Tuesday, August 09, 2016

US SOCIETY AND POLITICS GETTING FRACTURED ALONG ETHNIC LINES


 
Image credit goes to this link:
https://sites.psu.edu/sarahnicolegalang/2014/02/20/civic-issues-the-changing-face-of-america/
 

The very uniqueness of the grand social experiment that made the US of A the most successful in the history of mankind is now poised to tear its very fabric from its seams and across its breadth.

The coming together and gelling as one of the many diverse cultures and multi-ethnic groups produced for us the mighty and world power which came to be known as the US of A, the land that immigrants built.

Now, it is my belief that that very same unique and magnificent quality of the continuing grand experiment is poised to rend it to pieces.

There now exists many permanent vested interests, big and small, that threaten the suddenly fragile union.  Vested interests not necessarily defined along political ideologies, but built and strengthened along more identifiable lines like ethnicity and/or race.

Immediately our attention jumps to the series of recent alarming violent confrontations between African-Americans with whites and with police authorities.  Giving rise to extremely activist groups like BLM, Back Lives Matter.  Extend that to the ugly riots engendered by contentious issues of immigration, especially illegal migration, as is the case with Hispanics.  And during such events the showing of foreign flags like that of Mexico is commonplace.  We are witnessing therefore a society at odds within itself.

These are of course the extreme examples of deep fractures in its societal structures.  But there are more insidious and less perceptible ones that over time we have all come to accept and take for granted.  It ranges from the highly visible and accepted NAACP, or maybe like the somewhat clandestine RAZA, to the low-keyed almost unnoticeable social organizations identified by their hyphenated member appellations, like Mexican-Americans, FilAms, Asian-Americans, etc.   Many exist in relative obscurity, some as merely necessary aggrupation for certain social events like Cinco de Mayo, various independence days of various countries, etc.   How can one properly display and honor Philippine Independence if there is no FilAm group to handle it.

By and large, these are well and good, and benign and harmless.  Until we dig and excavate deeper, in society and politics.

In society, this issue could be a significant cause for hindrances to facile integration and ultimate assimilation into the mainstream American culture, which has kept the union intact, one that promotes and honors one society culled from many.

In politics, this could be cause for pursuing advocacies promoting the narrow interests and welfare of the group, rather than the entire community.  Organizations may wield their collective powers to bargain with politicians toward promoting their own narrow interests, again rather than the interests of the collective.   It is not unusual for politicians to promise these groups concessions in exchange for their patronage, concessions promoting the narrow vested interests of the groups which by and large exist for their narrow self-serving goals.

And it is here where its gets murky and thorny, when personal interests trump the pursuit of the general welfare; and in which typically the latter suffers in the exchange.  And this is as we see it in reality, a little cursory observation would tell you that.   A politician in exchange for some promises of some favored appointments or concessions will leverage that in favor of votes from the organization.   And this is multiplied and copied in many situations as to amount to wholesale horse-trading or what have you.

Over and above, we have a country with parts or sectors competing against each other in these greedy and myopic ways to the detriment of the entire polity.

It is a devout wish then to see the day when hyphenated Americans become extinct, and only Americans exist.

And amidst the rancor and mess, we are witness to a little bit of a sobering miracle which has been ongoing with scant notice, in continuance of the experiment started a long time ago.  The creation of one union, amidst diversity, not only in ideology but also in ethnicity. This materializes when ethnic groups intermarry and differing physical lines are blurred and ultimately erased.

The face of America is being changed, to one truly unique and distinctively American, and all simply showing only faint traces of the messy diversity that it emerged from.

And I see this in my own family, which in itself is an amalgamation of many different cultures and ethnicities -  from Filipino moslem and lumads, to Spanish and Chinese, to American Irish or Jewish, to Persian and African American.  And we have produced a wonderful admixture that is quite uniquely distinct from any other.

Is this the future of the US of A? 

We are seeing these inexorable changes in our very midst. Hopefully this quiet miracle is not overhauled by the violent and divisive upheavals we now witness in widening pockets of society and politics. 

 

 

 

 

 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Clinton vs Trump


 
How I view the world of cosmic differences of Clinton vs Trump, setting aside sex and bias and my/our personal self-interests.

Clinton is definitely a consummate politician, having spent her life so far in that tumultuous arena, and a seasoned lawyer, too.  As such she is much nuanced in all the known intricacies of the political game, both within and even beyond ethics or our perceived morality.  And she may even be perceived as unscrupulous or amoral in the dogged pursuit of political correctness (imagine her unequivocal support for late-term abortion).  Making use of all these means and more, she with her nuclear family have survived all “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortunes”.  And their collective past has been typified and littered with very dark and foreboding episodes, among them  the Lewinsky case, the humiliating impeachment, Benghazi, the stealthy maintenance of a private email server, blatant lies caught and revealed, etc.; and at times literally littered with dead bodies.   But they have weathered them all, and have even been generously rewarded with financial largesse.

Trump however is essentially a businessman, not a politician and thus an outlier, and maybe more an entertainer given his most recent pursuits and avocation; but, he is definitely all in pursuit of self-interests and self-satisfaction.  Given his orientation he is known to be brusque, brutish, unrefined in the eyes of polite society.  Political correctness is not in his vocabulary, maybe because his outsized ego will not permit it.

His track record is also laid bare and naked, a record also quite checkered in many respects.  Many public bankruptcies, associations with gambling and casinos, and the unhappy trails of many suits filed against him and his enterprises.  But he too weathered all of them, and as testimony he continues to swim in the lap of luxury and opulence. 

In both cases, the rule of law of men smiled at them.  And withheld harsh judgment, though whether justly or unjustly who is to say.

One defining difference in the comparison though is that Trump in all this pursued his own personal interests, while that of Clinton was all done under the noble shield of public service. 

Remember too in public service one tries to do great service to gain approbation, self-contentment, and of course, votes during elections.  But in business, the standard and measure is essentially how rich and influential one has become.

Being now in the same arena, supposedly all in the name of self-less and altruistic service, we will find Clinton so at home and comfortable in her own skin; while Trump unless he realizes the importance of this delineation, will flounder and not be easy on the eyes and minds of the electorate at large.  He has to take on the role and accoutrements required in the political game.  He chose freely to enter, as it were, into the lion’s den.  It is his to adjust and adapt, or be unceremoniously set aside.

Their married lives have also been grist for the mill in this campaign.  And what can one say.  Except both are so not in the ordinary, or are unusual and technicolored.  And neither one would be happy to discuss or revel in the subject during fireside chats with family and friends, especially conservative older folks.  

Though children ought not to be dragged in, but since both chose to bring them in, then they too became fodder for media and committed supporters.

Records would show that Chelsea has led a quite sheltered life, not having to go through any period of privation.  Went to excellent schools, and when done given a very cushy job with benefits that would pop the eyes of any jobseeker.  And when time to get married, everything in high-fashionable style and luxurious elegance, complete with a 10million dollar abode.  A very far cry from the humble beginnings of Bill Clinton in Hope, Arkansas.

Having married at least 3 times, Trump has several children.  The adult ones work under the Trump array of enterprises.  I suppose they all went to excellent schools, too, and when done immediately installed as critical players in their organization.  Listening to the ones who are in the public sphere, they appear to acquit themselves creditably in personality, manners, and cognitive abilities.  I add this because I know little of them, unlike Chelsea who has been in the limelight since childhood.

It is safe to say that probably it is a harder task being part of an organization that could either profit or lose, than just be employed in a big company or tag along with your parents during political sorties, or personal trips, or etc.

 Given all the above, where do our fears of selection stand?  And are they still valid and founded?  As I had declared earlier, between the 2, I favor Trump.  And it is not founded by fears for or against either, for any way we live with fears and uncertainties daily in our lives.  We ought to learn and manage and continue our lives in tandem with them.

What about their politics?

That would take a novel-size treatise.

So in a most microscopic synopsis.  Hillary represents the revolution started by Obama, to “fundamentally change the US of A”; and Trump represents all that the US was before, and going back would make “America great again”.

The details are all eschewed, assisted in no small measures by unscrupulous supporters essentially coming from one side assisted by water-carrying media.  And this technique has not only spawned the current fears, but the outright violence we see in the streets that articulates the divides between the races, and the haves and have-nots. 

The question then is:

Do we like what we see or do we want a return to what it was?

 

 

 

 

Monday, May 09, 2016

Election Epilogue Ushers in Real Prologue


 

 

 

In its earnest attempt to wrap itself on the relevant issues of the day, my puny mind sizes certain things up this way.  Many of us that do social media regularly, may not really want to aim for changes that will drastically change the landscape of the country, physically, economically, and socially.  Maybe “want” is not the right word, but more along this line, that given our fortunate status in life, it would be difficult for us to fathom the kind of fundamental changes that would be needed to bring about real meaningful reforms in society, governance, and in the economy in general.  So “cannot” is the better operative word.

After all, many of us live lives that can be considered comfortable and affluent enough.  And in any context, it is a difficult choice to try and upset the status quo, with its warts and all.  But truly, our privations in life are not anywhere near the same degree and caliber as the poor in the country, which by any worthy standards number too much.  Not just discerned from cold and hard statistical facts, but by cursory ocular observation around where we live and spend our days.  What the poor suffer are glaringly worse in comparison with the challenges in life that we perceive and imagine.  At times, worlds apart.

 And the poor gather in such great numbers, we can categorize them into different groups. We not only have the sorry multitudes of the very impoverished  poor, but the hardly-visible working poor, and the under-employed poor donning a  false fa├žade of physical respectability and success.

 These great numbers are truly the ones in dire want of real reforms, but whether they are aware of the magnitude and requirements of their needs is another issue. One is not even sure if their numbers know what kind of reforms are necessary to ameliorate their unacceptable situations.  So it will be necessary for us the “enlightened” to lead the way to their “promised land”.  Noblesse Oblige.

And in a rare confluence of events, their numbers are joined by those in the upper echelons of society who are tired of the too-long tried and failed rule of the oligarchic elite.  In their utter frustration and restiveness, they too want change, great and novel change.

All this amidst the entire country enjoying good advances in domestic production and services to give it a justifiable claim as a surging tiger economy trailing the  hot heels of progress and development. Except that in micro-economic levels these good stuff do not trickle down any lower than maybe the upper 5% of the population, giving it a very bad case of very uneven and lopsided distribution of wealth and gaping income inequality.

The preponderance of rhetoric and issues in this election then centered around and about that crappy and unrefined outlier, but who was one perceived as divorced from anything and anybody connected with the lamented status quo.

 Maybe it is time to stop paying lip service to that old Magsaysay adage many politicians like to quote in times of wakeful reverie, which shiningly declares that one who has less in life should have more in law.  First to understand what it means, and next how best to make it reality.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Of Social Mores and Beauty Pageants and More




Current social mores are at the very least confusing, but at worst, hypocritical.  And without the guidance of traditional moral virtues will continue to be so.

Societies have over the ages gone and progressed a lot, but a little examination will reveal that in spite of all this, we still continue to pursue activities that in truth expose us to greater dangers from the baseness or coarseness of our primordial instincts as human beings.  We like to celebrate how far we have untied ourselves from the prudishness of yesteryears while at the same time have curbed the prurient tendencies that sat at the other extreme.  But we appear to have leaned too much one way, at the grave expense of the other.

 These stubborn concerns came to the fore when the results of a beauty pageant were thrust into the world stage because of an error committed by the emcee.  The end result was that instead of the candidate initially proclaimed, the real winner was the participant coming from the Philippines.  And the entire world it seems is in a gnarled twist not so much about the pageant itself, but about the unintended ramifications on all the parties concerned – from the candidates to the emcee, the countries represented.  It would appear further that countries of the participants are being suckered in to get involved in this petty controversy like it had the makings of serious national security issues. This news eclipsed many of the more pressing news in the world, relegating them to the sidelines until maybe when all this pageant brouhaha subsides or spends itself to ennui.

 Many no doubt, and they indeed did based on entries/comments on social media and other on-line sources, wonder why the fuss about all this.

 It is the usual run-of-mill beauty contest after all, where women are paraded around publicly before adoring eyes of judges, mostly male, in different sessions of dress and undress.  From traditional attire to the skimpiest of attire, passing as bathing suits.  The latter of course getting the most attention and media coverage.  Thus, when in the news it is expected to see a gallery of these women baring all that exercise, diet, sun, cosmetics, or what have you, have enhanced in the natural beauty nature has gifted to their bodies from birth.  These contests do have segments where their mental acuities are tested, like a question or two about some worldly concerns such as peace, wars, etc.  And of course, a talent segment where these ladies get a chance to show their favorite hobbies whether singing, declaiming, or playing an instrument.  But truth be told, the contest is about how well physically developed their bodies are and more to the point, how desirable they appear to those countless males looking for partners to  mate.  One can then say sensuality becomes a critical measure in picking the likely winners.

 I doubt anybody will dispute that any normal, healthy, hetero-male exposed to such paragons of desirability and sensuality, and being allowed or allowing himself to savor those moments, does not instinctively feel his desires for procreation stirred up and started.  And I say, instinctively, with not much prodding.

 And the popularity and pervasiveness of beauty pageants, from the local, to the national, to the international, have created different niches in different industries inexorably developing to a point where it won’t be long, this will become an industry all its own.  From cosmetics and outlets such as stores and parlors, to physical fitness trainers, to coaches of different modalities, etc.  Already certain So. American countries are noted for such push to ensure winners in their contestants.

 And these thorny moral issues are true not just in beauty pageants, but in a gallery of socially acceptable activities that we now have permeating all levels of our societies.

 We go next to the modelling business which traditionally had been intended to highlight the creations of those who manufacture apparel and various accessories.  Now we know that instead of the clothes, the ones wearing them get more attention and benefits.  The men and women, but mostly the latter, have become the centerpieces of this industry.  And like beauty pageants, the lady models have become the luscious bits to be ogled at.  And these same ladies have gladly obliged by parading in the barest of clothing and in most seductive poses. And again a critical factor in popularity is the degree of sensuality exuded.

 To digress, read an online item about how the models of a famous lingerie store behave when they are off the limelight.  That they allow or pose themselves being photographed without those little patches of cloth passing for lingerie.  How shallow, when for all intents and purposes they have already paraded themselves naked in front of throngs of animated people.

 Then we have the glittering world of Hollywood which feeds us our just desserts via movies, TV programs, etc.  It is typical fare now to see episodes of scantily-clad or immodestly-clad actresses in scenes of “simulated” sex as naked as it can get.  Never mind the foul language thrown every which way.  It does deserve it then to be called soft-porn when such scenes are described.  But again hypocrisy shows its slip when we read that one particular actor whose real girlfriend was in the movie with him that they actually had real sex for the movie.  No simulation there it seems to say.

 So far what we have described are currently all acceptable socially, with the caveat of course, that there are “strict” rules governing these.

 Now comes the kicker.  Porn, or hard-core porn as differentiated from Hollywood’s soft porn.

Personally, I do not see much differences.  Many “adult” actresses are just as physically gifted, some very knowledgeable and articulate on different subjects, with some even very adept at marketing (themselves) and creating business.  But they do leave nothing to the imagination, and everything is real.  No simulations there.  And porn is still socially taboo in most places, though very pervasive and well patronized.  Its secretive patrons stealthily partake mostly in darkened solitude, and speak in hushed whispers when dealing with the subject.  It is also a highly regulated activity, both as to form as well as for health requirements.

So where are we going as a society?  With regard to morality, and maybe, with regard to our respect for women as co-equal partners of men, rather than just as objects of wanton desire?

In our polite society most of us know how to behave morally and to regard our fellowmen, but our actions sometimes do not jibe, though we still pretentiously maintain our supposedly high moral stance.  How different to the brutal savagery shown by certain groups in the Middle East, where their actions are fully synched with the warped beliefs they cling to.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Local Public Transport System


 
 
Our local public transport system in the city beyond its chaotic jumble is one that appears to defy logic and common sense.

First of all, the size of the urban poblacion is so miniscule, one wonders why walking is not the preferred option.

Using Divisoria as a point of reference, it is only a little over one kilometer to get to the Capitol and its environs, which include other government offices, hospitals, and heavily-patronized businesses like banks and restaurants.

From Divisoria to City Hall, is a few short blocks away; same with the churches and large schools.  Even the pier area is not more than 2+ kilometers away.  Cogon is definitely within walking distance.

 What more?  Plenty more within striking distance for what one needs critically or necessarily for daily living.

Yet.

Our streets are a sorry mess, to say the least, with a messy coterie of vehicles of all sorts.  From sikads, to relas, to jeepneys, bicycles, motorbikes, and yes, assorted carts and caritons that defy justification and description.   And added to the motley mix are the mindless pedestrians on the streets.  Should we wonder why traffic most times is at crawl pace in many chokepoints?

Why so.

For one thing. Our “door-to-door” mentality most likely brought to the fore because of laziness or sloth.

When we take public transport, we demand to be loaded and/or unloaded where we stand and/or where we want to alight, not an inch less, whether legal or illegal, or whether affecting traffic or not.  And even ambulatory vendors have to be within inches of us, thus they are all over the place.  And our dainty selves need to take transport for distances beyond a block or maybe even less.  Neither the cost notwithstanding, nor where our economic station in life lies.  Nor our years of earthly existence, since many of the sikad riders I see are young and able, with very sparse carry-ons on them.  As a matter of fact, many are neatly uniformed students.

Why, in our gated subdivision beleaguered residents found the need to have available sikad services, for the few blocks in and out of it.  So they can hop to regular public transport which they need to bring them to the poblacion, the closest area of which is less than a kilometer away.

Need we wonder why many of us live unhealthy lives, or unhealthy lifestyles overall?