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?

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by alex felipe (alexfelipe.photographer@gmail.com)

The Connecticut mass shooting was a tragedy, it was the seventh this year alone. The media, mainstream and social, have been ablaze with justified outrage. Many fingers are being pointed in so many directions that for those seeking to understand why, they would equally be justified in being left in a daze.

The Western Left, in its decades long insecurity, has allowed the field to be dominated by voices placing blame on symptoms rather at the root cause.

The aftermath of Newtown has shown the need for a coherent and inclusive narrative from the Left. Instead, what we see are calls for small reforms to the system that has already failed us.

It’s time for the Left to step up. To again allow itself to think big. To again dare to put forward a grand narrative. (more…)

Image*The below was a talk I delivered on 9 Dec 2012 at an International Human Rights Day event in Toronto, Canada*

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Today we celebrate International Human Rights Day.  We believe that the resistance borne of the struggle for the rights of the people is truly something to celebrate.  That said it is also fair to ask ‘why?’

Well the truth is, we don’t celebrate Human Rights, we celebrate the rights of people.

As Wendy Brown writes in “Human Rights and the Politics of Fatalism:”

[H]uman rights are vague and unenforceable; their content is infinitely malleable; they are more symbolic than substantive… in their primordial individualism; they conflict with cultural integrity and are a form of liberal imperialism; they are a guise in which super-power global domination drapes itself; they are a guise in which the globalization of capital drapes itself; they entail secular idolatry of the human and are thus as much a religious creed as any other.

In contrast People’s Rights look at the rights of the people as a whole; the rights of communities over the benefit of the individual; the right to rebel.  (more…)

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poster by ysh cabaña

*This is the copy of a talk I gave at U of T on 23 Nov 2012 at an event held by the Philippine Press Club of Ontario…

Today is marked the “Day to End Impunity” by media organizations around the world.  This day was chosen because three years ago in the Philippines, the largest single massacre of journalists in the world took place when the politically powerful Ampatuan clan, attacked the convoy of the politically powerful Magudadatu clan resulting in 58 deaths, including 32 journalists.

We at BAYAN-Canada support this call: to end impunity, to end corruption, to end human rights violations.  But to reach this end, to truly achieve this, we need to examine why despite worldwide condemnation the climate of impunity persists.

Do human rights occur simply because of ‘evil’ people?  Because of cancerous corruption in need of a biopsy?

We don’t think so.  If this were the case this illness would not be so rampant and so global.  Changing faces cannot change the systemic roots of corruption. (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…)

Juana Tejada arrived in Canada in 2003 to work under the Live-in Caregiver Program (LCP), a program that would allow them to apply later for permanent residence from within Canada. After completing the required two years to be eligible for permanent residence, Juana submitted her application where she was found to be eligible. She was then required to undergo an immigration medical examination to complete the immigration process, where it was discovered that she had terminal cancer.

Together with grassroots orgs Migrante-Canada she fought bravely and won. In the process she changed the laws around the LCP and helped ensure that others wouldn’t have to go through the same.

Unfortunately, her cancer still claimed her on International Women’s Day 2009. She is remembered as a hero. (more…)