Monday, December 15, 2008

Causes of City Conventions

As the republic emerges from another Ayala rally last Friday, a few questions have been tossed around the blogosphere and the atmosphere on the nature of Philippine rallies.

As a disclaimer, I have not (yet) been an active participant of a rally; the closest was this Ayala rally earlier this year when I was lounging around the area and I thought I saw a bomb (see lower part of the post). In addition, I do not wholly support rallies as a whole or rallies in particular where the drive is more politically-motivated than most (of course, there’s always a degree of political motivation, but I can only tolerate a certain extent). In general, I believe that rallies are expressions of freedom of speech.

At any rate, I want to answer the questions being asked around that seems to be particular to the republic of bagoong, bandurians, and bananaques.

  • Why hold the rally at Ayala Avenue, Makati?

Why Makati? Well, Makati has been relatively liberal in allowing various sorts of rallies, even dating back to 1985. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the mayor nowadays is against the empress and he’s willing to allow any chance for an aggrieved citizenry to display their displeasure against her. In addition, Makati is still currently the center of high-profile business in the country (sorry Ortigas and Eastwood). Thus, any rally here would always bring national and international exposure.

  • Why not hold the rally at Plaza Miranda?

As to why not Plaza Miranda (the pre-Martial Law choice of rallies), I don’t think the current design of Plaza Miranda is conducive to holding rallies anymore. If I’m not mistaken, it’s been taken over by vendors wishing to sell their wares in front of the Quiapo church. It’s right smack in the middle of a rather congested Manila where it’s not accessible easily to both rallyists and media.

  • Why not hold the rally at Congress / Malacanang?

This questions why the rallies are not brought forth in the center of power, the aforementioned Congress and Malacanang. True, other rallies have been brought to Congress and Malacanang on occasion, but for the maximum impact and convergence of goals, Makati is one of the best places to bring the rally forward.

  • Why hold a coup-de-etat at a hotel in Makati?

This is related to the Oakwood & Peninsula capers led by now-Senator Trillanes. One does wonder, what is the military significance of a hotel? Arms-wise, none at all. Strategic and publicity-wise, a whole lot. Barricading a hotel breaks the secure sanctity of the nation’s elite by bringing the threat at the threshold. Similar to assaulting Makati, surrounding a hotel hits the elite where it hurts. This wasn’t an original plan; Col. Honasan & then-Capt. Danny Lim have done this already in the December 1989 coup.

In comparison, the Thais blockaded their airports recently because they knew that foreigners used these airports as gateways to their holiday destinations. I guess for all the visitors that travel to Manila, at one point or another one would have to visit Makati to keep in touch with the metropolis. Attacking the symbol of the metropolis tend to highlight whatever message a nonconformist is bringing.

  • Why did the normally-reserved Mar Roxas let out a string of expletives?

What else for? For maximum exposure! Mar Roxas has cultivated an air of reserved intellectualism; to be shown in public expressing what most Pinoys are feeling in their gut connects him to the Pinoy voter. In addition, the hapless administration flunkies are falling all over themselves denouncing his “ungentlemnlike” behavior. But it has the intended effect that people are talking about it and keeping him and the issue in the news cycle. Heck, I’m still blogging about it and I haven’t even seen it.

  • Why aren’t the crowds bigger than expected?

This is since the government has learned to control both the actual and the perceived number of crowds in two ways.

To control the actual number of crowds, the police block of the entry points into the main Metro Manila region from the Mega Manila areas (Calabarzon and Bulacan northwards). This is done by blocking the main highways leading up to the metro: North Luzon Expressway, South Luzon Expressway, and Coastal Road. For the life of me, I don’t know why the rallyists can’t think of more creative ways to bypass these checkpoints. Rallies like these are known days, if not weeks in advance; can’t they work a system of trickling the participants slowly in without creating undue attention? Or if they decide to hold their rallies at the choke points, make sure they’re covered and organized so that the media will take notice.

As to controlling the perceived number, this is where the other side gets more creative. Air traffic control is restricted so aerial shots from media helicopters cannot show a panoramic view of the crowd congregating at the corners of Ayala & Paseo de Roxas. Sometimes, a cloud-seeding operation may be started to let nature disperse the crowd. In addition, crowd estimates are downplayed to try to reduce the impact of events (the organizers in turn try to inflate the numbers for the opposite effect).

  • Are these rallies effective?

If the rally reflects what the significant portion of the population feels (e.g. not just the public driving sector or the marginalized farmers or the bused in crowds), then policy / strategy are delayed and deferred until the situation cools down. The House is currently back-tracking from the cha-cha charge; time will tell if this is enough to delay the initiative enough to render the initiative ineffectual, or if this will force the empire into more forceful and desperate actions.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Non-impeachment non-coverage

I was reading on the latest impeachment reports online when I saw that the voting was ongoing as of posting time. I checked out ANC and they’re still showing Shop Talk. The major networks are still showing normal TV. Only TV DZMM is showing a video of the ongoing exhortations, not even the video anymore.

It’s a bit of a relief not to listen to the long-winded and fake reasons why our so-called representatives are voting to junk the impeachment complaint. I know showing it won’t rouse anybody; it’s simply bad TV. It was good TV when the pro-impeachment representatives walked out, but other than that, it’s the expected lies that will just make people throw stuff at the TV.

I just wish there was a real choice of district representatives when the elections come around so I don’t have to vote for these losers and blatant liars again.

(Yep, watching West Wing reruns makes me despair about this republic.)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Computers and Cops

Reading Paeng's post on computer viruses got me into thinking about the level of protection anyone has to employ vis-a-vis what is available for the system at large (whether computer systems or society in general).

He mentioned that viruses usually get blamed even though it's due to the foolhardiness of the computer user that may have caused it. That may be partly true, since if one's going to surf the net, one has to have adequate safeguards installed on his desktop, like anti-virus and anti-spam software. However, this negates the possibility that viruses can be malicious and overcome even an anti-virus software that hasn't been updated for one day. In addition, more web-based applications (e.g. web mail providers like Yahoo and Gmail) are providing anti-virus scanners for free. Although Paeng might come from a position where the World Wide Web is still pretty much an unstructured place where one relies as much on the next person's goodness and there's no real police authority (thank goodness for that); therefore, a netizen has to be extra careful in protecting his turf (much like the frontiersmen in America's Old West).

However, I can't say the same for non-virtual societies in general. Whenever I see a snatching being shown on TV, the first reaction of the keystone kops are that people should be more careful of what they do on the street… Excuse me? Aren't the taxes enough for these enforcers to do their jobs? And why do we find them lounging around and pinning the blame on the citizenry? Is this why the more affluent employ security guards? I guess there's a failure of the system since another one of this republic's distinction (in addition to divorce & short school system) is the largest number of security guards in a country.

Ok, given that the cops don’t have enough money, I wonder where my taxes are going. I take a look at the Globe Visibility / Smart Bro attached to my computer, the initials of ZTE are there...