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Photo by Cherry Bueza on Unsplash

Landscape and nation-building

How many of us are familiar with the stories of the Ifugao, the Tausug, the Talaandig, the Mangyan; of the history of Pampanga, Iloilo, Cotabato; of agriculture in the country and the rituals observed with fishing, or with the planting and harvest seasons? There are many provinces in the Philippines; there are many ways of life; indigenous peoples are Filipino and part of the nation-state. But apart from an awareness of some of these places as tourist sites; apart from remembering indigenous peoples through street names and even class sections in elementary or high school, we know little about them.

Thoughts on Modernity

Modernity is ultimately about human agency and reason. Such allowed people to accomplish and to fight for so many things. The values and practices that we espouse now  – freedom of expression, human rights, free markets, mobility, innovation – are legacies of changes that took place in Europe from the 1600s onwards. They are contemporary expressions of modernity.

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 …