Monday, October 24, 2016

Of Miss Earth Bahamas 2016 and Cleopatra Jones

She was the crowd's favorite no doubt. Among the five 2016 Miss Earth candidates who visited Sablayan last October 21-23, 2016, Miss Bahamas was the most jolly and mingles with the locals with great gusto. From the motorcade at the town proper up to the Parola Park while she and the rest of the candidates are about to ride in the longest island-to-island zip line in the world, she was followed by children and teenagers chanting, “Ba-ha-mas! Ba-ha-mas!”

She refused an umbrella and preferred to beat the heat of the sun during the motorcade. When the pick-up she was riding passed near the gate of Saint Martin Hospital, she suddenly jumped out of the vehicle and had groupies with the nuns and school children among the near hysteric crowd. She left her escort at the back of the pick-up. She was escorted by Councilor Melchor Quiatchon and he was astonished when Candisha Rolle, Miss Earth Bahamas 2016, climbed back at the pick-up all by herself, capitalizing on her whole 5’ 11” height. Her story of interspersion did not end there. When the pick-up stopped at the Motor Pool, ever smiling and waving at the crowd, Candisha Rolle graciously walked towards the nearby Municipal Building where people are gathered and waiting to meet the visiting beauties with cheers.  

I was with the crowd of people sitting at the foot of the zip line tower when I, together with Mayor Eduardo B. Gadiano, noticed a group of young boys waving their hands at Miss Bahamas when the beauty queen from the former British colony appeared on the line. The Bahamas only became a Commonwealth realm in 1973. The folks were enchanted by her colored beauty and I remember when I was a young boy having a crush on African American fashion model turned actress named Tamara Dobson. I was in high school when I saw Dobson doing lead roles. They are both action films shown at Levi Rama: Cleopatra Jones (1973) and Cleopatra Jones and the Casino of Gold (1975). Cleopatra Jones is a lady James Bond sort of a character actually. Since then, I had liking for the so-called black beauties, albeit in films. I never had a close encounter with this kind all my life until the 2016 Miss Earth beauties visited Sablayan, my second home. Let us forget Cleopatra Jones and Tamara Dobson for they help me remember my age. Let us go back to Candisha Rolle to forget it. What I mean is my age.

Ms. Rolle was selected Miss Earth Bahamas 2016 on August 27 also this year. She succeeds Daronique Young for the tilt. That night, she also won Best in Evening Gown, Best Costume, Miss Amity and Miss Popularity sub-awards. Ms. Rolle, according to her Facebook account, studied Human Resource Management at Southern College in Nassau. In that same account she professed, “I truly enjoy dancing.....and I love comedy!!!!” Well, what else can I say but wish her luck in the coming pageant night on Saturday.

Before I shake my hands off the keyboard, allow me to share that Tamara Dobson ended her short movie stint via the 1976 film version of the play “Norman…Is That You?” If you ask the same question pertaining to the guy posing with Miss Bahamas in the picture shown above, the answer is a big “yes”….

(Photo: Philip Saligumba)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Manny Pacquiao: The Boxer and the Senator

Manny Pacquiao was an absentee congressman during his two terms as representative of Sarangani province but in May 2016, voting Filipinos bequeathed him the 7th seat in the Philippine Senate. Then CongressManny (now SenaPac) spent almost all of his legislative days inside a boxing camp and due to his dubious scholastic records, we deemed him not capable as a politician.

But 16,050,546 voters elected him to senate and now gaining grounds as advocate of the restoration of death penalty and his recent unseating of Senator Leila de Lima as chair of the august body’s committee on justice and human rights investigating the supposed extra judicial killings along with the government’s fight against drugs. Seasoned politician and President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon’s attempt to quash SenaPac’s motion proved inutile. De lima, whom Pacquiao outvoted and placed last among 12 winning candidates, was unseated by her fellow newbie senator. And the hard core devotees of President Rodrigo Duterte, including those who say that the legendary boxer is unfit for membership in the senate, applauded the boxer for his guts to discontinue what her bashers describe as “Leila lies”. Those who cheer the killings of suspected drug pushers and drug dependents likewise hailed him when the SenaPac contended during the same inquiry that, “We senators are here to investigate, not to protect witness. That is the rule here!,” referring of course to de Lima.

With these powerful shots at the senate, many Filipinos who are dismayed by his previous Bible-totting and his 'gay people are worse than animals' remark became instant supporters of Manny Pacquiao, the politician. With Sen. Dick Gordon at the helm, the inquiry continues at the Senate. On the other end, Manny Pacquiao, the boxer, is with Freddie Roach at Elorde Gym inside Mall of Asia exchanging punches with his sparring mates Jose Ramirez and Leonardo Doronio.

Compared to his stint in congress before, Manny Pacquiao is slowly learning as a senator. He definitely learned a lesson or two from his lacklustre feat in the House of Representatives in the past judging from his performance at the senate committee on justice and human rights just recently. Despite of his perceived deficiency as a national legislator, he was apparently able to learn slowly. But he is yet to disclose his legislative agenda other than restoring the death penalty.

The old and familiar names and faces in the senate already disappointed us for so long so let us not hurry the SenaPac. Anyway, he’s just in the middle of the first round in an institution that already lost its longstanding character, in a country where those who oppose death penalty, including the Catholic Church, are considered coddlers of drug addicts and criminals.

Meanwhile, I expect that both the implementers and the potential victims in the on-going fight against drugs will both cheer for Manny Pacquiao in his fight against Jessie Vargas (27-1-0) at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, Nevada for the WBO welterweight championship bout. There will be a decline in volume of crimes and vehicles in the streets and the dizzying hullabaloos of our leaders, the fight, regardless of the result, will surely hit the headlines next day rather than the killings and the president’s consistently inconsistent policy statements and Senator de Lima’s forum shopping in various Catholic gatherings and Eucharistic celebrations.

The next Manny Pacquiao fight for sure, as it was before, will give the divided Filipinos the political break that they fully deserve, even momentarily…


(Photo: Service Space and Time)

Friday, October 7, 2016

Retailing Human Rights

There is a prevailing Filipino culture called tingi or retail and this is due to our financial incapacity to buy items or products by wholesale. Majority of the consumers can only afford to buy small packs of basic items for our daily needs from toothpaste to charcoal. This is how the masses survive the day.

Well, generally the term ‘human rights’ means  a broad spectrum of rights ranging from right to life to the right to a cultural identity. They are basic pre-conditions for a dignified human existence. In a nutshell, there is the civil and political rights on one hand, and economic, social and cultural rights on the other. Allow me to stop at this point for I do not intend here to give you a course on human rights or HR. I’ll just allow you, my dear reader, to self-study the matter and besides, we Filipinos are yet to arrive on a national consensus on the categorisations and classification, concepts and principles and theory and praxis of HR. The keyboards are burning and the so-called internet warriors coming from different quarter debate over theories and practice of human rights in the country.

HR issues are reduced to swords or guillotines aimed at annihilating their critics or political rivals instead of being an instrument aimed at uplifting human dignity. In doing so, we end up valuing personalities than the sanctity of HR tenets and the inviolability and our basic rights as individuals and as peoples. This way of “enlightenment” on HR, HR is reduced to mere instruments of politicking and political stunts. Indeed, our hazy view of HR is manifested by our enduring, hotly contested arguments or disputes about it, especially when Rodrigo R. Duterte was voted to power by 16 million Filipinos last May.

It is apparent that with the explosion of the summary execution of drug suspects by agents of the government is a blatant violation of the victims’ constitutional rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights. The victims, as some of the HR groups claim, were not given due process therefore their civil and political rights were violated, thus the term extra-judicial killings or EJKs.

On the other hand, this administration’s adherence to economic, social and cultural rights is showing a commendable start. For instance, the decisive action of Agrarian Reform Sec. Rafael Mariano distributing thousand hectares of lands which was only partially covered during BS Aquino III’s previous administration. Another is DSWDs giving livelihood jobs and organizing of the Conditional Cash Transfer or the 4Ps beneficiaries into cooperatives as a more permanent measure to alleviate poverty than giving dole-outs like cash allocations made possible by DSWD Sec. Judy Taguiwalo, to cite just two. Though these are initiatives of the progressives in the Duterte cabinet, these praiseworthy actions can also be traced to the president.

Jerbert Briola, a friend of mine, forwarded me a PowerPoint presentation of political analyst Ramon Casiple apparently from a lecture rendered before group of HR advocates days after the inauguration of President Duterte. I will be going to share it to you later. Casiple, by the way, was our guest speaker in the national assembly of an HR network where I formerly belong. The event was held in Quezon City last August 25, 2011. One of Casiple’s slides sent to me by Jerbert reads: “The Duterte administration will have a mixed human rights record. His anti-crime and anti-drug campaign is spawning vigilantism and extra-judicial killings by the police.” On the other hand, he stressed, “His [the president’s] social reform agenda supports many human rights demands and advocacy.” True enough, approaching the100th day of his presidency, Duterte’s human rights record is a mixture of good and bad. More than ever, according to Casiple, it is now high time for the HR advocates to exercise vigilance, undertake popular education on human rights, and independently mobilize support based on specific HR issues therefore, revitalize the HR movement.

Whether they relate to civil, cultural, economic, political or social issues, human rights are inherent to the dignity of every human person. Consequently, all human rights have equal status, and cannot be positioned in a hierarchical order, like what the HR educators have taught. Denial of one right invariably impedes enjoyment of other rights. Thus, the right of everyone to due process cannot be compromised at the expense of the right to an adequate standard of living. 

When human right is retailed, the essence of human being is degraded wholesale…

(Photo: GMA Network)

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Hullabaloos of President Duterte

The left and right controversies involving President Rodrigo Duterte’s, during the campaigns and now, are intentional and therefore part of his strategy to win the presidency and later to sustain himself as a populist president at this early juncture of his administration. This is not spontaneous. This is orchestrated and planned. He is intelligent, they say, therefore all his actions and words are expected to be calculated.

The first 3 months of any sitting president rest on shaky ground due to criticisms he gets from international community on many issues and concerns foremost of which is his fight against drugs and criminality including his questionable diplomatic policies and his lieutenants’ paranoia over the imminent taking over of what his fanatical supporters refer to as “Yellowtards”. The traditional politicians inside PDP Laban too cannot be trusted. He and those around him who are not party members know that PDP Laban’s ultimate agenda is to gain party advantage and get the majority of the political seats come 2019 onward and put into effect its party line all over the land and pave the way for Koko Pimentel’s presidency after Duterte’s term. The president’s allegiance to his party, aside from the push for Federalism and issues rooted in socialism, is rickety too. Likewise his alliance with the Left which vows to continue their parliamentary struggle specifically those issues incorporated in the People’s Agenda for Change. It is not far-fetched to assume that in the future, these groups will ultimately clash over their opposing principles, issues and advocacies.

Since this administration rests on shaky ground, it needs a mass base that will continue to be attached or relate to, and believe in everything he will say or do. There is no need of ideology or political principles to unite them. Intrigues and rumors are sufficient to band together, say, the internet warriors, and gain grounds. The cyberspace as it was proven during the campaign period is the most bankable and they have to sustain it. The internet is still the best weapon for this connectivity as long the crisis they have projected since day one, which is drugs and criminality, is highlighted by way of controversial statements or any form of verbal stunts to get the attention of the public and the whole world no matter what would be the outcome. Bad publicity, as we say, is publicity still.

Constant media projection will keep you always on the limelight, hence, evading isolation and ultimately test the level of fanaticism of your followers. He needs a group of people who would rally behind him, fair or square, by hook or by crook, in sickness and in health, so to speak. This is a gamble for you might gain more enemies than friends, critics than followers. But that would be easy for an instant apology or rejoinder could patch them up later anyway. Or lambast the journalists for quoting you out of context and throw them all the faults to the fullest. The call of the day is to be consistent with sprinkling garbage juices and let the deodorizers do their things later. What are important at this early point is to coagulate their connectivity to the masses. So every time you face the camera and the scribes, be quotable, and do not think of the consequences. Just connect to the people who thirst for trash no matter what. Their day would not be complete without it, like the telenovela.

Majority of the Filipinos have penchants for tough and rough leaders because they are tough and rough citizens themselves. We are generally tough and rough as bullies in school and over the net, we are tough and rough as public servants involved in corrupt practices, we are tough and rough as religious leaders baptized with hypocrisy, we are tough and rough citizens who do not follow rules and order. Therefore, we want the toughest and the roughest to continue to lead and represent us!

Having such a mass base or a people’s movement, formal or informal, is necessary under this condition. If you are lucky, this will assure political stability in the process until such time that this wide mass movement gain credibility and power over another groups or individuals (specially the butterflies and the turncoats) around him that cannot be trusted until this movement get the needed power to lay compromises and to assert them. 

Controversy is significant than plain and simple reporting of your achievements if you want to be always connected with the people. If President Duterte would stop making controversial statements, what would he feed to his social media machine? How could his army of on-line warriors survive without such controversies? It is a waste of time to advise him to watch his language or keep quiet. No mortal could stop him now. Not even the roof of a car. Besides, the president is just speaking his mind, just being our president and being true to himself like what we are told.

Well, positively put, controversies are part of the process of knowing. Controversy can be a beneficial and commanding tool to promote learning. Needless to say, controversy is a double-edged sword. The attention we get from it may hurt us but apparently that is what the new breed of Filipinos want: to get hurt as a nation and to hurt each other as citizens…


(Photo: Stripes. Com)