Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Aquino Petition after November 25 Conviction

At 10:25 in the evening of 25 November 1977, Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino was pronounced guilty of subversion, murder & illegal possession of firearms by Military Commission No. 2, which was headed by Brig. Gen. Jose Syjuco, during the Martial Law regime of Ferdinand Marcos. Ninoy was sentenced to death by firing squad.

On December 2, Attorneys Raul M. Gonzalez & Sedfrey A. Ordonez, representing Ninoy’s mother, Aurora Aquino, filed with the Supreme Court a petition for Habeas Corpus for the release of Ninoy from military custody & unlawful restraint. On this basis, the Supreme Court issued a restraining order against his execution.

The petition emphasized that Ninoy was denied equal protection of the laws & that the trial & conviction under Military Commission No. 2 were void for the following reasons.
1. The judgment of conviction was rushed in an immoral way. (Imagine concluding a criminal trial at night and at such a late hour.) The military counsel assigned to Ninoy failed in providing him effective legal assistance & he was denied the chance to give a closing argument.
2. Jurisdiction over his cases properly belonged to a civilian court, & the Military Commission discriminated against him by denying his motion for the transfer of his cases to the proper civilian court, even though more than 3,000 cases under military tribunals already had been transferred.
3. Ninoy was prosecuted for illegal possession of firearms & other crimes on the basis of presidential orders that were issued only after his arrest. Thus the “legal” basis was laid down after the occurrence of the alleged “illegal” acts.
4. “Leaders & followers [of the Moro National Liberation Front] who have risen in arms against the government & who have killed a big number of government troops in open combat have been pampered, benefited & rewarded while Benigno Aquino Jr is singled out for indictment & public humiliation.”

The petition is reproduced as Appendix C in the book, “Testament from a Prison Cell,” by Benigno Aquino Jr. The second edition of the book was published in 2000 in Makati City by the Benigno S. Aquino Jr. Foundation. My copy at hand contains a handwritten dedication to “dear Pat & Raul (Gonzalez)” by Cory Aquino dated 09 October 2003.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Fully Functional Instructional Materials Council?

The Instructional Materials Council Secretariat (IMCS) of the Department of Education has this (sole) official mandate: "Provide technical assistance to the Instructional Materials Council in the formulation and adoption of policies and guidelines, in the development, evaluation, and procurement of textbooks and other instructional materials."
The IMCS is the Secretariat of a more important body, the Council, which is supposed to make final decisions on textbook procurement & to oversee the evaluation of instructional materials for all public elementary & secondary schools.
Besides the DepEd Secretary & the 2 directors of the bureaus of elementary & secondary education, who are the members of the Instructional Materials Council? Does the membership include recognized textbook specialists from the private school system? Perhaps the Council should also include a competent representative of a relevant citizens organization or civil society group.

How often does the current Council meet as a whole body? Are there official records of its meetings? When was its last meeting? Is its Secretariat pro-active enough in ensuring that the Council is fully functional & has complete membership that holds meetings periodically or as often as necessary?
On a related matter, the IMCS, the Secretariat of the current Council, seems to be on the verge of persuading some high officials of the DepEd to ask Congress to return to the DepEd the responsibility of publishing the textbooks for the public school system.
Should the tasks of writing and producing the textbooks be returned to the DepEd and taken away from the textbook publishers of the book industry, when the DepEd through the IMCS has not yet been able to establish a solid track record in implementing an efficient and effective evaluation system for the textbooks available for procurement?
What makes the IMCS so sure it can do better in the whole publication process (with research, writing, evaluating, editing, and designing activities)?
The IMCS would point to the past, especially the era of the Marcos dictatorship, when the Department of Education produced its own textbooks through an Instructional Materials Development Corporation. Can the IMCS produce enough studies from independent & competent researchers that have compared textbooks before & after the 1995 privatization of DepEd textbook procurement, & which show that the DepEd-published textbooks were clearly superior?

For public school textbook procurement reform, I reiterate my proposal to remove the actual evaluation of the textbooks from the responsibilities of the Secretariat of an incomplete Instructional Materials Council. The IMCS does not have enough experts of its own, but usually taps many external experts from public and private academic institutions.
Also, given the budgetary constraints of the IMCS, it gives relatively low compensation to the external experts, and thus the IMCS neither attracts the best experts nor provides enough incentives for the experts to exert their best efforts in the evaluation process.

It would be more efficient to decentralize textbook evaluation by accrediting appropriate departments of reputable academic institutions and Centers of Excellence like the UP National Institute of Science and Mathematics Education, the Ateneo de Manila Department of English, the UST Department of Science, the De la Salle University Department of Filipino, etc. to evaluate the textbooks.

The role of a reconstituted & fully functional Instructional Materials Council then would be to accredit those institutions and centers, which can charge reasonably competitive evaluation fees from the textbook publishers. In this way, the DepEd can do away with its complex 5-step evaluation system, which unfortunately has allowed some low quality textbooks to squeak through owing to the loopholes created yet obscured by the sheer complexity of the system.

In this scheme, the Instructional Materials Council would consider for DepEd procurement only those series of textbooks that obtained seals of approval from the accredited institutions and centers, and it should require that the names of the approving institutions and centers be prominently displayed on the textbooks themselves. The risk of ruining their reputations would push the institutions and centers to make sure that they do a good job.
The Council would do occasional random checking in which, if it found a low quality textbook among those that an accredited institution had approved, it would pursue an established process to remove accreditation from the negligent institution.

In this scheme, the competition in the public school textbook procurement system among publishers whose textbooks obtained seals of approval would be on the basis of price and some technical requirements and no longer on textbook quality.

This proposal is consistent with National Book Policy #5, which provides that “the State shall support an efficient book utilization program for educational institutions.” Also, Implementing Policy 5.5 states: “the Department of Education shall initiate measures to decentralize evaluation of textbooks, references and other instructional materials particularly those which are locally developed and/or intended for specific geographic areas or cultural communities.”

The DepEd's over-centralized and complex system of large-scale textbook procurement strongly attracts attempts at grand corruption that involves some textbook publishers and those DepEd bureaucrats who discover the loopholes created and obscured by the complexity of the system.
(Comments are welcome.)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Words without Borders

The National Book Development Board believes that the promotion of lifelong learning through readership leads to genuine human development, national poverty reduction, and book industry development in the medium to long terms.
We live in a world of words, words that work and don’t work, words that matter & don’t. Words in books can cross safely and become active beyond the borders of time and space, especially if leaders & policy-makers will continue to adhere to the UNESCO principle & the 1950 Florence Agreement on the free flow of information & knowledge.
Also, words and books that endure and spread are products usually of substantial investments in time, effort & resources on the part of creative persons and entrepreneurs. To develop authorship and the creative sector, the NBDB initiated and guided the enactment into law of the National Book Development Trust Fund to support through annual grants Philippine authorship in science and technology and other learning areas where more Philippine publications are needed.

For the very first set of Trust Fund grants, the NBDB received a total of 24 applications from budding & veteran authors. For our upcoming Book Development Month celebration this November, at least 3 deserving authors will receive grants of a minimum of 200,000 pesos each for submissions under the categories of the English Novel, Health & Wellness, and Environment & Biodiversity including Climate Change Adaptation. As the interest of the Trust Fund grows, a bigger number of grants over a wider set of categories can be given next year.
Like government support for authors, the book industry has improved through the years. The private sector has been the main driver of industry growth. Government has not been & should not be the main driver, but certainly government has the important role of preserving and enhancing the environment for healthy competition and growth in a book market with domestic and foreign players.
Through the years, I have been privileged to witness how the Philippine book industry has grown. With the spread of the digital revolution, I am confident that the fundamentals of our book industry have become solid & strong enough to meet the challenges and to grasp the opportunities of this revolution.

May we see book readership & book development in the coming years flourishing with more Philippine publications in printed & electronic forms that cross the borders of time and space, more books that contribute to lifelong learning, books that help us live with more wisdom, joy, or peace so that, whenever we turn to the book of day-to-day life, we do better in enriching its pages with trustworthy words and meaningful works, words and works that cross the boundaries of ignorance, indifference and intolerance.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Naked Christ against the Phallus

It is unfair & offensive to put a phallus or erect penis on an image of Christ, as what was done in a controversial art exhibit at the CCP. Jesus of Nazareth did not develop or acquire a phallic mentality, which pushes males to be “big, hard & up” in their physique, thinking & attitude & which spits at what is “small, soft & down.”

Jesus taught: “unless you change & become like little children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3). He also let a desperate non-Jewish woman to broaden radically his view about his mission of being “sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” For his initial inaction to her plea for the healing of her daughter, he offered the “hard” reason that “it is not right to take the children’s bread & toss it to their dogs.”

Jesus listened to & learned from the Canaanite woman's “soft” reasoning that “even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall down from their masters’ table” (Mt 15:21-28). He let her broaden or change his mind. This is another important stage in the development of Jesus’ great faith in the heavenly Father who loves especially the downtrodden & little ones among the scattered daughters & sons of God (see also my 03 October 2010 blogpost).

Jesus became the clear opposite of the phallus when he died naked on the cross, stripped of clothes & bare of friends, as “all the disciples deserted him & fled” (Mt 26:56) & only women followers witnessed his death “from a distance” (27:55). The naked Christ on the cross is a historically true picture of the outward impotence of somebody who did not save himself, in order to save others. No wonder Paul wrote, “Christ crucified: a scandal to Jews & folly to Gentiles” (1 Corinthians 1:23).

While any image of Christ with a phallus is offensive, offended Christians ought to guard against the phallic reaction of self-righteous or arrogant rage against the artist and other blameworthy persons involved.

The exposure of genitals in an artistic work may be meaningful & not crude, vulgar or offensive. For example, an artistic depiction of a totally naked Christ dying or dead on the cross can be authentic & meaningful from the perspectives of history & theology. (See also my 31 March 2010 blog post; your comments are welcome.)

Monday, August 8, 2011

Art and the Good News

It would be beneficial to explore the potency of day-to-day art especially of the poor as a method and expression of the integral evangelization and the renewal of catechesis, worship and the social apostolate proposed twenty years ago by the Second Plenary Council of the Philippines (PCP II).

“In ancestral communities, art has never been split from the flow of daily activities” (Katrin De Guia). Day-to-day art in non-modern, modern & post-modern communities is art from real life. As an activity, it “improves on what it finds” in the local environment such as pebbles, dried leaves and flowers, and scrap wood, metal and cloth, and recycles and transfigures what will otherwise end up as trash or refuse. An example of day-to-day art by a “Filipino culture-bearer” is that of Gregorio ‘Boy’ Masculino (b. 1960) of Oton, Iloilo.

One has to distinguish the “everyday art” of comfortable communities from the day-to-day art of the poor, whose experiences of chaos, violence, hope and joy are not as pure and simple as some comfortable thinkers tend to think they are.
One can make a distinction between art as a product and art as an activity. The first meaning of art, the artwork, reflects in its authenticity or beauty the infinite beauty of God.

The second meaning is the act of creativity in which the artist participates in the creativity of the Spirit of the Divine Artist and cultivates a field of energy where new or deeper relationships, enabled by the same Spirit of fellowship and communion, can be discovered by the artist and his or her “audience.” In “contemporary art,” there has been a “transition from objects to relationships,” and its purpose “is to create a new space-time experience” (Sebastian Elavathingal).
For integral evangelization, inculturation, and catechetical renewal, the potency of the day-to-day art of the poor includes but goes far beyond the functional or practical purpose of helping them appreciate or digest church teachings. (Comments are welcome.)

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Jesus' Great Faith

The great faith of Jesus empowered him to walk calmly & cross over troubled waters in his life especially in times when he felt a combination of grief, fear & fatigue. He felt grief & fear when he was told that his former mentor, John the Baptist, a prophet of the heavenly kingdom, was beheaded by the shameless Herod Antipas (Matthew 14:1-13). He felt fatigue after a whole day of healing & feeding the souls and bodies of a crowd of thousands of men, women & children (14:14-21).

“He went up on a mountainside by himself to pray” (14:23). Although he was physically alone in his grief & fatigue, he perceived the presence of the Spirit of the loving Father in the sound of sheer silence as he prayed in solitude.

Similarly, while the prophet Elijah felt his failure, fear & fatigue after he fled from the wrathful & vengeful queen Jezebel, he recognized the very presence of Yhwh not in powerful events like a great storm, an earthquake & then a conflagration but in the sound of sheer silence (1 Kings 19:9-13).
The faith of Jesus, his faith in the Father’s great love for him & for all the weary daughters & sons of God, was tested in moments of grief, fear & fatigue & it was nurtured in moments of prayer. His Spirit of faith & not our own merit saves us from the destructiveness of our sinful passions & addictions.
“We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit itself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Romans 8:26). The sound of sheer silence in prayer is primarily God’s gift & not anybody’s achievement, and thus we ought to be sober and never to be arrogant even toward those who are, or are perceived to be, faithless, sinful, or corrupt.

Jesus, the meek Messiah, learned from an assertive non-Jewish woman, and discovered the inadequacy of his initial understanding of his mission as “sent only to the lost sheep of Israel” (Mt 15:24). His faith was enriched by the great faith of the Canaanite woman who wanted the healing of her ailing daughter.

May Christ’s Spirit of faith help believers to cross over troubled waters, to guard against arrogance & to be receptive to spiritual enrichment from the “outsider” & the lowly. (See also my 03 October 2010 blog post; your comments are welcome.)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Leadership & Culture Change in the Bureaucracy

The gains of the (P-Noy) Aquino administration in fighting corruption and reducing poverty cannot be consolidated & sustained without smart efforts at reforming the bureaucracy & changing the culture(s) within public agencies and organizations.
The book, "Diagnosing and Changing Organizational Culture: Based on the Competing Values Framework," 3rd edition, by Kim Cameron & Robert Quinn (San Francisco, 2011) offers a formula for organizational culture change based on research done on many business organizations mostly in North America & Western Europe.

The book describes 4 major culture types: a. Hierarchy (Control) Culture, b. Market (Compete) Culture, c. Clan (Collaborate) Culture, d. Adhocracy (Create) Culture.
Applying the descriptions to the Philippine bureaucracy, it appears that the dominant culture in our public agencies is the clan culture. For the book, the competencies of successful leaders in a clan culture are: leading through teamwork & interpersonal relationships, ensuring the personal growth of followers, & leading through collaboration and caring.
The formal norms of the bureaucracy bequeathed to us by the United States, however, belong more to the hierarchy (control) culture in which the competencies of successful leaders are: leading through rational analysis, information clarity, ensuring accuracy & consistency in quality, & leading through measurement.

In the Philippine context, research can be pursued on the key leadership competencies and strategies (e.g. culture-sensitive communication strategy) which can bring about the reconciliation, consolidation, or reform of these distinct cultures so that every
agency can greatly improve the development and implementation of its public service programs & projects.
What are reliable & innovative ways & means to develop the necessary competencies? Also how does a leader introduce elements of the "adhocracy" culture so that the public agency can be agile and the implementation of programs innovative?
One area of research can be the determination of the applicability & limitations of the "competing values framework" to diagnosing & changing Philippine public organizations.
(Your comments or thoughts on the matter are most welcome.)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Santisima Trinidad (Most Holy Trinity)

In his very short story, “Santisima Trinidad,” from his 2011 collection, “100 Kislap” [100 Flashes], Abdon Balde Jr narrates:
“I told Cora, my daughter, to look after her son, my grandson Jeco, the stubborn Jeco, to look after his needs. Negligent too, busy with Facebook. So there...
“The naughty Jeco, just three years old, asked for a Stik-O snack from his grandma. And this Trinidad of mine could not refuse the grandson, even with rheumatism & after an operation in which some metal was inserted in her hipbone, she tried to reach for the cabinet, and unable, pulled a chair, climbed up & stood on the chair with a broken leg (sigh)...
“Both Cora & I heard the thud on the floor. I thought it was some heavy sack!
“When Jerry arrived, he, Cora & Jeco are still a whole family—-bound to us. But I...
“Cora can fix the bed, the pillow, but when it is hot, will she be patient enough to keep on fanning me? Who will button me when I am unbuttoned? Clean my dentures? And in the toilet, Santisima!
“Sometimes I tell myself I wish it had been me.” [My translation from the original Filipino]
The Holy Trinity is first a story before it is a dogmatic teaching, doctrine or formula. The doctrinal expression, “Most Holy Trinity,” carries the spark of a story. True believers in the story will appreciate these questions: Do we still know life without the Most Holy Trinity?

Is the Spirit of the beloved Son our “welcome coolness in the heat”? In other words of the Sequence for Pentecost Sunday, have we known the Spirit to “shed a ray of light divine...heal our wounds, our strength renew...wash the stains of guilt away”?
As a story, the Trinity can be summarized thus: God so loved the world that he sent the beloved Son, who has saved the world by sharing for ever the Spirit of authentic love he received from the Father of mercy.
The Triune formula “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” is a symbolic summary of the experience of the community of believers as regards the Spirit of the Son loved by the Father within every believer, among believers & beyond them.

The Trinity is a great story, but is it true? Why are there many believers from generation to generation even though they have never touched the glorified body of Jesus?
The Trinity is a mysterious story of presencing & absencing: the movement & prevalence of inner radiance even in the absence of bodies. The loving Father is the origin of everybody & everything, but has neither origin nor body. The beloved Son originates from the Father, whose Spirit of love is poured first on the Son, whose glorified body is nowhere on earth. The Holy Spirit originates from the Father, is bodiless, and binds the Father and the Son inseparably.
Why are there true believers in this story?
First, because they have felt the spark and movement of the Spirit of the beloved Son within them. Second, they have tasted the fruit of the Spirit (and have known the joy of sowing seeds for future fruits).
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness & self-control” (Galatians 5:22).

The fruit of the Spirit of the Father and the Son offer seeds or sparks of the Trinity in the day-to-day lives of believers. “The Christian life of full of Trinity” (Origen, 3rd c). Are there enough believers who discover the many sparks of the Trinity in their lives?

“To those who seek, enough signs are given” (Blaise Pascal, 17th c). The believer who seeks the Spirit of love of the Father and the Son will find its presence and the traces of its movement in one’s life. “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13).
In continual prayer for the gift of the Spirit & in the practice of sowing seeds of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness & self-control, believers will discover many sparks of the Trinity in their day-to-day lives so much so that they will find their fulfilment & liberation in communion with the Trinity.

Without rays of Trinitarian light, human life will sink into the "graves of craving" (compare Numbers 11:31-34). “Self-gratification, self-indulgence, self-satisfaction & the abandonment of ourselves to our cravings...is ultimately the way to death of the spirit” (John Navone, SJ).
We have a choice between the closed story of the graves of craving and the open (expansive) story of the empty tomb of Christ. “The Jesus story tells us that our own story finds its source, its direction & its fulfilment in sharing the life of the Blessed Trinity” (Navone).

For believers who discover sparks of the Trinity in the ordinary and historic events in their lives, the story of the Trinity becomes their life-story that continues to expand toward the whole wide world and will never end.
(Your comments, dear readers, are most welcome.)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Touch not (the glorified body)

Randy David, in his Easter Sunday piece at the PDI, suggests that Jose Rizal’s use of “Noli Me Tangere” (Touch Me Not) as the title of his 1st novel might give a better understanding of what the phrase meant when the Risen Jesus uttered it to Mary Magdalene in John’s gospel (20:17).

For David, Rizal wanted his Spanish and Filipino readers to let go of, or to stop clinging to, the decadent and morbid colonial society on the islands and instead to work for the emergence of a new nation. David does not make it clear, however, what Mary Magdalene in the gospel had to let go.

Mary had to let go of her incomplete understanding of Jesus as her beloved teacher and her incomplete understanding of her identity and mission as a female disciple. The Risen Jesus is not just her beloved teacher but the beloved Son of the merciful Father in whose Spirit we become true brothers, sisters and apostles. Jesus was ascending to his Father (and our Father) in order to fulfil this higher truth.

Christ wants a personal relationship with each disciple but in community. This is what he intimated to Mary: “she must learn to relate to him in community and she must come to know him as he is in relation to God his Father...He is trying to draw her into the Risen Body of Christ, larger than her personal connection to him.” (Megan McKenna)
Also, Jesus wanted Mary to let go of the pervasive patriarchal belief that women cannot be reliable witnesses to truth. Jesus entrusted Mary with the mission to go to the other disciples to proclaim and bear witness to his resurrection and glorification. Just as Jesus bore witness to his loving Father, every disciple must bear witness, must have an apostolate.

David prefers the translation, “Do not cling to me,” over “Touch me not,” which is closer to the original Greek text, “Me mou haptou” (Not me touch), of John 20:17. What insight does one gain by puzzling over the original text? It could have meant: Not Me but my brothers and sisters (need your) touch (and there you touch Me).

Especially if the experience of touching were potentially very satisfying, to prevent touching would be to prevent clinging and having the memory of the experience as a source of distraction from necessary work (the apostolate). “(There is) a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain” (Ecclesiastes 3:5). The time for embracing the glorified body of Christ is at the completion of the mission at the great wedding feast in the new heaven and new earth.

Christ wanted Mary to focus on the great and necessary work he was entrusting her: courageously go to the community, especially to the male disciples, and bear witness to the full truth and thus turn the community into a true body of Christ in whose communion there is no hierarchy among male and female.
On earth Christ wants his witnesses, ministers and missionaries to touch his glorified body by taking care of the body of believers. (In the case of Thomas the Twin, Christ responded to his challenge by inviting him to touch the scars of his glorified body, and this would have reminded Thomas how he abandoned and wounded his beloved teacher despite his bold declaration to his peers: "Let us also go, that we may die with him" [John 11:16].)
For those of us who derive satisfaction, or perverse pleasure, from periodic self-flagellation on everything that is wrong about our country, may this Easter season help us gain the courage and the focus to do our share in the challenging work of building our nation, community by community, family by family, house by house, stone by stone, board by board, day by day.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Glory & Beauty of Christ's Scarred Body

The glorified body of Christ is beautiful with his scars, and thus the lives of his believers can radiate & captivate through their scars & wounds.
In his book of inspirational essays, “Ah, Wilderness! A Journey through Sacred Time” (Ateneo de Manila University Press, 2008), which won a National Book Award in 2009, the Cebu writer and Regional Trial Court judge, Simeon Dumdum Jr, talks about the beauty of the Risen Christ who, in the Gospel of John (20:19-23), stands among the fearful disciples who abandoned him, offers them peace, and shows them his wounded hands and side. He writes (pp 122-23):
“This is how the Lord wants us to discern his presence in each other – by our wounds, those that the world considers the marks of defeat. And above all, by our joy, our sense of triumph over our bitterness for the dreadful & unpleasant things that have happened to us…
“Only when we begin to show the wounds on our hands & sides – loss of loved ones, unemployment, drug addiction, failure of relationships, depression – will we start to recognize each other. Because then we will be shedding off our masks & will be most ourselves, unprotected by pride.
“And if, besides, we acknowledge that we need, and ask for, grace to heal our wounds, we might even see in each other the beauty of Christ shining through.”
Christ entrusts believers with the mission to show to one another the beauty & peace of his Father through their wounded & scarred lives in the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, wisdom & discernment. Thus, at proper instances, Christian preachers, teachers & "witnesses," to be more effective or persuasive, have to talk about their personal or deep wounds and how the Spirit of Christ within & around them has healed or is healing them.
Dumdum mentions that, after the pain of the death of a daughter, he yearned “for a faith that had in it something more certain & solid than blind trust.” His reflective essays show the Spirit's response to his yearning: faith that is enlightened, enlightening & enthralling.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Suicide as Enigma

Anybody who wants to wrestle with the baffling suicide of a former high official with a "strong" personality ought to look for and read the book, "Jaime Ongpin The Enigma: A Profile of the Filipino as Manager," by the late National Artist Nick Joaquin, & published in 1990 (ISBN 971-91184-1-5) by the Jaime V. Ongpin Institute of Business and Government of the Ateneo Graduate School of Business. The Jaime Ongpin Institute later became the Ateneo School of Government.

Before he committed suicide on 07 December 1987, Jimmy Ongpin was the first Finance Secretary of Pres. Corazon Aquino. When he was the first Filipino president of the multinational mining company, Benguet Corporation, Jimmy Ongpin dared to publicly criticize the cronyism of Pres. Ferdinand Marcos from 1981 onwards. He was part of the core campaign team, if not the primary campaign finance manager, of Cory Aquino when she decided to challenge Marcos during the 1986 snap election. He was an alumnus of the Ateneo de Manila University, where he studied from high school to college, and became Chairman of the University's Board of Trustees.

What drove the 49-year-old achiever & a father of 5 children (of which the youngest was 15) to shoot himself? The apparently disrespectful way in which he was removed from the Cabinet in mid-September 1987? The grilling he got from four Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearings in August and September in which he was accused of dishonesty in the sale of assets of a governmment corporation? The persistent media criticism that he was unpatriotic & over-accommodating to the international bankers and creditors of the massive State debt that the Marcos dictatorship left behind? All of the above & some more?

The book is such a good read.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Book Development for Philippine Development

I humbly propose the following contributions of the National Book Development Board to the Medium-Term Philippine Development Plan (MTPDP 2012-2016):
(1) The NBDB shall provide technical support to the Department of Education and Philippine book publishers for the development of textbooks, both printed and electronic, for the additional 3 years of the Enhanced K+12 Basic Education program.
(2) The NBDB shall pursue programs to assist local publishers in increasing the quantity, quality and variety of higher education books, and improving their distribution in all regions of the country.
(3) The NBDB shall monitor periodically the level and quality of book readership among all age sectors of the citizenry, and formulate programs to improve readership.
(4) The NBDB shall pursue programs to support the creative sector in the book industry.
As regards (1), Section 10 of Republic Act 8047 or the 1995 Book Publishing Industry Development Act provides that “the DepEd shall consult with the NBDB in prescribing guidelines, rules, and regulations in preparing the minimum learning competencies, and/or prototypes and other specifications for books required by public elementary and secondary schools.”
As regards (2), our college students and their parents would spend less on imported books if local publishers increased the quantity, quality and variety of higher education books, both printed and electronic. In 2008 and 2009, the US book exports to the Philippines amounted to USD$19.997M and USD$21.281M, respectively (http://www.ita.doc.gov/td/ocg/exp2731.htm). The UK book exports amounted to £ 2.223M in 2008 and £ 2.246M in 2009 (http://www.publishers.org.uk).
To develop local knowledge and create local content in print and electronic formats, the NBDB has organized Academic Publishing Conferences (APC) to offer to higher education institutions several training and development opportunities in which local and foreign book industry experts are involved. We have organized APCs in Quezon City (2007), Cebu (2008), Baguio (2009), Davao (2009), and Makati City (2010).
As regards (3), the NBDB organized the NBDB Readership Survey in 2003 and 2007 with the help of the Social Weather Stations in order to provide to the reading public, educational institutions, and the book industry accurate, up-to-date, and relevant information on the state of Philippine readership nationwide. The NBDB Readership Surveys are the most comprehensive attempts to determine the reading preferences, attitudes and habits of our citizenry.
As regards (4), the NBDB introduced book development interventions to support the creative sector in the book industry by catalyzing the organization of the Filipinas Copyright Licensing Society (FILCOLS), a local collective management organization that pursues fair remuneration for copyright-holders and which helps curb illegal photocopying and book piracy.
We have held copyright training activities, and represented the interests of book development stakeholders in the National Committee for Intellectual Property Rights (NCIPR) since 2005. According to a World Intellectual Property Organization study by Atty. Emma Francisco, the press and literature sector, which includes book publishing, was the most significant contributor (2.13%) to Philippine GDP among the creative industries.
To support the creative sector the NBDB has organized the 1st Manila International Literary Festival, the 1st National Children’s Book Awards, and the National Book Development Trust Fund to support Philippine authors. We have also professionalized the annual National Book Awards.
For its part, the Philippine book industry increased its yearly output of new books in 2007 (5,518), 2008 (5,819) and 2009 (5,983), based on records from the National Library.
Source Consulted:
Francisco, Emma et al. “The Economic Contribution of Copyright-Based Industries in the Philippines.” http://www.wipo.int/ip-development /cen/creative industry/pdf/1009E-1.pdf p. 20.