The University of the Philippines Press
E. de los Santos Street, UP Campus Diliman,
Quezon City 1101, Philippines
In a world where anyone with an Internet connection can establish a platform on which to hold forth on every conceivable topic, one is often moved to despair at the grievous lack of analytical acuity—not to mention functional literacy—that characterizes the views of many a netizen. Fortunately, exceptions do exist: Angela Stuart-Santiago and Katrina Stuart Santiago have carved out positions from where they consider issues ranging from politics to popular culture, and such positions are always worth seeing from, if not necessarily agreeing with—at times, in fact, the rhetoric is pitched at levels selected exactly to generate productive dissensus. Culled from thousands of blog posts over a period of more than four years, this collection fairly crackles with inquisitive and insightful electricity, and serves as engaging, persuasive testimony regarding the merits of following the writings of these authors in venues online or otherwise.
Jaime Oscar M. Salazar, Random Salt
Heto ang mag-inang nagtataas ng bandila ng mga bloggers, habang itinataas naman ang bandila para sa nakakaraming Pilipino. Ang paksa nila, kung ano ang pinag-uusapan ng marami, at mula rito ay gumigising ng kritikal at independyenteng pagsusuri. Rebelde at walang sinasanto, malaya at mahusay magsulat, personal man ang tono ay may kabuluhan sa lahat. Binabasag nila ang pagkamanhid na namamayani sa lipunan, ipinaparamdam ang samu’t saring porma ng pang-aapi at panlilinlang. Kung hindi ka man sang-ayon sa isang tindig, hindi mo naman maikakailang may punto ang kanilang pag-iisip. Ginagawa nilang sentido kumon, kung hindi man uso, ang pagiging tunay na matuwid. Natatangi silang konsensyang progresibo ng mga online sa panggitnang uri.
Teo S. Marasigan, Kapirasong Kritika
the hardest part was going through some 1000 blog posts over four + years, and choosing which ones would go into the book. once we had agreed on the final 120 (including a willie revillame post on my balikbayan brother’s website), the most tedious part was citing sources that in a blog is a breeze, a couple of clicks, well maybe three, and you’re done; here, it takes clicking on linked text, selecting, copying, pasting links, authors, titles, dates, and websites, and reformatting the info, endnote by endnote, some 334! and while at that, the biggest bummer was finding that some links are “dead,” as in, the article can’t be found, usually even if you google it pa, or the link only takes you to the website’s homepage, or, if on twitter, biglang “protected” ang account.
to delete or not delete any quotes from such links, this was a question. sayang naman ang information, we invented none of it, so we decided not to, in case they suddenly come alive, and because i hear nothing really gets deleted once posted on the worldwideweb, only deeply hidden (by whom kaya, and why) in some mass burial cache/s somewhere, like lost treasure for challenged geeks to dig up.
otherwise, it felt rather good, putting this book together – oh okay, this non-book, these posts were written for and have been published before on the internet, so it’s not really a book book. but whatever. this is a leap, from computer screen to paper. it only took some re-arranging of the chosen materials from two blogs, oldest ones first – instead of the other way around – and then thinking up new categories, in alphabetical order, and it works. a tossed-up slice of the blogosphere is as readable on the screen as it is in print.
it helps, of course, that we write opinions – news get stale, opinions don’t – about politics and pop culture, where crises and names repeat, and the internet offers so much information it’s crazy. this is what we’ve done, this is how we’ve processed that information. see how the patterns unfold.
the title is, to my eternal shame, inspired, only indirectly by ninoy, directly by the cobonpue-layug-pineda team’s The Filipino Is Worth-Designing-For tshirts at the height of the NAIA controversy. ang ganda. nakakainggit. until it dawned on us, The Filipino Is Worth Blogging For, too.
i don’t remember now when it was that we happened upon the idea for this book, though i imagine that it involved a conversation with my brother Joel, all the way in The Hague, from where he designs and maintains our blogs. i do know that Angela and i were hesitant about a book like this, mainly because we couldn’t justify coming out with just a chronological compilation of our blog entries. we would be the last people to unthinkingly come out with a non-book like that.
had we known what it would look like though, this merging of our blogs, maybe we would’ve sat down on this project sooner. because as Angela started on the tedious job of going through our entries and putting them under categories, as i found myself deleting and adding onto that first draft, it became clear that what’s here is more than a mere compilation.
instead it is recent and current history as it unfolds in our blogs, where we might take different tangents on the same issue, or talk about a diverse set of topics that fall under one concept, rarely if at all repeating each other, open to the possibility of changing our minds about something or someone. through the years we’ve taken to heart Joel’s advice: don’t delete anything you’ve written! it’s bad form! and we’ve fallen into this routine of discussing current events, and ending with: ok who’s going to blog about that? Angela and I are also each other’s editors, and yes that happens for most of the entries we publish.
this book, to some extent, is a reflection of these blogging years. of how we’ve taken to blogging seriously, consistently and consciously insisting on exercising the freedoms that writing in this form allows, taking discussions in different directions as we please.
this is why this book is divided by general categories that cut across familiar events like the Luneta Massacre or Mindanao Maguindanao, concepts such as Freedom or Masculinity, and people like Paquiao or Willie. these sections were chosen based on how many blog entries fall under them (at least three), and how these entries come together to reveal a narrative that is as complete (at least to us) as it can also only be unstable. the latter is but part and parcel of working with current issues that in this country always seem unsolved and unfinished.
we’ve edited some entries lightly, if only to work with the space constraints of print. we’ve also deleted quotes we took (with permission) from social media exchanges and which appear in our blogs, as we realize that if people delete their facebook statuses, so they might mind seeing their words in print. who knows.
the title takes from the Cobonpue-Layug-Pineda design team’s slogan after they were unceremoniously removed from the NAIA1 project by DOTC Secretary Mar Roxas late last year. Kenneth Cobonpue had gotten in touch after i blogged “Bad vibes for NAIA 1 rehab” and invited me to their press conference. there, on a couple of t-shirts worn by their supporters, and on the projector screen, was the slogan “The Filipino Is Worth Designing For.”
the thought of using that for blogging was just too difficult to resist. but also in recent months it has felt like an urgent task, too, the blogging that we do. because it is depressing to find that too many of us who are online – be it on social media, those who are blogging, or members of “new” media – tend to fall into the trap of thinking the same things, mouthing the same words. it is infinitely sad that there is no more stepping back and taking stock of issues, before joining the bandwagon of the “critical mass” or “the wisdom of the crowd.”
here is ultimately what Angela and i do in our blogs: we step back, take stock of issues. we do not blog so we can shoot from the hip – these are not online journals or lifestyle columns or facebook comments. we take to blogging with a sense of responsibility, we blog with a sense of how dangerous the status quo is, and how necessary it is to question our institutions and leaders, mainstream and social media included. we take and make the time to blog.
and we blog freely, with no one to kowtow to, and no one telling us what to write. we blog because we can, but also we blog because we insist that there are alternative ways of seeing, as there are always the silences that surround what we are being made to think by the more powerful among us. we blog because we always imagine that at the very least, even if no one reads it or no one agrees with us, history will reveal that someone thought differently from the mainstream, if not on a tangent. that someone thought to rock the status quo because it’s the only way to actually and truly change things.
we blog because The Filipino Is Worth Blogging For. even when the Filipino might not know that right now. even when we might be the only ones who think so.
before new media, there was the pinoy blogosphere, where critical thought was engaging and intelligent debate possible on the interwebs. then, bloggers could be called out on their mistakes, and they knew to reckon with readers and trolls. then, no one blogger was higher and mightier than the other. blogging was fun in the Philippines. then. now it seems we’ve lost those voices, which should not be taken to mean they are any less needed. in fact in the face of new media, we ache for the pinoy blogosphere circa 2008. where have all the bloggers gone?– katrina
we are not one to join in the anti-Church excommunicate-me rallies and parties, if only because we are also clear about this: we need not make enemies of all Catholics, varied in its versions in the present. there is no reason to generalize believers, but there is every reason to discuss the Pinoy Church as a distinct entity that informs the violence of the status quo and the crises of current politics and governance.– katrina
maureen hultman's killer claudio teehankee jr. was released too soon, and bubby dacer's, and his driver's, kiillers are still at large. verrry powerful connections? in contrast, senator freddie webb proved not powerful enough. son hubert et al were convicted for the vizconde massacre -- trial by publicity, guilty until proven innocent -- only to be found innocent on appeal, and released, after 15 long years in jail.– angela
the economy is said to have done well under GMA, our credit ratings even improved because she was meeting debt obligations on time, if not ahead of time, so she could borrow some more. but really it was only because she imposed VAT on essentials, and kept the peso appreciating. meanwhile her cohorts in congress never stopped trying for charter change to delete economic provisions and open us up to unlimited foreign ownership. that was scary.– angela
probably the one thing that allows anyone to speak about education: teach. in a private Jesuit university and a public local university, both. realize that you will complain about pay in either spaces, know that as teacher you will necessarily do work beyond the hourly pay that you get. find that your years in the private university were heaven, compared to the one year you spent teaching in a public school, where corruption happened in your face, if not ingrained in the academic system. count yourself lucky that you could walk away, when so many other teachers – and students – have no choice but to stay.– katrina
too many people died in the killer floods of typhoons ondoy and sendong who didn't have to die, but at least we finally got the message. we have exploited, neglected, trashed, the environment for too long, and consequences get grimmer the longer that government takes to muster the political will to ban all logging, reforest mountains and hillsides, dredge rivers and lakes and waterways of garbage and silt. "the environment is an agenda waiting for a president."– angela
that we imagine freedom to be a task, to be a struggle, is telling of the fact that we know of democracy’s failure in this country. after all, in third world Philippines there are countless others who aren’t free from hunger, or free from the most basic of needs. and then there are those who are jailed for their beliefs, those who are disappeared, and we know there can be no enjoying freedom when it means the sacrifice of another’s liberty.– katrina
read and write, in Filipino and English, and in the version of Taglish that is familiar and easy on the eye, the kind that rolls off your tongue. we insist on certain liberties when it comes to the forms in which articulation happens, if only because we know of how the powers-that-be, the academe, the language institutions, will insist on certain ways of writing and reading. that this means a necessary elitism, a valuing of one over the other, is what remains unacceptable. write in the language we want, read literature because it is ours, speak in the easiest way possible, to be understood.– katrina
it was a bloody nightmare for the hong kong chinese tourists. and for us filipinos who were watching it all (or most of it) on live TV, it was a day spent asking, in exasperation, and then despair, where's the president? who's in charge? it seemed like no one was, except for the media, and they only made matters worse. the irony is, no laws were broken daw, and no heads rolled.– angela
the landscape of contemporary popular culture is such that beyond the female celebrity, the male body is now a viable and profitable image for the business of show. and when we say they are mere bodies, we mean that the breadth and scope of maleness now cuts across the metrosexual to the good ol’ macho, from the actor to the athlete, the one with washboard abs to the one with eyes that will make you say yes. except that these guys aren’t necessarily talking to you, swooning female. as it might be the gaze of our kafatidz sa pananampalataya. their desire? maybe ours.– katrina
rarely does nation care about Philippine art, even more rare that media will know to feature it beyond who’s collecting what, or beyond the novelty of the man who paints with his feet. and then when media creates enough interest around a piece of art, it only does so to push for its censorship, to insist that it is evil, that it goes against all of our collective Catholicism. that these are all lies, if not all wrong, and that this means sacrificing the freedom of expression the media insists it deserves, was beyond us all. this is the story of of “Poleteismo” and the exhibit Kulo. more than that, here is the sad state of cultural discourse in these shores.– katrina
the autonomous region of muslim mindanao (armm) has never been autonomous. imperial manila rules, and the poverty grinds on amid insurgency and terrorism. but it's good for the votes come election time, as revealed in the aftermath of the maguindanao massacre, when we first heard of how terribly powerful and ruthless are the ampatuans -- among them, armm governor zaldy, arroyo's annointed -- and that they got arroyo the votes in 2004 and her senate slate the votes (12-0) in 2007. the dream is that one day the muslims will be allowed to elect their own leaders, annointed by the palace or not.– angela
volunteerism is a tricky thing in the third world, and it is apparent that actually working with government doesn’t necessarily mean they will be on your side when shit hits the fan. which is what happened to the Cobonpue-Pineda-Layug team that worked for free to to renovate the NAIA 1, the worst airport in the world. the next thing the three knew they were being told to let go of the project as the new DOTC Secretary was taking over. the next thing we all knew the rhetoric was such that the three volunteers’ reputations were being attacked, and there were obviously no thank yous for the work they had already done. volunteerism is the worst when your government thinks they deserve all the help they can get.– katrina
as in every rape story that is brought to court, nicole the victim was accused of having asked for it when she got drunk and danced dirty with someone she had just met in subic, lance corporal daniel smith, a u.s. marine who was with the visiting forces in 2005. though smith was found guilty by a lower court a year later and ordered confined in a local jail, he was confined in the u.s. embassy instead, with the consent of the arroyo government. not surprisingly, the court of appeals overturned the guilty verdict three years later and declared smith innocent. what surprised was that all three justices of the appeals court were women.– angela
the filipino is worth dying for, said ninoy, as he prepared to come home from exile in the early 80s. but he said a lot more, in his testament from a prison cell, and also to the u.s. congress about a "program of action" that would set the economy right. almost 30 years since ninoy died, the economy still needs setting right. not that we love cory less, but surely it's time noynoy, now president, and kris, who threatens to run for senator, do their father proud?– angela
to the rest of the world, Manny Pacquiao is the greatest boxer alive. in the Philippines he is movie star, TV comedienne, gameshow host, congressman, son to Dionisia, wife to Jinkee, father to Queen Elizabeth. he gets into extra martial affairs, treats his fans to caught-on-camera disagreements with his wife, declares he will give his constituents money, spends millions for his – and his mother’s – birthday celebrations, surrounds himself with the worst politicians. he sells everything from watches to sports clothes, muscle relaxants to beer, milk to deodorant. he is now born-again Christian. he is anti-RH Bill, anti-gay marriage. to the rest of the world, Manny Pacquiao is the greatest boxer alive. in the Philippines? he is everything other than athlete.– katrina
because it is rare that we do the whole personal essay thing in this the most conventional of ways. but that we have done it, for these two people, in the course of our blogging years, is telling of how deserving they are of tributes, and maybe how little we are in light of their memories.– katrina
there is probably no other man in popular culture as despised by the middle class and intelligentsia as Willie Revillame. he is crass, makes money out of people’s tragic lives, pokes fun at his guests, shamelessly ogles girls. and he’s filthy rich. meanwhile the poor see him as their only hope, like the son or brother who’s going to get them out of poverty. it’s not so much loving him or hating him, but a question of why we cannot fight this self-made monolith.– katrina
the age of technology has messed with our women, and this is not just about the internet becoming space for every scandal there is, but about a beauty industry that’s set on changing people’s faces and bodies towards making them – us all – perfect. whoever said that technology equals development doesn’t know of a nation like ours that is ill-equipped to handle its evils, that is unprepared for its repercussions. as such it is oppressive in ways various and diverse, and here is just the tip of that iceberg.– katrina