Saturday, December 24, 2016

Rituals and Holidays and Christmas

CHRISTMAS, celebrating the birth of the Christian God. Thanksgiving day, giving thanks for the blessing of harvest? Do we point the cursor at religious feasts? Spanish explorer in San Elizario, Texas in 1598 or in Saint Augustine, Florida in 1565, or the Virginia Colony or the Berkeley Hundred in Charles City County, Virginia in 1619? The New England Calvinist Thanksgiving? Or do we gather and mourn this day to restoke the fires of anger in our chest, memory of that tragic day in 1637 in Mystic, Connecticut, the blood of the 700 Pequot humanity?

          Or what is Saint Patrick's Day, or what the Irish call, “Lá Fhéile Pádraig”? The death date of the most commonly-recognized patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick—who brought forth Christianity in the land? Or do we also pause and light a candle to those who perished from the creeks to the pulpit in the name of religion? Or what about Christmas Day? An exalting convergence central to the Christian liturgical year? Mistletoes and Santa Claus? Or should I turn back the pages of time that it was the Christian cross that subjugated my people and pummeled their beautiful, wealthy earth to submission?
          Or is Thanksgiving simply an Earth Fare turkey baked with Food Lion stuffings, Saint Patrick's Day is a keg of Guinness, Christmas is an ornamented tree circled by colorful gifts recycled from Goodwill, flea market, and Dollar Tree purchases? Maybe. For whatever it is, and whatever historical, political, or commercial backstory or front-story that we choose to interject with these holidays, these are simply moments of pause and ease. Moments of family, friends, community.

          So let us cease to crowd our template of dogmatic hatred with more hatred. Holidays will never be “just another day,” because “just another day” is a tedious grind in the workplace, lumbering traffic of harassed souls in the street, necks and wrists bloodied by credit card gallows, and unmitigated smoke of war in the prairie of our discontent. There must be a day or days when we just have to easy up on the psychoanalytical bombast or sociopolitical bravado of knowing too much and too deeply, lest our spirit starts to slip slide away to a swamp of numbed, synthetic existence.
          Rest the redundant bickerings with mom or dad, set up the chess set for bro and cousin, start the grill with compadre and comadre while Bee Gees music plays along, hand over a slice of appleberry cake to the new neighbor, share a PBR or Guinness with whoever happens to be without a family around that time and talk about Kobe or LeBron or Pacquiao or Kim Kardashian, nothing heavy.

          Somewhere in an island-galaxy so far away, I was born in and around a wounded humanity that bury their dead in thousands after almost 6 months of calamities, and they weep and weep days and nights—enough for tears to nourish the earth again for springtime harvest and summertime revelry. On Christmas season, they pause and take it easy for more than 30 days—and just live, just live like what life is all about. Let life and love happen while these gifts are still beating from within and without. There are no Thanksgiving or Saint Patrick's Day where I came from. But there are people, diverse people from 7,107 islands who speak 19 languages and worship a dozen or more different gods—who gather when a holiday ensues and just, well, they just gather. It's all about a holiday of hearts that talk and speak with a singular language. Maybe that language speaks about love, sumptuous turkey, or queso de bola, or best brew ever. Whatever it is, it's all good.
          MERRY CHRISTMAS to one and all!

Thursday, December 15, 2016

SOME post-election posts (or notes). Copy-pasted from my Facebook Page. I didn't update or edited these entries from the original posts. (Part 2)

ELECTION is over. But some people are still arguing about it. I ask myself, would those friends who were actually friends before all this election fray got rolling--will finally shake hands now that electio is over? I got friends here (friends that I know in person and friends that I haven't met at all) who unfriended themselves believing I have a preferred candidate or political party. They get offended that I criticize their politico or politica like the person is their god and the party their Church. Well, I criticize both and I appreciate good deeds as well. Both sides. I guess, you could say that there's more to criticize these days than those that we have to commend. We just have to present alternatives. 

          I try. But if one is a fanatic of this and that--no word that tends to question means anything. Some even say they supported my fundraise concerts--so why can't I support their bet? Well, my concerts gave help to people--and I wasn't running to be Senator of Habahaba. More so, my community projects and gigs don't support partisan politics or specific religion. It supports everything that comprises a community. Facebook maybe, just maybe, is good at revealing true colors of humanity. Whatever the color is. You see, it's just election--four or six years from now, there will be another election. Is that how short the life of one friendship?


IN this world of power tilts, surprising realigments and contradictions, Kremlin's machinations via WikiLeaks fed the fire inside the Democratic front by widening the crack between Bernheads (socialists) and Hillarysts (centrists)--thus dividing the camp so the ruling class rules again. It worked. Trump is in power. Russia entered WTO in 2012 (okayed by Congress which were generally Republican) which means Russia has a say now in sale of crude oil to the US and elsewhere. Vladimir Putin aligned with Donald Trump because, among other things, Trump eases up taxing the rich (investors = Russians and Chinese). Meantime, oil whether it is Opec or Russia is gold to the Koch brothers.

          Another backgrounder. George Soros aligned himself with Hillary from PAC days and even funded groups on the left side like Black Lives Matter and cannabis legalization to balance the brinkmanship internally and win the progressives—as what he did in the 90s in Southeast Asia by derailing Asean's march to less reliance or independence from the West (West = OPEC oil and security machinations in South China Sea). Russia and Indonesia (who's got oil) are non-OPEC members. Russian oil companies owe Chinese banks lotsa money. Before elections, Soros was in Indonesia, HQ of Asean—which was always anti-Washington (Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar etc). How does Duterte and Trump play up in all these? Russia-China-US 1 percent matrix. Beijing operates behind the scenes as always in regards US affairs—but Kremlin has a poster boy in Putin. PR-wise Russia is less evil than China these days in the eyes of American heartland. Duterte-China, Russia-Washington/Trump. Meanwhile Soros regroups. That's how I see it. Irrelevant what kind of drivel or twaddle comes out of the mouths of Beavis and Butt-head.


TAXES. Taxes are such an issue. But it's not entirely that bad if taxes translate to increased social program accessibility—like in the cases of Belgium, The Netherlands, Denmark, Austria and Japan where total tax rates are around 50 percent and more per capita income.
        Fact check to Donald Trump. The highest taxed nation is not the US. Argentina (but I desist from discussing that for now). Tax rate per capita in the US is 24 percent. But Canadians are taxed lesser at 21 percent. The Canadian province of Manitoba has a 0 percent corporation tax rate for small businesses. In most surveys however Canada ranks No. 1 overall for providing a good quality of life. The country is tops for its well-developed education system, job market. In fact, Canada was rated in the top five in all but one of the nine attributes – affordability, where Asian countries dominated.

         Meantime, wanna know that in rich Qatar, tax rate is just 11.3 percent! Lamborghinis and Ferraris rule the parking lots out there with camels. No kidding. But seriously where I'd pursue business (in case I end my American journey)? Singapore. A low tax ate of 18.4 percent. Many companies from around the world choose Singapore as a base for their Asian operations.


FREEDOM of speech. I know. We know. No one stops no one from speaking their mind. So I will—and continue to invite unfriending, of course. I couldn't wrap my mind with this absurdity of absurdities. This is directed to Democrats or progressives/liberals who boycotted the election because they were overcome with anger and grief that Bernie Sanders wasn't chosen to carry the Party banner against Donald Trump—or to those who voted the 3rd candidate as a form of subtle protest that their bet didn't make it instead. I posted time and again that the pre-election signs or forecast were pretty much even. Hillary Clinton needed the Sanders votes. I assume that Sanders supporters knew that—and the larger assumption or certainty is Trump will clobber Clinton if the other half of the Democrat throng don't participate. It was either Trump or Clinton, it's as simple as that.
         Now I don't see the point why Sanders supporters are so noisy that Trump is the new President. I wonder wouldn't they be noisier or less noisy if it's Clinton? For me this not just a crack on the left side of the road—the damage is a lot worse than that. It also magnifies a national problem that is even beyond what the current protest is shouting. Their fear of hate, racism, misogyny etc under Trump is overtaken by the fear of a collective weakness to fight hate, racism, misogyny because those who profess to fight them are more concerned with individual end than the welfare of the majority.

         A divided people is a divided country, tempest in the yard is the ruin of the house. Yet since the Conservatives/Right seems tighter and bonded, I could see that if their President fails to deliver what he promised, it's them—those who voted for him—will be the power that'll bring him down not those who didn't. Why? Because they are united as a people.

SOME post-election posts (or notes). Copy-pasted from my Facebook Page. I didn't update or edited these entries from the original posts. (Part 1)

DID presidential candidates “play” the voting public? I believe the word isn't “play.” Maybe as Jeff Beck (the guitarist, not the other Beck) said, politicians “lie.” They lied because they knew it'd be easy to lie than to sell facts—facts that will against them. Elections are about winning—whatever it takes. And in American elections, always a very few percentage show up. Lowest was the 46 percent in the Clinton/Dole race in 1996. This last one was the second-lowest. So candidates are actually talking to a “few” captured audience—that is why catchphrases and sloganeering worked. Like rahrah in a ball game. 

          Trump promised these, Sanders promised those—cakes from polar extremes. Yet the story behind it all is—OIL. Oil is more than gold. Saudi Arabia is slowly but surely losing clout with America and West. The Saudi-led OPEC countries have been threatening to cut oil output as Russia and non-OPEC members battle them for pricing. Two weeks ago, OPEC agreed to reduce its own production by 1.2 million barrels a day. This developed following Russia's previous announcement that it had already announced plans to cut output by 300,000 barrels a day next year, down from a 30-year high last month of 11.2 million barrels a day. Mexico also pledged to cut 100,000 barrels, Azerbaijan by 35,000 barrels and Oman by 40,000 barrels. The US' main oil imports come from Canada, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. Russia and SA are the world's top #2 crude oil producing countries; the US accounts for nearly 20 percent of the world's total oil consumption per day.
          There is no such thing as making America great again. It is just a matter of handing over the baton to the next leader who can negotiate better with oil giants. All the Mexico talk is bull. Mexico is still the US' #3 trade partner and it's a next-door neighbor plus a huge population that is an economic force than illegal nuisances. Russia could be the #2 exporter of oil to the US which will make the Kochs happier since they could deregulate pricing et al by virtue of Russia's entry to WTO in 2012. And China despite Trump's anti-China rhetoric is still the China whose crap clogs US retail and been lending money to all corners of the world, especially to giants like Brazil and Venezuela and yes, Russia. Trade balance, military spending (while Pyongyang continues to bait Washington to keep on spending on military hardware), pharmaceutical 1 percent's machinations in Afghanistan and Myanmar/Indonesia (Asean) via George Soros etc. 

          The Assange leaks were obvious—yet it could sway elections. But don't people know that it's all Russia while the dude lives in an Ecuadorian embassy? Ecuador and China have lotsa investment deals. Trump is dealing cards, not running a country based on new policies that should go beyond stone age protectionism. What has done so far—Carrier and the Mexico transer and appointment of environmental czars who makes folly of climate change. Is that making America great again? It's the same scribblings on the white board. But well, these win elections especially that candidates are talking to only half of the populace.


ONE very effective campaign game changer that worked for Trump was the WikiLeaks Hillary email fiasco. Julian Assange is a genius—a genius hacking xxxxxxx harlequin. Right on time, right on target. He knew that a huge throng of Democrats (mostly Sanders believers) will easily bite his candy—they did. I know of a number of Democrats who switched to either Trump or Johnson or decided not to vote at all after the email leaks came out on crunch time. I believe that jacked up Trump votes easily. After the fact, I am more interested to observe how Washington deals with Kremlin/Russia than question or protest Trump's victory. He won, period.


WHEN it comes down to it, it is fine that followers of two political polar extremes stay glued to their belief—as long as the crack isn't so wide so that compromise and negotiation are still possible. I believe that it is much better than when people are seemingly bunched on just one side. That'd eventually allow dictatorship or autocracy—even if at the get go one-person governance commands majority allegiance. Those who will oppose him/her become rebels whether we define them as Right or Left. Yet as in the nature of humankind, I don't believe all of us will agree as one—although universal good and evil seem to tread a parallel balance like black and white. We are not like that. We are either half-weirdo or a bit saintly. Many times the insane becomes cool and mutate into a rock star--and the sane turns out boring and never get a date. Humans are that unpredictable and contradictory. So Trump voters and Hillary believers, it's okay to argue—as long as somewhere somehow you'd all line-dance to the Bee Gees' “Night Fever” on syncopated cadence.


IF majority or all of those who voted for Trump are racist, sexist and xenophobic as their leader, and then the leader won--then something is really ailing with America. Really bad. Not the government or President-elect per se but it's own people. These are Americans as in heartland America. And if we study the demographics, these are mostly Americans who got ran over to poverty in the last ten or 20 years. That hardship pulled their American-ness out of the hole--because they found a voice. They don't see their America anymore in retail stores, in media, in a politically-correct pop culture, in basic structures of society--especially when America masterminded the entry of China then Russia to WTO and let globalization dance for the 1 Percent. So when a despot like Trump came out swinging, they heard some of their muffled voice in his rhetoric. They don't see good life in another Democrat. They don't see good like in another Republican like Bush either. They see it in someone who promises a new order by spouting an anti-GOP girth and fuck the corporations/let's reclaim America bombast--who also didn't have a public office portfolio which only fired up his line. That's how Adolph Hitler rose to power--by appealing to the disenfranchised German majority who's been relegated to the background. And he rescued the economy in the next 4 or 6 years--before got totally insane.        
In America, in the polar extreme of disgruntled America--are those who opted for Bernie Sanders who promised his throng a sociopolitical system that hasn't been tried in the US (not even with FDR's New Deal in mid-1900s), the same "voice" that Trump sounded albeit on a different sociocultural spectrum. A new system. Those voices communicated with a disgruntled mass--polar extremes but those were the words that many wanted. Hillary Clinton is a centrist. So they didn't see her as their messenger or deliverer--it's more the ethnic communities who liked Clinton. The difference though in terms of Trump/Sanders voters, Trumps went out to vote but Bern people opted not to--which is tactically flawed. Truth is, it's either Trump or Hillary for president--but by dividing the Dem's vote, that'd only catapult the GOP bet to presidency, which happened. Meanwhile, I observe many arguments and discussion on Facebook--and I can say both sides exude both rude and disrespectful tact. That was a nasty election--and not just because the Conservatives are nasty--it's because it is general nasty. And social media gave people somehow the "license" to talk ill of these candidates and their followers. I am called moron and idiot and stupid by Bern followers and "go home to your Third World dump!" (my country of birth is not 3rd world) by Trump fanatics although all I did was present facts. Bottomline, it comes down to who got a mass base that was intact despite partyline schism, Donald Trump. While the Democrats need to go back to the drawing board how to instill partyline allegiance from its mass base and leadership. It's after all a united front that instills power, whether it is by means of democratic elections or revolution. Which the Democrats/progressives failed to show. That for me is worrisome.


FACEBOOK is fun as long as you don't take it seriously. It's like these: Hey, Trump has lots of dandruff, that's not good for a president. I just voted, look at my face. I saw this lady on Sam Edelman boots that looked like wading boots. My mom is a nasty little rightwinger bitch! You know that I just read Hillary emailed Michelle this awful squirrel casserole recipe? Assange just hacked my ex-husband—Julian is my hero! By the way, I will be cooking Beef Bourguignon tonight but I guess, uh, no. My deadbeat boyfriend couldn't even hold it for freakin' three minutes! I think I will break up with him tonight. Bernie would have waived my parking tickets. Look at my new socks—recycled from spring rolls wrappers. President Kirk is a moron! Namaste to y`all! Dafuq with what?


WHAT's good thing after an election? Time to bring out the notepad and list down what have been promised. Time to REALLY figure it out if those make sense--and then begin the true duty or responsibility of a citizen. Expectation check. Time for deliveries. Since the truth is, whether you voted for Trump or Hillary or still meditating a Bernie mantra--you are going to pay the rent this month, swipe a debit card for gasoline, and provide yourself and family health insurance. Let Life resume! Taco, please!


AFTER the primaries, it seemed very clear that whoever the Republican Party's bet was, it is still very likely that that candidate will beat a Democratic Party rival. Why? The problem isn't the GOP. The problem is the Democrats' mass base--it is already cracked. In the same way that rank `n file Conservatives are angry with President Obama's administration, a huge chunk of the other side (mostly Bernie Sanders followers) also feel betrayed by the outgoing president's two-terms. But then the Right remained tight—not exactly the hierarchy per se, but their voting bailiwicks are formidable—and even spread through some states that were first thought as majority Dems. 
          Meantime, the GOP in Congress built a wall against Obama's signature bills in re immigration reform and gun control et al. Those stayed as is Bush's time. Also, within the Dems, Sanders should have acted as a party stalwart and not a so-called people liberator. Instead of rallying his supporters toward Clinton's side to ensure the defeat of Trump, he distanced himself. Trump's victory of margin isn't a landside, it was close. Which means, if Bern people voted for Hillary and not the 3rd option—or they didn't boycott the election, the Democratic bet would have a better chance of winning. At this point, the Democratic Party needs a lot of regrouping and rethinking—on how to at least narrow the gap or vacuum in their house and backyard. Meantime, inhale exhale—and enjoy some tacos.


TRUMP is what he is. Hillary is what she is. Bernie is what he is. Obama is what he is. Frank Underwood is what he is. These are individuals with their respective "I am what I am" that stays in them--that is why they ran as President of what is supposedly the strongest nation in the world. We can't just change them no matter how we namecall or judge them. But what must change is people's attitude and behavior on election time. The only way to winning is via a united front. And a united front makes a strong nation--irrelevant who sits as President. A united front installs a leader--a united front brings down a leader. However, a divided throng only brings forth a bad Taco. That is the truth. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Standing Rock and the Memory of Macli-ing

STANDING ROCK and the memory of Macli-ing Dulag. The Standing Rock protest in North Dakota sends memories of my long coverage and involvement (as journalist, NGO worker and activist) with the Kalinga people's fight against construction of a dam back home in the Philippines many years ago. The protest led to the assassination of Macli-ing Dulag, a Kalinga leader in the Cordillera Mountains on the island of Luzon. I grew up in the Cordilleras. Its central city, Baguio, is my family's second home-city. My dad and many relatives worked in mining towns up there and some kin dealt or collaborated businesses (fresh produce and farming) with most tribes--some of my brothers still do with a number of villages.

          Macli-ing was a Pangat (tribal chief) in the highland village of Bugnay, Tinglayan, Kalinga-Apayao. A farmer by profession, Dulag was also a road maintenance worker for the government. He staunchly opposed construction of the Chico Dam, a hydroelectric project along the Chico River proposed by the Marcos government and was to be funded by the World Bank. Indigenous peoples in the area, including the Kalinga and the Bontoc, resisted the project for three decades as the proposed dam's reservoir threatened to drown 1,400 square-kilometers of traditional highland villages and ancestral domains in the mountain region.
         On 24 April 1980, elements from 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army opened fire on Dulag at his home, killing him and wounding a companion. His murder unified the various peoples of the Cordillera Mountains against the proposed dam, causing both the World Bank and the Marcos regime to eventually abandon the project a few years after. The Kalinga People resisted the proposed dam project for three decades. The project was finally shelved in the 1980s and is now considered a landmark case study concerning ancestral domain issues in the Philippines. Yet even after the project was shelved, strife in the mountains didn't stop. The Marcos regime finally ended in 1986 following a people-power revolt.

          During the time of the ensuing Corazon Aquino administration, I immersed myself in advocacy work that led to the drafting of the local government code or devolution of powers from national governance to communities--which eventually ironed out in the amended Constitution that stipulates that local governments "shall enjoy local autonomy," and in which the Philippine president exercises "general supervision." Congress enacted the Local Government Code in 1991 to "provide for a more responsive and accountable local government structure instituted through a system of decentralization with effective mechanisms of recall, initiative, and referendum, allocate among the different local government units their powers, responsibilities, and resources, and provide for the qualifications, election, appointment and removal, term, salaries, powers and functions and duties of local officials, and all other matters relating to the organization and operation of local units."
          Pondering the memory of the Chico Dam/Kalinga protest and observing the current Standing Rock protest shudder my spirit. Indigenous peoples or tribes are peaceful souls who opt to live their lives apart from the mainstream--until their land/s are violated. The Standing Rock Sioux is against an oil pipeline that would run from the Bakken oil fields in western North Dakota to southern Illinois, crossing beneath the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, as well as part of Lake Oahe near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Although local government autonomy doesn't work in the US, Indian reservations do have similar treaties and agreements signed when the Indian Wars ended in 1924.
Like the struggle of tribal groups in the Philippines north and south, the conflicts in America were mostly local, involving disputes over land use. Particularly in later years, conflicts were spurred by ideologies such as Manifest Destiny, which held that the United States was destined to expand from coast to coast on the North American continent. In the 1830s, the United States had a policy of Indian removal east of the Mississippi River, which was a planned, large-scale removal of indigenous peoples from the areas where Europeans were settling. Particularly in the years leading up to Congressional passage of the related act, there was armed conflict between settlers and Native Americans; some removal was achieved through sale or exchange of territory through treaties.
          I just hope that the protest move (apart from what the Standing Rock Sioux started) doesn't   fizzle out like the fate of the Occupy protest. This time there is a clear objective or demand--unlike Occupy's abstract or sweeping demands for reform. And I hope a leadership talks and negotiates with government emissaries this time--than what it was when activists insist that "we are all leaders and we are all followers too." I remain positive that this cause will win. My spirit has subsided into a mere observer of life these days--and what I can do most is simply share some stories and wisdom that I lived through my life's journey.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Assange Mystique and Mystery: Political Hacking is not Journalism. It is Trouble-making, Thievery and Espionage.

THE following are some of my Facebook posts on the subject of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

IT is amazing and also sad that many people hail WikiLeaks or Julian Assange. I am not saying that his hacks are untrue or truthful. They could even be 100 percent factual. When people hack you expect to get the full data, not just what your source (as a journalist) told you. What is bothersome to me is—why Mr Assange focuses only on Washington and/or his preferred “enemy” in the US? What about George Soros and his current brinkmanship waltzes in Southeast Asia? Or North Korea's nukes? Or Moscow's oil companies' boardroom chats? Or details of Beijing's bilateral agreement with Manila? Or Exxon's internal emails in re climate change and the Koch's new pipeline Congress lobbying strategies? More so, can he hack Ecuador's Rafael Correa's dealings with Chinese president Xi Jinping? Of course he can—but he won't. After all, China sunk $11 billion into road construction, mining works and sprawling hydroelectric dams in the tiny Andean country since 2008. 

          That's just some of what Ecuador gets from Beijing—and I am not talking about gluten free lo meins. Correa isn't buddy-buddy to Obama or White House at all. Meantime, Assange enjoys caviar and Dom Perignons at the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Now, need I talk more about Russia? Russia entered WTO in 2012—and they are toe to toe with Saudi Arabia as the world's #1 crude oil producer. Russia is not a member of OPEC. Figure that one out. If Assange wanna be the champion of press freedom (which he isn't a member), government transparency or whatever—then keep on hacking. But hack `em all, dude!

TO ME, what went on in the Oval Office or NSA boiler room or Washington's secured lines yesterday is pretty much what goes on today or tomorrow. Washington. Beijing. Kremlin. Pyongyang. London. Manila etc etcetera. NOT just White House. As a 56-year old journalist, there are still things that I wanna know that I believe are significant to survival of the everyday human and earth. At the same time, there are also things that I already know which others don't know—but then would that really matter much since at the end of the day, I only fed some people's thirst at prying open sealed cookie jars—as against the truths behind the poison in the cookie. As a writer, I want to give the people names of those who put poison in the cookie. What's the deal with the jar? That can be broken (as Assange did)--but I wanna know what's in that cookie, what makes that cookie different.
       I read through those WikiLeaks stuff from 2010—and most concerns US/Washington's meddling (via the shadows) and/or involvement in other countries' internal strife or affairs. Like Snowden's “expose” on government espionage upon its citizens. That's been happening since time immemorial—even before the internet. Washington's involvement in coup d'etats etc—that's been the name of the game of US foreign policy since time immemorial. Do I need to know who sent choppers atop Malacanang Palace to fetch the Marcoses on Feb 26, 1986? Does it matter? I know. We know. What point? These WikiLeaks distracts people from the very core or gut of what really affects them. Yes, maybe governments may put some politician/s in jail? Other countries do that already without help from Mr Assange's leaks. They know. Their media know. They don't need to go surf WikiLeaks. But we also know that taking out one two three hundred bad eggs in the government means a replacement of another set of bad eggs—since we haven't really touched the MIB that hatches the eggs. Meantime, these high-grade exposes distracts us from the truths of the matter—ie oil pipelining kills the earth, kills people etc etcetera.

After 9/11, after Katrina/Sandy, after all the shootings and massacres in the streets and public places—we are so hung up on NSA snooping and Washington's intervention in say Timbukseven? WikiLeaks knows a lot, that's obvious. What if what Assange knows gets into the hands of those who don't really care about collateral damage and stuff—in the name of their greed and global dominance? And what about Russia and China? Universal evil isn't just a monopoly of Assange's enemies in Washington. He knows that. Until he balances his ambition to be some kind of god, he is just one highly-paid, highly-sought out hacker—who knows how to play media, including social media, that as you said (and I concur) manipulate the language and make lies truthful. Moreover, superpowers should exchange infos for mutual/positive gains not sidebar comments in each other's meeting rooms—both camps wouldn't like that, TMI. “Sidebar comments” and governments' internal secrets are theirs. Expose them—they will only regroup and keep other secrets away. That's how things are. I am not saying that WikiLeaks' leaks could be fake, they could be factual. What I am saying is—it won't help the world in the long run if all you do is expose than present a bridge so that these powers could sit down and talk. But Assange wants to play god. He wants to police the US because he believes the US is the root of all evil. And in a way he said in a Time interview that Russia and China are easier to reform. Really? What a narcissist!

THIS is the time when many people desperately long for a hero. A hero that purportedly gives them the truth—no matter what the truth is and whoever gives it. That person is the hero. The “hero” who breaks the cookie jar that was sealed a long time ago. Hurrah! But do we know what really is that cookie? Do we really need that cookie? Who makes that cookie? More importantly, what is the real motive of the “hero” who broke the cookie jar? There will always be WikiLeaks in this world—yet when we look in the mirror? It's the same pair of empty eyes that channel a wounded soul, looking for answers yet unable to heal—because we don't really know the source of the pain. The truth should not just liberate us like--hey now we can fly like an albatross up the blue sky of enlightenment! The truth should also heal us and make us complete again. And keep our feet firmly planted on the breathing ground.

IF WikiLeaks “leaks” about lobbying machinations by the Koch brothers especially in regards pipeline/environmental issues on committee level hearings, or how Moscow's oil magnates and Beijing's banks plan out oil diggins in Antarctica, or how Washington lets loose George Soros in South Asia in the advent of Asean's tact vis a vis US, and so many more than ACTUALLY affect earth's population, Ecuador/China partnership in Mr Assange's continued so called journey, and the under the table deals that Snowden and Assange worked out with Moscow while they were on the run—instead of targetting US political personalities that only shake the global order in the name of the One Percent—then maybe I will believe Julian Assange. It is convenient for him to hack American politicians but not other major players. I see him as a (internet) terrorist in the mold of Carlos The Jackal, nothing else.

LET me share my $1 cent to the current Hillary email mishandling fiasco. I tend to ignore it as insignificant in my book without careening to either of the presidential candidate's fence. First, all these “email shenanigans” are sourced to Julian Assange and his WikiLeaks. I am not a tiny bit fan of Mr Assange. I've time and again refused to accept his so-called media credentials. He is a highly-paid international hacker left right and center. If all these leaks and exposes happened maybe 30 years ago or even in these current times but written/published by respectable media organizations, then we should pay attention.
          Hence, whatever WikiLeaks/Assange “exposed” against Washington and its officials remain dubious to me, irrelevant they were factual or not. Assange is obviously under Moscow's payroll and his continued stay at the Ecuadorian embassy in London reeks of Chinese coddling. Read Ecuador-China economic team-up. Be reminded that Beijing has been giving out loans all over South America—with Brazil, Argentina and oil-rich Venezuela as top beneficiaries. And where did Julian dude form WikiLeaks? In Iceland in 2006. One of few countries known for disregarding extradition treaty with the US. He had all these figured out from the get go. Why doesn't he leak pertinent info from Kremlin or Beijing or maybe the Koch brothers' pipeline-related Congress lobbying or maybe George Soros' shady designs in Southeast Asia? If you tell me Vladimir Putin doesn't have any interest in influencing the election, then you are not paying attention. Russia is currently #1 producer of crude oil globally. Enough said.

       Second, this is damn a week to election. A scandal before citizens cast their ballot? Many including US allies should smell “politically-motivated.” It's a no-brainer. Yes, it may influence voter attitude but what? Put her on trial? As I type this up, the Weiner angle came up. Of course. The latest emails came to light during a separate inquiry into top Clinton aide Huma Abedin's estranged husband, former congressman Anthony Weiner. What'd happen is, FBI director James Comey delays or holds up his inquiry's findings after the election. Then let's see.
Meantime, I suggest you vote smart—but beyond tabloid scandals. This is a nasty kind of election. But I believe the American people will go past this and decide wisely who should be their next chief executive.

OH well, this guy is a genius in shaking the power system that is Washington. Hillary Clinton emails? I don't think so—she isn't the main target. It's Washington that he is after. All his 2010/11 “leaks” too these current emails are all about the US or about other government's “secrets” that involve Washington somehow. Tunisia. Zimbabwe. Afghanistan. Middle East. And some media organizations of course picked them up—like a free jackpot bounty (sic). Scoops are cool in the newsroom. Now the dude has already given the world so many Washington-related leaks. Time to give us some about Beijing and Moscow. Assange once told Time when asked if he wanted to expose the secret dealings of China and Russia the way WikiLeaks has done with the US: “Yes, indeed. In fact, we believe it is the most closed societies that have the most reform potential." Yet he hasn't done anything to leak or expose wrongdoings in those countries. Meantime, he also pointed out that, today, China may be easier to reform than the US. Who does he think he is? God?

WITH the latest WikiLeaks Hillary email leaks Julian Assange starts to sound like a secret agent tracking down cheaters on Ashley Madison or a dad on the lookout for his teenage kids' internet shenanigans. Boring. He simply sounds like the Mother Superior of the Universe policing his Washington targets like the US is his classroom or convent. One day Beavis and Butt-head will kick his bored ass. Anti-Hillary/Obama people or pro-Trump voters should wake up that this dude isn't after politicians. He is after Washington--trying his mighty best to influence the juggling of key appointments or placement of elective officials in the White House and Congress. He is a danger to public safety and national security. I still vehemently stand my ground in saying he is NOT a journalist. He is a super brilliant hacker a.k.a. internet thief. That's what he is.
          And what I usually get or read in re pro-Assange people? "Read this link" "Have you read his leaks and watched the interview?" I get pissed. I wanna know what/how people think. WikiLeaks is not some Secret of Life book of enlightenment or the Kama Sutra of Politics or something. People refuse to dig in because probably, as in Matrix, the plug at the back of their neck is stronger than their mind. Some people even believe Assange should win the Nobel Peace Prize. WTF! ETs are laughing.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

My Life as a Pasckie

IT is not the first time that I am asked what'd be my plan in the next five or ten years. Truth is, I laid out a 30-year plan when I left the Philippines in late 1990s. I maybe had two or three major distractions and eventual regroups in the last 12 years but I am still on target. The journey is still on the right direction. Being single and essentially freed of parental/financial responsibility (since my kids are all grown-ups hence independent) with zero debts give me more breathing room to course the remaining 18 years (of my plan). No legal hassles either. Despite my adventures and misadventures, I came out of the rubble and roses scot-free and sweet as a summer song.

          Eighteen years from now, I'd be 74. Pretty much my dad's age. I know I'd still be strong by then. Right now, I don't have ailment that requires steady medication or doctor's visit. I am quite healthy for my age, 56. I told a friend that a major turn on my plan would be marriage or a serious relationship/cohabitation—since I just have to realign or adjust my personal blueprint as a two-person life's plan.
          Meantime, it would be ideal, given the tilt in global economic lives, that I'd sustain a business/entrepreneurial pursuit in my home continent/region (Philippines/Asia) and still connected with the US mainland, my residence. Maybe a resort dive destination and/or import/export of whatever product. I don't need to personally supervise my own business/es though. I am good at ideas and strategies but weak on implementation and follow-through. I humbly admit that. So it's most likely that I'd work with other people like kin and family, let them manage—while I assume the background. I'd spend more time writing books, lecturing in schools and literary gatherings—which entail a lot of traveling. I dream to own a farm with fishpens in the Philippines and a property with trees around it in the US. I am not a city dude anymore and I am never a party guy. I still plan to republish my tiny newsprint newspaper in a community setting and organize fundraisers.

           Indeed. There are still a lot of creative stuff and things and collaborations that I plan to spend my older age with. Like film projects with my son and friends. Books with my other children. Charitable institution with my siblings under the name of our dear departed mother. Political/economic consultancy (which I did when I was younger). An Asian/herbal/Filipino cafe-restaurant in my resident city. Writing workshops in the woods. And more books. I will not stop writing books till the last heave of breath escapes me.
          As a single man, I don't see the need to acquire huge acquisitions like a house. I'd rather focus on working. I observe that owning a house in the US entails a lot of duties and responsibilities. There is no point when I am just looking after my own body. Money and tax/es and duties in a house can be used for business, for example. What's certain is—I'd spend more time, make up for lost time, with my children and siblings and their families. And my longtime friends which are scattered all over the world.

          What I am kind of afraid as I related to my friend Cindyrella the other night? I am afraid of the stress level in America. I want to live happy or happier. I am not scared of aging further and getting weaker or dying alone—I have a very tight and loving family who will always have me. Stress and misery kill people and I see that around me. Not in my country where natural misery like typhoon devastation abound—I see that more in a supposedly comfortable and well-endowed culture as in the United States. Makes us feel and believe that happiness is not the presence of it—but the pursuit of it. It is how we enjoy and savor whatever blessing and privilege that we got that spell happiness. And not when we finally attain whatever it is that we want. Because when we get those, we are already aiming to get more—and when we lose what we acquired, that's the time when funk sets in.

           I don't want that life. I want to just enjoy the fact and truth that despite my history of battling a dictatorship and relationships that didn't work out—I still see the light at the end of the tunnel. I still feel warmth in a lonely bed. Because there is always love in the heart of humanity despite a bad, bad world. And she's just out there. I just need to always leave my heart's doors open. 

[First photo. By my daughter Donna. On her trip to our home province of Ilocos Sur in the north of the Philippines. Next two photos by Cindy Zalme--in Lake Norman, North Carolina. And Marta Osborne, in Seal Beach in California.]

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The Filipina. Anger that divides us. All these news.

I AM compelled to write this as response to some people who need a bit of education or info about other cultural truths/facts beyond their own. Years ago, the Oxford Dictionary insensitively defined Filipina as domestic helper. Of course, we vehemently protested. That shows that even supposedly "respected" institutions with the name "Oxford" can be grossly ignorant and misinformed. Though I admit that many Pinays seek employment abroad as domestic helpers or maids. But most, if not all, of these women had college education or degrees back home.

          Meantime, most of the Filipina nurses that I know (I covered this a lot as editor of Filipino newspapers in both coasts--New York City and Los Angeles/Frisco), including my relatives, take nursing (later, a higher Medicine degree) after graduating in a 4-year college education in the Philippines because of the fact that Nursing and other Medical profession pay better than a glamorous career like in Arts, for example (unless you are famous). In fact, even popular showbiz celebs back home when they get here, forget their fame, and take in employment in medical field (or other jobs that pay more) for practical reasons. The common denominator is, these women sacrifice their individual dreams or careers so that they'd be able to help the entire family and community. Like, send other siblings and kids of kin to college, build them houses, capital for business, send them help on a monthly basis. "Sacrificing" means having to work as maids, for example. Family and community reign supreme in their being. That love supercedes their ego or pride as the I-me-mine. You may ask, what about the men? That'd be another subject.

PINAY! A Filipina woman led a revolution against colonizers in mid-1700s with essentially a homemade machete ("bolo"). The Filipino people have already installed in presidential power two women--a religious housewife who majored in French and a 5-foot fairy with an Ivy League degree in Economics. The Philippines is known, among others, for two powerful women. One led with a shining rosary, the other ruled with sequined shoes--on either side of the human spectrum. The first could smother you with love, the other could beat you up with high-heels! They are called Kumander or Boss Bosschief back home. You don't mess with them.

SOME people it seems derive satisfaction from widening cracks among/between us—by fuelling anger between camps. On the contrary, I never had any problems mixing with all kinds of cultures and peoples in my life. I enjoy it. I just respect them for what they are and enjoy what we mutually like and not touch subjects that may trigger sensitive areas. Problem is some people actually trigger sensitive areas instead of just enjoying what we could share on the positive end. That's what my objective with Traveling Bonfires/Bonfires for Peace. Just gather and dance and enjoy.

          If we can pursue that in any place that we'd find ourselves, then there is Hope for Peace. I survived a world where mere speaking openly, although within the context of Law and regard for law enforcement, was silenced by a hail of bullets. Even when I was an active protestor as a young man in the Philippines and in the US, I never condoned the show of anger and anarchy in protest movements. I helped plan out moves and rallies, even emceed a number, but I never sided with provocation. I suspended activists who vandalized cars and buildings and maligned innocent bystanders and cussed at police. In my concerts that I organized, I kicked out volunteers who professed a partisan line and advised performers to stick to music and no F words in my show. We can assure change if we appeal to the public at large, the uninitiated and uninformed, and not with the choir. And the people out there who value goodness than evil gravitate to a smile and a hug, not a booming voice of hate, screaming of vengeance and retaliation.
         All lives matter. All colors deserve to lay down on the grass as the sky watches over. Evil doesn't come in black or white, yellow or red, brown or grey. Evil doesn't have any color as in goodness doesn't reveal a shade or hue. But all these, we feel them. And feelings thrive in only one beat: Peace. And there will be no peace if we disobey and disregard and disrespect.

ALL these news. They confuse more than they inform. I notice that media have been more prone to slide to social media banter than journalism objectivity. Sadly. They tend to judge and advocate than report and educate via facts. And where is the justice system or the synergy between community/people's vigilance and governmental/legal response? Everything is social media fodder. One has to gain PR perfume or deodorizer to elicit "favorable" response. If a personality doesn't look like the president of Canada and unaware of mass communication that wins 1,000 "love" and "likes," then that person is dissed.  

          Tomorrow, I will read another "salvaging" accusation hurled at cops and cops will response on the line of "tangina!" (“Fuck it!”) And then expect 1,000 memes from that, shared 2,000x in 1 minute machinegun interval. Do the math. We are doomed. That is why people simply cave in with their laptops and play Pokemon Go or selfie their chicken pork adobo dinner or escape to Winterfell, fantasizing that Jon Snow could be their next president and Gandhi incarnate is their next chief of police. Peace is a Netflix TV series.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

FIRST of all, elections are a pile of perfumed press relations speeches—meant to lure people to the polling booths. Election is about winning. It is all about soundbyte, meme and slogan that work good toward winning the race. Either candidates imbue partyline principles (or agenda?) that accentuate America's bipartisan ideals. That is what Uncle Sam sells to the world that is why it is the globe's most powerful nation. Talk about allies that are ready to go to war with the US and/or supply us what we need in the area of almighty oil and consumerist baubles. Oh yes, Americans got more access to most countries' doors than the rest of the world. The American government ensures that, too—that you are safe out there.

          To quote, “The United States is the world's oldest surviving federation. It is a constitutional republic and representative democracy, in which majority rule is tempered by minority rights protected by law. The government is regulated by a system of checks and balances defined by the U.S. Constitution, which serves as the country's supreme legal document.” Whether we believe that system/ideal is happening or not, don't matter. That is what Washington wants the world to know and accept about America to keep the Great American Lifestyle fed and alive.
          If we believe/d in the polar extremities of Trump and Bernie's rostrum rhetoric (Hillary is a centrist polarizer), then we need to look deeper in and around who really are the players lurking and calling the shots in the Oval Office and Congress. Let's talk about The D. Would Washington's vaunted universal clout be sacrificed just like that or be made as a huge laughing stock to as far as Milky Way? Believe me, if there's a chunk of ET voters out there, The D will yell, “I will deport all extra-terrestrials to Wyoming!” and that will work. Why? Americans are pissed. Pissed with all traditional structures of society. From family units to educational system, from business kingdoms to conventional churches, from media firmaments to political governance. That is why social media and Reality TV work good working people out. People say what they wanna say, believe what they want to believe—whether it is Kim Kardashian's butt or Khaleesi's dragons. When people are pissed you basically look left or right only, and negate the middle ground. Check out the tempest in the streets—it's almost like anarchy. Americans want America to be perfect. So we kicked factories to China and emptied Detroit and stopped oil drillings in the West Coast because we want it to be an environmental haven—yet we reeled over Katrina and Sandy. I digress on that area though.

YET Trump appeals to the traditional Americans in two fronts. The old school American who believes in the primitive glory of conservativism. A tight “I am an American!” ideal but willing to compromise like how they did at the time of FDR's New Deal or during the construction of railroads that helped fasttrack America's march to Industrialization onto Superpowerhood. Mormoms/Irish/Blacks/Chinese. They worked together but don't mess with their beliefs and faiths. Two, he rallies the Americans that we fear. Those who think this is still Tombstone time. But those who are pissed because all they see are Chinese shit in retail shelves and their factory jobs are lost to political correctness and corporate greed, those that the Bernie people call morons because they drink Busch beers and not handcrafted ales and who consume Campbell Soups and not non-GMOs while the Mexicans get to DMV as illegals and CEOs get million-dollar stipends. They are pissed because they go to war first yet come home with shattered limbs and no health insurance and jobless. The Bernie people are pissed on the other extreme but they'd rather bring in illegal Mexicans and Syrian refugees in, never mind—it's okay for them to wait tables and BYOJs from Guangzhou (sans college degrees) as long as their souls are fed. They don't want war but they want oil, they don't want you to cut that tree but nope you can't take their iPhones away and don't tell me not to drive my car to Trader Joe's a block away for red wine and hummus.
          Now, would the 1 Percent (think the Kochs who assures us we can gas up to pricing that will not make you mad and the dot com billionaires who continue to give us apps so we can talk more seated) allow that? Would the Chinese whom Washington owes a lot of money allow that (the Chinese don't like prolonged tempests, bad for lo mein business)? Would the Russians who hand over crude oils to the Kochs maybe larger amounts than the Saudis allow that? No. Globalization means keep the 1 Percent't merchandise selling and Trump's bullheadness is bad for business. That is why the Republican bigwigs hate him. He is not following the rules of battle. Divide and win, but the winner remains the same.

          Trump, at least in his speeches, makes fun of the Muslims (that'd ignite more terrorism), Mexicans (Mexico is the US' #1 trade partner across the border and voters and workers under the table which helps Monsanto a lot). Etc etcetera. But I believe, Trump as we near Nov will slowly and surely ease in the Republican agenda and cozy up with Washington—because they Kochs will drop him if he doesn't. Will he lose some of his faithful? Leave that to the strategists. Now provided that Trump wins, that would American lives abroad in danger to extremists machinations. You will be an easy object of political statement and ransom money out there. Just because you are an American. These fanatics look at America as foreign policy infidel, period. Don't matter if Hillary or Trump sits as Chief Executive. Doesn't matter whom you voted. You are still an American to an extremist nutcase. So relax, “The Walking Dead” comes on few months from now. It is still sweeter and safer to watch a TV series with your loved ones, family or friends. At home.
          Should I talk about Hillary? I knew from the start the Bern has no chance in the Dems camp. His people are basically the Occupy movement. From the 1 Percent's point of view, they can sell better to Trump people than Bern people. Yet how they controlled Zuccotti Park, the Occupy's HQ, with just a McDonald's bathroom 24/7 across the street? Will Bern spend all his old age arguing with Congress about freeing half of inmates or free college education etc etcetera? No. Too much talk. America needs to get to business before China corrals everything.

NOW, is there enough reason for Americans to give up? Do they really believe that when Trump wins, it's Armageddon time? Or are we just scaring ourselves due to too much Facebook murkraking and “Game of Thrones”? Trump wants that vote but no you can't do that, Donald! So says the MIBs in Washington. Remember how the Mexican votes' 70 percent installed Obama to his second term? Yes, he promised some immigration reforms but via Executive Orders not as a law—because to date his immigration serenades are still up for committee wooing. But what worked in re lobbying was the slowdown of California/Texas oil drilling and the kicking out of stinky factories to China because we don't like stinky, deadly environment yet we are still #2 (behind the mighty Chinese throng) in contribution to carbon footprints. Whether Hillary or Trump wins, whether we get oil internally and Caltex is alive again or this comes from Russia/China partnership or Saudi Arabia, the Kochs will still process that oil to usable merch. Whoever wins, Apple Inc will still be bankrolling $5 billion a year to keep Foxconn alive in South China Sea. So they got it all figured out. The Matrix plug behind our neck is still wi-fi'ed.

          Now is there really such a huge problem? They shoot stoners in Manila and Jakarta and the Finn and the Irish still pay more taxes than the rest of the world's citizens. Etc etcetera. But yet, an American can go anywhere in the world, but the world is under employ by only three people: The Chinese, the Russian, the American—all bank their money on maybe 3 merged banks that control the universe. And since America is the designated front manager, your boss will still be an American. Their agenda? Globalization. Then, what's the difference, right?

     Home is where the heart is.