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Twisted by Jessica Zafra – Pumping irony since 1994
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Archive for the ‘Crime’

Killing Elephants: The Santo Niño Connection

September 16, 2012 By: jessicazafra Category: Crime, Current Events 2 Comments →

Ivory Worship

Thousands of elephants die each year so that their tusks can be carved into religious objects. Can the slaughter be stopped?

By Bryan Christy
Photographs by Brent Stirton

IN JANUARY 2012 A HUNDRED RAIDERS ON HORSEBACK CHARGED OUT OF CHAD INTO CAMEROON’S BOUBA NDJIDAH NATIONAL PARK, SLAUGHTERING HUNDREDS OF ELEPHANTS—entire families—in one of the worst concentrated killings since a global ivory trade ban was adopted in 1989. Carrying AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, they dispatched the elephants with a military precision reminiscent of a 2006 butchering outside Chad’s Zakouma National Park. And then some stopped to pray to Allah. Seen from the ground, each of the bloated elephant carcasses is a monument to human greed. Elephant poaching levels are currently at their worst in a decade, and seizures of illegal ivory are at their highest level in years. From the air too the scattered bodies present a senseless crime scene—you can see which animals fled, which mothers tried to protect their young, how one terrified herd of 50 went down together, the latest of the tens of thousands of elephants killed across Africa each year. Seen from higher still, from the vantage of history, this killing field is not new at all. It is timeless, and it is now.

THE PHILIPPINES CONNECTION
In an overfilled church Monsignor Cristobal Garcia, one of the best known ivory collectors in the Philippines, leads an unusual rite honoring the nation’s most important religious icon, the Santo Niño de Cebu (Holy Child of Cebu). The ceremony, which he conducts annually on Cebu, is called the Hubo, from a Cebuano word meaning “to undress.” Several altar boys work together to disrobe a small wooden statue of Christ dressed as a king, a replica of an icon devotees believe Ferdinand Magellan brought to the island in 1521. They remove its small crown, red cape, and tiny boots, and strip off its surprisingly layered underwear. Then the monsignor takes the icon, while altar boys conceal it with a little white towel, and dunks it in several barrels of water, creating his church’s holy water for the year, to be sold outside.

Garcia is a fleshy man with a lazy left eye and bad knees. In the mid-1980s, according to a 2005 report in the Dallas Morning News and a related lawsuit, Garcia, while serving as a priest at St. Dominic’s of Los Angeles, California, sexually abused an altar boy in his early teens and was dismissed. Back in the Philippines, he was promoted to monsignor and made chairman of Cebu’s Archdiocesan Commission on Worship. That made him head of protocol for the country’s largest Roman Catholic archdiocese, a flock of nearly four million people in a country of 75 million Roman Catholics, the world’s third largest Catholic population…

Read it in the National Geographic.

Thanks to Butch for the alert.

The pit bulls rescued in Laguna need our help.

April 24, 2012 By: jessicazafra Category: Crime, Current Events No Comments →

You’ve heard about the 300 pit bulls who were rescued from a dogfighting syndicate in San Pablo, Laguna. The dogs are safe, but they need our help. We got this note from Alya Honasan, who’s been helping the dogs adjust to their new lives.

Right now the people working on the pit bulls need cement, cyclone wire, old towels, dog food, and of course, money to help set them up in the new site they’re transferring to. In charge of the animals right now are the Cebu-based Island Rescue Organization (IRO), who also took over the Cavite pit bulls, and Compassion and Responsibility for Animals (CARA), led by Nancy Cu-Unjieng. The site is in Bgy San Gregorio, San Pablo, Laguna. There are 216 surviving pit bulls.

For donations in kind, contact Homer at (02)521-0865. For cash donations, go to www.caraphil.org.


Momma: a pit bull at the site. Note the heavy chains and the drums they have to live in. ( I just named her that, because she has obviously given birth recently. Actually I’d love to adopt her, she’s the sweetest thing, but she’s got some rehab, medical and psychological, to go through first. -Alya)


Pit bull aficionado Julien Bourreaux has been volunteering regularly at the site.


CARA’s Nancy Cu-Unjieng at the site.

Adopted words: Pamphagous Arroyos, jussulent deals?

August 15, 2011 By: jessicazafra Category: Crime, Current Events, Language No Comments →

On a recent visit to Save The Words, a site which promotes the use of words threatened with extinction, we adopted the first two that leapt out at us:

which means “eating or consuming everything” and

which means “full of broth or soup”. By adopting these words we commit to using them as often as we can. Later it occurred to us that both words are concerned with eating.

Last Thursday we attended the opening of the Complementary Medicine Center at St Luke’s in Bonifacio Global City. As Consolata and I were leaving the building we saw the media massed in driveway, cameras aimed at the doors.

“Dammit,” I said, “My serfs have leaked my whereabouts to the paps again.”

“It’s so hard to get good help these days,” sighed Consolata, presenting his favorite angle to the lenses.

“But wait,” I recalled, “I don’t have serfs.”

No, the media were waiting for the husband of the former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to leave the hospital for his appearance at the Senate committee hearing on corruption. The Arroyos are under investigation for alleged pamphagous behavior on many jussulent deals, including the purchase of helicopters. (My adopted words would live longer if their applications go beyond the culinary.)

That morning it had been reported that the former president’s scheduled surgery had been postponed due to an infection. By lunchtime we had all received the text joke about second-hand implants at least thrice. People can be so uncharitable. Would they be kinder if the medical emergencies did not always coincide with summons from the Senate? Probably not.

“Next we will hear that the former president’s condition will require medical treatment abroad,” Kermit said at dinner (where, pamphagous eater that I am I had the porchetta, the cheese, and the M&Ms). How cynical we are. Yesterday’s headline: “Docs advise GMA to get treatment abroad, says camp.” The news would be more jussulent if it weren’t totally expected.

Maybe the world has ended and we just haven’t noticed.

August 14, 2011 By: jessicazafra Category: Crime, Current Events, Places 5 Comments →

It’s disconcerting to see photos and videos of the London riots, first of all because it’s London. How could it happen there? Books and movies have conditioned us to believe that Londoners are polite, reserved and well-behaved. These are the people who were so calm and brave while Hitler bombed their city every day in the Blitz. After the bus bombings in 2005 they did not freak out; they collected themselves and resumed their regular lives. Either something has changed (the Blitz generation is dead), or pop culture has lied to us again.

When I saw the pictures I was reminded of Alfonso Cuaron’s bleak, beautiful 2006 film, Children of Men. Based on the P.D. James novel, Children of Men is set in a grim near-future where society has collapsed and anarchy reigns. The human race is facing extinction: no one has given birth in 18 years, and the youngest person on earth has just died. Cuaron takes us through a London of smashed storefronts, burning cars, the wreckage of buildings, thugs armed with bludgeons. So last week’s events in London were oddly familiar.

Except that humans are still reproducing (particularly in the third world, including the Philippines, where population growth strains available resources), the British government is functioning, and despite the economic downturn the UK is still a rich country that many Filipinos, especially nurses, hope to migrate to. The people starting fires and looting shops in London were not starving, or they would be stealing food, milk, basic necessities. Graphic evidence tells us that they were looting electronics stores, athletic supplies shops, luxury boutiques. As one courageous woman told the mob, they didn’t come together to fight for a cause, they were just taking down a shoe store.
(more…)

The Mystery of the Mesmeric Muggers

July 13, 2011 By: jessicazafra Category: Crime, Current Events 6 Comments →


The Cabinet of Dr Caligari

Holy hypnotists, Batman, are we in the middle of a crime wave?

We know there are criminals afoot in our clammy city—pickpockets, bag-slashers, muggers, carjackers, the “small-time” (although they are said to belong to crime syndicates) criminals as opposed to the large-scale operators who need to get elected into office first. The problem is not unique to Metro Manila—it’s supposed to be worse in other big cities—but we live here.

So we take precautions. In restaurants we never hang our bag on the back of a chair so a thief can casually walk out with it. It sits next to us where we can keep a constant eye on it, or hangs from a hook under the table. When walking outside we make sure our bags are zipped, not left open for a thief to pluck out our wallets. In certain areas we wear our knapsacks in front. When going home late at night, we ask our friends to take down the license numbers of the taxi. We adapt.

But what if the problem evolves?

Continue reading in the Philippine Star.

Self-hypnosis kit

Answerable Questions (Updated with Reyes’s ‘unfinished letter’ to the PCIJ)

February 11, 2011 By: jessicazafra Category: Crime, Current Events 6 Comments →

While everyone is writing solemn essays on whether the Reyes suicide is an act of courage or cowardice or the result of extreme depression, the difficulty of being good in a system shot through with corruption, and whether anyone involved in the ongoing investigation into corruption in the military has the moral authority to conduct such an inquiry, we can ask a few questions that would occur to anyone who’s seen an episode of Law and Order or C.S.I.

1. Is there a suicide note? What does it say?
2. In these cases there is usually a note. Are we sure there is no suicide note?
3. The timing is too interesting. The man made sure he would never speak again. Who benefits from his silence?

* * * * *

THE FINAL WORDS OF ANGELO T. REYES
A warrior comes clean in last battle for honor
BY MALOU MANGAHAS

LATE evening last Feb. 4, Friday, a long-time source suddenly called. Would I be free for brunch the next day, he asked. He wanted to consult me on something important.

We met the next day and he bared his purpose: Angelo ‘Angie’ T. Reyes, the former Armed Forces chief of staff and Defense secretary, wanted to see me so he could tell his story to “an independent journalist” – would I want to interview him? The source happened to be a senior trusted associate of Angie for the last decade or so. . .

Read A warrior comes clean in last battle for honor. Thanks to reader vanilla for the alert.