When I came across bambike on Instagram, I knew I wanted to feature them here, but instead of just me grabbing a screen capture of their website and writing a couple of lines about them, I wanted to try and see if they would respond to a few questions over e-mail. And they did!
I truly do wonder sometimes if any of my 4,500++ followers actually read anything on this tumblr. But I suppose whether anyone reads this or not was never the point of all this. This started on my journey of coming home, and now that I am home, it is with me in exploring, knowing, and living home. I was reminded the other day that this space used to be called “Notes from Home.” I can’t bother myself too much with what to call this space anymore, so it’s just been Pilipinas.
Anyway, living outside of Manila has been so wonderful in terms of all the greenery and nature and trees and grass, that I am beginning to fear this place becoming more like Manila as time passes. I still look forward to my trips to Manila - for work, for seeing family and friends, for visiting Fully Booked or any other store that we don’t have here. But Manila has become too crowded for me, too congested. Manila has become, in my head, a huge block of concrete; almost suffocating when I think about the traffic and the lack of trees everywhere. Perhaps urban planners for Manila should seriously consider bringing back forests in the Metro (yes, forests - although I don’t know if we actually have space anywhere there), co-existing with nature instead of destroying it to build even more buildings and manicured lawns. That’s also something I’ve come to appreciate here: wild, untouched nature growing on its own. There is such a substantial difference between a park that’s been made to be ‘green’ and a forest that is naturally what it is: all shades of green and full of life.
Just the other night, my daughter and I heard an OWL - yes, a real, live OWL - hoot right outside our window. Right. Outside. Our. Room. Our eyes widened and we had the biggest smiles in awe of the sound of such a creature. My husband, on the other hand, actually SAW an owl hovering near our house. Are these encounters even imaginable in Manila? I highly doubt it.
I wonder if it is possible to make Manila more naturally green, with more wildlife, fresher air. I wonder.
The more equal a society, the greater the trust. And it is not just a question of income; where people have similar lives and similar prospects, it is likely that what we might call their ‘moral’ outlook is also shared. This makes it easier to institute radical departures in public policy. In complex or divided societies, the chances are that a minority - or even a majority - will be forced to concede, often against its will. This makes collective policymaking contentious and favors a minimalist approach to social reform: better to do nothing than to divide people for and against a controversial project.
The absence of trust is clearly inimical to a well-run society. The great Jane Jacobs noted as much with respect to the very practical business of urban life and the maintenance of cleanliness and civility on city streets. If we don’t trust each other, our towns will look horrible and be nasty places to live. Moreover, she observed, you cannot institutionalize trust. Once corroded, it is virtually impossible to restore. And it needs care and nurturing by the community - collectivity - since with the bet of intentions no one person can make others trust him and be trusted in return.
“So, while the Filipino has not the sufficient energy to proclaim, with head erect and bosom bared, its rights to social life, and to guarantee it with its sacrifices, with its own blood…while we see them wrap themselves up in their egotism and with a forced smile praise the more iniquitous actions, begging with their eyes a portion of the booty - why grant them liberty? With Spain or without Spain they would always be the same, and perhaps worst! Why independence, if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow?”—
Mangyari lamang ay tumayo ang mga nagmahal nang makita ng lahat ang mukha ng pag- ibig. Ipamalas ang tamis ng malalim na pagkakaunawaan sa mga malabo ang paningin.
Mangyari lamang ay tumayo rin ang mga nagmahal at nasawi nang makita ng lahat ang mga sugat ng isang bayani. Ipadama ang pait ng kabiguan habang ipinagbubunyi ang walang katulad na kagitingan ng isang nagtaya.
Mangyari lamang ay tumayo ang mga nangangambang magmahal nang makita ng lahat ang kilos ng isang bata. Ipamalas ang katapatan ng damdamin na pilit ikinukubli ng pusong lumaki sa mga engkanto at diwata.
Mangyari lamang ay tumayo ang mga nagmahal, minahal at iniwan ngunit handa pa ring magmahal nang makita ng lahat ang yaman ng karanasan. Ipamalas ang katotohanang nasaksihan nang maging makahulugan ang mga paghagulgol sa dilim.
At sa mga nananatiling nakaupo mangyari lamang ay dahan-dahang tumalilis papalabas sa nakangangang pinto. Umuwi na kayo at sumbatan ang mga magulang na nagpalaki ng isang halimaw!
At sa lahat ng naiwang nakatayo mangyari lamang ay hagkan ang isa’t isa at yakapin ang mga sugatan. Mabuhay tayong lahat na nagsisikap na makabalik sa ating pinagmulan! Manatiling masaya at higit sa lahat magpatuloy sa pagmamahal.
[Screen capture from http://pulitzercenter.org/reporting/asia-philippines-gold-mining-child-labor-dangerous-conditions]
I was up early this morning digesting numbers of such immensity and weight that I couldn’t go back to sleep. Here they are:
18th. The Philippines is ranked 18th worldwide in the production of gold.
2.7 million. This is the amount of gold produced in our country in million ounces.
1.8 billion dollars. The worth of gold estimated to still be in the ground in our country.
Amazing, right? But let me introduce another concept that kept me up this morning: compression mining.
Compression mining is basically diving deep down into muddy water to get ore from the ground, using only a tube connected to a makeshift compressor for oxygen while under the muddy water.
Now let’s look at more numbers:
$5. Average earning for a compression miner on a typical day.
60 feet. Compression miners dive as deep as 60 feet underground to get their ore. Without anything but a tube in between their teeth, sometimes even without a mask; they just keep their eyes closed.
6. The most number of hours one diver spends under the muddy water, looking blindly for gold.
4, 10, 16, 20. These are the ages of children and young adults who work in these mines. Because, you know, everyone in the family has to work. There are no other jobs. And sometimes, the hole is too small for an adult to be able to fit.
How can one sleep after acquiring such knowledge?
Please head on over to the Pulitzer Center and read up more on Larry Price’s work on Mining and the Cost of Gold in the Philippines. Share the knowledge, perhaps knowing is truly the first step to doing something.
There is a culture of prioritizing community cohesion and harmony over individualistic needs. There is a culture of respecting authority. There is a culture of deference to ‘more powerful’ people. There is a culture of practicing traditions, superstitions, and beliefs. There is a culture of religiosity. There is a culture of letting things be, of letting destiny unravel itself, of letting the ‘will of God’ be done. There is a culture of ‘pakikisama’ or camaraderie.
“It is knowing how to put questions to a document and knowing what questions to put that a historian’s point of view makes a difference. … History never delivers ready-made answers. But the historian’s questions may shed light on his people’s problems of the present.”—John N. Schumacher, SJ, TheHistorian’s Task in the Philippines, The Making of a Nation: Essays on Nineteenth-century Filipino Nationalism (via ellobofilipino)
comrades seem such a distant/big/ideologic word… until it actually applies to certain people in your life. then you get the weight of the word. because friends are easy to identify, but comrades take years and life struggles and a kinship that emerges organically, almost discreetly, over time.
comrades are crucial sources of strength, wisdom, and community in this long journey towards the Pilipinas we all want.
comrades remind you of the goal, and at the same time remind you of the importance of laughter, of rest, of taking it easy every now and then.
comrades keep the fire burning, the future in focus, and the past in memory - for when we need to know who we were and are, where we’ve been, and what we’ve once thought and believed.
The Ashoka Philippines Team held our very first strategy planning session during the last week of February, and I am feeling invigorated to do more of my Venture work (Ashoka speak for “Fellow Search”) and beyond. The search for Filipino Ashoka Fellows is an exciting adventure, but also one that has its challenges and frustrations.
I’ve been busy. For the past three years, mostly with motherhood. For the past couple of months, also with work. For the past thirty minutes, with reading old personal entries on this blog. This one stood out to me:
"There are very short periods of time when I’m not really here. Mostly, it’s when I’m walking from one point to the next, passing in between people rushing, walking leisurely, and standing still. The other day, I ordered my regular drink from Starbucks - or what was my regular drink back in San Francisco - and at the first sip, I completely disappeared from Ayala Avenue and was somewhere in between Sansome and Bush.
It is a little bit peculiar, this sporadic feeling of walking the invisible streets of elsewhere. Perhaps we take with us wherever we’ve been, and Home, slowly but surely, becomes not a place, but something that exists within us, something we keep inside our very selves wherever we go.”
That was August 2009. Almost five years ago. And I can certainly recall the feeling I described, but I can no longer feel it. Wherever I am now, that is where I am. I am in the Philippines, my heart and my mind are. The journey from August 2009 to January 2014 has been eventful, mostly great and happy events, with a sprinkling of major disappointments and disillusionment.
It would be easy to say that there’s a thin line between idealism and cynicism, but the truth is, there is a wide open space of apathy, ambivalence, and vague emotions between idealism and cynicism. Being away from the Philippines, my idealism was comfortably cushioned by the distance, by romanticism, by being away from it all. Coming back home, where the reality I only wrote about before actually is reality, my idealism was exposed to the elements. Reading my older entries, I realize now how romanticized my writing was, how cloaked in blissful ignorance, how naive. Perhaps that was important though, to build enough momentum for me to have come home, and at points of disappointment, for me to not completely give up.
So yes, my feet are planted firmly on Filipino ground.
What is it that you do with passion, conviction, and determined purpose? Why do you do it? (This doesn’t have to be your day job, of course.)
I am passionate about education, definitely a more multifaceted view on learning and teaching that goes beyond the classrooms. I am interested in the different ways that we achieve education, the different foundations and sources of learning. For me, it is important that I acknowledge and validate the diversity and complexity of ways in which people learn. This might be through personal experience, family history, sharing narratives and stories, through creativity and experimentation, discoveries, travel and journey, introspection, from making connections and interpretations, subversion and dissent, inspiration from art, music, literature, and pop culture.
1. What is it that you do with passion, conviction, and determined purpose? Why do you do it? (This doesn’t have to be your day job, of course.)
» First off, my passions revolve around Philippine history, ethnic culture, and art in general. I’m actually a varied artist because my mother is a painter and a frustrated draftsman — she lets me dabble in all kinds of art, but I’m more adept in writing and photography; these have become passions as well. Now, what do I do with this passion?
The following posts are long overdue. While I’m still not sure what direction this tumblr is heading towards, the three interviews I will be featuring are worth reading for the passion and commitment of three inspiring individuals.
1. What is it that you do with passion, conviction, and determined purpose? Why do you do it? (This doesn’t have to be your day job, of course.)
I call myself a youth advocate for two reasons:
a.) Youth Advocacy/Engagement for me is a personal experience. A concept that was put into action.
Check out JAVC Printshop for original handmade art (made by a Filipina!) to decorate your home or workspace, to gift to a friend, or to commemorate a special event. You can even have a custom print made featuring something that means a lot to you or to a special someone.
The magic of possibilities by Jo Anne Villarosa Coruña
It was a clear Sunday morning, but over the Philippines, the clouds seemed darker than usual, despite the glaring sun. The impossible seemed to have happened: Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao got knocked out on the last second of the sixth round in his match against Juan Manuel Marquez. That split second replays in my mind and chokes me a little every time. We all felt that punch, we all felt our knees buckle, and we all fell down, face flat on the floor. Even if it just happened yesterday, in our minds, it has already been immortalized as being “that day” - that day when The Pacman fell, that day when the whole nation was stunned and in shock, that day when the impossible happened.
But. The reality is, Manny Pacquiao has given us more - so much more - than that day. To begin with, let us not forget the ten world titles in eight divisions that The Pacman has brought home. More than that, let us not forget the high-fives, the pulutan and the beer for breakfasts, the silent streets bursting with cheer and shouts of victory, the family time spent together watching the Filipino icon land every mighty punch, the high of the knock out on that second round, those long and suspense-filled twelve rounds, the unbelievable speed in every fight, the rush of hearing the Eye of the Tiger blast in the arena, in restaurants, and in our homes. Even more than those, for every match, there was always the anticipation of a good fight; the excitement shared by every Filipino everywhere - in the Philippines, in the US, in Italy, in Dubai - literally everywhere; the hope that permeated each and every Filipino heart; and the solid belief that we can win, that it can be our fight, and the countless times The Pacman has made that belief an actual reality.
The true magic of The Pacman is his ability to bring Filipinos together. The magic that for one day, wherever and whoever you are, whatever your station in life, if you are Filipino, you are rooting for the same man, you are hoping for the same win, and you are feeling the punches, both given and received. For one day, for a brief few hours, a pedicab driver has his eyes on the same prize as the guy who drives a Porsche. For those few hours, it doesn’t matter if you’re watching the fight in a room full of strangers, or in the comfort of your own home, or in a gymnasium with a projector. For those few hours, we are all watching as Filipinos and as one nation. And we are all hoping for the same thing, the same win.
And if the win doesn’t come - like it didn’t yesterday, we are all indeed heartbroken, yes, but we are also all still holding on, not giving up, slowly getting up. And this, this shared mindset across the nation and across seas, among Filipinos, this is the true magic, this is what we truly need. The pride of being Filipino must come with the pride of being one with Filipinos. It must come with the pride of sharing a culture with fellow Filipinos. This shared mindset must extend to shared hearts - amidst tragedy, calamities, poverty. To be a proud Filipino is to be compassionate towards your fellow Filipino. To not only sympathize when bad things happen to the country and our people, but to empathize and actually feel those bad things ourselves and do something about them, however small. To be a proud Filipino is to be proud of a fellow Filipino’s accomplishments, to offer support and root for your fellow Filipino’s success, without any hint of envy or destructive criticism. The pride of being Filipino must not focus on the individual, on the self, but on the collective experience of all Filipinos everywhere.
The magic of The Pacman is this shared experience that brings all Filipinos together. The magic of The Pacman isn’t that he always wins every fight; the magic is the way he fights - all heart, with much humility, and grace in the end, whatever the outcome. The magic is the truth that every Filipino is capable of such. Beyond politics, profits, and promoters, The Pacman teaches us all one thing: when you fall, you get up, and you go back to training, you go back to fighting.
I would like to think that the seeming impossibility of Manny Pacquiao’s defeat has paved the way for the possibility of a more unified nation, a deeper bond among all Filipinos, and even more strength and hope to carry on and face every fight. Let’s root for each other. Until we can all share in one sweet victory, in and outside the boxing ring.
The Philippine Development Foundation (PhilDev) is on Tumblr! Follow them for posts on science and technology, startups, innovation and entrepreneurship.
[PhilDev is a nonprofit organization registered in the US and the Philippines. PhilDev helps create a robust ecosystem of science and technology in the Philippines for long-term economic development. Their strategy: Education, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship.]
Thanks to @ageofbrillig’s tweet I had the opportunity to read The New Republic’s takedown (“Mitt Romney, Latter-Day Neocon”) of Romney’s wayward and antiquated jingoism-tinged view of the United States imperial history. For any student of US imperial history, or at least in my case Philippine history, it’s a groan-inducing, headache-creating, jaw-dropping (yes seriously) presentation of US myth-making at its worst.
The relationship between Americans and American imperial history is a curious one, though unsurprising when taking into context the Cult of American Exceptionalism. However, for those countries (such as mine) that have been on the receiving end of America’s fight for right (as if ‘right’ and ‘good’ is the sole province of Western values). It is hard to deny that while all nations are guilty of delusions of grandeur, only a select few have perfected it as a public art-form to the extent of the United States; and especially by their current crop of neo-conservatives.
While the TNR article focuses specifically on Romney’s repackaging of Henry Luce’s “American Century” ethos, the more worrisome part is the parallels that can be drawn between Romney’s current fervent belief that it is the right of the US to intervene by any means in the affairs of other nations, and public declarations in support of Philippine campaign in the past. Romney goes so far as to recast American imperial history as non-existent, claiming “We have never sought to impose ourselves on others, to seek colonies or to engage in conquest.” For the Philippines and Filipinos that is a patently ludicrous statement that ignores the profound cultural and social injustices that were visited upon us at the turn of the 20th century. It would be laughable if the damage done to our country wasn’t so egregious.
Additionally, Romney’s curious evangelical leanings concerning America is ‘good’ calls to mind the exultations of William Howard Taft and other American politicians that the role of the US is to ‘Christianise” and “uplift” Philippine savages. Kipling infamously referred to it as the ‘white man’s burden’ while American propagandists referred to that mission as ‘benevolent assimilation.’
Most disturbing of all is the sense that Romney and his ilk have not only failed to learn from American history, they are hell-bent on re-casting it as a constant march of American goodness and nobility throughout the years. Margaret MacMillan’s warning that history has been used and abused to..”justify treating others badly, seizing their land…or killing them” rings true.
I have long suspected that the American experience in the Philippines has been carefully edited out of textbooks and American public consciousness because it is one of the glaring examples of the sheer damage that American exceptionalism run rampant can cause. Romney is clearly the ideological heir to Roosevelt and Taft, Luce and others. These are the same men who saw nothing wrong with turning Samar into a ‘howling wilderness’ because the ‘natives’ dared resist foreign intrusion and imperialism.
It seems that the dangerous politics of the 19th century are alive and well in the 21st.
“I suppose what I’m really trying to get at is how we Filipinos must reflect on how we relate to one another, especially to others who may not be within our social circles. Or rethink how we determine who gets to be included in those circles in the first place. I think it would benefit us all if the next time we do our groceries, or enter a parking lot, or buy something at a store, or order something at a restaurant, we remember that we are not merely talking to someone who ‘works for us’ but someone who, just like the rest of us, is earning a living for themselves and their families, who has the same need for rest and recreation, for a vacation, who laughs at jokes and enjoys the company of good friends. Let’s take down the barrier we’ve been putting up with for so long, whoever put them there (ourselves or history). Let’s treat each other as Filipinos, whatever shoes we wear, whatever car we drive or jeepney we ride, whatever accent we may have. Perhaps that is one of many simply good beginnings to a better and more egalitarian nation for all of us.”—JAVCnotes: Target-inspired
A summer program for incoming high school sophomore girls who want to be in tech! Application deadline: May 15, 2012.
From their site: “Founded in February 2012, Girls Who Code is working to educate, inspire, and equip underserved girls aged 13-15 with the skills and resources necessary to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).
The Girls Who Code program is an eight-week summer program in New York City designed to introduce high school girls to basic software development skills and is accompanied by yearlong outreach initiatives, mentorship programs, and internship opportunities to realize each participant’s potential.”
The official tumblr of the Philippine Development Foundation or PhilDev. Follow them for current news on science and technology, scholarships and other programs for scientists and engineers, and interesting bits of info related to S&T in the Philippines and elsewhere.
The power of well-written and researched history, by professional historians aware of their vast responsibilities, is that it provides the tools needed craft a better future for all. In Margaret MacMillan’s conclusion in The Uses and Abuses of History she wrote “…a citizenry that cannot begin to put the present into context, that has so little knowledge of the past, can too easily be fed stories by those who claim to speak with the knowledge of history and its lessons.” That is the situation extant in the country today. It is a situation that fuels many of the social, cultural, and political problems that we still face. One of the things that history teaches is to challenge dogmatic and sweeping generalizations, especially those that purport to have all the answers, to be the one true interpretation of the past. History provides us with the tools necessary to question and question some more, while bad history (and its application) does little more than mislead and obscure; usually for purely political or selfish interests.
A little self-serving is allowed now and then right? Please click through to read my little essay on bad history and how it is affecting our understanding of EDSA 1.
Hello, everyone. I have been busy with “real life” as of late, so my apologies for not keeping up with the ‘resolution’ of bringing you interesting randomness regularly. Also for not having a ‘passionate person profile’ up yet (that one I hope to remedy by next week; title for the feature included in things to fix).
Knee deep in researching and analyzing how to present a case involving organizations I care about, I find it apt to post about a few groups that instantly come to mind when I think of the Philippine Third Sector:
World Wildlife Fund Philippines (WWF-Philippines)
Not really needing a description (since anyone who doesn’t know what this organization does must be living under a rock - and maybe should stay there to save the planet), let’s just say that WWF-Philippines works to conserve and protect the natural beauty our country possesses. From the Donsol Whale Shark Research and Ecotourism Sustainability Program (w/c contributed to TIME Magazine citing the Bicol Region as ‘best animal encounter destination in Asia’) to the Coral Triangle Support Partnership Project, WWF-Philippines has programs that you may want to support.
Here’s a WWF video that went viral a few months back:
Philippine Eagle Foundation
I have yet to go to Davao to see this organization in action in person, but I’ve talked to one of their staff more than a couple of times and a few other people who’ve been to their facility, to know that they’re doing great work. I believe I’ve featured this organization here already before, but I have to mention them again, if only to have you go to their website and see how you can help an eaglet.
TEN Moves! (The Entire Nation Moves) Campaign
While not an organization per se, this campaign was brought to my attention by a director at the Ayala Foundation, where I used to work and the org that manages this campaign. Its strategy is to have 2 million people donate P10 per day for 10 months. For a population nearing 100 million, the Filipino people shouldn’t find it too hard to make this public fundraising initiative a success. And what’s the money for? To build 10,000 classrooms for public schools all over the Philippines. Sabi nga nila, “Barya lang po. Para sa classroom ng mga bata.”
Hello, dear readers. Part of regularly and more thoughtfully updating this tumblr, I would like to interview (via email exchange or g-chat) “ordinary” Filipinos/Filipinas who are passionate about what they do, whether it’s their day job or otherwise. Musicians, executive assistants, event planners/coordinators, HR managers/recruiters, historians, writers, academics, engineers, pilots, soldiers, nonprofit worker bees - basically ANYONE out there who would like to share their love for their craft/job/art/calling/vocation.
I will be approaching people I know, but if YOU are who I’m looking to interview, please send me an email (allthingspilipinas at gmail dot com) or a message.
Frankly speaking, I am pretty tired of seeing the same old people everywhere, on billboards, magazine covers, the newspaper, tv (on the very rare instance I watch). The celebrity culture in our country has got to end somewhere. Please remember: YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A CELEBRITY TO MATTER. You love your job or your hobby? You do it well? Then we need to know more about people like YOU.
So, if you know someone (including yourself) who’s up for a little email exchange or chitchat, let me know. Thanks!
To usher in 2012, here are five things from/about/in the Philippines that make me smile. They definitely do not have the same weight of significance for me, but these are the first five things that came to mind (in order of their appearance in my head), thinking about all things Pilipinas that are, to put it simply, good.
Benedicto Reyes Cabrera, more famously known as BenCab, is a Filipino National Artist who is a painter and a printmaker. When I think of BenCab, I think of Sabel, his muse. From his bullet biography on the BenCab Museum website:
Observes and sketches from his window in Bambang a bag lady/madwoman/scavenger named Sabel. To him she is a symbol of dislocation, despair& isolation – the personification of human dignity threatened by circumstances. Undergoing numerous transformations over the coming years, she becomes a landmark for every stylistic painting transition.
The lobby of one of those condominiums in Rockwell is graced by a BenCab painting. And a home somewhere in Negros has artist proofs from the master printmaker himself. Nothing quite like his work, especially these days of modern conceptual art. As he himself puts it in this Wall Street Journal feature, “Skill: That is what is missing now. A lot of modern art now is mostly conceptual. It is sloppy. I’m old school. I look for good composition… and I like artists who are innovative.” I tend to agree.
For full disclosure, I’ve worked (and still work every now and then) for PhilDev (formerly Ayala Foundation USA). I loved the work that I did there, connecting the Filipino diaspora to worthwhile development initiatives in the homeland. Now, their focus is more strategic - zeroing in on science and technology and the field’s impact on the Philippines’ economic growth and development. All the same, I respect the work that they do and look forward to the coming years as they carry out their new mission.
You can read about PhilDev’s work on their website, but here’s a video of Filipino/Filipino-American artists, Lea Salonga included, talking about the concert they held for PhilDev:
I’m pretty sure I featured Panlasang Pinoy on this tumblr already, but when you talk about the good things in the Philippines, you cannot - just cannot - leave out food. And when I thought of Filipino food, Panlasang Pinoy popped into my head. Just look at his list of Top 10 Filipino Christmas Recipes. I know Christmas is done, but hey, with this menu, it’s never too early to practice for Christmas 2012.
Interaksyon | TV5-MMDA Traffic Monitoring System
Yes, I’m including this one. Because it is pretty cool to have this system in place, updated every five minutes or so. My husband and I are guilty of checking this even if we’re not driving anywhere, just because it’s so nifty.
And of course, my fellow Tumblrers who post about the Philippines. A few that I enjoy:
The Wolf: A thirty-something writer who has mellowed down from the broadcast news industry. After that, he taught high school kids history and economics. Using the skills acquired in journalism, he gets involved once in a while with farmers, environmentalists, and human rights activists.