion of Maranao traditions--at least a good serving of it--is certainly a welcome formula towards adding more color to the already vibrant culture of the region, sans the violent past that Lanao and a tiny speck of its population have come to be associated with, thanks to media's self-serving interest and huge appetite of blowing things grossly out of proportion.

Now back to Pasundayag, which this post is all about. After about an hour, I covered the whole of Clamshell 1, having chatted with Bukdinon vendors and some tribesmen belonging to either of the seven tribal groups that originally inhabit the Bukidnon plains and the uplands: the Bukidnons, the Matigsalugs, the Tigwahanons, the Umayamnons, the Talaandigs, the Higaonons, and the Manobos. (I'll spare you the punishing discussion on these seven tribes. I can discuss these tribes in some future post.) 

I normally arrive at an event before it starts because being an early bird gives me the opportunity to meet with key people of such event, i.e. organizers, funders, resource persons, leaders, etc. I have an open (attention Hidden Hayden) agenda/idea of coming up with a coffee table book on everything Bukidnon, inspired as I am with the relative publishing (marketing, I don't know) success of the book I did on coconut. No, I have been nursing this idea long before the coconut book project landed on my computer table. At the moment, I only have the proposed cover of the book, and I have yet to draft the foreword and introduction before I can parade around my bare coffee table book plan. Momentarily, I had to forget my open agenda.

Gordon finally arrived, was led to the ceremonial entrance, accorded welcome ritual of good luck and cheers (for the long shot at Malacanang in 2010, who knows?), and then finally ushered to the front row VIP section. I had earlier parked my butt in a row for guests (yes, I'm a guest, minus the invitation, but I had to sign up the official logbook, he he) right behind the congressmen's (from Northern Mindanao, I suppose) row but had to yield it to curiosity that earlier had me scouring the food and dry goods booths and check their offering. 

When the show started at 5:00 o'clock, James and I were did not notice the passing of another two hours as we were glued to the awesome performances of the Impasug-ong Cultural Performers, the Bukidnon State University (formerly BUSCO, or Bukidnon State College), and several other groups representing various tribes in Northern Mindanao. I only knew it was supposedly dinner time when the hosts announced the break for some cocktails. Of course, we piled up for the long queue but we were not lucky this time. The caterer run out of plates, reducing us hungry mortals to mere witnesses in the gradual disappearance of cocktails on giant tables, including the delectable lechon from Cagayan de Oro, one of the best tasting this side of the planet. And there were not just one but two of these pigs (lechon). Whoooaaa! But God never abandoned the hopefuls as we managed a few slices of tuna sandwich and barbedogs (barbeque hotdogs). We had to comfort ourselves with the thought that what we came here for was not the food but culture! O, di ba? Ha ha ha!

Past cocktails, the show had just actually started. More talents, charms, and skills from the different groups, notably those from Bukidnon, were displayed to our delight. It was James' introduction (and mine a refresher) to Bukidnon culture and beauty (as in the lovely babes who were resplendent and equally beguiling in their colorful ethnic head gears and dress. 

The mostly-thematic numbers were both a retelling of the unique, rich cultural heritage of the region that lends it its identity in the face of changes and challenges that swept the entire cultural landscape of the archipelago, beginning with the Spanish intrusion and the continuing Westernization in the country and the rest of the world. To say that the performances were very educational would be an understatement. It did not only inform us of the many ways of using/wearing the malong in a rather fashionable manner as displayed by the Kagay-an dancers from Cagayan de Oro; it tells us to help promote the industry. The Impasug-ong cowboys and cowgirls did not just delight us with their witty cowboy number; they instruct us to revive the once dominant cattle industry in Bukidnon. The Talaandings who did breathtaking stunts on ultra-long bamboo sticks were asking not only loud applause from the audience; they want their land back that Bukidnon settlers and lowlanders took away from them in exchange of promises written in the air and a few gantas of salt.

The six hours I spent at Pasundayag 2009 was worth every minute, every second. For one, it reaffirms my love for that "far away Bukidnon land." It made me prouder that I was born, raised, educated, politicized (for the best), first fell in love, frustrated and almost gave up, moved on, and fought for my principles in Bukidnon. There's no place like Bukidnon My Home. How I wish I can sing here the song that keeps the moist in my eyes whenever I see something that reminds me of home. But here's the lyrics:

Wherever I may roam
the distant land to see
I long to go back soon
to sweet Bukidnon home

Her lovely mountains high
her forests old and grand
bring memories to me
the home I long to see.

There my heart, yearns to be
in far away Bukidnon land
Under its blue starry skies
where love and joy never die.

There is a Binukid (Bukidnon) version of this anthem but I couldn't sing it. Well, I leave to my Bukidnon brothers. Yet the message, the emotion, the passion, the conviction, the hopes and aspirations of a great people we are whenever we sing this remain pretty much the same.