Bangsa Moro, current events, History

Federalism for All: Chance for lasting Peace

The Mindanao problem is ultimately a POWER problem – the power of one group over another. It is a problem of colonization. The fact that there was a law called the Legislative Act 4197 or Quirino-Recto Colonization of Mindanao Act, which was enacted on 12 February 1935 is very telling. The Commonwealth considered the Act as a lasting solution to Mindanao colony. The law enabled a massive exodus of settlers from Luzon and Visayas to Mindanao, with complete government support.

Partly in response to the Act, on 18 March 1935, 150 Maranao datus and sultans signed a manifesto, known as the Dansalan Declaration, and submitted it to the US President. The datus and sutans opposed the annexation of Mindanao to Luzon and Visayas.

A year and a half later, Commonwealth President Quezon signed into law Commonwealth Act 141 which classified all Moro lands as PUBLIC LANDS, thus making all the Moros squatters in their own homeland.

Today, the social reality constructed by the Filipino leaders since the Commonwealth, supported by the vast resources of the government, has now been fairly entrenched such that the word Colonization or Occupation of Mindanao seems out of place.

The Philippine narrative that is the bedrock of the imagined Philippine nation goes something like this:

The Philippines is one country and until recently, the only Christian nation in Asia. It has minorities, who are also citizens of this nation-state. The citizens are called Filipinos. They belong to one race, one culture, one psychology, one destiny, one history. Those who do not think they should be a part of this nation-state have no choice because there is only one country, the Philippines. The fundamental law of the land is its Constitution.

The media constantly reinforces this narrative. In “Under the Crescent Moon: Rebellion in Mindanao”(Q.C.:2000), top journalists Vitug and Gloria says:  “Mindanao was part of the Philippines ever since the Spanish colonizers came and created boundaries in what were formerly trading networks”


History is “the act of selecting, analyzing and writing about the past. It is something that is done, that is constructed.” (Davidson and Lytle 1982)

The grand historical narrative is this:

first massThe Archipelago is nothing but a bunch of barangays ruled by datus. “Mother Spain” came to the Philippines and gave the natives Christianity and civilization – education, language, the arts, architecture and even cuisine.

For 350 years, the Spanish nurtured the people and protected them from the murderous raids of the Moros – the pirates


Throughout the Spanish rule in the Philippines, the term Filipino was reserved for pureblood Spaniards, differentiated only as peninsulares (those born in the Spanish Peninsula) and insulares (those born in the Islands). The Christianized natives were never called Filipinos. They were referred to as indios or naturales. Even the mestizos (half-breeds) were not called Filipinos.

In the latter part of the 19th century, Governor-General Clavecilla ordered all indios (except Manila’s local nobility, i.e., descendants of Rajah Suleiman and Lakandula) to adopt Spanish names in pain of punishment if they refused to do so. Thus, present-day Filipinos bear Spanish names. Having a Spanish name does not make one a Spaniard.

When the Aguinaldo government appropriated the term Filipino for the indios, the

europeanized indios
Europeanized Indios

identification with the Spanish masters became complete. In one semantic stroke, the history of the Philippines became the history of the indios (the present-day Christian Filipinos) and not of the Spaniards (the original Filipinos).

This is a grave malady. By appropriating the name Filipino, the present-day Filipinos think that the Filipinos referred to in history indicate them and not the Spaniards. This makes them identify with the Spanish, forgetting that under Spain, their forefathers were virtual slaves – mandated to do forced labor and were considered eternal minors.

Leon Ma. Guerrero, one of the elites who constructed the “imaginary nation” called Filipino nation, had a hard time translating Rizal’s novel, Noli Me Tangere. In the novel, Rizal used the word Filipino to mean Spaniards in the Philippines which was incomprehensible to most readers in the 1950s who were brought up to believe that the term Filipino meant them, i.e. Christianized natives. Benedict Anderson (1994) wrote :

“…young Filipinos would at once see, in any straight translation from the Spanish, that they do not exist within the novel’s pages. Filipinasof course appear, but they are exactly what today’s Filipinas are not: ‘pure-blood’ Spanish Creoles.”

Guerrero, in his attempt to fit the Noli into the elites’ “nation-state project”, effectively noli me tangererevised history. The Filipinos in Guerrero’s translation considered both Spain and Philippines as homes, worshiped European-looking deities, spoke foreign languages, alluded to Greco-Roman classical mythology and fell in love with Caucasian ladies. References to colonial abuse were rendered bland and ineffective. And since the modern-day Filipinos believe that they (or their forefathers) were the ones referred to in the book, it is but natural for them to imbibe the thoughts and beliefs of the Noli’s characters. In effect, Guerrero re-wrote theNoli. Jose Rizal must have turned in his grave when the translation was published and made required reading for Filipino students.

And so the confusion of the modern-day Filipinos’ identity continues. The historical narrative continues as such:

In 1896, Bonifacio and the Katipunan revolted against the Spanish. In 1898, with the assistance of Commodore Dewey, Aguinaldo defeated the Spaniards and proclaimed Independence. Soon after, the Philippine-American War erupted and by 1902, it was officially over. Philippines became an American territory.

New Filipino leaders – Quezon, Osmena, Roxas, etc. – emerged. America bestowed democracy to the Philippines. America pacified Mindanao. Quezon et al worked for Independence. America declared a Commonwealth and gave Filipinos self-government. World War II came and Filipinos fought side by side with Americans against Japanese. After WWII, America granted Philippine Independence. And the Philippines is now a democratic republican nation with a homogeneous people and culture, thanks to Mother America

In short, the Moros and Christian Filipinos were colonized by the Spaniards and Americans and they share the same colonial history. The only difference is that the Moros were mostly bandits and so had to be punished (Spanish “punitive expeditions”) every so often, as the grand narrative goes.

And since Philippine history books recounting events from 1521- 1886 were about the Spaniards in the Philippines including Philippine literature like Noli Me Tangere, the Filipinos identify with the Spaniards.

The Christianized Filipinos’ (or Indios’) historical experience with the Moros was fret with horrors. Caught between the Moros and the Spaniards, the Indios suffered terribly from both parties. Forced to side with the Spaniards, they bore the brunt of Moro retaliatory raids in their communities. And to ensure their cooperation against the Moros, the Spaniards demonized the Moros in their literature, church sermons and stage plays like the moro-moro where the Muslim is always the villain.


When America gave Moroland to the Filipinos in 1946, the Indios (now called Filipinos) found themselves, at least theoretically, masters of the Islands. The Colonization of Mindanao was pursued vigorously with slogans like “Mindanao, Land of Promise” to entice the Indios to settle in Mindanao. Finally, the Indios became colonizers.

Filipino leaders promoted the slogan, “Go South, Young Man!” imitating the slogan “Go West, Young Man” which the Americans used to promote the colonization of the Western United States which belonged to the American Indians. And to make the analogy even stonger, the Indios referred to the Moros as Tribes just like the Navajo or the Iroquois.

In constructing the “Filipino nation”, the Grand Narrative of the Christian Filipinos and the government is embodied in the “One-Nation Theory.”

One-Nation One-History Syndrome

The Sultanates of Sulu and Maguindanao were established ca. 1400’s. According to “official” Philippine history, the Philippines (Luzon, Visayas, Palawan and Mindanao) was discovered by Fernando Magallanes in 1521. However, historical accounts say that Mindanao and Palawan were already known to the rest of the world way before that time.

If one were to visit the Malacañang Museum, a guide would point out a 16th century map that he/she would describe as the oldest map that shows the Philippines. A closer look at it would reveal that the map indicates only Mindanao and Palawan. Luzon and Visayas were not yet “discovered”.

The official historical view claims that 350 years of Spanish rule in the Philippines included Moroland. Spanish attacks against the Moros were called “punitive expeditions against rebellions.” Moro victories over the Spanish were denied or ignored. Moro raids on the Christian natives were called pirate attacks.

This is what can be called “the one-nation one-history syndrome”. This syndrome propagates the myth that the present-day Philippines has always been one nation sharing one history. It is alleged that the only difference between the Moros and the Christianized natives (indios) was that the Moros continually resisted while the indios resisted only intermittently (Dagohoy Rebellion, Diego Silang rebellion, etc.)

There is a preponderance of evidence against this myth. While the Indios were under Spanish colonial rule, the Moro sultanates thrived. The Moros were considered sovereigns by European powers, including Spain, as proven by treaties between them. Even the US signed the Bates Treaty with Sulu thus proving that the Treaty of Paris was not sufficient or even valid in the case of Sulu. Primary sources abound in the archives not only in Manila but also in Madrid, London, and Amsterdam.

BANGSA MORO (Moro Nation)

In the late 1960s, the Moro Young Turks led by Abbas, Jr., Misuari et al, supported by their elders proposed another narrative: the Bangsa Moro nation as distinct from the Filipino nation.

This Bangsa Moro nation concept is steeped in history, with the Moros unconquered by colonizers and as great defenders of Islam.

Graeme Turner (1993) says that “implicit in every culture is a ‘theory of reality’ which motivates its ordering of that reality into good and bad, right and wrong, them and us, and so on.”(p.133) The belief system produced by this ‘theory of reality’ is called ideology.

Ideology and history are both social constructs. Turner says, “Ideology works to obscure the process of history so that it appears natural, a process we cannot control and which it seems churlish to question.” (Turner, Graeme (1993) Film as Social PracticeLondon: Routledge)

A nation’s collective memory is complex and in continuous flux. “It is basically made up of stories: the myriad stories which people tell each other; and, more significantly, the mass mediated narratives of a nation’s ‘official’ history, told in books and other cultural artifacts like television and feature films.” (Ituralde 1995)


In the Mindanao Conflict – two constructs are fighting – the “Filipino nation” construct as created by successive Philippine governments and the Bangsa Moro construct exemplified by the MNLF and MILF.

On the one hand, there is the “one-nation narrative” that asserts the indivisibility of the “Filipino nation”, proud of its Christian religion and Western heritage and identifies with the Spaniards of historical texts. This group believes in “democracy” defined as rule of the majority.

On the other hand is the Bangsa Moro narrative that gives prime importance to the Islamic religion and Moros’ historical fight against Westerners. Believers in this narrative hope to get back their former territory and freedom.

With two diverging social constructs, it would be very difficult to find a middle ground. A million dialogues will not accomplish anything if the premises of both groups are clearly divergent.

With number and over-all resources on its side, the Christian Filipino would not easily give in to any demands of the other party. The logical thing to do would be to convince the other party of the soundness of the “one-nation” principle and debunk the Bangsa Moro or Moro nation theory by emphasizing on the divisions of the Moro nation.

Appdurai (1996) says: “Through ‘print capitalism’ (Benedict Anderson 1991) and ‘electronic capitalism’ such as films and TV (Warner 1992, Lee 1993), citizens imagine themselves to belong to a national society. The modern nation-state in this view grows less out of natural facts – such as language, blood, soil and race – and more out of a quintessential cultural product, a product of the collective imagination.” With all resources at its command, the government can simply reinvigorate its construction of the reality of “One Filipino nation”.

The dominant group will insure that the received reality prevents an examination of the non-viability of present situation (one-nation principle).

The Memorandum of Agreement on Ancestral Domain (MOA-AD) between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and the MILF was junked as well as the BBL of Pres. Aquino because the dominant group refuses to consider that the status quo is not viable. In the Filipino grand narrative, there is only One Constitution for ALL citizens just as there is one “national language, one national anthem, one national dress, etc.” There is only one government, one security force, etc.

The BBL of the Pres. Duterte also falls short of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) signed by MILF and the Philippine Government.

While the “Filipino nation” has been continually constructed since the Commonwealth, the “Moro Nation” concept came up only in the late 1960s. And because of lack of mass media and other resources, such concept has not yet taken root as much as the Filipino nation.

Also, for centuries, the Moro groups have been keenly aware of their own history individually – Sultanates of Sulu, Maguindanao and Buayan and the Pat a Pangampong ko Ranao. These were virtual nation-states and acted independently of fellow Moro states.Thus, many Moros are still not comfortable with the notion of one Moro nation.


changing narrative

Both sides must examine their theories, assumptions, axioms, etc

History is a construct. History is used as the “memory” of another socially and culturally constructed concept, the nation. But what is constructed can be re-constructed. For the Filipino nation to find its Identity and be at peace with the Moros, it is high time that it’s “memory” be re-investigated. Philippine history does not need re-construction. It merely needs re-discovery.

Using new approaches like microhistory, forgetting the grand narratives and keeping an open mind, Moros and Indios might find that they have many commonalities and that in many ways, they do have a shared history and be better off with a shared future, where power is equitably distributed and shared.

We don’t have to belong to One Nation. But we can belong to One State. There can be MANY NATIONS in ONE STATE or MANY STATES in ONE NATION-STATE. There can be many nations in a Bangsa Moro (Moro Nation) and many more in the Filipino nation just as there are many nations in a British or German nation and much more in a European Nation.

The dissolution of the USSR, Yugoslavia and other nation-states born after WWII as well as the many problems experienced by many other nation-states like Thailand, Myanmar, Iraq, Philippines, the Middle Eastern countries, etc. means that the “nation-state” project of the Western world has failed. A new system may be the way of the future: nations-state like the European Union – many nations in one state.

In a federal Philippine nation-state, we can have several autonomous states like the Tagalog State, the Ilocano State, the Bicol State, the Ilonggo State, the Cebuano/Binisaya State in the Visayas, the Binisaya State in Mindanao,etc. And we could have a Maranao State, a Tausug State (or Sultanate of Sulu) and a Maguindanao/Buayan State.

The Christian Filipinos do not have to begrudge the Moros having an autonomous region or a sub-state because they, too, will have their own federal states!!!


–       Study history – Moro, Indio, Filipino, Islamic, World history
–       Practice critical thinking – do not believe books or teachers unless their arguments are backed by proofs – documents and logic.
–       Look for points of convergence, commonalities
–       Disseminate what you have learned or concluded through whatever media – the internet (blogs, websites, social media network), printed materials like magazines, papers, journals, TV, radio, speaking engagements, etc.
–     Look for alternatives to the grand narratives and help create a new one that would embrace all.

For the first time in history, there is a REAL chance of having a Federal State.  This is going to be a long process. Not any region can be a federal state immediately. There will be a process to follow.

A Peaceful Philippines is a Prosperous Philippines. The Federal path may be the only path to lasting peace in the Philippines.

cinema, culture, Film Notes, Media Studies Notes

Film: Art or Social Practice?

(These Film Studies Notes are my one-page notes on various articles or books on Film Studies / Media Studies which might interest students and teachers of Film or Media Studies.)

Film as Art or Film as Social Practice

While I was taking my MA in Media Studies, I usually debated with my professor, who film as Social Practicewas also the Dean. She insisted that Films should be viewed only as reflecting Social Practice. I argued that a film must be viewed primarily as a creative work, as Art. Many of the teachers were all trying to be politically correct, in other words, they try to appear as left-leaning and “progressive”.

Then one day, the officials of China’s state-run film school held a symposium at the College. To settle once and for all if Films should be viewed as Art or as Social Practice, I asked the head of the Chinese school his opinion during the open forum. The Chinese film professor said, that of course, Film must be viewed as Art. “If you want social practice,”he said, “read the newspapers!” I really laughed after that because the teachers, especially the Dean who was my professor at that time in the course Film as Social Practice, knew exactly what I was getting at.

Films, of course can be viewed as Social Practice, but first and foremost, film is a work of art.

I found this among my notes on Film Studies:

CULTURAL STUDIES AND FILM Film Studies and Cultural Studies are both interested in textual analysis of films as well as the historical and political economy that film as Subversive Artsurrounds the production of films. The most glaring difference is that Film Studies is focused on the text and is concerned with aesthetic value. Cultural Studies dismisses aesthetic value altogether and focuses on audience analysis.

In the 1950s, Film Studies received a big boost from Cahier du Cinema writers who considered mainstream Hollywood films as worthy of serious study. In the 60s, the auteur theory “legitimised” the critical studies on Hollywood mainstream directors like John Ford and Hitchcock. Also, film genres were given respectability; i.e., they were judged to be not mere formula driven shows but films that are worthy of study for their political economy as well as artistic potential. In the 70s, when cultural studies was still in its infancy, film studies developed analytical paradigms like the Structuralist (linguistics, semiotics) approach.

By the mid 70s, critical studies were also developing its own models. However, “its target was the nature of the political interests served by the patterns of meaning or strategies of representation such analyses uncovered.”

During that period, film studies were dominated by the so-called Screen theory which was based on semiotic-psychoanalytic theory of Metz and the Marxist theories of Althusser. Text was all-powerful and the subject-position theory became the film theory. But many opposed this view. Morley (1980), among others, argued for audience’s agency.

Laura Mulvey’s Visual Pleasures essay used this subject-position film theory to argue for the so-called male gaze. The feminists loved Mulvey’s arguments. But cultural studies writers “questioned the implicit proposition of a single, overly determined reading of the text.”

Today, the line dividing cultural and film studies are blurring. The best example is University of the Philippines’ M.A. in Media Studies, specializing in Film, program. This means that Cultural (Media) Studies subsumes Film Studies. But then, there were proposals to put up an M.A. in Film Arts program in the same school.


==================== end ===================

cinema, Film, Film Review, Magazine article

Da Vinci Code: Review of film and book

I have a number of free-hosted blogs that vanished into thin cyber air, for whatever reasons. Fortunately,  I found out that some people or organizations re-published or archived some of my blogposts.

Three nights ago, I browsed the web for my lost blogposts. Almost miraculously, I found many of my posts from my blog, Reflections on the Bangsa Moro, had been archived! Snapshots of my blogposts had been captured and saved in the Internet. I don’t know if this was done by people or by bots.

Da Vinci Code movie

One of these blogposts was my review / critique of the film and book, The Da Vinci Code. The book was a phenomenal blockbuster while the film was a smash hit with superstar Tom Hanks in the lead and ably supported by European stars.

Now that I found this post, I am re-blogging it. People might still want to watch or read The Da Vinci Code.



FROM MY NOW DEFUNCT BLOG, Reflections on the Bangsa Moro:

reflections blog title 2

March 20, 2008

Lenten Ponderings — the Da Vinci Code | # | Media StudiesSocio-PoliticalReligious / CulturalChristianity — jamalashley @ 10:59 pm


When I was a kid, all TV programs and movies in the Philippine were all related to the story of Jesus Christ or the Bible. Because of this, I saw The Ten Commandments, The Bible, Ben Hur, Samson and Delilah, David and Bathsheba, The Robe, and films like these more than ten times at least. There was no choice because there was nothing else to see. Besides, when I was a kid, I just wanted to go to the movies with my mother so I could gorge on chocolates and popcorn. We never watched a movie without anything to munch on.

The kids today are so lucky. TV and movies are showing regular fare.

For those who want to ponder upon religious thoughts, below is an article I wrote for Mr.& Ms. Magazine -July 2006. It is about the Da Vinci Code and the topicts surrounding it — Jesus Christ, Mary Magdalene, Judas Iscariot, the Jews, The Passion of the Christ, Mel Gibson, Dan Brown, etc.:

QC da vinci code


Film adaptation of literary works started with no less than the inventors of the film apparatus – the Lumière brothers. The book was the all-time best seller – The Bible. The film was La Vie et Passion de Jésus Christ. In Film Studies, the adaptation of classical literature is usually given more attention than those of contemporary books. Contemporary film adaptations are generally studied for their portrayal of current political culture.

Da Vinci Code, the movie, is an adaptation of a very contemporary novel but the structure of the story rests firmly on the New Testament and the early Christian Gnostic writings.

While the novel/film is ostensibly a thriller beginning with a murder and the consequential cops-and-suspects chase, what are foregrounded are the alleged marriage of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene and the existence of their descendants.

The text of the film calls on so many other texts and subtexts. A proper critical analysis of the film would require so many pages.


Dan Brown’s novel cannot compare to the classics. In terms of artistic value, it has practically none. It contains no new information. The non-fiction best-seller The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail already profited from the Jesus – Magdalene royal dynastic love story almost 25 years ago.

It is interesting to note that Dan Brown’s first three novels – Digital Fortress (1998), Angels and Demons (2000) and Deception Point (2001) – each had less than 10,000 copies printed. All of a sudden, Brown’s fourth novel, the Da Vinci Code, sold more than 60,000,000 (sixty million) hardcover copies. Can a badly written novel become an overnight sensation merely because of its subject matter?

Because of the overwhelming success of his fourth novel, his other novels got a big boost in sales, too. Do people buy books because of the novel’s inherent qualities or because of something else?

In analyzing the movie The Da Vinci Code, the current political culture / political economy surrounding the film takes precedence over aesthetic values.


Scholars have acknowledged the big role of Media in the creation of social reality. Media Studies scholars define agenda-setting as the practice, whether intentional or not, of Media to structure public debate and awareness. The Media do not tell people what to think but they tell people what to think about. In the case at hand, for example, the Media do not tell the people to believe the Da Vinci Code’s premises, but they prod people to at least think about Dan Brown’s allegations.

How can they do that? In this case, the novel was given tremendous media hype. Even before publication, the New York Times already endorsed the book.

The novel debuted at No. 1 in the New York Times Best Seller List. By the following year, all of Brown’s novels were already in the New York Times Best Seller List.

Practically all major publications wrote about the book. Brown was listed by TIME magazine as one of the top 100 most influential person of the year 2005 and chosen by Forbes magazine as the No. 12 Top Celebrity of 2005.

Other similar media products like the documentary Origins of the Da Vinci Code were produced. Related materials like the Gospel of Judas were given much media time. In the run-up to the opening of the movie, National Geographic Channel showed several times the Gospel of Judas documentary and had a series called the Secret Bible Week which featured stories on early Christian (Gnostic) writings – those that were prominently featured in the Da Vinci Code novel and film.


The Jews – Metro, Goldwyn, Meyer, Hecht, the Warners, Cecil B. De Mille, etc. – created Hollywood. Biblical stories like the Ten Commandments, Samson and Delilah, The Bible, etc. produced by Hollywood featured mostly the Jewish Bible – the Old Testament. In stories of Jesus, the guilt for killing Jesus is put squarely on the Romans. And Jesus was always portrayed as cool and calm and his suffering (called the Passion) was mellowed down.

Lately, Jewish domination of Hollywood has been watered down by the coming of the Japanese (Sony) and the Australians. The Japanese agenda however seems to be purely financial. But the Australian Connection gave the Jews reason to be afraid when top Australian actor/ director made in 2004.


Unknown to many people, the 1999 Life of Jesus Mini Series was censored. CBS cut out the nail scene and the screams of Jesus among others because CBS wanted to portray “a more traditional Jesus.” (to see the censored scenes visit

But Australian Mel Gibson wanted to show the great suffering of Jesus as depicted in the Lenten season’s Passion Play re-enacted in many places in the world, including the Philippines. In 2004, Gibson co-wrote and directed The Passion of the Christ. The Jews cried foul. The movie’s stark portrayal of Jesus’s passion could make the viewers react harshly to Jesus’s enemies, they averred.

Hollywood and other media products have been selling the idea that the Romans – not the Jews – killed Jesus. But in Gibson’s movies, the killers appeared to be Jews. This was somehow emphasized by Gibson’s insistence that the characters speak in Hebrew and Latin. While the Jews protested, Gibson made sure that he got the backing of the Christian churches before the movie’s premiere showing

The movie became a blockbuster and made Gibson many millions richer. The Jews immediately re-issued the Jesus Mini Series and claimed that the series had “Less Passion but More Compassion.” But the harm was done. A sign outside one church in America read “Jews- Christ Killers”. This was one of the more palpable effects of the movie. The Jews needed to do some damage control. As a minority, even a powerful one, they could not afford to antagonize the Christian majority.


It may be a coincidence that Brown’s editor is Jason Kaufman, presumably a Jew. But it is safe to presume that a Jewish editor, upon reading Da Vinci Code, would immediately realize that the answer to Gibson had come. In fact, it would not be far-fetched to presume that the editor himself gave the struggling Christian writer, whose previous book concerned Angels and Demons, some advice on what story to write.

With the agenda set, the Jewish media moguls could easily create a best-seller. And of course, the Hollywood Jews could then make a blockbuster film. An American superstar (Tom Hanks) and famous director (Ron Howard) plus European big stars for supporting roles and a big budget for promotion and PR equal a top grossing film.

For good measure, the Gospel of Judas was hailed as finally transforming Judas Iscariot from evil to good. In the documentaries, Jews claimed that Judas was regarded by the Christians as the representative Jew in the New Testament. The Jews interviewed in documentaries claimed that the New Testament was anti-Semitic. This is quite astounding. How could it be anti-Semitic when ALL the characters in the New Testament, except for the Romans, were Jews? Even Jesus and the Virgin Mary were Jews.

In the Bible Secrets documentaries, it was alleged again that the Romans, not the Jews, killed Jesus. The reasoning however was historically baseless.

With the great media hype on Dan Brown’s novel plus the documentaries on “Bible Secrets”, the stage was set for the box office success of the movie.

Just as the Jews protested over Gibson’s movie, various Catholic groups from different countries protested over the film The Da Vinci Code. The title of an editorial in the New Jersey Jewish News perhaps encapsulates the Jews’ feeling of sweet revenge – “Mel Gibson, Meet Dan Brown.”


Cultural politics aside, the film is just as mediocre as the novel. The film tried not to be too gung-ho over the Jesus-Magdalene dynastic line. Langdon (played by Tom Hanks) did not agree fully with Brown’s or Teabing’s (Ian McKellen’s) suppositions. The filmmakers tried to make some characters more credible like Fache (Jean Reno) whose motivation for his obsessive desire to catch Langdon and Neveau (Audrey Tautou) and his connection with Aringarosa (Alfred Molina) were not explained well in the book. However, they made other changes which made things even murkier.

In the novel, Aringarosa was the head of Opus Dei who wanted to secure the secret documents to obtain more power in the Catholic Church. In the film, it was not clear if Aringarosa was with the Opus Dei. And yet, police detective Fache was made an Opus Dei member. Who and what was Silas’s (Paul Bettany’s) motivation then? Like the novel, Akiva Goldsman’s (another Jew?) screenplay was sloppy.

The value of novels and films depends mainly on the narrative’s coherence. At the end of the story, all dilemmas should be resolved, all questions should be answered, and there ought to be no loose ends. Unfortunately, in both the Da Vinci Code book and film, dilemmas were unresolved, questions were unanswered and there were quite a number of loose ends.


Published in the Mr. & Ms. Magazine Supermonthly of the Body, Mind & Spirit, July 2006

Related Post:

Mary Magdalene, Judas and The Da Vinci Code Origins

current events, Scam / Scandal

Humongous Gas Find? Just a lot of gas!

While browsing the ‘Net for my lost blogposts, I found this one:

Reflections blog GAS Find

Dated June 6, 2006, it says:

Being a petroleum engineer, friends and relatives time and again ask me about oil and gas reserves in the Philippines. Last week, I had been asked again. Below are copies of an article and a letter to the Editor about the oil and gas scenario in the Philippines. In both instances, I tried to tell people that we do not have giant gas fields and that our Energy department and PNOC officials are simply iincompetent.

But then, in a society that rewards incompetents, what can one expect?

(IMAGES of newspaper pages)

We will never find substantial oil & gas reserves unless we will have a government (bureaucracy) run by COMPETENT people.

In a parliamentary form of government, everything will depend on the bureacracy. A bureaucracy run by incompetents and mediocres would be catastrophic in a parliamentary form of government. For those who are in favor of Cha-Cha (Charter Change), think again.

Run by Lawyers

Just think, how could the Dept. of Energy or National Power Corporation know what they are doing when they are run by lawyers and not by people with Energy-related academic and professional background?

Read my post Knowledge Society – Philippine Energy sector (redirecdted)



Well, the government never stops lying to the public about our energy situation. I know because I worked at the Dept. of Energy and Philippine National Oil Company, and I saw the sheer incompetence of the people there.  When I saw DOE’s first Philippine Energy Plan (PEP) which was submitted to Congress, I was shocked. The figures came from the air. I immediately wrote a Memorandum Report to the Dept. Secretary, detailing the inaccuracies of the PEP and urged him to do a much better PEP than the one done by the previous Secretary.

Last May 22, the government announced the ff.:

“The discovery of this oil field by DOE and China International Mining Petroleum Company Limited (CIMP C. Ltd.) is a major breakthrough in the Philippine oil and gas industry. The supply of petroleum and natural gas from the Alegria Oil Field is expected to last until 2037, producing 360 barrels of oil per day. Ang oil field na ito ay magbibigay daan sa masmadaming trabaho at ang pagpapalago sa ekonomiya ng munisipalidad. “

I wrote a comment on FB that goes:

360 bbls a day? ONLY??! KALOKOHAN ‘YAN! (That’s crazy!)
We have been producing 20,000 to 30,000 bbls a day for decades!!!
Our petroleum products demand (this is after Refining crude oil) is around 455 Thousand Bbls Per Calendar Day!!!

Gas reserves is 9.6 billion cubic feet or 277.5 Million cubic meters. ONLY?! KALOKOHAN ‘YAN!

The country’s gas production for 2016 alone was 3.98 billion cubic METERS — way much more than the proven gas reserves of this new-found field!!! The country’s proved gas reserves is 98.54 billion cu METERS (1 January 2017 estimate)

Operating such wells might be even more expensive than revenue prospects.


MAS MALAKI ANG PAKINABANG NG 265,000 HECTARES OF LAND KUMIN SA 360 BBLS OF CRUDE OIL PER DAY. Krudo ‘yan. Kelangan mo pa i-refine ‘yan para gamitin.Wala namang refinery ang gobyerno. Binenta na ang Petron. Para mabenta sa ibang bansa ang krudo, kelangan mo ipunin muna. Kelangan mo ng higanteng lalagyanan (reservoir)! (The 265,000 hectares of land has more value than 360 bbls of crude oil per day. That is crude oil. It needs to be refined before it can be used. The government does not have a refinery!. Petron has been sold! In order to sell the crude oil to another country, it needs to be stored. One would need huge reservoirs!) 😡

And for the nth time, a lot of hype appeared on mainstream and social media about the allegedly massive gas reservoir under the Liguasan Marsh. I had already debunked that hypothesis in 1999.


Since the 1980s, enterprising (or should I say, devious) businessmen play the stock market using “oil & gas” companies. The M.O. goes like this:

* Businessmen create an oil exploration company. They get a GSEC ( Geophysical Survey and Exploration Contract) from Dept. of Energy (DOE).
*They will claim to find oil/gas and upgrade the GSEC to a Service Contract (SC)
*They will register in the Stock Exchange
*They will issue an IPO (Initial Public Offering)
*They will begin drilling and will make predictions of huge discovery.
*They will create great media hype, with the DOE wittingly or unwittingly giving approval to all the business company’s pronouncements.
*This will create such enthusiasm among market investors, who will buy the company stocks
*The stock market price of the company will rise rapidly because of the media hype.
*And when the price is high enough, the company will sell and short sell its stocks.
*The company then sells the company to a big firm that could use the soon-to-be-bankrupt company as a tax write-off.
*The company announces the coup de grace, i.e., that the oil/gas well is DRY or not commercially viable.

In 1997/1998, a company drilling for oil at the Manila Bay was making waves. It was in the news every day, advising people how deep the drilling went and how much oil was detected and predicted. It was the usual scam, with the DOE giving the stamp of approval.

One day, there was an event at DOE/PNOC. I was seated next to the owner of the company drilling at Manila Bay. I think he was an American. I told him that when the final results of the drilling would be announced, the losing shareholders would skin him alive. He laughed and said it would not be his problem. He had already sold the company to a rich Chinese-Filipino businessman!

Below is a copy of my very first Letter to the Editor re: Oil and Gas. I was one of the stock holders who lost money on this kind of scheme. At that time, I thought the government agency, Bureau of Energy, knew what they were doing. In fact, they were the one releasing news about the progress of the drilling. I didn’t know that because of their ignorance, the businessmen were just using them.


Last month, there’s a lot buzz about a gigantic gas discovery in the Liguasan Marsh. It was supposed to contain trillions and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas. This is actually old news. During the time of President Estrada, he announced that the Liguasan Marsh natural gas discovery would be able to power the WHOLE Mindanao. I debunked this. Perhaps it could power a WHOLE barangay, but certainly not the whole of Mindanao.

In the report below, the reporter wrote that the earlier reports only said that it could power “all the rural barangays” of Mindanao. Not true. Estrada boasted that the new gas find could power the whole Mindanao!

GAS standard with date

The one below also talks about the Liguasan Marsh gas as well as the Fuga Island gas.

GAS FIND kuno with date

Unfortunately for the Philippines, most of the talk about huge gas reserves is well, just a lot of gas!

Below is about the debate on “Oil Exchange”.

gAS oil exchange
current events, Scam / Scandal

Energy Blues: How Filipinos are bamboozled by energy institutions

When closed shop some years ago, my blog Reflections on the Bangsa Moro went with it. Years of blogging went for naught.

A couple of nights ago, I decided to look for some of my posts from that blog. I was hoping that some of my posts had been saved in the Internet. And I was not disappointed. Quite a number of my blogposts were saved, archived!

My posts on the Jun Lozada-ZTE NBN affair were saved! ALL my posts (11 of them) on the ZTE-NBN scandal were archived! This could not have been done randomly. Somebody really wanted to save these blogposts, thank God! I re-blogged them in my other blog.

And I found this post: MERALCO, NPC, ERC AGAINST THE FILIPINO CONSUMERS. It details how Meralco, its sister company Price Gas, and National Power Corporation (NPC) hoodwinked the Filipino people by over-charging them by more than 200% of electricity rates. And with the approval of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC). It is highway robbery!

And the people who spilled the beans were the Presidents of NPC and First Gas who claimed that what they were doing was legitimate and above-board.

Here is my blog of June 9, 2008. If they were doing that then, they must be still doing it now. Senate did not do anything to stop such criminal activities.

reflections blog title 2


June 9, 2008

MERALCO, NPC, ERC AGAINST THE FILIPINO CONSUMERS | # | Current eventsSocio-Political — jamalashley @ 1:09 am

When the Arroyo administration started accusing MERALCO of shortchanging and meralcoovercharging the Filipino people, I found it quite amusing. MERALCO has been doing that for ages with nary a complaint from the government because it (or at least its energy company, NPC and its energy department, DOE) is colluding with MERALCO. It was obvious that the administration merely wants to have a deal with the Lopezes so that the Lopez media network would go easy on the administration.


Some weeks ago, I caught on TV a congressional hearing on this matter. Congress invited NPC head Cyril Del Callar and Richard Tantoco of First Gas, among others. I was astounded by what I heard.

First Gas admitted several times the following:

            From July to Dec 2000, First Gas was paid P 3 Billion pesos by MERALCO but delivered only TWENTY PERCENT (20%) of that amount. That is, First Gas delivered only 20 % of Meralco’s order but got paid in full (100 %).

In 2001, First Gas was paid P 7.9 Billion pesos by MERALCO but delivered only P 840 Million worth. First Gas delivered only 12% of the quantity ordered by Meralco but got paid in full.

In 2002, Meralco paid P7.4 Billion for gas delivered that was worth only half that much.


First Gas and Meralco claim that this is all legal and proper because of the TAKE-OR-PAY clause in their contract.


Take-or-pay clauses are there to insure that the buyer TAKES the amount it had specified. Otherwise, they would pay a penalty.

But in the Meralco-First Gas scenario, the Buyer (MERALCO) TOOK all the seller couldfirst gas deliver. Therefore, there is NO Penalty. If somebody needs to pay a penalty, it is the SELLER (FIRST GAS) who should pay for FAILING TO DELIVER. This is called Deliver-or-Pay. There is hardly any deliver-or-pay clause included in gas contracts because it very rarely happens. If it does happen, it probably could be blamed on force majeure.

The take-or-pay clause is necessary in the contract between the gas field developer (in this case, Shell) and the buyers because of the huge project cost of developing the Malampaya-Camago (M-C) field.

The take-or-pay clause is unnecessary in a contract between First Gas, a power plant and Meralco, a distributor of electricity. First, they are sister companies. In fact, the right to half of the gas production of the M-C field was first given to MERALCO since, at that time, First Gas did not exist yet.

It is but natural to assume that the sister companies would always see to it that their operations are complementary. One would produce what the other would take. In this case, they decided that one would NOT produce yet the other would pay for the gas that was NOT produced. Of course, such payments would be later billed to the poor end-users.


The fact that Meralco and First Gas are owned by the same people means that both companies are merely making more money out of the Filipino people. By claiming convoluted definitions of take-or-pay clauses, Meralco and First Gas earn HUGE HUGE money by SELLING non-existent gas which is eventually paid by the CONSUMERS.


Because MERALCO could buy only portions of what they needed from First Gas, they NPCthen bought the remaining quantity (80 % in 2000, 88% in 2001 and 50 % in 2002) from NATIONAL POWER CORPORATION.  This certainly gave NPC a big boost in their revenues, which usually translates to much bigger bonuses to the extremely highly-paid NPC officers.


According to Meralco, NPC or TRANSCO dispatched to them only a portion of what they ordered from First Gas. Thus, it was NPC/TRANSCO who was to blame, and not Meralco / First Gas.

Del Callar defended the government by emphatically saying that according to the natural gas contracts, it was very clearly stated that natural gas from Malampaya-Camago would become available only in 2002. In other words, the pipeline was not finished until that time. Therefore, it was not NPC’s fault if Meralco decided to buy gas as early as 2000.

This is really a dubious defense. If the distribution network was not yet operational in 2000 to 2002, then why did NPC not notify Meralco? Instead, NPC made money by selling its own gas to Meralco.

And why did the Department of Energy not do anything about it? And what about the Energy Regulation Commission? ERC would have easily seen that the electricity price ercwas unreasonably increased because of the payment of Meralco to First Gas of gas that was NOT delivered but must be nonetheless paid for allegedly because of the take-or-pay clause.

There is only one conclusion for all of these – MERALCO, FIRST GAS, NPC, DOE and ERC colluded against the Filipino people. So what else is new?


It was also revealed in the Congressional hearing that the cost of gas was INDEXED TO OIL. Now why would any right-thinking natural gas buyer agree to that? No one, of course. Unless FIRST GAS and MERALCO, who are SISTER COMPANIES, want to put one over the Filipino consumers again. Good God, such greed!

In the first place, I doubt very much if First Gas agreed to buy its natural gas indexed to oil.

During the natural gas negotiations among NPC, Meralco, Shell, OXY and DOE, I was the Philippine Team Leader (composed of people from DOE, PNOC and NPC) who went to Hawaii to study and create the Gas Price computer models. Our Final Report was submitted to President Ramos. This became the basis for the natural gas negotiations.

And in our computer models, we certainly DID NOT index the gas price to oil. Nobody in his right mind would do that, knowing the volatility of the price of oil.

In fact, our suggested price was only about US$ 3.50 per million cubic feet. But for some reasons, I later read that First Gas agreed to pay more than US$ 5 per million cubic feet.


When the natural gas discovery from the Malampaya-Camago (M-C) fields were confirmed, the Department of Energy, without any bidding whatsoever, declared that half of the natural gas production would be sold to NPC and the other half to MERALCO. MERALCO, a private company, was so lucky to be given the gas on a silver platter, as it were, without even having any concrete plans on how to utilize the gas.

Not a single congressman, senator or politician or media organizations / personalities complained. I, at least, managed to insert some sarcastic remarks in my reports to the Energy Secretary.

Other companies which gave superb proposals on how to use the Malampaya-Camago natural gas were simply turned down. One proposal was to convert the Bataan Nuclear plant into a Gas-powered plant. The proposal included payments of the nuclear debts, buying the engines, etc.

While other proposals to use the natural gas included rehabilitation of old or unused power plants like the Bataan nuclear power plant, payment for old equipment and even paying the debts, the Department of Energy preferred to give the right to purchase and utilize the M-C natural gas to MERALCO whose only plan was to put up a sister company, First Gas, who would eventually sell the gas to it (MERALCO) which would be paid in full even if only 12% of the quantity ordered was delivered.


Sometime in 1996 or 1997, I reported to the Energy Secretary that the Philippines’ electricity rates are the second-highest in Asia, next only to Japan.  I expected the Secretary to form teams to study the causes and perhaps give recommendations. Instead, I saw him on TV exclaiming to all and sundry that our electricity rates are next only to Japan in Asia. He said it as if it were a Badge of Honor! And again, not a pipsqueak from anyone.

As the Filipinos are wont to say, “only in the Philippines”!!!


See related post:
Knowledge Society – Philippine Energy sector


cinema, Film Notes, History, Media Studies Notes


 from Certeau, Michel de (1988) The Writing of History New York: Columbia Univ. Press (pp. 56-113)

(These Film Studies Notes are my one-page notes on various articles or books on Film Studies / Media Studies which might interest students and teachers of Film or Media Studies.)

Michel de Certeau

According to French Jesuit and scholar Michel de Certeau, historical operation means “the combination of a social place, “scientific” practices and writing (p.56) By social place, the author was referring to a prescribed socio-cultural and political environment, including the profession, the institutions and the historians themselves. History is written by a select group of people belonging to select institutions, which have particular ideologies. “The historical book or article … is bound

to a complex of specific and collective fabrication more than it is the effect merely of a personal philosophy or a resurgence of a past ‘reality’. It is the product of a place.” (p.64)

“ ‘Making’ history is a practice.” Historians “transforms the raw material (primary source) into a standard product (secondary source),… from one region of culture (‘curiosities’, archives, collections, etc.) to another (history).” (p.71) Historians separate nature from culture.  They “metamorphose the environment which changes the boundaries and the internal topography of ‘culture’. They ‘civilize’ nature – which has always meant that they ‘colonize’ and change it.” (p.72)

writing of history 2

Writing (ecriture) transforms the praxis into text. “Historical writing-or historiography – has been controlled by the practices from which it results; even more, it is itself a social practice which establishes a well-determined place for readers by redistributing the space of symbolic references and by thus impressing a ‘lesson’ upon them.” (p.87)

In other words, history is nothing but a construction, or even a fabrication upheld by entrenched institutions. In the film “Looking for Richard”, the co-writer Frederic vehemently opposes Al Pacino’s idea of asking an academic expert about the motivations of Lady Anne. Frederic believes actors are the real inheritors of Shakespeare, not the academics or historians. Frederic belongs to a rare breed that does not subscribe to the historical / academic Mafia.

cinema, Film Review, History

STONED – The Murder of Brian Jones of Rolling Stones

I found this among my files. I blogged this more than a dozen years ago.  But since that blog is gone already, am re-blogging it here, esp. because many people in social media are now debunking Brian Jones in favor of Jagger and Richards. I bet these people were not even born when Jones was alive. Here it is:

stonedSaw the film Stoned (2005) by Stephen Woolley. I thought it was an ordinary bioflick that would present the genius and tragedy of Brian Jones, the founder and leader of the band, The Rolling Stones.

By the middle of the film, I was ready to turn off the DVD player as the film was not only unfocused and topsy turvy, it showed nothing of the genius of Brian Jones nor of his music.

Two-thirds through the film, I wondered what was so special with the two hired help – Frank Thorogood and Tom Keylock. I suspected that this was just another fictitious film.

The finale was quite a surprise. Frank Thorogood, a builder hired to renovate part of Brian’s estate, killed Brian Jones in the swimming pool.


Brian Jones murdered? Now, that is an idea that I certainly could live with. In fact, when I first read about Brian’s death a long, long time ago, I was very suspicious about it. He was only 27. He would not be swimming if he was sickly. And what kind of coroner would put the cause of death as “death by misadventure”?

I had suspicions that Jagger and Richards had something to do with it. He was still the acknowledged founder of the Stones. In fact, I read that on one occasion, he talked to John Lennon and complained that the other members of the Rolling Stones wanted to do pop songs and not his brand of music – rhythm and blues. John reportedly told him to just go and form another band. If Jones would form another band, it would be a big blow to the Rolling Stones.

And of course, Brian was the star of the band. Keith was only no. 2 and Jagger was no. 3. Contrary to the movie which showed that Brian’s breakdown was partly brought about by Anita’s leaving him for Keith Richards, my impression back then was that Anita was simply handed down by Brian to Keith. And from Keith to Mick.


At the end of the movie, it is written that Frank Thorogood confessed in his deathbed that he killed Brian Jones. I searched the Internet, it appeared that there were reports of a verbal (oral) confession by Thoroggood to that effect. brian jones book

(See )

Also, Brian’s girlfriend Anna Wohlin, who was with him on the night of his death, wrote a book in 1999 titled Murder of Brian Jones where she wrote about her belief that Thorogood killed Brian.


Contrary to what some debunkers say about Brian nowadays, the genius of Brian Jones was recognized by his peers. The following is from wikipedia:


            Upon Jones’ death, Pete Townshend wrote a poem titled “A Normal Day For Brian, A Man Who Died Every Day” (printed in The Times), Jimi Hendrix dedicated a song to him on U.S. television, and Jim Morrison of The Doors wrote a published poem entitled Ode To L.A. While Thinking Of Brian Jones, Deceased

According to the film, the Stones free concert at Hyde Park in honor of Brian was attended by half a million people.

It would have been infinitely better had the neophyte filmmaker made the film Stoned a tribute to Brian, his music and his founding of the Rolling Stones, with the interesting twist at the end.

Perhaps because of this film, the Sussex Police reviewed the case in 2009 upon new evidence by investigative journalist Scott Jones. Unfortunately, the Sussex Police ended the review by saying that there really was no new evidence to change the verdict of ‘death by misadventure’ by the coroner.

It’s a crying shame that the murderer(s) got away with murder.