Saturday, June 25, 2016

many fears, many priorities

The crisis that is making waves in the European Union (EU) is, and should be, a cautionary tale. The majority of the United Kingdom voted to cut its ties from the EU, thus, Brexit. For anyone still trying to wrap their heads around Brexit, here is something that might help.

The bottomline is this: This is what happens when fear, greed, selfishness, and the stubborn desire for “change” without even thinking of the implications and complications take over a nation and its people. After Duterte and this European rejection, Trump winning the future US elections would probably be the proverbial final nail in the coffin. That link above should be required reading for the young and the old. This must be everyone’s priority. This, again, is a cautionary tale.


Many are inclined to prefer the unreal because many fear and loathe facts, the searing sting of truth. Which is why, it seems to me, many still shrug off literature in the Philippines. Which is astoundingly ironic, with its national hero being a writer. Many still mistake literature as a lie, a bottle of time-killers one resorts to when nothing tickles his fancy. It’s as if it has never been treated to inform and to heal, to uplift and to unveil. If we go this route, this lie, well then literature does fabricate, but it is a fabrication that tells a greater truth. Far greater and immense than anyone could ever imagine. But, at least, we tried. The fictionists tried. The essayists tried. The poets tried. It is all about the trying.


For several years I’ve been searching for the first (or early) edition, short novel version of F.H. Batacan’s “Smaller and Smaller Circles”, a work that is widely regarded as the Philippines’ first crime and detective literature. I have searched for it in Manila, in Dumaguete, in Cebu, in my home province Bohol. None. It is initially printed way, way back in 2002 with limited copies, and learning that it would be translated into a movie soon is making me want it all the more. Its themes, its political miasma, to me are a timely companion to what the Philippines is experiencing right now. In a few days’ time, Digong will officially take charge of this country. So I badly needed this book. And last Thursday, something arrived in the mail. The book! With three other books! What a wonderful surprise. I am really grateful for people who understand the workings of my priorities. Thank you, dear friend.

Monday, June 13, 2016

hate is still here

At two in the morning in Orlando, Florida, a mass shooting took place inside a gay nightclub, leaving 50 dead and 53 wounded. These numbers may continue to rise, and this makes it all the more painful to learn that all of this happened during Pride Month.

This is a reminder for everyone in the LGBTQ community that “Pride” is not just about gym-fit men gyrating almost-naked in a parade or about an Instagram picture flaunting yourself in a floral Perry Ellis shirt. Pride is about solidarity, it is about overcoming the evils of this world, it is about educating people on acceptance, tolerance, and compassion.

The LGBTQ community has faced issues and violence many times through the years, but there’s nothing more sickening and terrifying than this mass shooting in recent memory. For a lone gunman to travel two hours to a very welcoming and accepting community, to murder innocent men and women, only highlights humanity is far from overcoming hatred.

And this hatred comes in many forms. Just last April, a high school classmate of mine mocked me publicly online for my understanding of bigotry, ironically going to the extent of quoting its dictionary definition for me to be truly enlightened. (I didn’t get his point.) And last February, a former classmate in college defended himself when I pointed out his rudeness and insulting attitude towards the gay community, even telling the world and I to “fuck my priorities.” Very classy, right? Whether we admit it or not, homophobia (and xenophobia) still exists in this time and age.

Hate does not only come in the form of bullets.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

whistles, bisaya, and debauchery

Just a few days ago, here is what a Gabriela representative said about Duterte’s catcalling, casual derogatory remarks, and overall bombastic behavior: “Ganun talaga mga Bisaya.” (People from the Visayas are just like that).

For the record, friends and loved ones, not all Bisaya people speak and behave the same way as P-Gong. Don’t let this tarnish the rest of the kabisayaan. And shame on you, Gabriela. The hero you should be emulating—Gabriela Silang—must be rolling in her grave right now.

Sexual harassment is no laughing matter. More so something that you should not just shrug off or dismiss to get your next shot of tequila. Such callous response to catcalling, especially for a women’s organization, is disheartening and worthy of a thousand face-palms. I mean, seriously, when will people ever understand that sexual harassment is not only limited to a penis forcefully entering a vagina or a finger ramming into a butt-hole? Kelan pa ba?

As expected, P-Going justified that his whistling was mere appreciation of the GMA-7 reporter’s beauty—which is usually the excuse of people finishing two bottles of Tanduay Rhum in the nearest sari-sari store at two in the afternoon. Note: I am almost close to coming into conclusion that this guy is incapable of owning up to his mistakes.

But here’s the thing that most people fail to understand: if the whistling is uncalled for and the woman (or even man) feels uncomfortable, harassed, embarrassed, or unsafe, then that is sexual harassment. It’s as simple as that. And if one cannot understand or refuse to understand this explanation, then one is a contributor to sexism and a whole host of problems in this country. One legitimizes harassment or pambabastos in the guise of “appreciating beauty.” I find this really quite strange because P-Gong actually has this ordinance in Davao City that mandates catcalling is punishable. Astig, right? Breaking the law that you personally passed? What an irony.

When it also comes to being Bisaya, here’s another concern. I am neither from Manila nor from Davao (I’m a Bol-anon through and through), but I have every right to speak up and challenge such generalizations. That is why I find it really naive and primitive for some people to laugh at those who critique the president-elect and suggest to these critics to “move on” or “just chill.” Move on, you say? Remain silent while the chaos before you is gradually draining the life and future of your country?

Based on personal observation alone, those who usually do not challenge or ask the questions are those who know nothing at all. I love the Philippines. So if your sole recommendation is to simply “chill” and “move on”, then that only shows how comfortable you are living in your luxurious cocoon of indifference and ignorance. Congratulations, mate! Live your life in the next pub crawl or with that slice of cake while your whole nation crumbles!

A few mornings ago, someone on my Facebook account cries out that P-Gong’s manner is just a way of countering the debauchery of the faulty institutions and oligarchs of this country, that his critics should thank him instead because he has brought these problems to public discourse.

Right then and there, I recognize the glaring problem. These institutions may have faults (all institutions have faults, actually), but this is no excuse to have such brazen and thoughtless display of misogyny, bigotry, sexism, and the lack of common sense. Just because he has done something right on one particular matter, it doesn’t mean he has free pass on doing whatever he wants, trampling on someone’s decency and respect. You can never clean up a roomful of junk with just a paper towel in an instant.

I also beg to disagree that we are only having this discourse right now and that people have been unquestioning of these institutions. That is pretty insulting to those who are having this discourse since God knows when. The only difference right now, maybe out of a miracle or blind fanaticism, is that all of a sudden the majority of the people just keep on praising and clamoring for whatever comes out of P-Gong’s mouth.

Time and time again, I’ve always been bringing up this common problem of the Filipino mentality: We only want to see what we wanted to see, hear what we wanted to hear. Nothing short of selective.

Debauchery, you say? How about being a womanizer? A self-identified murderer? A Marcos apologist and sympathizer? An Arroyo-enabler? A historical revisionist? The moral decline and influence? There are worse things, yes, and these are a few of them. If his unrefined manner is a way countering the debauchery of those faulty institutions and faulty oligarchs, then he is just as good as the people he is challenging. Oh, and speaking of oligarchs, having mostly friends and classmates as his cabinet secretaries?

What an irony.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

wait and see

“Wait and see...”

I’ve been receiving and reading this statement online and offline whenever President-elect Rodrigo Duterte spits out something from his mouth, something that’s highly questionable and just straight-out silly.

This, perhaps, is the lamest, senseless, and laziest excuse I’ve received in a long, long while. Let me give you something to reflect on: When you see a thug who is about to stab an old lady with a knife, do you “wait and see”? When you find out your boyfriend is cheating on you, do you just “wait and see”? When you encounter a man having seizures on the floor, do you simply “wait and see”? When you chance upon a burning house in the neighborhood, do you just “wait and see”? When you discover your child with an arrow pierced through his chest, can you just “wait and see”?

You see, when problems start springing up right before you in plain sight, you can never ever just “wait and see.” Common sense dictates that you need to do something—quickly. Or else, brace yourselves for the consequences of your own decision-making. Finally, do you know how cancer spreads so fast and easily? It's ignoring the first signs of symptoms.

When being critical calls for it, warts and all, then criticism is highly needed no matter who you are. Just because a particular criticism is not good to hear, it doesn’t mean it is not supposed to be heard. This is the problem with the Filipino mentality: we only see what we only want to see.

But when it comes to the truth, being deaf and blind are the least of things we needed to be. What is worse than “wait and see”? These remarks…

“Andameng sinasabi!” 
“Feeling political analyst!” 
“Eh di ikaw na matalino!” 
“Tumakbo kang pangulo!” 
“So ikaw na magaling!” 
“Andame mong alam” 
“F*ck your priorities!” 
“Shut up!”

Just like a scene out of an abusive relationship, noh? Ironically, in the information age, these are the things people say when they have ultimately nothing else to say. There will never be a time that I would stoop to the level of these people, but honestly, nakakabobo lang talaga. Guys, these do not really contribute to the discourse on hand. It’s what you call smart-shaming. We will never learn from our mistakes if we never even try to learn. Let this positive change that we have all been wanting to truly happen. Let it begin now—especially within ourselves.