Mind you, explicit, exotic pictures are exposed. Not advisable to be read while eating, lest one will have to experience an unsettling feeling in the stomach that will later accompany the urge to vomit.
While I was looking for a good show that might kill the boredom I was dealing with during my last vacation, I was stunned and moved in surprise in seeing this lady who is seemingly a part of a tribe somewhere in Africa. She was with stuff in her lower lips, something which caused perplexities in my mind. Later after a light load of research in the net, I found out that this stuff is a lip plate – a traditional practice among the tribes in Africa, which usually catches the fervent attention of the tourists.
Much to my delight and fascination, I’ve read an article regarding this perplexing culture of these tribes.
The Mursi, Chai and Tirma are probably the last groups in Africa among whom it is still the norm for women to wear large pottery or wooden discs orplatesin their lowerlips. In fact, thelip-plate has become the chief visible distinguishing characteristic of the Mursi and it has made them a prime attraction for tourists. A girl’s lowerlipis cut, by her mother or by another woman of her settlement, when she reaches the age of 15 or 16. The cut is held open by a wooden plug until the wound heals. It appears to be up to the individual girl to decide how far to stretch thelip, by inserting progressively larger plugs over a period of several months. Moreover, some, but by no means all, girls persevere until theirlips can takeplatesof 12 centimetres or more in diameter; it is their choice to decide how they want to look like.
It is often claimed that the size of the lipplate is correlated with the size of a woman’s bridewealth. However, this is not born out by the fact that the marriages of many girls have already been arranged, and the amount of bridewealth to be paid by their husbands’ families has already been decided, before theirlips are cut. Another common idea is that the practice of cutting and stretching the lowerlip originated as a deliberate disfigurement, designed to make women and girls less attractive to slave traders. More likely, this ignores the fact that the Mursi themselves do not give such an historical explanation and that the practice is confined neither to Africa nor to women. Among the Kayapo of Brazil, for example, senior men wear a saucer-like disc, some six centimetres across, in the lowerlip (Turner, 1980). Like other forms of body decoration and alteration found the world over (like ear piercing, tattooing, and circumcision), thelip plate worn by Mursi women is best seen as an expression of social adulthood and reproductive potential. Likewise, it is a kind of bridge between the individual and society - between the biological ‘self’ and the social ‘self’.
Hell, isn’t that painful? Darn it, I guess that’s too much to be considered as part of culture and tradition. Aren’t these people aware of civil disobedience? In my speculation, this odd activity is more nerve-racking than circumcision. Imagine, these people tear their lips and they do not even put a thing which will alleviate the intensity of the pain. Ouch!
Well, I guess that is what the term culture is all about – preserving the norms and practices of one’s heritage, at any extent, even to the matter of life and death.
Thus far, almost all of the international agreements and cooperative efforts organized by UN have failed. This, I suppose, is alarming. Should the charter be blamed?
On top of the roster is the battle against global warming which apparently has ebbed for the last three years after United Nations’ failure to renew the Kyoto Protocol.
Likewise, with regard to nuclear-disarmament negotiations, results of collaborative projects between US and Russia seem to fall short in ensuring a nuclear arm-free society.
Apparently, the list continues: current events in the Middle East have extinguished chances for peace and order in the region; conditionalities and measures taken to assist global recovery on the back of Eurozone’s crises have been far weak and instable; and the acumen of the twenty finance ministers and central bank governors have not sufficed for a remedy.
“The causes and parties responsible for these failures are diverse,” says Former Prime Minister of France Michael Focard, “but there is one constant: in recent years, nationalistic, even xenophobic, rhetoric has intensified dramatically. Patriotism and sovereignty are now stressed ever more insistently, while expressions of distrust of “others” have appeared everywhere – even in the Arctic Ocean, where Canada and Russia are engaged in what one expert has called “Cold War lite.”
Focard furthers that this increasing balkanization among the international community leads to halt international conferences aimed for development goals. “These failures do not mean that most people around the world do not see eye-to-eye on these issues, or that they are unprepared to make timely, even courageous, decisions. Unfortunately, ordinary people’s sentiments rarely triumph when governments meet.”
This is where power among the international community matters.
Because consensus-oriented negotiations are a battle between the strong and the weak – the haves and the havenots, collaborative efforts on major global concerns tend to end in impasses.
For instance, the League of Nations was made after the World War I in an effort to promote international peace. Certainly, all members were given veto powers; however, because US, the Goliath among the political giants, refused to ratify its covenant, the League of Nations prematurely extinguished.
Its failure to commit to its essence resulted to the birth of the United Nations. Better structured and organized, UN has become an institution that embraces debate and deliberative decision-making measures which, as I see it, is way more extensive and attentive than consensus-driven organizations.
However, a terrible precedent has shifted UN’s performance. Focard writes, “In an effort to avoid resolutions or measures that expose their disagreements, the world’s great powers have adopted the habit of organizing worldwide debates and conferences that revert to decision-making by consensus.”
True to its goal, UN seeks to promote international security. Notwithstanding this fact, UN has become the key organizer of global summits, playing the role of an administrator and supplier of services and facilities for events agreed upon these conferences – the same events that are not even part of its core operations. As a result, critics are now coming to the fore, blaming UN for the failures of such global conferences.
It is but imperative to reform the decision-making process that circumvents within the arena of the international community. These negativities does not only undermine UN’s effectiveness, but also demeans its authority.
(For reference, see http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/rocard37/English.)
True, we have a damaged culture, and I – superbly – feel bad about it.
Probably, some Filipinos may be swollen with pride that their culture is tender, amorous, and affectionate culture. By contrast, if you will be sceptical about it, I believe you shall arrive at such conjecture – that our culture, contrary to what is deemed as caring, loving, and beautiful culture, is intolerant, cruel, domineering, and therefore ugly, culture. It is this unscrupulous culture that hoodwinks us from the reality; it is this terrible culture that keeps us scratching our heads wondering what we’ve done wrong, with an expression disclosed, “Is there still a way out?”
Attestations are circulating everywhere.
We have a culture of electing a leader whom we believe will start the change we have head-over-heels been wanting for, but later on, the “Masang Pinoy” will go on to the streets uniting to let this leader resign. “Patalsikin siya,” as they put it. This practice is significantly obvious especially in the case of Erap and GMA.
Thus, we have this culture wherein we put all the blame – guilt, culpability, and fault – to the government for our burden-after-burden things, but, as pity resides in me, we fail to realize that we ourselves are corruption-intolerant…that we ourselves are corrupt…that we ourselves, I’m sorry to say, are so stupid not to gather all of these thoughts and realizations, and thus we are responsible for what we are now.
Look at how squatters and informal settlers practice such cliché as “go forth and multiply” and then later blame the government for not supporting them, the OFWs who are to-the-highest-level engrossed with signature products of foreign land, men who pray the rosary and serve in the mass and then later get drunk and hit on their wives, bear many children, and start the rituals of putting the blame on the shoulders of others, and poignantly, the children – the next batch of Filipino leaders, professionals, etc. – are boorish and misleading of becoming artistas when they grow up, far stupid than aiming to be true artists – kudos to the stupidity of local TV.
It is never too late to be the nation whom we might have been, I strongly deem. I believe the best solution is simply, Filipinos need to think. I wish to emphasize it, T-H-I-N-K. Hell, culture is just manmade. Neither it is mandated by the law nor is it a law. Ironically, we treat it something more sacred – to the extent of not discerning what is really with our culture just coasting along just fine to abide with these practices.
As Nehru put it, “Culture is the widening of the mind and of the spirit.”
Now, widen your mind and your spirit. Come on. Think.
We are all in the same boat, coasting along an apocryphal, spurious voyage. The matter is, where do you find yourself? Are you in the upper deck of the ship, mingling with the so-called back seat drivers, or are you in the other side of the fence, fed up with the ponging pobres huddled in cramped quarters with their frayed belongings?
There has been a palpable line dividing our society between the rich and the poor. Conrado de Quiros pointed out the latent disparity or the true divide between these two terms. To be rich is not just to have thousands of bucks in your pocket; to be rich is to be abounding with possibility – to know that nothing is impossible; to perfectly understand that when you want something done, you can get it done.
By contrast, to be poor is to be deprived of opportunities – it is akin with feeding frenzy – you are attacked by countless, daunting forms of bleakness. It is to be thwarted with hopelessness and despondency; likewise it is to be literally meagre.
In this manner, a great challenge is egging us. We have to get down to brass tacks. We badly need to eradicate that line – that line which splits our nation; that line that encumbers our country from progress and impedes us from mobility. Yes, we are between a rock and a hard place. We are unsure of how we are going to wipe the line out. But I strongly believe, we can.
To those who are on top, how about going down and extending a hand to these underprivileged people, in lieu of keeping to the upper deck, where the breezes blow and the wine flows, where the sun shines and keeps you with a selfish glow? To those below, how about building an arsenal of hope, reaching for the better, and exerting great efforts that would alleviate poverty among yourselves?
If we really want to heal that rift and bridge that gap, we need to remember that a house divided against itself cannot stand. Likewise, everyone should unify and function together or else it will not work out, I suppose.
Now, tell me. Are you rich or poor? Pull the plug of poverty and thus make a stand.
“Who am I really?”
This query is inevitable in every one’s life. Yes, it is absolutely easy to raise, but I hardly locate for the most accurate answers which will alleviate my perplexities. Responding to this puzzling question is not like preparing a cup of coffee which will only take a minute or two; likewise it involves a long process which could be daunting to some. Because finding yourself, your identity, is akin with defining your own existence, I believe.
Scrutinizing my self – inside and out – I would get an answer of uncertainty. This only goes to show that I don’t totally recognize my own identity just as everyone in this world does. I would be hypocrite if I am going to say that I am perfectly aware of all the halls of my identity. Meaning, there are situations where I know how myself is going to react and deal with, in the same way that I recognize some unexpected behaviours which could have been products of pure emotions – no fuss, no frills. There are times when I ask myself, “Is this the way how I really wanted it to be or am I just considering what others would think of me?” These are very bases of knowing the self.
Though it is undoubtedly liberating to write, I have a confession to make – I sometimes consider what people would say and think about me. For instance, having a healthy physique, I always make it sure that I appear as elegant as the skinny ones because I fear that people may think of me as someone who is slovenly and untidy. This gives me restriction to wear limited types of clothing; likewise, in a deeper sense, this hinders me to appear my way and how I really wanted to in the public. Eventually, I acquire an identity as such – an identity which was most probably defined by external factors (in this case, the people in my society) – a bogus identity, I suppose. I am afraid to appear in the public with the same get-up as during the yesterdays because they might infer that I am cheap and unfit to belong to the fleet and this eventually causes me to work on my wardrobe although I believe I don’t have to. I am afraid to look poor because that’s the trend; they say Lasallians are well-off and therefore, I should walk the talk. This brings a lot of pressure especially to the bourgeois. Simple as it is, these “petty” things are sometimes the factors in forming a bogus identity to some people, including myself.
On the positive note, upon observing my own practices, I realize that my identity is not as perplexing as the schizophrenics’, of course. It is just that there are some aspects in my life that I have to be what others would dub as acceptable and belonging. This is primarily for the very reason of belonging to the society, although it reaches to the extent of disregarding my own preference. We are not totally free, as Prof. Calara puts it.
In every situation that comes our way, we have two options: to act based on our identity or to behave in a way that is acceptable to a particular group of people. As I contemplate myself, I noticed that most of the time, I choose to be me. I disregard what people might think of me as long as I perfectly know that there is nothing wrong with what I am doing and with that I will have to do. My last birthday celebration, for instance, was filled with solitude. Meaning, I spent it with myself, alone. Don’t get me wrong. I am not an outcast or whatnot – it is just that I really wanted to be secluded during that special day – apart from others. No pressure, no negotiations, no compromises. Just with myself – just with how I want things to flow. And you know what? That was the most memorable day in my life. And it makes me come back to Baguio and spend another euphoric moment with myself.
With all of these stuffs, I conclude that I am still the one who is shaping my own identity the way I want it to be, but with respect to the social factors which are influencing me e.g. family, peers, religion, environment, etc. But above all of these external factors, I strongly believe that it is still up to me if I am going to permit myself to be drowned into the sea of conformity; likewise it still depends on me if I am going to choose to be who really is me or to be influenced by such factors. At the end of the winding road, I seize each day, doing things my way, prioritizing my personal idea of the characteristics, knowledge, belief, and aspirations about things – things which separate me from others, things which shape my own identity.
Contrary to what smokers usually believe that “it is only their bodies they are hurting,” smoking does also affect the environment. As a matter of fact, it jeopardizes the same by posing lots of negative environmental impact.
Background of the Proposal
In an article from Wikipedia, smoking ban is defined as “a public policy, including criminal laws and occupational safety and health regulations, which prohibit tobacco smoking in workplaces and/or other public spaces.”
Smoking bans were first implemented in 1950 when Pope Urban VII ordered excommunication to anyone who was caught smoking or chewing tobacco near a church. However, this order was repealed by Pope Benedict XIII who was a tobacco user himself.
The history of smoking prohibition continued as other rulers in different parts of the world ordered the same.
Today, the ban continues with majority of the countries prohibiting smoking in public places and providing sanctions to violators. In the Philippines also, smoking ban is being practiced in different public places; however, despite the ad ban, the tobacco industry continues to seduce customers, notwithstanding the harmful effects it causes not only to the smokers, to the environment as well.
How smoking affects the environment?
A rough estimation of thirty percent of Filipinos in the country are smokers.While most people are aware of the damage that smoking does to their body, few are aware of the effects that smoking has on the environment.
Air Pollution – It is quite evident that smoking causes air pollution and to some extent also pollutes the ground. Approximately 4000 chemicals are present in cigarettes, which are breathed out and released in the atmosphere. This indicates that an enormous quantity of pollution is being released in the atmosphere every day. (Source: eHow.com)
Water Pollution – Pollution caused due to smoking is not confined only to the air or body but to some extent it is also responsible in polluting the land and the water. Every day millions of cigarette butts are left on the ground. Maximum of the cigarette butts finally end up in lakes and rivers. By mistake fishes and other water animals eat these butts resulting in death of these water bodies. The remaining butts left on the ground will approximately take 25-26 years to decompose. The various additives and chemicals are leached into the soil, polluting the soil as well as plants. During dry seasons cigarette butts can even cause major fire, which is even harmful for the environment. (Source: notosmoking.com)
Litter and Soil Degredation – In 2007, the number one waste found in community beach sweeps in the United States was cigarette butts. Those butts leach toxins into the soil, and are mistaken as food by birds. (Source: eHow.com)
Pesticides and Tobacco – Tobacco is one of the largest cash crops in the United States and ranks sixth among all agriculture for the amount of pesticides applied per acre. These pesticides end up in soil and water, and all 13 major pesticides used on tobacco have been shown to have some adverse affects on humans and animals. (Source: environment.org)
Smoking and Fire – Cigarettes and careless smoking are the number one cause of forest and home fires. Forest and home fires release a lot of pollution into the atmosphere each year, including plant toxins and dioxins from burning plastic products. (Source: eHow.com)
Rational and Objectives
“The rationale for smoke-free laws is based on the fact that smoking is optional and breathing is not,” as the overuse cliché goes. Therefore, smoking bans exist to protect not only the people who are deliberately exposed to the hazardous fumes smoking emits, but also the environment. Laws implementing bans on indoor smoking have been introduced by many countries in various forms over the years, with lots of research emphasizing the degradation of the environment brought about by smoking.
In addition, such laws may provide an avenue for a more sustainable development of our country. Risks caused by human interventions shall be impaired, thus benefiting the environment as a whole. Pollution shall addressed, among others.
Additional rationales for smoking restrictions include reduced risk of fire in areas with explosive hazards; cleanliness in places where food, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors, or precision instruments and machinery are produced; decreased legal liability; potentially reduced energy use via decreased ventilation needs; reduced quantities of litter; healthier environments; and giving smokers incentive to quit.
Furthermore, this project proposal aims to achieve the following specific objectives:
· To impair the intensity of pollution most especially in urban ecosystems by improving the quality of air, water, land and other natural resources;
· To terminate the production of chemicals in the tobacco industry and therefore provide an avenue for the same’s diversification by producing such chemicals in a more beneficial and efficient cause; and
· To give incentives for smokers to quit smoking, thus compelling them to improve on their health conditions, something which are deliberately affected by smoking.
Implementing Rules and Regulations
By total, I mean a rather complete and absolute prohibition of smoking in the country. Therefore, tobacco industries shall be terminated throughout the Philippines.
Where is smoking banned? The scope of the ban is within the territorial premises of the country. Smoking in all indoor public places is banned. Many places - such as cinemas and public transport - have rarely permitted smoking in recent years, and now places like pubs, restaurants, nightclubs and private members’ clubs will not be able to permit customers to smoke inside.
You also can’t smoke in offices or any workplace; you can’t smoke in a company vehicle that is used by several people; even if they are not in it at the time.
Smoking is still be banned at certain outdoor locations that are ‘substantially enclosed’, such as football grounds and covered walkways. It is also banned on all parts of a railway station, even open-air platforms.
Where can I smoke? If you want to smoke, get the hell out of this place and please do not jeopardize this innocent country.
What happens if I’m caught fag-in-hand?If you’re caught smoking, you could be charged of reclusion perpetua or lifetime imprisonment.
What about the tobacco industry? Should this affect the economy, would there still be smoking ban? I strongly believe that the economy shall not be impaired provided there will be a diversification on the part of the tobacco industry. By diversification, I mean they could invest into new ventures without totally restructuring the organization, just product development or perhaps differentiation techniques.
Having this potential plan being practiced in the country, I strongly believe that there will be no greater nation than the Philippines.
With a vast cultural and biological diversity we have, plus the fact that every Filipino contributes to its improvement and sustainability, I just can’t imagine the benefits it shall render to us. Imagine this country with no pollution at all; the air we breathe are as fresh as centuries way back; the water we drink are very clear and spanking new; the land where we step in is cultivated with lots of nutrients in it.
The best and the easiest way to control this environmental destruction is to stop buying this harmful product. It is tough to quit smoking but directly (your health) and indirectly (environment) it will be beneficial for you only.
Mind you, I just can’t imagine Philippines as a smoke-free country.
Binalot is not your typical enjoy-your-meal quick-service restaurant. When you nail your butt onto its seats and hit the menu teeming with foodstuffs of Filipino cuisine, you get to taste, as their mantra suggests, “The Ultimate Filipino Food Experience!”
An opportunity stabbed me in the front as the owner of the company himself, Mr. Rommel Juan – the brilliant mind crouching in humility behind the success stories of Binalot – delivered a talk in light with the 11th Young Economists’ Convention held in UST.
Undeniably, Binalot’s main attraction is its classic, culture-rich way of alluring the “Filipino” in every Pinoys and Pinays (although this may seem challenging as almost everyone in this space called Philippines goes Western – burgers & fries, pizzas & spaghettis, plastic spoons and styropacks). However, the Filipino pride in a fleet of young entrepreneurs in 1996 translated the rebirth of Pinoy originals – adobo (my personal favorite!) & bistek, tapa & tocino, sisig & longganisa, even salted egg & tomato.
Alright, I am already salivating.
What adds more to the watering of my mouth is an age-old yet very Filipino dining ritual that is way better economically and environmentally than styropacks – dining in banana leaves!
As a young economist (and soon to be one of the greatest economists in the universe, I fervently wish), my economic prowess approves and adheres to the corporate social responsibility of Binalot.
First of all, Binalot is a local player in the food industry. The success of its operations allocates significant contributions to the Philippine economy. If everyone prefers Binalot’s foodstuffs over McDo’s bland burger and allegedly cancerous fries and spaghetti, well, I guess it would make sense. Consumption of local products and services beefs up, adding to the country’s economic development. It also encourages us stick with our own products and services. We, economists, know that one of the major roots of the country’s trade deficit is that certain inclination of most Filipinos towards imported goods.
Second, Binalot is absolutely environmentally friendly. Instead of utilizing non-biodegradable styropacks and other craps, it makes use of banana leaves which are more eco-friendly, healthier, and more fashionably Filipino. In addition, this kind of strategy does not only benefit the company; it also gives employment opportunities to the farmers of Nagcarlan, Laguna. In fact, Binalot has established Dangal At Hanapbuhay para sa Nayon (DAHON), a program which helps farmers earn more from selling banana leaves. And as they plant and sell more of these sheaths, Binalot is assured of a steady supply of quality banana leaves at a low price, thus observing a cost-efficient technique.
Lastly, although it has little (if not nothing) to do with the two preceding points, Binalot’s Fiesta Adobo is just so good. Oh, you should try it with salted egg and snippets of tomatoes.
In the mean time, I am mulling over the idea of treating my friends to Binalot some other time. Don’t they get fed up with McDo?
After squeezing myself into an extremely jam-packed LRT station in Monumento during an insane rush hour, I happened to browse at a government-funded tabloid which headlines read Kongresista nanuntok umano ng gwardya. The article was pinpointing Mohammed Hussein Pangandaman, a first-term lawmaker from Lanao del Sur, who has found himself in the middle of brouhahas over allegations of mauling a security guard in a commercial car park in Quezon City. In an article from ABS-CBN.com, the guard, meanwhile, said, “Natatakot nga ako, syempre maliit na tao lang ako, ‘napulitika’ pa ako.”
This very occurrence has led me to contemplate about politics and the associations people usually carry with the highly contested term.
Due to the boundless scope of political philosophy and exhaustively disputed definition of politics, I decided to restrict my reflection consistent with the most common view of politics – that is, power. According to Heywood, there are four approaches in studying politics, namely: as the art of government, as public affairs, as compromise and consensus, and as power and the distribution of resources. But what I wish to emphasize in this reflection is the latter vantage point.
I strongly hold the belief that politics is more of an art than science. This is attributable to Aristotle’s philosophy in his famous book The Politics which made the observation that every polis (city-state) is a kind of association which possessed an independent system of control and authority.
By art I imply “a skill acquired by experience, study, or observation.” Having this said, I think that politics is the art of the government; therefore, more specifically, this translates to the government’s ability to make and enforce rules and to influence the behavior of individuals or groups.
Hence, studying politics has for its paramount purpose the epitome of knowledge and perception and understanding of the way a country is governed. “Its pre-eminent concern is the interrelationship between the government and the governed, and has an effect upon each other as human beings into a society that is instituted under the rule of law,” Nebres (2007) states.
Inspired with Aristotle’s philosophical musings, I reckon “man by nature is a political animal.” From this view, I infer that in any given unit of a social system, that is, two or more individuals interacting with one another, there necessarily exists a political relationship. Thus, I suppose politics always has to be a public affair; it always has to be an issue concerning the general public within a given realm.
This is in fact the precursor of the political concepts power, rule, authority, and furthermore, conflict.
Defensor-Santiago (2003), in her Political Philosophy, deliberately defines politics as “the conflict among groups in the pursuit of power.” This is something that I find forthright as it represents my belief in the concept of conflict and the resolution underlying it.
Moreover, contrary to common belief, I think that politics is a principled, civilized instrument of conflict resolution since it utilizes compromise and consensus as opposed to the conventional coercion and intimidation.
Nebres (2007) asserts politics as a “clash of ideas and interests.” In this regard, Defensor-Santiago (2003) adds that it uses political solution such as peaceful debate and arbitration in lieu of a martial one which more or less involves violence.
I believe that politics, however infamous and dirty its notion may seem within at least the local realm, should not be disdained yet be lauded. “Our central aim in this study [political philosophy] is to evaluate competing theories of justice to assess the strength and coherence of their arguments for the rightness of their views,” Defensor-Santiago (2003) emphasizes.
Having all these said and laid out in the open, I now further to my main point.
Power, as defined by Heywood (2007), is the ability to achieve a desired outcome. Defensor-Santiago (2003) stresses the conflict that arises as individuals or groups debate to achieve power.
Consequently, these ideas lead me to think that politics is quest for power. Every one claims to have a share of power. This means that politics involves the distribution or dispersion of any resources in general in order to satisfy the infinite, differing claims of human beings. However, resources such as power are limited – scarcity is prevalent – and therefore, this contributes to the conflicts between competing forces.
Froman, a political scientist, said politics is a “distribution of advantages and disadvantages among people through interaction with each other to satisfy their different wants and needs,” (Ayson & Reyes, 2000). In this regard, I believe that politics is a struggle; it is a quest to grapple influence and authority, something which makes use of a behavior to assert dominance. As Harold Lasswell’s Politics defines it, it is one “who gets what, when, and how.”
It is a fallacy to say that politics has never gone out of Malacanang. In fact, politics is clearly blatant at the heart of human nature. As Aristotle said, “man is a political animal.”
Politics is ubiquitous; it exists everywhere. It is within the halls of De La Salle University (where politics is extremely rampant, I believe), labor unions, business organizations such as Manny Pangilinan’s gang vis-à-vis PLDT, organizations of doctors, nurses, farmers, consumers, and whatnot. These instances clearly show that the domain of politics is never restrained within the murky tubs of dirty politicians.
“Natatakot nga ako, syempre maliit na tao lang ako, ‘napulitika’ pa ako.” This is incredibly more than a statement. It is the truth in Filipino context.
Defensor-Santiago, M. (2003). Political philosophy: Theory and current issues in politics. Quezon City: Central Professional Books, Inc.
Heywood, A. (2007). Politics. New York: Palgrave.
Nebres, A. M. (2007). Political science and power. Mandaluyong: National Book Store.
The fact is this: the lonely man is … invariably the man who loves life dearly which is to say, the joyful man.
—Thomas Wolfe, “God’s Lonely Man”
I have a confession to make. I love being alone. You know, in solitary, by myself. While others fret when they have no one to be with during lunch breaks and party gimmicks, I comfortably smile and be with myself, alone yet happy and fulfilled.
Please don’t get me wrong. Neither have I renounced the world nor am I a hermit. In fact, no one can value human relationship more than I. It’s just that it is at the heart of my nature to be private. I usually do things my way. For one thing, I don’t usually trust other people as I have sky-rocketing standards, and for another, I think my ideas are better than theirs. As a result, I normally don’t work well with any kind of social unit. You know, there are countless negotiations due to differing perspectives and interests, conciliations, and something that I constantly hate (and strive to master), compromises.
All these – privacy, love of solitude, and, at some point, self-centeredness – I owe to my family. I admit it. My family has defined the most, if not all, of my humanity. The way I think, act, behave. Basically, everything of who and what I am.
Which brings me to the extreme of my point.
I would like to think that I am a neoliberal – that is, I strongly believe that the role of the private sector should be significantly maximized in the determination and execution of the political and economic priorities of the state. This ideology seeks to transfer the control of the economy from public to private sector through implementing a number of policies, both fiscal and monetary, informed of the belief that it will produce a more efficient political and economic machine. These policies, I suppose, are the keys to an ideal Philippines – something that Juan dela Cruz has constantly been slouching for.
Political and economic policies
As mentioned earlier, neoliberals aspire for a limited government. They believe that there should be a minimal intervention of the public (the government) as transferring the rights to the private sector would yield to better resource management and thus a more efficient political and economic health. In this regard, staunch subscribers of the ideology has formulated certain policy implications which have gained approval from the well-respected International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB).
1. Fiscal Discipline – Neoliberals, myself included, assert fiscal discipline and tax reform in improving the budget standing of any state. I wish to cite as an example my own country. The Philippine government is in dire need of a reduction in government expenditures and a corresponding increase in revenues in order to wipe out the government’s trillion-some budget deficit. More specifically, the Aquino administration should totally eradicate the then infamous pork barrel (which was reestablished as Priority Development Assistance Fund perhaps to mislead people of its insistence) from the national budget as it has obviously become an arsenal of corrupt practices. Another way is by providing early retirement programs for redundant government positions. This may seem costly for it implies offering retirement benefits. However, this will cost the government less than it does in providing remuneration and employee benefits of the entire workforce.
2. Tax Reforms – In addition, the economic machine is in dire need to beef up government revenues. This can be done by strictly monitoring controls through developing a computerized tax collection system. More specifically, they should focus in the collection of direct tax (income tax). However, the government refuses to abide with this reform as manually auditing of millions of piles of income tax returns (ITRs) is cumbersome. In fact, as a rule of thumb, only a speck of dust (about 1 percent) of the total workforce’s ITRs are being audited by the government. You now know why a lot of tax evaders exists (I just hope you are not one of them).
3. Trade and Financial Liberalization – As one of the fundamental elements of liberalism, freedom under the law and market should exist, neoliberals suppose. Liberalizing trade means removing the tariff being imposed in the importation/exportation of goods and services of bilateral or multilateral parties. The government has succeed in implementing this policy through the ASEAN-China Free Trade Agreement effective January 2010. In fact, by 2020 and 2032, developed and developing countries under the World Trade Organization (WTO), respectively, will be exempt of the costly tax being levied on the goods and services.
On the other hand, financial liberalization implies the removal of restrictions on financial services. This means increasing the competition within the financial sector by accepting foreign players in the market, increasing capitalization of financial institutions via merger, joint venture or acquisition, and reducing the interest rates and increasing the efficiency of financial services.
4. Privatization and Deregulation – Neoliberals firmly hold onto the belief “private, good; public,bad.” This is reflected in their pursuit to privatize government-owned companies and corporations (GOCCs) – that is, to sell its assets and remove subsidies. For instance, the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) is now 80 percent privatized. Other examples of privatized GOCCs are Petron, MWSS, PNB, and PAL. Neoliberals believe that the government cannot efficiently maximize these entity’s potentiality to be sources of revenues. Instead, because of poor management and governance, the government tends to slack these entities off the priority list, thus costing them rather than beefing up the state’s revenues.
This is also the reason why neoliberals compel the government to deregulate certain industries. They want them to remove their control over production as the private sector has more capitalization in maximizing the industry’s role in improving the economy.
5. Liberal Policies on Foreign Investment and Money Supply – Lastly, there is a need to encourage more investors in the country in order to beef up the economic growth as well as to alleviate and stabilize inflation. More so, the government should also improve monetary controls such as imposing an annual 2-3% increase in money supply.
Getting down the brass tacks
Meanwhile, what is the connection of my solitary life with my political ideology? It is simply the fact that individualism is the core principle of liberal ideology. Being a neoliberal is, I suppose, a translation of my personality, that is, being a private person. As mentioned earlier, I really don’t work well with the public. I know that my political and economic machine works best privately – with the person whom I get to face in the mirror each day. After all, we are fundamentally alone. No matter how many millions of friends we have, we still exist as individuals.
People think of me as someone who is religious—a devoted Christian. They know me as God-fearing, one who always prays before meals and thanks God for the blessings and graces I receive. To my surprise, they even considered me entering a seminary run by Jesuits. They think I am a staunch believer of God. Truth is, I used to have such a mindset.
I graduated both elementary and high school from a conservative Catholic school in the north. When I was a child, I was made to believe that I am the masterpiece of God’s creation and that I was made after his image and likeness, so I ought to be good, generous and godlike all the time. I remember my Christian Living teacher, a nun, marking me absent because of not hearing mass on a Sunday. My mom dragged me along during Sundays to hear mass; she said I should lest my soul be eternally deep-fried in a pan filled with sizzling, hot oil and fire. I trembled in fear of that thought. Now in college I am enrolled in a Catholic university whose students are expected to be “Christian Achievers for God and Country.”
Ironic as it may seem, it is in the same Catholic institution that I learned to question the institutionalized belief system that my parents, when they brought me for baptism, have instilled in my mind for the last 17 years of my life. Apparently, the moment the priest poured in my forehead a cupful of water and smeared oil in it, my future was laid out in the open. It has deliberately preempted the kind of life I am supposed to live, the way I speak, dress, act, feel, and think. I was made to believe that God is the Supreme Being, the Creator, and that I owe everything to him, my life included. And so for several years, I have lived a life rooted in this belief. I believed that God exists because the world cannot exist were it not because of him; I believed that God is omnibenevolent and omnipotent even though he permitted not more than 600,000 Jews to be systematically murdered; I was even more faithful to him when my mom was diagnosed of breast cancer. Because that is how a Catholic is supposed to live his or her life. No questions raised, no side comments, no doubts inflicted. Just do it.
But then, had it not been through the efforts of a Catholic institution, I guess I would still be a donkey plodding astray, braying indifferently with the flock. This experience of losing innocence and gaining self-knowledge started while I was taking my basic philosophy course. There, I met a wide array of philosophers who argued for and against the existence of God. I learned snippets of philosophies that struck me and caused me sleepless nights, perplexed, reflecting and meditating about my life as a whole.
Please do not get me wrong. I am by no means claiming that I am metaphysically wise; neither do I hold that God exists nor do I deny that there is one. I guess the most indispensable knowledge that I have learned is that skill to question. Always ask questions. Ask questions about your belief systems, the values that the culture expects you to abide with. I learned to see things differently, to deviate from my own norms, and to isolate myself from certain things my culture expects me to carry.
Now, I can say that I have transcended my innocence. However, I am not certain on until when will I be wandering in the gray line between believing and not. I guess I am still in that point where I am stuck amid tugs of war. Yet, I am giving myself time or perhaps more time to know. Still I am hopeful that one day I will know and pick truths along my way.
im so excited for 2012, wuhoo. yes, im E-X-C-I-T-E-D!!!
i have so many plans for the coming year! new hope! new dreams! adventure! im looking forward to a sensible, great experience of 2012!! of course, included in the roster are things that i want to change about myself. honestly, i have changed a lot since the later part of this year. changes in my beliefs, how i view and perceive things, how i treat challenges, et cetera. i cant exactly explicate how i feel about these dramatic changes about myself. nevertheless, fresh hopes and aspirations are egging me to forget about all the drama and enjoy!!
tomorrow, ill start making my to-do list and my new year’s resolutions. im really looking forward to a new me! yeah, i will reinvent myself! isn’t that exciting??? i will redefine myself using my own standards. how is that possible? i don’t know. i just feel like i do procure some sense of originality and individuality even though at some point i recognize the fact that majority, if not all, of myself was and is defined by the standards of my own culture.
i am promising myself that 2012 will be a better year (at least for me)!!! hmm, i still dont have plans on how to welcome the new year, though. forget about all the rituals anyway. what matters to me right now is the journey that awaits me. as they say, it’s the essence that really counts. all the rituals and customs are just ‘incidental’ (or so i think). hahaha!
dear 2012, wait for me. ;)
im missing my brother. :(
i realized i have constantly been searching. and when one candidate pulls over, my instinct compels me to give in, making me believe that it is what ive been looking for.
i am now back to being hedonist. this is life~ wuhoo :))
one last push…and hello hedonist life!!! hahahaha!! one last exam na lang and im off to heaven na wuhhoooo.. \m/
for now, lets play tetris muna. lol!
I like you.
I like you because you are so true.
You’re eyes, they are doors
to your purity and authenticity.
I like your eyes. When I steal looks from those eyes,
I see snippets of your dreams and fantasies.
I wish, you also peer mine.
They are wanting to be part of your dreams.
See you in Worlds. :)