Category: education

“press freedom” for what? “press freedom” for whom?

of course i’m all for press freedom, and SEC’s move to “shut down” rappler is dismaying, smacking of resbak at the news site’s anti-duterte stance.  but it’s also discombobulating (if kind of reassuring) that SEC makes an issue of, and takes selective action against, foreign funding of media, which is bawal sa constitution but which duterte’s supermajority in the LOWER house of congress seeks to allow via con-ass / chacha (correct me if i’m wrong).

let’s remind ourselves WHY the constitution bans foreign funding / ownership of media.  read cielito habito’s Fear of foreigners.

Our Constitution completely bars foreign ownership on mass media, while limiting it to 40 percent for public utilities and educational institutions, and 30 percent for advertising. …The common thread among these restrictions is the apparent intent of our charter framers to “protect” Filipinos from being “brainwashed” by foreigners.

but, habito says, that’s for an era long gone:

… vast changes in technology and economic realities have rendered most of those constitutional restrictions obsolete, irrelevant, or even counterproductive. … In this age of information and communication technology and social media, there’s no longer any point to the nationality restriction on mass media, as well as on advertising and education.

What it does is to deprive us of opportunities to attract investments that could bring in capital, jobs and improved technology. Foreign media firms like BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, CNBC and the like could possibly set up a base hub here to draw on certain strengths we have to offer, including in the generation of content with our relative superiority in language and artistic skills. After all, all mass media broadcasting locally, whether Filipino or foreign-owned, are subject to the same inherent power of the government to regulate content and business practices for the common good.

… For a country whose people have made us a “borderless nation” spread all across foreign lands, our seemingly inordinate fear of foreigners sounds rather misplaced.

hmm.  CNNph has been downsizing and, we hear, won’t be around much longer.  and time was when our superiority in english speaking and writing was not “relative” but absolute.  times have changed, indeed, under globalization, but not for the better as far as this always-developing-never-developed third world country of ours is concerned.

here’s a nugget from the comment thread compliments of  !OjO!@hastalavictoriasiempre_ole  

A timely piece indeed, Ciel.

Since you bring up the fear of foreigners, our Japanese friends at JICA often point out that Japan would have ended up like the Philippines had they allowed foreign missionaries, Dominicans and Jesuits alike to infiltrate and destroy their country from Nagasaki inwards. Today, there’s no debate that religion was used as the weapon of choice by our Spanish colonial masters in indoctrinating, conquering and subjugating us. The Japanese were right to persecute the European missionaries who were supplying weapons to various feuding daimyos in order to create internecine wars within Japan, ultimately hoping to pave the way for Europeans to pick Japan apart. Lorenzo Ruiz was just some fictional character unwittingly brought to Japan by the pale devils. Japan was the first country in Asia to industrialize because they had the entire Tokugawa period for nation-building, achieving the westphalian notion of nation-state ahead of everybody else. Had Japan fallen prey to Europeans earlier on, there’s reason to believe that Japan would have been infused with iberian indolence.

Fast forward to the mid-1990s. My son brought two Korean teenage kids home one day, after his teacher requested help with their month-long English immersion program. While waiting for pizza, I offered to play some American movies, expecting they’d choose Independence Day or ID4 in laser disc over the other movies in VHS. To my surprise, both kids with limited English, blurted “American propaganda” almost in unison. As it turned out, Korean students as early as grade school are already taught about the subliminal propaganda employed in Hollywood movies. This is the reason why Korea for a long time had very strict regulations about the entry of foreign cultural products. While they do allow Hollywood movies, Koreans are taught to discern between fact and fiction. And since Korea has distilled the secrets of Hollywood entertainment from propaganda, they were able to use the same secret formula in coming up with their own cultural exports now known as K-wave. One is easily reminded of how easily K-drama easily displaced those latin american telenovelas early in the previous decade. Without a strong core and a strong indigenous Korean culture, coupled with discerning eyes, Korea could have been swamped and inundated by the shortlived J-Pop in those days.

Globalization has brought many benefits, but there’s still no place like home. A weak home country like ours will put us at the losing end of globalization. A weak home country like ours can be easily deluged and overwhelmed by malware and malicious foreign média like Rappler. In terms of nation-building, we are still far behind Vietnam.

so.  press freedom for what nga ba?  for nation-building dapat, yes?  instead, press freedom hereabouts is deployed in the service of vested / capitalist interests (the rich) that rarely, if ever, coincide with the interests of the impoverished masses (the poor).  despite a “free press” since EDSA, the masses continue to be woefully uninformed on important social, political, and economic issues and, therefore, ill-equipped to demand wiser policies and better services of the leaders they elect.

so.  when sal panelo admits that most filipinos don’t understand what the constitution is all about, much less the proposed alternatives, who is to blame for the ignorance?  when most pinoys don’t understand why the president is pushing for BBL or why the lower house ignores him, whose fault is it?  when we don’t understand what senator legarda means when she says that the country has so much money and why none of it trickles down to the larger population and why the masses live such miserable lives, why do we blame only “the educational system” but not mass media for the mass ignorance?

i could go on and on, but let me end with this:  when most pinoys have no idea that in cases of dengue, papaya leaf juice is effective in keeping blood platelet count up (thereby preventing damage to walls of blood vessels, therefore no hemorrhaging) or that it has long been used to stop dengue in its tracks in sri lanka, malaysia, indonesia where they also have locally produced mosquito sprays made of papaya leaf extract as well as capsules and tinctures, what does it say about our DOH and medical professionals — that they all, or their relatives, are in the pay of multinational pharmaceutical giants like sanofi of dengvaxia fame?  obviously there is no money in papaya leaf extract, too many papaya trees everywhere.  but what does it say of our mainstream media — print and broadcast and online — when none of them have the time or inclination to do some research (google it, guys!) and call out the DOH, sabay share such precious info with the public.  perhaps they, too, or their relatives, are in the pay of giant pharmaceuticals? or maybe they’re just plain fanatical about branded western medicine?

so.  really.  when rappler’s ressa says she sought foreign funding “to keep the group free of potential vested interests” she means, i suppose, local oligarchs and political bigshots, pero okay lang ang vested interests ng global oligarchs and multinational bigshots?  i wonder if the same attitude obtains in other media outfits like gma 7, abs-cbn, vera files, pcij, and cmfr that are, like rappler i hear, mostly foreign-funded.

so much for “press freedom.”

duterte, pemberton, HIV-AIDS

it was the first time i’d ever heard digong duterte speaking lengthily on anything, so i was totally unprepared for all of it.  yes, the puntanginas and other cuatro letras and the libog and bathroom and bayag talk  shocked me at first, pero sabay halakhak everytime.  i think i forgave him very quickly for the ‘tanginas because, well, he was cursing mostly at stuff i have myself cursed at in private (except for the pope), and it was somewhat cathartic, haha.

but beyond the oral ejaculations he was talking a lot of sense, he knows, he has lived, mindanao history, and is rightfully pissed off at imperial manila and whoever made a fish out of moro hero lapulapu LOL.  however, the sex talk and the going-to-confession and related stories were not as easy to forgive, napaka-for-adults-only, what if the kids are listening?  my nanay was very old school.

the very next day, as i was listening to the olongapo judge’s ruling on the killing of sex worker jennifer laude by US marine scott pemberton  — JUNK EDCA! — and hearing more sex talk, if on a different plane and in a different language from duterte’s — fuck, oral sex, blow, penis, vagina — the synchronocity struck me, and the thought occurred that this could be a good thing.  the start of a process of desensitization to sex talk, because we NEED to talk about sex.  real sex education, in the vernacular, is the only way we can stop HIV-AIDS from spreading and becoming full-blown.


The rapid rise in HIV infections nationwide, with some 21 new cases reported every day per DOH records4, has made the Philippines one of only a handful of countries at risk of a full-blown AIDS epidemic if it is unable to address the problem on time. The 646 new cases reported last February is the highest number since the Philippines’ first case in 1984, according to the DOH. The numbers in six cities — Quezon City, Manila, Caloocan, Cebu, Davao and Cagayan de Oro—already exceed the national prevalence rate of 3.5 percent4. While HIV is spread primarily through unsafe sexual contact, it can also be contracted through the sharing of dirty needles during drug use.

Increasing prevalence in key populations. National HIV prevalence remains under 0.1%, but rapidly expanding among key affected populations (KAP)2. By 2013, HIV prevalence reached 5% to 8% among males who have sex with males (MSM) in the cities of Cebu, Quezon and Manila; 53% among people who inject drugs (PWID) and 5% among female sex workers (FSW) in Cebu City1.

More are infected. The number of cases reported has shown a steep increase in the recent years – from less than 1 case a day in 2006 to 21 cases a day by March 20151. The actual cases are estimated to be at least double of those reported. The Philippine National AIDS Council (PNAC) has projected that the total number of HIV cases in the Philippines could reach 37,000 [as high as 54,000] by 20152. 12,000 of those will be needing treatment2 which could cost the Philippine Health Insurance around P360 million ($8.4 million).

Those infected are young with a median age of 27. HIV infection among 15-24 years old increased more-than ten-fold, from 44 in 2006 to 995 in 20151. The period of initiation to sex and drug use among key affected populations is as early as from 14 years old2.

Male to male transmission had significantly increased. Sex is still the main mode of transmission with, 85% of new cases were reportedly through male-to-male sex in 20151.

More local transmission. HIV cases among Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) continue to increase (395 cases in 2013 – highest ever) despite the decrease in proportion of OFW to the total cases from 42% in 2006 to 11% in 2013 indicating that local transmission has outpaced infections reportedly contracted overseas.1

Very Low Prevention Coverage mostly below national targets of 80% since 2005; specifically 63% for establishment-based Female Sex Workers, 38% for freelance FSW, 23% for Males Who Have Sex wth Males (MSM) and 11% among people who inject drugs (PWID). Low number of Key Affected Persons (KAP) are tested for HIV (merely 14%) and zero for key affected populations under the age of 18.

High-risk practices among KAP continues. Knowledge levels (index of basic HIV knowledge including misconceptions) among Key Affected Persons was only 32%, with those aged 15 to 17 years, even lower.

basic HIV knowledge, including misconceptions, of gay and bisexuals, female sex workers, needle-using druggies, is only 32%, and even lower than that for teen-agers.  sa madaling salita, kulang na kulang ang sex education.  the departments of education and of health will, of course, claim that all students get sex education, but the question is, what kind?

In a recent media forum, people living with HIV (PLHIV) advocate Wanggo Gallaga said there is an immediate need for schools to include sex education modules in order to encourage those with risky sexual behaviors to practice safe sex.

“What we have to do is to educate people properly. It has to start earlier. When it comes to health, education is very shallow. Biology lang ang tinuturo sa schools e. We don’t talk about consequences of sex,” said Gallaga. 

yes.  it’s not enough to teach about reproductive body parts and how babies are made.  kailangan din ituro ang tungkol sa libog and hormones, vaginal and anal sex, and the consequences of unprotected sex, besides unwanted pregnancies, as in sexually transmitted diseases, the worst of which is human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection that untreated leads to the painfully deadly Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS).

most important, these teaching modules should be not only in english but also in tagalog and taglish, and gayspeak na rin, as well as in the dialects of target audiences, which should include young and old, male and female, gay and bisexual, specially the sexually active who engage in casual sex / exchange bodily fluids with different partners.

read godofredo u. stuart’s Sex Education: The Comic Failure of Language and marlon james sales’ Sex and the Missionary Position: The Grammar of Philippine Colonial Sexualities as a Locus of Translation.

sex education is key to preventing an HIV-AIDS epidemic.  government agencies (DEPED and DOH) simply have to get on the job, the sooner the better.  for certain the bishops will raise a howl.  let them.  it might even be a good sign that all they’re apoplectic about right now is the cursing at the pope, the adultery committed with two wives and two girlfriends, and the allegation of sexual abuse by jesuits.  i haven’t heard anyone decrying the bayag and libog talk.  maybe they can’t find the words.  while we have all the words we need.


772 cases of HIV/AIDS recorded in June, the highest ever in one month – DOH
Living with HIV in the Philippines
The Predictable Failure of HIV/AIDS Education in the Philippines

Can PH face up to the AEC challenge?

By Ernesto M. Pernia

A plethora of explanations has been advanced as to why the Philippines falls well behind the other four Asean originals (Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia). These range from the protectionist policies for “infant industries,” political instability particularly in the 1980s that practically shooed Japanese FDIs (foreign direct investments) to our neighbors, weak governance and dysfunctional institutions, to poor infrastructure, rapid population growth, brain and skills drain from massive emigration, etc. While all these likely mattered one way or another, little is said about the underinvestment in education in general and in science and technology (S&T) in particular. Being a public good, education and S&T create positive externalities and, hence, tend to be privately underconsumed and undersupplied especially in terms of quality.

Read on

HIV alert… the vernacular of sex

448 fresh HIV cases reported for the first month of the year … 118 of the new HIV patients belong to the 15 to 24 age bracket. … 50% or 224 patients are from Metro Manila, 16% from the Calabarzon, 7% from Davao region, 4% from Western Visayas … epic failure of sex education, such as it is.

SEX EDUCATION: Comic Failure of Language
By Godofredo U. Stuart, MD

As language, Filipino is very expressive and illustrative. I often marvel at its descriptive powers, a single word that will need half a dozen or more English words to describe: umaampiyas. Or words that wax poetic: takip-silim, agaw dilim, bukang liwayway. It’s a language that lends to the Pinoys’ penchant and delight for word play, never at a loss in coining words that become mainstream: trapos, epal, promdi. Its vowel-rich words lend to the staccato and cadence of Rap music. But when it comes to the language of sex, the vernacular fails—dreadfully—and looks to English for rescue.

The failure is widespread—in schools, in media, and homes. A failure that is both comic and stupid.  Read on…