Thursday, July 30, 2009

Food sovereignty

By Ma. Ceres P. Doyo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:45:00 07/30/2009

"Why should we prioritize the production of corn to feed animals in Korea when we cannot even feed all the Filipino people?" asked Arze Glipo, lead convenor of the Task Force Food Sovereignty (TFFS). Think about that.

A number of readers sent feedback on last week's column piece ("Global land grab, agricolonialism") and expressed alarm. One came from a Korean who felt shame that Korean companies are out to take over vast tracks of land in the Philippines and in other developing countries in order to meet Korea's needs for food and biofuel. Korea is not the only country doing this.

A Filipino working in an organic farm in Hokkaido, Japan also sent a letter. Another letter came from Alice Raymundo who belongs to the Task Force Food Sovereignty network. The NGO's name tells you there is reason to watch over our farmlands lest they fall into the hands of powerful countries that have only their own interest at heart. We used to think that sovereignty was only about territorial authority of the political kind. Now we can see that it also has something to do with the food on our table.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Global land grab, agricolonialism

Last week the Inquirer had a front-page story, “S. Korea leases 94,000ha in Mindoro; agri execs surprised”. It coincided with the July 2009 cover story of World Mission Magazine (“The Global Land Grab”) whose cover blurb says: “Huge amounts of farmland in poor nations are being bought or leased. The Philippines is on the map as a lease hotspot.”

World Mission (WM) is a Catholic monthly published by the Comboni Missionaries “as part of their ministry and program of missionary awareness in Asia.” It is not a pietistic publication. It deals with world social issues (hunger, poverty, disease, the environment, inspiring persons, religious dialogue) as well as spirituality and faith in these times. I know WM’s editor, Fr. Jose Antonio M. Rebelo MCCJ (wm.editor@gmail.com) and I’ve written a couple of articles for his feisty magazine. It is very well designed too.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Art in the time of swine flu

Sorry for corrupting the title of a great novel but just now I can’t think of how to describe a great and daring effort to showcase Philippine art in these dreadful times when health and home are under threat.

Manila will have its first international art fair, “Manilart 09”, starting today until July 19 at the NBC Tent, in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig. At last we have our own, and we don’t have to envy our next-door neighbors Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Taipei which regularly hold international art fairs and attract art lovers from all over the world.

Support Philippine art. Go, please, go, and go home with some great art pieces if you have the money to spread around. Enjoy what you buy. Your descendants will enjoy them too.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Welcome back, Mildred Perez. We are very proud of you.

And you, Chip Tsao, what say you? (We have not forgotten.)

Back two days ago from Hong Kong was the praiseworthy 38-year-old Filipino domestic helper who returned P2.1 million (HK$350,545) in cash and checks which she found in a garbage bin several months ago.

Why in a garbage bin? Because Mildred was scavenging. Because she had quit her job. Because she had an abusive employer. She had been rummaging through garbage piles for scraps in order to support herself and find means to pursue her case in court against her employer. She was out of work.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

'We are the world'

THE YEAR was 1985 when I first watched the TV documentary on how the song, “We are the world,” was made, line by line, note by note, part by part. While watching the final version being sung by 45 pop artists, individually in parts and as a chorus, plus the images of hunger and poverty, I had a very profound experience. The earth broke open, the landscape in my heart moved and I sank to the floor and wept.

Being more of a classical music listener, I was not a Michael Jackson follower, but I can say that I bought at least one Jackson recording, and that was “We are the world.” I still have the “USA for Africa” album in cassette tape (no CDs then) where it is the lead song. (USA stands for United Support of Artists.) There are nine other songs (not by Jackson) in the cassette but it was “We are the world” that I played over and over. Buying the album meant taking part in a huge fund-raising for a cause. And every time I played the song and sang along, I felt one with the world and the universe. It became my anthem.