Wednesday, 24 May 2017

"Restoring order or Intensifying Chaos?"

"Restoring order or Intensifying Chaos?"

On the recent attacks in Marawi city
And the declaration of Martial Law all over Mindanao

The recent events in Marawi city means an attempt to break hell to a regime that is, trying to be synonymous with restoring order and stability.

For as armed terrorists, fueled with their brand of religious fanaticism are creating havoc in the city, the government is simply replying not with a mere state of emergency over the city but rather Martial Rule all over the island of Mindanao. The island-wide imposition, which is made hours ago, been made on the narrow pretext of armed clashes between the military and bandit groups like Abu Sayyaf and the Maute Group, whose leaders are have also known links with military officials. 

Obviously, it is worth strongly denouncable on the first place knowing that by declaring Martial rule in the island means having a free hand for the military to create "harsh measures" including those of illegal arrests, stockades, and even torture. 
And by declaring it showed how President Duterte has gone beyond the threats and theatrics of the past months; and being justified by its fanatics whose perception of restoring order and discipline includes having collateral damages towards the innocent in case of earlier events like "Operation Tokhang" and its anti-narcotic operations.

Furthermore, that havoc reminds everyone on how Zamboanga City was razed to the ground in 2013 by the military with aerial bombardments and heavy gunfire. Using the "anti-insurgent operations" as its alibi, such havoc may also meant keeping further interests, especially with the military serving as its attack dogs searching for its prey including the innocents. Like "Operation Tokhang", that declaration, in spite of its intended pupose of restoring order, doesn't equate to development nor even restoring justice, but most likely intensifying repression as in the past operations like in 1973. 

And with such actions, one may think that Duterte’s martial law declaration in Mindanao has gone beyond Marawi, as well as having a much wider target and purpose. He has declared that he will be as “as harsh” as his idol Marcos, that in using issues like criminality, illegal drugs, rather foreboding the worst kinds of human rights violations and fascist attacks against the people particularly the masses. In doing so by using Marawi and the entire Mindanao island, the president has practically ordered the military to impose its rule and may carry out more abuses with extreme impunity. 

And thus, makes the Filipino people will hold him directly responsible for all the abuses perpetrated by the military and police under his martial rule. Sorry to say those words but knowing that these fanatics wanted that kind of order through martial rule, then is this the change they're talking about? For in Mindanao, The civil-democratic rights of the people are being curtailed as they are subjected to checkpoints, warrantless arrests, curfews and other restrictions. Worse, it further shows that the reactionaries will surely be more barefaced in employing military and police forces, being the attack dogs of the ruling order to suppress the struggles of workers and peasants and other sectors for genuine land reform, higher wages, better living conditions as well as environmental protection against foreign mining operations. With martial law in Mindanao, Duterte has imposed himself as a military ruler ready to ram through the bureaucracy and trample on civilian processes. He did it in the face of persistent contradictions among the ruling classes, with coup threats and other machinations within the order. 

By doing so, the president is asserting his role as commander-in-chief in the hope that he can ingratiate himself with the military echelon and preempt plans of certain military officials from undertaking a coup d’etat. Along the same objectives, he has also appointed an increasing number of military officials in his cabinet and other government agencies like ex-Generals Cimatu for the Environment and Natural Resources and Visaya for Electrification, Ano is even selected as Interior and Local Government Secretary in the hope that his capabilities may also "end the drug problem". 

On the other hand, the handful of progressives in his government like Agrarian Reform's Mariano and Social Welfare's Taguiwalo have become ever more marginalized and threatened. It is also in Mindanao wherein farmers took strike against Lorenzo's Lapanday for the latter stubbornly not submitting to the former's demands such as giving back the land; as well as the issue on Indigenous tribes fighting against state-supported developmental aggression like mining and plantation expansions affecting commuities and its way of life, usually resulting to bloodshed if not equating a just action to subversion.

In the past few months, the military has committed countless abuses against the people, placing entire communities under military rule in waging its counter-revolutionary Oplan Kapayapaan. As in the past military operations like "Lambat Bitag", "Bantay Laya", and "Bayanihan", the present military operation has done forcible evacuation and hamletting of communities, aerial bombings and a myriad forms of military abuses. These enough to show the regime, in spite of its "promise of change", is first, prioritising the interests of the ruling few with the latter desperately consolidating their interests amidst popular opposition. Again, it may expand that military rule into the entire country using "criminality" as its pretext.

But all in all, what everyone see in every news is a war between two stooges in a town full of innocents. With the burnings, killings, everything that leaves a trail of blood, it creates a scenario wherein fear prevails over justice, of distrust and of infamy; not knowing that both the military and bandits like the Abu Sayyaf and Maute Group are but stooges of the same entity such as the United States. Sorry to say this but not all soldiers are patriots and not even religious are fanatics. Is the burning of Marawi just? Even in the laws of war for Muslims it isn't. Worse, in advocating total military action and telling that "there will be collateral damage" towards civilians be like: "It is better and more satisfactory to acquit a thousand guilty persons than to put a single innocent one to death."

And with all these truths, it means a just call for its immediate lifting and restoration of civil rights in Mindanao (as well as in other areas affected by militarisation). For in spite of the justifications brought about by the ruling administration and its apologetics, the imposition of martial law and the worsening human rights abuses in the entire country that will come out of it will surely be brought forward as violations of existing agreements, such as the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

And frankly speaking, this person, like everyone else who desired for a just and lasting peace, doesn't want this bloody scenario to happen be it now and in the future.

Unless you are an apathetic who does not care about its surrounding and talks about their own hypebeasts.

Monday, 22 May 2017

A fizzy memory: How COSMOS satisfied Filipinos (and HongKongers) with soda

A fizzy memory: 
How COSMOS satisfied Filipinos (and HongKongers) with soda

(Or how COSMOS's rise and fall also created a lesson
 for successful yet so struggling entrepreneurs)

Pop Cola, Sarsi, Cheers, Sunta. Upon hearing those familiar names, then when was the time everyone afforded to drink all these? These may be the one of the few questions when everyone recalled these recognizable softdrinks that was once sold in sari-sari stores such as in the metro.

And with all these drinks carrying familiar names happen all because of its once-known manufacturer: Cosmos Bottling Corporation.

Few people may have heard about its corporate story all despite getting familiared with their known brands with all their nostalgia. And because of it somehow made this person thinks about making a story about the company's rise and fall, all based from its existing articles unearthed and researched.

Its humbly yet fizzy beginnings

It all started in 1918 when Wong Ning (黃海山), a native of Guangdong Province, migrated to the Philippines and established the Manila Aerated Water Factory along Misericordia St. in Manila. It used to create cheap sodas Filipinos and even Americans love to enjoy, especially when Coca Cola was imported until 1927 (when San Miguel gained rights to bottle Coke outside the United States).

Like Beer, Filipinos before do love softdrinks especially those of Sarsaparilla as westerners enjoy much their root beer, especially when elders remember mixing Sarsaparilla with raw egg to "improve their constitution" or mixed with "Gawgaw" starch for diarrhea. Sounds disgusting to drink a softdrink mixed with egg if not smacks of Folk medicine with all its "wonders" isn't it? After all, that sarsaparilla was known at first: from a medicinal plant made for a medicinal drink. 

Left: Cosmos soda bottled in the Philippines 
Right: Cosmos soda bottled in Hong Kong

However, when World War II broke out, the Imperial Japanese Army imprisoned Wong Ning because of his affiliation with the Kuomintang government and later he died in prison. His seven children, led by the eldest son Dr. Henry Gao-Hong Wong (黃如熊) took over the family business after the War and Manila Aerated Water was renamed Manila-Cosmos Aerated Water Factory in 1945 followed by Cosmos Bottling Company (later Corporation).

Enter Henry (and how he made Cosmos

Henry Gao-Hong Wong
(Son of Wong Ming and second generation owner
of Cosmos Bottling Corporation)
As the head of group, Henry spent most of his time in the Philippines but visited Hong Kong at least once a year as old newspapers clippings show. Trained as an economist with master and doctoral degrees in economics from the Dominican-owned University of Santo Tomas (UST), Henry also worked part time as an economics lecturer at his alma mater and associate professor in economics at University of the East (UE) that was then under the known Francisco Dalupan.

Known for his administrative skill and experience, as well as honest and fair that gained respect and obedience from his siblings, Cosmos rose up from a state of stagnation to becoming a major player right after WWII, and remained the only local brand left to fight the global giants as it became the number two player in the Filipino market with its popular Macos Softdrinks (the old advertisement feat. an orange soda above), which was then paved way to its much-known names like Sarsi root beer, Sunta orange soda, Cheers, and finally: Pop Cola.

An earlier version of Pop Cola in the 1970s-1980s
Bottles of Pop Cola (circa 2000s)
Pop Cola, which was originally known as "Cosmos soda", was remembered for its tagline "So full of Cola Goodness from the USA" yet it was "reasonably priced", as well as being "Proudly Filipino" for as it competed against well-known, foreign-based giants like Coca Cola and Pepsi. There were other sodas which been produced locally however it didn't thrive compared to these three known names.

Another well known brand, "Sarsi", was originally called as Cosmos Sarsaparilla until the 70s, until it was replaced by its modern name, which is a shortened name for sarsaparilla. As in the past, Sarsi was also known as a "folk medicine", mixing it with raw egg to "improve their constitution" or with "Gawgaw" starch for their stomach problems like diarrhea.

Expansion into HongKong
(and how HongKongers enjoyed it)

1955 Cosmos Beverage advertisement from Hong Kong:
each 12 oz bottle only cost 15 cents
Whilst being familiared by many Filipinos for its affordability and taste, Cosmos was also enjoyed by HongKongers (both Chinese and Britishers alike) that in 1947, Henry Wong expanded into the Hong Kong market with the creation of Cosmos Aerated Water Co Ltd. However, it seemed to be unclear what prompted the Wong family to expand into the Hong Kong market but since they are Cantonese (which is a minority group in the Filipino Chinese community that was and still is dominated by Fukienese), they have no language barrier in operating in the colony where Cantonese is one of the major language besides Mandarin and of course, English.

With the bottle shown earlier (besides the Filipino version), Cosmos tends to offer a cheap alternative not just to Coca Cola and Pepsi, but also other HK-based brands like Birley's and Watson's. From its first plant in Hong Kong, located at 350-352 Castle Peak Road (青山道) in Kowloon it produced 4,000 dozens (48,000 bottles) daily.
And by the mid-1950s, Cosmos became a popular soft drink brand and due to the rising demand in beverages, they relocated to a 10000 sq feet new plant in To Kwa Wan (土瓜灣) in October 1954. The factory was located at 9 Mok Cheong Street (木廠街) where other softdrink/aerated water companies such as Bireley’s and Watsons also had their bottling facility.

The firm spent HK$ 300,000 to buy state of art machines from the United States for this new plant, such as soft drink injection machines, bottle washing machines, ultraviolet sterilizing machines and steam pressure cookers and the new plant was capable of producing 3,000 bottles per hour.

And just like the Philippines, Cosmos offered them varieties of soft drink: which included Sarsaparilla, Orange, Lime, and Lemon; however, in HongKong it offered other flavours like Cream Soda, Mulberry, Grape and Pineapple.

A Patriarch's death,
An intelligent son willing to take place,
Enter William Ma Padua (to lead for a moment)

Cosmos somehow thrived better under the Wongs both in the Philippines and in Hong Kong. However, things turned different as Henry Wong suffered a stroke caused by a brain tumor and died at the age of 53 in 1970. According to his eldest son, Danny Wong Barrenchea, he detailed the events prior to his death: 

“The day before Papa died, he could barely breathe. His second brother Hubert visited him in the hospital. Papa with a frail voice just told him, ‘Bahala na kayo’ (Please take care of things). The next morning, he was dead."

The stockholders, composed of Henry’s three brothers, a cousin, a nephew and his eldest son Danny, met after the burial to decide who will succeed the late patriarch as president. And Following Chinese tradition, the members of the immediate family would always have the preferential status over the secondary families.
And Danny was next in line to lead the corporation.

However, Danny was an inexperienced one. He was barely a year in business despite having his Masters on Business Management in the United States. he was requested by his father to return home to learn the intricacies of running the operations of the enterprise. Danny had the right qualifications except the experience like his predecessors, so expectedly, an outsider was chosen to lead the business.
But, that outsider wasn't really an outsider as others may think of, but rather his father's cousin who also served as one of the company's executives: William Ma Padua.

William Ma Padua
Danny understood and respected the decision of his uncles, knowing that due to his inadequate experience in handling the bottling business, and even his young age, he had no choice but to have an experienced person like Padua to take over as president, least temporarily.
And given the experience, education, and devotion to the business, William Ma Padua made Cosmos somehow stable. There he empowered the younger executives including Danny to make the decisions and learn from their mistakes. He set the guidelines and we worked within the guidelines. The business grew and we continued with our expansion.

But despite the so-called "stability, growth and expansion", still, another unexpected crisis happened. For after ten years of continued growth, William, in one of his visits to the United States, suffered a mild heart attack and immediately decided to “call it quits”.

Padua resigned,
An heir still bypassed
(And seeing a company mismanaged)

With the vacuum created by the untimely resignation of William Ma Padua and to avoid choosing one nephew over the other, the siblings of Danny’s father decided to let the number two brother, Hubert Wong, who was the chairman at the time, assumed the direct operations of the company as President and Chief Executive Officer. Danny was again bypassed and referred to the decision of his uncles (and the family council) not only “unfair but clearly an emotional one.”

However, unlike his uncle William, Danny also knew that his uncle Hubert was so incompetent compared to himself who is willing to provide solutions for the struggling company. In one of his frustrations, he said:

”Can a person without a college degree, did not succeed in business, lacked human relations skills, stubborn, and who believed that he was always right but afraid to make important business decisions, run a family business made up of people from different families? My uncle was all of the above!”

And that straightforward kind of description was based on having a demoralised management, especially from the family members working at at the company. And instead of solving relationship problems and rectify errors altogether, Hubert Wong rather challenge family members who did not like the way he run things to quit, or sell out the company altogether if they can find a buyer.
And that latter was what the other family members did (with some for sure initially hesitated). For with all the squabbles happening almost regularly in the offices, the disputes continued with increasing acrimony amongst administrators/relatives, coupled with shouting accusations during board meetings, and even strikes from the factory workers calling for wage hikes, these almost-bloodied situation reached a boiling point that prompted family members to entertain the idea of selling the company to outside parties.

Then along came Concepcion's RFM
(and sold for wrong reasons
and for a wrong price!- Barranechea)

A once-Cosmos soda factory at Malabon
In 1989, all after the internal disagreements, arguments within meetings, and workers strikes, the Wong family eventually sold Cosmos Bottling to RFM Corporation and the firm was listed on the Philippines Stock Exchange in 1994. It was realised  few years after Jose Concepcion's appointment as RFM head in 1987, in his early days as an executive he  pushed for and clinched the purchase of Cosmos from the Wong family all for P500 million. And in the next 13 years, he pumped in another P1 billion to P1.5 billion into the soft drink business.

However, for the ejected Wongs, their actions seemed to be wrongful, for as according to Danny Wong Barranechea’s own words regarding the sell off:

“Cosmos was sold for the wrong reasons and for the wrong price!” 

For the eventual transfer of ownership to the Concepcion family hath concluded the end of the Wong family’s ownership of the Cosmos Bottling Company after only three generations. The death of Henry Wong did also showed the unpreparedness of the family to handle the death of the patriarch, the dynamics of having family members and different branches working in the family business, and its failure in managing the transition/succession process to the third generation. In other words: leaving the company mismanaged by its own internal problems, and died under the failed leadership of its administrators, mainly second and third generation family members.

On the other hand, Concepcion, being the new owner of Cosmos, pumped money for the improvement, ranging from equipment to those of marketing campaigns showing a "renewed Cosmos" that continues to compete against Coca Cola and Pepsi. One example is an ad promoting Sarsi:

However, many years after, with debts looming and less income coming, they decided Cosmos was not as profitable as they expected it to be. RFM declared that it has approved in principle the sale of its 83.2% stake in Cosmos Bottling Corporation to its rival, San Miguel Corporation and the Coca-Cola Company. for an undisclosed amount. Eventually, after seventy-one years under the Wongs, twelve years under Concepcion, and eight years under San Miguel, it finally sold it to the Coca-Cola Company, owner of Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines Inc. (CCBPI), for $590 million. Cosmos, which was part of CCBPI, was included in the sale. Coca-Cola the international brand bottler did not know that two years after the acquisition, Cosmos would not be allowed to raise money from the public.

Currently,  Pop Cola and Sarsi is now bottled under the Coca-Cola Company. However, most of the soda crates carrying these bottles are still carrying the old "COSMOS" name, showing a still-continuing legacy of what it once was.

Looking back with lessons learned: A Conclusion

Admittingly speaking, this "rise and fall scenarios" coming from Cosmos hath showed a challenging example on how family owned enterprises (FOEs) groping in the dark especially on how best to start the governance process. For most of these FOEs are facing challenges in working through their ownership and management transition.

And to think that the company, despite being known and gained some stability (and perhaps even growth), end mismanaged for it failed to define the roles and responsibilities of owners, directors, board chairs, the executive team and even the family council that serves as behind the scenes in running the enterprise. This particular task introduces corporate governance amongst family members working in the business.

The Wongs, just like the Gokongweis, Sys, and even the illustrious ones like the Cojuangcos and the Hispanic Sorianos and Zobel de Ayalas, tried much to consolidate all for the sake of the company's stability, although they end up rather failed all due to internal arguments coming from each other, especially coming from relatives/family members whose interests held high than those of the company.
It may sound as traditional as any other clans equating their established companies into a fiefdom under their control (sometimes it even required marriages to consolidate even further). But without a clear succession plan, many businesses fail after the original owner passes away.

"The key is to plan well ahead. Succession is a long-term complex process, not a one-time event."


Most of the information are coming from:
Industrial History Hong Kong
Enrique Soriano
Asian Wall Street Journal
Manila Times

With Pictures coming from:
Danny Wong Barranechea
Industrial History Hong Kong
Jun Sanchez

Monday, 1 May 2017

"May Day ramblings"

"May Day ramblings"

Just came all from May Day events,
Sought trashy leaflets from the rejects;
Seeing comrades from the major streets,
Of red flags flying for a glorious feat;
Met some old friends and still acquaintances,
Only to leave them for another as close ones are mostly scatter;
And end with the song named Internationale,
As afterwards they'll go home for tomorrow is a normal day.

From Welcome Rotonda to Kalaw via Espana,
Then later at Lawton all the way to Mendiola;
The red flags flutter as the calls gone stronger,
The desire is for them to have something better;
The system care little to heed if not nothing to hear,
As they think their lives as enough if not they felt the fear;
Knowing that as history and reality made them understand the truth,
Making them march, chant, fight as if the world will shook.

All in their statements bear old problems, of workers, farmers, and laboring masses,
Of contractualisation, unfair conditions, and low wages;
Of terminatable contracts and of high prices,
Low purchasing power of peso, putting pressure to the labor;
Overtime, overwork, working even holiday,
Yet in the end not enough no matter it is double pay.

Then followed by some songs sung by militant artists,
Whose words reminds of Sans Culottes or the English Chartists;
Messages pointing against the narrow minded fascists,
Whose emotions as if like those of hot flashes;
The speech, the song, the chants, shouts, strong,
Trying to tremble the palaces whose leaders done wrong;
If not thinking that tomorrow will pass that "horrible day",
After seeing the united mass together marching away.

I see nothing wrong if they treat the occasion as any other vacation
If the masses march to Mendiola the bourgeois prefers Boracay and yearn for extension
Sadly most of them go there without paying debts
Be it car loans or money borrowed from friends
The noise of the techno and the breeze of the beach
Pave way for the litter, of beer left by some bitch
Sorry to say but if that is what they think about Labour day
Hope they don't malign nor maltreat the actually toiling masses who celebrate that honourable day.

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Low Wages, Contractalisation, High prices of goods and services, why not make some noise against those?

Low Wages, 
High prices of goods and services, 
why not make some noise against those?

Notes after Labour Day

“…Today, in view of the common good, there is urgent need for politics and economics to enter into a frank dialogue in the service of life, especially human life”

- Pope Francis
"Laudato Si"

In this spirit of International Workers Day, greeting the workers is a must; for with all their hardships and struggles, celebrating that day means an honour for these toilers as they have contributed in the country's development with all their lives.

However, reality goes something like forgetting their contributions, or worse, maligning them because they are asserting their struggles be it for decent housing, a just and living wage, affordable prices of goods and services, an efficient and just governance, and a lasting peace based from justice; such issues, in spite of trying to be separated by authorities and vested interests, will always be tied with various national issues all knowing that these labouring folks are themselves part of a country: as taxpayers, as voters, as residents who afforded to take the hardest tasks of building, forging, tilling for the country.

And in speaking of taxpayers, these laborers are the ones who paid various taxes such as withholding tax, value added tax, and other dues while seeing price increases especially in commodities and services. These workers did contribute alot in the fields of manufacturing and service sectors while farmers did alot in agricultural work; but these are greatly affected by issues like contractualisation and low wages. Overseas Filipino Workers suffered greatly in low wages, unfair working conditions, and prejudices in spite of remitting money so as to stay the economy afloat.

For the ruling class, that kind of order benefits them thinking that in unfairness means efficiency to gain profits, that life as unjust and one has to "work hard" to keep in their proper place. Such nonsense, in the view of the laborers, makes them further justifiably oppose a their view which is totally based on the principles on globalisation, neoliberalism, what more of capitalism; and because of the inconvenient truths these laboring masses had to endure for years, is so permeated by social and economic ideals that these people will not accept, and rightly so, that society they are currently enduring: of low wages, expensive cost of living, reluctance to reforms, and maintaining an order based from injustice.
In fact, as according to news, thousands of workers and other protesters, including at least 8,000 in Western Visayas, will join Labor Day rallies to press for higher wages, job security and an end to labor contractualisation. The rallies will be held in Metro Manila and other areas like the cities of Bacolod, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro, Tacloban and Davao while the Department of Labor and Employment (DoLE) will host 54 job and business fairs throughout the country that offer more than 200,000 jobs.

And perhaps, these realities that created mobilisations hath showed that "progress" brought about by an unjust order is but an illusion if not a mere set of numbers that fail to reach everyone's stomachs. Last year, wages in Metro Manila remained 481.00 Pesos in spite of the government talking or even suggesting that 1000.00 Pesos as a daily living wage in order to have a decent living especially for a family of five members.

And unions like the yellow "Trade Union Congress of the Philippines" (TUCP) proposed an emergency P500 monthly cash subsidy for workers whose daily pay rate is below the 2015 government standard of P393 needed daily by a Filipino family of five to survive. That proposal will apply to all workers outside Metro Manila, where the daily minimum wage is P491. TUCP also plans to petition the regional wage boards to approve pay increases, including P157 across-the-board for workers in Metro Manila.
On the other hand, the militant Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), together with the Confederation for Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (CORUAGE), is seeking for a national daily minimum wage of P750 for workers in the private sector and a monthly pay of P16,000 for government employees to bring the “current poverty wages closer to living standards" such as the suggested wage from the government itself.

It is also according to the government that the employment rate is at 94% also meant that the remaining 6% percent are still unemployed. Quite questionable knowing that 70% of these employed workers are contractual, temporary, irregular all because of an unjust policy such as contractualisation all in spite of promises to put an end to the scheme. The fairs brought about by the Labour Department may suffice but not resolve the issue on unemployment as long as acronyms like "ENDO" (shortcut for "End of Contract") continues to be heard by many. 

There are various schemes that affected workers badly than for the better. Neoliberalists and globalisation aderents alike insist that contractualisation and low wages meant employment and efficiency in most multi-million profiting companies, but for third world country that needs immediate support for the laboring masses, how come unjust policies has to be tolerated even by a populist-led administration? Such nonsense has made the word "change" still as an illusion to prevent people from taking action, knowing that the latter are tired of an unjust order with those from high profited from it. Price increases, low wages, anomalies in social housing, and failure to create sound programs such as related to social services has made everyone resort to protest. Even the concerned cabinet officials acknowledge that fact that even afforded to make debates with the president and its neoliberal-oriented officials all due to those unjust socioeconomic policies.

And in it makes the concerned thinks how people, especially laborers are already burdened with taxes, as well as irate over inefficiencies of the administration and its corrupt officials with all its sweetheart deals apologetics wanted to justify as such. With salaries frozen on depressed levels, and increased prices of goods and services, what more of policies that rather justifies repression towards laborers, then this is double or even triple whammy! After all, with all these situations also showed how third world countries like the Philippines has not redeemed from the clutches of neocolonialism and semifeudalism what more of bureaucrat capitalism; of oligarchs and corrupt bureaucrats who chose to make development "at a snail's pace" enough to keep much in their interests;
that somehow made a nation's patriotism closely leaning to the labouring masses equating national liberation with social justice; and as in the past wherein workers chanted "death to imperialism" and "increase in wages" as well as "social justice", will always be the same chant knowing that same old bullshits brought by a rotten, unjust social order desperately continues to dominate. It will always be an urgent need to tackle this matter, in which every ruling class tries not to deal, or even show it to those who truly concerned not for themselves, but for the country that is in need of immediate help.

That's all for now.

Day of Labour: Day of Struggle!

Day of Labour: Day of Struggle!

A message in commemoration of the International Workers Day

At first, this page sends solidarity greetings to the workers, peasants, and all the masses those exploited by their repressive orders around the world. This page also extend revolutionary greetings to all those in struggle, as well as to stand shoulder to shoulder in their resistance against war, repression, and injustice that affects every way of life under a present repressive order.

And in spite of recent advancements, this celebration is more than just remembering the struggles of the past, but to reaffirm that the struggle for a better world has to fight over. Notwithstanding the differences between the past and of present situations, events such as the Paris Commune, the 1917 October Revolution, the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, even the 1896 Philippine revolution and other related struggles holds many valuable and fundamental lessons for the labouring masses, in its struggle to change society.

Speaking of those revolutions in the past, these actions are not driven by profound words, but by realities. Words like Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity is not enough compared to the realistic shouts of Peace, land, and Bread. The lessons of October continues as the present order remains mired in crisis economically, politically, and socially. The horrors of capitalism, neocolonialism, and semi-feudalism are to be seen every day in Asia, Africa and Latin America. And even in Europe, where capitalist-oriented austerity drives millions into deeper poverty and destitution, as can be seen by the continuing agony of the Greek people; and with events like BrExit shows, as well as signals the profound failure of the bosses’ "European Union".

Yet in spite of these truths, it continues to be denied if not misinterpreted with falsehoods thinking that these truths are detrimental to the interests elitists continue to keep about. In the Philippines, the recent occupation of abandoned housing sites by urban poor militants exposed the anomalies and mismanagement of housing projects, yet redescribed as anarchy and chaos by self-proclaimed "concerned groups"; while farmers, in spite of their approvals to take over contested farmlands like Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac and Lapanday in Mindanao in the name of agrarian reform, continue to be harassed by the state and maligned by those whose views on agrarian reform be seen as too radical if not detrimental to the neoliberal form of development that is, tied to the interests of the few and not of the many. Worker-related issues like low wages and contractualisation continue to be fight against as they have long been united in their position that all forms of contractualization must end in contrast to the establishment's further institutionalization and legalization of contractual employment schemes through the Labor Department's "Order 168" which directly opposes workers’ position, as well as describing wage increases as detrimental to productivity according to several business groups like the "Chamber of Commerce and Industry"; so are other sectors affected by high prices of goods and services like tuition and other fees, and everyone who still felt the policies tied by imperialist interests like those from the United States, and the bloodthirsty exploits brought upon by its war dogs, creating victims on its path as in its past.

But in spite all of these truths, of these actually existing facts, the system continues to misinterpret the situation as chaotic, if not detrimental to their perception of their neoliberal-inspired progress, the way they think about wage increases, low prices of food and services, agrarian reform, industrialisation and efficient distribution of social services (health, education, housing) as against their views like "efficiency" and "productivity", which is actually profit-oriented, exploitative, repressive.

After all, as what Lenin said in his leaflet made in 1896:

"Comrades! Let us look carefully into the conditions of our life; let us observe that environment wherein we pass our days. What do we see? We work hard; we create unlimited wealth, gold and rich fabrics, brocade and velvet; we dig iron and coal from the bowels of the earth; we build machines, ships, castles, railways. All the wealth of the world is created by our hands, is obtained by our sweat and blood. And what reward do we receive for our hard labor? In justice we should live in fine houses, wear good clothing, and in any case not want for our daily bread. But we all know very well that our wages scarcely suffice for a bare existence. Our bosses lower the wage-rates, force us to work over-time, unjustly fine us. In a word, they oppress us in every way, and, in case of dissatisfaction on our part, they promptly discharge us. We time and time again discover that those to whom we turn for protection are friends and lackeys of our bosses. We, the workers are kept in ignorance, education is denied us, that we may not learn to struggle to improve our conditions. They hold us in bondage, discharge us on the slightest pretext, arrest and exile anyone offering resistance to oppression, forbid us to struggle. Ignorance and bondage — these are the means by which the capitalists and the Government, always at their service, keep us in subjection."

Sounds hardcore isn't it? But again, the lessons of the past revolts has still remain relevant no matter how modern the country is. In a so-called continuing past, the repression, disenfranchisement, exploitation, various sorts of injustices will create various forms of actions pointing against repressors and disenfranchisers. Numerous deaths due to struggle may happen from time to time, but more and more will come and take over the flag knowing that the struggle for a just world has ought to come, thinking that if progress is limited to economic progress as frequently babbled by neoliberalists and depicted as high rise skyscrapers, then it is meaningless; and that Progress should also affects the development of man and community, of life and its work, in order to bring the promised heaven in this wretched earth we all desire to make change.

Admittingly speaking, May 1, the International Workers Day, is more than a day to commemorate past struggles and honours, but a springtime of renewed hopes and struggles for a better world that has to come. 

And in it, everyone will admit that at first it is a difficult task. Sorry to say it but that difficult task requires togetherness, of blood, mind, and sinew in order to  In this may day, the day of the laborer, it is a duty to assert that desire not by work alone, both for development and against those who hinder. Be it the ones who stubbornly keep their interests, and those who are snobbish in those who purposely take actions in the name of social justice.

After all, when was the time making a societal change is not a difficult task? For sure everyone talks about "Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity", but its nature has been diluted thanks to a system's hypocrisy to such profound ideals the way they treat "Mercy and Compassion" as a political rhetoric to impress potential voters. Let everyone notice that these words needs actions, that in its so-called ideals needs fulfillment as more and more people demand habitable homes, affordable food and clothes, just labor with real wages, and a just, lasting peace!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

"The desire to bring back the industrial sector"

"The desire to bring back the manufacturing sector"

(Or "Notes after Rafael Alunan Sr's message,
and the desire to revive national industry)

At first, this post may find its message "idealistic" especially in an era of modern gadgets and of service-oriented economy. But, in a still-developing society yet rich in natural resources, one of the most important and immediate concerns of the country is the need to revisit, revive, and reemphasise the manufacturing sector as one of the important foundations of the national industry.

For the fact that the country needs basic industries to utilise natural resources and relieve unemployment, the revival of the manufacturing sector also means to stabilise trade and practically to promote genuine domestic-based development in spite of its long overdue.

But in spite of criticisms, of disapprovals, of favouring unbridled free trade and exploitation of raw materials for exports, national industrialisation continues to be demanded by the concerned. Also to think that the country has enjoyed some of the benefits of most modern trade agreements, disregarding the manufacturing sector, what more of agriculture, is equal to an unjust domestic maldevelopment. The trade agreements everyone sees as "developmental" are the same agreements that is, exploitative than beneficial in its very nature, it is the same agreements that pushes people to unemployment due to low wages and system's failure to alleviate, while the countryside, in spite of being exploited for export, remains underdeveloped.
If these agreements means stability, is the actually existing maldevelopements in the country and others in the "third world" be redescribed as progress under 21st century trade-centred, multi/transnational finance-oriented capitalism?

Anyway, the drive to revive, rehabilitate, and seriously giving concern on both manufacturing and agricultural sectors of the society was and is more than a showcase of national pride in a way the first bars of steel has to be shown out in national television. It is a necessity to reemphasise production all to promote national development and also to recultivate honest labour as a national virtue. Efforts to create good quality import substitutes means meeting the demands of many to ensure their daily needs with affordable prices and to utilise responsibly the both the country's natural resources and labour power that is greatly needed to ensure the nation's well-being.

In a message made last November 4, 1942, Commissioner Rafael Alunan sr., representing agriculture and commerce during the Japanese occupation stated that:

"More and more, the production of essential commodities is being increased to replace finished products that had to be imported formerly. Among the goods now being turned out by factories to replace the old imports are cassava flour, corn flour, rice flour, in substitution for wheat flour; alcohol for motive power to replace gasoline; cleanser, toilet soap, canned goods, etc. 

The production of toilet soap has been expanded to an appreciable extent, and filter mats made of coir are being manufactured to be used by soap and lard factories in lieu of asbestos. Some 1,500 local factories operating in Manila and in nearby provinces are now engaged on the processing and manufacturing of goods for everyday use, such as flour, starch, soap, matches, preserved fish, chocolate, coffee, biscuits, and other foodstuffs, etc. This is an encouraging indication of the significant changes in the phases of Philippine industries."

The message seemed to be optimistic in spite of the wartime atmosphere wherein the emphasis was on stability and of survival; but, in seeing that kind of setting one would describe it as a chance to reemphasise domestic-based development through creating import substitutes and investing on domestic sciences.
It may sound strange to put a wartime message in this present-day setting, but reality goes something that way: the need to bring back, support, uplift, redevelop local industries to resolve unemployment, to utilise natural resources and domestic skill, and to create good quality products to ensure the needs of the people.

But that desire for domestic-based development is more than a set of papers and feelings, it requires action, the more assertions the more chances of changing existing policies to those that cater to the needs of many, especially the concerned sectors such as labor, peasant, and small scale businesses desiring for a sound economic policy that is, genuinely developmental, patriotic, scientific, and progressive.
And in it also means campaigns to stir production, rationalising industries, and improving the order of distribution; as well as to create more/maintain existing foundations to generate rural-and-urban based developments, of building cooperatives and protecting/improving small and medium scale businesses, all enough to accelerate the process of industrialisation that has to achieve.

And knowing that industrial revival is more than just a state responsibility, it is itself a social one especially if one desires a progressive country. It is the work of all whose concern for the country means a demand to break from present-day inequalities to a desire for a country capable to stand on its own feet leading to its path to its idealised progress and stability.
For as what Alunan said:

"On their shoulders rests the responsibility of complementing the work of the government in carrying out is industrial development program, and in building up a sound and stable economic foundation for the new Philippines."

Monday, 24 April 2017

"Culture and the New Philippines"

"Culture and the New Philippines"

By Bienvenido Maria S. Gonzalez
Former President, University of the Philippines

Issued at "Shin Seiki" (October 1942)


Appointed during the Commonwealth regime, Gonzalez was the youngest ever to be named president of the University of the Philippines (46 yrs old) and he was the very first alumnus to be so honored. In spite of initial opposition, and a course different from the others (an Agriculturist by profession), his term as president was characterized by his open attitude to students and faculty and the encouragement of the use of Tagalog as a national language.

He also encouraged the establishment of a UP College of Nursing. Along with Juan Nakpil, future National Artist, and UP Music Conservatory director Ramon Tapales, he conceived the UP Carillon in 1940.

However, upon the outbreak of World War II and the Japanese occupation, he resigned from his position rather than serve under the enemy. President Jose Laurel of the 2nd republic designated Antonio Sison as his successor.

After the war, Gonzalez eventually reinstated to his position as the University President. But that time, it has more to do with the difficulties of salvaging remains of the institution he cared and loved with. But he still persisted with his vision and succeeded in having the United States War Damage Commission pay P13 million for rehabilitation and construction; and it was also the same era when the University's main campus was moved to Diliman, which was proposed before the war and amidst opposition.

In this work shown below showed that the former UP President, despite his actual opposition to the occupation and its "sponsored republic", talks about the need of reforming the Filipino culture, citing Japan as its example. Here it goes:

Those who have had the opportunity of studying Philippine culture agree that we as a people, in a world characterised by cosmopolitanism, have attained a relatively high state of development along cultural lines. Our culture, however, which is a result of a happy union between native and foreign influences, suffers in one aspect.

Like all progressive peoples, we have deceived and profited by the adoption of cultural features from other countries, superimposing these to the substructure of preexisting native culture. However, we have, perhaps unavoidably, but undeniably to our detriment, neglected the study and understanding of the different types of culture of our neighbours of the far east. In this sense we, like the traveller who gazes with awe at the vistas presented by distant mountain ranges yet fails to see the grandeur of the scene in the valley just below him, have overlooked the rich culture that lies within our kin and in our own part of the globe. Our cultural development, therefore, has been one sided. Such a state of affairs is to be deplored when we consider that a people who claims to be genuinely cultured must open its eyes and face realities.

There are distinct advantages to be gained in the study of the development of other peoples. Such is the case particularly when the culture we are interested in is one that belongs to a people whose home is in the same section of the earth as ours and who spring from a similar racial stock because we are thus more likely to find features in it more adaptable to our needs and temperament. An illustration may serve to clarify my point: Fine Arts in the Philippines will profit greatly by a study of Japanese masterpieces, for in those works one may observe that a distinct beauty lies in Oriental senses which only require an adequate presentation in order to equal if not to surpass western models. The understanding of the culture of our neighbours is not only important- by the sheer indisputability of the existing fact of geographical propinquity- it is imperative.

Our present relations with Japan open an invaluable opportunity of studying a culture of which we have therefore had nothing more than a superficial acquaintance. As a people we have always prided ourselves in our ability to assimilate the best that extraneous influences have to offer- for our own uplift and advantage? It cannot be gain-said that Japanese culture has much to give us- if we would put the necessary effort to see what lies beneath the smooth, placid, attractive, and inviting surface. To do this would merely constitute the fulfillment of our duty as an enlightened nation to ourselves and to the world- for adaptation is necessary to growth and progress- and there were is no progress there not only follows stagnation, but eventual retrogression.

Conclusion (and its relevance in the 21st century)

It seemed to be obvious that those hard times be like every intellectual was trying to stimulate patriotic appeal especially in a times of chaos. But as for Gonzalez who was an anti-occupation and in his heart carrying the spirit of resistance, he may've not expressed throughout his anti-Japanese appeal, but instead channeling his innermost sentiment through appealing to the people about moral rejuvenation.

In citing Japan as an example of a "nation imbued with ideals/virtue", Gonzalez, like all others who looked at Japan's modernisation and at the same time rooted in its traditions, sought how the Japanese values much of its culture rather than giving it up altogether as it favours the unbridled consumerism of the west. The Philippines, during the prewar days tries to retain its inherent culture in spite of being barraged by its occupier's cultural policy with consumerism as its greatly emphasised.

And perhaps it continues to be relevant knowing that the present setting, whose culture remains to be occidentised and exploited by the social order meant to recultivate and cherish morals, fails to upheld in spite of numerous appeals for moral reformation.
And that moral reformation nowadays has to do with reviving Filipino consciousness amidst neoliberal/globalist trends, of both revisiting one's character and to remold. The fusion of both eastern and western ways seemed to be beneficial especially for a country such as the Philippines, but to disregard its roots, its heritage is tantamount to suicide, especially in an era wherein "to move on" is a catchy phrase.

Anyway, regardless of its controversial nature, the article at Shin Seiki reflects the sentiment of a patriot than of a typical collaborator. It appears to be pro-Japanese at first citing the idea of looking at the example of the far east, but his love for country is greatly emphasised and it has to be cultivated by each and everyone especially amidst the trial such as an enemy occupation.

The actual Japanese experience may had serve as an inspiration especially in regards to the issue of rethinking for one's self, but Gonzalez wanted something that was Filipino, given that its culture was and is, itself a melting-pot of both east and west and by moral reformation means reclaiming the Filipino identity, honor, and virtue. For on the first place, his patriotism, even during the prewar period, was marked by not just using the Filipino language as the language of learning, but also promoting Filipinisation in the sciences, arts, and culture. He recognises the Filipino's adaptability to other cultures, as well as the Filipino culture as a fusion of both oriental and occidental sensibilities, yet at the same time criticises it because of it's effects.