What are we instruments of?

I’m reading Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling by Arlie Russell Hochschild. No, it’s not a romance novel. But, yes, it’s all about emotion. Emotional labor. Totally riveting concept of work. Here’s an excerpt:

In a section in Das Kapital entitled “The Working Day,” Karl Marx examines depositions submitted in 1863 to the Children’s Employment Commission in England. One deposition was given by the mother of a child laborer in a wallpaper factory: “When he was seven years old I used to carry him (to work) on my back to and fro through the snow, and he used to work 16 hours a day…I have often knelt down to feed him, as he stood by the machine, for he could not leave it or stop.” Fed meals as he worked, as a steam engine is fed coal and water, this child was “an instrument of labor.” Marx questioned how many hours a day it was fair to use a human being as an instrument… But he was also concerned with something he thought more fundamental: the human cost of becoming an “instrument of labor” at all.

On another continent 117 years later, a twenty-year old flight attendant trainee sat with 122 others listening to a pilot speak in the auditorium of the Delta Airlines Stewardess Training Center…

The young trainee sitting next to me wrote on her notepad,”Important to smile. Don’t forget to smile.”…

…the value of a personal smile is groomed to reflect the company’s disposition–its confidence that its planes will not crash, its reassurance that departures and arrivals will be on time, its welcome and its invitation to return. Trainers take it as their job to attach to the trainee’s smile an attitude, a viewpoint, a rhythm of feeling… This deeper extension of the professional smile is not always easy to retract at the end of the workday, as one worker in her first year at World Airways noted: “Sometimes I come off a long trip in a state of utter exhaustion, but I find I can’t relax… It’s as if I can’t release myself froman artificially created elation that kept me ‘up’ on the trip…

As the PSA jingle says, ” Our smiles are not just painted on.”… There is a smile-like strip of paint on the nose of each PSA plane. Indeed, the plane and the flight attendant advertise each other…

The work done by the boy in the wallpaper factory called for a coordination of mind and arm, mind and finger, and mind and shoulder. We refer to it simply as physical labor. The flight attendant does physical labor when she pushes heavy metal carts through the aisles, and she does mental work when she prepares for and actually organizes emergency landings and evacuations. But in the course of doing this physical and mental labor, she is also doing something more, something I define as emotional labor

Beneath the difference between physical and emotional labor there lies a similarity in the possible cost of doing the work: the worker can become estranged or alienated from an aspect of self–either the body or the margins of the soul–that is used to do the work. The factory boy’s arm functioned like a piece of machinery used to produce wallpaper. His employer, regarding that arm as an instrument, claimed control over its speed and motions. In this situation, what was the relation between the boy’s arm and his mind? Was his arm in any meaningful sense his own?

When she came off the job, what relation had the flight attendant to the “artificial elation” she had induced on the job? In what sense was it her own elation on the job? … The workers I talked to often spoke of their smiles as being on them but not of them. They were seen as an extension of the make-up, the uniform, the recorded music, the soothing pastel colors of the airplane decor, and the daytime drinks, which taken together orchestrate the mood of the passengers. The final commodity is not a certain number of smiles to be counted like rolls of wallpaper. For the flight attendant, the smiles are a part of her work, a part that requires her to coordinate self and feeling so that the work seems to be effortless… for otherwise the labor would show in an unseemly way, and the product–passenger contentment–would be damaged…

There have always beenpublic-service jobs, of course; what’s new is that they are now socially engineered and thoroughly organized from the top…

Emotional labor is potentially good. No customer wants to deal with a surly waitress, a crabbg bank clerk, or a flight attendant who avoids eye contact in order to avoid getting a request. Lapses in courtesy by those paid tobe courteous are very real and fairly common. What they show us is how fragile public civility really is. We are brought back to the question of what the social carpet actually consists of and what it requires of those who are supposed to keep it beautiful. The laggards and sluff-offs of emotional labor return us to the basic questions. What is emotional labor? What do we do when we manage emotion? What, in fact, is emotion? What are the costs and benefits of managing emotion, in private life and at work?

Our search for answers to these questions leads to three separate but equally relevant discourses: one concerning labor, one concerning display, and one concerning emotion

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On tambays

I don’t know why media people are reacting to old news as if they’ve just been born the past hour. Their strange reaction undoubtedly picked up by the viewing or listening public is bad influence. Bad as in fake as in divisive as in disinformative. As expected, they are quick to comment reacting without thinking apparently with no depth of knowledge on the subject of their report. Parents, if they cared at all, would unfailingly tell their children to get home straight away from school “hwag tumambay kung saan saan” malls (millenials’ favorite tambayan) included. Have media people forgotten that they too at one time have been recipients of the fair warning from their own parents?

The opposite of vagrancy or loitering is purpose. What the law in effect asks of citizens is to be aware, to be mindful of what we do. To be good citizens of the Republic. The law challenges citizens to work out for ourselves purpose-driven lives. We won’t achieve that with mindless behavior.

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Why am I shrieking Guns n’ Roses at 10,000 decibels in the middle of the night in the middle of the street of 100,000 schoolgoing children and working people inside 10,000 houses both sides? Why am I doing it? Why am I drinking myself to death, as if there’s no tomorrow, with the street as my table and bed as well? Why am I doing it? Am I even aware of the repercussions? Why do I walk about in the street with my shirt off and expect others to regard it as normal whereas if I’m female and I do the same thing I’d be ridiculed even stoned? If we can justify these behavior without feeling an ounce of guilt or doubt then we’re vagrants– mindless people. People who don’t give a shit at all about themselves and others. It’s like committing suicide and murder at the same time only that the infliction on their victims (self and the others) is beyond physical. It’s on the mind and the psyche, until all sense of self respect becomes convoluted.

For people who know better to do nothing about the malady (it is, considering vagrancy was unheard of or minimal in our grandparents time) constitutes gross neglect. To apprehend the behavior now is actually saving the person before it’s too late. Apparently, families and communities fail to do that forcing the State’s hand on the matter.

The President merely reiterated a long neglected provision of the law that sitting ducks ie. local government units specifically the barangay, well, sat on. The provision in the Revised Penal Code on vagrancy has been established constitutional provided certain standards are in place. The following SC decision explains why it is so.


THIRD DIVISION

PEOPLE OF THE PHILIPPINES, G.R. No. 169364
Petitioner,
Present:
Ynares-Santiago, J . (Chairperson),
– versus – Chico-Nazario,
Velasco, Jr.,
Peralta, and
Bersamin*, JJ .
EVANGELINE SITON y SACIL and
KRYSTEL KATE SAGARANO y Promulgated:
MEFANIA,
Respondents. September 18, 2009
x —————————————————————————————- x
DECISION

YNARES-SANTIAGO, J .:

If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of Heaven and Earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Assailed in this petition for review on certiorari is the July 29, 2005 Order of Branch 11, Davao City Regional Trial Court in Special Civil Case No. 30-500-2004 granting respondents Petition for Certiorari and declaring paragraph 2 of Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code unconstitutional.

Respondents Evangeline Siton and Krystel Kate Sagarano were charged with vagrancy pursuant to Article 202 of the Revised Penal Code in two separate Informations dated November 18, 2003, docketed as Criminal Case Nos. 115,716-C-2003 and 115,717-C-2003 and raffled to Branch 3 of the Municipal Trial Court in Cities, Davao City. The Informations, read:

That on or about November 14, 2003, in the City of Davao, Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court, the above-mentioned accused, willfully, unlawfully and feloniously wandered and loitered around San Pedro and Legaspi Streets, this City, without any visible means to support herself nor lawful and justifiable purpose.

The first statute punishing vagrancy Act No. 519 was modeled after American vagrancy statutes and passed by the Philippine Commission in 1902. The Penal Code of Spain of 1870 which was in force in this country up to December 31, 1931 did not contain a provision on vagrancy. While historically an Anglo-American concept of crime prevention, the law on vagrancy was included by the Philippine legislature as a permanent feature of the Revised Penal Code in Article 202 thereof which, to repeat, provides:

ART. 202. Vagrants and prostitutes; penalty . The following are vagrants:

  1. Any person having no apparent means of subsistence, who has the physical ability to work and who neglects to apply himself or herself to some lawful calling;
  2. Any person found loitering about public or semi-public buildings or places, or tramping or wandering about the country or the streets without visible means of support;
  3. Any idle or dissolute person who lodges in houses of ill-fame; ruffians or pimps and those who habitually associate with prostitutes;
  4. Any person who, not being included in the provisions of other articles of this Code, shall be found loitering in any inhabited or uninhabited place belonging to another without any lawful or justifiable purpose;

The Regional Trial Court, in asserting the unconstitutionality of Article 202, take support mainly from the U.S. Supreme Courts opinion in the Papachristou v. City of Jacksonville case.

The underlying principles in Papachristou are that: 1) the assailed Jacksonville ordinance fails to give a person of ordinary intelligence fair notice that his contemplated conduct is forbidden by the statute; and 2) it encourages or promotes opportunities for the application of discriminatory law enforcement.

The said underlying principle in Papachristou that the Jacksonville ordinance, or Article 202 in this case, fails to give fair notice of what constitutes forbidden conduct, finds no application here because under our legal system, ignorance of the law excuses no one from compliance therewith. This principle is of Spanish origin, and we adopted it to govern and limit legal conduct in this jurisdiction. Under American law, ignorance of the law is merely a traditional rule that admits of exceptions.

Moreover, the Jacksonville ordinance was declared unconstitutional on account of specific provisions thereof, which are not found in Article 202. The ordinance (Jacksonville Ordinance Code 257) provided, as follows:

Rogues and vagabonds, or dissolute persons who go about begging; common gamblers, persons who use juggling or unlawful games or plays, common drunkards, common night walkers, thieves, pilferers or pickpockets, traders in stolen property, lewd, wanton and lascivious persons, keepers of gambling places, common railers and brawlers, persons wandering or strolling around from place to place without any lawful purpose or object, habitual loafers, disorderly persons, persons neglecting all lawful business and habitually spending their time by frequenting houses of ill fame, gaming houses, or places where alcoholic beverages are sold or served, persons able to work but habitually living upon the earnings of their wives or minor children shall be deemed vagrants and, upon conviction in the Municipal Court shall be punished as provided for Class D offenses.

Thus, the U.S. Supreme Court in Jacksonville declared the ordinance unconstitutional, because such activities or habits as nightwalking, wandering or strolling around without any lawful purpose or object , habitual loafing , habitual spending of time at places where alcoholic beverages are sold or served , and living upon the earnings of wives or minor children , which are otherwise common and normal, were declared illegal. But these are specific acts or activities not found in Article 202. The closest to Article 202 any person found loitering about public or semi-public buildings or places, or tramping or wandering about the country or the streets without visible means of support from the Jacksonville ordinance, would be persons wandering or strolling around from place to place without any lawful purpose or object. But these two acts are still not the same: Article 202 is qualified by without visible means of support while the Jacksonville ordinance prohibits wandering or strolling without any lawful purpose or object, which was held by the U.S. Supreme Court to constitute a trap for innocent acts.

Under the Constitution, the people are guaranteed the right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized. Thus, as with any other act or offense, the requirement of probable cause provides an acceptable limit on police or executive authority that may otherwise be abused in relation to the search or arrest of persons found to be violating Article 202. The fear exhibited by the respondents, echoing Jacksonville , that unfettered discretion is placed in the hands of the police to make an arrest or search, is therefore assuaged by the constitutional requirement of probable cause, which is one less than certainty or proof, but more than suspicion or possibility.

Evidently, the requirement of probable cause cannot be done away with arbitrarily without pain of punishment, for, absent this requirement, the authorities are necessarily guilty of abuse. The grounds of suspicion are reasonable when, in the absence of actual belief of the arresting officers, the suspicion that the person to be arrested is probably guilty of committing the offense, is based on actual facts, i.e. , supported by circumstances sufficiently strong in themselves to create the probable cause of guilt of the person to be arrested. A reasonable suspicion therefore must be founded on probable cause, coupled with good faith of the peace officers making the arrest.

The State cannot in a cavalier fashion intrude into the persons of its citizens as well as into their houses, papers and effects. The constitutional provision sheathes the private individual with an impenetrable armor against unreasonable searches and seizures. It protects the privacy and sanctity of the person himself against unlawful arrests and other forms of restraint, and prevents him from being irreversibly cut off from that domestic security which renders the lives of the most unhappy in some measure agreeable.

As applied to the instant case, it appears that the police authorities have been conducting previous surveillance operations on respondents prior to their arrest. On the surface, this satisfies the probable cause requirement under our Constitution. For this reason, we are not moved by respondents trepidation that Article 202 could have been a source of police abuse in their case.

Since the Revised Penal Code took effect in 1932, no challenge has ever been made upon the constitutionality of Article 202 except now. Instead, throughout the years, we have witnessed the streets and parks become dangerous and unsafe, a haven for beggars, harassing watch-your-car boys, petty thieves and robbers, pickpockets, swindlers, gangs, prostitutes, and individuals performing acts that go beyond decency and morality, if not basic humanity. The streets and parks have become the training ground for petty offenders who graduate into hardened and battle-scarred criminals. Everyday, the news is rife with reports of innocent and hardworking people being robbed, swindled, harassed or mauled if not killed by the scourge of the streets. Blue collar workers are robbed straight from withdrawing hard-earned money from the ATMs (automated teller machines); students are held up for having to use and thus exhibit publicly their mobile phones; frail and helpless men are mauled by thrill-seeking gangs; innocent passers-by are stabbed to death by rowdy drunken men walking the streets; fair-looking or pretty women are stalked and harassed, if not abducted, raped and then killed; robbers, thieves, pickpockets and snatchers case streets and parks for possible victims; the old are swindled of their life savings by conniving streetsmart bilkers and con artists on the prowl; beggars endlessly pester and panhandle pedestrians and commuters, posing a health threat and putting law-abiding drivers and citizens at risk of running them over. All these happen on the streets and in public places, day or night.

The streets must be protected. Our people should never dread having to ply them each day, or else we can never say that we have performed our task to our brothers and sisters. We must rid the streets of the scourge of humanity, and restore order, peace, civility, decency and morality in them.

This is exactly why we have public order laws, to which Article 202 belongs. These laws were crafted to maintain minimum standards of decency, morality and civility in human society . These laws may be traced all the way back to ancient times, and today, they have also come to be associated with the struggle to improve the citizens quality of life, which is guaranteed by our Constitution. Civilly , they are covered by the abuse of rights doctrine embodied in the preliminary articles of the Civil Code concerning Human Relations, to the end, in part, that any person who willfully causes loss or injury to another in a manner that is contrary to morals , good customs or public policy shall compensate the latter for the damage. This provision is, together with the succeeding articles on human relations, intended to embody certain basic principles that are to be observed for the rightful relationship between human beings and for the stability of the social order.

Article 202 does not violate the equal protection clause; neither does it discriminate against the poor and the unemployed. Offenders of public order laws are punished not for their status, as for being poor or unemployed, but for conducting themselves under such circumstances as to endanger the public peace or cause alarm and apprehension in the community. Being poor or unemployed is not a license or a justification to act indecently or to engage in immoral conduct.

Vagrancy must not be so lightly treated as to be considered constitutionally offensive. It is a public order crime which punishes persons for conducting themselves, at a certain place and time which orderly society finds unusual, under such conditions that are repugnant and outrageous to the common standards and norms of decency and morality in a just, civilized and ordered society, as would engender a justifiable concern for the safety and well-being of members of the community.

Instead of taking an active position declaring public order laws unconstitutional, the State should train its eye on their effective implementation, because it is in this area that the Court perceives difficulties. Red light districts abound, gangs work the streets in the wee hours of the morning, dangerous robbers and thieves ply their trade in the trains stations, drunken men terrorize law-abiding citizens late at night and urinate on otherwise decent corners of our streets. Rugby-sniffing individuals crowd our national parks and busy intersections. Prostitutes wait for customers by the roadside all around the metropolis, some even venture in bars and restaurants. Drug-crazed men loiter around dark avenues waiting to pounce on helpless citizens. Dangerous groups wander around, casing homes and establishments for their next hit. The streets must be made safe once more.

Though a mans house is his castle, outside on the streets, the king is fair game.

The dangerous streets must surrender to orderly society.

It must not be forgotten that police power is an inherent attribute of sovereignty. It has been defined as the power vested by the Constitution in the legislature to make, ordain, and establish all manner of wholesome and reasonable laws, statutes and ordinances, either with penalties or without, not repugnant to the Constitution, as they shall judge to be for the good and welfare of the commonwealth, and for the subjects of the same.

The power is plenary and its scope is vast and pervasive, reaching and justifying measures for public health, public safety, public morals, and the general welfare. As an obvious police power measure, Article 202 must therefore be viewed in a constitutional light.

WHEREFORE , the petition is GRANTED . The Decision of
Branch 11 of the Regional Trial Court of Davao City in Special Civil Case No. 30-500-2004 declaring Article 202, paragraph 2 of the Revised Penal Code UNCONSTITUTIONAL is REVERSED and SET ASIDE.

– Read the complete ruling at sc.judiciary.gov.ph

On the ongoing reality at the US-Mexico border

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International NGOs supporting children and their development have this mantra: children cannot wait. On that note, US President Donald Trump’s relatively quick response to events at it’s border with Mexico is commendable. Separation of children (to social welfare centers) and their parents (to jail), according to the Executive Order, is an unanticipated negative side effect of the administration’s border policy. The Order should mitigate that.

Nations should now be over the time in world history when children are taken away into institutions just because adults deemed their thoughts, words, and deeds immoral or queer. We know more now about child development. We know now that the attitude and belief toward children then were a grave and sad mistake.

Migration has to be understood as a symptom, an effect, of an emerging phenomenon everywhere but especially felt in countries with weak institutions: insecurity in an all-encompassing sense. Conflict, discrimination, unemployment and joblessness, emergencies and disasters both natural and climate-induced, resource depletion caused by indiscriminate corporate practices, land grabbing by transnational corporations, etc. When the grass is as green as that next door why would people want to permanently leave their homelands?

Developed countries need to own part of the problem. After all, they were the key players that produced this modern world and it’s inherent issues. Sure, illegal immigration should be addressed. But, to punish children who are the least responsible? If there should be anybody responsible, it would have to be the originating country’s government. What are they also doing to address illegal outmigration of their people? And what neighboring countries should do now, proactively, is to talk and include in their bilateral agreements provisions on migration/border management.

On the diplomatic row between Kuwait and the Philippines

Kuwait cuts off power, water to Philippine envoy’s home headlines the Philippine Star on 3 May. What? What did the Filipino ambassador do to earn the fury of the Kuwaiti Government? Without knowing more about the incident, I’d say that for anyone to cut off your basic utilities not content with declaring you persona non grata— he must be really, overwhelmingly, pissed off (nanggigil nang husto). But why does this piece of news make me want to laugh? As the question goes about the three blind mice, has there ever been such a thing?

Power. The word flitted across my mind to sum up the information I got on the incident. The test is,

if the US Embassy in Kuwait were the ones who did what the Philippines Embassy did there, would the US Ambassador and Embassy personnel made to suffer exactly the same fate under the Kuwaiti Government?

No.

Take the principle of No Interference provided in the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic and Consular Relations. It’s an open secret that the US Government has dabbled enough (for locals to perceive it as interference) in the Mideast in the name of protection (ie. of US interests, and, well, world peace). We have yet however to hear of Mideast governments cutting off supply of utilities in US Embassy residences. If there would be a cutting off of something, it would be in trade – oil? – but not residential utilities for the United States. Otherwise, the Mideast governments will only make a laughingstock of themselves. You gonna cut off the electricity eh? Hello there NASA, bring in that solar spaceship! The more powerful a country the more sophisticated the treatment. The Kuwaiti Government apparently has deemed that cutting off Ambassador Villa’s utilities at his house is the most hurtful way to get at the Philippine Government. In a way, then, the Philippines has gotten away with less to worry about. With China humping happily on our back, the Bangsa Moro watching and waiting on the edges, the Commies flip-flopping like a car engine gone berserk, many young people un(der)employed, and the great masses still landless and poor, ah god, the Philippines can do very much with one less issue thank you. Even if it hurts our collective pride that our country by Kuwaiti standard is only as good as the cost of one household’s electricity and water!

Moving on, the Philippines’ rescue mission can be categorized as diplomatic asylum,

asylum granted by a State outside its territory, particularly in its diplomatic missions (diplomatic asylum in the strict sense), in its consulates, on board its ships in the territorial waters of another State (naval asylum), and also on board its aircraft and of its military or para-military installations in foreign territory

which, according to the UN Secretary General (1975), evolved from early custom and law,

he who has taken refuge in the house of a diplomat shall not be followed there, and his pursuers are to feign ignorance of his presence

-Venetian Statute, 1554

royal decree,

May the houses of ambassadors provide inviolable asylum, as did formerly the temples of the gods, and may no one be permitted to violate this asylum on any pretext whatever

-Charles V

and legal reference,

The American institution of asylum, with the special characteristics which it assumes on the continent, is, in short, the result of two coexisting phenomena deriving from law and politics respectively and in evidence throughout the history of this group of States: on the one hand, the power of democratic principles, respect for the individual and for freedom of thought; on the other hand, the unusual frequency of revolutions and armed struggles which, after each internal conflict, have often endangered the safety and life of persons on the losing side.

-Government of Colombia, to the International Court of Justice

DFA Secretary Alan Cayetano is therefore correct when he said that Ambassador Villa was merely doing his job. So shame to the DFA career diplomats apparently acting on their own who without further investigation were quick to call on the resignation of the Secretary (turning our backs on fellow Filipinos who dared risk their reputations and careers for others is exactly the mindless behavior of Filipinos that has gotten this country beholden and going around in circles).

There is, mind you, a caveat. Diplomatic asylum should not extend to criminal law offenders, for the reason that,

There would be no more sovereignty if within each State there was an independent territory which could serve as a refuge for all criminals and a hotbed for all kinds of conspiracies, and which could oppose its own law to the law of the country. The independent authority of ambassadors would completely absorb that of Governments.

-Faustin-Hélie

We, here, wouldn’t want something like that happening in our own backyard, do we? Thus: were the rescued OFWs at the time of the rescue slapped with criminal cases under the Kuwaiti Government? If it’s a yes, the right thing to do in this case would be to follow the legal process – this world’s like that – and ensure that these innocents-until-proven-guilty OFWs are armed with the best legal minds and supported with the resources they need throughout. That’s what OFWs need, require, from their Embassies abroad anyway and it’s the lack or inconsistent delivery of these that has gotten OFWs in trouble abroad in the first place. If it’s a no, that is, there is no case filed against the OFWs, they are free to go, to walk out of Kuwait, and return home. Exactly what the Philippines Embassy expedited. No crime there. The President shouldn’t have apologized.

To close, the diplomatic row could’ve been avoided, easily. But, in acting on the dictate of their tempers, both sides missed the opportunity to finally work on a mutually-rewarding solution to a common concern the plight of OFWs. Let’s hope both sides will come to their senses quickly, repair relations, and aim for the greater good. That after all is the mission of international diplomacy.


Source (of quotes): Question of Diplomatic Asylum. Report of the Secretary-General. UN. 22 September 1975.

WTF! No!

National Bible DaySpecial working holiday- what does this even mean? how does Congress imagine workers getting time off to revisit and reignite affinity toward the Bible, on their lunch break? Because the classification – double pay is it? – would incentivize workers to work not take the day off in order to spend time on their Bibles. Between the choice of double pay and the Bible, workers would opt for? For the masses of unemployed or on hand-to-mouth subsistence, the law if passed has no impact on them whatsoever. They’re largely the ones already living the Bible fanatically so but where does that leave them, in the trenches (of ignorance, hunger, etc.) still. As for businesses especially SMEs struggling to establish themselves, it would be another unwanted dent on their pockets (perhaps a reallocation away from that planned much-needed capital investment). The only people to gain from such legislation would be, hands down, ass-kissing folks in Congress and their BFF-counterparts in the churches (it’s one more reason to collect “donation”). I can’t believe this Congress of today!

Regardless, there are far more critical national issues hounding this country than religion (we have too much of this already) or religiousity or a sudden love for the Bible. I’m tempted to post a long list of national concerns here but everybody, even folks cleaning the loos and sweeping the streets, know them already. We don’t want to repeat ourselves.

C’mon, people-elect in Congress, the people did not vote for you to breathe down their necks conjuring up as their pastors or priests and priestesses not even their Sunday School teachers. The nation isn’t one bible study cell, in case you need reminding.

If Congress is very much itching to promote the Bible, it’s part of the work, the public’s challenge, is to transform itself into an institution that citizens can be proud of, one that reflects the messages and spirit of the Bible! A personification of the Bible! Thou shall not impose acts of holiness if you’re unable or refuse to do them first yourselves is the golden rule Pharisees whom Christ so loathed fail to live by.

Modern life phenomenon:  Minister for Loneliness

On Wednesday, the U.K. made political history by creating an entirely new, untried political role: the world’s first “minister for loneliness.” The post is designed to combat what Prime Minister Theresa May called “the sad reality of modern life” for many people.

Half a million British people over 60 only talk to another person once a week or less. People who self-report as lonely are more likely to experience dementia, heart disease, and depression. When it comes to life expectancy, the long-term health effects of loneliness are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

The World’s First Minister of Loneliness, Feargus O’Sullivan, Citylab

Maybe there’d be less songs for the lonely in the world, let’s see.

Today, the International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women

We, in the Philippines, need to review the current Anti Violence Against Women and their Children Law (Republic Act 9262) to include non-spousal violence. This requires a real and comprehensive understanding of gender inequality, that is, violence done to women (and their children) isn’t confined within a male-female relationship, but also, in many instances, within a female-female relationship as for example a mother-daughter relationship wherein either is the perpetrator or abuser. As I’ve written in earlier posts here, women also abuse other women in covert and overt ways. What if your own mother assaults you and your children in the middle of the night? What instant legal remedy could you avail of? Authorities and public services, per RA 9262, respond only to women-victims of spousal or partner abuse. It’s the saddest thing when authorities are themselves at a loss when you tell them that you want a protective order against your mother. 

One might argue there are in the Revised Penal Code remedies against non-spousal violence. True, but, you see, the treatment under this Code differs from that in RA 9262. In the latter, there is urgent response and “special” considerations ie. arrangements that are sensitive to needs of the woman-and -child(ren) victim which are not provided for in the former (RPC). 

The lesson here is, policy-makers, in enacting gender-equalizing and protection laws need first to understand the concept of gender and women ie. it is not just men who are violent or abusive. And what about domestic violence done to LGBTQ? Moreover, enactment of laws such as RA 9262 cannot be divorced from laws such as on divorce given that women’s rights are non-divisive. One’s right to life cannot be divorced from one’s right to education. Sama-sama lahat yan. Policy-makers need to understand these in order to draw up effective policies.

International day elimination of violence against women

More on Burnham Park

This is Baguio City’s only park but how come City Hall couldn’t maintain it as it should? Is City Hall bankrupt?

Seats around the lake and elsewhere. They’re the same old ones from my childhood and my parents’ college years. What’s not doable with improving say five seats a year following modern design (as below) until every seat has been updated?

Park seating design

The grass at Melvin Jones football ground. Shamefully patchy and an embarassment to City visitors if not City residents themselves. The City’s tree planting activities should expand to grass patching in this area.

“Let a thousand flowers bloom” so goes the Panagbenga banner. Where else in the City to show this but Burnham Park? But, for several years now, the statement is like the truth in most ads: believe it at your peril. Take for instance, Pantene’s current TV ad of it’s 3-Minute Miracle Conditioner. This beautiful lady with the beautiful long hair goes off to stand inches away from a jet plane’s engine. The engine is started and the turbine whirls sending the hair flying in all directions. The turbine is turned off and…”damaged hair”. But no worries, Pantene Miracle Conditioner will save the day. Thing is, in the real world, there’d be no more hair (or, head of hair, wait, in fact, no more beautiful lady) to speak of when you stand right in front of a jet’s churning turbine. At full speed it’d send you off to Laguna de Bay if not suck you in…a bloody mess for the airline’s mechanics to clean up. Back to the Park. Anybody with eyes, a City resident or a tourist, can see that the few surviving flowers at the Park are near-wilting. Or, perhaps since the City has not actualized the bloom of a thousand flowers since the first festival it’s time to revisit the slogan to see if it’s still appropriate. The phrase is actually borrowed from Mao Zedong:

Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting progress in the arts and the sciences and a flourishing socialist culture in our land.

In reality, however, according to history, “many of those who put forward views that were critical of Mao were executed”. 

The Children’s Park. On hot windy days, earth from the grass-less ground is carried by the wind to end up on children’s skin and into their lungs. Meanwhile City Hall declares itself a child-friendly City.

The Cycling Area. The place is full of potholes. City Hall has leased this part to rent-a-bike entrepreneurs who, obviously, have not done any maintenance work. What are the provisions in their contract with City Hall? Whose responsibility is it to maintain and repair the area? If it’s the entrepreneurs’, what’s City Hall doing to ensure they act on their responsibility? The area is not private property that maintenance is left to the whims of the users.

The Park as a cultural space. For culture to thrive, grow, and be appreciated and enhanced, it needs to be made a regular part of community (or, public) life. Where else to do that best than at the Park? The mall has become the place to see, hear, and know culture but what’s hosted there are the commercialized versions. As a result, people now believe that them buying and putting on a pair of earrings of native design is culture. That’s similar to getting pranked on April Fool’s Day. Culture is a mindset, that shows in one’s daily decisions, actions, and habits.

Theater stage modern design

How else could Cordillerans pass on their indigenous legacy than through stories, songs, and dances, art forms very much indicative of who they are? Once a year as in street dances on opening day of Panagbenga is not doing their culture justice. These require a public staging place. How else did the English influence the rest of the world with their culture? They were staged (in short, written and replayed again and again to audiences who in turn passed them on to and through their networks and so forth, similar to Facebook’s friends of friends business model).

Open public theater

Speaking of Panagbenga, City Hall should’ve by now come up with minimum quality standards that booth-owners renting space at the Park should comply with (otherwise, go find the place where polluters are so welcomed). This sounds heartless but, think, this is the only remaining Park we have in the City- would we leave it’s health to business which if left alone to do it’s thing will naturally maximize free resource in order to squeeze out the most profit? The years have shown that the businesses that rented from City Hall were just that. 

Booth design sample starbucks

Finally, the felled trees of the Park. Where were they brought to? They should be publicly-displayed artistically, something like the one below, with appropriate captions (name, age, specie, history) as monument to ancient ones that had lengthily served the City and it’s people; also to educate and develop appreciation among the public for the City’s tree species and the role of trees in the survival of human communities.

Tree logs public display