Monthly Archives: April 2007

Bloggers, journalists and Garci

Express yourself in Kabataan partylist’s freedom page. Religion and Philippine elections, my blog entry for Global Voices. I uploaded new pictures in my photoblog: Davao sortie, Eastern Visayas road trip, Sulo hotel press forum. Thank you Pinoy Weekly for this article: Mong Palatino, from Chairman to Congressman?

Blogger meets journalist. While campaigning in Lucena, Quezon, I found time to visit Delfin Mallari Jr., the Philippine Daily Inquirer correspondent who survived a slay attempt last week. As a blogger, I thanked Delfin for publishing some of my blog articles in his local paper, Ang Dyaryo Natin. Since last year, Delfin has been emailing me to seek permission for the printing of my articles in his paper which is circulated in Quezon province. I learned that Delfin’s local paper has a large subscription and it is patronized by businessmen and politicians. I realized that bloggers should endeavour to seek active partnership with local newspapers since their articles have higher chances of being published in these community papers than in national dailies. Local publishers should appreciate the potential of having bloggers as regular contributors. It can save them money and at the same time it will improve content of their papers. Delfin discussed details of the ambush incident, his disappointment with the police investigation and the possible mastermind of the crime. He also tackled the drug menace and the election-related violence gripping Quezon province. Delfin said that as a journalist, he earned the trust of so many individuals and institutions. He boasted that he can walk inside a military camp or a guerrilla base without fearing for his safety since he has a good relationship with soldiers and rebels. We need more journalists like Delin: brave, principled and recognizes the power of blogging.

Blogger meets publisher. Last month, Isagani Yambot, publisher of Philippine Daily Inquirer, attended an assembly of youth leaders at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City. We organized that forum to identify specific ways the youth can carry out to defeat the growing authoritarianism under President Gloria Arroyo’s administration. I regretted not asking for a copy of Mr. Yambot’s speech since he talked about the intense attacks on the free press and political repression in the country. He expressed apprehension over the deployment of soldiers in urban poor barangays (he said there is no such thing as ‘depressed’ communities); he narrated how Inquirer editors were detained in a Pandacan police jail (he asked if Pandacan is symbolic for something else U); he bemoaned the filing of an unprecedented number of libel cases by First Husband Mike Arroyo against journalists (he said Inquirer writers eat libel cases for breakfast. Someone from the audience asked why Mr. Arroyo is called First Husband. Is there a Second or Third Husband?). Mr. Yambot encouraged the youth leaders to be more vigilant in protecting human rights, especially the upholding of free press in the country. Mr. Yambot also attended the national convention of the College Editors Guild in Dumaguete. But that is another story reserved for another blog post.

Blogger in Garci land. After campaigning in Cagayan de Oro, I met with our chapter from Bukidnon. Garci is not popular but he may emerge as winner in the congressional race. According to one of our members, Garci’s team is allegedly distributing one thousand pesos as cash gifts to voters. No one is asking Garci about his infamous role in the ‘Hello Garci’ scandal. Nakalimutan na ba ito ng mga tao? Bakit hindi ito ginagamit na isyu ng mga Acosta laban kay Garci? He even had the audacity to use ‘paglaum sa kabus’ (pag-asa ng mahihirap) as his campaign line. He has more posters, campaign T-shirts and tarpaulin streamers than his main opponent. The Acostas are accused of promoting political dynasty: family members are running for governor, mayor and district representative. But our member said incumbent Congressman Acosta did well as a lawmaker and she hopes this will be appreciated by the people. Oh what a tragedy if ‘Hello Garci’ will become Honorable Garci.

Related entries:

Blogging the news
Messenger in distress.
Hello Garci and Dovie Beams.
Hello Edgar.

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I, activist

Thank you Arkibong Bayan for this feature on Kabataan partylist. By the way, Aangat Tayo partylist is very very close to Congressman (and soon to be Governor) Harlin Abayon of Northern Samar.

I wrote the following article more than six years ago for Tinig….

Madalas itanong ng aking kapatid kung ano daw ang aking napapala sa pagrarali. Wala daw silbi ang maging aktibista. Sinasayang ko lang ang aking pinag-aralan. Ano ang aking kinabukasan kung sigaw lang ako ng sigaw sa kalye?

Di ko siya sinasagot. Maaaring mali ang aking di pagtugon sa kanya pero hindi ko rin naman alam kung paano ko ipapaliwanag ang aking ginagawa sa paraan na lubos niyang mauunawaan. Minsan din akong nagtanong sa isang kaibigan kung bakit pinili niyang maging aktibista sa dinami-dami ng raket na pwede naman niyang gawin.

Mayroon pa akong pagtingin noon na walang kuwenta ang maging isang tibak. Sa kabila ng mga pagpapaliwanag niya ay di pa rin nabago ang aking paniniwala. Kung matibay siya sa kanyang pinaniniwalaan, ganun din ako. At ano ba ang pinaniniwalaan ko noon?

Naghihirap ang bansa dahil maraming Pilipino ang ginustong huwag mag-aral at di nagsisikap ng husto para mabuhay nang maayos. Sumisikip ang siyudad dahil ang mga tao sa probinsiya ay dumadagsa dito at dumadagdag sa mga iskuwater. Buntis nang buntis ang mga mahihirap at maagang nag-aasawa ang mga kabataan. Ang realidad ay ang ipinalalabas ng TV, sine at mga magasin. Kailangan ko munang paunlarin ang aking sarili bago makapaglingkod sa kapwa. Madaling yumaman kung may edukasyon ang isang tao lalo na’t pupunta ng ibang bansa. Kailangang maging praktikal sa buhay.

Hindi ko sinasabing mali ang lahat ng ito. Subalit paano ko ito ilulugar sa buhay na tinahak ng aking kaibigan at siyang tinatahak ko ngayon? Nag-iba na ang pamantayan ko kung paano maging praktikal sa ating lipunan ngayon. Naunawaan ko na ang kahalagahan ng pag-uugnay ng mga maliliit na suliranin ng ating bansa sa mga mayor at pundamental na usapin na siyang ugat ng ating mga problema.

Kung sasagutin ko ang aking nakakatandang kapatid, siguradong igigiit niya ang kanyang pamantayan ng isang matagumpay na tao: makadiyos, nakatapos ng kolehiyo, at kumikita ng pera. Tiyak na talo na ako sa mga argumento kung susuko ako sa nakagisnang pamantayan ng lahat, na siyang pamantayan ko rin noon. At ito ang ayokong mangyari.

Mahirap basagin ang mga katotohanang isinuso natin mula pagkabata. Mapait ang proseso ng pagwawasak ng mga kasinungalingang tinanggap natin bilang katotohanan. Hindi ako naging aktibista dahil sa pakikinig lamang sa mga teach-in at mga educational discussion. Hindi rin dahil sa mga aktibista kong propesor sa kolehiyo.

Kung ganoon, kailan at paano? Ito ay nang minsang sumama ako sa isang dayalog sa mga urban poor sa isang komunidad sa may likod ng UP noong eleksiyon ng 1998, nang minsan akong makipamuhay sa isang maliit na nayon sa Pampanga, at nang minsang maligo sa mabahong tubig ng water cannon ng mga pulis sa mapayapang rali ng mga estudyante; sa tingin ko ay dito ko naunawaan ang aking makitid na pagtingin sa mga bagay-bagay. Sapagkat nagsimula na akong magtanong, at sa pagtatanong pala nagsisimula ang lahat ng pagbabago.

Bakit nga ba naghihirap ang mga kayod-marinong manggagawang nakausap ko samantalang may iilan ang nagpapasasa sa sobra-sobrang luho? Bakit di maibigay-bigay sa mga nag-aalaga ng lupa ang kanilang sinasaka? Bakit kailangang tapatan ng mga trucheon ang simpleng demonstrasyon ng mga kabataang nananawagan ng karagdagang badyet sa edukasyon?

Marami na akong nasagot sa aking mga tanong subalit may dumagdag na mga bagong palaisipan. Ang pagkakaiba ngayon ay hindi na lang ako nagtatanong kundi gumagawa ng paraan para ang marami sa atin ay hindi na tanungin ang mga bagay na ito. Hindi perpekto ang mundo ng mga aktibista subalit walang masama sa pagnanais nito.

Hindi ako nagagalit sa tuwing tinatanong ako ng aking kapatid, bagkus ako ay natutuwa pa nga. Minsan akong nagtanong, at nagbago ang aking buhay. Malay mo bukas ang itatanong na ng kapatid ko ay kung bakit ayaw pumayag ng gobyerno na itaas ang kanilang sahod.

Related entries: Tibak sarbey, Five important things, Battle of the streets

Panalipdan ang kinaiyahan

Watch the video clip of Kabataan partylist’s new endorser. Check out the new pictures in my photoblog: click here and here. Thank you Black and White Movement for including Kabataan partylist in this year’s election white list. I’m in Catarman, Samar today. Our group will be in Calbayog tomorrow.

Green is definitely in these days. To become a politico-environmentalist is the vogue today. French presidentiables have drafted ‘green’ programs. Al Gore produced a documentary on global warming and won an Oscar for this noble effort. John Kerry recently published a book on protecting the environment. In the Philippines, more and more local government units have been approving resolutions on environmental protection. Senatoriables (most notably amigo Migz Zubiri) boast of their achievements as ‘green’ advocates.

This ‘greening’ trend is understandable. A UN report confirmed studies of various scholars which named global warming or climate change as the real threat in the future. We also cannot ignore the continuing destruction of our fragile ecosystem.

Politicians who project themselves as ‘green’ crusaders must come up with more comprehensive program to save the environment. Tree planting along the highways is not enough. We need to discourage large scale mining and massive timber cutting. Bio-fuels is welcome since it will lead to less dependence on oil. But this must not affect food production which may aggravate hunger situation in the country. We have to be more aggressive in punishing big companies which pollute our waters, air and surroundings. Politicians must be willing to run after their friends and golf buddies who manage businesses that directly harm our environment.

For example, candidates can be asked to support the campaign against the construction of a hydroelectric power plant which may destroy Tudaya falls in Davao del Sur.

The power plant will be located within Sitio Tudaya, Brgy. Sibulan, Sta. Cruz, Davao del Sur. Other sitios covered are Pogpog, Colan, Baroring and Sentro Sibulan. The Bagobo-Tagabawa tribe will be directly affected (read: displaced) by this project.

The project has successfully received compliance certificate from environment, tourism and economic agencies of the government. It also got the approval of the local government. But a feasibility study conducted by NGOs and environmental groups revealed the following disadvantages of the Sibulan hydro power plant:

1. The project could affect the condition of forest and stability of soil;

2. The flow of Tudaya falls will be affected since the proposed construction of Weir 1-A will be erected a few kilometers away from the falls whose function is to divert the flow of the waters to a conveyance pipe, penstock and to the turbine to generate power. Tudaya falls is a holy place of the Tagabawa tribe;

3. Possibility of water shortage twenty years onward and there was no scheme for the abandonment phase presented;

4. The proposed Headpond ‘A’ will be located behind the Tudaya elementary school which may pose tremendous hazard to the teaching staff and pupils;

5. If breakdown or leakage of Headpond ‘A’ occurs, subsequent flashfloods will happen and this will endanger the lives of the people in various communities;

6. Environmental impact assessment based on current DENR guidelines and standards are not presented or elaborated in the feasibility study;

7. The project is located in an environmentally critical area since it is within the Mt. Apo Natural Park, a habitat of endangered Philippine Eagle;

8. The project would cause land degradation, loss of biodiversity and loss of water resources that will eventually cause more serious environmental problem in the coming years;

9. Loss of water resources due to clearing of watersheds may result to reduction of underground water resources;

10. Possibility of accidental oil spills during drilling surveys that may contaminate waterways, possibility of fuel spills from heavy equipment;

11. Inconsistency of the municipal land use plan declaring the area as a protected area;

12. Significant reduced flow of water along Sibulan river and Tudaya falls;

13. Domestic sewage and solid waste from the construction site may go to waterways;

14. Possibility of enclosing the perimeter area for security measures would deprive everyone or anyone to have access to the falls;

Constituents of Davao del Sur will not benefit from the project since the power generated by the power plant will go directly to Davao City for additional power needs of Davao light power corporation. The company in charge of this project is a wholly owned subsidiary of Aboitiz Equity Ventures.

Our chapter in Davao City will lead a protest climb in Davao del Sur. I was able to attend a forum in Bangkerohan which discussed the negative impacts of the power plant. The forum also tackled the environment situation in Davao City. I learned about the controversial aerial spraying of banana plantations which are being protested by citizen groups. I learned that Davao boasts of having the best water quality in Asia (second best in the world). Davao also has magnificent aquatic and land resources. The forum ended by affirming the commitment of the youth (especially Kabataan partylist, siyempre) to lead in preserving the environment. What a splendid way to celebrate Earth Day!

Davao politics: Duterte junks Angara. Nograles is fuming mad. By the way, Kalahi partylist’s second nominee is Atty. Karlo Nograles, son of House Majority Floor Leader Prospero and godson of President Gloria Arroyo and businessman Danding Cojuangco. How could young Norgrales consider himself a marginalized individual?

Related entries:

Refugee nation.
Petron oil spill.
Green highways.
Preserve mineral wealth.

Partylist tales

Bastardizing the partylist

Soldiers were deployed in Metro Manila to campaign against militant partylist groups. Malacañang has fielded or funded several partylist groups to thwart a possible impeachment case against the President. There is another sad news for partylist groups which are serious in pushing for alternative politics inside Congress. Local politicians or local warlords have established bogus partylist groups.

Instead of empowering the poor, the partylist system will be used by traditional politicians to extend their sphere of influence. Local warlords have chosen to disrespect the essence of the partylist in order to get more pork barrel funds for personal enrichment.

For example, a powerful political dynasty in northern Luzon is behind a certain partylist group which claims to represent a marginalized sector of our society. This dynasty ordered all local officials, from provincial to barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan officers, that they will endorse or support only one partylist group. This dynasty commanded all local candidates that they must campaign for only one partylist group.

There is nothing wrong with partylist groups soliciting the support of local politicians. But it is unfair and illegal for local politicians to establish a partylist group, proclaim that it is a group of disempowered Filipinos and use massive resources to ensure its victory. It is unjust that local politicians will bar other partylist groups from campaigning in their districts just to please the local kingpin of the province. This is not how the partylist system works. This is not how to strengthen our democracy.

There are 93 partylist groups participating in the 2007 elections. How many of these groups are truly representative of the underprivileged sectors of our society? While we contend with very little resources, some groups find it easy to mount an expensive campaign since they are shameless dummies of traditional politicians.

After elections, we should amend the partylist law to prevent unscrupulous politicians from bastardizing the partylist system. We urge the Commission on Elections to be more discerning in recognizing partylist groups. We support the proposal to publish the list of nominees of partylist candidates. We will not be surprised if scions of political dynasties are among the nominees of some partylist groups.

We hope the people will not be coerced into voting dummy partylist groups of traditional politicians. We hope they will realize the evil machinations of local politicians in forming these groups.

(Let me be more specific: There are other dummies of local politicians. But for this article, I was referring to Abono Partylist of the Ortega clan in La Union).

Our most important endorser

Friends have been asking how we got young showbiz stars to endorse Kabataan Partylist. I’m sorry; it’s a trade secret, hehe.

But celebrities are not our most important endorsers. They add to the appeal of our group, they increase our winning chances, but we rely on the strength of our membership in order to win in the elections.

Let me mention the founding organizations of Kabataan Partylist:

National Union of Students. The most prestigious student group in the country. Period. (hehe)

College Editors Guild. The oldest and largest existing student group in the country.

Anakbayan. The most indomitable youth group in the country. They are so persuasive that I agreed to marry one of its officers. (hehe)

LFS. Student rallies are still associated with LFS. That’s the legacy of LFS in the student movement.

Student Christian Movement. An ecumenical youth group with extensive membership.

Karatula. Young artists who composes most of the campaign songs of Kabataan Partylist.

We are overjoyed with the endorsement of some many youth groups, SK officials, bloggers, young professionals, students and even those who are no longer young. Thank you po for supporting Kabataan Partylist.

But I would like to give special mention to the support of young farmers of Hacienda Luisita for our partylist. For me, it is the most cherished endorsement in this elections.

While attending an assembly in Tarlac a few days ago, some teens approached me and introduced themselves as farmers from hacienda Luisita. They brought campaign streamers made from carton. They assured me of their support for Kabataan Partylist. Then, someone from their group asked me a question which I will never forget: Ipaglalaban mo ba kami kapag nanalo ka?

It was a simple but very important question. It made me realize that partylist groups exist to promote the welfare of our people, which include the struggling farmers of Hacienda Luisita. Kabataan Partylist exists to empower the oppressed, give hope to the dispossessed and fight for the rights of the poor.

We are proud of the endorsement given by Angel Locsin, Dennis Trillo, Ciara Sotto, Marvin Agustin, Tuesday Vargas, among others. We are also proud to announce that the brave young farmers of Hacienda Luisita are on our side.

Surviving the campaign

Watch the new Kabataan partylist infomercials. Our chapter in Tagum also produced a video ad. Find out how to download Kabataan Partylist themes in your cellphones. Check out the article I wrote for Tinig. There are new pictures in my photoblog.

We don’t have guns, goons and gold. We are enemies of generals, garci and gloria. But we do have grit, guts and glint. Most importantly, we have thousands of tireless members who are determined to succeed in the coming elections. The hunger to win and organized strength of a partylist group are important in ensuring electoral victory. One does not just rely on sweep votes through massive postering. A partylist group must have a cohesive army of campaigners who will work for solid votes in communities throughout the country. Fortunately, our group is supported by youth formations recognized for their grassroots organizing prowess.

Government funds and fraud machinery of local warlords may help bogus partylist groups. But why rely on grossly illegitimate deeds? Where is the fun in this?

So far, we have been surviving the campaign. We lack resources but we have an oversupply of creative ideas on how to mount an efficient and effective nationwide campaign. My salute to all our members and supporters!

Cybercampaign. I have already blogged about the usefulness and necessity of online campaigning. Let me emphasize that among all partylist groups and candidates in this year’s elections, Kabataan Partylist has been giving the most notable attention in maximizing the power of the internet. Thank you dear bloggers, friendster users and you tube addicts!

Road trip. We borrowed an old coaster from a friendly NGO and we painted it with colourful, youthful icons. The coaster, our only vehicle, has already visited various schools and communities in Metro Manila, Pampanga, Olongapo, Batangas, Laguna, Cavite and Rizal. Our recent road trip in Southern Tagalog was memorable since we have to stop regularly and push the vehicle to start the battery. In many instances, the trip was both comic and tragic when we have to assist the driver since the vehicle lost its headlight and horn.

Isko, our mascot. Isko stands for iskolar (obvious bang marami sa aming taga-UP?). He is our official mascot. Voters need not remember the names of our nominees so we thought of an icon which will campaign in behalf of us in various activities and sorties. Isko is admired by pedestrians during motorcades. He is popular during concerts and assemblies. Sometimes he carries a guitar; sometimes he has a school bag. Isko’s costume was designed and made by university fine arts students.

Travel tips. Before the school semester ended last month, I was able to speak in many schools throughout the country. How did we raise funds for plane tickets? We asked student councils to pay for my travel expenses. For example, our chapter in Iloilo organized a symposium in four schools. Student governments from each school shared the cost of my air fare. Nakatipid kami, nakatipid din ang mga eskuwelahan. Masaya ang lahat.

We also befriended bus drivers and conductors. This friendship is valuable so that we can transport our campaign materials to different parts of Luzon for free.

Posters. We have very few posters. Do you see them in your area? I will not be surprised if you haven’t seen a Kabataan partylist poster. We can only afford posters of newsprint quality. A young professor will donate plastic posters this week. How are we improvising? Some chapters are collecting used tarpaulin streamers and they write campaign slogans at the back of these materials. Some are using old newspapers (similar to what supporters of Fred Lim have been doing in Manila). Yung iba katya, sako at minsan gumagamit din ng uling.

Songs and videos. Perhaps it’s time we launch an album containing the songs and jingles of Kabataan Partylist composed by our supporters and members. Some of these songs were made for karaoke stations. We also have to compile the short but appealing video teasers which are now accessible in you tube.

Txtpower. Cellphone users can now download Kabataan Partylist themes, icons, ringtones and video clips of our celebrity endorsers. Some chapters are recruiting vendors of e-load and reloading stations so that they can access texters.

Prayers. My mother who lives in California leads the prayer team. My aunts and cousins have already visited Manaog, St. Jude and the Pink sisters of St. Joseph. I also pray, especially during those fearful days when my daughter was confined in a hospital for acute pneumonia.

A series of unbelievable events

Thanks Schumey for reminding why parents must be persuaded to vote for Kabataan Partylist. It’s also a vote for the future of our children.

Internet and Philippine elections, my blog entry for Global Voices Online. Check out the new pictures in my photoblog. Check also the photos of Kabataan Partylist road trip in Southern Tagalog.

Even if I am not superstitious, I cannot ignore the unpromising signs of doom and mayhem in relation to the 2007 midterm elections. Is this just a series of unbelievable events, or is this a warning to everyone that we should prepare for the worst?

1. Fire at the Comelec building. This happened while the government has just declared the month of March as the ‘national fire prevention month.’ And a firestation is located across the Comelec compound.

2. Three employees of the National Printing Office were caught copying serial numbers of election ballots. They were eventually sacked from their jobs. What will they do with the serial numbers? Who ordered them to do this odious task?

3. Two hostage taking incidents: First, at Taguig Regional Trial Court. Second, the world-famous hostage drama in front of Manila City Hall. Everybody has already commented on this episode. Enough already. What is interesting, or mysterious, is that these incidents occurred during election campaigning.

4. Ilocos Sur Governor and senatorial candidate Chavit Singson was caught by the cameras distributing cash gifts, not once but twice. Aminin!

5. Virgilio Garcillano is running for Congress. And yes, his nickname is Garci.

6. We have many achievements this year which make elections so exciting. We are the most corrupt nation in Asia. We have one of the highest number of human rights violations in the world. (move over, Myanmar!) We continue to be the most dangerous country for journalists next to Iraq. We have millions of hungry people. We are the organ donor capital of the world!

7. A Senator has a campaign TV ad defending and boasting a law he authored which increased tax rates in the country.

8. Another Senator has a TV ad apologizing for a mistake committed more than six years ago. Why only now Madame?

9. Another Senator is not remorseful for being unfriendly both to the Administration and Opposition blocs. He may be thinking this way: Who cares? I have a very popular wife.

10. We have so many ‘Lords’ running in the elections: jueteng lords, drug lords, landlords, quarrying lords, fake lords – oh yes, religious groups have fielded their own candidates.

11. We have memorable prison scenes this year. Inquirer editors were jailed in Pandacan (symbolic for a pandak President?). A Newsbreak writer was also detained. And we have Rep. Satur Ocampo resisting to be transported to Leyte.

12. Erap is associated with the midnight Cabinet. But the Arroyo government is also guilty of committing anomalous deeds after midnight. President Arroyo was sworn into office after midnight in 2004. Two impeachment cases were defeated in the Lower House after midnight. ChaCha was passed in the Lower House after midnight. Daniel Smith was moved from Makati City jail to US Embassy after midnight. Rep. Ocampo was moved out of his cell after midnight. If there is an ‘after 6’ diet, we have a ‘before 6am’ mafia-like government.

13. We have an unusual number of jailed candidates. The most prominent are Gringo Honasan, Antonio Trillanes, Crispin Beltran and Satur Ocampo. We even have a partylist group of jailed individuals who claim to be innocent.

14. Imagine these odd combinations: Satur Ocampo sitting beside Jovito ‘the butcher’ Palparan as partylist represenatives. Governor Vilma Santos and Vice Governor Christopher De Leon. (Abangan ang Guy-Pip tandem sa 2010). Senators Tessie Oreta and Victor Wood –dancing queen and jukebox king.

15. So many ‘fronts’. The so-called communist fronts, Malacañang fronts, church fronts, entertainment fronts, triad fronts, jueteng fronts. What about the CIA front? It’s there at the Palace – bad bananas and spoiled eggs.

16. Erap winning the outstanding citizenship award in San Juan. He doesn’t need the award. Winning the Presidency should have been enough. Let other residents claim the award. And the distinction was awarded by, well, his sons. It’s really election season.

17. The Ombudsman suspending local officials for graft practices. We can interpret it in two ways: One, it’s a tool to harass the Opposition. Second, we have many crooked politicians.

Related entries:

Election questions
Election notes
The other radicals