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 of development that will put a floating structure over the waters, or any development on land in fact, would affect the ecology of places like Coron. Never mind that we have seen how developments on land have adversely affected the waters in places like Boracay. Never mind that it only takes a Google search to realize that these planned developments are absolutely nothing to be excited about.

Ah, but Mrs. Teo was excited. Asked about the Nickolodeon project, she said: “They showed us the map.  It’s very big, it’s very big, and they’re also developing that area, in the land area, condos and hotels. It’s very lucky, very nice, it will be a theme park, so many developments.” (CNN Philippines, 1 June)

This was strike one. 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 »

Thursday ∗ 01 Jun 2017

The Senate disappoints #MartialLaw

Lost all of Tuesday this week to the Senate. The day started with news of Senate Resolution 388 affirming and supporting Martial Law as declared in all of Mindanao by President Duterte. What we knew was that 15 Senators were signing the resolution, excluding the Senate minority of five people – Bam Aquino, Franklin Drilon, Risa Hontiveros, Kiko Pangilinan, and Antonio Trillanes – and Grace Poe and Chiz Escudero whose names weren’t on the released copy of the resolution.   

Monday ∗ 29 May 2017

Out of control

Someone should tell the President to stop talking, and for his communications team to take control. Because the crisis in Marawi has revealed that he is preconditioned, at the worst time, to say the worst things. It doesn’t matter if he’s here to begin with, or he’s arriving from a foreign trip. It doesn’t even matter that he has heard the public outcry against the Martial Law declaration, the fears that have been in the newspapers, on social media, out… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 26 May 2017

Driving distractions

It looks like the Department of Transportation and its connected agencies will be forced to postpone the implementation of RA 10913 or the Act Defining and Penalizing Distracted Driving. Senators JV Ejercito and Nancy Binay have stepped in (JournalOnline, 22 May), knocking some sense into the DOTr’s over-interpretation – if not power trip – which will allow them to penalize drivers for even taking a drink from a coffee tumbler, or having rosaries hanging on their rearview mirror, or air… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 22 May 2017

Duterte, Manay Judy, Ka Paeng

It has become obvious after the fate of DENR Secretary Gina Lopez that President Duterte has no control over many things, and that neither his preferences nor his stand on issues is considered in the exercise of choosing who will run our government departments. One hopes he realizes that the anti-Gina decision of the Commission on Appointments (CA) was an affront to him, especially given how he had supported her anti-irresponsible mining stand from the beginning. Ultimately, the CA put… Continue reading »

Saturday ∗ 20 May 2017

Demeaning human rights

It is clear that while we might laugh at the people behind Presidential Communications, and cannot even begin to imagine what it now becomes given the appointment of un-credentialed, anti-facts Mocha Uson; and while we might scoff at the social media army that are the ka-DDS – Duterte devotees – with an axe to grind against mainstream media, facts, data, and investigative journalism; here we are at a point when a Philippine representative – a Senator at that – can… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 15 May 2017

Duterte, Lapanday

It was quite the show of unity, President Duterte’s visit to the farmers camped out in Mendiola, members of the Madaum Agrarian Reform Beneficiaries Association Inc. (MARBAI) who have been fighting to get back their land from the Lorenzos of Lapanday Foods for the past six years. Was it a surprise? Not quite. Duterte has always had it in him to perform tasks like this one, showing his support when needed, delivering the best soundbites that are still a surprise… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 08 May 2017

What mining lobby?

Note: After the President said “lobby money talks” given the CA’s denial of Gina Lopez’s confirmation as DENR Secretary, Malacañang clarified: “when he said lobby, it’s not necessarily (about) money.” *** It is hilarious hearing members of the Commission on Appointments (CA) trying to defend themselves against reports that there was a meeting between members of Congress and mining company Citinickel the night before the decision was made to deny the confirmation of DENR Secretary Gina Lopez. First on the list of… Continue reading »

Thursday ∗ 04 May 2017

Dear Smart,

I’d write about this in my column, but there are so many more important things to talk about in that space. At the same time, I couldn’t let this pass, just because this is how big businesses gets away with charging their subscribers more than they should, and often it is an injustice to those who are putting out our hard-earned cash for services that are overpriced to begin with. I’ve been a super sipag, consistent, and loyal subscriber of what … nine years?… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 01 May 2017

Elitism in the time of Duterte

The upside to having a President like Rodrigo Duterte is that we are finally weeding out the elitists among us. And I don’t mean those who think that Duterte is so bastos, is so not a statesman, is so not President-material because not disente. No, this is beyond just some good ol’ Liberal Party campaign elitism. This is its more evil, less apologetic, more insidious twin. Elitists who even imagine themselves to be pro-poor, because they feel for them and… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 28 Apr 2017

Torre de Manila: a review

Because our short memory as nation is becoming legendary, and these days the manufactured noise is enough to distract us from what happened just yesterday, it seems important to review Torre de Manila, now that DMCI is going to get away with continuing its construction, as the Supreme Court has found that “The court has no jurisdiction over the subject matter; the petitioners (Knights of Rizal) have no standing to sue; and they (petitioners) stand to suffer no injury. Furthermore,… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 21 Apr 2017

TIME 100 and Duterte’s communications

For a government – and a President – that has had a tendency to blame media, local and international, for covering only the drug war and not much else about what else is happening in the Philippines, it surprises that government even engaged at all with the Time 100 poll and the President’s inclusion in that list. Because Time Magazine – as expected – has been at the forefront of putting the drug war in international news, and has been… Continue reading »

Wednesday ∗ 19 Apr 2017

Duterte chauvinism: Sino bang walang babae?

A direct translation wouldn’t capture how offensive this rhetorical question is, coming from the mouth of any man or woman, as it normalizes and rationalizes the practice of infidelity and polygamy, because look, all men are doing it! And as long as these men can take care of the children they sire, from one, two, three women they keep in their beds, then they are doing the decent thing, they are doing what is right. Wrong. Especially when these words… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 03 Apr 2017

Portrait of a UP teacher as mining lobbyist

On Wednesday, March 29, GMA News Online ran a story about a UP teacher claiming two things: that Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) employees were ordered by an undersecretary to “find fault” in mining operations, and that students will not find good jobs in the mining industry after graduation. These are University of the Philippines students, ones this same professor has taught, ones that taxpayers’ money has put through university education, and they are being told they will… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 31 Mar 2017

That New York Times documentary: the photographer as hero

I am against the war on drugs and the way it is being implemented at this point. Where the lists of drug suspects remain questionable, even as inclusion in these lists is used as justification for many of the dead on our streets. Where the excuse of “nanlaban,” is used as a way for the police to justify killing a drug suspect, a justification that’s been built on the President’s pronouncements. Where there is a lack of transparency about the… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 27 Mar 2017

The VP’s missed chance, the President’s opportunity

The conversation about the occupation of the idle government housing units in Pandi Bulacan has unsurprisingly settled simplistically on the fact that members of the urban poor, all members of Kadamay, took over these houses outside of the process set for them by the public housing system of government. Yet one wonders how many of those who insist that the urban poor did not follow due process, actually know what that process is. Because even Vice President Leni Robredo, during… Continue reading »

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