Friday, February 15, 2008

Final weekend of 2008 Tucson Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show

Beautiful Arizona petrified wood that seems to have grown out of the ground
Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona
Spring 2007, Copyright reserved, LivingPlanet

As the 2008 Tucson Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show heads to its final weekend tomorrow, there are dark clouds forming. The first is the Tucson Weekly article by Tim Vanderpool on the hesitance of the U.S. federal government to take up sale offers by landowners of lands of achaeological, geological, and environmental significance. Of urgency are lands near or adjacent to the Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona.

I heard over the radio that the 2009 Tucson Show might see some 10 shows canceled because of the looming economic difficulties.

Don't forget to catch two related awesome events this weekend:

The mineral event of the year, the Tucson Gem and Mineral Society's 2008 "Minerals of the USA" show.

The Arizona State Museum's exhibit on the entitled: Set in Stone: 2000 Years of Gem and Mineral Trade in the Southwest

Finger Rock Trail, Tucson, Arizona

December 2007, better than a movie scene...

Global Map of human impact on world's marine ecosystem

figure from:

Scientists from a consortium of unviersities, NGOs, and U.S. government agencies published a report with several maps on the impact of human activities on the marine ecosystems. The findings are dire and urgent action is needed. Published in Science magazine, the study was funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF). At least 40% of the world's oceans are severely impacted and degraded by such varied activities/phenomena as fishing, pollution, trash, and global warming. See NSF's statement.

Walk out by IPs at the CBD Working Group Meeting

In a shocking and embarrassing moment for the Chair of the Working Group on Protected Areas of the International Convention on Biological Diversity, representatives of participating indigenous people's (IP) groups from all over the world walked out of the meetings ongoing at the Food and Agricultural Organization headquarters in Rome, Italy. The groups read a statement protesting their maltreatment and active efforts to suppress their participation at the meetings, especially on financial arrangement, protected areas management, and biotechnology matters, among others. Some of the IP representatives put tape on their mouths and brought posters to further symbolize their protest. Pictures taken from the blog INDIGENOUS STATEMENT show these actions.

Pictures from IPCC Statement

See the press release below. Useful links include:

Center for World Indigenous Studies

Cultural Survival

International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs

Convention on Biological Diversity

Thursday, February 14, 2008




Rome, Feb. 14, 2008 - This morning Indigenous Peoples’ representatives formally withdrew from meeting of the Working Group on Protected Areas of the International Convention on Biological Diversity to protest their suppression of their effective participation at the meeting, being held at FAO headquarters in the Italian capital.

Before leaving the plenary, Indigenous leaders put on symbolic gags and held up protest signs. After Jannie Lasimbang of the Kadazan People of
Malaysia read a statement, the indigenous delegation and some non-governmental organizations (NGOs) left the meeting which was suspended upon their departure.

The Indigenous Peoples’ statement read: “Mr. Chairman, we have made great efforts to be part of this process. However, it is with great disappointment that from the very beginning of this Working Group on Protected Areas meeting we have found ourselves marginalized and without opportunity to take the floor in a timely manner to express our points of view. Yesterday afternoon at a critical moment, we were silenced from providing our contributions to the deliberations on the recommendations on implementation of the Programme of Work. Furthermore, Mr. Chairman, despite your assurances that all recommendations would be included in the Conference Room Paper (CRP), none of our recommendations were included in CRP2 [on mobilization of financial resources for protected areas]. This is extremely disturbing in light of the relevance of these recommendations to our lives, lands and the effective implementation of the Programme of Work.

“We denounce the denial of Indigenous Peoples’ right to full an affective participation which contravenes prior decisions of the Parties,” said Onel Masardule and Jannie Lasimbang, Co-Chairs of the Indigenous Peoples’ Committee on Conservation of the International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity which is made up of Indigenous leaders from Asia, Africa, Russia, the Pacific, North America and Latin America.

The protest was supported by many NGOs attending the UN meeting who also criticized the negative attitude of the Chair of the Working Group and the collapse of the political space for dialogue. The Indigenous Women’s Biodiversity Network warned “that the exclusion of Indigenous Peoples not only endangers the democratic processes in the United Nations but also ignores that the General Assembly just approved the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in September 2007.”


Mrinalini Rai,

Hortencia Hidalgo РRamiro BatzinComunicación FIIB Email:

Enteng Romano/ Jun Lozada Document: What is Neri Afraid to say and Why?

My comments on the Jun Lozada write-up on why ex-NEDA Sec. Romulo Neri is hesitant to reveal all about the ZTE-NBN deal:

1. I think there is a dearth of alternative leaders to GMA willing to rise up at the moment. The military folks like Trillanes, Lim, etc. are too amateurish to lead the nation. The opposition is too discredited to be an alternative.

2. The issue still is powerlessness because of poverty. People, groups, NGOs, activists, etc. cannot mobilize against GMA because they are concerned with their economic problems. After two EDSAs, it's hard to mobilize politically. Plus, the economy, some say, is improving IN SPITE of GMA. GMA claims credit for the success. This may be partly true, but her administration should be ashamed that in spite of perceived widespread corruption, the Philippines is surviving/growing.

3. As I like to say, Filipinos are acting in ways that DISCOUNT government. They detest GMA, but they also detest the opposition. Their "walang pake" is actually an indictment of both. They are voting with their feet by migrating. They are focusing on making money. Once more Filipinos have more money, I think they will demand more of government and of politicians or even kick them out.

4. The other avenue of action is of course through NGOs and social movements like GK. There's a lot activity going on nationwide. People are doing their thing, helping one another, family, kamag-anak, community, probinsiya. In fact, there are new terms for these, which I think many are familiar with: corporate social responsibility (CSR), social entrepreneurship, social innovation, OFW philanthropy, conscious capitalism, LOHAS (lifestyles of health and sustainability) initiatives, etc. lahat to will have some impact down the road...government and politicians are the outsiders here.

5. Of course the government/politicians or technically, the State, are still powerful because they hold the different levers of power. But many of them can be influenced to do good or change. That's what the Ateneo School of Government is doing. Their graduate programs are focused not on the yuppies, but the LGU officials, hoping to influence them. GK is working with mayors and in the process changing them. There is competition between cities; for example, Taguig vs. Makati. News has it that the stock exchange will be unified in Taguig because they offered more including more professionalism. Taguig also hopes to be squatter-free in 10-15 years with GK's help. So there will be "islands of prosperity" in the Philippines...

6. OFWs, teachers, journalists, environmentalists, artists, athletes, ethical business persons, etc.- these are nice, principled people who are doing things for the good of society. If there weren't good people around, don't you think the Philippines would have collapsed already? What we need are more good people doing good things and more people NOT MINDING the corrupt.

7. The powerful need to consider that the powerless have what James Scott calls "the weapons of the weak" or everyday resistance strategies. While the allegedly overpriced ZTE-NBN deal was supposed to modernize the information and communication technologies (ICT) capabilities of the country, the government's enemies have access to similar technologies. The internet is a tool increasingly used to undermine the government. The number of webpages on this controversy is already in the thousands and is increasing. With either a tinge of irony or poetic justice, check out at the following video uploaded to YouTube.

For Immediate Release
Contact: Vicente R. Romano III, 0920.9615610
Leah Navarro, 0917.898.1957

Dear Friends,

Here's a short write-up that Jun Lozada wrote sometime in October. He wanted me to disseminate it without attribution. I believe he was motivated both by his genuine concern for a beleaguered friend who was being maligned no end, and his desire, even then, for the truth to somehow surface. He left it up to me as to how and when to disseminate it.

I did not find any compelling reason to get it out then. But now that Jun has told it all, and Neri is being invited back to testify, I believe the public deserves to know what was (and maybe still is) in the mind of Neri – at least from the point of view of a friend. I'm sure Jun will not mind.

Let's get this out in the open.

God bless,

============ ========= ========= ======

What is Neri afraid to say and Why?

Many speculations have been made as to what Neri knows about the ZTE-NBN, most particularly the direct involvement of Pres. Gloria Arroyo in this abominable affair. After his damaging "Sec. May 200 ka dito" demolition of Abalos, the discredited former Comelec Chairman, many were left disappointed when Neri suddenly clamped up when the Senators started asking him about the nature of his conversation with Arroyo, no amount of coaxing, cajoling and threats was enough to break his Code of Omerta. The question on many people's mind was, What was Neri trying to protect when he repeatedly invoked "Executive Privilege" during that gruelling 12 hour Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing on live television?

We have known the Truth all along as one of the few people that Neri confided his predicament to during those fateful days of April 2006, and how he wanted to resign his post of NEDA Director General and Secretary for Socio-Economic Planning over this incident, where he lost all his moral respect for Pres.. Gloria Arroyo.

We are doing this document to give the public an understanding of this predicament.

What is Neri afraid to tell the public? He is afraid to tell the public that after he reported the Abalos P200 million peso bribe offer, Arroyo casually told him to ignore it and work for its recommendation for approval anyway. That when he protested that it is too controversial and may attract the wrong kind of attention from media, Arroyo retorted back "Pakulo lang ni Joey yan and his father". When he tried to reason that it may not be accommodated in the Chinese ODA package because it has been filled up with a list of projects already, Arroyo again ordered him to remove the low cost housing project and some water project to accommodate the ZTE-NBN deal in the ODA loan.

That when he attempted to reason that it may not be approved in time for the Boao Forum which was only two days to go from that fateful April day, Arroyo, with raised voice, told him to include the ZTE-NBN project in the agenda of the following day's meeting of a combined NEDA Board and Cabinet Committee who, as expected, promptly approved the project paving the way for the contract signing between ZTE and DOTC in China the next day. Neri is afraid to tell the public that this conversation took place between him and Arroyo because it might spark another impeachment complaint against Arroyo.

Why is Neri afraid to tell the public about this conversation with Arroyo? He is afraid that another impeachment will simply result to more expenses of public funds similar to the Hyatt 10 impeachment crisis, because as DBM Secretary who replaced Boncodin, he was entrusted with the large scale DBM payola operation of Arroyo to Congressmen, Senators and Governors not quite similar to the crude Panlilio incident that the public is witnessing now. He is afraid with a more partisan Andaya at the helm of DBM, more public funds will be spent to buy the silence and favour of these greedy legislators and local executives.

He is afraid that, with Arroyo's firm control of public funds, she can buy all the necessary support from most sectors of society to keep her in power.

He is afraid that even if the opposition knows about this conversation with Arroyo, the opposition will not pursue a serious impeachment proceeding against Arroyo, because it is not to their political interest that Noli de Castro becomes President in case Arroyo is impeached and becomes a more formidable political opponent in 2010. This insincere and unpatriotic goal of the opposition is already being manifested by the malicious speed that the Erap pardon is being cooked by Ronnie Puno together with the Erap camp to hastily put a united front of "Birds of the same corrupt feather" coalition against the emerging JDV led political opposition..

He is afraid that even if the Church knows the truth about Arroyo's direct involvement in the ZTE-NBN deal, the Church will still not call for her resignation due to the closeness of Arroyo's trusted lady liason to the Cardinal of Manila who was very effective during the "Hello Garci" crisis. That Arroyo's Religious Affairs Operators have the Bishops firmly in their "donation" graces, as again manifested by the quick rebuttal of the Mindanao Bishops' of the call of their fellow bishops in Luzon who where calling for the resignation of Arroyo just after Arroyo gave them a visit in Mindanao.

He is afraid that even if the military knows the truth about Arroyo's direct involvement in the fraudulent ZTE-NBN deal, the AFP brass is much to indebted to Arroyo for their position and the perks that goes with their position, that they have demonstrated this twisted loyalty with their willingness to detain, remove from the service and even shoot their own men for voicing out their legitimate concerns regarding the corruption and moral authority of their Commander in Chief. It is a sad spectacle to see the respected warriors of the Marines & Special Forces rot in jail with their ideals, while their men are dying even without receiving the measly P150 per day combat pay that was promised to them by Arroyo due to lack of funds & generals gets a gift bag similar to those given to the governors and congressmen just for having dinner with Arroyo the day after that infamous breakfast & lunch meeting where bribe money flowed scandalously free.

He is afraid that even if the Media knows the truth about Arroyo's direct involvement in the ZTE-NBN scam, Media will simply wither in the torrents of cash and favors similar to how the Hyatt 10, Hello Garci crisis were killed in the media headlines and Radio& TV coverages. Although he believes in the integrity of a handful of Journalist, he believes that a handful of these mavericks cannot withstand the hordes of paid lackeys of Malacanang. Especially that the Arroyo crisis team is now being handled by the best mercenary money can buy, from Ramos' Sulo Operation, Erap's DILG and now Arroyo's troubleshooter, Ronnie Puno. Ably supported by the Media and PR money from PAGCOR being handled by Cerge Remonte to buy positive airtime, headlines and editorials.

He is afraid that even if the Business Sector knows about the truth of Arroyo's direct involvement to defraud the coffers of the taxes they are paying, the businessmen will be reluctant to rock the boat of the current economic uptrend, especially with the very close personal and business relationship of the so called leaders of the big business like Ricky Razon of ICTSI, Donald Dee of PCCI and Francis Chua of the Filipino-Chinese Federation to Arroyo herself. He is afraid that the hard earned remittances of Filipino OFWs that is keeping the economy booming and that can keep the economy afloat even under any administration is being wasted under this unholy alliance of Arroyo and her favoured businessmen.

He is afraid that even if the Civil Society knows the truth about Arroyo's direct involvement in the ZTE-NBN deal, that the Civil Society is now tired of mass actions after witnessing two failed EDSA revolutions, that Civil Society is now afflicted with a "Rally Fatigue" and cannot muster enough public outrage to denounce Arroyo's "corruption with impunity". He is afraid that the middle class is now indifferent to the corruption that goes around them, not realising that the middle class are the ones mainly carrying the burden of the loan payments for these corrupt deals. He is afraid that the middle class are more interested to become an OFW & to leave this country leaving their family and children behind, and may not care anymore about the crimes being committed against their country by its own President.

He is afraid that even if the Masa, the students, the workers know the truth about Arroyo's direct involvement in the ZTE-NBN deal to steal precious resources from public funds, that they are now too poor and impoverished to be able to afford the time to join mass actions against the abuses of the Arroyo administration, that these former vanguards of mass actions in the country are now completely dependent on financial resources of professional organizers and have turned themselves into a "Rally for hire" groups rather than a true and genuine political gathering shouting for reforms.

He is afraid that the public may not know the extent of corruption in this country and may wrongly believe that they can cure corruption by simply replacing Arroyo with another person. He is afraid that the public may overlook the systemic and institutionalized nature of the source of corruption in this country, he is afraid that the people will again opt for a regime change without concern or a plan to correct the root causes of corruption in the country. He is afraid that people may not realize that it is not bringing Arroyo down that is difficult, it is establishing a new order that is the difficult task.

This is the predicament of Neri which I want people to realize especially to those who are asking Neri to tell the truth.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"Hope does not only trigger productivity but brings peace..."

"Hope does not only trigger productivity but brings peace..." Tony Meloto, Ramon Magsaysay Awardee 2006 for leadership in community development.

Check out his talk here at the PCIJ blog uploaded by awesome photographer and gallery owner Isa Lorenzo.

Attached is a short clip of Tony Olaes of ODM speaking at the GK1MB rally held at the Araneta Coliseum last June 20, 2007. The fellow in white filming is Robert Sanchez of GlobalTel Media. The lady in the white long-sleeves is Joanna Fields of NAFFAA

This group of San Diego entrepreneurs are committing to help build thousands of homes in partnership with GK and local government units. Check out the article of Jonathan Rickard entitled Patriotic Philanthropy.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Never got to upload this till now. Better late....

Got an invite to this event last year and went. Fantastic experience. Howie Severino gives a better account. I know Kidlat and met his German mother, artist and a PhD in psychology, Katrin de Guia. They are a very creative and activist family.

This was the invite blurb:

June 12, 2007 - June 30, 2007

KKK — as in Key, Keen, Karma. As in Kaleidoscope, Kudos, Kodak. Or maybe Kaibigan, Kinship, or Kapatid? KKK as in the Kapatiran spirit of 1898. KKK as in Brothers Kidlat, Kawayan, Kabunyan de Guia. Three brothers; six eyes; one family. With parents from two ends of the world: the German stain-glass artist Katrin de Guia and Filipino filmmaker Kidlat Tahimik, KKK forms the three branches of the same trunk.

Silverlens gallery invites everyone to celebrate Independence Day 2007 by visiting the exhibit KKK: Photographs by Kidalat, Kawayan and Kabunyan de Guia. The exhibit will open on June 12 at 6pm and features the different photographic stylings of the three brothers. Most parents don’t allow their children to touch expensive things such as cameras but for the de Guia boys, their Tatay let them play with his camera equipment. These became the toys and tools that let them discover their own images, which eventually led them to find their individual ways of seeing the world. The KKK exhibit, photographs by Kidlat,Kawayan and Kabunyan de Guia at the Silverlens Gallery, will run until June 30.

As a part of the Gallery Talks for the KKK exhibit, Tommy Hafalla will be giving a talk “Photo Documentary meets Tradition” on June 16, from 3-5pm while Kidlat Tahimik will be screening his film “Why is Yellow the Middle of the Rainbow?” on June 23, from 3-6pm.

Silverlens Gallery is located at 2320 Pasong Tamo Extension,
Warehouse 2, Yupangco Building.

Gallery hours of the Silverlens Gallery are 10 to 7pm, Mondays to Fridays and 1 to 6pm on Saturdays.

For more information on KKK Exhibit, photographs by Kidlat, Kawayan and Kabunyan de Guia at the Silverlens Gallery, call 8160044 or email


I uploaded a wobbly video of their impromptu cultural performance. Enjoy!

Good for you!

Good for you!, originally uploaded by livingplanet.

I ran out of quota at Google's photo website so I placed photos of today's visits to the shows at La Quinta, Days Inn, and Ramada Inn in my Flickr account. The link is at the side bar.

Quick roundup:

As the last week unfolds, the dealers continue to visit each other's booth or room to trade, barter, sell, or buy. As I walked in to the Days Inn show, I saw two Indians load a number of drums into an American's station wagon. It looked like a trader-to-trader deal. Over at Ramada Inn, a German fossil dealer continued to negotiate with two beautiful Russian ladies on the mammoth tusks they were selling.

Some dealers had a good show, the photo above suggested. A German dealer from whom I purchased a crab fossil for a relative was packing up, a full week from the end of the show. A few rooms down, a dealer was packed up as well. Last night, an artist told me he sold his lot of 40 dinosaur paintings at the TEP show. I congratulated him, but he laughingly replied it was bad, because now he is using his earnings to go shopping. Such is life..

This year, although with fewer shows, I noticed more Russian and Chinese dealers with some beautiful specimens. Some are also very affordable. Pyritic ammonites seem to be very popular and complement the fossil mammoth tusks. The Chinese brought in many different minerals including the show popular fossil vase. We were fortunate to meet a retired chief geologist of a major Chinese province, who is now a dealer.

Rumors are the organizer of the InnSuites show kicked out 19 dealers. Where this 19 dealers transfered to, I still have to find out.

One fossil dealer said that his earnings from the Tucson show enable him to live comfortably for the rest of the year. He only goes to this show because of the volume of sales he makes here compared to other shows.

A Moroccan dealer cautioned about the flood of fake fossils coming out of Morocco. Shells or bone are ground up. Shark teeth, for example, are then glued to a matrix and then sprinkled with this ground up powder to "age" it. Work with a trusted, reputable, and ethical dealer he noted.

A dealer is estimated to spend a minimum $3,000 on his/her hotel for the two-week show. Add to this one's transportation, shipping, specimen, fees, other supplies, insurance, etc. expenses and the investment is sizable. This must be recouped.

Bigger dealers have set up warehouses in Tucson and in Arizona to house unsold items. A Madagascar dealer said that their supply of good specimens were practically sold out by the first week. Good for him too.

Petrified wood is increasingly being used as furniture. The past few years, they were used as stump-chairs, coffee tables, landscape pieces, office table, gallery pieces, and book ends. This year, a northern California dealer came out with a $400-700 sink and sold close to a dozen of them. I passed by his room and he was selling one Indonesian petrified wood sink at $275, a show giveaway.

A friend connected with a gold nugget dealer said that there were numerous parties around sponsored by different dealers. It would certainly be interesting to be a fly in the wall in these parties.

I am uncomfortable seeing stalagmites being sold by a Chinese dealer at the Ramada. In many countries stalactite and stalagmite mining are banned. How did they bring this in? Is this the reason why the person manning their room banned me from taking photos. Is it because the specimens they had were of questionable source?

One more week till the greatest show on earth ends.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The evolving politician

July 18, 1961 : " young and yet so corrupt..."

February 8, 2008 : "Jun, you moderate their greed."

"...When much is wrong, much needs to be hidden”- Eric Schlosser 2003

2008 Tucson Gem, Mineral. and Fossil Show at the Ballroom of the Inn Suites

Downright with Ammonites at the Tucson Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Show 2008

The weekend affords us the opportunity to once again visit the on-going 2008 Tucson Gem, Mineral, and Fossil Showcase. With 44 officially listed shows, each with from 40-100 dealers, it is quite difficult to see all the shows. In any case, our interest revolves around fossils and minerals and even with that, we've only seen a handful of shows the past two weeks.

Ammonites and ammolites are a growing interest for us. The color, diversity, and background make them an interesting focus of collection and study. Briefly, ammonites, now extinct, were marine animals of the subclass Ammonoidea, class Cephalopoda, phylum Mollusca. Present day relatives are most probably the octupus, squid, and cuttlefish, and unlikely the nautilus, which it somehow resembles. Geologists and paleontologists are fascinated with ammonites because they are excellent index fossils, meaning they are used to date the rock layers where they are found. Ammonites appeared 415 million years ago (mya) as Bacrites (small and straight) and became extinct about 67 mya along with the dinosaurs. Ammonites usually had coiled/ spiraled chambers connected by a tube called a siphuncle. they moved by jet propulsion of water. Plinus the Elder called them ammonis cornua ("horns of Ammon"), since the Egyptian god Ammon (Amun) was depicted with ram's horns. Ammonite sizes ranged from one inch to 4.5 feet in diameter.

Some of the most expensive ammonites for sale can be found at the Canada Fossils booth at the Inn Suites. I've seen their exquisite and pricey collection and am only beginning to explore their ecological footprint. Nonetheless, I have to admit their ammolites are indeed of gem-quality.

Check out the photos I took of various ammonites and ammolites from dealers at the Tucson Electric Park, Inn Suites, and Ramada Inn Shows, all in Tucson, Arizona.

Nature art in one of its best.