En route to rising joblessness

First published on thepoc.net

In his inaugural address in June last year, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III promised to create more jobs “so that searching for jobs overseas will not be necessary.”  Almost a year later, the promise now sounds more like a lie as the country’s unemployment rate even worsened.

The number of jobless Filipinos swelled to 11.3 million in March from 9.9 million in November last year based on the latest Social Weather Station (SWS) survey first published on BusinessWorld. The survey, which was conducted from March 4-7, also said that unemployment rate rose to 27.2 percent from 23.5 percent four months earlier.

The estimated 11.3 jobless adult Filipinos represent 12.28 percent of the country’s estimated population at92 million as of 2009. This means that one in every ten Filipinos are jobless.

Official unemployment rate stood at a lower 7.4 percent as of January or equivalent to an estimated 2.9 million Filipinos, up from 7.1 percent in October last year.

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Entering the world of Street Art

Trying to understand the "bombing" of MST crew (Photo screengrabbed from Kirk Sanchez' video)

Yesterday, I witnessed the “bombing” of the Goodrich-Paliparan wall in Marikina City by street artists. It was no ordinary bombing:  instead of leaving debris, artists from different walks of life left one lengthy eye candy for a cause.

The occasion was the second round of the Asbestos Street Fighters Street Art competition, the qualifying tilt for the much-awaited Asian Wall Lords Graffiti Battle in Taiwan.

[Asbestos, also dubbed the “deadly dust,” is considered a carcinogen that can lead to fatal diseases. Around the globe, more than 100,000 die every year due to asbestos-related diseases. That is one person every five minutes!]

It was perhaps my first encounter with street art in-the-works. I felt like I was thrown into a different world: graffiti artists doing their craft, skaters occasionally dropping on the concrete road, cars pumping punk/ hip-hop music. The hiss and rattle of the spraypaint provided music to the riot of colors unfolding.

Meddling with the graffiti crews, I learned that they also call themselves “writers,” and that a large-scale street art operation is termed as “bombing.” Indeed, they came up with larger-than-life artistic portrayals of how asbestos kills people.

DNB crew, which emerged as one of the winners, came up with a 3-D styled graffiti of a winged street artist protecting a child from the wafts of asbestos. Another winning team, FTC, used a Captain America-inspired serial killer to personify asbestos.

Meanwhile, MST crew creatively fused the graffiti mark “Deadly” into the series of decaying faces, using bright yellow-orange-cyan colors to punctuate the design. Continue reading

How safe are we in Daang Matuwid?

Published on Blogwatch.ph

In the aftermath of the road accident that killedveteran journalist and professor Lourdes “Chit” Estella-Simbulan, it became clear that much has to be done in terms of ensuring safety on the roads. It also became obvious that despite the prevalence of accidents especially along major thoroughfares, authorities have failed to read the signs right. An effective road safety program remains out of sight.

Professor Simbulan, a journalism professor at the University of the Philippines and co-founder of investigative news site VERA Files,died in a bus-taxi collission on Commonwealth Avenue last May 13. This was just two days after government agencies took part in the worldwide launch of the Decade of Action for Road Safety.

Ironically, the local launch of the global pledge for road safety, which was marked with much fanfare, barely put road safety in the spotlight. Mam Chit’s death did it.

It is infuriariting to think that it had to take the death of a respected journalist-professor for the government to train its sight on road safety and accident prevention. Year-on-year, thousands of accidents occur at Metro Manila’s thoroughfares killing dozens of people. Last year, the Metropolitian Manila Development Authority (MMDA)recorded 21 deaths and 608 injuries in 2,000 accidents along Commonweath Avenue alone. In the entire Quezon City, the agency listed 150 deaths in 26,000 accidents.

At the UP National Center for Transportation Studies (NCTS), several research studies on road safety have been produced. Yet it appears that policymakers are not taking a serious look at the findings of the studies. UP President Alfredo Pascual lamented that while the results of the studies have somehow have been common knowledge to us, road safety measures along Commonwealth and in other major roads “remain deficient and unsatisfactory.”

For the Aquino administration, it’s a tragedy that it is apparently clueless on road safety despite its adept use of road talk. Since the beginning, the Aquino administration has treated us to a menu of road-related metaphors and terms: Daang Matuwid, counterflow, wang-wang, sangandaan. Now, the government appears to be scratching its head over vehicular accident that instantly killed Professor Simbulan.

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Labor Day outrage and paranoia

First published on Blogwatch.ph

On Labor Day, the President surprisingly woke up early, broke breadwith “yellow” labor leaders, but hid from the 25,000-strongworkers and activists led by Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) who marched to Mendiola. He just dished out empty “gifts” that were met with howls and chants in the streets.

Elsewhere in other regions, tens of thousands also took part in Labor Day actions to assert decent wages and price controls. More than a tenth of a million Filipinos spent Sunday in protests across the nation – the people’s strongest political statement yet against the one-year-old Aquino regime.

It goes without saying that those who joined the Labor Day protests cannot be dismissed by President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III as another “noisy minority,” the tactless label which he gave his critics at the House of Representatives. The thousands who marched to Mendiola under the scorching heat were actually his purported “bosses”: factory workers, government employees, farmers, slum dwellers, students, young professionals, teachers and drivers who comprise the majority of the population.

The message was loud and clear: more and more people are getting disillusioned with Aquino’s rhetoric of change.

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