roby’s romance with “freedom”

last october katrina was in the audience of tedxdiliman, the first in manila that was open to the public, sort of (one had to ask to be invited).  having watched ted videos before via joel, i had high expectations and was grateful to tv 5 for the livestream.  but out of the 8 (of 11) speakers i caught, only one’s talk measured up, boogie tence ruiz‘s.  unfortunately he was last, and he was rushed, pressed for time, ang labo.

one who wasn’t rushed, and went overtime, was roby alampay, former executive director of the Southeast Asia Press Alliance, a regional NGO dedicated to the promotion of journalist rights, who spoke of himself as “an economy of one.”  and i remember being struck, and dismayed, by his spin on freedom in the philippines: that in southeast asia we do freedom better than anybody else, it is our competitive edge, so why aren’t we using it to sell the country?  i wasnt sure i heard right, and hoped for an upload somewhere, so i could listen to him again.

and so it’s finally on youtube and i’ve watched and listened again, and i’m sorry to say i heard right.  a sorry example of flighty, ungrounded discourse.  i completely agree with katrina:

…academic freedom, artistic freedom, freedom of expression are all highly questionable when you come from here and know | feel | see that freedom is also overrated when it cannot will not put food on people’s tables and more and more people are falling below the poverty line.

alampay also glorifies philippine NGOs, and i can’t help but wonder if he’s in denial or simply doesn’t get it that NGOs and civil society hereabouts have lost a lot of credibility since dinky soliman and her ilk conspired with gma to unseat erap, and soon after, CODE-NGO made a killing of 1.8 billion php out of thin air by exploiting its ties with the arroyo government.

i wonder too if alampay’s thinking is truly shared by his NGO-civil society colleagues in the region.  certainly, if you’re coming from malaysia or singapore or vietnam where there is no freedom of expression, our freedom of expression is enviable.  but that is not to say that it is worth bragging about when what is expressed in media, besides showbiz gossip, is mostly spin and quite removed from the true state of the nation.

well, but he’s been away.  let’s give him a chance to catch up.  meanwhile, better to hold his tongue until he’s ready to talk economy-of-all.


  1. its still not clear why you dont like the codengo bond. is it coz you dont like debt finance? you dont like govt-ngo collaboration? or are you like grimes who are convinced that they conspired to keep information from others and have an inefficient bid?

  2. I remember when we raised a lot of noise regarding the piss scam este peace bond, one of the justification we heard back then was that someone else will do it anyway so they might as well do it. We raise a lot of hell back then but to no avail, I suspect its all about having a mindset that has no clue what is fraudulent especially when the purpose was for charity.

    The problem I believe is that some people tend to have their own subjective standards to conform to their reality. A perspective that is somehow grounded not on what is objective but one that conforms to their agenda.

    • do we know there was influence? or is it innuendo.?

      grimes’ point, which i like, is that its wrong because the govt didnt raise as much as possible in the auction. that lost money could have been used for poverty alleviation too.

      thats a good argument. i’m not sure i believe it yet, but if its true, then thats a criticism against the BSP –NOT codengo.

  3. i loved the draw an eye guy. dapat nag attend ako ng kanyang seminar nung nagaaral pa ako sa diliman. but now, i can draw an eye! (and a bottle… and a face that looks like a bottle!)