A short comment on my “favorite” Diliman student leaders

[Photo deleted upon request]

Just a short observation on the UP Diliman political party that I love… to expose and make fun of.

After noticing that some of the “student leaders” in my College liked the Facebook fanpage of this party, and because I’m quite bored as of the very moment, I clicked the link.

Lo and behold, I was greeted by this proclamation (pictured above) of this party’s so-called achievements. As a member of that kindly-named genre of UP students called “super seniors”, I’ve decided to add a little commentary to this proclamation.

First off, I looked for the year 2006. For all you freshies out there, this was the year that the 300% Tuition and Other Fee Increase was passed. The protests against the TOFI culminated in a barricading (yes, a real life barricading) of the UP Diliman Quezon Hall by students from UPD, UPM, and UPLB. This was THE University of the Philippines event in 2006. Yet, based on this party’s fanpage, it’s as if it never happened. But there’s an alternative theory to the one supposing that this party suffers from collective amnesia. If you did something shameful in the past, wouldn’t you try to block it from your memory? Like, supporting the TOFI? Yes, I’m pretty sure one would try to forget that memory.

I quickly noticed that they mentioned that there were “bigger gains” the following year. But they did not expound on whatever those gains were. Just curious: could bigger gains = bigger revenue for UP? Well if that was the definition, 2007 was certainly a year of “bigger gains”.

Now let’s go back to 2004, the year where they first won a majority in the USC. Now try to remember one of the biggest issues hounding the current president. Come again? What was it? Yes, Hacienda Luisita. And when did the Luisita Massacre happen? November 2004, smack in the middle of the 2004-2005 USC’s term. Any mention on whatever they did regarding the issue? Nope. I think Noynoy did more on the issue (supporting the massacre).

And since the issue of an insufficient budget for the University of the Philippines is in vogue right now, can you see any mention of their support for the fight for greater state subsidy? I guessed as much. And that’s not surprising, considering that they’ve said time and time again that it’s unrealistic to expect greater state subsidy for UP.

Now where was this party during the Sept. 24 walkout? My dear Diliman friends, your guess is as good as mine.

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A few quotes to ponder

Ngayon ko lang na-realize, what a coincidence that Nov 16 was declared a holiday and it was in observance of the Feast of Sacrifice of Muslims. Four years ago, may mga nagsakripisyo ng kanilang buhay para ipaglaban ang kanilang mga karapatan sa lupa, ang mga magsasaka at manggagawang bukid ng Hacienda Luisita.

– Project Dennio

How can you entrust your country to a man who during elections parades a woman as living proof of his machismo then discards her for another woman like used napkin, when the coveted position is secure? And what gall the saintly sisters defending the brother, saying he has the right to go on dates. Boy Abunda, talk to me.

– My father

 

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… at 9 reasons why you won’t join the strikes. Hahaha

… at 9 reasons why you won’t join the strikes. Hahaha

Answer here

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Dahil may P1.39 billion budget cut ang UP, name 1 way you can help in the nationwide campus strikes November, 3 friends whom you want to join you in the Strike…

Dahil may P1.39 billion budget cut ang UP, name 1 way you can help in the nationwide campus strikes November, 3 friends whom you want to join you in the Strike…

Answer here

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Anton’s Sembreak Reading and Watching List

90% of the students in my Facebook friends’ list are saying they are bored with their sembreak. Ironically, 90% of them have also been saying that they can’t wait for the sembreak since, I don’t know, July? But there’s no reason to be bored just because you can’t meet your school friends or go to the beach because there’s typhoon ‘Chaba’. In fact, now is the best time to read a good book and watch a few good movies. And if you are going to read and watch, why not choose books and films which are actually relevant?

Yes, to anyone who gives a rat’s ass about it, I present my Sembreak Reading and Movie List!

MUST-READS:

Lipunan at Rebolusyong Pilipino – The book that spawned the Philippines’ liberation movement, no other Filipino book has so much history in it (pun intended). It was first published on an installment basis in the pages of the University of the Philippines Collegian. During the historic Diliman Commune, it was read live at the DZUP, UP’s own radio station.

And there’s a reason for all of that: it’s THE ONE book you have to read if you want to start making sense about Philippine society, all of the many social problems, and the solutions to all of them. Before reading all of the other books in my list, I recommend starting with this one.

If you choose to read this, watching the following documentaries will make digesting LRP easier: ‘Liyab ng Libong Sulo’, and ‘MKLRP Slideshow’.

Best reason to read this? It’s available FREE at this website.

Marxism for Beginners – Mexican writer Rius sought to make the very heavy but highly relevant topic of Marxism easy-to-understand to even the most ADHD-member of our generation with humorous comics and illustrations. Did he succeed? I’ll leave it to you to find out. There’s a free download available here, but for a limited time only (especially since a mainstream publishing corporation has bought the rights to the book now).

Grapes of Wrath – Despite tackling a very cliché topic (the story of an Oklahoman farming family dispossessed of their land and who fled to California in search of a better life), this 1930s novel won author John Steinbeck the highest literary honor, the Pulitzer Prize. How many anti-capitalist novels have won the Pulitzer Prize? Yes, that’s how good this novel is. Steinbeck was also banned for a long time from many places in California. That’s how many raw nerves he hit.

The Jungle – After reading this book, you’ll never look at that footlong the same way again. This 19th century novel by Upton Sinclair caused enough public outrage to force the U.S government to make a few (albeit, insufficient) reforms to their local meat industry. In some ways, it feels like it’s a distant relative of today’s drama telenovelas.

Serve the People – A collection of articles, essays, and recollections on the history of the radical student movement in the history of the University of the Philippines. Student activists who want to pick up important lessons for their activities, as well as those who are simply curious as to where the proud title ‘Iskolar ng Bayan’ came from, will do well to pick this book up. It’s available at IBON Bookstore and Popular Books (at Timog Ave. and Tomas Morato Ave. in Q.C, respectively).

MUST-SEES:

Capitalism: A Love Story

The latest work of American film maker Michael Moore (the same guy who directed most of Rage Against the Machine’s music videos and got arrested for filming ‘Testify’). While at first, he seems like he is tackling a very local issue (widespread poverty in the U.S), he is actually discussing an issue which is very relevant to every last man, woman, and child in the planet today.

His other films include: Sicko, a documentary on the U.S health system and health care in general; and Fahrenheit 9/11, on the U.S invasion of Iraq.

Ang Kaaway

A documentary by progressive Filipino media group ST Exposure which explains who really is “The Enemy” of the Filipino people.

The RSA Youtube series

What do you get when the RSA (Britain’s Royal Society for the advancement of Arts, Manufacture, and Commerce) records the lectures of some of its academics, accompanies it with a video of someone writing whiteboard illustrations, and then uploads it in Youtube? You get explanations for complex issues like the explanation for the global financial crisis in easy-to-understand 10-15 minute tidbits. Some of the more relevant lectures include reforming the education system and the roots of the global economic crisis (at least, if you are a Filipino youth like me).

Sister Stella L

My favorite Filipino film. Ever. Unfortunately, I have no idea where to get a copy of this film.

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

If you really don’t watch anything without any mainstream foreign actors and actresses, this is the closest you’ll ever find in Hollywood that tackles real-life economics. Of course, fans of Shia LeBeouf and Michael Douglas will find their presence a ‘plus’. It was shown in cinemas a few weeks ago, so that means your favorite Quiapo vendor has this on DVD more than a month ago.

Dukot

This film triggered the Gloria Arroyo-era MTRCB’s over-the-top-sensitivity by tackling a topic ‘real close’ to the heart of our former president: enforced disappearances, hence earning an X-rating. It’s directed and script-written (is there such a word?) by two Martial Law activists: Joel Lamangan and Boni Ilagan, respectively. Unlike what you’d expect from such a political film, it actually features mainstream actors and actresses like Iza Calzado and Allen Dizon. Since I prefer that you watch this in a theater than having a pirate make a few bucks off you, just expect a nearby chapter of Anakbayan when there will be a film showing of ‘Dukot’ near you.

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There! Now please stop bitching about a ‘boring sembreak’ and flooding my Facebook news feed with your surveys.

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On Dole-outs and Sell-outs

Considering that the Aquino administration is sticking to its hard-line stance that there is no money for State Colleges and Universities next year (and advocating the tuition and other fee increases, along with other forms of commercialization of education), youths and students should be watching carefully the growing word war between lawmakers and ‘leftist’ groups regarding the government’s Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT) program.

What are CCTs?

According to the World Bank, CCTs aim to “build up the human capital of their children”. How? By giving poor families money in exchange for them doing certain things, like sending their children to school and having them take regular medical check-ups. Theoretically, the families receive additional income while they invest on the future (ex. their children’s health and educational attainment). By making them live longer and attain a diploma, they can lift their families out of poverty.

In the Philippines, the CCT program takes the form of the 4P, or Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, which was started under former president Gloria Arroyo. In next year’s proposed national budget, CCT/4P will receive P21 billion in funding, P11 billion more than what it got this year. The proposal immediately drew flak from youth group Anakbayan, as well more than fifty lawmakers led by the seven solons of the Makabayan bloc.

Why is there opposition to the CCTs?

As a Community Development major, we’ve been taught to shun “top-down” models of development, which includes programs and policies imposed at the grass-roots by a central authority which has no awareness on the situation at the former. The CCT/4P is a classic “top-down” example. Why? Because it assumes that problems such as low rate of elementary and high school students’ survival rate (the percentage of students per batch who actually graduate), high infant mortality rates, high maternal mortality rates, etc. are caused by “problems in attitude”. Or to put it simply, elementary and high school students drop out because their parents don’t push them hard enough to go to school.

Yet, in many areas in the country (especially in the countryside), the problem is still a lack of facilities. You can’t enroll your children in a non-existent school, you can’t make sure your uterus is healthy in a non-existent clinic. But that’s exactly the line of reasoning proponents of the CCT/4P are leading us to.

CCT/4P proponents argue that the program is not THE poverty alleviation program. CCT/4P will only work if it is complemented by other programs and policies. But is the Aquino administration complementing it with the construction of new schools and hospitals, as well as the strengthening of existing ones? Definitely not.

Why the insistence on CCTs then?

As noted earlier, CCTs are the ‘in thing’ regarding development for global institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. It sounds really good on paper, while avoiding measures like genuine land reform and the allocation of 6% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product to education, measures which run counter to the above-mentioned groups’ vision of privatizing and corporatizing anything and everything.

As a side story, the international community recently got together and admitted that it will be hard to achieve the Millenium Development Goals (a set of benchmarks that indicate extreme poverty will be reduced) by 2015. It’s an admission that anything and everything that came out of the IMF-WB’s mouths is nonsense, and ‘rabble-rousers’ like Michael Moore and the Philippines’ National Democratic movement got it right. Of course, they will never openly admit that. That is why they continue to insist on anti-radical schemes like the CCT/4P.

CCT: Crocodile Cash Transfers

Aside from the ‘battle between good and evil’ playing out within the CCT/4P debate, the ‘corrupt politician’ (of which Aquino vowed to defeat to win the presidency) has also played a hand in the CCT issue.

The program is managed by the Dept. of Social Work and Development, headed by one Dinky Soliman who happens to be one of the most ‘rabid’ supporters of the current president from ‘civil society’. She also happened to be implicated in a scam where several people made billions of pesos at the expense of the Filipino taxpayers.

Another agency which will have its fingers dipped in the ‘pie’ that is CCT/4P is the Nat’l Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC). “Coincidentally”, President Aquino has appointed Joel Rocamorra as head of this agency. Who is Rocamorra? Oh, just some top official of a certain Akbayan Partylist, which “coincidentally” was one of the fiercest foot-soldiers of the Aquino presidential campaign (Fierce is an understatement, seeing that they tag-teamed with Jovito Palparan for the occasion). And in yet another “coincidence”, it is the same partylist which is taking the lead in campaigning for the additional CCT/4P funding, days after it was announced that it will receive P4 billion in pork barrel, on top of the regular amount that it will receive.

(My oh my, what power and money can do to some peoples’ principles, considering they had any in the first place)

Bureaucrat Capitalism

Bureaucrat-capitalism, as coined in the landmark work Lipunan at Rebolusyong Pilipino (Phil. Society & Revolution), is the description for the phenomenon of the Philippine government under the current system. Not just the new admin, not just Arroyo, but everyone, stretching back to the very first Philippine Assembly. It joined together “bureaucrat” and “capitalism” to indicate how top gov’t officials treat the government as their personal ‘milking cow’. The dynamics of the CCT/4P under Aquino prove that much.

But the CCT/4P also proves another, and more important, point about bureaucrat-capitalism: that it co-exists with two other social phenomena in the Philippines today, imperialism (U.S dominance) and feudalism (landlord dominance). The former, as proven by the administration’s insistence on U.S-‘suggested’ policies like the continuation of the Visiting Forces Agreement, and the latter by ‘untouchable’ Hacienda Luisita.

As it is fast becoming clear that it’s ‘business as usual’ for corrupt politicians and U.S imperialism under the U.S-Aquino Regime II (sounds like a Chuck Norris film, only worse), where will the youth, so-optimistic in the previous elections, turn to? Will it sink towards confusion and eventually apathy? Or will it finally discard corporate media-fed biases about radical solutions, and start studying them like the reasonable ideas that they are?

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Also applicable to the issue of Education Budget Cuts

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