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.

Friday, 14 April 2017

"And the word made flesh (and dwellth amongst us)"

"And the word made flesh (and dwellth amongst us)"

At first, one teacher said that about the time of Jesus Christ's death to a very specific point in history: and it was around 3:00 in the afternoon, Friday, April 3, A.D. 33.

For the love of the oppressed and of the poor, the son of god hath joined if not led all faithful and revolutionary martyrs who sacrificed their lives fighting for righteousness as well as on behalf of the poor who desired for justice.

It may sound too political, but given the nature of Christ's suffering to his crucifixion, his death means a lesson to those who be trying to subvert an unjust order all because of proclaiming the good news of salvation.

And that salvation is both of the body and of the soul, of remolding character and of emancipating the community from its disorder.

And because of his commitment to bring the message he was suffered and died not to save mankind from sin and the torments of hell, but also to show people ultimately that defending, serving, fighting, sacrificing on behalf of the poor and of dispossessed means embracing humiliation, pain, and death.

For on the first place, he was the same Christ who teaches the children, healed the sick, fed the hungry, console the desperate. But he was the same Christ who expelled the moneylenders and of the vendors in the temple whom he called as his father's house.

And thus with his actions, be it good in the eyes of his people and bad in the eyes of the order, made him face and accept suffering and death. Ironically, his death, the crucifixion itself was a sacrifice with himself taking place of the lamb. But that sacrifice was less religious in the eyes of the order but rather a punishment for taking the side of the poor, for interpreting the law as different from the Pharisees and of the scribes, what more of seeing his acts as subversive in nature.

Sounds political isn't it? After all, his message of salvation was and is a political act that speaks about what humanity needs: nourishing the body as well as the soul.
And in it perhaps, it is the duty of the faithful to support what is spiritual with material especially if that is to support that is right, just, and moral. It may sound ambitiously ideal but ever since people be told that "kingdom of God is in them", then why not fulfill it? Faith, Hope, and Charity also paved way to the aspirations of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity; strange but for sure everyone wanted a virtuous life both man and his society.
For like any other scripture, be it the law or the sayings of the prophets, the desire for a better world is more than just an aspiration nor a desire: but a call for its realisation.

Come to think of this: Christ died on the cross, for he imparted the desire that is more than the redemption of the body, but of the spirit; and as for the faithful, and seeing the inconvenient reality, then it is the duty of the faithful not just to redeem the soul, but of the body from repression.

And that body is more than just the flesh, but of the community that is, to be liberated and be given hope.

And Christ, the word made flesh, has continued to dwellth amongst us. The martyrs followed what Christ did: by spreading the message of salvation and living amongst the people.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

My country! My people! Why are you forsaken me?!?

My country! My people! Why are you forsaken me?!?

From "Manila Today"

This may be the words of most people nowadays. For as time goes by, and everyone has seen all the inconvenient realities of poverty, repression, and various forms of social injustices, coupled by recent news reports of extra judicial killings, corruption charge, and narcopolitics, isn't it relevant that this third world country whp yearned for hope is been forsaken for so long by a system that supposed to be uplifting?

Yes, for as everyone reads about the news or rather say see the headlines amd afforded to share its post or comment in it, they would say that the country they supposed to love and to cherish is itself forsaken all because of the inconvenient realities that hinders a nation from its supposed path.

And like Jesus Christ who was suffered and died fom the cross, these people, the long suffering average Juan, Maria, and Jose who has endured all the poverty, pain, and negligence, asks everyone especially those who swore to give concern: my country, my people, why are you forsaken me?!?

From Tudla pproductions
The message may sound aloud and even strikes through everyone's heart, but obviously, most people who afforded to listen on that christ-like message does not care about it if not treating with scorn. Some would even assuming to be moralist telling that they are disobeying the law, and others be like entirely apathetic as they "move on" as if nothing happened with all their lives. The society that supposedly as Christ-like, assuming to be as righteous as the others has gone hedonistic with a smattering of knowing for law, but less of understanding right and of justice.

Worse, they afforded to be assuming as Christian as most Christians with all the pomp with its rituals, of fame-based "charity" or anything just to appear as holy as they babble something moralistic and assuming they are just and imbued with faith, but, where were they on the times people yearn not just help but for justice? Again, their ears are shut if not afforded to listen and be replied with scorn.

In a situation such as these inconvenient realities, it is the duty of the concerned to bring the gospel of struggle to each and everyone, to open eyes and minds and join in a quest for taking back justice and bring hope in a forsaken country riddled with bullets and various forms of hopelessness. Why to remain apathetic in these kinds of truths while assuming to be as Christ-like as the others especially this lent? Perhaps a message from Bishop Socrates Villegas sounds relevant nowadays:

 "Fasting is good, but without malasakit (concern) for others, it is nothing. Prayer is good, but without remembering others and laying aside personal comfort, it is just an ego trip. Helping the poor and giving alms are good, but if you do it for show or to get a “feel good” reward later, it is just a noisy bell."

So is Gerardo Lanuza, as he said:

"Because we misunderstood Jesus as a mere spiritual leader who promised salvation in the next life, we have killed Christianity. As Nietzsche says: "the word 'Christianity' is already a misunderstanding - in reality there has only been one Christian - and he died on the cross. The evangel died on the cross."

The evangel is about loving the world, not escaping it into a spiritual world."

Yes. Loving the world, loving by helping people struggling against the tide; loving the world by going beyond the parameters to realise hopes; loving the world by putting an end to an eternal infamy.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Bringing back National pride with Class consciousness

Bringing back National pride with Class consciousness

Every nation has its own identity, and every identity must have been imbues with a unique feature that classified as its own. And that feature is National pride.

However, that pride comes from a profound sense of National consciousness, that likely to have conquered and survived in a hostile environment set upon to us by nature and fate. And though this, it survived the wave of time, though progressive means and through the acceptance of what the person is, to uplift and to reach what is supposed to. Unlike those whom accept-only to become extinct or in the verge of destruction.
National pride, in this person's view does not mean superiority as what other people used to think of but rather as consciousness as a part of a nation, a recognition since that one has uphold its tradition, faith, and honour to the land; and thus, to serve the aspirations of the people, both local or from its foreign brethren.

However, in a country wherein repression and disenfranchisement has been rampant for generations from both foreign masters and its domestic stooges, of maldevelopment and social injustice towards the labouring class, comes consciousness that is, proletarian. Proletarian in a sense that the country's majority are those coming from the ill-paid laborers, the unjustly-shared peasantry, the debt-stricken lower petitbourgeoisie, these masses, repressed by a semifeudal-semicolonial order has yearned to resolve internal as well as external class struggle, being one of the proletarian "third world" nations surrounded by the developed nations of the first world.

Sounds radical isn't it? Perhaps in this person's observation, in a reality wherein semifeudal-semicolonial repression has made National consciousness includes class consciousness, as means to liberate both as a nation and from its class.

For sure one would think “why a nation have achieve independence and yet the system remains as it is in its colonial past?” some may attained progression and perhaps even further, but third world nations be like much repressive as in its colonial days, with its once colonial masters be like indirectly ruling over. Domestic despots may have intensified further internal repression and injustice as in the past, enough to justify the need for national liberation even more.
And from these unsung masses, along with their leaders whom used to get killed for their beliefs, gave inspiration to the coming generations on why they wanted “freedom”. And contrary to an established view, that Freedom doesn’t mean “freedom as a nation” but also “freedom” from its class as they build a just society, through national consciousness, merit, and of hope towards one another.

And in it Filipinos can be classified as an example of this. After centuries of subjection by its coloniser and its domestic stooge, of their efforts to degrade and enslave the inhabitants, Filipinos, especially those of the oppressed masses in both urban and rural areas tried and failed but their heart of being a “free” man and its identity as a “Filipino” prevail (for before "Filipino" was meant to be the Spanish Insulare as well as a privileged principalia loyal to the Spanish crown), and so its class consciousness as a working class, be it a laborer or a farmer. Also to think that in spite of hardships given, their deaths or banishments, still their identity and their hope remain as they continue fighting, knowing that their desire for a just society has to realise.

And even today it continues to carry over. Knowing that in spite of being independent, or what the others called as “sham” independence, the remnants of the old system prevailed, and so are the classes. Being a semi-feudal, semi-colonial country always carries a large strain of this rotten system in which weakens the nation and makes further vulnerable to foreign and domestic oppression.
The struggle to destroy the old order remained still as in the past, for as the oppressed, imbued with hope and faith as a part of the nation, as makers of history wanted to destroy every piece in order to set a new society under them, as what Karl Marx said a “Dictatorship of the Proletariat” must have take place of the old. Also to think that a third world nation nearly lost its identity because of that rotten system prevailing, with all its occidentosis becoming the culture itself, then it is the duty of the aware to revive national consciousness that is, based from the aspirations of the people than those of the ruling order. After all, of what is independence if the ones who rule still clings to its colonial master? It makes independence "sham" than true.

For sure one would notice that National pride seemed to be but a façade, a cosmetic in a face a puppet state. Through meaningless slogans to the "fashionalistic" sentiments that carried little or no patriotism, I really think that Nationalism as of now becomes worth nothing-especially to nations wherein opened much to free trade and lessening its patriotic, working class appeal to accumulate more foreign aid and support-in other words, sacrificing its own dignity for a few bucks.

Imagine, everyone has encountered the mercenary traditions of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the curtailment of civil rights and freedom of thought especially amongst activists and other progressive leaning persons who advocate genuine national pride and class consciousness, of several scandals wherein corrupts the country and of life itself, and even the "rise" of false "patriots" who are in fact mere puppets of a foreign oppressor, who utilizes a "washed-out" patriotism and blaming the genuine patriots who supported a dignified state and a progressive community of peoples imbued with patriotic sentiment and of class consciousness as members of the working class.

Noticing about these facts, it seems that "a need for genuine national pride through working class patriotism" is encouraged as a means to counter the growing effects of wholesale westernization, of globalization also encouraged by vested western interests, as well as of bourgeois-chauvinist "nationalism" that is limited to buying goods and watching boxing matches and of the like, including those of its own contemporary culture which in fact emulates too much from the west. Sorry for the words but to see such occidentosis would say that is there any patriotism left? The so-called "Pinoy pride" of the present is a mere aesthetic as everyone has their minds embedded with those of the west and its materialistic illusions.
But in spite of all the façade of "pride", the laboring class has still demands peace, land, bread, and justice knowing that the country known for that "pride" is still backward thanks to an unjust order that makes a nation "proletarian" as any third world nation.
People somehow may ought to understand the fact in order to break off ties from it, it needs modern-day Bonifacios not Aguinaldos, of needing De Los Reyeses, of Evangelistas not those of collaborationists a la Paterno, Roxas, and others including those who bannered buying Filipino goods yet kissing the shoes of the imperialist.

Patriots of the working class type, true to its idea that they wanted a real, dignified homeland within the international community of peoples, also wanted to realize what the late Soviet leader Joseph Stalin's statement:

"In the past we had no fatherland, nor could we had one. But now that we have overthrown capitalism and power is in our hand, in the hands of the people, we have a fatherland, and we will uphold its independence. Do you want our socialist fatherland to be beaten and to lose its independence? If you don't want this, you must put an end to its backwardness in the shortest time and develop a genuine Bolshevik tempo in building up its socialist economy. There is no other way... "

And in it somehow it is true for as workers of every nations, living in a nation in fact a nation of profiteers wanted genuine national pride, but this time imbued with class consciousness to counter, destroy the age-old chauvinist "nationalistic" appeal of the profiteers and of the like, as well as to build a real homeland wherein it genuinely uphold its independence whilst cooperating with all nations in building a community of peoples: just, peaceful, prosperous.
Due to the fact that nationalism, in a proletarian sense, is more national than those from the ruling class, of the present system itself, since they (the proletariat) have showed its real contribution to the country; however they remained poor since their fruits of hard work are destined to those whom are greed in nature.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

"Poems from the Trenches"

"Poems from the Trenches"

"In pursuit of future: Memories of Barrio Ugong"

Each day I see the silos
Remembering an Idealistic past
With the scent of wheat
Recalls the productive fervour

Each time I see the laborers
The machinery, the concrete edifice
That once towering over Pasig river
A legacy of an almost abandoned splendour

All because of a failed order
They hated to be competed
By those whose ideal is worth remembered

Whose concern is rooted in truth
A fertile land yet a poor mass
Prosperity allegedly "trickled down" 
Yet benefited the corrupted

Imagine all the edifices of glass and steel
Of malls thriving with the well paid
All these made by the ones in the shanties
All coming from the mismanaged estates

Of unfair wages and widespread maltreatments
Of strikes end up in bloodsheds and disappearances
Is this the prosperity proclaimed by the papers?

What a bullshit those articles then
All contrary to the truth 
How poor the supposed prosperous country is
How backward the supposed progressive nation is

Or perhaps a continuing "was"
All because of its continuing past
Again all thanks to a failed order
And its rulers thereof

And in it no wonder why strikes happen
Be it in the street or in the countryside
Be it with a burning effigy or a bloody ambuscade.

"My Father's house"

Inspired by Gabriel Aresti's poem of the same name

I will defend the house of my father.
I will defend it against wolves,
And various forms of Injustices;

I will defend the house of my father.
Thinking that they're all coming to exploit
Yet still I trying to resist
Time to time,
day after day
I will defend his house as much I can stay

I may lose all the cattle,
The produce I tilled and sown;
I may lose all my remains,
The goods,
But I will still defend his house.

They will take off my gun
But with my hand I will still defend it;
They will cut off my hand
Yet with my arm I will still defend it;
They will leave me without arm nor shoulder,
Even the soul that makes me defend
The house of my father.

In spite of pain enduring,
I will still die fighting,
But even without me still,
His house-my house, will remain standing.

And one will soon take over mine
Out of what I am struggling.

"Change is Coming"

Change is indeed coming said by the papers, and
Hope is bringing says by the reports
Amidst the existing inconvenient truths
Not one admitted by the apologists as they proclaimed:
"Gone is the corrupted and the oppressive, for
Everything will be given justice!"

"Impossible!" says the skeptic, knowing that the reality is contrary
Such as widespread hunger, poverty, murder, a series of idiosyncrasy

Coming from a corrupted order
Outsmarting the struggling commoner
Making hell to a country
Its people, even its history, until
Nothing, for they made it all

"Nighttime offensive"

I swore to the blood red banner
And to the graves of my comrades
And take the gun to me given
As I take the road less taken

Tonight the offensives been set
As the campfires been set off
Tonight will traverse the forests
As the foes sleeping in their encampments

The bells of struggle continues to chime
In spite of numerous deaths
If not survivors end captured
Tortured, imprisoned, or disappeared

For their "heavens" be shaken with fear
As the action begins in the waxing moon
With the barrage of bullets
Surprising the sleeping attack dogs

One screams in pain
Another felt its untimely fear
As the partisans vent their wrath
On a plantation that blocks the path

Of peasant folks desired for land
Of farmworkers desired for decent wage
Of people sick and tired of hell
Brought upon by a state sponsored brigandage?

As storms continue, seeing blood and death
Comrade and foe alike felt the pain
Bright red blood will water all the trees
Staining the flags whose word is liberty

And end cleared all the noises
And comrades taken all the enemy guns
Foes end becoming captives
Criminals waiting their untimely fates.

Enough to be part of an epic
"The people's war" as what they proclaim.

Monday, 27 March 2017

"Still, taking time struggling for decent housing"

"Still, taking time struggling for decent housing"

(Or all after revoking the eviction order against the urban poor
Over the disputed Pandi housing project)

Amidst criticism pointing against the urban poor "occupying" an abandoned yet still disputed housing project at Bulacan, it seems that the government had no choice but to question the program that involves one of the basic calls of these neglected masses: housing.

As Cabinet Secretary and Housing Czar Leoncio Evasco revoked Malacañang’s forced eviction order against Kalipunan ng Damayang Mahihirap (KADAMAY) members who have occupied thousands of idle government housing units in Bulacan.

Evasco, through an interview over DZMM last saturday, announced that Malacañang will not forcibly evict occupants of idle government housing projects in Bulacan, but instead promised to provide housing projects to KADAMAY members.

Sounds promising isn't it? Thinking that as the administration initially calling the occupiers as anarchists if not provoking chaos, of apologists describing them as not undergoing due processes, rather end admitting that there is a problem regarding housing: that no one lives in a housing project that is, costly if not unlikely to be habitable.

But as for KADAMAY and its supporters, the said occupation is just enough, thinking that these houses are long unoccupied, with foliage almost overgrown its walls. 

Is it really for the Police, Military,
Or for the evictee?

According to Katrina Stuart Santiago in her Manila Times article, The long abandoned project was started last 2011 when former President Noynoy Aquino signed Administrative Order No. 9, which directed the National Housing Authority (NHA) to implement and manage a housing program for military and police personnel.

The project, which was called the AFP/PNP Housing Program,nreceived an allotment of P4.2 billion, and its goal was 21,800 housing units to be distributed in 2011 alone, across 12 different locations (Interaksyon, July 14, 2011).

But no press release mentions Pandi. Only last 2016 when a press release from the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council then under Vice President Leni Robredo, lists down the said town as part of 65 sites where houses for the military and police have been built.

However, according to the Housing Board of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, “many soldiers were not satisfied with the design of the houses” while Philippine National Police Senior Superintendent Wilfredo Cayat said that “there was a mismatch in the location of the housing sites and the needs of the police.” The same 2016 press release from HUDCC also states that the “AFP, PNP and NHA” had concerns about the size of the units.

Even militarymen turned lawmakers expressed critcism over that project, for last October 2015, Magdalo party-list lawmaker Gary Alejano talked about how less than 10 percent of government housing for military and police (such as the one in Pandi) were occupied, because these “were poorly designed, built with substandard materials, and lacked utilities and basic services” (Inquirer.net, October 2, 2015).
In March 2016, he would also say: “The reason for the very low occupancy rate … is because the units are not livable. It is hellish to live there. The government would only make their lives miserable and our soldiers and policemen would not be able to carry out their jobs if they would worry about the families they leave behind. There is no drainage, no water, no power, not even a playground for children” (The Standard, March 27, 2016).

But in spite of the dissatisfaction coming from the supposed recipients, the previous administration pushed through with the million-peso project.

On the other hand, Pandi used to appear in government press releases last 2013, in relation to the relocation of informal settlers that live in danger zones in Metro Manila. Then HUDCC Chair Vice President Jejomar Binay announced the availability of 4,800 housing units in Trece Martires, Cavite, and San Jose del Monte, Bocaue, Norzagaray and Pandi, Bulacan, to which illegal settlers in danger zones would be relocated.
However, last 2015, on Aquino's last year in office, an urban poor protest told that the Pandi housing project was also where victims of demolitions of informal settlements in Metro Manila were relocated. For around April of that year, 700 members of the urban poor from Navotas who were to be displaced by a road-widening project, talked about how the National Housing Authority and the local government were forcing residents to transfer to Pandi.

This was unacceptable because according to Elgar Cornista, president of the Nagkakaisang Lakas ng Navoteno Federation: “There is no livelihood there. In fact, those who have already agreed to be relocated came back, and just erected shanties again here near the fishport. In the relocation site there is no livelihood, no water, no electricity.” (PinoyWeekly, April 19, 2015)

That same month, 378 Bureau of Fire Protection firemen were awarded houses in Pandi (Inquirer.net, April 20, 2015).

It seems that the project is really long stalled yet insisted that the project was for the policeman and the soldier (and for awhile the evictee). However, coming from the statements it showed that the project was overpriced yet the materials used were substandard, of having lack of water nor electricity, as well as far from the needs every supposed resident has to insist.

But knowing that these houses were long stood and enduring its deterioration (thanks to those government officials), and at the same time there are homeless who had enough of unjust "due processes" that requires unjust queues and overpriced amounts to pay, isn't it just to take it over?

After all, according to the constitution,

"The State shall, by law, and for the common good, undertake, in cooperation with the public sector, a continuing program of urban land reform and housing which will make available at affordable cost decent housing and basic services to underprivileged and homeless citizens in urban centers and resettlement areas. It shall also promote adequate employment opportunities to such citizens. In the implementation of such program the State shall respect the rights of small property owners.

Urban or rural poor dwellers shall not be evicted nor their dwellings demolished, except in accordance with law and in a just and humane manner. No resettlement of urban and rural dwellers shall be undertaken without adequate consultation with them and the communities where they are to be relocated."

How a government official
Rather takes the side of the urban poor

In spite of administration wanting to evict the so-called "lawless anarchists", one of them rather took the side of these less fortunate "occupiers". It may sound ironic, but the action taken by that person showed how public service transcends sectors.

As Judy Taguiwalo, secretary of Social Welfare and Development, was questioned by journalists during a press conference last Friday on the issue regarding the agency’s distribution of food packs in Pandi, Bulacan last week and on accusations that the agency is giving special treatment to the “occupiers.”

There were accusations that the Department of Social Welfare and Development, who happened to be an activist, is “tolerating” KADAMAY members who occupied vacant housing units in Bulacan province by providing them assistance like food packs.

However, in spite of accusations, the secretary tried presenting and discussing other DSWD programs as well as stated that all of department's programs are for the poor. She also said that the agency is always ready to give help to those who ask, especially the poor.

Obviously, her actions showed public service as a public trust if not emphasising administration than those of politics her predecessors did. The immediate action such as providing support including those from KADAMAY shows that in the end these people are poor and in need of help, regardless of its politics.

Still, taking time struggling for decent housing

It may sound "Victorious" for KADAMAY in seeing NHA having its withdrawal, however, that withdrawal from that disputed site is not yet final knowing that there are still negotiations ongoing between two groups, especially after reports regarding its supposed recipient's dissatisfaction over the site and the occupier's desire for a decent housing.

And inspite of the just intent of the "Urban Development and Housing Law" there are still loopholes that may use for corruption. There are reports about "providing houses up to ten units to those who are able to pay" only to be rented; there are instances of overpriced housing that somehow contradicts the idea of affordable housing for least paying families.
Strange isn't it? Of what is that law or the agency that abides from it if it end treated as a goddamn enterprise motivated by profit than of service? Not all of these urban poor folks having a high paying job as well as wages or earnings insufficient to meet demands ranging from basic needs to paying rents.

But to call them lumpens or lawless elements seemed to be too much.

Currently, the occupiers continue to reside in those disputed units, struggling to have a decent housing as they're trying to clean every wall from its initial abandonment and making it habitable enough for a home. Supporting groups and individuals continue to provide them any help as possible, and in case of DSWD, it is their duty to serve these folks all according to its law.

And perhaps within these poor folk's eyes they all hope that from the place they have occupied for days means the community they desired according to their aspirations, far from their existence in the shantytowns and in the streets.