Saturday, 29 March 2014

The best of the Little Beast: The controversial art of Vitaly Katkov

The best of the Little Beast:
The controversial art of Vitaly Katkov

It was a day ago when this writer got stumbled in an art page of the well known social critic Eduard Limonov.

Again, known for his opposition to Putin, "National Bolshevism", and his "Limonka" grenade, Eduard Limonov and his group had also fond for artworks that invoke the antinorm. Arts others would consider as "Avant garde" with a sense that it has to counter the prevailing norms and at the same time reflects the reality of a modern day society.

The page where this writer had sought had no background  regarding the artist except that he was from Ekaternburg and had fondness for EDM, tattoos, and anti-western sentiment. He may had been aligned with Limonov and his group with the latter featuring his works through its own art page featuring dozens of artworks. And since Katkov had came from Russia then it is one of the artists whose artworks are different from what Russian art often shown in mainstream media: be it as folkish like the Churches, or Neoclassical as the palaces, or Socialist Realist with its factories and offices with the latter being depicted thoroughly thanks to the cold war.

But instead of what is regularly shown, what Katkov did is sort of a combination of those whose intention is to mock the status quo.

The artworks featured in this writeup had much emphasised on symbolism with colours reminding of the posters coming from Cuba if not the graffitis from the streets where Gangsters had their hood, or even the cover labels of artists whether in Punk Rock or Metal scene, if not those from Lourd de Veyra's Radioactive Sago Project. And as for symbols being featured seemed to be borrowed from mythology (mainly Egyptian), pop culture (including pornography), controversial groups (such as Nazis), anything that is commonly shown by mainstream media and hence a reflection of reality being peddled by the present.

And for this writer, people may likely to call it as controversial with all the symbols being shown in that artwork, like Grosz or Mideo Cruz, it provokes the system in featuring religious symbolism and sadomasochism, of Nazis and prostitutes, beggars, and of the dark occult that would dare to call those works as satanic, if not weird since most people aren't really used to those kind of artworks other than advertisements and their selfies being posted at Instagram or in other social media account. 

This artwork for example, it had include religious symbolism and pop art. To a religious fanatic it may had meant blasphemous, and hence assailed in a way those who are against the works of Mideo Cruz opposed the latter's works being exhibited at the Cultural Centre, but seems that what Katkov did, like Cruz's, was a reflection of reality such as today's mankind crucified in its own hell courtesy of its own culture. Katkov may had created that work based on the observations he sought, such as a hell being peddled as heaven by the status quo that made its subjects heavily corrupted and rotten systems benefited from it.

Another artwork seemed to be reminded of George Grosz in featuring controversial groups such as Nazi Skinheads with its Dr. Marten boots and Iron Cross in its neck, alongside a destitute lamenting himself and a girl, maybe a prostitute choosing to commit suicide out of self-hate and choosing to escape from the real world "through the barrel of the gun"; and and is a dead intelligentsia gone degenerated, skin and bones yet garbed in coat and tie pertaining to be those whom supposed to maintain the status quo.
Like Grosz, it had showed what Russia had been after the fall of the Soviet Union such as the rise of  Russian Nazis (ironically, Hitler opposed Slavs yet Slavs afford to imitate their enemies), rampant prostitution, and other features of the "modern" world's other side such as a degenerate one.

To others, it's all but weirdness to see such artworks, that the artist as crazed in featuring hell with all its symbolism and expression featured. Like Cruz would say that Katkov urge people to critically think in regards to institutionalized supersition if not urging everyone to revolt against the so-called "modern" world gone degenerate. Furthermore, he expressed his view as a National Bolsevik in regards to his society, using art as his medium so to speak in seeing a reality what most would deem it as weird if not blasphemous or whatsoever that is contrary to the norms of the status quo.

Apologies to those who may likely to be offended in this writeup, as some artworks are meant to invoke critical thinking if not a matter of free expression. Reality often bites so to speak that can provoke anger from somebody else after seeing an artwork, listening to a song, watching a program or reading a book. Sometimes, artists whom sought reality made a version that is "provocative" in the eyes of the status quo, and with that provocativity it speaks of inconvenient truth regardless of being depicted controversially such as the use of controversial symbolism if not sex. Furthermore, it also acted as a protest against the prevailing norms in which includes crass superstition, consumerism, escapism and others regularly featured in a so-called "modern world". 

Or as what Ricky Maramba said in regards to Cruz and his controversial work:

"That is really what free speech and free expression is all about. We all have our beliefs and we should be free to say or express them even if it offends and goes against the grain of what the public believes in. With no free speech we would be left in a society which hardly changes and is stuck on medieval beliefs."

That's all for now, there are other artworks to be featured next time.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Through the Pinsel: a quest for ContemporAntiquity

Through the Pinsel:
A quest for ContemporAntiquity 

Set of writings related to ContemporAntiquity
 By Lualhati Madlangawa Guererro 

It was years ago in this site when writeups about ContemporAntiquity had been dealt upon. 

Influenced by the aspirations of the past and progressive thinking, ContemporAntiquity tries its so-called idea to bridge both the antiquated and the contemporary in reviving domestic culture from being buried in the mud of wholesale westernization thanks to globalization and neoliberalism. To some people would call it both as desperate, idealistic, or even strange to deal with matters concerning present day culture particularly those of modern art presented by modern-inclined artists, illustrators, playwrights mostly from mainstream media, and its relevance to reality, as in the sickening truth contrary to what is been presented also by that same mainstream media. 

Trying to echo a lost spirit

In a fast changing world comes with a realization of what was deemed imaginative. From electronic gadgets to high rise buildings trying to exceed the limits, mankind had least trying to take advantage anything all in pursuit of social advancement, that communities be sufficient in all of its needs, and everyone least trying to be satisfied, happy with its newfound products of idea and practise. It had invoked time and again a future that is promising, most of which were once laid by the books, scratch papers till one, two, or three persons willing to realize those things, undergone experimentation if not formulating designs using existing tools and knowledge all in pursuit of attaining higher goal such as an edifice or any other artwork. 

But despite these consistent march of time lies forgetfulness, most if not all had been end rotting and eventually demolished regardless of its significance, tools and ideas being replaced with new ones and hence be foregotten; and people whom chose to "join the flow" found to be confused, having blurred ideas as they chose to content in their self-gratifications a so-called "modern" day society had offered to its inhabitants. 

As what the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos said:

"When history and circumstances cause a blurring of the past, the result is confusion of tradition and values. A people with National amnesia suffer a lack of balance and sense of direction. Rootless and purposeless, they must find firm traditions or ideals, and grasp the solid sedimentation of ancestral aspirations or they will wither and die..."

Sorry to use Marcos as source of these quotes, but the fact that people, contenting in the vicious cycle of wholesale westernization such as those of consumerism, lies an inconvenient fact that the society trying to assert its independence had been in a state of "amnesia" for generations; in which people had forgotten its heritage, if not reducing heritage to those what is presented to tourists and the rest goes to the wrecking ball amd calling it "development." 
Much more that in reducing change into a mere figment of imagination, and favoring meaningless development sponsored by exploiters, such as those of destroying heritage sites in Manila and even greeneries like Manila Seedling Bank at Quezon City, it had blurred peoples aspirations and instead be replaced by illusions presented by the profit seeking order. Yes, the order that also includes those of Marcos himself and his successors, often using patriotism for the sake of appeasing the people while kissing the arses of foreign overlords promising good interest loans.

How come most leaders, even the "assuming nationalists" such as Marcos had failed to instil patriotism and instead contented to the dictates of the west? The latter had treated patriotism or any other crap as a propaganda tool the way he use discipline as his alibi for his Martial Rule. The edifices of Locsin and the artworks of Malang had invoked both modernity and at the same time patriotism as it tries to idealise the "New Filipino" with its newfound vigour, identity and artistry.But in reality, regardless of its assuming "nationalism" Marcos and his like trying to invoke, still remained contented to the dictates of the "developed" and "progressive". One has to remember that the "developed" and "progressive" west had rather forced the developing countries to remain backward, or having a semblance of development such as roads, edifices creating a modern façade where businesses thrive, all in exchange of keeping themselves contented in imports while exporting its raw and semi-processed goods, including cheap labor to most developed countries, that somehow made patriots and nationalists alike consistently oppose their moves and instead favor a nation capable of its own self; writers such as Henares and Lichauco would say that Patriotism insists self reliance that is truly different from those who assume as "patriots" had insisted: that instead of contentment in making semi-processed goods and exporting raw materials, has to be creative and develop new things using the raw materials supposedly for export, this time for domestic consumption; and ContemporAntiquity favors development the way it adheres keeping firm in its roots, as in genuine development in pursuit of asserting its independence, social liberation, and revival of its so-called "national spirit" just like Soviet Russia in its earlier days had to develop from its existing foundations, its factories and tools a society brought forth from its aspirations, trying to resurrect a spirit that was lost by the nobles and those failed to lean towards the future.

The edifices made by Locsin and the artworks of Malang, despite made in a period where anything was all but a charade of progress and a showcase of Filipino improvement least tried to visualise that is ContemporAntiquitarian. The Batasang Pambansa, as a structure showed least the idea of a modern yet tempered by the near-lost heritage of the people, yet the system had turned it different from what the architect had desired such as a place where traditional politicians justify the rotten status quo with pseudo-populist aspirations, or an artwork that is displayed in an edifice frequently visited by those who can afford.
Anyways, this writer doesn't mean to say that the nation has to return to its past, but instead reclaim and revive, improve and realize what was once just aspirations or ideas left in blueprints, sketches, books and barren mindsets, all through modern means yet keeping intact once lost spirits left just like what this writer stated, knowing that the ruling order had nonetheless cares less its own sanity as it cares more about grandeur that is illusory.

Of detractors and apologetics 
of the so-called monsters

Yet still as time goes by, seems that there are those whom chose to contented in the atmosphere of nonsense. With detractors whom too obsessed with their concept of progress and modernity are trying to malign reviving national spirit by equating to those of the oligarchs also being abhorred by the people? 
Detractors had been much indulged with wholesale westernization such as those from the United States or even Japan and Korea, and at the same time reducing patriotism into a mere flag waving event and an exaggeration of pride such as those featured by mainstream media. Much more that they are praising rootless cosmopolitanism in the guise of "internationalism" and all its illusions depicted, but their so-called "internationalism" of peoples is in fact, "globalization" of ruling systems, that obviously benefits its ruling gentries while hastingly negating cultures, turning it into a mish mash of sorts, a pseudo-culture that exploits, bleeds people dry and unconsciously as it features the glorification of the mere self, mimicing those of the west and its modern-day leanings.

Much more that, with all their obsession in what that "modern" world had offered, comes with the blurring, forgetfulness, apathy towards their respective culture, heritage, discipline. As what the dictator Marcos said, without a sense of direction and hence getting confused over ideas and aspirations, such as those whom being peddled by the system Marcos himself participated. They afford to banner patriotism of ancient ancestors and freedom fighters and at the same time speaking wholeheartedly positive about globalization coming from international moneylenders and foreign overlords, even making a mishmash of these contradictions, making new terminologies and ideas in order for the people "understand" about it. 

But still, most people still confused on that mishmash, hodgepodge of sorts the system and its apologetics had offered, worse, aggravates age old crisis as that mishmash of contradicting ideas obviously benefits the ruling gentries instead of the people whom supposed to benefit in that bullshit. The world, with its respective societies can't withstand the tremors made by those whose real intention is to exploit mind and brawn so as to bleed them dry, while revolting against these exploiters meant hell regardless of its justification such as an expression of an exolited after decade of being flogged and driven into endless slavery.

Just like what the "İstiklâl Marşı", the Turkish National Anthem, had said in its fourth verse:

Garbın âfakını sarmışsa çelik zırhlı duvar,
Benim iman dolu göğsüm gibi serhaddim var.
Ulusun, korkma! Nasıl böyle bir imanı boğar,
"Medeniyet!" dediğin tek dişi kalmış canavar?

Or in English:

The land is surrounded by the West and armoured with walls of steel,
But I have borders guarded by the mighty chest of a believer.
Let it howl, do not be afraid! And think: how can this fiery faith ever be killed,
By that battered, single-fanged monster you call "civilization"?

Oh yes! That single-fanged monster called "civilization" of today is what these "detractors", "apologetics", had consistently insisted especially in a form of mass media and its illusions being peddled thoroughly. For this person's view, right was Ersoy to say that part as the decadent societies, clothed in a garb known as modernity and presenting as civilization that obviously trying to reduce, if not destroy a thriving domestic culture and calling it as modernization. Old yet remarkable houses and other edifices being demolished in favor of near meaningless ones "in pursuit of currying potential investors", or building roads, bridges whilst keeping the same old feudal "traditions" of Landlords staying and absentee alike, these are all but tolerating rootless, rotting nonsense and everyone hadn't notice thoroughly the inconvenient truth that is behind the edifice of glass and steel.

Come to think of this, since society had assumed itself as modern, how come it had failed to stimulate production regardless of its presentation shown to the people? Factories such as those in Pasig had once invoked aspirations of a self sufficient society, in which the system and its apologetics abhor and tried to exorcise. The run-down yet well-made buildings of the past been threatened by interest seeking fools same as preserving buildings to be treated as museum pieces, eye candies rather than to revive what is this writer stated such as a modern yet tempered by its own aspiration, its own heritage. Ataturk had used both past and present to create a Turkey that was different from its Ottoman predecessor, there may be buildings inspired by both traditional Turkish, Hittite yet carries a purpose that is modern; Stalin's Russia had to fuse classicism and modernity that resulted to the creation of the skyscrapers in Moscow; these aren't mere eye candies as presented by modern day entities but built with a purpose of developing a modern day society and a realization of an idea once written, drawn or spoken by the old.

Anyways, Detractors and Slanderers may continue to abhor many times the aspirations of the common man in building a just community, while at the same time presenting theirs as better for "they think" compared to the common man who "deserved to be ruled"; not knowing or just aloof that the common man, with its hardships, develops a consciousness that is realistic than those whom are "thinking". They may have called for foreign investments, dependency on cheap imports, and the foreigner's right to own property, but how about industrialization and utilization of its own resources by its own people and its own communities?
So much for "Change starts from the self" being parroted by today's "modern" people is obviously reducing social change into a mere matter of an individual, of that "self" alone with all its so-called "contributions" that as if can resolve the issue (but more of pacifying). That ironically, spoken by those whose societies speak much of communitarianism (and collective effort).

For a future forged by revolutionary heritage
 and age old aspiration

Perhaps, like a tree one has to cut the rotting and the sick in order the plant to survive. So is the society.

People should destroy the rotting social order whilst creating a new one that is modern but tempered by its true, revolutionary heritage. The French Revolution isn't a mere revolt of the bourgeois inspired by Voltaire and Rousseau, but a continuation of earlier peasant and artisan revolts, whose despite its failure had kept its spirit alive by those who cling to their forefather's principles: they don't just fight merely for freedom, equality, and fraternity, but land, bread, and justice to those who are oppressed, dispossessed and disenfranchised by the privileged few. The Chinese struggle isn't all about Mao Zedong and his Communist party alone, nor Sun Yat Sen and his Guomindang, but a continuation of earlier struggles, of utopian-and-messianic oriented peasant revolts with promises of justice and retribution against the greedy landlords and wretched-minded nobility; so was the unfinished Philippine revolution, this time in a modern type yet tempered by its tradition coming from the era of Silang, Rizal and Bonifacio, with its people sick and tired of age old realities such as corrupt bureaucrats, exploiter compradore and landlords, and a backward society behind the glass and steel edifices and numerous projects made primarily to support a  "cult of personality" with the corrupt ruling gentry initiated and developed thoroughly.

Otherwise, of what is struggle for change if it is not based from the actual aspirations of the people from past till present? People does not aspire for freedom and so-called "democracy" peddled by mainstream media, but instead struggle what is inheritly embedded thanks to the realities that triggers the creative urge to destroy and recreate a new one, as what the quote made by the late Pablo Picasso said:

"The urge to destroy is also a creative urge."

And that quote makes those who favour the status quo trying to negate over and over, trying to tame those who had yearned for a tomorrow where opportunities laid in store for them; ContemporAntiquity may had been inspired by old edifices like old churches, establishments or old factories and buildings that captures the imagination of those who lean to a promising future, so are the aspirations of the common man that had been struggled for generations. 

Least been realized through art to inspire anyone taking the guts against the rotting status quo. Every edifice that carries both heritage (untarnished by pseudomodernity) and reality (meeting the demands of the people) is a cathedral, temple to commemorate the realization of the people such as a modern, developed society born from the ruins of its "past", and that "past" includes the aspirations of the people that is, contrary to the wishes of the rotten status quo.  Hannes Mayer, Van Molyvann had did the idea what this writer expressed in this writeup.

Anyways, as long as there are those who had wanted to revive the Filipino spirit, so is the idea of having its culture a chance of improving itself, whilst keeping firm in its good roots.

That's all for now, 

Thank you.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Not all just (according to the system) is just (according to the people)

Not all Just (according to the system) 
is Just (according to the people)

It was yesterday when this writer had read a post in a social media site, and it seems that most, if not all students, faculty members within the University of the Philippines had joined the bandwagon along with other big 3 schools in moving the calendar from june to August.

As months ago, the UP system (or rather say the administrators), with the exception of the main campus at Diliman, had chose to move their school calendars in accordance to ASEAN integration and even international standards, citing possible developments such as academic-related tourism, "cooperation" with other universities within the southeast asian region, and much obviously, commercialization of education and having courses geared to the demands of the market.

It is quite surprising though that Diliman had stopped resisting after few months of insisting June as its first month of the school calendar, that, with changes in the chancellor and certain officials in the main campus also ought this writer think that those who had sat in those positions had chose to nod on the proposal instead of opposing as their predecessors do. Much more that with the support of some faculty members and the bourgeois studentry having the calendar changed as if that someday the Philippine education system would be at par with others who chose to abide international standards, commercialization, globalization, and neoliberalism a la Fukuyama with the the latter as "end of history."

But come to think of this, if most, if not all within the UP system, whether they come from Diliman, Padre Faura, Miag-Ao, Baguio, Davao, Cebu, or even the ravaged Tacloban had chose to change the calendar from June to August, how come there are those who chose to oppose? Again, just like opposing Neocolonialism and favoring genuine National development, these people within the UP community rather chose to advance the interest of the university as a "University for the People" instead of "vested interests" who had favored policies those who favor what this writer stated earlier. That changing the calendar or any showcase made under neoliberalism cannot ease the issue on the rising number of dropouts, yearly tuition fee increases, repression against students expressing political views, budget cuts on education, and others controversial not just in the university system itself but to Philippine education in general.

And citing that those who had favor the move and calling it as change lies the blurring between development and crisis. Blurring in a sense that they think international standards as just yet that same international standards also brought crisis, particularly in developing countries like the Philippines. Is just dependence on international capital instead of investing on national resources by the people are in accordance to international standards? Is the demands for international standards, ASEAN integration are in accordance to the wishes of the people? The latter seemed to be supposedly in accordance to the people within South East Asian region yet in fact ruling systems are benefiting from it instead of the people. Indonesia's Pancasila been diluted, if not scrapped off entirely in favor of neoliberalism that started during Soeharto's time, so was China's Maoism that end behind in favor of Dengism with its neoliberal thought predominant! Those who favor chose to revert UP or any other institution back in its origins such as a school for bureaucrats, same as a school for neoliberal-inclined economists, academicians, anything whose idea is just to support the rotting status quo.

Anyways, as people chose to dilute the idea and making it as presentable to many, such as those of the University of the Philippines from a University for the People to its origins as a institution founded to create bureaucrats, then right as what Orlando Putong said that:

"It's really saddening to see how many UP students have become 'idealistic' in terms of their thinking. We have students who can't see the relationship of things such as the interconnection of the academic calendar shift with the worsening crisis of a commercialized, colonial, and fascist education, students who worship neoliberalism and globalization and hail individualism and subjectivism."

But despite that blurring of ideas and unjustly similarizing terms, those who chose to be consistent in opposing neoliberalism and favoring genuine National development has to continue advancing what is really developmental, contrary to those what the system favored and insisted to everyone, such as a oppressive, stunting bullshit. Today's students, faculty members are too obsessed with the wonders of modernity neoliberalism had offered. Malacanang's Ochoa once said that "National Industrialization is Passé" while favoring the so-called wonders of just foreign investment, or this writer had rather say as dependent on international moneylenders to support the system's so-called programs, that somehow made people as if these neoliberal crap can resolve the problem like what their idolized country, the United States of America did!:

"first, it is natural for students, bombarded with a kind of education that pushes for globalization at the expense of national industrialization and self-reliance, as well as an education that remain a privilege of the few, to think that things cannot be changed and must only be accepted as absolute and immovable. For example: "we cannot stop globalization, therefore, we should only adapt and accept it." "Since the government is reducing budget for education, we should just adjust.""

So is their political consciousness. Putong's statement, regardless of the lamentation would say that there lies chance to overturn the ordeal made by the system whom unjustly favors their interest and given a populist alibi. Not all international standards being offered by neoliberal lords are just regardless of its sugarcoated rhetoric. The Philippines had been stunted because of that neoliberal policy that happened first after the war and intensified time and again by those who had chose to insist in it, that the creation of steel and the utilization of natural resources for domestic consumption are much abhorred in favor of importing cheap ones, whilst exporting the nation's raw materials, a garden, barn and mine for the biggest foreign entities like in the past, hence a neocolony that ought to be liberated:

"Second, as politically conscious individuals, we have the responsibility of raising the level of political consciousness of the studentry. Remember that no one is born 'red.' Therefore, it is crucial for activists to painstakingly conduct propaganda education, as well as the launching of intensive mass campaigns and struggles to break the dominant culture and to introduce an alternative and progressive counter-culture. A counter-culture that is nationalist because it promotes national industrialization, scientific because it's dialectical and grounded on objective conditions, and mass oriented because it serves the people.

Our history of struggle has shown what the students are capable of: they are capable of breaking away from idealism and embrace a more scientific and progressive outlook that genuinely pushes for change. This can be achieve through painstaking arousing, organizing, and mobilizing."

Hence, no matter the system justifies cannot stop the tide of protest as what Putong and others who opposed the scheme insisted. Let those who favor think that their protest as "uncollege-like" yet seeing them favoring neoliberalism had their minds blurred, distorted so as to accommodate the illusions what the system insisted, or rather say offered.

Again, this writer may had remind this post of earlier writeups regarding idealism and their disregard on real matters such as a progressive outlook, that anything can be resolved far beyond the reality, yet in fact aggravates age old issues regardless of their statements given.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

"If his actions are deemed as dissent, offence, then so be it."

"If his actions are deemed as dissent, offence then so be it."

(Or how a student had to face a case 
out of understanding one's opposition to an establishment's policy)

From the testimony of Macoy Mercolita

On a warm February afternoon in 2014 at a campus in Manila, students were all but in their usual chitchat, bystanding at the corridors or at the field as calls for consultation involving proposed Tuition and Other Fee Increases been voiced out by mass organizations inside. 

To most people, it seemed unusal to oppose proposed tuition hikes or certain controversial policies inside a private school; yet there are some who dares to listen and understand the reason behind opposing Tuition and Other Fee Increases (ToFI), or policies that are "Anti-Student" in character, or any other grievances knowing that it is part of academic freedom, regardless of being a private tertiary level education instution it is.

But to the administrators whom running the affairs of the school, as well as its apologetics, it meant an offense, a "disrespect" to the norms inside the campus, a possible disorder with their dissent to certain policies being voiced out by some students around. During the said activity, guards came to stop them from continuing, reprimand those who initiate, and even confiscate a flag and even an identification card (ID) coming from a political science student. 

That ironically, was just listening to their stand against ToFI and other policies inside Far Eastern University. He tried to insist his stand, and even appeaased those whom confiscate his ID in order to get it back; both he and the guards apologized to each other with the latter promised to have his ID return, only to found that he was accused of participating in that event, marking him as a "grave threat", and hence filed at the Office of Student Affairs (OSA) and currently ongoing. His ID was even displayed at the entrance gate, and he himself had to face the same guard whom filed the case, is also the one whom accepted his apology for the activity he involved last Feb 28!

That student had not yet given a memo from the OSA regarding the case that he himself didn't  instagated. And although his ID had been returned, he felt embittered by the administrators for having him just named in that event, knowing that he did nothing other than listening to their reason for opposing, that somehow made he sympathized; much more that in the other camp would make a distorted one such as he who participated largely on that activity. 

And as for that last Feb 28 demonstration being stopped and had an ID of a certain invidual be confiscated, what kind of idea did these authorities made to stop no matter how legal they ought to voice out their grievances? Does it include those who listen out of interest, or symathize to the cause such as the person this writer had featured in this writeup?  There are even others who experienced harassments as well by the authorities!
Expect some people whom likely to say that FEU is at first a private school, a corporation, and that these people whom demonstrate against ToFI or any other controversial policies such as "No long hair" or "No hair color" are making an offense against the institution and hence liable for suspension or expulsion; and yet in a university or any other tertiary level education institution, whether state or private it is has to observe academic freedom same as academic excellence. In regards to those protests, it is natural for the majority of working-class students whom chose to study at schools presenting as "affordable" or "reasonable" to oppose yearly increases whether in tuition or in other fees citing rising costs of commodities (such as electricity, oil, basic needs so to speak) and low purchasing power of peso (regardless of the "higher" wages) as its evidence; much more in regards to other policies such as long hair for men, cross dressing gays and lesbians, and even hair color tried to be prohibited by the authorities. 

And with that academic freedom includes the right to oppose against controversial policies affecting the studentry like what this writer stated. From yearly increases in tuition and other fees to "anti-long hair" ordinances most, if not all students around may percieve them as repressive or unjust; while restraining it further may deem it as a mockery of what academic freedom should be. Why was that student should not heed closely those who oppose ToFI? Much more that if he sympathizes in their cause such as to end repression on campus and in the society? 
Is the quest for reason be just limited on the four corners of the room if not a personal matter less to be discussed? And if he's an activist like those chanting slogans, what's wrong in activism, particularly in taking interest in affairs affecting everyone, even the students around "University Belt" affected?

If his actions are deemed as dissent, offence then so be it, so as to unveil the paranoia happening around what an institution supposedly tolerates academic freedom and progressive instruction should be. 

Friday, 7 March 2014

Break the cycle! Arise and struggle!

Break the cycle! Arise and struggle!

By Kat Ulrike

"The new woman, the new Filipina, is first and foremost a militant. The new Filipina is one who can stay whole nights with striking workers, learning from them the social realities which her bourgeois education has kept from her. She is a woman who has discovered the exalting realm of responsibility, a woman fully engaged in the making of history. No longer is she a woman-for-marriage, but more and more a woman-for-action."

- Lorena "Laurie" Barros

Throughout the years, the Filipina had tried to uplift her integrity as coequal of man. Excelling in every sphere, the Filipina tries to prove her best that with the interest she took, may it be in the field of art, culture, education, anything what a woman has to express and contribute for the well-being of humanity and its own society.

However, despite these various contributions it is the same being who is being stunted by the surroundings supposed to acknowledge and grow the contributions every Filipina had given: westeners and even fellow Filipinos used to think mainly about them as prostitutes, if not mere helpers, that they are limited to their kitchens, treated as eye candies by mass media, of being desensitized and depoliticized by the system and its illusions of grandeur like no other being just in pursuit of keeping the rotten status quo.

That somehow must be opposed consistently no matter how sweet the messages being given while trying to hid the inconvenient. As what Laurie Barros stated, the Filipina has to discover the reality, and like men, has to engage in the making of history even further than what is being sought nowadays, that includes breaking all the barriers what made her oppressed and stunted. And no matter how mass media had presented much about them, they can't just get content in mere beauty alone, that even Angel Locsin, who is an artist featured on FHM wants something more than beauty alone and instead a someone capable of showing her strength and willingness to expose and oppose the ills of society such as poverty and miseducation; knowing that how come she chose to mingle with the common people like those from Payatas dumpsite, of cooperating with organizations like GABRIELA instead of enjoying grandeur like any other artist?

Again, she demands something beyond physical beauty alone as she unleashes her inner power.

Once, this writer had sought pictures of those trying to emulate Chicanas from the west with all their beauty alongside fondness for hiphop music, but despite emulating, how about their struggle to go beyond the kitchen, the home, the ramp and the market? The Chicana whom they emulate can't just simply limit themselves as eye candies, but instead willing to offer their knowledge, lives for something that goes beyond the stereotype, so that it may usher a meaningful change both for themselves, their fellows, and the community.
And so should be the Filipina. Like its own legendaries such as Maganda who as the co-equal of Malakas in the creation of the world, the valiant Urduja of Tawalisi whose strength and wit brought attention of traders and men seeking her hand, to the courageous, self-sacrificing heroes like  Gabriela Silang, Melchora Aquino, and Lorena Barros whose MAKIBAKA and other suceeding organizations struggle for the emancipation and empowerment of Filipino women and the nation itself. 
And like these examples, one must realize their aspirations, fully especially in a modern-day period a nation tries to get in touch, of breaking the shackles of bondage coming from both past and present prejudices and unleash their potentials as coequals of men, building together a society based from their ideas, such as just, peaceful and prosperous.

Hope that today and in everyday, the Filipina, alongside women around the world rise up and join hand in hand with others in a never ending struggle against the world that is deemed decadent and repressive, of getting beyond the parameters in pursuit of attaining higher goals such as standing in the right side of history.

That's all for now,
Thank you.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Mocking Heritage, Counter-Nostalgia

Mocking Heritage, Counter-Nostalgia

It was yesterday when this writer had read an article about the state of the old building at the banks of the murky Pasig River. Grimy in its appearance, the edifice had been endured for many decades, suffered by war and tear, yet keeping all its strength to remain still in then commercial district of Manila.

But this time threatened by the wrecking ball by its new owner "for the sake of a fucking warehouse" or a "prime lot" with a condo in the future.

"Our "Hogar", Our Home.

Now that tenants of the centuries-old building being evicted, everyone is all but thinking whether the place be preserved for posterity or just, simple demolished for the goddamn sake of "development." Based from articles such as from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the centuries-old "El Hogar Filipino", through its new owner, had been a state of question coming from conservationists, historians, and architecture enthusiasts citing importance of the building.

Built in 1914 and located at the corner of Juan Luna Street and Muelle de Industria in Binondo district, Manila, the four-floor structure was designed by Ramon Irureta-Goyena and Francisco Perez-Muñoz with elements of Neoclassical and Renaissance styles. It was made for Antonio Melian, a self-proclaimed Peruvian count who formed the El Hogar Mutual Association, a financing cooperative also supported by British-owned Smith Bell and Co., and it was also made as his wedding present of sorts to his wife Isabel Zobel (of the Zobel de Ayala clan) and their initials adorn the staircase of the building.

The building had endured the tide of war, being occupied by the Japanese and bombed by Americans, it was rebuilt and even added a new floor with the same design as well as meeting the demands of then-present clients such as businessmen and traders. It was also served as favorite location for movies, videos, advertisements, and even photographs courtesy of camera-carrying enthusiasts thirst for using historical edifices for their so-called craft.

But this time, after the years of being used as an office building by different establishments, it had been bought by a new owner whose intention is far from its original purpose: such as demolishing it an having a warehouse to be build in its lot.


It may be a rumor for some in regards to the issue having El Hogar being threatened by demolition thanks to that "new owner" who had bought the entire lot. Regardless of its European features and age-old beauty had to be unfold, the new owner rather disregard it those just for the sake of profit.

For sure to some people, that the new owner would possibly be a Chinese or any other "narrow minded" foreigner, or even a Filipino whose idea is all but "" and doesn't care about heritage for that person doesn't give a damn about it, hence a rootless cosmopolitan so to speak like no other exploiter. There were even rumors earlier that Andrew Tan's Megaworld Corporation had bought the building and be "developed" like any other high rise building, only to be turned down by the latter as a rumor with its statement given. And with that kind of threat made by these so-called "developers" most conservationists had "scrambled", sorry for the term to take pictures, or even sketching every old, sculpted feature according to the latest article this writer had read; but the good thing on the other hand, is the attempt to save the building as much as possible.

Citing the failure of saving the modernist Jai Alai and leading it into its demise (thanks to that goddamn Manila City Government), El Hogar Filipino and other age-old edifices are being threatened by greedy profiteers whose intention is to destroy and replace it with a mere nonsense edifice that even putting with pseudo-historical bullshit (like any other eye candy buildings) conservationists may likely describe it as a mockery, a counter-nostalgia that tramples the community's history and heritage trying to relieve and preserve.

Reading a series of comments
(especially those mocking heritage and counter-nostalgia)

Also from an online article of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, this writer had read various comments stating in favor of preservation or just demolition for sake.

First citing Eric B. Zerrudo, director of the University of Santo Tomas Graduate School-Center for Conservation of Cultural Property and Environment in the Tropics and professor in the Master of Arts in Cultural Heritage Studies program of UST, he says that the threatened El Hogar has architectural and historic value, hence liable for preservation.

“It has architectural significance because it is very representative of the architecture of business establishments of that era,” says Zerrudo, who’s also the Philippine representative to the World Heritage Committee of the UNESCO.

Zerrudo even stated that the building is representative of the rise of American business and industry—a representation of American boom years that had affected its territories like the Philippines. And the setting of the building is significant as well because “it is one of few surviving American-period buildings along Pasig River" aside from the old Citibank office.

In an ABS-CBN news article, Michelle Pe of Miramar Hotel had also profound interest in saving the building and had it rehabilitated:

"This building has so much potential especially because it is strategically located. I would develop it into a boutique hotel and I'll probably paint the building facade in ivory with a hint of tallow yellow. I will also replace all the ground floor doors with French doors with a canopy where I plan to have a restaurant overlooking the Pasig River. Exterior lights will highlight the building at night."

On the other hand, in a comments portion of the Inquirer also has its share of those in favor of demolition. One of which, by a pseudonym "Ako'y PagPag Lover", he simply think of old buildings as mere urban blight and hindrance to progress like any other pseudo-future leaning individual, as he said:

"This building is a blight along the Pasig Riverfront. Time for a new one. Let the past go. The building lot is so valuable. A new building built will exude a new sense of hope and aura of development, not some colonial string attached even to this day. Those days are over folks! NO one cares what this old building stands for anyways. Besides that building is molding really really fast. It is unhealthy to even go in and smell the molds and fungi. Those are toxic to the lungs."

That somehow for this writer would say "is that so?" than he should had go to Singapore, Jakarta, or Vietnam. He may had been too subjective and trying to inject some intellectualism in it to justify the two-faced "moving on" attitude. "If the building is structural not sound, time to let it go down. This is for safety purpose" also according to that same commentator, citing ignorance that the building was also designed by UST's Roque Ruano who's also a structural engineer! Much more if there are structural engineers willing to support in preserving like those who had attempted to preserve old churches and houses.

Another comment, made by "slicenziuten" seemed to be stupid, appealing to the people, especially using tragedy as its reference:

"its just a building, many in Tacloban are left with only bankhouses to restore their simple lives."

If that's just a building, then so is the Metrobank tower, Petron, or even Greenbelt at Makati. And despite agreeable that there should be houses for the poor, so should be educating everyone the importance of reviving its national identity, not just preserving old buildings but also in reviving for the purpose of using it for the future. 
Even in the old Soviet bloc whom used to sacrifice old buildings tagged as urban blight, had to preserve most as possible knowing its valuable, age old contribution in the history of its people (and even rebuilt some according to old pictures, blueprints). And that was and is more than eye candy so to speak. 


Reading comments from an article at Inquirer had brought irreconcilable differences such as preserving heritage vs. just moving on. "Ako'y PagPag Lover"'s comment had meant just "moving on" and even mocking the past as all but "greed alone." If so, then how come Paris, London, or even Singapore had been attached to their pasts? Yes, they do have demolished some, if not most of their age-old heritage just like Hong Kong, until years passed citing the contribution of a place for their city's history of Development.

So should be Manila and its trying hard attempt to keep its heritage firm. As a ContemporAntiquitarian would say that the future can't be just let alone by those who exploit, knowing that it will end up rather "rootless" and "too cosmopolitan" like any other city around the world, including those whom reducing heritage into just churches and old houses, an eye candy for tourists than a part of everyday life just like those from Paris and Barcelona.

And if people wanted to go beyond treating the old as if a "just eye candy" while leaving the rest be exploited, why not stand up and let anyone stop mocking heritage and instead reviving it for the greater good? 

Anyways, if old buildings had took months to create it by hand, it should be left and continue using, with dignity, all for posterity, a chance to march towards "progress" while keeping its roots firm and strong thanks to those who had afford to refurbish, conserve, and use.