Media & Misrepresentation

Posted: November 1, 2012 in pOstEd WeEkLY

It’s sad to say but myself and many others of my generation rely heavily on the media for much of our acquired knowledge base mainly of societal norms, trends, common perceptions on social issues, etc. I suppose it is best not to generalize but giver personal perspective. When I’m looking to further my knowledge and understanding of a social issue I generally turn to films, such as documentaries or narratives, either through Youtube or through Netflix. I do this because it is generally reliable information regardless of the director’s biased approach; facts in documentaries are generally wholesome.  Media is a great, productive even socially efficient way to get a point across whether it be something light such as healthful food choices to heavier topics such as global hunger or genocide.

Have a little time? Social Issues: Brief Articles and Information on Random Social Issues.

Turning to Ngwarsungu Chiwengo’s piece, When Wounds and Corpses Fail to Speak, she uses examples of film media to illustrate many of her points on not only the suffering that the people of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East are experiencing, but also of the need for accuracy in media to appropriately capture the reality of such suffering. Her main example is that of Terry George’s film Hotel Rwanda and his [the director’s] approach to such a powerful genocide and it’s severe effects on an entire population. She states:

“Having heard the story of Rusesabagina, George visited Rwanda, researched the man and the event, and spoke to those who had known the hero. His film and script, he wishes to make clear, stem from visiting Rwandan national memorials, notably Gisozi, where, he alleges, “a smell hit me that I can only describe as death…” (84).

(Forward to 14:20 to hear Dr Chiwengo’s words on the Impact of the Congolese Crisis on Its People.)

It seems so very important for information represented in “reliable” media to be actually reliable. Inverting my reflection back upon my own research on Female Sex Workers in the Philippines, I am finding that only scholarly articles in my University Database (as well as other upper level educational institutions) are the select resources I can trust. It is evident that much of the information available on prevalent social issues, such as prostitution or human trafficking, have before blown into mainstream media. For example, watching Human Trafficking you can immediately tell that this is not something that the common person is around. It is more of an underground structure–the film however depicts the Trafficking of people as in your face and plays up all the young prostitutes as beautiful and healthy, many drug free and simply “innocent.” Not to say FSW are not healthy/drug free or innocent, but the actual narratives of FSW available do not depict such a cleanly or preferable lifestyle.

In conclusion, it is important to look towards media as Dr Chiwengo, where select pieces are heavily researched and are full of passion and reality.

Chiwengo, Ngwarsungu. (2008) “When Wounds and Corpses Fail to Speak: Narratives of Violence and Rape in Congo (DRC)” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East Vol. 28, No. 1. Pp 78-92

*if you are NOT interested in or are uncomfortable with sexually related material and narratives of those who have worked as strippers, sex workers, prostitutes, etc. DO NOT click the “narratives of FSW” link in-text.

**if you ARE interested in narratives of current and former strippers, sex workers, prostitutes and are curious about their lifestyles, choices, and experiences…CLICK IT! How wonderful for these individuals to share their lives and experiences so openly.


and…Happy Halloween



“They have made us inhuman.”

Posted: October 29, 2012 in pOstEd WeEkLY


click the image above to link over to a great article in Time about the N.P.A., the armed wing of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines.

“The creativity that I saw during the war years in Mozambique constituted a core survival strategy and a profound form of resistance to political violence,” states Carolyn Nordstrom, an established professor at Notre Dame and researcher of war, gender relationships, and war profiteering.

Terror Warfare and the Medicine of Peace by Nordstrom is an example of how war, mainly that of Mozambique’s 1976-92 war, effects the people as a whole and creates long-term suffering; being as the only solution to the pain is peace. She states in her introduction exactly how war begins: war comes into existence when violence is employed. Nordstrom goes on to discuss violence in different sphere’s of a society–political, social, etc.

In regards to war’s effect on people and their country, it is not only evident that the amount of deaths is devastating to the population as a whole, but also to the long-term effects of war embedded into the people.

Most research of the Philippines Timeline show four main phases of development to progress the state of the Philippines to where it is today: poverished with poor living quality, and high rates of illegal drug use, sex-work, and HIV/AIDS exploding.

Clean Water Makes You Dirty: Water Supply and Sanitation Behavior in the Philippines

War devastates countries both in land and among its people. The timeline includes: the Spanish phase, the American phase, the Japanese phase, and finally a somewhat post-period in which trafficking and sex tourism flourished following World War II.

The Spanish and American phases were roughly between 1542 when the Philippines were named and declared part of the Spanish Empire and 1899’s Treaty of Paris in which the Philippines were sold to the US. The Japanese invasion of the Philippines in 1941, caused extreme devastation as infants and women were taken from their homes and were often sold.

The final phase is marked by the United States giving the Philippines Independence following WWII. This phase propelled the current state of the Philippines in stigmatizing and punishing sex-workers by the power of the nation state.


Nordstrom, Carolyn. (2002)“Terror warfare and the Medicine of Peace” in Violence: a reader. C. Besteman (ed). Pp 273-298

Marumi tubig.

Posted: October 24, 2012 in pOstEd WeEkLY

(unclean water).

The situation with the hazard of the dead river is a model of Zlolniski’s arguement, that of neoliberal water policies producing water insecurity for the poorest, ultimately placing the state’s own people in danger and denying them the universal human right or clean water.

According to the Water Project “more than 1 in 7 people in the world don’t have access to safe drinking water” and “nearly 80% of illness in developing countries is linked to poor water and sanitation conditions.” This being said, I question why leading bodies of water, such as the Pasig River in the Philippines are being disregarded while the people of Manila continue to live in Ghettos literally unsanitary water-front shanties.

The issue is not that the government is turning a blind eye, it is that projects such as the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission are failing to remove and relocate those already living along the river–declared officially ‘dead’ over a decade ago.

The PRRC has gone so far as to declare in 2006 that:

For the first phase of urban renewal, environmental preservation areas will be established along the Pasig River banks and about 10,000 squatter families will be relocated to in-city, medium-rise apartment buildings and near-city house and lot schemes…to improve water quality, a sanitation service, comprising of a septage treatment and disposal facility and a septic tank cleaning service consisting of a fleet of vacuum tanker vehicles will be provided.”

As we can see, clearly the governmental approach is to get a loan (PRRC received 100 million dollars from the Asian Development Bank alone) to “fix” the situation by removing and relocating–NOT educating, remodeling social beliefs or assumptions about standards of living, and then relocating within means of the people as individual families. Many of those living on the banks of the river have lived there for years, have their families living there, but because they are “squatters” it is easier to remove them from the view of the global eye and relocate them to closer inner city slums. Programs, like the Philippine Center for Water and Sanitation is an International Training Network Foundation and is aimed to:

build capacity and awareness of WASH technologies and the opportunities they provide. It is committed to provide technical expertise for improving the WASH situation of communities, households and institutions.  PCWS-ITNF will continue to work with local governments in implementing the political will of pro-poor access to adequate water supply and sanitation services”

Is the issue of those living along the Pasig River of structural violence? or is it moreso an issue of the lack of understanding, that this is a way of life for some dispite the severly poor living conditions? Should we be working around the social structure to implement living conditions or should we just remove the people from their lives because they are living unclean–according to global standards?

more of the dead river…

Zlolniski, Christian. (2011) “Water Flowing North of the Border: Export Agriculture and Water Politics in Rural community in Baja California.” Cultural Anthropology. Vol 26 No 4. 565-588.

Matriarchal Methods.

Posted: October 21, 2012 in pOstEd WeEkLY

In a country that is mainly matriarchal it is highly evident among prenatal care and postnatal care that the life style and choices of the mother are completely indicative of the survival of the infant or child.

The Philippines is not well known for offering above the standard prenatal care to women, however, through the prevalence of information and methods of awareness the Philippines is experiencing higher survival risks among women and their infants. Problems mainly surround regular prenatal visits to licensed practitioners and hemorrhaging during the birthing process as a result of iron deficiencies and poor birthing care in the absence of a nurse or doctor.

Check out: Prenatal Care and Women’s Health in the Philippines.

Hannah Landecker’s piece on Nutritional Epigenetics contained a section on prenatal care which brought me to further my thoughts in relation to prenatal care in the Philippines. Without much research which is not really necessary to make a broad generalization is that poor lifestyle stems poor diet, which often results in deficiencies and poses great concern among the health of both mother and fetus.

Landecker states:

“Given the social and cultural importance of food and eating and the fraught nature of contemporary parenting when it comes to feeding children, the unfolding generation of these specific links between nutrition and health calls for our continued critical attention.”

Furthering Landecker’s statement we can also attribute social and cultural importance of diet, more so of the lacking in nutritious components of diet, to employment and unemployment. There is a clear distinction in the prenatal care sought out by women employed in the Philippines in comparison to those who are not employed, as well as a distinction between classes of employment such as blue and white collar.

In a study conducted by R. Miles-Doan and KL Brewster from the Center for the Study of Population based in Florida State University of Tallahassee:

“The largest percentage of women who had early prenatal care were white collar workers (WCWs) and professionals (57%), followed by blue collar, service, and self-employed workers (22%), and non-wage workers (23%). The smallest percentage of women obtaining prenatal care were pieceworkers (15%).”

Landecker, Hannah. 2010 “Food as Exposure: Nutritional Epigenetics and the Molecular Politics of Eating.” CSW Update Newsletter. UCLA Center for the Study of Women

Additional Reading on epigeneticsKuzawa, CW and E Sweet. 2009. “ Epigenetics and the embodiment of race: developmental origins of US racial disparities in cardiovascular health.” Am J Hum Biol. 2009; 21(1):2-15.

deadliest of plagues.

Posted: October 17, 2012 in pOstEd WeEkLY

Inequality, a distribution factor correlated with poverty and disease. Within the Philippines we often see high publicity on poverty and the clear divide of unequal capital. Visually, we can see this concept in the layout of most major cities within the Philippines, dense in population and a melting pot of poverty, HIV/AIDS, disease, poor living and working environments, etc.

 In O’Neil’s piece of, mainly, the discussion of capital he gives a clear emphasis on not only Global Financial Flows and the Mechanics of Trade, but also the entirety of Inequality on a global scale. For example, towards his concluding remarks, he discusses possible resolution to inequality but also suggests that it may be too late for such resolution.

 “Reducing inequality can be seen as the only rational response to containing them [cofactors of epidemics such as HIV and AIDS], as well as the other epidemics that will no doubt follow.”(179)

 Bernardo Villegas, an independent writer of the Manila Bulletin Publishing Corporation, wrote a brief piece to shed light on better understanding the poverty within the Philippines back in 2010. He stated:

 “The explosion of HIV-AIDS cases was a result of sexual promiscuity that was induced by the spreading of condoms far and wide even among adolescents and unmarried people. This goes to show that condoms do not prevent the spread of sexual diseases. Let us therefore limit the meaning of population management to an intelligent redistribution of population within the 300,000 square kilometers that the Philippine Archipelago offers.”

 If this were in fact remotely true, then clearly the issue of inequality would be more so of population factor than of capital—however—from any general research we can see (as well as in O’Neil’s content) that poverty is strongly correlated with low education availability as well as healthcare. Given that we accept Vellegas’ approach as opposed to that of balancing inequality, spreading dense populations out over a physical space would only add to the problematic factors of access. We see this issue commonly in AIDS treatment among multiple cities and villages in Africa. Many Haitians in interviews and documentaries have stated that they are HIV positive and cannot seek even free treatment because they cannot make the long trip to get their medications and shots.

 Furthermore, in the discussion of inequality among the Philippine population, the divide is most evident among the concept of “tourist” and “worker.” This same concept is applicable to most highly populated areas with high volumes of sex-workers (Thailand included). The issue is mainly in regards to the historical violence instilled structurally among the people of the Philippines. As O’Neil brings Farmer’s concept of structural violence into play, we are able to fully understand that poverty is part of the connection between disease, inequality, suffering, violence, and through to power of the state and the individual. Given that sex-workers are powerless and one of the main groups of those targeted by structural violence we can best understand that this targeting is a product of inequality. As O’Neil states “inequality is the deadliest of plagues and one that we dare not ignore” (179).

O’Neil, Edward. “Private Financial Flows, Trade, Multinational Corporations, and Inequality” in Awakening Hippocrates. American Medical Association. 2006: 143-179


Posted: October 17, 2012 in whatnot and hooplah

Happy Wednesday.

I’m going to try to start formatting my posts differently, starting with the posting today on O’Neil’s piece “Private Financial Flows.” We shall see how it goes…

Caged Minds.

Posted: October 1, 2012 in pOstEd WeEkLY

Human Rights are in place for a very obvious reason—many of us without even having to read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights know exactly what the underlying foundation is: people of all races, gender, ethnicity, religion have the right to be healthy, to have knowledge and to be free of isolation of such rights. Foucault says, in his chapter of Panopticism, that “the constant division between the normal and the abnormal, to which every individual is subjected…, applies the binary branding and exile of the [leper] to quite different objects.” But if we extract the term or title “leper” from his statement, we find once again, the very common differentiation between Us and Them, Normal and Abnormal.

For the sake of connection, we can explore the misuse of the legal system in the Philippines between the police force and FSWs. First, we take the UDHR* and examine Article 4, 5, 6, 10, 12, 23, 25, or we can just see that over seven different universal rights are being broken by the police force upon FWS daily. There are documented anecdotal reports of FSW being arrested repeatedly while not even working, women who have their homes broken into and raided by the police, women who are raped, beaten, or forced into situations where they must perform sexual acts in exchange for their [temporary] freedom.

It would not be disagreeable to say that sex workers are committing an illegal action, however, their punishment should be legal and just punishment-not torture, mental and physical, rape, a life infused with fear to simply live, or even to be condemned for committing an illegal action that often they have been literally forced to commit.  Many women face severe poverty, abandonment, and even death for not maintaining their duty as a sex worker (this applies not only to women but mainly to children or young teens).

When Foucault describes the treatment of the lepers and the normal vs. abnormal he creates a rather detailed and somewhat beautiful illustration of the cage-like structure in which the Panopticism Model was meant to create. This idea of fear and how to become enveloped by it, living and breathing a life of fear. How once the structure of constant surveillance and condemnation into such cages are removed, the instilment of the idea is already foundationalized into the core of those who were encaged. The fear is already instilled in the individual. On page 201 he states “Hence the major effect of the Panopticon: to induce in the inmate a state of conscious and permanent visibility that assures the automatic functioning of power,” clearly stating that this model whether present or removed is constant.

Foucault, M. “Part III, Ch. 3: Panopticism.”Discipline and Punish. New York: Vintage, 1979. pp 195-228.