History and Culture


In the video podcast above I talk about the beginnings of family dynasties.  Let’s now briefly discuss why they persist to this day.

As you can see from the opening slide 94% of the provinces in the country have dynastic family rulers.  Despite a lot of talk & media attention, despite the stalled attempts at legislation, they remain an immovable political object–and will remain so for the near future.  Why?

(more…)

*the following were my opening remarks for tonights forum of the same title at York University…

Thank you to the Professor Philip Kelly and the York Centre for Asian Research for putting on this event.  And thank you all for your attendance….

I was asked to begin with a brief background on Martial Law and Marcos:

Ferdinand Marcos first became president with a ‘nationalist’ message in 1965, he retained the position in the following election in 1969 (at the time presidents had a 2 term limit so this should have been his last term)  Interestingly 1969 is also the year the New Peoples’ Army was born (continuing the tradition of previous revolutionary movements that began with the Hukbalahap during WWII).  (more…)

*this is the copy of a talk I gave on 26 January 2012 at “The Politics of Protest” conference at the University of Toronto.

ImageAs one of the organizers of this event, wrote on her FB wall the other day (in all caps no less):  “OK SERIOUSLY, LET’S HAVE A CONVERSATION ABOUT SOCIAL MOVEMENTS AND HOW THEY NEGOTIATE POWER AND PRIVILEGE!!”

Ok.  Lets.

So let me start by saying something very bluntly: White people ARE superior to people of colour.  Men ARE more important and more valuable than women.  And greed IS far superior to “love.”

Let’s not beat around the bush about should be’s or the use of non-oppressive language.

THIS is the society we live in.  THIS is reality.  You don’t like it?  Good.  Change it. (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

* * *

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…)

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…)

San Augustine Church in Intramuros Manila is a heavy, heavy place for me.  My heart is heavy every time I’m there.  I feel the weight of its history.  I feel a great sense of loss.   (more…)

So yesterday was the 24th anniversary of the People Power “Revolution” of 1986.

I remember it pretty well for someone who was 10 and living in Markham, Ontario at the time.  What I remember was that my Dad called home from work after I got back from school to tell me to record the news for him so he could watch it when he got back from his job as a clerk at Ontario Hydro.

We had the most high-tech of systems at the time, a Betamax video player/recorder with a ‘remote control’ that was attached to the system via a long cord.  I had to do the same thing when Ninoy had died a couple years back (and also to record the world premiere of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”).   (more…)

Next Page »