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Beauty and the politician at Kapihan sa Diamond

/ 10:34 PM October 25, 2011

At the Kapihan Sa Manila at the Diamond Hotel last Monday, it was a case of beauty and the…well, not beast actually, but politician, which, some people will swear, is almost the same. Anyway, the guests were Miss Universe Margie Moran, who talked about ballet, being president of the 42-year-old Ballet Philippines, and Muslim leader Makabangkit Lanto, who talked about the Muslim problem. Lanto was ambassador to Egypt and Sudan, as well as former congressman for Lanao del Norte, and is now one of the candidates for appointment as officer in charge of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Miss Moran talked about ballet and Ballet Philippines, the resident ballet group of the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), and how it is presenting both classical ballet and ballet derived from ethnic dances.

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She also lamented the lack of support for and appreciation by the government on the arts, ballet in particular.

“A second runner-up in a beauty contest was feted at Malacañang,” she said, “but the silver medalist in an international ballet competition, Ballet Philippines’ own prima ballerina, was forgotten.”

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She urged the government to emphasize education in the arts. Arts education makes a child smarter, she said, and there is scientific proof for this.

According to a scientific paper of Dana Foundation, there is a correlation between academic intelligence and exposure to the arts. To this end, Ballet Philippines has given thousands of public schoolchildren a chance to watch its ballet performances.

“One performance won’t make these students math geniuses at once,” Miss Moran said, “but our performances have uplifted and enriched these children no game show on TV ever will.”

The scientific study, “Learning, the Arts and the Brain,” took three years and the collective efforts of neuroscientists from seven universities across America to grapple with one question:

“How does art training relate to higher academic performance? Are smart people drawn to the arts or does art training make people smarter?”

Their conclusion: “Children motivated in the arts develop attention skills and strategies for memory retrieval that also apply to other subject areas.”

What the latest scientific studies really prove is our timeless conviction…that a well-rounded aducation makes for balanced and well-rounded productive members of society, said a flyer of Ballet Philippines.

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On the Muslim problem, exacerbated by the recent ambushes in Basilan and Zamboanga Sibugay in which more than a score of soldiers were killed, Makabangkit Lanto said that an all-out war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) won’t solve the problem. He supported President Aquino’s stand against an all-out war.

“History tells us that a just and lasting peace could only be attained through the negotiating table, not through the barrel of a gun,” Lanto said. An “all-out war policy would only worsen the decades-old conflict in Southern Philippines.”

But he pointed out that the government’s resolve to pursue peace in Mindanao should not be mistaken as a sign of weakness.

“The high road to peace that President Aquino is taking should include a relentless effort to enforce the rule of law and wage an all-out campaign against lawless elements such as Abu Sayyaf bandits and MILF renegades,” he said.

“We must give justice to the brave and noble soldiers who gave up their lives in the service of the nation,” he added. “The cause of justice must be served even as we tirelessly pursue peace.”

Asked what he would do to solve the problem if he is appointed OIC of the ARMM, Lanto said he would launch a campaign against loose firearms and cleanse the voters’ list “to reform the tarnished image of the election process in the region.”

He also said he would “eradicate graft and corruption, strengthen government institutions such as the Commission on Audit (COA) and the Civil Service Commission (CSC), dismantle private armies and support the ongoing peace process with the MILF.” All motherhood statements, if you ask me.

“We all know that ARMM was the milking cow of unscrupulous traditional politicians in the past,” Lanto lamented. “There is the perception that a government position in the ARMM is the best shortcut to wealth because of unabated abuse, nepotism as well as massive graft and corruption. Now is the time to put a stop to this scandalous culture of impunity.”

Beauty queen Margie Moran is also conversant with what is happening in Mindanao and threw her support behind the President’s efforts to pursue peace in the region through negotiation.

“We have been negotiating with the rebels for the last four decades, and there’s no end in sight and our soldiers keep dying. What will you do if the ambushes against the troops continue?” Lanto was asked.

His answer: “Continue negotiating. The road to peace is long and arduous. It is neither easy nor simple.”

Newspaper reports have listed Lanto, Mujiv Hataman of Basilan, Gov. Ismael Mangundadatu of Maguindanao, Ali Sanchez, Saidamen Pangarungan, Dimas Pundato, Norma Sherief and Eid Kabalu, former MILF spokesman, as the contenders being considered by President Aquino for appointment as OIC for ARMM.

Lanto has the best academic qualifications of them all.

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TAGS: ARMM, arts, ballet, featured columns, makabangkit lanto, margie moran, MILF, opinion, peace process
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