Mong Palatino

Blogging about the Philippines and the Asia-Pacific since 2004


@mongster is a Manila-based activist, former Philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of Asia-Pacific affairs.

Written for Bulatlat

1. Martilyo. Robbers belonging to the ‘Martilyo Gang’ used a hammer and crowbar to rob jewelry shops in SM North Edsa, the grandmother of all supermalls in the country. Because of this incident which happened during the Christmas shopping rush, hammers cannot be sold anymore in malls and police has banned the wearing of caps and sunglasses inside shopping centers. SM should revise its jingle: We’ve got it all for you, except hammers.

2. Payong. Mayor Junjun Binay drew controversy after he reportedly berated Dasmarinas guards for blocking his security convoy. Even more controversial was the umbrella used by his aide even if there was no rain and it was evening. Many quickly remembered how a former Supreme Court Chief Justice used to hold umbrellas for former First Lady Imelda Marcos during Martial Law. Interestingly, only few mentioned Bro Mike Velarde and his ‘baliktarin ang payong’ preaching.

3. Precinct Count Optical Scan or PCOS. The undisputed star of the 2010 automated elections somewhat lost its magic in this year’s midterm polls. Hundreds of PCOS machines experienced technical glitches, errors, and malfunctions which put into question the credibility and reliability of the voting technology used by the government. But since PCOS machines are now owned by the government, there is a high probability that these will still be deployed in the 2016 presidential elections. Goodbye dagdag-bawas, hello automated cheating.

4. Relief packs. Since it has been a year of deadly natural disasters, relief distribution became the new normal in the Philippine islands. Repacking centers sprouted in urban centers. But partisan politics and incompetent leadership slowed down the distribution of relief goods. Naturally, there were epal relief packs and some volunteers even complained that foreign donations were being rebranded as government relief goods. Because of Yolanda, we now know that the government uses this standard in filling a relief pack for a family of five: 6 kilograms of rice, 8 sachets of coffee, 8 packs of instant noodles, 3 cans of sardines, 3 cans of corned beef. Hindi pa dito kasama ang tsinelas na pinamimigay diumano ni Korina Sanchez.

5. Fake SARO. After the outing of fake NGOs and foundations allegedly owned by pork operator Janet Napoles, authorities are now probing the so-called ‘fake SAROs’ produced by the SARO gang inside the Department of Budget and Management. SARO refers to Special Allotment Release Order which the DBM issues to agencies if a public project is initially approved. Pork projects need the SARO to process the release of cash, billions of which have been pocketed already by Napoles and porky politicians. Of course the SARO gang must be made accountable. But were there really ‘Fake SAROs’ or was DBM merely trying to exculpate itself from the pork scam?

6. Bulletproof vest. Pork whistleblowers will be remembered for their testimony and the bulletproof vests they wore during senate hearings. Napoles too also donned the police garb in the senate although she refused to talk about the pork scam.

7. Bathtub filled with cash. According to her former aide, Napoles stored cash in a bath tub. To understand the meaning of this, look inside your wallet and check if it’s filled with cash. Then google an image of a bath tub.

8. Selfies and shirties. Selfie is more than just word of the year. It has become the mainstream though annoying way of presenting oneself to the world. For many, selfies are expressions of creativity and individuality. But for others, they are meaningless portraits of vanity and selfishness. A recent trend was the everyday wearing of Yolanda volunteer shirts. They are shirties or walking selfies.

9. Plastic and eco-bag. In the past, environment protection is equated with tree planting activities. Today, local governments showcase their support for the green advocacy by implementing ‘ban plastic’ ordinances. The semi-demise of the plastic led to the rise of the eco-bag. Suddenly, we have become smart and green consumers while companies self-praised their green initiatives. But typhoons Pablo and Yolanda reminded us that saving the environment should be more than just token reforms and changing our lifestyles.

10. CCTV. It did not simply grab the headlines, CCTV has become THE news. The CCTV medium has become the message. It is actually a glorified and overrated solution to petty and even heinous street crimes. In fact, city mayors wanted to install CCTVs in all public areas and business establishments. Scary that we find pleasure in imposing technological controls in our lives. It seems not enough that NSA agents are snooping on our phone conversations since we still demand more surveillance cameras in order to feel safe in our communities. Forget privacy and democratic space, CCTV is here to stay.

11. Wrecking Ball. I fear that the future generation will remember 2013 as the year when the world was scandalized by ‘Wrecking Ball’ – the song, the music video, and most especially the artist. Perhaps we might have reacted differently if the singer was not former teenybopper Miley Cyrus. For me, the iconic wrecking ball in the music video symbolized the violence that Filipinos suffered in the past year. It stands for the demolition orders, development aggression projects, order of battle lists, and unsafe habitats that killed and displaced Filipinos in their own lands. Exacerbating the problem is the arrogance, insensitivity, elitism and irritating ineptitude of the BS Aquino government. All things considered, the BS Aquino government was the biggest wrecking ball of the year.

12. Apps. Life was simpler in the olden days. Phones were used for calling, then texting, and they were notoriously effective alarm clocks. But phones have become smartphones and mobile internet has altered the way we live and interact with others. Apps dominate our lives everyday and they control how we view and understand the world. Many claim that there is an app for everything. But if we want change, we need the ultimate app: Uprising!

Leave a Reply