Sunday, February 25, 2007

Gawad Kalinga goes worldwide

Philippine Daily Inquirer/News/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo and Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
Bishop says GK new kind of People Power

MANILA, Philippines -- Hope and a better life are the latest Filipino exports. Poor as it is, the Philippines would not be left behind in the sharing department.
Gawad Kalinga (GK), the highly successful housing and development project for the poor, is going global to improve the lives of the countless poor in other countries. This major step means familiar GK key people will have to be moved and new faces will emerge. That is all there is to it.
“Walang iwanan.” (Nobody leaves, nobody gets left behind.) This was what Gawad Kalinga’s charismatic, outgoing executive director Antonio Meloto said to counter a nasty newspaper rumor that he was leaving GK, the flagship housing and development project of Couples for Christ (CFC), along with GK chair Frank Padilla.

Meloto said the spin on his and Padilla’s change of status “had been given malice, whatever the reason.”

Thursday, February 22, 2007

American nun’s EDSA 1 letters (1)

Maryknoll missionary Sister Helen Graham has been working in the Philippines since 1967. As a theologian who teaches Sacred Scriptures in two religious institutions, Sr. Helen has put her theology into practice and has been very involved in justice and peace issues.

During the volatile season that preceded and culminated in the February 1986 EDSA 1 people power uprising, Sr. Helen chronicled daily events (from Feb. 10 to Feb. 26) in her letters to friends abroad. Here are excerpts:

Feb. 23, 1986

Dear everybody,

Greetings from Quezon City!! As you know Sec. Philip Habib was sent here by Reagan on a “fact finding” mission. He spoke with a number of influential figures and two times each with Ferdinand Marcos and Cory. Cory said that she told him not to bother seeing her if he was going to ask her to join Marcos’ government. Habib left around noon yesterday. At around 3:00 p.m. (or so) the drama began…

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Ken Saro Wiwa on my mind

When CNN reporter Jeff Koinanga got near the place where he was supposed to meet with his interviewee Jomo Gbomo, spokesman of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), his boat was surrounded by boatloads of armed men. Men in black, wearing bonnets, brandishing big firearms and shooting into the air, prancing, dancing. This was enough to sow terror in the heart of even the most hardened of journalists.

I couldn’t help recalling my own foray into the wilderness of Samar with a bunch of journalists. Using a motorized banca, we went through a heavily canopied river from the banks of which emerged heavily armed rebels who would lead us further into the wilderness and into the heart of a guerrilla movement. Into Tarzan territory, I called it. But we weren’t supposed to be frightened. Our hosts made sure of that.

When I saw the CNN footage I thought I had been there before. Except that this was the Niger Delta.

Were these armed men the ones supposed to meet with the journalist? Where was Jomo Gbomo? He was the one who supposedly did the inviting. Will he show his face? Would he emerge? Was this the right group? Jomo never got to present himself but the armed men had a surprise for the journalist: 24 Filipino hostages, all looking forlorn, frightened and forsaken.

(Jomo would later call the journalist to say MEND was not the one holding the hostages.)

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Vista and toxic e-waste

I wanted to be one of the countless gawkers in green or blue attire at last weekend’s Microsoft Vista launch at the seaside mall but when I imagined the number of people there who spoke computerese I changed my mind. Besides, I was not buying the new program. Not yet. I mean, we’d soon have to have it if there is no other one to choose.

Although I’m no techie, I’ve been reading up on Vista and what it can do for me. Microsoft’s Bill Gates himself said Vista took some five years to perfect so it must be awesome. But some computer experts say it still would need some fine-tuning once it gets out there and people start using it.

So what does this mean for all of us? Vista ruling our world vista, our cultural and information landscape, the way we do things, think, create and communicate? But what about our “hard copy” vista, that is, our terra firma, the hard ground on which we walk?

Greepeace has issued a warning on the e-waste, the e-junk, the e-garbage that Vista will generate. Greenpeace doesn’t mean the digital junk in your computer files and e-mail, it is referring to the material electronic junk that will pile up on the ground. Because every trying-hard Who’s Who in the computer world would want to shuck the old PC for a new computer bundle that comes with Vista plus plus.

Upgrading the old PC is too jurassic for some. Like, why go through the cumbersome upgrade when, for just a few bucks more, you get a whole new bundle?

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Ateneo’s 11

That is what we are about…It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning…We are prophets of a future that is not our own. –Martyred El Salvador Archbishop Oscar Romero (1917-1980)

In reverse alphabetical order: Manny Yap (1951-1976), Nick Solana, Jr. (1949-75), Lazzie Silva (1952-75), Ditto Sarmiento (1950-77), Dante Perez (1951-72), Eman Lacaba (1948-78), Edgar Jopson (1948-82), Sonny Hizon (1952-74), Jun Celestial (1950-74), Billy Begg (1959-75), Ferdie Arceo (1952-73).

All so young and so committed. Will there be another generation like theirs? (Yes, like ours, if I may interrupt and interject.) Will there be another call such as they had heard, will there be a another harvest such as this special crop?

The book “Living and Dying: In Memory of 11 Ateneo de Manila Martial Law Activists” by Cristina Jayme Montiel tells the story of these young men’s individual lives and deaths. It is about the process of their becoming, their journey into the wilderness and the final shedding and pouring out of their substance—so that others may live abundantly. Their dying was not only a physical one, it was, and more importantly, a dying to self even while they were alive.