Unleashing billboard vigilantes

Nurses-to-be still on the verge of mutiny: unfortunately, retaking the exam seems the only solution. Government could, of course, cover the travel and accommodations of students from the provinces.

The papers all lead with typhoon Xangsane, Malaya (with the best headline: Trees fall, roofs fly) says Bicol was the worst hit; the most expressive article was Business Mirror’s:

The most graphic reflection of Milenyo’s strength was found in Metro Manila, often relatively unscathed in typhoons that wreak havoc on the countryside. This time around, the entire National Capital Region bore the full brunt of the storm, which, besides causing floods, felled trees that caused instant “blockades” in busy cities like Makati and Pasay, peeled off entire marble blocks from some buildings while tossing scaffoldings in others, twisted metal structures in airport warehouses, and hurled billboards down the main highway on Edsa. Besides the debris from countless felled trees, cut power cables dangerously dangled like spaghetti in the streets.

The Manila Standard-Today has a terse catalog of destruction while reporting the President’s plaintive plea, “Can I go home now?” (the typhoon basically blew away her the Philippines is now 2nd World propaganda push -but I thought “2nd World” was the old reference to the Soviet Union and its satellites? So we are now Gulag-bound?).

Grin and bear it: electricity restored by Sunday. According to the Daily Tribune, 43 million people affected by the power outage. And here’s where the interweb hasn’t caught up with reality: Talkin’ Tech asks why Meralco doesn’t update its website.

As for me, since the elevator’s conked out I have to rely on mr. fuji meets manila to see what’s what -and yes, if only all the ad billboards and such weren’t replaced, the streets would be nicer. Speaking of billboards…

Senseless bureaucratic wrangle of the week: who, if anyone, can dismantle billboards? Public Works secretary suggests vigilantism:

But DPWH Secretary Hermogenes Ebdane Jr. said that the agency’s hands were tied because billboard owners were protected by law.

“What law will we use? We can only bring these billboards down in accordance with the law,” said Ebdane who admitted that billboard owners failed to heed the government’s warning for them to take down the structures before a storm.

He suggested that “vigilantes” do the dismantling of the billboards. “If you like, you can hire billboard vigilantes and they will be the ones to bring them down,” Ebdane said.

Either he was being flippant or deadly serious, but either way, this suggests why it’s not a good idea to keep staffing the cabinet with retired officers. See photos of fallen trees and billboards at iceuck‘s blog.

Touching story at Sexy Rexy: people huddling for shelter in a bakery given free bread by the baker. A Bittersweet Holiday, after sniping at the storm, apologizes to it.

And bloggers take note: Bloggers chronicle typhoon’s fury in Metro Manila. W00t!
Overseas, New Caledonia sees rallies protesting the presence of Filipinos. America cuts off military aid to Thailand, even as the junta appoints a retired general as PM (not a good sign, but hope springs eternal, so he’s being urged to keep running after Thaksin and Co.).

In the punditocracy, the Senate President has a good ghostwriter.

When historians behave madly: Manuel Almario in parts one and two, and Augusto de Viana square off -was it conquest or colonization conducted by Spain? Almario suggests the National Historical Institute leadership is flawed because it’s friar-led, but forgets Ambeth Ocampo was a Benedictine (and thus, not a friar) and a former one at that (so even if a friar then, he’s not a friar now). I think Viviana de Viana defended himself well.

Brahma Chellaney on what the selection of Shinzo Abe as PM signifies for Japan:

The most far-reaching but least-noticed development in Asia in the new century has been Japan’s political resurgence. Japan is set to formally break out of its pacifist cocoon by revising its U.S.-imposed Constitution and eliminating the military proscription enshrined in Article 9 — a goal high on Abe’s agenda.

Vanity Fair on Egypt’s riviera turned suicide-bomber central.

In the blogosphere, there’s an interesting discussion between two comment-writers in the PCIJ blog.

blackshama and Tequila Geek both condemn the egg-throwing incident in the University of the Philippines. The former because it violates a cardinal principle UP is supposed to uphold (free, open debate) and the latter because it doesn’t -and shouldn’t- reflect the attitudes or behavior of the entire university community (some interesting comments in Tequila Geek’s blog, too, concerning the kind of student leaders being produced).

Compare the above with an email from R. Jitana (along lines similar to Crooning the Night Away, and bikoy.net but from an older generation’s perspective):

After reading Kenneth’s piece, Paolo’s letter and the APSM’s letter re the egg-throwing incident, copies of which were sent to my email, I found it hard to resist throwing in my one centavo’s worth of ideas. Granting, Paolo and the pol sci majors could already be my grandchildren, and it’s not for grownups to meddle in kids’ fights, but heck, I was a UP student, too, and part of the crop that struggled not only for academic freedom, but for our country’s freedom from military rule.

First, please bear with this Lola Basyang tale. The first organization I joined during my freshman year was…well, UPSCA (UP Students’ Catholic Action), that pious organization. Those times, young people my age were already in the countrysides, or in underground organizations in the cities, struggling every second from being arrested or killed by the dictatorship’ s armed forces. At that time when student progressives were fighting for the restoration of student councils, we in UPSCA were fighting against…dyaraan. ..hazing (such an important issue, ‘no?) because, we were told, “the body is the temple of the human spirit” which should not be violated.

Campus politics-wise, we were against the slogan-chanting bunch. There were ‘elders’ in the organization (now I realize, they all were getting their bread from the Marcos government then) who advised us that “a dead hero is a useless hero”, in reference to the militant side of the organized studentry – those unreasonable” ND’s who seemed always to be in a fighting, shouting, marching mood. We were UPSCA, the ones who were more “balanced”, “pragmatic”, “for peace.”

In one of the student fora organized by the “ND’s”, I even questioned the need for student participation in the restoration of the student council (my god, I bury my head in the sand whenever I remember that moment). Can anyone blame me? I just turned 16 then, impressionable, and like may other young students at UP, amusingly naive.

Just one year at UP turned me into someone else, however. Maybe it was the bigger social ferment that did it. Maybe it was Malu Mangahas waxing eloquent about academic freedom, or Sonia Sotto leading the fight for a Magna Carta against police and military presence in the campus (that’s right- we couldn’t bear the thought of a single policeman’s or soldier’s booted foot stepping on campus grounds). Maybe it was my professors – “Mad Marx” Ed Villegas, and Roland Simbulan who made me read Karl M. as part of our Devt Studies curriculum (though I admit the only insight I got then from my reading was – if Marx had written against the slavery of women and children, then maybe he was a good person!?)

Or perhaps it was the ‘Barrio Work’ program of UPSCA which made military and police abuse, semi-feudalism and the desperation it brought to poor peasants something as concrete as the buildings and classrooms of UP were to me.

We were a bunch of curious kids then who spent two weeks in a barrio in Bulacan, on pretense that we were from Maryknoll and Ateneo. But then the local police learned we were actually UP students, so one night he sent some men in a tamaraw (not the animal, but the vehicle which preceded the FX) to the barrio, presumably trying to find out where the “UP kids” were staying. And since the local police have just “salvaged” two youthful organizers in a nearby barrio a few weeks earlier, our hosts decided that very night to “rescue” us.

A kindly, middle-aged man, I now forget his name, a military man himself but had resigned out of conscience, drove the jeepney that took us out of the barrio, but first advising us that should we be ever caught in a military checkpoint “tumakbo na kayo sa unang pagkakataong makuha ninyo.” Gee wheez, and to think the oldest in our group then was a guitar-loving pretty boy of about 20 years, maybe weighing 80 lbs, and couldn’t hurt a single fly.

So why do I tell this story? It might seem mababaw, and I might sound just like your lolo or lola glorifying his/her days.

No, my message is really quite simple. In my UP days, and the years before mine, students didn’t just throw eggs. They threw molotovs and pillboxes. They didn’t spend days troubling themselves with the ‘safety’ of their fellow students, knowing that harm does not come from the slogan-chanting rabble-rousers but from the ARMED elements of the government clinging, butts and all, to power.

UP students of those days troubled themselves with making their classmates realize the true meaning of wisdom, of being “a iskolar ng bayan”, of grasping the summed-up experiences of other peoples embodied in social theories, testing these in our country’s social waters, and thus in the process, sifting the chaff from the grain. That was the way we learned. Not just inside the classroom, and certainly not by listening to someone who’s spearheading a campaign to kill political dissent. (You kill dissent, and you kill political discourse itself. Shouldn’t that be more troubling for a pol sci major?).

UP students then, as many other young people now, threw themselves into the struggle, AND MADE HISTORY as a result of it. Think Edjop, Lorena Barros, and other stellar names.

One of the greatest things I learned at UP was that the middle stance as the correct stance, is well…a funny assertion. A blind man’s perspective. A joker’s. “Middle” denotes balance and equality. Can the Right ever be equal with the Left? Only in mathematical equations. Never in social reality. The Right has arms and might, while the Left derives its might only from being on the democratic side. “Middle” is only for referees in a boxing fight.

Ensure the safety of the top military official of the land by searching students’ bags? Hello? is this UP? Golly, I salute those who still attended the forum despite the searches. Why would I want the organizers to peep into my lunchbox or know how many coins I’ve got left in my bag ?

A student organization trying to ensure the safety of the top military official? Has everyone in this university gone mad? I bet the General went there with enough bullets to finish off everyone who was at the UP campus on that day. When you’ve got a lot of enemies, you don’t walk around with just a sandwich in your bag.

My dear pol sci majors, you’ve got a terribly disturbing view of the world. Maybe you’re reading the wrong political science books. Or are listening to the wrong professors. Try reading Mao Tse Tung once in a while. He’s the demon incarnate to many people. But there’s at least a line or two in his writings that will make you cry. Read him to find out why.

Speaking of Maoists, via Weifang Radish via AsiaPundit: China’s People’s Daily proclaims Mao obsolete (but there’s a catch).

A Filipino visits Moscow: they offer Filipino Linguistics in Moscow State University, didn’t you know?

Read This and Die says: legalize marijuana. The Couch Kamote Reviews on stupid laws. arnel cadeliña is skeptical about claims by the Social Security System that pensions are going to be processed faster. He also advises his readers: work as if you’ll never see your state pension, ever.

The Girl in the Mirror on vinyl (records). I object to the description of Baroque music as “too tinkly.”

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Manuel L. Quezon III.

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