Mong Palatino

blogging about the philippine left and southeast asian politics since 2004


@mongster is a manila-based activist, former philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of asia-pacific affairs.

News about Chinese ships surveying the waters of Benham Rise, located east of the northern part of the Philippines, has triggered a bit of panic in Manila’s political circles in the past few weeks. Perhaps the renewed sense of nationalism over the issue of Benham Rise could embolden policymakers and economic planners to draft a […]

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Written for The Diplomat Though transboundary haze pollution and the El Niño phenomenon are often reported these days across Southeast Asia, these issues deserve greater attention from regional leaders. These are no longer national problems that local politicians can easily address through rhetoric; the situation already demands a stronger action which can be effectively realized […]

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Southeast Asia’s Top Stories in 2014

Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

Written for The Diplomat As we welcome the new year, we look back and review the top news stories in the Southeast Asian region in the past 12 months. These news events were also widely reported and discussed in the international media: 1. Thailand coup. After months of intense street protests, the army of Thailand […]

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The real lessons from Hagupit

Sunday, December 21st, 2014

Written for the CNN “Seeing the first set of images from the typhoon zone in the Philippines is like experiencing a dreadful sense of déjà vu: Flooded roads, fallen huts, small buildings with the rooftops ripped off, and dead animals littering the streets. If this devastation appears eerily familiar, it is because we also saw […]

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Published by Rappler If there is a country that needs to aggressively fight climate injustice, it must be the Philippines. Its global carbon emissions are minimal yet it is highly vulnerable to the harsh impact of extreme weather events. This was most vividly demonstrated by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) which wrought havoc in central Philippines. […]

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Written for Bulatlat The government is always claiming that the number of poor is decreasing but it cannot deny the phenomenal growth of informal settlers across the country, especially in Metro Manila, in the past decade. According to a study cited by the government-funded Philippine Institute for Development Studies, about 5 percent of Metro Manila […]

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Waray as battlecry

Sunday, February 23rd, 2014

Written for Bulatlat Waray, which refers to both the lingua franca and the people of Samar and Leyte, literally means nothing. It is interesting and also quite strange that this term is also used to signify nothingness. But can there be something out of nothing? Can nothing produce something? Today, the word Waray is both […]

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Gross National Survival: A Proposal

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

Written for Bulatlat Despite its high Gross Domestic Product in recent years, the Philippines has remained a backward nation. Poverty numbers didn’t change although wealth disparity has worsened especially between the rural and the urban. It’s clear that the GDP is an inaccurate and inadequate measure of the real state of the economy. Its use […]

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Written for The Diplomat Southeast Asia experienced numerous disasters in 2013: oil spills, dengue outbreaks, earthquakes, bus crashes, and massive floods. But the two biggest were the trans-boundary haze pollution that affected Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia; and super typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda), which wrought devastation in the central part of the Philippines. The haze was caused […]

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13 natural and man-made disasters of 2013

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

Written for Bulatlat 1. Taiwan-Philippines diplomatic row. The crisis was triggered by the tragic killing of a 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman by members of the Philippine Coast Guard on May 9 in Balintang Channel. Angered by the incident, Taiwan stopped issuing work visas to Filipinos and has conducted military exercises near Philippine waters. The Coast Guard […]

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