Saturday, May 12, 2007

Joey Velasco's Last Supper

Joey Velasco is a talented Filipino painter and sculptor. He is also a compassionate man.

He finds beauty, hope, strength, and happiness in the most vulnerable in society: the homeless child. Deep in his heart, he knows God loves these perfect beings. What is bleak in his paintings is actually God working through us. Take a look and experience its transformative power.

Behind the photograph of this painting are his words:

Poor Kids In My Pocket

I carry this picture in my pocket,

A simple reminder to me that

No matter where I am,

Jesus and the poor kids are always

in my midst.

This simple card is not a claim stub

To withdraw some blessings in return.

It is not a ticket to free me from guilt

Nor a good luck charm to protect me from harm.

It’s not even to tag me as a man of charity

Fo all the world to see.

It’s simply an understanding

Between Jesus and me.

When I put my hand in my pocket

To bring out my wallet,

It is NOT for alms-giving.

This picture just makes me remember

that I must have a heart to share

that a part of me has to be offered

in simple service and deeds

to the countless little children

whose future is obscure;

who suffer and shiver in the dark;

whose voices are unheard;

whose nightmares come at daytime,

and whose monsters are real.

It’s a symbol of my nearness to God.

So, I carry this little piece in my pocket,

Reminding no one but me,

That I can give hope

If only I care.

-Joey Velasco

See the article HAPAG NG PAG-ASA by Jesuit priest James B. Reuter.

Friday, May 11, 2007

LA March dispersal fall out

National Immigrant Solidarity Network and the ActionLA Coalition to LAPD Chief William Bratton, and to LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa:

May 9, 2007

The National Immigrant Solidarity Network and the ActionLA Coalition are outrage by the vague comments and "actions" taken by the LAPD and the the Mayor after the May Day police attacks on the immigrant rights marchers at and around Mcarthur Park.

Videos footage and eye witness testimonies have shown that LAPD, not the so-called "small groups of anarchist" to blame of the violence. Furthermore, it's clear, from the eye witness accounts and past actions by the commanders and units present, that the May Day police attacks were not simply a "break" in command chain or few "bad apples" on LAPD, but was well coordinated action from the top of the command chain.

Therefore, we demand that LAPD chief William Bratton, and LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: TAKE FULL RESPONSBILITY TO THE MAY DAY MCARTHUR PARK POLICE ATTACK! >> Read More

Videos 1 | 2

Eye Witness Testimonies

5/9: Violence Against Immigrants Builds

5/8: LAPD Opens Dangerous Front in Immigrant Movement

5/1: National Immigrant Solidarity Network, ActionLA Coalition
Statement on LAPD Brutally Attacks May Day Immigrant Marchers at McArthur Park
>> Read More

*Take Action!*

We encourage community and immigrant rights activists to call LAPD and LA Mayor office with the following demands:

1) Chief William Bratton, and LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa: TAKE FULL RESPONSBILITY TO THE MAY DAY MCARTHUR PARK POLICE ATTACK!

2) An open, community-based independent police investigation should be setup.

3) LAPD need move quickly to identify the officers involved in the attacks.

4) LAPD Chief Bratton's re-appointment process should be put on hold until the entire investigation is over.

LAPD Hotline:
Toll Free (1-877-275-5273)
Spanish Line (Español)

LA Mayor's Office:

National Immigrant Solidarity Network
No Immigrant Bashing! Support Immigrant Rights!


New York: (212)330-8172
Los Angeles: (213)403-0131
Washington D.C.: (202)595-8990

Cameron Sinclair on open-source architecture

Another video pod on open-source architecture on housing from This struck me as a think piece for those contemplating setting up think tanks, discussion groups, even action-oriented NGOs. The main problem in most organizations is that the storing and sharing of knowledge/information is haphazard. Sayang yung (a pity/ a waste)resources. For example, the Development Bank of the Philippines shut down their environmental portal when the foreign aid it received ran out. Just like that. The info in the servers are now scattered because staffers probably cannabilized the servers for their respective offices/departments.

From (verbatim)

Cameron Sinclair on open-source architecture

Accepting his 2006 TED Prize, Cameron Sinclair demonstrates how passionate designers and architects can respond to world housing crises. The motto of his group, Architecture for Humanity, is "Design like you give a damn." Using a litany of striking examples, he shows how AFH has helped find creative solutions to humanitarian crises all over the globe. Sinclair then outlines his TED Prize wish: to create a global open-source network that will let architects and communities share and build designs to house the world. Click here to see the results of his TED Prize wish >>

William McDonough on cradle to cradle design

An awesome video podcast on how the green cities should be built. Design should incorporate a "cradle-to-cradle" ethic. Unlike the limits to growth thesis of some, McDonough asks how growth should be done. This question is especially relevant for those in the developing world, who need to "grow" out of the abject poverty they are currently in.

From (verbatim quote)
William McDonough on cradle to cradle design
Length: 20:11Posted: Apr 2007
About this Talk

Architect and designer William McDonough asks what our buildings and products would look like if designers took into account "All children, all species, for all time." A tireless proponent of absolute sustainability (with a deadpan sense of humor), he explains his philosophy of "cradle to cradle" design, which bridge the needs of ecology and economics. He also shares some of his most inspiring work, including the world's largest green roof (at the Ford plant in Dearborn, Michigan), and the entire sustainable cities he's designing in China.

About William McDonough

Architect William McDonough believes that green design can prevent environmental disaster -- while...
Read full bio »

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Crisis and opportunity in the May 14 Philippine elections

The upcoming May 14 elections provide many opportunities. Unfortunately, many of these opportunities are not for the country. Aging, education-deficient B-actors and singers, disgraced politicians, Marcos loyalists, vacuous oppositionists, and rent-seeking administration candidates fill the roster of political applicants. Of the 37 Senate candidates, only a handful led by Joker Arroyo and the Ang Kapatiran candidates are worthy of the Filipino vote. In Congress, at least 160 family-based political-dynasties are seeking to further entrench themselves. The stench of their sense of entitlement is overwhelming. They will murder to ensure they win. Already, the PNP has recorded 125 election related deaths. Who let the dogs out (with apologies to our canine friends)?

What options do we have amidst this game-fixing political contest? Despite the barren political landscape, there are cracks, which instead of falling into; we can use to improve our lot. All we need to do is identify and recognize the opportunities, band together, and seize it. Most of you know these already, but let me frame it this way: Let not the politicians or mass media dictate the political conversation. It is us who should put forth the ideas that address poverty and social inequality. The current climate, that of political cynicism and indifference, presents opportunities for a radical break with how things are done. The vision is known, the ideas articulated, the strategies are there. Some of these are:

1. Direct Cash Transfers (DCT) to the poor. The term for a handful of proposals to help the poor in ways that recognizes their resilience, capabilities, assets, and rights. Worldwide, there is a growing movement for a movement for a basic income guarantee (see BIG). With BIG, the government periodically provides a uniform amount to each adult permanent resident, regardless of economic and employment status, as subsistence. This amount will replace most welfare services, shrink the government bureaucracy, promote economic liberty, raise wages, and stimulate economic activity, among others. DCT and BIG initiatives have documented successes worldwide. Funding for a BIG can be sourced from more efficient tax collection, less tax exemptions, collection of economic rents (use of natural resources), savings from downsized welfare services, etc.

2. Hyperwage. The StreetStrategist (SS) aka Thads Bentulan has formulated the Nobel Prize-potential Hyperwage Theory (See HT, you will need to join the discussion group first.), which is more radical than a communist revolution or right wing junta. According to the SS, pricing human labor at its true value will launch the country into developed country status in the shortest time possible. Extending Keynesian multiplier theory into its fullest potential, higher wages with base reference point of P20,000/month for household helpers, directly transfers cash to the poor; generates higher quality productivity; increases consumption; and ultimately stimulates investment. Objections to HT such as runaway inflation, barriers to implementation, cost, etc. are discussed and resolved. For example, inflation will reach an asymptote (a physical limit). Besides, we are already paying for many First World prices (consumer electronics, foreign travel, foreign consultants, etc.). While redistributive, the rich, especially the entrepreneurs, will eventually benefit from increasing consumer purchasing power.

3. Conscious capitalism. An emerging buzzword for social entrepreneurs’ (another buzzword) use of capital. Simply, poverty, social inequity, and environmental degradation are prevalent. However, the solutions can make for good business. Alternative energy, loans to small start ups and poor communities, fair trade business, socially responsible investing (SRI) etc. have good profit potential. Using ICT (information communication technologies), peer-to-peer lending and microfinance are beginning to carve an alternative niche to the banking industry, pay day cash loans, and predatory lenders. ( U.S. ) for example reported at least 240,000 users and nearly $60 million in loans since 2005. Other versions are Zopa (UK), and CircleLending. Lenders earn from loan interest. With Kiva, lenders do not earn interest but they do fund livelihood projects worldwide. Kiva’s repayment rate is 100%.

Providing other financial services to the poor, aside from capital, is also needed. Remittance and payment fees are too high for the poor, their overseas relatives, or farmer cooperatives. Firms such as have teamed up with LandBank, IT, and telephone companies to offer free e-commerce subcription services such as a trading and settlement platforms. Using SMS and working with cooperatives and local business shops, they are lowering the transaction costs for the “last mile of payment” or cash delivery to the barrio. The challenge for the expat Filipino community is the “first mile of delivery” or from the OFW to the Philippines. Gawad Kalinga’s Reunion Village, an integrated farm, retirement, husing, tourst, resort complex that is environment-friendly, will eventually have a market value of at least
PhP100 Million. More affordable transportation, medical equipment and services, basic tools and machinery, housing, energy, water supply, tourism, retirement facilities, IT services, food production, medicine are among the markets that Filipinos can enter.

4. Civil society as convergence points. Because politics and government are dysfunctional at so many levels; because many of our government officials and politicians do not have transformational leadership skills; because they have not articulated a national vision; there is a yawning opportunity for those outside of government and politics to articulate and implement a national vision. As the Gawad Kalinga, RockEd Philippines, GILAS, etc. movements show, nation building starts with a sense of community. Filipinos are also active in the international internet based volunteer group called NABUUR. It could be in housing, the youth, the educational sector, the environment, artists, etc. A relatively flat organization, open source type of communication and knowledge type, national focus, creative, energized, multi-media, and mass based is reviving civil society in the country. Without waiting for anyone, they are addressing the needs of specific sectors of society. They are providing opportunities for Filipinos who want to help- and there are many- in direct ways. They have national scope with transnational links. They are collectively challenging the status quo not with anger and pessimism, but by modeling change and edifying daily heroic actions to one another (GK’s bayani sa isa’t isa). They bring to the table skills, resources, imagination, persistence, and a will to succeed. See what happens when all these groups support and get together on a national scale.

5. Cultural resources. A direct consequence or probably a cause of (you choose) of civil society is a conscious focus on our cultural resources. You can observe it everywhere. Indigenous Philippine psychology (Sikolohiyang Pilipino) is gaining ground. The arts sector is booming, as well as the music scene (RockED seems to be the premier concert promoter these days). Because of the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act (IPRA), IP groups are now more active and confident, especially in their negotiations with mining companies. The youth is active in design, outdoors, environmental, adventure travel, ICT, etc. that blend global standards with native innovations. Retirees and expats are enriching local initiatives. Futkal (football sa Kalye) in slums, Pinoy podcasts, adventure racing in the Rice Terraces, the annual Tour of the Fireflies (cycling around Metro Manila), the Philippine Hobie sailing challenge, Pinoy science and research, etc. are generating a lot of buzz. Promote culture and people run away with it with so many innovations.

6. Alternative technologies. Global warming, deforestation, regional conflicts over energy sources, increasing energy prices amidst increasing energy demand, water supply constraints, etc. are some of our challenges. However, these present opportunities. With billions living below the poverty indicator ($1/day), without adequate housing, water supply, and electricity, innovations which address these challenges have much potential. Whether you laugh at him or not, Daniel Dingel’s water car has spawned an international e-group that has built on and innovated on his original concept car. I won’t anymore hark on the economic and energy potentials of coconut, bagasse, rice, corn, recycled cooking oil, solar, wind, etc. We’re doing it already. The Enhancing Household Biomass Energy Use in the Philippines for example is a good resource. A major issue though seems to be maintenance and scaling up. Once communities purchase or receive donated equipment, i.e. water pumps, solar cells, its maintenance and replacement becomes costly. What is needed is an indigenous way of maintaining tools and equipment. Again, open source provides a solution. For example, the MULTIMACHINE tool, made out of recycled car parts is a transportable, easy to build, affordable, all-purpose machine tool, steel-rolling equipment, educational and livelihood project for rural communities. It can be used to build homes, repair water pumps, manufacture tools, etc.

These are just but a few of the emerging trends not only in the Philippines , but worldwide. The Philippines and the United States , as well as many other countries have incompetent, corrupt, and uninspiring leaders. Why haven’t these countries collapsed? It is because of its resilient and innovative citizenry. This is where change will ultimately emerge. Last year, the global warming debate was burning out (excuse the pun) because of the heavy lobbying of the oil industry. Look what happens when various sectors of society get together. Clean energy and conservation are now the IN thing.

The ultimate goal of national development is fulfillment of basic household needs, green industrialization, social equity, and a knowledgeable and cohesive citizenry. With so many challenges facing us, all we need to do is get together, innovate, and work hard. Politics is only one of several ways to achieving it. If we can’t access political power, let us remake the political landscape.

Disruptive technology and ideas are needed.

Monday, May 07, 2007

May 1, 2007 Labor Day, Immigrant March in Tucson Arizona

Check out some photos of the May 1, 2007 Labor Day Immigrants' March.

These are pictures of the Tucson, Arizona march. The marchers were mostly school children. Good, they are growing up more politically aware and willing to defend their rights. They are also developing a sense of social justice.

It went peacefully, unlike what happened in Los Angeles.

May 1, 2007 march (some pictures you'll see if you go to the link)

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