God Knows Hudas Not Pay

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Bumper sticker found on a tricycle plying the Brgy.Malamig-Boni MRT Station route. Late as I was, couldn’t help but chuckle thanks to this reminder of just how powerful Culture and flies-in-the-ointment can be. After which, a thought bubble: sino kaya ang nagbayad sa pagpapalimbag nito? Dun-dun-dun.

Now if only someone would make a Tito Sotto version.

Necropolitics

Originally posted here.

In the days after the late DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo’s untimely demise and the nation’s subsequent mourning, one word began cropping up, slowly but surely, on the minds and lips (or screens) of a few Filipino intellectuals: necropolitics. From the Greek prefix necro-, meaning death, Western theorists have used this term to describe the relationship between sovereignty and the power over life and death, or in African philosopher Achille Mbembe’s words, the assumption that the ultimate expression of sovereignty “resides, to large degree, in the power and the capacity to dictate who may live and who must die”. However, the emerging necropolitics observed here in the Philippines is of a different sort. Rather, it is the odd phenomenon wherein a person’s death, in the right circumstances, can confer political power to the deceased, and in many cases, to his or her next of kin.

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Thought Paper: Reflections on BSAIII’s Third State of the Nation Address (SONA)

The Talumpati sa Kalagayan ng Bansa, or State of the Nation Address, is a constitutional obligation. Article VII, Section 23 of the 1987 Constitution provides that “[t]he President shall address the Congress at the opening of its regular session”, which Article VI, Section 15 schedules “once every year on the fourth Monday of July”. That said, for people working in government (particularly under the Executive Branch), the annual SONA is a very personal thing.

This year marked my second SONA as one of the many tiny cogs in government’s engine. Although it wasn’t spent running around Batasan in makeshift terno and heels, as I did last year, in many ways this year was more intense. For us alipins sa guiguilid, the SONA is not just a speech reporting on the status of the country. It is a measure of how successful, or “SONA-ble” line agencies have been over the course of the year, and beyond all else, is a public declaration of marching orders for the following year. Look beyond the gowns and the applause: the SONA is serious because this administration is serious. Look beyond the President’s humor, broadcast in crisp, clear Tagalog (and BSA III is the first and only Chief Executive to have done so)–each soundbite has been fought and labored for with literal tears and sweat and blood.

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Notes on Rizal and the Spiritual Revolution

Originally posted online here

This was written in September 2008 for the last class I had to take as an undergrad. (PI100, for all ye UP folk.) It’s not for everyone, and a lot of things have changed since then–Lozada’s disappeared, Padaca and Panlilio have been forcibly removed, and the elections are but 90 days away, with Nicanor Perlas running for president under the banner of “new politics”. Still, it might be of interest to those who believe in socially-engaged spirituality, and what it might mean in these critical times.

Revolution and spirituality are not traditional bedfellows. As part of a generation that equates revolution with a movement that deems religion ‘the opium of the people’, it is difficult to reconcile radical action with the stuffy Catholicism of our childhoods. This difficulty triples with the entrance of Rizal in the discourse of revolution and spirit. Despite his status as national hero and avowed inspiration for the Philippine revolution, Rizal’s reputation as an American-sponsored assimilationist presents an ambiguous relationship with radicalism as well as spirituality via the Church that helped sentence him to death. Nevertheless, (relatively) recent scholarship has begun to cast Rizal in a completely different light. This, of course, pertains to Floro Quibuyen’s A Nation Aborted and Reynaldo Ileto’s influential Pasyon and Revolution. Both works take a distinctly hermeneutic approach to historiography. By using enacted texts, they reconstruct a Rizal that is not subject to a supposed “veneration without understanding”. There is indeed understanding—but of a completely different kind.

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