Thursday, November 01, 2012

Danse Macabre


Saffron daubed dancers on bowed legs
Gold tipped fingers tilted upward
Wide eyed but expressionless
Beckoning with uncertain malice

Peacock headdress strutting, eyes like
Black dots darting left, then right
Oblivious of the boisterous, crass crowd
Heads cranking on the plink of the gamelan

Foot bells tinkle at the angklung’s hollow beat
Earthy auburn songket sarong with gilded edge
Glittered playfully with each half turn of
Pretty boys masquerading as nubile dancers

At the last clang of the agong they scampered
Sucked into the emptiness of the night’s void
Piercing sounds shrieked from the dead quiet
Augured that somewhere tragedy has struck

It was a chilling, killing night in Bali
Terror struck with hellish ferocity
Blood striped pale faces run helter-skelter
Minced by shards strewn by wrathful blast

Mangled limbs dangled on dancing carcasses
The hapless hobbled and crept, lost in terror
The pall of the blackened smoke draped heavy
Kuta reeked with zealot’s pungent hate

In nearby Nusa Dua, the merriment ran on
Youthful artistes plied their age-old trade
While revelers loud with obscene laughter
Unaware of the other despoliation elsewhere

In the morrow they washed their bikinis
To rid of the red that came with the tide
Batik now indelibly stained with carmine blot
A stain in the land’s richly textured tapestry

Where now the inimitable Balinese smile?
Where now the art of the woodcarver, the painter,
The smithy, the batik dyer, dancer and the wayang maker?
Where now the white sands, the majestic promontories?

Senseless slaughter of anyone, anything, everything
Not for all the promise of virgins, white horses and
Heavenly gates can ever make right the selfish injustice
Pancasila violated by militant butchers of the faith

The music and gaiety of the festive stambul   

Drowned by pained moans of the stricken
And the wheezing whines from mutilated throats
Cry anguish, echoing strong even in distant lands

What a waste, what a shame! Why Bali? Why?
Fountainhead of art, island of beauty and amity
God’s pearl crushed by the ugly hand of inhumanity
Of ignorance, of intolerance and of manic zeal


How Soon


The clock’s pendulum strikes the gong

The pulley pulls readying it for another strike

Outside the leaves have been swept in the curbs

Even before they turn brown, flame red and gold

Impatience goad the blossoming and ripening

Not allowing them to stay awhile as green and sour

Hot housing and hurrying their reddening

Sweet and acrid to the taste, gritty to the tongue

 If it has not been by now it will never be

You have shunned others and they, in turn,

Have left you recalling false remembrances

Fantasies trying to be real yet in a blink are lost

In desolate streets as you nail signs on rickety posts



Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Bluer Than Blue and Other Metallic Hues




Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan, former chairman of the board of trustees of Ateneo de Manila University, had irrevocably withdrawn his support for the Ateneo because of differences over mining issues and the Reproductive Health (RH) bill.

After serving in a high post in the university’s Board of Trustees, and as a generous benefactor to the Jesuit university’s many programs of excellence which include the MVP Center For Student Leadership, the sports program, the school’s debating society, the glee club and many other projects that benefited from his financial support he decided to disengage himself with finality on affairs that are Ateneo.

His parting message was “...we have come to the irretrievable point where it is best and appropriate to draw the line in the sand, to conclude that we have little or no common interest, and to say that I’d look like a fool helping an institution which opposes my conviction diametrically and unequivocally.”

Expectedly, a wave of reactions, some good and some unfortunate, came from the Alumni and the studentry of the Ateneo ensued. Many understood MVP’s situation and were sympathetic to the decision made by him, others felt that this was a wake-up call to Ateneans and the Ateneo not to be overly dependent on a single benefactor and to be self reliant by rallying the alumni to be more active in their support of their alma mater. There were those who said that he may have been less of an Atenean because he was not really “true blue” as he had his formative years with San Beda and only joined the Ateneo in college. A remark like this did not go unnoticed because it smacked of elitism, a “kayabangan” that Ateneans have been accused of by many for years long standing. It ruffled the feathers of those alumni who did not spend their early years in the Ateneo as this ill advised attempt at categorizing Ateneans into different shades of blue alienated quite a few whose blueness have now been placed in scrutiny.


One could not completely blame those who tried to make this differentiation. The hurt was palpable and the umbrage taken was deserved; a reaction to MVP’s abrupt and resolute disengagement with the Ateneo. Others felt that it was almost a treasonous act, a stinging rejection of the beloved alma mater, an affront to the revered and closely held Ignatian values. Of course, denigrating MVP’s stature as an Atenean is unconscionable and some of those who originally felt this way have relented and have expressed regrets for their impulsive reaction. After a while most agreed to just let it be to have a closure to the whole thing but the odour of it may linger for a while as sensibilities have been roused and frayed.


The Jesuit Reaction

To the credit of the Jesuits their reaction to the event has been conciliatory and has expressed their gratitude for all the support that MVP has lent to the Ateneo. A praiseworthy and non-recriminate response to what could have been a tinderbox situation. Fr. Roberto Rivera, SJ of the John J Caroll Institute on the Church and Social Issues has represented well the Jesuits response in his article “The Jesuit Paper”. He said: “Differences of opinion in the application of principles can sometimes arise even among sincere Catholics. When this happens, they should be careful not to lose their respect and esteem for each other” (Mater et Magistra, 238). If indeed there has been a necessary parting of ways, it is eased by an overriding sense of gratitude and respect.


Art Hilado of college class 66 made a call to unity as an aftermath of this event. He said that this may well be a wakeup call to Ateneans to be more united and to be more active and dedicated to their support to the alma mater. Perhaps, after the reconciliatory note, the Jesuits could also review the treatment and regard they gave a benevolent man who gave unstinting support to them and their institutions. Was there an inordinate focus and a zeroing in on mining, an industry where MVP had a lot at stake and may also be a cash resource to fund other ventures that he had audaciously launched?

Another sore point in the MVP Ateneo relationship is the contrarian stand that he had made against the stance of the Catholic Church. Should he be taken to task by the Jesuits for siding with the pro RH Bill proponents? In this issue, the Jesuits, even amongst themselves are not one in their stance against the RH Bill.


The Golden Mean of Mining

Was the language used in the Jesuit paper on mining really just a “talking point” or did it actually identify and underscore the non-negotiables, the values and bottom-line stances?

The Jesuit paper suggests that these are guidelines to SJSA and its members who would study and mull the issues in mining. If it is such then it should not be taken as dictates coming from the church. But the way the paper was nuanced and crafted it conveyed almost unequivocally, was that most of it were non negotiable and are bottom-line values and stances to be maintained. If the Jesuit guidelines on mining are not absolute, negotiable and for further debate and discussion, then MVP’s rash reaction would seem uncalled for, immature and a tad hysterical. It is an MVP reaction that is easy enough to understand and not surprising to us and to the many of us may who consider it to be adverse to him. 

Did the Jesuit paper reinforce the CBCP general statement that mining is evil…the Mining Act of 1995 destroys life, and categorically opposed mining per se? Calling the paper as “talking points” may well have been just Jesuitical doublespeak?

Despite the schism that exists within the Ateneo, the Jesuit paper echoes the official position of the CBCP.


The bishops as a group may have lost some traces of credibility. They have this penchant for making general statements without any empirical proof to support their statements…worded like sermons and homilies to parishioners, invariably left unchallenged. As Catholics we allow ourselves to accept the veracity of the church acclaimed mysteries as an act faith but to carry this further in issues that are lay and political in nature is going beyond their bounds.  There is some amount of arrogance amongst some of the clergy who seem to feel that they are still the Spanish frailes that can talk down their parishioners without fear of contradiction. Not everyone, even those who profess to be practicing Catholics, are as tractable as the faithful of old. The church must realize that they no longer have the supreme authority to prevail on people, to impose their stand on all issues, lay ones included. In the mining issue and to a certain extent, in the RH Bill, persuasion through reason should have been the tact and not merely on the strength of words emanating from the pulpit.


 Has the church been overly politicized? The Jesuit Paper puts forth a political and pro poor position by allowing the poor subsistence miners despite their disregard to the sins that big scale mining have been indicted for. It is kind of “laissez faire” that contributes to a national habit of mediocrity, an anathema to excellence, a coddling of those who choose to be inefficient and an encouragement to the “puede na” fractured mentality. It is a pro poor attitude that makes us a poorer nation...big scale mining in the long term will alleviate the poor. Instant amelioration and transformation of the poor man's plight is a myopic view and has never worked. Responsible big scale mining will benefit all in the long term.


The Church together with militant socio civic groups had always been suspicious of the motives of industry and big business. They have good reason to be. A series of corrupt government administrations in collusion with cronies in business (varying only in degrees of greed) have earned them this regrettable regard. Perhaps a lifting of the cloud of suspicion should happen since never have we had a more honest and sincere leadership whom we can trust to do good on the citizens behalf. Might it not be different under Pnoy whose track record has remained unsullied thus far? Does Pnoy have cronies in business and industry? Is MVP one of them?


It is true that MVP should not have been rash in his decision to disengage with the Ateneo but it would be naive to expect that somebody who has felt that he has been mistreated by an institution that he has showered with his time and money and that the least that the Ateneo could have done was to have refrained from taking positions in public that are diametrically opposed to those of MVP’s. He may have felt that the Jesuits with their paper on mining have singled him out by attacking mining, an industry where he has a lot at stake and may be a fund resource to fuel his other audacious business ventures.


One has to ask, why mining? Why not fishing, logging, manufacturing, insurance, education plans, banking, the medical business, beverages, the foods business, etc. etc. All businesses and industries should attract the attention of those who seek to protect the environment, correct social injustice, cultural warping, minority group displacements, labour exploitation and other ills which you can throw in to criticize any profit motivated venture and institution could easily be criticized for. The same fine tooth comb should be applied to them as was done to mining. If we were to make a Golden Mean for all these industries and businesses our economy will be hamstrung by so many restrictions and probably ground to a halt.


MVP, in his mind, may have asked why mining? And why the Jesuits had to pick up the cudgels for this cause? Are these the reasons why MVP chose to dissociate himself from the Ateneo or are his daring investment and acquisition ventures souring up and he needs a gracious exit from his predicament?   The mining issue which he might have depended on to fund his other ventures seem to have reached an impasse and that  he had expected the Jesuits to be a bit more sympathetic of his woes because of the favours that he had showered on them. The mention of plagiarism case may really be just an additional beef (pamparami ng sumbat), Trillanes’ accusation in the China deal didn’t help quiet his discomfort and elicited another emotional outburst of threatening to pull out his investments in more clement business climes like Hongkong.




It may seem that the Jesuit involvement in this is a puzzlement, but then again, maybe not, as morals and ethics are necessarily involved here.    

Is there some form of Jesuit hubris at play here? Was this a way of saying that we have not been bought by all the contribution MVP has made; not beholden by any means and will not be acquiescent to his expectations of support in mining.

 Maybe we should add a new line to the phrase from the synoptic gospels  "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's, and unto God the things that are God's" ...and to business things that are of business’. As in the separation of the church and the state there are basic items in each that are antithetical. More so with business and the church; as one deals with matters in the spiritual realm, and the other, on the more pragmatic and utilitarian aspects of existence. Although the relationship will be marked with overlaps as in church and state, we may well be aware and cognizant of the irreconcilable differences (the non negotiables) between business and church and veer away from possible collision courses.


Sunday, July 08, 2012

From the Guys Who Brought You Melamine In Milk, Toxic Toys, Poison Pet Food...

The Chinese have peddled numerous toxic products to international consumers, including everything from baby’s milk, children’s toys, adult vitamins, pet food...and the list goes on to include electrical products that shock and kill, toxic wallboards and just about anything that would guarantee a shortened lifespan or a decrepit existence for the rest of your life.

High end and technology products made affordable but...

While China products have brought happiness to many by making products that were normally affordable only by the the more affluent in society, it carries with it a sordid trade off. The Chinese, in their typical entrepreneurial instinct rushed off to take advantage of the demand created by the invariably low price of almost any product imaginable. On top of having the cheap labour advantage, the Chinese manufacturers got carried away by their desire to improve the profitability of their merchandise by doing short cuts in their production processes, sought cheaper ingredient alternatives and an utter disregard to quality control procedures that should ensure the efficacy, the durability and safety of products that come out of their production floors. One would think that this will be limited to the small unregulated and unsupervised small to medium sized manufacturers; but no, even with the plants that have joint venture agreements with prestigious and trusted companies from the US, France, UK and other countries known for their above board compliance with good business practices have been negligent in seeing to it that the local production personnel despite the supervision of their home office experts. The horror stories on the use of toxic ingredients in the farming of food products, lead content in paints used in toys, the irresponsible production of processed foods, the toxicity and the inefficacy of medical products have been many and have had dire results from their usage by consumers.

Unwanted products make their way to the local market
Despite our government agencies’ efforts to check the entry of unwanted products a lot of these, even after rejection find their way in because unscrupulous businessmen in cahoots with some corrupt government officials keep on trying to sneak them in. There are no guarantees that products that pass through our inspectors are safe to use or eat.

China’s chequered manufacturing history

The quality of Chinese products are considered in much the same way that “made in Japan” products immediately after the second world war were regarded, the same stigma had been attached to “made in Taiwan” products in the seventies; products that had the reputation of being cheap, unreliable and as substitute items that fulfil expedient needs. Apart from these negatives is the fact that these products may be hazardous to health as proven by documented accounts of deaths arising from toxicity from a wide range of products either ingested or inadvertent exposure. Deaths by the hundreds were experienced in Panama for substandard medicines bought from China.
The law does not deter bad products influx to the market
China is on a roll. The euphoria of continuous money flowing from their enterprises have emboldened them even more; they have not corrected their quick money mind sets despite the numerous lawsuits filed against the manufacturers, importers and distributors of these defective merchandise. It seems that despite the strict enforcement of law businessmen continue to defy regulations because the big money that is made in these transactions is commensurate to the risk involved. Even to this date law suits continue to be filed against erring manufacturers and importers of China goods. 
China’s preposterous sovereignty claims and bully tactics
China has claims with the Philippines, Vietnam, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan across the South China Sea, key shipping lanes thought to contain rich energy reserves. Vietnam and the Philippines have been the most vocal opponents of China's claims. Energy reserves repletion is important to China to ensure that their growth engine continue to hum. The oil reserves underneath the South China Sea are coveted by so many nations and the hungry dragon is determined to take all by force rather than talk about co operational development of the natural resources in the areas of dispute. They have begun to impose their might by intimidating through sabre rattling the Philippines and Vietnam by ostensibly displaying their naval prowess against the puny naval capabilities of the two small nations. The threat, of course, includes all the other nations because of China’s ever extending claims to territory that are in the path of a creeping yellow tide. No nation is safe from a marauding super power that imposes and claim sovereignty on the most preposterous of bases; an ancient map illustrating the extent of the Han dynasty rule and the disregard of the United Nations International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea. No nations’ export endeavour is safe from being prey to Chinese currency manipulation, from dissipation of manufacturing capabilities engendered by China’s cheap labour and from the arm twisting a bully undertakes.
What the boycott wants to achieve
The intention of the movement to boycott China made products is not designed to delimit China’s legitimate efforts towards their own nation building. It is the goal of the movement to make China aware that they have to respect the sovereignty of other nations, that they should be a responsible world leader fostering the well being of its neighbours by not flooding the international market with products that create contagion, and that their new found super power status should not be used to run over weaker countries in a manner reminiscent of the Nazi invasion of weaker nations along Germany’s periphery during WWII. Rather than meeting military aggression with an equally forceful but dangerous armed defence response, the boycott of China products would be a peaceful but forceful way of persuading China to abandon its bullying ways.  

Hereunder is a litany of products that have been found flawed compiled over time by a US business group, it is by no means a complete list as this covers only the earlier years of China exports to the US, also the list continue to extend even as we list:
  • Toxic Overalls: Samarra Brothers recalled Chinese-manufactured children’s two-piece overall sets because the coatings on the snaps in the overalls and shirt contain excessive amounts of lead, posing a serious risk of lead poisoning and adverse health effects to young children.
  • Fire Hazard Heaters: Family Dollar Stores recalled 35,000 oscillating ceramic heaters that were found to overheat and smoke, which could pose a fire hazard to consumers.
  • Bad Wiring In Fans: Holmes Group recalled about 300,000 Chinese-manufactured oscillating tower fans that were found to have bad wiring that creates a fire hazard.
  • Dangerous Candles: Sally Foster recalled over 46,000 sets of imported Tea Lights candles after it was reported that the candles have a clear, plastic shell that can melt or ignite, posing a fire or burn hazard to consumers.
  • Dryers With Electrocution Hazard: Metropolis Beauty recalled about 18,000 Travel’N Baby Mini Hair Dryers, which were not equipped with an immersion protection plug to prevent electrocution if the hair dryer falls into water. Electric shock protection devices are required by industry standards for all electric hand-held hair dryers.
  • Improperly Wired/Flammable Lamps: Hong Ten Trading recalled about 4,000 electric oil lamps that had power cords that were not correctly secured and had no strain relief on their switch housing. The switch housing was also not flame-retardant, which poses a fire hazard.
  • Overheating Remote Controls: Best Buy recalled about 10,000 Insignia DVD Player remotes after it was found that improper battery placement in the remote could result in overheating and present a burn hazard.
  • Lead Poisoning Hazard: 115,000 Claudia Jublot children’s rings, which were sold at Big Lots stores, were recalled because they contained dangerous levels of lead.
  • Defective Lamps: Currey & Company of Georgia recalled about 2,600 Chinese-manufactured lamps that had defective light sockets, which could pose electrical shock and fire hazards.
  • Lead Accessories: Kidsite jewellery sets, which were sold at Kmart stores across America, were recalled for containing high levels of lead.
  • Toxic Jackets: Samara Brothers recalled thousands of its outwear jackets for children because the snap closures on the jackets contained excessive amounts of lead, which poses a lead poisoning hazard.
  • Lead Bracelets: Imported Chinese bracelets that were sold under the “Ultra Gear” brand were recalled because they contained high levels of lead.
  • Hazardous Toy Batteries: JAKKS Pacific recalled over 240,000 battery packs for toy vehicles after dozens of reports of the batteries melting or catching fire.
  • Lead Rings: About 280,000 children’s Rachael Rose Kidz rings were recalled after they were found to contain high levels of lead.
  • Breakable Bike Frames: Target’s made-in-China Triax PK7 and Vertical PK7 bike frames were recalled after it was found that the frames could break rather easily, injuring anyone unlucky enough to be riding such a bike.
  • Razor Blades For Kids: Tri Star International recently recalled a made-in-China children’s stationary, which contained a dangerous razor blade.
  • Shocking Extension Cords: Dollar Stop Plus recalled 15-foot extension cords that had undersized wiring, and failed to connect properly at the plug and receptacle ends. This poses fire, shock and electrocution hazards to consumers.
  • Lead Easels: Discount School Supply recalled Elite about 2,500 5-in-1 Easels after finding that the chalkboard side of the Chinese-manufactured easels contained high levels of lead.
  • Lead Necklaces: Children’s necklaces sold at Accessories Palace were recalled because they contained high levels of lead.
  • Toxic Paint: Toys R Us recalled over 128,000 Elite Operations toy sets because the paint used by the Chinese manufacturer of the toys contained high levels of lead.
  • Lead Mood Necklace: About 47,000 children’s mood necklace imported from China by Rhode Island Novelty were recalled for containing high levels of lead.
  • Dangerous Sconces: Home Decorators recalled about 900 Chinese-produced wall sconces, after finding that many were missing back plates, which exposes consumers to live wires and poses a risk of electrical shock to consumers changing the light bulb.
  • Lead Paint On Baby Toys: Stuffed Fun Balls, which were sold at dollar stores and other discount stores from June 2006 until March 2007, were recalled because the paint used by the Chinese manufacturer of the baby toy contained dangerous levels of lead.
  • Poison Pet Food: Two Chinese companies intentionally exported contaminated pet food ingredients to the United States, killing hundreds of American pets that ate the food.
  • Unhappy Hanukkah: Aviv Judaica Imports recalled its Chanukah Oil Candles sets after it was found that they can become engulfed in flames and melt the plastic cups holding the candles in place, allowing hot wax to leak out, which poses fire and burn hazards to consumers.
  • Oil Heater Fire Hazard: Holmes Group recalled about 300,000 of its oil-filled electric heaters after discovering that a poor electrical connection within the Chinese-manufactured heaters could overheat and cause fires.
  • Flaming Boomboxes: Coby Electronics recalled over 13,000 USB/MP3/CD boomboxes due to electrical problems that could cause them to overheat and catch fire.
  • Collapsing Baby Seats: Infant Bouncer Seats were recalled by Oeuf LLC after reports the seats’ metal frame breaking.
  • Flammable Baby Clothes: Disney Stores recalled its Baby Einstein Caterpillar Sleepwear and Baby Einstein Duck Sleepwear because of a failure to meet the children’s flammability standard, posing a risk of burn injury to children.
  • Hazardous Candles: McCormick Distilling Company recalled 60,000 Tequila Rose Strawberry Cream candle sets after finding that the martini glass containing the gel candle can break while the candle is burning, posing fire and burn hazards to consumers.
  • Lead Bracelets: A&A Global Industries issued a recall for about 4 million of its Children’s Groovy Grabber Bracelets, which were painted with paint that contained high levels of lead.
  • Lead Key Chains: Dollar General Merchandising recalled about 400,000 Chinese-manufactured Keychains because they contained high levels of lead.
  • Shocking Palm Trees: iObjectSolutions Inc. of Georgia’s Chinese-made Pre-lit Palm Trees was found to have electrical problems with its lighting system, which could cause fires or electric shocks.
  • Unguarded Blades: Sears warned customers to remove the “Craftsman” logo label from their Chinese-made Craftsman Circular Saws; after it was found that the label could become partially detached, leading to exposure of the saw blade and injury to those operating the saw.
  • Toxic Fish: It is believed that imported Chinese monkfish was actually deadly puffer fish, a labelling disaster that lead to the hospitalization of at least one person in America.
  • Tween’s Lead Jewerly: Tween Brands Inc. of New York recalled a set of Chinese-manufactured metal jewellery for children that jewellery contained high levels of lead, which can cause adverse health effects and is toxic if ingested by young children.
  • Toxic Drums: The Boyds Collection of Pennsylvania recalled its “Eli’s Small Drums and Liberty’s Large Drums” when it was found that the paint used by its Chinese manufacturer contained dangerous levels of lead.
  • Children’s Rings: Cardinal Distributing Company of Maryland recalled its “Children’s Turquoise Rings” for containing dangerous levels of lead.
  • More Lead Jewellery: Spandrel Sales and Marketing of Arizona recalled 200,000 children’s necklaces, bracelets and rings because they contained dangerous levels of lead.
  • Collapsing Stools: Cracker Barrel Old Country Store recalled over 2,000 Chinese-manufactured kitchen stools, which had been found to unexpectedly collapse during use.
  • Lead Bamboo: Anima Bamboo Collection Games, manufactured by HaPe International Ltd., of Ningbo, China, were recalled when the toys in game sets were found to contain lead paint.
  • Hazardous Grills: Grills produced in China by Sagittarius Sporting Goods were recalled after many were found to be missing a hose that connects the grill manifold to its side burner, posing a risk of fires and burn injuries to customers.
  • Toxic Jesus Fish: Oriental Trading Company of Nebraska recalled over 130,000 religious fish necklaces for children, which had been found to contain high levels of lead.
  • Hazardous Candles: Vivre Royal was forced to recall a set of Chinese-produced candles when it came to light that their exterior coating and decorations were highly flammable.
  • Kerosene Eyeballs: Gemmy Industries recalled several hundred plastic “Floating Eyeballs” because they contained kerosene, which if broken, presents a chemical hazard to children.
  • Deadly Tires: Tire importer Foreign Tire Sales, based in Union, N.J., recalled as many as 450,000 tires after it was reported that the treads on light-truck radials manufactured by Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co. in Hangzhou, China, were shoddily manufactured and could separate. Several traffic deaths have been blamed on such tires.
  • Tainted Seafood: The FDA detained imports of three types of Chinese fish — catfish, basa and dace — as well as shrimp and eel after repeated testing turned up contamination with drugs unapproved in the United States for use in farmed seafood.
  • Toxic Thomas the Tank Engine Toys: American toy company RC2 was forced to recall a series of wooden toys based on the popular children’s show after it was revealed that they were painted with dangerously toxic paint.
  • Lead Earrings: Accessories»Silver Stud Earring Sets, jewellery for kids that was sold in Kmart stores across America, were recalled after being found to contain dangerous levels of lead.
  • Deadly Cribs: American company Simplicity Inc. recently found that the directions for its made-in-China Nursery-In-A-Box crib had been improperly produced. If followed, the Chinese-made directions could cause the crip to come apart and trap/injure babies.
  • Poisonous Toothpaste: The FDA recently found that several low-priced toothpastes imported from China contained diethylene glycol, which poisons the liver and kidneys and depresses the central nervous system.
  • Lead Necklaces: Geocentral’s Butterfly Necklaces for kids were recalled when it was found that the metal clasps on the necklaces contained dangerous levels of lead.
  • Unexpected Shattering: Pier 1 Imports recalled over 200,000 Chinese-made glassware pieces after it was found that they can crack or break unexpectedly, posing a laceration hazard to consumers.
  • Collapsing Recliners: Rockingham Deluxe Lounge Chairs, imported from China by Rockingham Deluxe Lounge Chairs, were recalled because the chairs can collapse or fall backward due to faulty support brackets or weak frames, posing fall and severe laceration hazards to consumers.
  • Dangerously Crappy Hammocks: A free-standing hammock manufactured by the Chinese company Danlong Industries has been found to break quite easily, sending anyone unlucky enough to be resting in the hammock to the ground. Several people have reported injuries.
  • “Essential” Lead Jewellery: Future Industries of New Jersey recalled their “Essentials for kids” jewellery product line after the Chinese-manufactured jewellery was found to contain dangerous levels of lead.
  • Golf Club heads that get detached from the shaft and fly ahead of the ball

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

In the Jaws of the Power Mad Dragon

An international campaign has been organized to tame the rampant dragon. It aspires to make China back track a little from its brazen behaviour of bullying small defenceless nations. China is becoming more arrogant, more oppressive at each passing day that they remain unrebuked and uncensured by other global powers and the community of smaller nations for their bullying of defenceless sovereignties.

Other countries must be convinced that they are as threatened as Filipinos are. China is in a Manifest Destiny mode and would not hesitate to grab needed resources wherever they are available; that it is just a matter of time before they, too, are reached by the tentacles of a voracious China.

Doubly important is to inculcate in the minds of the citizens of ailing and moribund economies that China is to blame for their woes because China sucked off their manufacturing capabilities because of exploitation of labor through conscription and the enforcement slave labor cost in their production; stymied their export thrusts through unfair currency manipulation of the yuan.  All these have prevented their benighted economies from recovery.

Within China, the exploited labourers must be made aware that they are not getting their rightful share of the economic bonanza and rouse discontent strong enough to foment a protest. The inequalities in Communist China has become worst than those happening in democratic countries. Already the very of China are contemplating to leave their country bringing the wealth that they have amassed. They are aware that sooner or later the masses will not have any of the oppression and the unfairness in their system.

I think this is a job for those who have experience in communications work whether as creators of communications and/or those adept in their dissemination. The objective is to arouse an international collective rage against an imperialist China, a rage that will find expression in a boycott of “made in China” products. As a starter one could campaign for n international week of boycott for China made products and gauge its effects and monitor their reactions to it.

Some thoughts on the Boycott China Products Movement:

The idea of a boycott is effective because it goes directly to the heart of China’s strength, the power of their exports which stems from their cheap production costs and their currency advantage that wreak havoc on import dependent countries.

Boycott is an attractive prospect because people can easily participate in it and have a “feel good” experience about it; almost similar to having joined a rally, a people power march (EDSA, OWS, etc). It can also be a “work at home” participation.

For it to be effective it has to reach a critical mass, a global critical mass. It is not enough that only the Philippines with a few third world countries engage in it but also other countries who are bankrupt and near demise, who can be easy prey to unjust aggression by a bully nation; countries whose economic woes may be traced to China’s economic hegemony.

China is a world problem; because of its currency advantage, cheap labour combined with an innate Chinese ruthless business acumen, it has cornered most of the large scale manufacturing requirements internationally to the chagrin of the businesses all over the world.

We cannot have a China that is so powerful; even as early as now they have shown a propensity to lay aside common propriety, respect for other sovereignties in their quest for world dominance. The world cannot have an unfettered dragon rampaging and laying waste those that are in their path towards global supremacy.

The Philippines is seen by China as a pesky tiresomeness that blocks them from pursuing their ultimate quest. There are natural resources in our land that are vital to the engine of the Chinese industrial juggernaut and acquiring them through any means is paramount in their minds. They are resorting to a complete bullying act; apart from sabre rattling they are applying economic thumbscrews to lessen our resolve to resist.

This is one of the problems that we have to wrestle with. Can our manufacturing, engineering, service industries, construction, retail survive with a China boycott? Even now I know of some sectors who are already complaining that the Chinese are making it difficult for them to source their requirements from China. Apparently they know that we need them more than they do us. What is the need for a boycott when they refuse to provide our industries their needs? Even if the Filipino consumer sector is successful in boycotting China products would our industries large and small be able sustain being resilient and as unrelenting to starve the evil dragon.

Will the Chinese miss a quarter of a billion dollars (someone’s estimate of our China imports) a year?  Shouldn’t the campaign include the rallying of Americans and other western countries that are near demise as a result of Chinese domination in manufacturing? All of these countries would have a beef against the Chinese for undermining their economies as a result of currency manipulation and dirt cheap labour costs.  Governments should support a boycott by the citizenry.

In the same spirit as the Occupy Wall Street Movement the China boycott movement should rally enough adherents who are militant enough to resolutely do a boycott of Chinese made products. In the US it could be an issue that a political candidate may want to champion and would have as audience the “99” Americans who have been oppressed and victimized the most by the downturn of the economy, a situation that could easily be linked to the Chinese economic hegemony.

What sacrifices are involved here for the countries joining the boycott? Surely there will be quite a few. For a China boycott to be effective it has to enjoin the business community to do their own form of boycott. Necessarily, their businesses will be affected as most of them have China as primary sourcing origin for raw materials, the merchandise to sell, the machinery and technology (big and small) required by manufacturing and the IT hardware and software that is indispensable to most businesses. They will either have to do without or buy more expensive alternatives.

For the citizenry it would mean having to forego little luxuries and buying more expensively.

At the homefront:
For us Filipinos, is this just a middle “class”, middle income group sentiment; a mere 10+ percent of the population (they will be the ones who will have to weather the storm), the rest of the population cannot be expected to worry about this problem, the rich 1% may not even feel inconvenienced and the poor, they will use and they will eat whatever is cheap and available regardless of where they came from. As in most cases, the rich would be indifferent, the poor does not have a choice; only the middle class may be challenged.

Business and Industry; for sure profitability will be cut and some businesses would probably close shop, investments and industries will be at a standstill, entrepreneurial activity will momentarily freeze. China would have made the decision for them by refusing exports of raw materials and products for they know that economic squeeze play would bring the Philippine economy down and its government to its haunches.

Government move; this will be a test of political will, of being resolute, of being firm, of being a persuasive leadership, perhaps something akin to the special powers of a “martial law” to have people and institutions conform to national directives. It would be a time that cannot afford to brook any form of dissent or protestations to government moves which in the situation may be draconian at certain times.

From an international perspective:
Can it be an international move (how many countries would join?) Would ASEAN be sympathetic? Would the distraught nations in Europe go along with a boycott?
It is necessary that the US will be in on it; would it be easy for the citizenry convince their government to support their boycott this being an election year? Would Wall Street and big business be supportive of this; time for Wall Street and the Corporate world to make amends to the “99”.

Public Relations and propaganda; is it time to play up the yellow peril warning internationally, can the suffering of bankrupt nations be attributed largely to China’s currency manipulation and have China’s cheap labour as the source of economic ills, loss of jobs, dissipation of manufacturing capabilities from the suffering nations. The Americans are vaunted propagandists and with the help of their extensive media network (inclusive of the internet) convince enough of the nations in the world to join up in defence of a country’s well being, a threatened way of life against the creeping yellow tide.

A military move
Would America make use of the only existing dominant power left with them; military prowess of the US is still way ahead of China. This may be used to persuade China to be more acquiescent to the demands of the civilized world to quit its swaggering imperialist stance and stop the bullying of small defenceless sovereignties?

Can a mutual defence agreement amongst smaller nations be forged with the assistance of bigger and more powerful nations?

Will the Philippines be the first to be aggressed by the Chinese militarily? What will be the American response to this aggression?

Would China’s trade allies be military allies as well?

Sacrifices to be made
It is going to be a long protracted struggle and pinned on the hope that other countries will get involved to summon up a critical mass that will snowball into a worldwide movement that China cannot ignore.
There will be dire consequences. Shortness on just about everything for the people and shortfalls to those in business and industry.
How much suffering can populations bear and for how long?

Boycott is an attractive move but is easier said than done. It has to be of global proportions and not only from a handful of small wimp nations that China can ignore if it so chooses. Citizens of the world should arise and oppose the excesses of an emerging superpower. It is only with a concerted effort of all freedom loving people that can make China desist from its imperialist aspirations.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Jessica Soho State of the Nation haikube

I have always felt that Jessica Soho’s naming her program State of the Nation is an act of disrespect to the time honoured tradition of a President of the Republic addressing the people with a report on how goes the nation at present.
It is an example on how media personalities can resort to crass gimmickry just to catch the attention of viewers.
Ms Soho had the temerity to arrogate unto herself the privilege of addressing the audience at a level reserved for the holder of the highest post of the land. It is an affront not only to P’noy but to all the Presidents of our republic past, present and future.