In an attempt to remake a film about Rizal, Ricky Davao and Chris Villanueva engaged into a funny yet critical way of presenting the life of our national hero. Here they tried to deviate from the common stereotypes of Rizal as someone possessing great intelligence and unparalleled abilities. Unlike the other films about Rizal, they focused not so much on his achievements but on the controversies that surround his love affairs, family relations and religious beliefs which many people have overlooked. Also they tackled one contentious issue in the film: the portrayal of Rizal not only as a national hero but a Third World hero. With this, I would like to look into this matter and see how this can affect our perspective on the image of Rizal and our meaning of a “national hero”.
The life and works of Rizal has been a recurrent topic in many history books and literature. However, many Filipinos still do not understand the significance of Rizal as a national hero. In the film, they dispelled the majority of the Filipino’s notion of a “national hero” who hailed or worshipped him as “superhuman” or even a “saint”. Here they showed that Rizal lived a life like an ordinary man that he can love and be loved, that he valued his family more than anything else, and that he committed mistakes, though endowed with great intelligence and skills. But why do we have such notions? The reason is that some authors, historians and movie makers would only portray the man on good light, would only show highlights of his life like his heroic execution or would not dwell so much into the controversies surrounding his life. As such, some would see a distorted view of Rizal. Despite this, one thing is for sure that being a national hero has its own costs and benefits. Rizal lived a life in order to liberate the Filipinos from the shackles of the Spanish regime and the supremacy of the friars at the cost of his own life.
Moreover, an important point was raised by Ricky and Chris in the film when they mentioned that “Rizal is bayaning Third World” and “marupok (brittle)”. Although this seems very pessimistic, in my view, this is of significant value because it conveys that Rizal has a human side and that he represents the struggle of the colonized people. Because he is human, Rizal has weaknesses and committed flaws yet he was still able to rise beyond the challenges during his time. Like the people in the Third World who sought for independence against the hold of the major powers, he also struggled to challenge the status quo during his time through his writings and opposed those abusive and exploitative social structures which undermine the rights of the Filipino people. Indeed he was an epitome of the people in the Third World struggling for self-determination and seeking for a right path that would lead them for a better future.
The point of the film is very evident and clear that our notion of a “national hero” has been overrated. People have put so much emphasis on the greatness of Rizal that they have neglected the human side of him. We have attributed a lot of things on him that it distorts his real image. As they said in the film, that I would agree, “kanya-kanyang Rizal”. This tells us that it is very important to recognize the importance of the man not of his charisma but of his character. We must look him as person who sought for a country that is free from the control of oppressive social structures where people used their reason to guide their in life. Indeed, Rizal’s life is more than the drama and the thrill that many would want to see in a movie.
A community is a group of people living together in a certain area, sharing common customs and norms. It is also a sanctuary where people nurture and meet the needs of every one of its members. And it is a place where someone identifies and attaches oneself. These are the most basic and simplest definitions of “community”. But these meanings are nothing compared to what a community in San Francisco, Camotes looks like. Its communities have embodied something that many communities in our country, the metropolis in particular, have lost sight nowadays which is very vital in sustaining the struggle for a better and liveable environment for every one of us.
The three-day trip in the island of Camotes has been very inspiring and rewarding. It was a trip, though not my first time, witnessing the practices and applications of all the concepts and ideas that we have been talking and debating in the four corners of our classroom. Indeed, it was where the real action happens. Our day started with a brief yet substantial discussion on the best practices of the municipality of San Francisco, Camotes on Solid Waste Management and Disaster Risk Reduction and Management. Despite being a 3rd class municipality, it has taken bold steps in environmental management which has been recognized both locally and internationally. In the afternoon, we went for a tree planting activity as part of their Two Million Trees Program.
By merely looking into these simple activities, one could see that these need not take a class to cross into the sea in order to achieve them. It is because these can be readily done in any fora or venues in the city. But witnessing the genuine involvement and participation of the community in managing their environment and daily affairs made our trip worth the hassle and inconvenience. The sense of community in San Francisco, Camotes showed how collective action can make a difference in the lives of ordinary people and the surrounding environment. It also manifests the vital role of the community in addressing environmental problems.
The threat of environmental disasters is not anymore mere fiction created by governments for political expediency. And these are manifested in the intensity of typhoons visiting to our country, changing weather patterns, decline of food yields and many others. As such there is a great urgency and necessity to address these environmental problems we are facing today. For more than half a century, many international conventions, agreements and treaties were created and signed in response to the issue. The UN has even created the Earth Summit to tackle the environmental issue among the states. However, many people and organizations lament that the condition of our environment has not drastically change for the better yet even getting worse. Consequently, many lost their faith in finding genuine solutions to these environmental problems through these means. While some proposed into looking into the local level for solutions because some issues could be address in the community level. And this is the case of San Francisco, Camotes.
The purok system in San Francisco, Camotes has clearly demonstrated this point. For many years, the people in San Francisco, Camotes have actively participated in the managing, preserving and protecting the environment with the local government unit. They have monthly meetings for updates, local information dissemination and livelihood programs. They have also very efficient solid waste management, reforestation efforts and disaster preparedness. Indeed, the LGU of San Francisco, Camotes has been successful in reducing the impacts of these environmental problems with the help of the people in the community. For this matter, the municipality of San Francisco truly embodies a community where people have active involvement in reaching their goals.
In spite of the things San Francisco, Camotes has done in addressing environmental problems and pushing for sustainable development in the area, one problem remains to be considered by all stakeholders in order to genuinely seek sustainable and genuine solutions for a liveable environment both for the present and future generations. Although I would not think this if not for the block out and for Sir John’s insight, the reliance on fossil fuels as sources of energy becomes a backlash not only for San Francisco, Camotes but for many other places seeking for sustainable development. As long as no renewable sources of energy are being installed or pursued by the private or public sector, we could not truly escape the consequences of these environmental dilemmas. Indeed, a stronger political will is needed to create a renewable source of energy for all the people in Camotes Island or even the entire country.
In looking into the experience of the San Francisco, Camotes, we can really perceive the strong and effective partnership between the LGU and its constituents in addressing the predicaments of our environment. It also shows that “governance” through the involvement of the people has been truly institutionalized in the area which makes implementing programs and projects for the environment very easily. Governance has emerged as a concept to answer the flaws of the old and traditional concept of public administration where people are seen as mere subjects to be ruled and managed. With this, it is addressed the challenges pose today by demands for greater participation from society. Although the concept has yet to be define, one of its staggering features is the significance of people’s participation in political decision making. Importantly, we can see how the LGU has addressed the needs and demands of the people beyond the vested interests of its public officials.
I am a Christian with Southern roots. I am raised in a community where most of my neighbours, friends and acquaintances are Christians. For a substantial of my life I have been exposed and educated in Christian ways and beliefs. However I was also aware, even in a young age, that not all people in my town are Christians. Muslims also occupied a space in our community and most of them played important roles as traders and merchants. Despite Christians outnumbered the Muslims, I can say that we coexisted side by side without any physical harm. However this does not hold true to all communities in Mindanao or even in other places in the country. Some communities have deep history of fear and hatred between Christians and Muslims. And this reflects on the long standing conflict in Mindanao that has transpired for many generations. However many still are hopeful, I included, that one day Christians and Muslims would live together with respect and trust to one another.
The presence of armed conflict between the Moro separatist groups and the government in Mindanao has brought tremendous misery, helplessness and poverty among Christians and Muslims for many decades. Faced with these challenges and difficulties in life, many Muslims and Christians sought a better life somewhere else. And many of whom opted in the metropolis in search for better opportunities. Unlike the Christians, however, Muslims moving in the metropolis have found it difficult to assimilate in these news places because of prejudices and biases. In turn it added to their sufferings and misery. But with the help of many civil associations focusing on peace building and cooperation between Christians and Muslims, these prejudices and biases, particularly on Muslims, have been corrected and deconstructed in favour of a more impartial view.
Nothwithstanding the dilemma faced by many Muslims and Christians, moreover, many grassroot communities and civil society groups in the country have built strong foundations of hope and respect upon the rubbles of fear and hatred among Christians and Muslims. Cooperation and understanding between Christians and Muslims were vividly manifested in these communities. Although they have varying experiences and life contextualities, many Christians and Muslims were able to find a link between themselves. In fact, both of them are nothing but prey to oppressive and biased social structures and institutions in our society that used the “Christian vs Muslim” issue as means to achieve their ends. Both Christians and Muslims are nothing but victims to this kind of situation. In this regard, the significance of a dialogue of life among Christians and Muslims where each one can talk similarities and discuss differences fosters better understanding and collaboration for a peaceful and better community. It also enables them to transcend beyond narrow religious stereotypes and biases to one another.
In the Duyog Ramadan activity last September 22, I was fortunate enough to have a very open-minded and respectful dialogue partner. He was a police officer who was one of the Balik Islam converts. In our discussion, he shared to me some of his life experiences as a Muslim convert. There he told to me that he has a Christian family. Despite this, he said that he didn’t force them to convert into Islam because he respect them. This was one thing I found very admiring in him because he emphasized respect on other people’s different beliefs and ways of life. Although his Muslim, he let his wife to practice her Christian beliefs and even raised his children as devout Christians. In this regard, I was very touched and humbled on how he was able to balance this kind life. Importantly, as part of the activity, he chose, same as I, Fr. Sebastian D’Ambra as an exemplar because he was inspired with Fr. D’Ambra’s act of choosing to leave a comfortable life in Italy in exchange of the life of poverty with a local Muslim community in Mindanao although he was a priest; and his passion to serve the people for the sake of building peaceful relations between Christians and Muslims in Mindanao. Although the activity was brief, I was able still to learn a lot of things from him and be inspired from his life experiences as a Muslim.
Life is a journey. It is a never ending search for one’s ultimate telos. Everything we do in life has a purpose or goal. As such every single moment in life must be cherished and nurtured because we travel on this journey only once. Conflicts and disagreements are nothing but part of life’s challenges that without them one cannot reflect on his/her actions and beliefs and change for the better. The Christian-Muslim issue is one of the many complexities and difficulties in this life’s journey that confronts each one of us. The ultimate telos, indeed, among Christians and Muslims is to live in peaceful coexistence and harmony among each other. But one could not reach this without a vehicle in life. And one of the most useful vehicles to achieve this goal is through a dialogue. A dialogue enables people to share and discuss issues in life and search for a link that would bind one to one another. No barriers politically, economically or religiously can separate one from another as long as they continue to communicate. Hopefully one day, as we travel in this journey of life, we can transcend beyond these prejudices and biases that hinder our peaceful coexistence and find a place where there are no Christians and no Muslims but all Filipinos!
Doing menial jobs or chores during summer are not new to me anymore. When I was a kid, I did some errands for my father. Last year’s summer, I was hired as legal assistant/secretary in my uncle’s law firm. It was truly a worthwhile experience and my first exposure to the work place. I was able to talk and mingle to people who you don’t usually see or bump on the streets. I was also able to grasp some useful concepts and processes on legal matters. And it helped a lot in my communication and analytical skills. Indeed, I learned a lot of things from that experience which I could use in the future and hopefully in a career in law. But my engagement on legal matters and concepts did not end last year.
This summer I’m very grateful to be part of Philippine Earth Justice Center (PEJC), an organization that specializes on environmental law and other legal matters in line with environmental protection. Unlike my uncle’s law firm, this organization does not cater on big businesses and private individuals but mainly concerns on protecting the environment through the rule of law.
Our On-the-Job-Training (OJT) in the Philippine Earth Justice Center (PEJC) officially started last April 14, 2012. And because that was the first day of work, I came very early in the office with much excitement and eagerness to start my day. Indeed, I was not disappointed with what I came for. First and foremost, Atty. Joan Dulhao, our intern coordinator, oriented us about the organization and the things we must do. And she gave us some background on the recent mining case in Midsalip, Zamboanga del Sur that the organization is currently working on and shared some legal concepts and procedures on environmental cases. Consequently, my co – interns and I were greeted with towering documents that needed to be compiled and sorted as evidence to the said mining case which took us the whole day to finish.
In our next meeting, we were able to meet and talk to some of the most prominent environmental lawyers in Cebu namely Atty. Gloria “Golly” Ramos, PEJC executive director, and Atty. Ben Cabrido. They shared their expertise on environmental law and talked some environmental issues and concerns in the province such as the Cordova Reclamation Project. Atty. Ramos also told us that we will have a bunch of activities to do with during our stay and this OJT will certainly be a crash course on environmental law. Then, Atty. Dulhao suggested that we will have a Dolphin and Marine Life Survey in Bais City, Negros Oriental on April 23 – 26 which is our first field work. And we really looked forward on doing it (I’ll share next week our experience in the dolphin survey).
And another activity that kept us busy this week is our radio program hosting with Atty. Gloria Ramos in DYRC. She has a weekly radio program “Hagit sa Kinaiyahan” from 10 – 11 am which tackles environmental issues, concerns and practices. And being PEJC interns, we are tasked to co – anchor with her and this coming Saturday will be our first time to be heard on air. I hope we can do this right considering Atty. Ramos won’t be around.
All in all, our first week in PEJC is really “full-packed” and quite productive. And I’m looking forward for the all activities we will be doing in the future. Despite the tasks given to us and no compensation at all, I started to love my work because it serves for a greater purpose. Indeed, there is no greater compensation that one can achieve than protecting, preserving and promoting the environment for our generation and for generations to come.
(Credits to Clarissa Beth Degamo for her support and skills in the making of this short clip)
This is my video presentation for my application as National Youth Ambassador for Peace Program 2012 of PeaceTech, Inc.
Peace for Mindanao, Peace for our country!
The war between the Khmer Rouge guerrillas and the Cambodian government forces was one of the bloodiest civil wars in the 20th century that almost wiped out an entire population because of intense brutalities and atrocities from both sides. Furthermore, the social fabric of Cambodian society had almost collapsed after the reign of the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. It had profound effects to all levels of Cambodian society and government. The movie Killing Fields depicted the plight of the Cambodians during this period and their sufferings under the Khmer Rouge regime. It conveyed very powerful and glaring images on the political and social aspects of the country which led to its unfortunate and sorrowful situation. Indeed the war had divided the country and affected the majority of the people within it.
The movie is quite lengthy but it provides a lot of insights and ideas to me which are very crucial and significant in understanding the nature of war and its effects, whether directly or indirectly, to the people, the country and the international community. Obviously, the movie sought to show the real lives of Cambodians who were caught in the war and had struggled for survival. But there were much deeper issues behind the war that must be unravelled such as the US hegemony in the region and the involvement of other non-state actors. Importantly, it must be put in mind that the prize of war (holding or gaining power) was and will not always outweigh the cost of lives lost, families broken and opportunities missed because of war. Moreover, looking into those people who had bloody wounds from stray bullets and shrapnel, amputated limbs from exploding landmines and other inhumane acts of the Khmer Rouge had really disturbed me a lot. But, the sight of children crying and dying for desperate help made my heart sob. I could really feel their hardships and misery leaving in a war torn country without a certainty of the future. Then, the scenes during the reign of the Khmer Rouge regime were even more horrible and gruesome. The Khmer Rouge brainwashed new generations of Cambodians by indoctrinating them with its crooked ideology. And they despised and killed those learned people who defied their authority or voiced against them. Ironically, they claimed that they are serving the people but they were the worst violators of the human rights of those people.
In spite of the wasted blood, sweat and tears of people in the movie, it has given us an important message that would always remind us: human beings are given the ability to make and remake their own future. Unfortunately, this is not always the case in reality because people are sometimes subjected or influenced by the other more powerful individual or group of individuals which dictate the course of their lives. Other factors such as culture, sex, race and social institutions may also affect the decision-making and orientation of the people. Moreover, political change cannot be instituted instantly. Society must undergo certain transitions in order to progress and change which cannot be compensated by any armed uprising. While some people believe that war is inevitable to change, I maintain that they don’t really understand its real social cost and implication which could be greatly remedied if we resort into more diplomatic and peaceful means of conflict resolution.