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Showing posts from March, 2008

How to defend the Kalayaan Islands? CPP-NPA-NDF exploits food security issues!

The People Power regiment

I hope that the AFP top brass is joking when the Air Force commanding general said that even with the lack of fighter aircraft, we will defend our islands with "warm bodies"!

The AFP should now consider drafting People Power stalwarts. After all they have warmer bodies than our soldiers.

Maybe we can have a readily mobilized People Power regiment that can be air dropped to PagAsa island.

And thay can flash their trademark Laban signs at the invading Red Army.

Our armed forces have become so pathetic in its capabilities. The blame really is on the successive Malacanang tenants we have had in the last 20 years or so.

Worsening food security and the Communists

I suppose the AFP has still more firepower than the New Peoples Army. The communist ideologues really have the gall to intensify attacks during this coming crisis. This will cause more hardship for the masses.

Maoism, Leninism and Stalinism all variants of the unscientific ideology of Karl Marx have been…

Comfort Islands, Comfort Country!

Remember the comfort women? These were young women abducted and forced to provide sexual services to Japanese soldiers in World War II. In the Philippines the issue was brought to fore when Lola Rosa Henson came out and told her story after one prominent historian declared that there were no comfort women in the Philippines.

The truth is that the Japanese government did officially sanction rape in World War II.

The Japanese government has never formally apologized for Japan's atrocities in World War II. The Japanese government also has not paid any damages to the women although a private foundation sponsored by the government has done so.

The comfort women are now passing away and are a perfect analogue on what's happening to the Philippine environment. It is not a foreign power that is officially sanctioning environmental rape but the Philippine Government!

Take for example the Philippines's mango isle of Guimaras. An Australian company has applied for a mining exploration pe…

Rice up to the occasion!

It seems that most of us and especially the government and the church have overlooked the relationship between environment, geographyt and rice supply. In 2006 in the International Geographic Union conference in Brisbane climate and food geographers have warned about the effects of rainfall shift (presumably due to global warming) and rice supply. In a well attended lecture two Japanese climatologists modelled the effect of the shifting monsoons and listed two countries that will be heavily impacted rain wise and rice wise. These are our beloved Filipinas and Vietnam! Thailand will be hit but not as bad as Vietnam and the Philippines.

The two nations are heavily dependent on monsoon flooding to irrigate their paddies. Their rapidly urbanizing societies are converting rice lands (in the coastal regions) and turning these into subdivisions and golf courses. This is related to a rapidly rising population. Socialist Vietnam has slowed down its population growth and reduced poverty. The Chu…

Why Benedict XVI is no wimp of a Professor

I may disagree with Pope Benedict XVI on some matters and I really disagree with some of his subalterns when they mix science and Catholicism, but I admire this Pope since he is no wimp.

The fallout from Benedict's speech in Regensberg is unfortunate and also that from his undelivered speech at La Sapienza University. But it would be dishonest for me or anybody else to say that he was wrong on both counts. After all this razor sharp Professor-Pope is not known for not showing moral and intellectual courage, traits notably lacking today in many professors of our universities including the "Ang Galing Mo" University of the Philippines.

If one thing Benedict must be admired for is in not bowing to intellectual and politically correct academic fads. We professors are guilty since we have to bend to these fads to get rave reviews and research or teaching grants.

Benedict is no Rowan Williams who in some moment of whimsy publicly lectured to British barristers why Sharia Law shou…

Interesting finds at National Book Store, Mrs Aquino's condition,The National Fist?


National Bookstore oftentimes has surprises on sale. The bookstore we first can remember (recall that mom bought cartolina, notebooks, crayons here when we were bright eyed pupils) has over the years diversified its selections, especially books. During cut price sales you can find classics.

After all where can you buy interesting science books like Tim Flannery's "Weather Makers" at around PhP 400 each? or Amir Aczel's science biography of Teilhard de Chardin "The Jesuit and the Skull" at PhP 700? or Pedro G Ferreira's "The State of the Universe" at PhP 300 ? Best of all Arthur I Miller's tome on how black holes were hypothesized and observed in "Empire of the Stars" at PhP 299!

The books can be had in some branches but one has to go through the pile of cut priced books. To do this one needs lots of time. The branches at Greenbelt, Rockwell, Quezon Avenue and Katipunan across Ateneo has very good finds.

That's why I stay l…

Paul Scofield, The Actor for All Seasons, 86

Ms now Batangas Governor Vilma Santos is the Star for All Seasons. While she can act better than the once and future Superstar, she has no sole claim to her title. She never starred in a Shakespeare flick. The honour belongs to Paul Scofield, the overlooked Brit acting great. Unlike Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud or even Alec Guinness, he refused a knighthood and never took on stereotypical and campy roles in Hollywood. Scofield passed away last March 19 in Sussex, England.

Scofield is best remembered for playing Sir Thomas More on stage and in film in Robert Bolt's "A Man for All Seasons". I have to confess, seeing Scofield essay More was one of the reasons why I decided to be Catholic. Later on while studying Bolt's play, the play isn't about Catholic martyrdom per se but paying the price for holding on to one's conscience. Here Scofield breathtakingly plays More's gentle refusal to bend to the King's will.

Of course the movie was made even more memor…

Some Lost Good Friday Manila Traditions and Rituals

Anthropologists of religion say that once a religious ritual or practice becomes non functional, it dies. Sometimes it takes a war (the old religious rites of Intramuros died when the churches there were destroyed in 1945) or cultural changes (The Latin Mass is an example. When Vatican II closed, it signified a real religious cultural revolution. Very few lay today Catholics would trade in the vernacular Mass for the Latin Mass. Catholics today barely know a word of liturgical Latin.)

Since Vatican II, priests have been creative enough to update lenten practices. A few diehards tried to preserve the pre-Vatican II rites and this resulted in a major international schism (the first since the Reformation). But it wasn't the Vatican II church that split into a zillion denominations. It was the conservatives. It was a sort of Protestantism in reverse. The Vatican II Catholic Church is one.

So we see new updates to Good Friday practices especially in Manila. The "pasyon" has bee…

A Holy Time

Once the whole of time was holy. Then innocence was lost through sin and the first humans had to leave their Eden. Time had to be marked for they had to work the earth for their survival. Now it has become worse, we are so busy that time is not enough for many of us.

We are responsible for this "hell". We want to escape.

For many Manila dwellers, this is the only time for them to move out of the city. But the kind of work I do requires me to be near the sea many times of the year. Here I find some bit of solitude and the necessary escape. You wouldn't find me on the beach on Holy Week. Everyone's at the beach it seems.

Manila becomes a place of solitude. Especially on Good Friday. On this day Manila's air quality is the best in the year. The wind is what it used to be. It is only on this day that on Ayala Avenue,one can hear the melodious song of the yellow vented bulbul. These birds roost in Greenbelt and fly around the CBD.

The churches fall silent. And silence is…

A Holy Week Proposal to the Philippine Church Hierarchy

Dear Bishops, Priests, Pastors, Self proclaimed "apostles" "brothers", "sisters" and "Messengers of God"

As a Christian of the Catholic tradition in our country, I am sickened by the divisions you show because you have to find the "truth" but in reality you are just playing politics. Why should laypeople like me complain? The Christ of the Gospels have called you "whitewashed tombs".

There is a way that you can all get out of this mess and ask God for forgiveness. I have always admired Pope John Paul II's decision to get all believers to pray at the holiest place in Italy, irregardless whether they believed in a mnotheistic God, or plytheistic gods or whatever. The present Pope, Benedict XVI then John Paul's PanzerKardinal did not very approve of this but John Paul evidently moved by the Spirit, pushed on.

In 1986 John Paul called everyone to pray at Assisi at the Church of Saint Francis, the saint of peace, nature and t…

Can environment power unseat Gloria?

The semester is almost over and last Friday I gave my summing up lecture to the undergrads. The undergrads signed up for my Environment and Society course.

The semester started with us learning how to think scientifically. This requires objectivity and an empirical outlook. Then we studied the basics of the environment sciences. Matter and Energy cycles in the planetary environment. All we humans do are built upon this concept. Political,economic, agricultural, social and technological systems are built on environmental systems.

We may fail to realize that environment is major factor in socio-political and religious change. We are so fixated on Jun Lozada and Cory style People Power. Environment Power can really shake things up!

So at the end of the sem, we integrate the paradigms and relate this to what happening now in the Philippines. My lecture really focused on the environmental warning signs that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has to heed if she wants to last until 2010 when her term ends…

The Updated Seven Deadly Sins

The Catholic Church is always in the business of moving with the times. The Green Pope,Benedict XVI has apparently given the go ahead to update the seven deadly sins to suit our times. Last Sunday, (on my birthday!) Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, head of the Apostolic Penitentiary has announced that the Church has listed seven new sins. These are

1) Environmental Pollution and all sorts of enviroment damage
2) Causing and abetting social injustice
3) Being filthy rich
4) Causing poverty
5) Genetic modification
6) Doing drugs
7) Experimenting on humans

According to the Vatican, unlike the old Seven Sins,the postmodern Seven Sins reflect that we live in a globalized world. A personal sin becomes a global sin. The old sins,while still valid, is more individual orientated.

The biggest new sin is destroying the environment. Come to think of it, I and the partygoers in my birthday party violated new sins 1 to 7! We didn't use recyclables (Sin # 1), partied with the knowledge that there is food insec…

Exeunt la reine, la Lozada? from the stage? but me from the Choc Kiss!

Political shamans at the Choc Kiss in UP Diliman (no pun intended here!. You may call me the Blackshaman!) are downing diabetic coma inducing ice tea and discussing exit scenarios for our Glorious Queen.

Before the Queen's lieutenants begin panicking, let me say that the Queen herself will exit one day in 2010. She has signified her intention to do so as what the Constitution requires. But the shamans have placed bets on an early exit from the stage and have even listed possible scenarios.

The White Shaman (who, if he is to believed, has insider info from the Armed Forces) said the level of discontent is so high that the brigades are just waiting for the proverbial "tipping point". But the sceptic in me says,well the op ed columnists have been writing all about this tipping point. But the White Shaman said to the Black that the op ed columnists have been People Power focused. Everyone is in this crowd estimation business. To which I replied "The PNP has its method, th…

Drown People Power!

Various blogs and op-ed columnists have analyzed why people it seems don't want to take to the streets in droves to dethrone our Glorious Pampangic Queen. Manolo Quezon does a good job listing the who's who of analysis.

But then again the political analysts and "dentists" (who opt for treatments from extraction to radical surgery!) seem to be overanalyzing. People Power "fatigue"has crept in the body politic and there is a need to know why. This is a legit form of academic exercise.

But according to the latest surveys, people still believe in the principles they have fought for in the last two people powers. But they won't heed this new attempt to launch another one.

The Orthodox have an aphorism. Two Romes have fallen, One still stands (the Russian Empire) and a fourth shall never be.

To which I paraphrase. Three EDSAs have fallen, One has been corrupted (By Her Imperial Majesty Gloriana, who else?) and a Fourth shall never be!

The Orthodox have seen their…

The Kite Runner

Afghanistan's recent history is a tale of tragedy. The Kite Runner,a film directed by Marc Foster from the novel by Afghan writer Khaled Hosseini beautifully and poignantly captures this tragedy. According to people who have been there, Afghanistan is a beautiful country. It is hard to comprehend that such a place is the stage of a tragedy. (The movie was shot in China but you can be forgiven for believing that it was in Kabul)

The tragedy is religious fundamentalism. This cuts across the characters in the film. The kites which represented Afghanistan's tradition and the innocence of its children were put down, their strings cut.

But fundamentalism doesn't guarantee sinlessness but more hideous sins. The movie deals with child abuse and rape, but that isn't even mentioned in the film but the truth is extremely odious.

Afghanistan's tragedy is a result of the cold war games of the Russians and the Americans. The Soviets are gone and America is at war with the mujahedin…