Monday, 13 November 2017

Same old agendas, Subserviences guised as partnerships, (And the struggle for real co-prosperity for the region)

Same old agendas, 
Subserviences guised as partnerships,
(And the struggle for real co-prosperity for the region)

Notes on the 31st summit of the Association of South East Asian Nations, 
Of agreements full of promises retaining the status quo,
and how US, China, are using Southeast Asia for its rivalry

As the summit of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) continues in Manila, the baggage left by past agreements, including those of its earlier summit at Vietnam continues to be carried upon and still discussed throughout; and from it it is pretty much obvious that the agenda is as same as in the past, particularly the idea of intensifying neoliberalism and globalisation at the behest of countries especially China and the United States.

However, as they push through their idea to each and every southeast Asiatic, a growing collusion between two countries been overheard: each hath its proposal enough to please both the underdeveloped as well as the developing countries in every region, including those of the Philippines:

That in the United States, through its “protectionist” America First policy, the Trump regime seeks to further break down economic barriers in its vassals so as to favor US monopoly capitalists. Trying to assume itself as “protectionist”, it hath turned its back on the Trans-Pacific Partnership and similar multilateral agreements of its predecessors in favor of bilateral arrangements with individual countries. 
But in spite of promising jobs to Americans and revive industry, that “protectionist” agenda is not really securing the welfare of the Americans but rather to consolidate the order, as Trump aims to push around its economic weight (buttressed by its military presence) to force countries to break down trade and investment barriers to favor US monopoly capitalist companies.

Meanwhile, China, while assuming to be “socialist”, continues to pursue its neoliberal agenda as it pursues for “economic integration” of both ASEAN and APEC member-countries under its “Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership” (RCEP). Like its western counterpart, and probably reminiscent of the defunct “Council for Mutual Economic Assistance“ of the former Soviet Union, China aims to push for an all-out liberalization under its “one belt, one road” project to tighten the integration of these countries into its Factory Asia “global value chain” as well as to take advantage of cheapest available labor.

Both economic agendas offered by the United States and China appeared to be beneficial to the developing regions like Southeast Asia, however, it hath nothing to do with development other than retaining its control in this modern-day cold war, for amidst the protracted crisis of the global capitalist system, rivalry and intense contradictions between the leading capitalist powers occured. For the cold war fanatic this again would still be a war between capitalism and communism, but the rivalry between the United States and China hath nothing to do with ideology, the way its policies hath nothing to do with defending freedom and democracy for the Americans nor achieving conditions for the revolution from the Chinese (since the ruling party still assumes itself to be “communist”); but instead, both countries showed a blatant pushing for all-out liberalization as concerned.
Also to think that these entities are plutocratic by nature (thanks to capitalism), these economic superpowers are obviously united in its desire to break down trade and investment barriers, be it tariffs, quotas, and regulations all in order to allow unrestricted plunder of every resource especially in its vassals; and with that course stunts rather than speeds the supposed developments and affects every sector who supposed to benefit from it. For Neoliberalism, Globalisation, and Deregulation, reduced the desire for domestic-based development into a mere pipe dream.

Besides economic issues, saber rattlings hath been part of the summit as Donald Trump discussed the issues on the disputed isles in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), as well as in North Korea. He even wanted to be the arbiter on the discussion concerning the dispute although it is obvious that there is a saber rattling being made even on that event. 

But in spite of seeing the United States remain as the biggest military power, China, on the other hand, continues to strengthen its armed capability and is fast developing its capability to project power overseas. The artificial isles in the disputed sea tends to bolster its defences using both naval and air defence forces.

And as for the Philippines, that instead of taking the summit as an opportunity for pushing for the demilitarization of the South China Sea and reducing the possibility of the country taking part in a possible conflict, the Duterte regime is further stoking the tensions by turning a blind eye on China’s occupation of Philippine claims in exchange for promises of Chinese loans and capital infusion in various projects (including the Northrail project), on the one hand; while on the other, allowing the US military to continue using Philippine territorial seas for its power projection operations, Philippine ports for docking, refuelling and provisioning of US warships, and cooperation with the local defence with its joint military excerises, all these through its existing agreements particularly the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) and the Enhanced Defence Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). 

All in all, the situation shows that the regime did not act seriously in pursuing an independent foreign policy or rather the desire of a country free from the dictates of its neighbours in all spheres; to think that Trump’s visit to the Philippines in line with the ASEAN Summit will further cement the master-puppet relationship with the Duterte regime like its predecessors. Xi et al. did too benefited, but again, the subservience of the regime to the superpowers, the reaffirmation of unequal agreements, removing economic barriers till laissez faire, and anything that is agreed upon made its earlier promises proven to be an empty brag.

Meanwhile, in Manila’s streets, protests prevailed and even increasing. With the burning of the effigy as its centrepiece and its calls to “dump Trump” and the agreements reminiscent of the unequal treaties, the wave of anger pointing against these neoliberals been intensified no matter how the policemen trying to control be it through the truncheon or through its newly-brought sound cannon; there were numerous casualties though, and critics assailed the action as subversion if not mere empty noise as they accepted the “benefits” of that summit with wide arms. 

But in spite of these bullshits, the message is clear that neoliberalism, globalisation, and the militarism been babbled throughout that summit in Manila has to be opposed so is its ringleaders be it Trump, Xi, and others who scramble for the developing countries especially Southeast Asia and specifically the Philippines. 

Or rather say this: that neither those from Beijing, Washington, Moscow, or Tokyo, should ever dictate assuming that they will save Southeast Asia and the entire developing countries; and to assert a just socioeconomic alternative that truly and mutually benefits each and every community.

For a real co-prosperity in southeast Asia and in the third world!

Saturday, 11 November 2017

“More than just remembering an old jingle.”

“More than just remembering an old jingle.”

(Or notes regarding the need for industrialisation
as one of keys for national development)

It’s been decades past to remember that jingle once played in both television and in the radio. So happened that the uncle of this person worked in that company; that sadly end defunct.

“The nation is growing
with P.B.M. steel!
Constructing, expanding...
with P.B.M. steel!
Buildings rise, future grows...
with good quality
Builders trust this name... P.B.M.”

Sounds nostalgic but the jingle was more than just promoting but also invoking an appeal to progress from an era almost forgotten. For during those times Nationalist sentiment meant the need for domestic-based developement, and one of which was (and even is) the need for Nationalist industrialisation.

Critics may insist that industrialisation means benefiting oligarchs, since these oligarchs, both compradore and landlord, are able to control economic affairs, they even able to dickride the idea of “development” including those of industrialisation: that the Ayalas, Sorianos, Razons, or Lucio Tan and Gokongwei did so with entities like San Miguel, Atlas Fertilizer, or Phelps Dodge.
Or frankly speaking, they are rather insisting that development should focus on commerce, trade, and extraction of materials as any other underdeveloped country; while developments should be based on infrastructure building, investments on “relevant sectors”, and limiting industrialisation to consumer goods and assembly line.

But in spite of that criticism, the demand for domestic-based development remains at-large. Knowing that the Philippines did enjoy 21st century technology as any other country, it is not enough also knowing that basic problems remain especially the need to utilise its own natural resources and labour power. Oligarchs and moneylenders, in connivance with an incompetent government continue to upheld an unjust status quo that somehow profited from it. And if they babble about industrialisation, it is the same entity that killed that aspiration. And entities like PBM, Radiowealth, National Steel, were greatly affected through it: be it because of corruption, or connivance with neoliberalists to stop pursuing the nationalist economic agenda.

And also because of that, Industrialistion will always be a major topic. Given that the country has sufficient resources, an interest-seeking order continues to impose policies that rather stunt national development, and industries continued to be small to medium scale, even the steel industry remained a maker of bars and construction needs than going heavier like those of its neighbours.

Also as far as the concerned remembers the jingle, there were few entities that specialised in the manufacturing of steel, and seriously adheres to the nationalist economic agenda; but politics and economic policies that favoured imported steel (and in extension capital goods) stunted their developments and some even abandoned altogether. Only few would try its best to remain but only to found that they are contented in making needs for construction rather than following its neighbours in supporting the needs of their country’s heavy industry.

With these facts somehow made one think and admit that the country depends in imported steel the way motor companies in the Philippines hath to depend on imported parts; and jokingly speaking would say that the Philippines does no even manufacture nails for construction or carpentry needs.
But in spite all these there lies hope. But that hope requires much assertion to pressure the ruling order to meet the demands of the people, particularly the need for industrialising the country. The need for technology transfers, the cultivation encouragement of students to engage in the sciences, the revisit of nationalist economic policies, and the just and fair utilisation of natural resources, may somehow benefited the country that seriously needed development despite this age of modernity and innovation.

Sounds postwar but that postwar appeal turns out to be still relevant rather than passe. It so happened that the system chose to skip the need for a heavy industry if not limiting industry to those of services and small to medium scale manufactures as well as trade and commerce; ironically, even the ones in the government admitted that fact knowing that the country seriously needed to industrialise further in order to to steer development in its fullest sense and to keep in par with its developed neighbours, or probably thinking why Japan, Peoples China, and the two Koreas did that kind of path, therefore why not in this still-developing Philippines? Well, it boils down to being dictated to the whims of the moneylenders that development as meant to be limited to some public works, small and medium scale enterprises, the rest goes to the multinationals who profited from every domestic material they exploit. Sounds Lichaucoite or Henaresist isn’t it?

Perhaps, as time goes by, people would think that the façades of glass and steel isn’t enough for developement, what more that there are those also just got carried by the jingle of PBM Steel, and  still wanting to realise the goal of building what more of steering a still developing country into its chartered course.

“As the Lords and its Vassals converged Manila”

“As the Lords and its Vassals converged Manila”

(Notes on the Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Manila,
and the people who chose to be critical towards its policies)

All after the conference in Vietnam, and still eager to consolidate interests in the Southeast Asian region and to reaffirm the domination of dominating countries, neoliberals guised as “populists” ruling in their respective countries are convening, along with its overlords in the host country: the Philippines.

Led by its host leader president Duterte and saidth to be attended by its lords like Donald Trump, the Association of South-East Asian Nations continues its drumbeat of both illusion and discontent as each and every southeast Asiatic knows that their respective homelands are stubbornly controlled by each oppressive orders, whose primary oath is to retain the status quo, with minimal changes that rather benefits them than its needy subjects.

Sounds incorrect to most people who optimistically thinking that change will truly sweep and benefits each and every southeast Asiatic, but with the fact that unfair trade, unjust labour conditions, and oppressive policies been prevailing thanks to those unequal agreements, it forced the masses of people into nothingness and maldevelopment, while cultivating in them the taste for foreign goods and forcing themselves to diminish their desire for a genuine development in their communities.

And to think that with unjust policies prevailed with all its effects aggravating, then of whoat is the reality the summit is trying to show? Is it to reaffirm the desire for a caring and sharing community? Or the commitment to be the vassal of interests? Prior to that coming meeting was a series of bloodied exploits: be it in Marawi to those of Rohingya, of American-engineered attempts to subvert those who trying remove their shackles of vassalage, and the usual rising costs of goods and services, Southeast Asia, as in any other region around the world, is itself a battlefield between the labouring people and the privileged haves whose ages-old dominance diminishes democracy, freedom, and justice.

And like the past summits that hath met with protests outside their convention halls, each and every Southeast Asiatic knows that the real intent of the summit and its agreements was to consolidate interest, if not trying to reaffirm vassalage towards the “plutocratic countries” like the United States, China, and the European Union; actually, that issue on reaffirming vassalage is no more a question since the domestic compradores and oligarchs continuously “grows” its ties to these “plutocratic countries”. Of course, they have to bow down towards them while at the same time preaching to every southeast Asiatic that the agreement isn’t unjust or unequal.

But all in all, that phenomenon really concerns each policy especially internal ones affecting the economy, culture, and social affairs. If they seriously desire to address issues on human rights, an end to terrorism, the need for development, and to resolve tensions with neighbouring countries, whilst the reality that the nature of their societies be like semifedual, semicolonial in character, then of what are these topics really for? In the case of the Philippines, the war on drugs continues to aggravate with oplan “Tokhang” continues its bloodied course (and justified badly by its apologists), while Marawi remains desolated and its its inhabitants dislocated whilst the attack dogs of the state carrying off its loot, the costs of goods and services continue to rise, and others that made all these nonsense truly diminishes the regime’s sworn oath to pursue progressive changes when in fact progressively shifted its interests from the people to those of the ruling class. Xi Jingping’s regional economic policies does not translate to revolution in spite of its “socialistic nature”, Putin’s aid does not even translate to support for the developing, what more of Trump’s stances does not equate to reviving the greatness of each and every American, what more of its vassals.

As an observer and one of the concerned, the struggle for national and social liberation will always be one of the major topics no matter what others trying to malign, ridicule, or assail. As hundreds, if not thousands of masses protest against that neoliberal-globalist entity, one would think that ever since these multinational summits tried to create a caring and sharing community, while at the same time reaffirming unjust policies, do they really care for each and every community?

Anyway, there will be more demonstrations as long as the problems aggravate. Let the system and its apologists whine as the concerned increasingly questions the policies the order greatly benefits and put interests unto it.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

"And now as the battle's been set"

"And now as the battle's been set"

Partially based from the song
И вновь продолжается бой
 (And the battle continues)
by N. Dobronravov and A. Pakhmutova 

Bright red flags in morning skies
Struggle rises no turning back
Over lands the rage is coming
Furious waves, massing attacks

And now as the battle's been set
And fears paving way to strength
With Lenin, now young once again
For October we'll fight til the end!

Over lands the message blared
Elders, folks, all bid thee heard
As vict'ry is tot'lly coming
Fighting masses bravely rising

Don't wait for heavens to aid
Be selfless for truth to heed
For in this life all encount'ring
Truth's companion worth struggling!

And now as the battle's been set
And fears paving way to strength
With Lenin, Fighting once again
For October we'll fight til the end!

Over heat and over cold,
Rich and poor what makes this world
But the masses, youth is with us
Forgers, builders, all anew!

And now as the battle's been set
And fears paving way to strength
With Lenin, now with us again
For October we'll fight til the end!

И вновь продолжается бой,
И сердцу тревожно в груди.
И Ленин - такой молодой,
И юный Октябрь впереди!

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Rekindling the legacy that was, October 25 (November 7 in the new-style)

Rekindling the legacy that was, October 25 
(November 7 in the new-style)

A writeup on the significance of the Great October Revolution

In spite of all the hardships, October 1917 in the old Russian calendar was a great historical event not just in the history of Russia but also in the entire world. For that event lies the awakening of the masses, being the toilers from both town and countryside and its will to seize control from the order being detested about. 

From there lies their will to cultivate, forge, create, nurture, build a society from the ruins of its pasts, and to defend against those whose intent was to destroy not just their cherished victories but also to malign the ideals that brought them into that spectacular feats.

To some may call it idealistic to see them assert their desire for "peace, land, and bread" besides "freedom and social justice"; if not ridiculing them for overturning an established order. Those times were driven by the realities of hunger, injustice, repression, war, and various issues these proletarians made themselves taking the path of revolution. 

To cite Jose Maria Sison:

"The epochal struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie was first defined by Marx and Engels in the Communist Manifesto of 1848 in the era of free competition capitalism. The objective conditions of 19th century Europe gave rise to a series of historic events: the workers’ uprisings in 1848, Marxś thoroughgoing critique of capitalism, the International Workingmen´s Association, the Paris Commune of 1871 as prototype of the proletarian dictatorship, the Second International and the rise of Marxism as the main trend in the European working class movement in the last decade of the 19th century."

But come to think of this, how come Russians increasingly rallied on the side of Marxism and be described the struggle against the old order as a struggle against capitalism? For sure one would think that Russia prior to the revolution was entirely an agricultural country with some industrial enclaves in its major cities like Moscow and in St. Petersburg. But the increasing discontent, of peace rallies-turned-bread riots has made each and every Russian to rally on the side of the red flag as well as to arm themselves; and Marx's Capital was like any other political book read by the bourgeoisie, more than of the proletariat. 

But with men like Plekhanov, Lenin, and other Marxists, they hath extended and developed the theory and practise of Marxism. But Lenin, with the Bolsheviks, affirmed that Marxism as imbued with revolutionary rather than reformist nature especially in an era of modern imperialism and of proletarian revolution. The debates against classical revisionists attests to that experiences.

Most important of all, as what George Dimitrov saidth, on that November 7, 1917 (October 25 old-style) the Russian workers and peasants, led by Lenin and the Bolsheviks, overthrew the incompetent Kerensky-led administration established after the February Revolution and transferred all power over vast and multi-million Russia to the Soviets of Workers and Peasants. The world hath stunned in that struggle, for this was the first victory against the old order supported by capital.

But that struggle also met with opposition. As workers and peasants trying to cope with the extremely complex nature of economic and administrative issues, the old order-ranging from the extreme conservatives to those assuming to be "progressive", tried much to undermine. British, American, Japanese, and other imperialists, in trying to stem out revolutionary fervour from its path, resorted to military intervention against the free and self-governing Russian people by financing the counter-revolutionary armies of Kolchak, Yudenich and Denikin and organizing an economic blockade of Soviet Russia. 
The imperialists were at first exultant, as they're expecting the early destruction of this nest of the world proletarian revolution which was so dangerous for them. But still, in spite of all their "victories", lies a big disappointment in store for them by their enemy. Like the old poster above depicting the efforts of capitalism and reaction failing to uproot the red Soviet turnip (that turned out to be a Budenovka of a Soviet soldier), the forthcoming erasing of Bolshevik Russia from the face of the earth turned out to be a failure- but instead that so-called first durable socialist state on one-sixth of the surface of the earth succeeds both in the battle and at the home front. It took years of sacrifice and effort to consolidate as enemies tried to destroy in pursuit of "restoring the old order", as it nationalized both land and strategic industries, with transitory measures like “war communism” followed by the New Economic Policy (NEP).

For Lenin, that arduous task of building a country required discipline and order. And it requires leadership by example: as a subbotnik he had to set an example of voluntary work, that even without pay "the communists and their supporters again must spur themselves on and extract from their time off still another hour of work, i.e. they must increase their working day by an hour, add it up and on Saturday devote six hours at a stretch to physical labour, thereby producing immediately a real value. Considering that communists should not spare their health and lives for the victory of the revolution," be it in a form of clearing rubble, laying brick, removing trash, fixing and improving public amenities, anything productive so as to support both the growing country and its struggle.
So was in dealing with non-socialist countries wherein he and the Sovnarkom had to insist that the agreements hath to be just and abide by the law, that during the NEP wherein some enterprises (commercial, industrial, mining, etc.) were either full and partial foreign capital, yet still these entities controlled by the Main Concession Committee of the Soviet government, and be subjected to its policies and regulations until the end of NEP and the institution of the 5-year plan under Stalin.    

There were numerous feats to serve as an inspiration during and after that revolution. From rebuilding comes reconstruction of new structures, numerous developments in agriculture and in industry, of promoting arts and sciences for the people all in pursuit of combating the vestiges of the past that caused backwardness, ignorance, barbarism, poverty, hunger, and disease. It even required electrification as a necessary step towards development especially in the remote areas wherein improvements as minimal, thinking that with electrification meant the organization of industry on the basis of modern, advanced technology, in which will provide a link between town and country, and will put an end to the division between town and country, making it possible to raise the level of culture in the countryside as it removes the vestiges of the past.

And these meant tremble for its rivals who still thinking that the "good old days" ever return in the former Russian empire. From its seizure of power, consolidation, and numerous developments under socialism by the Bolsheviks and of the labouring masses, all these showed that instead of seeing a still-backward country depending on serfdom was a full-blown construction zone wherein numerous projects served as monuments to an enduring legacy and fortresses pointing against its enemies. Numerous subbotniks, Stakhnovites, and other virtuous examples, all imbued with the idea of pushing forward Socialism (and eventually Communism), sacrificed time, effort, even life to turn blueprints into life or increase productions and exceed from quotas. And in these became an inspiration to the struggling countries under the bondage of Capitalism, Feudalism, and the like.

Admittingly speaking, all in spite of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the revisionism of then-Maoist China, and the ever prevailing capitalism still struggling for its survival with all its unjust and repressive policies, numerous crises hath made each and every community wanting or devoting wholeheartedly in the idea of social emancipation. True that US Imperialism appeared to be the sole superpower and its apologists thinking as if with its capitalism, globalisation, neo-liberal/conservatism with its full-spectrum dominance in each and every policy meant the "end of history" as Francis Fukuyama stated; but, with numerous crises happened under today's capitalism causing the upsurge of revolutionary fervour, the strategic decline of the United States hath accelerated (so is the rise of rivals like Russia and China), and hence affected its vassals and allies alike with its people wanting to break away from an unjust policy US Imperialism shoved in every throat.

That again will take everyone back to the revolutionary legacy of October 25 as an inspiration. In this 100th year, the anniversary of the Great October revolution coincides with the process of the rapid revolutionary upheaval and rallying of the labouring masses in all countries, and again foreshadows the final struggle against the repressive order throughout the world. Sounds idealistic it may be, as it tells each and every revolutionary to develop the subjective forces for winning the revolutionary struggle against imperialism, capitalism, and for socialism leading to its realisation as what happened that hundred year ago.

Wednesday, 1 November 2017

PANTEÓN: Shots from the old Catholic cemetery in San Jose, Navotas

PANTEÓN: Shots from the old Catholic cemetery in San Jose, Navotas

Shot during the solemn days of “All Hallows” and “All Saints”, everything seemed to be prepared as people started to gather for that occasion synonymous with death and of the grave.

And according to yours truly, some of them were cleaning their loved one’s tombs, others were lighting their candles and offering flowers, or perhaps having a chitchat as any other day if not enjoying the breeze from Manila Bay.

However, not all graves from that “Panteón” hath been visited by their loved ones. Other corpses, whether already in bones or in ashes, were end buried in mass graves for no one takes time to visit and remember; unless there are concerned relatives who chose to unearth the tombs and hath the bones of their cherished be placed in their urns, and be placed in their altars with candles and flowers prepared on that solemn day.

Besides seeing the entire area, this person sought how that solemn event was at the same time a fiesta people enjoyed with. Is it because of each and every loved one having a reunion with the dead? Or just plain simple chitchat with friends who happened to be tending the graves?

Anyway, this person finds that solemn day a time for taking pictures, besides offering prayers, meeting friends, enjoying snacks, and seeing anything the Panteon hath offered. 

Sunday, 29 October 2017

“To remember and not to forget”

“To remember and not to forget”

A message this All Hollows day

In each and every time the grim reaper took from every one a cherished being.

Be it a lover, a friend, a partner, a kindred, these beings has personalities which whether will or will not soon to be forgotten by each and every one who’ve been a part of a passed one’s life.

And it was natural and fitting to remember for its good standings, if not trying to forget in pursuit if moving on no matter how significant a person was in one’s life; but come to think of this: sometimes the more they forget the more they recall- especially in good times.

Anyway, as people visits their cherished one’s graves for lighting candles, offering flowers and prayers, enjoying snacks, and singing songs, their memories continue to be fresh in their minds and hearts, as if their presence stood alongside them. Surely, they are meant not to be forgotten.

And as time goes by, and people are trying to make good things all of their lives, perhaps may the visits of the angel of death be few and far between in every corner of the land; but when the time comes may those who are living be ready knowing that in their constant remolding, of making themselves righteous in the eyes of both man and the almighty, will grant them the promise the latter hath saidth to its desciples.

All in all, to paraphrase an ages-old statement, here it goes:

“Bones are dust,
And its good sword rust,
But the soul is with the saints, we trust.”

That’s all for now.

Friday, 27 October 2017

¿Is it really “revolutionary”?

¿Is it really “revolutionary”?

Notes on Duterte’s call for a “Revolutionary Government”

(And why people think it is unlikely)

It may sound easier to declare a "Revolutionary Government" even its obvious essence is actually isn't.

Basing on President Duterte's promises, threats, and various statements; as well as supported by the applausive statements of his supporters, that the "Revolutionary Government" of his be like a "packaged solution" to all the problems ranging from lawlessness to poverty, no matter how counterrectionary it is in its actual form.

How come it is worth describing as counterreactionary than revolutionary? Is it because of Duterte himself with his arsenic statements? His Neoliberal and militarist-inclined ministers? The system whom supported the administration since day one? The victims of extrajudicial killings?

Anyway, reality has a way of tripping people especially if eyes are shut or unaware of it.

At first, it is no sooner had the present regime would have thought or babbled much about "revolutionary government" as if an antidote to everything, or actually gone triggered by those whom opposing, obviously the reality had that regime stumbling that wasn't there: the need for domestic-based development, if not a desire for a real social change.
And in the frenzy over various system-sponsored matters, ranging from homeless taking over abandoned mass housing sites to protests against unjust jeepney phaseouts, or even extrajudicial killings and rising costs of commodities, those who favour that "revolutionary government" or any other statement coming from the order is also madly babbling against the those who expressing their discontents, that also became an instant dodo in social media sites.

But in those desperate times reality has barged into every head what the real issue is. Call it communism, socialism, or any other names easily equated to terrorism against the people or subversion against an established order, but that reality such as those of people demanding that "goddamn social change" is a response to the ever prevailing crisis a country continues to face through decades. But those who had insulted that demand by advancing so unreal such as clamouring for a so-called "revolutionary" government failed to notice that the "revolution" they desire is nothing but a counterreaction if not a reaction itself: that if they hated oligarchs so much, then how come at the same time they accommodate them so madly particularly the outsider who offered a pride-happy state exorbitant loans? Will that "revolution" a developing one the way they take pride in building roads and bridges or degenerate as people being forced to pay the loans borrowed by that "revolutionary" state through higher prices of goods and services?
Sorry to say but in spite of all the efforts, the truth everyone noticed shows that the standard bearer Duterte is no Lenin, Stalin, nor even Bonaparte or Gaddafi; for as long as he remained a lapdog of the old order who funded and benefited from some (if not most) of his policies then what kind of change he and his fanatics babbled about? The rest end gasped when reports concerning extrajudicial killings been seen throughout. What had happened to the ones swore to uphold rule of law? Quo vadis? Sprang to each and every lips. And that question continues to haunt the system not just its standard bearer who chose to vent rage using his arsenic mouth against the opposition, while mum towards the system who invested from most of his policies.

Tell the man in the street, who hath faced with high prices, less wages, and the guns of the state, that his great problem, that the real danger was those who opposed the interest-seekers in the government, or even those who demand for social change, whatever ism it may be, and he may end thinking he/she is babbling latin or greek or anything in between; if not he himself countering their statements with the fact that no reform comes from an order who failed to enact it, for the fact that the person whom they telling about is aware on what goes on around him such as scalawags killing innocents or oppositionists using the term "war on drugs".

On the other hand, if Duterte and his apologists stubbornly insisting that the "revolutionary government" they yearned badly also deals with development, of promising to fulfill people's desires for land reform, national industrialisation, and the like; but with those who hinder those desires been at the president’s side, then of what is revolutionary when reactionaries are with him? For sure they will say words like “reform” in order to make numerous and “realistic changes”, but who truly benefits from it: is it the common man or the ones who profited from the administration?

Well, sorry to them if people are increasingly skeptical about that “revolutionary government”, especially coming from a standard bearer whose crew aren’t even “revolutionary”. From the looks of Aguirre, Dominguez, Año, and Mocha Uson, perhaps will their bloodstained-profit oriented “revolution” from above worth fighting for by the millions of Filipinos desiring for change?

If that's the case, in an era where everything is as updated like this Hewlett-Packard laptop, that yearning creates a scenario that is 1973-ish, if not leading to an 1986 or 1968-like. Duterte, from at first assuming to be as "socialist" as the socialists, then unveiling his neoliberal agendas, and finally toying with dictatorship using the word "revolutionary government", made this person think that he is like any other counterreaction who, whilst trying to counter the reaction, is still upholding the order with some piecemeal "reforms" enough to call consolidation as "change".

Monday, 16 October 2017

The battle for the "King of the Road"

The battle for the "King of the Road"

(Or Will the Philippine Jeep be improved or be removed?)

At first, one would say that the so-called "King of Philippine Roads" as an iconic testaments to Filipino ingenuity, resourcefulness, and artistry. However, as time goes by, and there are those who shun an "outmoded" and inefficient mass transport, the idea to replace it altogether has been long discussed.

Driven by the idea of improving mass transport and road safety, throughts like "modernisation" hath been babbled throughout social media, and most well-earned people are agreeing to that kind of idea, although obviously it is a "correct" term referring to phasing out old, smoke-belching, unroadworthy jeeps and to make way for new versions with safer design and up-to-standard engines that emit less air pollutants.

Obviously, the idea sounds rational and worth laudable. But how come there's a stiff opposition, particularly from a majority of jeepney drivers, operators, assemblers, and even commuters alike?  

Million peso burden for the driver
(while increasing profit for the compradore)

First, in an economy that fails to generate sufficient means of employment with decent earnings that can support a family, driving a jeepney as well as any other mode of transport (like pedicabs) has become an attractive and viable option, especially for those with some savings such as overseas Filipino workers, as well as retirees who wanted to have additional income other than their pensions. 
And according to them, operating one or two passenger jeepneys is enough for an affordable micro enterprise, all in spite of problems to address like oil price hikes and taxes to pay upon. 

But, with that attempt to phase out jeepneys lies a threat of economic dislocation, knowing that thousands of drivers and operators depend on that "king of the road" for their livelihood. Good to suggest that providing them with a modern jeepney meant improvement and efficiency, but for reality's sake, very few operators will be able to raise that PhP 1.2 to PhP 1.6 million-peso investment on those new units required under the modernization program. With the added requirement of 10 units per new franchise, all the more the cost will be prohibitive for existing small-time operators, many of whom are driver-operators of single units.

For an example, from a Facebook post from Albert Yumol, he stated that the e-jeepney being promoted costs around 1.6 Million. And if the government will buy the vehicle from an average driver like "Mang Danny" for PhP 30000 and provides a subsidy of PhP 80000, the amount payable will be PhP 1.49 Million. 
With the 7-year payment plan of the government, he needs to pay around PhP 583 a day, no holidays, no sick days; while he himself has only PhP 417 to divide for the education of his four kids, for the rent, and food on their table. 

And prior to that protest, "Mang Danny", who drives a jeepney via Cubao-Remedios route, is able to do 4 rounds of the route. There he makes around PhP 2500 in it. And if to subtract the Diesel (P200 per route * 4 = P800) as well as the Boundary Fee (700), then he earns around P1000 a day, which isn't enough to support the needs of his family.

With that phase out meant to happen (and had his vehicle be replaced with another), plus rising costs of goods, will Mang Danny survive the ordeal? 

Sidelining the local
(and favouring the importer)

And also to think that most Filipino knows that the Jeepney is locally assembled, with assemblers struggled out to improve their creations particularly on the body and in the engines, the proposed jeepney modernization is rather imported if not locally assembled by , ranging from smaller-scale minubuses or multicabs either powered by electicity or with the same petrol engine as the old ones, repackaged as "improved"; and although authorities are "enticing" local assemblers to participate, its costs may be too much for them, that hence it would mean loss of earnings to local industry. 

In fact, according to Carol Araullo in her Facebook post, that the "modernisation" program was long overdue since it is matched to the government’s "Comprehensive Automotive Resurgence Strategy" (CARS) which was started during the last months of the Aquino III administration and currently pursued by president Duterte. The program aims to revitalize local car manufacturing by giving PhP 27 billion in tax credits to three selected foreign car manufacturers who will invest in assembly plants in the country. The tax incentives will be indexed on how much of the car components are sourced locally, and on the volume of cars to be produced. Two Japanese multinational firms have already been chosen, Toyota and Mitsubishi. The CARS program is expected to roll out 600,000 cars over a six-year period.

Hence, that program appears that the government is actually creating a market in the public transport sector for multinational corporations with its domestic partners currently engaged in the local assembly of foreign-branded cars and the marketing of assorted electronic gadgets; whilst sidelining local assemblers in spite of statements "encouraging" local ones to engage in the manufacture of modern vehicles including jeepneys.

The need for a genuine participation for mass transport modernisation

All in all, attempts to improve and upgrade the jeepney as a mode of transport can not be premised on destroying the livelihood of drivers and operators then leaving them and their families to somehow fend for themselves, as well as assemblers going bankrupt all because of sudden imports. 

Improvement as it appears to be, but reality shows that it is more of a phase out with a limited space for those who can afford in those "modern vehicles", and Whereas the present administration is trying to be inclusive, why on earth to limit inclusiveness to those who are interest-seeking? Thinking that numerous foreign-sounding names are willing to back that program while sidelining the local ones wanting to participate in the process for improving their existences. 

And contrary to those who are trying to distort the message of those opposing the "modernisation", its not about retaining the old jeep itself but rather the desire for genuine participation of various sectors in resolving problems surrounding mass transportation and its means to improve it. The problem lies in the system who rather impose something with apologists starting to babble their "basis" in various ways as if they represent the commoners regardless of its negative effects like bigwigs over smallholders as manufacturers, of rising costs and fares affecting the operators, drivers and commuters, and various bullshits that affected the driver, the operator, the commuter, the assembler, and the community in general.

If there is an apathetic to justify the need for phaseouts be it jeepneys or even buses and taxis, probably the intent is not to improve mass transporation but to keep the roads for themselves "in the name of freedom". Do you think they will keep mass transport like jeeps, buses, taxis, UV expresses? Western-style individualism has been bannered throughout as a frank response to the transportation issue, while some who assuming to be concerned tries to justify statements from the authorities the way James Deakin did. But in spite of that, their indifference rather prevails than their semblance of concern trying to appear as such. 

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Again, watching "Bar Boys" (and enjoying it)

Again, watching "Bar Boys" (and enjoying it)

(Or how this person watched that movie for the second time after work)

Source: BarBoys Facebook page

Few months after watching that movie somewhere in Cubao, this writer is again watched that 80s-esque movie in a contemporary setting, and this time in UP Film Institute's Cine Adarna at the University of the Philippines in Diliman.

Described by this writer as Bernal-like, Giosiengfiao, or even Brocka-esque from his earlier review, "Bar Boys" showed the life and labours of three men (that supposed to be four if not for one of them who flunked), mainly bonded by computer games, end passed law school and endure 4 years of law school life wherein studying habits, joining in a fraternity for connections, relationship struggles, financial matters, terror professors, and various forms of sacrifices hath been the issues that both hinders and strengthens the friendship of three (or four) men; and still end succeeded in their fields as lawyers (and a model).

Source: Karen Mae Testibia
Still nice as expected, and like any other showing, the movie, in spite of being "indie" hath been increasingly appreciated by many, especially teeners who haven't watched during the "Filipino Film Fiesta", as well as those who did watched before and chose to repeat it (like yours truly).

And as expected, most of them did somehow enjoyed or getting concerned especially in scenes deemed humorous or controversial in nature. Be it the professor's queerness towards Erik (played by Carlo Aquino), or Erik's father (played by Rener Concepcion) who end selling his kidney in order to have his son succeed in law school and become a lawyer. 

Furthermore, they sought how the treatment of its interesting topic that carried some light-heartedness and optimism, enough to inspire each and every young (and young at heart) to pursue something they desired for, be it Law, Medicine, or any other course (and be end as professionals).

And as for yours truly, here's a part from Fred Hawson's movie review made months ago for an advise/suggestion to youngsters (and youngsters at heart):

"If you want to study in law school, you should watch this first before you apply. Will you be ready to photocopy thick tomes for required readings, and actually commit them to memory? Will you be ready to handle spontaneous recitation sessions right on the first day of class? Will you be ready to argue with the answers of your classmates and rate their performance? Will you be ready to sacrifice all your interpersonal relationships at least until you graduate and pass the bar? This film tells you what to expect, and warns you ahead of time."

Or in other words: watch that movie (as well as other "better" shows) than getting contented in some trashy or cringy ones. 

That's all for now.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Shining over Mega Manila

Shining over Mega Manila

(Or "Again, featuring the Red Star and the Black Sun combined 
shining brightly over Manila")

"You may say that we want to move forward by reaching the stars, But in reality, we move forward by going deeper into the abyss."           

This may be the words this person remembered as he edited, or rather say "distorted" the entire urban landscape. For he, driven by what he read, what he seen, and the music he listened, it seems that he invoked something that can be described as nihilistic or revolutionary, as it disrupts or subverts the setting the system trying to invoke as "progress."                

For it all started in a typical working day, when this person was constantly having several tasks such as writing, reading some articles online, and looking at the pictures both from past and present. Few people were at the office, one of them as busily preparing papers, while others just browsing some articles in their gadgets, or simply sat down and burning time. Near where this person works, and books such as those made by Miguel Coronel been left untouched in its shelf.

But hunger pangs made this person eating outside work. But before that, he looked at buildings that created an impression of a thriving metropolis: some were as old as reinforced concrete, others were glass and steel, all invoking "progress" according to the decade when it was built; while from the music being played through his cellular phone were those of Neofolk, Industrial music, and even New Retro "Alt Righters" described it as "Fashwave".

And at "Urban Hive" where he was eating his usual meal of breaded fish fillet, he continued reading, browsing notes, and merging thoughts that invokes something that seemed to be "revolting against the decadent" setting: ranging from articles from an old zine "Death to the World" to those of writeups related to the Cultural Revolution, Proletkult, and Eduard Limonov; of Historical scenes and Science Fiction, as well as old yet remarkable architecture particularly those of factories and other various edifices be it as old as reinforced concrete to those of steel and glass dominating the urban skyline of Mega Manila.
Those writeups, pictures, observations, anything "countercultural" to think of makes one compelling to distort: of giving blood-like colours as it invokes what he tries to convey such as a future different from what the system tends to show, plus a black sun embedded in the red star shining in its skies.

Besides "distorting" scenes with bloodied skies and featuring a merged symbol of sorts, he researched what goes behind those symbols and its significance, or perhaps notoriety given its relation to both political or religious movements around the world.

For as according to Wikipedia, the Black Sun apart was interpreted as "the strongest and most visible expression of god", with its 12 rays emanating as significant for it represents "the things of the target and the completion".
Yet to cite Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke about the Schwarze Sonne (its German name), he explained that:

"this twelve-spoke sun wheel derives from decorative disks of the Merovingians of the early medieval period and are supposed to represent the visible sun or its passage through the months of the year."

Furthermore, the bent nature of the ray was likely important because each ray represented the Germanic Sowilō (ᛋ) rune of the Elder Futhark, which represented the sun.

However, that symbol that shone within that dark, ambient, concrete setting has been synonymous to Germanic Neopaganism, and in Irminenschaft or Armanenschaft-inspired esotericism to those of Neo-Nazis spewing some pagan symbolism as if as theirs.

On the other hand, the Red star that surrounds the Black sun consists of five points as representing the five fingers of the worker's hand, the five continents, or the ability of the will to control the elements. In that sense it may also represents the power of the lower-self - that those of the human will.

Furthermore, that five pointed star was also used in early Christianity as symbol for the five senses, if not the five wounds of Christ.

And from that merged symbol, all in spite of its different leanings, casts its light, rays from darkness, invoking wisdom and of power to destroy and recreate. Sorry if the writer expressed further as in his earlier posts related to the merging of the Roter Stern and of the Schwarze Sonne, knowing that 

However, the difference from its original post featuring that symbol is that it features the runes Algiz (ᛉ), as well as its inverted version Yr (ᛦ) in the points of the Red Star; giving an impression that the star as spinning like a wheel of both life and death, of creation and destruction, as it shines its blood red "light" over a "modern world" in a form of a "jammed" pictures from Ortigas.

Furthermore, there are no words to describe as this person rather focused on "distorting" the scene with a dark red sky with a star shining over it. Besides that, this person sees that the present setting, in spite of its modern appearance, tries to hid its age old rottenness people yearned to expose and destroy as such.

For him maybe he thinks with that star it glows bright and at the same time making everyone urges to seek the truth and bring hope not by aiming at the heights but to swarm through the abyss. That abyss may not be hell but reality that is destitute enough to become degenerate even it is "well-hidden" by modernity. The poor, the repressed, the dispossessed, they sought the star as the hope that brings as it struggles against the order that represses them; if not trying to forge a society that is borne out of a vision.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

"The task was superhuman: of bringing order out of the economic chaos"

"The task was superhuman:
of bringing order out of the economic chaos"

Writeup in commemoration of the Great Socialist October Revolution
 regarding the development of the Soviet Economy in its first few years
towards the implementation of the First Five-year plan

Admittingly speaking, it seems that based from old pictures and movies concerned, it shows that the earlier years of the Soviet Union meant restoring stability, creating a new order, as well as consolidating it further with developments "better" than its tsarist predecessor.

With its numerous projects, long term agendas, and means all in pursuit of surpassing capitalism and being an inspiration to the repressed peoples, the Soviet Union, in spite of its probems and shortcomings, and even its eventual demise in 1991 will always be an example of how a socialist country acted both pragmatically and idealistically in pursuit of "making an another world possible."

For sure not all would agree on that statement especially to those who unjustly equate socialism, or even communism to those of chaos and systematic disorder; but, come to think that the Soviet Union and other socialist countries stubbornly pursuing its goal of building a future far from capitalism, it also shows that how the power of an organised community, forged by a common vision and program, can beat the old order in spite of the latter's attempts to undermine its efforts be it martial or economic means.
That also somehow showed how class struggles can also be in a form of proletarian countries fighting against its plutocratic counterparts.

At first, one would think during those times that the political structure during the earlier days of the Soviet Union was considered temporary, as if like a scaffolding around a building that was preliminary to the erection of a permanent structure. Quite "weak" in its setting, and in it it requires to be stabilised as possible; and in spite that there were reports stated that those who studied Bolshevism under Lenin as being described as more than that a group of murderers, thieves, and bandits, Lenin, as well as the Bolshevik's view and its application of Marxism in a Russian setting worked out in much detail, with an organisation so quickly applicable and as others described, forcefully applied when the opportunity came that creates a control they has crystallised into something much more "permanent".
And in it one of the first difficulties encountered by the Bolsheviks in their consolidation was an economy whose tendency amongst producers to run their affairs solely without considering people's interests. Thus, the need for correlation and interlocking of industries was imperative and necessary.

To achieve the need for correlation, a need for a "Supreme Soviet of the National Economy" or Veshenka has to be created. According to an Asia Magazine article made by Wilfred Humphries last January 1918, that Veshenka started from a few representatives coming from the industrial unions, shop stewards committees, and technical experts, together met in a building overlooking the Neva. There numerous concerns like famine, lack of raw materials, sabotage, crippled railroads, counterrevolution and imminent invasions, made them compel to take the task of setting the foundations of a new economy under socialism.
Also by the thought of exploring and developing the forests from the north, the fisheries of Russia's seas, the oilfields of the Caucasus, the iron, copper, and gold mines of the Urals, and the existing railroads and bridges to repair and new ones to be built, such numerous concerns made then felt that the task was superhuman: "of bringing order out of the economic chaos."

However, Five months after its initial foundation, an all Russian conference of the newly-formed regional economic councils was organised, this time through a decree coming from the Council of People's Commissars (Sovnarkom) and from the All-Russian Central Executive Committee of Soviets of the Russian Socialist Federative Soviet Republic. In it, the Veshenka had become an institution serving as a center of the new economic life of the soviets. Its stated purpose was to "plan for the organization of the economic life of the country and the financial resources of the government", and was subordinated to the Sovnarkom with a representative that also served as a commissar of that said "ministry". And in it had rights of confiscation and expropriation of assets, particularly those from the enemy.

Due to its important role in administering the economy, the Vesenkha, along with the Sovnarkom, was being prominent as a political body, and was struggling to preserve the existence of the socialist state and of the revolution from its enemies, or as what Philips Price well puts it:

"The supreme council of public economy was the tool designed to create the new order in Russia; the Soviet was only the temporary weapon to protect the hands that worked that tool."

True indeed, but that Soviet, being a form of a collective practising direct democracy, turns out to be the permanent weapon to defend against the enemies of socialism, and a tool to build the country towards its socialist future. Sounds idealistic it may be, but Capitalists around the world were surprised in the sudden developments of the young Socialist state; that shows that contrary to what the article from Asia Magazine stated that the soviet order as a temporary scaffold, nope, it rather became a foundation to create an order far from what capitalists and reactionaries expected as "weak" and "likely to crumble." in fact, from that Soviet sprang an army sworn to defend and to build, creating examples to the struggling nations especially those from the third world.

There were numerous plans the Soviet Union did in its earliest days, some of which were agreeable, others were worth opposing. The War Communism policy for instance, was made in pursuit of stressing order as much as possible and at the same time trying to set foundations, all as if encountering birth pains that requires control. And such arduous task was superhuman enough for a single entity but the unity brought about by the worker and the peasant has brought numerous results ranging from defence, production, distribution, and other numerous developments that requires intervention. The Vezhenka's (as well as the Sovnarkom's) surgical action meant consolidation: it had to confiscate assets from the enemies of the revolution, taking take possession of goods coming from the peasants, enforcing order in the industrial bases to the point that it had been military-like, and ensure the needs of the workers with necessary goods; critics may insist that the policy was unjust if not full of flaws, but that task was superhuman enough especially in those times of war against the enemies of the revolution, who again thinks that their society be end crumbled and destroyed as what happened in Paris several decades ago.

But in speaking of that flaws, these were recognised knowing that in spite of trying to enforce order it alienated those who are meant to support with: peasants, and some of the workers as well as the military. Lenin saw that policy as much as possible "temporary" and meant to be shelved over as much as possible. for as according to the statement recognising the need for a "New Economic Policy" (NEP) and the need to reestablish relations with the peasantry:

"Up to now we have been adapting ourselves to the tasks of war; we must now adapt ourselves to the conditions of peace. The Central Committee is faced with this task - the task of switching to the tax in kind in conditions of proletarian power ... With the Civil War on, we had to adopt war-time measures. But it would be a very great mistake indeed if we drew the conclusion that these are the only measures and relations possible. That would surely lead to the collapse of the Soviet power and the dictatorship of the proletariat ... We must recognise the need to grant concessions, and purchase machinery and equipment to satisfy agriculture, so as to exchange them for grain and re-establish relations between the proletariat and the peasants which will enable it to exist in peacetime conditions."

Lenin as well as the entire Soviet authority even had to deal realistically and critically especially with the capitalists as part of the country's minimal improvements. The dictum "We are taking one step backward, to take two steps forward later" did showed a pragmatic move as necessary than pursuing literally a goal that may rather lead to failure. For as what he said:

"...tasks on the economic front are much more difficult than tasks on the war front, although there is a general similarity between the two elementary outlines of strategy. In attempting to go over straight to communism we, in the spring of 1921, sustained a more serious defeat on the economic front than any defeat inflicted upon us by Kolchak, Denikin or Pilsudski. This defeat was much more serious, significant and dangerous."

Such impressions hath pulled over the young Socialist state from the ashes of war and towards an era of development.  There it removed social tension, strengthening the social base of Soviet power in the form of an alliance of workers and peasants as part of consolidating proletarian power; whilst its economic goal was to prevent further aggravation of the devastation, getting of the crisis and to restore the economy; and its social goal was to provide favorable conditions all prior to building a socialist society, without waiting for a world revolution. In addition, the policy was aimed at restoring normal foreign policy ties especially in non-socialist countries and to overcome international isolation.

All in all, that temporary policy was indeed "temporary" in spite of its numerous achievements. Basing on scenes from an old movie entitled "The Sixth Part of the World" by Dziga Vertov, the New Economic Policy invoked numerous developments as it tries to struggle against capitalism while at the same time accomodating some aspects from capitalism: but regulated and controlled by the state.

In regards to Agriculture and of the status of the peasantry, agricultural production increased greatly, but instead of the government taking all agricultural surpluses with no compensation as in the case of "War Communism", farmers, while paying a "Food Tax", now had the option to sell some of their produce, giving them a personal economic incentive to produce more grain. This incentive, coupled with the breakup of the quasi-feudal landed estates, surpassed pre-Revolution agricultural production.
However, as production increases, peasants, particularly Kulaks (Rich Peasants), began withholding their surpluses in wait for higher prices, or sold them to "NEPmen" (traders and middle-men) who re-sold them at high prices. Many Communist Party members considered this an exploitation of urban consumers. To lower the price of consumer goods, the state took measures to decrease inflation and enact reforms on the internal practices of the factories. The government also fixed prices, in an attempt to halt the scissor effect*.

In regards to Industry, trusts were created, in a form of associations of homogeneous or interconnected enterprises, which received full economic and financial independence, up to the right to issue long-term bonded loans. The trusts themselves decided what to produce and where to sell the products. The enterprises that were part of the trust were removed from the state supply and switched to purchasing resources in the market. Syndicates were also formed as voluntary associations of trusts on the basis of cooperation , engaged in sales, supply, lending, and foreign trade operations. And finished products, purchase of raw materials, materials, equipment was carried out in a full-fledged market, through wholesale trade channels. There was a wide network of commodity exchanges, fairs, trade enterprises.
But one of the significant parts of the policy was when foreign capitalist entities engaged through agreements. For example, the Ford Motor Company contributed in the development of USSR by allowing AMTORG (a purchasing company connected to Vezhenka) to purchase 20,000 Fordson tractors and enter joint partnerships with the young Socialist state in manufacturing automobiles and tractors. However, Ford, as what Douglas Brinkley writes in “Wheels for the World,” firmly believed that in introducing capitalism lies the best way to undermine communism.

But again, the "New Economic Policy" cannot be considered permanent. Even Lenin himself knew that the policy was a strategic retreat and it had to be replaced afterwards as the Soviet Union becomes a full-pledged socialist state. Numerous problems did occurred, and some became a factor to have the policy be replaced altogether with an agenda truly geared towards Socialism.

It was also during the NEP when Trotsky, supported by left-wing members of the Communist Party, believed that socialism in Russia would only survive if the state controlled the allocation of all output. He also believed that the state should repossess all output to invest in capital formation. On the other hand, Stalin supported the more conservative members of the Communist Party and advocated for a state-run capitalist economy. Stalin managed to wrest control of the Communist Party from Trotsky. After defeating the Trotsky faction, Stalin reversed his initial opinions about economic policy and implemented the First Five-Year Plan as part of completing the transition towards Socialism (that involved state control and collectivisation of agriculture).

Since the second half of the 1920s, the first attempts to curtail the NEP began. Syndicates were eliminated in industry, from which private capital was administratively squeezed out, a rigid centralized system for managing the economy was created. The failure of state grain procurements at the end of 1927 did also contributed to the stoppage of the policy. And at the end of December, measures for the forcible seizure of grain stocks were applied to the Kulaks for the first time after the end of "war communism". In the summer of 1928 they were temporarily suspended, but then resumed in the autumn of the same year.

In October 1928, the first five-year plan for the development of the national economy was launched, and the country's leadership took a course toward accelerated industrialization and collectivization. Legally and finally, the New Economic Policy was terminated only on October 11, 1931, when it was adopted a resolution on the complete prohibition of private trade in the USSR. And in 1932, the Vesenkha, originally served as a council overseeing the economy, was reorganized into three people's Commissariats: of the heavy industry, light industry, and forestry. 


All in all, from its almost disorganised beginnings, the Soviet Union did tried its best to bring order out of chaos. War Communism meant the consolidation and means to put order in preparation for socialism while the New Economic Policy meant stabilisation with its well-built foundations served enough as a basis to make the young Soviet Union a Socialist state with its first five-year and succeeding plans. 

Admittingly speaking, in looking at movies showing production and progress in that young Socialist state meant serious efforts in steering further development even it requires minimal support from capitalist countries like Germany or the United States. Companies like Ford or Buick may think that through Capitalism may undermine Communism, but instead it helped in developing further the Soviet automotive industry from its small-scale pasts; and with people's will and vision numerous hydroelectric facilities like those in Dnipropetrovsk provided further electricity in rural and urban enclaves as part of its electrification agenda; while factories like in Magnitogorsk showcased production of steel making the country as one of the biggest iron and steel producers. 

Yet still it did not undermine their aspiration to overturn the Capitalist order. Time and again the so-called "free world" underestimated the Soviet Union (and by extension, the Eastern Bloc) due to its endeavour to pursue its socialistic goal, they even called numerous programs as utopic no matter how the Soviet worker, both in the factory and in the field, succeeds in its tasks the way its statement saidth that "The plan is the law, fulfillment is duty, and over-fulfillment is honor!"
"Superhuman" indeed with all its enormous tasks and requires stronger will, but with those successes, showed how a once-backward, peasant-oriented country did steered to greater heights as part of the working class's continuous struggle; if not how the world sees how Post-Soviet Russia became as of today.

*This fall in prices of agricultural goods and sharp rise in prices of industrial products was known as the Scissors Crisis (due to the crossing of graphs of the prices of the two types of product)

Monday, 25 September 2017

Is it goodbye to a decades-old ContemporAniquitarian edifice?

Is it goodbye to a decades-old ContemporAniquitarian edifice?

Notes on the attempt to demolish Juan Nakpil's
pre-war Capitol Theatre at Escolta, Manila

In spite of attempts to revive Manila's cultural and heritage treasures, it seems that profit-driven "modernity" thrives as so-called "developers" continue to threaten old but well-known edifices, some end as lots for eventual "high rise" condominiums, others be left out as paid parking lots; and all these are quite lamentable knowing that how come alongside the idea of reviving its cherished heritage why on earth there are still those attempting to demolish all in the name of profit-driven "modernity" in a form of a dull condominium?

As months ago, everyone heard about the international style-built Philippine National Bank main office hath been demolished after it was struck by a fire last January 2015. And in response to widespread concern and criticism over the matter, Estrada justified the demolition as necessary:

“It was burned so how can it be restored? It’s a building endangering the lives of the people passing by the area,” 

And further justified saying that the idea of tearing down the building first came up in 2010 during the time of then Mayor Alfredo Lim. A developer, Romy Lorenzo of Geltd Developers and Managers Group Inc., claimed that the 12-story structure was in danger of collapsing should an earthquake hit the city. "The blaze, however, has weakened its foundation, leaving them no choice but to tear it down," said Robert Bernardo, chief of the city’s engineering office.

Because of that, that issue seemed quite lamenting knowing that after the recent demolition of the Arguelles-designed edifice, threats to demolish the reinforced concrete edifice hath been discussed for so long by so-called developers, who, in the name of "development" had to demolish every identity structure by structure, and replacing it with their own style one would describe as "dull", "plain", or "bereft of identity" compared to other once-stood structures.

"From being a trend to being threatened"
And this time, given the go-signal by the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA), National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and National Museum (NM), another iconic and important structure in Manila is set to be demolished to give way to a high-rise residential building: Adding to the list of the city's built heritage-turned-intangible or altogether lost is the prewar art-deco Capitol Theater on Escolta Street designed by National Artist for Architecture Juan Nakpil.
Like any other threatened building which is worthy of being preserved, this person expressed concern regarding the status of one of Escolta's recognisable structures. Whereas people sought the entire strip as a "legacy of what Manila once was", it is fast becoming a duty to preserve, maintain, bring life, and be adapted to the so-called "modern times"; but, with those stubborn wanting to demolish and expand interests badly, one would say that not all have the interest to give support in reviving if not exaggerating it as if it is "relevant" to the structure and to some extent, to the appearance of the reviving strip.

An example of a Filipino-design 
An almost shattered glory (and the pursuit of salvaging)

Inaugurated in 1935, the Nakpil-designed art-deco stucture has double balconies, which were still rare at that time, it was also air conditioned, and can also accommodate around 800 people. However, what sets the theater apart from other well-known ones are the artworks adorning the space: Monti’s bas-relief sculpture of two Filipinas, and a mural, entitled "Rising Philippines" made by modernist painters Victorio C. Edades, Carlos "Botong" V. Francisco, and Galo B. Ocampo.
But in spite of its grandeur, the iconic theater was heavily damaged during the Second World War, only to be rebuilt and returned as one of Manila's well-known theatres during the post-war period. However, in spite of its recognition, in the ’70s and ’80s, the number of theatergoers declined due to the rise of commercial theaters, making the theater itself like most others, dilapidated.
Recently, the Capitol's interior has been abandoned, leaving only its façade. Several small business establishments and a restaurant used to operate inside. Many years ago, there was an attempt for a Chinese restaurant inside the old theater requiring its thorough renovation, only to be abandoned due to unpaid debts.
Aside from Capitol Theater, other notable buildings designed by Nakpil include the Quezon Institute in Quezon City; Philippine Trust Building in Manila; and the reconstructed Rizal House in Calamba, Laguna. Other well-known structures like the Avenue Hotel and Theater, and the Manila Jockey Club, were end demolished with the latter being replaced by one of Henry Sy's shopping malls.

However, in spite of its approval to demolish the original structure and be replaced with a "modern" residential building, the property’s developer Ascott Resources and Development Corporation insist that will preserve theater’s façade  according to an article from the Philippine Daily Inquirer, it saidth:

"NCCA Heritage Section head Charles Salazar told the Inquirer the property’s developer, Ascott Resources and Development Corp. (ARDC), had made a presentation to the three national cultural agencies “for the in situ methodology for the preservation of the tower and façade.”"

The article also stated that based from the recommendations by the NCCA, NHCP, and NM, much of the building will be torn down and the developer was instructed to do a “perfect” replica of the façade, as well as directed to “prepare complete documentation of the entire existing building including as-built plans, prepare casts of the relief sculptures of the tower for turnover to the National Museum, and install appropriate hoarding/enclosure featuring the original façade” during demolition and the construction of the new structure.

If that's the case, then the old pre-war Theater is going to be the latest heritage building in Manila repurposed using “façadism,” an approach in which the façade of a historic structure being retained in the construction of a newer building. Similar approach was also applied in heritage buildings such as the restored Luneta Hotel in Ermita; Laperal Apartments in Sampaloc; and the old Coca-Cola building in Paco.

"A memory left in postcards"
Today, many standalone theaters in downtown Manila no longer feature blockbuster films from both local and foreign producers, but rather operate underground where softcore pornographic films are shown, if not desperately showing reruns coming from malls; or in the case of surviving oldest ones, left dilapidated and likely to be demolished regardless of its prominence. It is worth nostalgic knowing that all these known structures end as memories left either in postcards, photos, books, or sayings of the old telling about the grandeur of what "The pearl of the Orient" was. And because of that fervor, there are attempts to restore the pre-war theater (as well as other old but gold structures) to its old glory, but with the recent demolition of known structures like the former Arguelles-designed structure threatens others whose decades-old appearance "worth reviving" be end threatened by demolitions "all in the end of modernity" in a form of a high-rise condominium. Even the recent frustrated "heritage-like" structure of the Admiral hotel hath mocked the original well-known pre-war structure which was eventually demolished.

But in spite of attempts to destroy the ContemporAntiquitarian image of Downtown Manila such as Escolta, there are initiatives done to preserve the once financial hub. And groups like the Escolta Commercial Association, which is composed owners of business establishments along the strip is also in cooperation with groups like the Heritage Conservation Society, 98B Collaboratory, and other concerned organisations.

Still, there's time to save

On the other side, critics, especially some conservationists and nostalgics alike have denounced the approach, saying that façadism, in spite of its intents, also affects, compromises  the integrity, authenticity, and historical fabric of a structure, or in the case of another Monti bas-relief sculpture, “The Furties,” on the façade of the old Meralco Building on San Marcelino Street, Ermita, everything was destroyed.

As according to heritage coservationist and former Tourism Secretary Gemma Cruz-Araneta:

“That remains to be seen, I hope it is true that the developer will keep the façade,” 

Cruz-Araneta also warned that the demolition of the old structure and construction of a new one (even a "replica") would affect the integrity of other heritage structures.

“However, as they dig and drive piles into the  ground for the foundation of a new structure, the heritage buildings beside Capitol will be adversely affected. Their foundations will be compromised. I think you should ask the owners of those heritage buildings if this is happening,” she said.

“It would be tragic to lose all that,” she added.

Besides Cruz-Araneta, groups like Advocates for Heritage Preservation insist that the lobby must also be preserved along with the tower and the façade. Others, in the case of two architecture students from the Technological Institute of the Philippines, used the Capitol Theatre as an example for an adaptive reuse as a mixed commercial/residential/financial hub. There are numerous plans likely to unfold, and it is quite interesting to hear those various forms of alternatives although most may likely to fell on deaf ears as the local government, who supposed to be at the forefront of reviving a community's almost lost identity favour getting sneered by the smell of cash and its increasing amounts.

That made this concerned writer thinks why on earth let this happen? Did the system intentionally letting its people be apathetic to heritage if not equating what is old to ugliness? The trend that is bereft of identity actually made the concerned thinks that to be ContemporAntiquitarian and to "Revolt Against the Modern World" as necessary. Anyway, here's a quote from Dominic Galicia:

 "Let me just say something about condemning. It is the easiest thing in the world to do. Gossips do it all the time. But as in the case of a patient being advised to amputate his leg, it is always best to get a second opinion and a third. Science and technology today – as well as the more forward-thinking architecture – are able to stabilize the most endangered of structures."

That's all for now.