The morgue below

Today is the day the site to which some of the earlier content here was once posted is no longer around. Some of the older posts reflect a very different time in my life, and sometimes I had very strong views on things.

Since then, so much water has gone under the bridge. But the morgue remains, a reminder that my enthusiasms are always open to judgment. And sometimes, my past enthusiasms contain the seed of a much more hopeful future, one striking a balance between ideal and real.

Later posts are here, at Thinking and Doing.

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On youth employment, a celebration of life, and new music

Last Friday, I went to a conference about youth employment. It was the results conference of the Joint Programme on Alternatives to Migration: Decent Jobs for Filipino Youth. This was part of a bigger effort to create jobs in the countryside and thus reduce poverty, which is one of the Millennium Development Goals (now under review). The Programme was financed by the Spanish overseas development agency, and the pilot project covered four of the poorest provinces in the country: Maguindanao, Agusan del Norte, Masbate, and Antique. (The events of three years ago were not far from the minds of the participants that day, and during a moment of silence held in the morning, one delegate from the Maguindanao group teared up.)

The standard “firing squad” shot you will see in the newspapers in black and white. I apologize if I am unable to name most of the participants. Photo by Ren Aguila

It was an interesting time for me to meet some of the key people both in government and in the private sector who were responsible for this initiative. It was clear that they wanted this to go nationwide, given the results it has produced.

But while the problems and contexts faced by the Philippines are particular to it, Matthieu Cognac, regional youth employment specialist for the International Labour Organization (one of the oldest multilateral organizations around) told some of the media that afternoon that this is not a peculiar thing, not even to the developed world. “It’s not just a developing world problem; it’s also a developed world problem. Spain has 53% youth unemployment,” Cognac said. It was key that best practices were shared across the board, so he hopes people would make use of this resources site on youth employment which features articles, podcasts, and other documents on best practices and concerns that could be shared on an international level.

What intrigued me most about this conference was that its program was produced in cooperation with a theater company  of some note here. While part of what I may consider the theatrical establishment, it is still a not-for-profit organization and it deals with issues similar to those in the rest of the community. To date, one of its most popular productions has dealt with the issue of overseas employment, so it was natural that they were invited to help organize an event in the hopes that what was learned and shared could help make, as the President put it, overseas employment an option, not a necessity.

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Later that day I visited the former Fort Bonifacio. You can read my news story on what I noted there over the weekend, but I will note a few things I did not mention in the story:

1. On Saturday night, the throbbing beats of a big music festival could be heard across the district; I was walking among the buildings trying to figure out the source of the noise. It turned out that it was not too far from where I ended up that night.

Brigada and some fire/flow arts practitioners perform at the courtyard of Arts in the City. Photo by Ren Aguila

2. What was most interesting about the Spindependence event I attended was that in a good way, it brought together a lot of people I have met in disparate circles. There were musicians, visual artists, and even a film producer I knew (more on her project below); I even met a friend from my time in the debating community who was part of a capoiera troupe that performed that night.

It was fascinating walking amongst the spinners and hula hoopers (if that’s the right word) and others who were interested or merely curious. And it was a celebration of life, which of course resonated with the theme of that weekend’s events at the former Fort Bonifacio. (Would that next year they have a military parade to remind us of the history of the place.)

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Tonight, fellow lovers of music in Metro Manila, you are spoiled for choice. I can think of four big affairs. Okay, maybe three big affairs and one not-quite-so-big ones.

GRRRRL Scout Manila’s latest leg is at B-Side tonight (which is why I gasped when they mentioned this on a radio appearance), and Wolfgang fans will get to enjoy the twentieth anniversary concert–yes, Tet, I’m looking at you–at the Irwin Theater in Ateneo. But I am heading to the Up Dharma Down album launch at One Esplanade (near MOA). Gates open at six, but be there early!

However, my night will end here:

The Ang Nawawalang Soundtrack launch poster. Courtesy of angnawawala.tumblr.com

It starts at 9:30 pm. Good luck to me, and safe journeys and lots of fun to all of us tonight!

I’ll write about Ms Jamora tomorrow, as the poster indicates that it is the right occasion to do so.

What I have written

I have not posted here in a long while, and for that I must apologize. Perhaps now is a good time to admit that I have lost quite a bit of willingness to write about things. Part of the reason is, of course, disillusionment.

Perhaps my friend (a consultant) was right when he assumed a very cynical posture towards the arts scene in this country. It is a corrosive attitude to have, and I wish I could write and share about more hopeful things. But right now, I cannot.

A lot tends to go on outside the public spheres where it seems all is well, and a bit of uncertainty is inevitable. But what I am certain about is that in a way the suspicions and unease some former friends had about the way things go are well-founded.

Without being specific, then, I think it is time to say that I did write certain things putting certain people in a good light. I think that I will say that now that I’ve learned that it’s not so clear cut, I wish I had the honesty and the courage to be more critical when I had the chance.

More importantly, I think it is about time I went in another direction, writing-wise. Perhaps the hard queries need to be asked. And perhaps this won’t be the space for that. Neither would any of the more mainstream outlets for which I have written.

Thanks to everyone for reading my work in different places. And good luck to us all. The truth may very well set us free.