PEACE: COMMENDING MINDANAO’S LANAO PROJECTS
be with you! To all devout sons and daughters of Allah, love and peace!
me, through this note, to commend an ongoing project in Mindanao (Philippines)
that showcases the theme of ‘infrastructure for peace’. This is the GEM
Project, short for Growth with Equity in Mindanao.
Funded by the United States A.I.D., the GEM will ensue till 2012 yet.
report titled “GEM program continues in Mindanao” (Manila Bulletin, 25 July
2010) gave a brief update about the GEM situation particularly for the province of Lanao del Norte.
reminisce a bit, Lanao was among the provinces where the insurgent MNLF (Moro
National Liberation Front) operated most actively, and was among territories
that could have seceded from the Philippines. A peace pact was
signed between the MNLF and the GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines)
in the 1990s, during the incumbency of Fidel V. Ramos as president, thus ending
decades of conflict.
conflict down south led to casualties of over 100,000, while another 500,000+
Mindanaoans (mostly Muslims) migrated from the island to more peaceful areas
across the Philippines and in Sabah (over 250,000 alone ran to Sabah and are
still residing there). That conflict explains why there are so many Muslims in Manila today.
GEM infrastructures, dubbed as BIPs or Barangay Infrastructure Projects, are
showcases of development engagements that were able to take off and prosper
largely due to the cessation of hostilities between state and rebel armies. As
reported in the news, there are 44 BIP projects alone in Lanao del Norte, all
of which are proceeding well thanks to the strategic peace in the area.
the GEM narrative is telling us is that total cessation of hostilities is a
pre-requisite for development engagements to prosper in any given area
particularly in the hinterlands. There is no chicken-and-egg debate whatsoever
when it comes to development work: build and cement peace in the area as sine qua non, and development
engagements can take take off to induce growth in the affected area.
been a development worker for so long in my life, a work that almost got myself
dead after contracting falciparum malaria in the early 80s, I resonate with
those stakeholders who opine that development cannot proceed in an area where
violence prevails as the norm. Such violence could be due to insurgency,
warlordism, clan wars, and/or upscaled criminal activities (e.g. drug cartels
and gambling chiefs lording it over in the area).
have already gotten tired of the psychopathic propaganda of rebel Pied Pipers
who peddle the lie that “insurgency has been caused by poverty, by the absence
of development projects” verbiage, which is toxic mental junk. Certain
insurgent groups are no revolutionaries but criminals cashing on the support of
patrimonial interest groups, and role-playing social predators in their areas
cursory psychoanalysis of the individual members of those insurgent groups
would reveal psychopaths or sociopaths who are acutely sick of personality
disorder, or at the minimum possess what Theodore Adorno termed as
‘authoritarian personality’. They are drawn to fanatical movements that cohere
with their psyche and warped sense of justice, such as racist, jihadist, and
persons, to my mind, are no longer humans in the truest sense of the word but are
rather demoniacs who prey on helpless folks that suffer the most from their
violent operations. Possessing borderline personalities or intelligence levels
(sub-human levels), they are likewise those who join mafia groups.
those demoniacs in the area, and you would have the environment for building
peace, cooperation, and growth. That experience is what is now happening in
Lanao del Norte where the BIPs of GEM are now going on.
date, 23 BIPs were already accomplished (finished contract) and are now usable,
comprising of slab bridges and solar dryers for grains. You could just imagine
the glee of the village folks currently utilizing those infrastructures, folks
who for so long had no access to simple infrastructures such as slab bridges.
me re-echo my commendations to the GEM project and the stakeholders directly
involved in their planning, implementation, and utilization. Let the GEM story
reach the widest latitudes of Mindanao and the
planet to remind warring stakeholders of what zero hostilities can do to build
life in their given areas of operations.
12 September 2010]
SHOES: GLOBALIZATION’S CARCASS RE-SURGES
evening from the Pearl
of the Orient!
Marikina shoes, the top pioneering shoe
industry in Southeast Asia after World War II,
has been among the carcass industries in the aftermath of globalization. Lately
though, the industry has been re-surging from the doldrums, so let me share
some notes about the matter.
Marikina is a city to the east of Old Manila
and is among the model cities for couples of reasons. It’s former administrators,
the Fernando couple (a developmentalist couple), were able to tap official
development assistance (ODA) funds directly for local infrastructures without
needing securitization from national government, thus kicking off a new trend
in development financing and urbanization pursuits.
a part of metropolitan Manila that is the ‘Manila of the present’ (old Manila
is ancient and diminutive in size), Marikina
had been emulated for its cleanliness, efficient traffic management, and
participative local governance. It had set off a trend for local governments to
embark on ambitious projects without being subsidized by national government.
feats are part of the new image of Marikina,
just to make it clear. For Marikina also has an
older image as the home of the Philippines’
pioneer shoe industry. At one time the exemplar of Asia in shoe-making,
Marikina’s exquisite shoes have straddled the planet like conquering commodity
champions worth the possession of rising middle class members aspiring to
acquire apparel items worth their pockets’ powers and esteem.
Marikina shoes have thus enabled the
flourishing of backward linkages such as leather tannery, dye industry, and
shoe accessories. Upon attaining industrial maturity circa late 60s through the
70s, product quality was at par with the best that the West can manufacture.
shoes were priced so affordably, selling at around merely 1/5 to 1/3 of the
western counterpart items.
liberalization however struck a bitter chord in the 1980s, and down came Marikina shoes with
globalization’s ascent. Former shoe factories closed shop, tens of thousands of
shoe workers were laid off, and shoe retail shops followed the pattern of
foreclosures. At the end of the day, only a few notable Marikina brands stood tall amid the storms
caused by trade liberalization and serial recessions.
won’t be surprised to find out that similar industries elsewhere, inclusive of
will be shutting down due to the same reason: globalization. The trend is now
hitting shoe factories in the USA that closed down production in the homeland
as the same (production) were outsourced to developing countries where labor
and capital goods (leather, dyes, chemicals) are priced cheaper than the
Europe’s economies literally burn, its
consumers are cutting down on luxuries, thus opting to buy essentials that are
more affordably priced, such as garments & apparel. We shouldn’t be
surprised if the prime shoe brands of Italy
would be knocked out cold turkey by the economic storm in the continent.
local stakeholders were able to address some core social issues concerning
their dying shoe industry in the 1990s yet. Those strategic measures, such as
relief funds for affected industries, are now reaping fruits for the industry
a whole, Marikina’s
show industry was reduced to carcass indeed, but a carcass that is able to
stand up at certain junctures. With the wave of China shoes conquering so many
shores worldwide, Marikina shoe industry is again getting whacked heavily and
paying the price of slow adjustments to make their products more competitive (i.e.
attain greater comparative advantage)
tranche of relief subsidies for affected industries, akin to a stimulus package
on a local level, is now out-flowing from the city government’s coffers. Whether
the said funds are able to stave off potential deaths on specific factories and
outlets remains to be seen.
the moment, let me declare that all of my leather shoes are Marikina products. I’ve already decided to
shy away from Western imports, and I’m saying no to China shoes that suffer from
quality problems. This is my own way of appreciating the craftsmanship of
Markina’s shoe designers and the labors of shoe workers in the city.
ROBOTS BETTER DO
MINERS’ JOB IN NEAR FUTURE
evening from the suburban boondocks south of Manila!
playing Latin music in my multimedia at home right now. As I play the danceable
tunes by Buena Vista Social Club, my eyes are focused on the news “Some Chile
miners showing mental crack” in the world news of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
(Aug. 29, 2010).
me then dedicate this piece to the task of mining as a way to honor the miners
of the world. Honoring them means that eventually the human miners will retire
from the job, with robots taking over those rather hazardous tasks related to
quote the report’s inception, “Five of the miners trapped underground in Chile for
months to come are struggling psychologically, officials said on Friday, as
engineers prepared to start drilling an escape shaft.”
news coming from Copiaco, Chile further heralded, “While the
rest of the 33 trapped miners were happy to take part in a video to show
families they were bearing up despite what has so far been a three-week ordeal,
the smaller group refused and were exhibiting signs of depression.” [AFP
what else can we expect from toiling workers trapped deep down underground,
with hardly much hope for coming back to the planet’s surface till after months
of hard rescue operations to come. Even a person who doesn’t suffer from
manic-depressive disorder can crack up and manifest depression when confronting
such a life-threatening situation.
we go back to the times of the Roman republic, and maybe backtrack 2,000 years
earlier than Rome,
we can review their mining practices then. Mind you, contrast our mining
extraction today with those of ancient times, and you just might have the shock
of your life to find out that there isn’t much contrast really.
technology of extracting minerals down underground remains to be dependent on
human or anthropocentric labor for thousands of years now. Not even the
impressive engineering works to dig the minerals from rocks down under can
impress me much at all, they remain the same technology: human-driven
the miners of antiquity were slaves of the imperial deus ex machina, today’s miners are cogs of the business empires’ deus ex machina. Marginal or small-scale
miners, like the ones we have in the boondocks of northern and southern tips of
the Philippines, are all the more risk-prone to the appalling extraction
conditions and backward technology as they can be buried anytime by
mining-related calamities without healthcare or ‘life plan’ to compensate them.
cursory examination of the Chilean miners’ condition allows this analyst to
facilely forecast that at least 1/3 of them (around 2 persons) will be in
advanced form of depression and nervous breakdown as soon as the rescue
operators reach them. Tragic, simply tragic!
how human labor is treated by corporate capital since the birth of the money
economy anyway: mere objects worth throwing away if they die during production
operations. Miners are among the most classic cases of how capital treats human
labor as cheap dirty eater stuff.
indeed corporate capital—and its cultural deodorant ‘corporate social
responsibility’—has the sanguine love for human miners, it should strive pronto
to innovate on robotics that can do the work for the miners. Retire all the
miners of today pronto, compensate them for social security and healthcare, and
then gradually employ the robot miners.
token labor—comprising of technicians and engineers—are needed to operate
robotics-driven mining. Robots won’t suffer from depression in case of mishaps,
they won’t require healthcare and social security but rather maintenance
expenditures appropriate and sufficient for their upkeep.
miners can then afford to exhibit more productive engagements such as to serve
as eco-tourist guides for students and visitors who may wish to examine former
open-pit mines that have been re-greened with lush vegetation. They can
likewise do some tour guide tasks for mine visits that would be as less
risk-prone as their previous jobs.
let me share my own lines of solidarity to all those suffering miners in Chile and the
rest of the planet. May they find light at the end of the tunnel of oligarchic
pseudo-slavery down shafts and pits, and tell their narratives to the planet as
part of our human history heritage.
10 September 2010]