Wednesday, December 05, 2012



Lotlot, our helper, said there was no fish available in the neighborhood flea market. I immediately scoured the weather in my mind and asked if the moon was full last night. I’ve had a lot of relations doing fish vending before. Most of them were uncles and older male cousins that in the past, I could hear them worrying so much that the moon was so illuminating in certain particular nights that there would be a slack of business for them during the week. “Masawa in Bulan”, one of them would say which is the Tausug words for “The moon in full”.

So I suggested to Lotlot to buy eggplants from a nearby sari-sari store so that we could dipped them in eggs and fry them in deep oil. I reckoned that she wasn’t used with this kind of meal that she did not cooked the vegetables the way that I have envisioned them. So I made her buy more eggplants and egg and made them by myself.

To cook this simple menu, one should need the following:

3 pieces Eggplants, fresh from the garden and shiny as a marble. 

2 pieces Chicken eggs (from the healthiest of hens.)

1 teaspoon Salt, rock salt to be more tasty 

1 quart Fresh coconut oil. If you have some olive oil then you must be some sort of a rich man. 

1 pinch Monosodium glutamate otherwise know as Vetsin.

1 pinch Pepper balls in small cellophane packages. 

Wash your hands carefully before handling the eggplants for the germs is almost everywhere. Put the eggplants in a cauldron with an inch-deep tap water and make them boil. If you observe the scene of the eggplants within the water, you must be able to see that the eggplant are not fully immersed into the liquid, just the bottom half of them. In this manner, the vegetables would not turn into a soggy sponge, which would lessen the crispiness and taste.

While you boil the eggplants, bate the eggs in a glass bowl and put salt and vetsin. Bate them so hard like you haven’t got all the time in the world. A lesser purity of egg whites and yellow yolks would minimize the sweetness of eggs, like a woman scorned by her lover. Make the eggs feel good and treat them with all grace and respect, for they are the royalties of food. Without eggs, the way we cook our food would change forever, and never be the same again. Add the pepper into the mixture.

After a couple of minutes of the boiling of the water, take away the eggplants softly from the cauldron and make them rest into a wide plastic platter. With a smooth surfaced ladle, press the eggplants hard enough to make them flat as the ocean and then dipped them into the bated eggs and proceed immediately to paste them into a scorching oil in the pan. Do not overdo the dipping to evade the existence of burnt eggs which bitterness we do not need at this time. Remember, the eggplants are cooked much later than the eggs so be easy on the dipping.

After five minutes or so, the eggplants laced with spices and diamonds are ready to serve. I wasted no time in partaking of this heavenly meal and it took me three returns from the rice cauldron before I became satisfied. What a heavenly meal, what satisfaction.

When we were little, my mother use to cook this kind of meal especially when we run out of money in times when my father’s work as a postman before did not make ends meet in some days that are worse than the others. Because of these past lessons in life, I have learn to respect vegetables and the role they play in alleviating us when fish and meat are too costly at times to place on the dining table. Vegetables have become the heroes of those who are starving and those whose wealth is empty like a rusting tin can. We survive at times when we learn to realize that the things we must enjoy are at most times cheap. We always favor the much costlier foods and disregard the fact that with a little imagination, affordable foods brings us all much closer to ourselves. Fancy foods are sometimes pretentious although they are adorable to the palate. We eat French because the Joneses eat them too. Even in food, we become hypocrites.

(This a post from 2005, from "The Daily Prophet" )


Friday, November 16, 2012

Think You Can Wait Video (Win Win) - The National

Think You Can Wait Video (Win Win) - The National

Great new music from my most favorite new band. It is a song the band made for the independent film "Win Win" which stars Paul Giamatti. And perhaps this is a signal that a new studio album is in the offing.. The guys seem to be well-peaked for another great work.

"Think You Can Wait" is a sure winner, filled with that signature homey and ethereal music only the band could churn.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Phenomenology of James Bond Movies and The James Bond Character Itself

The Phenomenology of James Bond Movies and The James Bond Character Itself

I WAS TUNED TO A JAMES BOND MOVIE the other night and caught it somewhere near its climactic end. I could not anymore tell what movie title it got but it starred Pierce Brosnan as the iconic English spy. I bet some of you are aware about the proliferation of James Bond movies on our cable television for some nights now; it’s sort of a bond movie festival where one can get to watch a different episode of the spy series at any given night—-or day for that matter. I remember that this kind of television offering was available to cable television viewers just about a year ago that it had made me wonder about why in the world they keep having a marathon of James Bond movies on TV. Maybe a lot of James Bond fanatics were asking for it and they got just what they wanted. Although I have no certain idea of a major clamor for a glut of Bond movies on our boob tubes for I believe that if there were such a major yearning for a full exhibition of all bond movies, then I must have already read about it or heard about it. But I didn’t. You could perhaps surmise that the television company responsible for this is just trying to milk-out what could have been an expensive acquisition in the past; cashing on it while it still has juice on it.

Anyways, I am not really much concerned about why Bond movies are being shown so perfidiously nowadays; I just have some thoughts about it that I want to extrapolate here. Ever noticed how every Bond movie, no matter the actor playing it or the title, whether “Moonraker” or “Golden Eye”, has a very singular thread on its story-line where there seems to always be a powerful villain hiding in some cave or underwater hideout and that there is always this satellite-based ultra-modern weapon that could zapped human existence by just the push of either a red button or red switch (as long as its red). Pierce Brosnan bond movies are reasonably modern in its make and yet, most of it is still about that old storyline that ends with gigantic satellite weapons coming out of the surface of the sea and gets destroyed by the English spy before it could destroy the Earth. If you’re a kid or a kid by heart, that’s sort of thing is certainly a swell idea. In fact when I was a kid myself so many years ago, this is the kind of movie that could wake me up from the sweetest of slumber, what with all those cool gadgetry and spectacular action scenes.

But now that I have grown so well, I finally found these things to be pure kitsch and somewhat nonsensical. But don’t get me wrong; I am not complaining about this keen bond movie characteristic for after all, bond movies are there to entertain us first and foremost. There is just this subliminal thought that got me rethinking about the basis behind the entertaining value of Bond movies and of the character of James Bond itself. We get so fascinated about the idea of world domination that even though we feel exalted whenever James Bond kicked the asses of the main villain at every end of this sort of movie, yet it’s the idea of world domination that keeps us glued to the screen, like it was the hook, the line and the sinker—-all rolled into one.

We all like to see what kind of ultra-modern weaponry the new villain has with every new James Bond movie we watch, how potent it is this time. Like in real life, we as part of the modern humanity always expect this sort of villain to come, to pursue world domination by building a humongous and very powerful weaponry system that is to be activated by either launching a huge rocket into space or zapping laser beams through a hovering satellite in orbit. And in hindsight I realized that over the course of our history, James Bond movie villains have been with us for countless times already through many different personages—-through Adolf Hitler, through Saddam Hussein, through Napoleon Bonaparte (he might not be such a pure villain but he pursued world domination through force—-just like Alexander The Great), through Idi Amin and General Pinochet or Ferdinand Marcos, through the cruel Roman emperor Nero, through a cunning Mongolian conqueror, through a series of dictators in Latin America, and through many others that perhaps history has not paid attention so well. And in real life, every world domination or attempt at it had been thwarted and dismantled not a by a singular person like the English spy James Bond (for this only happens in movies) but either by opposing forces like the masses that gets sick and tired of oppression or in other instances, by rival powers that wants to grab dominion for themselves, only to be thwarted again.

And just like in the movie, every world domination before had crumbled down to pieces that now—at present—there is no such thing anymore, as if the James Bond of our lives have always been smart and cunning, that the only idea of world domination we get today is through trade and economic means where it seems that in every corner of the world, one in ten individual is using or had used even for once a product that was made in China. It used to be that in every nook of the earth, we get either American or Japanese products most of the time. But now, it China’s turn.

Now I wonder what if James Bond will fail us in the future? What if another villain more powerful than ever comes and the James Bond of our lives fails to stop the mayhem that could be brought by either a satellite-based weaponry or a humongous rocket that gets thrown into the sky? Well, I do hope that the day James Bond fails to manhandle the mean villain in the final end of the movie would not be forthcoming. And I hope he won’t ever fail. Ever.

( A repost from Citizen On Mars )


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Gold-Skinned Creatures in Twilight

One day while darkness crept slowly into the night, I was in a hide-and-seek game when suddenly, as I looked into the area full of banana trees, while hiding from my seeker, I noticed a little distortion in the trunks of the banana trees, and as I stared lengthily towards the woods, I noticed that a group of persons were looking at me. Some were standing while a couple was sitting in a kneeling position. They were all staring at me. They looked unusual that they had skin gleaming like bronze and their body sizes were relatively small like children's body and yet their faces looked old. I should have been scared and immediately run away but they seem to have put me in a trance that fear was absent in me at that moment. I remember it now so vividly, as I try to recollect these past events. I could even describe to you how one is put in a trance. As I looked at them, my head felt a gentle swelling, painless and smooth, as if the rest of me disappeared, except my head and my feet did not feel the ground. Again, my surroundings became yellow and everything seemed to glow despite the lateness of the day. My sight became sharper and I could hear my heart pounding and my body seemed ethereal like I was a spirit floating above ground. The one person sitting kept on signaling to me that I should approached them, because perhaps of the trance that I was put in, I headed towards the woods slowly, into the thick groupings of banana trees. As I pierced through the woods, the surroundings became brighter and ahead of me was a pathway in the forest, and I could see many of them at each side of the pathway, hanging from trees and huge stones. They all held palm leaves in their hands and shook it that collectively they made a swooshing sound that is gentle to the ear. Nobody spoke to me and nobody touched me. After a few meters of going forward, I stopped abruptly without deciding on my own, and turned back and into the games that I was playing with the other kids. It was a transition so smooth that I could say that time stood still and the event suddenly disappeared from my mind, never able to tell it to any of my friends or to my mother about the particular strange occurrence. It was only later on in life, that the memory kept coming back every time I walked into some woods with the same landscape and contour, feeling déjà vu every time, and vividly recalling details of such event. It must have been a dream. It must have been not. But dreams I could really recall to be dreams no matter how vivid they were and the forest incident was never a dream. In fact I had a dream once, about three years ago that was so vivid and yet I fully recognized it as merely a dream, not a memory of past events. In that particular dream, there was also a pond. I found myself in the middle of a wasteland, with red cracking clay all over, up to where my sight could reach. And then there was the pond that was unusually situated near a sloping hill and the air was yellowish and the sky a bit red, bleeding into many hues and concentration of red. There were no trees or a single bush in the arid ground except for a leafless tree protruding at one side of the shore of the pond and the wind was very still and motionless and the only sound I heard was the poundings of my heart. If you could perhaps imagine Mars and its landscape, that was how the dream looked and felt like.

The pond was of fair size in a shape that is almost perfectly circle. It was a small pond indeed with a radius not more than ten meters. I climbed the barren tree and sat there looking into the water, undecided about my next move. I could see the water inviting me to jump, almost feeling the coolness that it harbored; the dewy color of the water was refreshing to the sight. There was some life in the pond that I felt it could talk and communicate as if it was a creature on its own, with a head and a torso, and the tentacles of an ancient mollusk. I stood up from one of the tree's branches and dived into the water. The splashing sound it made as I entered the water reverberated throughout the heavy air that I could hear it rumbling even while I was deep into the water. Such sound made me reckoned that the pond was deep, so deep in fact that I kept going further and further into the water and I could not see ground. As I went deeper, there was exaltation inside me, a sudden gush of joy that became more and more prevalent as I dived deeper and deeper. But even as I go further into the water, I could find no end, as if it was a bottomless pit. I was insisting to lunge deeper when suddenly I felt a hand grabbed my body and pulled me towards the surface. When I reached the surface of the water I realized that I could not swim that the man who grabbed me had to help me reach the shore. There were actually two men that helped me get out of the water, as I lay there gasping in the banks. I examined the two men and observed them carefully and to my amazement, they both looked like me. They were my twins if only in that particular dream.

I sat there at the pond's shore while the two men stayed in the water, so expert in their swimming prowess that you could not tell from the surface if they are really moving their hands and feet to wade above the waters. That was the time that I saw this vision of an old person who looked like an old woman in a very long white dress. She looked so old that I had initially thought of her to be a ghost but despite such apprehensions, I could not move and continued to stare at the apparition. She approached me slowly as she floated through the wind, her feet entirely above the ground. As much as I thought that she was approaching me, as much farther she had become. It was completely a distortion of physics and of sight. She moved away from me, hovering towards the top of the nearby hill. A smile was pasted on her crinkled face that somehow I felt reassured that she meant no harm. She pointed towards the tree and through my mind, she instructed me to dive once more into the water. And so I recreated my previous dive and the sudden gush of happy emotion was there again as well as the temptation to go deeper and deeper. To seek the ultimate depth, the bottomless pit. The water offered such narcotic feeling that the two men had to grab me and pull me up before I go so much deeper and became lost into such very fearful depth. Every time I reach the shore, I dived again and then dived again until I was able to swim on my own, having gained the patience not to go deeper into the water.

And the dream went into a blur. The last recoverable image I have got of that dream was the old woman dancing atop the hill, while floating, and swaying her arms sideways and roundabout, as if ordering the wind and all the elements to move, and the air moved. In fact the entire atmosphere was in a whirl.

If dreams could be so vivid, nothing could top that particular dream where even when years had already passed, I could still remember the details, and the minutest of emotions that I felt. It was one of those dreams that once I woke up, I had the feeling that I had been transported from one place towards another instead of the general feeling of waking up.

Of dreams and of past memories therefore I have a healthy recognition and have reasonable distinction.

It was also in my Hadja Saniya's front yard that I also had another experience of trance. Again, we were playing a catch-me-if-you-can as twilight was already heavy into the night that it was only the full moon in the sky that gave us sufficient illumination. When the moon was full, us children would play into the night and it was sort of a ritual for us every time the moon appeared at its fullest. Before night came, the older children would inform all of us that the moon would appear in the night so we had to prepare for the night games. They say the night was full of monsters and ghosts but when the moon was full, even the olds would be in the yards to enjoy the mystic of a moonlit night.

The extra playing time we've got made us giddy and a little bit livelier. Every one seemed to laugh and snitched, until we were all laughing incessantly as we go running in a circle continuously and I started to hear laughing voices not of my friends but of some other persons'—old persons'. I stopped moving while the others kept running in circles, and the laughing voices faded as if I became suddenly deaf. And I stood there petrified and my body moved independently of my will until I was positioned apart from my playmates and gazed towards a guava tree whose leaves was crumbled due to the coolness of the night. The night became a little bit darker and my friends disappeared into a blur, as if I was the only person on earth that night. There was a red flickering light in the middle of the guava tree. The spark of light flickered so slowly as if someone was blowing it again and again. I squinted my eyes and I saw a figure of a huge man with the head of a horse, and the flickering light was at the end of what looked like a huge cigar. I could see figures in shadow because the tree was just about twenty meters away from where I was standing. The figure then changed into the figure of an elephant. After a few moments, I saw the shaped of a whale, then a horse head again, then of a monkey. The shape kept on changing and changing. The occurrence took about nearly an hour but when it ended my friends was still running in circles. I felt a sudden loneliness that I started to cry for no reason at all. I saw my mother coming after me and asked what was wrong with me. The other kids said that we were just playing. My crying caused the disruption of our over extended play into the night. Somehow, I could not remember telling my mother or anyone about the strange figures I have seen. Funnier still, when the day after came, nobody mentioned to me that I acted queerly by just standing there and crying so suddenly. Just like those other strange memories, I always failed to tell anyone for reason that is perhaps beyond careful remembrance. It may be perhaps the feeling I had then, even up to now, that no one would believe some queer stories anyway that it was not worth telling in the first place. Such memories faded in my head as the years went by, to recur as deja vu in later years.

All these experiences had one major tread that are similar to all and that is the feeling of entering into another dimension, penetrating an invisible wall that divides this world from some other parallel existence. I have a great feeling that those events were planned by some supernatural beings, as a way of introducing their presence here on our material world, to declare that they are here.

(Excerpts from "A Prophet's Life", a semi-autobiography of mine)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Pnoy Signs Landmark Framework Agreement with MILF

The government of President Noynoy Aquino ends today what is the last of the insurgencies that the country have suffered through the years by signing a preliminary pact termed as the framework agreement with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

In the words of President Aquino, the signing of this peace agreement connotes triumph over decades old conflict that had stymied peace and development in Mindanao, and the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives.

“We now all share the triumph of this agreement”, President Aquino said in the Philippine Daily Inquirer after the deal was signed 3 o’ clock in the afternoon this day.

In representation of the MILF, MILF Chief Al Haj Murad Ebrahim expressed satisfaction and gratitude. In his own words: “Today, I extend the hand of friendship to the Filipino people… today we are here to put an end to the adversarial relationship between the Bangsamoro and the Philippine nation. Today it humbles me to say before you, we stayed our course, perseverance has prevailed.”

In 1989, the government had instituted Republic Act No. 6734 otherwise known as the ARMM Organic Act to settle differences with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and in 2007, the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo moved to repeal the Anti-Subversion Law and allowed a mellowing of conflict with the Communist party of the Philippines (CPP) specially with its armed-sector the National People’s Army.

But with the signing of the framework agreement, certain issues have been brought out into the open, especially on the powers given the new entity which is simply called “Bangsamoro” and the so-called “ministerial” form of its governance.

Some legal experts such as Senator Juan Ponce Enrile and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago had pointed out how these new agreements could be in violation of the provision of our Constitution.

Thereon, these arising issues need to be settled and ironed out in order for the agreement to be truly accomplished and ‘triumphant’.


Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Of Absolute Certainty

Of Absolute Certainty

I'VE LEARNED SOMETHING THESE DAYS; or rather I have suddenly awaken to the realization that somehow becomes an elevating idea for me, of hope and redemption, of salvation and deliverance.

Actually, it would somehow appears like learning from that old adage “You don’t know what you've got until it’s gone” or “You can’t always have what you wanted”. But actually it’s far from that—- it’s something beside the point.
Lately, I had a snglguy predicament, that is spending hours and hours at home without cable television, meaning I am now without the glossy news of CNN and subtle in information that can be sourced from BBC and National Geographic, the amazing realities inside Discovery Channel, the boys of summer of Major League Baseball coming in live from America, the guffaws that can be had from the crazy antics of Seinfeld’s crazy bunch of cast, and so much more; much more than the ongoing National Football League season, the upcoming Ryder Cup tournament, the sometimes sharp reporting in Channel Asia and the special presentations shown on HBO and Cinemax.

One day about a week ago, our cable connection was cut-off and I was a little taken out of sort. Not that I never saw it coming but it is just that I never thought my wife was serious enough about it when she kept on muttering to me in a fairly exasperated tone that we have to cut house expenses at this time (the kids tuition fees are becoming such a weighty expense for us) and our cable subscription had to go. I never believed that somehow because we had been “cabled” for almost a decade and life without 40 channels on TV is just unimaginable. But she did that, going to the cable TV office without me knowing it and requested that our subscription be ended.

I somehow have this feeling that it is just a frank put on me by my wife, to catch me off-guard and see how I react funny to it, like they often do in shows like Candid Camera or Wow Mali!. Or maybe she just wanted to change Cable Company, the one with more channels on it like the Disney Channel for the kids and Jack TV and that one with Jay Leno and David Letterman on its lineup. I hope my presumptions are true.

But now, it is just not happening. You’d wonder why I am not applying for a re-connection or for a new subscription with the other cable company myself. Well, I have a strong inclination to do that and I could pay that with my own personal fund but there is a problem to that idea because right now every billing here still remains in my late father-in-law’s name and the PLDT is still in my wife’s maiden name and we all know that cable companies always require such kind of document or else they won’t agree to any application. We are actually living in my in-law’s house right now for my mother-in-law needs company while she is already too old and weak and also for practical reasons.

I guess I've got to make a lot of convincing to do in the next coming days but it looks like she is hell-bent on cutting our family expenses. That is just how it is; some family decisions really need the concurrence of both spouses. I hope we can agree on this for just another time.

So how does this idea of “absolute certainty” come into the picture? Well, this present predicament I have reminds me of some instance or occurrence that I had experienced so many years ago, when I was still so young and in my college years. Our house then had no cable connection since at that time cable subscription was not yet as widespread or as popular here in our town; it was still something more of a foreign idea, unlike now where every home seems to have one. And then a neighborhood friend had just gotten a cable subscription and he was so gleeful about it that he had invited us for some merriment while watching their brand new home entertainment. I remember how I was so fascinated at that time about discovering something that gives you so much fun and pleasure, how in the convenience of your home, one could get to information and entertaining shows that comes from all over the world, as far as America, Europe and neighboring Asian countries. We watched those very exciting sporting tournaments like Major League Baseball and National Basketball Association live on television and the movies on it were just awesome that it goes on for 24 hours. I was fascinated to no end that I couldn't sleep thinking how pleasurable for one to have cable subscription at that time, when a lot of people still don’t have it, including me.

Since then, for each time had I passed by our friend’s house, I would peak for a while and see what’s on their TV screen and it would just have a minute sneak on it for it is just not ideal to stand in front of their house for more than a minute of two, it was just improper and odd to me. Our friend couldn't invite us over as often to watch some sports show for clearly, it impedes the privacy of their home, which is of course all of us know as primordial in every home. So I just keep on stealing a peak every now and then and took some minute pleasure from it.

Yet, whenever I passed by my friend’s house, I have always thought that one day, our family might get that luscious cable connection and the delicious pleasure one gets from it. Maybe my mother would agree to it. But our family was not as uppity then that I was more inclined to believe that she would certainly frown at the idea because for one, it would merely add up to the house expenses when at that time, the four of us siblings were still in college, me at law school, my sister on a midwifery institution and my other two brothers pursuing an engineering course and electronics respectively.

But that desire to have cable subscription at our home was so overpowering that I had put it into mind that maybe one day, I’d be able to get it myself; I can perhaps get myself a good job after graduating from law school, and be able to afford that soon after. I am certain I’d be able to afford that myself. I had in fact put it into mind that I've got to make good in my studies so that I won’t stay longer in law school than necessary and be able to work as soon as possible. Every time I passed by our friend’s house, I would feel enormous envy sometimes and with that goes frustrations and other sort of negative feelings. But I decided that I can’t go on envying for a longer time and I just have to control this notion immediately by keeping in mind that getting a cable connection could be an “absolute certainty” in the future. If not now, then some other time in the future. Maybe next year; or maybe in the next two years; I must not fret and complain for nothing should happen to me if I have that sort of mindset. I have decided then that envy is just a frame of mind and I could evade feeling such if only I could control that mindset and direct it towards something positive, to one that is full of hope and aspiration. Envy is such a negative emotion that I felt that if I let it overcome me, and continually control my person, I would merely feel bad about it and would merely be at the losing end.

So I adopted this mindset, one that makes me believe that if I only set my mind into it, that something I’d like to get would come with “absolute certainty”. Since then, whenever I passed by my friend’s house, I would feel gleeful instead of gloomy, for their cable television would remind me that someday, I’d be able to have such and it’s that hope that keeps me alive every time, making me exert more in everything I do, making me feel happy instead of gloomy, while imagining how when that day comes, I’d be treating myself to endless sports shows and global news from CNN and amazing information from Discovery Channel. I knew then that day would come, and convinced myself to believe in that idea, and that realization alone makes me feel rather blessed than wanting, gleeful rather than gloomy, worthy rather than envious.

The good thing about this story is that I didn't have to wait until I graduate from law school and get myself employed to get that cable subscription. One night, I cajoled my father and talked him sweetly into getting a cable subscription, explaining to him in bated breath how he can get so much pleasure from watching NBA games right on our living room (we sometimes have to dine outside to watch live NBA shows) and a lot more marvelous shows from all over the world. Without so much remonstration, he became agreeable to it and was in fact blissful about it; I was able to tell that by the way he acted that day when we had the cable guys connect our TV to the whole wide world. He was smiling throughout the day and moved all over the house like a child that had got himself/herself an enjoyable brand new toy (when ordinarily my father was just like me, very serious and calm).

Of course, I wouldn't have to tell you now how blissful I was that day. You just have to imagine it.

(This is an old post from 2006)


Monday, October 08, 2012

Bangsamoro Offers New Hope for Lasting Peace in Mindanao

Often, peace is the most difficult to attain in this world, especially involving insurgencies and rebellions within a sovereign territory, that somehow, no matter at what cost and how high the stakes are, peace needs to be gained by such means.

This is the deal agreed and sealed today between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, where a new autonomous governmental entity would be created, in place of the much-maligned Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) which according to President Noynoy Aquino was “a failed experiment”.

PNoy have made assurances that the formation of the new autonomous political entity, known simply as Bangsamoro, would follow constitutional process, contrary to what had happened to the initial efforts made with the MILF, where overwhelming opposition had laid the Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD), which would have instituted the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) utterly futile and ineffectual. The MOA-ADwas deemed by many to have been made in violation of the provisions of our Constitution especially on territory and sovereignty where the MOA-AD would have empowered the BJE to virtually institute separate functionalities of governance such as in justice and finance, very delicate powers that only the national government should wield ultimate dictation and control.

Moreover, the BJE would have expanded to areas not covered by ARMM and for this, massive protestation have stormed over its validity in areas like Zamboanga City and General Santos City.

The new deal is said to be still in framework stage, a beginning an entire process towards full implementation, a roadmap to final peace in Mindanao, aiming to end decades-long conflict there, one that had claimed tens of thousands of lives and affected millions of Mindanoans, stagnating progress and development there.

As of now, there are still no noises heard about the new deal but it would be expected that in the days to come, it would be highly scrutinized and criticized, especially by personalities and agencies that have sturdily remonstrated against the MOA-AD implementation some years ago.

Counter-moves would be sure to inure as the form of government to established in the new political entity would be not in consonance with the national system, where a "ministerial" form of government would be established, similar to a parliamentary system where representatives are elected first by the people within the area of constituency, and then the leaders be elected by such representatives, this according to presidential adviser on the peace process Teresita Deles.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Mumford & Sons New Album : Mumfordmania! Arrives with Babel

Mumford & Sons New Album : Mumfordmania! Arrives with Babel

Folk rock is not British creation but it is huge in Great Britain, had a strong folk scene there for decades in fact, where for example folk legend Bob Dylan had gained cultic following there in the years that he became a worldwide star and U.S. super-rocker.

And maybe one could never think that England and folk rock could go together except that popular 70’s/80’s band America is a mixed English-American folk rock band.

And we all know that folk rock was once known to have dissipated and melted down except that Tracy Chapman had tried to resuscitate it in the 90’s.

And these days, folk rock is finally making a huge comeback and guess who’s spearheading it? It’s none other than Mumford & Sons, the indie folk rockers from England who had stormed the music scene in America in the past couple of years with their phenomenal eponymous outing Sigh No More.

Together with another upstart indie folk rock band from Seattle Fleet Foxes, Mumford & Sons steadily introduced (or-re-introduced to say more correctly) into the psyche of American listeners the  beauty and calmness of string instruments such as banjo and the stinging affectivity of strumming guitars and tom-toms.

And to prove how big Mumford & Sons had become, and indie folk for that matter, the band’s latest album Babel debuted at #1 and instantly made record sales, the biggest so far for this year, with 340,000 debut sales, half-a-million copies in the week ending September 30.

It’s an outstanding feat considering that Babel sold more copies than the next 7 albums placing in Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart, a list that includes big names such as Green Day and No Doubt.

And Paul Grein of Chart Watch says Mumfordmania! Alluding to another British band before that had similarly surprised the charts with spurting debut sales for album releases.

Let us see how Babel would perform in terms of sales in the next few weeks and perhaps let us read some reviews and preview its song roster. We’d be able to prove by that time if indeed, Mumfordmania! has finally ariive in today’s music scene.


Thursday, October 04, 2012

Decriminalizing Libel: An Antidote to the Chilling Effect on Press Freedom

Decriminalizing Libel: An Antidote to the Chilling Effect on Press Freedom

While Senator Edgardo Angara had yesterday made suggestion that the entire regime of libel laws should be abolished, thereupon decriminalizing libel, Senator Chiz Escudero had swiftly filed an amendatory bill that would repeal the libel clause in R.A. 10175, otherwise known as the Philippine Cybercrime Law.

In July of 2010, Senator Escudero had actually filed a bill aiming to decriminalize libel, but of course it did not take flight.

"It is submitted that any form of libel is a form of abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, of press," the senator said.

"With today's modern technology, the crime of libel does not only prove antiquated but to the contrary even overarching as a state tool to restrain freedom of speech," he added.

So how outmoded libel law is in actuality? 

In March, Business World Vergel Santos had made statement how " libel slows down civilization" in a forum held by media practitioners and advocates that had then been intensifying the call for the abolition of the libel law.

In October of 2011, the United Nations through the United Nations Human Rights Committee (UNHRC) had declared how the libel laws of the Philippines and the sanctions involved thereat are "excessive" and highly contrary to the provisions to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which the Philippines is a signatory.

In America for example, there is no federal law that criminalizes libel, where only actions for civil damages are allowed; although 17 states there remains to penalize written defamation by criminal punishment.

In most countries in Asia and Europe, such as South Korea, China, Belgium and Austria, specific provisions against the written form of defamation, as in libel, does not exist.

How did "Libel" begun? 

In history, the root of this misconduct is in the act of shouting. The Praetorian Edict circa 130 AD had made the act of cursive public pronouncement, through shouting, to be gravely punishable. The code had declared: "qui, advesus bonos mores convicium cui fecisse cuiusve opera factum esse dicitur, quo adversus bonos mores convicium Weret, in eum iudicium dabo. " That is, shouting words and invectives contrary to public morals shall be punishable.

In modern times, outstanding cases of libel involved a luckless individual named William Prynn, an English writer who had written a book criticizing the Queen of England and was imprisoned in 1637 for life for his own undoing.

In the 1735, a landmark case involved publisher John Peter Zenger who was charged with Seditious Libel for his fervent criticism of William Cosby in the paper New York Weekly Journal, who then the British Governor of New York, when America was still under the hold of colonial rule.

It was ruled in the said case that the defense of truth, when allegations made were proven to be factual, and without any malice, should render the defendant without guilt. In previous libel cases heard in America, libel charges had prospered whether the malefaction involved were of truth or of falsity.

The Zenger case thereon had laid the standard for succeeding decisions on libel cases and had virtually shaped the form of modern libel laws.

The main problem with the libel laws in the Philippines is that they become such a great impediment to freedom of expression as it becomes punishable by a grave penalty of prision correccional which involves imprisonment of up to six years, merely for having written defamatory words.

Oral pronouncements could actually become libelous even if not written or published, in so long as it was communicated to third persons, with positive identification.

As the modern world is ensconced upon the daily embrace of media, millions of words are published every day, which raises the probability of libel exponentially that libel suits are undertaken upon spuriously half of the time, without proper basis, ultimately for harassment purposes, thereupon clogging our courts to no end.

Libel had been deemed to have a chilling effect on publishers and writers alike as they continually face the threat of lawsuit for the content they write and publish.

The crime of libel, as inscribed in our Revised penal Code does become too constricting to freedom of speech and of the press and often abused by moneyed and powerful individuals to harass and annoy, thereby stifling one's capability for opinion and expression of views. It would the right time for our lawmakers to entirely repeal libel in our penal laws.

In lieu, defamation should be upgraded and be formed in such a way that any slanderous comment, whether orally pronounced or made in written form, should altogether be punishable, for indeed, such slanderous remarks becomes malicious in its form, regardless of how it is communicated or channeled through.

And it becomes even more worthwhile if defamatory acts in general should be categorized into the realms of civil actions, where every act of vicious slander becomes answerable, and the defamer does not becomes altogether scot-free but be obliged to compensate for his or her grave misdeed.

Publishers and writers often produced great amount of written content on a daily basis that the probability of "libelous" remarks is very high, even when made in the course of their duty to express the truth and uncover social misdeeds and even when malicious intent does not pertain.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Philippine Cybercrime Law Impedes Freedom of Speech, Might be Declared Unconstitutional

Philippine Cybercrime Law Impedes Freedom of Speech, Might be Declared Unconstitutional

With online protest over the enactment of RA 10175 reaching a height with anonymous hackers maiming the websites of several major government agencies, several groups have filed before the Supreme Court of the Philippines in order to nullify it and declare it void.

The primary content of the complaints involves the “libel” provision of the Philippine Cybercrime Law, which falls under Section 4 for punishable offenses.

The main attack lies in the impediment of free speech in the Internet as the libel clause is generally vague and unspecific about the acts to be prohibited considering that millions of netizens post and “published” innumerable amount of messages and ideas on a daily basis especially in networking accounts such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as thousands of bloggers and post commenters having their own personal Internet interface accounts.

As the “libel” clause may indeed impede basic freedom as guaranteed by our Constitution, then it may be in direct violation of it and may be declared unconstitutional.

The SC may declare the whole law as void and ineffectual or may just declare portion of it as unconstitutional and the law remains in effectivity for the remainder of its undisputed portions.

The Revised Penal Code defines “libel” as:

Art. 353. Definition of libel. — A libel is public and malicious imputation of a crime, or of a vice or defect, real or imaginary, or any act, omission, condition, status, or circumstance tending to cause the dishonor, discredit, or contempt of a natural or juridical person, or to blacken the memory of one who is dead.


Art. 355. Libel means by writings or similar means. — A libel committed by means of writing, printing, lithography, engraving, radio, phonograph, painting, theatrical exhibition, cinematographic exhibition, or any similar means, shall be punished by prision correccional in its minimum and medium periods or a fine ranging from 200 to 6,000 pesos, or both, in addition to the civil action which may be brought by the offended party.
Definitely, postings such as in Facebook and Twitter become public enough as this would be read and consumed by great number of readers.

In Daez vs. Court of Appeals (191 SCRA 61), the elements of libel had been laid down. "Thus, the elements of libel are: (a) imputation of a discreditable act or condition to another; (b) publication of the imputation; (c) identity of the person defamed; and, (d) existence of malice."

In the case of Alonzo vs. Court of Appeals (241 SCRA 51) for example, there is considered to be publication when the libelous remark had been communicated to a third person so written publication is not ultimately necessary for the crime of libel to take place.

And so with these provision of our penal laws, it is feared and anticipated that RA 10175 might be abused and utilized for harassments when certain comments and postings online would now be specifically be a source for cause of action in a libel case, when in fact our courts have been mounted with myriads of libel cases already, even portions of these complaints are of not legit causes but merely embarked upon for intent of harassment.

The instance of “online libel” would surely increase these species of actions ten-folds and would merely increase the backlogs of our courts.

These conditions are certainly detrimental to the public and to our legal system. It should be wise for the Supreme Court to nullify the libel clause of the Philippine Cybercrime Law.

(Graphics courtesy of 1M Filipino Netizens Against the Cybercrime Law Facebook Page)


Friday, September 28, 2012

The Killer's "Battle Born" Debuts at Number 3 in Billboard Top Albums Chart

The Killer's "Battle Born" Debuts at Number 3 in Billboard Top Albums Chart

The Killer’s “Battle Born” bursts into the market just today and debuts at #3 at the Billboard Top 200 Albums and every Killers fans should be so excited to the high heavens. Oh they should have been on top of the charts were it not for Pink and Kanye West, but they should remain at the top ranks for weeks and weeks to go judging by the preview of songs available in this album site The Killers – Battle Born (where you could drive along listening to 12 new songs from the Las Vegas band.)

The album opens up with “Flesh and Bone” a number coming strongly on the vein of “Human”, discussing the same philosophy of existence, the instance of being human, questioning the humanity and the person. It has an upbeat rhythm that gives back justice to their status as one of the biggest band in the world today and most exciting and anticipated – being above the rest.

In “Runaways” – the album’s carrier single – is resplendent with innovative keyboards that only the band could provide.

By the succeeding songs, from “The Way It Was” and “Here With Me”, the Killers surprises the fans with an entirely new approach to their music, probably the most enervating thing about this album, where the band delves into deep emotionality of love songs and sentimentality.

“Deadlines and Commitments” gives paean to their punk/new wave roots and serenades with crisp undulating melodies and heaves with danceable chorus that should be well received in every fancy bar anywhere and everywhere.

The downside of this work is that Brendan Flowers and the rest of the gang had not really took off from their last album “Day & Age”, perhaps holding on to its success, both commercially and artistically. There should be nothing wrong with that but when everything becomes formulaic for a band, then it is not a good thing; when in fact in two or three songs in the album, the band looked as if they’re ready to evolve into the next level, but somehow, retreated and held off that move. It is sad like that.

At this point, “Battle Born” becomes a merely a mediocre imitation of “Day & Age”.

But all in all, “Battle Born” becomes one enjoyable ride just like “Day & Age”.

Maybe in the next outing, the Killers should be ready enough to evolve and brace themselves into the next level of rock immortality. This is a band that is just waiting for their “Achtung Baby!”


Friday, September 21, 2012

The Dark Years : Martial Law Had Brought Havoc to this Nation

The Dark Years : Martial Law Had Brought Havoc to this Nation

Today, September 21, marks the 40th anniversary of the declaration of martial law in the Philippines. In 1972, former president Ferdinand E. Marcos issued Proclamation No. 1081 to put the entire country under authoritarian rule, one that had lasted for nearly a decade and became what today is considered as one of the darkest years in our history, where freedom of speech and of press, among others have been suppressed by often cruel and manhandling tactics of the military. It was a dangerous time for Filipinos as political activists, academicians and rival politicians disappeared one by one, or incarcerated in dingy cells. One of them was Senator Benigno Aguino Jr., also known as Ninoy, the man who could have been president, loved and adored by the masses, champions of the poor, wife and father to future presidents of this country.

I was born that year that perhaps I can be called now a martial law baby, which I resent a bit. It was growing up years for me that personally I haven’t have the opportunity to savor and experience how Martial Law years were except that on television, it was often President Marcos declaiming and announcing this and that, and of course Former First Lady Imelda Marcos.

It was not until the assassination of Ninoy in 1983 that I have become fully aware of the gravity of the situation, a nation in full turmoil, that shot rang out at the then Manila International Airport that fateful August day, and then witnessing the upheavals of the masses, as the fallen body of the dead Senator was ushered by thousands of supporters to his grave.

I was overwhelmed by the ensuing events - millions crying justice for Ninoy; Finance Minister Cesar Virata announcing on TV that the nation is in dire economic crisis; General Ver standing so fearfully beside President Marcos – it was a collage of tumultuous mages and events that had shackled the nation like a giant leech, unable to free itself.

In my young mind, I was asking “what is happening to this nation?”

The military dictatorship is one singular event that can directly be blamed for the nation’s economic decay, when before that, the Philippines was one of the most vibrant economy in Asia, at one time touted to be only second to Japan. But the decade of authoritarian rule had stymied the nation as violence pervaded and persecution prevailed. Business went away and jobs and opportunities became scarce as poverty increased exponentially.

We could have been so much better situated now if the Martial Law years did not occur, most possibly.
The declaration of Proclamation No. 1081 was accordingly, borne out of fear of widespread upheavals, especially from the communist. This was the justification of President Marcos, to which many see now as completely made up and baseless.

In Taiwan and Singapore, authoritarian rule or strict governance was also implemented and they have somehow prevailed as a nation in terms of social and economic development.

Whether or not President Marcos had the right intention and motivation, in the end, it was one huge mistake that had wrought such havoc and social degradation to this nation.

The nation must learn from the lessons of the Martial Law years, to never ever let it happen again.

Keane Live in Manila

Keane Live in Manila

One of my favorite new bands is coming to Manila. Keane will render their soothing and extremely likeable music to local fans on October 2, 2012 at SM Mall of Asia Arena.

Keane is not exactly a new band but in the generation after U2, Depeche Mode and Oasis, this band showed a lot promise with ethereal work that marks great maturity and perchance for memorable melodies.

They cite several artists as influences such as REM, U2 and Michael Jackson but to me, they represent complete originality as their work is so unique by themselves that one could call it the “Keane Sound”. It’s a band that uses more piano than guitar and they are completely unique at that.

They reached the height of popularity in 2008 with their third album Perfect Symmetry. It was an incandescent album, one that I could say could belong in the soundtrack of my life, at least in the last decade, a time full of zest and sentimentality, a time that I cherished well and never regret.

Tom Chaplin effortlessly renders the band’s songs with his calming voice, one that rises with extreme emotionality without the yells and howls. It’s not common among vocalists.

Perfect Symmetry was one of those rare feats by a band, a work that shines and impresses from beginning to end, no fillers involved and no empty moments. Every song comes alive on its own, touching ones thoughts and emotions as if a beautiful memory of a long forgotten era.

I haven’t heard any of their songs from their latest album Strangeland but their new songs would surely be a bonus to local fans that would troop to their concert next month. I am sure it’ll be one fun and sublime night for them.

This is my most favorite number in Perfect Symmetry, "You Don't See Me":


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Philippine Cybercrime Law Punishes Online Libel, CyberSex Among Others


This law ensures person’s rights and privileges are not anymore violated and transgressed upon in the Internet. The law specifically criminalizes undue used of private data in the net and even in computer systems and protects against illegal use of passwords and private codes.

Another feature of the new law is the clear prohibition on online “libel”, making it punishable for persons to maliciously attack the character of any other person in the Internet. So ‘haters’ and ‘fakers’ should now be warned.

It is of great bane that cybersex, or any similar act online is now clearly criminalized, therefore strengthening the government’s thrust to rid the Internet of pornography and other sexually implicit content, at least, in this jurisdiction.

Specific crimes prohibited online are: (Chapter II, Punishable Acts)

SEC. 4. Cybercrime Offenses. — The following acts constitute the offense of cybercrime punishable under this Act:
(a) Offenses against the confidentiality, integrity and availability of computer data and systems:
(1) Illegal Access. – The access to the whole or any part of a computer system without right.
(2) Illegal Interception. – The interception made by technical means without right of any non-public transmission of computer data to, from, or within a computer system including electromagnetic emissions from a computer system carrying such computer data.
(3) Data Interference. — The intentional or reckless alteration, damaging, deletion or deterioration of computer data, electronic document, or electronic data message, without right, including the introduction or transmission of viruses.
(4) System Interference. — The intentional alteration or reckless hindering or interference with the functioning of a computer or computer network by inputting, transmitting, damaging, deleting, deteriorating, altering or suppressing computer data or program, electronic document, or electronic data message, without right or authority, including the introduction or transmission of viruses.
(5) Misuse of Devices.
(i) The use, production, sale, procurement, importation, distribution, or otherwise making available, without right, of:
(aa) A device, including a computer program, designed or adapted primarily for the purpose of committing any of the offenses under this Act; or
(bb) A computer password, access code, or similar data by which the whole or any part of a computer system is capable of being accessed with intent that it be used for the purpose of committing any of the offenses under this Act.
(ii) The possession of an item referred to in paragraphs 5(i)(aa) or (bb) above with intent to use said devices for the purpose of committing any of the offenses under this section.
(6) Cyber-squatting. – The acquisition of a domain name over the internet in bad faith to profit, mislead, destroy reputation, and deprive others from registering the same, if such a domain name is:
(i) Similar, identical, or confusingly similar to an existing trademark registered with the appropriate government agency at the time of the domain name registration:
(ii) Identical or in any way similar with the name of a person other than the registrant, in case of a personal name; and
(iii) Acquired without right or with intellectual property interests in it.
(b) Computer-related Offenses:
(1) Computer-related Forgery. —
(i) The input, alteration, or deletion of any computer data without right resulting in inauthentic data with the intent that it be considered or acted upon for legal purposes as if it were authentic, regardless whether or not the data is directly readable and intelligible; or
(ii) The act of knowingly using computer data which is the product of computer-related forgery as defined herein, for the purpose of perpetuating a fraudulent or dishonest design.
(2) Computer-related Fraud. — The unauthorized input, alteration, or deletion of computer data or program or interference in the functioning of a computer system, causing damage thereby with fraudulent intent: Provided, That if no
damage has yet been caused, the penalty imposable shall be one (1) degree lower.
(3) Computer-related Identity Theft. – The intentional acquisition, use, misuse, transfer, possession, alteration or deletion of identifying information belonging to another, whether natural or juridical, without right: Provided, That if no damage has yet been caused, the penalty imposable shall be one (1) degree lower.
(c) Content-related Offenses:
(1) Cybersex. — The willful engagement, maintenance, control, or operation, directly or indirectly, of any lascivious exhibition of sexual organs or sexual activity, with the aid of a computer system, for favor or consideration.
(2) Child Pornography. — The unlawful or prohibited acts defined and punishable by Republic Act No. 9775 or the Anti-Child Pornography Act of 2009, committed through a computer system: Provided, That the penalty to be imposed shall be (1) one degree higher than that provided for in Republic Act No. 9775.
(3) Unsolicited Commercial Communications. — The transmission of commercial electronic communication with the use of computer system which seek to advertise, sell, or offer for sale products and services are prohibited unless:
(i) There is prior affirmative consent from the recipient; or
(ii) The primary intent of the communication is for service and/or administrative announcements from the sender to its existing users, subscribers or customers; or
(iii) The following conditions are present:
(aa) The commercial electronic communication contains a simple, valid, and reliable way for the recipient to reject. receipt of further commercial electronic messages (opt-out) from the same source;
(bb) The commercial electronic communication does not purposely disguise the source of the electronic message; and
(cc) The commercial electronic communication does not purposely include misleading information in any part of the message in order to induce the recipients to read the message.
(4) Libel. — The unlawful or prohibited acts of libel as defined in Article 355 of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, committed through a computer system or any other similar means which may be devised in the future.
SEC. 5. Other Offenses. — The following acts shall also constitute an offense:
(a) Aiding or Abetting in the Commission of Cybercrime. – Any person who willfully abets or aids in the commission of any of the offenses enumerated in this Act shall be held liable.
(b) Attempt in the Commission of Cybercrime. — Any person who willfully attempts to commit any of the offenses enumerated in this Act shall be held liable.
SEC. 6. All crimes defined and penalized by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special laws, if committed by, through and with the use of information and communications technologies shall be covered by the relevant provisions of this Act: Provided, That the penalty to be imposed shall be one (1) degree higher than that provided for by the Revised Penal Code, as amended, and special laws, as the case may be.
SEC. 7. Liability under Other Laws. — A prosecution under this Act shall be without prejudice to any liability for violation of any provision of the Revised Penal Code, as amended, or special laws.
Please go to this link for the full rendition of Republic Act No. 10175.

UPDATE : The Inquirer Editorial attacks the libel provision of RA 10175 as unconstitutional whereby it endangers free speech, especially online. It had pointed out that such clause had been included without any proper deliberation and debate. This particular addition was reportedly made through the inkling of Senator Tito Sotto, he who had been embroiled in deep controversy himself over repeated plagiarism over his speeches in the Senate hall.

Accordingly, the editorial further elucidates that the inclusion of libel would be to restrictive as online conversations and materials are not similar to printed materials whereby every discourses are of spontaneous character, not really moulded with proper thought and care.

The views of the Inquirer has enough grounds in my opinion since libel cases often sprout incessantly and frequently abused by many who has the means to harass persons through legal means, albeit improperly.


Senator Trillanes May Have Been Back-Channeling for China, Says Senate President Enrile

It turns out that Senator Antonio Trillanes IV had been back-channeling for the Philippines for longer period than what was previously reported as Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile berated the young senator for having gone to China fifteen times, without getting permission from the latter.

It should have been in protocol for Senator Trillanes to have notified the Senate about his travels to China, considering that he was undertaking some kind of government function, nonetheless a bit clandestine.

And the drama even becomes convoluted when Senator Enrile, in a privilege speech, had accused Senator Trillanes of undermining the interest of the country and instead “working for China”. This would be tantamount to treason.

“Are you becoming the fifth columnist of China in this country? Who paid for those trips to Beijing?” Senator Enrile poignantly asked Senator Trillanes.

According to Senator Enrile, Trillanes had sided upon the interest of China upon examining some points in notes taken by former Philippine Ambassador to China Sonia Brady dated August 17. The notes include such line:

  • That the Chinese wanted the Philippines to “tone down the rhetoric” on its incursion in Panatag Shoal.
  • That Trillanes suspected that the United States was involved in creating tension in Panatag Shoal and that Del Rosario was “committing treason.”
  • That Trillanes “was protecting the Chinese,” “was alarmist” and accused Del Rosario of “creating a war event.”
  • That Trillanes asked businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan, a close friend of Del Rosario, to advise the secretary “to keep quiet, to quiet down” apparently because the secretary held a press conference decrying Chinese presence in Panatag Shoal
  • That Trillanes stated “no one cares about Panatag Shoal in the Philippines.”
  • That Trillanes said the Philippines “cannot enforce coastal protection” since fishermen subsist only on fishing and cannot venture far out.
  • That Trillanes boasted that he was able to make 40 Chinese ships leave Panatag Shoal.
  • That Trillanes volunteered to become the “direct channel” between China and Malacañang.

Luckily for Senator Trillanes, quipping that in the Philippines “nobody cares about Panatag Shoal” could not be enough ground for the instance of the crime of “Treason” in our jurisdiction.

The Revised Penal Code states about "Treason": (Article 114, Section 1, Chapter 1, Book Two)

Any Filipino citizen who levies war against the Philippines or adheres to her enemies, giving them aid or comfort within the Philippines or elsewhere, shall be punished by reclusion perpetua to death and shall pay a fine not to exceed P100,000 pesos.

No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses at least to the same overt act or on confession of the accused in open court.

Likewise, an alien, residing in the Philippines, who commits acts of treason as defined in paragraph 1 of this Article shall be punished by reclusion temporal to death and shall pay a fine not to exceed P100,000 pesos. (As amended by E.O. No. 44, May 31, 1945 and Republic Act No. 7659.)

What should endanger Senator Trillanes however is the phrase “adheres to her enemies” and if war breaks out with China, then he could be siding with the enemy and be criminally liable for it and no parliamentary immunity could save him since the penalty would be far longer than the six years allowance at reclusion perpetua to death.

Other charges have been flung like Trillanes being a “coward”, “a fraud” and a “liar”. The young senator had been called “a warfreak” previously by Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario.

While on the one hand Trillanes had termed Senator Enrile as a “lackey” of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and was “revealing sensitive information on foreign relations and national security,” by publicly exhibiting the reports made by former Ambassador Sonia Brady, which could lead to the offense of “Espionage”.

The Revised Penal Code states about “Espionage”:

Article 117. Espionage. - The penalty of prision correccional shall be inflicted upon any person who:

1. Without authority therefor, enters a warship, fort, or naval or military establishment or reservation to obtain any information, plans, photographs, or other data of a confidential nature relative to the defense of the Philippine Archipelago; or

2. Being in possession, by reason of the public office he holds, of the articles, data, or information referred to in the preceding paragraph, discloses their contents to a representative of a foreign nation.

The penalty next higher in degree shall be imposed if the offender be a public officer or employee.

And so this drama tinge with international character continues to brew and steam. Let us see what would happen next.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

PNoy Taps Track II Diplomacy with Senator Trillanes as China Allows UN Resolution over Conflicts with Japan

Malacañang is opting for another tack in resolving the China-Philippines stand-off in the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea as PNoy taps Senator Antonio Trillanes IV to do some backchannel diplomacy to negotiate for a peaceful settlement over the conflict. This had come in the continued failure of DFA Secretary Albert del Rosario to find solution to the problem as his approaches were often obstructed by the Chinese hierarchy over there at Beijing.

While del Rosario agrees that back-channeling could be an effective means of diplomacy, he insisted that the Philippine side should ensure that its comes up with a unified voice. He also pointed out his hesitation over the selection of Trillanes as negotiator towards Beijing as his reputation belies the need for a peaceful resolution to the matters at hand, being the leader of the Oakwood Mutiny in 1997 one that had sought to topple down the regime of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. And according to del Rosario, Trillanes had been public about his opposition to any peaceful resolution to the conflicts in the disputed areas.

Now this would be alarming as Malacañang could be sending the wrong signal in assigning Trillanes to do the talking with China. We could not actually afford a military confrontation with China in any case.

If at all this plan to assign the senator to speak in behalf of the Philippines, then Trillanes should make clear his peaceful stance ion the matters involved or else, it would just be a unworkable effort and wasteful endeavor for the country.

Back-channeling is a useful method of diplomacy wherein conversations could be embark upon even not in face-to-face manner, such as through letters, emails and online live conversations over the Internet.
This kind of diplomacy is often called Track II diplomacy wherein entities tapped to negotiate or communicate by one country to another are not part of the members of diplomatic corps of the country.
This is a kind of diplomacy where usually non-officials are being sent to for conflict resolution or for confidence building.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Affairs had been made aware that China had most recently agreed to put for United Nation resolution through the United Nation Convention on the Laws of the Seas (UNCLOS) its territorial conflict with Japan over Senkaku Islands. the one hand, China remains to refuse to put the West Philippine Sea disputes for arbitration in international courts.

This has prompted Albay Governor Joey Salceda to comment in an email to the Philippine Inquirer:

“China goes to Unclos because Japan will and can fight. (But) China refuses to bring the Spratlys and Panatag (conflicts) to Unclos (b)ecause (it) knows that the Philippines will not and cannot fight,”

He added: “there are no spontaneous rallies of outrage [here]. There is not even a boycott of China-made products, how much more a shooting war?”

But this most recent development could actually bring hope to our cause now that we’ve learned that China after all can bend with its stance on territorial disputes it is involves in as it does now with Japan. Maybe, with more persistence and focus, we could bring China into the negotiating table and through international arbitration.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Two Odd News: Snow on Mars and Shark Saves a Man

Clearly this would an odd post for this blog but I just could not help but write about it. Just this afternoon two very interesting news hugged the headlines over at Yahoo!

The first one is about Mars experiencing snow fall after all. The news item goes to query why we have learned about it only now. The Nasa Mars Orbiter had apparently detected ‘dry ice’ or frozen carbon-dioxide in some portion of the planet, which would be Mar’s atmosphere turning into snowflakes upon cold environment. Accordingly, this would explain the ice accumulation over at the planet’s South Pole.

Well, it’s so odd and could have been equally astounding if the snowflakes were made of water, just like on Earth. But it’s iced carbon-dioxide and with that, we could not still hope for any life form on the planet’s harsh red environment. Unless, unless some organism could live on a strict diet of carbon dioxide, which I think some bacteria do survive that way here on Earth - So hope still springs eternal.

And for the other ‘odd news’ – Listen to this, and believe or not, but a shark actually saved a man’s life who was floating for 15 weeks off the shore of South Florida. The man was a police officer who got stranded in the ocean and fell so weak and hummed into sleep. And then something moved below his boat, a shark bumped his boat so hard that he woke up and just right about that time, another boat was passing by, and so he flagged the other boat and went into safety. He could have been dead if it were not for the shark.

So this one is for the Ripley’s – believe it or not.
Soundgarden Comes Back with "King Animal"

Soundgarden Comes Back with "King Animal"

Soundgarden, the superband from Seattle, Washington, pioneer and grandfathers of the Seattle sound, will finally end its hiatus with the upcoming release of their sixth studio album entitled “King Animal”.

The album will be due for release on November 13 under A&M Records, and follows up their 1996 outing with "Down on the Upside".

A video teaser had been released for the album and the single “Worse Dreams” can already be previewed on YouTube. The headlining single "Been Away Too Long" will be made available digitally on the 27th of September.

According to lead vocalist Chris Cornell, the work is truly a group effort and songs reflects politically-charged intonations as well as one memorable song on parenthood in “Bones of Birds”.

In March, Cornell gave its fans an overview of what to expect in their upcoming work. He said:

"I don't really know how to describe it musically, because typically with Soundgarden... every time we write a song we always take it for what it is and try to make it the most it can be. It's very diverse, I can tell you that."

The band actually disbanded in 1997 and released their greatest hits collection "A-Sides" during the same year.

In 2010, Chris Cornell, Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron and Ben Shepherd found enough will for a band reunion and released a retrospective album called “Telephantasm” and contributed the  chart-topping single ”Live to Rise” to the Avengers soundtrack .

Tracklisting for “King Animal”:

1. Been Away Too Long
2. Non-State Actor
3. By Crooked Steps
4. A Thousand Days Before
5. Blood on the Valley Floor
6. Bones of Birds
7. Taree
8. Attrition
9. Black Saturday
10. Halfway There
11. Worse Dreams
12. Eyelid's Mouth
13. Rowing


Monday, September 17, 2012

American Idol Hires Nicki Minaj and Keith Urban for Season 12; American Idol Live Tour in Manila

Next season’s American Idol will almost have a completely new set of judges sitting on the panel along with only original mainstay Randy Jackson and host Ryan Seacrest.

It was finally confirmed that joining Mariah Carey, who was announced as new AI judge weeks ago, were Trinidadian singer Micki Minaj and New Zealand country-singer Keith Urban.

Gone were pop superstar Jennifer Lopez and legendary rocker Steven Tyler.

Randy Jackson was ecstatic about the new additions calling them “fresh, fresh, fresh 'Idol' one-two!".

Keith Urban has been so excited about his new job and has lauded AI for discovering real superstars in the music business. And Nicki Minaj is exactly looking for that, “a real superstar”.

On the one hand, Ryan Seacrest admires so greatly the new set of judges, showing how “powerful” the show is.

With competition in the talent-search show business expanding exponentially, with the remarkable rise of other outfits like X-Factor and the Voice, American Idol had been searching for big name judges and had been so lucky to have landed Mariah Carey and the two new faces in Minaj and Urban.

Meanwhile, the American Idol Season 11 Live Tour’s Manila stopover is very fast approaching on September 21, 2012 at SMART Araneta Coliseum.

This should be one very good show considering that Fil-am sensation Jessica Sanchez is on the line-up and of course, Phillip Phillips, who is so fast rising as a singing star with his Billboard hit “Home”.

The Season 11 winners are touted as the best set of winners in the popular American show. Other members of the line-up are Joshua Ledet, Colton Dixon, Skylar Laine, Hollie Cavanagh, Elsie Testone, Heejun Han, DeAndre Brackensick and Erika Van Pelt.

Catch them while their live for their sensational performances, solo and group performances that had captivated fans the world over.


Thursday, September 13, 2012

Philippines Submits New West Philippine Sea Map to United Nations

The Philippines is apparently hell-bent in trying to establish territorial jurisdiction over the disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea.

President Aquino had ordered yesterday that the map of the Philippines be submitted to the United Nations, in consonance with AO No. 29, renaming the sea west of the country as the West Philippine Sea, from what it was previously called as the South China Sea.

Portion of the AO reads: (Section 4)

“The Philippine government, through the Department of Foreign Affairs in consultation with Namria [National Mapping and Resource Information Authority], their appropriate government agencies, shall deposit, at the appropriate time, a copy of this order enclosing the official map reflecting the West Philippine Sea with the secretary general of the United Nations and notify accordingly relevant international organizations, such as the International Hydrographic Organization and the UN Conference on the Standardization of Geographical Names,” 

The map would include distinctly identified areas as the following: Kalayaan Island Group and Bajo De Masinloc, also known as Scarborough Shoal.

Benham Rise, a subterranean continental land mass should also be included in the new map, as this was granted to the Philippines just last April when The Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf (CLCS), a UN agency, has publicly recognized the Philippines claim to the area.

This action by the Philippine government is inclined to establish its claim over the disputed territories through international recognition although this would not be the most appropriate action.

Disputes over territories are decided by international courts, primarily the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS), invoking the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

But the disputes would not be heard and no proceedings would materialize if any of the nations involved would not submit their consent for arbitration.

This is the main struggle in the Philippines’ thrust to put the issue for litigation before the United Nation as China had repeatedly refuse to give its consent, preferring to assert its claim through military maneuvers and tactics.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

IBTimes SportsNet Article: "Spain Needs to Learn from a Difficult Match Against Georgia"

This is my latest article for IBTimes SportsNet entitled : "Spain Needs to Learn from a Difficult Match Against Georgia"

Gist of the story:

There was sluggishness among European soccer powerhouses in the opening round of World Cup qualifying matches as Spain, England, Portugal and Germany had all failed to put up impressive wins against their foes.
England merely had to settle for a draw against Ukraine with an 87th minute penalty shot to recover from one goal deficiency, so late in the match. The late equalizer from Frank Lampard prevented what could have been an embarrassing first home match for England coach Roy Hodgson.
Germany on the one hand had to struggle past Austria for a 2-1 victory. While Italy came up with an unspectacular 2-0 win versus lowly Malta.
Portugal's 3-0 win against Azerbaijan was most impressive among the lot but all of their three goals came only in the final 27 minutes.
All eyes were set on Spain, the No.1 ranked national team in the FIFA World Rankings, and the reigning World Cup and European champion, as it battled past Georgia for an unconvincing 1-0 win.

READ MORE at IBTimes SportsNet at this LINK. 

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Senator Sotto Did It Again!

I believe that Senator Vicente Sotto III should by now now fire his chief of staff. That should be the wisest action from a government official who’s gotten so embroiled in public controversy due to incompetence of a member of staff not once, but twice in a row, and still threatening to repeat.

Hector Villacorta is once more nowhere in sight in ensuring that the senator would not commit another embarrassing hullaballoo in public’s view. Now the senator did it again. Or perhaps Mr. Villacorta is really asking for it. Like he is so mad that he doesn't care about public relations for the senator and intentionally irritates their detractors.

Just after delivering the last part of his speech defending his controverting stance on the RH Bill, a tweet from certain Michel Eldiy had confirmed that once again, the senator committed another form of inteleectual dishonesty.

The last part of his speech was uncannily similar to Robert Kennedy’s “Day of Affirmation” speech that the American senator had given in South Africa in 1966.

This is the end part of Senator Sotto’s speech yesterday:

“Iilan ang magiging dakila sa pagbali ng kasaysayan, subalit bawat isa sa atin ay maaaring kumilos, gaano man kaliit, para ibahin ang takbo ng mga pangyayari. Kapag pinagsama-sama ang ating munting pagkilos, makalilikha tayo ng totalidad na magmamarka sa kabuuan ng kasaysayan ng henerasyong ito. Ang mga hindi-mabilang na iba’t ibang galaw ng katapangan at paninindigan ang humuhubog sa kasaysayan ng sangkatauhan. Tuwing naninindigan tayo para sa isang paniniwala, tuwing kumikilos tayo para mapabuti ang buhay ng iba, tuwing nilalabanan natin ang kawalan ng katarungan, nakalilikha tayo ng maliliit na galaw. Kapag nagkasama-sama ang mumunting galaw na mga ito, bubuo ito ng isang malakas na puwersang kayang magpabagsak maging ng pinakamatatag na dingding ng opresyon.”

And this is portion of Robert Kennedy’s speech that had been allegedly plagiarized:

“Few will have the greatness to bend history, but each of us can work to change a small portion of the events, and the total—all these acts—will be written in the history of this generation….It is from numberless diverse acts of courage such as these that the belief that human history is thus shaped….Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.”

Scooping portions from someone else’s speech to be used for one’s own delivery of speech is a common practice but it should always be credited properly by mentioning the name, like “And Robert Kennedy once said” or “And I quote…”

But how do you quote that lengthily?

It is fortunate that Senator Sotto is a former comedian and a showbiz personality that perhaps it is acceptable for him that he lampoons himself in public as often as he wants himself to be.

Or he could decide to stop embarrassing himself by firing Mr. Villacorta.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Gaslight Anthem's "Handwritten" Will Save Rock and Roll

Gaslight Anthem's "Handwritten" Will Save Rock and Roll

One of the best thing about The Gaslight Anthem, the up and coming punk-rock from New jersey is that they’ve got for themselves a very cool band name, like ‘hey, why haven’t we thought about that?’.

But that is just not the thing that is going on with  Brian Fallon and the rest of the band for now they’ve got for themselves an album that is creating a lot of buzz in the music world.

“Handwritten” is an album that speaks so much about the significance of The Gaslight Anthem, the feel of the work they have been releasing, the attitude on the stage, the whole band persona, everything is familiar and memorable, like the feeling of going home. 

Yes, Brian Fallow’s voice is yearning for the ethereal experience that every rocker worth his salt is looking for, to bring back the glories of rock and roll, and stamps validity into the importance of guitar riffs and dramatic drum rolls and angst in their statements.

In the first single “45”, the band suddenly burst into action, and announces with brevity that they mean business. “45” soars with a lively melody and bursting guitar that certainly introduces them as a new band to reckon with – that for a long, long time.

The song “Handwritten” follows vigorously from where “45” lefts off that it sounded like it was a merely continuation. Whether this was intentional or not, we could never know.

But Brian Fallow’s voice yearns further in “Handwritten”, a beautiful yearning that exceeds a sublime chemical mixture of angst, longing and aliveness.

“Here Comes My Man” has a slapping drum that is unique by itself and a stunning refrain “Listen honey, here comes my man”. This should be radio friendly of all, a catchy hook in the middle of the song. 

“Keepsake” reaches the peak of the band’s emotionality that my hair tingles on Fallow’s rising voice and the swooping riff that weaves a beautiful song all in all.

“Mae” is a narration of love, a magnificent rendition of love, one song that mellows down the album.

All in all, The Gaslight Anthem achieves greatly with the album “Handwritten”. It is the kind of album that rockers always want. And they are a band that epitomizes one that rock lovers wanted to come along for a long time, like upon walking in a desert and finding oases.

Heavily compared to the rawness of Bruce Springsteen, the band shows great promise in lyricism and musicality. With a little more effort and dedication, The Gaslight Anthem would for certain achieve the vastness of The Counting Crows and gain cult adulation reserve only for legends and exemplary icons. 

They could just be the one to save rock and roll for this time.