Assessments, Conversations and Conclusions: A Substantial Slice of A Not-So Good Life

Just when I thought I had grown horribly sick of keyboards and computer screens (no thanks to you, thesis)– here I am, typing as feverishly as I can before the past few nights decide to catch up with me.

Why am I writing, you may ask?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned these past few weeks, is that the longer you keep your thoughts to yourself, the greater the chance you might just forget what you want to say. (#random)

Anyways, let’s get to talking!

A. Assessing the APEC

For some, it was a chance to relax– to forget the stress of life for just a few days. For others (like myself), it became an opportunity to catch up on work– and to endure late nights despite the lack of school.

Thankfully the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit (APEC) went on without a hitch, and this good old country of ours was spared another opportunity for infamy on the world stage (#RememberHongKongHostageTaking). Yet despite this, the occasion had its share of moments that weren’t particularly fabulous.

The Logistics of Hell, aka: Should’ve Been a Holiday

Early road closures that preceded the arrival of economic leaders caused a multitude of traffic problems. This led to commuter walks that soon resembled rallies in themselves. But they weren’t exactly rallies, but a collected group of inconvenienced members of the work force. Quite the unfortunate sight. šŸ˜¦

Roads may have looked squeaky clean to guests like the Australian PM, but it was what was hidden from our distinguished guest that told the real story.

Verdict: My section header says it all– it should’ve been a holiday. Yes, the VIPs hadn’t arrived yet but considering the number of main roads that had been blocked off in preparation perhaps it would have been better not to inconvenience thousands of weary employees.

On the other hand, it would probably have been much worse for the local economy had businesses just stopped running for a whole week (in ironic commemoration) of an event meant to result in positive economic outcomes for the country.

Coverage Concerns
Verdict: I wasn’t too satisfied with the APEC coverage of local news outlets. It didn’t exude the same vibe of organization that I noticed in the Pope Francis encounter early this year– which was replete with organized schedules, repeated highlights and full event footage.

But then again, the meat of the APEC discussions occur during closed door meetings– which are unfortunately not open to the public. BOOOO!

You know it had to come up…. #APEChottie

Buzzfeed now thinks we’re thirsty (in the non-physiological sense), Mexicans are disappointed in us and the world probably isn’t surprised. The Philippines had its eye on the agenda for the APEC meetings, but Filipinos had their eyes on newly minted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Verdict: I have to admit I was horribly guilty of this (as was a few other people on my feed), but to give these guys the benefit of the doubt, I did my research.

Thanks to a few articles and a very interesting video source from a friend, here are a few things that you might need to know before you keep on gushing:

  • Justin Trudeau has been prime minister of Canada for less than a month. He was sworn into office on November 4, 2015.
  • This could explain why he didn’t quite have enough things to trumpet during one of his first international diplomatic activities (i.e. the cabinet equality thing has been repeated multiple time).
  • In the Philippine context: kudos to veteran reporter Tina Monzon Palma for bringing the Canada trash issue to light in the wake of Trudeumania. If you watch the press briefing wherein Trudeau provides an answer to Palma’s concern– you’ll notice that he gives aĀ  relatively diplomatic answer that is horribly vague.
  • To conclude– we’ve yet to see what this young man can do, and, in the spirit of “APEC Cooperation”– let’s hope for the best.
  • Enrique Pena Nieto has been in office for three years (having been sworn in in 2012).
  • The president’s first wife (with whom he had three children)– died of a supposed epileptic episode in 2007. His second wife, telenovela star Angelica Rivera was criticized by Mexican press for spending an ostentatious amount of money on a house that she had bought.
  • Rivera was instrumental in the success of Pena Nieto’s presidential campaign and was even compared by some media outlets to former French first lady Carla Bruni.


Points of Planning Related Concern aka the Postscript

  • On Kris Aquino and Sunburn: My dear presidential sister– who told you to wear a floor length, backless Filipiniana on a hot afternoon stroll along Intramuros? Perhaps you should be thankful Michelle Obama didn’t make the trip or she could’ve shown you how to dress carefully, yet appropriately. The commuters and motorists of Metro Manila are NOT happy with you.
  • Sharing Significance: there seemed to be a lack of hype behind APEC outside the business sector. Perhaps a media campaign that made the everyday Filipino aware of the significance and purpose of the conference could have provided them with a much better understanding of the reasons behind debilitating road closures and week long holidays.
  • A personal realization– the economic leaders meeting felt littered with buzzwords like ‘inclusive growth’ and ‘free trade’ that seemed almost idealistic. We heard of partnerships and bilateral meetings between nations– promises and reaffirmations… but what do these even translate to in the long run? Any Econ or Political Science major care to enlighten me on how conferences like the APEC translate into realistic cross- country cooperative efforts?
  • To future leaders on future conferences– please, just don’t hold them in Manila. Cebu, perhaps?

B. Paris, Prayer and Peace: Thoughts

I feel likeĀ  by this time it’s been said way too much– but what happened in Paris was an obvious tragedy. It’s a horrible thing to inflict on a nation barely in recovery from an attack on a satirical newspaper just ten months earlier. There is only so much I can say about terrorism and how wrong it is to take life that’s not already been said before. Instead, I’d like to share my thoughts on particular subtopics of interest that have emerged in the wake of the Paris tragedy.

On Profile Photos and Prayer: Several people opted to filter their profile photos with the French flag in solidarity with the nation. Hashtags like #PrayforParis littered social media sites– some used holiday photos and fond memories of the city to share their compassion with those in mourning.

There were those who criticized these individuals– and others who didn’t do so, but shared their thoughts behind the lack of concrete action that they saw on social media. To them, profile photos just didn’t really mean much. Others criticized users of the PrayforParis hashtag, bringing to their attention other tragedies like the ones in Beirut and Egypt that didn’t receive as much media attention.

Verdict: First of all, when has prayer ever become quantitative? Just because someone shares the message of praying for one area doesn’t mean that the other areas are not being remembered by other people. It sure doesn’t mean that just because we don’t pray for a certain place, God just forgets about that area altogether and focuses all his time and attention on Paris.

LastĀ  I recall God isn’t CNN or FOX, he’s supposed to be a figure ofĀ  eternal love that’s there to offer comfort inĀ  times of dire tragedy. Or has religion just gotten screwed up alongside everything else in the world?

On those profile photos –> I have to agree that there were (and are) people who probably used that filter because they saw other people using it on their profile photos.

Yet bandwagon followers aside, there is something significant in the idea behind the profile photo change. Social media is the most narcissistic place in the world. It’s an environment rife with individuals presenting themselves in a multitude of ways in an effort to stand out. Yet the filter (usage motives aside), projects an image of solidarity, of a certain sameness behind a pool of diversity. It’s a move that symbolizes a shared feeling of empathy with a wounded nation.

Instead of treating the ignorance of some with a defeatist point of view, why not treat it as the first step toward enlightening people? Of making them aware that it is not only France that is wounded by the tragedy of terrorism– and that there are nations who suffer through bombings and shootings on a regular basis and can barely live normal lives?

Make them aware and teach them to empathizeĀ  with more individuals– and, if successful, move to the concept of concrete action. Help them find ways to impact the lives of those they read about or see in the news every single day. You never know what might happen.