Excerpt from IBON’s “On CCT/4Ps: A Cautionary Note”

The CCT/4Ps program undoubtedly provides short-term relief for the portion of the country’s poor able to receive these – with such deep poverty this kind of welfare intervention cannot but be welcomed. Yet amid essentially unchanged socioeconomic policies that have brought the economy to where it is today the considerable feel-good factor masks a disturbing reality: our deep social problems are only momentarily covered-up and long-term poverty will not really be reduced, even as the country’s richest will continue to grow wealthier and the biggest foreign and local corporations will continue to make their profits. It is hopefully unintentional that the CCTs/4Ps program will have just provided the political legitimacy and public support for continuing an exclusionary non-development strategy that hinders the realization of the economic, social and cultural rights of tens of millions Filipinos.

The country, economy and the people are caught in the middle of a deeply malfunctioning system. Even with a CCT extension we worry that beneficiaries will ask: “After 12 years, what next?” Like them we are all fearful that the Pantawid program may just turn out to be a bridge to nowhere.

–IBON Foundation




By Arnold Alamon

Wrapped in Grey

Thursday, July 4, 2013

A SOCIAL debate is now raging and it is one whose terms are unclarified to allow for productive discourse. It is an unfortunate debate but timely nevertheless because it reveals particular class dispositions in the context of elite rule.

Social media has been in an uproar recently over the benefits that informal settlers are set to receive from government over the plan to relocate them to government housing complexes at the outskirts of Metro Manila.

What irks what I presume to be middle class netizens are the cash assistance and ready housing that await what they refer to as squatters.

Much chest-beating is currently being done in posts and status messages about their tax-paying capacities in contrast to the supposed mendicancy of the poor.

Why is it then that these lazy good-for-nothings should receive housing assistance, they cry, when they productive citizens who have contributed so much more to government coffers could barely pay the rent, travel two hours to and from their place of work every day, and still cannot fully pay the smartphone on credit card loan on which they posted their classist rants.

What bothers me with this arrogance is that instead of commiserating with the plight of the poor living on top of danger zones, waiting to be washed out to sea when the next deluge comes, they see their own pathetic material inadequacies.

Instead of viewing these communities such as the one in North Triangle as homes of families and children, they would rather amplify their own entitlements towards their dream middle class lifestyles and how, despite their best efforts, these remain out of reach.

Even more scandalous is that many of these social climbers lived and survived in these typed of spaces. They acquired their education which enabled them to work in places like Makati, Ortigas, or Eastwood but while in college, they relied on Manang Aristocart to provide for their meals, or Manong Boy for their fifth-hand textbook, or Lola Maria for their cheap laundry.

Till now, they still depend on the workers of the informal economy to provide for their inexpensive goods and services so that they can afford their rock-and-roll lifestyle. You want your load for your pre-paid phone, go to Manang Janitor. Your saving up for a big date, have your meals delivered on the cheap by Manang Nene. And yet they regard them with such disdain and wouldn’t care less if the Manangs’ and Manongs’ homes of 30 years are demolished.

And the argument that they live on land that is not their own and should therefore be driven away like dogs is problematic. Many of these areas that are now under threat of demolition were appropriated by government by legal fiat.

If you do your research, there are families in these areas that have been there since the turn of the century. Besides, I still bristle at the idea that we regard our fellow Filipinos as squatters without hesitation. Yet some even have the temerity to complain, particularly BPO workers, that we are not giving enough ownership rights to foreign investors, their patrons.

The middle class should not feel neglected just because government is offering concessions for urban poor communities that are to be demolished. The real politics behind the cash assistance and the offer of government housing is not an enlightened political response to urban blight but a tactic for hastening the real-estate development projects where more of these over-worked, underpaid, wanna-be middle class workers like them will be employed.

The truth is, there is a lot more in common between the middle class and the urban poor in an economy in crisis. It would just take a declaration of redundancy or merger from corporate headquarters in New York for them to find themselves living among the squatters they so hate.

The difference between the two is while the middle class is quick to cower in fear over the potential threat to their precarious livelihoods and therefore accept the low pay, long working hours, and absence of job security; the poor, in contrast, have nothing to lose. That is why they have resorted to defending their communities, setting up barricades, and matching the violence of the State with their own against these threats of demolition of their homes.

Whatever benefits they will receive is justified because they earned these with their collective courage. I cannot say the same for the cowards.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on July 04, 2013. #

RIP Hugo Chavez

“Wealth inequality in Venezuela is half of what it is in the United States. It is rated the ‘fifth-happiest nation in the world’ by Gallup. And Pepe Escobar writes that, ‘No less than 22 public universities were built in the past 10 years. The number of teachers went from 65,000 to 350,000. Illiteracy has been eradicated. There is an ongoing agrarian reform.’ Venezuela has undertaken significant steps to build food security through land reform and government assistance. New homes are being built, health clinics are opening in underserved areas and cooperatives for agriculture and business are growing.”

chavezRIP 544247_4646140878946_1793594392_n

Hasta la vista, comandante Hugo Chavez!

Hasta la victoria siempre!

Viva la revolucion!


Ironic criticism against activists:

“Nakaka-traffic kayo” — pero every day of December, at tuwing may sale sa mall, barado ang mga kalsada dahil sa shoppers.

“Andaming kalat pagkatapos ng rally” — sabay 129 tons of garbage ang naproduce ng Black Nazarene procession.

“Magbanat nalang kayo ng buto” — sabi ng Makati executive sa manggagawang nasa rally

(via Anton Dulce)

Random Thoughts on the Real World

A lot of people say that the REAL WORLD is where you have to face your responsibilities and try to earn as much to either make a decent living (pay the bills, eat right) or earn as much to afford the luxuries in life (travels, iPhones, etc)– whether single or as a spouse or parent.

However, these people do often forget that while this may be their reality, this is NOT the reality that a lot of the masses are experiencing. There is widespread chronic poverty, human rights violations (including right to decent living, to shelter, food, livelihood, land, and what-have-you), and even death and other forms of suffering.

While most people in Metro Manila consider the bourgeois notion of the REAL WORLD as real, this, I think, is PSEUDO-REALITY or HYPER-REALITY brought to them by the kind of life that they have been living since birth– especially those who were born under middle to upper class families.

In short, reality is SUBJECTIVE where one’s consciousness is based or comes from class origin. However, someone who even comes from the elite class may still raise his/her sociopolitical consciousness as soon as he/she steps away from his/her comfort zone, see and live the REAL WORLD from a poor man’s perspective, and veer away from elitist ivory tower thinking.

Now, is this a half-full, half-empty question?

I dont think so. Ignorance is not an excuse.

[sana makapag-aral pa ako ng mas madaming sociology units]


After Lunch Reflections #01

Office lunchmates and I were talking about cancer patients over lunch.. we all agreed that there are those diagnosed with cancer, and then survive and still live long way beyond their “taning”, while there are those who pass away after a month or two after their diagnosis.. we all also agreed that those who die early must have suffered depression– depressed that they wont be here for long or depressed
that they would be a big burden to their families..

and then i thought:

aside from the availability and competency of our public hospitals to provide health care, wouldn’t our patients have the peace of mind that they wont be a big burden if only our public hospitals had more than sufficient budget to provide free quality health care for all??

think about it.. maybe we could save more cancer patients not because of really curing the disease, but by just providing health security and peace of mind. #

Development Studies

“Development studies is the epitome of what Oblation actually stands for. The course enables the students to learn with the people through the practicum and engages them in the theory and practice of development. Development studies therefore is imperative to any country that aspires for economic growth and equity for its people.”

“Our society is grossly mired in poverty and underdevelopment due to the unholy alliance between foreign dominance and local elite control. As such, development research and practice should be biased in favor of the marginalized, disenfranchised, and underrepresented sectors of the society who comprise 70% of the Filipino population. They are the farmers, fisherfolks, indigenous people and laborers. We seek to learn from their experience and, in return, aim to offer our knowledge and expertise to contribute in their empowerment and the improvement of their condition. We enjoin you to be active students, witnesses and participants of history and social change. Expose. Oppose. Propose.”

–Prof. John N. Ponsaran, Dev Stud, UP Manila

*and im one proud devstud grad!  Happy 30th anniversary, DevStud program! Continue serving the people! 🙂