Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Christmas song for Raymond

If I’d make a wish for Christmas
Each day would be like Christmas night
When we put aside our fighting
Find the warmth that comes from giving
When the rushing world slows down for once
To share a song of joy

Then the noise will fade
Weary hearts will find themselves at ease
Throughout the world, all men will learn
To live in Christmas peace

If I’d make a wish for Christmas
Each man would be more like a child
Hearts that marvel at the small things
Love and laughter everlasting
And a worldwide wonder as we raise our eyes
To a million shining stars

Only then will we see the Baby Jesus in our hearts
What a miracle, the Heavenly King born in our hearts… If I’d make a wish for Christmas…

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Reclaiming public water

A water rate hike in Metro Manila is upon us and Ek Sonn Chan is on my mind.

There is something that water managers, providers, consumers, conservationists, activists and worriers, etc. might need to read. It is “Reclaiming Public Water: Achievements, Struggles and Visions from Around the World.” It is about wide-ranging approaches in reforming urban public water systems that are being practiced in developing countries. It’s about vision and against-all-odds innovation. I don’t have the book but I have the abstract and lengthy discussion paper on it.

It was published in 2005 by the Netherlands-based prestigious Transnational Institute and Corporate Europe Observatory and has been going the rounds of international water forums. I picked up the abstract and several papers on water privatization at the recent Asia Europe People’s Forum in Helsinki. Water services privatization in debt-ridden developing countries was among the life-and-death topics discussed there. At first I thought, what’s water doing in debates on globalization and neo-liberalism? As I listened in I realized that water, or access to it, is no longer just a basic human right, it has also become a commodity, a merchandise, what with water services being privatized and taken over by giant multinationals out to make big profits.

The announcement on the water rate hike the other day was like a douse of cold water on consumers’ pre-Christmas warm-up. On New Year’s Day you’ll be paying more. That is also when the cold and dry season begins to be felt. Later, it segues into hot and dry, and humid too, and people will need to take a bath more often, wash clothes more often, water their plants more often. It is indeed ironic, for we have just experienced disasters of the watery kind that wiped out villages.

So are we wet or are we dry?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Climate change, the bigger enemy

While the Philippines was reeling from its yearly dose of typhoons, the worst of which struck recently, something related was happening elsewhere. The Twelfth Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Second Meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol was taking place at the UN office in Nairobi, Kenya from Nov. 6 to 17.

Kenya’s vice president Moody Awori told the delegates: “We are gathered this morning on behalf of humankind because we acknowledge that climate change is rapidly emerging as one of the most serious threats humanity will ever face.”

On a local scale for us, first, it was typhoon Milenyo, then came Reming, then Seniang—all within a span of a month or two, and the last two typhoons within a week of each other. It was as if these superhowlers were trying to be in synch with the political storm that has been buffeting this be-stormed and benighted country these past months.

After the skies had cleared and the body count had begun there was the usual blame-throwing. To Phivolcs: Were the warnings loud enough and the mudslide-prone areas warned? To the local governments: Were the warnings relayed to communities concerned? To the residents: Why didn’t you heed the warnings? To despoilers and destroyers of forest covers: You must pay for the destruction you have wrought. And so forth and so on.

Thursday, December 7, 2006

Puta man o santa man

Man's discovery that his genitalia could serve as a weapon to generate fear must rank as one of the most important discoveries of prehistoric times. From the prehistoric times to the present, rape has played a critical function. It is a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear.
-Susan Brownmiller, Against Our Will

I used the above quote last year shortly after the rape of “Nicole” landed in the news and created a furor. I use it again now that a conviction has been made.

Puta man o santa man…. Whore or saint—neither one deserves to be raped. This has been playing in my head for days, before and after the decision on the Subic rape case and until now. At first I thought saying it in Filipino would sound too vulgar but I changed my mind when I read yesterday’s front-page news in the Inquirer.

No less than a bishop—Bishop Oscar Cruz—was lecturing women on how not to get raped, as if there was a way to get raped. As if rape could partly be women’s fault, as if they would have it coming and could bring it upon themselves because of their way of dressing or behaving. Because it is but natural for men to respond by raping? Come on. Hello? I could feel blood rising to my face.