More than 28 days later: Hunger games?


    “THE vices of mankind are active and able ministers of depopulation. They are the precursors in the great army of destruction; and often finish the dreadful work themselves. But should they fail in this war of extermination, sickly seasons, epidemics, pestilence, and plague, advance in terrific array, and sweep off their thousands and ten thousands. Should success be still incomplete, gigantic inevitable famine stalks in the rear, and with one mighty blow levels the population with the food of the world.” [Thomas Malthus, Chapter 7, An Essay on the Principle of Population, 1798]

    Malthusian math in operation? News and headlines. “Elderly woman breaks down in tears after staring at empty Coles shelves.” “The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war.” “Dude mauls village official after claiming he’ll ‘never’ get infected with COVID-19.” “Race to stop the virus spread in Asia’s ‘biggest slum’.” “Philippines Man Shot Dead by Police For Violating Coronavirus Lockdown.” “Taiwan protests WHO leader’s accusations of racist campaign.” “Residents begging for alms arrested in Santa Rosa.” “US warns China not to ‘exploit’ virus for sea disputes.” “Angry residents disrupt social amelioration forms distribution in Biñan, Laguna.” “Deadly coronavirus comes in 3 variants, Wuhan B-type virus could be immunologically or environmentally adapted to a large section of the East Asian population.”

    “Tornadoes bring death, destruction in southern US.” Or the Horsemen of the Apocalypse? “And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.” [Revelation 6:2]

    Or both? Be that as it may, as we sustain this crisis-mode of working amid planetary pestilence, we can choose to pursue the course of maturity and happiness: “Every life is a miracle of immeasurable proportion, courtesy of nature. Thus, the existence of so many billions of people is not evidence of the commonness of life but a testament to the infinite scale of nature’s benevolence. Acceptance of such an improbable gift is not without obligation. An annual donation to the National Wildlife Fund is sweet, but the gift of life requires payment in kind. In order to fairly compensate nature for her generosity, each of us must help others to enjoy the gift, we must never harm or take the gift from another, and we must each live our own life to its fullest extent, despite the inevitable bumps in the road.” [The Arithmetic of Life and Death By George Shaffner]

    We choose to commemorate the birth centenary (09 April 2020) of nationalist educator Letizia Roxas-Constantino (writer-editor of the multi-volume Issues Without Tears and co-author of The Philippines: The Continuing Past). As the year 2020 contains the 75th anniversaries of crucial events of World War II, we share her assessment of the Filipina experience under Japanese rule. “I told my mother-in-law that in a way, despite all of the difficulties that we had experienced, I was glad that it happened to me because I learned what my capacity was. That I was not afraid of life. I was always very conscious that my life would be full of ups and downs. This challenge was a given. It was like passing a test. I thought that I did pretty well.” [Interview / Conversation, Quezon City, July 16, 2005]


    We choose to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Sulu Archipelago from the clutches of the invasive Japanese fascists. “A battalion of the 163rd Regimental Combat Team on 2 April by-passed Jolo Island, a major enemy stronghold, and landed unopposed on Sanga Sanga Island in the Tawi Tawi Group. Objectives were quickly secured and later the same day a beachhead was established on nearby Bongao Island by the same battalion. Hostile action was limited to occasional sniper fire, and all organized Japanese resistance was broken by 6 April, when guerrillas were brought in to garrison Bongao. Guerrilla forces eliminated the few Japanese on Tawi Tawi Island…By 10 April, Jolo, together with Zettel Airfield, was seized without difficulty. The heaviest opposition was met at Mount Daho, a heavily fortified hill five miles to the southeast of the town, where approximately 400 Japanese had firmly entrenched themselves. This position required four days of shelling by artillery and 36 dive bombing strikes before it could be reduced.” []

    We choose to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Freeman Field mutiny. “Ten years before Rosa Parks would refuse to move out of her seat in an Alabama bus and sit in the back, Lt. Battle and 32 of his fellow Tuskegee officers assigned to the 477th Bomber Group at Freeman Field in Indiana, defied an order from the camp commander (Col. Robert R. Selway) by entering an all-white officer’s mess hall (where air corps officers ate their meals). Upon entering after being warned by the Duty Officer not to, all 19 officers were immediately placed under arrest and without further incident returned to their barracks. For the next three days, groups of Tuskegee Officers enter the all-white facility, and each night another group of African American officers (some with battle experience) were placed under arrest. In the end over 100 officers had been placed under ‘House arrest’, three of whom faced a court martial.” [Prof. Michael B. Schoenfeld, Brooklyn College, Lesson Plan #3: Minority Groups at Floyd Bennett Field]

    The 05-06 April 1945 incident spotlighted racial segregation in the US military during WW2. One of the participants testified: “For the record, the undersigned wishes to indicate over his signature his unshakable belief that racial bias is Fascistic, un-American, and directly contrary to the ideals for which he is willing to fight and die.” [Alan M. Osur. Blacks In The Army Air Forces During World War II: The Problem Of Race Relations. Washington, D.C.: Office of Air Force History, 1977] A postwar assessment revealed: “The disgraceful situation occurred because of the terrible way this nation treated its combat veterans who had already fought one war for their country and were now on their way to fighting another. The Freeman Field Mutiny did not win social equality for black personnel, but it did result in black command for the 477th.” [Major John D. Murphy. The Freeman Field Mutiny: A Study in Leadership. Maxwell AFB, Al: Air Command and Staff College, March 1997]

    We choose to share the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines statement, which “deeply regrets the baseless accusations against the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) made by World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on April 8, 2020. Dr. Tedros’ groundless accusations regarding personal attacks on him from Taiwan are seriously misleading to the international community…Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen in a statement on Facebook mentioned that Taiwan has always opposed all forms of discrimination.

    For years, Taiwan has been excluded from international organizations, including the WHO, and knows better than anyone else what it feels like to be discriminated against and isolated. The invaluable lessons learned from the 2003 SARS pandemic prompted Taiwan to very quickly take effective preventive and proactive response measures against COVID-19…Thus Taiwan created a widely recognized Taiwan Model that the international community hopes to learn from. On 9 April 2020, Taiwan announced the donation of six million medical masks to partner countries under Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy and other friendly nations. The Philippines will receive 300,000 medical masks.”


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