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Reading the 11-point summaries of the GPH-MILF Peace Talks in Kuala Lumpur

When I used to cover Davao City, I have become more familiar with the GPH-MILF peace negotiations. Even if it is only the committees on the cessation of hostilities who meet, they issue a joint statement to some how shed light on the coverage of meeting.

I expected this from the talks in KL but the reports said there was none.This is not a good sign, if we look at it that way.  I think having no joint statement is more sincere an act, than forcing one when there is none.Is it right to have one just to play with symbolism?

Many people expected a lot from the talks. After that “historic” meeting in Japan between President Benigno Aquino III and the MILF’ chair Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, the stakes are high on “expediting the peace process”.

As a journalist who covered this from afar, my reading is, are we supposed to mistake “expediting the process” with taking short cuts? Unless we expected the negotiators to be rubbing on a bottle for a genie to make wishes easily his command. Read More…

Changing the world starting from one’s dining table

On the road to a resort in Lianga, Surigao del Sur late on October 28, our Grassroots Documentation and Reporting Training Team talked about the application of science in the food that we eat.

It was a humorous but “meaty” chatter. The usual one you get into inside the vehicle while heavy rains slow your trip down. A check on the time piece showed dinner should go ahead before check in.

We talked about the chicken in the fast food chains. We talked about the poultry products in our breakfast table. Then the conversation extended to the synthetics of food preparation in the world of fast food chains and how they alter way of life and relationships. Fast food vs. slow food. Old vs. new ways to prepare food. We also talked about that World Toilet Summit in Beijing (yeah, but that’s another thing.)

Just a week before, I sat next to a Vegan. Is that how you call people who live on plant-based diet?

So I had some inputs to make in the car ‘conversation’: that natural diet is a healthier choice.

When we arrived at the resort and dinner was served later, I was shocked to find fried chicken on the table. Wew! While most of us skipped it at least as the main course, I find it very funny.The caterer later on told us they failed to follow the agreed food requirements.

We usually have nice conversations on health and diet; very nice,  that we often do not see them in our decisions and actions.

The simple reflection I got during the chatter was quiet an awakening.

If I want to correct what for me were unhealthyfood  decisions, I should rather start it on my dining table.

Back in Malaybalay, I wanted to bring the reflection closer to home.

I immediately shared about the advantages of this diet choice. I felt it was welcomed, in the light homecoming conversation. But I realized its not going to be easy.

When you are not the only one deciding in the kitchen, the market day, and the budget, there will be complications on your desire to initiate or explore a healtheir diet.

This thing about science, technology and food is quite a sensitive topic at home. Because of preferences and primarily due to the lack of time to prepare with everyone working for a living and not being able to afford hiring a househelp.

I realized it requires mass-based, proper and open consultations with every one concerned at home. It requires education about diet, health, among other things.

We even need rules on how to talk about it (why and how are we going to change the menu that has been our choice through time?) We need information and communication. We need not only one-sided information dissemination. We need to listen to one another. (Now this sounds like the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front already.).

Anyway, we also cannot miss out on the environment or the market.

The poultry industry, despite the talk of unhealthy hybrid/synthetic-based production (millions of eggs in how many days?) is a big and multi-million industry.

If you look at trimming it down you are looking at cutting on the feeds sector, and eventually the corn industry for example.

From my window in Kalasungay, I can smell the odor of poultry farms in Patpat, our neighbor village in Malaybalay City.

What I thought are micro personal choices and basic human rights will have bearing on the world economy!

Likewise, the choices we make in our kitchens are  affected by the choices offered by the market. Its an economic structure embedded into our way of life.

I remembered a colleague expressed his potent view over that dinner in Lianga: “That’s why most of us often get sick” and “that’s why doctors and hospitals are making money.”

Who is winning if we are losing? Such a formidable foe I supposed.

I missed the forum organized by anti- GMO (genetically modified organism) groups (sorry for this label) or should I say pro-organic farming groups last week in Bukidnon State University where Bt Talong took centerstage.It should have been a venue for critical information.

We all need to look at these options laid on the table by modern science and technology. Science does wonders, too. I think what we must remember is that “modern” doesn’t always mean healthy.

That’s why I still wanted to offer my two-cents worth in the big cloud and inter-gallactic movement for change.

I start going natural and fry-free food for breakfast, at least. I hope it will snowball into something more significant.(The folks at home do not entirely like this move at all.)

But like the ripple effect, it starts from baby steps.

Maybe if we change what we eat for meals at home, we help change the landscape of our farms and plantations.  (End)

‘Boodle fight’ to ‘boodle peace’: from warriors to peace builders

Counting how many battles fought, enemies killed, and firearms recovered has been among the usual indicators in an official’s military scoreboard.

But it’s got to change, military officials tell new generation officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Mindanao.

Col. Julieto Ando, of the Eastern Mindanao Command, has stressed this point to junior military officers who attended the Operation Peace Course (OPKORS), a conflict management and peace building training, now on its seventh in a series, organized by the AFP, Balay Mindanao Foundation Inc. and other partners.

“Instead, count how many enemies you have convinced back to the folds of law,” Ando said in his presentation on “The Challenge: Towards Fresher Perspectives”.

He said it involves changing perspectives from calling “boodle fights” to “boodle peace” at the least to building consensus and partnerships with other stakeholders to win peace.

The new mindset for military operations in Mindanao, he said, calls for more focus on building rather than destroying. Read on.

EO 765: Good for bakers, bad for corn farmers

First published in MindaNews.com. President Arroyo signed Executive Order 765 in December 2008  claiming that  “reduction on tariff on food wheat would help stabilize the price of bread and other baked food products.” Unfortunately, former agriculture secretary Leonardo Montemayor said in a report that the order did not only include the lifting of tariff on importation of food wheat or milling wheat, the ingredient used to produce bread, but also on feed wheat, which like corn, is used as animal feed.

Excess feed wheat supply brought by the zero tariff has competed with local corn supply, Roderico Bioco founding chair of the Philippine Maize Federation Inc. told MindaNews.

The implementation of EO 765 has led to an estimated P6-billion losses in income for corn farmers and at least P1-billion loss in revenues for government, Montemayor, now a member of the House representing of the ABA-AKO party list, said.

The lowest price for yellow corn was P6.50 per kilo or P6, 500 per MT, lower than the production cost of P10.

The  Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) reported  last week that the price of corn had dropped from P 9 per kilo to P7.50 during a five-week period.

The executive order was effective until June 2009 but favoring sectors, including the livestock feed millers lobbied for the extension. The corn industry stakeholders such as the Philippine Maize Federation Inc. and ABA AKO party list lobbied against the extension. Read More…

Teodoro’s take on peace: be practical

Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro wants to approach peace with a “strong dose of practicality, pragmatism and political realism” as he questioned the approach of solving the root causes of conflict” because “has any society been able to solve the root causes of conflict?”

He told the 8th Mindanao Island Conference of the Provincial Board Members League of the Philippines on Wednesday night that the first lesson he learned in approaching the problem of peace and order is to do it with “the backing of some values and some idealism and with strong dose of practicality, pragmatism, and political realism”. Read More…

The “Bukidnon Our Home” place blog

Since last month, I started publishing the Bukidnon Our Home blog (formerly Bukidnon My Home).

So far I am enjoying it and slowly it has gained traffic. I was contemplating whether I should continue a strain of posts that offered only the good news. The reason of doubt is I feel that Bukidnon people from around the world wanted to get as much accuracy of the situation as possible.

To add to the features of the Bukidnon place blog, I wish to link it with more bloggers especially the place bloggers of the province’s 20 towns, two cities, and 464 barangays!

Of course I decided to show bias for the good news but I will not blur on the bad news too.

I plan to appear in a meeting of an association of Bukidnon’s public information officers next month to share to them the potentials of blogging. The move will be an effort to reestablish link with them for my journalistic endeavors, too.

Mindanao is “One”: with some parts scarred, ruined, healing, growing

“There is only one Mindanao”.

We don’t have a Mindanao with two faces.

But the “one face” is scarred in some parts, ruined in another, healing in most parts, and mostly growing.”

I got into this reflection over the weekend when asked in an informal forum on whether there are two Mindanaos.

I said there is only one Mindanao. I compared it to the human anatomy.

Maybe the whole body is OK. But there are some parts that are injured –and the pain shows in the face of Mindanao, as others might see as the image of Mindanao.

Yes, we have to recognize that Mindanao has 27 provinces and 33 cities. Each province and city has distinct history, culture, plans, circumstances, and challenges.

But since these provinces and cities belong to one homeland or heart land, there are dynamics that occur in each locality that affects the others. The growth or pain in one, could be felt in another.

The way to heal the ailing part is not to cut it or to conceal it or just to forget about it.

There is not just one solution. There could be many ways to approach it. But it has to be cured using direct and indirect means. There has to be a constant search to find these means.