<<< *note: the below was originally delivered as a talk at THIS Human Rights Day event in Toronto >>>

*HRday2014-v3.002

photo by afelipe

2014 has been a hellava year.  We have seen our communities besieged by horrible new atrocities, the continuance of others, and the growth of public rage.  From the continuing occupation of Palestine, to the never-ending war on terror.  From the police impunity seen in the the murders of Michael Brown & Eric Garner, to the continuation of the two tiered justice system for our First Nations sisters and brothers.

Meanwhile in the Philippines climate change disasters, partner with militarization, the return of US bases, attacks on activists and the poor, and a worsening economy to increase the peoples suffering. And here in Canada (where the Philippines has been the number one source country for migrants since 2009) we’ve seen legal changes that seek to punish migrant workers for the sacrifices they are forced to make due to poverty

Against all this our peoples have been fighting back.  Through acts of anger and acts of organized resistance. (more…)

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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…)

[*this is a follow up article to “Anti-Racism/Sexism & Individualism” where I liken postmodern politics to a modern form of divide and conquer.]

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A bomb in Boston:
   – Outcry! Terrorism! Bad!
   – What terrorism? The US is the real terrorist!
   – Why are they blaming brown people! That’s racist! Racism is bad!

A school shooting in America:
     – Tragedy!  Ban guns!  Guns are bad!
     – Arm the teachers; bad guys are bad!
     – I hope it’s not a shooter of colour.  [see: “Racism is bad.”]

Here’s the thing.  I’m equal parts sympathetic, and confused and saddened, by this standard Western outcry.

I’m confused because of the gap between the reaction and the root causes.  And I’m sympathetic because it’s a fully understandable reaction—if not for accidents of personal history I would most likely be of similar mind.

Looking at media (mainstream and social) after moments like these, it seems to me that we in the West live with a cough syrup political mentality.

Millions of people swear by cold medicines, good people, friends and family even.  They feel a cold coming on and they pop the pills, or gulp down the syrups.

And yet–
–they don’t work. (more…)

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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…)

*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…)

[*archieval images courtesy of Wikipedia, and the University of Wisconsin]

Women begging for food from Americans during the Phil-Am War.

Women begging for food from Americans during the Phil-Am War.

[*I will be co-instructing an upcoming series of Philippine history workshops at KPC from September to November, so I thought I’d write a preview about the Fil-Am War…]

Today’s North American news has daily reports of the debacle in Iraq. It’s just the latest in a string of US invasions into sovereign lands, but the grand-daddy of it all was in the Philippines. (more…)