Saturday, February 27, 2016

too manny to mention

Several days have already passed since we’ve first heard Manny Pacquaio’s now infamous opinion on same-sex marriage which is, by extension, an opinion on homosexuality. It’s easy to read that between the lines. The furor over his remarks is a little downplayed now on social media and local television. But the fire is still burning.

“Mas masahol pa sa hayop.” Worse than animals. This is what Manny Pacquaio said when asked about his stance on gays and same-sex marriage. Clearly, the man does not know anything about the animal kingdom. Look at the penguins, Manny. Check out the seahorses, too, Manny.

Pacquaio’s views on same-sex marriage and the LGBTQ community in general is not just an opinion. It is pure hate masked in religiosity, a faith blinded by scripture that is taken too literally. I mean, who in the right mind would think that anyone who does not match his principles is someone of lesser value? I have to say that Pacquaio just ruined the true meaning of Christianity.

There is a name for that. It’s bigot. Look it up in the dictionary. Also, check hypocrite.

As congressman who is consistently absent in the House of Representatives, has passed no bill or law, has worked so pretentiously on his image to become a Filipino hero, or basically has done nothing to improve our political conditions, now let us ask ourselves: What’s worse, a gay man’s union with another man or a man as stubborn, useless, and irresponsible as Pacquiao?

Of course, his supporters are quick to defend. They are even up in arms when Nike cuts its ties with Pacquaio, as if these guys can never accept the reality that everything one does has its corresponding consequence. Even if you are a has-been boxing champ. It’s actually as simple as Newton’s Third Law of Motion. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. If you cannot take full responsibility of your actions, then it is high time that you grow up.

But, no, Manny’s defenders will never grow up. “It was just an opinion!” they would cry. “Everybody has the right to say their opinion!” Now, I’ll get this straight to the point. I am awfully tired of this excuse that I’d rather quote a statement from Filipino artist Gerry Alanguilan: “Hey, everyone’s got a stupid opinion. I’ve got one. You’ve got one. Politicians can have one. The problem with politicians is that their stupid opinions can become policy. And that I have a problem with.”

Big problem, indeed. And on his Instagram account, Pacquaio continues to post bible verses that suggest gay people should be put to death. Hay naku, Manny. For everyone’s sake, let’s get ourselves educated again with this book that every religious person and hypocrite alike loves to brandish in our faces.

The bible has enumerated some laws, and these laws are only supremely viable in the era these are written. One of these laws is a verse in the book of Leviticus that mentions a man sleeping with another man (that’s sex, to put it bluntly) being a grave sin. Yes, it is in the holy book. But this is the part wherein most people fail to understand and remember: historical context.

Human population before is not as overwhelming as we have right now. Overpopulation is clearly not their problem. That is why to ensure a family’s bloodline or a community’s heritage through the years, it is highly important for all to conceive and raise kids as much as they can. And since man cannot biologically conceive a child with another man, therefore, hitting the sack and banging the night away with the same sex is pointless.

Still with me? Now that’s the thing with historical context that most of our rabid religious friends will never acknowledge. Because if we do not apply the historical context of the bible, implementing every written law in it, then all of us are doomed and bound to hell. Because, you should know, the divine scripture also states that we must never eat anything with scales and fins that come from the sea, we should never wear gold, we cannot have tattoos or piercings, we cannot braid our hair, women should never speak in church, and many, many more.

And yet, once this historical context is pointed out, the bigots are quicker to change the topic. That is why in the wake of this sports icon’s blunder, it is troubling and painful to learn that more and more people are still peeking out of their caves to dismiss the concerns and welfare of the LGBTQ community because there are other “important” matters to think of. There are some family members and “friends” who proudly proclaim they can love the sinner but hate the sin. Dear, that is the most pointless and heartless way of showing your concern. Here, take this necklace with a bling that says “Former Friend of Fred.”

Worse are some people who resort to shaming and insults. There’s this person who is accusing me of being overly sensitive and over reacting about human rights, and suggesting that we better talk about China’s missiles instead. This is so difficult to fathom. Because when it comes to human rights, shouldn’t anyone’s universal and default reaction be sensitive? It’s human rights we’re talking here, not some paper clip! Without human rights, your mother can be raped, your little brother can work as a slave in a factory, your father can be kidnapped for sex trade, or your first-degree cousin can be put to death anytime by anyone. Of course, my sensitivity on matters such as my dignity and rights should be on hyper-drive. If there’s just a Baygon for hypocrites and empty-heads, I’d buy it in bulk. As in boxes. Isang spray ka lang. Pak!

You see, I’ve been insulted many times before and today. Some are bearable while some are just too violent to share even to your closest friends. “Hambog, weird, lami birahan” just to name a few. These have happened in the workplace, in school, even in places where such labeling unlikely strikes. What’s scary is that some people could lash out without understanding my side of things. If I respond to their words, they reveal their claws and lash out even more. It’s frustrating, it’s tiring. And if it’s my turn to respond with a measured act that counters the seriousness of their offense, they cry out and instantly take the role of a “victim.” I am too old for this vicious cycle of bullying, and I think I can handle anything that comes my way. But sometimes, it’s just too much. If one crosses the line, all I can do is just to remind anyone that, “Hey, that’s not right.” It always pains me to remind people of this.

Pacquaio’s remarks did create a divide in my life. And with all honesty, it is traumatic. Although it is hard, with the number of heartbreak increasing whenever I discover someone I know and respect has bigoted views about the LGBT community, I am still thankful that all of this happened. It is truly in the darkest, most painful episode in life that you will know who your real friends and comrades are. Through this ordeal, suddenly, I have been united with my truest allies. I am so jubilant to learn I have some people who’d always have my back.

Now here’s the thing: Each day is a struggle for anyone who is living on this earth, regardless of gender or orientation, age or class. That is why if we simply accept the core values of all forms of spirituality in all kinds of religion, we will learn (soon, hopefully) that respect, compassion, and love are all we ever need to make things a little bit better. Love, above everything else.

And as a reminder, let us learn from our mistakes, and start growing up from there.

[ illustration by Rob Cham ].

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