Commentary


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Poster designed by Ysh Cabaña

*** The below was delivered as a spoken endorsement at the “Formal Launching of Electoral Campaign in Toronto: Migrante Partylist and Teddy Casiño” ***

I’ve been giving thought as to what to say tonight in support of Migrante Sectoral Partylist (#96 on your ballot) and Teddy Casiño of Bayan-Muna for Senator (#6).

I considered talking about how human rights violations are still rampant in the Philippines.  How over 1300 extrajudicial killings have taken place since the regime of Gloria Arroyo and have not slowed during the term of Mr ‘Matuid Na Daan’ Aquino.  Included here is the killing of Christina Jose just a couple weeks ago.  She was a human rights defender fighting for the rights of the survivors of Typhoon Pablo, survivors so neglected that they were forced to bravely take actions to claim the relief goods owed to them.

I considered talking about the fact that illegal detention, disappearances and torture are still rampant in our country.

I considered talking about how the fact that there is no national industrialization policy and mass poverty are combining with all the other factors to drive our people out. (more…)

*this note is written as a response to a Coke viral ad titled “Coca-Cola Where Will Happiness Strike Next: The OFW Project.”  To view video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_9fQEqZCWs

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Let’s get the obvious over with:  This is a FANTASTIC advertisement.  It has a strong emotional pull, high production values, and connects the product to family, struggle, and how hardship can be overcome by the simple things, like a Coca-Cola.

Well done Coke.   [insert ironic soft clap here]

I hate this ad.  I hate it with a passion.  And it seems from a casual viewing of the comments related to this viral video, that I am somehow virtually alone in thinking this.

In the ad, Coke sends a handful of overseas foreign workers (OFWs) back to the Phils to reconnect with their families.  Its central message seems to be: Coke cares about the plight of OFWs.

And there for me is the disconnect.  (more…)

 

Yesterday was the Anihan Arts and Academic Showcase at the University of Toronto.  There I spoke about our responsibility as Filipino-Canadians to be active in the fight of all Filipinos for respect, cultural pride, and national sovereignty. 
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Yes I am Canadian.  Yes I am Filipino.  And this means that I, and we, bear responsibility for both sides of our identity.  (more…)

In front of a really f*cked up ad for some kind of skin whitener. (photo by k.ancheta)

In a family bathroom I recently found a bar of soap that featured “WHITENING EXTRACTS” (caps theirs), that would apparently “reveal the whiter skin that glows with health.”

Later that night Vince was asked “Why are you so dark?” by a well-meaning friend of a friend.

Sigh. (more…)

It ended with us in interrogation.  Apparently they didn’t much appreciate outsiders seeing (let alone shooting photos and vids of) the random bits of human remains just lying about.   (more…)

Last weekend Vince and I joined Salinlahi (a child’s rights advocacy org) in providing a photo workshop to out of school youth from 12 to 17 years old in a fishing community in Bacoor (just outside Manila).

This is part of the photography program Salinlahi is bringing to different impoverished communities in the Philippines to explore the serious and common situation of child labourers. The chronic and worsening hardship in the country (not to mention the shrinking budget for education) leads to more and more youth dropping out of school in order to help make ends meet for their family.  (more…)

by alex

They called us “indios” back then.  They considered us savages.  But what were we?

Vince and I, with new friends from Manila [*thanks for the introduction Anjo!], went to the Ayala Museum to see the display of pre-hispanic indigenous gold.

You see, before the Spanish we were a people with a rapidly developing culture.  We were not only bahag (loincloth) wearing, hunter-gatherers.  We were also a group of stratified societies with it’s own textile, gold, steel-making, cannon-using industries.  We traded with several neighbouring empires among them the Malay Sri Vijaya, Javanese Majapahit, Brunei, Melaka empires.  Our peoples traded with Sumatra, Borneo, Thailand, Java, China, India, Arabia, and Japan.

When the Spanish arrived they would have met well dressed, gold clad, warriors and noblemen.  This gold drew in the Spanish coloniser, and even to this day remains a major draw for the current world powers that be.  Read up on the Boxer Codex for more info.

(more…)

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