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Daily dose

New beginnings…Part 2

After four months of absence I’ve returned to blogging. Welcome to the new Ctrl + Alt + J! I must admit that it’s not been an easy path to this very first post. Since 2015, I’ve been battling a severe case of writer’s bloc, blogger’s bloc or fatigue. The steam has ran out. The engines have stopped. Drafts were not even being finished. Social media took up most of my time and energies. Around me my fellow bloggers have moved on to bigger roles in other platforms. Some like myself have just simply faded in the digital background.

Thankfully, the passion never died. The urge was still there. The need to express, examine, question and engage kept burning no matter how small the flame was. On the technical side, I’ve lost the original domain this blog was on and came to be known for. Fellow bloggers and the very few long-time readers would have noticed the subtle difference in what’s seen on your browser’s address bar as you’ve landed on this blog.

Also lost are 6 years of blog posts, comments, tags, links and other content. Saddening, true but I’m looking at it from a ‘clean slate’ angle. To truly move forward sometimes it’s best to just simply let go of the past. So you’d notice an empty or non-existent archives page. Soon though, there will be one and it will be filled with new stuff as the days will go on.

The best bit about this new version of Ctrl + Alt + J is that it’s now a secure corner of the web. That’s literally secure because you’d see in your browser’s address bar the “https://” protocol preceding my new domain. It’s my gift and commitment to you my dear readers so that you’d have a secure connection to this blog. Thank you for reading up to this point and I’d give your time back now as you’ve reached the end of this post. Hope to see you around in the many more posts to come along.

Categories
Daily dose

Good or Bad? Oppo Find X Pop-up Camera

Oppo has grabbed headlines thanks to its new flagship phone the Find X and it’s brave new feature: Pop-up camera.

The pop-up camera is a design feature brought on by the device’s record-setting screen-to-body ratio of 93.8 percent. That record was previously held by the Vivo Nex whose ratio is at 91.24 percent. To get the most space for the screen, the front and back cameras along with the fingerprint sensor was put in a top section that extends from the phone’s body.

Check out this video by The Verge:

John Callaham over at Android Authority thinks the pop-up camera looks cool yet cautions on the problems inherent with the pop-up design:

All-screen smartphones look cooler, no doubt, but having moving parts and pop-up cameras on top may not be the way to go. The most obvious problem with these kinds of designs is the use of mechanical parts to go up and go back down. Moving parts can wear down and fail over time (anyone who has experienced the failure of the power windows in their car can attest to that issue). While Oppo and Vivo claim to have conducted reliability tests on the mechanical parts on the cameras in the Find X and Nex to make sure they won’t fail, we will have to see if that actually translates to the real world.

Zach Epstein at BGR writes outright that it’s an awful idea:

There are two simple reasons Oppo’s Find X design is a horrible idea. First, it’s going to break. If you drop the phone and it lands wrong, or if you get too much dirt or dust in the area that houses the motor, that mechanism is toast. Heck, even if you keep it clean and don’t drop it, we’ll probably see a relatively high failure rate over time. Once it breaks, you won’t be able to use the cameras or even unlock the phone with any biometric authentication until you pay to have it fixed.

Another point they both agree on is that these new hardware design features on the current generation of smartphones is due to the lack newsworthy features. While smartphone makers are currently at work on some really cool features like Samsung’s “foldable” device, it may be some years before we see new phones that have really groundbreaking features.

Until then, what do you think of the Oppo Find X’s pop-up camera? Is it really cool or just another terrible idea?

Categories
Opinion

#HINDIdependenceday – Can we repeat something we did 122 years ago?

History doesn’t repeat itself, we repeat history.

It’s my favorite quote by historian Ambeth Ocampo which, to me, simply means that if we do not learn anything from history or our past, we are bound to repeat it. Tragically or ironically or both, we Filipinos seem to have the collective habit of repeating the ‘bad parts’ of our history.

Take yesterday for example, our “Independence Day” commemorating the proclamation of independence by Emilio Aguinaldo 120 years ago. To be clear, that “independence” was from Spain which had colonized and ruled our islands for almost 400 years. We say and put emphasis on “independence from Spain” because shortly after that proclamation at Kawit, Cavite, we came under American occupation and colonization.

Ironically, the Act of Declaration of Philippine Independence contained the following:

“And having as witness to the rectitude of our intentions the Supreme Judge of the Universe, and under the protection of our Powerful and Humanitarian Nation, The United States of America, we do hereby proclaim and declare solemnly in the name by authority of the people of these Philippine Islands,”

Our history textbooks call this “benevolent assimilation”, the US subjugating our islands, robbing us of our independence, pillaging our natural resources and murdering thousands of our forefathers. Ironically, again, the same history textbooks fail and are even completely silent about how the US occupation was facilitated by our past leaders, led by the man who made the proclamation 120 years ago. He did not only proclaim our so-called independence that was “dependend” on a foreign power, he also proclaimed himself “egregious dictator.”

Which brought us to yesterday’s June 12, 120 years later independence still continues to be something complicated for our nation, succinctly captured in this photo by Christine Avendaño for the Philippine Daily Inquirer, taken before Rodrigo Duterte delivered his Independence day speech:

In the ordinary course of things, the photo would have been just one of the many that will serve as a memory of today’s programs. However, in the context of what has happened and what is happening in terms of the Duterte administration’s ‘pivot to China’ vis a vis China’s occupation of territories in the West Philippine Sea, one cannot find it hard to say that we, at the very least our leaders in government are repeating history once again.

We commemorate our ‘independence’ with all the formalities, speeches, parades, photo-ops, holidays, the whole official brouhaha, yet we find our so-called leaders embracing foreign powers that threaten our security, plunder our resources and steal outright from our citizens. We have a representative government yet its Chief Executive has acted and continues to do so in the fashion of a dictator. Dissent and criticism is dealt with violence, political persecution and oppression.

Like Aguinaldo before him, both leaders are surrounded by representatives of the ruling faction of society who has taken turns plundering our national coffers to protect their business interests, propagate themselves in power, collaborate with foreign interests setting aside and perverting the causes for which the Revolution began: freedom to steer our national destiny, taking our place in the family of nations and serving the common good so our people would prosper and our citizens are able to take on the pursuit of happiness.

120 years on, it is clear that the ‘independence’ we commemorate, despite the material and visual trappings, the parades and speeches, remain shallow and wanting. 120 years on our national project remains a complex and complicated work in progress. 120 years on we find ourselves repeating the shameful and disgraceful events of our history. 120 years on, can we not for once repeat something else? Can we not repeat that glorious act we took 122 years back? If you our history, you’d know what I am referring to.

Categories
Daily dose

Lumads speak out against ABS-CBN’s “Bagani”

The moment I saw the preview on TV a few weeks back, my interest was piqued which was a first considering that I’ve never really liked or followed any of the local TV series’ based on Filipino folklore/history/culture/mythology from both ABS-CBN and rival network GMA 7. I am of course referring to the newest offering by ABS-CBN the now controversial ‘Bagani’ – billed to be ‘drama fantasy series’ conceptualized from elements of Philippine history.

The first criticism thrown at ‘Bagani’ was the casting of actors and actresses that had Caucasian blood to play characters that were supposedly from the pre-colonial times. It is inappropriate and awkward to see fair-skinned actors playing characters that were supposedly dark-skinned. Using make up to darken their skin just made the whole thing worse.

The second and more profound criticism against ‘Bagani’ is the misappropriation of the word used as it’s title. It turns out that the word ‘Bagani’ is of Manobo origins and has a deep meaning for the Indigenous Peoples. To explain further, I borrow the words of several individuals who are from the IP community.

First up, is Melchor Umpan Bayawan, a staff at the House of Representatives, hails from Mindanao and is himself a Manobo:

TO MARK ANGOS, THE WRITER OF THE ABS-CBN, BAGANI TELESERYE TO BE LAUNCHED ON MARCH 4, 2018 LET ME SHARE A SHORT BACKGROUND ABOUT THE BAGANI FROM A MANOBO PERSPECTIVE IN MINDANAO Bagani are tribal defenders of their territory or ancestral land. They are not selected by anybody to become a Bagani, but they are anointed by a spirit called “Mondaangan.” A group of Bagani is composed of seven (7) men; always ready for a fight to defend their community. They devote themselves to Mondaangan who watches-over them, but they submit to the authority of their chief Datu as the head of the community. Most of the time they fought against individuals with bad intentions and group of people that creates trouble to the community – the “Mongayow.” Each Bagani brings with him a weapon, iether a sword (polihuma), bow and arrow (pana), spear (pongassu) coupled with a wooden shield (kaasag). Before they go to face an enemy, it is their practise to do a ritual to pay respect to Mondaangan and request to bless their weapons. It is said that Baganis with the blessing from the Mondaangan posseses fierce looking face with blood-red eyes. It is a blatant disrespect committed by this writer; taking advantage of our culture and traditions for thier selfish interest. May a devine retribution befalls on you!

TO MARK ANGOS, THE WRITER OF THE ABS-CBN, BAGANI TELESERYE TO BE LAUNCHED ON MARCH 4, 2018LET ME SHARE A SHORT…

Posted by Melchor Umpan Bayawan on Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Next is Melissa Claire, a Lumad from Davao City:

AN OPEN LETTER TO ABS-CBN AND THE PRODUCTION TEAM OF BAGANI: As a Lumad, I take offense in the use of the term ‘Bagani’ as the title for your upcoming teleserye that doesn’t even pay proper homage to our real Baganis. It is an outright disrespect to our history and culture when the use of this term contradicts the very essence of what it means to be a Bagani. Being a Bagani does not only mean ‘to have exemplary fighting skills’, but to be able to defend the people from colonizers and entities who are robbing us off from our identity. An identity that is attached to our lands, culture, and heritage. So when you use the term Bagani for a teleserye that is devoid of historical and cultural context, you are actually lambasting the memoirs and integrity of our warriors. The writers of the said teleserye (headed by Mr. Mark Angos) cannot hide under artistic license, or the claim of fictionality, because they are using a part of our culture for different agenda. This is a classic example of cherry-picking cultures for the sake of profiteering at the expense of revising our narratives. This does not mean that one cannot take inspiration from diversity. But I deem that there is a proper way to do it. Big corporations such as ABS-CBN are capable enough to do extensive research for productions that are inspired from indigenous stories or as how Mr. Angos puts it, ‘Philippine mythologies’. For others, this may seem to be a minor error. But it’s already 2018 and Lumads are still victims of cultural misappropriations. Shows like this—especially those that are broadcasted nationwide—perpetuates the continuous trivialization of our history and narratives. It furthers the haze that prevents Filipinos from knowing and relating to the different ethnolinguitic groups of this country. I stand that if ABS-CBN continues to air the said teleserye on March 4, THEY MUST REFRAIN FROM USING THE TERM BAGANI AS ITS TITLE. However, it would do more justice to all Filipinos that THEY HALT THE AIRING OF THE SAID TELESERYE AND OVERHAUL ALL ITS ELEMENTS INCLUDING THE CASTING , THE PLOT, THE PHILOSOPHY/IES AND LENS/ES USED FOR THE STORY.

Lastly, Ferdausi Saniel Cerna, a Lumad living in Butuan City reminds us all of a provision from Republic Act 8371 or the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Act:

Just a reminder: SECTION 32. Community Intellectual Rights. — ICCs/IPs have the right to practice and revitalize their own cultural traditions and customs. The State shall preserve, protect and develop the past, present and future manifestations of their cultures as well as the right to the restitution of cultural, intellectual, religious, and spiritual property taken without their free and prior informed consent or in violation of their laws, traditions and customs.- IPRA

Just a reminder: SECTION 32. Community Intellectual Rights. — ICCs/IPs have the right to practice and…

Posted by Ferdausi Saniel Cerna on Wednesday, February 28, 2018

For its side, ABS-CBN has claimed that it’s not trivializing any tribal groups and that ‘Bagani’ “takes place in an alternate fantasy universe unrelated to pre-colonial Philippines.

‘Bagani’ has premiered today, March 5, 2018. Should ABS-CBN heed the call of IPs and make changes to the show? How this controversy will play out remains to be seen.