Manila Mallified

I wrote this 15 years ago, on April 1996.

It was published in The Sunday Times, then under Jo-Anne Q. Maglipon. At that time, few people took notice of the piece,  but now I think people will realize how prophetic it really was. I think the only person who appreciated this piece at that time was the editor who copy edited it, Chit Estella.

Note that the figures are circa-1996, so the money spent to build a mall has likely doubled and the money earned  from having a mall may have quadrupled, thanks to shrewd Marketing, Ad & Promo and other mall departments. What has definitely gone down are actual wages and the actual purchasing power of the peso. 

WE CALL IT “MALLING,” and we urban dwellers do it every weekend, sometimes even more often.  Yet little do we know the extent to which we are being “mallified.”

In the last decade, shopping malls have spread so rapidly throughout the entire metropolis; they have sprung up, it seems, in every nook and cranny, in every available piece of what was once talahiban.

Today, there are some 60 or so shopping malls in the city.

Ayala Land, Inc. has 38 hectares of shopping centers in Makati alone.  SM Prime Holdings, the country’s largest owner-operator of shopping malls, owns four centers whose combined gross floor area—which covers only the area inside the mall—is 840 square meters.  Robinson’s Land Corporation, the property arm of JG Summit Holdings, Inc., operates two shopping malls, including its showcase mall, Robinson’s Galleria.

All three companies have immediate plans to expand their kingdoms: they are scrambling to build more malls in the city, and even in places like Cavite, Iloilo, Davao, Bacolod, Baguio, Cabanatuan and other growing cities outside Metro Manila.

Then, that’s speaking only of the malls developed by the “big ones.”

Riding the current boom in the property sector are hundreds of new firms out to put up their own malls in Manila and many other parts of the country.

At the rate developers are scrambling to erect malls, property development consultant—like Norberto de Jesus, President of AseaStar Management & Development Corporation—predict that there could be 200 to 300 in the country within the next three years.

[NOTES:

  • Today, Ayala Land, Inc. has Ayala Malls 9 malls — Glorietta, Greenbelt, Market!Market!, TriNoMa, Ayala Center Cebu, Bonifacio High Street/Serendra, Alabang Town Center, Marquee Mall, Abreeza.
  • SM Prime Holdings has a whopping 43 operating malls totalling a gross floor area of 4.5 million square metres located in Metro Manila,Olongapo City, Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, Tarlac, Lucena City, Pangasinan, Rizal, Angeles City, Bacolod City, Baguio City, Cagayan de Oro City, Cebu City, Metro Davao, Iloilo City and Naga City.
  • Robinson’s Land Corp’s Commercial Center Division has 28 shopping malls all over the country and generate more than 120 million visitors annually. In 2010, revenue from malls accounted for 39 percent of the company’s revenues.]

The “mallification” of the country, indeed.  But what does this mean? What does it indicate?

SM City Cagayan de Oro

SM City Cagayan de Oro (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

ECONOMISTS  would say that growth in our economy these last few years has given birth to an expanded middle class with more money to spend.  (Note, this was before the 1997 Asian crisis and the 2008 Great Recession.)

Growth has also led to the surge in the property development sector, and an upturn in business activities, creating a higher demand for office spaces, residential properties and commercial centers—or malls.  This, coupled with what sociologist may see as an emerging, exciting “mall culture” further spurs the demand for more malls.

But to what extent have mall developers created this demand? To what extent have they “mallified (read: mollified) us? Perhaps mall figures will show—

Shopping malls are asset bases that beautify the balance sheet,” explains Maricris A. Martinez, head of Landco Asset Management Inc.’s Commercial Centers Division—the firm that runs the Sta. Lucia East Grand Mall and Tutuban Center Mall.

Martinezexplains: “Land, first of all, is an asset that never depreciates.  Second, when you build a mall on a piece of land, this makes good business sense, since malls are strong asset bases with recurring and increasing cash flows,” she adds.

In short, the malls, themselves, can be used as collateral to loan the capital a developer might need for new ventures.  At the same time, operating malls—if done carefully—can be very lucrative.

EVERY BUSINESSMAN knows that to earn, you have to spend.

For developers of large shopping complexes and malls, the figures can be astounding.

For construction costs alone, a developer would have to spend some P10,000.00 to P15,000.00 for every square meter of the mall: these are the standard estimates of three top men involved in the construction of some of Manila’s bigger malls: Robinson’s Land Corp.’s Frederick Go, Sta. Lucia & Development Corporation’s Project Engineers Ricardo R. Santos and Mayon Consolidated Builders proprietor George Cham, who is involved in the construction of Baguio’s first mall, the Baguio Center Mall.

For a three-hectare gross floor area mall—a mall half the size of SM City’s (North Edsa in its 1996 size) main building—that comes to a whopping P600 million.  Smaller warehouse-types could go for P7,000.00 to P10,000.00 per square meter, while Robinson’s Place-Manila: 1 billion.

Apart from initial investments, the costs of running a mall are equally staggering: A 15-hectare mall (a mall as large as Sta. Lucia East Grand Mall) will have to spend at least P2.5 million every month to keep its common areas—or the areas outside of the shops of the mall—in tip-top condition.  The main money-eater would be light, electricity and water costs—since most malls are air-conditioned for 12 hours or more a day.  AseaStar’s De Jesus estimates that any mall—regardless of size—will have to spend some P70.00/square meter a month on air-conditioning alone.

Housekeeping costs follow, then security, then the cost of maintaining equipment.

Malls with special entertainment attractions—like SM Megamall and Sta. Lucia East Grand Mall with their ice-skating rinks—spend a whole lot more on their overhead costs. “Imagine the costs of keeping the ice-skating rink frozen day-in, day-out,” notes Landco’sMartinez, who is on top of the operations of the Sta. Lucia mall.  This is why developers are going into novel ways of cost-cutting: the Alabang Mall is built like an outdoor park to keep airconditioning costs down.

Staffing costs are also tremendous.  Like most malls, SM City has at least seven different departments: Leasing—charged to bring in and maintain tenants or shops, Operations for Maintenance (Engineering), Security and Janitorial Services, Administration, Personnel, Finance and Ad & Promo. The anchors—or establishments like the Supermarket, Amusement, Bowling, Theaters and Department Store that are known to draw-in shoppers—are all separate departments, too.

To keep the mall as clean and well guarded as malls go, at least two guards are needed for every entrance, plus two or three roving ones.  Almost the same number of janitors is needed.  The maintenance section is staffed with electrical, mechanical and structural engineers standing by and ever-ready to do structural and other repairs.  All together, a mall needs at least 500 people to run it. “This is roughly the same for small and large malls,” says AseaStar’s De Jesus, “because you need the same group of people to run a successful mall.”  A large mall like SM Megamall will have at l,000 people running it.

DESPITE THE huge costs of running and keeping a mall, developers still make bucks.

Malls make the bulk of their money from leasing out their spaces to shops.  While shops may pay a fixed monthly rent, the standard is to charge tenants on a percentage lease scheme.  This means that when a shop—say, Giordano—leases out a space in Greenbelt Mall, it pays a fixed rent, plus a percentage of its gross sales.

On top of this, Giordano will have to pay Greenbelt a sum of money for what is called CUSA or common usage area.  This sum covers part of the expenses to keep common areas clean, fixed, guarded, well-lit and air-conditioned.  In effect, malls actually charge part (or all) of the costs of running the mall to their tenants.  The shops in a mall, too, pay for the electricity, water and other utilities that they consume in their areas.   Shop owners also have to pay for their own renovations.

Lease rates vary according to category of shops—whether shops are: Sit-down Fast Foods (SDFFs) like Jollibee or McDonald’s, Fine Dines like Saisaki, Night Spots like Friday’s or Hard Rock Café, Clothing Shops like Bench or Levi’s, Shoe and Leather shops like Manel’s, Textiles, Optical, or Novelty shops.  Rent is much lower for services like banks, ATM centers, couriers like DHL, phone, mail, cellular phones or pagers shops.

Anchors—the amusement, drugstore, theaters, bookstores and supermarket are generally given much lower rates for the bigger spaces they take up.  Rates can also vary according to floor: mall consultants who study market habits claim that Filipinos are known to shop “horizontally”—most prefer to shop on the ground floor—so the rates on spaces on that floor are higher.

Despite all these differences, there are standard rates: in Manila, this is P400.00 to P500.00 per usage meter for shops on the ground floor, plus five percent for a food shop, or three percent for a clothing shop.  Rates on the higher floors are lower.  So, too, are rates in provincial malls.

In real figures, (based on an actual sampling) this monthly rent generally comes to something like (NOTE: Again, 1996 figures)

  • P 155,000.00 for a bakeshop
  • P 207,000.00 for a popular fast-food outlet
  • P 39,000.00 for a food kiosk
  • P 78,000.00 for a clothes shop
  • P 21,000.00 for a shoes & leather shop
  • P 51,000.00 for textile shop
  • P 20,000.00 for an optical shop
  • P 68,000.00 for a home appliance shop or music bar
  • P 88,000.00 for a bookstore
  • P 38,000.00 for a jewelry shop
  • P 20,000.00 for a bank or ATM center
  • and P7,000.00 for services.

For mall owners, that translates to P3.3 million a month gross income for a small mall, or some P10 million for a mall as big as SM City (245,000 square meters).  Rental rates are increased by 10 percent, too, every four years.

Leasing is not the only way for the malls to earn.  A large part of the income of malls comes from operating its anchors—the movie theaters, the supermarket, the amusement centers, bowling and other entertainment centers.  The theaters and supermarkets bring in the big bucks.  But for even for an amusement center like KC Wonderland, average monthly sales could range from a low of 750,000.00 to a high of over a million pesos.

For the retail giants that own SM Prime Holdings, the figures would be astronomical.  “SM has a structure where each department—the SM Department Store, the SM Supermarket, SM Food Court profits.  Even the Ad & Promo department is a profit center,” he notes.

There are still other ways for mall owners to secure their profits.

“There’s a lot of other income from malls, like sponsorship and advertising,” says De Jesus.

“We maximize the use of our space (at Sta. Lucia East Grand mall) by holding shows and tiangges,” explains Martinez.

INDEED, the maximization of space, of land— or turning land and space into money — is what malls are all about.  Big developers, particularly, seem to hold that key.

In 1995,AyalaLand’s consolidated revenue was P10.13 billion, leaping some 26 percent from its 1994 revenue.  Rentals of office and commercial centers wereAyalaLand’s third-highest revenue-earner: 16 percent of the revenues came from this sector.  Its income from malls was P 1.35 billion, a 23 percent growth from the last year.

That same year, Robinson’s Land Corp.’s gross revenues reached P965.6 million increasing 44 percent over 1994’s 671.63 million.  Shopping center revenues grew from P500 million to nearby P1 billion.

With money like that, it’s easy for developers—even small ones—to regain their investments. Most of those in the mall industry will say that a developer can regain his or her investment in anywhere from five to eight years: “In financials, five to seven years is what shows, but in actual operations, this (investment) is recovered in three to five years, “says De Jesus.

AND WHAT do the  mall developers do with the big bucks?

“Mallify” us even more.

Is this girl better off in a mall -- bombarded by images that make her overly conscious about her body shape -- or running in a park or a public playground?

Malls are very market-oriented.  To put up a mall, intensive researches are done to determine the population of the areas within a five-kilometer radius of the mall.  This is the targeted primary market, and it is studied very closely—what people eat, how much they earn, their culture, there buying habits.

Even before a mall begins to be constructed, developers know what the people in that area might want, what would tickle their fancy, what wants they could create.

Landco’s Martinez recounts this of operating a new mall in an area where malls were unknown: “At first people were scared to ride escalators, the elevators.  But now they see malls as a way of life.” 

Today “malling” is the cheapest—if not the only widely accessible—form of entertainment in the city.  Today, too, malls are touted as “family entertainment centers,” and not only as the “one-stop shop centers” that they used to be.

Any which way we look, there is no way we can escape the “mallification” of the city.  A key element of our urban society, they help small business grow: some of the bigger restaurants like Casa Ilongga began as stalls renting space from a mall’s food court.

Often, they kill off small retailers when they open shop: Baguio City market vendors are protesting plans of Uniwide Sales and Realty Resources Corp. to turn the area into a mixed-market-mall. They fear losing their businesses once Uniwide begins operating. [Note, that was never built, but Baguio retailers also protested against the entry of SM Baguio in the early noughties.]

The manpower needs of malls also provide much-needed employment for people in their vicinities.  They also cause traffic jams, despite the extensive traffic studies done before construction.

Some state-of-the-art forms of entertainment are found in malls: the interactive science museums, great bowling facilities.  Yet everything has to be paid for.

Increasing purchasing power and the expansion of the middle class cause a demand for malls, yes.  But to a larger extent, it is the good business sense of mall developers, their sharp marketing skills and the large sums of money that they pour in to Ad & Promo that have changed our lifestyles and sadly—our ways of looking at leisure.

As city dwellers we now look for the consumerist entertainment provided by our hundreds of malls.  But do we have a choice? We have been mallified

Make going to the park fashionable again.

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Hot Mama

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All is fair in love and war.

Or it it?

In the blistering heat of a conflict, SOMEONE brought up my sex life. Uh, I mean my EX sex life, because boy have I been celibate for years. Anyone, oh, anyone who has known me for the past decade will know that I have always lacked child care support, I have lugged my daughter around with me to interviews, to coverage, while putting newspapers to bed…So anything in my life frivolous, juicy, delicious or hot enough to be worthy of gossip, has to have happened a really long, long time ago.

But according to someone, I’m a “moral threat” to family and society. Wow. This is not the first time I’ve been punished for having a sexuality. Makes me wonder why God created that little piece of nerves down there … was it meant to become like my appendix?

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ALL this hullabaloo over humping and similar matters brought to fore the hypocrisy of Philippine society when it comes to sexuality. All these uptight sexual mores — especially among the middle class — but in reality, heck, we’re 80+ million Pinoys and growing at a rate of 2+percent.

Somebody’s gotta be getting it every minute. You do the math. Pinoy’s concept of being a woman seems so outdated — almost like it stopped at 1898. It’s either you’re Ilaw ng Tahanan (The Light of the Home) — the ever-martyric mother who keeps the hearth, cries and suffers in silence, or Dragon Lady for women who get into power, or Tandang Sora, or Maria Clara … or a slut.

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The ideal Pinay is powerless and sexless. And always puts herself last.

Makes me think that the Spanish friars who first came were actually shocked and threatened by our tropical sexuality so they proceeded to vigorously wipe it out and make Pinoys ashamed of it. After all, those bulitas (penile implants) were so common in prehispanic Philippines, read the historian William Henry Scott. His source couldn’t be any more objective – dictionaries of Tagalog terms collected by the first Spanish priests as they tried to communicate with those they sought to evangelize.

You can be a Viva Hot Babe, or a Margarita Lebumfacil Romualdez, or a Mareng Winnie Monsod, or a Cory Aquino. But no no no, not all of the above. If you have brains, you’re sexless. If you have any sort of sexual passion in you, you’re Viva Hot Babe.

And where men are concerned, the Pinoy husband goes home to his “clean” wife who does the dishes, keeps the home, takes care of the kids, and goes to the beerhouse if he wants something any racier than what he gets at home. As my friends, college-educated, A-student, young Filipinas in their 20s, say — Why can’t the hubby just do that same things to the wife?!

And even where writers are concerned, Fiipina writers (in English) are so damned sanitized. Where’s the Filipina Erica Jong? Or playful Pinay Rimbaud? Or the female Dante full of gusto for life and all its offerings? Or the Filipino version of Shanghai Baby? Even Forbidden Fruit, the erotic book by women in the 1990s was a collection of careful offerings.

ImageTWAS this kind of society that has forced me into frigidity for the past years. At 26, I realized that I had something important to say; I had my own voice as a writer and an advocate, but at some point I realized I wouldn’t be listened to or taken seriously if I kept on as the free spirit that I was. So I just stopped being a sexual being. Cold turkey. Just like I quit smoking.

Now, 10 years later, I realize that this was tantamount to female circumcision.

I HAD this conversation of this sort once with my prettier and braver cousin, MMR, who has always been brave about being on the edge, doing in-your-face things that have made our clan frown or squirm. MRR, by the way, is also a mother and a Scrabble champion many times over. Image

“There is no tribal word for vixen,” she mused. Neither is there a word for salacious, wanton, bawdy, sensual.

Or, as my friend Christian notes, sex in the country was seen more as something that people HAD to do (propagate), rather than something that people would want to do.

I also found out once from my uncle that the punishment for the erring tribal woman — banishment from the tribe –which, in early days was almost the same as death.

Enough of this now. Just click on the links and make your own conclusions. And for my dear friend who dragged out the sexual skeletons from the closet, these images are dedicated to you.Image Here’s wishing you the best humping for the rest of your life! Image

http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2008/01/20/magazine/20080120_CIRCUMCISION_SLIDESHOW_index.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germaine_Greer

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simone_de_Beauvoir

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2002/08/18/IN237263.DTL

The father, the son, their unholy ghosts

Cleaning out a black leather handbag, sturdy of structure, much like that which a postman would use, I wondered a bit about the weight, and Nick Joaquin’s Collected Verses fell out of the outside pocket.

Oh that’s what he was last reading before he died,I thought to myself reflexively, thinking of his books, his music collection in 80s-circa cassette tapes, his papers, his work, his life. Then I think, perhaps this is the son’s – and Joaquin was what he was last reading before he made that hurried journey away, why so hurried, I still don’t know.

It’s the last batch of things to clean. I’m done. I’ve been through everything, systematically filing, sorting, putting away, partly in an obsessive crusade against the cockroaches – how I hate those crawling creatures, I imagine I can smell them meters away – but the task, which has taken weeks, has never been unpleasant. Always a new discovery, always a fresh temptation to dig, resisted successfully by a decade or so of self-denial. Eraserheads in the dad’s collection? James Ingram among the son’s CDs? A lot of duplication in both (am I surprised?).

Poems. Letters. Scribbles. Sketches. The native carabao whip. Historic porn. The red papers. Reader’s Digest. National Geographic. i magazine. Books. Books. Books. Ishiguro. Dostoyevsky. Norman Mailer. Joyce Carol Oats. Erica Jong. Vonnegut. Garcia-Marquez. A. S. Byatt. Umberto Eco. Filipiniana. Documents. Documents. Documents. Candle covers. Masks. Incense among his things, loving brought back from a memorable trip to the Holy Land. Incense among the father’s things.

Gravesite of Filipino writer and National Arti...

Image via Wikipedia

The music, the books, the love of learning. The sensual nature. The immense and melancholy longing, stoically suffered in silence, the great talent, the tumultuous journey. A touch of bitterness, too, I share with the father for a potential never fully realized. His early death is a constant reminder to seize the day, squeeze the lemon dry, savor the lemonade if lemons are all life has to offer. Yes, I will suck the marrow of life, I say. But I am speaking to ghosts. One so far away, the other so far gone.

Photograph of the southern Milky Way over the Owachomo Bridge, Utah, by Jim Richardson.

http://www.thecommentfactory.com/interview-documentary-photographer-jim-richardson-on-meaning-technology-and-kansas-1867/

I would like to say that my love for you is as eternal as the stars…however, as we both know, many of the stars we see now have long been dead… But you should know that you will always be the man whom I love unconditionally (yes, it’s possible). Happy Valentine’s Day.

Great Living Filipino Thinkers, In Their Own Words 5: In Memory of Chit Estella

Here’s the fifth 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 Filomeno Santa Ana III, an economist and coordinator for the Manila-based Action for Economic Reforms.

AER is a policy advocacy group that promotes a development strategy for the country based on sustainable and equitable growth. Since its founding in 1996, AER has pushed for national tax reforms in order to mobilize domestic resources to finance development (and lessen dependence on foreign debt, an issue that cripples the country’s economic development ). Today, it is at the forefront of the advocacy to reform the excise tax on tobacco and alcohol products, as a critical first step to increase the tax effort significantly.

Men, as his colleagues and friends call him, is typically low-key, often relinquishing the limelight in favor of his many protégés. He is, after all and at his core, a mentor—and the country is truly a better place today because of the staunch nationalist activists and thinkers that he has, over the past 30 years, helped mold.

Men is a brilliant economist and communicator, and has been published in several volumes and journals.

finance or penance for the poor pdf
Found at ebookbrowse.com

Many of his writings published in the column, The Yellow Pad, illuminate the pressing issues of the day and use everyday language to make the rarefied field of economics understandable to ordinary Filipinos like you and me—the way economics should truly be. You can find many of these discussions here.

But for this blog, I am passing up Men’s more intellectual pieces for a heartfelt one that reveals his true genius both as a mentor and as a dispassionate analytical thinker able to identify workable solutions to issues, even in the middle of tragic circumstances:

In Memory of Chit Estella

“Friday the 13th is but a normal day for me. I do not believe in superstitions. In fact the 13th of May 2011 should have been a happy day for me. It was my youngest sister’s birthday, and we had a lively family affair and delightful dinner at Chef’s Table.”

“Then, in the course of the dinner, I received the tragic news through a text message from a journalist friend. The short message said: Chit Estella died in a vehicular accident near Philcoa.”

“A speeding bus hit the taxi that Chit boarded. At Chit’s wake I learned that two buses, outracing each other, were involved in the manslaughter. The first bus sideswiped the taxi, and in a trice, the second bus rammed the taxi’s body.”

“Chit’s death was senseless. Chit could have likewise died from an assassin’s bullet that befell many Filipino journalists. In her early life, she could have met a more heroic death.”

“Chit joined the revolutionary anti-dictatorship movement at the height of martial law repression. In doing so, she was ready to die for the cause. The Marcos regime had no compunction in jailing, torturing, and “salvaging” activists, especially during the early years of martial law. Chit belonged to that risk-taking, fiercely independent, and assertive band of young women journalists just out of college, the likes of Sheila Coronel, Malou Mangahas, Rochit Tañedo, Chuchay Molina, Yvonne Chua, et al., whose mighty pens pierced the dictatorship and contributed to its downfall.”

****

“An unforgettable funny story during her college days is worth recalling. It was an incident in a party of the Philippine Collegian staff, involving Chit and Ronald Simbulan. Chit and Roland (they would later become husband and wife) felt ill during the gathering. Roland surmised that a Marcos agent could have poisoned the food that they ate. It turned out though that it was not a case of the food poisoning. What happened was that the party’s host baked brownies that he laced with marijuana.”

“Of course, Roland’s fear was not without basis. Marcos’s agents were known to use dirty tricks to silence enemies. Marcos and the military wanted to crush the Collegian. Marcos jailed its two previous chief editors, namely Diwa Guinigundo (current Deputy Governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) and Ditto Sarmiento (a martyr). Protected by academic freedom, the Philippine Collegian, the official student newspaper of the University of the Philippines was then the only legal publication that consistently denounced the Marcos dictatorship.”

****

“The death of a brave and committed woman, a hero of our times, should not be in vain. We hope that she and the many faceless passengers who encountered the same death will obtain justice. This is not just about offering a reward of PhP100,000 for information that will lead to the arrest of the bus driver involved in the manslaughter. It is not simply about the order to “go after reckless drivers.”

It is high time authorities scrapped the “boundary system.” The “boundary system” requires the driver to give the vehicle owner a daily quota.The driver and his party earn the residual amount; that is, what is over and above the minimum quota. This is the kind of incentive that encourages bad driving habits.”

****

Even as we grieve over Chit’s death, we hope that her death will result in the prevention of similar deaths, which are a normal occurrence on the streets of Metro Manila. Changing the rules—specifically by removing the boundary system and replacing it with a wage system—will be the key.

Read the full piece here.

Beyond Prison and Hospital Arrest for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo

Remember this? Remember how we felt this way after the NBN-ZTE scandal?

Well, I have a gentler but more radical proposal for these people whose greed has gotten the better of them.

Rehabilitation.

After all, most progressives are at their very core, pro-life in the real sense of the word, and against cruel and inhuman punishment and the death penalty. So, too, is the Catholic Church.

Ergo, let’s unite forces on this one (despite our differences over the Reproductive Health bill) and pray for the speedy and just resolution of all the cases filed against ex-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Let’s pray that the Holy Spirit or the spirits of our anitos—or ancestors—hover inside the (un)august halls of the Supreme Court, helping shine the light on what should have been the nation’s last bulwark of democracy.

Let’s pray that Chief Justice Renato Corona gains the delicadeza to inhibit himself from all Arroyo cases.

AND JUST what do we have in mind for these people who have acted for so long with arrogance and impunity? 

Rehabilitate them.

Yup, rehab not extrajudicial killing, as evil is the resort of the weak, the challenged and the cowardly. 

Here are my suggestions:

1. Prosecute them, without impunity, in an impartial court. 

2. Give them time in a jail. No special treatment for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. But no need to give her extra difficult treatment on the other hand. I mean, who believes in an eye for an eye? Just give her what is  the normal treatment in our normal, overcrowded jails.

3. While in jail, give them time to review Philippine history, the Philippine Constitution, the Civil Service Code. For a few weeks, put them under a regimented schedule that includes lots of prayer, study time (topics above), and for leisure, watching movies like this: 

 http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/118279/Bayan-Ko-Kapit-Sa-Patalim/overview

4. Keep these images (and that of other heroes) around their room: 

 

Andrés Bonifacio y de Castro (30 November 1863 – 10 May 1897) was a Filipino nationalist and revolutionary. He was a founder and later Supremo (“supreme leader”) of the Katipunan movement which sought Philippine independence from Spanish colonial rule and began the Philippine Revolution.He is considered a de facto national hero of the Philippines.


Macario Sakay y de León was a Filipino general in the Philippine Revolution against Spain and in the Philippine-American War. He continued resistance against the United States following the official American declaration of the war’s end in 1902 and in the following year became president of the Tagalog Republic.Sakay was conned by the Americans into coming down from the mountains on promise of amnesty for him and his officials—on top of the formation of Philippine Assembly composed of Filipinos to serve as the gate of freedom. He was invited to receptions and banquets, one of which was a colonial trap where Sakay and his principal lieutenants were disarmed and arrested while the party was in progress. He was accused of banditry and hanged.


5. Remember, rehabilitation means:

“To restore to useful life, as through therapy and education or to restore to good condition, operation, or capacity.”

The assumption of rehabilitation is that people are not natively criminal and that it is possible to restore a criminal to a useful life, to a life in which they contribute to themselves and to society. Rather than punishing the harm out of a criminal, rehabilitation would seek, by means of education or therapy, to bring a criminal into a more normal state of mind, or into an attitude which would be helpful to society, rather than be harmful to society.

Because we recognize that these people who act with impunity are simply not in good mental condition, we also suggest psychotherapy? Try accupuncture. Perhaps there is an acupuncture spot that lessens greed? 

6. Part of their rehabilitation should also include:

a. Labor. Oh, no, not hard labor. Just the usual labor that 2/3 of our compatriots are forced to do everyday. Even better , the kind that many Filipino children have to undertake:


 
  

http://www.yidff.jp/97/cat051/97c083-e.html

b. Separation from family. For years, please. In the same manner that thousands of Filipinos are forced by a collapsing economy and a dysfunctional government to separate from their families and go abroad. We also suggest a six-month stint, at least, as a maid in Singapore. Read:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4165088.stm

c. Six months living in one of Metro Manila’s slums, where 40 percent of Manila denizens now live. I suggest Payatas or Baseco, Tondo, where generations after generations of Filipino families have lived without hope.




Don’t forget the daily fare of Lucky Me, Lucky Me and more Lucky Me!Oh, for rehabilitation to be effective, we have to take away some things:
No more breakfasts here:


No more limousine rides with a whole barangay of policemen with wang-wangs (sirens) blazing.
Instead, more rides here:


You know, Zen and the art of tricycle riding? Oh, and  please, don’t forget the exercise: 

AT THE END OF IT ALL, I am sure those once arrogant, greedy and power hungry will see the light.

So you see, our proposed solution is nothing, NOTHING compared what those in power have done to the best and thebrightest who offered their lives for a better country!

Let me end with a song dedicated to those who need to be rehabilitated from their greed:

My personal revenge will be the right
Of our children in the schools and in the gardens

My personal revenge will be to give you
This song which has flourished without panic

My personal revenge will be to show you
The kindness in the eyes of my people 
Who have always fought relentlessly in battle
And been generous and firm in victory.

My personal revenge will be to tell you good morning
On a street without beggars or homeless
When instead of jailing you I suggest
You shake away the sadness there that blinds you
And when you who have applied your hands in torture
Are unable to look up at what surrounds you
My personal revenge will be to give you
These hands that once you so mistreated
But have failed to take away their tenderness

It was the people who hated you the most
When rage became the language of their song
And underneath the skin of this town today
Its heart has been scarred forevermore

It was the people who hated you the most
When rage became the language of their song
And underneath the skin of this town today
Its heart has been scarred forevermore
And underneath the skin of this town today
Red and black, it’s heart’s been scarred forevermore


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.