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Editorial: Burying “heroes” and memories

Susan comes from a small rural village in the Visayas.  Her family lives a hand-to-mouth existence, tilling soil that is not theirs.  In September 1972, when Marcos declared martial law, and in the years that followed, their lives carried on as usual.  Martial law merely passed them by with nary a scrape.  With vague recollections of that period, it comes as no surprise that Susan’s family feels nothing towards the issue of Marcos’ burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Susan herself, despite a first year college education, believes that the burial is just and right for one who has been president of the country. Susan’s reactions resonate with the throng of commenters on social media who feel strongly that Ferdinand Marcos is a hero. Some would label them as ‘ignorantly deluded,’ much like the holocaust deniers who believe that the holocaust was a figment of the German Jews’ imaginations, an event created to justify the subsequent occupation of Palestinian territories in Israel. But one cannot simply deny the murder of more than six million …

Unveiling the truth about “women in poverty” in contemporary Japan

Atsumi is twenty-three years old. She has been living in an Internet-Café for two months. She works as a waitress at a coffeehouse, but she may lose the job if the owner finds that she has become homeless. When she was in high school, her father died of cancer, her mother left her, and she withdrew from school. A loan shark has been chasing her after the first loan. She has scarcely been surviving alone (Suzuki 2014: 16-36). Introduction It was in 2015 that the “hinkon joshi,”or women in poverty, which include the likes of Atsumi, suddenly gained public attention in Japan. A documentary by NHK discussed the shocking fact that a third of working women in Japan were poor. Even if they marry, becoming a “wife” would not give them any advantage in contemporary Japanese society; matrimony has not become a realistic measure for women to escape from poverty (NHK Research Group 2014: 64-65). This feminization of poverty is worrying for a country suffering from a declining birth rate. In this essay, I will …

The Philippines – US Bilateral Military Relations: The ties that bind, or so it seems?

In the aftermath of the Second World War, two important agreements that initially defined the legal parameters of US-RP security relations were signed. These are the Philippine-American Military Bases Agreement (MBA) and the Philippine-American Military Assistance Agreement (MAA). In furtherance of these agreements, the two countries also signed a Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) on August 30, 1951.  The treaty stipulates that “an armed attack in the Pacific Area on either of the Parties would be dangerous to its own peace and declares that it would act to meet the common dangers in accordance with its own peace and safety… and in accordance with its constitutional processes” (Mutual Defense Treaty between the Republic of the Philippines and the United States of America). Through the MBA, the US initially maintained 23 military installations in the country, including the Clark Air Force Base and the naval installation in Subic Bay, for an initial lease period of 99 years. The MBA, however, was amended in 1979 and updated in 1983 to decrease the lease period to 25 years. The …

Bakugai: Chinese Tourists’ Explosive Shopping Spree in Japan

According to a report by the Japan Times, the word “Bakugai” won the grand prize for the most memorable Japanese buzzword of 2015. Bakugai literally means “explosive buying.” It refers to the astonishing shopping spree carried out by Chinese tourists travelling to Japan. The Japan Times explains the popularity of the term as due largely to the record-level shopping sprees of Chinese tourists. I thus attempt to analyze this phenomenon from a sociological perspective. The social factors that contribute to the occurrence of Bakugai include the following: i) the rise of the Chinese nouveau riche class; ii) the quality of Japanese commodities and services; iii) the complicated Chinese tax system; iv) the devaluation of the Japanese yen; and v) the relaxed visa policies towards Chinese tourists. The striking economic achievements of the Chinese government have prompted the creation of a new upper and middle class in China. From a sociological perspective, social closure in Chinese society today is relatively weak. The pursuit of a market economy and support by the government has led to greater social mobility …

Editorial: Voting as an act of the social

These last few months have been difficult for many Filipinos.  (Perhaps fun, for some.)  “Difficult,” however, is an understatement to anyone who has gone through the stress of keeping up with the national elections – filtering tirades against one’s intellect, convincing others to rethink their picks, and rolling one’s eyes at “mema” rants on social media, some burning bridges along the way. We have been pinned down by the limited choices at our disposal, and swept up by our inclination to defend them, thinking to ourselves yet again that the only way to get through another term is to vote for the “lesser evil.” The 3rd Presidential Debates last 24 April 2016 is perhaps the culmination of a long process of elimination, resulting in a choice that reflects not only what we want in a society but the lens by which we view the world. The stress caused by the elections is warranted; it indicates the differences in our values, beliefs, and desires, despite sharing a country and a dominant culture. Indeed, the acts of …

SocioGram: What’s in a selfie?

It’s not hard to find people taking selfies on the streets. Each day, one million selfies are taken on earth (Gram 2015) and more than 200 million photos have been posted on Instagram with the hashtag, #selfie. Apparently, we live in the era of the selfie. But why do people take selfies? The reason is not as simple as having an abundance of narcissists in front of mirrors, but is rather related to the performance of social acts. People take selfies, not to save them in private camera rolls, but to share them on social networks such as Instagram. Taking selfies thus refers, not to an individual act, but to a social act (Cole 2014). In his concept of the “looking-glass self,” Charles Horton Cooley stated that we see ourselves based on how we think others perceive us. The more “likes” a selfie receives, the more confidence the selfie-taker gains and the more he or she feels popular. As such, it is possible for a person to spend a long time taking, retaking, and editing …