Some 21.9 million Filipinos, notes the National Anti-Poverty Commission’s Reforming Philippine Anti-Poverty Policy (Manila: NAPC Secretariat, 2017), are officially considered poor. But an additional 50 to 60 million more may also be in the same category “when other dimensions of poverty are considered.”
Those “dimensions” include low incomes, job insecurity, poor nutrition and health, limited access to education and medical care, substandard housing. To these uncertainties may be added, in the time of the Tokhang anti-illegal drugs and anti-“istambay” campaigns and TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion Act), the threat of losing a family breadwinner or a son and daughter, and record-breaking inflation. This means that poverty and uncertainty are the conditions of life for some 70 to 80 million Filipinos.
The phrase “alternative press” gained currency in the last years of the Marcos terror regime, when Jose Burgos’ Malaya, We Forum, and other newspapers, magazines and news agencies were published to provide Filipinos and the rest of the world the information about human rights violations, environmental issues, the conflict in the South, the state of the economy, and other issues of public concern that the dominant, government-regulated press and media could not and would not provide.
The March 21 decision of the University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD) University Council (UC) to cut the number of General Education (GE) units from 45 to 21 — or from 15 three-unit subjects to seven — means that undergraduate students will be required to take fewer humanities and social science subjects in UP’s flagship campus. Among those who will be affected are journalism and communication students, many of whom become professional journalists after graduation.
Although it’s supposed to be the talk of the town, and getting 36,000 visits a day not only from Netizens from the Philippines but also from other countries, the Brian Gorrell blog and the controversy surrounding it has only been reluctantly covered by the Philippine media.
For those whose interest has been focused on the rice crisis, hunger, unemployment, several economists’ doubts over the alleged 7.3 per cent growth of the economy last quarter, the National Broadband Network scandal, China-Philippine relations, the Spratlys, and other issues too many bloggers would sniff at as less than earth-shaking, the blog came online in furtherance of Gorrell’s campaign to get back US$70,000 that he claims was swindled off him by an ex boyfriend who’s allegedly a member of Manila high society, and whose associates cover its doings as lifestyle page “journalists”.