Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What Are We Teaching Our Kids?

Last week, Ellen*, one of my fellow dancers came rushing out of the stage after our final pose, pissed by a Chinese kid sitting with his mom in the audience. The kid was around 8. During the part where we, the dancers go up the bleachers to interact with the spectators, he reached for Ellen's hand and had her touch his stiff dick while he stared amusingly at Ellen's boobs.


On Sunday, as I was on the train going home from work, I bumped into a Filipina domestic helper, Donna*, who spent a day at the park with the daughter of her boss. The kid was probably 6, and was playing with Donna's celfone. Donna asked for her fone back. The kid refused to hand it back. Then Donna raised her voice a bit to intimidate the little girl and said, "That's not a toy. Stop playing with it."

The girl started to cry and screamed at her, "No! Fuck you!"


Every afternoon, a pack of little boys from my provincial neighborhood, their ages ranging from 5-9, gather together at the footbridge and collect big stones. Then they disperse strategically, almost like a SWAT team, around the vacant lot where dogs flock around 5pm. At their leader's signal, they throw stones at the dogs and scream "Tiu!" (shortened cantonese curse word which in English means "I will fuck your mother.") to their heart's content. The elders who see them just laugh it off.


My generation grew up on morning TV shows like Sesame Street, Batibot, Flying House, Rainbow Brite and Mga Kwento Ni Lola Basyang. At 10am every morning, we were glued to the tv with shows that carried the Worry-Free Kid TV logo. There was no cable tv or the internet to "corrupt" our innocence. And yet, we grew up rebellious and with values & morals that the generations born before us think of as intolerable and worthy of censure.

What, then, will become of those after us?

*not her real name

Friday, August 24, 2007


If Southeast Asia is an office that opens at 7am, Burma would be 30 minutes too early. Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam would just be on time but Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia and the Philippines would be an hour late. An office with half of its staff coming in late wouldn’t do the job efficiently, would it?

Our region is in 4 Time Zones (UTC+6.30, +7, +8 and +9). Indonesia is the only country that uses 3 time zones from +7 to +9 and Burma is the only country that uses +6.30. If you would look closely at the map; Singapore and Kuala Lumpur is in line with Bangkok and Jakarta is in line with Hanoi at +7 -- but they are on a different time zone (+8). They share it with Manila, which is hundreds of miles east of Thailand. Have you ever wondered why?

In 1981, Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohammad changed their time zone to +8 to unify East and West Malaysia. And for economic cooperation, the great Lee Kwan Yew followed suit for Singapore because they will be in an awkward position. Meaning technically, the Philippines and Brunei should be the only countries in the +8 time zone.

If Southeast Asia is a hospital and baby Burma came in at 6:30 with an asthma attack, she has to wait 30 minutes to see if Dr. Thailand or Nurse Vietnam got a Ventolin inhaler. But when they came in at 7.00-- they don’t have any. Meanwhile, old Mrs. Laos and baby Cambodia came in with an asthma attack too! Now all of them -- panicked and all -- have to wait another hour to see if Dr. Singapore, Dr. Malaysia or Nurse Philippines have the inhaler. Unfortunately, when they came in at 8.00, it turned out that Dr. Indonesia got the inhaler but he’ll come in at 9.00! Now the hospital is in one BIG 2 ½ hour mess! An utter tragedy!

The ASEAN Common Time is an idea by the ASEAN to adapt a standard time for all member countries. The initiative will unify our great region – economic wise, for efficiency and mutual benefits.

If we can come to the office all at the same time, we can finish more work. And if we can come to the hospital altogether, we can relieve more patients and efficiently solve the problems.

Should the whole of Southeast Asia be in one single common time?

What do you think?


-- Pisanu, Thailand
As posted on BISEAN

Sunday, August 19, 2007

How To: Behave Inside the Elevator 2

(Part 2 of 2)

Before going on to the rest of the guidelines, check out Part 1 first.

Converse As Quietly As You Can. Whenever you are joined by your friends inside the elevator, it is inevitable that a conversation will float up. Since you are not the only ones inside, it would be nicer if you don’t talk that loud and limit your discussions on things that bear nothing about personal affairs and gossips. That could help you protect your privacy as well – a stalker might just be around, who knows.

Play Safe. Especially when you’re up for a quickie, always check if there are cameras installed in the elevator. Don’t be stupid, they are not installed there for nothing. Spare yourself from humiliation by simply keeping the “urge” to yourself.

Those are just simple rules but often neglected. There are actually just a handful of Filipinos who act according to acceptable standards and yet again, culture has something to do with it. I sometimes find myself wondering how our educational institutions, and the system itself, respond to this idiosyncrasy. I can see that together with the government and the media, our schools have greater control in shaping up a person’s ethical behavior.

As you can see, the simple things that we do affect our overall image as a person, as part of the society and as a nation. To those who are working as part of the corporate world, you may have observed that blue-collar workers pay a special respect to white-collar employees. At the age of 20, I feel privileged each time our security guard and maintenance people call me Sir (sometimes followed by my first name). At first, I thought that’s only because they don’t know my name but I realized that it’s actually because they look up to me as a fitting example of an educated man.

That’s more than just boosting one’s ego; I feel that everybody should set an example to others as well. Just keep in mind that wherever and whenever we face a crowd, even inside the elevator, we should never give them a reason to frown.

- Reyville of Simply Manila, Philippines

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Was Jaclyn Victor Robbed off Ikon Asean?

The issue about the "not-the-best singer in the Philippines" Vina Morales defeating the "best singer in Malaysia" Jaclyn Victor at the recently-concluded Ikon Asean competition continues to be discussed, almost violently, by fans of both singers.

Some Jac fans claimed that she was robbed of the title, while others say that she wasn't at here element. Meanwhile, some Pinoys even criticized Vina as below par, that the likes of Regine Velasquez should have been in Ikon (Asia's Songbird didn't join). Others even joked that Jaclyn wouldn't even win "Tanghalan ng Kampeon" (Championship Stage, our version of "Star Search" back in the day). We Pinoys never seem to run out of naysayers, ano?

And I don't wanna even delve on the "ad hominems" on how we Pinoys are being "teased" by our Malaysian neighbors as their maids and prostitutes. That's another story.

Here are the performance clips of the two singers and we shall analyze it one by one. Now don't get me wrong, I adore Jac and I used to call Vina the lone female member of "The Maskulados." That makes the analysis even.

Let's start with Jaclyn's first song choice, a medley of three songs composed by P. Ramlee.

They say that she was pitchy in places, but I barely noticed them. The problem is that even though she sang three different songs, it sounds monotonous to me. Oh, did you notice how she handled the mic? I'll talk about that later.

Then we go to Vina's first song, "Pangako Sa Iyo" (A Promise to You).

It was not surprising that she would sing this in Ikon Asean. It's the theme song of the soap opera of the same title, which was very popular in Malaysia. It was a great choice for Vina because it definitely connected her to the dominantly Malay audience, and it also has a lot of high and long notes giving Vina a lot of chances for her to show her vocal range without having to ad lib like in Jac's case.

Now here are the second performance videos. We go back to Jaclyn and her winning song back in Malaysian Idol, Gemilang.

At least Jac rebounded here. She hit the notes almost right and she made good use of her really powerful voice. However, I'm really bothered by the way she handles the microphone. You know, once she sings the high notes she puts the mic on her forehead. I know that's called style, but where I come from, putting the mic away from your mouth when singing the high notes means you're cheating. Jac made it appear that she couldn't reach the high notes so she would put the mic away from her mouth and it wouldn't sound too obvious.

You would never see that being done by Filipino singers. In fact, if you watch Vina's Pangako Sa Iyo video, she would even put the mic closer to her mouth when she sang the high notes.

Anyway, back to Vina. She performs a dance track "Feels So Nice."

I understand that she chose this so she would show off her dance skills. Catch is, singing and dancing at the same time is pretty tiring, and you would hear Vina catching her breath in some instances. But overall, she performed well in this song, and by that time her fate was sealed anyway.

That's why, I think, Vina won.

Oh by way, can I just say that the female host in Ikon Asean was so inconsiderate. Can't she explain her lines in English for the benefit of non-Malay speakers...like us? Buti pa si Angela Chow kada koda niya ng Chinese sa Miss World may-I-explain agad sa Inggles.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Hong Kong, How Ready Are You?

created and posted on August 10, 2007 on Can't You Read?

Typhoon signal no. 8 was hoisted today at around 1:30pm in HK, as the strong winds of Tropical Storm Pabuk's speed exceeded 62 kph.

After receiving the announcement that our afternoon shows were already cancelled and that we were to leave work pronto, Dan and I decided to go on an impromptu shopping in Mongkok. In took us less than a minute after getting out of the train station to realize that even business establishments closed down and that everybody (probably except us) was rushing home. We headed towards the ladies' market anyway, which looks like this on a regular day:

This is what we found instead:

Ghost town. Well, not really. There were a few people on the street --- half-naked, hunky chinese and middle-eastern men running back and forth, trying to save their merchandise from getting wet. Quite a sight, I should say!

We decided to head to Langham Place. It's a mall, for crying out loud! It's made of concrete and the engineering is quite advanced. We were sure it wasn't threatened by the scare of a typhoon. In Manila, in our younger years, and even until now, as soon as the teacher announced suspension of classes, everybody heads to the mall. We were wrong. That's not the case in HK.

It seemed like there was no other option but to go home and just spend the afternoon sleeping. We got in at around 6pm and started to make sotanghon for dinner. A few minutes later, I got an sms from Joseph, the manager of Volume which read:

Typhoon party tonight at Volume! 2-4-1 drinks
extended until 12!

Ok, I must admit, that was quite enticing. But because of what I had witnessed earlier on, I was just scared to go out. So I didn't. And I was thankful I didn't go, despite Chris's eager invitation to go with him. A few minutes later, we got news that the train service has stopped because of the inclement weather. Lawrence, a friend of mine, was in Central station and took this video:

It's a bit of a bore how HK welcomes tropical disturbances. I grew up in Manila where typhoons flooding were nothing extraordinary. I grew up seeing roofs flying in the air with the strong wind and trees just collapsing in the streets. I remember watching the news one stormy afternoon when I was a kid, where the field correspondent had herself tied to a post while reporting on-cam so as not to be blown away by the wind. The university I went to was on the street that flooded after just an hour of continuous downpour. I have walked more than 2 kilometers going home from the university, half of my body submerged in dirty, murky, smelly flood --- along with a host of other people: fellow students, faculty, robbers, snatchers, employees, etc. (and along with other elements as well. i.e., a dead rat, a swimming dog, and a drowning cat). It was gross! But it was fun.

My french ex-boyfriend witnessed this once and he said nothing but: "It's like Disneyland!"


Sunday, August 12, 2007

How To: Behave Inside the Elevator

(Part 1 of 2)

Some of you ride the elevator as a daily routine that even if you just need to go two floors up or down, the initial desire is to look for a vacant pulley. Why not? It is the most comfortable option next to nothing. In fact, we feel so comfortable that we tend to forget that even inside the elevator, we need to practice etiquette.

The elevator is where people with different orientations flock together. So whether you are the most popular person in your neighborhood, a member of a royal family in the United Kingdom of Tondo, or Gretchen Barretto, you can make this world a better place if you can act in such a way that other people would feel respected or valued as a divine creation or at least as human beings.

Be Generous. We all know that you’re in a hurry and needs to Bundy as soon as possible, but you have to stretch your patience a bit longer by pressing the open-the-door button if you see somebody approaching the elevator. Don’t embarrass the poor soul to everybody else around by letting the door closed itself when he is just a few seconds late.

Always Face The Door. No matter how crowded it is inside the elevator, make sure that you’re facing its doors while it is taking you to your ultimate destination. Never face the rest of the crowd unless you want them to discover a new planet next to Planet Zit in the universe disguised as your face.

Don't Fart. If you feel that something odd is gaining power inside your tummy, you can save yourself from embarrassment by letting that fart out before going in for the ride. Or if you’re inside the elevator already, try to hold on for a second. Please be considerate to others as this is undeniably gross.

(To be continued…)

(This article was originally posted by Reyville for Simply Manila. Can I be the "How To" guy for this blog? HaHa. Just kidding, seriously kidding.)

- Reyville of Simply Manila, Philippines

Friday, August 10, 2007

What is a World without Filipinos?

Let's imagine the entire world waking up one day to discover Filipinos have disappeared. I'm talking here about the six or seven million Filipinos currently working overseas in countries with names that run the entire alphabet, from Angola to Zimbabwe .

Let's not worry first about why or how the Filipinos disappeared; in fact, it becomes academic whether it's a day or a week. Just imagine a world without Filipinos.

Think of the homes that are dependent on Filipino housekeepers, nannies, caregivers. The homes would be chaotic as kids cry out for their nannies. Arabs, Hong Kong and Singaporean and Taiwanese yuppie couples are now forced to stay home and realizing, goodness, there's so much of housework that has to be handled and how demanding their kids can be and hey, what's this strange language they're babbling in?

It's not just the children that are affected. The problems are even more serious with the elderly in homes and nursing institutions, because Filipino caregivers have provided so much of the critical services they need. When temporary contractual workers are brought in from among non-Filipinos, the elderly complain. They want their Filipino caregivers back because they have that special touch, that extra patience and willingness to stay an hour more when needed.

Hospitals, too, are adversely affected because so many of the disappeared Filipinos were physicians, nurses and other health professionals. All appointments for rehabilitation services, from children with speech problems to stroke survivors, are indefinitely postponed because of disappeared speech pathologists, occupational and physical therapists!

Eventually, the hospital administrators announce they won't take in any more patients unless the conditions are serious. Patients are told to follow their doctors' written orders and, if they have questions, to seek advice on several Internet medical sites. But within two days, the hospitals are swamped with new complaints. The web sites aren't working because of missing Filipino web designers and web site managers.

Service establishments throughout the world -- restaurants, supermarkets, hotels -- all close down because of their missing key staff involved in management and maintenance. In Asia , hotels complain about the missing bands and singers.

In the United States , many commercial establishments have to close shop, not just because of the missing Filipino sales staff but because their suppliers have all been sending in notices about delays in shipments. Yup, the shipping industry has gone into a crisis because of missing Filipino seafarers.

The shipping firms begin to look into the emergency recruitment of non-Filipino seafarers but then declare another crisis: They're running out of supplies of oil for their ships because the Middle Eastern countries have come to a standstill without their Filipino workers, including quite a few working for the oil industry.

Frantic presidents and prime ministers call on the United Nations to convene a special session of the Security Council but Ban Ki-Moon says he can't do that because the UN system itself is on the edge, with so many of their secretarial and clerical staff, as well as translators, having disappeared from their main headquarters in New York and Geneva, as well as their regional offices throughout the world. Quite a number of UN services, especially refugee camps, are also in danger of closing down because of missing Filipino health professionals and teachers.

Ban Ki-Moon also explains that he can't convene UN meetings because the airports in New York , Washington and other major US cities have been shut down. The reason? The disappeared Filipinos included quite a few airport security personnel who used to check passengers and their baggage.

Ban Ki-Moon calls on the World Bank and international private foundations for assistance but they're crippled, too, because their Filipino consultants and staff are nowhere to be seen. Funds can't be remitted and projects can't run without the technical assistance provided for by Filipinos.

An exasperated Ban Ki-Moon calls on religious leaders to pray, and pray hard. But when he phones the Pope, he is told the Catholic Church, too, is in crisis because the disappeared include the many Filipino priests and nuns in Rome who help run day-to-day activities, as well as missionaries in the front lines of remote posts, often the only ones providing basic social services.

As they converse, Ban Ki-Moon and the Pope agree on one thing: the world has become a quieter place since the Filipinos disappeared. It isn't just the silencing of work and office equipment formerly handled by Filipinos; no, it seems there's much less laughter now that the Filipinos aren't around, both the laughter of the Filipinos and those they served.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007


The 2007 Mid-Year Edition of the Academic Ranking of World Universities was released last Wednesday (01 August). This lists the Top 500 Universities of the World and here is the list of the Top Universities in Southeast Asia.

1. National University of Singapore
2. Nanyang Technological University, Singapore
3. Kasetsart University, Thailand
4. Chulalongkorn University, Thailand *Yipeeee!*
5. Prince of Songkla University, Thailand

6. Asian Institute of Technology, Thailand
7. Chiang Mai University, Thailand
8. Thammasat University, Thailand
9. Assumption University of Thailand
10. Khon Khaen University, Thailand

Is your school on the Top 20?
And here are the remaining 10:

11. Mahidol University, Thailand
12. Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia
13. Institute of Technology Bandung, Indonesia
14. Universiti Sains Malaysia
15. Universiti Teknologi Malaysia

16. Multimedia University, Malaysia
17. University of the Philippines-Diliman
18. Universiti Putra Malaysia
19. University Malaya, Malaysia
20. King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang, Thailand

Still not there? -- oh well.

On the list of the Top 100 Universities in Southeast Asia; Thailand has 41, Malaysia has 18, Indonesia has 14, the Philippines has 13 and Singapore and Vietnam got 7 each.

Is your school on the Top 100 at least?


--Pisanu for BISEAN, Thailand

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Gulf may ban SOUTHEAST ASIAN domestic workers

The GCC Committee for Importing Foreign Workers unanimously agreed to stop importing some Southeast Asian migrant workers until their government's labour laws have been clarified.

Regulation of the Labour laws had been passed by Southeast Asian countries aimed at improving the standard of living for its citizens working in the region.

The new Philippine government regulations, passed in December last year, require GCC employers to pay a minimum salary of $400 a month to any Filipino working as domestic help – double the previous minimum salary of $200.

Employers are also required to sign a declaration stipulating that they will pay a daily fine of around $13 if they do not pay workers on time.

While Indonesian authorities have ruled to increase the wages of its citizens working as maids in Saudi Arabia from $160 to $213 a month from August 1, 2007

The said minimum salary regulations are not binding on any of the GCC’s six member states.

GCC Committee for Importing Foreign Workers agreed to lobby authorities to stop importing Filipinos while Saudi recruitment agencies have threatened to petition the government to stop issuing work visas to Indonesians after the Southeast Asian country’s decision to raise the minimum wage for Indonesian maids working in Saudi Arabia.

I worked in the Gulf States for almost five years and I think it is about time someone took a stand on this, I've seen workers (not necessarily domestic helpers and not only Filipino) basically treated like slaves. They have to pay their sponsor, tickets to and from home country and then spend up to three years without a break, often in debt so they cannot afford to leave of their own free will.

There's nothing bad protecting your own people. Giving better compensation to employees, most especially house assistants/housemaids, will benefit the employers/sponsors the most. Filipino workers (or other nationalities), will of course display efficient / excellent performance, will often give satisfying results, if they are paid and treated well. Always remember, since the topic is Filipino Housemaids - employers MUST extend full and humanely support to these workers, because these Filipino housemaids are the ones taking care of simple to royal families, children and olds alike are entrusted to them, your food and even the utmost confidential issues and things at your home front. And yet, the Philippine Govt. is aggressively finding solutions to improve the works and the welfare of the Filipino workers, which, then and again will have an optimistic effect to their superiors wherever they maybe.

On the other hand, the GCC have the right to govern themselves as they see fit. It's the GCC residents' decision to hire and pay who and what they want. It's the simple economic principle of Supply and Demand. If the Philippines make the supply more expensive the demand will drop and the GCC consumers will look elsewhere. The GCC doesn't owe the Filipino's anything further than that.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Games Children Play

After the post about what makes us proud about our country (click here for the article), thoughts of the games I used to play when I was young came flooding back into my mind.

There were the different kinds of tag-and-you're-it games. It took me two days to actually remember the chant for Langit-Lupa.
Langit, lupa, impyerno
Saksak puso, tulo ang dugo
Patay, buhay
Maalis ka na diyaan.
All players make a circle and say the chant in a singsong manner while pointing at each player for every syllable. Whoever gets the last syllable will be that first taya ("it") of the game. Everybody then scrams around looking for places that are higher than the ground to reach langit (heaven) where they cannot be tagged. You can only be tagged if you are standing on lupa (earth) or a place that's level with the ground. It's usually agreed upon before the game begins that when you're taya and you tag someone else to be the new taya, then he or she cannot tag you back. The game ends when almost everyone is tired or most of the players are called home (usually by one of their parents shouting their names from their homes).

Kompyang is another way to determine who will be taya in a given game. everyone puts out their hand palms down and shouts "maiba taya!" After shouting the seemingly necessary sentence, everyone raises their hands ever so slightly and puts it down again either palms-down or palms-up. Whoever has the different hand will become taya. If there nobody has a different hand, then the players who have the hand that showed up fewest are taken out of the kompyang round. So if there are five players who have their palms up and the other three have their palms down, then the three are exempt from becoming the first taya. The remaining five players will do the kompyang again until a taya is chosen.

Prikidam 1-2-3
There's also prikidam 1-2-3. I don't even know why it's called that. Some of my friends tell me the game's name is really "piggy-down." But we agreed that it's also called agawan-base. This is a tag game that uses more strategy than langit-lupa. Everybody gathers round and puts one of their hands. Everyone does the kompyang, but instead of choosing one player to become taya, two players will become team leaders. Then they get to choose their teammates from the remaining players. Each team chooses a base (usually a big gate or a tree). There are two ways to win this game: by taking over the opposing team's base or by holding all opponents hostage.

To take over the opposing team's base, the whole team must touch the opponent's base without getting tagged and shout "prikidam." Again, I am boggled by how this word came to be.

When a player is tagged or caught by an opponent, he or she becomes a hostage and is trapped in the opposing team's base and must keep one hand in contact with that base. Usually a member of the team who caught the hostage will keep an eye on the base to make sure that the hostage does not escape. When another hostage is taken, they hold hands and stretch their hands as far as possible to that they can be rescued easily. Only the first hostage is required to physically stay in contact with the opponent's base. All hostages are rescued when someone from the hostage's team taps them.

(to be continued in another post)

Out in the Open

I am a human
I am a mother
I am a father
I am a daughter
I am a son
I am a sister
I am a brother
I am a neighbor
I am a friend
I am a teacher
I am a librarian
I am a firefighter
I am an officer
I am a clerk
I am a writer
I am an artist
I am a doctor
I am a council member
I am a judge
I am a mayor
I am a town trustee
I am a broker
I am a customer representative
I am a governor
I am a telemarketer
I am a television celebrity
I am a religious person
I am straight
I am bisexual
I am transgendered
I am gay
I am lesbian
I am judged

Each of these are things a person can identify with in their own lives. some may not seem to have any connection to others and yet, they have a single similarity. Each one could be someone we see every day, perhaps someone we know and care about. We take an immediate glance at the one statement that we hope is not true of the people in our lives, dreading the possibility.

Doing so makes the final statement true. We begin imagining how this possibility will change relationships and the perceived betrayal of not knowing before. We already place doubts upon the one person who is most likely to fit the stereotype. We cast the thought aside, telling ourselves that we have only been paranoid about the idea of the possibility.

Yet we neglect to cast aside the doubt. It gnaws at the back of our minds, causes us to seek out our perceived truth. Our judgement has been cast until we find the proof that we are wrong.

There are but few who can read these statements without experiencing the paranoia, accepting each without doubt as they are read. These are the open-minded people from which to learn.

How open minded are we?

Take the statements that speak of who we are, pass it on to those we trust, and seek wisdom in truth.

Who am I?

I am a human
I am a son
I am a brother
I am a neighbor
I am a friend
I am a teacher
I am a clerk
I am a writer
I am a religious person
I am bisexual

and yes,

I am judged.
khalel, Philippines

[ASEAN] An End to the Silence?

This post originally appeared on The Geeky Guide to Nearly Everything.

I've been tagged as a contributor for the United SEA blog for some time now. I admit I've been trying to get a feel for what direction the entries should be geared towards before getting into serious posting. I guess that time is more than up, eh?

The discussions centered around the 12th ASEAN summit seem a prime choice for discussion here, more so this year's summit given the controversies around the formation of a Human Rights body.

One of the biggest failings of the ASEAN, in my opinion, has been the standing policy of "non-interference" in the vaguely termed "internal affairs" of member countries. The policy seems so Asian in itself that we would rather allow whatever travesties to happen in fellow nations out of some sense of courtesy to the other. Under the banner of non-inteference we've seen the cases of the likes of Anwar Ibrahmim move along unchallenged or the continued imprisonment of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi from Myanmar prison.

The consensus to create a human rights body is a tremendous move for the group and a very large step that will require a lot of changes, especially related to the non-interference policy that has so long protected the practice of human rights violations within the region.

The discussions came along in line with current discussions to revise the ASEAN charter before November of this year to redefine the organization and make it more akin to the European Union, which the group is now trying to emulate. This makes perfect sense given the mixed progress over the years with the ASEAN unable to really promote meaningful changes amongst the member nations as much as it would like to.

The debates around the formation of a human rights body were largely opposed, of course, by Myanmar given their own shady practices at times that have often been met with international outrage if not suspicion. Also affected are Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam are all run by either authoritarian or single-party governments who may have some difficulty with dealing with a regional human rights body with its accompanying rules and regulations.

I'm in full support of this move by the Association - human rights should be protected regardless of nationality or personal beliefs since these are fundamental rights entitled to everyone. These should not be subject to the petty internal politics or the opinions of any one government. However in order for this body to be meaningful within the region, this will mean completely turning their backs on the older policy of non-interference. In place of this would be a greater sense of regional social responsibility driven by the need to care and be concerned about what is going on beyond one's own borders.

It's time we stop being silent about the abuses going on just next door - if we truly believe in human rights and how fundamental rights, then we defintely need to strike harder to get all thius one. Through this, I expect we'll benefit from having a stronger regional voice in the form of the ASEAN and its human rights body along wtih greater interdependence among member nations.

It's time we stepped up to the plate and really show everyone what this region is truly capable of and that it's not just about the US or the EU anymore. The ASEAN wants to sit at the big adults table now as a true global power to be respected and dealt with equitably as opposed to being a loose association of nations that gets little done if only in an effort not to offend one another.

It's a bold move and one that's long overdue. Let's hope that we get through the many changes involved leading to this next evoutionary step in the organization's path towards becoming much more than it is now.


rOckY, Philippines

[Blogosphere] You Got Blogged Contest

This post originally appeared on The Geeky Guide to Nearly Everything.

You Got Blogged

My friend Blogie has asked my help in promoting the You Got Blogged! Review-a-Blog contest hosted by DigitalFilipino.com and his own MindanaoBloggers.com.

The contest is pretty straight forward - write a review about any of the blogs found on the Mindanao Bloggers Directory in line with the standards documented in this post and you're eligible to win as much as $150! Seriously!

And while we're on the subject, stay tuned as well for the 1st Mindanano Bloggers Summit to be held in Davao City on October 27, 2007. This is a pretty tremendous undertaking for our friends in the south so if you're in the area or planning to be come October, we'd greatly appreciate if you extended your full support for making this event a success!