Wednesday, September 30, 2009


This is a public service announcement: This coming October 11, Bisikleta Productions is hosting a relief drive for the victims of typhoon ondoy. I obliged you to please bring one easy open canned food at the gate as entrance fee. We also accept any kind of relief goods besides the usual canned food.

Expect to hear ska, mod, punk rock, soul and rockabilly music during that day. The proceeds of this event will be coursed through BAYAN MUNA PARTY LIST's relief drive. Please do come all of you, let us help the victims of typhoon ondoy pick up the pieces and rebuild their lives one small step at a time. Do keep your eyes and ears peeled for further information regarding this benefit gig.


Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Once again Filipinos had proved to our neighboring Asian countries, that we are indeed a force to be reckoned with when it comes to Punk Rock and Hardcore music in Asia. Sorry my dear friends at Singapore I am not biased just because i am a true brown skinned punk rocker born and raised in Manila. I had seen your bands out there they are good even great on some account but compared to us you guys are rookies believe me you ain't seen nothing yet!

Last September 19 was a historical event. The hardcore specialist from Singapore had visited us for their first ever homecoming. Supported by the architects of punk rock the likes of THROW, BETRAYED and GEORGE IMBECILE AND THE IDIOTS and support acts from very promising young acts like DESCANT GOTT, SDK, AGAINST MAN, and T.R.A. it was a musical event to behold. Present that day are punk rockers young and old, familiar faces from days gone by up to the present.

First to be on stage were these young upstarts that played 70's type punk rock. T.R.A. they delivered a nice set that set the pace for the evening to come. After those lads came DESCANT GOTT armed with ear piercing blend of Thrash and Death Metal fronted by a Lady that can put shame to any metal head boy.

After Them came Betrayed, I am very much impressed by these punk rock gods Betrayed they never failed to deliver a mighty fine tight set of originals. They are so good the audience begged for more.

After Betrayed Tsunami, Tsunami came in fronted by Mr. Arnold Morales (of College, Urban Bandits, Music Front and Put3Ska fame.) They belted out their newly self penned tunes. I can hear hints of The Kinks, The Who and The Jam. very very good songs! After this band it was time for the kids again to play S.D.K. delivered their brand of 80's cross over these kids are oh so good!...I kinda lost account on what had happened inside coz i am going back and forth the gate and seing the bands play. After them came AGAINST MAN, composed of late 80's veterans of the punk rock era also known as MNHC or MALABON NAVOTAS HARDCORE most notably is their guitarist of MAD and I.O.V. fame delivering a nice set of 80's hardcore the way hardcore should sound like and should stay that way no fancy guitar solos Ala Eddie Van Halen and no fucking non sense just pure verbal assault.

After them came THROW these guys need no introduction as they are one of the most respected and well loved hardcore band here in the Philippines PERIOD! they blasted their set with a fury of fast paced uptempo hardcore and with participation of T.S.A.'s skin basher Ojie and axeman Bimboi who were actually the first generation Throw.

After them came the hardcore specialist direct from lion city the mighty Bulakenyos , T.S.A. - This band had proved themselves in Singapore delivering their brand of Pinoy style fast, short and loud hardcore to the unsuspecting Singaporean punks. These bad boys had been keeping the old torch burning. They blasted their way with their bone crushing brand of music my earwax melted! Truly loved their song every one of it.

Last but not the least is the band that had made a mark on me when i was a little punkilito GEORGE IMBECILE AND THE IDIOTS they played their set minus George who's in the states for some private matters to attend to and minus their original drummer LUIS GUIANG (may you rest in peace!) But the abences of these fine gentlemen were filled in by awesome musicality of Pedro Bandido and Ojie of T.S.A. that resulted to a frenzy of shouted out sing along and silly slam dancing it was hell of a fun! that capped the evening to every ones content, everyone had a great time you can smell it and see it on their faces coz all of us get to go home drunk. and still singing madly Bisikleta Productions had done a great job for a mighty send off party for T.S.A. and of course things wont be this great if it weren't for the bands that had joined in to celebrate their homecoming.

To the bands that participated and to the audience that came in and paid their respects to T.S.A. THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!!!


Yes ladies and gents i survived Ondoy, last Friday night the rain hit hard non stop i was at Leprechaun Bar attended a somewhat semi private birthday bash with great bands playing that night including some newly self penned tunes by Coffee Break Island which by the way sounded like Hepcat not in a copy cat way but in a good way that Mr. Dave Fuentes would be proud of.

Anyway after the shindig i called up my wife and asked her if i could pick her up because I am worried about the non stop rain afraid that she might not come home early so i decided to swing by her work and fetch her, when we arrived home at around 3 A.M. our place, Karangalan Village is flooded knee deep as usual (because every time there would be non stop rain our place would be flooded knee deep and will immediately subside in a few short hour nothing unusual) but i sensed something is terribly wrong that something is about to happen i had gone to sleep that day but when i woke up at around 12 in the afternoon my entire village is submerged almost 6 feet deep the first floor of the apartment i was in is submerged. Fucking La Mesa Dam, Ipo and Angat Dam had dispersed water from their reservoir without even a slightest warning! And then i heard that Manggahan flood way had diverted or had tried to stop the incoming water that came out of the three dams because they are trying to prevent it from coming in because they are afraid that people living in the floodway which by the way pardon my rudeness were informal settlers, this action had resulted to a catastrophic mess that we are now in.

Last Sunday afternoon the flood had subsided and lo and behold the scene was like out of a disaster movie my neighbors all of them lost everything. As i stood there up my balcony floor i can see their faces with no hint of emotions left within themselves who's to blame?...well almost all of us , the corrupt local government officials, the man behind urban planning i do not know. I think our irresponsibility i don't know, i am after all just an ordinary guy maybe its the saying "BASURA MO BABALIK SAYO" coz i had seen so many garbage piling up on its aftermath . I am at lost for words right now still in shock on what had happened to us. Marikina is hit hard, as well as near by cities of Rizal were i am in). And other cities are also in a mess much like ours or even worst.

I've found this article over the net and its a mind opener to what had happened written by Mr. Stuart Santiago its a blow by blow account on the day Ondoy had arrived on our shores. Hope you read it too.

Of typhoons and dams

Sept 27 Sunday, around two o’clock in the afternoon, dzmm teleradyo

tail end of a live presscon of gma and gibo and the national disaster coordinating council (ndcc) trying their darndest to appear like they have been and continue to be on top of the situation, doing the best that can be done given the unexpected unprecedented unbearable volume of rainfall that ondoy brought.

dost director graciano yumol was in the middle of a hardsell that typhoon ondoy was in many ways different from hurricane katrina. among other things, he gave the impression that the ndcc was prepared for, having seen, that huge flood coming. say niya, “…early in the afternoon we were already telling them to evacuate…” at noong hurricane katrina daw, ang response time ng u.s. government was two days. ang ndcc? “first thing in the morning ndcc was on the scene. that’s how quick ndcc responded…”

yeah, right.

3:45 p.m. gibo was back for another presscon. caught him saying that the news of ondoy coming was duly reported in the papers. we were warned. but of course daw there was no predicting so much rain pouring down steadily for hours on end. on top of that, september has been a rainy month, 4 weather disturbances daw before ondoy, kaya saturated na ang lupa and could not absorb any more of the rainwater.

gibo should have gone on to talk about the dams, angat and ipo in bulacan, and la mesa in quezon city. instead government has been avoiding the question and would have us believe that no water was released, the dams were not full from the same september rains.

flashback to 13 september 09

about angat dam in particular, but which could apply to ipo and la mesa dams as well in terms of how full of water they were:

Angat Dam nearing spill level

MALOLOS CITY, Philippines – Water elevation at the giant Angat Dam is about to reach its spilling level of 210 meters as rains continue in Central Luzon, and local officials fear that it might break if pressure mounts.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) yesterday afternoon raised public storm warning signal no. 1 in nine provinces in northern Luzon with the arrival of tropical depression “Nando.”

. . . Records from the Provincial Disaster Management Office (PDMO) obtained by The STAR showed that water elevation at the Angat Dam climbed to 209.65 meters as of 8 a.m. yesterday.

Officials said the steady rise of water elevation at the giant water reservoir that supplies 97 percent of Metro Manila’s water requirements is caused by constant rainfall over the past weeks.

On Sept. 1, PDMO records showed that water elevation was only 204.89 meters.

High water elevation at the dam means enough water for Metro Manila but the continued rains might breach the dam’s spilling level that would require the release of water to ease pressure on the dikes.

In the past, the National Power Corp. (Napocor) managing the Angat Dam watershed usually released water from the dam through the Angat River when water elevation breached its spilling level of 210 meters.

Bulacan officials have demanded that the rehabilitation of the aging Angat Dam be prioritized over the proposed multibillion-dollar construction of Laiban Dam in Rizal.

Without repair, they said the 41-year-old Angat Dam poses danger to millions of residents of Bulacan and neighboring provinces, citing documents from the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) that the dam is sitting on a geological fault line and has already developed cracks.

forward to september 14

about angat dam’s condition, more than 40 years after it was built and commissioned.

No Cracks in Angat Dam

MANILA – The Angat Dam management assured the public that the dam does not have any cracks, dispelling the feared disaster that could happen if the dam crumbles.

During a survey of the Angat Dam in Bulacan on Sunday, local officials and the dam’s management showed some media members that the dam is safe.

The survey of the area, which took almost one hour, did not see signs that there is danger in the area.

“Sabi ng MWSS [Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System]… normal na merong seepage… pero walang crack,” said Neri Amparo, regional director of the Office of Civil Defense-Region 3.

Authorities have also pointed at the seepage from which the water is released from the dam.

But the Angat Dam management maintained that the seepage is normal in dams that are made of earth and rockfill. They also believe that the dam will last long.

“Kaya pang tumagal nito ng 50 years, except kung magkaroon ng earthquake,” remarked Romualdo Beltran of the dam’s reservoir and management division, National Power Corp. (NPC).

Downplayed fears

On Saturday, the Sagip Sierra Madra Environmental Society expressed alarm that continuous rains could aggravate the reported seepage in the Angat Dam as a portion of the dam is located on the Marikina West Valley Fault Line.

The environmental group members feared the possibility of an earthquake that could cause the dam’s destruction and lead to a flashflood.

They noted that if the seepage expands, water will forcibly be released from the dam.

This could submerge 11 towns in water, namely Norzagaray, Angat, Bustos, San Rafael, Baliuag, Plaridel, Malolos, Calumpit, Paombong and Hagonoy in Bulacan, and Masantol in Pampanga.

In addition, the reported cracks in the dam pose a threat to the water supply in Metro Manila as 97 percent of its water supply comes from the dam.

The Angat Dam management, however, downplayed such fears.

NPC plant manager Rodolfo German said: “Matagal ng isyu yan… ginagawan nila ng dam remediation.”

“Nagkaroon ng 2 major earthquakes… wala kaming nakikitang signs na nag-deteriorate ang dam structure natin,” noted Jose Dorado, principal engineer from the MWSS.

Despite the continuous rains, the management said it is not yet time to release water from the dam because the water level is still safe. –

forward to sept 25 and ondoy

it rained all night and most of the next day. all three dams must have been spilling water after all that rain. by noon there may have been great fear that the structures (angat, at least) would give way under the immense pressure and release the water in one humongous wave. infinitely safer to release the water little by little, sort of. and so it happened.

The Bulacan Provincial Disaster Management Office (PDMO) reported the Angat dam commenced spilling operations at about 1 p.m. on Saturday with the initial opening of its radial gate, releasing one cubic meter of water every 30 minutes until total outflows reached 500 cubic meters per second.

The state media said reports from the Bulacan Provincial Disaster Management Office (PDMO) showed that hardest hit by the raging floods were the towns of Marilao, where waters rose to as high as 9 feet; Bustos, 7 feet, and Bocaue, 5 feet.

Gov. Joselito Mendoza of Bulacan said the flooding, the worst to hit the province since October 1978, was compounded by the release of water from the overflowing Angat dam and Ipo dam in Norzagaray town.

i have no idea, there are no similar reports, about how much later, or sooner, water was released from the ipo and the la mesa dams. i suspect it all happened that saturday afternoon, around the time when the water started rising swiftly and inexorably, and reaching places never before touched by flood waters.

. . . Valenzuela Rep. Magtangol “Magi” Gunigundo blamed the inefficient handling of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), local government units (LGUs) and officials of the La Mesa Dam for the worst flood that hit Metro Manila.

“The Metro Manila calamity was aggravated by poor coordination of MMDA, PAGASA, LGUs and La Mesa Dam authorities. No effective dissemination of information on rainfall, no warning by La Mesa Dam authorities on their decision to release impounded water. Delayed MMDA and LGUs response,” an irate Gunigundo said in an interview.

what were they thinking? that all that additional water would drain directly out to the manila bay? nakalimutan nila, o hindi nila alam, that rivers along the way are all silted up because of land erosion, thanks to deforestation, and esteros are all clogged up with nonbiodegradable plastic trash, thanks to an mmda that’s apparently given up on the garbage problem? no wonder kung saan-saan nakarating ang baha.

of course it’s quite possible that government officials just didn’t want to cause panic. imagine the hysteria, and the horrendous traffic once people started evacuating. but, hey, in such a crisis a good leader should have no trouble addressing the people, explaining the situation, allaying fears, offering advice, and mobilizing the media and the internet to assist and facilitate.

anc’s pia hontiveros is so right to ask, bakit walang warning? maybe authorities were correct to release the water in controlled increments, maybe it was the lesser evil. but but but the public should have been seriously warned. the people deserve to be given adequate information on matters that affect their lives so that they can make the right decisions, that is, whether to stay and brave the elements, in which case, walang sisihan! or whether to go and seek higher ground while there’s time, with at least some possessions and their dignity intact.

meanwhile, let’s pray really hard that typhoon peping changes course.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Shit Shirt had created a limited edition of the Bulacan's hardcore kings T.S.A.'s homecoming gig which will be happening tomorow night at Ten 02 Bar and Resto located at Sct. Ybardolaza Street, Quezon City. Shit Shirt will be selling this collectible shirt at the said venue for 350.00 Pesos. If you want to get your grimy hands of these goodie you will either beg, borrow or steal to get a hold of it.

See ya tommorow folks!

Monday, September 14, 2009


Ojie Arcega drummer of Bulacan's Hardcore band T.S.A. is back in town he just flew in Manila last Monday and his bandmates will join him soon on September 18, Friday they will be performing at Leprechaun Bar (formerly Purple Haze Bar). And this coming Saturday they will perform at Ten 02 Bar and Resto. Please come and watch them this Friday and Saturday.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


MANILA, Philippines - Tropical depression “Maring” left the country Wednesday night but a monsoon trough will continue to bring scattered rainshowers over most parts of the country in the next two to three days, state weather forecasters said yesterday. - So goes the news on PhilStar.

Neither Rain or Hail can't stop The Bing Austria Show tommorow night. Bring your umbrellas with you and swing by Sazi's Bar and get warmed up from our hot headliners BEMBOL ROCKERS, NEIGHBORS, TANGO BITOY, THE GOSIGNALS, GUT REACTION, A.M.P.O.N. STEADY MOVIN' BEAT, PINKCOW, PUSAKAL, SKIES OF EMBER and EARTHLINGS!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


You Might be wondering what the heck im posting all these things from Politics to Religion to Mass Media and it looks like im doing a thesis on some school term paper. Well my friends think again. I posted them for you dear readers to ponder and think on the role of the church and the media in our country.

Do you think religious endorsements of candidates such as JIL, INC and others such as this be encourage? Don't you think that endorsements only undermine the moral authority of religious leaders rather than enhanced it?

And Do you think that the media is acting on itself? to bring you REAL NEWS AND REAL STORIES? I am sensing Media Corruption. No one in journalism will deny that media corruption exists. There is contention only in the extent of the corruption and the damage it causes.

The media have emerged as probably the most important influence on how people vote. If the media do not perform well and if their coverage is skewed because of money and other considerations, then they do a disservice to citizens. They also stunt the development of electoral politics—and this could have tragic consequences on Philippine democracy.

"The pen is mightier than the sword" - Edward Bulwer-Lytton
"Religion the opium of the masses" - Karl Marx
"Don't believe the hype" - Public Enemy


‘We Feel It… Martial Law is Back’
Marcos victims 30 years ago, still marching today. If there is anyone who knows what Martial Law was like, it would be people like Carmencita Mendoza-Florentino and Rodolfo del Rosario, who were both victims of the Marcos dictatorship. Many people thought that after Marcos’ ouster in 1986 no dictatorship would ever happen again, but Florentino and Del Rosario believe otherwise.

Carmencita “Miling” Mendoza-Florentino and Rodolfo del Rosario both look old enough to not be expected to join protest marches through thick vehicular smoke and under full noon heat, as they did in Manila last Sept. 21, the 34th anniversary of the declaration of martial law.

But not only did they join the march of protesters under the banners of Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainee Laban sa Detensyon at para sa Amnestiya (Selda or Organization of Ex-Detainees Against Detention and for Amnesty) and other cause-oriented groups affiliated with the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance) from the University of Santo Tomas (UST) along España Avenue to the Liwasang Bonifacio (or Bonifacio freedom park): they were among the first to troop to UST for the assembly,

stayed at Liwasang Bonifacio all afternoon though black clouds threatened to pour rain on the sweat-drenched ralliers (and send them all to the sickbed the next day), and were among the last to leave the rally park. And it was not only because they wished to relive that dark chapter of the country’s past: it is because the dark hours are here again, they grimly said.

“When Marcos declared martial law, he destroyed all opposition", Mang Rudy said. “He abolished even Congress. He also abolished the vice presidency. So no one was left but himself. He ordered thousands opposed to him imprisoned".

“Now it’s different", he added. “There’s no declaration yet but many people are missing, many are being arrested, there are many being killed and disappeared. Likewise, those in the opposition like Pasay City Mayor Peewee Trinidad, who has been ordered suspended, and Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay, are also in trouble. They are being hunted one by one. And alongside martial law, if charter change succeeds then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo may become prime minister and she may declare herself president for life. So it’s different but it’s headed in the same direction Marcos took."

‘We feel it’
“You know, we really feel it – because we experienced martial law – we’re now under martial law" Aling Miling said. “There’s just no declaration. You’re barred from speaking the truth, if you speak you get arrested. You get abducted. That’s what they terrorize people with these days, that’s why many are being abducted and killed."

Data from various human rights groups place the number of victims of extrajudicial killings under Marcos’ 20-year rule at 1,500. Data from Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) show 759 persons as having involuntarily disappeared during Martial Law. Military historian Alfred McCoy, in his book Closer than Brothers, said there were 35,000 torture victims all in all during the Marcos years.

Karapatan has recorded 755 victims of extra-judicial killings and 184 victims of enforced disappearances from 2001, when Arroyo was catapulted to power through a popular uprising, to September 2006.

When then President Ferdinand Marcos issued Presidential Decree No. 1081, placing the Philippines under martial law, Aling Miling was the president of a women’s community association in Tatalon, Quezon City. There was a law then under which they were considered the legitimate occupants of the land where their dwellings stand, and yet their shanties were demolished, courtesy of the Araneta and Tuason families.

The women, she said, organized among themselves because the men then were being arrested. But, she would later learn, being a woman was no protection against arrest.

Traumatic first arrest
Her first arrest, which was in 1976, was particularly traumatic for her. She was brought to Camp Crame, then the Philippine Constabulary general headquarters in Quezon City, and was grilled by several officers, among them then Cols. Ramon Montaño and Rolando Abadilla. She thought she was going to be raped – and that probably would have happened, she said, if the torturers had not discovered she was from the Ilocos like many of them.

After her release two months later, she went back to community organizing and became involved in human rights advocacy through the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), which had taken up her case. She would be arrested and detained two more times during the Marcos years.

Mang Rudy was a founding member of the Kabataang Makabayan (KM or Patriotic Youth), which was formed in 1964, and participated in the First Quarter Storm of 1970. When the Liberal Party opposition rally in Plaza Miranda, Quiapo, Manila was bombed in 1971, Marcos suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus and he was among those arrested and detained as a result. He was still in prison when martial law was declared, but was released a year later.

At the Liwasang Bonifacio rally – which later in the afternoon was joined by the Concerned Lawyers for Civil Liberties (CLCL), Laban ng Masa (The Masses’ Fight), the Union of Masses for Democracy and Justice (UMDJ), the United Opposition (UNO), the Black & White Movement, and the Kilusang Makabansang Ekonomiya (KME or Nationalist Economy Movement) – observations and sentiments similar to theirs were being voiced out by the speakers and performers.

“Notice how Mrs. Arroyo is charting the same path of corruption and repression taken by both Marcos and Thaksin,” Bayan chairperson Dr. Carol Pagaduan-Araullo said, referring to former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, deposed a few days ago through a coup d’ etat.

“Though there is no martial law declaration, it is just like we are under martial law,” said Joel Cadiz, a leader of the CLCL and a former president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). “More than 700 have been killed, among them lawyers and journalists. With these, it is like we are under a dictatorship.”

“My former boss appears as though she wants to be the next dictator,” said former social welfare secretary Dinky Soliman, one of the so-called “Hyatt 10” cabinet-level officials who resigned from office last year amid renewed allegations of fraud in the 2004 presidential election – where Arroyo is supposed to have won a fresh mandate three years after assuming power through what is now known as the People Power II uprising. “The killings of critics, the filing of sundry charges – all these Marcos did.”

Jess Santiago
All through the rally, the Jess Santiago composition “Martsa ng Bayan” (People’s March) kept playing: “Tayo na at magsama-sama/Sa pagdurog sa imperyalista/Tayo na at magkaisa/Lansagin ang pasistang diktadura/Nasa atin ang tunay na lakas/Tiyak na nasa atin ang bukas...” The song was composed in the 1980s and became an anti-dictatorship classic.

Santiago, still the reed-thin bespectacled man that he was two decades ago but now with his still-long hair graying, would himself stir the crowd – numbering about 10,000 – with a passionate rendition of his song “Halina,” composed 30 years ago and telling tales of a unionist and a peasant slain by state agents, and an urban poor family driven from their “home” near a garbage dump. “What the song tells us about is still happening", Santiago told the audience in a calm but emphatic voice.

The late strongman’s eldest daughter, Imee, ranked as 11th among more than 20 political figures in Pulse Asia’s July survey on senatorial preferences – scoring even higher than noted anti-dictatorship fighters like Sen. Joker Arroyo and Bayan Muna (People First) Rep. Satur Ocampo.

Asked to comment on this, being victims of the Marcos regime, both Aling Miling and Mang Rudy said they didn’t think the particular survey was able to reflect the general pulse accurately enough. They don’t think people have forgotten, they said.

“I don’t know if she can really win", Mang Rudy said, referring to Imee who is said to be planning to run for senator next year.

“While the victims are alive, we will continue to tell the world: this is what was done to us", said Aling Miling.


Dissecting The Philippine Mass Media Today

Philippine Mass Media today is a hybrid of Libertarian and Authoritarian stock, inheriting incongruous qualities that render it complicated and oftentimes confusing. Philippine Media prides itself as the "freest in Asia"; the constitution-backed protection of press freedom gives it a characteristic Libertarian flavor. However, contrary to Libertarian principles, this press freedom is regulated to some extent by the government. This is where its Authoritarian personality sets in.

It is widely accepted that Libertarian governments have some degree of control over their Mass Media. But such controls, in the form of laws and other such policies, are formulated with the thrusts on responsibility and over-all public welfare, and not in order to cow the so-called "Fourth Estate." This Libertarian definition is twisted by Authoritarian technocrats of the Martial Law period in the person of then Information Minister Francisco S. Tatad, by saying:

The liberty of the press never has been absolute. It has always yielded to higher considerations. It has always balanced against other community interests such as the security of the State, the right and duty of the State to provide for the well-being of its citizens, the maintenance of decency and public order, the protection of reputation and the need for fair trial proceedings, among others. ("The Right to Know," The Times Journal, August 26, 1978).

His explication on the inherent need for government regulation of the media in a Parliamentary Democracy (the Philippines assumed a Parliamentary form of government during Martial Law), is one of the many paradoxes in a society wielding the democratic Bill of Rights on one hand and authoritarian State supremacy on the other. In short, the convoluted definition of control (causing it to take on an authoritarian tone) over the media is, in essence, political propaganda. It is to be noted that in Libertarian theory, the power lies ultimately on the people and the state is a mere venue on which "man can develop his potentialities and enjoy a maximum of happiness" (Maslog, 1989). To the Authoritarian theorist, whose contentions run parallel to the martial law technocrats', "the state is the 'ethical spirit… Will… Mind… the state, being and end in itself, is provided with the maximum of rights over against the individual citizens, whose highest duty is to be members of the state" (George Hegel quoted by Maslog, 1989).

This clash of principles between the government and the media fuels their unebbing animosity for each other. The state contends that without restrictions, media have the ability to threaten the truthful dissemination of information and that this irresponsibility, coupled with unrestricted liberty, will inevitably threaten the State's security. The media rebut that when government institutionalizes controls over them, it has the capacity to manipulate these regulations to cow and threaten them; that the government will exploit every creative means it can to muzzle the Fourth Estate.

With these overlapping yet contradictory qualities of the Philippine Media, it is inevitable that many will question the nature of these controls. Are these regulations instituted merely as safeguards to the Bill of Rights or are they an attempt at authoritarian regulation which goal is to attain conformity from the otherwise predominantly leftist press? Simply, are these controls formulated ultimately to cow the Fourth Estate? Is this institution of government restriction a precursor to the return of authoritarian control over the media?

This paper assesses the complicated and confusing tapestry that is Philippine Mass Media, delving into and dissecting its two personalities-Libertarian and Authoritarian-and how they are manifested within the system. The discussion will be divided into two subtitles: "Political Role" and "Social Role." In the process, this author necessarily examines the political and social landscapes that are the backdrop of the ironies in Philippine Media.

Assessing Philippine Mass Media
Media has a tripartite role in society: Political, Economic and Social. Its political role includes its duty as an information disseminator, its responsibility in creating and reflecting public opinion and its function as watchdog on government.

Political Role
Philippine Media assumes a libertarian stance in its role of disseminating information. Foreign news, information and entertainment programs have a rather unregulated entry into the mainstream of Philippine Media. Likewise, editorials harsh on the government and other such unflattering and sensitive articles are given the right to publication or airtime. However, this seemingly untrammeled liberty exists with a dark speck. In the words of Supreme Court Justice Enrique Fernando, quoted by Paredes (1986), "the greatest threat to press freedom is national security." This, paired with the afore-quoted words of Francisco Tatad, undeniably glisten with an authoritarian sheen as they give the impression that the State's security precedes individual liberty. To this author, this paints an incongruous image of a society bearing two aeges-authoritarian State supremacy on one hand and libertarian Bill of Rights on the other. The state can choose only one priority and strive to protect it.

Fearing possible seditious results, former President Corazon Aquino ordered against the airing of a DZXL interview with coup attempt leader Gregorio "Gringo" Honasan. To justify her order, she contended eloquently that Honasan sees the media as a "weapon of destabilization aimed at the institutions that protect the fundamental rights that give life to media and democracy." This bears a semblance of political propaganda, seeming to give stress on the words "media and democracy" for empathic effect when its meat speaks of the precedence of the state in the spectrum of rights. This undeniably compromises the libertarian principle of allowing all and every shade of information and opinions in a marketplace of ideas, in protection of what it deems is a higher priortity-the State and its security.

Philippine media sees itself as the champion at creating public opinion. Although the inherent control against seditious material is still in effect, several accounts on the media's creation of a definite public opinion can be observed. One instant is the public demand for the cancellation of the Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) on the execution of incestuous rapist Leo Echegaray. The media, having fed the public of the verbosity on the Leo Echegaray story to the surfacing of daughter-victim Baby, to the proclamation of death penalty, and to the suspension of the execution via TRO, with all the sensational appendages, have brought the public into an outcry for 'death justice.' This has likewise built enough pressure on the Supreme Court and caused it to give in to the clamors of the "nation."

This, however, paints the underlying political setup of the Philippines, particularly of the judiciary, bringing to question the integrity of the highest judicial office which gave in the demands of the people without standing pat on its decision to halt the execution. Another political factor which may hint the successful lifting of the TRO is that the President himself is in favor of the death penalty that Echegaray's death comes as a guarantee to this "supreme will." It is noteworthy that the president's conviction blends seamlessly with the opinion of the "masa." Thus, given this scenario, it becomes more questionable whether this process of mobilizing public opinion (resulting to the successful lifting of the TRO) occurred as a natural Libertarian process or a process facilitated by the highest office in the land.

The watchdog function of Philippine Media is the source of problematic accounts from the practitioners. Dean Armando Malay, quoted by Paredes (1986), says that "although the regime has tolerated the publication of sensitive articles, there is always an attempt to muzzle the press." This brings to mind the "cow tactics" of the martial law regime where attempts to thwart libertarian policies are enacted in the guise of upholding the "virtuous" laws of anti-sedition and anti-subversion. This brings one to recall former President Aquino's move to deprive air time to the DZXL interview with the state's "enemy", Honasan.

The fact that such laws become the major aegis of the state to silence the otherwise "vitriolic" press in order to protect its security brings to image a media system behind the bars of manipulable legislation. Anti-sedition and anti-subversion laws have long been in effect yet the threat of another possibly pliable law looms anew: the Anti-Media Bribery Law being pushed by Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago. This bill, while promising at first sight (it may have arisen to curb the corrupt AC/DC practices of media, discussed in the following paragraph), becomes increasingly porous when examined up close. The fact that one Manila columnist admitted that "it is very easy to indict journalists for receiving gifts" is testament to this author's contention that such gifts, which may come out of wholehearted charity or with birberous intent, can easily be construed by scheming prosecutors as bribes-hence valid grounds for indictment. Media Bribery may not be used against seditious practitioners (although they will more likely be convicted of accepting "bribes" from politicians seeking their support), but the "flexibility" of this law illustrates the manipulability of established legislation.

With mounting poverty and other ills ambient in modern-day Philippine society, it is inevitable that these socio-economic factors will be mirrored in the operation of mass-media. This has led to the evolution of a different kind of media tactics-AC/DC-or the "Attack-Collect/Defend-Collect" strategy. Under this practice, a journalist (or any practitioner) comes up with material attacking a person of rank, the person attacked will give money to the journalist expecting a "retraction" of the attack. Correspondingly, the journalist will publish (or broadcast, etc.) a new article in defense of the person of rank, and approaches the latter for "gratification fees." The cycle continues and becomes a tradition, corrupting the image of the Fourth Estate, in the process pulling down the quality of reportage. The degradation of the Media worsens.

Social Role
The other end of the spectrum is Media's Social Role. This includes the role of establishing Pop Culture, the task of building a nation, and entertainment.

Popular Culture is established when media programs become ingrained into local culture. Hence, when the "Ang Dating Doon" program of GMA 7 became phenomenally popular, expressions such as "Alien!" and "Raise the Roof!" (corruptions of "Amen" and "Praise the Lord") found their way into the daily vocabulary of its patrons. Likewise, the Voltes V theme was also popularized, kindling the audiences' interest in the anime (Japanese cartoon program). This may be interpreted as some crafty commercial tactics of GMA. It is to be remembered that during Martial Law, the Voltes V series was banned from television as the analysts of the Marcos regime believed it to have seditious or rebellious qualities that purportedly affect the psychology of its patrons. Hence, fearing rebellion at a time when student activism was already rampant, the state deemed it most logical to remove all violent, rebellious programs from the air.

Apparently resulting from the "Ang Dating Doon" fever, the Voltes V mania has resurrected, and, curiously, the move to ban the airing of the series has resurfaced. It is alarming to many that such drive for control, which the country has supposedly already rid itself, still has germinated through the nation's authorities. This speaks of the omnipresence of authoritarian tendencies in the government.

The geographical makeup of the Philippines illustrates its factionalized society. Being an archipelago of more than seven thousand islands, the Filipinos are a multi-cultural, multi-linguistic, geographically scattered nation. For this reason, media's role of building a common culture becomes problematic, as cultural unity is hard to establish in a nation broken up by ethno-linguistic and geographical differences. However, Philippine Media has endeavored to bring issues into the grassroots in its efforts to weave a more-or-less common culture via information. The key to oneness is information, and it is this that media strives to relay among the people, uniting them in their opinions on the different issues in the Philippines: the death penalty law, the Echegaray execution, the VFA ratification, etc.

One of the major functions of the media is entertainment. This is where the Filipinos are more engrossed. Philippine politics has morphed from a contest of the best and brightest into a stage of personality and fanfare as Philippine society is "more seduced by celebrity and fanfaronnade than the qualities of leadership" (Benigno, 1998). Not only is the element of "entertainment" felt in political reporting but likewise in the news. It is not uncommon to find front page stories touching on showbiz personalities. One example is the Philippine Daliy Inquirer headline, "Kris: I want to redeem myself as a daughter" on the breakup of former presidential daughter-actress Kris Aquino and actor Philip Salvador. A Sunday Inquirer article is titled: "Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim Tough-and Single" with the caption "is the Manila mayor looking for a wife to play first lady, and will he use his gestapo ways to restore peace and order if elected?" tackling on the prospects of getting a future First Lady. (Later he will be linked to former President Corazon Aquino.) These are accounts of sensationalism-the entertainment factor-on Philippine media, seeking to attract the consumer-audiences by causing news reportage to morph into entertainment.

Although the Philippine Press is deemed the "freest in Asia," it still bears the legacies of its authoritarian past. Hence, even if it lives the democratic promise of "freedom of the press," it is still under a semblance of control (and manipulation) by the government. The libertarian mask of the present Media system in the Philippines bears faint trimmings of the Authoritarian flair.

This Authoritarian streak stems from the element of control on the media, and the concept of State supremacy so eagerly protected by the government. The licensing of media operations and the existence of guilds to regulate the different media are the other manifestations of authoritarian regulation. To draw more clearly the existence of these principles (Libertarian and Authoritarian), one may assess how each role is carried out.

Political Role
Disseminating information-the Philippines is mainly libertarian in the dissemination of information, although there is a streak of authoritarian regulation when it comes to 'sensitive' information that tend to violate anti-sedition and anti-subversion laws. These laws mandate that no information scathing to national security shall find its way to the media.

Creating and Reflecting Opinion-the Media is libertarian on the large part, successfully mobilizing public opinion generated out of its reportage. However, the question arises whether or not this mobility factor stems from the natural libertarian process (i.e., without the interference of the state). Editorials and other rebellious material are allowed publication/broadcast so long as they do not infringe on the anti-sedition and anti-subversion laws.

Being a Watchdog on Government-there remain flaws on this function of the Philippine media as the manipulation of anti-sedition and anti-subversion laws are within easy reach for crafty politicians. This is the press' Authoritarian personality. Likewise, the AC/DC practice mars the ability of the press to accurately criticize and/or commend the government, its officials, and its programs.

Social Role
Establishing Pop Culture-the media cause the establishment of Popular Culture when the programs become entwined with the lives of the audiences. The problem stems from authoritarian controls resurfacing for the move to ban programs hurtful to the State's thrusts (public welfare, national security, etc.) Otherwise, there is enough liberty to run programs so long as they do not infringe on the policies protecting decency, reputation, and over-all public welfare.

Building a Nation-the media have succeeded in relaying information to the different sectors of society, as well as to far-flung areas in a country broken up geographically and ethno-linguistically. However, more problems still need to be addressed, especially those that touch on national culture.

Entertaining the Nation-the media have reflected people's preoccupation with media exposure (which has spilled over to the political field). Media becomes an aid to the "balkanization" (breaking into factions) as it becomes the tool of these factions in forwarding their views. The media becomes engrossed with entertainment, causing news and information to morph into entertainment (sensationalism).


Manila, Philippines — The Philippines was a colony of Spain for more than 300 years. Religion was the main weapon used by the Spaniards to subjugate the local population. It would also become Spain's most enduring legacy to the Philippine nation.

During the struggle for independence in the late 19th century, local uprisings were also directed against abusive Spanish friars. The revolution forced Spain to cede the Philippines to the United States but the Catholic Church remained a powerful political and social force in society. The revolution also failed to confiscate the friar lands throughout the country which constitute the church's economic clout.

Today, the Philippines is still the only Catholic-dominated nation in Asia. There are no more Spanish clergy in the country, but bishops remain very influential in almost all aspects of Philippine social life.

The Catholic Church played a crucial role during the two People Power uprisings in 1986 and 2001, which led to the downfall of Presidents Ferdinand Marcos and Joseph Estrada. It was always the strong opposition from bishops which forced politicians to abandon their plans of amending the Constitution in the past ten years.

One of the reasons why President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is still in power despite numerous corruption and other embarrassing scandals hounding her government is because most of the country's bishops have chosen to remain silent over political issues. Myanmar's silent Buddhist monks have to teach the silent Philippine bishops how to shepherd the faithful in condemning injustice, bad governance and repression in society.

Most Filipino politicians are afraid to antagonize the Catholic hierarchy. But every now and then, some politicians manage to articulate their frustrations over the excessive intervention of church authorities in the political affairs of the country. The church uses its influence to oppose population control programs, reproductive health services and the divorce law.

Sex scandals have also tarnished the reputation of the Catholic Church. One bishop was accused of sexual harassment by his personal secretary. Priests keep a vow of poverty, but many of them maintain lifestyles that can be described as luxurious by Philippine standards.

The Catholic Church, despite its weaknesses as an institution, continues to remain relevant in the eyes of the people. In fact, most people are turning to religion "in search of secure moorings in a shifting world." Like in other parts of the globe, there is a revival of interest in religion in Philippine society.

The Catholic Church does not have a monopoly over the people's pursuit of religious salvation. Catholic charismatic groups, evangelical Christian formations, protestant churches, Christian born again missionaries and even Islamists are enjoying renewed enthusiasm from the people, especially the poor.

In 2004, the leader of an evangelical Christian group ran for president and managed to clinch a respectable showing in the polls. In the recent elections, the top winners in the party-list system were the religious-backed groups. One charismatic group is able to gather more than 1 million people every week in the national park; something which the Catholic Church has not yet achieved. A Catholic priest defeated two moneyed politicians and became the governor of Arroyo's home province.

How do we explain the people's fanatical participation in new religious formations? Why are evangelical leaders enjoying high popularity these days?

It's not enough to describe the religious nature of Filipinos. The revival of interest in religion has something to do with the dislocations of the Philippine economy in recent decades. The people are clinging to religious associations hoping to achieve a sense of personal fulfillment in this chaotic and materialistic world.

The extraordinary rise in the number of Filipinos leaving the country has changed traditional Filipino institutions, especially the family. More than 8 million Filipinos are now working in different parts of the world. Families separated for long periods of time lead to broken marriages, depressed children and dysfunctional family relationships. Migration of workers is destroying the traditional Filipino family, the basic unit of Philippine society.

The neoliberal turn of the economy has ravaged the domestic manufacturing and agricultural sectors of the country. Flexible or contractual labor has diminished the organized strength of labor unions. The growth of the service sector has created an army of individual workers with little or no sense of collective solidarity.

Individualism and entrepreneurialism as virtues have gained prominence. Citizens have been transformed into consumers. Government has abandoned social welfare and allowed the free market to take care of peoples' needs. Ownership of money and the capacity to multiply wealth have become the all-encompassing measures of success in society.
Religion and Philippine politics

These shifts in the economy have threatened social stability. Individuals who were once part of a collective, like labor unions, farm cooperatives and intact families, are now alone, probably unemployed or underemployed and overwhelmed with the consumer culture that pervades society today.

This "individualistic society of transients" generates the longing for common or shared values. Religion becomes attractive to individuals, workers, and consumers who feel alienated in society. As philosopher David Harvey puts it: "In moments of despair or exaltation, who among us can refrain from invoking the time of fame, of myth, of the Gods?"

Filipino politicians and businessmen are aware of the special new role of religious sects today. Economic favors are now granted to friendly religious leaders. Corporations are hiring workers who belong to big churches that forbid members to join labor unions.

In 1978, the Republican Party of the United States forged an alliance with evangelical Christian leader Jerry Falwell's "Moral Majority" movement to dominate U.S. politics. This partnership allowed the Republican Party to impose neoliberal prescriptions in the U.S. economy which favored big business at the expense of the working-class movement.

In the Philippines, politicians are linking with church groups to keep the electorate under their command. The public should be wary of this alliance. What will stop politicians from signing "morality" programs with church leaders that would be against the political and economic interests of the faithful? There is need for non-religious new collectivities and social solidarity groups in Philippine society today.

Mong Palatino

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Demystifying Noynoy Aquino

I think it's high time we examine NoyNoy Aquino as a man purely on what he has made out of his life, and not based on the greatness of his parents. If people look at him from this point of view, I think they'd be better informed on whether he really is fit for the presidency.

There is no doubt that Ninoy and Cory Aquino belong to the pantheon of great Filipinos. Greatness however is not inherited. It is something you make for yourself. Ninoy's parents weren't great. And Cory's parents were simple folks. But Ninoy and Cory grew up to be great persons. It would be ignorant and foolish to assume that just because they are great, Noynoy would be great too. Mahatma Gandhi became an Indian hero and a world icon for humanity. He had four sons. But the world doesn't really know what those sons did with their lives - because they did not inherit their father's greatness. John Lennon is a humanitarian and a musical genius. But his son, Julian, did not inherit his humanity and compassion nor his gift for songwriting. Dodot Jaworski did not inherit his father, Bobby Jaworski's shooting and passing skills in basketball. Kris Aquino is Cory's very own flesh and blood. But while Cory exudes dignity and class, Kris at times is crass and pedestrian. You either have greatness or you don't. Ballsy, Cory and Ninoy's eldest, at least inherited her parents dignified demeanor.

Now back to Noynoy Aquino. He has a degree of Economics from Ateneo De Manila University. It's a great school known for its graduates who went on to become great people. But Noynoy was not one of its great students. He wasn't even a student leader in his time. Noynoy went on to sales and marketing for two great companies: Nike Philippines and Mondragon Int'l. Sales and marketing, and for that you went to Ateneo? Those were the only jobs he held that he got based on his resume and not based on his parent's name. Because after those jobs, he went on to work for his uncle's company and eventually their family's sugar company at Hacienda Luisita. Even in private life, he used his family connections to earn a living.

He served three terms in Congress representing Tarlac, his family's district and for which he had great chances of winning because it is Aquino/Cojuangco country after all. People would be surprised to know that at one point he was Deputy Speaker, because he was barely visible, he barely talked and he barely sponsored bills. In effect, he was a forgettable congressman. He is now a Senator of the Republic to which he owes greatly to his own sister, Kris, and his mother Cory, who both used their popularity during the elections to campaign for a forgettable brother and son.

The presidency is the highest position in the country. It is not meant for people who are still on the OJT stage (on-the-job training). It is a position meant for great people. This country can only achieve greatness if we put great people on the steering wheel. To pass the mantle of greatness from Ninoy and Cory to a son who has so far haven't done anything great in his life would demean and cheapen the legacies that Ninoy and Cory left behind. Cory did not survive 9 coup attempts, and Ninoy did not breathe his last breath on a dirty airport tarmac for it to be used as their forgettable son's publicity tool for his presidential ambition.

This country is not that HOPELESS to settle for MEDIOCRITY.

Remembering the Hacienda Luisita massacre

It has been more than a year since the notorious Hacienda Luisita massacre on November 16, 2004. Twelve picketers and two children were killed and hundreds of workers badly injured when 1,000 police and soldiers stormed a blockade of 6,000 plantation workers and their families at the Hacienda Luisita sugar mill and plantation in Tarlac, Philippines.

President Gloria Arroyo’s Labor Secretary Patricia Sto Tomas had personally dispatched the soldiers and police with instructions to disperse the picket. Tomas justified the decision to intervene by declaring “the national interest” was “clearly affected by the dispute”.

The interests most directly affected were those of the plantation’s owners, the Conjuangco-Aquino family, relatives of former president Cory Aquino. The striking plantation and mill workers were seeking a pay rise, reinstatement of victimised workers and, more broadly, nationwide land redistribution to farm and plantation workers.

Despite incriminating accounts by many witnesses who saw police, soldiers and security guards firing into the picket line, not a single arrest has been made. After hearing testimony from 41 witnesses and reviewing ballistic tests on police firearms, the National Bureau of Investigations (NBI) recommended charges against nine Philippines National Police (PNP) officers.

The NBI investigation, along with the government-ordered Senate inquiry to which the NBI was to report, was designed to appease a public outcry over the killings. Significantly, the NBI report made no mention of the military’s role in the massacre even though an eyewitness—Francisco Lintag, a sheriff from the Labor and Employment Department—said he saw soldiers rushing toward the picketers and discharging their firearms.

The NBI avoided implicating the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in the killings because to have done so would have directly raised the question of whether the government had authorised the use of lethal force against the strikers.

Subsequently, even the NBI’s recommendation for charges against the nine PNP officers was sidelined last December when the PNP released its own internal investigation. It cleared the police of any blame for the killings and claimed the PNP had “observed maximum tolerance” from the outset of the strike.

The PNP report alleged that the “initial burst of gun fire” came from the workers’ ranks and that police had gathered evidence that “confirmed the presence and participation of New Peoples Army (NPA) rebels in the strike”. While the so-called “evidence” allowed the police to accuse strikers of association with NPA fighters, the report admitted, “it would not suffice for their criminal prosecution”.

The findings of both official investigations make clear that their purpose was essentially to whitewash the role of the police and the army and to cover up the underlying reasons for the government’s crackdown against the Hacienda Luisita strikers.

Arroyo’s government, the Hacienda Luisita owners and other major landowners were particularly alarmed that the strikers had demanded, along with improved wages and conditions, long-outstanding legal changes to allow the redistribution of land.

When former president Aquino came to power in 1986 on the wave of opposition to the Marcos dictatorship, she had to promise land reform. The resulting Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) held out the prospect of breaking up large sugar plantations such as the 5,000-hectare Hacienda Luisita.

Aquino, however, protected major landowners, such as her relatives in the Conjuangco family who had purchased the Hacienda Luisita in 1958 with funds supplied by the Central Bank of the Philippines and the Government Service Insurance System. They could evade land redistribution through a loophole in CARP known as the Stock Distribution Option (SDO).

The SDO allowed landowners to classify farm workers and tenants as stockholders or co-owners who would supposedly be given a share of profits. At the same time, there were many ways for landowners to avoid actual profit sharing.

The period leading up to the Hacienda Luisita killings saw intensifying agitation by peasants and farm workers across the country for the repeal of the SDO and for land reform. The government’s lethal response was meant to both assist the management to crush the dispute and ensure that it did not become the focal point for a broader movement.

The bloody repression against the Hacienda Luisita strikers, followed by the official exoneration of the perpetrators, has been followed by a wave of violence against peasant farmers, plantation workers and unionists. Over the past year, murders, abductions and other forms of violent harassment have occurred on an almost weekly basis.

According to the Manila-based group Alliance for the Advancement of Human Rights, there were 116 political murders in the Philippines in the first 10 months of 2005. All remain unsolved, although AFP soldiers and PNP officers have been implicated in most of them.

Many of the slain were directly associated with the Hacienda Luisita dispute or with the farm workers’ movement for land. On the evening of January 5, 2005, four gunmen shot two workers after ramming a luxury sports utility into a picket line at the Hacienda Luisita sugar mill. One of the workers was critically injured.

On October 25, Central Azucarera de Tarlac Labor Union (CATLU) president Ricardo Ramos, who played a central role in the Hacienda Luisita dispute, was slain by unknown gunmen. While local Tarlac police subsequently identified two AFP soldiers as possible suspects, neither was arrested. To minimise popular dissent over the Ramos killing, Arroyo ordered the PNP to carry out an inquiry. Given the findings of its Hacienda Luisita investigation, the new inquiry is sure to be another whitewash.

On November 21, AFP troops killed nine farm workers at the Barangay San Agustin plantation in Palo, Layte. Many more were injured and hospitalised after soldiers opened fire on the tent where workers had assembled. The military claimed the protesters were NPA members, but locals said they were unarmed and were members of Bayan Muna (People First), a leftist group, protesting against the landlord’s refusal to implement CARP.

Other prominent figures murdered since the Hacienda Luisita repression include Francisco Rivera, a Bayan Muna activist, and his two close friends who were gunned down last year while they were out jogging. In September, Diosdado Fortuna, the Nestlé union president and chairman of the regional branch of Kilusang Mayo Uno (May First Movement) was shot while on his way home from a picket at the Swiss-based company.

Alongside outright repression, the government has attempted to placate popular opposition and rein in the movement for land reform by offering certain limited concessions. At the end of last year, the validation committee of the Presidential Agrarian Reform Council upheld a Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) recommendation to scrap the SDO loophole.

The resolution also recommended placing the Hacienda Luisita under the CARP’s compulsory or mandated land-acquisition scheme, raising the possibility of some land redistribution. The CARP decision is still pending. Even though large areas of the estate have already been sold off, including some of its most productive land, the owners are hotly disputing the DAR recommendation.

Their legal representative Vigor Mendoza told the media last month that the company intended to examine the DAR resolution and “decide our options from there”. Mendoza warned: “If the decision is contrary to law then we’ll take the appropriate action.”

As they have done in the past, the Conjuangcos intend to use their vast wealth and influential connections to tie up the decision in never-ending legal challenges. Behind the scenes, further violence will be prepared against farm and plantation workers and tenants who oppose them.

By Noel Holt
18 January 2006

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Brace yourself as Bisikleta Productions brings you the mighty Bulakenyos straight out of Singapore! Supporting them will be the architects of philippine punk rock THROW, BETRAYED G.I. & THE IDIOTS, TSUNAMI TSUNAMI plus new schoolers AGAINST MAN, S.D.K, DESCANT GOTT and T.R.A.

The event will be happening only at TEN 02 BAR and RESTO on the 19th of September, Saturday at exactly 8 in the evening for a measely sum of 50 pesos you'll get an ice cold beer and get to see them live and in your ugly face that will make your ears bleed!. So be there!


We all knew (or some of you do not ) that Buddy Trinidad is the Vocalist of the seminal punk band Betrayed but did you know that he is one heck of a mean pastry chef? If you happen to be eating pastry at Starbucks you'll likely had tasted some of his decadent creations. Now ladies and gents kindly read on.

"The fine arts are five in number, namely: painting, sculpture, poetry, music, and architecture, the principal branch of the latter being pastry.” - Marie-Antoine Careme

The Pinoy who cooks for Hollywood stars
By Leah C. Salterio
The Philippine Star 09/18/2004

Madonna, Sylvester Stallone and Rod Stewart craved for his crème bruleé. TV host Arsenio Hall thanked him for his "rockin’ apple tart." Demi Moore graciously affixed her signature to one of his dessert menus. And singers Mick Jagger and Peter Gabriel of Genesis were also bowled over by his sweet concoctions.

Pastry chef Salvador "Buddy" Trinidad, who became famous among Hollywood big shots for his best-selling desserts, is a Filipino. Having worked in popular restaurants in the West Coast like Michael’s, Morton’s and Tryst, Buddy had served an array of Hollywood clientele who were all pleased with his saccharine offerings.

He has cooked for Nicole Kidman, "who came to Morton’s starving after an Oscar night and asked for crab cakes." He’s been greeted with high-fives by first-rate actors Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. Father and son Kirk and Michael Douglas sat down for his food preparations and he has witnessed Halle Berry ate at Morton’s open kitchen.

"Morton’s hosts Vanity Fair parties, where actors who are not invited to the Oscars gather at the restaurant to watch the awards night," Buddy shares. "It’s a sit-down, by-invitation-only affair. It is also there where they usually hold the main party after the Oscars, which extends till the wee hours. Morton’s is famous for its parties and its Hollywood customers, because the restaurant values privacy and the stars are not hounded by paparazzi."

Buddy has also cooked for former US Vice President Al Gore, the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin–"who came to Morton’s with unbelievable security, complete with police dogs"–and actor John Travolta. "I’ve never seen anyone nicer than him," Buddy says of the Hollywood hotshot.

However, it was at Michael’s where Buddy’s love affair for Hollywood started. The dining place stands as one of Los Angeles’ best restaurants to date and has been consistently rated by food critics as one of the Top 50 restaurants in the United States. Michael’s was also the training ground for some of America’s great chefs.

Buddy initially worked at Michael’s in 1985 while attending the Los Angeles Trade Tech. He had to forego the traditional culinary institute route and got a diploma in professional baking through a trade school.

"The Center for Culinary Arts is in San Francisco and that was far from where my mom was staying, so I was forced to find a school in LA," Buddy grants. "I took two years of professional baking and while in school, I also took on two jobs. My first real job was at Michael’s, where we made gratins and soufflés from scratch. At night, I had a bread baking job, where I made breads, pies, cookies and quiches. I worked for a minimum of 16 hours, plus four hours in school, so that left me with only four hours of sleep daily."

Michael’s laid the foundation for the knowledge and discipline that Buddy would need to build his successful career. In the posh restaurant, he got to meet Sophia Loren, Gregory Peck, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone. When Buddy was promoted as assistant pastry chef at Michael’s, he gave up his bread-baking job. In 1989, after working his way up the ranks, Buddy was sent by owner Michael McCarthy to open restaurants in Manhattan and Washington, DC.

In 1990, Buddy returned to Los Angeles and this time, worked as pastry chef at Tryst, owned by Georges Marciano, the big man behind Guess Clothing. It was at Tryst where Buddy met action star Jean-Claude Van Damme, TV host Arsenio Hall and model Anna Nicole Smith, prior to her Playboy Centerfold salvo.

In 1993, Hard Rock Café founder Peter Morton hired Buddy to head the pastry team at Morton’s in West Hollywood. Subsequently, Buddy was also commissioned by Morton to be part of the opening team for the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

Having built a solid reputation in the Hollywood food industry, Buddy was lured by James Beard awardee Jeremiah Tower to be the pastry chef of the world-famous Stars in San Francisco, which opened in 1996. Three years later, Buddy had a compelling reason to return to Manila, when Tower offered him to open Stars Restaurant at Glorietta in Makati City, then owned by EJ Litton.

Buddy’s love for cooking – or rather baking – was influenced by his mom, Lolita, "who is an excellent baker." The youngest son of Pasay City Mayor Pewee Trinidad would stay with his mom in the kitchen, while his older siblings went out to play when they were still kids.

"When my mom moved to the US in 1980, I missed her desserts terribly," Buddy shares. "But then, I found her cookbooks and mixer. Slowly, I followed her recipes. I first learned to bake a cheesecake."

Buddy was into his third year at the University of the Philippines, taking up sports medicine, when his love for baking gradually took over his love for sports. He left Manila for Los Angeles to follow his mom – and also his dreams.

Today, Buddy’s baking career has come full circle. He runs and manages Park Avenue Desserts, a commissary for popular restaurants in Manila (Unit C, Zamora st., Pasay City, with telephone number 834-6636). He supplies desserts to Uva, Café Bravo, Dencio’s Bar and Grill, Mama Rosa, Peninsula Manila, Oakwood Hotel, Pasto, Salumeria, Fiorgelato, Red Ribbon Bakeshop, Carl’s Jr., Gloria Jeans Café and even to the US Embassy, plus some restaurants in Cebu. He specializes in truffles and sugar-free cakes and chocolates.

"I create tailor-made desserts that will fit in the restaurant menu," Buddy allows. "I solve the problems and reduce the headache of restaurant owners. I’m a rule-breaker when it comes to cooking or baking. I was not born to follow rules. My cooking is very unconventional. I made all my mistakes in school which, I believe, is the way to do it. Back then, I made breads as hard as stones and éclairs as big as a plate. But with my own dessert company today, I am putting my knowledge and expertise to work. I realized a life-long dream. My vision is to establish Park Avenue Desserts as a premiere dessert supplier."

Buddy also taught baking and patisserie at the Center for Culinary Arts (CCA) along Katipunan Avenue in Quezon City. Last year, he traveled to France to further hone his skills at the L’ecole du Grand Chocolat Valrhona, where he completed a professional course in pastry and chocolate making.

This skilled baker, who was once part of a band called Betrayed in the early ‘80s, also hosts a weekly radio show, Time Bomb, which presently airs every Wednesday, 9 to 10 p.m. on NU 107. "I play all-punk music in the program, which is the loudest and fastest hour in radio," says the multi-faceted Buddy. "I plan to release an album before the year ends."

Buddy likewise envisions a concept cooking show which he plans to call Unleashed. "It will be a cooking show with no rules, no boundaries. I can do midnight cooking in a bathrobe. Whatever is on your mind you can do it," he says.

Buddy’s other half is Rita, his wife of 12 years now. He met Rita when he was only in second year high school at Colegio de San Agustin. They got married in civil rites in 1992 in downtown Los Angeles. "It was a very unromantic wedding and it was over in five minutes," Buddy recalls. "So when we returned to the Philippines in 1999, we had a church wedding in November that same year."

With a distinguished restaurant pedigree which has satisfied an elite clientele in the US, Buddy now basks on the opportunity to prove his expertise to local food lovers. Behind every luscious dessert is his unbridled passion for his work, coupled with fresh and premium quality products, as well as superb preparations. His growing clientele will simply attest to that.

Mango Madness - voted as number 9 for the 20 yummiest privately baked cakes on the Inquirer

Come-on: A delightful pairing of sweet cream and alternate layers of fresh mangoes in crunchy crust. The oval-shaped cake is utterly elegant (and almost too pretty to eat)!
Cost: P1,000. To ensure freshness, two days’ advanced notice is requested.
Creator: Park Avenue Desserts by Chef Buddy Trinidad
Call: 8346636 or e-mail

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Wheedle's Groove: Uncovering Seattle's Soul-Funk Past.

Thirty years before grunge music put Seattle on the map, late 1960's groups like Black on White Affair, The Soul Swingers, and Cold, Bold & Together filled the airwaves and packed clubs every night of the week. Many of the groups started to receive widespread attention with invitations to perform on national television and to collaborate with mainstream acts. Just as many of the groups were on the verge of breaking out, the fickle public turned its ear from funk to disco, and Seattle's soul and funk scene slipped into obscurity.

In 2001, local collector DJ Mr. Supreme started uncovering Seattle's soulful past after finding a dusty Black on White Affair 45 called "Bold Soul Sister" in a 99 cent bin at a Seattle Center record show. By 2003 he had a rough impression of a once-thriving scene and a hefty collection of Seattle soul and funk 45s, some of which were beginning to fetch upwards of $5,000. Supreme approached local record label Light In The Attic with the idea of releasing a Seattle soul and funk compilation. Light In The Attic spent twelve months tracking down the artists and fleshing out the story of Seattle's funky past, and the result was a CD compilation entitled Wheedle's Groove. At the Wheedle's Groove CD release party in August of 2004, a line of nostalgic 60-somethings and funk-hungry 20-somethings wrapped around the building as the musicians inside, now janitors and graphic designers and truck drivers, prepared to perform together for the first time in 30 years. This is their story.