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Ukay -Ukay and the Democratization of Fashion

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sidebar: The Economics of Ukay-Ukay

Miguel Paolo Celestial looks very well put together. A production journalist for the Financial Times, he really has to look his best every day. “The corporate world deals with superficials. You have to dress up if you want to get noticed. Confidence is bestowed on those who look like they spent at least an hour deciding on what to wear,” he jokes.

Even if he has to toe a certain fashion line because of his work Paolo, however, is by no means compelled to spend half his paycheck on clothes. “That would be ridiculous and impractical. In the corporate world, the starting, entry-level salary is P12,000 (US$280) to P16,000 (US$372). High end clothes, particularly for men, cost almost that. Imagine shelling out P5,000 (US$116) for a pair of leather dress shoes, then another P2,000 (US$116) for a pair of pants, then at least P1,000 (US$23)for a shirt. And it’s not like you need only one set of clothes,” he says.

Enter Paolo’s almost scientific interest in used clothes and the popularly called ‘ukay-ukay’ industry. Second hand clothes, he says, are a godsend to people who are always under pressure to dress up for their careers.

Beanie and thrifted bomber jacket: both 5cm; tee, cK Calvin Klein; jeans, Calvin Klein Jeans; sandals, Birkenstock; belt, Brave Beltworks; Young Camel satchel and …Property of tote: both thrifted; steel cuff, Hablo; tiger’s eye bracelet from Divisoria (Contributed photo / bulatlat.com)
But buying clothes from ukay-ukay stores are more than just a necessity for Paolo. One could say it’s his hobby, but there’s a dimension to his interest in these second-hand clothes that’s undeniably artistic. How? For starters, he writes about them, and his language and imagery are poetic. It’s not surprising because when he still attended Ateneo University, Paolo used to contribute to the literary anthology Heights. Now he maintains a blog, El Bosquejo, wherein he documents his finds. There he waxes lyrical about shoes, bags and clothes, and reading his entry one can understand how so many consider fashion as an art form.

He started writing about clothes – not just ukay-ukay clothes – five years ago when he began writing for the Hong Kong based WestEast Magazine. “I wrote essays and features about culture – music, fashion, everything that had to do with it. Of course it was unavoidable that I also wrote about clothes. Hong Kong is one of the world’s busiest fashion capitals.”

It was then that he started being familiar with various brands, and with the differences in garments, fabrics and styles, and how to wear clothes well.
But writing about expensive clothes and being able to buy and wear them yourself are worlds apart. Paolo then began applying his newfound knowledge to his ukay-ukay visits.
“The most important principle to remember when buying clothes from the ukay ukay is don’t buy something if you’re not really happy with it. Otherwise, you did not really save money on your purchase. Ukay-ukay gives us ordinary people the chance to buy high-end clothes at ridiculously low prices. You just have to be conscious about brands, quality and make. You can really get good buys,” he says.

He himself has managed to find clothes that are ‘timeless in style’ 

“You’d be surprised how many high end brands can be found in your typical ukay-ukay store, but it’s not good to buy clothes that are part of a fashion trend because trends come and go. The ukay-ukay clothes from Hong Kong, for instance, are often the products of trends that ended, that’s why their owners discarded them soon after. Fashion changes fast, he explains..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/04/18/ukay-ukay-and-the-democratization-of-fashion/

Environmentalists Decry the Aquino Government’s Lack of Concern for the Environment

Environmentalists Decry the Aquino Government’s Lack of Concern for the Environment

An “F” for failure.
When it comes to protecting the environment, President Benigno Aquino received failing marks from environmental groups Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC) and the Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (PNE).

In a forum held in Quezon City, the groups presented their collective findings on how the Aquino government has addressed or failed to address various issues concerning the environment and the country’s human rights situation. They said that Aquino’s first year in office was a washout when it came to the environmental concerns.

The environmental groups are set to commemorate International Earth Day on April 19 through various activities including rallies and fora, and they said that the Aquino govenrment should heed their call for reforms in policies to protect the environment.

Environmental activists give president Benigno Aquino failing marks when it comes to putting an end to environmental devastation and saving the country’s natural resources (Photo by Ina Alleco R. Silverio / bulatlat.com)
According to Kalikasan-PNE spokesperson Marjorie Pamintuan, President Aquino has failed to effectively address the country’s environmental problems and has in fact done much to aggravate them. She said that the government has no a clear “green agenda” and no defined policy direction addressing environmental concerns.

“The Aquino administration’s policies when it comes to mining ad forestry are no different from those of his predecessor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The country’s ecology remains in fanger and vulnerable. Instead of protecting the environment and helping groups and organizations who seek to put an end to ecological and environmental destruction, the Aquino government continues to protect foreign business interests in industries related to natural resource extraction,” she said.

Environmental degradation rooted in poverty

The Cec’s executive director Frances Quimpo in the meantime said that the main causes of environmental degradation in the country are rooted in the economic programs and policies of the government.

“Deforestation, depletion and contamination of water resources, worsening air pollution and biodiversity loss will persist as long as the government insists on its framework of regarding our resources as mere parts of a production line for export,” she said..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/04/18/as-countdown-to-earthday-2011-begins-environmentalists-decry-the-aquino-government%E2%80%99s-lack-of-concern-for-the-environment/

Farmers Hold Caravan Protest Against PH-US Balikatan Exercises in Central Luzon

 Farmers Hold Caravan Protest Against PH-US Balikatan Exercises in Central Luzon

“We were never fooled – the motives of the US have always been self-serving. The US has always made sure to protect its own economic and geopolitical interests in Asia and it has been using the Philippines to do this.” – Satur Ocampo of Makabayan

The pavement sweltered under the blazing mid-morning sun, but protesters led by peasant organizations Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luson (AMGL, Peasant Alliance in Central Luzon) remained determined to show their anger and disgust against the ongoing Philippines-United States Balikatan exercises being held in Central Luzon.

Joined by members of people’s organizations under the Bagong Alyansang Mabakayan (BAYAN) such as the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU), Health Alliance for Democracy (KMP) and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, the KMP and AMGL led a caravan of eight vehicles from Quezon City to Central Luzon. They journeyed for two hours and their first stop was the Clark Special Economic Zone in Angeles City.

Armed security guards and police attempted to stop the protesters from moving further into the entrance of the special economic zone, but Anakpawis Representative and KMP chairman Rafael Mariano, Makabayan Coalition president Satur Ocampo and KMP deputy-secretary-general Willy Marbella asserted their rights to peaceful assembly and literally lifted and moved the metal barriers placed by security forces of the zone.

After a short program wherein leaders burned a replica of the American flag, the caravan proceeded to Camp Servillano Aquino, the base of the Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) in Brgy. San Miguel, Tarlac City. There the protesters from Quezon City were met by farmers from Tarlac and Nueva Ecija under BAYAN-CL and the Hacienda Luisita workers’ ULWU.

Camp Aquino is the site of Staff Exercise and Command Post Exercise (STAFFEX/CPX).

After the hour-long protest where the rallyists again burned an American flag as well as painted caricatures of President Benigno Aquino III and the iconic Uncle Sam representing the US government, the protesters continued their caravan into Hacienda Luisita and adjacent barangays along Tarlac-Sta. Rosa Road.

The Philippines as Target of Enemies of the US 
Makabayan’s Ocampo denounced the PH-US Balikatan exercises as a betrayal of national sovereignty and a reversal of the Filipino people’s victory in 1991 when the US military bases were driven out after 50 years in the country. He said that there never was a just or acceptable reason for the US to maintain bases in the country or to send its troops for training..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/04/15/farmers-hold-caravan-protest-against-ph-us-balikatan-exercises-in-central-luzon/

Political Detainee, Poet Ericson Acosta Tortured, Almost Executed by Military

Political Detainee, Poet Ericson Acosta Tortured, Almost Executed by Military

By Acosta’s account, the interrogation by at least eight military officials who took turns began 10:30 p.m. on the day of his arrest and ended only on 6:00 pm of February 15. In the intervening 44 hours, he was only allowed two hours of sleep and only because his interrogators themselves already got too tired and sleepy.

He was not holding a grenade or any explosive at the time of his arrest and he was subjected to torture while in the custody of the military.

These were some of the assertions made by poet and writer Ericson Acosta in the counter-affidavit he submitted to the National Prosecution Service in Calbayog City Samar April 12, 2011.

In the presence of the Assistant Provincial Prosecutor Agustin M. Avalon and his own lawyer Julian F. Oliva of the National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), Acosta affirmed that he was a freelance journalist doing research on human rights violations and the protection of the environment in Samar for the Alliance of Concerned Samareños (ACOS) and the peasant group Kapununguan Han Gudti Nga Parag-Uma Ha Weste Han Samar (Kapawa.) He said that during his arrest and in the course of his continued detention, his constitutional and human rights were violated.

“I was arrested without warrant while not committing any crime or doing anything illegal; I was not informed of the reason for my arrest at the time of my arrest. I was also denied the right to counsel; denied a phone call and prevented from contacting my family or my lawyer and subjected to prolonged interrogation for 44 hours,” he said.

Acosta said that during tactical interrogation, he was physically and psychologically tortured; deprived of sleep, threatened, intimidated, coerced and forced to admit membership in the New People’s Army (NPA).
“The evidence against me, ‘the grenade’, was planted; the complaint against me was filed in court only after 72 hours and 30 minutes after my arrest; and I was detained in a military camp, which is not of civilian jurisdiction.

Researching Human Rights Violations in Samar

Acosta was arrested On February 13, 2011 in Barangay Bay?ang, San Jorge, Samar. In reports it released to the media, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said that Acosta was a verified member of the NPA and that he attempted to resist arrest by trying to lob a grenade against arresting soldiers.
In his sworn statement, Acosta denied both allegations.

Ericson Acosta visited by friends from the University of the Philippines led by Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes at the Calbayog jail, Samar.(Photo Courtesy by freeacosta.blogspot.com / bulatlat.com)
“I had just completed my research task the previous day. I left Barangay Bay?ang, San Jorge, Samar at a little past 9 o’ clock in the morning, and headed for what the barrio folk call their ‘port’ – an unmarked quay by the river which was less than an hour’s walk via mountain trail, where a pump boat was scheduled to pick me up at the said place and bring me to San Jorge town proper. I was joined by Vicente Dacles, the Barangay Secretary, and several other residents of Bay?ang who were all going to town as well for some business,” Acosta wrote in his affidavit..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/04/15/political-detainee-poet-ericson-acosta-tortured-almost-executed-by-military/

More Labor Violations Discovered at Eton

More Labor Violations Discovered at Eton

It had taken ten dead construction workers and a public outcry before the labor department dispatched an inspection team to Lucio Tan’s construction sites. What they discovered were multiple violations of labor standards.

Sidebar: Covered-up Accidents, Underpayment of Wages in Big Construction Sites

MANILA – How much is a worker’s life worth? To add to the grief of the families of ten young construction workers who fell and died last January from the 28th floor in a condominium construction project of tycoon Lucio Tan’s Eton, it amounted to just P150,000 ($3,466) each. Another construction worker who fell and survived sustained grave physical injuries that bar him from continuing to work. Their families are also having a hard time getting their benefits from the Social Security System (SSS).

Relatives of the construction workers who died in the Eton construction accident trooped yesterday to the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC) of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for the preliminary hearing of the case they filed against Eton Properties and their subcontractors.

Last month some survivors of the Eton tragedy filed cases against Eton Properties Philippines Inc., and all its subcontractors namely, Jose Aliling Construction Management Inc., C.E. Construction, Arlo Aluminum Company, Inc. and Eduardo Piñon “for unfair labor practice specifically the non-payment of minimum wages, unsafe working conditions, non-compliance to occupational health and safety regulations resulting to death, non-registration of social security, non-payment of SSS, employment of minor, and violation of labor standards.”

The first hearing reportedly turned into an occasion for the employers’ lawyer, and for the labor arbiter Thomas Que Jr., to ask the survivors “How much do you really want,” as both claimed the money given to the families of victims by their employers were “already big.”

The representatives of the construction company claimed to some reporters that they have given families of the victims P250,000 ($5,777), but the victims told the Justice for Eton 11 Network that they only received P150,000 ($3,466). They were also made to sign papers which, although they were not given a copy, the PRO-Labor lawyer Remigio Saladero Jr. surmised as affidavits of desistance based on the accounts of the survivors. It is a legal document that supposedly signifies that a person would no longer file claims against certain parties. The families of victims were reportedly made to sign these documents in the dead of the night during their kins’ wake.


In the immediate aftermath of the construction tragedy in Lucio Tan’s Eton project in Makati last January, the labor department dispatched an inspection team to look into the various revelations coming out that most construction companies do not pay minimum wages, are violating occupational health and safety regulations, not remitting SSS contributions and not observing other labor standards. Particularly in the case of the Eton deaths, it became known that minors are being employed in the construction of Eton. One of the victims was a minor..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/04/15/more-labor-violations-discovered-at-eton/

Bayan Leader in Batangas Killed

Bayan Leader in Batangas Killed

“He is really known in Lemery as a leader who advocates for the interests of the people,” Bayan-Batangas secretary general Juna Arante said.

MANILA – Kenneth Reyes, 28, president of Bayan-Batangas and barangay captain of Maguihan, Lemery, Batangas, was an active participant in various struggles of residents of Lemery. “He is known as someone who can easily be counted on by the people that he served,” said Juna Arante, secretary general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Batangas chapter. Arante added that “His (Reyes’) vigor in performing his duties first as a barangay councilor and then as a barangay captain since October 2010 were the fondest memories he gave to his constituents, friends and families.”

Reyes was gunned down last April 11, around 1:00 am, by unidentified gunmen in front of his house in Maguihan village, Lemery, Batangas. Reyes is among the 45 activists killed under the administration of Benigno S. Aquino III based on Bulatlat.com’s monitoring.

Reyes had just arrived home from a seminar in Cebu when he was gunned down. Witnesses said the gunmen casually walked away from the crime scene and immediately left aboard a white car.

Reyes sustained four gun-shot wounds from a .45 pistol, three in his stomach and one is in his back that went through his chest. He was rushed to the Our Lady of Cassasay Medical Center but was dead on arrival.
Active leader.

Arante and Reyes both worked for Bayan-Batangas. Arante said that Reyes is a known leader of vendors and fishermen in Lemery. Arante is also the secretary general of People First Coalition (PFC), a multi-sectoral alliance in Batangas.

“As a leader of PFC, his main work is in the city proper of Lemery, Batangas. He leads protest actions, as well as campaigns of local organizations. He is really known in Lemery as a leader who advocates for the interests of the people,” said Arante in a telephone interview with Bulatlat.

Reyes’s active participation against demolition in Maguihan and in other multi-sectoral issues affecting the people of Lemery is the closest motive we could think of for killing him, said Arante. “Kenneth’s staunch devotion to stop the demolition in Villarica land in Maguihan village has long caught the ire of those who wanted to seize the land for commercial purposes.”

Not only a good and active leader, Reyes was also a friend one can depend on, as Bayan-Batangas remembered him, said Arante, who told Bulatlat, “He is someone we can also turn to when we need help in transportation fares, logistics and other technical needs and he made sure that he provides the help we needed.”

Not Related to Illegal Drugs 

The Philippine National Police in Batangas however said the murder is related to politics and illegal drugs. In a news report, Senior Superintendent Alberto Supapo, Batangas police director, said that before the incident Reyes had been arrested for illegal drugs..... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/04/17/bayan-muna-leader-in-batangas-killed/

Execution of Three Filipinos in China, Reminiscent of Flor Contemplacion’s Death

Execution of Three Filipinos in China, Reminiscent of Flor Contemplacion’s Death

“It is the government’s policy to provide legal counsel only at the tail end of the case. It is like waiting for an illness to turn into cancer before being treated.” – Migrante International

MANILA – Rose Zapanta could barely breathe when she learned of the death of the three Filipinos who were recently executed in China. She reached out to her mother Mona, who was crying at her side. Both of them are not acquainted with the three Filipinos nor their relatives. But they felt the anguish and the pain that the loved ones of the deceased are going through because Rose’s brother Joselito, was also meted with the death penalty.

Joselito was sentenced to die in Saudi Arabia after he ended up killing his Sudanese landlord who went to his work site on March 26, 2009 to ask for his payment for the house rent even if it was not yet due. The argument turned into a fight, and, to defend himself, Joselito hit his landlord with a hammer.

In Manila, Joselito’s family asked the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to keep them updated regarding Joselito’s case. In a previous interview with Mona, she said that they frequented the DFA’s office in Pasay City just to ask for updates on the case. They could not rely on telephone calls, she said, because “either the phone line was busy or would keep on ringing. Sometimes, when an official from DFA answers the phone, he would shout at us then end the call abruptly.”

Today, Rose told Bulatlat.com in a telephone interview that their family have sold most of their belongings such as their television set, electric fan, cellphone, bike, DVD player and even their cooking pots just to have money for their parent’s fare commuting from Mexico, Pampanga to the DFA’s office in Pasay City just to ask for updates on Joselito’s case because the government agency does not exert any effort to reach out to them.

Rose said their family is dismayed about how the DFA is handling his brother’s case. And when the three Filipinos were recently executed in China, she could not help but worry, “not only for my brother but for many others who are also sentenced to die. What does the future hold for them if the government will continue what they are doing?”

The government, she said, should learn an important lesson from these deaths and, hopefully, no Filipino would have to go through the same fate that Sally Villanueva, Ramon Credo and Elizabeth Batain had. They were arrested separately in China in 2008 carrying 4,410 grams, 4,113 grams and 6,800 grams of heroin, respectively. The three were charged with violating Article No. 347 of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, a crime punishable by death. And on March 29, the three were executed.

Committing the Same Mistake Over and Over Again 

For Migrante International, on the other hand, the execution of the three Filipinos in China is not the first time that the government should have learned a lesson about the hazards of intensifying its labor export policy. From a supposed temporary solution to the unemployment situation more than three decades ago, it has become a continuing policy not only to address the worsening unemployment in the country but also to keep the economy afloat through the billions of dollars in remittances from over 4,500 overseas Filipino workers (including undocumented workers) leaving the country everyday. Thus, the government does not feel the urgency anymore of generating local jobs with decent pay, which could have been the long-term solution to the unemployment situation in the country...... MORE


URL: http://bulatlat.com/main/2011/04/15/execution-of-three-filipinos-in-china-reminiscent-of-flor-contemplacion%E2%80%99s-death/

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