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Showing posts from June, 2009

My life companion...

... is my Mac and I am so relieved that we are on speaking terms again. It's been a long time since I've spoken with The Mac or my books. I used to do it all the time, especially when I had eureka moments, then I would exchange a few happy phrases and whoops of delight with the tools of my trade. People around me find it disturbing when I do this because they think I'm speaking to them but I'm barely even aware they're there. So this is a good sign for the coming writing days, that I have resumed the conviviality of the long hours The Mac and I spend together. Me, typing on The Mac: Logging canals are private property of the persons who invested in having them built. The trees that the canals lead to also become the property of the investor. However, once the trees have been cleared, the land around the canal reverts to tanah kosong , land that belongs to no one or, literally, zero land... The Mac makes clicking, typing sounds, and whirrs every so softly, almost l

Random Diss Excerpt #12

READING ADVISORY: Straight up ethnographic writing on hunting. Yawn. Historically, hunting was an important part of Dayak life in the area of Southeast Borneo (Knapen 2001: 311). There are very few hunters left in Kamipang as most people have converted to Islam and may not touch or eat the meat of wild pig, which is the game that is common to the area. The hunters of Baun Bango are Protestants and/or adherents of Hindu Kaharingan. Hunters reported that there is no shortage of wild boar, because they reproduce quickly. It is rare however to find deer. At the time of fieldwork, male members of Christian and Hindu Kaharingan households hunted occasionally. They would hunt alone, or in twos, accompanied by up to four dogs that chase the pigs to the river where the hunter waits on a boat and spears it. When the hunters set out traps, they must give offerings of eggs and cigarettes to the guardian spirits in the forest. This rite is called ngariaw. According to the hunters the offering

Back in the classroom

I have said this many times before and I'll say it again now: I have a love-hate relationship with anthropology (which I have been studying since 1992) and academia (which I have been wandering in and out of professionally for the past eight years). The root of the "hate" part is this queasy feeling I get whenever I'm doing anthropology or writing academic articles. It comes with this persistent voice in my head that says: "I should be doing something more useful." The root of the "love" part is more difficult to explain, which is why it holds such sway over me. Yesterday was my first day back in the classroom as a lecturer. ( The first time was when I taught Introduction to Sociology and Anthropology at the Arneo for a semester in 2001.) Academia, it's not quite as glamorous as it looks but... This semester I will be teaching SDS 265, a seminar on community-environment relations, to a wonderful group of graduate students taking up their M

Why the recent Isabela busts are so important

In most of the case studies I've read on illegal logging here in the Philippines and in Indonesia when the law decides to crack down on the criminals, it's the logger in the forest working to put food on his/her family's table that bears the brunt of "legal" action and bad press. I place "legal" in quotation marks because the actions taken in raids are often arbitrary, do not follow due process, and are mainly for show or for the purpose of threatening laborers in the forest. For example, confiscated chainsaws are bought back from the police when the furor has died down and then it's business as usual. Or, police and military receive regular payments from illegal logging operations so that they turn a blind eye but when a high-ranking official comes around they go through the motions of a raid and then the high-ranking official leaves (probably with something in his/her pocket, too) and then it's business as usual. My host families along the Kati

Palengkera: Notes on the kapihan

The glaring absence of city government representatives in the kapihan sa palengke is indicative of their reluctance to be transparent and to practice true democracy. It's true that our city officials have many priorities that they must attend to and we must respect that, but for the record, the following were invited: Mayor Peter Rey Bautista, who said he would be there at 11 a.m., but failed to appear because he was distributing gifts at a charity event organized by the Baguio Cantonese Association in SM. City Administrator Atty. Fianza who declined due to a prior engagement. City Engineer BaƱes and Architect Degay who first said they were deciding which one of them would attend and then who, on the day before the kapihan, said they had a trip to Ilocos Sur -- a CBAO activity and they had to be there. We respect the choices they made but cannot help but feel that it was a wasted opportunity for dialogue. The questions people wanted to ask them were simple: When will the rest

Good news for a change! From the Sierra Madre!

Photo source: WAVE of the future Photo source: WAVE of the future Photo source: WAVE of the future From WAVE of the future , the blog of Ipat Luna : "Amidst the maddening hoopla about Mancao, H1N1 and Chacha, Isabela Governor Grace Padaca quietly applied for and served two search warrants against two big time players in Isabela's logging game. Two large stashes of undocumented lumber from Luzon's most important forests - the Northern Sierra Madre Natural Park amounting to 700,000 board feet of high grade lumber were confiscated. One of the big time loggers was arrested and the other is in hiding. And it is not over. More actions are expected in the weeks to come. "The campaign began around this time last year, when Governor Padaca soutght help from a number of sectors on her campaign. I-Witness did a full feature documentary ( part 1 , part 2 , part 3 , and part 4 ) and many sectors applauded but actual support was still not forthcoming. "More rece

A Moment with Mom E.

Tito Krip arranged for the both of us to visit Mom E. before his flight back to Manila on Sunday. It was mother's day. I wasn't sure whether she would remember me. The beginning was awkward. I told her that I was in the writer's workshop in 1993. Tito Krip told her I was my father's daughter. She turned to me and said kindly, "Your father I know." We made small talk and eventually (inevitably) the conversation led to poetry. Mom E said, "It's harder to write short poems, because you have to be precise." Feeling emboldened by this (most of my poems are short), I hesitantly asked her whether I could show her a poem. Mom E's eyes lit up and she said "Yes, of course!" I was so happy. Now we both knew why I had come. I showed her my draft of Invisible Light , on which I had crossed out words and scribbled changes and crossed them out again. "Oh good," she said. "It's a short one. Good." She nodded approving

Dumaguete Diary: Day 3

It's cold and dark and when water isn't raining down on us in sheets, it hangs suspended in the air in heavy mist, the kind that gets you soaked and wets the insides of your nostrils if you stand out there for two minutes. I'm getting cabin fever but there is no way I'm stepping out into that weather. I'll teleport myself back to Dumaguete instead. So much to choose from! Need more stomach space! Excuse me po, are you Virgilio Adanza? On that third and last day of my wonderful visit, I woke up at seven in the morning and jumped into a tricycle. I headed for the Dumaguete market for breakfast. Already it was so warm. I was greeted by rows and rows of small food stalls, all offering kakanins and bread of all kinds with hot chocolate made from tableas -- the real thing! I chose a stall that was fronted by a table laden with budbud. I sat down and asked for tsokolate and budbud. The man selling the budbud, let's call him Mang Virgilio, plopped two bundles down on

Palengkera: Kapihan with the media!

On June 9, 2009, from 10a.m. to 12nn a media kapihan will be held in the market place for the first time ever! What's this all about? Since the March 2 fire there have been debates, consultations and "consultations," a market summit, a resolution for inquiry in aid of legislation in the House, council meetings and "council" meetings, and various news stories on the market. The city government has finally approved a budget for a temporary roof to be built over the burned areas namely, the fruit and vegetable section, the tobacco section, and the sari-sari section. Meantime, the court case against the Uniwide contract has been raised to the Court of Appeals. This issue still looms large over Baguio's market, as our city officials such as Mayor Bautista, Councilor Tabanda, and Councilor Sembrano have explictly stated that we can only think about short-term solutions for the market because in the end it will go to Uniwide. We wonder why they can say this so

Writing for free 1

Recently I was invited to write a column for a local newspaper. This excited me no end. I daydreamed about it day and night, thinking of titles, topics, and photos to include. The publishers wanted the column to have lots of photos, so this to me was a great opportunity to inflict my visual anthropologeek self on an audience in a more structured way than this blog. In moments of insecurity, I wondered whether I could manage to squeeze out a column a week. I can't even be as regular as I'd like to be on this blog, and I have a dissertation that I've been neglecting for ummm, er, months! I'm more used to writing articles on intermittent waves of inspiration. So it would be good practice for me to work "under the discipline of a weekly deadline". I felt a rush of excitement when a columnist for a national paper told me that writing an article a week taught him to write fast and to sieze every column topic that came his way. In my practical moments I asked mysel

Traveling in Good Company

The best five hour bus ride I ever had was when I traveled from Baguio to Manila listening to James Salter, Joyce Carol Oates, Eudora Welty, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Andrea Lee, Junot Diaz, Edwidge Danticat, John Updike, and other esteemed authors. You can bring them along too on your next road trip. Just call on Deborah Triesman, New Yorker editor for fiction and it can all be arranged -- for free. I heart the monthly New Yorker fiction podcast!