Implementing Peace and Development in the Bangsamoro: Potentials and Constraints of Socio-Economic Programs for Conflict-Affected Areas in Southern Philippines (1913-2015)

Even as an early-career institution-less wannabe scholar and development worker, I’ve always tried to walk the fine line between theory and practice, research and ground operations. I’ve given up on getting my shit proper journal peer-reviewed so in case anyone has any interest in reading a very roughly written attempt at a history of government development programs for ARMM from 1913-2016, focusing particularly on the mainland (Maguindanao, with spillovers in Ranao)–here you go.

Download a pdf here: Fernandez – P&D in the Bangsamoro 2017-06-20

Main point being to look at potentials and constraints, especially (!) on the sins committed. A key limitation: it looks purely on government policies and interventions, and not on international donor interventions. This is partly true due to data constraints, but also because local decisions and choices will largely determine if any true transformation can arise. And I say this as someone who has served in government but whose bills have been paid for the past few years by the multilaterals.

Continue reading “Implementing Peace and Development in the Bangsamoro: Potentials and Constraints of Socio-Economic Programs for Conflict-Affected Areas in Southern Philippines (1913-2015)”

Conflict in Cities and the Contested Philippine State: Notes After Marawi

Originally a FB post but migrated here because the maps and photos wouldn’t show.

Dahil ako’y taga Maynila lamang, hanggang mabilisang sulat lang ako. Para sa minamahal na mga kaibigan at katrabahong Meranaw, kung mamarapatin.

It has been over a week since the May 23 Maute Group attack on the Islamic City of Marawi, and President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao. Skirmishes to clear and control the city are still ongoing. The majority of its 201,785 recorded citizens have since fled on foot, leaving behind combatants, journalists, and the occasional terrified resident trapped in the crossfire or attempting to protect their homes and businesses from looting.

Many questions remain. Was it truly a botched military operation against Abu Sayyaf Group leader Isnilon Hapilon, who had purportedly ventured out of Basilan to operate in the mainland, unifying the disaffected under the black flag? Or was it well planned in advance, this scene of least fifty young fighters emerging from Lake Lanao, occupying and damaging key installations—hospitals, churches, university buildings, city hall, the local jail? Was the Chief of Police truly beheaded (despite photos emerging of him appearing alive and with head intact)? Can we call them ISIS or IS-Ranao? Why is Marawi City being shelled? How will the airstrikes affect power dynamics on the ground? Will the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao set the stage for nationwide policy?

What is established is that as of May 31, at least 22 civilians, 30 security personnel and sixty-odd Maute and ASG fighters have been killed. Over 44,000 families have been recorded as displaced across Northern Mindanao, taking uncertain shelter during the Holy Month of Ramadan in evacuation centres and the homes of friends and relatives. Only twenty percent of the metropolitan area has power restored; food in surrounding communities is scarce. Tensions have spilt over to neighbouring towns. It will take weeks before comprehensive damage assessments can be conducted but one wonders if Marawi, with its rich 400-year-old history and its role as the economic, political, and cultural heart of Lanao del Sur, can fully recover.

Mainstream approaches to Mindanao’s peace and conflict situation is through its security or political dimensions, and for the immediate phase, the humanitarian response for the likas (“those who left”, a more culturally-appropriate alternative to bakwit), or internally displaced persons. However, Marawi, and to some extent its predecessor Zamboanga, begs the question: how can we start thinking about peace in terms of how conflict dynamics play out in actual space and place, in the fabric of our communities and cities? Violent state-non state contestation in the Philippines has been largely rural, with a few sporadic exceptions. So does Marawi signal a contemporary turn to urban warfare, similar to many of our Western counterparts? Is urban conflict the next Philippine battleground?

marawi1.jpg

Continue reading “Conflict in Cities and the Contested Philippine State: Notes After Marawi”

Workshop: Waldorf Education at ang tawag ng panahon

Para sa mga interesadong kaibigan sa Pilipinas: will be co-facilitating a short workshop with Louise Far next week at the 2017 Steiner/Waldorf Early Childhood Symposium at Acacia Waldorf School in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. We’ve got two hours for a quick-and-dirty exploration of the links between early childhood education and how we can engage the many social, political, economic, cultural, and environmental challenges facing our communities. Been way too long since I last worked in this space, but it does feel like the right place and time for a stock-take.

Bonus points: doing it back-to-back with Bella Tan and Meila Payawal of the Sipat Lawin Ensemble!

For more information, clickety-click here.

Lupa

Writing this quick note to process one of the many strange developments of the week, which included my being roped in last minute to present a study conducted by the World Bank and the International Organization for Migration on marginalization through land dispossession in the Bangsamoro region. Presentations are part of my usual day-to-days but this was unusual—it was a launch at Camp Darapanan, the present headquarters of the largest armed revolutionary group in the Philippines, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (or MILF, read as M-I-L-F, not the lewd joke familiar to most westerners).

It just so happened that our lead author, Dr. Fermin Adriano, was unable to fly to Cotabato and our rather crazy and generous team leader, Matt, chose to gleefully task me with translating the key technical messages in a vernacular that would be understood by the larger audience, and not just the international actors and VIPs present in the room. And that entailed being the lost young female non-Muslim, non-Mindanawon pseudoacademic on the dais with Mindanao peace process heavy hitters such as Ishak Mastura, Guiamel Alim, Rufa Guiam, peace panel chairs Mohagher Iqbal and Irene Santiago, plus the amerul mujahid himself, Al-haj Murad Ebrahim. Kumbaga sa Tagalog, pinabili lang ng suka, napadpad na sa Darapanan. (Which actually describes a fair chunk of the seven years of this life, to be fair.)

Continue reading “Lupa”

The costs of memory: options for transitional justice and reconciliation, ten years after Tokhang

Note: Shorter versions were published on Rappler.com and as part of the Resbak zine released in February 2017. 

Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer nor a transitional justice expert. This was not written in any professional capacity. I am a private citizen of the Philippines attempting to get some nagging questions out of my head as fast and raw as I can. Any alternate options? Disagree? Feel free to add!

Consider this a work of speculative fiction.

It is 2032, ten years after Rodrigo Roa Duterte successfully terminates his term as President, and with it, the lives of the estimated 4-5 million ‘drug personalities’ in the Philippines, plus change. A Marcos or two may have succeeded him as head of state. Maybe not. But somehow, conditions have made it so that the Sovereign People of the Philippines are calling out for ‘transitional justice and reconciliation,’ a term first bandied about in the wake of Martial Law, and later popularised as part of the convoluted Bangsamoro peace process.

The United Nations—Tatay Digong’s favorite international body—defines transitional justice as the ‘full range of processes and mechanisms associated with a society’s attempt to come to terms with a legacy of large-scale abuses committed in the past, in order to achieve accountability, serve justice, and achieve reconciliation.’ The word ‘abuses’ remains hotly contested, of course, triggering accusations of bias and various political colorings and retardations from all sides. But on a more concrete level, it asks two questions. First, what makes people deeply hurt and angry? And secondly, what will it take to address that hurt and anger?

Continue reading “The costs of memory: options for transitional justice and reconciliation, ten years after Tokhang”

Inahan sa Sugilanon: Mother of the Fairytale

So happy that Louise has finally birthed this beautiful photobook, which has been a work in progress for the better part of the last three years. I’ve got quite a few personal projects waiting in the wings right now, but there are few things more inspiring than being a creative komadrona. 🙂

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Inahan sa Sugilanon: Mother of the Fairytale
Birthing a Green School Community

Images and Essay by Louise Far
Essays by Willa P. Maglalang, Janneke “Nex” Agustin and Nicanor Perlas
Essays edited by Ica Fernandez

Mother of the Fairytale is a 56-paged 8in x 10in book composed of 26 black and white images that tells the story of how a striving green school community in Davao City, Philippines advocates healthy and holistic education. It gives a glimpse of the journey of the school’s first teachers, the daily challenges and triumphs of little children, and the emerging sense of space and community among parents and friends of the school. Also included in the book are relevant essays on the book project itself, the experience of initiating Tuburan, early manifestations of holistic education through the story of Steiner education in the Philippines, and a macro perspective on education and the true need it must address.

http://motherofthefairytale.weebly.com/