Saturday ∗ 25 Mar 2017

From neglected houses, to homes for the poor

It was on March 8 when I first heard of how members of urban poor organization Kadamay had taken over units of a government housing project in Pandi Bulacan. It seemed like the best way for our women (and men of course!) to celebrate International Women’s Day: to take over public housing units already overgrown with weeds and grass, neglected and idle for years, some dilapidated.

Here were people willing to take these structures for what they were, without electricity and water, some without doors and windows, all seemingly unfinished, with windows that make it look like these have a second level, but in fact it’s all just façade. These are one-room houses, approximately 12 feet by 9 feet, many without toilets (just holes in the ground). These are built in an area of Pandi that barely has any trees, and is far from town.

No one cared about these houses before members of the urban poor took these over. And when I say no one cared, I mean even beneficiaries refused to use these houses, given what these are.

Meanwhile the urban poor are happy enough, just to be able to call these houses their new homes. Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 20 Mar 2017

Losing Leni

I have no love lost for Vice President Leni Robredo, but I would rather she was VP than Bongbong Marcos. Having said that, one wishes she knew what she was doing. That she would have the sense to have a real communications team, one that will have her back and will not allow her to make a fool of herself. One that will tell her to step back, take stock, and regroup. A trusted group of people who will remind… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 17 Mar 2017

‘Madam Secretary,’ politics, gender

Once again, Malacañang’s spokespersons had it wrong, commenting on the Madam Secretary episode before they even saw it, putting it into question for whatever it was that they were told it contained: a fictional Philippine President who’s punched in the face by the fictional US Secretary of State, for having made a sexual advance at her. That image, of a Philippine President, nose bleeding from the punch made the rounds, and of course the President’s propagandists and his spokespersons went on… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 13 Mar 2017

The embarrassment of mines, the fortitude of Gina Lopez

If there’s anything that’s been absolutely fascinating watching the proceedings for the confirmation of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez at the Commission on Appointments, it’s how that long list of oppositors have come together solely to discredit her by misinforming the public and evading culpability for the mining crisis. Mining misinformation Mining companies and their advocates and employees want us to forget things. For two days last week, we watched miners and mining interests falling… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 10 Mar 2017

Unwell, unjust: #NoToDeathPenalty

Here’s the thing with the death penalty bill as passed by the House of Representatives on Tuesday. It’s so ill-timed, it disallowed debate and discussion, it refused any amendments – unless it’s agreed upon during the majority caucuses – and ultimately it revealed how a majority of our Congress representatives do not represent the people who voted them into power. Instead they have agreed, as per this death penalty bill, that if any of their constituents are so much as… Continue reading »

Thursday ∗ 09 Mar 2017

Mines are ours

It is difficult to stay calm when you’re watching the Commission on Appointments proceedings for the confirmation of Gina Lopez as Environment Secretary. It doesn’t help that at the center of it all, the Chairman of the Committee for the Environment is Manny Pacquiao who, without a script, reveals himself as utterly incompetent and totally lost — he can’t even keep up with the concept itself of what the DENR does, the laws that it protects and moves within, the fact… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 06 Mar 2017

Oceana Gold: history, abuse, mining

If I owned a mining company in the Philippines, and my mine was declared closed or suspended by the new leadership of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), I would fight back. I would fight back with transparency. After all, I demand it of the DENR audit; I should be able to expect it of my own mine. I would release all information on the operations of the mine, and I would allow the community, scientists and academics,… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 03 Mar 2017

STRIKE!

The Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) have been busy doing some spinning. They keep insisting – complete with infographics – that the jeepney phaseout is actually a modernization plan that will make these public transport vehicles safer for the public and kinder to the environment. After Monday’s transport strike, they’ve insisted that it wasn’t nationwide at all, belittling its effect on the commuting public, towards asserting that the strike was no problem… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 27 Feb 2017

Tweeting EDSA1986

It came to me on the evening of February 21: why not “live” tweet the events of the EDSA People Power Revolution of 1986 as it happened? How hard could it be, I thought. I remember one year when the now defunct (but quite missed!) communications office of the previous government, which had Manolo Quezon in charge of history, actually sought to “live” tweet EDSA 1986, too. Besides, the original chronology of EDSA’s four days by Angela Stuart-Santiago is online… Continue reading »

Sunday ∗ 26 Feb 2017

Owning EDSA: Freedom in independence

I’ve been out of the literary and academic establishment since 2008, and save for finally finishing my M.A. Degree in 2013, and now imagining that I would like to work on a PhD., have steered clear of its trappings and requirements. I did not go without the requisite kicking and screaming, as I always thought of a career in teaching and writing. But what has become clear since is that I also needed to let go of my romance with… Continue reading »

Saturday ∗ 25 Feb 2017

Owning EDSA: Silencing the critic

The letter dated March 2, 2006 surprised me for many reasons. For one thing it was not addressed to me, but was about me. In it I was judged as a bitter iconoclast who had made a career out of attacking people. In it I was judged for being disrespectful of my academic and writing elders. In it my immediate superior – the Chairperson of the department I was teaching in – was implored to reprimand me, for something that… Continue reading »

Friday ∗ 24 Feb 2017

Andanar imagines destabilization, drowns in own false claims

We all know Communications Secretary Martin Andanar is not doing his job. He has no idea what his job entails, what it requires of him, and so he cannot even begin to meet its demands. It was as such no surprise that in the face of claims by former police officer Arthur Lascañas about the role of then Mayor Rodrigo Duterte in the Davao Death Squad (DDS) and the spate of killings it was responsible for, Secretary Andanar decided to… Continue reading »

Owning EDSA: Living EDSA

It would take me forever to get to the point where I stopped caring about the establishment. The first indication I had that I was coming into my own would ironically happen when I had both my feet in activism, and I was teaching in the Ateneo de Manila University as part of its Department of English. It was February 2006. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had declared Proclamation 1017, purportedly because of intelligence reports that members of the military were planning… Continue reading »

Thursday ∗ 23 Feb 2017

Owning EDSA: EDSA on repeat

By the time Angela won in the Centennial Literary Awards for her Tagalog essay on EDSA entitled “Himagsikan Sa EDSA: Walang Himala!” in 2000, I was more certain about my political beliefs and my relationship with the academe. I was not fearless, oh no! but I sure was becoming more critical. I knew enough about the literary and academic establishment to keep a healthy distance from it – thanks in large part to teachers who were still open to criticism.

Owning EDSA: A daughter of uncertain times

Mine was a generation mostly uncertain and finding its footing in the political landscape. Done with whatever EDSA euphoria we inherited from our elders, apathy was the word used to describe us teenagers, also called generation X, who were in the University in the late ‘90s. We knew of how Marcos had stopped Voltes V from showing on TV, we knew of classmates in grade school whose fathers and mothers were in jail because of Marcos. But much of it… Continue reading »

Wednesday ∗ 22 Feb 2017

Owning EDSA: Silent in the State U

When I entered the State University in 1995, EDSA ‘86 was farthest from my mind. But of course the President then was EDSA icon Fidel Ramos, Juan Ponce Enrile was in the Senate, and Gringo Honasan was running for a seat in it. I remember being enamoured of Gringo, his rebellious self something that I could relate to. I remember a blockmate saying she couldn’t imagine voting for someone who attempted those coup d’etats against Cory, for how could someone… Continue reading »

Owning EDSA

In 2014, Angela and I were asked to write an essay each for the anthology Remembering / Rethinking EDSA (Anvil Publishing, 2015). We have since published those two essays as a zine for #BLTX, and to celebrate the EDSA Revolution of 1986 this year, we’re posting our essays in parts on our blogs, to commemorate the four days of EDSA, now on its 31st Anniversary. Her blog is at stuartsantiago.com. :)  *** When I was invited to write a piece for… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 20 Feb 2017

The party’s over

On Valentine’s Day, Secretary Gina Lopez of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) announced that her department was cancelling 75 MPSAs or Mineral Production Sharing Agreements with mining companies. Many of these projects are only in the exploration stage. The cancellation of MPSAs will not mean the loss of jobs. But of course the mining companies, the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP), and pro-mining advocates will not take this sitting down.

Friday ∗ 17 Feb 2017

Zambales mines: A history of questionable practices

Between the pro-mining students protesting at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) officials, and the insistence that we talk only about the jobs to be lost and the stock market crash, it is clear that we are being distracted from the more important questions about whether or not the mining projects the DENR has ordered closed have in fact been bad for the environment and our communities. For some of these mines, there is already enough proof and… Continue reading »

Tuesday ∗ 14 Feb 2017

Bad romance

Probably the only thing worse than the fact that one is silenced in many ways by nation is the truth that in place of that silence is a male voice that says: we love you, we care for you, we will cherish you. That this voice also carries us through any romance we might have with men is foregone conclusion. That we might believe this voice is not surprising. There’s that thin line drawn between romantic and romanticized after all,… Continue reading »

Monday ∗ 13 Feb 2017

DENR’s daring, mining’s crisis

I was one of many who thought Gina Lopez was one of President Duterte’s more daring choices as far as picking members of his cabinet was concerned. A staunch environmentalist, she was a welcome decision for Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary, after decades of seeing our natural resources go to waste in the hands of big business, oligarchs, capitalists all in the name of investments and “development” as every government before this one has claimed. I thought:… Continue reading »

Sunday ∗ 12 Feb 2017

HTI fire: Cover-up?

On February 1, I watched with many as the fire at the House Technologies Industries (HTI) inside the Cavite Export Processing Zone grew bigger and bigger, seemingly beyond control. On February 2, at 12:30AM, the fire was declared under control (ABS-CBNNews). Yet all day the building continued to spew smoke. By early evening fire started on the building again. On February 3, at 4:15PM, officials finally declared fire out on the building (CNN Philippines). No casualties declared as of 3:19AM,… Continue reading »

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