Thursday, May 05, 2016

Can I Talk About This?

Yes, I can! Although that could change if a certain politician were elected president. More on that below.

One of the advantages of no longer being a Peace Corps volunteer is that I can now talk about controversial topics like politics and drug legalization with the locals. As they say, "Be careful what you wish for." My newsfeed is now inundated with political news for the upcoming Philippine election everyday. It can be a little overwhelming. I long for the days when every third story in my newsfeed would be about Pia Wurtzbach, the reigning Miss Universe from the Philippines. Ah, the good old days. Anyway, here's some of my thoughts on two local issues:

1) The Duterte Phenomenon -- it doesn’t matter that he has a terrible human rights record, that he makes terrible jokes about rape, or that he seems to be hiding millions of pesos he didn’t declare. People still love him. I don’t get it. Even some human rights advocates are turning a blind eye to Duterte’s record, which allowed death squads to kill suspected criminals, some turning out to be minors or people mistaken for suspects or just innocent bystanders. With only a few days left before election, I am wary of his possible election because he’s basically the second coming of Ferdinand Marcos. Wait, some people actually want that, so maybe that explains part of his appeal. My only hope is that if he does become president, he does not use death squads (murder, after all, is against the law), gives suspects due process and also that he respect democracy (ie he does not declare martial law). Hey, call me an optimist.

2) Drug Legalization -- much of Duterte’s popularity stems from his supposed crackdown on drug trafficking in Davao, by, well, allowing the death squad to murder suspected traffickers. I think this is entirely the wrong approach when it comes to drugs. Let’s face it. Everyone knows that the drug war is a big failure. Take the case of marijuana, for example.  In the US, many states have now legalized marijuana for medical or recreational use. Even the ‘nerdy’ guy who hosts Rick Steves’ Europe, conveniently named Rick Steves, believes that legalizing marijuana is the right way to go. As Willie Nelson says, “Tax it. Regulate it. Legalize it.” Props to Cong. Chungalao of Ifugao province for realizing this hard truth 5 years ago when he introduced legislation calling for the legalization of medical marijuana. He was ahead of his time. Its not too late for the Philippines to realize this hard truth as well. This is the bandwagon they should join.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Forever(pa)more Observations

I've been in the Philippines for nearly six months, so naturally, my update is about a Pinoy soap opera called Forevermore.  I've been busy with farming/gardening as well as raising chickens and I also have some random observations about the Philippines since moving back, but maybe I'll post about those later.  In the meantime, here's some observations about a soap opera set in my hometown:

Disclaimer: I’ve only watched the first 30 episodes.

1) The truck owned by the Calay’s has an Igorotak sticker. Cool.

2) Cool also that they sometimes speak Ilokano.

3) More cool stuff: the two main characters did a native dance with what appears to be Ibaloi garb.

4) The show is pretty funny, e.g. lines from Mang Bangky.

5) ‘Mang Bubs’ sounds like ‘man boobs’.

6) The ethnic group of the farming family is ambiguous. It seems like they’re Ibaloi, but its unclear.  I wonder if that's intentional on the part of the producers. 

7) Its pretty funny that everytime someone is having a conversation in the show, there’s a 90% chance that someone will happen to overhear the conversation. Probably a standard soap technique.

8) Although occasionally corny and over the top (hey, its a soap), this show is pretty good. I was originally going to joke that it looks like that the verbal abuse of the director must’ve paid off. But then, it turns out the verbal abuse was only directed towards the extras.

9) The theme song sounds like Cat Stevens ‘The First Cut is the Deepest’.

10) The best thing about the show, of course -- it was shot in Baguio.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

La Conclusión

A more-or-less English translation of this post is here.  

Bueno.  Ahora, estoy en Berkeley, California, menos de una semana antes de salir del país para ir a las Filipinas.  Quiero empezar a trabajar allá acerca del ambiente.  Intentaré lo que yo aprendí durante mis tres años en El Cuerpo de Paz.  Vamos a ver!  Pero que estaba haciendo yo antes?

1)  Viajando a Través de los Estados Unidos -- Después del fin de mi servicio en Panamá, yo viajaba a través de los EE.UU. solo por la tierra (el bus, tren, o carro), sin volando.  Entonces, comenzando en Washington, D.C., yo viajaba a través de los estados unidos por casi tres semanas.  Además de Washington, D.C., yo visité mis amigos (y un primo) en Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, New Mexico, Arizona y California.  Fue muy divertido de hablar de nuevo cara a cara con ellos después de mucho tiempo. 

2)  Foto del Servicio -- Mi foto más favorito:

Durante un evento ambiental en el pueblo cercano de Las Minas

3)  La Canción del Día

Los Wilburys Viajando -- La Final de la Línea

4)  Las Noticias de Camerún -- es una noticia interesante sobre la bolsa plástica en Camerún, haciendo un mercado negro de ellos.  Parece como un artículo de Onion, pero es verdad.

5)  Lo Único Tienda de Cero Basura en Los Estados Unidos --  ¿Sabe que hay solo una tienda de Cero Basura en los estados unidos? Está en Texas, de todos los lugares.  Si yo sabría durante mis viajes, yo lo visitaría. 

6)  Eso es un poco embarazoso -- recientemente, yo envié aparentemente los solicitudes de amistad por Facebook, pero yo no sabía como.  Entonces, lo siento a las personas que los recibieron.  Pienso que yo lo hice cuando yo no estaba acostumbrando con mi teléfono inteligente. ¿Qué?  ¿Tengo un teléfono inteligente?

7)  Ahora tengo telefono inteligente -- yo decía mucho que yo no prefiera tener un teléfono inteligente.  Pero yo veo que es una buena herramienta, porque lo veo como un computador.  Antes, yo no lo querría por que necesito cargarlo casi cada día.  Pero es lo mismo con el computador.  Ahora yo uso el computador menos que antes.  El teléfono inteligente ha remplazado mi computador.  Es bueno también durante mis viajes.  No necesito sacar mi computadora solo para usar el Wifi para comunicar con mis amigos por e-mail o cualquier cosa. 

8)  No lo sabía -- en la ciudad de Baguio, se produce 360 a 370 toneladas de basura cada día.  También, hay grupos allá que hacen lo mismo proyectos como Panamá.  Finalmente, SM, el gran centro comercial, hizo una relación publico acerca del ambiente

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Si Me Voy de Aquí Mañana …

… o en un mes.

1)  Epic Rap Battles vs SNL -- SNL is being called out for its lack of Asian cast members.  Witness Manny Pacquiao played by a white woman.  Lame.  In defense of SNL, I can think of at least two former cast members who are part Asian, Rob Schneider and Fred Armisen.  That's like what?  Two during the last 40 years.  On the other hand, Epic Rap Battles of History has had at least two Asian characters played by, well, Asians.  What a concept.  And ERB has only been around for maybe 4 years.   ERB wins. 

2)  Farewell Song for Panama  -- my PM sent me an email about upcoming reports, DOS and poop samples.  COS must be coming up.  Time to think of a song to use for a video montage (that I would never make) of my time in Panama.  Maybe a song with an accordion.  Or maybe a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd?

Note to Giles:  record a longer version of this song. 

3)  The battery dies like a bad joke on stage  -- my dumbphone works just fine, but I was toying with the idea of getting a smartphone and that led me to an article about cellphones with a long battery life.  But this poster still makes me hesitant to get one:
Poster at the UN in Geneva

4)  Bochinche -- that's my new favorite Spanish word.  It means 'ruckus' or 'uproar', according to my Spanish dictionary, but the PC Panama handbook says it means 'gossip'.  Ex:  La chiquitita quiere bochinche. 

5)  This Blog Post Was Brought To You By … -- I can't say enough about safety razors.  I used it to shave my head recently and it wasn't as tough as I thought.  No more electric razors for me. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

No Excuses

1)  Azuero Fair -- checking out the Azuero Fair with my landlord's family.  We must've walked for 4 hours throughout the fair:

Funny thing about the visit was that although there were many food stands at the fair, we ate at a McDonald's outside the fair. 

2)  Tiny Frogs -- Check out these tiny frogs.  I'm talking 'chiquitita', my new favorite Spanish word.

I assume they're on their way to eventually looking like this:

3)  My Two Centavos -- Pacquiao is a great fighter and its too bad he lost, but Mayweather was right.   No excuses, Pacman.  As someone once said, "Excuses are like _____.  Everyone's got one and they all stink!"

4)  Represent -- Hats I've acquired in Panama.

L-R:  a political party hat I found on the ground, 
a baseball cap of my region's team, my first hat in Panama

5)  Who Needs Gravity Boots?

Shaky video I took of an iguana, my spirit animal