Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Hard Arm of the Law

It was never going to be a pretty incident.

Today, three Filipinos were executed in China for drug smuggling. According to Chinese law, smuggling and trafficking more than 50g of illegal drugs is punishable by death by lethal injection.

The three Filipinos were supposed to have been handed the death penalty a month ago, had not Vice President Binay personally brought a letter from the President to the Chinese authorities requesting a stay of execution. The stay was granted, but earlier today, the fate of the three were released to the public: they have been executed as per Chinese law.

Too harsh?
Amnesty International has continually berated the People's Republic of China over the harsh laws it has, as well as the numerous cases of death penalties meted out on nationals and non-nationals alike. The three Filipinos executed today follow the fate of several other foreigners convicted of drug-related crimes within China. Many online comments on the news posts that I have seen show people expressing sympathy towards the families of the drug mules (people who are hired to smuggle drugs into another country for a fee) and increasing resentment towards the drug syndicates abound. Many are arguing that though Chinese laws are harsh, perhaps it would have been a wiser course of action for both the Philippine and the Chinese governments to have pursued the "head of the snake" instead, as compared to chopping off the "appendages" - the drug mules, in this case.

One thing I do see a problem was the claim that drug syndicates have "duped" these people into smuggling drugs into another country. That may be so, and I honestly believe that these three were probably driven to the point of desperation as to resort to taking huge risks such as the one they all did, in order to provide for their families. It is painful for us Filipinos to admit it, but the three individuals executed were adults capable of weighing decisions; it was a matter of unfortunate circumstance that they were caught, arrested, tried, and found guilty. It was even more unfortunate that all of those happened in a nation-state that still implemented capital punishment. However, I think we also need to understand the point of view of the Chinese government. It was enforcing its laws. Nothing more, nothing less. It was painful to see our countrymen die by the hand of another nation's justice system, and it was also painful to know that these same persons were duped and/or tricked. However, from China's point of view, its laws were broken, and in the spirit of maintaining its sovereignty, it enforced those selfsame laws; the death of three 'criminals' would simply be another case of lawbreakers meeting their fate. Sad? Yes. Fair? Probably not. In accordance to Chinese law? Yes, and that's what matters to the Chinese government.

I hope that this incident serves as a lesson to many Filipinos who are driven to take any and all measures in order to provide for their families. Honest living may not provide the same financial rewards as illegal activities do, but the risk - such as being prosecuted and found guilty in a foreign court - is far too much for our loved ones to handle when worse comes to worse. It is not fair to them, especially if they find out of our fate through television as it had already happened. It is also not right for us to go to another country and break the laws of that country. In the same way that we will never think of smashing our host's windows as they accommodate us in their home, we shouldn't have to take unnecessary risks that could well end up unhealthily.

My favorite author, Michael Crichton, said it best:
"Justice is never about fairness.. It is merely a resolution for conflict."


Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Parents' Prerogative?

There have been recent developments regarding the recent incident involving a minor dancing like seedy entertainer on national television. This particular one is far more disturbing as it shakes the very foundation of common sense and logic.

Jan-Jan's parents are NOT filing charges and they do NOT "see anything wrong" with what transpired on that show.


Yes, that is exactly what is mentioned in this news article. What is even more disgusting was some of the things the parents had to say in that news report:

"That’s what my son wanted, he liked to be famous, become a star...I just supported my kid...that’s what he wanted."
- Jojo Estrada, father of Jan-Jan.

Daddy's issue here is fame. Fame that his six-year old apparently wanted to have, and so, being the "supportive father" that he is, allowed his son to be the object of "entertainment" and ridicule from thousands and thousands of Filipino viewers nationwide. An issue arises here: When does "supporting" your child's "dreams" simply become a parent using his child as a tool for a quick buck and a claim to fame? I do not wish to treat children as if they are second-class citizens, but children are children for a reason: they need the GUIDANCE, DISCIPLINE, and PROTECTION of their parents (barring that, their guardians). What Mr. Estrada did was none of those; I do not claim to be an expert on parenting but no father should presume that being famous is what his child needs right now. Now, his son and his family are famous, true, but for all the wrong reasons.

It's difficult to say which camp is more wrong, but the fact remains that there is something wrong in this incident. If there wasn't, then the national public outrage that this has caused would constitute about the population of a public bathroom. This is not the case though. Thousands are speaking up against this form of "public entertainment"; clearly, it has violated an inner sense of righteousness and fairness among many Filipinos. I admit: I do not watch Willing Willie, but say I was a new viewer (all of you Willie die-hards were once first-time viewers too, so no hypocritical remarks) and this was the first episode I saw (which is true for my case), wouldn't I have the right to be appalled at what I saw? I was, and horrified too. The video brought out emotions of anger at the crass exploitation of a child who literally did NOT know any better, the classless gags and VERY tired jokes, as well as the frustration that real, living human beings are eating up and consuming shows such as these.

Shows with no cultural, societal, and moral values.

None, as proven by the casual - almost nonchalant - indifference of the child's parents against those seeking to defend their child's rights.

We all need to take a stand. Our national identity and values cannot be a street-side whore for the consumption of many.


Monday, 28 March 2011

Willie Revillame and JanJan: A New Low to an Old Show

This was an issue that has been around for a couple of weeks now, but has only come to my attention recently. It's a well-known fact that here in the Philippines, entertainment shows abound (though their methods of "entertaining" are rather dubious at times) and one particular show, hosted by a certain Willie Revillame, takes the cake for appalling "humor".

There is a video of this incident, but I feel it is not necessary to spread it around until the kid's face is obscured to spare him further humiliation, degradation, and loss of respect. Here is a post with a screenshot of the performance. Basically, this is the picture:

The show's host, Willie, has gained some notoriety on certain tasteless and allegedly exploitative acts in order to promote his show. He throws around money like cheap candy (in this particular case, he hands P3,000 to JanJan's aunt for hugging him. Yeah, he needs more of that.) and in the eyes of many viewers "struggling to make ends meet", he's the second Jesus himself. This show featuring JanJan, however, is just horribly wrong.

It starts off innocently enough. A poor kid from a poor family is featured on a show. Fine. He is asked to dance. Fine as well. However, the child's dance was akin to the sort that red-light district performers are prone to do, which wouldn't be as terrible as it became had the kid not been crying during his entire performance. He was clearly distressed, but the show's host, the kid's aunt, and the vast majority of the audience were egging him on. For the next five minutes or so, Willie repeatedly asked JanJan to perform over and over again. The distressed look on the kid's face never disappeared. He was given P10,000 (about $200) for his troubles.

Entertainment vs Morals
The issue that many people such as myself are bringing up in response to this show is not because we "hate" Willie Revillame. For some, that is indeed true. I am indifferent as to who he is. My personal problem is that this man allows unacceptable things to happen; a child of 6 years dancing provocatively on stage for money definitely counts as unacceptable in my books. Aside from that, the fact that many people find this practice "alright" for "poor people" is not only judgmental; it is a display of total dumbf*ckery (pardon the language, I'm pretty mad).

When the host was explaining "how difficult life is... he's [JanJan] doing this for his family..", did any of the viewers stop to think why a child would do this "for his family"? Yes, life is hard, especially in a third-world country like ours, but dignity and self-respect shouldn't be the first two things to be sacrificed for two hundred bloody dollars. In the video, the kid mentioned his dad operated a parlor (a barbershop) and the host was suggestively questioning the father's occupation, which he does not have a right to do. JanJan's family is much better off than many other Filipinos simply because his father has an occupation. Yeah, an occupation but not honor and certainly not the protectiveness expected of a father. Why am I putting so much of the blame on the father? The kid says he learned to dance that way FROM HIM. And of course, the father - along with the mother and the ecstatic aunt - would have given permission for him to appear on television the way he did. This scares me; parents and guardians have no qualms about sacrificing the dignity and self-respect of children for the sake of "providing for the family" and/or "making a living during desperate times".

Oh, and it also did not help that the host, the crowd, and the viewers that day I am sure, were hooting and cheering as a child (who should either be in school, watching cartoons, or playing in the park) showed the country what he is being taught to do all for the sake of making a quick buck.

We have prostituted our society.
All of us are liable, unless we speak up and stand up against this. United, we the people of the Philippines, can topple an institution that has made a mockery of our supposed Christian values and the familial ethics we claim to be so proud of.

Thanks to Definitely Filipino for the picture and some info.


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

A New Home!

Today I signed the contract to move into my new condominium :)

I'll be staying in one of the new condos at Taft Avenue fronting De La Salle University. Obviously, I won't say where exactly :P

Aside from being very near work (across the street!), the condo will also be a much safer and cleaner place to live in. The amenities are pretty good as well. The best part? I am actually paying for everything with the money I'm earning :) Way to go on life! :D

Wish me luck, and plenty of blessings!


Monday, 14 March 2011

Moving Up!

Moved up at work :)

It's only been a few months and now, I have far more responsibilities at work. It's really flattering (with pressure!) that the boss is showing a lot of faith in me and my abilities. Instead of simply being a writer and researcher for the university, I am now the Executive Assistant of the University President, as well as the Coordinator for Presidential Affairs in three La Salle universities/colleges (DLSU, DLSAU, and DLSC). God is being very very good to me :)

Here's to the future!


Thursday, 10 March 2011

Remembering the First Nine

Today, the majority of the De La Salle University community (as well as the other Lasallian schools around the country) are proudly wearing Green and White, and also various De La Salle shirts. Today we remember the arrival of the first nine De La Salle Brothers in the Philippines.

The first three Brothers arrived in Manila on March 10, 1911 from Europe and the Middle East, an understandably long voyage at that time. The following six arrived weeks later on May 3, 1911 and the first community of the Lasallian Brothers in the archipelago was complete.

A hundred years on, they have left a peerless legacy of quality Christian education that has produced some of the best and most notable Filipinos in history. They have left an impact not just on society, politics, and business but in culture, arts, and environmental awareness as well, as De La Salle Philippines immerses itself in numerous community development and green projects. A hundred years on, just under 20 La Salle schools around the country have given hundreds of thousands of young people the education that they so rightly deserve, and the education that our patron saint, St. Jean Baptiste de La Salle, envisioned giving to all the young people of the world.

Thank you for bringing the educational institution of De La Salle in the Philippines, bros :)

Brother Louis
Brother Aloysius
Brother Blimond
Brother Camillus
Brother Augusto
Brother Joseph
Brother John
Brother William
Brother Martin

It's a momentous day today. Wear green, and wear it proud.
I am a Lasallista and nothing will ever change that.

Part of my De La Salle Centennial series.

Quirino, C. (1986). La Salle: 1911-1986. Manila, Philippines: Paragon Printing Corporation.


Wednesday, 9 March 2011


Sorry for the rather long no-show. Been so busy with work, work, and more work. Will try to blog like hell this week to catch up on all the missed days. Also, I just recovered from a fever.

Here's to writing again :)