Thursday, December 28, 2006


Wandered onto today and it looks interesting. I like the fact that users get free Wikis as well.

I'm not entirely sure how I would use it, though. It appears that each user can only create one blog, so I wouldn't be able to create separate blogs for each class unless I had several usernames.

The Wiki is very promising, though. I may use it for my students' ALTP project next semester. Hmmm. I'll have to think about it some more.

Any suggestions? How might philosophy instructors use blogs and wikis?

Update, 2 January 2007: Today I found through a link on

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas holiday book purchase

We went to Fully Booked yesterday and Mike bought me this:

I'll let you know how it is.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The age of consent

This chart makes it appear that the Philippines has one of the lowest ages of sexual consent in the world. (This document places it at 18 but doesn't cite the law.)

It's a little more complex than that, though. There are various laws protecting persons under twelve and under eighteen from sexual abuse.

Let me preface all this by saying I'm no lawyer. Nonetheless, here's what I understand.

First, there is the law on statutory rape, which essentially says that any form of sex with anyone under the age of twelve is automatically a crime. The penalty is quite stiff in the Philippines: life imprisonment to death.

Secondly, sexual contact with anyone from twelve to seventeen for money or renumeration is also a crime.

Third, there is also a sexual harrassment law which criminalizes the requirement of sexual favors by a person in authority of his or her subordinate.

But what about consensual sex from ages to twelve to seventeen? Well here's where it appears to get more tricky. I haven't found any clear laws specifically pertaining to this, but the closest I could find was a law on seduction (click here then scroll down until you get to Michelle Basco's article).

According to this law, it is a crime to deceive (for example, with promises of marriage) or abuse one's authority, confidence, or relationship in order to gain the consent of a female (not male) to have sex, if she is: (a) from thirteen to seventeen-years-old, and (b) a virgin or a woman "of good reputation."

There does not seem to be any similar law for males nor for teenage women who are not "of good reputation."

If, then, this indeed is the only law directly pertaining to consensual sex involving teenagers from twelve to seventeen, I find it disturbing.

On the one hand, I know that the lack of legislation regarding this is partly cultural and historical. During my grandmothers' time, a lot of girls married in their early teens. Only in my lifetime was was the marrying age raised to eighteen (with parental consent, twenty-one with parental advice, twenty-five without parental consent nor advice).

Nonetheless, I think that there should be more protection for teenagers from being taken advantage of by adults, and I do think that there ought to be clearer laws in this regard.

First, I do think that the age of consent be raised. Another possibility would be to put some kind of "middle ground" put for statutory rape with a milder penalty, when, for example, the victim is between twelve and fourteen. (In some countries, for example, the penalty for this would be a minimum of ten years' imprisonment.)

Secondly, I've noticed that some countries have laws that adjust the penalty according to the age difference among the two parties. Perhaps something similar should be done in the Philippines. For example, maybe when the younger party is beyond the age of fourteen, the other person needn't be penalized if the age difference is five years or less, but perhaps there should be a penalty when the other person is more than five years older than the younger person. (I.e., it could be that consensual sex between a fourteen-year-old and a seventeen-year-old would not be criminalized, but consensual sex between a fourteen-year-old and a twenty-one-year-old would.)


Update: I mentioned my thoughts to a friend of mine who is studying law, and he disagrees with me.

Also, the idea of setting the age of consent at twelve actually comes from British Common Law, under which it became a criminal act to "ravish" a girl under the age of twelve.

Hmmm. I still think that the case of a fifty-year-old male who has consensual sex with a thirteen-year-old (whether male or female) should automatically be considered a criminal act, even if the sex was consensual. And the fact is, the current laws do not seem to cover such a case. If they really do love each other, they can wait until the younger person is a little older.

Interesting links

The assymetry of the universe

Review of a book on Mao Zedong

Review of a book on regional accents

The Laguna Copperplate Inscription" a 1100-year-old piece of copper that threatens to challenge much of what we have learned about pre-colonial Philippine history


In the past few years, discussions about China have primarily focused on its economic growth. Most have forgotten the China of 1989, of political repression, and the fight for political freedom.

This article argues, however, that the China that the world glimpsed at Tiananmen Square is still very much alive, though in a somewhat different form. No common cause binds together today's dissenters as it did at Tiananmen, but protest--against any kind of abuse, whether from the party, from company bosses--appears to have become a way of life for many Chinese, probably even moreso now then then, with the advent of new communications technologies that give citizens new channels to express their unrest.

Protests have not only become bigger in size; they are now more numerous. In 1994, there were 10,000 such “mass incidents”; by 2003 there were 58,000; in 2004 and 2005 there were 74,000 and 87,000 respectively. This is according to official statistics, which undoubtedly undercount. According to the legal activist Jerome Cohen, a truer figure for the last year may be 150,000.

Virtually every segment in society (except, of course, senior Communist leaders and wealthy entrepreneurs) is participating in these public demonstrations. Almost anything, whether or not it is a genuine grievance, can trigger a sit-in, demonstration, or riot against party officials, village bosses, tax collectors, factory owners, or township cadres. Yet most observers still do not attach real significance to these protests—no doubt because, apart from a general desire for fair treatment, no common complaint or cause appears to bind them together.

Author Gordon Chang challenges the notion that economic stability can be a substitute for political freedom, even on the local or organizational level:

As Tocqueville observed, “steadily increasing prosperity” does not tranquilize citizens; on the contrary, it promotes “a spirit of unrest.” In pre-revolutionary France, discontent was highest in those areas that had seen the greatest improvement; the Revolution itself followed a period of unprecedented economic advance. In the late 20th century, the same trends played out in Thailand, in South Korea, and in Taiwan.

In China today, it is middle-class citizens, the beneficiaries of a quarter-century of economic reform, who are once again confirming the pattern. In Shanghai, homeowners recently fought a state-owned developer who had reneged on his agreement to keep an area of open land in the middle of a multi-building project; one group of residents tore down a fence to stop construction, and when the developer put up another, an even larger group demolished it. In Dongzhou in prosperous Guangdong province, riot police ended up killing perhaps as many as twenty people who were protesting the government’s arbitrary seizure of their land for a power project and denying them the use of a nearby lake.

This is not like Tiananmen. In 1989, Chinese protesters were peaceful until attacked. Those in Dongzhou, however, used pipe bombs as an initial tactic, to break up police formations. In present-day China, the well-to-do act like hooligans, and will even resort to deadly force, if that is what it takes to defend their rights.

Deng Xiaoping’s strategy after Tiananmen was to buy off the people by means of economic growth. It was successful, but only for a decade. Change begat the demand for more change. Grievances that were once tolerable began to appear intolerable when people realized they could be remedied. Since the end of the 1990’s, the laobaixing are no longer, to borrow one of Mao’s favorite phrases, “poor and blank.”

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The "original" Malays?

Interesting Wikipedia excerpt:

In the Philippines, many Filipinos consider the term "Malay" to refer to the indigenous population of the country as well as the population of neighboring countries like Indonesia and Malaysia. This misconception is due in part to American anthropologists H. Otley Beyer who proposed that the Filipinos were actually Malays who migrated from Malaysia and Indonesia. This idea was in turn propagated by Filipino historians and is still taught in schools. However, the prevalent consensus among contemporary anthropologists, archaeologists, and linguists actually proposes the reverse; namely that the Malays of Malaysia and Indonesia originally migrated south from the Philippines during the prehistoric period. Among these are scholars in the field of Austronesian studies such as Peter Bellwood, Robert Blust, Malcolm Ross, Andrew Pawley, and Lawrence Reid.

I don't know if this is true, but it's an interesting thought, isn't it?