Thursday, August 30, 2007

Heroes on my mind

Like the Tina Turner screamed, “We don’t need another heee-ro.” Not another dead one anyway.

But this month is for heroes, both the dead and the undead. And so we, the undead, had another round of the so-called “holiday economics” weekend. The newly dead are having their day, they are coming at us, hogging the headlines. Their message—“It is the soldier…” Their flag-draped coffins are continuously being marched before our eyes in very cinematic ways.

I play “Taps” on my mind and salute you all.

Strangely photogenic indeed are scenes of the heroic dead being brought to their resting places. Mourning becomes electric, as they say. The movies have unforgettable images of these. But even more awesome are the real-life scenes—choreographed procession, funeral dirge, riderless horse and all. But in the past millennium only one was Ghandi-an and only one was Ninoy-esque in scale and grandeur.

Terrifying are the funeral marches that cry to the heavens for vengeance, with protestors flailing the corpses of their heroes in a sea of grieving, raging humanity.

And heart-breaking are the ones held almost in secrecy or attended only by a few. Like Jesus’. Like the one of our lively guide in the wilderness where we spoke and broke bread with rebels and slept with armed women in a hut bristling with hand grenades and other deadly weapons. (That was many years ago, okay?) Soldiers caught up with his band, one day, and he took in the bullets so his comrades could slip away. A little candle in a darkened room was all he had, and a sister weeping, pointing to the rope marks on her brother’s neck.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

MDG mid-term review: Missing the target

Philippine Daily Inquirer/OPINION/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

The Philippines is “off the track”, it’s too soon to celebrate and there is a lot of work that needs to be done to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

2007 is midway the 15-year-long process of achieving the so-called MDGs targeted by the United Nations but the Philippines is still way off the expected results.

Social Watch Philippines gathered civil society groups last Aug. 15 and 16 to do a mid-term review of the MDGs and came up with conclusions and suggestions.

Among them: Government is “missing and messing up the MDG targets” and citizens should therefore help monitor government performance and push for an alternative budget for the MDGs.

The Philippines is one of 189 countries that signed in 2000 the Millennium Declaration and covenant to attain the MDGs by 2015. The MDGs refer to the eight goals and 18 targets that the international community committed to attain in 15 years.

The eight goals are 1)eradicate extreme poverty and hunger 2)achieve universal primary education, 3) promote gender equality, 4) reduce child mortality, 5) improve maternal health, 6) combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, 7) ensure environmental sustainability, and 8) develop a global partnership for development.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

‘Getting Home’ and going the extra mile

As a gesture of support for the film industry of this world, I told myself I will watch at least one film shown at the 9th Cinemanila International Film Festival (still going on, by the way) which has the presence of no less than US director Quentin Tarantino. The guy’s name is splashed on big banners at the Gateway Mall in Araneta Center, the festival’s venue.

I watched the Chinese film “Getting Home”, a “gently philosophical road comedy”, directed by Zhang Yang because the synopsis promised something so out of the ordinary. Also because I had watched a couple of really good Chinese ones in the past, among them, the award-winning “Not One Less” (starring rural school children as themselves) and the heart-breaking “Xiu-Xiu, The Sent-Down Girl”. These are minimalist films, if I may call them that, and do not belong to the “Crouching Tiger” genre that has elaborate sets, movements and plots.

I was not disappointed. When it was over I walked out of the theater with a smile on my face and a little tear in my eye. And “Getting Home” was supposed to be a comedy. You know, like “Ang Tatay Kong Nanay” (Dolphy and Nino Muhlach) is comedy but brings on the tears in the end. Because it is about human relationships.

Who’d ever think of making a film about a wandering corpse? Hold your horror, “Getting Home” isn’t a horror movie. It is about friendship and loyalty beyond death. Like, “How do I love thee, let me count the ways”. Countless indeed are the ways a friend would think of to prove his loyalty to a friend who died far away from home and in not so honorable a manner.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Rainy day thoughts

The falling of rain was front page news two days ago. For too long the parched metropolis and the rain-starved countryside had waited for the sky to open and wash clean the grime and slime of the oppressive (election) summer and renew life in faraway towns and farms.

While some parts of Asia were swirling in mud and excess rain water that caused thousands to perish, we in the Philippines had to resort to cloud-seeding, oratio imperata and threats of water rationing in order to avert a water crisis.

And then the rain poured.

Though farmers had to suffer losses because of the rain’s delay, there is still a lot to be thankful for, among them, lessons, lessons, lessons. And plans to address similar crises in the future.

But weren’t such plans made years ago when the El Nino-La Nina crises were playing out in our lives? What happened to those pond-like rain reservoirs and other water preservation methods for farmers to put in place?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Chinese RM awardees unlike China’s me-generation

One of this year’s seven Ramon Magsaysay awardees, China’s Chen Guangcheng who is blind, will not be able to come. He is in prison. Three of the seven RM awardees are from China.

This week’s Time magazine’s cover story is about China’s burgeoning young adults (under age 30) numbering about 300 million. Unflatteringly called the “me-generation”, they are post-Mao, post-cultural revolution babies born in the era of Deng and his successors. They woke up to the hum of a rapidly growing economy, made their first steps inside a bubble that radiated a sheen their parents never knew when they were that age.

Now these 20-sometings are taking over and living it up. Although their lives are still within the confines of a communist state, this so-called me-generation couldn’t care less. They have what they want, they enjoy the myriad pleasures and satisfaction the economy they work for could offer, so why rock the boat?

The hunger for democracy, the lack of it in China—that the world frowns on—is not going to hamper their lifestyle. The rural countryside and the poverty that still stalk millions who toil under deplorable conditions—these are not in their list of priorities.

That’s what the Time cover story tried to portray. As a 27-year-old advertising company owner said: “We are more self-centered. We live for ourselves, and that’s good. We contribute to the economy. That’s our power.”