Tag Archives: talks


It’s been a rather busy start of the year so forgive me if I haven’t been as active as I wanted to. I am going to keep this blog. I have no thoughts of giving this up whatsoever, but I won’t be very active in the blogosphere for a couple of weeks.

These months, however, have been very interesting. I’m proud to announce that the University of the Philippines Diliman, the uni where I graduates, was awarded Center of Excellence by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED. Here’s the document that proves it:

It’s also the first time of the university I’m a part of to host a massive conference comprising prestigious speakers from all over the country. The conference is about K-12 and Mother Tongue-Based Multilingual Education — both were implemented just recently. It was hard work for most of us and I would have really wanted to just sit down and listen to the talks. Alas, I was juggling several work loads.

I also had the chance to visit the ancestral land of the T’boli in Lake Sebu. We took our speakers there for R&R. The T’boli are very noteworthy. They’re very strong and they’ve kept their identity through the ages even with many threats in their surroundings. Their pride as a group is immense. I guess this raging pride tightens their hold to their culture and ancestry and binds them together as one. Given the chance, I’d love to conduct fieldwork in the area.

Other than that it’s been work, work, work for me. I did say I want to post every other day but with unexpected events I won’t be able to do that. However, I will try to post and interact as much as I can.


A rather candid post about macaques and other things

By Kert

I wish to post here every other day but my work schedule this week had prohibited me from doing so, especially since I had to present about Physical Anthropology, a very broad topic, in front of 80 students for just two hours. Imagine my exasperation and we had a black out just as I was almost done with my presentation. That was one day ago.

We did have an enjoyable and, I admit, anthropologically satisfying itinerary. We visited a place called New Israel here in Mindanao (if you’re wondering where Mindanao is, google Philippine map — it’s the southernmost body of islands) well-known for being a sanctuary of macaques.

It was almost an hour trip by L300 van from our university. After that, we rode what is called a habal habal. A habal habal is a motorcycle with extension placed at the end. It’s the mode of transportation in many villages here in the Philippines and it usually carries a total of five passenger — the driver, three passengers lined up at the back of the driver, and one passenger in front of the driver right where the gas tank is.


An ordinary day in the Philippines (Image via PhilBoxing Forum)

What’s really interesting about the place is that a group of macaques are living exactly at the village where the people live. They don’t seem to be scared or have any qualms with the human species. In fact, they were playing with us when we got there. They let us feed them (but never pet them). One even tried to groom one of the students, much to the student’s fear and chagrin. The macaques here seem to be harmonious with the villagers. They’ve established the place as their territory and fight for it against other “tribes” of macaques living near the river and the mountain. The people, in their part, believe that the macaques are the reincarnation of the already deceased people.

The village community itself is also an interesting subject. Things seem to be well-organized around their religion. They call themselves the Moncadista. A morphed type of Christianity, with Rizal and Moncado as holy members of heaven along with God and Christ. The tourist manager explains that in the phrase Alpha and Omega, “Alpha” is God, “and” is Rizal, and “Omega” is Moncado. Moncado is a Filipino considered to be a charismatic leader.

The religion, as I observed, is at the heart of the structure of the community. Their leader is called the Supreme Being. The family of founders of the religion in the area is called “the holy family”. Their houses have the insignia of the religion, as well as the head of the family and the members.

I would leave it to the reader to decide if their brand of Christianity is a cult or not. One anthropologist has labelled them a cult. Whatever they are, they refuse to be called as such.

We toured around the village and a local showed us the crypt of the holy family. He also took us to the trail for the 12 stations of the cross. The view at the end of the trail is amazing. I wish I could build a house there. You could see the view of the landscape below and the mountains beyond that. The air is cold and beautiful plants grow in the area. It was just breathtaking.

Afterwards, I stuttered to present lectures on Intro to Physical Anthro, Evolution and Human Evolution. I wonder if they got the points of my lecture. I hope they did. Sometimes I just feel stupid so I don’t know if I get the information across to my audience.

Note: Photos of the trip will be posted tomorrow.


Anatomy of a Massacre: A Review

Anatomy of a Massacre Poster

By Kert

I had the chance to attend the Anatomy of a Massacre talk, which is in accordance to the International Day to End Impunity. The speakers were Ed Lingao from the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) and Cristina Palabay from End Impunity Alliance. I was very much interested to go to this talk (sometimes talks are more interesting than university courses) and hear what they have to say on the Maguindanao Massacre. I am a child of Mindanao, and every inch of my being is deeply connected to it. And in many ways, the Maguindanao Massacre has affected me so much.

For a backgrounder on the Maguindanao Massacre, click here.

Ed Lingao started with a video that showed how powerful the Ampatuans are even after the Maguindanao Massacre was publicized. Many of the Ampatuans related to the massacre are now in jail waiting to be convicted. But while they are resting their butts inside the prison, 10 of them still managed to run during the last elections in 2010 and 8 of them actually won. 42 Ampatuans were elected around the Philippines — most of which ran for positions in Shariff Agwak, the fort of the Ampatuans.

The Ampatuan is a politically and economically powerful family with properties all over the country, money stashed everywhere (they’re not very fond of banks, so go look for moolah in their vaults) and a firm grip on Maguindanao. Their lawyer, Fortun, says otherwise. He said he didn’t ASK the exact monetary value of the Ampatuans under his care so he’s not so sure how rich they are, but I just think he was too afraid to ask.

They have a firm hold of the entire Maguindanao province — one of the most impoverished provinces in the country, with most residents not having enough to eat or enough means to support themselves. But take note that this is one of the areas which is heavily funded by our government. Last 2010, 3.42 Billion from the Filipinos’ hard-earned taxes were allotted to Maguindanao. And yet, there is no slight development in the situation of the people. They are still hungry, children can’t afford to go to school, not enough social services. Hey! Some of their employees don’t even get paid for a time! Imagine working almost for free.

And as the people go hungry, the Ampatuans are able to expand their properties, acquire high-tech guns and ammunition, and fund a private army composed of vigilantes hired by the government. Hey!  They are even rich enough to hire Fortun (and maybe Fortun should consider that). And they even have a mosque inside one of their houses! Regular people, eh Fortun?

So what drives these horrific people to still be in power?

First and foremost, our own government. They are kept in power because they keep the higher-ups in power. 1.3 Million voters — that  is really something to think about when you’re running for president.

As Sir Ed Lingao said, the Filipino citizens are also responsible for people such as the Ampatuans to stay in power. They are there because we voted for them to be there. They are there because we forget that their purpose is to serve our communities — and this service is not a charity-work or privilege for them to give. They are there because we turn a blind eye to the horrendous things they do — or we accept their actions as if to say, “It’s okay that he killed my neighbor. He gave me money so he should be a good guy and I’ll vote for him” or “Ms. so and so is so great because she gave us a TV and so I’ll forget that she got my brother stabbed”. We don’t hold them accountable for their actions. So my fellow countrymen, the next time you vote please consider this: your vote, your politician, your responsibility. And since s/he is your responsibility, you must hold her accountable for every crap s/he does.

Ms. Cristina Palabay commented that many of the massacres around the Philippines are state-perpetuated. Many of them are supported or even initiated by the government officials. In the Jabidah Massacre, 200 soldiers from Sulu were killed as instructed by Marcos for abandoning their mission to capture Sabah. 7 farmers were killed and 27 had gun shots in the Hacienda Luisita Massacre in 2004 because they were fighting (with stones and sticks against the heavy armaments of the police and the military) for their right to own the lands that they have tilled across the years — which is, by the way, is rightfully theirs because Hacienda Luisita was bought by the Cojuangcos (related to the Aquinos) using government money with the promise to give these lands to the farmers after several years. As the Cojuangcos stay in the economic echelons of the country, and the Aquinos stay in their political seats, they keep an iron hand on these lands. So hard is their grip that they’d cast the first shot at the bare farmers.

To know more about the crap of the Aquino-Cojuangcos, click here.

When the most revered mother-hen Aquino — Cory Aquino — was in power, 13 unarmed farmers were shot in Mendiola during a rally. In the regime of Cory’s son — Noynoy Aquino — there are already 65 victims of extrajudicial killings. So that’s what he was been busy with for the past year. Instead of doing true and good reforms, he gets people killed. Oh, but he also awarded the tree in front of his house! What an action man he is (*sarcasm*).

The political situation in the Philippines sounds like a shogunate (not exactly, but I’m trying to do an allegory here) with warlords, private armies and enslaved people. A lot of innocent people have been killed since the American colonization because they were fighting for their rights — rights that clash with the greediness of rich people. Conflict of interest, as Marx said (oh shit! I’m gonna be marked as a communist *sarcasm*). In Arroyo’s term alone, around 1,200 were victims of extrajudicial killings — and she even hunted down, with her pet Jovito Palparan, students, farmers, ordinary people.

The military gets top one in the National Budget and still they get the people killed . Lest they forget, their salaries and benefits come from the people who work and pay taxes which go to the National Budget. And these hounds don’t really protect the people (which should be their job), but put them in danger instead. And by the way, with the tons of massacres in the country, none of those responsible have been convicted. Makes you feel safe, doesn’t it? (*sarcasm*)

For my last call: End Impunity! Do not let these people kill more people.

And a few quotes from Sir Ed Lingao:

“Journalism is about change”.

“Filipinos have fallen in love with revolutions. But real change comes from one’s self”.

Kapihan for the Month of November

Next week, the student organization we’re a part of — the Anthropology Society — will sponsor the very first talk for this semester. Every month, the organization holds an informal talk (we call it Kapihan) in which current studies and trends in the academe are discussed. The organization had sponsored a variety of topics such as indigenous laws and state laws, the relationship of social sciences to Philippine politics, the study of folklore in the Philippines across history, mother-tongue language, archaeology in Southeast Asia and many, many more. We also invited politicians, professors and experts to talk about these topics.

In this month’s Kapihan (Kapihan because coffee is called Kape in Filipino; and we serve coffee during the talk), we invited a graduate student from University of Toronto who is doing research here in the Philippines. She is studying the OFW remittances in relation to the economic development of the country. And she will talk about her research on this Kapihan.

The economy of the Philippines is always a good topic to talk about. Our economy relies so much in the international market as the country doesn’t create its own industries that much. As my professor once said, ‘the Philippines is export-oriented and import-dependent”. And recently, multinational investments had decreased in the country. So where do we turn to? (*drum roll please*) Human resource.

An article in Yahoo News says that Philippines will become the “dark horse of the region” (Quote taken from the article). As the population from industrialized countries continue to decline, they will need a big pool of workers for manual labor. The Philippines is a prime choice for manual labor as 80% of the population speak English and are willing to go abroad to work — plus we have a growing rate of population that will enter the workforce (our population will double, from 93 million to 190 million, in 30 years)!

These workers help the Philippine economy as much of their salaries are sent to their families in the Philippines. In fact, Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) are presently dubbed as the new heroes of the country because of the big help their giving to keep our economy from breaking down.

The talk will be held at the Anthropology Museum, 3rd floor Palma Hall, Nov. 23 4-5:30. There will be free coffee and free biscuits! Yay!