Thursday, June 30, 2011

International festival of political and activist films set to stage on July 1st week; Award-winning international documentaries to have its Philippine premiere at the 1st AGITPROP film festival

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Award-winning films about activism and social justice movements in many parts of the world are slated to headline the first AGITPROP International Film Festival on Peoples Struggles to be held in Manila on July 2-4, 2011 at UP Diliman’s CMC Media Center and Cine Adarna. To highlight the festival is the documentary Cultures of Resistance by Brazilian filmmaker Iara Lee. The film, which chronicles the various ways by which people in different countries use art and music as a medium of struggle against exploitation and violence, bagged the best documentary awards in the Tiburon and the Steps International Film festivals.

The director Iara Lee is a social justice activist and was among the passengers of the MV Mavi Marmara, a vessel in the Gaza Freedom Flotilla that was attacked by the Israeli Navy in May 2010 after attempting to bring humanitarian aid to Palestinian refugees. The attack led to the murder of many humanitarian workers.
Another award winning documentary to be featured in the festival is Mirage of El Dorado by Canadian director Martin Frigon. Produced by the Productions Multi-Monde, the film exposes the environmental and ecological threats posed by mining operations of several Canadian companies in Chile. The documentary won the Grand Prize in the 26th International Environmental Film Festival in Paris and the 7th International Digital Film Festival in Chile.

Meanwhile, set to close the festival is The Yes Men Fix the World by Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno. The documentary follows the journey of two political activists as they pull pranks on top executives of giant corporations and institutions responsible for policies and actions that threaten the general welfare of people around the world. It won the audience award in the 2009 Berlin International Film Festival, 2009 Berkshire International Film Festival and the Planet Doc International Film Festival and was among the official selections at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival in the United States.

AGITPROP will feature a total of 30 films comprised of full-length documentaries and short features from both local and foreign filmmakers including Joel Lamangan, Bonifacio Ilagan, and Urian-Awardee Pam Miras, among others. Lamangan’s 2009 film DUKOT (Disappeared), which was written by Ilagan, is the festival’s feature film for the Justice and Human Rights Category.

Festival director and Southern Tagalog Exposure (ST eXposure) founding member RJ Mabilin explains that aside from promoting the interest and struggles of the oppressed people all over the world, the festival also seeks to support films committed to social change. “It takes the role of giving a much needed venue for films and filmmakers that dare present social realities that are often silenced and confused by the dominant modes and channels of information,” explains Mabilin.
The name of the festival takes its inspiration from the educational/cultural campaign in the Soviet Union during the 1920s after the October Revolution, when films became effective tools for arousing and educating the masses. AGITPROP is being organized by the ST eXposure, along with other Philippine-based multimedia and cultural groups Mayday Philippines, Concerned Artists of the Philippines, Tudla Productions, Kodao Productions, and the Free Jonas Burgos Mov’t. Asia pacific online video site EngageMedia also helped in curating AGITPROP.

Other groups and institutions who are taking part in putting up the festival are the Congress of Teachers for Nationalism and Democracy (CONTEND-UP), the UP Diliman University Student Council, the UP Film Institute, and the United Church of Christ in the Philippines Southern Luzon Jurisdiction (UCCP SLJ) among others. The opening of the festival will be held at the Media Center of the UP College of Mass Communication while the closing night will be at the main theatre of UP Film Institute’s Cine Adarna (Film Center).
AGITPROP is being organized alongside two international events to be held also in July here in the country – the International Festival of People’s Rights and Struggles (IFPRS) and the 4th International Assembly of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS).
The ILPS is an international organization promoting freedom and democracy, which at present includes more than 350 member organizations from over 40 countries. The IFPRS, on the other hand, is an initiative of ILPS member organizations to give venue for the exchanges between sectoral groups around the world on issues of human rights, livelihood, welfare, women’s rights, arts and culture, and social justice, among others.
Both events seek to forge a stronger and broader solidarity among organizations and individuals in the struggle to advance and defend the peoples’ genuine democratic rights and aspirations throughout the world.
For more information, contact Edge, 09157561326 / Apple, 09062225986

Know the native trees at the U.P. Diliman Campus

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For more information on the Philippine Native Plants Conservation Society, Inc., please click on this link:

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fee the UPLB 5! Free the Calamba 7!

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Press Statement by the College Editors Guild of the Philippines - Southern Tagalog Chapter
June 20, 2011

Members of the campus press in Southern Tagalog expressed their dismay on the continued illegal detention of 7 individuals collectively known as the “Calamba 7” saying this act by the state is but a “direct insult to the life and death of our national hero, Jose Rizal.”

“It is ironic that 150 years after the birth of Rizal and in his very own hometown of Calamba, the youth and people experience the same political persecution that the Spanish colonial rulers imposed upon the Filipino people hundreds of years ago,” College Editors Guild of the Philippines – Southern Tagalog (CEGP-ST) Chairperson Rogene Gonzales said.

‘Freedom of expression’

Yesterday, during the commemoration of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Rizal in Calamba, Laguna, protesters registered their dissent to Noynoy Aquino who was present in the ceremony. The militants scored Aquino for his anti-people policies on education and land reform that continues to haunt the Southern Tagalog region. 8 protesters were nabbed by police forces.

Until now, the 7 individuals including 5 youth, who are members of Kabataan Partylist and students of U.P. Los BaƱos, remain detained at the Calamba Police Station despite petition for recognizance filed yesterday to grant their release.  The other 2 detained are members of Anakpawis Partylist.

“We urge the local government of Calamba to drop the trumped-up charges of the Calamba 7 since they have only practiced their freedom of expression which is a vital cornerstone to a democratic society,” Gonzales stressed.

Last academic year, CEGP-ST recorded around 170 cases of campus press freedom violations (CPFVs) from 40 publications throughout the region while the CEGP National Office has recorded 187 CPFVs during the recent national convention. 22 publications registered they have experienced censorship from their advisers or school administrators.

“If inside their schools, students are already repressed for speaking and standing up for their rights and welfare, what more outside the academic realm?” he asked.

‘Inheritors of our country’s future’

Meanwhile, CEGP-Cavite Chairperson Rose Sugar Velarde stressed that it is not through the construction of a huge monument that we truly commemorate Rizal’s teachings, but through respecting the rights of the youth and people - whom Rizal sacrificed his life for.

“The youth are the inheritors of our country’s future. But do we still need to be exiled and jailed to Dapitan just like Rizal before the government realizes that it is not living-up for the people’s interests?” Velarde said.
She added that if Aquino only gave in to the calls of the people such as higher state subsidy for education, genuine land reform and just wages, then the people would not have anything to protest about in the first place.

In Cavite, for example, farmers have no choice but to evacuate their lands because of the landowners’ rampant land-use conversion of agricultural lands to subdivisions granted upon by the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program with Extension and Reforms (CARPER).


“What the 7 has shouted in front of Aquino are legitimate calls of the people. But does the Aquino administration even listens to us – whom he claims as his boss?” she stressed.

‘Rise in human rights violations’

Yesterday, student journalists in Palawan joined multi-sectoral groups in the province in showing their disgust to the Department of Justice (DOJ). The DOJ ruled on the case of slain journalist Dr. Gerardo ‘Gerry’ Ortega absolving former Palawan governor Joel T. Reyes and five more accused personalities from their crimes.

“We understand that the state has always retorted to nothing else but political persecution to its critics. On June 30, Aquino will mark one year in office, and now we see a rapid rise in the number of human rights violations in the country,” according to Allan Jay Javier, chairperson of CEGP-Palawan and editor-in-chief of The Pioneer of Palawan State University.

Javier stressed that the Calamba-7 is not an isolated case of state violence, but roots from the systematic abuse of power from the government no different from what former president-now-congresswoman Gloria Arroyo did when she was in office.

In less than a year of Aquino’s presidency, human rights group Karapatan-Southern Tagalog accounted 11 cases of extrajudicial killings in the region. In addition, the number of political prisoners continued to rise to 54. Last May 18, trumped-up charges of “murder and frustrated murder” were re-filed in San Pablo City, Laguna for 72 leader activists of Southern Tagalog.

‘Release the Calamba-7 now!’

Different groups stormed in front of the Calamba City Hall starting 2pm today, setting-up a protest camp to call for the immediate release of the detained. The protesters vowed not to leave until the 7 individuals are released and all charges have been dropped.

“We call on the youth and the people, most especially campus journalists, to show their support in calling for the freedom of the Calamba-7. Sama-sama nating ipanawagan ang pagpapalaya sa mga tunay na pag-asa ng bayan!”  Gonzales stressed.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Save UPIS, Save our children’s RIGHT to education.

Editor's note: We are posting the following petition in line with our policy of providing access to those with alternative points of view, and because it discusses many topics that we deem to be relevant to the Diliman community. We hope that at least some of the points will ultimately become points of discussion and debate, which is healthy for the democratic governance of any institution. We note that the previous U.P. Administration railroaded, through its administration-dominated Board of Regents, the approval of the long-term lease of the University of the Philippines Integrated School. Maybe it is this secretive end-of-days approval and the trampling of the U.P. Charter itself (R.A. 9500), which cries out - even if belatedly - for real consultations with all affected sectors before a project of this financial magnitude is implemented, and which has led to a growing body of disaffected U.P.I.S. alumni questioning the project when implementation is about to begin, for no public consultations of any consequence have ever been implemented. It is only with the utmost sensitivity to the feelings of these disaffected U.P.I.S. alumni, that the new administration of U.P. President Alfredo E. Pascual can seek to allay the concerns of the U.P.I.S. alumni.

Large real estate corporations are currently waiting for the Department of Finance to approve the implementing rules for real estate investment trusts (REITs), which allow investors to invest directly in Philippine Stock Exchange (PSE)-listed real estate projects (rather than in the shares of the company itself). Such projects, potentially including the U.P.I.S. project, which will be operated by Ayala Land, Inc. fall within the probable time frame of co-implementation of the U.P.I.S. project and the approval by the DOF of REITs (the estimated period is 2011-2012). Ayala Land, Inc., should it finance this project via REITs, will be dependent on financing derived from large and small investors, and these REITs are themselves vulnerable to losses in share prices, if there are untied loose ends (such as restive and unconsulted sectors who remain unconvinced that this is a good project). Ultimately, it is in the best interests of Ayala Land, Inc. and the new U.P. Administration to make sure that Ayala Land projects are all above board when it comes to the University of the Philippines, because a lack of consultation of the affected sectors not only is in violation of R.A. 9500, but the share prices of Ayala Land, Inc., considered a blue chip stock in the Philippine Stock Exchange, are subject to a pummeling if the investing public, made up of large and small investors, including large foreign investors, sees a large, well-regarded company "slipping" in the all-important area of corporate governance, which under international best business practices, really calls for communities and affected sectors to be consulted properly and respectfully by the project proponents, even if there was no U.P. Charter requiring this.

Please sign this petition if you want to oppose commercialization of our schools and keep our right to education.
All the underlying issues are discussed below.

This is a petition to our University of the Philippines President, Alfredo Pascual and to our Philippine President Ninoy Aquino.
From concerned Filipino citizens- students and parents alike, speaking in behalf of all the universities in the country.
Save UPIS, Save our children’s RIGHT to education.

During most of  GMA’s term, 154 out of 264 State Universities and Collegess (SUCs)(1), including  the University of the Philippines(2) were converted from a state to a national university.

Though this may seem like a harmless name change,  this move, a.k.a.“rationalization” is nothing but detrimental to the state of our education.

As a national university,  the school ceases to be a responsibility of the state and is thus tasked to earn money for its keep - making it a money making business(3) rather than an institution in the service of its people.

You may wonder, how such a change could have been allowed by its academic administrators, the guardians of our learning.

In this, you need to follow the money.  For each school converted to a national university, you have to ask- 

"Were those who voted in its favor given special positions as profit recipients of this anomaly?"

"Could a busines-oriented school be so bad?",  you may ask.

Emerlinda Roman, then incumbent UP President reasons that it is a good discipline  for universities to be trained in the realities of business and economics.

Though this may be so,  this is the price we have to pay:

1. NO MONEY,  NO STUDY Education, which used to be the right of every deserving child is now a privilege of the financially capable few.
In UP, the 300% tuition fee increase(4) resulted in the non-admission of 1/3 of its students(5), who, even though passed the academe’s stringent examination, failed the business entity’s financial requirement.
  • Take the case of a freshman Chemistry student from a minority group in Cotabato.(6)
    His father, has set aside money from their meagre income  to ensure that his bright son gets a life different from his own.  They were welcomed by a 300% tuition fee increase, which they had to produce in a few days.  Unable to come up with the amount, the son dropped out, downtrodden, dreams of a better life gone.

    A bright mind left to stagnate.  A parent’s strife, rendered futile.
The open slot that he leaves is now taken up by a foreign student(7) who finds the tuition fee, a meager amount compared to what they have to pay in their country(8).
Our gift of education to the world? Or hope denied to our countrymen.

The faculty, now tasked to make ends meet- has business as its primary function rather than how to continuously improve the curriculum.

Faculty meetings are about budgets and ideas on fundraisers while the school syllabus stays stagnant.

Though it is important to propagate courses that support our business infrastructure as Business Administration, Engineering, Law-  courses needed in the positive well balanced development of our country and people are overlooked- as Education,  Fine Arts, Community Development.
The UP School of Education is downsized even as there is a gnawing need for more teachers.  The resulting downsizing of UPIS, a laboratory school that helps UP Ed students, our future teachers in designing a better syllabus, is a direct casualty of this shift in priorities.
Projecting into the future, we will become a consumerist nation, devoid of  social and cultural values that give life its true rich meaning.

Take a tour of UP and you will find that the independent community of old now gives way to advertising.
  • All the pebbles of the academic oval are engraved with names of donors.
  • The rooms are named after brands and companies who gave a sizeable donation.
Though I commend those who gave financial support to the school, I also believe that true giving is selfless and anonymous.

Time was when we named our edifices after heroes, people who made selfless contributions to higher learning.

Now, we name them after the highest bidder.

This practice has gone to the extreme with the lease of Technohub. 

What was misrepresented to be a science and technology incubator, is now a business and commercial center- rented at a discount of 177Million over 25 years, which is only 8% of fair market value(10) to the school’s preferred business partners.

And now, UPIS…(click here to see Save UPIS video)
  • the school, dilapidated as they reasoned, will be transferred to an even smaller, burnt remnant of a residence hall.  A token alm is given, hardly enough for its repairs.
  • The students, will be downsized as a result of the uprofitable, deprioritized and downsized Colege of Education
  • The sprawling grounds, used to be the site of youth sports activities will be replaced by a commercial mall.
All this, so that UP can add a meager P34Mill/year (11), a tiny drop to the P12Bill budget deficit that the government cannot provide.

Can the Philippine government REALLY not provide?

UP needs P18 Bill in 2011 to function but it only received P5.5Bill, a further decrease of P1.4 Bill  from the previous year.  (12)

With a total education budget of  2.8% of GDP (2008) (13) , the Philippine government, consistently allots less than half of the prescribed minimum of 6% set by UNESCO Delors Commission for developing countries.

The government,  they say is bankrupt and has no more money to give.  Is it really?
Sign the petition here.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Diliman Video of the Week: Tulo Laway: A Musical Adventure (UCLA Filipino Film)


Watch in 720p HD! Set after "The Real Westwood", the roommates, Aaron, Angelo, Paloma, Justin and Donnaly are back in a less dramatic, more comedic adventure! Upon receiving a package on their doorstep, the roommates go on a magical adventure in order to win a special cultural prize. This quarter we learned how to create daily schedules, express likes and dislikes, shopping, telling directions and culture - which are all incorporated into the video. Parodies include musicals, Tangled, National Treasure, Message in A Bottle, Toy Story, and 5 songs such as Keri Hilson's "The Way You Love Me," Disney's "When Will My Life Begin?", Bruno Mars' "The Lazy Song", Piolo Pascual's "Kailangan Kita" and Chris Brown's "Yeah 3x."

This is my 2nd foreign language film for Winter Quarter 2011 in Professor Domingo's Filipino 2 class, starring Angelo Agustin, Paloma Doreza, Donnaly Natividad, Justin Sabino, and Aaron Testa. Filmed in HD with my new Canon VIXIA and my first short film edited with Final Cut Studio & Macbook Pro.

Mighty Man - Diliman

Friday, June 10, 2011


By Gene Nisperos

The forum dubbed “Giving: Join the New Revolution” held at the UPCM last Tuesday left a bad taste in the mouth. It was, at best, an exercise that was rude, myopic, uninspiring, disturbing, deplorable, and a host of other adjectives too embarrassing to invoke.

It was rude because even though the name of Professor Solita Monsod was plastered on the posters of the said event, she was not the main speaker. In fact, Prof. Monsod barely spoke and only to correct the so-called “evidenced-based” presentation that essentially cut her down under the pretext of disputing certain parts of her famous speech (the one that went viral on youtube).

The actual speaker was an alumnus of the UPCM, the valedictorian of the Class of 1979 and a renowned dermatologist, who allegedly went through great pains of conducting a survey and research to prove one point: that you can have your cake and eat it too.

His presentation was a rather tasteless defense of something that should not have to be defended in the first place: the decisions UPCM graduates make at the end of their schooling. He seemed to believe that he can justify decisions made in the past by being charitable now. Thus, what followed was a shameless display of self-aggrandizement hypocritically sub-titled “the merits of expatriate-ism and reciprocity”.

The shabby treatment of Prof. Monsod was wrong on so many levels. Worse, it reflected very poorly on how we comport ourselves when faced with judgment we deem unfair. Rather than be gracious and act with honor and integrity, we only managed to reveal to Prof. Monsod how sorely lacking we are in both.

The forum was also disturbing because a big part of it was all about money – charity money being doled out by the alumni for various projects or “needs” of the college. After the head of the PGH Medical Foundation read a very lengthy laundry list of projects that have been funded by donations, especially those from the UPMASA, some alumni started pledging to donate hundreds of thousands of pesos. It felt like an auction and our dignity was up for sale.

The myopic assumption was that giving money back to the college is equal to or sufficient to connote “serving the Filipino people”. Rather than address the issue of why the UPCM has NOT been able to instill enough values for its students to stay after they graduate to serve the underserved, the forum only highlighted our continuing refusal to sincerely acknowledge our shortcomings and change – change our values, our notions of excellence, our concepts of success – to something more relevant to the many who are still waiting for us to serve them.

I saw the look on the faces of the students and young alumni – many of whom came to hear Prof. Monsod speak and perhaps, listen to an intelligent discourse that would ensue. But that did not happen.

Instead, they saw the inability of the college to rise beyond its own self-interests. Prof. Monsod virtually threw the gauntlet, a challenge for us to confront issues larger than ourselves and to commit and be part of genuine national development. Yet the anemic response of our alma mater was DONATION?

We are better than this. We should be better than this.

I am not a fan of end-of-the-year speeches extolling this or that virtue. During our graduation in 1993, then health secretary Juan Flavier gave an impassioned speech akin to the one of Prof. Monsod. My reaction then is still my reaction now: a 30-minute speech, no matter how eloquent, cannot undo the distorted values ingrained by five years of med school. Graduates who went on to serve the underserved did so in spite of, not because of, the kind of education they received.

Someone once said that physicians are the natural attorneys of the poor. UPCM graduates who stayed behind, including those who tried to insulate themselves from our sad state of affairs by concentrating on their practice, cannot but see the face of suffering every time they treat the poor, who seem to have grown more numerous and impoverished over the years.

That some UPCM graduates have chosen to stay and suffer the daily grind of life in this archipelago of our despair is a measure of solidarity that cannot be experienced vicariously by those who have chosen to leave, even if some of them occasionally look back to see how we are doing.

I have no judgment on those who left the country. They have their reasons. I thank them if they help the people back here, but love them anyway (particularly my friends and classmates) if they do not. Yes, I sincerely wish that they did stay but cannot fault them for their decisions. However, I cannot say the same for a very few who did stay but managed to only make life here more miserable.

The forum last Tuesday reminded me that there is still a war being waged. It is a war being waged here, although everyone can help pitch in. It is a war for the hearts and minds of medical students. It is a war for the soul of this nation, for the future of our people.


(Editor's note: Dr. Gene Nisperos is a graduate of the U.P. College of Medicine. The link to his Facebook note was sent to us by U.P. Kilos Na, which also commented thus about the same forum: "Rather than address the issue of why the UPCM has NOT been able to instill enough values for its students to stay after they graduate to serve the underserved, the forum only highlighted our continuing refusal to sincerely acknowledge our shortcomings and change – change our values, our notions of excellence, our concepts of success – to something more relevant to the many who are still waiting for us to serve them.")

Roundup: U.S. economy to avert double dip, but recovery to remain slow

By Matthew Rusling

WASHINGTON, June 10 (PNA/Xinhua) -- While a worrisome U.S. jobless report and other data have in recent days stirred fears of a double-dip recession, a number of economists said such a scenario is unlikely, rather, the economy will continue to recover, albeit at a snail's pace.

Last week's jobless report triggered fears of a double dip when it showed a 9.1-percent unemployment rate and only 54,000 new jobs, the smallest increase in eight months.

JD Foster, senior fellow at the Heritage Foundation, said that while a double dip cannot be ruled out, it remains unlikely at this point, barring some unforeseen shock.

"This recovery is anemic and uneven, and when you have an anemic and uneven economy, you are going to have bad quarters," he told Xinhua.

Indeed, commercial real estate and the residential housing market continue to fare poorly, he noted, and those are among the elements holding back the economy.

Moreover, other underlying components such as business investment and personal consumption are simply adequate and lack strength, Foster said.

For real jobs growth, the economy needs to grow in the range of 3.5 percent to 4 percent on a sustained basis, he said.

"And we are a long way from that," he added.

Indeed, gross domestic product growth in the first quarter of 2011 was clocked at a tepid 1.8 percent, and most economists hold that unemployment numbers will not return to pre-recession levels until around 2014.


Robert Johnson, associate director of economic analysis at Morningstar, an independent research provider, noted that Japanese auto production has dropped significantly on the heels of the major earthquake and tsunami that rocked the island nation on March 11. That has disrupted the global supply chain and impacted the U.S. economy, he said.

A number of elements go into auto production, and many products used in Japanese cars are produced in the United States.

"All those things are going to show up in many different places, so it comes as no surprise that (U.S.) manufacturing numbers look a bit weak, because of Japan," Johnson told Xinhua.

Indeed, Japan's auto industry uses a myriad of products, from steel to copper to leather to doorknobs. "They buy a little from a lot of different types of businesses," he said.

But in spite of that hiccup, the recovery continues to slog forward, an inch at a time."The economy is softer than I would like to see it, but I am not panicked that we are headed for the abyss," he said.

Others noted that job growth was merely mediocre prior to last week's disappointing unemployment report.

"This is just further proof that the recovery wasn't that good to begin with," according to a recent article posted on the CNNMoney website.

The article argued that the economy will only improve when companies hire more aggressively, the housing market bottoms out and Washington begins a meaningful conversation on the massive U.S. deficit.


A Gallup report released on Tuesday found that while many employers are holding on to their workers, hiring remains seven to eight points below early 2008, just before the U.S. economy took a nose dive.

While job creation so far this year is better than it was over the same five months in 2009 and 2010, new jobs are being created at an anemic pace compared with what is needed to lower the U.S. unemployment rate. Moreover, the rate of improvement this year compared with last is declining, according to Gallup.

The government's most recent jobs report has led many economists to reduce their forecasts for the remainder of 2011. The real question, however, is whether the recent slowdown in the economy is already being reflected in the unemployment numbers or whether there will be a further deterioration in the jobless rate, Gallup argued.

Foster of the Heritage Foundation contended that U.S. President Barack Obama's healthcare law is creating uncertainty for businesses, which are reluctant to hire because they are still unsure how much the new regulations will cost them.

"A lot of human resources departments say they don't know what Obama care is going to do, and unless they have to hire, they are reluctant to do so when they don't know the consequences of this massive law will be," he said.

Supporters of the law contended it will save money and ultimately benefit the economy.


Sam Bullard, senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities, told Xinhua he foresees no double dip on the horizon, noting that a number of factors bode well for the economy: Gasoline prices may have already peaked, which will be good for personal consumption; second quarter growth looks like it will improve; and the third quarter will see an unwinding of supply chain disruption due to Japan's earthquake and tsunami.

Many companies are also replacing equipment that they have delayed purchasing because of the recession, Bullard said, adding that his company sees growth picking up in the second half of this year.

"Unfortunately, we will have to see a bit stronger growth there to really bring down the unemployment rate," he said.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Rotting fish: another food for thought

By Flor Lacanilao

Most of the fish kills in the country are in lakes and coastal waters where excessive fish farming in cages or pens are located. A common cause is pollution build-up from industrial & domestic wastes, agricultural fertilizers & pesticides, and culture-fish feces & excess feeds. These excess dissolved nutrients can trigger phytoplankton or algal blooms and subsequent decay, further causing degraded water condition (e.g., toxic or oxygen deficient) that may cause fish diseases and subsequent death or fish death directly. This brief is excerpted from 1986 and 1987 reports (see Notes below).

The Laguna Lake show how unregulated practice of aquaculture has given rise to conflict of interest, which caused serious ecological, social, economic, and political problems. Let me tell a story on Laguna Lake frequented by fish diseases and deaths in the 1980s. 

Way back in 1961-1964, when there were no fishpens, the annual catch of small fishers in the Lake was 80,000-82,000 tons. In 1968, a survey showed that some 8,000 full-time and 2,000 part-time fishers used the Lake as a communal fishing ground. For shrimps and molluscs, it was about 240,000 tons. The bulk of this catch was used for animal feeds, mainly by the duck-raising industry.

There were 23 species of fish caught in Laguna Lake, with the goby (biyang puti) and perch (ayungin) as the dominant species. Carp, catfishes (hito and kanduli), snakehead (dalag) and tilapia were also caught in the lake in addition to migratory species from Manila Bay, which came via the backflow of the once unpolluted Pasig River.

In 1971, the Laguna Lake Development Authority (LLDA) introduced fishpen culture with a 38-hectare pilot project at Looc in Central Bay. Milkfish (bangus) was chosen because of its market value, and it feeds directly on phytoplankton, which was abundant in the lake. The project gave encouraging results, like producing 3.5 times more fish per hectare over that in open waters. “The lake fish pen aquaculture has been estimated to have a potential for expansion to 20,000 ha of fish pens having an annual production value of 320 million pesos.” This prompted businessmen and entrepreneurs to go into fishpen culture. Development expanded to 4,800 hectares by the end of 1973; the gross annual value of production in 1973 was P76.8 million.

Data in 1982 showed that fishpens, then 31,000-hectares, produced 62,000 tons of fish, while the open waters yielded only 19,000 tons for the small fishers – or a total lake harvest of 81,000 tons. This was clearly equivalent to the yearly catch of small fishers in 1961-1964 before the introduction of fishpens.

The excessive growth of the fish culture industry in the Lake later proved counter-productive. The milkfish took more time to grow because of increased competition for natural food, the 4-month rearing time had stretched to 8-15 months. This was corrected with supplemental feeding, which also allowed increasing the fish stock. Meanwhile, the catch of the small fishers dwindled to one-fourth that of their pre-fishpen catch, which was predictable from the start. 

What the fishpens did was rob the small fishers of their traditional catch -- by reducing their fishing areas, competing with phytoplankton that fed the milkfish, polluting the waters, and reducing the fish catch from open waters. Note that the native species depended on the phytoplankton for food directly and indirectly through food chains. Further, water circulates in and out of the fishpens, bringing in food and taking out wastes and excess feed to pollute the open-waters.

The conflict was between the community of poor fisherfolk of more than 15,000 families and the group of a few hundred rich fishpen operators. In a report published in the newspapers, the LLDA identified an elite group of fishpen operators owning 10 of the largest fish pen areas on the lake totalling more than 4,000 hectares (the law says, no person or corporation can own more than 50 hectares of fishpen concessions). The list showed members of prominent families, including politicians and ranking military officers.

The fishpens have also deprived the shrimps and molluscs in the lake of their food budget. This adversely affected the small-scale industries, which use these products and provide livelihood for many lake-shore families. In addition, the fishpens contributed to the deterioration of the lake for water supply and obstructed the navigation lanes.



1. Flor Lacanilao. 1987. Managing Laguna Lake for Small Fishers. SEAFDEC Asian Aquaculture 9(3): 3-4.

2. Jon Davis, Flor Lacanilao, & Alejandro Santiago. 1986. Laguna de Bay: Problems and Options. White Paper No.2, Haribon Foundation.

3. See also “Extensions of ‘The Tragedy of the Commons” by Garrett Hardin. 1998. Science 280:682-683.

(Dr. Flor Lacanilao obtained his Ph.D. (specialization in comparative endocrinology) from the University of California at Berkeley. He served as chairman of the Zoology Department at UP Diliman, chancellor of UP Visayas, and chief of SEAFDEC in Iloilo.) 

Monday, June 6, 2011

The paradox of growth and persistent poverty

"The Arroyo administration had been inordinately fond of citing the 10 years of economic growth during its tenure, peaking at a high 7.1 percent in 2007. And yet, in that decade of impressive growth, more Filipinos actually became poor."

"In 2003, for instance, the official poverty incidence rate for all individual Filipinos was only 24.9 percent. By 2009, this had worsened to as much as 26 percent. Put another way, the number of poor Filipinos in 2003 was a mere 19.8 million. By 2009, this number had swelled to as much as 23.1 million. In reality, many of these additional 3.3 million Filipinos were in fact children who had been born into poverty."

Read the rest here.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Diliman Video of the Week: Coins: Issues in Circulation

CEBU CITY-- Coin shortage is becoming a serious problem in the country despite the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) minting 15.6 billion pieces of coins worth P16.9 billion as of December 2009.

This wide-reaching shortage exists because coins are usually left at home, stored in piggy banks, hiding inside cabinets and car compartments, scattered on top of the refrigerator, gathering dust and forgotten, according to a multimedia special report published by Sun.Star Network Exchange (Sunnex) at

The report, which looked into the effect of coin shortage on vendors, drivers, business and financial institutions that need these coins to responsibly transact with the public, said each Filipino holds 150 pieces of coins, with the BSP producing more than 11 billion pieces every year.

Read the rest here.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

UP Cebu Dean Avila at Dalawa pang Opisyal, Pinatawan ng Preventive Suspension

(Editor's note: This statement was sent to us via Up Kilos Na:  Pahayag ng All UP Workers Alliance sa inilabas na preventive suspension kay UP Cebu Dean Avila at dalawa pang opisyal.)

IPAGDIWANG ANG TAGUMPAY NG SAMA-SAMANG PAGKILOS! NAPATAWAN NA SA WAKAS NG PREVENTIVE SUSPENSION SI DEKANO AVILA NG UP CEBU! Pahayag ng All UP Workers Alliance Dulot ng determinado at matatag na pagkilos at panawagan ng iba't ibang sektor ng UP Cebu at s...uporta mula sa buong UP System ay umaksyon na ang Administrasyon kaugnay ng mga kasong grave misconduct at gross neglect of duty laban sa ilang opisyal ng UP Cebu. Nitong nakaraang Mayo 26, 2011 ay pinatawan sa wakas ng preventive suspension sina Dekano Enrique M. Avila ng UP Cebu, Alsidry Sharif (Acting Budget Officer ng UP Cebu) at Ernesto Pineda (lecturer at consultant ng UP Cebu).

Malaking tagumpay na ito at sapat na dahilan upang magdiwang sa ibinunga ng sama-samang pagkilos. Gayumpaman, hindi dapat kakalimutang may nakasampa pa ring kaso ng libelo ni Dekano Avila laban sa sampung guro at empleyado ng UP Cebu dahil sa pagbubunyag nila ng mga ebidensya ng mga iregularidad at korupsyon ng kanyang administrasyon. Kasama sa mga kinasuhan ang mga pangulong lokal ng All UP Academic Employees Union at ng All UP Workers Union. Sa kanilang paglalantad ng mga nasabing katiwalian ay masinop nilang nabigyan ng dokumentasyon at patunay ang iba't ibang instansya ng pagsisinungaling, opresyon, malalang pagpapabaya sa tungkulin at iba pang mga aksyong may negatibong naidudulot sa serbisyong pampubliko nina Dekano Avila, Sharif at Pineda. Mahaba ang listahan ng mga grabe nilang paglabag sa mga regulasyon Unibersidad at mga batas hinggil sa wastong etika at kondukta ng mga publikong opisyal. Masasabing may tuwirang pananagutan si Dekano Avila sa karamihan ng mga katiwaliang ito samantalang may command responsibility naman siya sa lahat ng mga ito. Ito ang naging batayan ng Administrasyon ng UP sa pagsasampa ng administratibong kaso laban kina Dekano Avila. Pero hindi pa nagtapos doon ang kasuhan. Pagkaraan lamang ng ilang linggo ng pagsasamapa ng kasong libelo ay kinasuhan naman ng perjury ni Alsidry Sharif ang anim na pintor (mga manggagawang job order) dahil sa paggawa nila ng mga affidavit na tumetestigo sa kanyang pangingikil sa kanila ng tig-isang daan kaugnay daw ng pag-renew ng kanilang mga kontrata. Patuloy pa ring nakabitin ang usaping ito.

Maliban sa mga kasong ito ay mabigat na nakabinbing usapin ang tenure ni Prop. Roberto C. Basadre. Noon pang Nobyembre 25, 2010, nirekomenda ng UPV Academic Personnel and Fellowships Committee (AcPFC) ang pagbibigay ng tenure kay Prop. Basadre ng UP Cebu Professional Education Division (PED). Natugunan na ni Prop. Basadre ang lahat ng requirement upang magawaran ng tenure kasama na ang publikasyon sa isang refereed journal. Gayumpama'y arbitraryo at labag sa prosesong hinarang ito ni Dekano Avila. Kakabit ito ng unilateral na plano ni Avila na lusawin ang UP Cebu High School kahit hindi pa napagdedesisyunan ang usaping ito ng BOR. Labis-labis na paglabag ito sa mga karapatan ni Prop. Basadre sa wasto, malinaw at walang diskriminasyong proseso ng pagkonsidera ng kanyang tenure. Lalo pang nangangailangan ng maagap na pagtugon ang usaping ito sapagkat nagtapos na ang temporary appointment ni Prop. Basadre nitong Mayo 31, 2011.

Patuloy na usapin din kaugnay ng prinsipyo ng demokratisasyon ng pamamalakad ng Unibersidad na nakapaloob sa UP Charter ang arbitraryong pagkakait ni Dekano Avila sa mga mag-aaral ang kanilang representasyon sa Executive Committee (Execom). Ginawa niya ito kahit ganito na ang kalakaran bago humiwalay bilang autonomous na kolehiyo ang UP Cebu. Mula noong pumutok ang usapin ng tiwaling pamumuno ni Dekano Avila sa UP Cebu ay matiyagang naghintay at nag-antabay ang mga apektadong sektor ng UP Cebu at ang lahat ng nagmamalasakit ng naaangkop na tugon mula kay Presidente Pascual. Malaking bagay na natanggal na sa pwesto kahit pansamantala lamang sina Dekano Avila upang maiwasan na ang patuloy nilang pang-aabuso sa kapangyarihan at panggigipit sa mga naglalantad ng kanilang mga katiwalian. Ngunit kailangang manatiling mapagmatyag sapagkat ang ginawang Dekanong OIC ng Cebu na si Richelita Galapate ay dating bahagi ng Administrasyong Avila at kailangan pa niyang patunayan ang kanyang kakayahang magdesisyon sa paraang makatarungan at matuwid. Malinaw na malinaw ang mga ebidensya at malinaw na rin ang dapat maging aksyon. Huwag nang magpatumik-tumpik pa! Patalsikin na agad sina Dekano Avila, Sharif at Pineda!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

DENR-EMB holds mural painting contest for “Save Diliman Creek” campaign

Some 33 barangays of Diliman Creek and its tributaries will compete for the best mural painting in time for the national celebration of World Environment Day on June 5 and June as Philippine Environment Month, according to a press release issued on May 31, 2011 by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

According to Environmental Management Bureau Director Juan Miguel Cuna, the activity aims to promote among residents of each barangay on the importance of rehabilitating Diliman Creek and heighten their participation to ensure its tributaries remain free from garbage.

“We have asked each barangay to provide wall space where its residents can easily see the mural painting that their barangay will create. The mural will remind them of their commitment to continue working for the full rehabilitation of Diliman Creek,” Cuna said.

Open to all 33 barangays of Diliman Creek and tributaries, the contest allows only one (1) entry for each barangay. Each barangay team must have a minimum of three (3) members who are bonafide residents of the barangay. A minimum of 3 meters x 5 meters wall space or an area of approximately 15 square meters or more will be provided by the participating barangay. The theme for the contest is “Sama-sama Tayo Tungo sa Malinis na Katubigan at Luntiang Kapaligiran.”

The contest will be conducted from June 1 to June 5, 2011. Judging and awarding ceremonies will be held on June 16, 2011. To award the winners, local officials of the Quezon City government led by Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista and Vice Mayor Joy Belmonte are expected to grace the event.

A total of eight (8) winners will be awarded cash prizes of Php 30,000, Php 20,000, and Php 10,000 for the top three spots and 5 consolation prizes of Php 2,000 each. Barangay councils will also receive a portion of the prize money for first, second and third prize winners valued at Php 5,000, Php, 4,000, Php 3,000, respectively.

The competition is an offshoot of the Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) signing for the “Save the Diliman Creek” Program launched last April 19, 2011 during the Earth Day Celebration at SM Megamall.

Among the partners for the said program are the DENR, Quezon City Local Government, the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association and Sagip Ilog Pilipinas Movement. The 33 local officials of barangays traversing the creek served as witnesses to the signing of the agreement and showed their support by initiating orchestrated clean-ups of creeks within their area every fourth Sunday of each month.

The Mural Painting Contest is being organized by the DENR through its Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), with support from the Philippine Mine Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA), Sagip-Ilog Pilipinas Movement, and Pacific Paint (Boysen) Philippines, Inc.

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