Wake Up, Philippines!

Is the law on national anthem extremely puritanical?

Posted in History/Origin, Law and order, Music by Erineus on May 22, 2009

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:24:00 05/20/2009

I find it rather strange that in all of Manny Pacquiao’s fights, not one of those who sang the “Lupang Hinirang” passed the standards of the National Historical Institute (NHI). It is a sad fact, indeed, that the NHI criticisms have always dampened what otherwise should be an undiluted national celebration of a Pacquiao victory. On the other hand, I still have to hear of any American, Mexican or Briton airing any comment, good or bad, on how their respective anthems had been rendered by different artists, each one of whom, common sense simply dictates, must surely have his or her own singing style and interpretation. Aren’t we becoming extremely, and unduly, puritanical in this respect?

Of course, the NHI takes refuge under Republic Act 8491, which provides that “the rendition of the National Anthem, whether played or sung, shall be in accordance with the musical arrangement and composition of Julian Felipe.” RA 8491 punishes the failure or refusal to observe such provision with public censure, as well as with one-year imprisonment or P5,000-fine, or both, at the discretion of the court. (Inquirer, 5/03/09).

Unfortunately, the sheer mention of that law only inevitably brings to worldwide rebuke another of this country’s many “national embarrassments,” to wit: our propensity to make laws that we cannot implement. Why? Simply because practically all the artists who sang the “Lupang Hinirang” in Pacquiao fights before Nievera did not follow the original musical composition and arrangement of Felipe; yet not one of them has ever been formally indicted. Also, that perception is not only highly debatable; even the NHI has not actually demonstrated how the anthem is to be perfectly sung. Neither did our grade school teachers teach it to us as they did English or Arithmetic. Let’s admit, we all learned our national anthem essentially “a la oido.” And so, we would probably have to resurrect Felipe to sing and record it in a diskette, or to have graduates of the Conservatory of Music to correctly interpret it, if we are to implement RA 8491 to the letter.

I am not a musician, but methinks none of the artists who had sung the “Lupang Hinirang” in past Pacquiao fights may be said to have maligned the spirit of patriotism that it connotes. Comparatively, the harm done, if any, is not as much as the Church might have “murdered” the originality of the “Ama Namin” by re-inventing that prayer in as many tunes and variations as we have parishes.

Alack, to such extent that, if similarly done to “Silent Night,” for example, we would no longer feel the coming Christmas when that song begins to fill the air as early as September. But that is entirely another matter.

—RUDY L. CORONEL,
rudycoronel2004@yahoo.comhttp://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/letterstotheeditor/view/20090520-206024/Is-the-law-on-national-anthem-extremely-puritanical

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Saving Bohol’s past

Posted in Cultural Heritage, Culture, Heritage, History/Origin, Tourism, Travel by Erineus on May 22, 2009

By Ambeth Ocampo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:14:00 05/22/2009

Once in the great Paris flea market, at the Porte de Clignancourt, I saw a handful of Bohol “santos” on display. Before asking for the price I innocently asked for their provenance—where were these wonderful folk images of the Virgin Mary originally from—and was told they came from Latin America! I did not argue because I was certain that if these were correctly labeled as coming from the Philippines, they would cost much less. I had a similar experience in an antique mall in New York City where Bohol “santos” were said to be South American and cost more.

The Philippine “santos” came into their own two decades ago when an Architectural Digest cover story carried pictures of Elton John’s sitting room ornamented with Philippine “santos” of wood and ivory heads. In the recent Christie’s Paris auction of the collection of Yves Saint Laurent, there were two Hispano-Philippine ivories from the 17th or 18th century. One of the ivories, a head of Christ figured prominently on YSL’s coffee table. There is belated awareness of Filipino heritage these days, helpful if only to preserve the little we have left.

Fifteen years ago, I was shown an empty niche in Dimiao church where an ancient retablo once stood. It was sacrificed to fund church repairs in the 1970s and pioneering antique dealer Nene Cortes shipped it to Manila. Is this the same one now displayed in the National Museum? If large objects like retablos, pulpits and architectural details can be moved, what more portable valuable objects like church silver and ivories? What about old books, manuscripts and archival material that are the first consigned to a fire?

I remember a fiesta in Bohol where I watched the town band perform pop hits. While everyone had their eyes on the legs of the majorettes who twirled batons seductively, my eyes spotted the drum tops covered with Gregorian chant. Someone had put these ancient pig-skin choir books in the bodega to good use: when the drums of the town band broke they replaced it with a page from the over-sized choir book. Frankly, if it were possible to convert these choir books into chicharon, these would have disappeared much earlier and Dr. William Summers would not be able to tell us about early music in Bohol, including the crude but historically important “Misa Baclayana,” a musical setting for the Mass reconstructed from old music found in Bohol churches.

While I am happy that foreigners come to study Philippine culture, one wonders why Filipinos don’t seem to care. One reason is that we see our culture every day but we rarely sit back and notice. With the exception of Bohol historians Marianito Luspo and Jess Tirol, much of what I know of Bohol heritage comes from Manila-based researchers: Regalado Trota Jose (now a Dominican), Fr. Rene Javellana (Jesuit), Augusto Villalon (secular), Romeo Allianigue (ex-Carmelite), Osmundo Esguerra (furniture expert), Ramon Villegas (antique dealer) and Esperanza Gatbonton (independent researcher). Why isn’t more research on Bohol being done in Bohol? By Boholanos? Now that is both a challenge and a wish.

Heritage awareness these days is often focused on structures at risk, those that are being torn down to make way for modern buildings, or those being renovated beyond recognition. There is much more to Bohol than churches, watchtowers and natural landscape—the draft for the pre-history of Bohol, the history of Bohol before written records, is waiting to be written up from archeological records and artifacts in the National Museum and the writings of the pioneering pre-historian of the Philippines, H. Otley Beyer. Then there is the Guthe collection in the University of Michigan Museum of Anthropology in Ann Arbor.

Carl E. Guthe headed an archeological expedition to the Philippines from 1922 to 1925, and from his base in Opon, Cebu, he excavated thousands of artifacts that now form the core of the museum’s Asia Division. These artifacts and records were brought back for future study and research, but 84 years later these material still cry out for a researcher to piece this unwritten history together.

Bohol is a success story for eco and heritage tourism, it has everything a tourist will want: beaches, Chocolate Hills, tarsier, colonial churches and watchtowers, plus a hospitable people. Loboc is a smashing success with its choir and river cruise. The Baclayon church museum is run by Baclayanons proud of their “native” delicacies: the Bohol chocolate, Baclayon broas, and Dauis torta are welcome contributions to the development of our national cuisine.

Loose tongues from narrow minds often argue that cultural heritage is a useless expense in a country with so much poverty. But in Bohol cultural heritage has generated jobs, encouraged small businesses and given Boholanos a sense of pride, self and identity. Perhaps there is truth to the saying that familiarity breeds contempt, worse, it often breeds apathy—that is why four historical markers were installed in Dauis and Maribijoc last week so that people will see and notice. That Bohol is culturally rich led to a suggestion that the National Historical Institute declare the whole province a national landmark.

At the very least it will save on historical markers from Manila, and preserve and develop what’s left of Bohol heritage.

* * *

Comments are welcome at aocampo@ateneo.edu

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Supreme Court lenient with erring judges

Posted in Uncategorized by Erineus on May 22, 2009

Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:23:00 05/22/2009

Chief Justice Reynato Puno may be mistaken. The oligarchs do not rule. But they hold sway because corrupt executive, legislative and judicial officials do business with them. Let us not demonize the tycoons because they are simply forced to play by the dirty rules of our officials.

Our officials have made a mockery of the constitutional prescription that “Public office is a public trust.” For them public office is for private gain.

The Chief Justice should spend less time going around the country, mobilizing the “moral force.” He should spend more time focusing on his turf and he should realize that much more has to be done to make the judiciary the model government institution that it should be.

One thing he should not do is protect his justices and judges from criminal prosecution for the grievous wrongs that they have committed. For instance, recently we read of a judge who was simply dismissed for extorting P30,000 from a litigant. But his stenographer, the bag man (who presumably was acting upon the orders of the judge), was not only dismissed but also recommended for criminal prosecution. The judge should have been prosecuted and the stenographer made state witness.

In another case, Court of Appeals Justice Vicente Roxas, who was accused of committing improprieties in the Meralco case, was simply dismissed while Francis de Borja was referred to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution for merely trying to broker a P10-million bribe to Court of Appeals Justice Jose Sabio who was being asked to inhibit himself from the case. De Borja should have been made a state witness.

—FERNANDO SANTOS,
santosfernando85@yahoo.com

http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/letterstotheeditor/view/20090522-206423/Supreme-Court-lenient-with-erring-judges

Pork barrel is root cause of corruption

Posted in Congress, Graft and Corruption, house of representatives, Pork Barrel, Senate by Erineus on May 22, 2009

By Neal Cruz
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 00:58:00 05/22/2009

The gold rush area that is Compostela Valley is a disaster waiting to happen. The steep mountainsides are honeycombed with tunnels dug by small-scale miners lured by that yellow mineral that many people are willing to die for. Well, they are dying for it. A landslide during heavy rains last Monday has killed 27 persons so far, and the digging and counting for more bodies have not yet stopped. That was the second fatal landslide in the area in two years.

Even without the tunnels, Compostela Valley is prone to landslides. The steep mountainsides surrounding it are devoid of trees whose roots should have held the soil together. Loggers raped the forests a long time ago. Miners made the soil even looser by digging tunnels into it to look for gold. Then they built their huts on the valley below, at the foot of the mountain. It was like committing suicide.

About 50 miners were taking shelter in these huts last Monday when a loud noise roared like thunder. Then they saw boulders and mud tumbling down the mountainside toward them. They all began to run but the wall of mud and boulders overtook them and buried them. Isn’t it ironic that the miners who took great pains to burrow into the soil looking for gold are now buried under that same soil, perhaps with gold nuggets buried with them?

This is not the first landslide that has killed scores of people in the Philippines. Nor would it be the last. As the typhoon season dumps more rains on the mountainsides, there would be more landslides, killing the people below.

As in Compostela Valley, authorities have identified areas in danger of landslides and have advised people in the path of these potential landslides to move to safer locations. But people are hardheaded, especially those in the gold rush area. Greed has closed their eyes and common sense to danger.

But death also lurks in places away from the gold rush area. Any area below mountains where loggers operated years ago is in danger. For the greedy loggers had stripped the mountains of the forests that held the soil together. We are now reaping the whirlwind that these people started.

Mark my words, there would be more floods and landslides during rainy seasons. With no trees to hold the rainwater soaking the ground, the water would rush down the mountainsides to flood the lowlands. The creeks and rivers would not be able to hold the abundant water. So they would overflow their banks and flood the surrounding countryside.

Worse, the rains would loosen the soil and without plant roots to hold them, the mud, together with boulders, would cascade down the mountainsides and bury the sleeping villages below. It had happened many times before; and it would happen again.

Have you noticed that there are more frequent floods and landslides now with the slightest rain? Those are the handiwork of the loggers, the charcoal-makers and the kaingineros (slash-and-burn farmers).

Local government officials should take great pains to move people living in danger areas to safer locations. If they don’t, there would be nobody left to vote for them in future elections.

* * *

The 2008/2009 Philippine Human Development Report (PHDR), financed by the United Nations, put the blame on the spread of graft and corruption on the executive branch of the government. Congress has abdicated the power of the purse to the executive, the report said.

Wrong. The executive and the legislative branches are actually in cahoots to rob the people of their taxes.

The root cause of all the corruption is the pork barrel hidden in such innocent-sounding appropriations as Countrywide Development Fund and Priority Development Assistance Fund. What is developed is not actually the countryside but the private pockets of legislative and executive officials. Almost half of the appropriation of each and every project goes to corrupt officials. In the process, these officials contaminate private persons who do business with the government such as contractors. Contractors have to kick back about a third of the contract price to government officials or else the contract would be given to somebody else willing to give “commissions.” As a result, the work of the contractor becomes substandard as he has to get back somehow the money he kicked back to officials. There is almost no government project, big or small, that is not tainted with corruption.

Members of the House of Representatives use the sobriquet “power of the purse” in giving themselves the pork barrel allocations. So it has not abdicated this power to the executive. But it is true that Malacañang has an even bigger pork barrel hidden in “intelligence,” “confidential,” “representation” and other high-sounding names. The generic name for all of them is “stolen funds.” They were stolen from the taxpayers.

The executive branch allows Congress to steal the pork barrel funds because Congress also allows it to steal a bigger share. A case of you scratch my back, I scratch yours.

Also, the pork barrel allows Malacañang to control the congressmen and senators by the simple expedient of not releasing the pork of uncooperative legislators. Cooperate and you get your pork; play hard-to-get and you get nothing. That is the Malacañang practice.

Abolish the pork barrel system by obeying the Constitution (it is not in the Charter), and you cut corruption by about two-thirds. Malacañang and Congress will not do that, so it is left to the Supreme Court to overturn its earlier decision that the pork barrel is legal. How can it be legal when the Constitution says that the job of Congress is to enact laws and that of the executive is to implement them? But with the pork, legislators usurp the functions of executive officials such as the secretaries of public works, education, health, etc. Plain common sense.

http://opinion.inquirer.net/inquireropinion/columns/view/20090522-206417/Pork-barrel-is-root-cause-of-corruption