April 2011

Shattering the silence: An open letter to the Philippine writing community

Alfred "Krip" A. Yuson || Photo via Eileen Tabios

[scribd id=54149124 key=key-i8heou4u0nbsm317saf mode=list]

From the moment that sports blogger Jaemark Tordecilla brought to the light of public attention the fact that Alfred “Krip” A. Yuson had plagiarized an article by GMA News Online sportswriter Rey Joble, entire portions of which appeared in a piece under Yuson’s name in the April 2011 issue of Rogue magazine, we, members of the Philippine reading public, have followed the issue avidly and with great concern as to its resolution.

Our interest is rooted primarily in the fact of Yuson’s prominent position in the cultural matrix. As Tordecilla pointed out in his exposé, Yuson is a Hall of Fame awardee of the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards for Literature, arguably the most prestigious literary distinction in the country. In addition, he has authored and/or edited several publications in different genres, has won recognition for his work at home and abroad, evaluates the output of other writers for the purpose of competitions and workshops—not least among them the annual Silliman University National Writers Workshop, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year—teaches with the Department of English at Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU), and helped found organizations like the Philippine Literary Arts Council (PLAC) and the Manila Critics Circle (MCC). Finally, many of the texts that he has produced have found their way into the classroom as standard readings, which likely secures a place for him in the canon of Philippine literature.

It need hardly be said that Yuson’s stature as a writer, teacher, and gatekeeper affords him not only great power, but also a commensurate degree of responsibility. We believe that he has shown himself undeserving of the one and unequal to the other by virtue of how Yuson has thus far dealt with the matter in Tordecilla’s blog and in his own weekly The Philippine Star column. In these responses, rather than simply acknowledging the offense and apologizing for it, he offers up excuses—his advanced age, deadline pressure, and exhaustion, among others—deployed in rhetoric that belies his claims to contrition.

Moreover, Yuson seeks to confuse the issue by invoking the fraught relations between author and editor, in spite of the fact that his engagement with these relations, as well as with the concept of plagiarism, lacks the self-reflexivity, rigor, and intelligence required in order for it be tenable or acceptable. That he would resort to such subterfuge and at the same time admit that he had deliberately omitted any indicators that he had lifted material from Joble, like reportorial credits and purportedly “clunky” quotation marks, is breath-taking in its audacity and impunity. Surely integrity ought not to be incinerated upon the altar of aesthetics.

It is in this regard that we commend GMA News Online for its decision not to renew Yuson’s contract as editor at large. It is in the same regard that we profess ourselves disturbed and outraged by the deafening silence with which the writing establishment has met this controversy. The plagiarism of Yuson does not involve him alone: to the extent that he is representative of—because deeply imbricated in—the larger world of Philippine letters, his act also necessarily implicates the figures and structures that make up that world. The prevalent reluctance, nay, refusal among Yuson’s peers to openly condemn him would seem to indicate cowardice at best, and complicity at worst. Neither speaks well of our writers, journalists, scholars, and institutions—and may even be symptomatic of a more deeply entrenched cancer of corruption in our cultural sector.

What is certain is this: allowing the scandal to fester in a season of indifference would be tantamount to a virtual relinquishment of any moral authority and credibility that the Philippine writing community may have.

In view of the foregoing, we, the undersigned:

Condemn the act of plagiarism that Yuson committed. We reiterate what is generally accepted knowledge in journalism and the academe: plagiarism consists of misrepresenting the work of others as one’s own, and is considered a heinous violation of ethical standards. Furthermore, when one lifts information or material from a source without the appropriate quotation marks, formatting, and documentation, one has already committed plagiarism, and no amount of laziness, carelessness, or forgetfulness can be admitted as an exculpatory factor. We also denounce Yuson’s attempts to evade accountability for his actions by forwarding arguments that, as the Center of Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) has pointed out, tend toward the legitimization of plagiarism. Finally, we decry Yuson’s callous and cavalier treatment of Rey Joble and the effort that he put into his work as a sportswriter.

Challenge the members of the Philippine writing community to make an unequivocal stand against Yuson’s plagiarism. At the very least, we expect Rogue magazine and The Philippine Star to emulate GMA News Online in its commitment to integrity. Associate Justice Maria Lourdes P. Sereno, in her dissenting opinion on the Supreme Court decision to exonerate her colleague Mariano del Castillo from charges of plagiarism, argues that when entities involved in the intellectual life of a culture uphold guidelines against plagiarism, these bodies “are not making themselves out to be error-free, but rather, they are exerting themselves to improve the level of honesty in the original works generated in their institution”. It is true that valuable questions have been raised about the very notion of originality from various fields of inquiry, but we contend that the specificity of the situation at hand calls for no such questions, and would invest it with more profundity than it deserves.

Enjoin the institutions of Philippine letters to cooperate in order to educate their constituents and the wider public about plagiarism. Contrary to Yuson, plagiarism is not a “blooming buzzword” but a chronic problem, which many a teacher will no doubt confirm. Recognizing and avoiding plagiarism is a matter of acquiring particular skills, which, as this incident would seem to illustrate, are not taught as well or as widely as they ought to be. The need for these skills will become especially urgent as our society becomes increasingly knowledge-based. We presume to suggest that Ateneo de Manila University, unfortunately entangled as it has become in various plagiarism disputes, take the initiative in bringing students, teachers, writers, readers, and institutions together to work through this admittedly complex matter. Regardless of who takes the lead, however, Yuson’s offense constitutes a teachable moment for us all, and should not be allowed to pass from our cultural memory unremarked and ignored for the sake of a spurious harmony.

(SGD.) Karen Connie Abalos (SGD.) Mark Angeles (SGD.) Genevieve Aquino
Planet Philippines; Illustrado Magazine; University of the Philippines Manila Kilometer64 Poetry Collective University of the Philippines Los Baños
(SGD.) Reginald S. Arceo (SGD.) Philip Jorge P. Bacani (SGD.) Noel Sales Barcelona
Alumnus, De La Salle University-Manila Lawyer Editor-in-Chief, INANG BAYAN
(SGD.) Johnalene Baylon (SGD.) Brian Brotarlo (SGD.) Manuel Buencamino
Writer Writer Opinion columnist, Business Mirror
(SGD.) Karl Bustamante (SGD.) Asia Flores Chan (SGD.) Liberty Chee
Editor, Marshall Cavendish International Singapore Alumna, De La Salle University-Manila Graduate Student, National University of Singapore
(SGD.) Charles Edric Co (SGD.) Adam David (SGD.) Cocoy Dayao
Alumnus, De La Salle University-Manila Writer Editor-in-Chief, The Pro Pinoy Project
(SGD.) Christa I. De La Cruz (SGD.) Erica Clariz C. De Los Reyes (SGD.) Karlitos Brian Decena
Graduate student, University of the Philippines Diliman Alumna member, Heights; Fellow, 6th Ateneo Institute of Literary Arts and Practices (AILAP) National Writers Workshop Journalism student, University of the Philippines Diliman; Contributor, Firequinito.com
(SGD.) Johann Espiritu (SGD.) Elise Estrella (SGD.) Anna Razel Estrella
Alumnus, De La Salle University-Manila Private citizen Alumna, De La Salle University-Manila
(SGD.) Jesser Eullo (SGD.) Katrina Fernando (SGD.) Karen Mae Frondozo
Faculty member, De La Salle University-Dasmariñas Copy editor Graduate student, University of the Philippines Diliman
(SGD.) Russell Stanley Geronimo (SGD.) Lolito Go (SGD.) Ronald F. Gue
Alumnus, De La Salle University-Manila; Fellow, 48th Silliman University National Writers Workshop Kilometer64 Poetry Collective Alumnus, De La Salle University-Manila
(SGD.) Marie Rose G. Henson (SGD.) Ken Ishikawa (SGD.) Leonides C. Katigbak II
Alumna, De La Salle University-Manila Private citizen Fellow, 6th Ateneo Institute of Literary Arts and Practices (AILAP) National Writers Workshop
(SGD.) Jabin Landayan (SGD.) Gomi Lao (SGD.) Dean Lozarie
Teacher Creative Director Journalism student, University of the Philippines Diliman
(SGD.) Aleck E. Maramag (SGD.) Alessandra Rose F. Miguel (SGD.) Francis T. J. Ochoa
Alumna, De La Salle University; Fellow, 48th Silliman University National Writers Workshop Alumna member, Thomasian Writers Guild; Fellow, 6th Ateneo Institute of Literary Arts and Practices (AILAP) National Writers Workshop Assistant Sports Editor, Philippine Daily Inquirer
(SGD.) Jonathan Corpus Ong (SGD.) Wilfredo B. Prilles, Jr. (SGD.) Nikki Erwin C. Ramirez
Alumnus, Ateneo de Manila University; Sociologist, University of Cambridge City Planning and Development Coordinator (CPDC), Naga City Co-founder, NullPointer.ph
(SGD.) Marck Ronald Rimorin (SGD.) Del Camille Robles (SGD.) Orlando Roncesvalles
Writer; Blogger Alumna, De La Salle University-Manila Blogger, FOO Law and Economics
(SGD.) Gerry Rubio (SGD.) Joanna Ruiz (SGD.) Faith Salazar
Publication Consultant, The CSC Statesman, Catanduanes State Colleges Editor, Ateneo de Manila University ISBX Philippines
(SGD.) Jaime Oscar M. Salazar (SGD.) Maria Teresa M. Salazar (SGD.) Chris de Pio Sanchez
Graduate student, University of the Philippines Diliman Alumna, De La Salle University-Manila Consultant
(SGD.) Vincenz Serrano (SGD.) Nik Skalomenos (SGD.) Angela Stuart-Santiago
Ateneo de Manila University Private Citizen Writer; Blogger
(SGD.) Jamila C. Sule (SGD.) Ergoe Tinio (SGD.) Martin Tinio
Teacher, On-Um.org; De La Salle University-Dasmariñas Marketing Associate, Adarna House Analyst
(SGD.) Jaemark Tordecilla (SGD.) Xenia-Chloe H. Villanueva
Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism UP Quill; Fellow, 6th Ateneo Institute of Literary Arts and Practices (AILAP) National Writers Workshop

April 28, 2011
Philippines

[NOTE: The signatures for this open letter were solicited from 9:00 PM (GMT +8) on April 26 until 5:00 PM (GMT +8) on April 28.]

*

[via Interlineal]

The age of noise

Special Prosecutor Dennis Villa-Ignacio believes that the resignation of Merceditas Gutierrez removes a venue to air Arroyo’s “sins.” He argues that when on trial, Gutierrez could be called to the stand and air out such sins.

I understand where he is coming from, but after years of watching our national life turn into reality television, I would rather that the nation and Mrs. Arroyo get the justice we all deserve.

I would rather our government spend resources on investigators, digging damning evidence against Mrs. Arroyo.

I am well aware of the cynicism we have of our Justice system. We’ve all heard the stories that Judges’ decisions could be bought. We’ve all heard the tall tales, and the conspiracy theories. Paper work twisted and turned to suit one’s need, and all it takes is money.

I would rather our government spend enormous chunks of money, and if they could not find damning evidence, or they go to trial and Arroyo won, I would rather have that than to watch on television yet another reality television show.

I would rather have silence and hard work laid out than a nation so engrossed with theatrics, and images and perception. Yes, it is a rather naive way of thinking. And yes, I recognize that such thinking would most likely lead to disappointment.

Have you noticed all around us is a world were there is no finality? Throw a little suspicion here, raise a question and politics simply takes its course. We’ve seen it in global events– whether it is rushing to war on Iraq, or believing the President of the United States isn’t even American. Then there is our own Senate inquiry that happen to go nowhere expect screen time on television.

How about marketing ploys on what is 3G, and what is 4G that telecom providers do. Do we believe what they say, or do we perhaps believe the International Telecommunications Union, who determined that only LTE-Advanced and WirelessMan Advanced are considered, “4G.”

Then there is the issue of Jan-Jan Suan? Who makes the final decision to judge was Willie right or wrong? Will it be the courts or will it be every citizen giving his two cents worth?

How about the RH Bill? The CBCP’s zealots are out in force, but that doesn’t mean that the RH Bill itself shouldn’t be debated on its merits. Will it do what we’re setting out to do in the first place or has the CBCP’s fanaticism forced everyone’s hand that the bill will pass without a real debate on the bills provisions?

There is much theatrics in our society. So much drama. Don’t you yearn for something… cleaner? Less noise? More profound? Deeper? A nation guided by reason, as much as discernment? Don’t you yearn for more signal rather than noise?

Photo credit: Stephane D’Alu, some rights reserved.

Statement of President Aquino on the resignation of Ombudsman Gutierrez

Statement

of

His Excellency Benigno S. Aquino III

President of the Philippines

On the resignation of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez

[Delivered on April 29, 2011]

This morning, Merceditas Gutierrez personally submitted to me her resignation as our country’s Ombudsman, effective May 6.

Her action has spared the country from a long and divisive impeachment process that would have distracted our lawmakers from dealing with the many problems we face today.

It also paves the way for the appointment of a new Ombudsman.

I thank the House of Representatives. I now urge the Judicial and Bar Council to begin the search for a new Ombudsman. With the support of the public, we can now proceed more decisively in making government officials more accountable to their bosses, the Filipino people.

Thank you.

Read original post at Official Gazette

 

Resignation Letter of Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez

Republic of the Philippines
OFFICE OF THE OMBUDSMAN
Agham Road, Diliman, Quezon City

STATEMENT OF OMBUDSMAN MERCEDITAS N. GUTIERREZ
April 29, 2011

Good Afternoon.

This morning at 10:30 a.m. I personally went to Malacanang to meet with our President, His Excellency Benigno Aquino III, to tender my resignation. I thank the President for graciously accommodating me on very short notice, and for all the kind words he said to me. In almost four decades of devoting my life to government service, I have always been guided by the precepts that the public and moral responsibilities of public officials transcend all other considerations. It is in accordance with these principles that I have strived and persevered to build and maintain an
unblemished record in public service. For me, this is the greatest and lasting legacy that I can leave my family, my children and my children’s children. Since September of last year, I have been subjected to impeachment proceedings, which seek my removal as the Ombudsman. I have been charged with allegedly betraying the public trust which was vested in me when I assumed office in December of 2005 – this because I allegedly slept and failed to act promptly on cases of national concern.

Because of my strong belief in the falsity of the charges leveled against me, I was firm and resolute that I shall participate in the impeachment trial before the Senate and prove to the Filipino people that the allegations against me are untrue, as they are groundless. I felt that I owed it to the people and the Office of the Ombudsman to vindicate and protect the integrity and independence of the institution. I also believed that in the Senate, I shall receive a verdict that would come only after the presentation of credible witnesses and evidence, unswayed by any kind of pressure, whether open or subtle, in proceedings that are devoid of histrionics that might detract from its basic aim to ferret out the truth and decreed by the cold neutrality of Senator-jurors.

In the past weeks, it has become evident to me that the vilification thrown at me by my detractors will go on as it has, since September of last year. I have withstood all these with the hope that I can assuage myself with the balm of a clear conscience and a verdict of not guilty by the Senate.

I wanted to face my accusers whatever the personal agony it would have involved.

But the interests of my family, my Office, and more importantly the nation, must always come before any personal considerations.

I have not shirked in the face of pressure, have never been cowed into submission, have never been influenced other than by truth and justice. To leave before the end of my term in December 2012 is abhorrent to me. But as a
government official, I must place first and foremost the interests of the Nation, the interest of my Office, and as a mother and wife, my family. The problems besetting our country demand a full-time Ombudsman and a full time
Congress, both Senate and the House of Representatives. To fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would, as it is, almost absorb my time, and attention.

The impeachment proceedings have consumed not only the members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, but the Chief Executive of the land as well.

At a time when the present administration is in its infancy and beset with more urgent problems, the last thing that the nation needs is for the House and the Senate to be embroiled in a long drawn-out impeachment proceeding against a single public official. The President needs an Ombudsman in whom he has complete trust and confidence. To carry on my battle to cleanse my name before the Senate would detract from the time which could otherwise be devoted to legislative work, which would address the needs of millions of Filipino people.

By tendering my resignation effective May 6, 2011, I hope we can now all focus on the impelling problems of our people rather than expending so much time, effort and resources to remove me from public office.

I will also be turning over immediately the day to day affairs to the Overall Deputy Ombudsman, and pray that we all give him our full support.

As I leave the Office of the Ombudsman, however, it is my fervent hope that the misconception bred that having been appointed to public office by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, I owed my allegiance to her and am accountable only to her, and not to the Filipino people and the Constitution be discarded and laid to rest. While I acknowledge with deep gratitude the opportunity given me by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, my undivided loyalty always was, is, and will forever remain, to the Constitution and the Filipino people. In the words of the late Chief Justice Earl Warren of the United States Supreme Court, judicial officers like me have no constituency,
serve no majority or minority but serve only the public interest as they see it in accordance with their oath of office, guided only by the Constitution and, their conscience and honor.

To those who have stood with during these difficult months, to my family, my friends, to many others who joined in supporting my cause because they believed I was innocent, I will be eternally grateful.

And to my detractors, I bear them no rancor because I have learned to make myself believe that we all love our country and our people no matter how our judgments might differ.

I shall leave this Office with regret at not completing my term, but with gratitude for the privilege of serving as Ombudsman for the past five years. I thank my colleagues at the Office of the Ombudsman whose continuous and selfless but unpublished efforts have made the Office of the Ombudsman what it is today.

Not many know that for many years, the Office of the Ombudsman has consistently been voted the most trusted institution in the Philippines. That is all your stellar achievement. I stand proud of having worked with you through these years. And while our detractors will always find cause to criticize and charge delay in what we do, it is because we deem it better to accord due process to our own public officials whose lives we affect when we decide on their cases.

God bless the Philippines and our people.

Photo credit: Malacanang Photo Bureau

Lufthansa building 30 million dollar A380 repair hanger in Manila

Aviation services firm Lufthansa Technik according to MSN is building a repair hanger for Airbus A380 commercial aircraft in the Philippines. The investment is a US$30 million facility at Manila’s airport. The A380 is the world’s largest passenger jet. There are only four such facilities in the world.

hat tip @Lattex on twitter.

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/LaTtEX/status/63824852225765376″]

Cecilia Flores-Oebanda: The child rights hero for millions of children

On Tuesday, at hundreds of World’s Children’s Press Conferences all over the world, children revealed who 3.2 million children have chosen in a Global Vote to be their child rights hero:

“Our child rights hero, and the recipient of the 2011 World’s Children’s Prize for the Rights of the Child, is Murhabazi Namegabe, from D.R. Congo for his dangerous struggle to free children forced to be child soldiers or sex slaves. Murhabazi’s life is constantly threatened because of his work for children.”

The World’s Children’s Honorary Award goes to Cecilia Flores-Oebanda, from the Philippines, for her tireless struggle, despite constant death threats, against child labour and trafficking, as well as her support to girls who have been sex slaves and, Monira Rahman, from Bangladesh, for her fearless struggle for those – mainly girls – who have been victims of acid attacks or petrol attacks and whose appearances have been destroyed.

 

The Prize Laureates presented in more detail in the attached document and at worldschildrensprize.org.

The World’s Children’s Prize
The World’s Children’s Prize is a unique educational programme for children, promoting a more humane world. 53,800 schools with 24.5 million pupils in 102 countries are involved. Every year millions of children learn about the rights of the child, democracy and global friendship through the programme. Many have had their own rights violated. They gain faith in the future and a chance to demand respect for their rights. In the Global Vote, the children decide who receives their prestigious award for their work for the rights of the child. The candidates for the Prize are chosen by a child jury who are experts in the rights of the child through their own experience – as child soldiers, debt slaves, homeless children, child rights advocates and more. The Prize Laureates become role models for millions of children. The prize money, USD 100,000 this year, is used to help some of the world’s most vulnerable children to a better life. The patrons of the World’s Children’s Prize include Nelson Mandela, H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden and Graça Machel.

 

The World’s Children’s Prize, founded in Sweden in 2000, is run annually in collaboration with tens of thousands of teachers and hundreds of organisations all over the world, and with support from sources including Sida (the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency), Swedish Post Code Lottery, Save the Children Sweden, Hugo Stenbeck Foundation and Survé Family Foundation.

 

The World’s Children’s Prize in The Philippines

Since the inauguration of the World’s Children’s Prize in 2000,  100,000 children in The Philippines have participated in the program and many schools have registered as Global Friend schools supporting the World’s Children’s Prize.

 

The Award Ceremony takes place at Gripsholm Castle, Mariefred, Sweden at 2pm on 28 April. Children from

15 countries and H.M. Queen Silvia of Sweden will pay tribute to the Prize Laureates. Please register media attendance in advance.

 

Information and high-res pictures can be found at www.worldschildensprize.org.


Ombudsman Merci Gutierrez resigns; PNoy accepts

Ombudsman Merci Gutierrez has resigned. Anthony Taberna of radio station DZMM said that a 1 page resignation letter was submitted to President Aquino, and it will take effect on 6 May. The President has accepted the resignation of Merceditas Gutierrez.

This news comes as the Ombudsman was set to be tried in the Senate for breach of the public trust.

Black and White movement has issued a statement regarding this development. Here is a snippet:

“The threat of justice must have been too much for Merceditas Gutierrez to bear. Although a conviction through an impeachment trial was a desired outcome, the Black and White Movement joins our country in welcoming her resignation.”

Senators welcomed the news positively. Senator Escudero commends the Ombudsman’s statemanship. Senate President Enrile says that Impeachment Trial may not push through, but warns that resignation does not absolve the Ombudsman of any liability.

GMANews tweeted a senior palace official revealed that President Aquino has accepted the resignation, but refused to comment until official announcement is made.

On twitter, many are welcoming this development.

@ellobofilipino tweeted, “Merci’s resignation would be a news event I would want to know more about later than the Royal Wedding. #philippines #news #impeachment”

@FlowGalindez writes, “Merceditas Gutierrez nag-resign na! (sa wakas)”

@deantastic wrote “LOLOL uhh Merci? a bit too late to think about national interest, I think.”

@PhauraReinz went, “so gutierrez resigned… ???? oomg.. omg!!!!”

@nerveending says, “Now that Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez has resigned, the overall deputy is the Acting Ombudsman until President Aquino appoints a new Ombudsman from a list from the Judicial and Bar Council.”

Photo credit: Malacanang Photo Bureau

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/ANCALERTS/status/63815551297925120″]
[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/ANCALERTS/status/63816380360818688″]
[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/ninaterol/status/63816032959209472″]
[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/ANCALERTS/status/63816536590266368″]
[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/ellobofilipino/status/63818357123715072″]
[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/deantastic/status/63819821342654464″]
[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/PhauraReinz/status/63820725668159488″]
[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/FlowGalindez/status/63820569098993665″]

Of Wedding Feasts and Famines

In the media-driven frenzy of royal-watching, the wedding between Kate and Wills harks back to a time when the pomp and pageantry of the monarchy provided a diversion from the daily struggles of their subjects. In England, as late as the 1930s, poor families struggled with the problem of hunger. Yet as George Orwell wrote,

The basis of their diet, therefore, is white bread and margarine, corned beef, sugared tea and potatoes — an appalling diet. Would it not be better if they spent more money on wholesome things like oranges and wholemeal bread or if they even, like the writer of the letter to the New Statesman, saved on fuel and ate their carrots raw? Yes, it would, but the point is that no ordinary human being is ever going to do such a thing. The ordinary human being would sooner starve than live on brown bread and raw carrots.

The May/June 2011 online version of the magazine Foreign Policy is devoted to the problems associated with food price inflation and the impact this would have on poverty and hunger. The development aid community has flagged this as a potential cause for dragging many in the middle to low income countries into poverty.

Calls have been issued to address this pressing problem. But in a piece written by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, the general consensus regarding the issue is challenged. What if the experts are wrong, they ask.What if the problem of hunger is not caused by the lack of affordable food? Nobel Prize winning economist Amartya Sen has famously pointed to the fact that famines have only occurred in recent times in countries that lacked democratic institutions of accountability. Poor governance rather than a lack of food supply creates extreme hunger.

In India where Sen is from, despite the rise in per capita income, per capita caloric intake has declined. The piece points out that

(t)he change is not driven by declining incomes; by all accounts, Indians are making more money than ever before. Nor is it because of rising food prices — between the early 1980s and 2005, food prices declined relative to the prices of other things, both in rural and urban India. Although food prices have increased again since 2005, Indians began eating less precisely when the price of food was going down.

What if the problem of hunger is not driven by a lack of affordable food, but the fact that the poor demand a different variety of food? They use one example to bear this out:

Using price data from the Philippines, we calculated the cost of the cheapest diet sufficient to give 2,400 calories. It would cost only about 21 cents a day, very affordable even for the very poor (the worldwide poverty line is set at roughly a dollar per day). The catch is, it would involve eating only bananas and eggs, something no one would like to do day in, day out. But so long as people are prepared to eat bananas and eggs when they need to, we should find very few people stuck in poverty because they do not get enough to eat.

To provide more evidence of this, they cite a study conducted in two regions of China where researchers offered randomly selected poor households a large subsidy on the price of basic staples believing this would result in greater consumption of food. Instead they found that:

(o)verall, the caloric intake of those who received the subsidy did not increase (and may even have decreased), despite the fact that their purchasing power had increased. Nor did the nutritional content improve in any other sense. The likely reason is that because the rice and wheat noodles were cheap but not particularly tasty, feeling richer might actually have made them consume less of those staples.

They go on to point out the possible reasons why the poor might be eating less. Better water and sanitation for instance may lead to a lower incidence of nutrition depleting diseases. Women in rural villages which now have access to water no longer need to spend a good deal of effort fetching water to and from rivers. Aside from that is the penchant of the poor to spend on non-essentials like vices and other forms of entertainment (televisions, DVDs, mobile phones, movies, etc).

Many programs aimed at boosting protein and iodized salt intake have been met with a dismal response from poor households. It seems that when it comes to deciding what to spend their income on, they seem to have other priorities.

This article originally appeared in The Cusp (the author’s blog).

A call for entries for young indie filmmakers

filmmaking contest
PLURAL+ Youth Video Festival invites the world’s youth to submit dynamic and forward-thinking videos focusing on themes of migration, diversity and social inclusion.  Organized by the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAOC) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in collaboration with many partners.

The PLURAL+ International Jury will select three videos (one for each age group) and award them with the PLURAL + International Jury Award.

  • These awardees will receive $ 1,000USD each as well as, when possible, an invitation (travel and accommodations expenses paid) to attend the November 10th, 2011 PLURAL + Awards Ceremony in New York City.

In addition to the PLURAL + International Jury Awards, special awards will be given by some of the Partner Organizations such as:

PLURAL+ BaKaFORUM Award

  • Invitation for one director to the official BaKaFORUM 2012 festival in Basel, Switzerland
  • Flight, accommodation and Per Diem included

PLURAL+  Cine y Salud Award

  • 1000 Euros
  • Video edition
  • Participation at the World Health Day official festival, in April 2012, in Zaragoza, Spain

PLURAL+ Roots and Routes Award

  • Invitation to participate at Transnational Roots and Routes Project (2012).
  • Travel and accommodations expenses covered for awardees within the European Community

PLURAL+ Al JADEED Award

  • Co-production opportunity with Al Jadeed TV.

PLURAL+ NexosAlianza, un esfuerzo colectivo Award

  • $500 USD
  • Collection of 8 educational DVDs
  • Special Honorary Diploma

PLURAL+ COPEAM Award

  • The winner will be invited to participate in COPEAM annual Conference to present and show their video

PLURAL+ Balkan Award

  • Travel expenses covered to participate in the Balkan Festival at Belgrade, Serbia (Spring 2012)

PLURAL+ Royal Film Commission – Jordan Award

  • Broadcasting the selected video on Jordan TV, Nomina, Aramram web TV and various online tools.
  • TBD

PLURAL+ SunChild Encouraging Certificate Award

  • Participation in SunChild Festival 2012 in Armenia

PLURAL+ Sunchild Award

  • Participation in SunChild Festival 2012 in Armenia

PLURAL+ SIGNIS Award

  • Special Honorary Diploma
  • Special Honorary Medal
  • Presentation at Signis Festival in Barcelona (November 2011)

PLURAL+ Red UNIAL Award

  • Works of Digital Art made by Cuban Children

PLURAL+ Paley Center for Media Education Award

  • Special Honorary Diploma

PLURAL+ Respect Award

  • Publication of a Full Story on the winning video in Respect Magazine
  • Invitation to contribute with an article for Respect Magazine

The deadline is on July 1, 2011. Visit http://www.unaoc.org/pluralplus to find out more about PLURAL+

 

Most professionals unhappy with jobs

EIGHTY percent of Filipino professionals reported dissatisfaction with their jobs and expressed willingness to seek better opportunities elsewhere, according to a recent international research released on Wednesday.

The study, conducted by Accenture surveying more than 3,400 professionals in 29 countries, found that fewer than half of all respondents—43 percent of women and 42 percent of men—are satisfied with their current jobs, but 70 percent plan to stay with their companies.

Philippine-specific findings indicated that the Filipino work force is looking for better compensation, benefits and work-life balance.

Philippine employers would do well, therefore, to focus on efforts addressing these three key employee retention- and-engagement drivers, the study said.

Despite a low job satisfaction, 65 percent of the Philippine work force surveyed want to increase their knowledge and develop their skill sets.

Read more at Business Mirror