Wednesday ∗ 16 Aug 2017

Common sense dictates: Confirm Judy Now!

Here’s the thing with DSWD Sec. Judy Taguiwalo’s pending confirmation at the Commission on Appointments: it makes no sense anymore to deny her this position, given that she has already been working the post for a year, has served in it effectively, with nary a controversy, no questions about her integrity, and having transformed our sense of what the Department of Social Work and Development is actually about.

It is relief goods and funds on-the-ready, in anticipation of that next storm. It’s the prompt release of goods for those affected by unexpected natural disasters. It’s assistance for families in idle and decrepit housing projects, for Lumad students camped out in UP, for the disenfranchised and hungry and in need in the Marawi evacuation centers. For once, DSWD is working at delivering services to the people it is supposed to serve, and there is little reason to believe any of this to be wrong — no matter what those Congressmen at the CA would like us to believe.

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Sunday ∗ 13 Aug 2017

Andanar’s PNA train wreck

This is all very simple, really. The Philippine News Agency (PNA) has made enough mistakes, has been in the news often enough for being nothing more than a laughable excuse for a newswire service, and ultimately responsibility falls on Communications Secretary Martin Andanar. After all, I have personally heard him talking about how much he idolizes China’s Xin Hua News Agency, and how he would like to emulate its technology, its offices across the world, its professionalism. The fundamental problem with this of… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 11 Aug 2017

#Andanar’s learning curve, social media user accreditation, #PCOO’s downward spiral

It seems the learning curve is steep for Martin Andanar — and everyone else on the Duterte communications team. A year in, and this week’s mistakes and mishaps can only be symptoms of the bigger crisis that is Presidential and government communications. We are also reminded (yet again!) that we are wasting public funds on the salaries of officials who have no idea what they’re doing. After a year, instead of actually evolving in his knowledge of social media, Andanar is still stuck on his simpleton… Continue reading »

Wednesday ∗ 09 Aug 2017

Andy-Tish, smoke-mirrors: who gains from this teleserye?

It escalated quickly and shows no signs of stopping, but the past three days of the Andres and Patricia Bautista show, with a cast of characters of lawyers and banks and bank owners, and don’t forget social / media that can’t quite keep its hands off the oh-so-juicy details slowly being revealed, is just too exciting to let go of. Or ask questions about. After all, there is nothing like the unraveling of the elite, this one with millions in their bank accounts, not to mention wads… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 07 Aug 2017

Emily Alvarez: The case for dissolution of marriage

I have absolutely no reason to like House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez — in fact he has fashioned himself as one of the worst Presidential allies, who spreads about as much false information as government’s social media army, and lays it on even thicker by being an unapologetic misogynist boor. Now, I do not doubt that he has pushed for Congress to work on the dissolution of marriage bill so that he can get out of his own marriage, and continue living with the woman / women he… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 28 Jul 2017

Writing, criticism, hope

In the five years that I’ve been doing this column, and the nine years of writing independently full-time, the most fulfilling parts of it have been about being able to talk to students who wonder about writing. Often the questions revolve around notions of fear, which automatically go to the presumption of courage: that it is brave to write about things that others wouldn’t write about, or to have a contrary opinion from what dominates the discourse. Yet it would… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 25 Jul 2017

Everything I needed to learn about writing, I learned through blogging

And I mean old school blogging via this blog, which first went up in 2008, a gift from my Kuya who had also pushed the mother to start blogging two years earlier. At the time there was an active blogging scene with intellectuals and pundits writing and discussing issues of the day, bouncing off each other, openly debating. Trolling was frowned upon, as was namecalling. Anonymity was put into question. I like to think of that time to have been pre-Joe… Continue reading »

Wednesday ∗ 12 Jul 2017

A whiff of corruption at DoT

President Duterte has made a big deal about how his government is transparent and incorruptible. We have proven the former false. Given a toothless Freedom of Information (FOI), the threats and attacks on media and critics, and the all-around culture and rhetoric of violence and propagation of fear – we all now know that transparency is nothing but a soundbite. The latter? Well, as with the previous government, we are seeing how sometimes, it’s not even corruption that is the… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 11 Jul 2017

The question of Bracken

The premise of Dear And Unhappy is a simple question: what of Josephine Bracken? Rizal’s wife and / or lover, depending on who you believe. Or depending on your internalized racism against the Irish woman our National Hero was enamored with — it is after all why Bracken remains marginalized in narratives about Jose Rizal’s life; it also has arguably spawned multiple texts about Bracken — the less we know about someone the more exciting our stories about her.

Saturday ∗ 08 Jul 2017

Political insidiousness, public complicity

Boses ng Masa is deceptively simple and painfully familiar, which is what’s both good and bad about it: the discussion is worth having, but you can see that ending from a mile away. It’s not that you’ve seen this before, as it is that you have lived it.

MMFF, transparency, big words

The Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) is all of six months away, and here we are already talking with such passion about what the film industry needs and what the audiences deserve, quality versus commercial, small film producers versus big production companies, new versus old, change change change. There is very little that we know so far, probably owing to what recently resigned MMFF Execom Member Roland Tolentino has said is a “confidentiality clause” on their work with MMFF. What… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 07 Jul 2017

Welcome to hell

If there’s anything we’ve lost the past year, it’s a sense of propriety and order, of just common sense about what the role is of government and our officials when it comes to speaking to the populace. Sure Daang Matuwid had its own share of communications foibles, and yes they were elitist through and through. And yet the same might be said of the Duterte government, especially his men, who speak with utter carelessness, and then demand us all to see that… Continue reading »

Wednesday ∗ 05 Jul 2017

A year of candidate Duterte

In January this year, Budget Secretary Ben Diokno, faced with queries about the contradiction between what was promised by Rodrigo Duterte during the campaign and what he has ended up doing as President, thoughtlessly made this distinction: “Iba ‘yung candidate Duterte sa President Duterte. <…> May napapangako ka na kapag nakita mo ‘yung datos, hindi pala pwede.” It was a most convenient excuse for the unfulfilled promises of the President – in this instance about the SSS pension increase that… Continue reading »

Wednesday ∗ 28 Jun 2017

Truth, fake news, propaganda

It was only a matter of time: after Malacañang watched its followers discredit media on the basis of the superficially discussed notion of “bias,” it then allowed for the proliferation of fake news. Of course when we speak of that now, a year into Duterte’s government, it has become clear that it also means government officials who have so benefited from the manner in which media has been put into question, that they don’t even feel the need to retract… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 27 Jun 2017

A year of anti-information

A year into this President, and after the epic failure that is this Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO), I am now beginning to think that contrary to what we would like to believe, maybe what we’ve seen to be a crisis in communications IS the communications strategy. After all, look at Martin Andanar, utterly silent, getting away with releasing badly-written, ill-conceptualized pro-Martial Law videos, being paid for the bad work of all the divisions he is in charge of –… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 19 Jun 2017

Terrible tourism

The Department of Tourism (DoT), under Wanda Tulfo Teo, is a gift that keeps on giving. We all of course know how Teo tried to deny what she said in an interview on CNN Philippines, where she not only confirmed that the Nickolodeon project would push through in Coron Palawan, she also revealed that she was all for it because she was promised that the corals would not be affected. Never mind that common sense tells us that any kind… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 16 Jun 2017

Death of culture (3): Lizaso’s vision for stagnation

The shameless conservatism in Nick Lizaso’s press release about his plans and vision for the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), is ironic when one considers that we have a President who questions Catholicism and dogmatism time and again, and who insists on his freedom of speech – if not his freedom to offend – over and over. President Duterte unilaterally installed Lizaso as CCP head. But even the President himself would not pass the rules and regulations that Lizaso… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 12 Jun 2017

Death of culture (2): Cultish leadership for CCP

President Duterte’s installation of Nick Lizaso as head of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) is painfully ironic – if not dangerously so. On the one hand, it is clear that this President doesn’t care much about culture, so one wonders why he would appoint any of his men to these cultural leadership positions. On the other, one can see this as a statement in itself about what Duterte thinks about culture: anyone can lead it, never mind that… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 09 Jun 2017

Lizaso at CCP: Death of culture (1)

The problems of the sectors of arts and culture in this country are multifarious, and there is no doubt that any of us cultural workers who are at the bottom of the totem pole can only believe in the possibilities of change, and look forward to it, too. Many of us try and work towards that change, but if cultural work is your bread and butter – and you’re not one of the lucky ones who comes from privilege to… Continue reading »

Wednesday ∗ 07 Jun 2017

A portrait of a Tourism Secretary as failure

For almost a year now we have listened to a Department of Tourism (DOT) with a Secretary Wanda Tulfo Teo, that has no vision, no gameplan, no clear sense of what tourism is even supposed to be about, given the state of the nation. You listen to Teo speaking with Pinky Webb on CNN Philippines and you realize she still knows absolutely nothing a year into her job. All she has as far as a tourism plan is concerned is… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 06 Jun 2017

Andanar sa PCO: Isang kasaysayan ng kapalpakan (2)

When 2017 started, Martin Andanar was on his seventh month in the Presidential Communications Office (PCO). The Communications secretary wanted to welcome the year with a bang, so he decided to listen to pro-government troll discourse and be afraid of a yahoogroup. You got that right. A yahoogroup. In the year 2017. For what to him was a “national issue” involving the names of Filipinos in America and a staff member of VP Leni’s office, in purported conversation that was not only using a yahoogroup in… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 02 Jun 2017

Andanar sa PCO: Isang kasaysayan ng kapalpakan (1)

Walang paglagyan ang disgusto at galit sa ipinalabas na video ng Presidential Communications Office (PCO) nitong May 31. And then you realize that this is also absolutely no surprise. Under Martin Andanar, I went from being hopeful about the PCO (not once, but twice!), to utterly and absolutely dismayed and disgusted by the lack of vision, intelligence, smarts, and all-around common sense. Early into this government, say August 2016, the policy seemed to be radio silence. I thought it was just Andanar trying… Continue reading »

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