Wednesday, August 25, 2004


Frente Sandinista de Liberacio'n Nacional
Posted by Hello

I had dinner last night with a Sandinista. His name is Alejandro Bendeña and he was the former Ambassador of Nicaragua (under the Sandinistas) to the United Nations. He spoke a couple of days ago at the University of the Philippines in a forum organized by Focus on the Global South (where Alejandro now sits as a member of the Board), the Institute for Popular Democracy and the Third World Studies Center. Alejandro spoke at UP about the Revolution and about power. Last nite over dinner however, our conversation drifted to more interesting subject matters -music and beer. I asked Alejandro what the staple drink of the Sandinista revolution was. “Ahh, that was something that was never in short supply.” Pointing to my bottle of San Mig light, he exclaimed “beer and rhum.” Music was never in short supply neither. "You can't have a revolution without songs" was the slogan written on a banner at Salvador Allende’s inauguration. The “nueva cancion” (New Song)- the movement of progressive, political songwriters and musicians the likes of Victor Jara-was still very much alive then and was instrumental in keeping the revolutionary spirit throughout Latin America burning.

As I was chatting with Alejandro, the song Nicaragua by Canadian songwriter Bruce Cockburn kept ringing in my ear. So I asked Alejandro if he’d ever heard that song. “it’s a sad song to listen to now” he said. Pointing out a particular line in the refrain that goes “In the flash of this moment, you’re the best of what we are” he went on to say “thinking about it now, am not sure if indeed we represented the best of what we are. But it’s a great song, a classic.”

Alejandro and Bruce Cockburn's paths crossed when the songwriter visited Managua in the early 80’s. I have been a fan of Cockburn eversince a friend of mine from Canada gave me a copy of Stealing Fire (where Nicaragua is included). Speaking in 1994, Cockburn said “To me, politics is an external expression of something that people carry round in their hearts. The songs I wrote in the Eighties touched on issues because they had touched me personally, not because I had an axe to grind or an ideology. The songs in support of the aspirations of the Nicaraguan people, for example, were written because I was there and the situation touched me emotionally in a very personal way. There's no great difference between the mechanics for songs like that and for love songs."

Cockburn continues to write and perform personal and political songs to this day. And he and Alejandro in many ways continue to be true revolutionaries.

“Vive en la lucha por la paz”

Wednesday, August 18, 2004


rolly-folksinger. my bros. moustache, quezon city. 16 August 2004. photo by sep Posted by Hello

Hinehele na ako ng tunog ng naguumpugang bote ng beer at mga nagbabanggaang opinyon sa Carliz nang magyaya si Ed na mag courtesy call kami kay Jessie Bartolome.

Inabot naming kumakanta ng JT si Rolly Maligad ng Coco Jam sa My Bros. Moustache sa Quezon City bandang 11:00 ng gabi, 16 Agosto 2004-kaarawan ng tatay ko.

Huli ko atang napanuod si rolly ay sa Mayrics nung 1997 pa ata yun. Kasama ko si Loy at Von, at si Leonard din ata. Nabilib kami sa suot na pantalon nung malupit na gitarista niya. Kulay pulang tight fitting na may malaking tatak na Versace sa likod. Sabi namin sa sarili, pagtanda namin at gumaling ng ganun kagaling sa gitara-bibili rin kami at magsusuot ng pantalong pula! Balik tayo kay rolly.

Ibang klase ang vibe ni rolly at ng Coco jam nung gabi na yun sa stage. Para silang naghahabulan ng tipa at ng hininga. Minsan parang kakapusin at mabibitin ang boses at gitara pero sa dulo ay nagsasabay din at maganda at malagkit ang performance. On the edge lagi ang tugtugan. May halong kaba sa panunuod. Sakto kaya ang mga bagsakan? Pag eksakto, ang sarap pakinggan at sarap palakpakan. Pag sablay naman, ok lang “next time bitter” (basa:better luck next time). Ganun ko naalala si rolly-stumbling. Stumbling with the words, stumbling through the dark pero malalim at madamdamin pa rin.

Kagabi ko lang narinig si Rolly na kumanta ng 'di reggae (although yung “dinamayan” ay malayo sa reggae at mas malapit sa kundiman) at mga “JT - folk”. Maraming requests pero parang na-miss namin ang tunay na boses ni Rolly kaya sinigaw ni Ed, “dinamayan” at pinagbigyan naman kami. Nagtuloy tuloy na ang mga original. “maskara” at ilang bagong (nung ko lang narinig) mga piyesa. Pagkatapos ng set, isinilid ang lumang gitara sa itim na garbage bag na tinalian sa neck ng strap ng gitara at nagpaalam.

Beterano si Rolly ng folk music scene sa bansa na nag blossom nung 1970’s. Pag-nagkwento siya tungkol sa panahon na yon parang nag-sit in ka na rin sa isang history lesson sa pinoy folk Asin, si Lolit, si Pendong, si Popong Landero, si Jess Santiago, si Nitoy Adriano (na bahista rin pala dati), si Chickoy, si Ronnie Duncan na “Bob Dylan ng Pilipinas”, at si Pete Velasquez na “Ronnie Duncan ng Malate” ang mga pangalan na dapat kabisaduhin sa leksyong ito.

Rolly Maligad- Folk Singer. Tapos na ba ang set niya o nagsisimula muli?

Tuloy tuloy ang tagay!

Thursday, August 12, 2004

RP Taken for a (joy)ride

SLOW MARCH DOWN this picture seems to be saying as farmers from munoz, nueva are on their way to a Stop the New Round! forum on the WTO at CLSU. August 2003. photo by sep Posted by Hello

Officials from the Department of Trade and Industry and the Department of Agriculture have expressed their elation over the outcome of the recent General Council (that in effect became a ministerial meeting) of the World Trade Organization in Geneva. The basis for their overwhelming joy?

Their belief that the framework agreement that came out of the meeting reflects the main demands of the Philippines in the negotiations; and that, consequently, the negotiations for the conclusion of the so-called Doha Round will be beneficial to the Philippines.

Interestingly, the last time the heads of these two departments expressed this much happiness in relation to talks in the WTO was in September 2003, right after the historic (second) collapse of the WTO negotiations in Cancun, Mexico. Both Secretary Cito Lorenzo and Secretary Manuel Roxas II then called the collapse a positive development for the Philippines. Roxas echoed the sentiment expressed by many developing countries: “No deal is better than a bad deal.”

So what’s the deal with the WTO framework?

To understand the source of DTI and DA’s jubilation, I read the General Council Decision dated July 31, 2004, outlining the framework for the WTO negotiations. I looked at Annex A outlining the framework for establishing modalities in agriculture and found nothing that should make us happy.

The framework on agriculture, instead of decreasing the trade-distorting subsidies given by trade superpowers -- the United States and the European Union -- to their agriculture sectors, gives a clear go-signal for these two superpowers to dodge their responsibility by expanding and strengthening further the Blue Box Category of minimally trade-distorting subsidies in the WTO.

To add insult to grave injury, the framework provides for greater flexibilities for the Members with large percentage of Blue Box subsidies (i.e. the US and the EU) to ensure that they are not called upon to make a wholly disproportionate cut.

Sure, there was mention of Special and Different Treatment, Special Products and Sensitive Products in the text. But the items and provision regarding these crucial demands from developing countries remain unclear and many are subject to further negotiations. So while the text is crystal clear when it comes to protecting the interest of the developed countries, it remains so conveniently vague when it comes to accommodating the demands of the developing countries.

The language does not go any further than saying that all of these concerns from developing countries will be noted in the negotiations. That is to say, what developing countries got out of the framework on S&D and SP are no more than empty promises.If the SP provision in the framework remain vague, then I am afraid DA Assistant Secretary Serrano’s statement on the government’s move to include rice under SP category in the WTO and SP as an alternative to seeking an extension of the quantitative restrictions (QR) on rice imports are not only misplaced but dangerous.

Clearly, the flawed framework and our negotiators blind adherence to it may prove to be detrimental to our national economy.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

true musician

true musician's certificate by bianca. Posted by Hello

This was awarded to me by bianca last saturday in their beautiful farm house in Batangas City, after hearing me play two songs that she probably never heard before. bianca is eight years old. Thanks bianca. And thank you also to my other "fans" tasha (7 yrs old), gabe (6 yrs old) and trish (she'll turn 7 on sunday. happy birthday trish!). If only we could all be more affirming!!

Monday, August 02, 2004

The street's a stage

Actors-activists dramatize opposition to Arroyo's subservient policies that are holding us hostaged to US interests. Sona/ 26 July 2004, photo by sep Posted by Hello