Category: freedom

NELSON MANDELA (1918-2013)

If you read just one thing about Nelson Mandela today, make it his historic speech at the opening of his 1964 trial for “sabotage”:

I am the first accused. I hold a bachelor’s degree in arts and practised as an attorney in Johannesburg for a number of years in partnership with Oliver Tambo. I am a convicted prisoner serving five years for leaving the country without a permit and for inciting people to go on strike at the end of May 1961.

At the outset, I want to say that the suggestion that the struggle in South Africa is under the influence of foreigners or communists is wholly incorrect. I have done whatever I did because of my experience in South Africa and my own proudly felt African background, and not because of what any outsider might have said. In my youth in the Transkei I listened to the elders of my tribe telling stories of the old days. Amongst the tales they related to me were those of wars fought by our ancestors in defence of the fatherland. The names of Dingane and Bambata, Hintsa and Makana, Squngthi and Dalasile, Moshoeshoe and Sekhukhuni, were praised as the glory of the entire African nation. I hoped then that life might offer me the opportunity to serve my people and make my own humble contribution to their freedom struggle.

Read on…

independence day, june 12, macapagal

i laughed inside when i saw this article July 4, not June 12 in the opinion page of inquirer online.  it’s been 50 years since president diosdado macapagal moved it to june 12 (from july 4 which is also america’s independence day), and june 12 has worked pretty well, at least hindi masyadong halata o buking ang american hand.

i wondered if that was why macapagal made the change and if there was a clamor for it at the time.  or was it purely a president’s sensitivity to anti-neocolonial sentiments.  so i googled it, and LOL this is what i found in wikipedia: stanley karnow (In Our Image) quoting macapagal as saying, some years later:

“When I was in the diplomatic corps, I noticed that nobody came to our receptions on the Fourth of July, but went to the American Embassy instead. So, to compete, I decided we needed a different holiday.”

only in the philippines.  and then, again, baka naman it was just one of many reasons, just the one karnow chose to highlight?  so i googled it some more, and found the official reasons in the national historical commission’s website.

First, United States celebrates independence day every July 4, the day Americans declared their independence not 3 September 1783 when Great Britain recognized their liberty;

Second, if the Philippines celebrates its independence day every July 4, our celebration would be dwarfed by the US celebration;

Third, June 12 was the most logical date since Filipinos were not actually particular about fixing of dates, what we actually cared for is independence itself;

Fourth, if the Philippines celebrates common independence day with USA, other nations might believe that the Philippines is still a part of United States.

‘yun na pala ‘yon.  wala lang, para me dumating sa party.  wala man lang pretense at a sense of history.  wala lang.

so no to that same old debate.  if we cared more, we would want a bonifacio kind of declaration, a celebration of those first shining moments — no back stories, no unseen hands, purely indio, purely pinoy.  never mind that it was aborted nine months later.  kahit credit where credit is due man lang.

Freedom of the editor

Should a paper present, in the national interest, only the shining aspects of the nation? Why concentrate on the ugly as the Philippine press seems to be doing? What sort of an image does the Philippines have abroad? Personally, I do not care how we look abroad; what is important is how we look to ourselves. Let us publish what’s wrong with us—perhaps, enough indignation may be aroused to right it. Expose the evils—to stop them. What do they thing? [sic, think?] We know what’s wrong with them. Never mind what they think. We must make democracy work here—or lose it. That’s what is vital. The freedom of an editor rests, ultimately, on the success of freedom.

~ Teodoro M. Locsin 10 April 1965

Dismissal won’t make us go away

By Marian Pastor Roces

We are told off: with freedom comes responsibility.

As though we didn’t know. As though we — the cyber-throng quick-witted enough to recognize bs thrown at us — don’t know, uhhhm, shit.

The reminder itself insults. It reminds us instead that the Philippines’ leaders think so very little of her citizens. Reminds us that this contempt for the populace is precisely the prevailing culture of its leadership—a culture that consumes cynical and idealist political, ecclessiastical, tradjorno leaders alike.

These authorities dismiss our outrage as hysteria. They know no better than to denigrate a remarkable show of smarts, wit, grace, inventiveness, and in fact wisdom, in the face of the grave threat to democratic space.

So they — and their mouth-pieces — talk down to us. Comporting themselves as though Medieval bishops speaking from on high, they deign teach us about democracy. About responsibility. Us! The citizenry that in the last quarter century has been consistently quicker than its leaders and its mainstream narrators in defining the possibilities and responsibilities of democracy.

Oh, and our own living-dead Medieval frailocracy have naturally joined the pious pantheon, none of whom have read Orwell’s “1984,” and perhaps for this reason have neither sense of irony nor foreboding. It took the netizens to point out the awful choice of date That Law came to pass.

But were it only illiteracy, perhaps our leaders deserve our patience. Trouble is, sheer illogic hobbles their attempts at Reason. They consign sundry critics on fb to the same criminal status as child porn traffickers and identity thieves, but this does not strike them as monstrous. They bandy Constitutional guarantees of the very freedom of expression they constrict. This does not seem to them oxymoronic. Or moronic.

Preposterously, they actually think netizens desire impunity—to libel freely, to shirk penalty—where the call from the netscape is for a deeply informed understanding of the radically interactive nature of digital media, with its built-in self-policing nature.

Self-policing systems are necessarily upheld by democracies (and feared and controlled by autocratic states, needless to say) because in allowing the individual citizen the same power as the big actors, at least for a minute or two, it does move societies in the direction of equality.

So it is now the citizenry, again, taking the high moral ground in this fracas. We first of all enjoin our leaders to get off their hoary paternalistic platforms, to breathe the envigorating air of that democratic space where Filipinos thrive on sharpened skills to spot and contest lies and manipulations.

Listen, then, oh grand leaders and inquisitors.

We have no use for the freedom to libel.

What’s at stake is the freedom to challenge the impunity of the powerful, as we go about our daily convivial, sometimes testy, and sure, often foolish chatter.

We have no desire to shirk responsibility, and because of this we trounce trolls quickly, quarrel with the reckless and fiendish on line, and think before we click.

What’s at stake is right of netizens to keep for ourselves the responsibility for maintaining healthy exchange in the ethereal and physical communities we live in. Not to surrender this responsibility to Big Brother.

We have no big urge to drag the unwilling into our newfangled netizenship that demands a savvy grasp of the technological enabling of democracy, and its dangers.

What’s at stake is an idea whose time is now: the separation of net and State apparatus. It is a separation built on the distinction between traditional media which historically has merged too often with State power; and the net, which proliferates imagined communities beyond the myriad imprisonments and impunities of the past.

What’s at stake is the fast-track education of our leaders, so they know how absurd and perilous it is to try to retrofit ancient repressive methods on people power revved up by 21st c tech. They have to step up and recognize the Filipino body politic as uniquely adept at discerning pivotal difference.

That body politic knows that the net diffuses centralized power. That traditional media consolidated power despite the best efforts of great journalists. That the net subverts gate keepers and power brokers. That traditional media yielded to these creatures. That the net has thus far disabled—where traditional media were often the precisely the media for—elite capture of resources, discussion, and the shaping of society.

What’s at stake is the progressively sophisticated use of a locally-formed computer literacy to advance a century old Philippine freedom agenda. Freedom from repressive overlords.