Book Expo Talk on Insurrecto

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I was invited to speak at LibraryReads this year to talk about my book, Insurrecto, to a roomful of librarians (my FAVORITE people!). I know I teared up a bit being in a room with just READERS, but I was also so happy—and just so honored to be invited. This was the talk.

[13 minutes]

First of all I want to say how happy I am to be here, how honored to be among you,
the People of the Book—my compatriots in this country of books for which the
passport above all is passion—I’m so glad and honored to be here among you.
I grew up on an island, in a city called Tacloban in Leyte. It’s the easternmost island
in central Philippines, facing the Pacific, and Ferdinand Magellan the Portuguese
explorer landed on it in 1521, after his legendary naming of that ocean the Pacific, in
the process so-called discovering the Philippines in the name of Spain. In 1944
Douglas MacArthur landed on my island, fulfilling his promise to the Philippines in
1941, when as the commander of the US forces in the Far East, he had left Manila,
saying, “I shall return.” He returned to my town’s beach, Red Beach in Leyte. I grew
up dancing as a child every year on October 20 for soldiers who would return, to
remember their war—they would come as guests of another famous person—my
curse as a kid apart from staring at Douglas MacArthur for so long was that Imelda
Marcos is from my hometown, and as kids from her school we had to dance for her
every time she visited.

So I grew up with tales of grand personages landing on my little beachfront city with
great consequences—but that did not keep me from being bored in it.
I was always being punished for my indifference to my environment—I’d go to
school—it was a Catholic school, I had a uniform—forgetting my necktie, not
bringing my handkerchief, and so on—but the trick to this was, whenever I did not
obey the rules, so bored with the facts of my existence—I would be punished by
being sent to the library. It was like a bee being punished with a bouquet of flowers.

I read everything, and for me, the library in fact was where history begins.

Of course the books I read when I was a kid were pretty haphazard—I was indiscriminate—I read the entire set of Bible Stories for Children—one story in that series about a sick boy named David reading Bible stories turned out to be about Dwight David Eisenhower, for some reason—and I remember my favorite volume in the World Book Encyclopedia was the letter M, because it had all the tales of Greek and Roman and Norse mythology in it—and I gobbled up this series of books about creatures on Cape Cod, it turns out, because I found the Thornton W Burgess Museum on Cape Cod when I first came to America, and among the group of Americans, I was the only one who knew who the writer was—I loved his stories of otters, and buzzards, and minks, and foxes—they’re called The Old Mother West Wind stories—and I loved the tales of these creatures that I never saw in Tacloban.

Doing research on my novel, Insurrecto, which is about the Philippine-American War—1899-1913—I realized much later how that library must have come together.

As part of the pacification of the islands, the United States sent teachers on a boat called USS Thomas, and my school library must have still had the kinds of
books deposited in it from those Thomasites, as the teachers were called, who
arrived in the 1910s and the 1920s. I memorized the poems of Christina Rossetti
and Emily Dickinson and knew the Gettysburg Address and the Song of Hiawatha by
heart and became very comfortable with first names like Waldo or Wadsworth or
Fennimore. In the 1970s, I had a great American 1920s-era education, thanks to my wearing the wrong neckties.

And oddly because of war. It’s odd to me now, having done all this research on the
Philippine-American war—how vestiges of that war hang over my growing up. The
fact is, the Philippine war against America is unremembered in the Philippines, just
as it is unremembered in America. I never studied it as a child. Americans study it, if
they do, only as a sidelight of the Spanish-American war of 1898—in the Philippines,
we call it our war of independence. But the history Filipinos learn is really our revolution against Spain—we barely talk about the war that followed it, when our allies the Americans decided to occupy us when we mistakenly believed we would be given
freedom after helping to wage war against America’s enemy, also our enemy, Spain.

That era of peacetime, as the Philippines oddly calls the period of the American
occupation, 1902 to 1946, is one long era of forgetting. We forgot the brutality of
how we were occupied. And so has America. I think such gaps have consequences.
What I have come to see is that Philippine history is part of America, and American
history is part of the Philippines. In my experience, this twinning of the two is so
weird that for a long time, honest to God, I thought Elvis was Filipino. No, really, I
only learned a few years ago that all the songs my uncles used to sing during their
long guitar-strumming nights were not, in fact, Filipino kundiman, or love songs, but
Elvis. Are You Lonesome Tonight? Love Me Tender—I had no idea they were Elvis. It was a very odd recognition, and to be honest it was a pretty staggering, let’s say, misapprehension on my part—and so let me say this—I put Elvis in my novel of the Philippine-American war.

What my misrecognition of Elvis led me to think about was — how do we really
know the things that make us? We put ourselves in categories— and above all,
others put us in categories— Filipino, islander, woman—when we know very well
we are fragments and fractures and parts of so many others. We are named by our
mothers, for instance, in acts of misrecognition—we carry our mothers’ unknown
desires in our names that we did not choose. We call ourselves American—but the
richness of Americanness lies in its multiplicity, including not only the known
worlds it has occupied but, in the words of Donald Rumsfeld, including also the
unknown unknowns —the things we don’t know we don’t know about ourselves.
And I call myself Filipino—but I have multiple cultures in me—Elvis, Frank Sinatra,
Douglas MacArthur—I claim Warhol’s Double Elvis as irreparably part of my
imaginary—my world of images.

And what I must do is figure out how to include all my worlds as part of my sense of
self and find sense in my fragmentation—in the traumas and the wars and the
violences that have made me.

Of course, as opposed to the colonizer, the world of the colonized is visibly and
thus irreparably multiple—because included in the world of the colonized IS the
world of the colonizer.

Whereas the colonizer is so-called privileged in thinking his world is exceptional and singular. Unfortunately he is mistaken— “privileged” is not the correct word for such a world view—ignorant, or poor, is more correct—because of course such exceptionalism impoverishes and diminishes his reality. And with such a misperception, considering only the known knowns—if he persists in his misperception, he is unable to see himself clearly.

It is only when the world of the colonizer includes the world of the colonized as part
of his reality that such a world can heal itself.

On the other hand, I must inevitably read that world of the colonizer in which I live
with at least two gazes—it’s simply a daily part of how I exist: the colonizer’s world
is in fact also my reality—it is part of me—but I must simultaneously see this world
awry, in an inverse gaze, in order to see myself whole—

This is why libraries have been such a refuge for me, from the time I was a child. It is a place of multiple worlds, it offers multiple identities, and because it is so, in a
library paradoxically one can always be oneself.

I could be part of the world of otters in Cape Cod even as I left the streets and found myself facing the dictator’s bazookas.

By the time I was sixteen, I was going on marches, against the dictatorship—we called it the U.S. Marcos dictatorship because the man’s murderous rule was propped up by the United States during the Cold War as a hedge against communism in Asia—but when the march would pass by the business district, which was also where the US embassy’s cultural center—The Thomas Jefferson library was—I had no qualms about leaving the march in a kind of recess to read Harper’s magazine in their library. And that’s where I learned that this writer that I loved—I loved his book called Chimera and The Sotweed FactorThe Sotweed Factor is an extremely beautifully crafted book about early American history that’s practically footnoted—I love that novel—and I loved the novelist John Barth—anyway, he wrote an article in Harper’s called “Teacher”—and I learned that
this great writer—taught—so the next time the march passed by the American
library, I checked the address of Johns Hopkins, his school, and I wrote John Barth at
Hopkins.

And in those days of the marches and the bazookas, miraculously I got this letter
back—it was like getting a letter from Andromeda Galaxy to be honest—there I was,
marching amid rubble, and I had had the temerity—or let’s say ignorance—to send
Barth my novel and asked him what he thought—I thought that is what you did with
writers—and what Jack said was, thank you for your novel, but you need to send an
application. And he included the forms in his reply. So I got into Hopkins, because I
took a detour from being in the revolution, and that is how I came to America, and
what I’ve ended up doing—coming from that island I grew up in—is that I ended up
thinking a lot about history.

The vestiges of the two histories, Filipino and American, exist like a haunting—a
trace that is both invisible and unknown yet whenever I look up around me now, at
this world of Trump and Duterte, for instance, twin fascists who now lead my two
countries—it is relentlessly present.

The book Insurrecto is a trace of that relationship between the Philippines and the
United States, that history that haunts me. Insurrecto is a story of valiant women, starring actors in their own dramas, trying to become whole, some in very ordinary ways—by taking a road trip, by sharing stories and space in a car—and there is of course one mother haunted by Elvis. And there is one actual historical figure in the book, Casiana Nacionales, who becomes an insurrecto, a revolutionary, simply by being a woman in her time and place.

The novel’s structure follows my sense of a self—open to multiple identities,
synchronic, that is, inhabiting multiple eras and stories simultaneously—so that in
my novel the world of the current dictator, Rodrigo Duterte, is linked to the world of
Marcos’s martial law, the world of Trump, and the world of the American invaders
in 1901—that is, the novel grapples with my synchronic sense of history, the way I
think we exist in simultaneous times—of horror but also of resistance—in which by
recognizing the limitations of our human gazes, maybe we will heal. Thank you so
much for including me in your event today. Once again, I am so honored.
END

 

 

Two American writers of the Filipino-American war period

There are at least three types of interesting Americans of the period who wrote about life in the archipelago. One style of writing was to do captive narratives—I imagine those were popular among Americans, the way stereograph pictures of dead Filipino bodies were mass entertainment. Similar to these captive-memoirs would have been narratives of army officers, etc. Those seem to be well published. Of course, there were the travel narratives, many of them by women, Thomasite teachers and such. The other writer I am thinking of is a Conrad-esque one—his work was like a hybrid of Orwell’s Burmese Days and Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

James Marie Hopper was an aspiring literary stylist who wrote in the vein of Joseph Conrad (Hopper seems to have been a fan of Conrad, as a letter from Conrad shows, and as the contemporaneous book reviews acknowledge). Some of the stories in Caybigan were published by the literary magazine McClure’s; he was most famous for his reports on the SF earthquake, in Harper’s—he made money enough on it to buy a home in Carmel (now Carmel-by-the-Sea), CA. He was said to have published 300 stories in his lifetime. I looked up whether or not a Filipino scholar had done any research on Hopper; could not find any references. I found him because I was looking for evidence of what seems to be an apocryphal story about Jack London—that in his time as a correspondent for the San Francisco Examiner during the Russo-Japanese war, he passed by Manila and thus owned or stole a Katipunan flag. Anyway, found no source for that rumor, but I found the work of Jack London’s friend James Marie Hopper instead. Hopper, in the Google book of Jack London’s letters, is said to have been known in the literary world as “the Kipling of the Philippines”—an intriguing, if not necessarily complimentary, epithet.

The other writer is Albert Sonnichsen, a former prisoner of war who wrote a 12 Years a Slave-type narrative, called Ten Months a Captive Among Filipinos. Mark Twain wrote Sonnichsen a very nice letter approving of his book: the memoir was, in fact, an evenhanded narration, in some places poignant, of incidents of war. Most powerful to me is his anecdote of a grieving Filipino mother offering food to the prisoner of war Sonnichsen, asking him whether gringos treated their prisoners well. It turns out the old woman’s son was a katipunero captured by US forces—a haunting mirroring in that scene. I saw Sonnichsen’s papers, including that nice autographed letter from Twain, in the New York Public Library’s Manuscripts and Archives Division when I was doing research on my never-ending novel William McKinley’s World. Sonnichsen was a Danish American captured by Aguinaldo’s army in Malolos; he was sailor who left his ship to take pictures of the outbreak of war, then the Katipunan captured him when he got off a train (or something Reds-like like that). He went all around Bulacan then Northern Luzon as a POW of the Katipunan, becoming friends with one of his captors Juan Villamor, an Ilocano general under Aguinaldo (a hero also mentioned extensively in Scott’s Ilocano Responses to American Aggression). The American senators who cross-examined Taft about Balangiga in 1902 in Affairs of the Philippine Islands were very familiar with Sonnichsen’s captive-memoir (it was because of Sonnichsen’s book that the senators insisted to Taft on their belief that Aguinaldo himself killed Luna; Taft dissuaded them). Ten Months a Captive is available online here.

But while Sonnichsen’s captive-memoir was well-reviewed and somewhat famous, James Marie Hopper is the literary writer. He came to the Philippines in 1901 to be a teacher; he was well-known at Cal Berkeley as a football player; he grew up in Oakland (incidentally so did Sonnichsen). His father was an Irish Fenian refugee in Paris, his mother was a Parisian who took her twin sons across the seas to California (don’t know what happened to Fenian dad). Hopper was friends with Jack London, Robinson Jeffers, etc. Hopper’s book of Conradesque short stories, Caybigan, was published in 1906; including its title’s punning use of Tagalism, caybigan, for the saccharine, reflexive term Pinoys used both for themselves as colonized and Americans as colonizer—that is, amigo—I think his book Caybigan is as interesting, maybe even more, as John Sayles’s Amigo, which has its merits as one of the only books we know recently about this war.

Being something of a modernist, Hopper drew portraits of his fellow Americans that drip with what could pass as anti-imperial critique, in that Conrad way that is both simpatico and repulsive: racist and well-meaning (it seems). I like especially Hopper’s stories of colonist-trauma—the pathetic US soldier in Iloilo from the American South whom Hopper describes with the relish Conrad gave to the nutty Russian in the Congo or the “pilgrims” in Heart of Darkness, Hopper’s beast-like Southerner in his tattered camisa climbing up banana trees in the dark of night in order to eat (the denouement is tragic, an inverse of the balikbayan-OFW tale, quite fascinating); or the farcical life of a maestro (called Thomasites in history books but portrayed with gentle but clear-eyed self-critique in Hopper, who was, of course, a maestro himself)—funny Mark-Twainish scenes of the maestro desperately catching the truant Isidro who refuses his ‘civilization.’ And so on. Hopper liberally uses Tagalog words—baguio, for typhoon, bata, tao—but also racist words like pickaninny and brownie—all in an interesting, arch voice that I cannot quite condemn or condone, so I laugh. The racism, of course, makes the entire book a bit of a travesty, but it is an instructive read. Caybigan is also available online, here.

Those two, Sonnichsen and Hopper, give one a sense of the temper and tone of some of the literary writing about the Philippines at the onset of occupation, during a global period that was, in fact, full of great human radical movement—anarchism everywhere, factory occupations in Italy, communists in Hollywood, etc. They don’t tell us why books of that sort did not have a lasting hold on American letters. Basic American education also does not include Mark Twain as anti-imperialist, for instance, or MLK as socialist. High school students always read Gatsby but never Sinclair Lewis. And so on. The lack of American canonical literary writing on the American occupation of the Philippines does tell us that American letters is highly ideological, and rightwingish: the canon is made by a bunch of twits whose main job is to take wedgies out of their asses; canons aren’t about genuine thought but about lasting reaction. Sonnichsen actually became a freedom fighter in Montenegro, and then a leader of the cooperative movement in Connecticut (whatever that is). Hopper became a World War 1 war correspondent. The 2 were by no means great writers, but they were two of the better ones, and they were more interesting voices than the much-published, stupid “historians,” like money-grubbing, gold-mine-owning, artifact-grabbing Dean Worcester. Or Forbes and Blount.

My sense is that those 2, Sonnichsen and Hopper, were exceptions, ‘better’ Americans than the usual kano in the Philippines. No wonder a writer born of erudite parents of the Spanish period, like Nick Joaquin, had disdain for the era he grew up in, the prewar years of the American occupation (at least I see that in his stories; don’t know much about his personal views); his country’s occupiers were louts, embezzlers, midget minds out to make a buck. Not to mention very tiresome racists. McCoy captures those Americans, with fine portraits of Rough Rider Leonard Wood’s stock-market-swindler son—a son of a governor-general (favorite friend of TR) who used his influence to fleece investors in Manila and New York, etc—and other filthy characters (not excepting the annoying Filipinos, like Quezon), in his essential book Policing America’s Empire (not available online, but available at Ateneo de Manila bookstore).

Both Sonnichsen and Hopper, coincidentally, were sons of immigrant Americans (one man’s father was from Denmark, the other man’s family emigrated from France) who grew up in California. They were not the Midwestern Indian-war veterans or Southern farm outcasts who made up most of the U.S. volunteer soldiers. Hopper, I imagine, was also quite different from the pious, semi-literate Christians from Ohio or Arkansas who made up the Thomasites. In general, most of the Americans who came to the country were probably like swamp people in Flannery O’Connor or Faulkner (Hopper tells a story of one of them in the opening tale of his book Caybigan). At least, that is the very unkind interpretation I make from the documents of the Filipino-American war period, which mostly come from US Army files or government documents—such texts not being beacons of enlightenment.

The Unintended is in an Irish anthology, reviewed in The Independent, an Irish newspaper.

“These two diverse and compelling collections represent the finest talent in contemporary writing and editorial guidance in a world where homeland is mutable, distance is relative, identity is fluid and exile is never far away.”

Read the full article here.

Finished a draft, but the wrong one. The Unintended

is done. At least its first full draft. (I ended up finishing the wrong novel, not William McKinley’s World. Oh well. Still working on that.) A place holder website on some matters that come up in the novel right here. Yep, it includes Elvis. And Muhammad Ali. And Gus, the polar bear of Central Park zoo. And the stories of six women moved by loss. And, of course, Balangiga, which I know too much about. Finishing a novel is like shedding research notes, fact after fact, coming off like scabs.

http://ginaapostol.wix.com/praxino#!articles-of-war-articles-of-interest/c1wiq

 

A Lecture on the Filipino-American War. At Cornell University in Fall 2015

Thanks to Arnika Fuhrmann, the Southeast Asia Studies Department, and the University Lecture Committee at Cornell University for nominating me to do a University Lecture this fall. I’ll be talking about my novel in progress, William McKinley’s World, and my research on the Filipino-American War.

The link to the talk is here.

A footnote to this note: Benedict Anderson, to whom so many of us are indebted, not only for his books, Imagined Communities, Under Three Flags, and others, but for his generosity (both as a thinker and as a man), introduced my talk. I was so hugely honored. It was the first and only time I met him. He died a few weeks later, in Indonesia. I publish here photos with Ben at dinner. Requiescat.

ben anderson at dinner

with ben anderson

 

Transparency: Relieving the Body of Despair

an op-ed I wrote for Typhoon Yolanda and Kusog Tacloban. It was for our efforts at the time to get transparency for aid monitoring.

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Transparency: Relieving the Body of Despair
By Gina Apostol
Author of Gun Dealers’ Daughter, winner of the PEN America/Open Book Award 2013

I was getting my first dose of chemotherapy for cancer on the day Yolanda hit Tacloban, November 8. I was in the middle of research on my fourth novel, William McKinley’s World, about Tacloban and Balangiga in 1901. My veins were dripping steroids and taxol, cytoxan and dexamathosone as I was looking at pictures of the dead killed by American forces in 1901. And when I turned on Facebook, I saw this other horror.

It was a trifecta, one might call it: history and body and geography all at once surging into my bones and saying—help me.

Even now, remembering that day, I feel this weakening, a crying jag falling upon me—because I grew up in Tacloban. It is my city. I grew up in Housing and then on Juan Luna Street, corner Burgos, but now I live abroad, like too many of us, and like everyone else in these Yolanda stories of horror, I scanned FB and local tv patrol shows online for signs of my street and family. By Day 4, in perhaps some hyperactive ravage of taxotere and steroids, I wrote an op ed for the New York Times about the unconsoling wreckage of my city’s history. In so many ways, you see, I have always been dismayed by Tacloban.

Tacloban is a city of hierarchies and a venal fiefdom of families and their entrenched henchmen, and I have always, even as a child, hated its feudal personality politics, a divided city with a very few rich, often fatted by plunder, and a too vast poor, often failed by plunder, and the many able professionals in the middle who, like me, leave it. Not too different from any of the other provinces in the country, maybe. I am very aware of my unstable place in the country as I weep over it: we who leave because mind and body find shelter conveniently elsewhere. It is both a human circumstance and a Philippine condition—this migration. Paul Nadal, a critic at Berkeley, tells me that the Filipino novel (the kind of book I am writing in New York about Tacloban and Balangiga) began as an envoi from abroad, starting with, say, Rizal’s Crisostomo Ibarra, and the work of the great Filipino novelist, Juan C. Laya, for whom the National Book Award for the Novel in English is named. The Filipino novel is a kind of tax from the migrant who is always thinking of home.

Help me.

In the wake of the typhoon, a group of us, some abroad, most in Tacloban, created a volunteer relief organization, Kusog Tacloban (kusog means strength in Waray), organized mainly on FB, to help with the vanquished manpower on the ground. No one could help because the mobilizers were also victims, reported Joji Dorado to my sister, who, though a consultant who audits global labor practices, is also an entrepreneur running a business in Palo. We’ve been doing stopgap relief since the storm’s second week—recruiting doctors for the MSF and UNFP, aiding soup kitchens, hammering in temporary roofs, assessing school damage, fielding calls from desperate barangays, setting up psychosocial services for traumatized children.

Help me.

Like all who have joined in the relief effort, from international to national to local to private aid groups, from barangay to familial, we find that needs are constant, heartbreaking, and overwhelming.

The work already done is herculean—not to be dismissed. The generous aid of international groups, the harassed yet constant work of the national government, the frazzled and committed work of the local units, the frustrated yet persistent work of the barangays—the daily difficulty of rebuilding is clear.

We know everyone is trying to pitch in—concern is there.

And yet, and yet. A cancer dripping in the bones, a weakened body.

Help me.

The aid work is turning from “emergency response phase to early recovery programming,” as the USAID website calls its shift in goals beginning December 18 [2013]. But what Kusog Tacloban workers on the ground have noticed is, instead of optimism, a deepening despair.

On our ops page, we post this: Hi Kapitana Epang han Bgy 62C han Sagkahan, Tacloban, nagsiring kan Magina Fernandez: Diri man kami naabat ha amon barangay nga mayda nasulod nga bulig tikang ha gawas. Nahuhulop na kami hit kabutangan hit amon barangay. Kutob san-o kami maghuhulat?

Kapitana Epang of Barangay 62C of Sagkahan, Tacloban, tells Magina Fernandez (of Kusog and of Barangay 62C): We do not feel in our barangay any sense of aid coming from outside. We are losing hope over the state of our barangay. How long are we going to wait?

This is what we understand from people on the ground:

Makahurulop gud man it diri nasabot hit mga nananabo. Para kan Kapitana Epang ngan hi Kapitana Nimfa han Candahug, makakabulig it informasyon parte hit mga aid: pera it maabot? para ano nga mga project? ano nga mga barangay it makakakarawat? ginaano nira pagpili kun hin-o it makakakarawat? san-o matikang ito nga project? san-o matatapos? ano nga klase hin materiales it dapat gingamit han contractor, kun balay man ito or eskuwelahan? ano’t kadako?

It makes you lose hope—makahurulop—when you don’t know what’s coming up. Kapitana Epang of Sagkahan and Kapitana Nimfa of Candahug will be helped by specific information: How much aid is coming? For what projects? Which barangays will get them? How will the beneficiaries be chosen? When will the project begin? When will it end? What materials will the contractor use, for homes and schools? How big will the buildings be?

Here’s what we see on the ground:

Kun maaram it aton mga kapitana, makakasamwak hira hit ira mga residente hini nga datos. Makakagi-os hira. Diri hira sugad nga mahuhulop. Kun maaram it mga tawo hini nga mga datos, pwede hira mag-evaluate ngan mag-monitor: tama ba ini nga hingangadtuan hini nga aid? Amo ba gud it aton panginahanglan? Maupay ba it ira kagamit han kwarta? Makakasabot gihap kun baga may nangungupit.

If the barangay kapitanas Epang and Nimfa knew, they could share the information with their people. They could be proactive. They would not feel so helpless. If people had information, they could evaluate and monitor. Is this the correct use of our aid? Is it what we need? Are they using the money well? And if people have information, they will know if someone is cheating.

Help me.

I know, as a cancer patient, that knowledge is power. To be told clearly your regimen, the specific medicines and why, the length of treatment, the numbers to call. To have a mechanism for information, for intervention, when the treatment drags you down, when your body is failing, and you need to understand why.

Help me.

The hero Rizal, of course, was an eye doctor. He wrote a novel about our need to see. As Rizal knew, and as anyone can look up in an ebook on Google, first published in 1915, Ophthalmology: Essays, Abstracts and Reviews, Volume 11, noli me tang ere, his book’s name, was also a term for an inoperable cancer, a fatal cataract that was his symbol for a darkened country. But he wrote the novel to open his people’s eyes—to let them know.

Knowledge is power.

Two months after Yolanda, the plea from the devastated—an mga na-Yolandahan, as we Warays, a verb-bound, gerund-making people, now call ourselves—is simple.

Help me.

A path to strength, to healing this trifecta of ill—of the body, the geographic, and the politic—is to give us tools for knowing. Let us have mechanisms from all actors involved, give us means to see, to monitor our aid. Let us know what is coming, to soothe this growing rather than diminishing sense of despair.

To the embassies of the generous countries offering assistance, we are petitioning that they instate one such mechanism, a website with a dedicated section on:

(1) aid amounts for Yolanda-stricken areas, allocated by project; 

(2) project plans (objectives, project sites, target beneficiaries, expected outputs/outcomes, and implementation timelines); 

(3) agencies/organizations accountable for implementing these projects;

(4) regular project updates on progress and performance.

This petition on change.org is one in a series. http://tinyurl.com/o55k7my

We will be urging all major actors (international, national, local, corporate, and nonprofit) to provide specific and actionable mechanisms for transparency, imagined as tools for citizens, so we are not in the dark about our future.

We are happy to hear President Noynoy Aquino’s comments on transparency at the Good Governance Summit last January 15, announcing the government’s Open Data project, aligned with its FAITH hub itemizing foreign aid. Ping Lacson, the rehabilitation czar, is working with private corporations to craft plans for a “bridal registry” of projects, and we hope transparency will also be central to their plans. We hope, through these petitions that bring transparency to the fore, urging clear information from all actors, we can triangulate details and gain the best vision of our future. A sustainable future of environmental stability, economic integrity geared toward the local population’s needs, and progress available to all, not just the few with power.

We hope you can sign this series of petitions on transparency with us, our way to counteract the cancer of the body politic—the cancer of disempowerment, the cataract of not knowing. Transparency is a way for citizens to write our own novel. It is key toward our path of healing.

Help us.

“Sacrifice to Aguinaldo’s ambition”: caption on 1899 stereo card

Sacrifice to Aguinaldo's ambition

I bought this stereo card by bidding on it. It went quite high—up to forty-five bucks—but look at it. It is haunting.

The chief with Company C

The chief with Company C

Valeriano Abanador, hero of Balangiga, in August 1901 with American soldiers of Company C. In September he masterminded the plan to kill them.