Jeepneys are the unofficial national vehicle of the Philippines. Originally made from modified surplus US jeeps after World War II by companies like Sarao, they developed into a colorful and stylized form of public transportation. Read the rest
Rodrigo Duterte is the new president of the Philippines: he ran on a promise to be a "dictator" and endorsed execution by vigilante death-squad as a way of combating crime; now he's announced that he will give a hero's burial to the embalmed corpse of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who committed mass-scale human rights abuses and embezzled $10B from the national treasury. Read the rest
In late March, the Philippine Commission on Elections website was defaced in an Anonymous op, and a few days later, Lulzsec Pilipinas dumped its voter database. At the time, the Commission claimed that no sensitive information was exposed in the breach, but that is clearly not the case. Read the rest
When Super Typhoon Haiyan ripped the roof off of Leyte Provincial Jail and filled the cells to neck height, 600 prisoners swam to the wall-tops and walked away. Now, nearly half of them have returned, including prisoners facing charges as serious as murder. The men went home and helped their families cope with the damage to their homes and towns, then came back to prison because (in the words of returned prisoner Danilo Tejones) "I want my case to be finished so that I can get free legally." Read the rest
The powerful storm named Super Typhoon Haiyan (or Super Typhoon Yolanda, as it is referred to within the Philippines) hit the central islands of the Philippines on Friday, with reported wind speeds of 190 to 195 miles per hour at landfall. For comparison, a commercial airplane takes off at speeds in the range of 160mph.
Haiyan is reported to be the strongest typhoon in the world in 2013, and may be the most powerful recorded tropical cyclone to ever hit land. Read the rest
Philippines Senator Vicente Sotto III has been embroiled in a series of plagiarism scandals -- most recently, he gave a speech including phrases from a Robert Kennedy, Jr address, without credit or acknowledgment -- and has attracted a lot of vocal online criticisms. He was also instrumental in the passage of a broad, censorious "cybercrime" bill, and he warned his critics (whom he derides as "professional fault-finders") that "Once the cybercrime bill is enacted into law, they will be accountable for what they say or write."
Now it seems he has made good on this threat. The signed version of the Philippines Cybercrime Bill classes "libel" with spam, child pornography, and other crimes, thanks to an amendment he introduced -- though this amendment was never debated.
Republic Act No. 10175: AN ACT DEFINING CYBERCRIME, PROVIDING FOR THE PREVENTION, INVESTIGATION, SUPPRESSION AND THE IMPOSITION OF PENALTIES THEREFOR AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES (Thanks, Charles!) Read the rest
The World Intellectual Property Organization is hosting an off-the-books meeting in the Philippines on trademark enforcement, with speakers from Louis Vuitton, Chanel, the Swiss Watch Federation. The meeting wasn't announced on WIPO's website, and it exclusively features speakers who support greater enforcement, with no one speaking for moderation and balance.
WIPO's own "Development Agenda" requires the organization to "approach intellectual property enforcement in the context of broader societal interests and especially development-oriented concerns, with a view that 'the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights should contribute to the promotion of technological innovation and to the transfer and dissemination of technology, to the mutual advantage of producers and users of technological knowledge and in a manner conducive to social and economic welfare, and to a balance of rights and obligations.'"
It's hard to see how holding secret meetings run by major corporations who support more invasive searches, restrictions on the resale of goods, and more private enforcement rights uphold that principle. Read the rest
Bloomberg News has published a two-part, first-person investigative piece by Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, a professor of sociology at the University of Southern California, on the lives of Filipina sex workers in Tokyo, Japan. To study the living and working conditions of these "hostess bar" migrant laborers, Parrenas became one.
The Bloomberg pieces are excerpts from her new book “Illicit Flirtations: Labor, Migration, and Sex Trafficking in Tokyo,” released this week by Stanford University Press.as is the book, for providing an unusual glimpse inside a world most of us will never witness first-hand.