November 2008

First of all, let’s get one thing straight: I love America. I am an American, and though it doesn’t always seem like it, proudly so. What I love about America is the conflux (and occasional collision) of people and ideas that have built America. I love that American society and culture seem to be one big ongoing experiment. I love that in America, there is the luxury of public institutions that are set up in a way that allow people to influence and change them.

However, what I don’t love about America is many Americans’ lack of love and understanding for people around the globe.

Thais are currently occupying the Bangkok International airport (it’s official name is a lot longer than that) in a peaceful protest in order to pressure the government to step down. Strategically, it’s an ingenious dilemma action – as tourism is a (if not the) major industry, the action is hitting local and international business, foreign governments, and media all in one fell swoop! Ideologically, while the Parliament of the streets is not always the best way to foster stability or democratic maturity (I don’t know enough about this specific situation to comment), I am always moved, inspired and supportive of organized attempts for popular will to influence government action. This is democracy.
Unfortunately, not all Americans see it this way. On BBC this morning (I’m American, and I usually prefer to watch CNN, but my comcast is on the fritz), they aired the comments of some western travelers stuck at the airport. I was particularly offended by some guy in a NY baseball cap (hang my head in shame – though he’s probably not even from NY) .

Have you any idea of the tens of thousands of people…whose plans you’ve screwed up?…Tomorrow is a real big holiday in the States and many people will miss it because of some cockamamey little protest that you’ve got going. (See full video here)

Wow. I mean wow. Hmm, let’s see, the future of a nation of almost 65 million, with implications for democracy in the entire region as Thailand has teetered to and from democracy, not to mention implications for the world even more generally as Thailand is world’s the biggest rice exporter…and the priority should be the tens of thousands with screwed-up plans.

Furthermore, I’m really sorry, but the whole world doesn’t care that tomorrow is Thanksgiving – this guy says it like everyone should know and respect the holiday. For the past 2 years I’ve missed Thanksgiving with my family because I was busy making revolution. This year I was looking forward to being with my parents, but I chose to spend Thanksgiving on a plane somewhere with no turkey, no ham, no lumpiang shanghai and no pecan pie. I’m sorry, but I think struggling for ethical government and basic human dignity is a little bit more important than Thanksgiving (by the way, a holiday that in true American fashion commemorates genocide and celebrates it through gluttony).

And let me not even go into the (I’m assuming by the accent) Australian girl who “loves Thailand” but hated this trip and is never coming back. I guess she loves paying proletariat Thais for massages and pillaging natural resources, but the will of the people and struggles for nation-building, not so much.

It’s these kind of selfish, geocentric attitudes that make me want to hide my blue passport.


I couldn’t even get beyond the 5th paragraph without a violent reaction

Arroyo son leads Charter change bid 

150 solons sign on for constituent assembly

By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:58:00 11/21/2008

MANILA, Philippines—A move to amend the Constitution through a constituent assembly is gathering steam in 
the House of Representatives with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s eldest child leading the signature drive.

Pampanga Rep. Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo’s campaign has secured between 120 and 150 signatures on a resolution calling on the Senate and the House to amend the Constitution by voting jointly and not separately, according to Iloilo Rep. Raul Gonzalez Jr.

“I was approached by Congressman Mikey last week when I just arrived at the session hall. He requested that I sign and when I looked at the papers, this was about Charter change through a constituent assembly,” Gonzalez said in an interview.

“Since this was being supported by the administration coalition … I had no hesitation and signed the resolution,” he said.

Curiously, Gonzalez and other administration solons who signed the bill do not have a copy of the resolution.


That’s right folks, your honorable, intelligent and hardworking representatives at work, legislating responsibly by signing bills without reading them! 

It’s time to let the secret out. The Gonzalez’s are from Jaro, my district of Iloilo. Our families have a long history together, and their assent to politics actually owes a bit to my family – there are a lot of Lero’s, and quite popular ones, and because of family history they would always tap our numbers and skills in election time. Of course, over time mukang nalimutan nila yun istoriya at utang. Sa ngayon, matitino na mga younger generations na Lero.

This demonstrates that Raul Gonzalez Jr. is everything the archetype of a good Ilonggo is not. Ilonggos are strong; RG Jr. kow-tows to the wishes of the administration like, well, a bitch. Ilonggos are intelligent and creative; RG Jr. does this kow-towing without even knowing or attepmting to know it meaning or details! Ilonggos make something out of nothing; RG Jr. started with many opportunities and made nothing of himself. Hell, Ilonggos are good-looking and he is not! Ilonggos love life and merry-making; it will be a sad world (where a lot more people will die) if GMA’s term is extended.

Hmm kung tatakbo ako sa Jaro what are the chances….???


Oh wait, it gets better,

A senior congressman, who requested anonymity, claimed that there was only one copy of the resolution passed around.

He said the signatories were told that once the measure secured the required number of votes, it would be used to force the Supreme Court to rule on how the Con-ass should vote to amend the Constitution.


Used to force the Supreme Court? What happened to the great value of checks and balances that is supposed to be one of the pillars of our democracy? What happened to an independent Supreme Court that rules on legal values and not political pressure? 


Thank you for getting my heart rate going early in the morning.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted, what with starting the new job, moving, and overall adjustments, I just haven’t had time to sit down and write all the things I’ve been meaning to write [including my re-commitment to both socialism and democracy, how the last 2 years in the Philippines have changed me, the similarities between US Republican and populist (in the Phil/Latin American sense) rhetoric (actually, I’m kind of glad I held off on this one since the whole Palin phenomenon will just enrich it), and why electing Obama will be better for US national security interests (and the security of the whole world for that matter)].

As I was riding to work this morning, I was elated and inspired to see the long voting lines (as well as chucking to myself about what IFES now has to say to us.) Then, I read this article, which quickly brought me back down to earth. We’re not finished, people. We’ve a long way to go.


Voice of the people world hunger

Voice of the people world hunger


Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Pinoys 5th hungriest worldwide – Gallup

By Darwin G. Amojelar, Reporter

The Philippines ranked fifth in a recent global hunger survey, with four in 10 poor Filipinos going hungry in the last 12 months.

In its “Voice of the People” survey, Gallup International said 40 percent of the Filipino respondents were found to have experienced an empty stomach in late 2007 to the present.

The country landed in fifth place out of the 55 countries world­wide surveyed.

The Gallup poll interviewed more than 58,600 people between June and early September 2008, and the survey represented the views of more than 1.5 billion global citizens.

During the global survey period, inflation in the Philippines surged to double digits, averaging 12.03 percent from June to September.

An earlier survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) revealed that 3.3 million Filipino families were suffering from hunger in the last three quarters. The survey was conducted from September 24 to 27, 2008.

The SWS said incidence of moderate hunger, which refers to hunger experienced only once or a few times in the last three months, increased from 12.1 percent or 2.2 million families in June to 15.2 percent or 2.7 million families in September.

Severe hunger, which refers to that experienced often or always in the covered period, decreased from 4.2 percent or about 760,000 families in June to 3.2 percent or about 580,000 families in September.

The SWS survey also found that the hunger rate is highest in Metro Manila with 560,000 and lowest in the Visayas, 420,000 families.

Poverty at 32.9 percent

The National Statistics Coordination Board also earlier reported that the number of poor Filipinos in 2006 stood at 27.6 million or 32.9 percent of the population.

The 2006 figure represented an increase of almost 4 million, compared to 2003 levels when the number of poor Filipinos stood at 23.8 million.

The government had said that it aims to reduce poverty incidence to between 17 percent and 20 percent by 2010.

The Gallup International survey said 55 percent of respondents in Cameroon have suffered hunger, followed by Pakistan with 53 percent and Nigeria, 48 percent.

The poll also found that one-third of the population has not had enough to eat in Bolivia and Guatemala, both with 35 percent, and Ghana, 32 percent.

Twenty-three percent of the respondents in Mexico and Russia declared lacking food often or sometimes in the last 12 months.

Meril James, the secretary-general of Gallup International, said, “It is shocking to see that still so many people don’t have enough to eat even in the most developed regions.”

Two in 10 of the world citizens surveyed or 19 percent declared to have lacked food often or sometimes in the last 12 months.

Gallup International is registered in Zurich as a verein (association). It was established in 1947 and currently has member-agencies in 65 countries, conducting market and opinion research in more than 100 countries.