FeudArt

Create first. Then compete. The art of competition is self-expression.

An Earth that does not kill: A reflection on Newt Gingrich’s silly, unserious question

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I had a strong negative reaction to Newt Gingrich’s recent claim that it is pure hubris for climate advocates to work to mitigate climate change.

Why my strong reaction?
1) He appeared to take by surprise the other panelists for a split second, and (2) as result of that effect, I suspect that we’ll be hearing this silly question thrown around by the Right and other climate deniers for a while, distracting us from the real, more urgent dialogue around how to work together to prevent unnecessary further loss of life from climate change-related events.

He asked, “What’s the right temperature…for the planet?”

My short answer: bad question. Asking and answering his question does not inspire the right dialogue; it evades it.

Governance requires a line of thinking more grounded in the imperatives of public welfare. Clearly, arriving at a consensus on the right temperature, while I guess important, is beside the point when the immediate need is a pragmatic policy framework and public dialogue that work to prevent climate-related loss of life and property, something that continues to happen needlessly.

On CNNs GPS recently in June 2014, the President Anote Tong of Kiribati lamented that it is too late for many of his people whose islands have been swallowed up by rising seawater. From that interview, what I remember the most is him saying, “[It] is already too late for us…we are working together collectively with the countries in the (sic) like situation, Tuvalu, the Marshall Islands, the Maldives, where the impact of climate change is about total annihilation of … our nations.” You can watch the interview and read the transcript here.

How have we allowed our world to get so sick that it is now its own destroyer???

Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson recently said that if the wealthy start losing money from climate change, things will change for the better at the policy level. I disagree. Regardless of what the elite chooses to do, those of us who have solutions with even the most remote chance of success should act. Ordinary people need to change, mostly in how they see themselves as non-actors in this global issue. Climate change solutions need to be as personal as its negative impacts which are many and varied depending on where one lives.

I see climate change as an all-encompassing mega issue that wraps together so many others that have haunted us for generations: Poverty, North-South power imbalance, Group marginalization, Community empowerment, to name a few.

The vulnerability to its impacts that we share is shaped by these underlying issues, which are all too familiar. To be actors in climate work, therefore, in part means being solution-oriented toward all the familiar barriers to social justice and human development.


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Independence Day, June 12 & July 4, 2014

“Prevent others from suffering what you have suffered, that in the future there be no brothers murdered or mothers driven to madness. Resignation is not always a virtue; it is a crime when it encourages tyrants: there are no tyrants where there are no slaves!” – Dr. Jose P. Rizal (Simoun to Basilio in EL FILIBUSTERISMO)

Advance happy Philippine and U.S. Independence Day, all…I write again after a long break. Glad to once again have time to write.

In its modern form, tyranny no longer always towers over us but instead now burrows itself deep into our psyche that we, ourselves, stand in our own way, perhaps more profoundly, aiding and abetting those who strip us of our true power and value, after they mine from us the same for their own use.

Independence Day should remind us not only of history but also of the modern day internal struggle we all have, which we must also heroically win.

We all endure our own struggle in finding our true personal power. What I have learned through my own life is that while it is important to look outward for inspiration, we should not neglect to also fix our attention inward so that we may draw from what we abundantly already have within.

Over the past 18 months, my personal journey has been replete with blessings. I have had to teach my self to take in these blessings graciously, a mark I suppose of my own personal development, noteworthy enough in my mind to process and share a bit.

It wasn’t that long ago that I would have seen myself ‘undeserving of winning’; I still, to this day, look away from the glare of praise, even from my trusted students. I was raised to be humble, and I was trained by mentors to lead with humility. Community organizing, after all, has no celebrities; there is only room for solutions and everyone’s empowerment.

liberation-poster

Somehow and somewhere along the way, my mentors’ valuable lessons morphed into some kind of negative limiting belief that made me not only put my original dreams on pause but also made me build the dreams of others, thinking that it was not my time still. I believed this for years.

At the end of 2011, I woke up, thanks, primarily, to my beautiful wife who made me see more clearly, and, secondarily, to my family and good friends who believed enough in my dreams to also make them their own.

Trust me when I tell you that there is self-belief in waking up, that there is power in self-belief. I wish all of you to find soon your self-belief for it is sweet and its gifts are abundant. At some point, all the preparing, learning, and observing must give way to doing.

If you have also been keeping your own dream hostage, set her free. It is time. Do not fear it. She will be a blessing to you and to many others, many of whom you are destined to meet.

Best of all, by doing so — by believing enough in your own dream to give birth to it — you will set your true self free.

 


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PETITION TO PROTECT OFWs POST-HAIYAN: The other dimension of relief and reconstruction

Since Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda 1.9 million of Filipinos have become homeless and 600,000 displaced. At the same time, many Filipinos who live and work in the U.S. are a key source of aid for their families in the Philippines and are at risk of deportation. It would only burden an already strained infrastructure for the Philippines to reabsorb thousands of its nationals currently abroad during this national emergency. TPS would stop deportations and provide working authorization that will empower Filipinos here in the US to more effectively aid their own home country. DHS and USCIS acted quickly in a very similar circumstances to designate Haiti and El Salvador for TPS after massive earthquakes. That response can and should be repeated for the Philippines.

That’s why I signed a petition to Rand Beers, Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, President Benigno Aquino, Philippines, and President Barack Obama, which says:

“Since Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda devastated the Philippines, the U.S. has been directing much-needed food and relief aid to the country, but more needs to be done to move the Philippines from “Relief 2 Recovery”!

We urge Philippine President Benigno Aquino, President Barack Obama, and Secretary Rand Beers to designate the Philippines for temporary protected status (TPS) under Section 244B of the Immigration and Nationality Act.”

Will you sign the petition too? Click here to add your name:

http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/relief-2-recovery-temporary?source=s.fwd&r_by=564161


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Wealth in purpose

nelson-mandela-poverty-is-not-an-accident-like-slavery-and-apartheid-it-is-man-made-and-can-be-removed-by-the-actions-of-human-beings

I first grew interested in understanding poverty at a young age when my parents would bring me to the big town and I would see so many beggars. They puzzled me. In the small farming and fishing town where I lived, I never knew of a beggar; everyone had something to do,  somewhere to live, something to eat, and each had neighbors and friends and family who cared, no matter how much each struggled, at least as I remember it.

Fast forward three decades and I am still obsessed by the idea of poverty. While, in my youth, poverty was an idea easily represented by  pointing out beggars, in my adulthood, I have come to understand it to be an idea that is much more complex and even more wide-reaching.

It is a reliable proxy for the many -isms that plague us, its multiple dimensions made quite clear to me in the graduate thesis I wrote. It is a painful reminder, a relic that reflects as it tethers us to the absolute injustice of the past. It is a pox not only on life as it is lived, but also on the human spirit as it finds its way and its voice.

No one dreams to be poor, but many among us accept it as a fact of our life. No one thinks it unsolvable, but many among us toss our hands high in the air in the throes of forced surrender.

I am driven to passionate action by it. I am driven to the ends of my stamina by the plausibility of mitigating it. I am driven to dream ceaselessly. I dream. I dream. I dream.

Poverty is an underlying force behind the disproportionate burden of climate change and health disparities faced by some groups. That these three are the results of how we treat each other is perverse and fundamentally inhumane. If we are anti-poverty, it isn’t just classism, gender inequality, and racism that we should fight against, but also the antipathy for at-risk and vulnerable populations. We cannot go on depriving millions of the health equity and climate resilience required in modern life. It is inhumane, immoral, to assign vulnerable communities the role of being the first to die, in greater numbers, and more often.


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Music behind post-Haiyan Philippine reconstruction

This holiday season and well into the new year, especially if you’re in Southern California, please check out our benefit concert series. First in series is ‘Concert by the Sea’ at Seabridge Marina, Oxnard, CA on Dec 21, 11am-6pm.

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B7DpPGW4FOTxNFZ4SmdSWUc5elU/edit?usp=sharing


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Is Philippine culture flawed?

I recently read a blog post about former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and his thoughts about Philippine political leadership and culture. Needless to say, it evoked a strong reaction in me, thus, this post. Read the blog post that is the subject of my ire here.

Philippine culture is not flawed. How could culture be flawed? According to whose standards is it flawed? Based on whose measures of ‘healthy cultural functioning’ is it flawed? — Whatever your race or ethnicity, would you accept a serious proposition that your culture is flawed? To argue and seriously believe that a people’s culture is flawed underlies flawed thinking, and a deeply limited understanding of the construct of culture.

Culture is like an iceberg: we often only see what’s above the water line, when it reality it is much more expansive and far-reaching.

Social norms can be flawed, and, therefore, the true subject of significant change. Smoking used to be cool; in 21st century California, it no longer is.

Between culture and norms, there is a difference; we don’t need experts to argue the distinction for us for we can think deeply about it ourselves. Culture, on one hand, is about creative, intellectual, spiritual, and material heritage, traditions, and values; norms, on the other hand, are patterned social behavior based on an interpretation of or rebellion from heritage, traditions, and values.

Kundiman and martial arts are parts of the Filipino culture; the teaching of these in the teacher’s backyard, instead of a commercial space, is a norm.

classrm_standard thinkingFrom my perspective, what holds back the Philippines lies in her education system:

1). The fundamental problem is an education system that deposits ideas into the people, instead of cultivating the people to have original ideas of their own.

2). The problem is an education system that breeds dependence at the grassroots and entitlement at the grasstops.

As a result, public dialogue is coopted by a chattering class that frequently serves the interests of the elite; patrons are entitled to political leadership as though it were any other family heirloom; ordinary people too willingly give up their responsibility in self-governance due to their perception of their own ineptitude.

In all three cases, for a majority of the time, no one bucks the conventional thinking; no one demonstrates depth of thought, or braves to critically think. It is thus that we are prisoners of our own collective mind and the social system we create and transmit to the next generation.

Those who flee the Philippines do so to be free from this flawed social system and the flawed social norms that normalize and sustain it. They leave not because they reject their culture; they leave because leaving is the most generous and loving act they can do for their families. Away from the flawed social system, free from the corrupting social norms, those who leave thrive, like most everyone else. Their source of strength, their anchor, the foundation of their identity, is their beautiful uniquely Filipino culture.


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Training with the late Guru Bill Aranda, Note #4

Training date: Sunday, February 17, 2013

What I remember the most from training:
I was taught the meaning behind the ‘single’ in single sinawali and the ‘double’ in double sinawali. I was also taught upside down double sinawali, and ‘bak-bak’ (?). In addition I learned a little bit about distance and an application of ‘hakbang paiwas’.

What the session made me understand/think/learn
1) Sinawali is a method of striking and connecting with a target in a very organized way. Single sinawali is about single-motion striking: one arm strikes high, medium, low in sequence. Double sinawali is about double-motion striking: both arms working in a loop and in a parallel but opposite motion, i.e., as one strikes, the other is cocked, ready to strike. Sinawali is an efficient defense and offense against multiple targets because of the multiple strikes it can generate in a short amount of time and at various levels (high, medium, low). Sinawali can be executed wildly with extended arm movements in order to strike undefined targets, or more conservatively with small/short arm/wrist movements in order to strike specific targets.

To help me visualize it, I think of another similar approach to making a connection, this time electric current, namely series and parallel circuits. Single sinawali is similar to a series circuit in that it is about single motion, like a series of light bulbs being lit one after the other; there is only one path in a series circuit in which the current can flow. Double sinawali is similar to a parallel circuit in that it is about parallel motion, like a loop of lightbulbs being lit simultaneously.