Archive for category Musings

Italian-American Vanessa Hessler

Vanessa Hessler @ Wind Music Awardsor “Alice” was fired by Telefonica Germany in late 2011 for publicly supporting the Gadaffis, calling them “normal people”. One of the sons of the dictator (link) had been her ex-boyfriend. Certainly normal compared to the likes of Uday Hussein of Iraq. Most people are normal if you don’t care about what they did – I am sure the Marcos family is friendly in person. Vanessa Hessler, blond, looong-legged, blue-eyed, was simply “Alice” to me then as the face of the new brand Alice DSL – later to become O2 DSL after Telefonica / O2 bought the original Hansenet.

Showbiz and politics

Miss Philippines Rachel Peters told Filipinos to “trust Duterte” (link) and to “give Mocha Uson a chance” months ago. Now I will admit that I found the reaction of the German public, which pushed Telefonica to fire “Alice”, exaggerated in 2011. And that she was close to a powerful man like the son of Gadaffi wasn’t anything special to me. My values still were a bit different then. Guess the person I was six years ago would not have cared about Rachel Peters being the girlfriend of Governor Villafuerte of Camarines Sur – the political family Leni Robredo (link) once challenged.

Binibining Pilipinas-International Mariel de Leon went against Mocha Uson in May (link): “She insults those who are against her. I’m not for her, I’m not for the other side (whatever that may be).. it breaks my heart to know someone like her got a position in the gov’t. There are so many [other] unbiased, educated, and respected (and respectful) people who deserve her place.” and got flak for it. Inday Sara Duterte, Mayor of Davao and Presidential daughter, even admitted to (link) a “Schadenfreude moment” when Mariel de Leon did not become Miss International. Wonderful.

Politics for people

Meanwhile, Chief Justice Sereno is under attack (link) by the Philippine Congress. What she already has done in terms of reforming the justice system (link) is recommendable, as the issues clogging the justice system and keeping it far from the masses have lead to an attitude of distrust. Probably her efforts were not fast enough to dispel Duterte and his extrajudicial shortcuts – most especially the approval for such within the population – but one must give her credit for work done. It takes time to rehabilitate run-down systems and organisations. Did she have enough support?

Most of all, she understands something many may NOT have understood yet (link): protection of human rights can only be fully accepted by our people if we have a truly functional justice sector. A justice sector does not function if the investigative and prosecutorial services are not doing their jobs. When people complain about criminality, it means they are clamoring for genuinely effective investigation, case build up and prosecution. Impunity is engendered because no one is being caught for crimes that our hapless citizens are suffering from. And when murders and rapes are being committed in such frequency and gore, you must expect people to be angry. They will not understand if you try to protect the right to life of a drug suspect, when the community is of the belief that drug addicts are the perpetrators of these crimes.

Hope more on the liberal and law-and-order sides of Philippine politics realize this way is correct. Even Rizal realized this in his time, criticizing the Spanish colonial justice system and praising the British colonial one. The one Singapore still has, to name a city idolized by so many Dutertians.

Politics for show

For the opposite of result-driven politics, Grace Poe comes to mind first. The Dutertian side will name Leila de Lima as a drama queen. She did have her CHR work, and as SOJ a hand in the German-sponsored draft of a better Penal Code (link). Even then I wonder why Duterte was seemingly no longer being investigated in the time of President Noynoy Aquino. Could his support for him have been the reason (link), the threat of possible investigations guaranteeing his “loyalty”? There is the term moro-moro for staged political confrontations, based on a folk drama (link).

I watched a moro-moro in Ilokano once at the UP Theater as a child. Lots of bluster by the Christian and the Muslim king, to the respective other king and to his followers. Then loud, smashing music like Blue Rondo a la Turk or Balkan folk music, both kings and their followers rise, move back and forth on the stage, crossing swords but never fully bumping into each other, with one group running away backwards at the end. It was funny, with both kings jumping exaggeratedly and pushing their bellies forward. Abroad in 1986, I asked myself if EDSA was just moro-moro.

Marcoses were allowed to return. The pursuit of their ill-gotten wealth was very slow I think, skeptics like me then tend to ask if it was just for show. Imelda acquitted in the Philippines. Nowadays, I wonder why Roxas and others only show their teeth now, when they are charged (link) – having tolerated a bit too much, too long in my point of view. Where I am skeptical, many directly affected are cynical (link) as little seems to move forward. More of the likes of Sereno – and  VP Leni and Risa Hontiveros – are needed I think. Also, less drama and beauty queens in politics.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 26 November 2017

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Even Housing Projects

Trees4SaleBNativitasXochiin Germany have trees in them. This struck me looking at the projects occupied by Kadamay. They remind me of refugee camps over here in Germany. Except that refugee camps in Germany are usually container-based and not intended to be permanent settlements. And not intended for locals, while Filipinos are nasty to their own people. Forbes Park is in another world. There one cannot hear the traffic. Trees all over. Even UP has trees all over. Good thing I guess, imagine tropical sun frying those brains?

When I see Facebook photos of Filipinos very relaxed in their summer break, as it is summer there now close to Holy Week, I see them surrounded by nature and at home. Many living in Manila seem to feel genuinely at home only in their home provinces – if they are fortunate enough still to have them. Those living in slums probably don’t have any place to go back to anymore. With the first slums growing after WW2 and accelerating from the 1970s, they are generations removed from their old places.

Even the poor can be content if they have safety and can make a living – and happy if their surroundings are pleasant. Safety was destroyed in many provinces of the Philippines by a de facto civil war lasting for decades – with all sorts of armed groups terrorizing simple folks. Being able to make a living – not really possible for those who did not have at least a little bit of land, or the capital to run a small business. Surroundings – destroyed by mining, by overbuilding? You can’t eat money in the end.

Something in our human nature is programmed to respond positively to nature. We do not naturally take to concrete jungles, where we might feel like apes on Gibraltar. Recently the creeks in Munich were closed for cleaning, dammed up, the water was released against just a few days ago. The clear, fresh water of the creeks of Munich, of the Isar river. Priceless. There are things that matter more than money in the end – starting with our surroundings. Filipinos in Manila have destroyed theirs.

The trajectory of survival can turn into greed easily, wanting to catch up with the neighbors. And at the same time fearing the neighbors who will steal your new mobile – to buy some drugs to make their lives feel less painful for a while? For me, both the addicts in the slums of Manila and the consumerism addicts in its malls are zombies. Maybe the addict might be more able to find happiness under a tree, watching a clean river flow, breathing fresh air? The consumerist might just say – how boooooring!

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 8 April 2017

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On Turning 50

I am half a century old now. I was born in a time where color photography just had begun, the Internet was a military project that had just moved to academe, there were no cassette recorders yet, not to start talking about fax machines, answering machines, digital cameras, webpages or smartphones. Germany was divided, the Berlin Wall just 4 years older than me.

The Philippines was an affluent country, the peso was on a par to the Deutsche Mark and the buying power of the peso was higher. President Ferdinand Marcos was voted into office that same year. Young, with a charismatic smile and a beautiful wife, both of them were toted as the Philippine equivalent to JFK and Jackie Kennedy. President Aguinaldo had died a year earlier.

When I was 25, half a lifetime ago, it was 1990. Germany reunified after the wall fell just the year before. The Soviet Union crumbled a year later. Cory Aquino was President of the Philippines, having just survived a number of coup attempts – and having made a State Visit to Germany in Summer of 1989. Ferdinand Marcos had just died in Paoay Hawaii that same year.

When I was 15, it was 1980. F. Marcos was to officially lift Martial Law a year later. Then Vice President George Bush (Sr.) was still to publicly laud F. Marcos for his commitment to democracy.

When I was 35, it was 2000. People Power II was to oust Erap the year after and give Gloria Arroyo the Presidency. The Twin Towers were still standing. The German government had moved back to Berlin two years ago, same year man of the street Gerd Schröder (and Joseph Estrada) were voted into office. Schröder called his snap election in 2005 and lost after proclaiming his win on TV.


2015.. 1965.. 1915: World War I had just began. The Age where Kings and Queens really ruled Europe was coming to an end. The Senate of the Philippines was to be established just a year later by the Jones Autonomy Act. Germans in the Philippines either went home to avoid confiscation of their businesses as enemy aliens, or had become Filipino citizens quickly before that happened.

..1865: Manila was open to world trade for a few years, the Suez Canal would open four years later. Germany was yet to be unified by Bismarck, a year before Gomburza were executed by garrote.

..1815: The galleon trade was all but over. The first Filipino nationalist is a Spanish creole nobleman born in the Philippines who studied in France and was infected by French revolutionary ideas. Austrian Metternich presides over the division of Germany into small fiefdoms while Bavaria keeps the territories given to it by Napoleon.


Even I who grew up with history books at home remember thinking as a youth how long ago everything was, how little it really counted today. It takes experience to know that it does count.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 22 May 2015

Das Leben ist zu kurz für RTL2

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