detail from Labels for Hair Ribbons by Manuel Ocampo a delectable selection of oriental appetizers
Tuesday, July 23, 2002


: . Hunger and Memory:

So Cory Aquino may have been among the list of nominees for the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. Good thing she expressed no interest in the position. She may only expand her efforts on behalf of human rights within her very own hacienda on a global scale. Let her stay home and do less damage like dealing the opiate of the masses (that damn cliche). I'm sure she can "get one million Filipino families to consecrate themselves to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary in time for Pope John Paul II's visit to the Philippines next year." Prayer may help those Filipino families reach higher planes of consciousness and therefore give them the power to forget about more mundane cares like hunger. From Cacique Democracy in the Philippines, Benedict Anderson's widely-read take on the History of the Burgis:
    Shortly after the January 18 (1988) elections a curious reporter went to interview employees at the Cojuangcos's Hacienda Luisita...What difference had it made to their lives that Tita Cory had become President? "We used to get rice and sugar free, now we must pay. We used to get free water from the pumps in our yards. Now we must pay for pumped-in water because molasses from the sugar mill has seeped into our wells." Daily wages? They had been raised by 2.50 pesos ($0.12) for field hands, and 8 pesos ($0.40) for mill-workers. Level of employment? Usually from two to four days a week, in good times. One elderly man spoke of trying to survive by busing to additional work in the neighboring province of Pampanga: transportation costs took 23 pesos from the daily wage of 40 pesos, leaving him a net of 17 pesos ($0.85). It still made sense to go. The reporter was told that a worker, who had been quoted in an international magazine as saying that the hacienda horses ate better than the hands, had been "summoned" by management. He had to retract the slander. But one of the interviewees concluded: "Of course it is true. The horses get Australian grain and eggs, while we hardly have the meat." All those interviewed either refused to give their names, or asked not to be identified.

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