The Happiest, Funniest People in the World or How to Dance in a Club by Ashleyslips

Just a short break from all those serious, goodness.how.cerebral.can.you.get!? pieces. 

Here’s a post about a really hot Filipina — the hilarious Petra Mahalimuyak (Fragrant Petra)– whose really hot, hyperbolized Filipina accent and super hot Filipino humor make her sooo endearing.

Frankly, when I see my fellow Filipinas, I often have this defiant, wicked, un-feminist thought cross my mind: That–power issues and poverty aside–one of the reasons why the Philippines is the choice source of mail-order brides is because, well, we Filipinas are so sexy and pretty and fun to be around, after all. We’re the world’s topnotch trophy wives! Ha!

I mean, how often do you see get to see an ugly Filipina, anyway? Come on, be honest. It’s kinda rare, ano? Filipinas are among the world’s most delectable women, I say.

And where else can you get a pretty woman who will “lovingly clean your toenails with a toothbrush?” – That’s what YES editor-in-chief Jo-ann Q. Maglipon said in one of her 1980s articles (published in the book Primed) on Filipina mail order brides, then just an emerging problem.

Before you accuse her of “objectifying” women, note that before Maglipon became the entertainment editor that she is today (and consequently, one of the country’s highest-paid editors), she was an underground activist who fought against the Marcos dictatorship and wrote articles on slain doctor-to-the-barrioDr. Bobby de la Paz.

So her toothbrush-for-toenails comment was truly just an accurate portrayal of life as it really is—complex and difficult, astonishing and ugly, joyful and awful, comic and tragic, trivial and sublime—sometimes all at the same time—and always multifaceted, resisting the black-and-white labels the religious and the righteous would like to confine it in.

As I write this, there are hundreds of thousands of Filipina maids deployed  all over the world. Many of them will be beaten, raped. Some will be killed. Most of them suffer milder forms of abuse, but abuse nonetheless. But life does not stop dead because these terrible things happen. And the spirit of the archetypical Filipina lives on, resilient, and as lighthearted and bubbly and hopeful as ever.

More on Ashleyslips here:

Youtube channel:

http://www.youtube.com/user/ashleyslips

Facebook fan page:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Petra-Mahalimuyak-Ashley-Rivera/142498585829166

Another Facebook fan page:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Ashleyslips/157908574272534?sk=wall

Great Living Filipino Thinkers, In Their Own Words 4: The Psychology of Moral Certainty

Here’s the fourth installment in a series that, taken together, make up what I like to call Great Living Filipino Thinkers, In Their Own Words.

Today’s excerpts are from Sylvia “Guy” Estrada-Claudio, the current director of the UP Center for Women’s Studies. Claudio, a Professor at the Department of Women and Development Studies, UP Diliman College of Social Work and Community Development, is both a doctor of medicine and psychology.

Dr. Claudio is a much traveled resource speaker on activism, feminism, reproductive rights and sexuality. She began her life of activism in high school when she began organizing fellow students against the dictatorship of former President Ferdinand Marcos. After completing her medical studies at the University of the Philippines, she formed the Medical Action Group to organize health missions to treat injuries and psychological trauma in communities torn by counterinsurgency operations.

Together with Dr. Junice Melgar she founded Likhaan, an organization working with grassroots women on issues of reproductive health and rights. She is also Chairwoman of the board of the Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights.

Her book Rape, Love and Sexuality: The Construction of Women in Discourse was published by the University of the Philippines Press as part of the UP Press “Read Up!” Campaign. These excerpts are from her blog, Pleasure and Subversion, from a post titled The Psychology of Moral Certainty.

“As a teacher, a nerd and a psychologist, I feel only frustration and concern. Yet another person who thinks that, ‘because my God (or my Marx) says so,’ is an acceptable form of engagement in democratic and secular society.

I am treading carefully here. Not all Marxists or religious people resort to this argument. Not everyone who has a religious or political belief finds it necessary to cling to the idea that his or her belief is the right one, regardless. I am not also certain that the young woman who had an exchange with me is one of these. I wish she kept engaging me, perhaps I could have known for sure.

But I am certain that the psychology of the ideologue permeates the views of the religious right that has gone all-out against the RH bill. This is also why, I get hate mail and hate tweets after each televised debate. The comments can be quite mean, making me wonder what it is that I have said, no matter how scandalous, would make them feel so threatened that they would lash out with such anger.

I have been challenged often too about my agnosticism. Even the nicest ones seem to think that being uncertain is some kind of a defect. But there is to me, a spiritual gain to be had by accepting ambivalence, ambiguity and uncertainty. For one thing, that is how things are. The truth about what those who believe in a God call “creation” is that it is ever-changing, immense and un-graspable.

Perhaps there is a Truth (yes, with a capital T) out there. But it is not something, little-old-me can ascertain. I remain humble about the presence and laws of what a horoscope writer I follow calls, “the Divine wow”. God is not my FB friend. I ask Her often enough if She is out there and She does not answer. When I die I may dissolve and lose the consciousness that will say that the atheists are correct . If I am wrong and I awake—ooohlala—I will have more questions than a curious 5-year-old.

But for now, I have no need for grand answers in order to lead a harmless, happy and hopefully meaningful life. It is a comfort to me that I do not need ultimate guarantees. I am not a high maintenance child of the universe. I have a brain and enough energy to keep on figuring things out as the need arises. I plod along and get by not having yet committed things like abuse, theft or murder.

On really good days, the idea that no one can know for sure when human life begins really makes me ecstatic.

The psychology of moral certainty is the psychology of fear and/or laziness. Maybe when they were growing up, the parents who nurtured those who are morally-certain-Dr. Claudio-is-wrong-on-RH (and therefore we will never yield her a point, besides she is a lackey of the big pharmaceuticals and the imperialist population controllers) laid down the law about what to do, what is right and what is wrong. That can be comforting when one is little.

Simple and unquestionable rules can be comforting while parents can control the external environment against the views of those who disagree or the harm brought by those who are mean or criminal. Perhaps the very young ones need not be asked for the courage to face the immense unknowable.

But those of us who are hoping to live happy lives in a just society must find it in us to face our limitations. Parents must change the parameters of what they teach as a child matures morally and intellectually. Children must be taught not to be afraid of heterogeniety, diversity and uncertainty. They cannot be afraid of difference. Fundamental differences.

If we are afraid to be unsure, to accept that perhaps we and our family, religion, tribe, institutions, science, political party can be wrong, then we will be unable to accept when we are defeated on twitter or we will lash out in anger against people we only see on television.

And I am frightened indeed by the man who is so angry at me because of what I have said on television that he takes the time to tweet me venom. My heart goes out the woman who cannot find the grace to end a debate she started with some decorum.

Perhaps someday, we will raise all our children with enough moral courage so that they can face profound uncertainty with good cheer. At least we can rejoice that there are enough brave and moral people out there such that the scientific surveys show that the RH bill has wide support.”

Watch her make a subversive presentation on TV.

Great Living Filipino Thinkers, In Their Own Words 3: Forging a New Social Contract

EVERYBODY knows Sheila Coronel as the crusading journalist, the 2003 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee for Journalism, Literature and the Creative Communication Arts, and the founding director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.

Sheila-Coronel-by-Clark-Jones

In electing her to receive the award, the RMAF board of trustees recognized her for “leading a groundbreaking collaborative effort to develop investigative journalism as a critical component of democratic discourse in the Philippines.”

Since 2006, she is also the inaugural director of The Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism, and a professor at the Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

http://www.journalism.columbia.edu/profile/31-sheila-coronel/10

In a 2006 feature, Columbia Magazine described her as “one of the most tenacious reporters in the politically turbulent Philippines” (of the 1980s).

Yes, she has done all that, is all that, and more.

I report, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, March 2005

(Find our where you can borrow a copy of the book, Coups, Cults and Cannibals, here)

Of all her works, however, Forging a New Social Contract, her speech before the University of the Philippines School of Economics graduating class of 2006, is the piece I love the most because I feel it says–in the most straightforward manner–just about everything that has to be said about this country. It also makes clear, to many of us Filipinos, the reasons why we should still believe in struggling, every single day, to live well and do right–even if, despite.

Here are excertps from that speech:

“LET me take a break from all these economists talking and let me tell you about the face that haunts me when I cannot sleep at night. It is the face of Christian Alvarez, a frisky five-year old I met on the streets.

Christian lives in Plaza Miranda. He and his family sleep on milk cartons near the Mercury Drugstore in Quiapo. Plaza Miranda is his playground. That is also where he and his family eat breakfast everyday: a bowl of lugaw given free by the feeding center run by a Catholic charity in Quiapo church.

Christian’s parents, Rowena and Lawrence Alvarez, are street vendors who make P150 to P200 a day. They have eight children, three of whom — all boys — live on the plaza. Three others are in the care of relatives and friends because their parents do not earn enough to feed and house them. Another was entrusted to the care of an orphanage. The last one, a girl, then aged two, disappeared on the plaza one night when Lawrence left her to fetch water from the Jolibee outlet near Quiapo church.

Christian is at the Quiapo church feeding center with his entire family three times a day.

The day I went there, after the noon feeding, the boy shared with his parents and brothers their only real meal that day: three cups of rice bought for P5 each and pinakbet sold for P10 at the Quiapo market. So at 6 pm, Christian lined up again at the Quiapo church, for another bowl of steaming hot lugaw that will at least ensure that he will not go to sleep on an empty stomach.

Unless the situation of the Alvarez family is much improved, the future that awaits Christian is a life on the streets. Like his two other brothers, he will most likely go through two or three years of schooling at the elementary school nearby. He will likely drop out before the third or fourth grade — in fact, nearly 30 percent of all Filipino school children drop out before finishing sixth grade. After that, Christian will scrounge for a living on the streets — scavenging for recyclables, perhaps, or selling cigarettes and candies like his father, perhaps the occasional petty crime.

I wish I could say that the Alvarez family is a particularly special case. But it is not. In 2000, the proportion of the population not reaching the food threshold was 21 percent. One in every five Filipinos cannot afford to meet his minimum food needs. In current numbers, that’s 16 million people.

The numbers, if we look at them, are dismal. Over 30 million Filipinos live below poverty, earning less than the estimated P200 a day needed to keep a family of six clothed, fed, and housed. That is why many families now eat only one full meal — meaning rice and cooked food — a day. As marketing expert Ned Roberto found out in his study on the consumption patterns of the poor, ulam for many families in the lowest income strata these days are: patis, soy sauce, pork oil, sugar and even Pepsi. Many of these families can eat real food only once a week.

Let me give you more numbers. In the 1990s, we (PCIJ) wrote about the PEA-Amari case, billed as the “grandmother of all scams,” where close to P3 billion were paid in bribes and commissions to businessmen and officials — including, it was alleged at that time, the Speaker of the House and the Senate President.

In 2001, the Office of the Ombudsman alleged that Joseph Estrada accumulated up to P20 billion in cash and real estate in two-and-half years in Malacañang. Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos were believed to have amassed up to $10 billion in the 20 years they were in power. Recently, it has been alleged that P1 billion recovered from the Marcos wealth by the Arroyo government was used to bankroll the president’s 2004 election campaign.

To me, the scandal lies not so much in the scale of the thievery. The real scandal is that while all these officials were helping themselves to the national treasury, the country was going to ruin and families like those of Christian Alvarez’s were going homeless and hungry.

When hunger stalks millions not because there is a lack of food, but because the social system impoverishes the multitudes while enriching a privileged few, then there is something that is terribly wrong. We are not the Sudan, where millions go hungry in deserts ravaged by war and disease. We are a middle-income country rich in natural resources.”

Read the of the speech rest here 

More about Sheila here and here.

United States in Asia

Visiting United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Wednesday faced a grilling from Filipino students, as the United States scrambles to counterbalance China’s growing power in Asia.

I thought this made it a good time to republish this piece by radical nationalist Joel P Garduce, as background.

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KEEP THE FIRE by Joel P. Garduce
(published in Cebu’s The Voice, February 5, 2010, page 6)

Yesterday, February 4, marked the 111th anniversary of the beginning of what still stands as the bloodiest war in the history of the Filipino people. On that day in 1899, open hostilities broke out between invading U.S. troops and soldiers of the first republic in Asia.

Uncle Sam at the turn of the 20th century

The war came to be known in history classes and textbooks as the Filipino-American War. It’s a misnomer, really. Calling the war this way invokes an image no different from a boxing fight, where protagonists do battle as an end in itself, where there are no aggressors to speak of and no justice to be had. Which is obviously not the case with this war.

It would be more accurate and honest to call it the First Great Patriotic War of the Filipino People. For indeed, it was the first war waged by a newly born nation, the first patriotic war in Asia in fact to defend a republic against an invading army of 20,000 imperial troops (that eventually ballooned to 120,000 throughout the war) intent on taking out so soon a people’s freedom freshly gained from centuries-long colonial rule.

It was a war that was as ugly as it could get, a signal tragedy where both the peoples of the Philippines and the US lost their respective republics. On the Filipino side, more than a million Filipinos were killed to regain colonial oppression, most as victims of the barbaric “scorched-earth” policy of the U.S. armed occupation, employed via torture, hamletting, food blockades, and massacres of entire towns, including children.

Wounded granny during the Philippine-American war

On the American side, the victorious U.S. subjugation of a new foreign race consolidated the vicious rule of the robber barons, at a cost of 8,000 American lives and racism, workplace abuse, corruption and oppression running rampant in the homeland. Through systematic indoctrination of succeeding generations, this war, “among the cruelest conflicts in the annals of Western imperialism” as one American author put it, would be gutted out of the historical memory of both Americans and Filipinos.

Filipino civilians being interrogated at the start of American colonial rule.

Well, almost. Were it not for the effort—among others—of Americans of conscience like historian Howard Zinn, who died last week, the outstanding war crimes against the Filipino people may well have been entirely forgotten. Thanks to him and his most popular book, “A People’s History of the United States”, arguably the biggest-selling book on the full U.S. history, today’s generation in the U.S. has been made aware of a bloody and disdainful history of U.S. empire, and of the continuing epochal class struggle of the American people against it.

“A People’s History” was hugely successful. By the time Zinn collapsed fatally from a heart attack last January 27, it had already sold two million copies and gone through six editions since it was first published in 1980 with only 5,000 copies.

A 2008 graphic adaptation he co-authored with Mike Konopacki and Paul Buhle, called “A People’s History of American Empire”, would go further and boldly parallel the U.S. atrocities against our forefathers more than a hundred years ago to the human rights outrages that attended the U.S.-led war of terrorism ongoing since 9/11.

A 2009 TV docu titled “The People Speak” and based on Zinn’s book brought his views to a far-wider audience. Narrated by actor and his former neighbor Matt Damon, it featured readings and performances by various U.S. celebrities, like Viggo Mortensen of the “Lord of the Rings” fame, black actors Morgan Freeman and Danny Glover, Oscar winner Marisa Tomei, and musicians Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, Bob Dylan, Pink, Darryl “DMC” McDaniels, and John Legend. That a nontraditional take of U.S. history would gain much mainstream acceptance and admiration proves that the time for Zinn’s progressive standpoint and viewpoint has clearly come.

Zinn’s work complements efforts by select Filipino historians to speak historical truth to power. Half a decade before “A People’s History” first came out, anti-imperialist author Renato Constantino had already made the case for a people’s perspective in writing history with his acclaimed twin history volumes “The Philippines: A Past Revisited” and “The Philippines: The Continuing Past”. Then there’s the seminal “Philippine Society and Revolution” (PSR) written by Professor Jose Maria Sison using his nom de guerre Amado Guerrero. What may well be the most well-known history book in the Philippines, specially among the majority who remain downtrodden, PSR came out a full decade before “A People’s History”. (This year marks the 40th year since its publication.) In it, Sison tersely outlined Philippine history and society from a standpoint of an oppressed people daring to make history and change society.

A picture of a “water detail,” reportedly taken in May, 1901, in Sual, the Philippines. “It is a terrible torture,” one soldier wrote. Picture found in “The Water Cure”, Paul Kramer, newyorker.com, Feb 25 2008. Original photograph attributed to Corporal George J. Vennage c/o Ohio State University Rare Books and Manuscripts Library.

Zinn, Constantino and Sison all firmly believe the authentic heroes of history are the unlettered masses and that we ought to champion their hopes and aspirations if we intend to usher in a world of justice and social progress. We are honored to have them remind us all the need to intensely study history to reexamine seemingly unwanted but terribly vital memories, and unearth its lessons pregnant with guidance towards a bright future bereft of ugly and unjust wars, empires of greed, widespread misery and shackled freedoms—a bright future Filipinos, Americans and humankind at large truly deserve. ##

Joel Garduce is with the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP). This and previous contributions can be viewed online here.

View these historical photos:

http://jibrael.blogspot.com/2007/09/philippine-american-war-of-1899-1902.html

Watch this:
(for the footages, but ignore some parts of the commentary, which can be wrong)

Watch this: