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While anatomically illiterate politicians in America babble about “legitimate rape,” a Filipino legislator opposed to birth controlhas been shedding crocodile tears in Parliament and plagiarizing speeches to bolster the case against reproductive rights.

On Aug. 13, the Senate majority leader, Tito Sotto, wept while addressing his assembled peers. The former actor told the Senate that birth-control pills, used by his wife in 1974, had led to the death of their newborn son a year later. The emotional scene shut down the day’s debate. It was the latest obstruction to passing a reproductive health law that has languished for 14 years.

Proponents of the reproductive health bill say it will address poverty, women’s rights, infant and maternal mortality, and overpopulation in a poor nation crowded with 94 million people.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Philippines is haunted by its relationship with the United States. I remember the day, in 1991, when the Military Bases Agreement between the two countries was rescinded. The headlines yelled, finally: Freedom! But worrywarts held on to their beads. Clark Air Force Base and Subic Naval Base were America’s largest overseas outposts — powerful vestiges of colonial rule decades after the American occupation, which lasted from 1899 to 1946, had ended. In American history books those decades have fallen into an Orwellian memory hole: lost or abridged.

On the Philippine side, however, the relationship with America looms like Donald Barthelme’s balloon, a deep metaphysical discomfort arising from an inexplicable physical presence.…  Seguir leyendo »

This month’s maritime standoff between China and the Philippines in the South China Sea isn’t the first time the region’s navies have gone toe-to-toe. But while past tensions revolved around resources under the ocean floor, this most recent event is part of a growing strategic rivalry pitting Chinese power against the United States and its East Asian allies. How Washington responds may determine the prospects for continued peace in the Pacific.

The latest crisis arose after the pocket-size Philippine Navy, with an old United States Coast Guard cutter as its new flagship, tried to apprehend Chinese fishermen it claimed were operating illegally near the Scarborough Shoal.…  Seguir leyendo »

En 1980, mi padre llegó a los Estados Unidos para someterse a una operación del corazón, afectado por los rigores de su encarcelamiento por la dictadura de Ferdinand Marcos. La dictadura le ofreció un respiro, pero, cosa muy propia de ella, dependiente de sus caprichos. Tras haber sido condenado ya a muerte mediante fusilamiento por un tribunal irregular, mi padre se negó a levantar una bandera blanca. “La filipina”, insistió, “es digna de que se muera por ella”.

Tres años después, mi padre volvió a casa, no para morir, sino para infundir nueva vida a las desmoralizadas filas de la oposición a la dictadura.…  Seguir leyendo »

Acabo de regresar de un viaje a las Filipinas (el vuelo tomó 27 horas desde Estados Unidos), donde fui a investigar el sistema de pensiones. Solo estuve en "Metro Manila" que comprende 15 ciudades con 16 millones de habitantes, de una población total de 90 millones. No pude visitar las bellezas naturales en el norte y en el sur.

En 1564 comenzó la colonización española que duró más de 300 años. Para que los frailes pudiesen identificar a los nativos, les dieron a escoger de una lista de nombres castellanos, que aún hoy perduran en los filipinos y en las calles; pero el castellano no logró sustituir a los dialectos indígenas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Philippine national elections are set for Monday, but just because a vote is scheduled doesn't mean it will actually occur. The Southeast Asian nation is one of those places where talk about voting usually is preceded by the sad qualifier, "if the election happens. ..." This year is no different.

The latest trouble in the archipelago is a mechanical one. On Tuesday, less than a week before polls open, the Commission on Elections revealed that there were software problems in all 76,000 voting machines spread across the country's more than 7,000 islands. The race is now on to try to acquire, deliver, install and test tens of thousands of new memory cards as well as devise a backup plan to handle the 50 million voters expected on Monday.…  Seguir leyendo »

Two apparently unconnected stories made the front pages of newspapers last week: The story behind a massacre in the Philippine province of Maguindanao and a decision by India’s central government to divide the state of Andhra Pradesh into two. But they are linked — by the issue of decentralization in developing democracies. They are two examples of governments attempting to balance stability with diversity.

The Philippine massacre stemmed from rivalry between two political clans. The alleged perpetrators are connected to the family of the governor of the province and of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, of which Maguindanao is the largest part.…  Seguir leyendo »

Tema: El anuncio hecho por el Gobierno filipino sobre la reintroducción del español en la enseñanza secundaria ofrece unas nuevas perspectivas. La nueva situación merece una reflexión basada en los derechos individuales.

Resumen: El proyecto piloto del Departamento de Educación filipino significa que 17 escuelas públicas ofrecerán la asignatura optativa de español en secundaria. Esta oferta se suma a la de algunas escuelas privadas y universidades. España puede apoyar en formación de profesores, asesorías lingüísticas o aulas bilingües, como hace en otros países. Todo ello, sin olvidar la dimensión americana de la lengua y el derecho a elegir la enseñanza por parte de los interesados.…  Seguir leyendo »

Por Roby Alampay, director ejecutivo de la Seapa, Alianza de la Prensa del Asia Sudoriental. © Project Syndicate in collaboration with the Asia Society, 2007. Traducción: Carlos Manzano (LA VANGUARDIA, 26/09/07):

Joseph Estrada, el desacreditado ex presidente de Filipinas, afronta la perspectiva de pasarse los años que le quedan de vida en la cárcel después de que un tribunal especial de Manila lo declarara culpable de amasar unos 15 millones de dólares estadounidenses en sobornos y cohechos. Durante los 30 meses en que gobernó su país, desde mediados de 1998 hasta comienzos del 2001, Estrada aceptó sobornos de los señores de los garitos, orquestó (con fondos de la Seguridad Social) ventas de valores bursátiles y desvió gran parte de los beneficios a su cuenta personal abierta con un alias.…  Seguir leyendo »

By George Monbiot (THE GUARDIAN, 05/06/07):

It is time once again for that touching annual ritual, in which the world's most powerful people move themselves to tears. At Heiligendamm they will emote with the wretched of the earth. They will beat their breasts and say many worthy and necessary things - about climate change, Africa, poverty, trade - but one word will not leave their lips. Power. Amid the patrician goodwill, there will be no acknowledgement that the power they wield over other nations destroys everything they claim to stand for.

The leaders of the G8 nations present themselves as a force for unmitigated good.…  Seguir leyendo »