I placed a couple of tablets in my mouth, then realized that my glass is empty. And my 4.5-liter thermos is also empty. What do I do? What do I do?!? The tablets have already started melting. I don’t want to drink tap water. And spitting them out won’t make them taste any better. So I quickly sort of chewed and swallowed them and washed them down with peanut butter. I made a judgment call. Don’t judge me, you weren’t there.
So yeah. That was my Sunday night. Exciting.
Who performs at an awards show wearing jeans and a T-shit and without a backing band? ED SHEERAN DOES! ❤❤❤
THIS SONG. This 6-year-old song that I’ve listened to for possibly a thousand times already. I have a new understanding of it. And listening to it now hurts. Like, it physically hurts me. (October 30, 2012)
David and Goliath reborn in the Philippines’ struggle with the mighty mainland
by Alexandria Dee
(A version of this article appeared in print on July 24, 2012, on page 4 of The China Post.)
In this modern day version of David and Goliath, the Philippines is David — meek, but strong at heart — battling it out with a Goliath-like China, an economic and military superpower. The battle has been fought from two directions. On one hand, the governments are entangled in intimidation tactics of sorts. Such measures can be called actions from “above” as they are official or institutional in nature. On the other hand, civilians are also taking steps to make their sentiments known. These measures can be called actions from “below” as they come from the civil society.
The Battle Viewed from ‘above’
The approach of China is straightforward. It taps into its abundant military and economic resources to fight this battle. From the military side, it doesn’t hesitate to show the extent of its power as it sends vessel after vessel to the disputed area. From the economic side, it has directly hit the Philippines in two different circumstances thus far. First, Chinese travel agencies suspended tours to the Philippines, thereby significantly affecting the latter’s tourism industry. Second, Philippine bananas worth millions of dollars had been blocked at Chinese ports for failing to meet new and stricter guidelines. However, it seemed too much of a coincidence that such “new guidelines” took effect at the height of the tensions. It seems more likely that it wanted to put pressure on the Philippines by taking a swing at its already struggling export economy.
The Philippines’ approach, on the other hand, has had to be craftier. Because its military and economic resources pale in comparison, it has employed diplomatic tactics instead. It embraces its David persona, owns up to its weaker position and then labels China as a bully. Furthermore, the Philippines looks to its strongest ally, the United States, to honor their existing military alliance, especially in light of the ASEAN’s lack of support. Indeed, both sides have recently reaffirmed their alliance. This, in itself, is not a military response. I see it as a diplomatic move. Perhaps, the Philippines is trying to make a statement: “You may be strong, but we have stronger FRIENDS.”
The Battle Viewed from ‘below’
As the governments engage each other, the civil society is not likely to simply wait it out. Citizens go out their way to make their sentiments known in two venues — on the streets and on the World Wide Web.
Protest rallies are nothing new. However, it is quite notable that they are happening at the transnational level. Widespread migration has displaced people from their homelands; however, loyalties are not displaced as easily. Hence, Filipinos all over the world are staging rallies in front of Chinese consulates in their respective cities. The Chinese have staged similar rallies in front of Philippine consulates, but on a smaller scale.
Aside from taking it to the streets, the prevalence of the Internet has given people a new venue to stage their protests — the online world. In April 2012, Chinese and Filipino “hacktivists” defaced websites to stake their claim on the disputed island. While such activities have been criticized as simply destructive, they do represent an evolution of the ways by which people can articulate their sentiments. Technological advancements have provided us new protest tools that, if used properly, can further different causes.
Some may say that these actions from “below” do not contribute anything. After all, it is hard to imagine how a number of protesters and hackers can influence the outcome. However, I believe that these actions represent a civil society that is alive and well. It shows that people are not contented in simply letting the government call all the shots.
While I believe that mutual deterrence renders a military showdown inconceivable, it is also just as inconceivable that one side will back down. When nationalist pride gets wounded, wounds run deep and heal very slowly. Hence, the nation-states will continue to push each other’s buttons from “above” and from “below.”
Three months later — plus umpteen threats, appeals, withdrawals and redeployment of vessels — a peaceful resolution has yet to be achieved. If this battle had been fought a century ago, it would have been over before it had even begun: Short of divine intervention, Goliath-China would have crushed David-Philippines in five seconds. Fortunately, we now live in a global community marked by interdependence. Gone are the days of hard power politics where states are purely driven by competitive self-interests. Joint economic and social interests outshine military interests; soft power diplomacy prevails over hard power. Ultimately, nation-states would choose to maintain bonds, no matter how tenuous, rather than to break them completely. Somehow, peace will be achieved. But a resolution is a far-off possibility. Perhaps, an impasse is the best that we could hope for.
|| Photo taken at the Yingge Ceramics Museum in Taiwan (July 2012) ||
From afar, I thought these were roasted chickens that were put on display, like the ones seen in rotisseries (like this). When I came closer and finally realized what they were, I was grossed out. I thought it was quite morbid and grotesque. But then, after the initial shock, it got me thinking……
In the grandest scheme of things, we’re all just glorified chunks of meat.
And if we have nothing else to contribute to the world except for our mere existence, life will eat us up. (But probably not before it cooks us in public just so our existence can at least serve as cautionary tales.)
So make every action count. Make it count for something other than for the purpose of simply going through the motions.
I’m not sure what the artist’s intended message is. Maybe they don’t look like chickens to other people. But I guess we see what we want to see, when we want to see it. And the meanings we derive even from the most random of things echo the thoughts/feelings/emotions that resonate within us the most.