Sunday, 27 September 2009

time to vent one's spleen - history 101

If you know your history
Then you'd know where you're coming from
Bob Marley, Buffalo Soldier

Much had been made this week in Australia about the lavish praise heaped on PM Kevin Rudd by former US President Bill Clinton. I think this is actually a backhanded compliment, and Australians should really look more to the allusion rather than the flattery.
Clinton commented that Australian politicians know a whole lot more about the US and American history than they know about their own country Australia. This is a sad sorry fact and ultimately a tragic indictment of the stance of Australian governments and policy-makers in relation to indigenous affairs. Australian politicians have generally turned a blind eye on Aboriginal issues.
Clinton related how Rudd “proceeded to describe in excruciating detail Washington's strategy to hold New York in the revolutionary war."
If only politicians including Prime Ministers also study, to enough depth and detail, the plight of Aborigines including: from dispossession through to the doctrine of terra nullius, state-sanctioned violence, stolen generations, the ‘freedom rides’ for indigenous rights, the continuing marginalisation discrimination and disadvantage, to the unacceptable life expectancy and lack of respect and dignity accorded to Aborigines, etc; perhaps they would not be too quick to deny the dark stains in the parchment of modern Australian history, like John Howard did in denying the demand for a national apology and the extensive injustices suffered by Aboriginal people, by dismissively calling it the ‘black armband’ view of history.
By the same token American presidents should know that America is founded on, and earlier blazed a similar path as Australia’s: the massacre of millions of indigenous people, dispossession of their lands, and the enslavement of millions of African people to work that land, etc.

On a similar vein, schoolchildren everywhere should be taught more about their history than anyone else’s. This would put a stop to incidents disparaging the minorities.
The unsavoury episodes in the Philippines involving Carlo Romulo and Cindy Pangilinan would not have occurred with appropriate education. I have not opened a Philippine history book in years, and i stand corrected, but i would like to know that there is a chapter or two, devoted to the heroic deeds of indigenous Filipinos in the Cordilleras in resisting the attempts by various colonisers to conquer them. But until our children know more about the proud Igorot peoples than what they hear from the streets, then i’m afraid that insulting remarks against Igorots will once again rear its ugly head in the future, unwittingly or not. I would like to know also that Filipino children learn more about Bonifacio than Washington, or of Carlos Garcia more than Kennedy, and what they stood for.
We should all know that the concept of freedom is not a Western invention, but is rather inherent in human societies and has deep roots within traditional cultures. In 1521 Lapu-Lapu fought the Spaniard colonisers to uphold Filipino freedom well before any of the great revolutions in the West. That same desire to be free has sustained Igorot identity and the fierce pride in being an Igorot.

Prejudice can never be totally eliminated. Even Barack Obama had to remind Americans, though in a light-hearted manner on the Letterman show on TV, that he was black before he became president. But if efforts are not exerted to educate the masses, including schoolchildren and politicians, the more ignorance and bigotry will prevail resulting in undesirable consequences.

In Australia, some progress has been made with Indigenous peoples. With the Formal Apology to the Stolen Generations or “sorry” speech by Rudd last year, and more recently his (Rudd's) Labor Government's decision to reverse the position of the previous Howard administration and sign the UN declaration of indigenous peoples’ rights, things are seemingly on the right track (Australia, along with Canada, New Zealand and the United States, originally voted against the Declaration in September 2007).
There is optimism that the Obama Administration is also considering a change of policy and direction for the US, though this cannot come soon enough.

So good on ya Kev for some positive results so far. Congratulations on getting Australia in the G20, and in actively pursuing a position on climate change preparatory to Copenhagen. Let’s see you do more for the original Australians. If you can put your head down to learn Mandarin and Washington's strategy in the revolutionary war, then you can knuckle down and do something about our Aboriginal brothers and sisters.
Then we can keep cheering: Aussie Aussie Aussie oi oi oi
Or will it be as Marley wailed: woy yoy yoy, woy yoy-yoy yoy...
M Polichai
26 September 2009

Sunday, 13 September 2009

september readers

I knew a Susan once. I wonder how she is these days? haven't seen her in 20 years actually.
oh yes those were the days. can't even remember where she's from.

A couple of Susans in this set. both are mean writers and just mean - in a good way. Just like the Susan from the Cordillera that i used to know.

Susan Sontag was an author and political activist. Her last published book Regarding the Pain of Others uses photography to back up her points.
I like this quote of hers:
I guess I think I'm writing for people who are smarter than I am, because then
I'll be doing something that's worth their time. I'd be very afraid to write
from a position where I consciously thought I was smarter than most of my
Susan George is also a political scientist, writer and an activist. In Another World Is Possible If , George proposes how we can indeed reach that Other World. This is in
George also advises against violence or reactions to the 'all-too-common illusions.'
Shifting the balance of power in favour of citizens takes a hard-headed
understanding of globalisation, knowledge of the adversaries who prevent change,
intelligent organisation, and exciting yet practical proposals and strategic

Feynman is one of the more celebrated and revered scientists of modern times.What Do You Care What Other People Think? consists of reminiscences in which Feynman presents his life as a series of humorous stories. Prepared as he struggled with cancer, it was the last of his works. The book provides great insights into his mind and life, as well as how to deal with the inevitable with vigor and grace.

The Sun, the Genome, and the Internet by Freeman Dyson is a smallish book, based on lectures in 1997 and which allows him to share his thoughts. Dyson discusses these now current tools of scientific revolutions and their future consequences. Dyson also offers his perspective on the issues and questions facing the world.

For music revisit Paul Simon's Graceland.

I think i reviewed this other set before. but am not sure.

That's what a muddled mind does.
Suzanne takes you down to her place near the river...
(balili river i think, or was it the bued?)

Sunday, 6 September 2009

how many roads must a man drive down?

one day i was required to travel to Fernvale in the Somerset region. Fernvale is on the southern verge of Wivenhoe Dam and sits on the western foot of the d'aguilar ranges.
as is my wont i took the road less travelled 'goat track', a little-known dirt road from samford going up the eastern slopes of d'aguilar national park to the rainforests of mt glorious.
on an overcast and foggy winter's day, this drive would be quite surreal through the mist and gloom.
this is very similar to the road from dantay to antadao between bontoc and sagada.
imagine walking at dusk through whispering pine trees on a chilly day in january somewhere in the cordillera mountains.
very humbling indeed.
somehow nature has a way of reminding that we are all just specks on this planet - or as Asin put it- tuldok lang.

anyway the goat track and mt glorious rainforest are just diversions - the ways to an end.
i still have to deliver, so back in the saddle for me. so then i can sleep in the sand...

Thursday, 3 September 2009

september embers

This month’s listening pleasure is a mix of the old guard and the new breed. The older generation is well represented by Neil Young and that Cat Yusuf with their most recent releases.

Their younger contemporaries are here too through the compilation cds of Tom Petty and Robert Plant. Plant’s former partner in led zep is featured in a mag along with Clapton and Steve Earle among others.
Another issue features young’s on/off partners in chime CSN, the Stones and the Beatle Harrison.
Yet another mag features Neil Young and James Taylor.

The newer generation of musicians include the rockers the lion kings, the blues chanteuse Madeleine Peyroux and the oz folk-pop group the waifs.

bridge to brisbane

At the end of august this year i went to the 'bridge to brisbane.' i thought it was just an event on a bridge, or a bridge being constructed from somewhere. apparently it's a fun run.

well am on the run anyway, so i quickly rustled up a shirt, a sort-of-running shorts, a belt pouch etc and then lined up to take part.
The Bridge to Brisbane attracted a record of more than 45,250 entrants, which reportedly is the biggest per capita run in the southern hemisphere.
I borrowed some photos from the internet to show some of the crowd, see below.

I finished abt 6,600th (in a time just under 60 mins). but i could have come first if the winner (under 30 mins) who was at the front did not have all the clean air in front of him. See i was at the back of the race and had to dodge the other 30,000 in front of me. I also had to answer a call of nature, go through the scrum at all the 5 or 6 drink stations, admire the form of the females...
Also if i took the race seriously and not as a 'fun run'.
but seriously...
maybe next time.