Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Aldo, the alligator

My young son asked me what happens after we die. I told him we get buried under a bunch of dirt and worms eat our bodies. I guess I should have told him the truth—that most of us go to hell and burn eternally—but I didn’t want to upset him.—Deep thoughts by Jack Handey

Last Thursday, while reading the Business Mirror, I came across a curious “how-to” advertisement from “Joy,” the toilet paper that stays “Strong even when wet.”

On the advertisement’s upper left corner, above the drawing of an alligator origami, are the words “Aldo The Alligator.” To the right and below Aldo are 16 diagrams that illustrate his evolution in reverse sequential order, from alligator to a single sheet of toilet paper.

I tried to make my own little Aldo by following the diagrams in their proper order, from sheet to alligator. It looked like an easy task. But that was before I discovered that toilet paper does not fold well and tears apart when creased. Sheet happens. But I persisted anyway.

I went through sheets of Joy before it finally dawned on me that maybe the trick is to wet the paper before folding and creasing it. (I remembered the ad claiming Joy was strong even when wet.) And so I tried it. And so I learned that wet Joy can be molded but it cannot be folded and creased into an alligator.

I gave up on the project. It was an exercise in futility. It left me so frustrated I ended up reflecting on the two most-asked existential questions of modern times: “Briefs or boxers?” and “Folded or wadded?”

“Briefs or boxers?” determined the outcome of the 1992 US presidential election. Candidate Bill Clinton said he wore briefs. He won the election.

(That historical tidbit could be useful to our 2010 presidential candidates. Except to Jamby, I hope.)

The existential question closer to the topic at hand—“Folded or wadded?”—has not figured in any presidential campaign so far. But it has been the subject of serious gender studies.

Research shows that the handling of toilet paper is determined by gender. Males fold, females wad. However, the research was done when the world still believed there were only two genders.

Today the world knows better. But it does not yet know what the other genders do with toilet paper. Do they fold it, wad it, or fwad it?

Anyway, that’s for researchers to find out. I am more concerned about the ethical and moral consequences of turning toilet paper into origami.

Would it be okay to use origami as toilet paper? Should we include origami in the “folded, wadded or fwadded” question? Is that the way to treat art? Most important of all, does the Church allow intimate contact with an origami?

But even if we assume that a toilet-paper origami is not a work of art, we are still faced with a moral conundrum.

The origami alligator has a name—Aldo. That makes it a pet. One would never eat his pet. It’s taboo. So, why would it be all right to use one’s pet as toilet paper?

Let’s move on. On to the famous homily of Fr. Roland Moraleja at a special Mass concelebrated by 22 priests on the day Gloria Arroyo filed her certificate of candidacy for representative of the Second District of Pampanga.

Father Roland told Madam Gloria, “Do not believe you are diminishing the power of the President. Ating metung a taung migbaba ba yang sumuyo—I Kristo [There was a person who came down to serve us—Jesus Christ].”

I wanted to say more or less the same thing—“Do not believe that Aldo is something more than just a piece of artfully folded industrial- strength toilet paper. Aldo is not Jesus Christ”—but I didn’t want to upset anybody.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Why Pacquiao Should Not Give In

By Jun Bautista

Manny Pacquiao has proven himself on the ring many times already that a fight with Floyd Mayweather, Jr. - although it would certainly add more laurels to his cap, not to mention money to his already bulging pockets, if he were to win and there's a big chance that he just might - is not really something to crave for, especially so in the face of the harassment, denigration and character assassination he is now taking from the Mayweather camp.

Some people are wondering why Pacquiao would not want a miniscule amount of blood taken from him close to the scheduled fight on March 13 if he is not taking any steroids or other performance enhancing drugs. In fact this is the line being drumbeaten by Golden Boy Promotion's Oscar Dela Hoya in his blog. The easy answer is that Pacquiao need not give in to each and every demand by Mayweather, especially so if Pacquiao has complied with and passed with flying colors each and every testing requirement of the Nevada Athletic Commission in (NAC) determining if boxers are clean before being issued their licenses.

Nevertheless, despite his unquestioned record since turning pro - that is until Mayweather decided to blemish it with baseless accusations - Pacquiao is willing to submit to blood tests on three occasions, viz: in January when the supposed match will be announced, earlier than 30 days before the fight, and in the locker room immediately after the fight. As observed by one sports writer, what could not be detected by a blood test done immediately after the fight that a test done before it would reveal if indeed Pacquiao were using steroids? Mayweather's refusal to this condition, as a compromise to his unreasonable demand, would only show that his only intention is to harass and subject Pacquiao to humiliation.

It is true that urine tests alone cannot detect some performance enhancing drugs, such as human growth hormone (HGH) injections, but then the testing protocols of the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) being proposed by Mayweather are not the tests being administered for boxers by the NAC. Lest I be mistaken, the NAC also administers blood testing and Pacquiao has always submitted to such tests before in securing and renewing his license. If the NAC's testing protocols are being challenged as insufficient or unreliable in determining whether a boxer is clean, is the Mayweather camp then saying that a whole line of other boxers who have shone on the ring, Dela Hoya included, also have questionable successes?

There is no question that Manny Pacquiao has already achieved sterling success as a boxer. He is the reigning pound for pound boxer in the world, ranking number one in many boxing magazines, including the prestigious Ring Magazine; he has been featured several times in Time magazine, among them are when he was included among the top 100 persons of the year and when he was featured on the cover of its Asia edition. He is now considered as a boxing all-time-great by boxing's respectable commentators and analysts and is even being compared with the likes of boxing legend Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard, among others.

Floyd Mayweather, Jr., on the other hand, has not had such recognition. It is true that he remains undefeated, but that only speaks of the selectiveness of his bouts. Unlike Pacquiao, Mayweather has been known to pick only fighters that he can take. And unlike Pacquiao, he fights dull matches and preys only on his opponents' unguarded moments. In other words he plays it safe. Pacquiao, on the other hand, has taken on seemingly tough fighters for his built, size and weight. He has ventured into the unimaginable by competing in matches that boxing analysts thought were ridiculous and lopsided against Pacquiao, only to find themselves proven devastatingly wrong as each and every fight turned out completely the opposite with Pacquiao demolishing his opponents. Unlike Mayweather, Pacquiao charges even when his opponent is on the guard and ready for him, prevailing in the end as a true testament to his mettle and skills.

So what has Pacquiao to prove more? Nothing. He has done boxing a great service. He has revived a dying sport, when fans have moved on to the more violent mixed martial arts genre. As the recognized and reigning best pound for pound fighter and the welterweight champion, it is not up to him to give in to unreasonable and unnecessary demands. If Mayweather really wants to face Pacquiao, he should do it in accordance with the prevailing rules of professional boxing. In fact, if there is anyone who should dictate terms, it is Pacquiao and not the other way around.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Reason's Greetings Everyone!

I wish to thank all of our Authors, Contributors and Readers for making Philippine Commentary--The Group Blog Experiment, a great success. Our Google Page Rank 5 is a Good Housekeeping sign of continued credibility in the Blogosphere and puts us in the top rung of bloggers and group blogs.

Viva! Los Indios Bravos!
Dean Jorge Bocobo

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Just Lynch Ampatuan, Jr.

By Jun Bautista

The National Press Club (NPC) has decried lawyer Sigfried Fortun's decision to defend Datu Unsay Mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr., suspect on the Maguindanao massacre that claimed the lives of 57 people, including 30 journalists. It is even reportedly contemplating on declaring Fortun as a persona non grata and banning him from attending all media events.

While the Maguindanao massacre should be condemned in the strongest possible terms, we must not let our emotions get the better part of us. However strong the evidence may be against Ampatuan, Jr., no less than our Constitution presumes his innocence until evidence to the contrary is proven. Due process requires that he be given his day in court, accorded a fair trial and only after evidence for or against his innocence is presented that he may validly be judged either innocent or guilty.

In the midst of all these substantive and procedural safeguards, Ampatuan, Jr. is entitled to competent legal representation. Fortun is merely performing his legal duty as an officer of the court whose oath requires him to defend any person accused of a crime. Instead of being condemned, Fortun should even be lauded for helping make the judicial system work and go about its business of dispensing justice. Imagine if no one would represent Ampatuan, Jr. Given the seriousness of the charges against him, it is highly unlikely that the court will proceed without him being represented by a lawyer, especially so that he has preferred to be represented by one. This will definitely not be good as trial will be postponed indefintely and consequently delay the victims' relatives' - including the NPC's - plea for justice.

What alternatives do the NPC and those people who condemn Fortun for defending Ampatuan, Jr. have? If Fortun is taken out of the picture, most assuredly someone will take his position if the trial against Ampatuan, Jr. were to proceed. If no one will voluntarily represent Ampatuan, Jr., the court trying the case will be forced to appoint someone. Now, will the NPC also decry and declare as persona non grata the person who will be appointed as new defense counsel? How about the judge who will appoint the lawyer, will she also be condemned considering that she will be instrumental in giving Ampatuan, Jr. someone who will defend him?

Perhaps we should just lynch Ampatuan, Jr. and strike-off from our Constitution and statutes book due process protections and abolish our courts altogether. I am not saying this is what the NPC wants as well as those oppose to Fortun and lawyers defending undesirable people, but come to think of it this is precisely the implication of not wanting accused people to be given their day in court and accorded competent legal representation.

Were the court to deny Ampatuan, Jr. his right to legal representation and force him to defend himself, aside from violating his constitutional right to have a counsel of his own choice, the court would be prejudging his guilt already, for why would the court refuse to deny such representation if not dictated by the conviction that he is guilty of the crimes charged against him? This is not the kind of court we would like to dispense justice for us.

To be sure, there is someone out there crying how could Fortun, or any lawyer for that matter, defend a monster like Ampatuan, Jr? Some people may not buy it, but it is not for the lawyer to judge his or her client; that is a matter for the court to decide. Unless we want to go back to the age of trial by ordeal - where a person's guilt or innocence is decided in strange ways, such as being pronounced innocent if a person submerged in water does not drown or guilty if he does, or innocent if the accused's hands heal within certain days after suffering injuries from being dipped in boiling water or being pronounced guilty if the accused loses in a duel - we have to settle to the fact that we now have a judicial system that allocates responsibilities to different participants for the purpose of painstakingly ascertaining the facts and circumstances of a case to determine who is innocent or guilty.

A criminal defense lawyer, like Fortun, performs the essential function of ensuring that a person is not unjustly accused and that only after proof beyond reasonable doubt is established may an accused person be adjudged guilty and penalized. In essence he represents the criminal justice system, as much as the public prosecutor does.

If justice were to be dispensed, Andal Ampatuan, Jr. - like any other suspect and without regard to his guilt or innocence - deserves to be represented by a competent counsel of his own choice. To borrow the words of US President Obama, there is no incompatibility between our safety and ideals. We must not throw away the legal protections provided by the Constitution in our quest for justice, however reprehensible the charges against an accused person are.

Having said the foregoing, it is hoped that Atty. Fortun will stand only by what is just, ethical and proper in proceeding with the defense of his client. While he is expected to exercise utmost zeal and dedication in the defense of his client, his oath also dictates that he should not delay the cause of justice and defend his client using only fair, honest and legally permissible means.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

History & the Phil-Am War: A Colonial Hero, an Anti-Colonial Hero, & Plaza-Naming

by Jesusa Bernardo

THIS week, December 19 to be specific, is the 110th anniversary of the death of Henry Ware Lawton, an American general after whom a landmark plaza in Manila, Philippines was named--Plaza Lawton.

As a young girl, I didn't exactly remember the place or its precise spot in Manila but my parents seemed to frequently mention it. My papa, in particular, made more than occasional references to "Lawton" or "Plaza Lawton," either as a destination, landmark or jeepney (public transport) route.

During my college years, I gave the etymology of the plaza some thought but didn't exactly bother to do real research. Back then, I just presumed that "Lawton" must be another of the numerous vestiges of pathetic (what else could it be?) colonial heritage. Lawton must be some American official who served in the Philippines. Perhaps a governor-general, military officer, or commissioner of some entity during the era of United States occupation of its former Southeast Asian colony.

As it turned out, I was partly correct. Plaza Lawton was named after Henry Ware Lawton, an American military general who did serve in the Philippines--but not exactly during the colonial era. Maj. Gen. Lawton served as a valiant, celebrated, determined agent-officer of American imperialistic expansion during the subjugation proper--the official (translation: US military viewpoint) duration of the Philippine-American hostilities. He would not be part of the American colonial era when the colonized natives had already been "pacified," which came some three or ten years later--depending on whose side is talking.

It's interesting to note that the name "Geronimo" was destined to play an important part of his military record--of Lawton's fame and death. Lawton was to be the bane of the Apache American Indian tribe and its leader Geronimo during the Geronimo Campaign of 1886.*

More than a later, during yet another mission of subjugation (US translation: pacification)--this time thousands of miles of land and ocean waters away from American soil--he would face another Geronimo in the person of Filipino general (US translation: "insurgent" leader) Licerio Geronimo.

Lawton's Military Exploits

Gen. Henry Ware Lawton is said to be one of the most celebrated American wartime heroes of his time. He was so respected and admired such that Fort Lawton in Washington and the city of Lawton in Oklahoma were named after him. He was "boy hero" of the American Civil War, earning the Medal of Honor for his leadership of a skirmish attack at Atlanta, Georgia.

Lawton is best remembered, however, for his pursuit of the near-mythical figure that was Geronimo and his American Apache Indian band. While Lawton was not actually able to capture Geronimo, his relentless search operations that included the use of Apache "scouts" (translation: Indian traitors) are credited for the Indian leader's eventual surrender to the US Army.

Promotions came easy for him after the 1886 Geronimo Campaign, rising to become brigadier general of volunteers during his stint in Cuba and later, as Major General. His military exploits covering four decades--the Civil War, American Indian Wars, Spanish-American War, and Philippine-American War--supposedly approached the level of fantastic such that his life has been a popular subject of contemporary journalism. While he is now faulted for certain flawed judgments during the war against the Spaniards and in Cuba, his trademark traits--dogged determination and fearlessness came in handy for the US missions.

Filipino-American War

The Philippine-American War was set in the context of the Filipino revolutionary energies being part-spent during the Revolution against Spanish colonial rule and of the voracious, newfound US appetite for imperial possessions in the Pacific (apart from Puerto Rico). The US had prevailed in the Spanish-American War, resulting to the December 1898 Treaty of Paris that, among other things, "ceded" the Philippines to the US for $20 million.

For a long time, the US military refused to admit to the fact of the Philippine-American War, referring to it merely as "insurrection." Apparently, the denial was designed to belittle the claims of groups in America which were opposed to the annexation of the Philippines.

At that time, the American public was becoming divided over the morality and wisdom of President William McKinley’s policy of colonization. The Anti-Imperialist League was formed and business baron Andrew Carnegie even offered $20 million to buy back the independence of the Filipinos, but was promptly rejected.

Under a Republican administration, the emerging international power that was the US wanted its people to believe that the acquisition of the Southeast Asian archipelago was not by deliberate design but merely an accidental consequence of the Paris accord. To rationalize his imperialistic plans for the islands, McKinley even went to the extent of claiming he heard the “voice of God” in a dream or something, leading to his decision that there was "nothing left for us to do but to take them all, to educate the Filipinos, and uplift and Christianize them."

The denial apparently also arose from the need of the US military to be in accord with the acquisition-via-Spanish-sale-of-the-Southeast-Asian-archipelago official policy for the Philippines. The Fil-Am War denial precludes a rather important point behind the outcome of the Spanish-American War--that the Filipino revolutionaries actually helped the US defeat Spain. This is a fact acknowledged no less by Senator William Jennings Bryan:

There can be no doubt that we accepted and utilized the services of the Filipinos [in the war against Spain], and that when we did so we had full knowledge that they were fighting for their own independence, and I submit that history furnishes no example of turpitude baser than ours if we now substitute our yoke for the Spanish yoke.

Lawton in the Philippines

Gen. Lawton was among the Civil War and American Indian war veterans assigned to secure US expansionist interest in the Philippines. He headed the 3,850-strong First Division consisting of two maneuver brigades, each of which was further composed of four or so battalions. He was responsible for the capture of the Filipino stronghold in Santa Cruz (April 9-10, 1899); Paete (April 12, 1899); and Zapote (June 13, 1899) in the war's second largest battle.

Tactics-wise, he was credited with the use and development of the indigenous Philippine scouts (translation: Filipino "Macabebe," etc. traitors) to contain the Filipino revolutionaries--who were fighting guerilla warfare in their own territory. The use of indigenous foot soldier scouts against their fellow natives who were resisting American domination is a crucial lesson learned by Lawton during the Indian Wars.

Unfortunately for Lawton, however, he was destined to become the most important American casualty of that turn-of-the-century war of colonial subjugation. On the morning of December 19, 1899, the American general led an assault termed the Battle of San Mateo in Montalban (now Rizal Province). The assault aimed to permanently cut the communication lines of the Filipino forces in the southern and northern portions of Luzon island.

The American general was boldly pacing the firing line on the San Mateo River’s west bank almost unmindful of the warnings given him by his soldiers when a bullet of a sharpshooting Filipino revolutionary pierced through his chest. Lawton died instantly. The US military's biggest single loss in the war.

Gen. Geronimo

Responsible for his death was the guerilla troop Tiradores de la Muerte (Marksmen of Death), which was ironically led by another "Geronimo"--Gen. Licerio Geronimo. The exact spot of the conflict, or at least part of it, is now within the jurisdiction of Quezon City in Metro Manila. A marker commemorating the Battle of San Mateo, which can be found at Brgy. Bagong Silangan, when translated into English reads:

On this spot on the morning of December 19, 1899 occurred a historic battle during the Filipino-American War between the forces of Licerio Geronimo, Division General of the Revolutionary Army of Rizal together with his band of marksmen called Tiradores de la Muerte and American forces led by Commanding General Henry W. Lawton that consisted of battalions from the 29th Infantry, 27th Infantry, and a cavalry and foot squadron from the 11th Cavalry. Killed during this battle faced by the forces of General Geronimo was General Lawton, one of the highest ranking American military officials during the Filipino-American War.

Who was the Filipino "Geronimo"? Gen. Geronimo was among the most valiant Filipino generals in the Philippine-American War. According to a National Historical Institute article:

Geronimo joined the Katipunan when [Andres] Bonifacio established a chapter in Montalban. When revolution [against Spain] broke out in 1896, Geronimo went to Balintawak on request of Bonifacio. On August 30 that same year, he was with the group that attacked San Juan del Monte...

“General Cerio” as he was fondly called became popular among the revolutionists because of his skills in combat. He triumphantly defended his post from the Spaniards and augmented ammunitions and supplies of the revolutionists by ambushing Spanish carts...

When the Philippine-American War broke out, Geronimo defended Marikina. He helped build trenches and reorganized the Filipino troops in San Juan and Mandaluyong. Antonio Luna appointed him commanding general of the third military zone with operations in Manila and Rizal...

Geronimo was a great disturbance to the Americans for his damaging guerrilla tactics against them. In July 1900, General Trias named him jefe superior [Chief Commander] of the joint forces of the second and third zones of Manila. In August, he took command of the district of Morong.

Gen. Geronimo continued to fight the American imperialists for over a year after his troops killed the highest-ranking American casualty of the war. Subsequently, however, he caved in to the pressures wrought by America military might and a double-faced "pacification campaign" (translation: at times, ruthless scorched-earth tactics were used). On March 29, 2001, the valiant Gen. Geronimo surrendered to the colonizers. He even became a Philippine Constabulary inspector and, later, officer.

US Colonial Propaganda

Within two years, however, the noted Filipino veteran of the Revolution and the Philippine-American War would be dismissed from the colonial-era Philippine Constabulary, supposedly on grounds of gambling. At this point, a student of history may wonder whether gambling was indeed the only reason behind Geronimo's dismissal. After all, his guerilla troop was responsible for the killing of heroic-to-the-Americans-but-fallen-colonizing-agent-to-the-Filipinos Gen. Lawton.

By any measure, Geronimo's association with the death of an American general presented an embarrassment for a (emerging) world power claiming that the inhabitants of its colonial possession were not waging, or in no position to wage, any war. Moreover, Gen. Geronimo demolished no less an illustrious American military hero whose persona the colonial government would forcibly inculcate into the Filipino psyche by naming an important Manila plaza after him, Plaza Lawton.

Lawton's Views of the Philippine-American War

Gen. Lawton, in his stint during the Phil-Am War and in his death while in action, was to be surrounded with, or involved in, propaganda issues relating to the military conflict in the Philippines. For one, in a conversation with a reporter-friend over his non-promotion to the rank of Regular Army officer, he expressed his apprehensions over the possible consequence of his public pronouncement of the need for 100,000 US troops in the Philippines.

Another would be a controversial letter--published only after his death--in which he seemed to downgrade Filipino resistance and military capability. In the letter he wrote before his death to former ambassador to Siam (Thailand) John Barrett, Lawton supposedly stated:

If I am shot by a Filipino bullet, it might as well come from one of my own men, because I know from observation, confirmed by captured prisoners, that the continuance of fighting is chiefly due to reports that are sent out from America.

Lawton's assessment of the need for such a large number of troops to neutralize the conflict in the new "acquisition," by itself, provided evidence that America was at war, particularly given that the Philippines is much smaller compared to the US. The reference to the military establishment/Washington possibly being displeased by such a public statement pointed to a propaganda policy of keeping the war realities from reaching the American people, but which he might have violated.

As for the letter to the ambassador, it was apparently crafted in response to the Anti-Imperialist League's criticisms of the annexation of the Philippines. It certainly appeared incongruent with his publicly stated view that the containment of Filipino resistance needed 100,000 US troops.

Moreover the Barrett letter seemed to squarely conflict with the contents of a formal correspondence also attributed to him. In that other letter, Lawton was all praises for the resolve of the Filipino soldiers:

Taking into account the disadvantages they have to fight against in terms of arms, equipment and military discipline, without artillery, short of ammunition, powder inferior, shells reloaded until they are defective, they are the bravest men I have ever seen...

His admiration for the under-equipped soldiers must surely not have been directed at the traitorous indigenous scouts that they were arming. Clearly, the Filipino soldiers earned Lawton's respect--and, apparently, the recognition that they were fighting a valiant war for freedom.

Phil-Am War as Historical Reality

At any rate, whether or not Gen. Geronimo's dismissal from the PC was related to his responsibility over the killing of American war hero Lawton, the facts of US turn-of-the-century imperialist expansion and the Filipino-American War would be confirmed by later historians. According to the all-American Smithsonian Institute website:

The United States combined tactics of pacification and social improvement with brutal military strikes. Aguinaldo was captured in 1901, and then in 1902 President Roosevelt officially declared an end to the conflict. However a Filipino-American War continued on until 1915. In years to come, Americans remained divided over the nation’s actions and imperial ambitions.

Military historian John M. Gates notes how the US forces became atrocious as they increasingly became frustrated in their missions. He writes that "The more frustrating the campaign became, the more frequently the Americans crossed the line separating the harsh reprisals sanctioned by General Order 100 from such crimes of war as torture and wanton destruction."

Clearly, why the US soldiers reached frustration level reflected the war intensity level that the Filipino patriots gave them in the turn-of-the-century conflict. Commenting on the casualty figures of the Philippine-American War (his count being actually very conservative compared to American author Gore Vidal's), Gates writes: "This war about which one hears so little was not a minor skirmish."

Plaza Lawton Place-Naming

Despite his having been killed by a Filipino bullet, however, the US colonial government was to have the temerity to name a plaza in the capital, Manila, after the fallen American general. Actually, "Plaza Lawton" was probably expected, given that imperialist periods always reflect the viewpoints of the dominant state.

During the early American era, colonial policy included an education (or miseducation?) policy of Americanizing the Filipino psyche. Under the so-called 1908 pensionado program, young Filipinos sent to the mother country for education became "sellers of American institutions and way of life" upon their return back home. Similarly, the introduced educational system in the Philippines taught the natives American presidents and figures, government system, etc.

More visible was the pattern of naming streets and places after American governor-generals, military officials, important American who served in the islands, etc. Thus, today's Roxas Blvd. in Metro Manila was formerly named after Commodore Dewey who demolished the Spanish naval forces during the Battle of Manila Bay, while A.H. Lacson St. in Sampaloc, Manila used to be named after Gov.-Gen. William Forbes. Burnham Park in Baguio City was named after American architect Daniel Burnham. Taft Avenue in Manila has also retained the name taken after the country's first American civil governor, William Howard Taft (later became US president).

Plaza Lawton was not the only case of propaganda/Americanization type of place naming instituted by the colonial government. Streets built right after the Fil-Am War in Malate were named after US states that sent volunteer soldiers to fight the Filipino army (later renamed after the patriots who played key roles in the First Philippine Republic).

From Lawton to Katipunan founder Bonifacio

In the early 1900s, Plaza Lawton became an important part of the so-called Burnham Plan for the capital city. The plaza fronts the facade of the Manila Central Post Office, a neo-classical but beautiful structure that still stands today (rebuilt after World War II). While it appears lost in the present time, it simply looked so grand during the early part of the 20th century. The plaza itself, without today's numerous jeepneys, cars, and development clutters, was a pleasant sight to behold.

... to Plaza Geronimo?

Plaza Lawton in Manila has been renamed Liwasang Bonifacio in the 1970s in honor of the Father of Philippine Revolution, Andres Bonifacio. While I am a Bonifacio partisan, I believe it would have been more appropriate and historically colorful (translation: capitalize on the historical irony) to rename the place as Plaza Geronimo.

Would it not be more fitting and historically meaningful to rename the plaza christened after the highest ranking imperialist military leader killed during the Phil-Am war to the (sur)name of the Filipino general responsible for the wartime feat? If only the Philippine government was probably not so sensitive to what its former colonial master would feel, naming that part of Manila "Plaza Geronimo" would actually constitute a logical choice.

Actually a street in Manila is already named after Gen. Geronimo--his birthplace in Brgy. Sampaloc. However, from the viewpoint of Philippine memory, it simply sounds more symbolic to change Plaza Lawton to the name of the nemesis of the fallen American general. Such an ironic name change will highlight the great, valiant struggle that ill-equipped Philippine eagle soldiers put up with against the colonizing American bald eagle forces.

To put it bluntly but honestly, Lawton was Geronimo's prized Filipino-American War trophy. America's biggest loss was the Philippines’s biggest prey catch. No matter that the killing of Lawton ultimately proved to be more of a fleeting victory, a consolation prize amidst the eventual US subjugation of the whole islands. From Plaza Lawton to Plaza Geronimo--a symbolic, if ironic, historical, anti-colonial sweet revenge.

Plaza Geronimo?????

Then again, maybe Gen. Geronimo does not deserve that accolade. After all, he surrendered to the American forces some 15 months after his guerilla force wondrously killed Gen. Lawton. I mean, real heroes fight to death, right?

In fairness to Gen. Cerio, as he was actually fondly called, his surrender came in the context of the successive captures or surrenders of other revolutionary leaders which, in turn, was apparently the effect of the cowardly stance of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, the President of the newly proclaimed (translation: fledging) Philippine Republic.

Captured in Palanan, Isabela on March 23, 1901, Aguinaldo did not fight to his death and, instead, swore allegiance to the enemy flag apparently so his life would be spared. His capture and subsequent oath of fealty to the new colonial master, the United States, gradually had the effect of breaking the back of Filipino freedom fighters. A number of other military leaders tried to continue the resistance but amidst the bloody, even ruthless military component of the "Pacification Campaign" of the emerging world power, Gen. Geronimo and the rest of those who remained fighting probably saw little hope of victory.

Lawton from an Objective View

Still the fact is that there was a Filipino-American WAR, which meant that the valiant Filipino guerrillas who launched a revolution against colonial Spain continued to fight in the war against the new and militarily more superior colonizing army of the US. Still, the fact is that Gen. Henry W. Lawton, celebrated American hero, was felled by a Filipino, a Filipino bullet.

Really. The phrase attributed to him, "If I am shot by a Filipino bullet, it might was well be from one of my own men," came only in Gen. Lawton's wildest dreams. Or, speculatively perhaps, was a propaganda concoction of the US military to try to disprove the Anti-Imperialist League's criticisms of "voice of God"-in- "Benevolent Assimilation" policy of President William McKinley.

Gen. Lawton. White American hero. Conqueror of American Indians. Trophy of Filipino Gen. Geronimo. Plaza Lawton. Change what you know.

*Some accounts state that Lawton either captured Geronimo; others claim the Apache leader surrendered—either to Lawton or another US military official.


Images & References at: SOBRIETY for the PHILIPPINES

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Darwin, Miracles, Exceptionalism, God and Us

Better late than never. Early this year, I jokingly asked my colleagues at the UP College of Science what they planned to hatch for the Darwin Year celebrations. Well it seems that they came out with a something to digest for the Christmas holidays. The Science and Society program in cooperation with the School of Economics organized a symposium on "Darwin's Impact on Society" held yesterday 14 December 2009. The speakers included Professors Perry Ong of Biology, Maris Diokno of History, Raul Fabella of Econ and Mike Tan of Anthropology.

The lecture hall was packed with undergrad and grad students some of which came from other universities and colleges. Dean Jorge Bocobo observes that a majority of the audience were female. Perhaps this is another demonstration of Darwinian sexual selection at work? What do you think?

As a biogeographer, I also thank the speakers, especially Perry Ong and Raul Fabella for giving Alfred Russel Wallace the due recognition he deserves in proposing the theory with Charles Darwin. Wallace independently came to the same conclusion from observing biological variation in what is now Indonesia while Darwin came to the same one by observing domestic animals and by his voyage on the HMS Beagle. It was Wallace's letter to Darwin that prompted the latter to publish the theory.

Perry Ong gave a crash course lecture on evolutionary biology emphasizing that natural selection can be observed within one's lifetime (the "Beak of the Finch" Galapagos research by Rosemary and Peter Grant). Perry was able to pull it off. From my own experience, evolutionary biology cannot be taught within 30 minutes! Maris Diokno talked about the how school textbooks are biased for religious explanations in teaching evolution. Raul Fabella spoke on the limits of economic models that fail to include evolutionary psychology such as the evolution of altruism. Mike Tan spoke about the interplaying of Filipino views on spirituality and science which was essentially a condensed version of his speech to the science graduating class of this year.

Since for me, the veracity of Darwin and Wallace's theory is beyond doubt, I was much interested on Maris Diokno's exposition of science and history textbooks used in Philippine schools and how these are written to provide a creationist religious slant. One book describes evolutionary theory as "atheistic materialism" and another science textbook obviously promotes a "theistic" view of evolution by correlating and reconciling the Genesis story with current scientific understanding.

I find these disturbing. Science teaching cannot be coloured by religion because it will lose its empiricism and objectivity. The erroneous textbooks are right. Science is materialistic since it is empirical. The formulation of scientific theory is solely based on empirical evidence although intuition may be needed to formulate the hypothesis needed to test the theory. This intuition may come from observation or even a religious experience. But intuition and its inspiration whether religious or otherwise cannot be used to explain how the natural world works.

Filipino society's inability to separate religious viewpoints from scientific one according to Mike Tan is linked to our belief in a God that often intervenes in nature and in society. A case in point is after the Ondoy deluge. About a week later, Another typhoon, Pepeng threatened to go the way of its predecessor. Church groups organized prayer meetings and the Roman Catholic bishops ordered prayers (Oratio imperata) to spare Manila from the typhoon. Numerous blog posts and letters, op ed pieces in the mainstream media testified to the potency of the prayers as Manila was indeed spared. After all the tropical cyclone passed through northern Luzon three or four times causing havoc and as much damage or even more than Ondoy. Now the consequence of the prayers was to cause misery in Northern Luzon and the sinking of Henry Sy's SM Rosales Mall!

Now what did Pangasinan, Cagayan, Isabela residents and Henry Sy (despite we know that he earns billions daily) do to deserve to reap the potency of Metro Manila's prayers? This is the danger of purely accepting religious explanations without aid of reason. Were Manila residents more exceptional since they had paid for their sins and baptized by Ondoy's floodwaters? The problem of exceptionalism now creeps in and is the real danger. Exceptionalism, religious or otherwise has caused the misery and death of people throughout history. Darwin had it as

"If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin"

Darwin and Wallace's theory completely demolishes the presupposed natural and divine exceptionalism of humans. Of course the religious may argue that humans have souls that make them exceptional from the rest of the six kingdoms in nature. But a soul is not a natural science concept but a theological one and so we leave it for a while.

The textbooks that Maris Diokno cited say that humans evolved from apes (Proconsul etc). And in doing so we are more exceptional than apes and coupled with a bias for religion, paints a superior position for Homo sapiens as the pinnacle of creation. However evolution science tells us THAT WE ARE APES. The cladistic classification of humans puts the hairy apes and the naked ape as "Hominidae". We are indeed apes. We never evolved from apes since that would never make any sense. We however evolved from a clade that gave rise to monkeys makes more sense.

Since we Filipinos tend to believe in a God that often intervenes in our daily life, developing science literacy may require that scientists recognize the religious inclination of people and how this makes their view of nature adaptive. I have always maintained that scientistic atheism (sensu Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens etc is also a form of exceptionalism) since they claim that their view is empirically based and therefore superior. A wry and ironic adjectival phrase is Dawkins and Hitchens practice an "evangelical atheism". Also Dawkins is limited in his argument for that he has often have to borrow religious and faith based metaphors to advance his views (e.g. "Devil's Chaplain" and then title of his latest tome "The Greatest Show on Earth") and in some cases exposes his logical inconsistencies. Dawkins doesn't have the evolved language metaphorical toolkit to perfectly describe scientistic atheism as John Cornwell implies in his "Darwin's Angel"ic riposte of the "Delusion". Naturally, it is perfectly sensible to hypothesize the evolution of religion and belief in God as due to natural selection. Now here I am referring to belief in God and religion, which neither presupposes the existence or non existence of God. I even have a more daring extension of the hypothesis which is the central theme of Darwin's ."Descent of Man" I believe religion is nothing but an offshoot and consequence of sexual selection. The patriarchal religions are even clearer evidence of this.

In short religion is no delusion as Dawkins pontificates but an additional evidence of the consistency of Darwin and Wallace's theory. Religion is an adaptive trait which has definitely a biological substrate and has conferred a selection advantage for survival. Darwin's hypothesized that religion is a product of cultural evolution. However Darwin maintained that religion is not "innate" in man.

"The belief in God has often been advanced as not only the greatest, but the most complete of all the distinctions between man and the lower animals. It is however impossible, as we have seen, to maintain that this belief is innate or instinctive in man. On the other hand a belief in all-pervading spiritual agencies seems to be universal; and apparently follows from a considerable advance in man's reason, and from a still greater advance in his faculties of imagination, curiosity and wonder. I am aware that the assumed instinctive belief in God has been used by many persons as an argument for His existence. But this is a rash argument, as we should thus be compelled to believe in the existence of many cruel and malignant spirits, only a little more powerful than man; for the belief in them is far more general than in a beneficent Deity. The idea of a universal and beneficent Creator does not seem to arise in the mind of man, until he has been elevated by long-continued culture." -Darwin "Descent of Man"

Darwin here was referring to belief in an Omnipotent Creator God. But other societies have beliefs in "lower spiritual entities". If Darwin attributes religious complexity to "advances in man's reason" then it follows that it is a consequence of natural selection since the faculty of reason is not exclusive to man. The "lower" animals can learn behaviours and exhibit reason. We then ask the question if whether they have evolved consciousness and from that a perception of a world beyond what is perceived. Some evolutionary psychologists call this "imagination" and that humans are the only animals (yet we know) that have that faculty.

Darwinism I believe will demolish this last bastion of exceptionalism. Who knows, even cetaceans with their evolved large brains (for a fluid and very sonic environment) may believe in God. We then wonder, what do they think of God? This is a step in really completely demolishing exceptionalism. When we do contact non-earth based intelligent beings, they will also be the results of natural selection and if our theory is right, they will likely believe in God. The Roman Catholic Church under Pope Benedict XVI has been daring enough to confront this possibility in holding a symposium in the Vatican to deal with this question in celebration of Galileo's 400th year anniversary of using the telescope and Darwin's 150th year of publication of the "Origin" . A theologian-scientist once quipped that if we do meet them "They would be so like us, that we don't have the moral right to call them aliens". If there is a statement that completely demolishes exceptionalism, then that must be it.

"Does God Exist?" is really the BIGGEST QUESTION in science. The scientific method may not have all the tools to answer this question and in doing that a theological one may also be needed.

The Anglican priest and physicist John Polkinhorne writes

"Raising the issues [of faith and people's reliance on the Divine] serves to remind us that almost all of the billions who believe in the existence of God do so not in the detached philosophical way, but from within the experience of a living faith community. In turn this also raises further questions about how the faith traditions relate to each other, with their common ground of encounter with the sacred and their strikingly different descriptions of what that encounter reveals."

And yet may I add, this too has a common origin.

This is a very Darwinian view which scientists like me need to take note and so do the religious exceptionalists that Mike Tan describes. Indeed there is grandeur in this view of life.

Ben Vallejo

The end of history

"The revolution is over." That’s how GMA News should have headlined their story "Philippine left backs Villar, Loren"

After months of courtship, presidential candidate Manuel Villar of the Nacionalista Party (NP) succeeded in getting the support of the leftist group Makabayan.

Senatorial aspirants Bayan Muna Satur Ocampo and Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza on Monday officially joined the NP senatorial ticket as “guest candidates.”

Ocampo and Maza bring with them the support of the eight party-list groups under Makabayan–Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis, Kabataan, Katribu, Migrante, Courage, and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers.

It is the first time that the leftist alliance is officially supporting presidential and vice-presidential candidates.

Ang daming namatay, napatay, na torture, na kidnap, na disappear para sa rebolusyong makabayan, tapos ang patutunguan din pala ng rebolusyon ay pagsanib puwersa kay Manny Villar at Loren Legarda.

Gusto ko sanang isipin na hindi alam ng kaliwa kung anong klaseng mga tao yan si Villar at si Legarda pero kung iisipin ko yun eh para ko na rin sinabi na tanga sila. Eh, alam ko naman hindi sila tanga.

“Ganun kalaki ang pagtingin namin sa mga kandidatong ito,” said Ocampo’s colleague in Bayan Muna, Rep. Teodoro Casiño.

Ano ka ba Teddy, lasing o bangag?

Nakakatawa sana ang pangyayari - Ipinagpalit ng kaliwa ang Rebolusyonaryong Daan para sa Daan Hari -pero sobra na ang dami ng dugong dumanak para matawa tayo.

Sabi ni Liza Maza: “Maganda kung makuha ni Bongbong(Marcos) ang pagkakataon na ma-settle ito. It’s a good opportunity to heal that past.”

Liza, wala naman kailangan i-heal kay Bongbong dahil hindi naman siya yun tatay niya. Hilo ka ba?

Kung sabagay okay lang kung ang kaliwa ay bumitaw sa rebolusyon. Magiging mapayapa ang bayan natin. Okay din kung gusto nila maging Nacionalista.

Ocampo called the partnership a “mutual adoption” of platforms: Makabayan adopts the NP’s platform while the NP adopts Makabayan’s platform.

Ang tanong ko lang sa kaliwa ay kung okay sa kanila si Villar bakit hindi okay sa kanila si Gloria?

Hindi yata nila nahahalata na ang pinagkaiba lang ni Villar kay Gloria ay nunal sa mukha!

Hindi ko kilala si Liza Maza pero kaibigan ko si Satur. My heart bleeds for my friend.

Source: Life in Gloria's Enchanted Kingdom

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Senator Kiko Pangilinan Interpellates

Senator Fracis "Kiko" Pangilinan interpellates the Palace team at the Joint Session of Congress this past week on the factual bases for the claim of Rebellion as a justification for Martial Law  in Maguindanao Province imposed under PP 1959 (lifted just eight days later last night). Using a highly effective Yes or No technique of asking questions, Sen. Pangilinan elicits several key admissions of fact, judgment and action from Executive Sec. Ed Ermita, Justice Sec. Agnes Devanadera and the officials of the Armed Forces and Philippine National Police that ought to be useful in the Supreme Court cases.

Moot and Academic

By Joselito G. Basilio

Does the lifting of Proclamation No. 1959 render the petitions of Jovito Salonga et. al. challenging the legality of Proclamation No. 1959 which imposed martial law in Maguindanao moot and academic?

A case is considered moot and academic when it ceases to present a justiciable controversy by reason of supervening events. In the case of the present petitions, the supervening event is the lifting of Proclamation No. 1959 on 12 December 2009.

As a general rule, such petitions may be dismissed on ground of mootness. However, this general rule admits of exceptions, namely :

1) there is a grave violation of the Constitution.

2) the exceptional character of the situation and the paramount public interest is involved.

3) when constitutional issue raised requires formulation of controlling principles to guide the bench, the bar, and the public.

4) the case is capable of repetition yet evading review.

I submit that the above exceptions are present and therefore the Supreme Court is bound to resolve the petitions filed by Salonga and other personalities.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Teddy Boy Locsin Lawyers For Martial Law

By Dean Jorge Bocobo

Below is the speech given by Makati Rep. Teodoro "Teddy Boy" Locsin, Jr. at the Joint Session of Congress deliberating  Presidential Proclamation 1959 Martial Law in Maguindanao.  Original source is MLQ3's Scribd post: Teodoro Locsin, Jr Pro-Martial Law, which however is hard to cut and paste from, so here it is in html format, interspersed with some initial commentary and YouTube video. More in the Comment Thread and on my Twitter account from the last few days.

"This is how I sum up the government’s case."

Makati Congressman Teodoro M. Locsin, Jr. lawyers for Martial Law during the historic Joint Session of Congress.

"It is not without irony that I stand here defending martial law. But I do defend it.

"Nowhere and at no other time has it been better justified nor based more sufficiently on incontrovertible facts. Facts that call, indeed, cry out for the most extreme exercise of the police power, which is nothing less than martial law. Facts, not legal quibbles. Facts, not semantic distinctions of debatable validity. Look at the bodies, look at the arms stockpiles.

"Is rebellion as defined by the Penal Code a necessary condition for the validity of a proclamation of martial law?
Teddy Boy knows the answer is YES--not only necessary but sufficient since the Constitution expressly provides in  Art VII Sec. 18  that  "In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law."
"Then where is the definition of invasion in the Penal Code for the validity of martial law in that case? Since the repeal of the AntiSubversion Act, ideology is not a component of rebellion.

"I submit that rebellion here is not an exclusive reference to a particular provision of a particular law; but to a wide yet unmistakable, general but not indiscriminate allusion to a state of affairs that has deteriorated beyond lawless violence, beyond a state of emergency, to an obstinate refusal to discharge properly the functions of civil government in the area, by, of all people, the duly constituted but now obstructive authorities therein.
The above constitutes in effect, Teddy Boy's definition  of  REBELLION as a state of affairs that exists beyond lawless violence, beyond even a state of emergency that achieves a horrendous condition in which civil government obstinately refuses to properly discharge its functions--a condition most Filipinos might recognize in their own local governments everywhere, not just Maguindanao.
"It may be easier to repeat what Justice Potter Stewart said about pornography than to fix once and for all the meaning of the words rebellion and invasion, in a swiftly changing world, where both words can take on myriad realities. He said he couldn’t exactly define pornography but “I know it when I see it.” 

"We are seeing Maguindanao and what we see, unless we are morally blind, cries out for martial law—at least for now. Here was an obstinate refusal to obey the law and the lawful commands of the national government, so as to constitute, on the part of the once duly constituted authorities, an illegal usurpation of the government offices they once legally held; exercising them now, not for the purposes of law, nor with the aim of doing justice, but to use the powers and functions of that same government to frustrate the law, to perpetuate injustice, to protect the perpetrators of the most horrible crime in Philippine history, and to preserve the political influence that inspired the perpetrators with the idea that they could commit such a crime with total impunity. 

"This state of affairs calls for nothing less than martial law; however you quibble with words. It calls for martial law because just calling out the armed forces was tried and proved wanting to quell lawless violence and restore civil government. The proclamation of martial  law, which was addressed as much at the armed forces as at Maguindanao, send the signal to all and sundry: henceforth soldiers are no longer to obey nor to fear the politicians they were once made to serve and pander to, in derogation of their professional integrity, in the name of a misguided strategy of mutual deterrence in the ongoing secessionist conflict. 

"No, now the soldiers are beholden only to the law and the lawful institutions like the Executive and Congress in Joint Session Assembled. Martial Law sends the needed signal to our soldiers and police that now they need no longer be respecters of special persons but only of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, of the civil and criminal laws, of the State and not the temporary occupants of its public offices. Thus are soldiers and police emboldened to do their proper duty, to use their lawful force to the utmost lawful extent, as to achieve the specific aim of the proclamation; which, in this case, is to arrest with proper warrants anyone and everyone remotely connected to the massacre. 

"There is no constitutional immunity from arrest, only from arrest without warrant and detention without charge. And then proceed, as I hope they are doing, to destroy the political infrastructure of one warlord family—though I hope not to favor the other one—and permanently dismantle their political influence in the province—though I hope not to establish the political influence of the other warlord clan. But that is only my hope. It is martial law that shocked and awed the elements of the Ampatuan army to surrender without a fight. 

"This is the smallest atonement that the national government and the Ampatuans can make for the worst crime in Philippine history—the national government for arming them and the Ampatuans for using those arms so hideously. It is asked: If there is martial law to round up the Ampatuans, why not extend the martial law to contain the MILF and even go after the drug trade? 

"Willoughby suggests that a proclamation of martial law should have a specific aim and should not wander from that aim, that that aim being achieved, the mission should be declared accomplished, and martial law lifted in the area. Anyway, it can be re‐imposed again, and again, and again, and again— as it can be reviewed by the Congress in Joint Session as frequently. To this day, martial law in Maguindanao has not, despite the martial energy it has imparted to the military and police, occasioned a single abuse. True, soldiers kicked down the door to Governor Ampatuan’s hospital room. That is not an offense in law. Lese majeste is not a crime in a democracy. 

"That is not even an offense against the door, because a door has no legal standing to complain of being kicked even before the Supreme Court. Remember, soldiers kicked the door and not the governor. And it was a hospital door. The hospital can seek damages, if it dares, after harboring a fugitive. Our soldiers have not violated a single fundamental right, not even of the perpetrators of this hideous crime. Far from it, our soldiers have secured the fundamental rights of the ordinary people of Maguindanao from the depredations of the Ampatuan family and its goons, whether in their lingering terror of this family they admit it or not. This is known as the Stockholm Syndrome. 

"So here, by whatever name you choose to call it, is a situation comprising an obstinate, querulous, snarling, vicious, refusal to obey the laws and the lawful orders of the government, on the part of a now renegade government and escalating from stubborn resistance to threatening posture, so as to constitute in the mind of the Executive a threat so certain that its actuality could only be established beyond cavil by the senseless sacrifice of soldiers to prove the threat real and not just looming or imminent. This state of affairs includes what the Penal Code calls sedition and a host of other felonies and offenses; but which, regardless of which definition you prefer, constitutes for any reasonable person a state of conflict. 

"What Willoughby said, referring to martial law enforcers, ironically applies not to our soldiers but to their targets, the Ampatuans and their henchmen. “No man in this country is so high that he is above the law” as the Ampatuans believed. “No officer of the law may set that law at defiance with impunity.” The Ampatuans were the first to impose martial law in Maguindanao without any basis but their undying thirst for power, which could only be slaked by the blood of anyone they disliked. To the martial law of the Ampatuans, the only adequate response was martial law by the government, which is the exercise of the inherent police power to secure the public safety through the armed forces. True, the courts were functioning when martial law was proclaimed, And true all government offices were open for business—but it was only for monkey business, for the benefit only of the Ampatuans, and against the lawful requirements of the State. 

"The civil registrar refused to issue death certificates for the victims of the Maguindanao Massacre, I guess because he could not put mass suicide as the cause of death. It has been suggested in this House that, while the Maguindanao Massacre allegedly happened, it was not the perpetrators who did it. I guess it was suicide. In military doctrine, Mr. Senate President and former Defense Minister Enrile, capability amounts to intent. 

"That this fully documented capability and inclination to mount armed mayhem came from the legally constituted provincial government of Maguindanao only compounded the gravity of the situation and brought it within the ambit of the historical precedents that have so wisely informed the jurisprudence of martial law as I vividly recall from 1972. It is, as Secretary Puno aptly compared, as though regular battalions of the AFP had gone renegade. Was the danger so substantial as to warrant martial law? How many really are the loyalists of the Ampatuans? A thousand, two, three?

"I would answer, 50 is already a lot because from newspaper accounts over the years, encounters between AFP units and MILF forces of that size but superior weaponry usually result in—what?—25 percent casualties among our troops? Is it proposed that we should have sacrificed our soldiers, by leaving them as sitting ducks, until the Ampatuans drew first blood, just to banish baseless not to mention insincere fears that this martial law is legally flawed? 

"I have heard it said that the biggest danger of this martial law is that, if it succeeds, will have a demonstration effect convincing the general public that perhaps the Army, like the French with regard to sex, just do it better when it comes to securing the public safety. Well, what of it? Is it proposed that we let the public suffer, that we leave a community terrorized and paralyzed by monsters, just so we can stop the Army from proving that they can do some things better? Why this instinctive suspicion and contempt of our soldiers? These are not soldiers of Marcos’s martial law, some of whom, let us not forget where critical to the toppling of the dictatorship. Far from violating any fundamental rights, our soldiers are securing those rights for everyone in Maguindanao against the depredations of this warlord clan. 

"Why this instinctive mistrust of the armed forces without whose sacrifices our country would be smaller by one third? And for their sacrifices, what is the soldier’s pay? Piddling. What are the soldiers’ rations? A can of sardines and a small reused plastic bag of old rice. And what is their recompense? Ingratitude and suspicion. I say leave this martial law to complete its mission. It shouldn’t take long.

In The Waning Days of Darwin Year...

Just a little something I want to share with everyone from the BBC.

BEN VALLEJO and DEAN JORGE BOCOBO will be participating at the University of the Philippines (Diliman Campus) College of Science Auditorium 2-5 pm.

From Ben Vallejo: "Don't forget to bring your Origin!"

Friday, December 11, 2009

Pacquiao -- Wearing Out the Brandname

DJB recently tweeted a Slate article about Manny Pacquiao getting back into politics — again for congress.

Here is the money quote:
Pacman says he's pursuing a political career to "help the people who are suffering." If that's his real goal, then running for office is the worst way to achieve it. Elected office in the Philippines has historically served little purpose other than to enrich those who hold it, and neither Pacquiao (nor even his superhero alter ego Wapakman) can do much to change that.
The article opposes Pacquiao's re-entry into politics.

I do not entirely agree.

Given the right situation, Manny Pacquiao could do well in politics. What is the right situation? First, he needs to concentrate on politics and politics alone. He needs to hold off until after his boxing, acting and singing is done. Also, why is he running for congress? He would be "equal" with nearly 270 others. Of course he probably would not be equal in any sense. In one sense he would most likely be elevated more than warranted in the limelight while being stepped on in the backrooms.

One of the ironic things (at least in the USA) the races fartherest from people themselves are the ones that get the most attention. Without a national election, local elections usually get little attention from local voters. The irony is local elections are the ones having the greatest effect on the populace and those most subject to pressure from that same populace.

Manny should focus his political ambitions on being Mayor of his hometown. It is not like General Santos City is a small town. In that position he would be close enough to people to able to really "help the people who are suffering". The idea that politics is an avenue to personal enrichment is well discussed here and on other blogs and all I will say is — that notion is a generalization.

Manny is stretching himself thin and there is danger to his boxing, acting, singing, politics, and more significantly to those those he wants to help.

On the Death of JOSE RIZAL and the Retraction Lies, Scandal, and Deceptions

On the Death of JOSE RIZAL and the Retraction Lies, Scandal, and Deceptions
by Poch Suzara


The secret why other Asian neighbors are economically ahead of the Philippines is no secret at all. They have been substantiating to the fullest extent possible what Jose Rizal, our nation’s chief hero, was precisely saying to fellow-Filipinos more than a hundred years ago: “Wake up! Embrace science! Utilize the scientific way of thinking! Start to emulate the freethinkers! Knowledge is the heritage of mankind, but only the courageous inherit it! We can only serve our country by telling the naked truth. However bitter it may be!”

Indeed, as the only Catholic country in Asia , we would rather have more faith in prayer and theology than take advantage of the power of knowledge, science, and technology. Poch Suzara


If Rizal had retracted from his attacks against the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church, and if, according to his Catholic biographer Leon M. Guerrero, Rizal had gone to confession four times, heard mass in his death-cell, and received holy communion before he was executed, then Rizal should be branded a traitor to all freedom fighters. He deserve not to be respected or admired as a hero. He should, instead, be canonized a saint of God. But then again, if Rizal had retracted, why then should the church feel dedicated to get Rizal’s true character expunged out of the Filipino psyche? The truth of the matter was that the Church did everything possible to counteract Rizal’s honest-to-goodness scientific temper of mind. Indeed, in his Noli and Fili, Rizal exposed the Philippine damaged culture caused by organized superstition otherwise popularly known as Christianity. Thus, the story of his retraction was nothing more than a theological concoction to sanitize, if not to neutralize considerably the volume of Rizal’s humanistic and scientific messages to the Filipino as a people. Poch Suzara


Rizal’s biographer – Leon M. Guerrero, clearly notes that Rizal returned to the Church of his youth in extremes of self-abasement, frenziedly in childlike fashion, spending the remaining hours of earning indulgences from purgatory by confessing four times, and obsequiously attending to Fr. Balaguer and Villaclara’s wishes. In brief, according to this biographer, Rizal died as a timid coward. Indeed, according to this official government commissioned biographer, our national hero in the end turned out to be a turncoat, a creepy-crawly coward.

But then again, four years before his death, Rizal in 1882 wrote a letter to Gregorio Aglipay: “. . . It is probable that I will be executed – then they will try to bring along my moral death by covering my memory with slander.” Poch Suzara


The shame in Rizal’s life is not the retraction of his deeds, writings or personal conduct. Such retraction was only a frailocratic figment of the impoverished priestly imagination. The real shame comes from the Filipino historians and other Catholic writers, not to mention the Knights of Rizal themselves who believed not in Rizal’s power of intellect, but believed instead his enemies – the friars – who invented sacred lies about this great man. Via the control of the system of education in the Philippines , these friars have and still are blocking, expediently and consistently, Rizal’s qualified and legitimate entry into the world stage as one of mankind’s greatest thinkers. But then again how can the world learn of Rizal’s intellectual power if the Filipinos themselves know so little of the health and wealth of this great 19th century Filipino scientists, humanist, thinker, and writer? Poch Suzara


Rizal was a product of Ateneo and Santo Thomas; yet both Catholic universities continue to assassinate the character of this great humanist thinker. Rizal had learned on his own initiative, outside academic wall, how to think deeply and how to embrace intellectual honesty valiantly. Indeed, to this day, all Catholic universities still teach that during his last day on this earth, just hours before he was executed for his principles, noble values, and rational beliefs, Rizal retracted and went back to embrace the Catholic Church and its teachings. What brazen lies! It is no less than a tall story. A cheap shot at a great man. Otherwise, after his death, he should have been given a Catholic burial and his bodily remains not just put inside an old sack and thrown in the Paco Cemetery in the corner where heretics are stashed away like dead animals. Poch Suzara


Jose Rizal pointed out that evolution in education, ( not reliance on foreign investments ), is the best hope of the nation to enjoy the highest standard of living and thinking. The system of education for the Filipino must be based on science and technology, and not on prayers and theology. Indeed, according to Rizal, a free nation can rise no higher than the standard of beliefs and values set in its schools, colleges, and universities. In there hope for the Philippines ? Yes, there is! But first its system of education must be radically revamped. No more silly prayers to support a stupid theology. Only more science and more technology via more scientific method of thinking. Poch Suzara


Rizal struggled not only against Spanish authority, but against superstition. He fought not in the battlefield, but in the minds of men and in the hearts of women. Rizal was Asia ’s first scientific-humanist thinker put to death a century ago by musketry as authorized by theocracy. The same Catholic theocracy today that is keeping the Filipino youth via education to live in guilt and to fear new and fresh ideas; indeed, to keep away from the free market of ideas, and to hate, at the same time, the freethinkers, especially the books written by freethinkers. “Blotting out their brains,” Rizal wrote, “in faith, prayers, masses, novenas, superimposed these onto native superstition.” Poch Suzara


After a hundred years, how influential has Jose Rizal been on the Filipino as a people? Millions today would readily give credence by listening to the words of a Mike Velarde of El Shaddai preaching pastoral nonsense derived from the bible – a book written not by Filipinos but by foreigners. Only a handful of scholars would care to read and understand the real Rizal and carry out his principles and ideals for the achievement of pride, dignity, intellectual and scientific honesty for the Filipino as a nation. And to think, the Jews, the Chosen People of God, never considered the bible as a holy book at any time in their history. In fact, the Jews live in a Jewish State. They do not live in a Christian country – the land where Jesus Christ was presumed born. Poch Suzara


Ninoy Aquino said: “The Filipino is worth dying for.” Well, Ninoy is a hero today. Filipinos killed him. Imagine Jose Rizal having said too: “The Catholics are worth dying for.” Rizal today would be a saint. The Catholics had him killed. And this is exactly how sick we all are today as the Sick Man of Asia . Thanks to Filipino catholic theologians, like Father Jose S. Arcilla, S.J., and his gang who have not ceased writing brazen lies about Jose Rizal’s soul saved in heaven. What a crock of religious hypocrisy! Poch Suzara


Rizal, indeed, was a great thinker. He clearly saw in his day what we vaguely see around us today: religion and diseases flourishing hand in hand under ignorance, filth, hate, and poverty. What irked the friars against Rizal was his refusal to continue to believe in Christianity; for, he learned to be on the side of humanity. For my part, if there’s life after death, it’s great thinkers like Rizal that I should wish to be with. Otherwise, if I will just find myself in the company of Filipino theologians, or among the Opus Dei gang – the kind of people who had Rizal put to death, please Lord spare me the sacred horror. I would rather be forever in hell. Poch Suzara


If the Spanish friars had only introduced the concept of humanism instead of establishing in the Philippines religious barbarism and other forms of supernaturalism, Filipino priests like Gomez, Burgos, and Zamora need not have been garroted to death for wanting reforms within the Catholic Church in their time. Moreover, great thinkers like Jose Rizal need not have been executed by firing squad for writing to promote common human decency amongst Filipino to learn to enjoy throughout the land national pride and Asian dignity. Poch Suzara


Rizal never said or wrote: “It was my pride that ruined me.” Those words were put into the mouth of Rizal by his official prize-winning biographer Leon Maria Guerrero who believed, as a Catholic, the Rizal retraction story as concocted by the sciolistic friars. Moreover, Rizal never “got rid of his political appetite, moral perplexities, and intellectual pride.” On the contrary, Rizal chose to die proudly. After the superstitious friars stripped him of his dignity, it was no longer possible for Rizal to go on living as a decent man and as a thinking Filipino. Poch Suzara


Rizal called for the revolution of the mind to throw off the exploitation of man by man under the inspiration of superstition. This was a century ago. But due to our fear of the Lord and our love for that pie in the sky, Rizal’s call for that revolution of the human intellect ended up to what is recognized today in the history of the Filipino people as “the unfinished revolution.” Rizal wrote: “ I am not writing for this generation, but for those yet to come. If this one could read what I have written, it would burn my books, my whole life’s work. But the generation that deciphers these characters will be a learned generation; it will understand me and say: Not everyone slept during the night of our forefathers! These strange characters – the sense of mystery they will create – will save my work from the ignorance of men, just as strange rites and the sense of the unknown have preserved many truths at the hands of priests. ” Poch Suzara


What kind of men needed to see Rizal dead, discarded and forgotten? Were they men of reason, logic, science or philosophy? Were they avid readers, critical thinkers, or scientific investigators? Were they men at home with civilized humanity? No! On the contrary, Rizal’s enemies were the friends of blind faith: - the superstitious primitives, the sanctimonious hypocrites, and those indeed who were selfish, greedy, corrupt, stupid, and insane. Rizal’s enemies of a hundred years ago, are still the same enemies we have today. They are the ones insisting that it makes no difference whether Rizal retracted from his religious, political and philosophical principles or not. What a silly conclusion to bestow upon the greatest of Filipino seminal thinker who died for the liberation of the Filipino mind and heart, and indeed, for all mankind. Shame on you cowards - you so-called “Knights of Rizal.” Poch Suzara


A great Filipino is one who has had the intellect and the courage to put more sense where the theologians and the politicians in cahoots together have put only nonsense making for our sick society. In the 500 years of Christianity in the Philippines , only one rare Filipino had the courage and the intellect to stand up against great odds to be a great Filipino - Jose Rizal - a truth-seeker, a scientist, and a humanist. To keep the Filipino frightened of the truth, however, Rizal was publicly executed by those in church authority - the ecclesiastical liars gifted with a free will from divinity to promote in the Philippines social insanity. Poch Suzara


In his official biography of Rizal, Guerrero disclosed that the Spanish Catholic friars made a firm offer to Rizal the amount of 100,000 pesos and a chair to teach philosophy at the University of Santo Thomas on the condition that he signed the retraction document. It has been reported by the friars that Rizal did sign his retraction papers. And yet, after Rizal was shot to death at the Luneta by a firing squad, not even a mass in church was said for Rizal who died as a penitent Catholic. In fact, Rizal was not even given a proper Catholic burial. His remains were just thrown in a little corner in Paco cemetery where heretics and infidels were buried.

The trouble with Guerrero as the Rizal biographer, he was more interested in defending the business of the Catholic Church and its teachings than defending truthfully the subject of his biography – Jose Rizal and his teachings.

Rizal never threatened me with eternal hellfire if I did not believe or spread any of his words. In the fight therefore between Rizal and the Catholic Church, I will always be on the side of Rizal. Never will I abandon such a great man even if it means losing my silly soul to end up in a silly hell as managed by a silly devil in cahoots with a silly Supreme Being. Poch Suzara


After six months of stay, he left for Europe for the second time on February 3,1888 to pursue the task he had set for himself. His brief stay enabled him to judge the effect of his Noli Me Tangere. He knew he was a marked man for writing the book which not only shook the Spanish rule, but precisely rattled more the foundation of authority in the Philippines - the Catholic church and its teachings.

The military trial of Rizal was not meant to administer justice throughout the land. It was done purposely to execute him in public so that the Filipinos would be frightened to death and subsequently to stop dreaming of freedom under free and humanistic thought. Thus, when the so-called Spanish rule was thrown out with the interference of the US naval forces, what stayed behind to continue controlling Filipino minds and dominating Filipino hearts was the Catholic Church. Via Catholic schools, colleges, and universities – Catholic teachings prevailed in the Philippines . Consider the average Filipino in this 21st century. He is more conversant about the fantastic life and times of Jesus Christ than he knows anything about the realistic life and times of Jose Rizal. And to think Jose Rizal was born in the Philippines - a Christian country. Jesus Christ was born, if at all, in Israel that is today not even a Christian country. It is a Jewish State.

Catholic friars claimed that before he was executed Rizal retracted and asked for the forgiveness of his sin against God and for the pardon of his crime against the Filipino people. These developments, however, are based upon religious hogwash. The Rizal retraction scandal was concocted by the religious cowards. Just as much as the religious cowards of our day – the Knights of Rizal - continue to be afraid to stand up to defend Rizal’s great intellectual capacity as a rare Filipino gifted with the capacity not only to think but also to die with self-respect and dignity. Poch Suzara


France had Voltaire. Germany had Nietzche. Austria had Freud. China had Sun Yet Sen. England had Bertrand Russell. Italy had Galileo and Bruno. America had Tom Paine and Ingersoll. Cuba had Jose Marti and Fidel Castro. These were some of the great men who, with courage and intellect, put more sense into the minds of men and the hearts of women where nature has put only nonsense.

We Filipinos could have had Jose Rizal. The greatest and rarest Filipino this country has ever produced. Unfortunately, the Catholic Church cut him down to size. Millions of Filipinos still have no inkling why Rizal was one of mankind’s greatest heroes. Indeed, college professors, historians, biographers, including his own descendants have been frightened by the Catholic Church authority to believe that Rizal was executed while repentant of his sins against God and regretful of his crimes against his own people. What brazen lies to tell about the greatest Filipino thinker who ever lived. The greatest Filipino who died sober and not drunk with sacred lies.

In the meantime, pontifical fear and ecclesiastical ignorance are the recycled garbage dished out in our schools, colleges, and universities. Especially those owned and managed by the Catholic Church and other religious organizations in the Philippines . Consider the average Filipino in this 21st century: he is more comfortable with stupid prayer under a theology than he is at home with intelligent science producing technology to enhance our freedom and democracy.

Indeed, if yesterday Rizal locally was the pride of the Malay race, today globally he should already be the pride of the human race. Poch Suzara


“Great spirits have always found opposition from mediocrities. The latter cannot understand it when a man does not thoughtlessly submit to hereditary prejudices but honestly and courageously uses his intelligence and fulfills the duty to express the results of his thoughts in clear form.” Indeed, Einstein had in mind men like our own Jose Rizal when he wrote: “It keeps repeating itself in this world, so fine and honest: The parson alarms the populace, the genius is executed.” Poch Suzara


“A man who has once perceived, however, temporarily and however briefly, what makes greatness of spirit, can no longer be happy if he allows himself to be petty, self-seeking, troubled by trivial misfortunes, dreading what fate may have in store for him. A man capable of greatness of spirit will open wide the windows of his mind, letting the winds blow freely upon it from every portion of the universe. He will see himself and life and the world as truly as our human limitations will permit; realizing the brevity and minuteness of human life, he will realize also that in individual minds is concentrated whatever of value the known universe contains. And he will see that the man whose mind mirrors the world becomes in a sense as great as the world, In emancipation from the fears that beset the slave of circumstance he will experience a profound joy, and through all the vicissitudes of his outward life he will remain in the depths of being a happy man.” Poch Suzara


“As a consequence of the enormous social and technological changes of the last few centuries, the world is not working well. We do not live in traditional and static societies. But our governments, in resisting change, act as if we did. Unless we destroy ourselves utterly, the future belongs to those societies that while not ignoring the reptilian and mammalian parts of our being, enable the characteristically human components of our nature to flourish; to those societies that encourage diversity rather than conformity; to those societies willing to invest resources in a variety of social, political, economic and cultural experiments, and prepared to sacrificed short-term advantage for long-term benefit; to those societies that treat new ideas as delicate, fragile and immensely valuable pathways to the future.” Poch Suzara


“We are the final judges of what is good, just as we remain the final judges of what is logical. And on neither front has our conversation with one another reached an end. There need to be no scheme of rewards and punishments transcending this life to justify our moral intuitions or to render them effective in guiding our behavior in the world. The only angels we need to invoke are those of our better nature: reason, honesty, and love. The only demons we must fear are those that lurk inside every human mind: ignorance, hatred, greed, and faith, which is surely the devil\s masterpiece.” Poch Suzara


Fraud, illusion, trickery, hallucination, honest mistake or outright lies – the combination adds up to such a probable alternative that I shall always doubt casual observations or second hand stories that seem to suggest the catastrophic overthrow of existing science. Existing science will undoubtedly be overthrown; not, however, by casual anecdotes or performances on television, (or by public execution of scientists like Rizal) but by rigorous research, repeated, dissected and repeated again.” Poch Suzara


"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.

Do not believe in anything because it is found written in your religious books.

Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders.

Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find anything that agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all then accept it and live up to it.” Siddharta Buddha


Wherever you are, I have the highest respect for you as a man, and I have the deepest love for you as a Filipino. In this connection, I shall continue, to the end of my days, to struggle against those who had you, publicly, put to death. They are still existing, alive and kicking doing more harm, more damage, more evil than ever. Indeed, in this 21st century, your enemies are still in control of our schools, colleges, and universities twisting the mind of the Filipino to remain spiritually poor as a people, and still distorting the heart of the Philippines to remain morally bankrupt as a nation!

Sir: in the God-forsaken country, you are about the one and only Filipino, with dignity and self-respect, worthy to be called Filipino! The rest are trying only to save themselves the trouble of having to think. As the Sick Man of Asia , we only love to believe. Thus, instead of appeals to principles and logic and philosophy, our public spirit is only aroused by personalities and celebrities. Indeed, instead of being the mature masters of our ideals and principles as a society, we only continue to be the childish victims of a foreign Jewish deity. Poch Suzara


How do we summarize it? The poem was completed on Dec. 29, 1896 hours before he was executed. He was able to smuggle out the finished poem. He placed it inside a lamp and gave to his visitors, among whom was his sister and whispered to her: “look inside. There is something inside it.” He made an extra copy by putting it inside his shoe for insurance purpose.

The Ultimo Adios was Rizal’s last poetic defiance against those who continue to be childish believers instead of being intelligent thinkers. The Ultimo Adios is a strong message to the Filipino as a people: – to begin to think that we all share only one common enemy together. No, not the Spaniards or the Americans or the Japanese, or what have you, etc. But our enemy is stupid religion. Indeed, religion that encourages individual stupidity that culminates into social insanity. Poch Suzara


“My dream,” wrote Rizal to a Spanish governor-general, “was my country’s prosperity . . . I would like the Filipino people to become worthy, noble, and honorable.”

On another occasion Rizal also wrote: “I would like the Filipinos to be Brilliant, Enlightened, Intelligent, and Progressive.”

Ever since Rizal was executed by the religious morons in the 19th century, the same religious morons carried on with power and authority to be in charge especially of the system of education in the Philippines . Indeed, we were taught in our schools, colleges, and universities to believe and to have faith in the holy bible that clearly states: “Love not this world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not with him.” John 2:15. Jesus, the loving son of God also preached: “If any man come to me and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26

Thus, as the Sick Man of Asia , even the Knights of Rizal continue to ignore what Rizal was saying to all Filipinos more than a century ago. Only people in foreign countries believed, followed, and substantiated what Rizal was saying. After Rizal’s execution, the president of the Berlin Society for Anthropology, Ethnology and Pre-history, - Dr. Rudolph Virchow, said: “In him we lose not only a true friend of Germany and German science but also the man who had the knowledge and the energy to introduce modern ideas and thinking into the Philippines.” Poch Suzara


“Where are the youth who will consecrate their golden hours, their dreams, and their enthusiasm to the welfare of their native land? Where are the youth who will generously pour out blood to wash away so much shame, so much crime, so much abomination? Pure and spotless must the victim be! Where are you youth, who will embody in yourselves the vigor of life that has left our veins, the purity of ideas that has been contaminated in our brains, the fire of enthusiasm that has been quenched in our hearts? We await you, O Youth! Come, for we await you!”

Ever since the death of Rizal by public execution in 1896, the history of the Filipino people has been the daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly struggle to deny the power of the human mind with knowledge, and to reject the beauty of the human heart with wisdom. Indeed, to be not happy, not sane, and culturally constructive; but only to be unhappy, insane, and traditionally destructive.

Thanks to our teachers in school and professors in our colleges, and universities – millions of Filipinos have yet to learn to substantiate the words of Jose Rizal: “I would like the Filipinos to be brilliant, enlightened, intelligent, and progressive.”

Sadly, even the Knights of Rizal have been busy promoting social and political insanity in this God-forsaken country. Especially for the sake of preserving in this faith-soaked 21st century – the beliefs and values of Christianity.

In this country, when one Pinoy suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When millions of Pinoys, however, suffer from a delusion complicated by a confusion, it is called Christianity. Poch Suzara

The Paradox of Martial Law

SENATOR KIKO PANGILINAN's interpellation during Congress Joint Session on Martial Law of Executive Sec. Eduardo Ermita, Justice Sec. Agnes Devanadera and representatives of the PNP and AFP makes the above point most clearly and effectively. Here is a YouTube of most of that interpellation: