January 2009


I just finished watching Norotrious, as a New Yorker stuck here in DC, I simply had to do it. I liked it. I really liked it and was surprised how much I actually liked it. Yes, it was a movie about hip hop, it was a movie where the music was a character and Brooklyn was a character, just as much as were Biggie, Faith, Puff, Kim and espeically Violetta. But more than the music, it was a story of a kid struggling to be a man. Even now, it was stilla  shock to be reminded that Pac was 25 when he died and Big was 24. The movie did a good job of showing both Pac and big as complex figures, who just like the rest of us, are neither all good nor all bad. But, at the end of the day, these two incredibly complex figures were just kids, faced with crippling poverty, responsibility and despair as children struggling ot make it through, and then suddenly presented with ridiculous amounts of money, guns, liquor, women and all sorts of temptation. We expected them to act like men, but they were still just kids playing a man’s game.

 

But what surprised me even more was how emotionally attached I felt. I found myself , to my own incredulosity, holding in tears while they showed Bk erupting in a spontaneous street party when Big’s funeral procession rode through. And while I definitely felt some ownership because there were parts of the movie that one probably just wouldn’t get if they weren’t from New York (DJ Enuff actually being the DJ for all of the scenes, Angie Mar’s voice on the radio, the constant shots of Fulton street signs), I really feel my strong emotional reaction is a testament to the true meaning of Hip Hop. 

Hip Hop is a culture; not a subculture, but a culture. It is the culture of the marginalized and provides a community for all of us who never really felt like we were or could be a part of mainstream white American culture. Hip Hop tells us that we have value. While mainstream America tells us we are stupid and immature and have no future because we don’t walk with the proper stiffness or speak with the proper lack of tone and twang, hip hop tells us that we can belong to something that is positive and valuable. I feel emotionally involved because I am emotionally connected to the hip hop community – the community which told me that I could belong to something as I am when mainstream America told me I had to put on a a front to belong.

 

This isn’t a new idea – it’s something I wrote about way back in my senior year of undergrad, but Notorious gave me a chance to revisit it. As I wrote back in 2006, 

[H]ip hop culture provides a vehicle through which … youth could establish themselves as the center, with the rest of the globe on the periphery. The focus of hip hop on the issue of “legitimacy” and “repping where you’re from” [and the joy repping N to the Y brings] allows creators/producers to marginalize their marginalizers. Hip hop is a community builder for the formerly displaced, including those who are not usually included and excluding those who are not usually excluded. 

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FORMAL STATEMENT OF GOV. ED PANLILIO 

YESTERDAY, AT ABOUT 9:30 IN THE MORNING, SEVERAL RALLYISTS  COMPOSED OF FORMER PROVINCIALS CHECKERS AND MEMBERS OF PAMPANGA TRUCKERS WITH THEIR DRIVERS AND HELPERS BARGED INTO THE PROVINCIAL CAPITOL AND PROCEEDED INTO THE SECOND FLOOR KICKING ATTEMPTING TO ENTER MY OFFICE. THE DOOR WAS FORCED OPEN. THE RALLYISTS RETREATED UPON NOTING THAT MY SECURITY OFFICERS ARE READY TO ENGAGE THEM IN COMBAT AND PROTECT ME FROM ANY IMMINENT DANGER.

UNDAUNTED, THE RALLYISTS PROCEEDED TO THE OFFICE OF THE PROVINCIAL ADMINISTRATOR AND LIKEWISE ATTEMPTED TO BARGE INTO HER OFFICE KNOWING FULLY WELL THAT THERE ARE NO SECURITY OFFICERS WHO WOULD PROTECT HER. FORTUNATELY ENOUGH, HER STAFF IMMEDIATELY LOCKED THE DOORS WHEN THEY HEARD THE RALLYISTS GOING UP THE SECOND THE SECOND FLOOR LOBBY.

After some minutes, the rallyists went down, leaving the employees shaken by the incident. This is the provincial capitol. The seat of power in this province. And yet, the Sangguninang Panlalawigan  DID  NOT see fit to protect us but opened the door for these incidents to happen by unceremoniously and illegally declaring the Macario Arnedo Park as a freedom park.
 
Not satisfied, at about 11:30 yesterday, the rallyists repeatedly HIT  and ATTACKED my two nephews who are here in the country for a vacation. They are here at the capitol to see me. Their infraction: my nephews attempted to tear down the offensive  streamers put up by the former checkers. The very streamers for which I have instructed Col Singian to put down, if not arrest the rallysists for violating the law. At the time my nephews were  BEING  BEATEN,  some policeman are just stone’s throw away. 

For several months now, we have endured the daily insults thrown at us by these rallysists. Malicious, offensive streamers hung around the park and their trucks carrying libelous, suggestive pictures of me and Atty. Dabu were roving the province.

What happened yesterday merely accentuated the marked incompetence of our police force. For several months now, I have asked Col. Singian to arrest the rallyists. Yesterday morning, I have asked Col Singian to effect the arrest against the the rallyists who attempted to  HARM me. Since they were NOT immediately arrested, two of those rallyists  HIT my nephews. I  again asked Col Singian to arrest them. Col Singian and his men  DILLY-DALLIED  till the period to arrest had lapsed. TILL  THIS  MORNING  NOTHING HAPPENED. No arrest was made and none will be made.

And so today, I appear before you to express my condemnation to these acts. To the rallyists, who did not follow the rule of law. They held the rally without a permit and even barged into the provincial capitol attempting to harm me. This attack is not merely an attack to me as a person but an attack to the very office I now hold, the Office of the Governor, an attack to the people of Pampanga.

To the Sangugunian Panlalawigan, who violated both law and wisdom in declaring the Macario Arnedo Park as a freedom park. To the police officers in this province, whose ineptitude and incompetence put me and the lives of others in danger.

For more than 18 months now, I have been asking the President no less to replace Col. Keith Singian to no avail. Today, I am  raising again my voice calling the PNP leadership, the DILG Secretary, and the President for the relief of Col. Singian, Col. Medina, the chief of police of the City of San Fernando, and their men for gross dereliction of duty and incompetence. And so, today, I am personally filling my petition for their relief to the office of the DILG Secretary, the Chief PNP  and the NAPOLCOM.

Lastly, I am appealing to our well-meaning kabalens to open their eyes and be involved. These despicable acts are not merely due to the ineptitude of the police officers, the lack of wisdom of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, the disrespect to authority and law of the rallyists. These loathsome acts are orchestrated by people who from day one do not wish me to stay a single day longer as Governor of this province. Their recount and recall move have failed. Their last resort is to discredit me, to malign me in public, to humiliate me, to intimidate me, and to make it appear that I am not fit to govern.

Should it take young, idealsistic men who saw the evil of those posters and streamers to make us realize that we have been lethargic in fighting the evil around us? We love this province. Should we remain silent and indifferent by what is happening around us? Please remember, evil triumphs when good men do nothing.

Governor Eddie T. Panlilio
Pampanga

There are so many other things I should be writing right now…but I suppose it’s just as important to gain some persepctive. (Plus I was inspired by Tricia’s blog.) This has been kind of a downer of a Christmas/New Year’s season – the holidays are just different in the Philippines! So much more bombastic and fun than here in politically correct DC. Before I was in the Philippines Christmas and New Year’s was a big deal because it was the end of classes, final exams and papers and vacation. In the Philippines, well it’s just fun! This year it was anti-climactic at best. I found myself becoming very homesick and thinking of all the parties and whatnot I was doing at this time last year…

Yet, upon thinking about it, 2008 was a great year for me. Exceptional even. My life has changed so drastically over the past 12 months and I’ve grown incredibly as a person, a professional, a Christian and an activist. So, the year in review:

January

The parents and Sophia were visiting the Philippines. I spent the vast majority of this month vacationing around and telecommuting from Iloilo and Antique.

February

Mom and Sophia went back to the States. During the second week, I traveled to Belgrade and began with what has now effectively ruined my life – and loving every second of it. Upon my return to the Philippines, the country was in heightened Oust mode. Lots of late night meetings, strategy sessions, negotiations, and the occasional mass rally or two.

March

In the first week I traveled to Australia. Then back to a calmed-down Philippines where we were all trying to make sense and squeeze out the long term bang of the mobilizations that had occurred. Also, another trip to Iloilo for Uncle Ediong’s birthday and Holy Week in Boracay.

April

After Holy Week effectively took the steam out of the Oust movement, it was back to business as usual. Except there was now the realization that the unorganized MC could be mobilized – the focus turned to how to do so in a way that could support fundamental reform. Finally started dedicating full time to my research pet project – Election Forensics: The Effect of Socioeconomic Factors on Voting in the Philippines.

May

Started getting ready to go back to the States. Finished Election Forensics, the National Summit on the Political Party Reform Bill, did a bit of shopping, did a lot of partying. I returned to Newark on May 22. Had lunch the next day with Cheryl in the city. On the 29th went to Elmira to attend Uncle’s ordination. Turned 23 on May 30. I forgot to eat my cake.

June

And, 2 weeks after arriving in the US, I went to Thailand for 2 weeks. I returned to Jersey, couldn’t stand just being in the house, and began a job search.

July

Attended Rene and Julie’s wedding in Michigan.

August

Attended Joy and Sil’s and Michael and Jamie’s weddings in Toronto. Then, accompanied my parents to NC.

September

Went to South Africa for a conference on 4 hours notice. It was odd to be back in the political world after how many months of being a child at home. Then I flew to DC for my interview with NDI and then took the bus to NY for a meeting. Then the bus back down to NC. A week later I had the NDI job.

October

Started work with NDI on October 5th. Just eased into the first month. Friends from the PI came to the US and we also met in NY – got my insider update there. Had a fun Halloween with new friends!

November

I spent the second week in Belgrade, which was of course, amazing. Then Thanksgiving in Zimbabwe. My first time as a solo trainer. I really then started to remember who I am.

December

NDI Democracy Luncheon and logistical/administrative nightmare. Christmas in NC. Gospel music show at Church. Relaxed. Homesick.

So what does 2009 have in store for me? The better question is: what do I have in store for 2009? A renewed sense of self. The determination to make the most out of my time here and avoid falling into the American trap of work-home/sleep-work-home/sleep. To continue my activities outside of the 9-6 and build myself. 2009 will be what I make it.