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1
hey again everyone,

how are all of you? thank you for your kind words. I have always been attracted to the cause of justice most of my adult life and I had the privilege to be a part of a bigger movement. The more I reflect back though, I know and unseen Hand continues to help guide me.

I preface this whole experience in saying my first intent was to go back home, but it came down to a trust issue with the networks I made in the Philippines, ironically, I was more comfortable heading out to Viet Nam with familiar faces, a people with a culture I got introduced to in the Gulf...

by the time i get to our homeland, I might be more Vietnamese than Filipino! (but if you ask me, our creative hybridity, talent to adapt and flexible identity is very Filipino too)

I share with you a reflective snippet:

"Do not mix up knowledge and language!"

I teach a group of social service staff in Saigon.  I was talking to my supervisor after one lesson.  Since my teaching methodology for English has been catered for college students who have a strong command of English, and noticing their English skills were below previous students, I asked "Did most of the staff attend a University?".

My supervisor, strong-minded, battle-tested Sister D shoots back in English: "Do NOT assume they are not educated because they do not speak English!  You are mixing up knowledge with language ability, some studied English some did not, all of them have a bachelor's degree in their fields of work.  Remember to not make that assumption, remember how smart our grandparents and the generations that came before them were, and they didn't know how to speak one word of English!"

I could see how ignorant my question was, I assumed some attended college, some did not, but didn't know they all went. It's unfair to make that assumption, and that last statement, "how our grandparents" didn't know how to speak a foreign language....for us Filipinos, we have an asset in our English language command, but I remember, my grandfather just shutting himself off from the world in America. Once the honest, charismatic popular superindendent in South Cotobato who spent the last years of his life in a Florida home watching the Price is Right, talking to no one, taking care of us bratty kids...I never had a full conversation with him. He never knew enough English, I never knew enough Visaya. I'll never assume he wasn't a man of great knowledge.


Living Miracle

There is this woman, we call her Chi Hoa.  She is a patient at the HIV Center I teach in.  A seminarian said, "doesn't she have the most beautiful smile?" She was playing with a newly arrived 1-year old baby patient. "She was once 20 kilograms (around 40 pounds) and lost her 2-yr old child, you could see her bones, she is a living miracle." Chi Hoa, who regained all her weight helps out everyday taking care of the other children and other adult patients. 

Each time I enter the center, the kids are usually outside playing and shout "HEL-LO CHU LEH-OH! (hello uncle leo!)" There's something more holistic I see in patient care out in this Center, it's not a sterile, all functioning hospital, but a serene environment with a children's house, an adult house for men and woman, a moat where it has a place to pray, fruit trees and a mausoleaum where they pray over their friends who pass. Chi Hoa does have the most beautiful smile.
 

2
Chào các bạn và gia đinh Boholanos!
(Hello friends and Boholano Family!)

I know it has been a couple months, but I have not forgotten all of you. I hope you all find this message well, as some of you know, I was trying to find a way to do meaningful work in the Philippines, but my life's direction has taken me to Việt Nam (VN). I have been volunteering for about 2 months here, teaching English, my NGO partners with the Daughters of Charity in VN.  They head many social services throughout the country and it is in this context I teach English. To witness the Sisters' ardent dedication to the people is beyond uplifting and I can say I have gotten closer to my Faith due to seeing their Love in action.

I have so many stories to share which I will be sharing from time to time. I did meet a couple of Cebuanos who was a seminarian and a Sister in Saigon. There is a small community of Filipinos here I am trying to get to know.

If any of you are in Saigon, please feel free to msg me. I will be in the city for another two months.
In other news, I am also worried about the recent bombings in Mindanao and I am praying somehow the region reaches peace.  I am still planning to visit Bohol/Mindanao this Fall..

Ok, that's all for now, take care everyone!
-Leo

3
I am very late in this topic. much has changed as I started to volunteer in Viet Nam.

I wanted to chime in, this post brought back so much memories of my time in New Orleans and Mississippi.  The crawfish boil is a staple in just relaxing, sitting outside and drinking beer, we often preferred Heineken with it.  The best crawfish is homecooked, complete with butter, cayenne, orange juice, garlic, lemon and onions, andoulie sausage, and corn, potatoes.  With the Vietnamese community, we also often ate it alongside balut and other delicacies they have.

On the subject of Creole food, we also can't forget GUMBO, crawfish etouffee, jambalaya, red beans and rice.  If I ever meet any of y'all one day, I have to make you my crawfish etouffe, u have to get this only in the Gulf Coast of America to taste this special region of American food.

4
General Topic / Re: Why Isn't Bisaya The National Language?
« on: February 28, 2009, 08:06:11 AM »
Hello everyone,

Language is always political.  It's interesting you say the majority of Pilipinos speak Visayan-Cebuano because in the states I grew up with a predominantly Tagalog-dominated population.

I can't speak on what the national language should or should not be, but as far as pragmatics, it would sound an arduous process to campaign for a Visayan national language and have it replace all official documents and related national culture/legislative happenings.

I wonder what is the language policy in the Philippines related to national documents and forms of business? Do they have to make sure all material is translated to the respective dialects?


Now to illustrate the politics of language, you have an international meeting with investors and top government officials about military contracts, at the end of the day, what is the language used for business? English? Tagalog? Visaya?

5
General Topic / Dual Citizenship Process?
« on: February 02, 2009, 01:13:10 PM »
hey everyone,

the way I understand the Citizenship Retention and Re-acquisition Act of 2003, I can be a natural-born citizen of the Philippines if my mother or father was a Philippine citizen during the time of my birth.

is that correct?


6
Anonymous Diary Blog / Re: What Makes Me Angry Today?
« on: January 29, 2009, 01:16:47 AM »
thats so sad kiamoy. I hope you're safe too, the ones to hurt us the most are likely the closest ones to us....that makes me mad.

another thing that makes me mad is arrogant bosses.

7
LGU Philippines / Re: The Situation in Gaza (Pictures)
« on: January 28, 2009, 04:35:17 AM »
Lorenzo,

I respect your adamant stance with Israel, but I am also a citizen of the US who will not blindly support Israel nor its "defensive stance" to unleash chemical air raids.  These effects echo of our own military tactics of Agent Orange to the Vietnamese, and Saddam's gassing of the Kurds, effects that WILL LAST GENERATIONS.

Yes it is a strategic logistical dilemma but underlying all the defensive strikes, the terrorist suicide bombs, the Islamic fundamentalists, is an occupied Palestinian territory and people whose resources (outside of the Hamas schools, hospitals, daycares) are completely controlled by Israel: access to water, border patrol and entry, economic licenses. So once again, this terrorism breeds into the lives of peoples' impoverished realities for the request of self-determination. 

In terms of nation-building, lets also remember the formation of Israel's nation included "terrorist" activity through the Haganah and Irgun paramilitary Israeli groups that bombed British personnel and its railroads and organized illegal immigration. There is a consensus in Israel even today, that the recent attacks in Palestine did not go far enough

To not even critically acknowledge the "enemy's" point of view, to the world as they see it, we will only perpetuate Bush's "with us or against us" mentality that he promoted after September 11. This only has caused more wars and there will be no common ground.  It is this rhetoric that had us backing a pattern of oppressive military regimes from Saddam to Marcos to Diem.

I remember the atmosphere all over America after September 11 very deeply and our first reaction was to "bomb  those sand n**gers" never an understanding of our own histories intertwined with the Iraq, Afghanistan and the Arab world.

And it is no secret Islamic fundamentalist celebrate any type of death as martyrdom for their cause especially after 9/11. Those actions I condone but at the same time I have never agreed with Bush's War----the most privatized war in our nation's history.  I spoke with people and development workers in Iraq and presence of Halliburton & Blackwater is more telling of our motives than the lack of armor they go to combat with.  They come with many stories of taking "pleasure trips" to the Philippines and Southeast Asia as well, not all our soldiers are wrapped up into that but I have friends who refused to participate in those activities.



In moving forward, what would a humane solution be?

8
LGU Philippines / Re: The Situation in Gaza (Pictures)
« on: January 28, 2009, 01:18:44 AM »
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the Israeli Defense Forces:



israel-boy-tank-768897 - Show Posts - leoello
Any given day there are tanks in the Gaza Strip neighborhoods searching for terrorist, this is a daily activity for kids growing up.

610x - Show Posts - leoello
Israeli armies and its violence are always glorified,

R30 - Show Posts - leoello

fallujahanim4sn - Show Posts - leoello
But in our support of the Israeli army, do we support the use of chemical weapons?

These chemical bombs leads to this:

lebanon_civilian2 - Show Posts - leoello


Now in no way I am supporting Hamas' tactics, ideology, and violence on innocent victims, but to solve this issue by more genocide, chemical warfare, and more bullets...will only create a new generation of hatred (refer to Lorenzo's pictures)

palestinians600 - Show Posts - leoello

From a Palestinian citizen:

“Let them go in on the ground and take out Hamas, but spare the children,” said a taxi driver from the camp who identified himself by his first name, Yasir. The missiles from the air “do not differentiate,” he said.  (From New York Times article, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/03/world/middleeast/03mideast.html?hp)

9
LGU Philippines / Re: The Situation in Gaza (Pictures)
« on: January 27, 2009, 02:59:36 AM »
That recent topic on EU aid is interesting. 

So what does everyone think the solution should be?   

The problem with Hamas is it truly does meet some social needs of Palestinian people, but the overall goal is the destruction of Israel and a whole people.  So their popularity rises when they see Israel pull out of some disputed territories and rises more when people look to Hamas to conduct basic government services the previous Fatah has failed to provide.   

According to the Council on Foreign Relations: http://www.cfr.org/publication/8968/#1


"Is Hamas only a terrorist group?

No. In addition to its military wing, the so-called Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigade, Hamas devotes much of its estimated $70-million annual budget to an extensive social services network. Indeed, the extensive social and political work done by Hamas - and its reputation among Palestinians as averse to corruption - partly explain its defeat of the Fatah old guard in the 2006 legislative vote. Hamas funds schools, orphanages, mosques, healthcare clinics, soup kitchens, and sports leagues. "Approximately 90 percent of its work is in social, welfare, cultural, and educational activities," writes the Israeli scholar Reuven Paz. The Palestinian Authority often fails to provide such services, and Hamas's efforts in this area—as well as a reputation for honesty, in contrast to the many Fatah officials accused of corruption—help to explain the broad popularity it summoned to defeat Fatah in the PA's recent elections."

Families of suicide bombers are also given compensation for their sons terrorist act: "After a bombing, Hamas gives the family of the suicide bomber between three thousand dollars and five thousand dollars and assures them their son died a martyr in holy jihad."

So the situation is very problematic as the violence is now religious and justified throughout its social services, without any alternative. 

I really pray the day that there will be some outlet for Israeli people and Palestinian people to start mutual communication and not give any power to militant leadership.

Terrorism is truly the battle for the minds/faiths of people, and any violent aggression that kills innocent civilians will just harbor more terrorism and hatred across the world.

 "your people will judge you on what you can build and not what you destroy" - Barack Obama to Muslim leaders, I think it should go both ways.

10
LGU Philippines / Re: The Situation in Gaza (Pictures)
« on: January 26, 2009, 03:59:16 PM »

wait, wait, I don't understand, when the media is hated by the right, we always accuse it being ran by our Jewish population, now when the media is reporting Palestinian civilian casualties on the ground, they are now labeled anti-Jewish.

I hope we can try to understand at least both sides by critically reflecting on its history. Bottom line is that over 600 human beings have perished due to violence. I have still a lot to learn about the Palestinian/Israeli conflict so if anyone has any life experiences about this, please share.

The little history I do know: the formation of the Israeli state has roots in the occupation by the British, French and Italian nations (having occupied the territories after WWI).

Britain's declaration of the state of Israel postponed/disregarded the current Arab population's request for nationhood.  (Does this sound like Philippine Revolution deja-vu?) Once Israel's nationhood was recognized, the 6-day war occured, and massive amounts of Arabs were displaced creating the Palestinian refugee communities, destroying their economy and way of life.

Now the effects of this quagmire has polarized every facet of life in both communities where it is a culture to degrade the other. And the people who suffer the most are the children. Here is a documentary that depicts daily lives of children in Palestine: (the British director was sadly gunned down by Israeli troops)



Now I am no way disregarding the fact that there are many Arab nations who wish to destroy the state of Israel, and not debating the topic of sovereignty. But Israeli's occupation of Palestine---it's policies and development--- are simply unjust and inhumane.  Why does Palestine have to resort to militant conflict and not political ones?

Death/Martyrdom is a way of life for the Palestinian people and just like with the rise of the Black Power militants in the US, the Hamas organization appeals to the desperate situation of the Palestinian people and sadly it is the only party that takes a stand on their social needs.


Until somehow there is a way to address the dire social injustices happening in Palestine, people will always resort to violence.  Until somehow there is a change in rhetoric and culture in valuing human lives, there will always be violence, whether through Palestinian rocket launchers or Israeli tanks and air-strikes.

To label this situation as merely defending Israeli sovereignty turns a blind eye to social injustice, human rights and condones more violence. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ghandi are surely rolling in their graves.  Where does the Christian rule of "love thy enemy" come into play?

To apply this situation to us, what would happen if we displaced all our Moro peoples in Mindanao? Or if it was Philippine state policy to roll tanks every 24-hrs in their villages, have designated curfew times, and establish border check points throughout your town?   

-Leo
 

11
General Topic / Re: On The Empire
« on: January 25, 2009, 05:08:13 AM »
An empire founded by war has to maintain itself by war.[/i]

Charles de Montesquieu



What do you think?

Yes. Do we have any other examples of empires founded by nonviolence and peace? Also, let's not forget the definition of "war" can go beyond military means.  War in terms of hard economic sanctions, threat to stop foreign aid, or ideological war.

The sole concept of building an empire is warfare too, you are charged to control the ideology, preserve your principles, and deliver and exploit the necessary resources for your citizens. (e.g. Iraq War, Philippine-American War)

12
Anonymous Diary Blog / Re: women to court men
« on: January 25, 2009, 05:02:28 AM »

I think its the history of women viewed/treated as property to men.  There are modern persecutions of the Scarlet Letter still exists, just imagine if President Bill Clinton was a woman caught messing around with a male intern?


13
Filipino – It’s Not Where You Are But Who You Are[/b]

There is nothing wrong in one’s adapting certain practices of other country especially if the situation calls for it. In fact, it’s expected for a Filipino to show respect to a host county for which he/she is a foreigner by doing what is customary to that country. On the other hand as I put it, only to “certain” practices as long as you’re comfortable of doing it. In doing so, one must draw the line between adapting and imitating. The former is appropriate but the latter is disgusting especially if it is unbefitting. The problem begins when one’s adaptation of foreign practices repulses the culture for which he or she was raised and much more; if such adaptation is highly uncalled for. Perhaps, the question should be rephrased by: “When and when not to adapt?”

Gener,

Welcome to TB, I don't think I've commented on your post yet.  You are correct, we are Filipino no matter where we go, it's who we are.  And I am still on my journey in discovering what does "Filipino" really mean.  Outside the Philippines, we are reminded of our Filipinoness internally---within our family network, or externally---through racial identification, like the US (e.g. oh! you're Filipino? i love your food, your people are so funny...or I have a Filipino wife)

On the subject of Retention vs. Adaptation vs. Imitation, let's look at a specific, practical case.  I am the offspring of our Filipino migrants, my mother, who raised me to be highly adaptable to the US.  I believed she instilled in me the Filipino trait of cherishing the value of education, the ability to look after my family, and a determined Faith in God.  But, she didn't teach me Visaya because she was worried it would conflict with my English studies.  Would that make her pathetic?  Was that a conscious decision to be indignant to her roots of being a Filipina?

My answer is she followed practicality, and she could have logically assessed, if my children are not going to be speaking Visaya, they don't have to learn because our family can already communicate in English.

Culture and identity if not practiced daily, will one day die out. When we talk about adaptability, I believe it is unproductive to look at culture as extremes, because there is no pure culture (but there is pure ideaology).  I do believe, like other Anthropologist, there are a range of practicalities immigrants do when they enter a country, they can either:

1. isolate themselves: they have no contact with host country due to linguistic, cultural barriers

2. acculturate, when they have shared contact with host and immigrant community and mutually exchange cultural practices, or

3. purely assimilate, where they completely cut off immigrant origins and practice host country values

And if I play out your logic, the process of imitating is equal to a process of uncritically assimilating to one's host country.  That, I agree.

Is the following example of "imitating"? A Filipino migrant in order to have a voice in the US,  registers to vote.  There is a ballot initiative to support America's War on Terror, she will be viewed unpatriotic if she does not vote for it. Is she less Filipina if she supports a US-Foreign Terrorism policy that gives more manpower to support GMA's raid on local labor unions in the Philippines?

With love,
-Leo

14
General Topic / Re: I am proud to be an American today
« on: January 22, 2009, 01:28:11 AM »
ms da binsi,

thank you for sharing that rendition.  I don't think I would classify myself as a "first time american lover", i was born here and recognize the privileges and sacrifies my mother's generation made to get here.

if anything, the Obama campaign proved that we can remake ourselves, and renewed the American dream.  I have a special affinity for him because he was one of the very few federal politicians that ever visited my local work during Hurricane Katrina and he spoke about our specific issue regarding environmental justice in the Vietnamese community just at the right time. now we put him up top, so he is truly in my eye the closest person in DC that has started his approach "from the bottom-up"

15
General Topic / I Am Proud to be an American Today
« on: January 21, 2009, 07:39:16 PM »
Fellow Boholanos,

It is with honor and pure jubilation that we welcome our new president of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama.

For us in the States, it demarcates one step closer to the realization of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech and his call for a <a href="http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/mlkatimetobreaksilence.htm > "radical revolution of values." [/url] 

His candidacy has tapped the energy of millions of Americans that are committed to social change and an excitement I have never seen before in my life.  I am proud to be part of the new majority in this country and I will be working even harder to make our initiatives a reality.  We will make sure this is truly a new America as Obama has already begun to challenge our generation in face our problems we currently have (video of his inauguration speech below).

It is a monumental event as we welcome the first African American, the first Hawaiian and post-civil rights community organizer into the highest office in the US.

One quote that struck me during the speech, "The world is changing, and we must now change with the world."   I truly hope it signals a different direction in our foreign policy and approaches we have to globalization and global warming.  We will be keeping a vigilant eye on it.

Question: In addressing Philippine-US relations, what would you tell the new Obama Administration?

With Obama's exposure to Southeast Asia as a child in Indonesia, his upbringing in Hawaii, some say (and time will tell) by his surroundings, he's possibly the closest thing we have to a U.S.<a href=http://bpimentel.blogspot.com/2008/02/obama-first-pinoy-us-president.html > "Pinoy President" [/url]. 

With love,
-Leo



16

Cmon Lorenzo! you got to cook too!

Ha, the day I find a compatible girlfriend that can cook better than me will be an extra bonus.  Let's remember women's roles have changed too.  I'm still idealistic that the role of care-taking should be equally shared and respected, it's the optimum benefit to the kid(s)

17
General Topic / Re: A Filipina Who Marries a Foreigner
« on: January 19, 2009, 12:08:28 AM »
does this go both ways for Filipino men to marry a foreigner?

18
General Topic / Re: Bangkok's Santika Pub Tragedy
« on: January 19, 2009, 12:01:31 AM »
they will be in my prayers.

19
General Topic / Re: President Bush' Farewell Speech
« on: January 17, 2009, 10:49:56 PM »
May God bless this man for his compassion to serve our people, and at the end of the day his actions will be evaluated accordingly.

If he wants to stand on the only accomplishment of his results on protecting the country, he deserves that as the following will never be forogtten:


-To the 12 million undocumented immigrants that fear for their lives due to state-sponsored immigration raids and a new found sense of xenophobia pushing them further to the shadows, the Department of Homeland Security puts both terrorist and undocumented immigrants in the same light.
In some states, it is a crime to drive without your citizenship documents and ID. To all the Americans deported from this effort.

-To the citizens of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama that still struggle to rebuild their lives  after Katrina, and to see their communities disappear to state interests (in 2008, it was estimated 40,000 people alone in Mississippi Coast were still in trailers)

-To the millions of Iraqi civilians who have been killed and continue to be displaced by our taxpayer money, in a war justified by false information and economic interests just like the Philippine American war, only America's intent is the gateway to the Middle East

-To the 1000s of American Iraqi soldiers who died in the most privatized war in modern history
 
-To the people who suffered from the new anti-Muslim sentiment, Middle Eastern and South Asian immigrants have fled to other cities in this fear, and have been more than frequently been the targets of new racial enforcement profiling and some even forced to make up a story to get out of detention

-To the children left behind through a dismal No Child Left Behind program, where our teachers are forced to teach to the test and not anything else

-To the millions of homes foreclosed as subprime lending was rampant in 2001 in an unmonitored, unregulated free market

-To the millions of families who lost their jobs in the worst US, global depression since the Great Depression

Those are just some of the critiques of his "results"

We cannot demand for change any sooner.


20
General Topic / Re: Calling all Bloggers!
« on: January 17, 2009, 03:12:55 PM »
ha, what was Rizal's main conflict in going back to the Philippines?  This is an interesting phenomenon because he had cohorts who were abroad with him in Spain too, korek?

I always thought I identified more with Andres Bonifacio..

but thanks for the compliment, albeit met with daunting, idealistic expectations, I just have a passion to listen to our people.  And I know there are more Rizalians, Bonifacions, Gabrielas, constantly carrying on their legacies in our homeland and abroad.


Speaking of inspiring, great Filipino/a leaders.  On the Filipino American side, have you read Carlos Bulosan's "America is in the Heart"? That was the book that really empowered me during my undergraduate years.  He depicts the collective experience of our "Manong Generation" that emigrated to Hawaii and the U.S. West Coast in the 1920s.

Another person I look up to is Philip Vera Cruz who had organized Filipino day-laborers & helped create the United Farm Workers with Caesar Chavez.

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