Tag Archives: poverty

Blood had been spilled in the lands of Tarlac: Commemorating the 8th anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita Massacre

By Kert

“The land is my life” (Image via Harvey Keh’s blog)

The land is life for Filipinos and it’s more than just a metaphor. It is the source of their food, the clothes on their backs and the roofs on their heads. It sustains the family in more ways than one. And it can even be a source of hope. It is not at all surprising that every family in the country wishes to have a patch of land where they can plant rice, corn, sugarcane and other crops.

The farmers of the 6,443-hectare Hacienda Luisita, owned by the Cojuangco family through the money of the government, have been waiting so long for the patches of land promised to them. Many of them had or have been working in Hacienda Luisita almost all their lives. It was in 1988 that the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program or CARP happened. Through CARP, they were given the promise of shares in the land holdings of Hacienda Luisita. Indeed they have every right to these shares. They’re the ones who worked and tilled the land every day with only meager wages. The government is doing the right thing when it declared that the lands be given to the farmers.

But what has happened to that promise now? By this time the lands should’ve been distributed to the farmers already. But yet the promise — CARP — remains unkept.

Yesterday marks the 8th anniversary of the Hacienda Luisita where over a hundred farmers demanded and fought for their rights from the Cojuangcos. Cops and soldiers were sent to gain control of the perimeter. After throwing teargas at the picketlines of the farmers, the cops and soldiers started  shooting and firing bullets at them. Thirty people were wounded by gunshots and around two hundred people were injured one way or another. Still, twelve men and two children were killed. Supposedly guards and saviors of the people in this country  carried out this terrible and very brutal massacre. All these for the benefit of the few elites.

It has been 8 years and still, no justice has been served. According to an article in Bulatlat, “the problems that drove the Hacienda farmworkers into launching a strike in 2004 still remain” (Salamat 2012). These problems are “cheap wages, landlessness and trade union repression” (Salamat 2012).

When will they hear the cries for justice? (Image via Vince’s Photobaket)

There’s still a lack of stand and comment from the President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III regarding this issue. His relationship to the Cojuangcos, being a Cojuangco himself, puts him in a very controversial spot. Yet the man still lacks action, and the rest of the Philippines is too enamored by Tito Sotto (who I also dislike, by the way) or by the imagology (see previous post here for definition) of the media.

Our claim of being a democratic country is becoming a joke. Or has it always been a joke? I have no idea. But for sure, if the government still has any ounce of humanity left in its system (and I refuse to think otherwise), it should serve justice. What use does it have if not for the protection of its people?

Reference:

December 2004. Massacre of Sugar Plantation Workers in the Philippines. Retrieved from http://www.internationalist.org/philippinesluisitamassacre0412.html

Hacienda Luisita. (n.d.). Retrieved November 17, 2012 from the Hacienda Luisita wiki. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacienda_Luisita#Jos.C3.A9_Cojuangco_period

Salamat, M. (2012, November 17). Trade union repression even worsened, 8 years after Luisita massacre – progressive labor. Bulatlat. Retrieved from http://bulatlat.com/main/2012/11/17/trade-union-repression-even-worsened-8-years-after-luisita-massacre-%E2%80%93-progressive-labor/

The idiocy in Philippine mainstream TV

By Kert

Philippines has always been a country of festivities. Even our political system is modeled upon festivities. The one who gives the best show gets to become President. Case in point, Pres. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III made use of the background of his family to create this drama that he holds the banner of democracy.

It is not then very surprising how the entire country is so enamored by noon-time TV shows and game shows. The Philippine TV is filled with them. Or should I say, infested with them. From Wil-Time Big Time (which used to be Wowowee), Face-to-face to Eat Bulaga. They’re all fundamentally the same. They’re all just one hour or so of nothing but dancing half-naked women, confused impoverished people who are hoping to have some cash or an entire crew putting up a carnival show at the expense of the poor. I’m not at all apologetic in saying I wish TV networks stop showing these things. These shows are wrong in many levels.

Does this guy look like he can be trusted to you? (Image via Underside)

1. Objectification of Women — Half-naked women gyrating their hips while screaming, “Yes yes awwww!” isn’t my idea of entertainment at all. I am not a conservative person but I am very much against the idea of objectifying and commodifying the female body. The show pretty much sells the bodies of these women so that they can be ogled at by bald men with beer bellies who have nothing to do but click on the remote control and leave all the work to their wives. And Willie Revillame can very much be indicted with several counts of sexual harassment. . Yes, dancing half-naked on TV can be seen as empowering for women and I’m all for that, but we are still at that stage in which women are treated as sexual toys. And men paying women to do just that feeds this cycle of the industry satisfying only the masculine needs of the society.

2. Exploitation of Human Emotions — Making people cry for ratings is just lowest of the low. I am vehemently against how TV shows make such a drama out of people’s lives for entertainment. It’s just despicable how they make the people cry or make them fight on TV. We are making emotions mundane, inauthentic and void of meaning just for money. What’s so good about that?

3. False hope — TV game shows give the people the false hopes that if they sing some songs, dance a little or join some games, they may hit jackpot. It gives the adults false hopes, and the children wrong values. TV shows exist in the liminal space and what happens inside it could not happen in our “reality”. We cannot just hit “jackpot” by a stroke of luck. It is a process that can only be achieved through hard work.

4. Faking a charity — Game and noon-time TV shows always claim that other than entertainment, they exist to help the people. But are they really helping? Out of the hundreds of thousands that pour in into the network’s account after one hour of show, how much of that actually goes to the poor? After one month of groceries, the winners of the shows go back to being hungry and impoverished. Then they return to their false hopes and gamble again in the TV shows. I see the broken down tricycles given away by Wowowee in the streets and ask “how much did this thing really help alleviating poverty?”.  What they got doesn’t even compare to the tax exemptions and profits the network gained.

It’s easy to say, “Go blame the poor people, why blame TV networks?”. I would, if only this people know any better and if they have actually a choice. But then again, it’s cheap entertainment. It’s easy to chew, easy to digest but has zero nutritional value. Serve them on a cold platter daily and the people would just gobble it up eventually. As my mother said when we went to my grandparents’, “TV has become a necessity of the people. Look at them. Without TV, what can they do?”

We are breeding a country composed of many people without proper education. Something should be done about this. And Philippine mainstream TV isn’t helping in any way.

Note: Last night (16/11/2012), I encountered the term imagology (Kundera 1991) for the first time. Milan Kundera first used imagology in his work Immortality. See actual quote here. He tells us that ideology is now replaced by imagology, in which we passively consume various bombardments of images through TV and radio. Daniele Conversi (2010) says that this imagology has rendered us complacent with critical thinking removed in the process of consuming forms of culture. In relation to nationalism, Conversi states:

In the passage from ideology to imagology, forms of banal nationalism have rapidly spread without the mediation of intellectuals and without soliciting critical thought.

Continuing,

…the reign of image belongs to a ‘hyperreality’ which merges reality with fantasy (Baudrillard 1994:1-42) as well as to a generalised ideology which is no longer mediated by individuals.

Reference:

Conversi, D. 2010. Ideology and Nationalism.In Routledge Handbook of Ethnic Conflict (Cordell, K. and Stefan Wolff, eds.). New York: Routledge

Kabilang Buhay

By Vince

Note: This post can also be found in Vince’s personal tumblr

1/23/12 | Manila North Cemetery

The photo above was taken during our fieldwork at MNC for our Urban Anthro research paper. The shot features “Jun-jun”, the grandson of our main informant “Nanay Maria”, gazing on the busy A. Bonifacio avenue from the top of apartment-style niches on the walls of Manila North Cemetery.

Jun-jun’s grandmother, Nanay Maria, started dwelling in the cemetery in the 70’s as a migrant from Leyte province hoping for a better life in the capital city. The cemetery is also where she met her husband, where they grew their kids and eventually, their grandchildren. Presently, only her son and his two kids remain to keep her company, as she continue to serve as the caretaker of dozens of tombs in MNC, including her husband’s and other departed relatives’ graves.

Together with thousands of informal settlers living within the cemetery grounds, Nanay Maria and her family consider the concrete structures and spaces for the dead as their sanctuary amidst the chaotic and harsh environment of the city. Here, some settlers earn a living through selling candles, flowers, and snacks to the public visiting the graves of their departed loved ones, while others earn money by providing three-wheeled transportation within the 54 hectare public cemetery -the largest in the country.

However, like Nanay Maria, most settlers here are primarily tomb caretakers. They offer their service to oversee and maintain the graves of their clients. All of these they do, not only to provide for their needs, but also to “legitimize” their existence and settlement within the space made for the dead, against the constant threat of eviction by the cemetery authorities which would consequently force them to succumb to the oppressive conditions of hunger and homelessness of the city.

Through our observations and interviews with Nanay Maria, we saw the two faces of Manila North Cemetery for its settlers. On one hand, it serves as a sanctuary and a place of hope for its thousands of dwellers, as it provides them home and livelihood in the city full of ‘broken promises’. While on the other, it exposes the violent reality of the urban that buries the dreams of many migrants in the city: poverty, inequality, and homelessness.

However, it is also worthy to note how these settlers continue to persist and struggle to live in front of the different uncertainties of their conditions, and how they assert and negotiate their existence in the place for the dead.

In a place projected to be the site of opportunities, progress and development such as the city, we can see thousands of families struggling to meet the demands of the harsh life in the city through persisting to live in the margins, such as spaces made for the dead.

And at the end of the day, one could ask him/herself: really, what kind of a system forces the living to work so that they can continue to live in a site made for the dead?

Edit: This post is based on a research requirement for the course Urban Anthropology in UP Diliman. The research group members consist of Anthropology majors: Vince and Kariema, and Sociology majors Klarence, Jem and Camille.