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…)

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Another Halloween is past and you know what that means my POC friends.  Yup, we just did another round of muttering “that’s racist” over and over again to ourselves.

… and while I fear I might be (ok, am) a minority on this one (see what I did there?):  I don’t entirely get it.

Now ruling out the extremely obviously racist costumes like the buck toothed Asian (a la Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany’s), Jim Crow era Black caricatures, or Islamic “terrorists,” which clearly are unacceptable, I don’t particularly agree with the uproar and activism over “ethnic” costumes.

When I say I don’t ‘get it.’  I mean that I don’t accept the rationale behind why the outcry is focused on the costumes themselves.  I don’t understand why the call is basically for White people NOT to do it.  Full Stop.

I mean why is it that we see costumes based on traditional dress racist?  The usual refrain is:  “we are a culture, not a costume.”  But if this is the case, would it not also be proper for Whites to decry costumes based on horned Vikings (which are historically inaccurate btw) or medieval knights?

Now the answer to my question is obvious: It’s not the same because of the disparity in power relations, and the vicious history of colonization that has imbued on to these images a different connotation.

I get that.

What I don’t get, is why this translates simply into:  Don’t wear that Whitey!  (more…)

Urban Meloncholy by you.
One of the things I love to shoot happens to be nothingness.  Literally.  I love shadows, as in my eyes heavy shadows accentuates the light that remains.  This set of images are just a few of my favourites from Toronto… 

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Pics from the Styrofoam Ones release party at Rolly’s Garage last Saturday night.  It was a mad party, with hundreds crammed into an actual mechanics garage on Ossington Ave. (more…)

Styrofoam Ones and Times Neue Roman pulled some guerilla art during Nuit Blanche this past Saturday night.  Their surprise performances from the back of a U-haul truck caused people to stop, consult their official Nuit Blanche maps, scratch their heads (”I can’t find this event…”), then eventually just give in to spontaneity.

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A couple of weeks back we at the Kapisanan Philippine Centre hosted a group of delagates from across the Americas for a session during the ‘Ignite the Americas‘ conference in Toronto.

As it says on their website the conference was about:

Recognizing and building upon the increasingly important role that arts and cultural expressions play as an engine for economic growth and positive youth engagement both in Canada and throughout the Americas, the Government of Canada, through the Department of Canadian Heritage (PCH), will present Ignite The Americas: Youth Arts Policy Forum, to take place in Toronto, Canada from September 15-21, 2008. (more…)