"..a bardy view!"

“Anchorman 2” and that Philippines “Joke”…..

Anchorman2Emil Guillermo is a very sensitive American-Filipino journalist. So sensitive in fact, that he believes that the power of a juvenile below-average slapstick-comic movie can insult millions of people of a certain nationality, and rejuvenate a slur that has been buried for years.

I refer to Anchorman 2. If you know what that is already – congratulations, and if you don't…well, now you do.

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December 30, 2013 Posted by | Culture, Current Affairs, Dogs, Education, Film, The Philippines, United Kingdom | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Pasties and Petrol – The Famous Five

Famous fiveI was beginning to miss the last UK Labour Government, not because I liked them, but because they could always be counted on to provide great blog fodder.

I think 25% of my posts since I began this blog three years ago were fuelled by the Tony Blair's, Gordon Brown's and John Prescott's of this world. Not only by the individuals but by the sheer stupidity of their policies.

But in the last few days I find that the new Tory-Lib-Dem coalition government are equally as idiotic.

Indeed, if there is a secret biological clone guaranteed to ensure that all politicians either look and behave alike, this last week has reinforced the conspiracy theory.

If you put the DNA of Tony Blair, David Cameron, George Osborne, Nick Clegg and David Milliband in the same petri dish, mix them all up, blast them with an agent to agitate the mix, and place it under a microscope, it will be an undisputed fact that the end result will produce carbon copies of the original ingredients.

I suppose that is what cloning is all about.

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March 31, 2012 Posted by | Books, Culture, Current Affairs, Dogs, Education, Events, General, Humour, London, Politics, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Too painful to title……

This is a story I have been following over the last few weeks, but due to the intense distaste of the subject I have tried to ignore it. It is a story of cruelty, exploitation, debasement and demonstrates the seedy perverted underbelly of the internet and the dark side of human nature.

It's a story that hasn't been broadcast in the popular western media, and in that respect many have been spared it. Cruelty to animals and the exploitation of children are both subjects which are abhorrent, but when they are combined together to satisfy a global market – however small that market may be – then it's time good people woke up and became aware.

It pains me to tell you that this story (which I will relate shortly) is from the Philippines, but it pains me more that the perpetrators – the instigators – did it for an audience extending way beyond the islands.

I have remarked in the past that cruelty to animals can often be attributed to ignorance. (Take my post on the young man who hung his puppy on a washing line for instance and broadcast it on facebook). I have seen many instances of such ignorance, such as keeping pets without realising that their conditions are extremely detrimental to their welfare  and such as children chiding and mistreating animals simply because they do not know any better.

Examples abound in many different cultures, but generally education solves the problem. Wilful cruelty however, for sadistic pleasure, is a different matter entirely.

I'm rather squeamish when I come across this type of thing, and it weakens my knees and churns my stomach. I also believe that a person who is wilfully cruel to a dumb animal is also unfit to be a parent or guardian – I make no apologies for that statement.

I had a friend once – a paediatrician – who once asked me why was there a Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals but only a National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children? I couldn't answer that – but he'd had a bad day by all accounts.

A man who works in an abattoir and kills a creature humanely is probably desensitised to his activity – he's doing his job to feed his family, and he is probably a loving father. We may not like it, but the job has to be done, and I doubt anyone who frequents a MacDonald’s or KFC will concern themselves much about where the food came from or how it was killed.

We are all desensitised in that respect. Just as when we look at the meat counter at a supermarket, where the leg of lamb is wrapped clinically in Clingfilm – we don't think about how it got there. Equally we may condemn animal sports be they cock-fighting, fox-hunting or Bull-fighting. But fundamentally – are they sadistic? Does it mean we are inherently inhumane?

The Grand National often sees a horse destroyed, and greyhounds are expendable after they can't run fast anymore. What happens to them? We don't want to know – and we can live in blissful ignorance. We could find out – and Joe at the bookies who bets on Sunshine Stan chasing the robot rabbit around the track couldn't give a monkeys. In fact, he may even be a subscriber to endangered primates in Africa, but he doesn't give a dog's breakfast about poor old Stan – win or lose!

A man who microwaves a cat however, or rips the ears off a rabbit to hear it squeal, stones a swan as a pastime or regularly takes pleasure in causing pain and suffering to his dog is a different beast altogether. How much worse when children are encouraged to commit such acts?

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) offered a significant reward for any information leading to the arrest of a Filipino couple involved in the production and sale of "Crush" videos. This is the term for a gruesome fetish which shows animals being tortured to death by scantily clad girls – some as young as twelve years old.

The videos, sold online as “erotica” worldwide, featured rabbits whose ears were cut off before they were burnt alive or stepped on until their organs leaked. Dogs were restrained and had stiletto heels pressed into their eyes, or had their legs hacked off or burnt with a clothes iron. The girls were hired to kill the animals for about £1 to £10 per video.

Initially the couple would entice them to look after their children, but later ask them to dance in their underwear in front of a camera, and then order them to perform the cruel acts.

It's painful reading, and although the Philippines Daily Inquirer showed an edited image – which they have since removed – it would be too shocking to reproduce here even if it was still available.

Due to a huge response, the couple were found and have been arrested facing charges of violating the Philippines Child Abuse Acts, animal welfare laws, the Anti-trafficking in Persons Acts, plus the Wildlife Protection and Conservation Acts.

Peta became aware of this a year ago – due to a tip off from someone in Russia (I said it was global).

There has been a volume of comment from Filipinos about this, ranging from suggestions that the couple should be skinned and stilettoed themselves just like their victims, to expressions of sadness, shame, anger and disgust that such behaviour has blighted the nation and the people.

But this is not about the Philippines. It is about the dark side of human nature, which ferments and grows on the internet. It is the dark underbelly where the low life crawl.

If there is any good which comes out of this, it is that this insidious practice has been exposed, and the Philippines have confronted it. This is a country which is continually facing up to its demons and excess baggage – both a legacy from successive European and US influences – and they should be applauded for that.

When we look at Africa, South America, China, Eastern Europe, Russia and it's ex-soviet satellites we should remember the adage about stones and glasshouses. The Philippines is a translucent jewel by comparison.

There's some bad stuff out there in the wide world which I really don't want to see. But turning a blind eye is cowardice.

I write about the UK and the Philippines. I'm not qualified to write about anywhere else. Maybe you are? If so, do so. Ipso facto.



August 5, 2011 Posted by | Culture, Current Affairs, Dogs, Education, The Philippines, Travel | , , , , | 1 Comment

“And they call it Puppy Love” Philippines style……

Puppy The Philippines is not renown as a pet loving nation.

The concept of keeping pets as lovable companions is a remote one.

In the main, Filipinos keep animals for practical purposes, which are well looked after as they are a vital economic resource.

For example for work – horses and caribou; for food – chickens, pigs, cows, goats; for pest control – cats; security – dogs; for sport – cocks, and unfortunately for novelty – monkeys, parrots, owls, turtles and lizards which tend to be common as attention gatherers in some restaurants and even shops.

I believe this to be a cultural phenomenon, more than a sadistic streak of inherent cruelty. With the exception of the working domesticated animals, the others serve little purpose, and keeping a pet is just one extra mouth to feed. The welfare of such pets tend not to be a priority, and this is down to education primarily.

This is why conservation and the protection of flora and fauna in the Philippines is a struggle.  It's education, education, education – and the lack of it results in exploitation and ecological destruction. It's not about education in the context of literacy or academic success, many Filipinos have qualifications coming out of their ears. It's about a universal education relating to the welfare of animals, a general blanket to incorporate all – rich or poor – and an emphasis that compassion is not a weakness, but a strength and something to be proud of.

Let's not forget that it wasn't long ago that people would flock to circuses in the UK and think that performing elephants, lions, tigers and dogs as well as dressed-up chimpanzees making monkeys of themselves was regarded as totally acceptable.

What we didn't think about was the cruel methods employed to train these creatures, often by sadistic and heartless owners. It's certainly no fun for a kangaroo to box, or a chained bear to dance – the latter being a shocking practice continuing in several countries today.

There are no dancing bears in the Philippines to my knowledge. The country still has a long way to go to start treating some animals with care and respect, as highlighted by the story of Jerzon Senador who pegged up his puppy on a washing line.

The thing is I doubt it occurred to him that he was being cruel – he just thought it was funny, and posted the pictures on Facebook (yes, it's that Facebook factor yet again).

He's been truly condemned for it, and has issued an unreserved apology, but it highlights the attitude of some people with regard to their animals. Many Filipinos keep a pet, but they don't understand their responsibility towards them, and fail to grasp that certain behaviour is cruel. This is where education is crucial.

Lets look at the behaviour of some in the UK. Recent stories tell of cats thrown into rubbish bins or cooked alive in microwave ovens. We hear about youths stoning swans and beheading ducks, and stealing small dogs to provide pit-bulls and mastiffs with fighting fodder.

These are genuine acts of cruelty, premeditated and done not out of boredom but sheer viciousness. Some get prosecuted, and many don't get caught, and they never, ever express remorse.

So before we all flip our lids in disgust at the young man who stuck his puppy on the washing line for a laugh, lets also give him some credit (as difficult as that may be) for realising the error of his ways and making an apology.

He sounds very contrite. You see, he has now been educated the hard way, and I suspect he will treat this little innocent life with much more care in future. If it makes others think and change their ways, then so much the better.

One interesting question is would he have actually done it if facebook didn't exist? Do sites like FB and You-tube encourage idiocy? I'll leave that question to the psychologists.

June 15, 2011 Posted by | Conservation, Culture, Dogs, Education, facebook, The Philippines, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

It’s a Dog’s life…part 2….

Our resident canine has decided to go on vacation. Regular readers will know that she's a bitch. DSC06016

Don't get me wrong. I haven't put her in kennels. No, she sometimes decides to pack a grip and pops off on her travels. She finds my daughter's Oyster Card (cheap travel throughout London) and presents it doe-eyed to anyone who is willing to accompany her on the tube.

Consequently this Jack Russell has visited some very famous places, more than the average tourist, and gained entrance to places where animals are not allowed. Fortunately she cannot read and therefore unable to recognise signs saying "no dogs permitted".

She has been enthralled at the Natural History Museum dwelling on old bones. Her recent visit to the Science museum resulted in a unique experiment on the effects of urine in a confined space.

A trip to Brighton last year found her in deep conversation with a jogger on the beach, whose expletives cannot be repeated on the grounds of decency. Only two days ago, she entered into a discussion with a cyclist in Richmond Park, who almost fell off his bike due to the shock of the conversation.

I have warned her many times that her behaviour is unacceptable and that she must keep her opinions to herself.

I've also suggested that if she can carry a London Travelcard, how come she can't carry a pooper-scooper at the same time?

The deer in Richmond have decided to form a militia, and are now very alert to combat this little bully. In Osterley Park the swans have initiated a defence perimeter.

Indeed, the Prime Minister has written to the National Trust and identified her as a public enemy.

However, he recognises that she is useful to display bravado with urban foxes, and realises she has unique talents in keeping rats down.

So our little Jack Russell has gone off on a day trip, and the latest news is that she is on an RAF Tornado flying over Libya. Gaddafi is in big trouble!

When she returns she will just trot in the house arrogantly, take her food and water and retire to her bed. She'll probably get a commendation from the government to boot!

March 20, 2011 Posted by | Current Affairs, Dogs, Events, Humour | , | 1 Comment

It’s a dogs life….

The woman who returned a Jack Russell terrier to the RSPCA after 48 hours citing that the mutt clashed with her curtains was probably attempting churlish wit. Jack_1813258c Insensitive she may be, cruel, perhaps, shallow without doubt, but – and here is the but – it could well be that the dynamic adventurous bundle she adored at the kennels was a very different beast once she got it home.

I really don't know the ins and outs of this story, but the media are milking it for all its worth.

Animal stories always go down well – especially if they involve homeless dogs. Cats too – but they don't get as much sympathy as the hapless hound. A recent advert on British TV for an advertising company (the advertiser advertising themselves – that's a new one!) has a homeless scraggy hound showing a video of itself doing a song and dance, making the beds, loading the washing machine, feeding the baby and vacuuming the carpets. Indeed, after his 30 second sales pitch, he already has his bags packed ready for his new owners. His doleful eyes implore want and need. Who could resist?

It wouldn't surprise me in the least if the Witch of Wembley (or Wimbledon, wherever, who knows?) thought that this is the type of dog she was taking home.

A wonderful dinner party topic amongst her equally obnoxious and pretentious friends, but who am I to judge or jump to conclusions – nay – even criticise? Maybe she discovered that the dog wasn't house trained and liked to pee, crap and puke with impunity, wherever and whenever the fancy took him?

I speak with some authority on this subject. I have a Jack Russell – a Jackie actually, and she is a real bitch. For the last six years she has postured pompously, like a Madame de Pompadour at the the court of Versailles. She doesn't walk – she prances, shaking her derriere like a female version of Beau Brummel.

Perhaps I am over critical. But she really pisses me off. Who does she think she is? Well I tell you, many a time I have taken her for a walk in Richmond Park on the off chance that a stag deer will give her some comeuppance. Unfortunately Jack Russell's are fearless and are totally unaware of their size. Indeed anything slightly larger than their short, stocky muscular bodies is a prime excuse for a display of bravado.

I have lost count on the number of times I have had to apologise to cyclists, joggers, and anyone who looks remotely elderly (don't ask). One day I will probably get sued – well, that will be a sorry day for Miss Jack!

Jack Russell's are very clever. Indeed their intelligence far outweighs their Body Mass Index, and I'm sure that mine is a reincarnation of Isaac Newton. That may have something to do with his third law of motion – every action has an equal and positive reaction.

Especially if it has teeth! Pit Bulls and Mastiffs steer well clear of this pocket dynamo. Many have battle scars to remind them. Although she is a wimp where swans are concerned.

Sure they look innocent, but Jack Russells need owners who don't want cuddly loving doe-eyed floppy eared daft bounders, but  ones who can look them in the eye with as much contempt that can be mustered.

Would my family ever part with her – never – but there is a swan in Osterley Park which may just do me a favour! Mhuwahahahaaar!

(Evil laugh!)


January 30, 2011 Posted by | Current Affairs, Dogs, General, United Kingdom | | Leave a comment

The Philippines and Rabid Enthusiasm……

An update from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises travellers to the Philippines that Rabies is a serious problem. They regularly give updates to their advice (which has not changed overall as they are keen to point out).

Anyone contemplating a visit to the Pearl of the Orient would think twice if they took this stuff seriously. Typhoons, kidnappings, rabies, terrorism, warnings against travel to certain parts, entrapment, sea travel, road travel and so on – the list is endless. Yet I'm challenged to recognise any of these as dangers – but then again, I'm biased.

But is it really necessary to post a bulletin about rabies? Most travellers anywhere must be fairly savvy to beware of dogs, particularly in countries in the Far East, but this problem is equally present in Latin America, Africa, India, China and certain parts of Europe. Rabies in the UK is rare which is no doubt a result of the draconian quarantine laws, yet the infection does not have to come from canines.

All warm blooded animals are potential carriers of the virus, and they in turn can infect domestic livestock. India has the highest number of infected humans, mainly from stray dogs. China, Vietnam and Thailand follow close behind. Yet the tourist boom to these countries is increasing, and rabies is very low on the radar of most visitors.

The Philippines rank fifth on the World Health Organisation (WHO) of high endemicity or prevalence, where on average 400 Filipinos die of Rabies each year – half of which are children – and invariably the cases are specifically regional. Yet common sense dictates that avoidance of stray dogs or any animal which displays dangerous tendencies is a smart move.

The British like to get up close and personal with their pets, especially dogs, and for some reason they all believe that they have special powers to bond with them be they in Devon or the Dominican Republic. That is not a viable course of action in the Philippines, or any other country aforementioned.

Dogs are treated differently in the Philippines, and the faint hearted can be distressed by their plight, but an act of kindness could be misconstrued. Our faithful friends are not human, and don't hold the maxim of "dont bite the hand that feeds you". So beware.

Nevertheless, I have noticed an increase of dogs being regarded as pets in the Philippines, which although commendable is still not a guarantee of safety. When in doubt don't! Its worth noting that although there was a slight increase in Philippines Rabies Morbidity Rates in 2007, that was still a good 70% less than in 2001.

So lets get down to the knuckle. the UK (just like other countries) give advice to raise awareness, but equally they can cause unnecessary concern. Its a fail-safe device, intended to limit their consulate's or embassy's responsibility. Remember that travel insurance companies can easily make a policy redundant if they can suggest that you did not heed official advice. So check your policy and make sure that you adhere to their terms and conditions.

The fact is that if every tourist plodded through the pages of concerned information provided by their governments, few would bother to get on a plane.

My advice is take everything with a pinch of salt, identify risk, and above all exercise common sense.

Oh, and by the way – be daring and visit the Philippines. Everyone loves an adventure, and everyone loves to talk about it.The Philippines is one of the few countries left in the world where the word adventure actually means something.

Go on, be adventurous!

December 14, 2010 Posted by | Culture, Current Affairs, Dogs, Education, General, The Philippines, Travel, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Great British Spending Review……

Now that the UK Spending Review has been revealed in all its controversial glory I'm left wondering what all the fuss is about. Cuts in the welfare budget? Good. Increased retirement age? What's the beef? Cuts in government departments? Good. Increased pension contributions for civil servants? Fine. Stopping child benefit for high income earners? About time.

And yet the fear of the over sixties to lose their bus-passes, free TV licences and winter fuel allowances have all been unfounded. Social housing rents for new tenants to be nearer those of the private sector, and the removal of a council house for life seem reasonable enough, and yet I am not heartless. I fear that the less able will struggle.

It is unfair for them to bear the brunt, yet likewise a system which stifles ambition and encourages state dependency cannot be condoned either. Then there are the increased university fees, and the concern that this may limit opportunities for young people whose families are economically challenged.

The business of banks is to lend. The proliferation of borrowing encouraged rampant fiscal irresponsibility. The old adage of neither a borrower or lender be, is commendable, but hardly practical. The problem was that both shared a bed and behaved shockingly promiscuous. The ex Labour government found themselves with a treasury which they played with as a child in a toy shop. Since 1997 they spent money like water – foolishly and carelessly without thought nor consequence. Give the people what they want, and they will vote for you. They were guilty of gross misconduct and justice has been served upon them.

A period of austerity will not be a bad thing if it returns sense and good housekeeping to the nation. Folk years ago planned their futures, did not buy what they couldn't afford or live beyond their means. They instilled thrift and responsibility to their offspring, which led naturally to self worth and dignity. Two concepts which have been lost in today's selfish consumer driven society.

This easy access to money, this unadulterated borrowing, this embracing of wealth at any cost, this greed, forced simple things like affordable housing through the roof and has virtually killed the chance for any average earner to strive for a home of his own. Over inflated property prices has stifled ambition for our most worthy citizens. It seems like an unattainable goal, and yet the alternative of cheap rents are a thing of the past because landlords are generally greedy bastards. Children therefore stay longer in the nest, and parents invariably bear the brunt. In many cultures extended families live together where it is the norm. In Britain – in the West, the nuclear family has been assigned to the history books, and its fragmentation is reality.

Meanwhile the French are up in arms because they will have to work an extra two years to retire at 62. And we think we have problems! Whats their boeuf? Or is it all Coq au vin?

It will take more than a generation to fix our current problems, if at all. There needs to be a massive cultural sea change. Sadly we cannot return to the days of innocence and good intent of the 1940's when social welfare was an attainable reality. This brave new world has challenges which cannot be addressed by governments alone. Environment, over population and increasing demands on resources are just three other factors to add to the crazy puzzle which needs solving in the 21st century.

Man has done well to get this far, but his unique emotions of hope and faith may not be enough to get him much further. Still, we live in hope!

October 21, 2010 Posted by | Culture, Current Affairs, Dogs, Politics, United Kingdom | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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