Past, Present, Future

I loved you before I ever loved you
before thoughts were words
and words were kisses

I loved you before I ever loved you
When feelings were just a glimpse
a blimp in the vast emptiness of my heart

I loved you before I ever loved you
when the idea of it was just a figment
in the furthest reaches of my mind

I loved you before I ever loved you
and when I finally loved you
I’ll love you after I loved you.

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If There Was Two of Me

If there was two of me and only one of you
And you only fell in love with one of me
Then how shall the story come to be
When the other one rises out of the tomb?

‘Tis forever our dilemma
to either show night or day but never both
for who could love both the sun and moon
in their extreme polarity?

But if there was two of me
and there was two of you
one of me says
he wants a tryst

Burning Bright

Imagine you were a blazing ball of fire
Burning hot, burning bright, burning everything in sight
Imagine feeling this all the time you are on tilt

Sylvia Plath put her head in the oven
Virginia Woolf drowned herself
and Hemingway shot himself

There’s no easy way to say this so I’ll not lie
I killed my fire so I’ll not die
But now I’m ready, so let it be

The fire is lit and so am I
Witness me

Bluebird

My heart is yearning for that dark, crazy magic,
reaching out for that ever attractive neurosis
like a firefly attracted to its death.
O heart be still.
Learn to love this peaceful life –
where nothing ever happens.

Mornings are when I’m crashing,
and every so often I lose control,
and there’s that bluebird in me singing:
wouldn’t you just like to go out a bit,
even if your whole world burns because of it?

But I am strong,
and I tell my bluebird:
keep in your song.
It won’t be long before I’m gone,
and you can sing all your songs
to your heart’s content.

So I watch the world go by,
like a firefly stuck in glue.
Waiting for the time when I’ll die,
leaving my bluebird to fly.

But wouldn’t you just love it a little bit,
if I let him out for a peek,
and hear the wonderful songs he’s singing in my heart?

Burn

They’re there in the shadows
watching whoever follows
They’re there in the corners
just right behind your shoulders

They’re the unspoken sigh
to your weekend high
They’re the unshackled breath
to your awaiting death

They’re the morning fairies
They’re the afternoon daisies
They’re your evening’s fantasies
They’re your dawn’s singing prairies

So come with me now and sing:

Artists breed artists
and music breeds music
and candles that burn twice as bright
burn half as long
and the music is bursting inside me
calling me to burn
burn twice as bright
burn half as long

burn twice as bright
burn half as long

and the music is bursting inside me
calling me to burn

burn twice as bright
burn half as long

Two Sides of the Same Coin

I was nine
when the urge first took me
the blackest mood swooped upon me
and all I could think of
was sticking a fork right through my heart
and all the while I kept saying
this too shall pass

I was thirteen
when I first learned the black moods could be harnessed
and the deepest, darkest words flowed out of me
into a river of poetry and imagery
all the while I kept saying
this too shall pass

I was sixteen
when my world bloomed
and black moods gave way to uncontrollable euphoria
unceasing energy and endless insomnia
and all the while I kept saying
this too shall pass

I was twenty-one when I learned control
and my life seemed to gain a bit of order
but self-destructive habits were hard to break
and I kept getting back into the same old cycle
knowing there’s no way out of this
but to keep the refrain going
saying: this too shall pass

Now I’m nearing forty and there’s only grey behind me
the ebb and flow of time is long past behind me
for all those like me
I know it’s hard, but you have to keep faith
Whenever the urge takes you
just say it together with me:

This too shall pass
We’ll see better days and better memories
But for now, let the dark clouds run over
and let the blackbirds pass

Facts, Opinion, Fake News, and the Long Road to Truth (Part 1)

This meme has been going the rounds of social media the last few years:

6or9

It’s shared by almost everyone trying to prove to other people that their side of the argument isn’t “wrong,” it’s just a different point of view. There’s only one problem: the meme itself is wrong, and has no basis in objective reality.

Let’s examine a few things. If there were no orientation points to speak of, both person in the meme would neither be wrong nor right – they’d just both have inconclusive statements. Take a look at this image for example:

perspective (2)

Now, would you say that’s a 09 or a 60? If we’re to believe the people hewing to the meme above, it can be either-or, and both those saying it’s a 09 or a 60 would both be correct. But in reality, that’s not really the case, is it? Especially when these numbers find themselves in a cheque or a bank account statement. Suddenly, it’s important to find out who is correct.

Which is why ORIENTATION is always important. Without the complete facts of the case, we can’t define conclusively who is correct and who is wrong. However, we’re sure of one thing – one of them is definitely wrong.

perspective.jpg

Ahh. Now we see more clearly with the rest of the picture in place. If this were shown to you, would you still agree with the people saying it’s a 60?

Failures of logic like the meme above are commonplace in today’s online world. Children today are growing up untrained in the rigors of logic. In the U.S., a common curriculum would include the following subjects: Math, Science, English, History, Computer Studies, and Physical Education. Curiously, Logic, as a subject, is missing from the curriculum.

Unlike the ancient Greeks who considered Logic to be of utmost importance that they made it a standalone subject, together with Grammar and Rhetoric, which forms their Trivium, present-day educators treat Logic as a minor study, to be consigned within the major subjects of Math, Science, and English. It appears as elementary proofs in geometry, a discussion of fallacies in English, and a chapter of Boolean Logic in Computer Studies.

In a study conducted by Weinstock & Neuman (2004), results showed that students who were aware of “general argumentation norms,” or what we know as “rules of logic,” performed better at identifying fallacies than those who didn’t.

Likewise, in a successive study done by the same authors, they found out that when presented with context, students were able to correctly identify fallacious arguments compared with those who were lacking context (Neuman, Weinstock, & Glasner, 2006).

Children, it seemed, did not fail for lack of trying or for lack of brain power. They simply failed because they lack training in the art and science of logical thinking. This is a damning indictment of our educational institutions.

Take for example the difference between a fact and an opinion. It seems pretty straightforward for most of us. Quite common sense really. A fact is a statement which can be proven or disproven, while an opinion is a statement which cannot. And yet, to my horror, more than half of my students in senior high hardly knew the difference between the two. I had to teach the entire concept to them before I could proceed to teach writing as a discipline.

In a survey of 5,035 American adults done by the Pew Research Center, conducted between Feb. 22 and March 8, 2018, asking respondents to distinguish between five factual statements and five opinion statements, it was found out that more than a quarter of Americans got most or all wrong in their answers. Even more depressing, of those who got it correct, most were only able to identify three to five statements correctly. That’s as good as merely guessing.

And if you think you’re a bit better than the crowd, think about this: when I mentioned “fact” did you automatically associate it with “true” or did you somehow knew it meant “provable?” Because if you thought the former, then I have a bridge to sell you. The sad truth is, “fact” doesn’t mean “true.” It only means it’s a statement that can be proven or disproven using evidence. Let’s do the following exercise and see how well you fare in distinguishing factual statements from opinionated ones.

fact vs opinion.jpg

Of the eight statements, five are factual while three are opinion. Were you able to guess which three were opinionated? If you guessed the last three, you would be correct. Proving raisins are gross, insects are annoying, and that George Washington was the best president ever are all an exercise in futility because they are all rooted in subjective biases. Who is to say what’s gross and what’s annoying? How would we quantify the word “best” and how would we measure it? In contrast, proving how long it takes someone to ride the bike to the mall is fairly easy. As it is with finding out if mint toothpaste and gum are good for your teeth. A series of experiments can quickly settle the issue. Likewise, a cheetah’s speed can be measured objectively, and the contents of milk scientifically studied. By these precepts, we are able to determine them as factual statements. While factual, they aren’t automatically “true.” They’re merely statements which can be proven to be true or false.

However, things only get muddier from here on. There are indeed “facts” which are held to be “true.” They are called “scientific facts,” and are treated separately from “factual statements,” which are merely statements of provability. Scientific facts carry the weight of evidence behind them, and years of repeatable observation and reproducible experiments. The entire collection of human knowledge was based on the scientific method and the collection of empirical evidence to validate certain facts.

To make matters worse, there’s what we call “evidentiary facts” in legal parlance. These are evidence collected in support of a “fact.” To avoid confusing the three, we must clearly distinguish scientific facts as “scientific facts”, “factual statements” as merely “fact,” and “evidentiary facts” as “evidence.” To fail to do so would invite chaos.

With those distinctions out of the way, let us proceed to a much more controversial topic.

Ever heard the term, “You’re entitled to your own opinion but not to your own facts?” It was either coined by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, James Schlesinger, or Bernard Baruch (depending on your sources) and would go on to infect a large portion of the populace, making them believe that hiding behind the curtain of “opinion” will excuse them from the challenges of rational thought. Sadly, since then, people have used the qualifier “it’s just my opinion” as a catch-all defense to avoid intellectual scrutiny and criticism. They believe that by categorizing their statements as “opinion,” they cannot be criticized or called to answer for it.

Except, that’s not really the case, is it? Going back to our definitions, these people have clearly tagged their views as opinion when it clearly veers into factual territory. Opinions are of such subjective nature that they cannot be proven or disproven conclusively. The arguments of which dessert is better, ice cream or chocolate, will go on ad infinitum because these arguments rest on the subjective definitions of one’s own palate. However, the argument of whether vaccines cause autism should be put to rest since mountains of evidence have been collected proving no link between vaccines and autism. In this case, “vaccines cause autism” is not an “opinion.” It is simply misinformed fact. A myth that grew from fraud and scientific misrepresentation by one person, which now poses a serious threat to worldwide health.

Everyone is still entitled to their own opinion, but no one is entitled to call their views or beliefs as “opinion” when it clearly isn’t. In this case, everyone is only entitled to what they can prove.

References:

Amy Mitchell, J. G., & Sumida, N. (2018). Distinguishing Between Factual and Opinion Statements in the News. Washington, D.C.: Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.journalism.org/2018/06/18/distinguishing-between-factual-and-opinion-statements-in-the-news/

CDC. (2015, November 23). CDC Statement: 2004 Pediatrics Paper on MMR and Autism. Retrieved from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/concerns/autism.html

Neuman, Y., Weinstock, M. P., & Glasner, A. (2006, February 1). The effect of contextual factors on the judgment of informal reasoning fallacies. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 59(2), 411-425. doi:10.1080/17470210500151436

Phadke, V. K., Bednarczyk, R. A., Salmon, D. A., & Omer, S. B. (2016). Association Between Vaccine Refusal and Vaccine-Preventable Diseases in the United States: A Review of Measles and Pertussis. Journal of the American Medical Association, 315(11), 1149–1158. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.1353

Popik, B. (2009, July 30). Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. Retrieved from The Big Apple: https://www.barrypopik.com/index.php/new_york_city/entry/everyone_is_entitled_to_his_own_opinion_but_not_his_own_facts

Weinstock, M., & Neuman, Y. (2004, January). Missing the point or missing the norms? Epistemological norms as predictors of students’ ability to identify fallacious arguments. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 29(1), 77-94. doi:10.1016/S0361-476X(03)00024-9

 

The Writ of Kalikasan and the Battle to Protect our Life Sources

person s left hand holding green leaf plant
Photo by Alena Koval on Pexels.com

The Writ of Kalikasan – what is it and what does it do?

In “The Environment as Life Sources and the Writ of Kalikasan in the Philippines,” Davide redefines the word “environment” as “life sources,” stating that “it is nothing less than about life and the sources of life of the earth – land, air, and water, or LAW for brevity – the elements of life and the vital organs of the earth” (Davide, 2012).

The Writ of Kalikasan is a legal remedy provided to any citizen of the Republic of the Philippines for the protection of their constitutional right “to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature.” (Section 16 Article II, Philippine Constitution, 1987)

“When the right to life is threatened, and the executive department tasked to protect it fails or is wanting in political will to enforce said right, it is the duty of the court, in an appropriate case, to step in” (Davide, 2012). Davide further states that: “The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines has expanded the judicial power of the courts of the Philippines. Section 1 of Article VIII thereof, on the judicial department, provides:

Judicial power includes the duty of the courts of justice to settle actual controversies involving rights which are legally demandable and enforceable, and to determine whether or not there has been a grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction on the part of any branch or instrumentality of the Government.

The Writ of Kalikasan, or the writ of nature, is available when the environmental damage is of such magnitude that it prejudices the life, health, or property of inhabitants in two or more cities or provinces. The writ is issued by either the Supreme Court or the Court of Appeals within three days after the filing of the application. Hearing of the matter is set within sixty days. No docket or filing fee is required upon the filing of the complaint or petition. The proceedings terminate within sixty days from the submission of the original application (Davide, 2012)

Further,

the writ of Kalikasan may be sought by anyone a) whose constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology is violated, or b) whose constitutional right to a balanced and healthful ecology is threatened with violation, by an unlawful act of omission of a public official or employee, or private individual or entity and such violation or threat involves “environmental damage of such magnitude as to prejudice the life, health or property of inhabitants of two or more cities, or provinces.” (Rule 7, Section 1)

The petition for the writ of Kalikasan “shall be filed with the Supreme Court or with any of the stations of the Court of Appeals.” (Rule 7, Section 3) Note, however, that the filing of a petition for the issuance of the writ of Kalikasan shall not preclude the filing of separate civil, criminal or administrative actions. (Rule 7, Section 17)

Within 3 days from filing the petition deemed sufficient in form and substance, the Court shall issue the writ and require the respondent to file a return. (Rule 7, Section 5)

In response, the respondent is required to file a return containing his defenses and supporting evidence within a non-extendible 10-day period after the service to him of the writ. He must raise all defenses in the return, otherwise, they are deemed waived.  A general denial of the petitioner’s allegations shall be deemed an admission by the respondent. (Rule 7, Section 8)

If the petition fails to file a return, the hearing shall proceed ex parte (i.e., the hearing will proceed with only 1 side being heard). (Rule 7, Section 10)

The penalty of indirect contempt may be meted out to a) a respondent who refuses to file the return, b) a respondent who unduly delays the filing of a return, c) a respondent who falsifies a return, or d) anyone who disobeys or resists a lawful process of court order. (Rule 7, Section 13)

In further recognition of the importance of a speedy resolution, the following filings are prohibited:
a) motion to dismiss
b) motion for extension of time to file return
c) motion for postponement
d) motion for a bill of particulars
e) counterclaim or cross-claim
f) third-party complaint
g) reply, and
h) motion to declare respondent in default. (Rule 7, Section 9)

However, the following motions are allowed:
motion for ocular inspection (1) indicating the place/s sought to be inspected and (2) supported by “affidavits of witnesses having personal knowledge of the violation or threatened violation of environmental law.” andmotion for production or inspection of documents or things.  (Rule 7, Section 12) 

When the court receives the return, it may call a preliminary conference “to simplify the issues, determine the possibility of obtaining stipulations or admissions from the parties, and set the petition for hearing.” The petition shall be given the same priority as petitions for the writ of habeas corpusamparo and habeas data; thus, the hearing and the preliminary conference shall be all done within 60 days (Rule 7, Section 11)

After the hearing, the case shall be submitted for decision in which case, the court may require the filing of memoranda within a non-extendible 30-day period from the date the case is submitted for decision.

Within 60 days from the time the petition is submitted for decision, the court shall grant or deny the privilege of the writ of kalikasan.  The reliefs that may be granted under the writ are the following:
a) Directing respondent to permanently cease and desist from committing acts or neglecting the performance of a duty in  violation  of  environmental  laws  resulting  in environmental destruction or damage;
b) Directing  the  respondent  public  official,  government agency,  private  person  or  entity  to  protect,  preserve, rehabilitate or restore the environment;
c) Directing  the  respondent  public  official,  government agency,  private  person  or  entity  to  monitor  strict compliance with the decision and orders of the court;
d) Directing  the  respondent  public  official,  government agency, or private person or entity to make periodic reports on the execution of the final judgment; and
e) Such other reliefs which relate to the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology or to the protection, preservation, rehabilitation or restoration of the environment, except the award of damages to individual petitioners. (Rule 7, Section 15)

Appeal to the Supreme Court, under Rule 45 of the Rules of Court (i.e. a petition for review on certiorari), is available within 15 days from the notice of the judgment or denial of motion for reconsideration.  It is important to note that this appeal may raise questions of fact. (Rule 7, Section 16)

This writ is an innovation of the Philippine Supreme Court as one of the legal means to combat the destruction of the environment. This writ is one of a kind, available only within Philippine jurisdiction. It is extraordinary in nature, meaning to say, that it can be resorted to only when other ordinary legal remedies such as injunction or damage suit are unavailing.

 

References:
Hilario G. Davide Jr., The Environment as Life Sources and the Writ of Kalikasan in the Philippines, 29 Pace Envtl. L. Rev. 592 (2012)
“What is a Writ of Kalikasan?” (n.d.) Retrieved from http://notocoal.weebly.com/writ-of-kalikasan.html#.W7NVC2gzbIW

 

 

 

 

Why the Illegal Drug trade is the Perfect Bogeyman for the President

1. Anyone who disagrees with the campaign against it is automatically evil.
2. It’s the perfect distraction from the other ills our country is facing.
3. You can take down your political opponents one by one just by tagging them as purveyors or protectors of it. *Cue the persecution of the Legit 8 after De Lima. Heck, Agot Isidro is now fair game!
4. Obedience from the public is gained more easily because who wants a narco-state?
5. The war against it is never-ending. His 6-year term will be over but he will still be asking for an extension.
6. If his presidency fails, it can all be blamed on the perfect bogeymen – the illegal drug trade, the oligarchs, the biased media, the undiscerning haters. None of it will be his fault. Everyone was against him from the start. Never mind the 91% approval rating.

A Primer on Political Bogeymen

An often used strategy in politics to gain support which would then later translate into votes is to invent a bogeyman, a scapegoat or a fall guy. The thing to which all of society’s problems and ills originate from. That thing usually has no voice, no political power, and no way to defend itself. Inventing a bogeyman and focusing people’s attention on it is so convenient because it removes all the hard analysis needed to identify a problem. It simplifies everything to a single common enemy. Something which the public can easily rally against.

Throughout history, regimes have invented bogeymen to distract the public, keep itself in power, manipulate public perception, and garner obedience from the public. From communism to fascism, to socialism, to terrorism, to yes, illegal drugs.

There is one aspect of this “war on drugs,” which supporters fail to realize. With demand shrinking, prices are rising. Someone, somehow, someway, that void will be filled. It’s just a logical consequence of a money-hungry world. I always point out the Prohibition, as the greatest example of why banning an addictive substance will never succeed. But people “wiser” than me refused to heed the lessons of history. So let them learn it the hard way.

I had a disturbing thought that what if we woke up one day and realize we were conned big time? What if instead of wanting to eradicate it, they just wanted to increase the price, monopolize the market, and control everything?

Where did the President say the drugs are coming from? China?

Maybe that’s why our dear President is going there next week. Maybe he’s finally bringing the war to them.

Meanwhile, all I want is faster internet speeds and less traffic. A few trains on the MRT might be good too. I know these are all his campaign promises which may “take time.” But is it too much to ask what happened to the “No more Pork Barrel or I will close Congress if it refuses” promise?

But maybe I am asking too much. When you believe in a man who says he will not run but runs anyway, you’re bound to get heartbroken. One time a liar, twice incorrigible, thrice pathological.

But never fear, our attention is here: War on Drugs.