110 (E) - Guess who's coming for Last Supper?

What's the leading religion in the Philippines, judging from the next photos? Check one.
( ) Islam
( ) Buddhism
( ) Taoism
( ) Hinduism
(x) Catholicism
( ) Atheism
( ) Socialism

Photo (click to enlarge) Entry of St.Pauls Hospital, the main hospital in Iloilo City (Panay, Philippines). The world is just a click away but contraceptives a lightyear.

Some impressions of Iloilo City on April 27, 2005.

External images hosted by www.imagehosting.us. It might be slow. Click on a thumbnail to view the image.
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Click here to view in original size ... so don't bump in my rear please (Roxas, Palawan, Philippines).
Click here to view in original size Ligtas Buntis (see weblog item #110) is the proposed law that would allow State Health Centra to advise about birth control and distribute contraceptives. The posters are at every Church-controlled building in Iloilo City, included schools and hospitals.
Click here to view in original size ...all others have to pay cash. Jeepneys new style in Iloilo City.
Click here to view in original size ...all others, etc.
Click here to view in original size He got a good deal with the Banco Di Spirito Sancto for the loan of his jeepney.
Click here to view in original size If you avoid condoms of course.
Click here to view in original size Isn't she lovely? (near Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral).
Click here to view in original size ...not to distribute condoms to the vulgum plebs. Two point three percent population growth per year? There's always room for one more in Jesus' Heart. (near Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral).
Click here to view in original size Very special tricycle. (on Belfry Plaza, Jaro).
Click here to view in original size Belfry Tower on Belfry Plaza in Jaro, a suburb of Iloilo City.
Click here to view in original size Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral, the seat of the Catholic diocese in the western Visayas. Visited by late Pope John-Paul II in 1981. Close to Belfry Plaza in Jaro, a suburb of Iloilo City.
Click here to view in original size Kilroy was here.
Click here to view in original size Interior of the Jaro Metropolitan Cathedral. It's usually closed, ask the guard to open it. Local couples used the church to make out, it seems. So...
Click here to view in original size Interior of St.Anne's Church in Molo, a suburb of Iloilo City.
Click here to view in original size Iloilo City Museum. Tiny but nice displays. Remains from WWII, weapons used against the Japanese. Schoolchildren (summer class, summer holidays are April-May in the Philippines) sketch their impressions.
Click here to view in original size Will beg for food, err... Pesos.
Click here to view in original size ...and what the local youth thinks about that habit.
Click here to view in original size Iloilo City jeepney interior. Looks like a nifty boudoir.
Click here to view in original size Tricycle driver taking a break. The Holy Rosary instead of a proper accident insurance. Near Belfry Plaza in Jaro.
Click here to view in original size Small is beautiful. Near Belfry Plaza in Jaro.
Click here to view in original size Jeepney public I.
Click here to view in original size Jeepney public II.

12:19 Gepost door VH | Permalink | Commentaren (2) |  Facebook |


109 (E) - Mit Brennerder Sorge, Ice Cream and Champaign, and Wishy-Washiness

The German Cardinals were so delighted that their countryman Ratzinger was elected Pope, that they spilled some secrets about the process.
After his election (on the fourth ballot, the first of the afternoon session) with more than two third of the required votes, Ratzinger asked the Cardinals to dine together on bean soup, cold cuts, a salad and a fruit. The nuns who prepared their meals didn't have time to plan a special menu, so there were only two special treats: ice cream and champaign.
Ratzinger immediately looked very much as a Pope as Cologne's Cardinal Meisner said. Not many tears shed in the Room of Tears apparently. Why should he? In the good old Renaissance way, Ratzinger's election was carefully arranged the years before his predecessor's death, by appointing a large number of ultraconservative Cardinals (electors). All according to God's (Ratzinger's) plan, of course. The Holy Spirit wasn't even called in, ex-Nazi Ratzinger had his own election well staged for many years.
Back to the future.

Who thought of a Latin American or even a black Pope was wrong. The angry old men elected a Bavarian Rotweiler, God's jealous watchdog over the Church's doctrine, which apparently only consists out of condom-, woman-, and homophobia. Jesus will turn in His grave!
Where is the love?

So we can't criticize the Catholic Church because we aren't members of the Club? Forget it. Can't we criticize the Boston pedophile priests because they only fondled Catholic boys? We can criticize Islam and it backwards teachings, even if we are not Muslims. Why should a high profile and public organization as the Church then be exempt of scrutiny and critique? Especially since My Kingdom seems to be very well of This World.
The Pope acts as head of a virtual state, other heads of state like G.W.Bush and MGA (Philippines) pay him visits, attend his funeral, hail his election. The Church doesn't even recognize the Lateran Treaty up till now, when Church states in middle Italy were taken away from it, and added to the Italian republic. Not Of This World? Keep on dreaming.
And what's more, in its obsession to mingle with what other people do in bed, the Church morally and politically intimidates democratically elected politicians to obey its neurotic rules.

Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer, April 2005, several issues):

"Ratzinger has also attacked rock music, calling it 'the expression of basic passions' [...] while he criticized the media for focusing too much on the sins of priests involved in sex scandals [...]. [Would that hold for Michael Jackson too? Oh wait, Jackson is a rock star; VH] [...]
In 1943, he was drafted as an assistant to a Nazi anti-aircraft unit in Munich. Later, he was shipped off to build tank barriers at the Austrian-Hungarian border. [...] He deserted in April 1945 [how convenient, a couple of weeks before the fall of the Third Reich, we can't deny him some good sense of timing; VH] and returned to his hometown, where he was well know for playing Mozart on the seminary's grand piano."

"As prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 1981 and a close aide to John Paul, Ratzinger wielded enormous power in shaping Church policy, silencing dissident theologians and signing off on virtually every document that had to do with doctrine.
During his tenure, the Vatican was uncompromising in its opposition to ordaining women, homosexuality and lifting the celibacy requirement for priests.
He authored the 'Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and the World', which was hugely criticized by women's rights advocates.
He opposed allowing remarried Catholics to receive communion and told American bishops that it was appropriate to deny communion to those who support such 'manifest grave sins' as abortion and euthanasia [including Democratic candidate John Kerry, causing a major stir; VH].
'When I heard his name mentioned, my heart sank', American Maryknoll sister and theology professor Helen Graham said in Manila early yesterday."
"On Ratzinger's election, Bishop Rolando Tria-Tirona of the Prelature of Infanta told the Inquirer: 'I was very happy. I hope to see him put back moral, spiritual and pastoral sense in Western Europe, where the Church is dwindling. There has been too much relativism, a kind of wishy-washiness there.'".

"The planned debate between Church bishops and Representative Edcel Lagman, the proponent of a bill to manage population growth [2.3% annually in the Philippines; VH], has fallen through.
Archbishop Fernando Capalla, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, yesterday indicated the Church was not willing to debate the issue as it would just be an 'exercised in futility'. But the archbishop said he was willing to have a one-on-one talk with Lagman. [intimidation in a public debate is indeed a bit conspicuous, you better threaten the guy in private; after all, a God-appointed Archbishop is just not a dumb elected representative of the people; VH].

Writing in his column in the CBCP Monitor, Capalla quoted from a letter he sent to Lagman, the sponsor of House Bill 3733 that is aimed at controlling the country's runaway population growth. Lagman had challenged Capalla to a debate after the Church and pro-life groups came out against his bill and the Department of Health's Ligtas Buntis campaign.
Capalla said Lagman's bill understood reality as 'purely material, that is, [that] the world, life, development, population, responsible parenthood and population management are about the needs of the human body only' [...] 'This bill reverses and turns upside down this universally accepted scale of values and makes the human body superior to the spirit which is the transformative element of the human psyche', he said. [...]
But he [the Archbishop] indicated that the bill could still be saved if its authors opened themselves up to the Church's suggestion [or else...!; VH] [...]
'I reminded Congressman Lagman that most of his constituents are Catholics'." [...]
[Lagman] said he still expected the measure [Population Management Act] to pass Congress despite the election of a conservative pope. [...] 'A lot of my colleagues have signed but, of course, they do not want their names revealed so that they would not be pestered by the bishops.'"

The God-appointed Archbishop Capalla apparently missed a point. Most political-economical issues have to do with the needs of the body (do I smell some Cartesianism here?). Food, housing, roads, taxes, budget, health are all too material, the "spirit" doesn't need them. But well fed in his Archbishop's palace, Mr. Capalla probably didn't find the time to consider that viewpoint.
'The bill can be saved'. Saved from what? From the meddling of the Church? 'Opened themselves up to the Church's suggestion'. Suggestion? This is the Philippines, not godless wishy-washy Western Europe. The Church here doesn't suggest, it requires, demands, intimidates, pressurizes, conspires. Even and especially against democratically elected representatives of the people. A public blame, a refusal to hand out the Holy Communion, a ban from the Church, they mean a certain social and political death here for a politician. No need for a bullet.

"The Progressive Organization of Gays (Progay), the Philippines most vocal gay rights group, charged that the Vatican has a 'long history of repressing gays in church' [...] It said it has often locked horns with the Roman Catholic Church on issues such as condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS. [...] Progay remains open to dialogue with Church officials 'despite the intimidating hateful language' used against homosexuals, Falguera [Progay spokesman] said. He said gays in the Philippines were hoping divine intervention would soften the new Pope's stand on homosexuality."
Evil grin. Forget it guys, at least till the Rotweiler's tracheotomy or his next heart attack.
"Lagablab [Lesbian and Gay Legislative Advocacy Network Philippines] co-secretary-general Jonas Bagas said there was a pending anti-discrimination bill in Congress seeking to make discrimination against homosexuals as crime. He said the Church opposed the bill [what did you think? VH], saying it would lead to same-sex unions.

Spain's senate approved a bill that would legalize gay marriage. Tu quoque, fili mi? "Spain's bishops said in a statement after the vote that legalizing gay marriage was 'damaging to the common good' and threatened social order."
It's just so amazing their Boston colleagues didn't come up with the same thought as they tried to cover up the years-long abuse of choirboys by Catholic clerics.

"A private bill, the Responsible Parenthood and Population Act, proposes to restrict families to two children, introduce sex education and enable the distribution of contraceptives. The legislation has so incensed the Church that it has threatened not to administer communion to any government worker promoting the bill.
Monsignor Jesus Dosado, of Ozamis City, has vowed that any government worker who promotes what he calls 'the bill's anti-life policies' is 'not worthy to receive the body of Christ (Holy Communion) and will be refused."

Photo (click to enlarge) : God's wonderful creation in the Philippines. The beach will soon be roamed by God's Rotweilers, no room for women nor gays. Roma locuta.

07:22 Gepost door VH | Permalink | Commentaren (5) |  Facebook |


108 (E) - The two faces of the Roman Catholic Church

Recently, Islam came under attack as a theocratic system that wants to impose religious hence irrational rules to society and politics. Rightly so.
In an excellent marketing move, the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) as the largest Christian faction, has tried to promote itself as the tolerant pontifex (bridge-maker) between religions, insisting that "My Kingdom is not from this world". Didn't the late Pope John-Paul II went praying in Mosks and Synagogues? Won't the Cardinals, deciding on who will be the next pope, take this excellent marketing stratagem into consideration?
The RCC has been politically castrated in Europe after many centuries of brutal struggle and moral exertion, by the powers of free thought, by the Enlightenment and by the American/French Revolution. The RCC in the West has now become a friendly and an almost politically powerless Shrek. Like Michael Jackson, the RCC makes it into the tabloids now and then when another Boston priest fondles some minors. And that’s it. Who cares after all what a person believes in privately?

In the light of the threatening and imminent Islamization of Europe, some voice the opinion that we all should regress to the Holy Womb of the RCC as a measure of self-defense. In areas they rule, Muslims indeed have shown some pity towards Dhimmi's (Christians, Jews), but are without merci towards atheists.
They err. The RCC can be as theocratic as the Islam, if only given the opportunity. Nineteen centuries of European history prove it; the RCC still proves it in the Philippines.

AFP, April 19, 2005 (Philippine Daily Inquirer):
"In this predominantly Roman Catholic Southeast Asian nation of 84 million people, the Church still holds enormous influence over the daily lives of the population and the state. There is no divorce. Abortion is illegal, contraception seldom used. But with the population growing at 2.3 percent annually, the Philippines are sitting on a demographic time bomb which has pitted advocates of birth control against the Church. [...]
As one foreign NGO worker told AFP: 'Issues such as prostitution, divorce and abortion are seldom discussed in this country. Much of the work in birth control is left to the NGOs because the government will not confront the Church on the issue. [...] With over half the population living on less than two dollars [per day, VH], it is not hard to see why prostitution and sex tourism flourish in this country.' [...] The UN Population Fund has estimated that more than 400,000 women put their lives at risk each year by having abortions, which are still illegal.

A private bill, the Responsible Parenthood and Population Act, proposes to restrict families to two children, introduce sex education and enable the distribution of contraceptives.
The legislation has so incensed the Church that it has threatened not to administer communion to any government worker promoting the bill.
Monsignor Jesus Dosado, of Ozamis City, has vowed that any government worker who promotes what he calls 'the bill's anti-life policies' is 'not worthy to receive the body of Christ (Holy Communion) and will be refused."

Will the real fundamentalists please stand up, please stand up?

In an earlier (#101, Dutch) item, I reported about Valencia's (Bukidnon prov., Central Mindanao, Philippines) firm and popular (populist) Mayor, Jose Galario Jr. In Belgium we would call him a law-and-order cowboy and a "Vlaams Belang" (right-wing) adept. But the Philippines political system is not governed by political ideas as left-right, but by show business, by who-has-the-most-money and how-did-he-get-it, and by colorful personalities.
This guy declared "death to drug traffickers (and users)" in an attempt to curb the high drug-related crime rate in Mindanao. The rumor goes he is behind the summary killings in the city. These are out-of-court on-the-street executions of presumed drug dealers or users that would escape conviction in a long and costly trial. The Mayor is not shy to attack the powerful Catholic Church either.

Click here to view in original size

April 19, 2005 (Philippine Daily Inquirer):
"Valencia City. While most politicians are afraid to support women's reproductive health programs, Mayor Jose Galabrio Jr. is pushing for it.Since October 2004, Galario has been on a massive information campaign on the prohibition of registration of children born after the second child beginning January 2006. [Gasp, VH]
'The Church has its own policy, the LGU's (Local Government Units), too, have their own policy. I am only after the welfare of each woman here, and the government has not been created to always give financial support to the indigents here who mostly bear many children.'
Galario said women who give birth to their third child beginning January next year will have to look for another place to register their babies. [this means no birth certificate, no passport, no child allowances, no child benefits, no free state education in their own city; VH] [...]
'We have autonomy. If there are people who will question this policy, then you can go to court.'
Bishop Honesto Pacana of the Diocese of Bukidnon remained steadfast in the Church's call to respect life and the choices of the family."

Bishop Honesto honestly did not mention whether this included respect for the choice of the family not to have more than two children. Mayor Galabrio can certainly kiss the Holy Communion goodbye.

Photo (click to enlarge) : there’s always room for one more.

09:33 Gepost door VH | Permalink | Commentaren (3) |  Facebook |


107 (E) - Cold Turkey

If the EU wants to expand to Asia, the choice is clear. Filipinos are perfect imitators. They will implement the EU guidelines easily and swiftly; the political-economical-judicial system is more than ready. The Philippines are a non-aggressive decentralized democratic country, with a free press, that shares basic Western and (post-) Christian values with a strong emphasis on education for all, personal and market freedom. In the Philippines East did meet West. It's 80% Catholic, 90% Christian. They love Céline Dion, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Enya. Many millions work in the West, and they return eventually. Filipinos are adaptable and integrate easily. And they know what Islam stands for, and how to handle it. Firmly.

With the Philippines in the EU, we won't import uneducated criminal Mafiosi peasants like the Romanians and Albanians, but young skilled English-speaking non-dominant workers that can help to support our ailing Social Security systems a while longer. We won't import Turks that carry their Mosks as a snail on their back, and their backwards women- and intolerant antidemocratic Muslims views in their mind.
Turks that torture their prisoners. Their "democracy" is just a feeble layer of varnish imposed by military coups. Except for hydrocephalus Istanbul, it's a backward fundamentalist uneducated country where nobody speaks any European language. And Turks had their way with genocide; ask what's left of the Christian Armenians or the Kurds.

Turkey's place, both geographically and culturally, is in a Greater Turkistan in Central Asia, as a leader of the belligerent Turkish tribes and nations between Europe and China. Geostrategically, China would applaud a re-entry of Europe in South-East Asia, filling the vacuum the US will leave after the reunion of Mainland with Taiwan.
Like China, Europe's agenda is trade, not power, not the export of a political system. Europe is harmless, and the largely non-English speaking Chinese can benefit from the nearby Philippines (bypassing potential competitors like Japan and India) to adapt their products culturally for the Western markets, for call centra, for translation of their manuals, and as a cheap language-learning center (the Koreans already do).

Jesus or Barabas?
Turkey or the Philippines in the EU, the choice is clear. Pontius Pilatus at least gave the Jews the choice. The question is, will the EU-voters ever have the choice to express their views in a referendum? Or have the commissars of the Union of European Soviet Republics decided it already? Like lemmings rushing to the Eurabian Islamic Ummah of 2050? Habemus Imman?.
Or should the EU - gaudeam referrens - rather join the Philippines to safeguard its democracy and Western human rights values?

Photo: (click to enlarge) Jesus knows the way. Sign on a Filipino jeepney.

12:59 Gepost door VH | Permalink | Commentaren (3) |  Facebook |


106 (E) - A funny thing happened on my way to the forum

What politicians say might be revealing, but what they don't say, saying it, is often more fun.

NEWSWEEK (Q) How do you assess the U.S.-Saudi relationship, and what is your opinion of President Bush's emphasis on the need for reform in your country?
Prince Saud al-Feisal (A) (the Saudi foreign minister for 30 years)
The relationship is going well.  The relationship stinks.
The president also indicated that reform has to come from inside the countries of the region.  Bush would better mind his own business.
He expressed the wish that this would happen quickly in the Middle East, and we express the wish that the Palestinian question be quickly solved.  He can wait till hell freezes over, or till he stops supporting the Zionist renegade state of Israel.
So I hope both our wishes will come through.  So you see, there is no such thing as a free lunch.
NEWSWEEK (Q) But there have been strains since September 11th, isn't that so?
Prince Saud al-Feisal (A)
Magazines, newspapers and television stations have described the relations as those of enmity.  Thank Allah, so we ourselves didn't have to do it.
This is not true.  This is true.
The relationship with the government of the United States is healthy.  The relationship with the government of the United States stinks.
It has become more healthy recently.  It stinks more and more.
Compared to the warmth that existed before September 11th ... we are reaching gradually the level of comfort and warmth we enjoyed before.  And it will get worse unless Bush does something about it, keeps his nose out of the Middle East business, and stops supporting Israel. You see, they might have the guns, but we have the oil, whether they like it or not.

Philippine Daily Enquirer, April 6, 2005, page A2: Belgian IPU delegate mugged
Despite the thight security provided by 13,000 policemen, a delegate to the 112th Inter-Parliamentary Union general assembly fell victim to muggers in Pasay City [one of the cities of Metro Manila, Philippines - VH] on Tuesday morning. [...]  What business has a delegate to do in Pasay city, of all places? Along with their free allowance and $200/day hotel and free lunches and dinners, weren't they provided with a _map_ of Metro Manila indicating "safe" (5%) and "dangerous" (95%) areas?
Georges Brion, deputy secretary general of the Belgian parliament, left the Westin Philippine Plaza Hotel at 5:45 am to go to church, took a tricycle, and got held up by its driver and an accomplice in a Pasay side street, police said.  A liberal/socialist parlementarian, going to church? At 5:45 am in the morning? There are no Masses at 6 am in the morning, certainly not in Pasay City. And it's even before dawn. And it was a tuesday, not a sunday. And he took a tricycle? A tricycle for heavens sake! Mr. Brion, apart from being a lousy liar, must also be suicidal. Was the allowance for our beloved representatives too small to include some taxi fares? Greedy Belgian taxpayers, a taxi is only P70 (1 Euro).
The muggers took Brion's cash of P4,000 and $60, and his identification and credit cards. He suffered bruises in the forehead and arms after he resisted his knife-wielding attackers and was treated at the San Juan de Dios hospital as an outpatient, police said. [...]  It must have a been long time ago since mr. Brion went out at night in the Brussels streets (Schaarbeek or St.Jans Molenbeek, Brussels "Pasay"), without police escort and without his luxury parliamentary car. He would have know that in close encounters with our beloved Moroccan street robbers, you _never_ resist, just hand over your cash and your cell phone. Everybody happy and nobody hurt.
PNP (Philippine National Police) Director General Arturo Lomibao reiterated police appeals to delegates to inform the security desks at their hotels of their plans should they choose not to avail themselves of police escorts. Brion had left his hotel without informing the security desk, police said.  Brion, as all delegates in this top-security convention, had free police protection at any time. Why did he choose to wander out alone and incognito at dark in Pasay? Taking an inconspicuous tricycle? Some lies are not only too transparent, but also too pathetical.
Mr. Brion must have done his "research" well. Pasay is a very intensive hookers area. Girls, boys, travestites, kids hanging around at every corner of the street and available for only 7 Euro. Of course, it would be very inconvenient to pick them up with a police escort at his tail. Now, this is a grave accusation. Let's just suppose mr. Brion suddenly woke up at 5 am in a deep spiritual mood, and in need to talk to the Lord, and to pray for the Pope's swift revovery. "Benefit of the doubt", it's called. And nobody ever disproved the existence of unicorns either. A weird incident anyways.
"He's good, he's working at the moment," Geert Versnick, another of Belgium's 13 delegates to the six-day IPU convention, told reporters later who were asking after Brion.  So Versnick was here too? The omnipresent Flemish Liberal Party backbencher that never made it to the top, but feels very happy close to the Belgian political porc barrels. Rumors of course. The IPU has been described by local Manila newspaper commentators as a giant waste of taxpayers money. "Nothing ever really came out of it", Pascua wrote the other day. Well, politicians are very hardworking lads, and they are entitled now and then to a free holiday in a $200/day hotel in a tropical city. The taxpayer shouldn't be that greedy. Or "verzuurd" (disgruntled) as they say in Belgium.
Versnick played down the incident, saying it was too minor an incident to change his view of the country and the Filipinos.  Why downplay this incident? The PNP didn't. Or do mr. Versnick and mr. Brion have something to hide? A good advice to the Belgian delegates. Metro Manila is neither Paris nor London. If you are in need of some local intimate exotic company, try it the safe way. After all, a bribed politician looks bad, but a fooled politician looks silly.
A Brazilian delegate, on the other hand, lost his passport, but he could not say how, police also said. Sampaio told police he had lost his passport, but Velasco {PNP Deputy Director General - VH] said he could not tell them exactly where or how it happened.  Mr. Sampaio just meant he couldn't really remember which hooker exactly ran off with the passport from his room.

05:40 Gepost door VH | Permalink | Commentaren (2) |  Facebook |


105 (D) - Médecins Sans Gêne

Het verhaal ligt al lang op mijn lever. Tijdens het Tsunami-circus van januari jongstleden, en vooral bij de ge-exhibitioneerde media- en geld-geilheid van de mega-NGO's en de gevestigde "hulp"-organisaties borrelde het weer op. Gulle geculpabiliseerde Vlaamse schenkers (al of niet met fiscaal attest), je kan de hulp-organisaties ruwweg indelen in drie groepen. De eerste groep omvat de nieuwe missionarissen van het links geloof. Oude Mei-68 wijn in nieuwe zakken, de goeddoeners van het "anti-globalisme", de "bewustmaking" en de "structurele" veranderingen. Armoede is immers de schuld van het Kapitaal, en Globalisme is een nieuwe vorm van Imperialisme (zie de grijze boekjes van Lenin). Voor hen is 1989 gewoon een number, geen symbool van een failliet. Tijdens de rel rond Oxfam-Belgie, dat weigerde Tsunami-steun van het Vlaams Belang aan te nemen (maar niet vies was van de centen van individuele VB-kiezers: don't ask, don't tell), kwam die groep duidelijk op het voorplan. Rond de Indymedia sekte. Hun agenda is trouwens overgenomen door de EU(SSR) (Europese Unie van Socialistische Sovjet Republieken), maar daarover later meer.

De tweede groep wordt gevormd door de georganiseerde avonturiers-opportunisten. Met andermans geld schuimen ze de derde wereld af, in leuk uitgeruste 4x4 XUV gekoelde terreinwagens, de 19-inch laptop ferm onder de dikke nek geklemd, de macho-techno-versie van Moeder Theresa. Projecten, spreadsheets, rapportering, en vooral onkostennota's - en veel! Met professionele media-aanwezigheid in het donor-thuisland, want perceptie is het doel, en een goede perceptie levert (fiscaal aftrekbare) giften op, en via het multiplicator-effect ook Staatssteun, al of niet via het Koning Boudewijnfonds.

En tja, de derde groep, die is oubollig. Not-groovy, low-profile, arm. En totaal politiek incorrect voor onze Westerse maatschappij van de dood en het ongeloof, zowel als voor de nieuwe Che-missionarissen. Meewarige klungelaars in de rand, zeg maar. Ze doen mirakels met peanuts. De Kerkelijke groepen die zich ontfermen over de straatkinderen en de outlaws. Het Evangelische sausje krijg je erbij, maar hun agenda is tenminste open, en de centen komen (vaker) terecht waar ze moeten.

De plaats van handeling is Camiguin, een klein eiland voor de kust van Noord-Mindanao, Zuidelijke Filippijnen. De tijd van handeling is ergens in januari 2004. Het relaas zegt natuurlijk niks over de prachtige medische hulporganisatie die Artsen Zonder Grenzen (AZG) is. Ik zal het wel allemaal verkeerd begrepen hebben, zonder kennis van de werkelijke achtergronden en de spreadsheets, mission statements en doorlichtingscommissies.

Tom is een Canadees op jaren die het resort Secret Cove uitbaat in Yumbing, Camiguin, op één na (Pares - het Beverly Hills van Camiguin, voor de rich and famous) het duurste op het eiland. Zijn marketing is feilloos, en hij vangt heel wat Europese toeristen die 10 Euro per nacht een koopje vinden. Tom's bar is ook de verzamelplaats voor de zowat 100 Westerse expats die half- of full-time op Camiguin verblijven, tweederangs Kiplings die verslaafd zijn geworden aan de Tropen.

Een rustig blank koppeltje valt me op, om 2-3u in de namiddag rustig onder de nipa parasol nabij de turquoise zee gezeten. Meneer tijpt rustig op zijn prachtige 19" laptop (speelt hij Patience?), het vriendinnetje is verdiept in een roman, er wordt profijtig en genietend aan een fruitsapje en een Pasoa genipt. Ze zoeken geen contact en maken via hun houding duidelijk geen praatje te appreciëren. Ze bladeren niet ijverig in Lonely Planet, ze vragen geen info over de talrijke toeristische spots op het eiland, tricycle of jeepney tarieven en -tijden. Een pasgetrouwd stel in Zen-Buddhistische zelfcontemplatie dat voorlopig genoeg heeft aan zichzelf? Een overwerkt manager die met zijn faux-pas even een incognito incentive in de Tropen realiseert? Who cares. Mijn gevoel zegt echter dat het Vlamingen zijn, tja, op de duur ken je onze trekjes.

En dan is er die Filippijn alléén. Hij verveelt zich kennelijk stierlijk, en hij heeft een kamer helemaal voor zich. Heel ongebruikelijk. Filippijnen kiezen immers steeds de goedkopere resorts, zoals Caves en Jasmin-by-the-Sea, - en als ze al op vakantie gaan hokken ze met de hele familie in een éénpersoonskamer om kosten te sparen. En als het werkelijk rijken zijn, wel dan tonen ze hun rijkdom graag door in Pares uit te hangen. En hij _eet_ ook bij Tom, alléén aan een tafeltje. Merkwaardig. Tom's restaurant is te duur, zeker voor een Filippijn. Wijzelf lopen 200m naar de grote weg om voor 1/5 van de prijs in een baan-Carinderia seafood te gaan smullen (Tom serveert alleen blik in groenten, sauerkraut, en porc).

Na een paar dagen is er een incident. Mijn (toenmalige) Filippijnse vriend wil de WC (CR - Comfort Room) van het restaurant gebruiken, maar de "Vlaming" zit er al op, en hij heeft vergeten de deur op slot te doen. Mijn vriend excuseert zich diplomatisch, I'm sorry, it's my fault. Waarop de "Vlaming", gezeten op zijn porceleinen troon, mijn vriend begint uit te schelden: of course it's your fault en nog meer fraais dat op zijn minst van een totaal gebrek aan culturele empathie getuigt, op zijn meest van een kolonialistische racistische instelling. Is het dan toch geen "Vlaming" maar een extreemrechtse Beier die zich even straffeloos kan laten gaan in untermenschenland?

I think he's from your country zegt mijn vriend verontwaardigd, en mijn nieuwsgierigheid en vooral plaatsvervangende schaamte is gewekt. Have a look at the parking Hugo, his car is there! Een auto? Met een B-nummerplaat? In de Filippijnnen? Je moet wel gek zijn, in een land waar het publiek vervoer veilig, luxueus, frequent en spotgoedkoop is. Een look op de car zegt voldoende. Een superluxueuze 4x4 XUV turbodiesel 9-zitter monovolume, versie strong airco, fully loaded. En op beide voorportieren "MSF, Médecins Sans Frontières, Belgique". Op zijn minst zet ik dit arrogant heerschap even fijntjes op zijn plaats. Dus vervoeg ik hem wat later bij zijn laptop, zijn faux-pas en zijn Pasoa.

Het was inderdaad Patience. En meneer is van Antwerpen. Een ongeluk komt blijkbaar nooit alleen. En meneer is inderdaad Arts Zonder Grens.
En wat doet meneer zoal op Camiguin? Wel, meneer is op rondreis in de Filippijnen om de uitrusting van de plaatselijke hospitalen te inventariseren, zeg maar de spateltjes en de stethoscopen tellen. Een erg nobel doel natuurlijk, want dan weet je hoeveel spateltjes en stethoscopen je met een C-130 op staatskosten moet opsturen om de arme "negertjes" in de tropische brousse diep in de keel te kijken. En het was deze Antwerpse Arts Zonder Grens natuurlijk ontgaan dat de Filipino's zelf uitstekende bedrijven van medisch materiaal en geneesmiddelen hebben die perfecte stethoscopen, spateltjes, antibiotica en anti-coagulantia fabriceren aan 1/10 van de Westerse prijs, en dat hun medische opleiding vaak op hetzelfde peil staat als de Westerse. Filippijnnse dokters zijn namelijk heel gegeerd in de VS en het UK, net zoals Indiase, en ze zijn niet beroerd om voor het slechtbetalende NHS (National Health Service, U.K.) te werken.

Meneer dokteur heeft vroeger gewerkt in een Afrikaans land en dat was mooier en avontuurlijker dan de Filippijnen, dixit. Het vriendinnetje kijkt even op van haar romannetje en knikt volmondig ja. Volgen een paar smakelijke anecdotes van hoe tof werken voor AZG (pardon, MSF) wel is, vooral in Zanzibar (? dacht ik) waar je nog echt in de negertjes kan snijden en ervaring opdoen.
Ach zo. En waar komt meneer dan nu vandaan met zijn glimmend gekoelde autobus op shiny alle-terrein banden? Met de ferry vanuit het 1000km verre Manila.
Weet meneer dan niet dat hij op die manier 4 reisdagen verliest, dat de fare met auto een veelvoud is van een simpel vliegtuigticket met Cebu Airlines dat hem op slechts 3 uur in Camiguin brengt, en dat hij vervolgens het enige hospitaal in Mambajao (hoofdstad, nu ja, hoofddorp van Camiguin) kan bereiken via tricycle aan 5 Pesos (8 Eurocent) per rit? En dat een verblijf van 3-4 dagen dus niet echt nodig is?
Een eerste koele blik is mijn beloning, de dame schuifelt even zenuwachtig en verveeld over en weer op haar comfortabele strandstoel. Ach ja, sorry, AZG kan waarschijnlijk geen 2 vliegtuigtickets verantwoorden in haar boekhouding, maar wel een leasing-auto die 10x meer kost. Waarin je dan wel je gezellin kan meenemen, en geen Brusselse haan met-of-zonder spreadsheet die over de onkostennota kraait. Een tricycle-driver levert trouwens ook geen factuur af.

Dan maar praten over het verkeer. Benevens het weer altijd een "veilig" onderwerp voor een Vlaming.
Vind je het niet gevaarlijk om hier in de Filippijnen rond te rijden?. De blik verheldert weer, het Antwerps snoeversinstinct komt boven.
Ik zou het niet weten, ik heb mijn prive-chauffeur mee - wink. O ja, de Filippijn alleen die de hele dag wat verveeld rondhangt, in een apart verblijf slaapt, en het voor de rest een prachtjob lijkt te vinden. De suggestie dat AZG heel wat geld kan uitsparen wanneer meneer _zonder_ zijn vriendinnetje op dienstreis zou gaan, en met de chauffeur in één kamer slapen, was - hoe vriendelijk ook opgeworpen - is blijkbaar iets te veel. Er werd me koudweg meegedeeld dat het gesprek nu beëindigd was. Het voorstel dat ik voor AZG volgende keer de spateltjes zou gaan tellen in Mambajao, op 1 dag, en voor 10 Pesos reisvergoeding werd lijzig genegeerd. Had meneer zijn Patience tegen de Intel-Inside 19" laptop misschien verloren? Zoals bekend kunnen Antwerpenaars slecht tegen hun verlies. De vraag waarom het overwegend door Vlaams geld gesponsorde AZG persé met een Franstalige tekst op beide voorportieren moet rondrijden kon helaas niet meer worden gesteld.

Dan maar mijn vriend afgestuurd op de chauffeur, en de conversatie verliep in het Tagalog (Filipino - het dialect van Manila dat tot eenheidstaal in de Filippijnen is uitgeroepen). Het kwam er op neer dat die inderdaad een prachtjob had. Zeker in dit land met een hoge endemische werkloosheid. En het werkschema was very light en de pay was very good. Good for him. De conversatie duurde echter niet lang. De Arts Zonder Grens had er vanop zijn luie strandstoel geen goed oog in dat twee Filippijnse untermenschen met mekaar zaten te praten in een taaltje dat zijn Antwerps te boven ging, en dat de "dader" van het WC-incident blijkbaar mijn vriend was. De chauffeur werd dan ook gedecideerd spreekverbod met ons opgelegd.

De volgende dag verdween het gezelschap met de glimmende 4x4, waarschijnlijk nieuwe verre avontuurlijke horizonten tegemoet, nog meer spreadsheets en onkostennota's.
Tussen haakjes meneer dokteur, het was jouw fout, jij had de deur van het WC op slot moeten doen. Het afscheidszinnetje werd arrogant genegeerd, het vehikel loste op in een stofwolk. Het is maar dat je weet waar je centen naartoe gaan als je nog eens stort aan AZG (pardon, MSF).

Een gelijkluidend verhaal ontvangen van een vriend in Myanmar (Birma):

(Wat aangeduid is in het rood, is niet geschikt om te publiceren. Ik wil ooit nog terug naar Myanmar. Aan twee van mijn vrienden is een visum geweigerd op basis van wat ze op hun website hadden gepubliceerd.)

Zondag xx xxx 2003 in Sittwe (Rakine state, in Birma/Myanmar):
Na een vijf uur durende boottocht vanuit Mrauk-U in Sittwe aangekomen. Er is geen weg over land naar Sittwe, de enige verbinding is via de rivier. Sittwe ligt aan de Golf van Bengalen op 40 km van de grens met Bangladesh.

Zoals in de meeste provinciesteden in Myanmar zijn er in Sittwe twee hotels:
1. het Noble hotel in het centrum van de stad, eigenaar is U Hlaing Myint
2. het Sittwe hotel, groter en met meer luxe, langs het strand, staatseigendom.

Omdat we het militaire regime niet willen steunen, logeren we in het Noble hotel. Maar omdat het Sittwe hotel geleid wordt door een ex-majoor, een goede kennis van xxx, de vader van xxx, onze bijzonder vriendelijke gids willen we daar ook eens gaan kijken. Bij aankomst zien we dat pal voor de deur een imposante witte 4x4 SUV staat met op de deur een sticker "MSF-AZG". Die staat daar al een hele tijd en blijkbaar ongebruikt hij het afdak voor de ingang van het hotel als garage. Ik zeg tegen mijn vrouw "zie die daar nu staan, wa nen dikke nek".

De AZG man is niet te zien. Wanneer de hoteldirecteur xxx herkent, begroet hij ons bijzonder hartelijk. We krijgen een drankje aangeboden, hij toont ons het hele hotel, de kamers en alle faciliteiten. Als ik voorzichtig naar de prijs van een kamer informeer dan lacht hij mijn vraag weg met de woorden: "vrienden van xxx, die logeren hier gratis".

Ik heb hem niet verteld dat ik niet bepaald een vriend van het regime was en dat ik van plan was om drie dagen later met yyy te gaan spreken.

Het hele hotel was groot en luxueus maar helemaal leeg. Er waren geen gasten. Plots loopt er een westerling in de richting van de AZG-jeep. Als ik hem aanspreek in het engels, hoor ik aan zijn tongval dat hij Nederlander is. Ik vroeg hem om wat te vertellen over de plaatselijke projecten maar daar ging hij niet op in, hij "had haast" en wilde weg. Ik vermoed dat zijn project wat te maken had met de Rohingya-moslims. De grote meerderheid in Myanmar zijn Boeddhisten, zij lusten de moslims niet en worden daarin gesteund door het militair regime in Myanmar.

Toen we de dag daarna daar voorbijreden stond de grote witte jeep weer uit de zon, op de vaste plaats voor de ingang.

In Noord-Oost Myanmar, ten Noorden van KyengTong heb ik talloze lepralijders gezien. Malaria en Tuberculose komen daar nog heel veel voor. Bij sommige stammen hebben de kinderen tot 14 jaar en ouder helemaal geen kleding.
AZG heb ik daar niet gezien. In KyengTong heb ik de vicaris generaal van het bisdom gesproken. De katholieke kerk in Myanmar is ontstaan uit missieposten opgericht door Italiaanse paters. Het plaatselijke ziekenhuis wordt er samen beheerd door Katholieken en Boeddhisten.

Ik betwist niet dat AZG in Myanmar goed werk levert -dat zou best kunnen, ik kan dat niet beoordelen- maar ik weet wel heel zeker dat andere organisaties in Myanmar veel efficiënter omspringen met onze steun.

Foto: (klikken om te vergroten) Ergens op een strand in Mindanao, maart 2005.

14:53 Gepost door VH | Permalink | Commentaren (1) |  Facebook |