the gapanese invasion is nigh!

"pinakamaganda ka nga sa buong kapuluan, pero latina na naman ang magwawagi ng korona at sash sa miss world! racism ba ito? lupasay!"

Thursday, March 29, 2007

the film as reflection

Films that focus on the process of production inquire about themselves and, generally, the cinematic institution the extent to which films are commodified. Ever since entertainment came to mean mass entertainment, even films became bedeviled by capitalism. Each production is funded and that being so, it has to do well at the tills in order to make returns on investment lest a non-entertaining production flops and the production may lack break-even returns. This implies that productions solely devoted to artwork may be found too eccentric to popular taste and, eventually, fail to attract viewers. Productions, then, cannot venture into experimentations as they need to appease only that which draws in an audience. The productions’ dependency on the demands of the viewers will stunt the artistic and creative growth of people behind production and entertainment will always be tied up to the requirement of raking in money more than committing the production into art.
8 ½ and Hollywood Ending, both self-reflexive films, are valuable to watch because they can somehow push the limitation of films as primarily committed to earning money. This is because the considerable experimentation self-reflexive films do to themselves is an artistic process, and yet these films can sometimes join the mainstream of films fueled by mass entertainment objective. They do not necessarily sacrifice art for lone entertainment value, although I do not have an idea whether these films did well at the box-office. Still, by the fact that they are produced with all their unconventional trends, the producers have willingly taken the risk of producing alternatives to movies today that are mostly no more than visual feasts. 8 ½ is about a womanizing director suddenly struck by an artist’s block. No matter how he tries, he cannot engage himself to create a film. This seeming pointlessness is the very point of Director Federico Fellini’s film: that even nothing may be a material to a genuine artist. It might have occurred to Fellini that even geniuses like directors may be endangered from creative barrenness, and in turning to the story of a director experiencing difficulty in the process of production, he was able to produce 8 ½. In another case, Hollywood Ending is also about a director with optical disability. It became a challenge for him to show how he envisions a film despite his visual impairment. This non-traditional plot is so removed from the those of the dominant genres we are exposed to and pay to watch. Even so, it was produced because it has a statement to tell: that reflexive films are a step ahead of the mainstream movies in that they are already nitelligently commenting on film whereas the rest are still trapped commenting on the overly-explored world at-large.
The “let’s put on a show” plot in several musicals is a movie within a movie and as such, a musical number is not only comparable to the film containing it as an artistic or creative process but also considerable as self-reflexive. A film within a film is one of the trends of self-reflexive films; that being the case, the production of songs and dances is a separate world altogether from the larger universe that is the mother film. The show to be put on is a distraction from the narrative; it is entirely removed from the plot and is a plot all its own, only less imperfect since the songs and the dances are choreographed. The production of a musical undergoes an artistic or creative process since every step of a dance or every line to be sung is a product of artistry or creativity. The musical as an inherently reflexive genre shares the same characteristics with films as being acted (since choreographed) and as being projected as an entertainment fare (since amusing to the audience). The reference to the entertainment industry makes any musical an agent of the post-industrial notion of entertainment as a commodity that must really entertain to become a box-office hit.
Jane Feuer’s “The Self-Reflexive Musical and the Myth of Entertainment” presents the ideas informing musicals with myths of spontaneity, integration and audience. The myth of spontaneity refers to things that are unrehearsed or natural, such as every instance wherein spontaneous and energetic singing in Singin’ in the Rain comes about all of a sudden in direct rupture of the plot. The episode of “Moses Supposes” best exemplifies this point in the film: Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor employs room furnishings and tools to create a dance. This is one type of an array of prodcution numbers wherein performers make use of properties within reach but may be intended for other purposes but for this particular movie end, to create the imagined universe of the musical number. In “Moses Supposes,” the room furnishings and tools were placesd there but other than for Kelly and O’Connor to dance with but used anyway since they form the material out of which the imaginary production number may be realized. Without props at-hand, they can just simulate props employing their very body as tools, just like in mimes.
As for the myth of integration, it refers to the interrelation with personal achievement with successful performances. The character of Debbie Reynolds is a starlet that’s the closest brush with fame is being the secret beloved of Gene Kelly. She cannot come out because that will ruin the onscreen romance between Kelly and Jean Hagen, who is obsessed with Kelly. However, she strikes double compensation when the scheming Hagen fails to carry the sabotage, and on the premiere night Hagen is asked to perform live before an audience, it is Reynolds who is exposed from the curtains she is kept, and is publicly revealed as the true love of Kelly. In the process, her revealed singing performance makes her a star in her own right.
As for the myth of audience, the successful performance answers a certain need of the audience. In the aforementioned singing revelation scene, it is only belated that the audience knows who the real singer is. Before that, the audience is made to believe that Hagen does not have an understudy because she dubs her own songs. The singing performance of Reynolds, finally exposed to the public, responds to the audience’ need for truth: that it is she, not Hagen, who is the real star.
Richard Dyer’s “Entertainment and Utopia” asserts that there is a utopian mechanism in musicals. He says that the narrative development is postponed so a utopian song or dance may emerge. When Kelly gets to kiss Reynolds as a proof of his requited love, he breaks into a dance almost in synch with the precipitation of the rain. He dances like crazy to the tune of “I’m Singing in the Rain,” a production number that postpones the logical progression of the narrative. The song and dance mark the opposition between the narrative and the utopian act or between the normal world (the plot) and that of a different order (the song and dance). The idea of utopia in musicals determines a feeling, an effect of utopia rather than the world as we know it: bound by laws and rules. When Kelly proceeds in his dancing even at the presence of a cop, Dyer has proven his point that the feeling that is a utopian effect on the lovestruck Kelly matters more than the normal, legal world Kelly and Reynolds inhabit.
Of the films screened in class, I like Gods and Monsters for the message it delivers: that there is a god in every artist. The structure and substance behind this film as well as all manifestations of the arts portray the genius that the artist is. The director, being the Supreme Being behind the film, possesses the freedom to create what he has in mind, and can pull it off especially for arts’ sake. The actors, while merely players, have the same liberation to interpret their roles. As such, an artist oozes with originality, and this is shown in Gods and Monsters. The abovementioned film tell that the artistic process is the making of a genius. It is the most salient form of man’s use of his God-given talent. In a loose extent, man practices his godlikeness whenever he engages in the artistic process. In Gods and Monsters, the artistic process remains generally vivid to the gay director despite the onslaught of age, which says so much of the genius that Whale was notwithstanding the silver hair.
Gods and Monsters is an artwork that refers to itself as an artwork; it describes itself as reflexive. It is self-aware, and therefore concerned with examining its very mechanisms more than the outside world. Films in particular become conscious of themselves as unweaving before an audience, as being acted, treated and directed, as being captured in celluloid, as being projected in silver screen. The film exemplifies reflexivity that showcases the manners of its construction and that the audience like us notices as self-referential.
While watching Gods and Monsters, the cinematic devices used informed me of the fact that I am watching a film. For one, the film played with genuine fiction. In the film, real-life homosexual director James Whale was shown to be the god of his filmmaking career. To go with his godness, the aging Whale was still active despite attacks of strokes. His time of shining in Hollywood was marked by absolute freedom as a creative worker, producing films that were unforgettable. At the forefront of these films were Frankenstein and Bride of Frankstein, which obtained life after creation, much like when the Frankenstein monster acquired life after a triumphant operation by Vincent Frankenstein. When people interpreted his movie, their reactions range from amusement to horror to ludicrousness, but what was important was that the artist as God was able to transmit his message in his films through the intercession of the monster.
The mise-en-abyme or frame within the frame is another device used in Gods and Monsters. This is true to the production of Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein, which are real-life productions of Whale. These films within the film fit the idea of frame-within-the-frame. What’s more with these mise-en-abyme, they acquired a characteristic independent of their own creation: they have become immortal by virtue of their unforgettable status.
When a film bends back on to show its status as a mere media construct, the text that it is establish that it is authored and produced. Therefore, it is a representation. To know that Gods and Monsters is a representative reflexivity destroys the illusion of life and, thus, makes art seem more lifelike than expected. For this characteristic, I deem it the best example of self-reflexive cinema.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

film: a simulation of life

Films with the production process as central purpose ask questions (about themselves and the cinematic institution in general) which read thus: (1) At what point does the production process start and finish? (2) For whose purpose are films produced? (3) When does a film begin to be aware of its production? These three questions are integral to the fact that all films are necessary productions. Question one is asked in order to determine the beginning and end (if it ever does) of the production cycle. Next, question two is asked in order to determine the beneficiary of the film production. Finally, question three is asked to relate production with self-reflexivity, two concepts which touch the ground of film criticism.
Watching films like 8 ½ and Hollywood Ending serves the purpose of presenting the artistic process as a struggle from which one must be able to untangle himself. Director Guido’s exertion of effort to liberate himself from being dried up temporarily or permanently is one such manifestation of that struggle, but the film director himself joyfully indulges in the fact that he is unlike his character in that his creative makeup is not dysfunctional, proven by the production of 8 ½.. On the other side, the blind director Woody Allen played in Hollywood Ending is also trapped in the same struggle of the artistic process: he must be able to let himself loose from the debilitating lack of literal vision by translating his figurative vision into a film.
More importantly, watching self-reflexive films is a break from and an opposition of the mainstream cinema being patronized today. It is valuable to have a break from mainstream cinema because the type of films being produced lately are mostly commercially-driven, with little or no concern at all to the insights and values that our currently troubled world so badly needs. It is also valuable to counter mainstream cinema because some movies produced recently have become an insult to our sensibilities, if not to our identities, i.e. the racist issues in 300, or the plain commercial adaptation of the Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah (both films, by the way, are originally in graphic novel form). The viewing world needs intelligent films that provoke its thinking, and watching self-reflexive films serves the purpose by making the audience recognize the films’ self-consciousness and commentaries on the society for which they are produced, especially on the film making society that created them. While some self-reflexive films indeed get into the mainstream, movies with major or sole consideration for becoming blockbusters almost always win over the former. The audience’s taste does not get any better, sending the message that it does not deserve anything other than being spoonfed with unoriginal ideas or gratifying the shallow fascination for the surface level. The audience can be intelligent because it is intelligent, and watching reflexive cinema is one manifestation of that intellect.
Whenever parts of films suddenly erupt into a riotous dance or into a heartbreaking song, the “let’s put on a show” plot emerges. Yes, the artistic or creative process involved in the musical production number makes the latter a film within a larger film. As such, it is agreeable that the musical is self-reflexive. This self-awareness is most prevalent with the number’s obsession to entertain in such a way that it promotes its entertainment value. More than that, the musical is usually about the production of entertainment. This creative process of entertainment production is, according to film critic Jane Feuer, conducted through “creation and erasure.” This label has it that one practice is overwritten by the operation of another. “creation and erasure” happens in the musical at various levels surrounding form and expresion. At the “micro” level, a created effect may be cancelled by that of another process, referred herein as “erasure.” This “micro” level of creation for erasure is best illustrated by the example of the manner rehearsals are passed off as final products. With regards, though, to the naturalization of the practices of mass entertainment (or a capitalistic product as opposed to mere entertainment which is a pre-industrial product), it is at the “macro” level that creation and erasure apparently work. The snippets of actual rock performances in 24-Hour Party People, for instance, mask the non-choreography of the rehearsals made for these real snatches. Song-and-dance numbers in Singin’ in the Rain, for instance, show awareness of themselves as being created since they were at first choreographed and then taken for finished products, the difficulty of working for the songs and dances having been masked.
Apart from “creation and erasure,” Jane Feuer argues that the MGM “Golden Era” musicals perform for the musical film and, eventually, surviving the myths of entertainment. There is the myth of integration, which suggests that attaining personal fulfillment and performance are interconnected. There is also the myth of spontaneity, which suggests that musical performance is natural, without motivating work. Entertainment, therefore, dissolves the dichotomy separating art and life. The first myth is exemplified in the musical Singin’ in the Rain wherein Don Lockwood sees the opening number of his film in a dream-like sequence. When finally the actual performance unreeled, his satisfaction refelcted the phenomenal success of his film. The other myth is exemplified when after sealing the attraction between him and Kathy Selden with the regular romantic resolution that is the hollywood kiss, Don Lockwood starts to sing in the rain. He expertly moves his feet through the rain using his umbrella, becomes soak but loving it, gets apprehended by a police but never minds it. This complusion to sing-and-dance is the myth of spontaneity that is a staple of musical genre.
On the other hand, Richard Dyer uses musicals to raise the argument that entertainment functions as escapism by offering better images denied to us by our daily lives. He proceeds to suggest that utopian sensibilities like abundance, energy, intensity, transparency and community, all of which are built-in traits in musical entertainment suffice for the particular shortcomings in the society. In ealborating the ideas of Dyer, the film Singin’ in the Rain will be used as a point of application. The first highlighted sensibility, energy, is defined by Dyer as the “capacity to act vigorously; human power, activity, potential. The seeming tirelessness of Don in dancing right aftere a cloudburst defies the fact that during the actor Gene Kelly’s performance, he was socrching with a 103o fever. From the fromt door, he strolls down the two blocks of street passing shop windows of a pharmacy, studio, bookstore and school. He leaps onto a sidewalk and swirls around a lamppost with an outstretched hand holding a folded-up umbrella. He dances further in the cobbled streets like his energy is not extinguished by the big day before. The second highlighted sensibility, abundance, is defined by Dyer as “conquest of scarcity, having enough to spare without sense of poverty of others; enjoyment of sensuous material reality.” When the producer of the film realized the inevitability of the onslaught of talkies, he had onscreen sweethearts Don and Lina prepare to adjust for the changes. The disastrous costume film will transform into a musical, a manifestation of the abundance of ideas to be taken in order to make the film a success. The third highlighted sensibility, intensity, is defined by Dyer as “experiencing of emotion, directly, fully, unambiguously, ‘authentically,’ without holding back…[it is] the capacity of entertainment to present either complex or unpleasant feelings in a way that makes them seem uncomplicated, direct and vivid, not ‘qualified’ or ‘ambiguous’ as day-to-day life makes them.” When Kathy and Don make their historic kiss at the doorstep, Don bursts into a dance in the rain complete with the umbrella and the slide on the street lamp. That is to show how intense the feeling is of Don toward Kathy that he is moved into dancing and singing in the rain. The fourth highlighted sensibility, transparency, is defined by Dyer as “a quality of relationships between represented characters e.g. true love […] sincerity.” In the film, Lina Lamont’s voice is a screechy one with a distracting New Yorker accent, so they hired Don Lockwood’s love interest, the dancer Kathy Selden to dub Lina’s lines. Lina has an unrequited love for Don, and is jealous over Kathy. The onscreen romance between Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont was soon discovered as a hoax when in the premiere night of their film, Lina was requested to sing live but Kathy, revealed behind the curtain, was seen by the fans to be singing in Lina’s behalf. The true love between don and Kathy was made transparent. The last but not the least highlighted sensibility, community, is defined by Dyer as “togetherness, sense of belonging, network of phatic relationships (i.e. those in which communication is for its own sake rather than its message.” When finally it is known that Kathy sings for Lina, Don begins to sing to her “You Are My Lucky Star.” Tears streaming in her eyes, Lina proceeds to the stage while Don reaches out to her until they finish singing together and embrace. Ultimately, the off-screen lovers now belong to one another and Kathy’s stardom now belongs to her.
Of the self-reflexive films screened in class, I admire Shadow of the Vampire by E. Elias Merhige because it shows how an artist is willing to commit sacrifices for art’s sake. Similar to other artforms, filmmaking is rigorous so that the finished product, one done out of labor of love, is always treated as a masterpiece whether or not that product lives up to the claim. In the film, director F. W. Murnau proceeds into employing a real-life vampire in his horror film-in-progress, Nosferatu. The director is so serious in capturing verisimilitude in film that he is ready to take the risk of feeding his entire crew to the vampire, as befits the latter. His sacrifice gets his due, for the director attains his artistic purpose of immortalization through his art, although the sacrifice went overboard when not only his crew was victimized but also his own humanity. This film’s take on the artistic process as a glorious road paved with hardships is evident and admirable.
Shadow of the Vampire’s calling of attention to itself shatters the division between real life and illusion. I am made aware that I am just watching a film, for its work and technology (i.e. the cameras) are not concealed. The bloodbath becomes true (and its subjects are the crew members working on the film), and it’s because a real vampire is hired to act on the film. Are we watching a film or a supernatural version of cannibalism? We also have two non-conventional film characters: the camera that records the events, and the audience, i.e. me who participates in the creative process in my capacity as the thinker, the feeler and the viewer of the thinking, feeling and viewing characters of the reflexive film. I am made to understand how the director really has to be faithful to his craft by keeping the voracious vampire, although in “ordinary” circumstances, I will abhor someone who offers people as victims. The film dismisses the plausible, as when a genuine vampire and not just a pretending vampire lands the acting role in the film within the film. It also alludes to the fictional work Nosferatu and its creator, F. W. Murnau, showing the advanced point of consciousness of itself as an intertext. All these trends of self-awareness are present in Shadow of the Vampire. For the confusion this reflexive film has raised about illusion and reality, it is truly outstanding.

Monday, March 26, 2007

of self-reflexivity, myths of entertainment, and utopia

There are various questions about self-reflexive films like “Shadows of the Vampire,” “Gods and Monsters,” “Being John Malkovich,” “Pleasantville,” and cinema in general regarding their form as production process. First of these questions is, “Does creativity equate productivity?” This question arises for it seems to me that as long as the creative imagination does not get sterile, there will always be films to produce. This question also begs to tell that the only death mentionable in the process of film production is the physical death of people involved, while cinema lingers on as new people engage in the organic cycle of production. The way the aforementioned films was produced was a twist in creativity: instead of films commenting on life, these are films that comment on themselves. Another question is, “Are the films an end to the production process in themselves?” for most films, when the credits roll, that is the signal that the film—thus, its production—is ended, but there are self-reflexive films that pretend to be ending but suddenly change their supposed ending. While the films screened in class did not exhibit this film-as-a-work-in-progress, I discovered some self-reflexive film that in their awareness of their film being produced, they literally turn to their script right in the filming to check if the ending was faithful to the original production. An example is the film “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” wherein the characters argue while the camera was rolling whether the ending should have Robin Hood lost an archery tournament to Prince John, only that he complained that the losing was not part of the script, which Robin produced from out of his costume. The film was conscious of itself as being produced, so its characters were likewise conscious of the parts, of the ending that not necessarily signals the ending of production itself.
In the name of reflexive cinema, it is valuable to watch films like “8 ½” and “Hollywood Ending” to assert the point that no disability should ever come in the way of production. Always and always, especially for the pure genius, a film may be created, giving us viewers the idea that everything may be mined, whether from life or from cinema itself. “8 ½” conveys the point that an artist’s block can become the whole point of a film, so a film director may not stake at validity if he/she uses the alibi that an artist’s block gets the better of him that’s why he cannot produce a film. Meanwhile, “Hollywood Ending” transmits the message that it does not take a pair of eyes to envision a film in current production. Even if the director is blind, that disability should not hinder him/her from projecting the movie the way his mind, not his eyes, visualizes it. Both films praise the many-splendored genius of the director, who has the natural talent for creating from something or, especially at this juncture of post-modernity, even from nothing.
Musicals, especially those that revolve around the plot of putting on a show, are indeed inherently reflexive. They are aware that they are supposed to be watched, so they exhibit production numbers. They show the process by which they can call themselves an illusion in order to reassure the importance of the illusion and necessity of entertainment. As they are, these musicals can be metaphors for the artistic or creative process. For instance, in “Singin’ in the Rain,” Don Lockwood (Gene Kelly) depicts to his surprised producer the extravagant finale this film star carries in his mind for his new movie. The production number, termed “Broadway Melody,” stars an excited young provincial who comes to New York, shrieking “Gotta dance!” and rising through the ladder of musical comedy to become a star, only to be left heartbroken by a nightclub attendant. Kelly does not picture it for the whole routine was exhibited, with its riotous collection of singers and dancers. The sequence is shown through various visual and dance styles of burlesque and ballet by Kelly and Charisse. After the big production, all that the producer says is that he cannot quite visualize the number so he has to see it on film. The whole sequence is a necessary comment on the power of cinematic imagination. Other self-reflexive comments by real and imagined musical comedy by “Singin’ in the Rain” include the sequence wherein that lavish production number was to be incorporated in a 1927 black-and-white film entitled “The Dancing Cavalier” but in living technicolor of 1952. The whole joke, of course, was a dream-like improbability. The more ambitious intention of the film was to comment on musical itself, tracing the history of Hollywood wherein the silent drama transformed into an ideal, comprehensive form of cinema: the MGM musical. The script itself was a comment on the development in film history, since the silent-screen pair of Lockwood and diva Lina Lamont was about to be displaced from their career with the coming of sound. One whole routine emerged out of a piece of a technological detail when there were tries to record voices in the studio. Another routine transformed a swordfight romance into a musical. Every opportunity to manifest intricate artful musicals was mined, such as in the scene wherein Kelly leads Reynolds on an abandoned sound stage and turns on switches to throw light on his beloved, was self-reflexive in that they continuously flaunts its art form. If only for “Singin’ in the Rain,” musical has the inescapable characteristic of self-reflexivity. The musical productions are all trends of the artistic and creative process in that each shows a perfect performance of sing and dance in between a narrative that is otherwise flawed for the plot conflict that must be resolved. They exhibit the significance of illusion of perfection with the perfect singing and dancing, on top of feeding the audience’ ultimate requirement of entertainment with the elaborate production numbers within the film.
Jane Feuer’s “The Self-Reflective Musical and the Myth of Entertainment” shows how self-reflexive MGM musicals of the 1950s flaunt their own value as entertainment. Meanwhile, they take away the mystery of bad, usually non-musical entertainment and also create myth out of musical entertainment by relating the musical with the myths of spontaneity, integration, and audience. The myth of spontaneity darkens the work of performance to imply that musical performance comes out of a joyful and responsive attitude toward life, and is available to everyone. With the myth of integration, successful performances are closely tied up with success in love, with the combination of high and low art, and with the assimilation of the individual into a community or group. The myth of audience implies that successful performance will be sensitive to the needs of the audience. “Singin’ in the Rain” fits the mold of these ideas by Feuer: it is a self-reflexive MGM musical in 1952, so unlike the “bad” movies that does not share its musical genre. More than that, its created myth of spontaneity sets the labor of performance secondary only to the musical performance of Kathy whose revelation as the true singing voice of Lina is a cause of celebration for the audience. The myth of integration was manifested when the premiere of the first talkie proved to be a tremendous success; it suggests that the romance between Lockwood and Kathy succeeded the leading lady’s sabotages. Finally, the successful performance of the test screening—Lockwood’s venture from silent movies into the world of talking pictures—responds to the audience’ necessity for development.
On the other hand, Richard Dyer’s “Entertainment and Utopia” takes into account the frequent dismissal of entertainment as “escape” and “wish-fulfillment” to imply that entertainment responds to the real needs of the society and offers that the musical puts forth a non-specific utopian vision—what it would feel like instead of how it would be organized. The musical fights off social flaws through utopian views like scarcity through abundance, exhaustion through energy, sluggishness through intensity, manipulation through transparency, and fragmentation through community. In which case, “24-Hour Party People” fits the entertainment and utopian picture in that it may be dismissed as just another biopic dedicated to the cannibalized themes of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll but in actuality, the director was brilliant enough to raise the musical standard by offering the viewers with an insightful and strong musical melodrama that may be wild but all the same fresh and informative. This label of entertainment, the director points out, is the very vision that must be achieved by our society: a 24-hour celebration (party) of life because despite the difficulties, the seeming meaninglessness of life, we humans manage to survive. The foremost social inadequacy that may be perceived in the film was the boredom musicals are unfairly associated with; in “24-Hour Party People,” the music is zesty, as if to say how very much alive is the biographical movie.
Strange and unrealistic it may be, “Being John Malkovich” is laudable for its rendition of reflexive cinema with extreme originality, especially in the light of present Hollywood productions which seem too obsessed with superficiality, i.e. special effects, superstar cast, to the detriment of the point being conveyed by art forms like film. In the film, the bankable Hollywood stars were deglamorized, the risks were taken in presenting a non-mainstream, abstruse film and, most importantly, it bounces on itself to make a comment that by ignoring this film, the viewing audience does not have enough maturity to decipher a difficult film and that by watching it, the viewing audience plunges in on a mockery that the film feels different because too many popcorn movies have assailed the audience’ sensibilities. Among the self-reflexive films screened, “Being John Malkovich” is an easy favorite of mine because of its exemplification of “allegories of spectatorship,” wherein I can say sway and identify the film the way I want to interpret it, so it can be social, psychological, religious, philosophical, any field I can align it with. Besides drawing parallel of this viewers’ control with Craig’s puppeteering, it seems to me now that as a self-reflexive film, “Being John Malkovich” comments on the dangerous puppeteering capacity of Hollywoodization over the people: viewers the world over are inexorably drawn to the current crop (or crap) of Hollywood movies that are mostly inferior in art form versus Euro films, but Hollywood does to the puppets that we are whatever it wants the outcome to be, which is to achieve box-office hit.
It is noteworthy too to comment on the recurring theme of escapism in “Being John Malkovich.” The entire length of the film showed an unsatisfied Craig longing to escape his plight. When he saw an opportunity to be someone rather superior in the embodiment of Hollywood actor John Malkovich, he instantly grabbed it and wished he could remain trapped in his body forever. As viewers of the film, the character of Craig is a mockery of our own streak of escapism in the form of film watching. About two hours of our lifetime, we are ushered inside the theater and into an entirely different world altogether. The movie we watch empowers us by making us forget the present cares of the world and by leading us into the world wherein a major problem gets neatly resolved in an hour or so. We escape the world of problems and through the film we watch, we encounter a utopian world so unlike the one we will again emerge to after the credits have rolled.
The self-reflexive film that is “Being John Malkovich” says so much about our own obsession to be somebody else just because we feel uncomfortable with our own selves. Similarly, the film is aware of itself as a production in that it could be some other film, an epic with gorgeous special effects and divine Hollywood superstars, but the greater need to be true to itself it has fulfilled first than the lesser need to be just beautiful and blockbuster, sacrificing artistry, creativity, the good and the true.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

to diet, not to die: facts and fallacies related to dieting

What is dieting all about? In nutrition, diet means the sum total of the food consumed by an organism or group. People do this deliberate selection of food to regulate their body weight or nutrient intake. The practice of ingesting food in a controlled fashion is always fueled by the achievement of a specific objective, and in most cases the goal is loss of weight. A minority such as certain athletes go on a diet to gain weight in the form of muscle while others doc dieting to maintain a stable body weight. There are several kinds of diet such as weight-loss diets and weight-gain diets but the most common dieting practices this paper will focus on include the popular South Beach Diet, Water Diet, Atkins Diet and plain exercise. As it involves human health, dieting is not without its posed risks, for there are some humans who are physically suffering because of the misconceptions that they have with the different dieting exercises.
Dieting not only involves controlling one’s food intake but it also involves other methods such as exercising and doing sports. Weight-loss diets limit the intake of particular foods, or food in general, to reduce body weight. What works to reduce body weight for one person will not necessarily work for another due to metabolic differences and lifestyle factors. Likewise, for a variety of reasons, most people find it very difficult to maintain significant weight loss over time. There is some thought that losing weight quickly may actually make it more difficult to maintain the loss over time. Meanwhile, there is more to dieting than just involves food; exercising is involved in dieting, too. Physical exercise is an important complement to dieting in securing weight loss. Aerobic exercise is also an important part of maintaining normal good health, especially the muscular strength of the heart. To be useful, aerobic exercise requires maintaining a target heart rate of above 50 percent of one’s resting heart rate for 30 minutes, at least 3 times a week. Brisk walking can accomplish this. There are also some easy ways for people to exercise, such as walking rather than driving, climbing stairs instead of taking elevators, doing more housework with fewer power tools, or parking their car farther and walking to school or to the office. Finally, sports can be a form of diet, too, for certain sports activities require key ingredients like carbohydrates, fluid and iron. Carbohydrates is a crucial fuel for exercise, drinking water is perfectly adequate in preventing dehydration that could be dangerous to health, and iron supplements in order to combat stresses of sports such as tiredness and poor recovery from the training.
People undergo diets to satisfy their own personal needs in life such as changing an unhealthy lifestyle so as to avoid getting diseases, entering a career that they want or simply just to feel good about themselves. Be them the ones who used to pig out on pork until they learned of the perils of coronary illnesses, or who are newly-promoted professional athletes, or who want to feel sexy despite the age, they are all fueled by the desire to be healthy hence the diet.
At this juncture, I will be talking about what the South beach diet is all about and what it has in store for the individual that practices it. I will then mention the misconceptions that people do with the diet that physically harms them. The South Beach diet was made by Dr. Arthur Agatston for his chronically overweight heart patients. Developed in Miami, Florida by the aforementioned cardiologist, the South Beach Diet stresses the consumption of “good carbs” or high in fiber for slower digestion and absorption and “good fats” or poly- or monounsaturated fats with omega-3 fatty acids for cardiac patients after Dr. Agatston’s study of scientific dieting research. The South Beach has three phases which are “the foods not to eat and foods to eat” phase, “foods to add back to your diet” phase and “maintaining the practice” phase.[1] In all the diet phases, the cardiologist recommends reducing consumption of bad fats. In the two-week Phase I, dieters try to eliminate insulin resistance by avoiding high or moderately high-glycemic carbohydrates like sugar, candy, bread, potatoes, fruits, cereals and grains. Phase II comes after two weeks, when whole grain foods and fruits are slowly returned to the diet, in smaller amounts and with continued stress on foods with decreased glycemic index. After the dieter achieves the desired weight, Phase III starts wherein the diet widens to include three servings of whole grains and three servings of fruit per day. The diet stresses a permanent alteration in one’s habit of eating, a range of foods, and ease and flexibility.
There are a number of benefits from a low-carb diet, such as “severely obese subjects receiving instruction on a carbohydrate restricted diet achieved greater weight loss by 6 months when compared to subjects receiving instruction on a low fat/calorie restricted diet.”[2] Also, “energy-restricted low-fat and very low-carbohydrate diets both significantly decreased several biomarkers of inflammation. These data suggest that in the short-term weight loss is primarily the driving force underlying the reductions in most of the inflammatory biomarkers.”[3] Another is that “there’s more and more evidence that many fats are good for us and actually reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. They also help our sugar and insulin metabolism and therefore contribute to our goal of long-term weight loss and weight maintenance.”[4] Lastly, Dr. Agatson himself claims, “I created the Diet to help my patients lower their levels of harmful cholesterol and triglycerides and to lower their risk of pre-diabetes (the condition that precedes full-blown type 2 diabetes and that has been linked to risk of heart attack and stroke.”[5]
However, the common misconceptions of these diets are that it is a low-carb diet and one must lessen food intake leading into the weakening of the body. South Beach is not a low-carb diet because it does not focus on the carbs present in the food but rather it is focused on what the food can do to your body. To begin with, in the first phase of the diet, water weight becomes the initial loss after carbohydrates get eliminated from the system.[6] “Consuming a high-fat diet for as little as five to ten days significantly alters the body fuel selection from carbohydrate to fat,”[7] which potentially weakens the body. Since people believed that South Beach diet is a low-carb diet, people tend to avoid carbohydrates but what they don’t know is that the body needs carbs for energy. Another danger is that “untested alternative weight loss diets, such as very low carbohydrate diets, have unsubstantiated efficacy and the potential to adversely affect cardiovascular risk factors.”[8] In yet another account, “very low carbohydrate diets are popular, yet little is known about their effects on blood lipids and other cardiovascular disease risk factors.”[9]
This time, I will be talking about the Water Diet and how it is done. I will also mention about the common misconceptions of individuals regarding this diet that leads them to physical suffering. The Water Diet was developed for cleansing the body of individuals because water carries nutrients to the cell thus cleansing our body. The Water Diet is done by taking in water every meal so that the nutrients contained in the food will then be distributed to the body. As it is, “Water plays an enormous role in how well our body functions. Simply put, the more fresh water we drink, the healthier we become. Weight loss can also be achieved by drinking the right amount of water daily.”[10] This heedless placement of importance in water resulted in “[s]everal novel water treatment products [appearing] on the market with claims to promote better health and to energize and purify the body by adding oxygen to water or by changing the molecular structure of water.”[11] Nevertheless, the common misconception here is that people believe that the water diet is all about drinking water thus leading to the unhealthiness of the individual because man cannot survive on water alone. Some drinking water get fouled by added minerals, fluoridation and chlorination. Furthermore, non-distilled water is impure and may contain contaminants that will harm the drinker’s body. Economically, water can offer disadvantage since bottled water, for one, can be an additional expense and is not sometimes not readily available. Moreso, some drinking water have indispensable metals and, worse, trapped bacteria that does not get effectively removed however treated.
I will be talking about the Atkins diet and how it is being practiced by people. I will also mention about the misconceptions of people regarding this diet and how it physically affects them. The Atkins diet was made by Dr. Robert C. Atkins telling individuals to take in less carbs in their meals. The Atkins diet is done by eliminating foods that have high carbs in them and only taking those that are low in carbs. It promises that not only will one lose weight and never feel hungry with a low-carb diet, but also inherit better heart health and memory function as well as other wellness benefits. It is based on the theory that obese people eat too many carbohydrates. The human body burn fat and carbohydrates for energy, although carbs get consumed first. By seriously limiting carbs and consuming more protein and fat, the human body naturally loses weight by burning stored body fat with more efficiency. On top of the weight-loss objective, Atkins dieters follow the diet for weight maintenance, good health and disease avoidance. It is good for diabetics in that “Short-term use of the Atkins diet in patients with type 2 diabetes caused weight loss due mainly to reduced calorie intake, improved insulin sensitivity and glycemic control and reduced plasma cholesterol and triglyceride levels.”[12] Likewise, “When relative energy intakes were similar, regardless of dietary macronutritional content, mean changes in weight anthropometric inidices were similar. These results suggest that an Atkins diet produces no more weight loss than an energy-matched LF diet.”[13]
Nonetheless, the misconceptions in this diet is that people are too concerned with taking foods that have few carbs that they don’t realize anymore that what they are eating is dangerous to their health. Other disadvantages of this diet include its very restrictive nature, tolerance of high consumption of saturated fats, and risks of bad breath, nausea and headaches particularly in the early period. By default, Atkins diet reduces many valuable nutrients. It also relies heavily upon proteins from meat, fish and dairy products. Therefore, it practically bars vegetarians from trying it. There are equal concerns about the effects of high levels and fat upon vital organs like the kidneys and the heart.
Finally, I will be talking about people who simply exercise and practice their own diets. In this part, there are a lot of misconceptions regarding dieting. Anyway, physical exercise is the performance of certain activities in order to enhance or sustain physical fitness and overall health. Frequently, it is directed toward polishing athletic ability or skill. Regular and frequent physical exercise is a vital component in the prevention of some diseases like heart disease, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity. Appropriate nutrition is as significant to health as exercise, When exercising, it becomes even more significant to have good diet to ensure the body possesses the accurate ratio of macronutrients while providing adequate micronutrients in order to aid the body wit the recovery process after a rigorous exercise.
Exercises are mainly classified into three types depending on the general effect they incur in the human body. First are flexibility exercises such as stretching which improves the range of movements of muscles and joints. Next are aerobic exercises like cycling, walking and running which center on upgrading cardiovascular endurance. Lastly, anaerobic exercises like weight training, functional training or sprinting which increases brief-term muscle strength.
This diet is the most common of all because it is not found in any books but can only be found in an individual. In this diet, each individual practices one’s own diet that one believes best suits one’s lifestyle. One of the benefits that may be had from exercise is its importance in the maintenance of physical fitness. Physical exercise contributes positively to the maintenance of a healthy weight; building and maintenance of healthy bone density, muscle strength and joint mobility; the promotion of physiological well-being; reduction of surgical dangers; the fortification of the immune system. Likewise, frequent and regular aerobic exercise has been able to help prevent and cure serious and life-threatening chronic conditions like high blood pressure, obesity., heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, insomnia and depression. Strength training seems to have constant energy-burning effects that recurs for about 1 day after the training, even as they do not offer the similar cardiovascular benefits of aerobic exercises. Exercise can also intensify energy and reduce one’s risks to pain. “Exercise is very useful for minimizing the 'plateau' effect of dieting, which occurs within a few weeks of starting a diet, as the body 'adjusts' to a lower calorie-intake.”[14] “If [caloric restricting program and energy expenditure program] factors were equal, exercise alone can be as effective as caloric restriction for weight loss.”[15]
The misconceptions in this form of dieting are that people tend to exaggerate it since they want fast results and some even risk their health to attain their goal. People tend to exaggerate this form of dieting by skipping meals and exercising too much, therefore endangering their health. People risk their health by going through drastic dieting such as not eating at all and taking pills so that they burn more fats without taking in any. The stress of exercise also creates a catabolic effect on the body—contractile proteins within muscles are burned for energy, carbohydrates and fats are likewise consumed and linking tissues are stressed. Excessive exercise can be harmful in that exercised body parts need at lease 24 hours of rest, which is the reason some health experts advise three times a week or every other day. Without appropriate rest, the chance of stroke or other circulation dilemmas increases, and muscle tissue may develop gradually. Improper exercise can do more harm than good. Many activities incur serious injuries with poorly regimented exercise schedules. Over-exercising, in desperate circumstances, creates serious performance loss. Sudden overexertion of muscles leads to damage to muscles seen most often in new army recruits. Overtraining is another danger wherein the intensity or volume of training surpasses the capacity of the body to recuperate from bouts. Halting excessive exercise abruptly can induce a swing in moods. Feeling of agitation and depression can happen when withdrawal from the natural endorphins generated from exercise occurs. Whereas one set of joints and muscles may have the tolerance to endure multiple marathons, another body may be damaged by half an hour of light jogging.
In conclusion, I will be summarizing all the diets and will question which diet would be the safest and most effective of all. I will also give recommendations on how to practice these diets better for a safer and more effective result. The cardiac patients’ consumption of good carbs and good fats in the South Beach diet may be well-intentioned, but the reduction of carb and the loss of weight water pose danger to the body by weakening it. Similarly, the Atkins diet which take away high carbs and patronize only low-carb also threaten the body with loss of energy due to the minimal consumption of energy-giving carb. Meanwhile, The intake of water each meal helps spread food nutrients around the body, which diet seem less harmful than the cut down of carb in the two previous diets. Ultimately, physical exercise that complement controlled food ingestion develops physical fitness and overall health, but with the necessary physical and related risks. Of these diets, the safest is apparently Water diet because it does not subject the body to torturous activities like the reduction of energy-supplying carbohydrates as in South Beach and Atkins diets, and the strenuous performance of the physique. This diet only entails the regular intake of water and the only major risk about it is if the water is contaminated.
Diet’s association to the welfare of human health makes it somewhat improbable to think that misconceptions about diet may have destructive results to the human body. However, it is imperative that whenever and whatever activities humans subject their bodies in, prudence should be practiced in order to avoid risks that may be fatal at its extreme. The body is the human cultural and spiritual temple, and the reason the mind is attached to it is to decide wisely the body’s best interest.

Agatston, Arthur, Ph. D. The South Beach Diet: Good Fats, Good Carbs Guide. London: Rodale, 2004.
Boden G., et al., “Effects of the Atkins Diet in Type 2 Diabetes: Metabolic Balance Studies.” 64th session of the American diabetes Association, June 8, 2004.
Brehm, B. J. et al., “A Randomized Trial Comparing a Very Low Carbohydrate Diet and a Calorie-Restricted Low Fat Diet on Body Weight and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Healthy Women,” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2003.
Foster, G. D., et al, “A Randomized Trial of a Low-Trial of a Low-Carbohydrate Diet for Obesity,” The New England Journal of Medicine, 2003.
Goedecke, J. H. et al., “Metabolic Adaptation to a High-Fat Diet in Endurance Cyclists,” Metabolism, 1999.
Ingram, Colin. The Drinking Water Book: How to Eliminate Harmful Toxins from Your Water. Berkeley: Celestial Arts, 2006.
Paez, Christina J. and Len Kravitz,
Sharman, M. J., et al., “Very Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat Diets Affect Fasting Lipids and Postprandial Lipemia Differently in Overweight Men,” Journal of Nutrition, 2004.
Sharman, M. J. and Volek, J. S., “Weight Loss Leads to Reductions in Inflammatory Biomarkers after a Very Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat Diet in Overweight Men,” Clinical Science (London), 2004.
Stadler, D. D. et al., “Impact of 42-Day Atkins Diet and Energy-Matched Low-Fat Diet on Weight and Anthropometric Indices,” FASEB Journal, 2003.
Stern, L. et al., “The V.A. Low Carbohydrate Intervention Diet (VALID) Study,” Journal of General Internal Medicine, 2002.

[1] Agatston, Arthur, Ph. D. The South Beach Diet: Good Fats, Good Carbs Guide. London: Rodale, 2004.
[2] Stern, L. et al., “The V.A. Low Carbohydrate Intervention Diet (VALID) Study,” Journal of General Internal Medicine, 2002.
[3] Sharman, M. J. and Volek, J. S., “Weight Loss Leads to Reductions in Inflammatory Biomarkers after a Very Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat Diet in Overweight Men,” Clinical Science (London), 2004.
[4] Agatston, Arthur. The South Beach Diet: Good Fats, Good Carbs Guide. London: Rodale, 2004.
[5] Ibid.
[6] Foster, G. D., et al, “A Randomized Trial of a Low-Trial of a Low-Carbohydrate Diet for Obesity,” The New England Journal of Medicine, 2003.
[7] Goedecke, J. H. et al., “Metabolic Adaptation to a High-Fat Diet in Endurance Cyclists,” Metabolism, 1999.
[8] Brehm, B. J. et al., “A Randomized Trial Comparing a Very Low Carbohydrate Diet and a Calorie-Restricted Low Fat Diet on Body Weight and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Healthy Women,” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 2003.
[9] Sharman, M. J., et al., “Very Low-Carbohydrate and Low-Fat Diets Affect Fasting Lipids and Postprandial Lipemia Differently in Overweight Men,” Journal of Nutrition, 2004.
[11] Ingram, Colin. The Drinking Water Book: How to Eliminate Harmful Toxins from Your Water. Berkeley: Celestial Arts, 2006.
[12] Boden G., et al., “Effects of the Atkins Diet in Type 2 Diabetes: Metabolic Balance Studies.” 64th session of the American diabetes Association, June 8, 2004.
[13] Stadler, D. D. et al., “Impact of 42-Day Atkins Diet and Energy-Matched Low-Fat Diet on Weight and Anthropometric Indices,” FASEB Journal, 2003.
[15] Paez, Christina J. and Len Kravitz,

Friday, March 23, 2007

ang postkolonyal sa "basilia ng malolos"

Halaw mula sa nalathala noong 2004 na “The Women of Malolos” ng batikang kritiko, manunulat, guro at iskolar na si Nick Tiongson ang kontemporanyong zarzuelang “Basilia ng Malolos” na siya rin ang sumulat ng libretto, at idinirehe naman ni Jose Estrella sa musika ni Joy Marfil. Malapit sa puso ni Prof. Tiongson ang paksa ng kanyang likhang binigyang-buhay ng Dulaang UP ng Pamantasan ng Pilipinas sapagkat siya ay tubong Malolos, Bulacan at ninuno niya ang ilan sa sirkulo ng magkakabarkadang babaeng itinuturing na unang gumawa ng pemenistang pagkilos sa Pilipinas. Dalawampung dalaga sa pangunguna ni Basilia ang gumawa ng petisyon sa kolonyal na pamahalaan na magbukas ng isang paggabing paaralan kung saan sila makapag-aaral ng wikang Kastila. Hindi madali ang proposisyon ng magkakaibigan sapagkat sa pangkasaysayang tagpuan nila, matindi ang pag-ayaw ng mga prayleng Kastila na matuto ng wika ng inang mananakop ang mga katutubo dahil nga naman ang pagkatuto ng mga nasasakupan ay magpapantay sa kalagayan nila sa kalagayan ng mga mananakop—isang paghihimala sa kalagayang kolonyalismo. Bukod pa rito, hindi rin kaibig-ibig sa mga prayle ang mungkahing ito sapagkat ang pagkatuto ng mga katutubo ng Kastila ang maglalapit sa huli ng mga liberal na kaisipang nasusulat sa Espanyol, isang agwat na lamang ang layo sa pagpapalaya sa sariling bayan sa pamamagitan ng paghamon sa pamamalakad ng Espanya. Sa likas na kasigasigan ng mga dalaga, sukdulang makompromiso ang kahinhinan upang masuway ang mga prayle at malapitan ang makapangyarihang si Gobernador Heneral Valeriano Weyler, pinayagan silang magbukas ng panggabing paaralan para sa wikang Kastila. Mismong ang Pambansang Bayaning si Jose Rizal ang nagpugay sa tagumpay na ito ng mga dalaga sa pamamagitan ng pagsulat sa kanila mula sa Espanyang pinag-aaralan. Hindi man nagtagal ang paaralan dahil sa kagagawan ng umaayaw na mga Kastila, hindi nawalan ng loob si Basilia at gumawa ng mga hakbang mula pagsali sa Katipunan hanggang pag-aktong mediko noong Digmaang Pilipino-Amerikano upang maisulong ang pambabaeng pag-aalsa para sa kalayaan.
Ang huling salita ng nagdaang talata ang magsasaad na maiuugnay sa postkolonyalismo ang halaw-sa-kasaysayang dula. Bawat bayang napasasailalim sa kolonyalismo, nagiging biktima ng marahas na pagtutulak para tanggapin ang mga institusyon ng mga mananakop hanggang dumating sa puntong wala nang sariling pagkakakilanlan ang kolonya. Tungkulin ng mga katutubong ipagtanggol ang kanilang inang bayan sa pamamagitan ng pagpreserba ng pagkakakilanlan at sa pagpalis ng kontaminasyon ng mga banyaga. Hindi man maaaring isulat pang muli ang kasaysayan upang maituwid ang mga pagkakamali lalo na ang pagkakamali ng pagkapailalim ng bayan sa kolonyalismo, maaari pa rin namang magpatuloy ang bayan sa pagbuo ng kanyang nadurog na identidad sapamamagitan ng pagsulong ng kung ano ang meron siya pagkaraan ng pananakop.
Ganito ang masasalamin sa dula ng pakikibaka ni Basilia: ang pagtangging manatiling alipin ng ibang bayan at magsikap na makahulagpos sa tanikala ng pananakop. Sa paghiling na magkaroon sila ng paaralang mapag-aaralan ang wikang Kastila, gusto ni Basilia sampu ng kanyang mga kapwa babae na huwag silang igapos sa gawaing pambahay lamang taliwas sa itinakda ng lipunang pananatili ng babae sa loob ng tahanan upang magluto, maglaba, at iba pa nang walang pakundangan sa karapatang pantaong makapag-aral at magkaroon naman ng karerang dating eksklusibo sa mga kalalakihan. Pinalaya nina Basilia ang mga sarili sa pamamagitan ng pagsuway sa itinakdang mga kaasalang pambabae gaya ng pagtungo, paninikluhod at pagyakap sa bulag na pagsunod sa batas ng kalikasang lalaki ang mamumuno sa babae. Patunay ang pagsugod nila sa tinutuluyan ng Gobernador-Heneral kahit na nakabantay pa ang kontrabidang mga prayle. Gamit ang kanilang nakaaangat na ilustradong uri, gusto nilang makilala sa larangang hindi lamang itinakda ng lipunan para sa kanila, kaya nga kahit Katipunan at paglahok sa Digmaan ay pinasok ni Basilia at ng kanyang mga kaibigan. Kailangang masira ang pambabaeng konstruksyon ni Basilia upang maipagpatuloy niya ang pagpapalaya sa mga babae, gayundin sa inang bayan. Kahit na noong hindi matuloy ang kanyang kasal, hindi naging balakid ang pagiging matandang dalaga ni Basilia upang magbangon ng samahang Asociacion Feminista Filipina, Club de Mujeres de Malolos at iba pa bilang pagkilala sa pangangailangan ng Katipunang mapalaya ang inang bayan sa pananakop ng Espanya at Estados Unidos. Sa mga pakikibakang ito, binubuo ni Basilia at ng kababaihan ng Malolos ang pagkakakilanlan nilang nasira ng makalalaking batas ng kalikasan at kinakalakal ng pananakop pati na ng mga literatura ng kanilang panahon.
Postkolonyal ang dula dahil ang inangkat na zarzuela ay binigyan ng kalayaang ipakita ang pulitikal na kaisipan ng panahon kasabay ng tradisyunal na tugtugin at paglalaro sa tema. Pati mga Kanluraning awitin, nilapatan ng katutubong titik upang mamalas ang pagkampeon sa katutubo. Ang materyal mismo ay tila sibuyas na binabalatan unti-unti upang ipakita ang sapin-saping pagpapalaya sa mga babae mula sa makalalaking lipunan, kolonyalismo at kawalang-kaalaman at -katarungan.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

meditations of marcus aurelius: an introspection

Born on A.D. 121 in Rome, Marcus Annus Verus was renamed Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, the name by which the would-be emperor is referred to in history, after having been adopted by the Emperor T. Aurelius Antoninus. He inherited the empire in A. D. 161 and was a ruler until his death in A. D. 180.
M. Aurelius was taught by the orator Fronto, but shifted from studying rhetoric to studying Stoic philosophy—that which circles around the denial of emotion in order to free man from the pains and pleasures of the material world—of which he was known as the last distinguished articulator. Among his most memorable articulations under Stoicism, the “Meditations,” written in Greek during his campaign in Central Europe in A. D. 171-175, stood out since the emperor practiced what he philosophized. With extreme conscientiousness, M. Aurelius carried out his randomly-composed reflections with great consistency both in his public and private life.
M. Aurelius wrote his diary as a source for his own guidance and self-improvement. It is vague whether or not he intended these writings to be published in order to survive and inspire up to this day, so the title “Meditations” is only one of the many usually designated to this collection. These meditations assume the structure of quotations with length that varies from one sentence to kilometric paragraphs.
Calling his collection “The matters addressed to himself,” M. Aurelius’ “Meditations” literally means “thoughts/writings addressed to himself.” As was mentioned above, he wrote his personal reflections and aphorisms during his march to public military service in Central European battlefields. Hence, Book I is entitled 'This among the Quadi on the Gran,” and Book II, “Written at Carnuntum.”
All twelve books contained in M. Aurelius’ “Meditations” have philosophical questions that resemble the teachings of fellow Stoic Epictetus (A. D. 55-135). The latter philosopher’s fundamental principles were “Endure” and “Abstain.” M. Aurelius emphasized these principles in his musings by reflecting that freedom is to be achieved through the submission to the force of the universe, and rigid detachment from the things beyond one’s power. The emperor went on to say that the only way a man can be injured by others is to permit his reactions to intoxicate him. While there was no specific evidence of his religious faith in “Meditations,” the author seems inclined in the belief that a rational, good force arranges the universe in such a manner that even bad happenings happen for the benefit of the whole. This is proved by the beginning of Book I, Chapter XVII:
“Whatsoever proceeds from the gods immediately, that any man will grant totally depends from their divine providence. As for those things that are commonly said to happen by fortune, even those must be conceived to have dependence from nature, or from that first and general connection, and concatenation of all those things, which more apparently by the divine providence are administered and brought to pass. All things flow from thence: and whatsoever it is that is, is both necessary, and conducing to the whole (part of which thou art), and whatsoever it is that is requisite and necessary for the preservation of the general, must of necessity for every particular nature, be good and behoveful.”
One such bad occurrence is the collapse of the well-received Pax Romana, which happened during his reign. This must have influenced what continues in Book I, Chapter XVII: “And as for the whole, it is preserved, as by the perpetual mutation and conversion of the simple elements one into another, so also by the mutation, and alteration of things mixed and compounded. Let these things suffice thee; let them be always unto thee, as thy general rules and precepts.” A significant component of Stoicism was the recurrence of everything: the entire universe turns to fire and then repeats itself. The Rome he was ruling had had a great celebration of imperial peace, but all was set to end; in the case of Pax Romana, one and a half centuries. It was the will of the providence at work in the demise of Roman Peace.
Book I of “Meditations” offers a readable organization and unity, yet the others do not show these qualities. Marcus Aurelius pondered upon his philosophical summary during the last years of his life while on campaign along the marshlands of the faraway Danube . Among the central themes is man's destiny to die and be forgotten. "What should be valued?", he queries, but does not find the answer in the rewards of glory. When Stoic philosophy pointed to humanity’s duty of discovering living harmoniously with natural order, he sadly hoped he could this live this out, too: “Even in a palace life may be lived well.” His meditation on death is paradoxical: “He who fears death either fears the loss of sensation or a different kind of sensation. But if thou shalt have no sensation, neither wilt thou feel any harm; and if thou shalt acquire another kind of sensation, thou wilt be a different kind of living being and thou wilt not cease to live.”
Speaking of death, death was integral to the emperor’s philosophy. He was not an avid fan of the afterlife. “We live for an instant,” he wrote, “only to be swallowed in complete forgetfulness and the void of infinite time on this side of us.” He said further, “Think how many ere now, after passing their life in implacable enmity, suspicion, hatred... are now dead and burnt to ashes.” According to Marcus Aurelius, all things will become absolute oblivion, including legends. “Of the life of man the duration is but a point, its substance streaming away, its perception dim, the fabric of the entire body prone to decay, and the soul a vortex, and fortune incalculable, and fame uncertain. In a word all things of the body are as a river, and the things of the soul as a dream and a vapour; and life is a warfare and a pilgrim's sojourn, and fame after death is only forgetfulness.” “Everything existing” is already disintegrating and changing... everything is by nature made but to die." 'The length of one's life is irrelevant, "for look at the yawning gulf of time behind thee and before thee at another infinity to come. In this eternity the life of a baby of three days and the life of a nestor of three centuries are as one." 'To desire is to be permanently disappointed and disturbed, since everything we desire in this world is "empty and corrupt and paltry." For Marcus Aurelius, death was something to be desired since it is an end to all desires to be had..
In spite of these reflections on life and death, Marcus Aurelius was an advocate of logical virtue. He harbored indifference towards the brutalities in life. As an emperor, he had Christians subjected to persecution and fought regularly on military campaigns. He rationalized his actions by pointing at the unimportance of global affairs. A zealous devotee of the Roman religion, Marcus Aurelius deemed the Christians fanatics, who do not face death with stoic dignity. “How lovely the soul that is prepared—when its hour comes to slough off this flesh—for extinctions, dispersion, or survival! But this readiness should result from a personal decision, not from sheer contrariness like the Christians...” Perhaps, Marcus Aurelius was virtually of Christian beliefs. It was significant to point out this context in the emperor’s because the ferocious ruthlessness with which the persecution was implemented in Gaul was a contrast of his writings. He doubtlessly believed that the religion threatened the values that established Rome’s glory.
Aurelius might not have been an original or clever thinker, but his “Meditations” manifest well the Stoic spirit in Greco-Roman culture. The recurrence of themes and the groups of quotations from other authors improve this impression. One example may be found in Book III, Chapter XVII: “To be violently drawn and moved by the lusts and desires of the soul, is proper to wild beasts and monsters, such as Phalaris and Nero were. To follow reason for ordinary duties and actions is common to them also…” This runs parallel with that one-liner found in Book VII, Chapter VIII: “To a reasonable creature, the same action is both according to nature, and according to reason.” Via the “Meditations,” he put stress on the importance of reason as the guiding arm of Stoicism.
The “Meditations” faithfully depict the mind and character of the noblest of the Emperors that’s Marcus Aurelius. These musings, uncomplicated in style and sincere in tone, are an enduring record of the proportion attained by pagan aspiration in its attempt to address the problem of conduct. The “Meditations” were the theoretical manifestation of the practical character Marcus Aurelius exuded in his tempered life as a Roman emperor.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

subersiyon sa kanayunan

Sa dokumentaryong pinanood hinggil sa mga kababaihan, inilalarawan ni Lourdes Calma ang halimbawa ng babaeng nakikibaka para tuligsain ang patriyarkal na lipunan sa rural na pamayanan. Isang pinuno ng kababaihang magsasaka, isinalaysay ni Lourdes ang masaklap na kalagayan ng isang babae sa bukid. Una, tinatrato ang babae bilang alipin at nagpapalala rito ang pagiging ignorante ng pamahalaan sa pang-aaliping ito. Dahil hindi rin pinapag-aral ang babae, itinatalaga lamang siya sa bahay samantalang may kakayanan naman sila, ayon kay Lourdes , na lumabas ng bahay para magtrabaho. Hindi rin maiwasan ng mga kababaihan ang humanap ng karagdagang kita sapagkat hindi maaasahan ang kakarampot na kita mula sa inaani sa bukid. Kinakasangkapan din ng panginoong maylupa ang militar upang buwagin ang binubuong union ng mga manggagawang tagabukid. Sa kanyang personal na karanasan, pinatay ang kan yang asawa dahil namumuno rin ito ng grupo ng mga magsasaka. Inulila siya ng asawa para suportahan ang lima nilang anak.
Sa mga isiniwalat ni Lourdes , maraming impormado ng patriyarkal na lipunan ang uusig sa kanya dahil sa pagsubok niyang baliktarin ang kapalarang laan sa mga kababaihan, ayon sa dikta ng machong lipunan. Ang mga institusyon ng pamayanang rural—ang panginoong maylupa, mga asawa, piyudalismo, ang gobyernong hindi kumikilala sa repormang agraryo—ang nagdidikta sa pagkaalipin ng babae, ngunit iginigiit ni Lourdes na mapalaya ang babae sa tanikala ng pagkalipin dahil may kakayanan silang magtrabaho nang higit pa sa pagbubungkal ng lupa. Kung sa bahay man naaalipin ng pag-aasikaso ng pamilya at ng asawang magsasaka ang babae, ibinukas din ni Lourdes ang daan para makitang hindi lang pantahanan ang kakayanan ng babae kung nakapag-aral man lang sana siya. Iginigiit niya rito ang karapatan sa edukasyon ng mga babae. Sa paglalahad na dapat maging maparaan ang babae sa pagkita nang higit pa sa naibibigay na barya-barya sa trabahong-bukid, sinusubok na palayain ni Lourdes ang babae sa kapalarang itinakda ng lipunan. Subersibo rin si Lourdes sa pagtuligsa sa militarisasyon sa kanayunan na sinasangkalan ng panginoong maylupa para huwag bumuo ng unyon ng mga magsasaka. Sa lahat ng nabanggit, ipinapakitang mabangis na babae si Lourdes dahil hindi siya nagpapasawata sa itinakdang limitasyon ng lipunang patriyarkal sa mga babaeng dapat tumalima lamang sa dikta ng lalaki. Magkagayunman, kahanga-hanga ang katapangan ni Lourdes para ibandera ang peminismo, durugin ang mapag-aliping alamat ng pagsunod sa lalaki ng babae at sikaping isulong nang isulong ang karapatan ng babae sa gitna ng pananalasa ng kawalang-katarungang panlipunan.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

how economy is sustained by miniskirts

The comic strip’s commentary on the miniskirt as an indicator of robust economy may be seen in the light of fashion in general in relation to, first, production and, finally, consumption issues.
When Betty gushed over how a miniskirt becomes “a sign of a strong economy,” it is a necessary comment on the strength of the economy because of the active role of the capitalists and the labor force in manufacturing the demands of the society depending on the production sector for the realization of their imagined fashion. With the boom of fashion since the last few decades, manufacturers from the advanced industrialized countries (AICs) transferred their resources to less developed countries (LDCs) to cut labor and operational costs. With the exploitation of women and minority workers, i.e. cheap salary, the capitalists can rechannel their sources on more production of fashion as dictated by elite consumers in both AICs and LDCs and, eventually, by the other consumers down the social strata. More capital to use means more production of miniskirts, pantyhose and boots, among others, first for the can-afford elites, and then the larger mass of fashion-hungry consumers. The faddish characteristic of fashion will merit that the elite consumers will demand for new styles (to set trends and to sustain their high-end identity) once their present styles get copied by the rest of the society, and so the production does not die down, sustaining the life of factories empowered by the labor force and funded by the capitalists. Whatever is in vogue, be it a miniskirt, a textured legging and leather boots as was in the comic strip, it will be manufactured by the production of labor.
More importantly, fashion spells consumption issues in that the capacity to purchase indicates an economy alive and well. The class differentiation discussed above shows to what degree consumption is being taken by both the elite and the lower classes. They have both the power to buy, but more so with the elites, so they are the primary targets of producers. They have to show a distinct culture, apart from the rest of the social strata. One such manifestation is the way their fashion distinguishes them from everyone else. Their separation may be observed with outward signs, one of which is fashion. They can buy fashion so they can set its trend. Corollary to this, the bourgeois which is the next closest to the elites will want to copy the elite trend in order to get identified with their social status. They would copy their fashion given their money’s worth of second-class fashion. Emulating the elite gives the bourgeois the sense of superior status associated to the elite. In turn, the classes lower than the bourgeois copy their fashion, still aiming to share superiority of the upper classes and repeating the fashion down the social strata. All of the social strata are now consuming, feeding the economy with its necessary lifeblood: money. When the elite class loses its uniqueness, it will think of novel signs of class differentiation to create yet again the lines demarcating it from the classes down its status. After a trend is set, the classes will proceed with its mimicry, fueling the consumption needed to strengthen the economy. Betty’s miniskirt, whether an elitist or a low-life’s fashion, is generated through the consumption process, and so are the associated accessories of pantyhose and boots, which are essentially copies of elitist fashion itself, given that the “work” to which she will wear her fashion defines her as a labor of production as well and not the elite her expenditure complaints betray her to be, i. e. ranting about the $400 she has to pay for accessories on top of the $125 worth of 12-inch skirt.
Indeed, the economy is strong because fashion fuels the mutualism between production and consumption. As money evolves in the economic cycle, production will have the capital to manufacture fashion, and consumption will be consummated because all of the social strata can afford to have a varying taste of what’s manufactured. As long as this cycle does not get disturbed significantly, economy will remain robust.

Monday, March 19, 2007

bata, bata, paano ka gagawa?: ang lagay ng sex education sa pilipinas

Itinigil ang pagpapakilala ng sex education sa pangkalahatang kurikulum ng mga pampublikong paaralan dahil sa maigting na pag-ayaw ng Kumperensiya ng mga Katolikong Obispo sa Pilipinas. Inaalmahan ng mga Obispong Filipino ang pagpapakilalang ito ng sex education na makagaganyak sa mga tin-edyer na sumubok makipagtalik bago ikasal kaysa manatiling dalisay, at iginiit na responsibilidad ng magulang ang sex education at hindi ng pamahalaan. Higit sa lahat, tinuturuan ng programang sex education ang paggamit ng artipisyal na kontraseptibo at kondom, na sumisira sa sagradong katuruan ng Simbahan sa pantaong seksuwalidad.
Samantalang totoo na bumabatay ang bansa sa istriktong batas moral, ipinapakita ng mga pananaliksik na ang ganitong gawi ay nagdudulot ng malalalang bunga. Isiniwalat ng mga datos mula sa The Young Adult Fertility and Sexuality Survey na isinagawa noong 1994 na 2.5 milyon (18%) ng mga kabataang may gulang 15-24 ang nakipagtalik sa labas ng kasal; mula sa 2.5 milyong ito, 74% o 1.8 milyon ang hindi gumamit ng anumang uri ng kontraseptibo. Ipinakita ng YAFS 3 na isinagawa noong 2002 ang bilang ng mga kabataang may gulang 15-27 na nakipagtalik sa labas ng matrimonyo ay lumaki ng 23%, o 4.9 milyon; sa bilang na ito, 70% o mga 3.43 milyon ang hindi gumamit ng anumang uri ng kontraseptibo (WHO 37-39). Dalawang bagay ang malinaw na isinasaad ng mga datos na ito: lumago ang bilang ng mga kabataang nakikipagtalik sa labas ng kasal nang maselang bahagdan, at mula 1994 hanggang 2002, marami ang hindi gumagamit ng anumang kontraseptibo sa kanilang karanasan sa pakikipagtalik.
Ikalawang aspetong bibigyang-pansin ang gawaing homoseksuwal ng mga kabataan. Ayon sa ulat ng WHO, ipinakita ng mga datos sa 1994 YAFS na 6.9% ng mga tumugon ang nakipagtalik sa kaparehong kasarian. Sa YAFS taong 2002, 11% (87% sa mga ito ang kalalakihan) ng mga kabataang aktibo sa pakikipagtalik ang may karanasan sa kaparehong kasarian (WHO 92). Isinasaad nito ang matinding pag-akyat ng bilang ng mga kabataang may karanasan sa gawaing homoseksuwal.
Panghuli, ikatlong aspetong pagmamasdan ang pagbabago sa pagkilos at pananaw seksuwal. Nagkasundo ang guro ng ARH sa Parañaque Science High School na si Rowena Reyes, at Rosalie Masilang ng Kagawaran ng Edukasyon na siguradong mas malaya ang kabataan ngayon kaysa dati. Binanggit ni Reyes na brutal ang pagpapakatotoo ng kabataan ngayon. Sa isang personal na panayam, nagkomento si Masilang sa bunga ng yumayabong na kuryusidad na naidulot sa kanila.
Hindi lamang naging napakalaya ng mga kabataan sa pangkalahatan kundi umani ng mas malaking kamulatan at pagpayag hinggil sa tumataas na bilang ng pakikipagtalik sa labas ng kasal at mga bunga nito (kasama na ang maagang pagbubuntis), pati na ang pagtanggap sa mga homoseksuwal. Bukod pa rito, isinaysay ng SPPR 02 ang tumitinding bahagdan ng pagpayag sa mga kababaihang maagang nakikipagtalik mula sa mga kabataan (POPCOM 22). Samantalang hindi naman kinakailangang likas na negatibo ang ganitong mga pagbabago, nagiging pangkaraniwang dahilan ang ganitong mga pagbabago sa gawi at pananaw para sa pagtaas ng pakikialam ng mga kabataan hindi lamang sa maagang pakikipagtalik, kundi sa mapanganib na gawaing pakikipagtalik na naghahatid sa pananalasa ng mga suliranin sa pakikipagtalik kaugnay ang mga kabataan.
Sa pag-aaral ng mga pagbabagong ito sa mga kabataan, isang interesanteng pagmamasid ang naisagawa. Kabilang ang paggamit ng kontraseptibo, gawaing homoseksuwal, at pagbabago sa pananaw at gawaing pakikipagtalik sa mga paksang tinatalakay sa edukasyong pampopulasyon (o sex education sa mas kilalang taguri sa buong daigdig). Kung maituturo ang mga paksang ito nang mabisa, mababantayan at magagabayan ang mga pana-panahong pagbabago sa mga kabataan. Mabibigyan ng pag-aaral ng kontraseptibo ang mga mag-aaral ng kaalaman na makapagliligtas sa kanila mula sa pagbaka ng mga suliraning gaya ng ‘di-pinaghandaang pagbubuntis, at maaaring bawasan ang panganib ng gawaing homoseksuwal, sakali mang gustuhin nilang gawin ito. Subalit, gaya ng nabanggit na, hindi itinuturo sa kasalukuyan sa mga pampublikong paaralan sa buong bansa ang mga kontraseptibo. Samakatuwid, may isang malaking butas na sa kasalukuyang kalagayan ang edukasyong pampopulasyon. Isang malaking bahagi ng kaalaman ang naiiwanan sa pagpapatupad nito. Hindi mapatutunayang mabuti para sa mga kabataan ngayon ang kakulangan sa kaalamang ito sa nasabing bahagi. Sa katotohanan, maaaring masamang balita para sa mga kabataan kung hindi sila tinuturuan sa kontraseptibo. Tinatanggal nito ang pag-iral ng pagpili: hindi lahat sila ang makaaalam na may mga sukatang pampigil sa inaayawang bunga ng pakikipagtalik, kahit pa nagbabago ang panahon at umuusbong para isama ang mas mulat na kaisipan at buhay pakikipagtalik. Hindi kinakailangang negatibo ang mga ganitong panaka-nakang pagbabago sa kabataan. Ngunit maaaring ‘di-direktang sila ang sanhi ng maraming kabataang dumaranas ng suliranin sa pakikipagtalik sa ngayon.
Isang suliranin ang lumalalang bilang ng mga kabataang walang alam o mali ang pagkatuto hinggil sa STD, lalo na ang HIV/AIDS. Ayon sa datos ng SPPR 02 mula sa YAFS taong 1994 at 2002 YAFS, kahit na 95% ng mga tumugon ang nakarinig na sa AIDS, 12% sa taong 1994 ang naniniwalang may lunas ang AIDS. Nakaaalarma noong 2002 sapagkat dumoble ang bilang na ito sa 28% (POPCOM 28). Isinaad ng ulat ng WHO na 60% ng mga tumugon ang nag-iisip na walang pagkakataong mahawahan ng HIV/AIDS, at 12% sa kanila ang hindi makahula ni isa mang tamang paraan ng pagkahawa para sa HIV/AIDS. 65% lamang ang nakahula ng tumpak na STD—dahil marami sa mga kabataan ang aktibo sa pakikipagtalik, hindi mahalaga ang 65% (WHO 50).
May pagbaba sa katamtamang gulang ng unang pakikipagtalik. Ayon sa 2002 YAFS, 1.2% ng mga kabataang aktibo sa pakikipagtalik ang gumagawa nito bago sila naging 13. Lamang, pagsapit ng gulang 18, tumataas ang posibilidad na makikipagtalik ang mga lalaki ng 28% para sa mga lalaki, at 12% para sa mga babae (UPPI 2005).
Ipinakita nang mas maaga ang mga bilang hinggil sa pagtaas ng bahagdan ng mga kabataang maagang nakikipagtalik. Kailangan ding maipaalam na mula sa 4.9 na milyong maagang nakipagtalik, kagila-gilalas na bilang (94%) ang nagsabing hindi ito isang bagay na ginusto nilang mangyari sa ngayon at hindi sila handa sa mga ibubunga. Subalit iniulat ng SPPR 02 na minsang gawin ang maagang pakikipagtalik, maaaring mangyari itong muli sa parehong kasiping o sa iba.
Isa pang suliranin sa pakikipagtalik na kaugnay sa kabataan ang umaakyat na bilang ng mga kabataang gumagawa ng mapanganib na pakikipagtalik. Sa SPPR 02, binibigyang kahulugan ang mapanganib na pakikipagtalik kung saan isa o parehong magkasiping ang hindi pisikal at sikolohikal na may katandaan at hindi handa para sa mga posible ibubunga. Habang mas maaga ang pakikipagtalik., mas nagiging mapanganib ito (POPCOM 28, 29). Ayon sa papel pananaliksik ng mga may kinalaman sa sarbey ng UPPI, tumaas ang mapanganib na pakikipagtalik sa mga kabataang Filipino mula 23% noong 1994 patungong 27.1% noong 2002. Nasa 34% ang mga kabataang aktibo sa pakikipagtalik ang may higit sa isang kasiping, na patunay ng mapanganib na gawain. Dagdag pa rito, 60% ng 78% kabataang lalaking aktibo sa pakikipagtalik na umaming hindi gumamit ng kondom ang nag-ulat na komersyal ang kanilang pakikipagtalik (WHO 43). Gayundin, iniulat ng YAFS 2002 na ang mga kabataang lalaking ito na nag-ulat ng pakikipagtalik sa kapwa lalaki “ang tila kumakapit sa pag-aakalang walang kaugnayan sa kaso nila ang pag-ugali ng ‘di-mapanganib na pakikipagtalik” (UPPI 2002). Sa ganitong tindi ng mapanganib na pag-uugali, mas nanganganib ngayon ang mga kabataan ngayon sa STD at iba pang bunga.
Hindi humihinto rito ang suliranin sa pakikipagtalik kaugnay sa mga kabataan. Ipinapakita rin ng mga pag-aaral na mali ang kaalaman ng mga kabataan hinggil sa kontrasepsyon. Mula sa mga datos noong 1994 YAFS na iniulat ng WHO, “27% ng kabataang Filipino ang naniniwalang umiinom ng pildoras bago o pagkatapos ng pakikipagtalik at 17% ang naniniwalang ipinapasok ang tubule ligation sa babae bago makipagtalik.” Gayundin, 4% lamang sa mga tumugon ang kinukunsiderang marunong sa pagpaplano ng pamilya (WHO 48, 47).
Isa sa mga malalaking balakid sa Edukasyong Pampopulasyon ang protesta ng CBCP. Ayon sa isa sa mga tagapagsalita, si Dr. Angelita Aguirre, inirereklamo nila ang mga sumusunod na matatagpuan sa Gabay sa Leksiyon sa ARH: ang kakulangan ng pagbibigay-importansya sa kasal bago ang anumang pakikipagtalik, ang paglalagay ng POPED sa iba pang asignatura maliban sa biyolohiya, ang pagsususog ng hindi-ipinapasok na akto ng pakikipagtalik gaya ng oral na pakikipagtalik, at ang partikular na kasabihang “normal na bahagi ng paglaki ng kabataan ang pag-eeksperimento” (Department of Education 56). Isa pang tagapagsalita ng CBCP, si Atty. Jo Simbong, ang nagprotesta laban sa isang talata na nagsasaad na bukal ng kaligayahan ang pakikipagtalik bukod sa pagpaparami. Dahil sa kontrobersyang nilikha ng modyul na ito, iniatras ito noong Hunyo 19, 2006 at nakabimbin ang pagbabalik ng pagpapatupad nito sa kasalukuyan.
Sensitibong isyu ang pagresolba sa ganitong balakid dahil malaking bahagdan ng mga Filipino ang Katoliko at maaaring pumanig sa CBCP pagdating sa ganitong mga bagay. Samantala, kailangang ikunsidera na ang mabisang pagpapatupad ng POPED, gaya ng natalakay na kanina, ay siguradong mangangailangan ng edukasyong kontraseptibo. Hindi kumpleto and POPED kung wala ito dahil mahalagang salik ito sa pagpigil ng hindi ginustong pagbubuntis at STD. Samantalang ideyal ang kasal bago anumang akto ng pakikipagtalik, ipinapakita ng mga katotohanan at bilang mula sa 2002 YAFS na hindi ito makatotohanan. Hindi mawawala ang suliranin kahit hindi man ito banggitin sa mga gabay aralin. Gayundin, mapipigilan ng hindi pagsasama ng kaisipang POPED sa kurikulum sa pagtingin dito sa isang klinikal na pananaw kung isasama lamang ito sa Biyolohiya. Dagdag pa rito, palso ang pagsasabing abnormal ang eksperimentasyon bilang bahagi ng paglaki ng kabataan, sapagkat katotohanan na pangkaraniwan sa mga lumalaking kabataan ang eksperimentasyong seksuwal. Sa isang biyolohikal na persperktibo, maraming tin-edyer ang maaari nang maging reproduktibo, kung kaya hindi tago ang eksperimentasyong seksuwal habang nagdadalaga o nagbibinata. Panghuli, hindi makatotohanan ang kalabanin ang katotohanang hindi bukal ng kaligayahan ang pakikipagtalik. Hindi dapat turuan ang mga mag-aaral na hindi nakaliligaya ang pakikipagtalik; dapat silang turuan na maging responsable sa paghawak sa kaligayahang ito. Hindi mahahadlangan ng pagpigil sa kaalaman ng mga mag-aaral ang kuryusidad at pagbigla-bigla—ngunit ang pinakamalahagang aspeto niyan ay matutunan nila ito sa isang kapaligirang walang malisya. Samantalang ayaw ng CBCP ang kasalukuyang implementasyon ng edukasyong pampopulasyon, sinusuportahan naman ng ibang organisasyong Katoliko, partikular ang Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, ang POPED. Hindi layunin ng POPED ang hayaan ang paggamit ng kontraseptibo, ngunit gamitin ang kaalamang ito para maikalat sa mga mag-aaral at makagawa sila ng matalino at responsableng hatol. Samantalang ayaw ng Simbahan sa kontrasepsyon, dapat na maikalat ang kaalaman dahil may karapatan ang mga mag-aaral sa impormasyon at wala nang legal na kapangyarihan ang Simbahan sa atas ng pamahalaan.
Pangalawang hadlang ang kakulangan ng suporta mula sa maimpluwensiyang sektor na nakaaapekto sa mga mag-aaral. Isang halimbawa ang matigas na protesta ni Mayor Lito Atienza ng Maynila hinggil sa pagtuturo ng POPED, na nagsasabing gagawin niya ang lahat ng makakaya upang pigilin ito sapagkat hindi katanggap-tanggap ang kurikulum at idinagdag na sa bahay ito dapat ituro at hindi sa paaralan. Gayundin, ayon sa ulat ng WHO, “hindi ipinapaalam na umiiral ang suliranin” ng mga opisyal ng lokal na pamahalaan, at tumatanggi ang ilang mga magulang sa pakikilahok ng kanilang mga anak sa mga aktibidad kaugnay ang edukasyong pampopulasyon. Binaggit din na sentro sa mga proyekto ng Sangguniang Kabataan ang pag-unlad pampalakasan at hindi ARH (WHO 98).
Pangatlong hadlang ang suliranin sa badyet. Nasambit ni Rosalie Masilang ng Kagawaran ng Edukasyon na samantalang mabuting proyekto ng pamahalaan ang POPED, pinapahina ang diskarte nito ng kakulangan sa pondo at pag-asa sa panlabas na pondo gaya ng United Nations Population Fund. Pinakamainam na paraang magreresolba ng suliranin ito ang pagbigay-pansin sa mga suliranin ng POPED na kinakaharap ng bansa, at ang pagkilala sa bigat ng mga suliraning ito upang magtamo ng kaukulang pondo na magagamit sa mga proyekto ng edukasyong pampopulasyon.
Binubuo ng pang-apat na hadlang ang tatlong pinakamalakas na argumento laban sa edukasyong pampopulasyon. Una ang argumentong ang kasalukyang pamamaraan ng POPED ang pagsuporta sa leksiyon sa ligtas na pakikipagtalik, at hindi bumabatay sa mga prinsipyo ng pag-iwas. Muli na namang makikita na habang ideyal na prinsipyo ang pag-iwas, hindi matatawaran ang katotohanan at bilang na maraming kabataang Filipino ang maagang nakikipagtalik; ituon dapat ang mga kautusan na lulutas sa suliranin sa halip na magkunwaring gustong umiwas makipagtalik ang lahat ng kabataan. Ipakita dapat sa mga kabataan ang pag-iwas sa harap ng edukayong kontraseptibo. Dalawang magkaibang pagpili ang pag-iwas sa pakikipagtalik at pagpatol sa ligtas na pakikipagtalik, na parehong dapat ipaliwanag at ipaalam sa mga mag-aaral.
Ikalawang argumento ang pagtutulak umano ng edukasyong pampopulasyon sa mga nagaganyak na kabataang magpakalango sa pakikipagtalik. Sa katotohanan, maraming pag-aaral ang nagpapakita na mabisa ang POPED kung maipatupad nang maayos. Nasambit ng guro sa pampublikong paaralan na si Rowena Reyes na makaraan ang inaasahang pagkamahiyain sa simula ng mga leksiyon sa edukasyong pampopulasyon, hahangarin ng mga mag-aaral na matuto kapag iprinisinta sa kanila ang aralin nanag walang malisya. Susi rito ang pagpapatupad nang wasto sa POPED—diretsahan, walang pasaring o ligalig—upang positibong matuto ang mga mag-aaral mula sa leksiyon sa halip na gamitin ang kanilang kaalaman upang palawakin pa ang kanilang karanasan sa pakikipagtalik.
Ikatlong argumento ang pagsasabing dapat sa bahay ituro ang POPED, kasama ang mga magulang. Lamang, makikita sa mga datos ng 2002 YAFS ang ulat na hindi matiwasay ang pakiramdam ng mga kabataan sa pagtalakay ng pakikipagtalik kasama ang mga magulang at mas magaan ang pakiramdam kapag sa mga kaibigan (UPPI 2002). Gayundin, dapat asahang hindi lahat ng mga magulang ay maalam sa mga wastong kaalaman na ililipat sa mga anak. Malaking papel ang ginagampanan ng mga magulang sa pagtuturo sa mga anak. Subalit hindi gaya ng mga magulang, may natatanggap na pagsasanay ang mga guro sa programang POPED mula sa Kagawaran ng Edukasyon. Mas malamang na mas wasto at pare-pareho ang kaalaman maituturo ng mga guro. Kung gayon, samantalang mahirap siguruhin na matuturuan ng mga magulang ang mga anak sa tamang paraan, mas madaling siguruhin ang itinuturo ng mga guro sa paaralan. Dapat na naroon ang paaralan upang punan ang kaalamang pinagkulangan ng mga magulang at iwasto ang anumang maling kaalaman na itinuro sa mag-aaral habang nasa tahanan.
Samantalang lumalaki ang bilang ng mga kabataang pumapatol sa mapanganib na pag-uugali, patuloy na bumababa naman ang kalidad ng edukasyong pampopulasyon. May pangangailangang iwasto sa edukasyong pampopulasyon—marami rito ang mali, kulang, o hindi sapat na naikalat, at hindi lamang ang payak na tanong hinggil sa pagpapatupad nito. Pinapatibay ng nakatatakot na estadistika ang katotohanang hindi kayang alisin ng pamahalaan ang edukasyong pampopulasyon. Sa dulo nito, maliwanag na higit pa sa dapat asahan ang tulong ng sex education sa mga kabataan. Pinapaalaman sila. Inihahanda sila. Tinutulungan sila. Kung susundin ang kahilingan ng Simbahan Katoliko at magbabadya ito ng libu-libong kabataang Filipino na matatagpuan ang kani-kanilang sarili sa mga kalagayang gaya ng maagang pagbubuntis, pag-uugaling homoseksuwal, o pagdurusa sa STD dahil sa kakulangan sa wastong edukasyon, kung gayon ay dapat nang ipagpatuloy ng pamahalaan na tanggalin ang sex education sa kurikulum ng paaralan. Lamang, inihahatag ng papel na ito ang malinaw na hatol. Magturo, samakatuwid. Walang duda. Magturo.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

queering the dancefloor: same-sex social dancing in malate bars

Social dancing is an activity that was once officially restricted for same-sex couples in several countries but now a staple of gay and lesbian social life. Corollary to a public display of affection, same-sex social dancing was long termed by queer theorists as a site of contention, behavior deemed shocking even in supposedly tolerant places that it was illegal. In the local front, it is in Malate, that district of the City of Manila long considered a gay mecca which comes closest in the manifestation of this queer behavior, and is the subject of this study.
With the onslaught of Western gay ideology in urban settings amongst the Third World, it is interesting to note that a country such as the Philippines, with its own brand of gay ideology in the form of the bakla (a biological man with a woman’s heart trapped inside him), should embrace an imported ideology, as may be gleaned in the popularity of metrosexual adaptations by the local gays: generally discreet, spiked hair, fitted jeans, body-hugging shirts with top button gone loose and sleeves rolled midway up. Whereas the effeminate babaylan danced to intercede for the pre-colonial community and the spirits beyond the physical dimension, the contemporary urban gays dance in bars to celebrate the highness of their spirit.
Same-sex partner dancing is mainly a taboo in most social dance instances in the West, even as it is less stigmatizing for two women to dance together than it is for two men, provided the gestures are not romantic or overly friendly. Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders composing the LGBT community and who are into social partner dancing have established social partner dance clubs and organizations, especially in major cities in the United States, Canada and Europe. Such organizations do not exist in the Philippines, although clubs such as Bed in Malate, Manila and Government in Makati City are samples of clubs wherein social partner dancing is the name of the game.
A gay bar, to which category Bed and Government practically fall, is a drinking place catering primarily to gay and/or lesbian clients. Its name can come in various forms: gay club, gay pub, queer bar, lesbian bar, dyke bar, or boy bar. In the Philippine context, though, a gay bar describes a gay-catering establishment wherein go-go boys dance erotically to entertain clients. With the changing circumstances in Manila, however, dance bars, disco bars, blue bars, among other names, are gay bars all the same.
Gay bars come in all shapes and sizes, from the small five-seater bars in Tokyo to the imposing, multi-story super-clubs with various distinct areas and usually more than one dance floor. Big venues may be called nightclubs, clubs or bars whereas tinier ones may be referred to as bars or pubs. The only defining trait of a gay bar is the set of clients it caters to. Many gay bars target gay and lesbian communities ever since their establishment, but older and more grounded gay bars were originally not but have come to be over time.
The serving of alcoholic beverages is the main focus of most gay bars and pubs. Much like non-gay establishments, they are convergence places and community meeting points, wherein conversation and relaxation are among the purposes of the clientele.
Music either live or, more frequently, mixed by a DJ or DJs, is often a striking feature of other gay bars. Music in gay bars, as in other bars, runs in style from jazz and blues to disco, pop, drum and bass, punk, house, trance, and techno. In bars which have music and dancing as their main focus, lighting design and video projection, fog machines and raised dancing platforms may be featured, as they do in non-gay bars and clubs which also center on music and dance. Hired dancers (called go-go boys or go-go girls) may also be present in decorative "cages" or on podiums, such as in one bar we visited in the Orosa-Nakpil Streets. In the 1980's and early 90's, a specific genre of music known as hi-nrg or eurobeat basked in popularity in the gay bars and clubs, and was quite distinguishable from the music being played by DJs in the mainstream or straight clubs at the same time. There are still a couple of clubs in London which further characterize themselves as gay clubs by the music they play—the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in Vauxhall would be one example, Bromptons in Earls Court would be another. Record labels which have good examples of these genres are Almighty Records (Andy "Almighty" Wetson), Loading Bay Records (the late Duncan Finlayson), Klone Records, and Ian Levine's Record Shack label. In recent times, however, gay-identified songs are an ubiquity in offshore clubs as well as those in Manila. It is not uncommon for bars along Orosa Street to blare with house music, especially at the height of Bonnie Bailey’s “Ever After,” or with disco music such as those by Madonna or Cher. Gay bars and their clientele are sometimes non-selective as to which restroom—men's or women's—they use, although this may be illegal in some areas; unisex toilets are common in gay bars, as may be seen in some Malate bars.
Some gay bars and clubs likewise have "backrooms," which are dimly lit or curtained rooms in which same-sex sexual activity occurs, though this feature, once rampant according to gay sources, is now growing unusual. Nonetheless, a small number of gay bars and clubs still exist which are primarily sex clubs in nature. These are establishments where sex on the premises is tolerated, and is the main attraction to the clientele. These bars and clubs may serve alcohol and have dance floors, but the main interest is in sex. From what information were gathered, there are two such bars still existing in Malate, since their predecessors—about three of them—had been raided by the police and closed shop in effect.
Gay bars and nightclubs are sometimes separated by sex. In some establishments, people who are thought to be of the "wrong" sex (for instance, a man trying to enter a women's club) may be not welcome or even barred from entry. This may be more usual in specialty bars, such as gay male leather fetish bars, or bars or clubs which have a strict dress code. It is also common in bars and clubs where sex on the premises is a primary focus of the establishment. Specialty bars are a rarity in Malate since many bars hold specialty nights for women only or for men only or for thirty-something only, to go for variety.
In the past, lesbian-only bars were comparatively seldom and tended to be concentrated in major urban areas in the West. However, of late, they are experiencing something of a surge in popularity. The only lesbian bar which used to sit in the corner of Nakpil-Orosa had closed shop since; it is now occupied by a gay bar on the ground floor and a gay shop on the second floor. Bars and clubs which cater to a predominantly male clientele are more common.
Some gay bars try to limit entry only to gays or lesbians, but in practice, this is hard to enforce. Gay bars often welcome transgender and cross-dressed people, and drag shows are a common fanfare in many gay bars unlike in straight-only bars like Aruba in Tomas Morato, Quezon City, wherein a gay impersonator created a media-covered fuss after having been denied entry for the sole reason that he was in drag. Like other clubs, gay clubs are often advertised by distributing eye-catching flyers on the street, in gay or gay-friendly shops and venues, and at other clubs and events. These flyers frequently feature provocative images. Samples of those gathered in the Malate visit included a flyer with a male torso from the hipbone up, and another with two gorgeous men about to give each other a kiss.
Stonewall Inn, found in Greenwich Village, New York City is the location of the Stonewall Riots of 1969, touted to be a highlight of the modern gay rights movement in America. Prior to then, it was illegal in New York for a place serving alcoholic beverages to allow homosexuals to gather. The place could lose its liquor license as an effect. However, gay bars would often be tolerated--with strategic bribes given to the police. It was learned that while liquors are not banned within gay bars in Malate, bribes are still rationed for the police especially for bars which became notorious for usually intoxicated clients who perform casual sex or other scandalous acts inside.
In spite of prohibitions, same-sex dancing at drag balls, in the dark backrooms of bars, and at private parties proliferated long before Stonewall and the flourishing in the 1970s of public gay and lesbian dance parties and discos. After Stonewall, however, many lesbians and gay men started to see social dancing not simply as a pastime but also as a potent means of building a consciousness of communal gay and lesbian identity. In Chicago, for instance, the gay liberation movement was launched with a series of dances for lesbians and gay men in 1970. Later that year, a radicalesbians publication cited the first all-women’s gay liberation front dances in New York City as pivotal events in the development of lesbian feminism. At the home front, annual White Parties in Nakpil-Orosa and occasional CircuitAsia-sponsored dance events gave the alternative genders a sense of community but largely Westernized gay identity.
The fact that disco originated in black gay clubs did not deter white entrepreneurs from implementing racist door policies at many gay clubs. Music historian Tony Cummings marks 1972 as the first year black and white gay men mixed on the dance floor, but even during that time, integrated dance clubs stayed that exception. As a result, many African-American and Latinos patronized alternative discos like Paradise Garage in New York City and the Warehouse in Chicago. The Warehouse opened in Chicago in 1977 as an after-hours dance club gathering as many as 5,000 mostly black gay and lesbian patrons between midnight Saturday and the following Sunday afternoon. Soon after its opening, DJ Frankie Knuckles invented “house” music by mixing records to stress complex percussive cross-rhythms and accelerating the mix to at least 120 beats per minute. From Chicago, house spread to other clubs, gay and straight, in Europe as well as in the U.S., evolving the Detroit into “techno-house” and inspiring massive dance gatherings in London that came to be called “raves.” The popularity of these new forms of dance music had the added effect of making DJs like Knuckles, Junior Vasquez, and Susan Morabito—all openly gay or lesbian—stars in their own right, with international followings among both queer and straight clubgoers. Popular house music of today, many of which still reign the gay bar airwaves, include mixes by DJ Tiesto and songs by Chicane.
Discotheque originated in Western Europe in the early 1960s as a reference for small dance club that featured recorded music in lieu of a dance band, but disco as a musical genre was an African-American creation refined and popularized by disc jockeys (DJs) at underground clubs for black gay men in the late 1960s. Disco began to move over to predominantly white male clubs as early as 1969, when Ted Drach and Tiger Curtis transformed the Cherry Grove Sea Shack into the mold of the 1970s disco: a DJ booth, lighting coordinated to the music, and speakers blasting nonstop, wall-to-wall sound. The format had become usual enough by 1973 for Billboard magazine to note it as a fresh trend in dance music. Soon, it was so dominant in the gay male subculture that The Advocate proclaimed 1975 “The Year of Disco.” Dance clubs became the social and cultural centers of gay male life, and dancing the cement that held the gay male community together. In The Joy of Gay Sex (1977), Edmund White and Dr. Charles Silverstein praised “big, spacious, luxurious disco as proof…of the emergence from their closets.” The biggest problem facing gay discos. they said, was “how to keep straights from moving in and elbowing out the original gay clientele.”
AIDS signaled the end of disco as the most evident symbol of gay male community. As thousands of men fell ill and died, club attendance decreased, and many discos closed their doors. Simultaneously, some clubs started making their facilities available for special AIDS benefits patterned after the theme parties that had become popular at discos in the late 1970s and early 1980s. From these special events, characteristic of which was the New York City “Black Party” held yearly the weekend before the spring solstice, grew the presently global “Circuit”. Since the late1980s, the Circuit has widened to encompass several dozen major parties lasting as long as 18 hours and attracting enough participants to transform a whole city into “an instant gay ghetto full of hot men who are behaving as queer as they care to be.” Although the Circuit now includes parties in Canada, Europe, Australia, Asia as well as throughout the U.S., it is everywhere a distinctly homogeneous, mostly male, overwhelmingly white phenomenon. Since its enfranchisement in 2005, CircuitAsia has had successful parties beginning with the Aaahh…Manila! White Party up to the recent Salvation Gold Disco in October last year.
Most gay and lesbian historian perceive women’s music festivals as the lesbian equivalent in the 1970s of the male-dominated Disco Era. But in the 1990s, lesbians increasingly emerged as the trendsetters in gay and lesbian social dancing, thanks to the popularity of “grrrl” bands as much as to the flourishing of innovative, fast-changing clubs like San Francisco’s G-Spot and Muffdive, Houston’s The Ranch, and New York City’s Clit Club and Menow Mix, all offering attractions (apart from dancing) as provocatively varied as the club patrons themselves. Apart from exclusive women’s night out being held occasionally in select bars, no Malate bar at present caters solely to lesbians.
Bars are centers of gay and lesbian social life in much of the entire world. Some of lesbian and gay guide books approximate that there may be as many as 10,000 gay and lesbian bars the world over. Bars range widely from multilevel complexes in Chicago to intimate nightspots in Tokyo that seat fewer than five customers.
Even though a few activities maligned the gay and lesbian bar scene as early as the founding of the Daughters of Bilitis in the mid-1950s, bars have in many places been the only signs of a community. Currently, especially in rural area and smaller towns, bars continue to serve this purpose often attracting customers from a wide coverage. In larger cities, gay and lesbian bars tend to be fairly specialized according to age, race, taste in music, and sexual interests, so communities that develop there are more focused.
Even as documentation survives of taverns visited by “sodomites” in Italy in the Middle Ages, probably the first modern gay bars were the ‘molly houses” of 18th-century England. They were also among the first sites of resistance against law implementation. By the commencement of the 20th century, most big cities had at least one bar or café known for its gay and increasingly in places like Paris and Berlin, lesbian clients.
Gay and lesbian bars resurfaced in the United States after Prohibition but were increasingly picked during police raids which combined with Laws in many states that forbade the serving of liquor to “sexual deviants” led to most bars being operated under the sponsorship to organized crime. Perhaps the most famous example of such a bar is the Stonewall Inn.
The 1970s marked the height of gay male bars in the United States. After AIDS, both drinking and attendance fell off, and today large American cities largely have fewer bars catering to gay men than in the past. Lesbian bars and nightclubs, on the other side, after a period of dwindling popularity – bar owner and activist commented in 1991. “By and large, women are no longer going to bars that represent lesbians. They’re just going where they want to go” – made a return in the 1990s and became chic even for straight-identified clients.
To consummate this ethnographic fieldwork, three methods of collecting data were used: participation observation, interview and survey. The human condition may be studied using the three ethnological tools in order to bring about the cultural diversity of urban gay social dancers from the rest of the society. The three methods can provide records of everyday behavior of the specimen population with their direct answers as well as the implication of the same. Their personal background may also provide a glimpse of who the gays are as an ethnological subculture.
Participation observation will be carried out in the most discreet manner possible, since the very subjects are discreet people too, meaning they are not loud and faggoty in terms of their action. The researchers will act like they have been accustomed to going in Malate so once the next method, interview, is conducted, the subjects will not act up.
The interview will be done in a matter-of-factly mode. Each interview with the respondent will be quick, just so the paper will get the core insight of gays about their lifestyle. The use of memory is all that may be relied on, for the noise of the bar music and the dimness of the area will deter the researchers from audio- or video-recording the interview or write down the reply to the interview questions.
Finally, the survey will be done in an fast-track mode so that the present state of mind of the gays will be able to communicate the initial insights that will descend on them once the options are given.
One weekend night early this year, the researchers braved parental curfews and on the pretext of attending a classmate’s birthday party, surveyed the same-sex social dancing bars in the heart of Malate. The intersection of Maria Orosa St. and Julio Nakpil St. is the center of gay Manila. The entire street is open with several gay establishments. From that X spot, it will take a five-minute walk going to Adriatico St., where The Library and Fab are. Metro Manila is littered with gay establishments, but are sparsely located. In Malate however, bars are within a stone’s throw from each other.
Manila's gay community that began to bloom in the late 1980s found a welcoming niche in the Malate district with bars such as the Blue Room, Mister Piggy's and Zoo. Gay impersonators, entertainers, dancers and icons of the fashion industry swayed their hips at the CopaCabana along Adriatico street and for those wanting to see sexy male dancers, one could go to Adam's Apple. Then came The Library, Bargo, Mint and Bassilica—all gay establishments. Dance bars where same-sex social dancing are a penny’s worth, pun intended, in present-day Malate, with a riotous mushrooming of gay clubs in the area.
The first stopover made was in the strip called Orosa/Nakpil Courtyard, where Bed, Rainbow Project, New York Café and Komiks may be found. According to our guide who frequents Malate, getting to Bed from neighboring Makati by taxi is cheap, costing a mere P100+. It serves its bar purpose of being a place for drinking and dancing, which becomes fever-pitch during weekends. Inside the bar is a sexy and wild atmosphere with stylish interiors. It has two floors, each with its own bars and DJs spinning nonstop house and trance. The staff members here are congenial and attentive. Each entry includes one drink; all drinks are priced moderately. The crowd is an amalgam of hip professionals, expatriates, and tourists.
As we toured Bed, our guide pointed out a comparison between this bar and another gay club of prominent stature, Government in Makati Avenue, Makati City. Labeled as new, hip, and big, it rivals Bed in being the gayest place to be in Manila, with its testosterone and sexually-heated house music, fashionable interior, a richly-textured chill-out lounge and laser and lighting effects on the dance floor. Just like in Bed, Government holds special events and theme parties with guest DJs. Because of the sterling qualities of both Bed and Government, it is decided that the two bars should be the subjects of a survey on which gay club is more favored for one reason or another.
The Rainbow Project is also found in the Courtyard. It is located beside Bed. Like Bed, The Rainbow Project has two floors. At the ground floor is an outdoor, al fresco area, very much in the Courtyard proper. Small square tables are distributed all around, about 10 cramping a small space. Each table may be occupied by 4 to 5 people; a group numbering more members than that has to piece together 2 or more tables. The Rainbow Project does not have a door; so still in the ground floor, after passing the outdoor area, one may just step into the indoor area. It has mood lighting and all, with upholstered seats and fixed tables. The Rainbow Project’s second floor is the place where a DJ spins dance music; it is a large, dark area with slightly elevated platform for dancing, and a lounge area. The second floor is also the location of the establishment’s restroom.
O at the corner of Nakpil-Orosa is a single-story dance club. Getting inside, one will find the bar area to the left, while ledgers on which half-naked go-go boys dance provocatively may be found to the right and straight ahead. To the northeast is the restroom, while the rest of the interior serves as the dance floor to mostly guppie (gay urban professional) patrons. Like in Bed, the drinks are moderately priced, but unlike it, O lacks space on which gay partners may dance to the tune of catchy house music.
In the course of the stay on different gay bars, the researchers engaged on an informal interview with some of the gay patrons. Disguised as no more than ordinary partyphiles, the researchers charmed their way to the interview by virtue of tagging along good-looking gay pretenders, just to be sure.
“It is at once exciting and exhilarating, flamboyant and vivacious, diverse and accepting,” claims one magazine writer of Bed. He added that whenever writeup deadlines get finished, he would unwind in Bed, and that has been ongoing since last year.
"I just visited Manila and tried out Malate. I went to Fab and Bed. I got bored in Fab maybe because it was just a Friday night. Then I went to BED; it was overhyped, but the guys were cute. I like the aquarium-divided urinals, and could see BIG BIG fishes, hahaha. The guys were also good flirts, sexy, and good conversationalists. They also know what is NO and what is YES," said a Finnish national who has been on the country in his capacity as the Asia-Pacific correspondent of a local newspaper in Helsinki. He comes to Malate bi-weekly.
“The Rainbow Project is gay-owned and operated, I heard, by the same owners as Bed so since I want my pink peso to go to pink hands, why not in this place? Best time to dance here is from midnight to 2:00 AM — lots of cuties!” praises John, a call center guy who visits Malate on his night off, Tuesday.
“The N/O Courtyard is host to Sonata, Komiks and New York Cafe. These three have outdoor seating and caters to a mixed crowd on weekends. These are the places to sit, see and be seen. Prices are half that of the other establishments since they are restaurants as well as drinking places," informs an insider from one of the three mentioned bars. The guy gets busy after midnight, when customers start trickling in.
"I agree that Bed is a darn good gay disco and like most discos around the world, few people arrive before midnight. It is usually crowded on Friday and Saturday nights," commented Yulo, a supervisor in a foreign airline. He is a regular in Malate during weekend nights, when he takes his time off work.
"I just like to say BED club has some of the best DJ mixed music I've heard. Just never put your drink down or it's gonna disappear in a flash," laughs Donita, a self-confessed transsexual who enjoys herself on the nights before she leaves for Japan, where she works as cultural entertainer.
“When I paid five dollars to get into BED, I was immediately struck by the club's musky heat. I never made it to the bar in the back because the club was too crowded. Sweaty men were standing so close together that no one could move their arms to dance,” noticed Soriano, a Fil-Am balikbayan who marvels at the tolerant gay scene in the mother country that’s so much better, he claims, than in the U.S.
“Government or Bed?” That was the laconic set of options the researchers asked of the gay people they came across with along Nakpil and Orosa. Nonetheless, most of the respondents were gracious enough to add the reason for their choice. Because of the fleeting time at which the ambush question was addressed, the researchers would give but brief descriptions about the persons who answered. Translations of vernacular words into English supplied.
“Bed is more strict [with] X...”—Boyet, a natural high advocate
“GOVERNMENT for the music…BED for the place,”—Andy, an admitted partyphile.
“BED...I love the go-go dancers...”—Mark, a rave goer
“BED - clean fun…”—Dennis, an anti-party pill guppie
“BED is great...[especially the] go go boys!”—Asiano, Bed addict
“I love Bed’s dance floor…”—Danny, a dance enthusiast who, right after responding, takes off his shirt, runs in the platform and gyrates a la go go boy
“Government…I like the music....[the place is small, though but if only for the little space at which to fondle and flirt with each other,] it’s okay!”—Migz, a graduating student
“I think Bed is a wackier and wilder place to get sexy,”—Roman, a law graduate
“Hahaha…[I would rather choose] Government....[because the owner] Mama Henri is super nice,”—Sam, a friend of the owner of Government
“BED [still]... [I love the owner] TATA KURON!”—Topher, a friend of the owner of Bed
“Mamu [Henri] is good.... so I choose Government!”—Candyboy, who hails from Makati where Government is located
“[It is fun in] Bed but Mamu [Henri is my big brother so] Government,”—Joni, a nursing sophomore
“Hmmm...Government...Mamu [Henri] is very kind to me...”—Angelo, a boyish-looking teacher
“I visited both places...this might surprise many but I kinda find Government friendlier and cruisier than Bed,“—Patrick, who was rushing out of Bed to catch the weekend event in Government
“I have been to Government. I did not enjoy my stay there, [I saw lots of familiar people, even the ones I have had sex with]!”—Ian, a stand-up comedian
“I have never been in Bed, [because I might see my ex-boyfriend and friends] who visit both places... BED or Government? For me it’s BED [since] it caters to a large volume of people not unlike in Government, [I thought] crowded [but it turned out to be a] small place, hehehe. In BED, there are so many bars to choose from...”—Dax, who puts emphasis on the word “friends” with a wicked grin and a wink
“Government has better acoustics and superior sound system. Makes me wanna dance all night long. And the boys I meet are hot, more masculine, better looking and friendlier,”—Andrew, an Ortigas-based copywriter
“BED .... I LIKE PARTY ... I HATE PARTEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”—Peter, who confessed into popping Ecstasy once, and didn’t enjoy the experience
“Bed....where Bluefrog is!”—Aldrin, who loves the drink Bluefrog, a specialty in Bed
“G-O-V-E-R-N-M-E-N-T!”—Matthew, a student from the State University
“Bluefrog. Sounds familiar? It’s in Bed!... Hehehe…”—Ram, marketing staff from a multinational company
“Why choose one when I can get the best of both worlds? Both the owners are my friends.... and it’s nice to know that there are places like BED and GOVERNMENT which caters to the needs of People Like Us... More choices.. Better options…”—Mikko, a gay rights advocate
“I go for Bed than Government. Government [is relatively small] and isolated; [it’s too far] from my place. In Bed, [there are nearby bars to choose from] and at the same time, [the people are cool]!”—Jun, a Makati resident
“Government is near my house…”—Apollo, a former seminarian
“Government! Quality entertainment, quality guys...”—Robin, a very masculine discreet gay guy
“Either of the two...but I choose GOVERNMENT simply because it’s much nearer my place,”—Russel, a European Studies major
“Bluefrog and Nightmare! Hik! Bed [of course]!”—Ephraim, a geodetic engineer
“Government [since it’s near my house]…”—Arnold, a Filipino-Chinese
“Bed [only]; I am always disappointed [whenever I visit] Government,”—Donny, a gorgeous forty-something paminta [straight-acting gay]
“It terms of proximity, Bed. Also, Bed is adjacent to other gay-friendly establishments located in Malate. In Government, [there is none you’ll see once you go outside].”—Nikki, who swishes his fingers and wrists to stress his point
“Bed. I don’t like Government [because it provides no] non-smoking [area]. [Then the] smoking area [has a feeble] exhaust. Bed is fab[ulous]! Anything goes!”—Castor, a Canada-based student on vacation
“Government is isolated, [and then it’s next to a] hotel [so I’d rather go in] Bed.”—Xeno, an admitted minor
Indeed, the hegemonic tentacles of the West is very much alive in this postcolonial country via the Western gay ideology being enjoyed by the contemporary urban gays. With the lifestyle they maintain in terms of the capacity to visit the gay bars of Malate at least once in a while, it is safe to assume that these gays are empowered enough to do what they want, without getting the sting usually attached to the gays that are their Other. How are they empowered? Most of them compose the pink economy. With pink peso that they can spend all to themselves, they are able to support the lifestyle that’s socializing in bars. Also, their discreetness is an outtake on masculinity; since they are more likely masculine than the effeminate bakla, they are saved from the denigration of the society at large. Their discreetness allows them to be tolerated in public places, bars included. Besides, their chance at finding partners are also high since the Western gay ideology is homosexual—desiring the same sex. Manliness begets manliness in dance bars where their chances may be fully explored. Only, with the proliferation of the paminta culture, there exists another divide in the Philippine gay culture: the paminta/parlorista dichotomy or the battle against the macho gay and the effeminate gay.
The disco bars in Malate are also nothing but Western importations to complement the institutionalization of Western gay ideology in the country. While drag queens and cross-dressing transsexuals abound in disco bars, the fact that these bars are dominated by discreet gays cannot be ignored. As such, the local ideology of bakla, where drag queens and cross-dressers may be categorized, is seriously being challenged by the colonial ideology. It is more difficult then to create a uniquely native identity for the paminta if and precisely because the enjoy the niche they found their sexuality in.
All the same, the contamination of another Western ideology in our postcolonial sensibilities is not all disadvantageous, for this may also be seen as contributive to the spectrum of sexualities which human persons may celebrate. This shows that the Philippine gay boasts of a cultural diversity that’s rich and full of pride. This diversity is proven by the background of those who participated in the survey dominated by the Bed lovers. The gay social dancers of Malate have varied ages, “outings,” backgrounds, class—all rolled up in one gay paradigm.
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