Isang Maligayang Araw ng Kalayaan

This government is trying to urgently enact an Anti-Terrorism Bill – right now, in a time of crisis – as if this country does not have a history of immense injustices against the common people; constant abuse of power; rampant corruption; threats to freedom of expression; and, egregious human rights violations. As if the harmful rhetoric currently permeating our society paired with various problems and barriers in the judicial system do not continue to nurture a hostile environment, which allows for prevalent impunity. The very culture of impunity that further helps in ushering the critics and the marginalised to their graves, without justice nor consequence.

Contention about the bill is brought about by the erosion of trust in our state institutions to provide adequate protection and lay out safeguards from possible intimidations.

A new report by the UN Human Rights Office highlights Filipino citizens’ “fears over their safety and a sense of powerlessness in the search for justice.” Among other human rights concerns, it also raises anxiety over the institutionalisation and normalisation of the “vilification of dissent” in the country. Challenging policies and bringing issues up for debate are constantly being maligned – at the expense of human rights, due process, and state accountability.

Nonetheless, the report also mentions that the “Philippines has a long-standing and robust tradition of human rights advocacy and activism.” Whenever there is a threat to curtail our liberty, we fought back. Our hope is rooted in the faith that this is not going to change. Hindi tayo pasisiil.

The future is full of worries even on the eve of our Independence Day anniversary. I wish that today we can contemplate on our strengths, as a country of the people, as well as our abilities to still reach our full potential. And tomorrow, may we have renewed aspirations in greeting each other a Happy Independence Day. 🇵🇭

Read the UNCHR here:

Tagalog summary:

What is the viability of a ‘Philippine Broadcasting Corporation’?

There has been suggestions and speculations on what could potentially fill ABS-CBN’s national television and radio frequencies, after it was ordered to cease operations on the 5th of May 2020. One of them is the creation of a publicly owned broadcaster comparable to that of the United Kingdom’s BBC.

First off, there shouldn’t be a void in the Philippine media industry right now in the first place. The fact that the biggest broadcaster in the country was shut down through the exploitation of political pressures and influences should not be tolerated nor accepted; if anything, defiance should be our response. I’ve already articulated my thoughts and feelings about this in this post: #DefendPressFreedom

To shut down one of the major broadcasters in the country is to suppress its press freedom. 

The media speaks truth to power and challenges complacency in our government and institutions. In essence, it makes sure that power is never without responsibility. 

The law is being weaponised to shut down criticisms; political capital is being exploited to stop people from pointing out injustices and uncomfortable facts. This is state power bearing down not only on what it deems unsympathetic journalism but also on freedom of expression. This is democratic deficit in action.

Continue reading “What is the viability of a ‘Philippine Broadcasting Corporation’?”


Freedom of speech should be universal. It allows for significant participants in the political and social dialogue to dare to tackle important or even controversial issues. And, journalists and media institutions have in their possession the skills and capabilities to draw stark and sometimes even explicit images that really strikes the core and truth of issues and problems. Stories matter and a wide range of perspectives is critical in educating and empowering the masses. The media can encourage debates and public pressures; it brings consciousness and makes it available to everyone.

To shut down one of the major broadcasters in the country is to suppress its press freedom.

The media speaks truth to power and challenges complacency in our government and institutions. In essence, it makes sure that power is never without responsibility.

The law is being weaponised to shut down criticisms; political capital is being exploited to stop people from pointing out injustices and uncomfortable facts. This is state power bearing down not only on what it deems unsympathetic journalism but also on freedom of expression. This is democratic deficit in action.

Have no mistake, this does not only curtail the ability of journalists and other media practitioners in trying to define and describe what is happening in our world; this is also going to disenfranchised a significant number of Filipino citizens in the process.

In this dark time, I hope the nation remains steadfast in its indignation and defiance… because with our very rights and liberties at stake, there is much to be angry about.


Social media bubbles and online relationships

I have been thinking about this for a while but I’m not really sure how to articulate it properly. I probably still can’t but I’m going to give it a try.

The recent issue regarding Joshua Molo’s alleged forced public apology, which stemmed from an online discussion with his former teachers, brought about debates surrounding free speech and how cyber libel law should be wielded. But for me, it took to spotlight an issue that has also been a stark recurring theme throughout the political discourse during the current crisis we are going through. This is how teachers and students (current or previous) navigate their online relationships and connections across digital and social media spaces. It has been more problematic than most of us would care to admit.

Yes, this also applies to adults in general because older people are instinctively figures of authority we turn and look up to. But for teachers and students, we can actually establish ethical guidelines through reinforceable policies. We need not only be governed by our own individual interpretations of virtue and moral compass.

Impressionable young kids are on social media. Surely, adults can appreciate that posting something online and putting things out there are now available to a wider audience, that sometimes we can’t even control. They are not only available to your age group or your friends anymore. Students, nieces, nephews, children of friends… everyone else you’ve added or added you on those social media bubbles can stumble upon it. We have to accept that children are going to be online whether we like it or not – whether it’s appropriate or otherwise. This is the reality brought about by the age of new media that we cannot do much about. But how we behave within these modern mediums of communication, that’s something we can shape with careful thought, intellect, responsibility, benevolence and restraint.

Arguably, these online connections could be mostly harmless, but who’s to say they can’t be harmful. A lot of what I’ve personally come across with are those opinions about how people should just shut up or how voicing out certain perspectives or facts is considered to be a know-it-all attitude. I personally find this disappointing, especially coming from people my younger self used to admire – a sentiment that I’m sure is shared by many. I can go on and on about my feelings and thoughts about this but let me end with some questions to ponder on instead…

Do we really want a generation who has learned to live in shame for what they think? Do we really want to curtail our abilities to conduct useful debate because of pride, fallacies, and devotions? For a large portion of the population to grow up desensitised or scared about voicing their opinion screams Orwellian to me; why does that not scare you?

Paint me red. Paint me brave. Colour me hopeful.

I started this decade with a move to England. I am ending it with a year back in homeland.

“You already live and work in London? Then, what are you doing back here?!” I was often at the end of this kind of query for the last year. People are baffled. They wonder why I came back, especially in a country where it seems that one of the biggest achievement you can do is to leave.

I have been here in the Philippines for a year now, when most people thought I wouldn’t last for long.
“You’re too sheltered.”
“You’ve already enjoyed a certain kind of lifestyle.”
“You are not cut out for the grind here.”
“This would not suit you. At all!“
“You have no idea how tough it is.“
“You. Cannot. Possibly. Last.”
Everyone must have thought that I have glazed over eyes coming back. Most would have thought it idealistic, even unrealistic, when I said I am here to pursue my passion.

And for the most part, I believed that maybe they are right. Perhaps this was just me looking to confront a challenge. An exercise of free will in seeking a great perhaps, at best. Or wishful folly, at worst. This might become nothing more than a failed experiment of a privileged petulant young adult in her pursuit for something more. Nevertheless, I also took those wanton remarks on my stride.

So, here I stand. Constantly anxious? Absolutely. Still high-strung? Very much so! But never tired of proving myself – for the things that matter. At the danger of sounding too clichéd… Follow your dreams. Be steadfast in your passion. Know your goals. You might not know if it’s worth it – I’m still not quite sure myself – but you can have tons of pleasures and experiences finding out.

Don’t let the metaphorical ropes hold you. Work those frays instead of letting them scare you. You are always bigger than your doubts. It just takes one to embrace the immensity and all the colours of possibilities.

Paint me red. Paint me brave. Colour me hopeful. I am ready for this decade. Bring it the hell on!

Filipina designer finds her own skin on London catwalk

Ecdysis Collection on London College of Fashion Degree show 2019 catwalk

Filipina-British fashion designer Faye Arguelles debuts her collection at #LCF19 Degree Show on 18 July 2019. ‘Ecdysis’ showcases a collection of couture pieces underlying the present need for humans to wear masks as protection from pollution, while also drawing inspiration from nature itself.

Screenshot 2019-09-02 at 18.12.32
Faye Arguelles read Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Textiles majoring in Embroidery at LCF

Stirred by her birth country’s nature and landscape imageries, Arguelles contrasts heritage lands like the rice terraces – carved into the mountains by the hands of Filipino ancestors and indigenous people – with mining sites caused by urbanisation.

“Ecdysis means shedding the old skin. I wish for it to express the constantly changing ways of our earth caused by nature and the civilisations in it. There is always a layer of new skin to find,” Arguelles said.

Continue reading “Filipina designer finds her own skin on London catwalk”

One thousand garlands suspended in time

IMG_5110 copyThe Life in Death installation at Shirley Sherwood Gallery in Kew Gardens offers an “alternative concept of beauty” through the evolving nature of its medium. Best known for her international floral installations, Rebecca Louise Law‘s most intricate large-scale artwork to date is exhibited at Kew from the 7th of October of last year until the 11th of March 2018.

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Nguva na Nyoka (Sirens and Serpents) by Wangechi Mutu | Review

The immense representation of the feminine, the political and the cultural is very palpable and striking in Wangechi Mutu’s latest exhibition entitled Nguva na Nyoka (meaning “Siren and Serpents” in Swahili). Staying true to the title, her collage paintings are of grotesquely deformed underwater creatures which screams surrealism with the contrasting elements of humans, animals and machines. They also manifest hyperbolism and diversity through the way she forced together an overload of materials, themes and references which you don’t ordinarily see together. Despite the initial jarring sense that her works present, they are both seductive and eerie all at once. 

The exhibition spans the two floors of Victoria Miro’s Gallery in London, showcasing the art works of this New York-based artist with Kenyan origins. Mutu uses a variety of media – mixing both textiles and art materials – to create her hybrid creatures with magazine cut-outs, watercolours, beads, feathers and fabrics. These distorted chimaeras do not only emulate the mythologic core of the exhibit’s theme, but their faces made up of big eyes and lips lifted from fashion magazines also satirise the stereotypes and preconceptions of women’s images and identities in the society. 

Killing You Softly

Continue reading “Nguva na Nyoka (Sirens and Serpents) by Wangechi Mutu | Review”

Trendy and intellectual, salons are back in London town

There are drinks by the entrance; people are holding foot-tall glasses of beers; some are eating dinner; and, there’s the constant buzz of chatter and natter all around. Loud music is playing and there are also strobe lights. But no, this is not a party or a casual social night. In fact, chairs are lined-up in rows to face the stage at the front of the venue and people are just waiting for the event to start. 

“Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Salon London… I hope we got something for everyone tonight.” says the host. It is Salon London’s last event for the year, where you get dancing and drinking breaks in between speakers. The Salon is also celebrating its 6th birthday in this intimate venue at The Proud Archivist in Haggerston, with the bar just by the door. 

This is part of the the new trend emerging across the capital. The need for intellectual spaces where you can think, debate, socialise and drink at the same time. It’s an academic and aristocratic 18th century concept bleeding into the 21st century of pop culture and mainstream society; it’s the new age of modern-day salons.

Continue reading “Trendy and intellectual, salons are back in London town”

The spell of slam poetry and compulsion of art

“Prepare to be Varjacked!” This is how fellow artists in the performance scene describes or, more appropriately, warns the audience of writer and contemporary performer Paula Varjack. It refers to the idea of being hit with real and immediate impact with a certain act. “I’d like to kind of leave with something that I think has either a message or creates a certain feeling or makes you think afterwards.”

For more than 6 years now, this British-American performer has been working as a full-time artist and her works has taken a variety and hybrid of forms ranging from spoken words, monologues, devised performance, videography, audio-visual pieces, stories and poems. Mostly in London, Berlin and Washington DC, she has also been touring in different cities not only in the UK but also around Europe. 

Paula’s disposition of being from all the places and prancing around practically everywhere inspired the title of her latest two-month tour Always Back From Somewhere, which sees her performing in England, Belgium, Scotland, Germany and Denmark. The tour started on the 7th of October with the whole month spent guesting in events around London and eventually the rest of the UK. With half of the tour remaining, she’ll be spending most of November outside the country culminating to her last performance on the 21st of the month at South Bank Centre in London as part of the celebration of Polari’s (multi award-winning LGBT literary salon) fourth birthday.

Continue reading “The spell of slam poetry and compulsion of art”