Monday, November 12, 2012

From Burma to Vigan: Semantics and How Simple Words Can Affect Politics and Society


An Australian fellow gave me a beer because I was wearing a Batman outfit. I felt that it was only polite for me to smalltalk and converse with him as a symbol of my gratitude.

He says it's their last night in Manila and that he was here merely for business reasons. He also says he works in the Australian embassy in Myanmar (well, he could have been making up stuff).

"Burma, you mean," I tried to interject politely.

He seemed surprised that a dude wearing a batman outfit from Manila would take interest in Burma's history. He went on explaining that they are merely words and that the purpose of diplomacy is to compromise about things like this, implying that in order to negotiate with the military junta in Burma, they have to recognize and compromise by using words like "Myanmar".


MILF soldier with an M60 machine gun
For those who aren't very familiar with the history of Burma, we can take the word "Bangsamoro," a buzzword nowadays that the media and the administration have been promoting as something that will bring more peace in Mindanao and a good relationship with the MILF (for those who aren't from the Philippines, it's actually a rebel group and not the kind of mom you're thinking of).

They say changing ARMM to Bangsamoro, giving them even more sovereignty and autonomy as well, I think, will lead to peace. I'm not really super familiar with the legislation but yeah, why not. If it does bring more peace to Mindanao then I don't know why I or anyone would be against it.

I do support for smaller states to have sovereignty and autonomy over the national government. It's been part of our history anyway being that we've always been, since the dawn of Philippine civilization, a geography of independent states called Barangays. I do support decentralizing power from Imperial Manila and giving the power back to the provinces. Again, not entirely familiarized with the legislation or negotiations, but having a goal for peace and non-violent compromise is always a good starting point.

"P. Burgos"

Eating Vigan Empanada
A few weeks ago, I think, I was in Vigan. And by the popular empanada market is the statue of Jose Burgos, being that this was where he was born and raised. Burgos, as we all know, is a close friend of Paciano Rizal, Jose Rizal's older brother. His execution deeply inspired Jose Rizal into writing his second novel El Filibusterismo.

Also, if I'm not mistaken, this incident was also what made Jose Rizal's brother decide for them to change their last names from Mercado to Rizal (to avoid attention from the friars and Spanish soldiers).

It's interesting how one thing that our legislators are really consistent at doing are naming streets especially what has become of a street in Makati we call P. Burgos. I don't really care. Don't mistake me for a social conservative. Just wanted another example to point out how simple words can affect politics and society.

"The pen is mightier than the sword."

Could you imagine what Rizal had to go through just to publish his work? They'd need giant printing presses, sometimes even travel long distances just to be published. Nowadays all we have to do is sit in front of a computer. Spreading our ideas and opinions to the world is all just a click away.

My advise? Go outside. Meet people. Read. Travel. WRITE. Share and exchange ideas with the world. These things will give you insights beyond what our contemporary methods of schooling can offer. It could be dangerous and probably expensive but the life lessons and experiences will always be worth it. Make every moment a learning experience.

Yup, there goes a puff piece. Just bored and haven't really had access to a properly functioning keyboard for a few days now. So many things to write about. For now, this will do. Cheers!

Friday, November 2, 2012

History, Dictators, and Blowback

History is written by the victors. Let's edit that famous saying: History [is no longer] written by [just] the victors. The internet, social media, blogging, YouTube, and other tools have now made it easier for competing ideas and opinions about history to emerge. And to assure ourselves of credibility and of facts of this revolutionary revisionist history, research materials and sources are just a few clicks away.
The above video tells the story of the CIA's involvement in the installing of the Shah, a US-friendly dictator, and completely ignoring the sovereignty of the people of Iran at the time. And so the video posits:  the "threat" of a nuclear weapon, Ahmadinejad's weird speeches in the UN, and the extremist theocratic regime in Iran right now, are all just blowback: the unintended consequences of US interventionist foreign policy and now being used as pretext for a US attack and occupation of Iran. And, again, the internet has given us tools to research and find out for ourselves if there is any credibility in the above video.
And no, I am not anti-American nor am I pro-extremism or theocratic regimes. My father always warns me to be careful of what I write about. It's really very sensitive to talk about foreign policy. It's not hard to be misinterpreted as someone who supports extremists with nuclear weapons or as a sympathizer with many of the loony ideas of Ahmadinejad. And sadly, it is easiest to be accused, when writing about these things, of antisemitism.
I remember in Ninoy's last speech in LA before his assassination, he even jokes about the Shah saying "doon sa Iran may tunay na Shah, natapos, e itong atin na-Shahan lamang" (he used the word "Shah-han" as a pun to imply that Marcos merely got lucky unlike the Shah's monarchicy) [watch video here].
Marcos and "The Beautiful One" chilling with Reagan

Speaking of Ninoy, it's so weird how, after the EDSA revolution, they made his wife Cory speak in front of the US congress to talk about how we peacefully toppled tyranny, when in fact Marcos was one of the closest dictator friends of the US government. That's how it's always been: they go to war with dictators who don't agree with them and give "foreign aid" to those who agree with them. Similarly, Ron Paul has a good take on this issue as he talks about how the US government propped up the dictatorship of Mubarak:

Ron Paul talks about US involvement in Mubarak's regime
This November, regardless if Obama or Romney wins, these kinds of foreign policies will continue. Once again, as in a previous blog post of mine, I give the cliche beauty contest answer of merely hoping for a free and peaceful world but each day it becomes harder and harder to remain hopeful.

if you liked this post then you might also like:
1. On the Top Gear Middle East Episode
2. Libya Civil War
3. The Hunger Games -- the Fiction and the Reality

A Documentary to Look Forward to: The Bubble

Coming soon is a documentary called "The Bubble" that will be explaining what really happened that caused the housing bubble and recession in the US. The documentary will be featuring many of those who warned against the recession but were marginalized and even laughed at by the mainstream economics community including Ron Paul, Peter Schiff, Tom Woods, Marc Faber, Doug Casey, and many more (such a shame they didn't get Harry Santos to be in this film haha).

Many of the folklore economics view on the issue, as I call it, will finally be explained and dismissed. Questions like: Was it really the "free market" and too much "deregulation" that caused the recession? How come no one listened to those who were predicting the recession? What is crony-capitalism and what is a true "free market" (in the libertarian sense of the term)? Why did Obama keep the same people that Bush appointed who are supposed to prevent these things from happening (Bernanke, Geithner, etc.)? Are these people really the ones supposed to "manage" and "plan" the economy or are they the ones who caused it? What's the real deal with the world's monetary policy?

All these things will surely be addressed and you wouldn't even need to be an economist to understand the answers because, in fact, the answers are pretty simple.

I really can't wait for this movie to come out. It would surely change a lot of people's minds about government and monetary policy. It would be a nice documentary to watch with friends and have discussions afterwards. The people working on this, those who are part of it, and those who will watch it and change their minds: these people make me hopeful for a more prosperous and free society not just in the US but all over the world.

If you liked this post then you might also like:
1. Doug Casey, Hyperinflation, and the Post-Apocalypse Economy
2. Marc Faber on Monetary Policy
3. Why Do I Support Ron Paul?