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Hypocrisy, you see, can be truly
unpretentious
in making seem true what is pretended
to be;
but it fulfills itself in ways quite grim
and
hideous;
it is a sticky, gooey mask that eats into
the flesh
and skin, quietly, slowly gnawing
into the bones
and sinews of the wearer’s hidden,
real face!

by: Romy Naces

“It’s no deal, it’s just an agreement.”

The outcome of the Copenhagen Summit on Climate Change has elicited mixed interpretations from all quarters in the world. While the poor nations rejected the agreements as self-serving the interest of the rich nations, condemned as “monumental failure” by ardent environmental NGOs, lambasted by faith groups as “negotiated without consensus”, and regarded by EU leaders as “disappointing and embarrassing”, there are still those who regard the agreements as the best that could emerge from the summit which was, as early, predicted to fail.

The European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso aptly described the accord as “a positive step but clearly below our ambitions,” while adding: “I will not hide my disappointment.”

The agreement, cooked outside the UN process (for lack of transparency) by US and China (the two leading CO2 emitters) with South Africa, India and Brazil, only recognizes “the need to limit global temperatures to rising no more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels”. That which the rest of the 193 countries attending the summit, “pushing for an upper limit of 1.5 degrees”, cannot be held to agree.

No emissions reduction is in sight for 2020, and even the target in previous agreements of cutting CO2 emissions by 80 percent by 2050 was abandoned. As a result, the EU did not change their target from a 20 percent cut in emissions to 30 percent citing that the major players are not putting enough stakes on the negotiating table. Besides there is no mechanism in place how to monitor the cuts aside from requiring nations to report their emission reduction efforts to the UN every two years!

The agreement also earmarked $100 billion a year to developing countries to help them cope up with the effects of climate change and to stamp a low-carbon development footprints. But this figure does not specify where the funds must come from (government or big corporations?) and how much would flow into the government of the developing nations and to the civil society organizations.

While the Copenhagen delegates agreed to meet next year in Mexico to hammer more promising targets from the Summit, it’s time to gather tidbits from the ruins and start building relationships: bilateral agreements among vulnerable nations, tripartite agreements among government, civil societies and concerned communities, and “serious negotiations” for policy change to spur the urgency of actions for climate change.

Thus, the dissatisfaction of the result is a positive attitude towards intensifying work for the environment and the initial agreement should be regarded as a foundation to achieve more progress. Besides, there is no more argument that climate change is continuing to get worse and we need to take action.

We cannot allow government as spoilers, we always know the challenge also rests in our hands to be continually engaging, conscienticizing and committed to take actions to avert climate change.

Monstrous Atrocity

Is it not justice and peace we seek?

When I learned about the carnage in Maguindanao, even without making any comparison, I could imagine what had happened in Darfur, the genocide between the Huttus and Tutsis in Rwanda, the killing fields in Cambodia and Vietnam, the Serbian repression of the people of Kosovo.

What happened on November 23 was an election-related violence having no equal in the Philippine history. The Plaza Miranda bombing claimed only nine lives, but so far at least 50 people have been found dead on the spot or unearthed, dismembered, peppered with bullets and abused. Women were reported raped before killed. Two human right lawyers and at least a dozen media personnel were among the victims. More dead bodies are expected to be found as the search continues.

Majority of the victims are women and children who are family members of the Mangundadatu clan and supporters who were in convoy, accompanied by a media delegation and lawyers, to file their certificates of candidacy in Shariff Aguak, province of Maguindanao.

What is appalling to know is how many more trenches, where victims of massacre dumped, could be found in Maguindanao? Is there any truth to the people tied to a tree, cut with a chainsaw and parts thrown into the river? Is there any truth to the display of bravado that usually ends up in a killing spree even in public places. Is there any truth to being lucky enough to be killed for defying orders or refusing a favor if your family is spared? Is it true that you can only whisper the abuses and the identity of the perpetrators while drinking with your buddies? Heed any warning immediately and be wary of talking about them on media, in public or any forum otherwise your head will be found in the trash bin the next day. Is there really any witness or survivor who is courageous enough to testify on experiences and asked for redress and reparations? Beyond this incomprehensible truth is the prospect of more violence, knowing the culture of the Bangsamoro people. The surviving relatives of the victims demonstrated sobriety and promised to abide by the justice system. But patience may be short when the wheels of justice in the country would be stuck in the dirt of politics and lost in the election fever.

Almost everyone in Mindanao knows the political clout, wealth, notoriety and the expanding clan of the Ampatuan since the year 2000 by controlling any electoral posts and appointments in Maguindanao and now including the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Datu Andal Ampatuan Sr. acts as governor of Maguindanao, and his sons: Datu Andal Ampatuan Jr., mayor of the municipality of Shariff Aguak, Datu Yacob Ampatuan of Rajah Buayan, Datu Datu Akmad Ampatuan of Mamasapano, Datu Saudi Ampatuan of Saudi, Datu Unsay Ampatuan of Unsay and Zaldy Ampatuan as governor of ARMM.

Accordingly, nobody could point an accusing finger at the Ampatuans, not even an inquiry on their alleged abuses and gross violations of human rights possible by any national media or government agency or non-government organization. Even armed dissident groups in Mindanao with clear political ideology cannot afford to make an enemy of the Ampatuans. How much more the present administration, that in creating an ally in politics – to perpetuate power- unleashes a monster that does not heed its bidding anymore.

So far, the Ampatuans are not only above the law but beyond justice. Placing the province of Maguindanao under the state of emergency, relieving posts in the military and police, party discipline, condemning the violence and ordering a manhunt are short of what the Filipino people and the world expect of the administration.

The Ampatuans should be placed under investigation immediately and their battalion of para-military disarmed to persuade witnesses to come forward. When the Ampatuans are free, they could intimidate the witnesses and commit further abuses at will without worry that any military arm will stop them.

With pressures from the international human rights community and the incessant clamor for justice in the country, the present administration is given an opportunity to break the culture of impunity and address justice with impartiality. If the government still fail this time, we loss our status as a leading democratic nation in Asia and our advancement in the human rights will be put in question.

A Postscript to Pacquiao II

I was lucky not to succumb to any seizure during and after the fight since I was still nursing a surgery wound. I tensed every time Wapacman raised his shoulders, spitting air through his nose while snapping his gloves. Expect a flurry of mitts to follow his opponent on the ropes trying to hang for survival or on canvass in humble submission to the deity of boxing.

Hail Paquiao! Hail Pacman! Now, Hail Wapacman! Later, Hail Congressman, and in the near future, Hail President of the Republic of the Philippines!

There is no question anymore of speed being superior to weight and power. Any physicist agrees that speed brings power and devastating effect upon impact just like a penetrating bullet.

What is amazing with the tussle of Wapacman and Cotto is about how each prepared for the event. While Cotto was training early, Wapacman was just busy with endorsements and in making a movie, not counting how many times he has guested in TV, showcasing his passion in singing. Wapacman showed how confident he was of the fight, as if taking the fight not seriously enough, grinning while being led to the arena.

The outcome of the fight was decided in the third round when Wapacman dropped Cotto to the canvass with a right hook followed by a left uppercut in the fourth round. After sizing up Cotto’s punching power in the first few rounds, Wapacman realized he could fight by just standing, watching Cotto as a child in tantrum, swinging punches desperately to just even pinch a hole in Wapacman’s armor, made up of solid brawn chiseled by harsh discipline in the gym, as a former construction worker and street brawler. The remaining time in the fight were just reduced to guessing round where Cotto would finally yield to Wapacman’s mighty strikes like lightning bolts from the skies.

Even by using all figures of speech and analogy I could imagine, there is no way I would be able to describe Wapacman’s prowess. He is completely unmatched in any way when inside the ring.

All my envy and jealousy of him turned into piety. Long been converted as his religious follower in the ring, I’ve never doubted his ability. However, every time he fights, just like most of us perhaps, I always go for his opponent as the underdog. It is just natural to expect a challenge, but real challenge is nowhere–

I have an inkling that most of the boxers that fought him lately and those still wanting to fight him are not so much convinced of winning but more of being part of history for having fought a phenomenon and certainly the best boxer ever.

Also Check: Postscript to Pacquiao I

Thumb, ta Thumb

Once inebriated in a drinking spree, I came to argue with drinking buddies about what makes us superior to other living and non-living things on the planet. We philosophized about our intellectual superiority, the advancement of mankind in space and technology, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and the superiority of art in various forms over other discipline, our inability to distinguish (oftentimes) between our divine and mundane passions, the drama in the quest for knowledge and power and the archeological probe how species evolved from inanimate thing to single and complex organism.

We could not agree on anything behind as we shared our knowledge on natural science where animals behave superior to any human advancement, on their particular behavior or instinct. The ability of shark to smell blood miles away, the sophisticated way dolphin communicate, how a homing pigeons and strayed dogs or cats always find their way home, the precision and social interaction of bees and ants, baffled us. Or they might just perhaps superior in one particular domain of intelligence. The more we were confused, to think that of all animals, we are the most unlikely to (we cannot really unless adopted by apes) survive when left alone at birth.  Finally, we have no defense against natural disasters as we continue to discover ways to adapt, unlike other animals and plants which could easily adapt after a wildfire, earthquake or deluge.

However, we still rationalized that what makes us superior to all is our potential to become. A new scientific finding reveals that most of us have not even used 10% of our brain in a lifetime. We could argue that we used more than 10% of our brain but not on worthwhile things, just like spending most of our time on the Internet playing games and forwarding nonsense emails to friends or spending so much time with our family as our ultimate duty as we lend deaf ears to more pressing issues plaguing our society today. We are caught in the web of trying to find a balance of attention in every aspect of our lives throughout our existence. Ah, here again our mind wanders and we recourse to rationalization.

While pondering over the tumbled beer bottles on the table, pausing for some thoughts, one talked of how we need more beer, as the mood dictated not to avoid it as a deppresant. Then one suspected that since we find pleasure in drinking, the answer is maybe on our fingers wrapped on what kept us so intellectually-disposed that night, –er, dawn!

Uereka!

It seems that every aspect of life plus all the ideas in the world are released on our finger tips (corny). We used it often than our heads. We cannot seem to pray the rosary without our fingers toying on the rosary beads often checking out how many more left to finish. We are driving sometime without thinking and, we used it clinging dearly on our object of affection. But animals have fingers too. Perhaps, one of the fingers is the answer to our psychotic inquiry. It is our thumb. (By the way, is the thumb classified as member of the fingers, their older brother or father or is it a different part of the body? ) The thumb, the posable thumb, aside from what separate us from other primates and animals, endows us with tactile reflexes.  Thumb has more uses now than before. Many argue that it is better to lose all our fingers than our thumb because it performs more than any of our fingers or all of our fingers combined. We depend on the spacebar to create a space between the words to make a coherent sentence.  We develop corn on our thumb due to our addiction to texting and kids usually had it on theirs trying to draw out circles to be able to write legibly in print or cursive writing in the future. While some of us in between lectures find a nook to be alone or while in the CR or sleeping snugly beside our loved one still suck our thumb. Imagine eating with our hands without a thumb, what sort of mess we can make of ourselves. We can express a lot with a gesture with our thumb to affirm or condemn. We can vote even with just our thumb.

Does it really follow to be called human and superior to other beings because of the flexibility of our thumb? We all agreed at the end when we saw the sun was beginning to peek on the horizon. We still have to tidy ourselves up because our recollection had to start at exactly 8:00 in the morning. Well, two and a half hour is still enough to find the greatest use of our thumb.

Minding Climate Change

Under the auspices of the United Nations, world leaders will meet in Copenhagen this December to make decisions that will affect the generation to come. They hope to carve a new international agreement on the reduction of green-house gas emissions to address climate change. This deal includes what sort of green and clean technologies should be used and how they could be easily accessed.

However, the upcoming event lacks serious discussions among developing countries. The apathetic response is perhaps due to more pressing political and economic problems at hand or lack of proper information about climate change or indifference towards the advanced countries which, in fact, blamed on the rising level of CO2 emissions in the atmosphere and for failing to abide by the previous agreements.

In the arena of battle against climate change, nobody should remain a spectator. A synchronized action to address climate change by all countries – to play a role – is critical, especially so with the developing and poorest countries where the effects of climate change are more diverse and devastating.

Take our country for example. Even without the knowledge of scientific realities of climate change, we can easily analyze the real climactic condition based on our local experiences.

The devastation caused by typhoons “Ondoy”, “Pepeng”, “Quedan”, “Ramil” is not yet totally cleaned up with victims still suffering from illness and loss of lives and properties, and yet, we are now bracing for another super typhoon, “Santi”. We also expect the same for next year, a spill-over of typhoons during the dry months of January to February. The rhythm of the seasons is greatly altered. As a result, fruit trees skip their bearing seasons and farmers, suffering from infertile lands, could not anymore determine what particular month is favorable to planting and always wary of pestilence. Year after year more Filipinos are going hungry and it seems famine is inevitable. While rivers are contracting due to siltation and dwindling forest in the watershed areas, tides are rising and inflicting damages to coastal communities. Styrofoam and plastic bags litter our surroundings. Aside from having no other recourse from using these non-biodegradable items, we have not instilled the habit of recycling and reusing. These are only few of the facts we can lend to the urgency of measures for climate change. Unmitigated, it will continue to breed more sufferings.

Of course there are some, sort of, measures that intend to reduce our carbon emissions and energy consumption: the introduction of “smart meter” by MERALCO to cut energy consumption, the enactment of the bio-fuel law that would lessen our dependency on fossil fuel in the future, the use of biogas as fuel and soot-covered CO2 meters in Metro Manila. But there are still areas to push for development to improve the condition of our environment and the lives of our people and reduce our dependency on expensive energy sources.

Apart from failing to vigorously promote sustainable practices in agriculture and fishery, we certainly lack investment on solar power that will cut dependency of rural areas on expensive metered power and, technology on waste management that can be easily adapted to any community setting. On top of these, our government, not lacking in green agenda by virtue of the Philippine Agenda 21, does not venture on green investment and hammer out policies that does not sacrifice environment in the altar of any development ventures, especially logging, large-scale mining and mono-cropping plantations that employ chemicals proven to have greater risk to the environment.

We cannot argue against lack of resources, inequalities of income or limited technology to address climate change. We have to sensitize people to the issue especially those who lack access to information. As our national elections draw near, the issue should be a political one for us to choose leaders who regard environment issues such as climate change on top of their priorities.

– dani conejar

Hooked on Farmville

This is dedicated to a Haggy friend (guess who?) who always has to switch screens while online to focus on writing and, check chores on Farmville: how his plants are growing or whether one of his hired laborers is loitering around or sipping milk from his animals in the barn. It is clear which captured his attention most. Just like many of us on other online games (me on Poker) for particular reasons or darn nonsense.

I watched him maneuver his mouse on Farmville and I believe this Facebook application game will attract more players. He told me it all started with Farm Town which has quite a good graphics but slow to play and lacks better options.

It is not surprising why many are hooked into this kind of Facebook mania. It seems to be a great way to wind down, a way to play without worry of losing or winning.

It attracts not less than a million followers, not just on Facebook but I guess, also on other social networking platforms. It is a Farm Town clone from the same game developer (well, town also means ville).

Farmville is a virtual farm putting one in the torn slippers of a farmer with animals and an acre of land to tend, and later, progressing on levels, become a developer with lots of friends to hire as farmhands and trade goods with and gold to spend on additional acres of land and seedlings to plant. Reading from its discussion board, many find it very addictive and time killing that one can always give enough reasons for procrastination.

The game is good but somehow it only gives one some artificial sense of accomplishment and pride. Level after level, the excitement grows and eats one’s time away from others. But how its followers exponentially grow tells us something that it is a primordial desire embedded by our forefathers in our genes. Ask any retiree what he intends to do with his retirement fund and you will have owning a farm for in as many answers you can have. All wealth first emanated from land, from owning and developing one. And it remains one of the contentious issues even at present until the time when we start staring at the moon for a place there to spend our vacation or tend some moon-made lettuce.

It is far from realistic but it gives us an idea that all modern trade and commerce began in the farm, when humans learned to mass produce goods beyond his capacity to consume. With Farmville we are given an opportunity to live those longings on Facebook, on the Internet. But I believe if given a chance, we really intend to have a real farm where we can regularly attend to as a diversion from the digital world, from the office chair, from our routinary living.

I don’t have any discouragement for Farmville players but be wary that before we become so addicted, we must have planted something such as tomato in a used plastic bag filled with dirt and mud rubbed off from our jogging shoes.