Tuesday ∗ 19 Sep 2017

Unity, protest, cultural work #Sept21 #Luneta

It was in early August when I was asked to be convenor of the Movement Against Tyranny (MAT), a multi-sectoral gathering of various groups and individuals who are taking a stand against the killings, the state of tyranny, and the return of dictatorship.

Admittedly, I was hesitant about saying yes. I was not part of any organization, and was being invited primarily as independent writer. At this point I had already resigned my column with The Manila Times, which I realized afterwards was a security blanket I didn’t ask for — I was rarely the target of pro-government trolls and propagandists, and I would be told by a highly reliable source that it’s because the paper is considered “kakampi.”

While I was deciding on whether or not to say yes to MAT, Kian delos Santos was killed by policemen, adding to the thousands dead in the war on drugs. The Cultural Workers’ Statement (dated August 20) was written, gained traction, and has since gathered 1,279 signatures (and counting) from cultural workers across advertising, TV, film, theater, music, dance, visual arts, education, journalism, writing, comics, graphic design, social sciences. People I didn’t expect would put their names on that statement, actually did. There was hope, I thought.   Continue reading »

Sunday ∗ 17 Sep 2017

Duterte spins the #Sept21 protest #Luneta

President Duterte is trying very hard to spin the September 21 protest in Luneta, by trying to feed whatever divisions already exist, if not by sowing fear in a gathering that government expects will be massive. One can only take this well. After all, it reveals an acknowledgment of the very valid demand to #StopTheKillings and to say no to tyranny and the return of dictatorship. At the very least, it’s an acknowledgment of how government is being affected by the growing public outcry against the killings. It… Continue reading »

Wednesday ∗ 13 Sep 2017

How we lost our rights in 15 months #Duterte

I am one of many who gave the Duterte administration a chance. Despite not voting for him, and despite having been very critical of the killings attributed to him in Davao, I thought he deserved about the amount of time I gave PNoy to get used to the position. A year, maybe? But six months into his term, there were already 6,000 killings attributed to Duterte’s war on drugs, and instead of stopping, he was on a roll, consistently egging the police on, pushing… Continue reading »

Sunday ∗ 10 Sep 2017

Sabotage, malignant elements, damage control

It reeks of desperation, the President now asserting that there is someone out to get his government and / or its war on drugs, which to him is proven by the corpses turning up with heads wrapped in tape. “The police would not wrap (victims). That is not the job of the police to…you wrap, that’s foolishness. So there are saboteurs. <…> That’s why I have said to, the PNP Chief is here, to closely look into this because we are being… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 04 Sep 2017

Ghosts of August and Duterte’s drug war

There is much to be said about a properly envisioned, well-planned communications strategy, one that’s paid for by public funds and seeks to serve the whole country by providing us with relevant critical information about government. And then there is Presidential Communications according to Martin Andanar and Mocha Uson, which is to say no communications, no information dissemination. They serve only the President, and the rest of us can just watch as our taxes are wasted on an office that refuses to… Continue reading »

Thursday ∗ 24 Aug 2017

Mocha and the end of troll discourse

If there’s anything the past week has revealed it’s the slow death of troll discourse. It’s entirely possible the social media armies aren’t being paid enough, but it’s also possible that we just have ceased to be afraid of being bullied online. The latter is my more optimistic perspective, because it’s been a year after all, and now more than ever, this government’s strategies of silencing and skewing discourse have been exposed to be nothing more than bad communications and terrible damage control. The… Continue reading »

Saturday ∗ 19 Aug 2017

This is on you, President Duterte

It was a little over a year ago, in July 2016, when President Duterte first talked about pardoning policemen in the name of the drug war. He had been turning defensive because of constant criticism about the human rights violations of his war on drugs and its contingent, growing body count. In a speech in front of San Beda batches 1971 and 1972, Duterte spoke of how he is the President and therefore is not required to respect due process. And instead of addressing questions about human rights… Continue reading »

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… Continue reading »

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 »

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