Category Archives: Politics

Issues That Should Wake You

A Land Called Sayang

By N Mark Castro
I said this before and I say it again, especially in light of yet another meaningless celebration of EDSA I, and Esquire Philippines’ take on the Martial Law.
My problem with this is simple:
1. We kicked out the Marcoses because of the dictatorship and all the corrupt and abusive practices incurred over the years.
2. They’re supposed to be the worst family ever that has raided the country’s coffers and deprived the nation of its growth.

Read the rest of this entry

Political Communications Fail: Crafting the OIC Message

By N Mark Castro

Can’t believe they fed President Jokowi to such an awkward situation.

Whoever encouraged the president to be embarrassed this way should be shot.

They made him ban ALL ISRAELI PRODUCTS YET MANY OF HIS OWN ISLAMIC BROTHERS DID NOT FOLLOW HIM. Other fellow Islamic leaders didn’t even send their leaders to the Extraordinary Summit.

Couldn’t there have been a quiet polling conducted prior to this?

To assess how the support would go?

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The Philippine SSS Dilemma: A Failure of Political Communications

By N Mark Castro


One of the biggest news that came out of the Philippines recently was the sudden adjournment of the 16th Philippine Congress that was supposed to deliberate on overriding the veto of President Noynoy Aquino. Public clamor for the SSS (Social Services System) hike was on the table after Congress initially approved the bill and submitted it to the president for signature; however, the president vetoed it, citing that it would eventually drain the funds of SSS.

The dilemma of the president vetoing the bill is that his own allies and team did not prep him well enough.

In return, so as not to embarrass him with a congressional override of the veto, his congressional allies just decided to railroad the last session. Read the rest of this entry

Laglag Bala



Unfortunately, I woke up.

All The President’s Men: Jokowi’s Need for a Cabinet Reshuffle

By N Mark Castro

As the country awaits the much-need cabinet reshuffle, let’s look at some of the controversial statements of our beloved public servants.

failLet’s start with the very wealthy Minister of Trade Rachmat Gobel who, prior to his appointment, was the local partner and franchise owner of PT. Panasonic Gobel. According to reports, he would divest himself from ownership.

So far, so good.

During the earlier part of his appointment, Rachmat revealed that the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Transportation should be governed by the Ministry of Industry. With the unification, according to him, progress in Indonesia can be guaranteed.

That’s how gung-ho he was. He wasn’t satisfied with one Ministry, he wanted two more.

Now, Ministers are supposed to be the representative of the president. They can engage and debate the president, argue each issue, but they are there to convey the message of the president, not theirs. They are there to stand for the president who could not be in all places at the same time.

Which brings the controversy about Minister Gobel quite, how shall we say it, peculiar. Read the rest of this entry

Indonesia’s Most Powerful Industry: Tobacco

By N Mark Castro



How quickly the public forgets.

A few months ago, the president defied international community by executing drug traffickers and declaring to the world that Indonesia is confronted with a deadly crisis of drug abuse, killing 18,000 people annually.

He further disclosed that the number of drug users who could not be rehabilitated amounted to 1.2 million and nearly 50 of them die every day. “In total about 18,000 die every year due to illegal drug consumption,” Jokowi said.

Those were his exact words.
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Vesākha: Selamat Hari Waisak

By N Mark Castro

Although it is not “Buddha’s Birthday,” it is sometimes referred to as such as it commemorates the birth, enlightenment (nirvāna), and death (Parinirvāna) of Gautama Buddha in the Theravada or southern tradition.

In Indonesia, it is celebrated as a national holiday based on the constitutionally recognized official religions. The exact date varies as it follows the Asian lunisolar calendars.

The World’s Largest Buddhist Temple


You would normally associate Buddhism in China, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Japan as major points of references considering that it’s been said Siddhartha Gautama spread his way of life in China and India, while emanating from Nepal. Sri Lanka’s 70% and Thailand’s 90% of population practice Buddhism while Japan’s Zen Buddhism had been responsible for its entry in the West.

What is amazing to note is that in the world’s largest Moslem population, Indonesia, sits the world’s largest Buddhist temple.

It’s a testament to the commitment of the ancestors and founding fathers of Indonesia to its Pancasila Principle or Unity in Diversity.

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Mary Jane Veloso Case: Whose At Fault?


To clarify, efforts to reduce the sentence of Mary Jane Veloso is not an assault on the sovereignty of Indonesia.

It is not the fault of Indonesians or the government. It is a law that we should repeal as it can happen to anyone.

If execution is indeed needed, then reserve it for heinous crimes: the child rapists, the terrorists, the corrupt that steal from the nation and betray the public trust. And even then, apply the most stringent requirements before a life is taken away.

The problem with Mary Jane is that she could be any of the OBEDIENT Indonesian maids who will never touch what their employers give them.

If they are told to bring a bag to another country with drugs that they are not aware of, they will do so. And they will be caught. And they will be executed.

And that is why Mary Jane will be executed, and her two children left behind as orphans.

Her 6 year old son was 1 year old then when she left for a land she hoped would bring money for her family. Instead, her son now is meeting her mother for the first time in a long time, the mother she only saw on pictures left behind, and she will be executed via a firing squad, along with 9 others, and those shots will reverberate forever.

It’s the law.

And I am only hoping that President Joko Widodo will stand upon the promise he once made that he would fight for human rights.

Surely this one begs for it.

After all, what is a life of a citizen between friends?


Photo from Rappler Indonesia

Mary Jane Veloso Fund


Mary Jane Veloso: A Case of Humanity

Mary Jane Veloso, for all intents and purposes, is slated to be executed tomorrow, April 28, 2015 in Indonesia.

The University of the Philippines’ Alumni Association Indonesia (UPAAI) have started a fund drive campaign to provide assistance to Mary Jane Veloso’s family and two young children.

Isang pagtitipon-tipon at pagtutulungan para sa isang huling paalam.

Charlotte Setijadi

Anthropologist and Oral Historian of Chinese Communities and Migration in Southeast Asia


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