Thursday, August 27, 2009


I can't verify but picked up some chatter about the 600 US Special Forces stationed permanently in the Philippines -- one of the reasons for their presence is a reported plan to move Guantanamo prisoners or maybe Guantanamo itself to the archipelago.

Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised since the prison facility was constructed by Filpino carpenters under contract to KBR and it's still being reportedly maintained by Filipino custodial workers.

Does anyone have the capacity to verify?

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tech stuff

I'm supposed to paste this on this site. I have no idea who did this.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Big brouhaha over health care and a public option for medical insurance. I’m wondering why no one has pointed out that the fear over “socialized” medicine is actually corporate fear of losing one of the shackles that keep people at wage slavery. One memorable moment I had in Holland was talking to this 40-year-old fan of John Cheever (he was fascinated that I had met Mr. Cheever) who was preparing to quit his job to contemplate “serious questions about life.” Having a public option might just tempt so many people to forgo work designed to enrich CEOs and retire to contemplate the meaning of existence.

My doctor is so overworked I try to make appointments only once every two or three years. It’s because he accepts the cheaper kind of medical insurance, so his office is always full of “ethnics,” as it were. His doctor-partner just left, he tells me with sorrow; and did I know any doctor who would be willing to partner with him? His home, he tells me, is on the other side of the city but he opened his clinic close to my neighborhood because he wanted to serve his people. He is Argentinean. I tell him I had a friend who was a “disappeared.” He says me, too. Eight of the medical personnel rounded up with him during the bloody coup were killed.

So I tell him about being in Camp Crame during the Marcos dictatorship. Then, as I was leaving, having completed my check-up, he says, I’m pleased to meet you. He’s been my doctor for a while but I knew what he meant.


Big brouhaha over the $20,000 dinner hosted by de-facto President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo at Le Cirque on 58th Street, Manhattan. The dollar amount translates to some one million pesos – quite a price for a country where four of ten Filipinos go to bed hungry. My response is a little off; I keep wondering what the hell they ate – human flesh? Was Hannibal Lecter the chef?

In any case, the gustatory connoisseur among us go to Shanghai Joe’s in Chinatown, where the soup dumpling tastes like it’s worth its weight in gold but considerably cheaper.

The $20T dinner made me feel so embarrassed over my preferred comfort food, arroz caldo – eaten when I’m distressed – which cost like $5.95 in any Pinoy joint here that I uncorked a bottle of ice wine, a gift from the last time I lectured in Canada and which I’d learned since then cost $50 for the equivalent of two glasses of wine. Ice wine comes in teeny-weeny bottles. As it went down my gullet, I thought: well, jeez, I worked so very hard for this ice wine, I might as well drink the thing, considering that those who don’t work as hard spend $20T for a meal.

Conspicuous consumption being contagious, it was a good thing there was only one bottle of ice wine. Do you now understand why the Philippines is always in massive debt?

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Cory Moment

The 1987 Philippine Constitution is Corazon C. Aquino’s legacy. Any dismantling and/or revision of that Constitution would be a direct nullification of her post-Marcos leadership and thereby erase for all of history what she had wrought.

Beyond that, there’s nothing else to say.

I did have a “Cory Moment,” though it had nothing to do with the former president. It was some sort of epiphany, albeit the wrong kind.

After the January 22, 1987 Mendiola Massacre – Cory’s troops fired on a rally calling for agrarian reform and killed 13 peasants and wounded more – an “indignation rally” was called.

This “indignation rally” was front-lined by a virtual who’s who in the anti-Marcos movement. In front of the presidential palace, Cory’s top aides also lined up, blocking the road; they too had been heavyweights in the movement to overthrow the Marcos dictatorship but they wielded state power at this time.

A tense moment ensued as the two groups eyeballed one another. Then they broke ranks, threw arms around one another, shook hands, etc.

I realized then that at a certain level, politics were a matter of “entre nous,” just among the likes of us, etc.

A more cynical moment I had not had. Nor have had since.

By the way, no one was held liable for the 13 peasants killed at Mendiola.

Perhaps, unbeknownst to us, this moment helped define or move the boundaries of what were acceptable in terms of compromise, alliance, paths to state power, etc.