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!"

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

free to be me: identity as theme in "like water for chocolate"

Being a longer piece than a short story, Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate offers as many themes as any larger picture of interconnected slices of life can. Among these central concerns include the importance of family relationships, the mysterious power of love and the passionate effect of food. Of these insights into human life, I would like to point out the necessity to assert one’s identity, which can be readily seen in the character of Tita.
It is ultimately human to desire self-fulfillment. This is something that completes all beings. This is what gives fullness to a life, and Tita’s life is no exemption. Despite the various suppressions Tita has suffered under the hand of her own mother Mama Elena, she did not give up the desire to be the woman that loves Pedro and that is free to do as she wills without primary regard to unjust family tradition. Hers is an indestructible spirit that dared rebel by speaking up although many times, she was silenced. Hers is a strong soul that persevered although her only beloved got married to her very sister.
Tita’s struggle to assert her identity does not come easy, given the many grains she has to go against. First, she has to submit herself to an unfair family tradition of remaining single for the rest of her parent’s life in order to take care of Mama Elena. She voiced out that only society dictates that, and that would be injurious to her self-growth. Also, her beloved already got married—and to her sister, no less!—so the fulfillment of love seemed far and unlikely. Still, she patiently championed her cause, doing the very thing that keeps her alive: cooking. Through this expertise of hers, she has still endeared herself to Pedro and inevitably incurred a bitter, finally fatal relationship with her mother. With her sister’s and eventually mother’s deaths, she was freed from her emotional burdens and attained her destiny of self-fulfillment. She is not anymore the dutiful daughter or her beloved’s sister-in-law; Tita is already the very woman unbound by her mother’s death in her memory, as signified by the disappearance of Mama Elena’s ghost when Tita screamed at it. Ultimately, she was able to assert her own identity when she claims, “I know who I am! I am a person who has a perfect right to live her life as she pleases.”
With this turning point in Tita’s life, she had a renewed way of living her life because she finally attained freedom from becoming someone else that she did not like to begin with. She is now entitled to a fate with Pedro, however wasted their previous years are or however short they actually had time to spend with each other. What is important is that she is able to express herself without her former life’s prohibitions.
Assertion of one’s identity is noteworthy because this is tied up to one’s freedom. No matter what kind of identity it is, whether national, sexual or personal like Tita’s, it cannot be readily discounted because what one is free to act builds up the person that one becomes. One’s growth eventually creates a person not overshadowed by somebody else, enriched only by influences in speech, thoughts, feelings, ideologies but entirely one’s own person. We all desire to be our own selves because in being ourselves, we are truly free.

Monday, October 29, 2007

what makes the mouth water in "like water for chocolate"

One thing worth reacting to in Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate is its use of food to tell the story of Tita. Moving along the narration of Tita’s search for self-fulfillment are monthly installments of recipes that include rolls and cakes and other exquisite dishes. Jorge Amado’s Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon had done this food tripping before Esquivel, and currently, there is a number of productions taking up the theme of food, from the Korean phenomenon Jewel in the Palace to the local soap opera Ysabella to Hollywood’s Ratatouille and No Reservations. It seems to me that more than the need for human survival, preparing dish became a significant human experience.
While reading Tita’s struggle to fight for her love for Pedro and to free herself from a rigid family tradition imposed by her conservative mother, I got to feel my mouth salivating over the dishes Tita cooks. They seem exotic, so it is no surprise that in the manner of finishing the book, I am stuffing good food into my mouth. Why not, when I could suffer from hunger just by imagining the rose sauce that drove Gertrudes to some intolerable pangs of lust? In fact, I was itching to request people to follow the recipes and find for ourselves whether we could literally bring the house down with passion-inducing dish.
Then it hit me: the recipes are being handed down from one generation to another, held within the dela Garza family. Tita hands down the recipes to her niece Esperanza, who passes them to her very daughter who narrates at the beginning of the book. Therefore, the recipes being received from generation to generation tell stories that revive old memories. These memories are made alive through the words, ingredients and dishes that are created. With the transfer of the recipes, the person passing it likewise teaches the younger one more than just following directions: the person tells the recipe’s story. The young one learns the patience and knowledge of the various qualities of the ingredients that make up a dish. With this development of a special relationship with food by the younger generation, the memories that come along with each prepared dish remain safe from outsiders like us no matter how exactly we follow the similar procedure. After all, we are not aware of the hidden memories and stories that that dish tells within Tita’s family tradition. This makes the theme of food all the more meaningful as a means of telling the tale of Tita.
In the novel, I gathered that Tita’s cooking has an enormous effect on the other characters in the novel. Just a teardrop caused by her heartbreak falling into the wedding cake makes the eaters sick. This seems to tell how sad she really feels over the marriage of her beloved to her own sister. Also, the bitter taste of Mama Elena toward Tita’s prepared dishes communicates the kind of acrid relationship between the mother and daughter. Finally, the desire aroused in Pedro as a response to the food Tita cooks attests that the dish is special because done out of love. All these show that in the novel, food is more than the stuff necessary for filling the stomach or sufficing the hunger. The dishes created by Tita sustain more than the physical body by embodying the symbolic representation of living. They communicate stories, feelings and life.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

of bombs, jaguars and facial discrimination

Some friends have the gall to create jokes after the mall blast in Makati City. One such joke comes in the form of a text message saying, “Kukuha na nga lang ng bomber, bingi pa. Imbes na Gloria (alluding to the President) ang target, Glorietta ang pinasabog.” So creeping along the grapevine is the suspicion that it was a bomb after all that killed at least 11 people and wounded hundred others. While it may be said that the Ayalas, who own the malls among other businesses, are social entrepreneurs and should be at least spared from anti-capitalist sentiments, terrorists can bomb public places just the same in order to create government destabilization. These terrorists may only be the ones with the sadistic notion of being happy scaring the shit out of people. On the other hand, authorities debunk the theory that it was a bomb; they were not discounting the theory that it may be a gas leak that triggered the explosion. With confusion ensuing this fiasco, it was not hard to believe why people can still concoct morbid jokes. I don’t know if these people can break into maniacal laughter after learning what my friend, who works in Ayala, saw right after the bombing. Until now, he can barely eat after witnessing bloody, mangled bodies being juxtaposed to one another. Another friend informed me that one of the casualties was a townmate in Nueva Ecija. It pains me to think of that lady being blasted to bits, whereas she went to the mall with friends only to celebrate a recent salary raise.
Understandably, security measures will be tighter at all establishments after this happening. Pervert guards will have a field day fondling mallgoers’ private parts. Corollarily, all sorts of discrimination shrieks will fly all over the place just because some people are Arabic-looking or their bags are bulky or whatever. Goodness, what made the guards think that geeks with a whole library stuffed in their backpacks are terrorists? What spawned the idea that just because one’s religion is Islam or one wears a sari or one grows hair all over one’s face and body, one is a terrorist? The glam lady in her signature bag may likely be carrying a contact lens solution containing some liquid explosives. The corporate-looking yuppie in his business suit may have a mobile phone ready to explode at his bidding. Scream illogical, but we are in the Philippines where people still throng in stampede-worthy multitudes into the malls hours after bomb explosions, let alone bomb scares.
Yes, facial discriminations persist whereas security personnel may well be doing their job effectively if they put their mind to it. Don’t just frisk our privates, Manong Guard! Inspect whether the contents of our bags match the types of explosives you were informed of by the police. Don’t make us produce identification cards for security purposes because we don’t see how pieces of cardboards can defend us from malevolent elements! It appeals to me as funny to think that soon, establishments would issue IDs to let people in. Imagine, flashing one’s SM advantage card just so one can shop bikinis or kitchenware or chandelier at the department store? If one needs to postpone one’s ulcer attacks by running toward the nearest KFC, one has to show passes to the guard. To be able to enjoy a movie premiere of Judy Ann Santos, I need to prove I carry a Robinsons-issued ID and not some psycho out to do a Bona (the film, okay, not the gay lingo) to the young superstar. Not that I look like Nora Aunor’s character in that film nor that I harbor a secret hate toward my Fitrum-endorsing idol. If the reader’s face contorts upon invoking the images of the Philippine superstars, there goes the facial discrimination yet again.
The other night, my Pangga texted to remind me that our anniversary is fast approaching. He even sent the lyrics of an old song that goes, “Bakit ba ganyan/Nais ko’y lagi kang pagmasdan/Umula’t umaraw man’y hindi pagsasawaan/ang iyong…*some text missing*[sic]” then, perhaps in a wish to provide a redeeming value, added, “kagan…kagan…katalinuhan na nga lang.” This is one facial discrimination that borders upon trying to be cute or something. Any graver and my Pangga will get a terrific lashing that my favorite mall guards will get if they inspect my suspicious-looking sling bag and not that of a schoolgirl’s sleek yet probably bomb-containing kikay kit. I will never think twice even if the guards look like Sam Milby and Marc Nelson.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

a country of marching morons

While and after watching the 5th anniversary special of he GMA-7 program Imbestigador entitled “Juan Tanga?”, I was amazed how it was possible to feel all sorts of emotions within a constricted 40-minute period. The more than half-hour show made me experience grief, pity, disgust, embarrassment, anger, disbelief, frustration and amusement over the disheartening decrease of the quality of education in the Philippines.
Whereas the program crew’s man-on-the-street questions to people who made fools of themselves giving wrong answers were not adequate scientific determinants of IQ, that part and the rest of the show revealed something alarming about the plight of Philippine education. If the average Filipino can recognize Angel Locsin playing the popular icon Darna but not the first Filipino president, that is upsetting. If the students in the public schools do not have the best of facilities which promote better learning atmosphere, that is enraging. If the very teachers and books which are the fountainhead of learning are erroneous themselves, that is foul. If 12% of the government budget goes to education yet nothing materializes, that is exasperating. Now, who is to blame? If finger points are flying and yet no one owns up to the accountability regarding this deplorable state, this is all the more infuriating.
A representative of the government agency underscored that everybody is a stakeholder in Philippine education. Thus, if someone says that P is the capital of the Philippines, one is not solely to be punished for one’s stupidity. If the school makes use of its open-air gymnasium as rooms of twenty classes of 85 students, the government is not solely to be the whipping boy. If the teachers cannot recognize why redundant pronouns appear in a book or why a Grade 5 textbook carries an advice on sexually-transmitted diseases, they are not solely the scapegoats. If the family of a student relies on the latter’s ability to be the breadwinner while struggling in school, the family cannot be solely slapped in the face for its lack of conscience. Owing to the absolution of everyone, what any more stake can be talked about?
Yes, intelligence comes in various forms, but the education the Filipinos get in school is something of a survival kit, hence not to be neglected. For one, it is the basis for landing jobs, and with the world increasingly globalizing, the country cannot afford to lag behind others which produce citizens of world-class professional stature. Second, key concepts are not negligible, because these key principles are the very things we apply in daily lives. Sure, a housewife does not need to use radicals or Pythagorean theorems in buying rice, but the simple question on fraction (1/2 + ¼) in the show could have been answered with the analogy of 25-centavo and 50-centavo coins. It makes perfect sense that this housewife can be a genius in marketing, plus she can apply basic math concepts. Since it is made clear that the government—perhaps the most battered scapegoat—is not the only one responsible in improving the literacy and numeracy levels of Filipinos, we should wake up from complacency before the question in the show proves true: that the Philippines is becoming a country of marching morons.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

preserving the little prince

While the world over is bent on burning figuratively all existing literatures in order to cleanse humans of their emotions, I found a single book which should not be burned based on its universality of speech, literary value and relevance to our time. I’m speaking of the charming French novella The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.
The many translations of The Little Prince attest to the universal speech it uses to communicate significant human experiences. No matter what tongue it appears in, the book speaks a language that’s basic to everyone: the humanity in humans. Whether one speaks English or Spanish, Mandarin or Swahili, French or Filipino, The Little Prince employs a common speech that says of love, friendship, and other such things that are far from grown-ups’ concept of matters of consequence. Also, the language the book uses is universal in that readers both young and old get to understand, enjoy and appreciate its contents. Whether one is eight or eighty-eight, he can respond well to the insights being communicated by the book.
The Little Prince’s literary value is so remarkable that to burn the book is committing injustice to the whole of humanity. Written in simple and fluid poetic grace, the book is able to reflect that which is reflected in all good literatures: life. Like the grown-ups that the little prince had met along the way before he reached the earth, most people tend to value things that have short-term or senseless effects on their lives, from prestige to money to social status. This book is distinguished for its capacity to offer insights into the human condition like the invisibility of life’s essentials, the wise necessity of correct self-judgment, and the value of love ones.
The Little Prince has relevance to our time when the whole world is obsessed about pretty follies like material things, fame, skepticism, among other things. It provides a dose for all humans for them to become more introspective and sincere about the matters that are important to them. Because of the world’s current obsessions, it is not free because what it takes for things of consequence is actually a series of monotonous work that takes the life out of human existence. With the book around, humans may have a time to philosophize whether what they pursue are indeed what should give them fullness and happiness. The present world is lacking understanding; The Little Prince possesses relevant truths that make human life all the more worthy of living.
The Little Prince should not be burned. It should be preserved so readers may learn to see a different way of looking at the world.

Monday, October 15, 2007

demokratisasyon sa lipunan: sagisag ng sunog sa "pinaglahuan"

Sa nobelang Pinaglahuan (Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila Press, 2003) ni Faustino Aguilar, ang pagkakasunog sa Maynila sa huling kabanata ay mistulang tugon sa kinakailangang pagbabago sa lipunan gaya ng radikal na demokratisasyon ng mayayaman at mahihirap. Samantalang hinihingi ng simbolong apoy ang pagliit ng espasyo ng naghaharing-uri para makapantay ng mga ito ang uring api, hindi nawalan ng espasyo ang matataas na uri dahil kung susuriin ang istrukturang pang-ekonomiko ng Pilipinas mula sa unang pagkalimbag ng nobela hanggang sa kasalukuyan, hindi nakapangyayari ang radikal na pagbabagong panlipunan.
Sa kabuuuan, patuloy na napangingibabawan ng mayayaman ang mga mahihirap. Halimbawa, hawak pa rin ng mga mayayaman ang mga bahay-kalakal dahil hindi natatapon ang kanilang kapital bagkus ay yumayabong pa samantalang nananatiling namamanginoon ang mga mahihirap kung para lang mabiyayaan sila ng trabaho o matapunan ng kaunting mumo mula sa hapag ng mga naghaharing-uri. Halaw sa unang bahagi ng pamamayagpag ng mga dayuhang kapitalista sa panahon ni Aguilar, repleksyon ng mga pangyayaring hinaharap ang inaasal ni Rojalde: wala siyang katigatigan kahit na “[i]sang mabangis na sunog ang noo’y nangyayari” (p. 340) at unang tumupok sa mga barung-barong, “ngunit hindi man lamang pinansin [ni Rojalde]” (p.341). Kahit ang sunog ay “natatanaw sa di rin naman malayo[,] ay di rin naman nakabakla sa kanya, kahit sandali” (p.341)—isang manipestasyon ng kawalang-bahala ng mga naghaharing-uri na hindi madadamay ang yaman nila, magkaroon man ng apoy na tutupok sa namamagitang espasyo sa kanila at sa mga mahihirap. Manapa pa, mistulang Nero si Rojalde na habang nanonood ng kalunus-lunos na iyakan, hakutan at pulasan sa gitna ng sunog ay “ikinalibang at inaring isang panginoring marikit ang kanyang natatanaw” (p. 341). Kahit sa katagalan ay nadamay at naabo rin nga ang bahay ni Rojalde, paghihiganti pa rin kay Luis ang nasa isip niya, kaya mahihinuhang naisasantabi pa niya ang posibleng pagkawala ng kanyang teritoryo dahil sa koneksyon, impluwensiya at diskarteng elitista, hindi niya dadanasin ang teribleng hirap gaya ng sa mga dukha nang talaga. Para sa mga dukha, wala na nga silang pag-aari ay lalo pang nawalan dahil sa sunog. Hindi maipapara si Rojalde sa kanila dahil makapagsisimula siya gamit ang kaalaman niya, kasama na rito ang kaalamang makakuha sa maraming paraan ng kapital para makapagbangon muli ng kalakal at manatiling bahagi ng naghaharing-uri.
Wala nang pagkakataong mapalawak pa ni Luis ang kanyang espasyo dahil sa pagkamatay niya sa isang pagsabog. Habang buhay sana siya ay may may pahiwatig ng pag-asang makahulagpos sa espasyo ng hirap ngunit naputol na ang kanyang pakikibaka dahil wala na siya para “magbuo pagkatapos” (p.344) ng paggibang dulot ng pagkasunog sa Kamaynilaan. Ang pagkamatay niya sa kulungan ang naghihimatong ng kawalan niya ng pagtakas sa bilangguang espasyo ng kahirapan. Nariyan man ang anak niya kay Danding na sumisimbolo ng bagong pag-asa at panibagong pakikipaglaban ay hindi ito lalaking mahirap bagkus ay hahasain sa espasyo ng karangyaan ni Rojalde. Ang pagsabog ng dinamita ay kumpirmasyon na hindi nagkaroon ng pagbabagong panlipunan kahit pa nagkasunog dahil ang alusyon ni Luis sa “larawan…ng pagtutuos na darating bukas [kasalukuyang panahon], iyang bagong araw na minimithing masilayan ng mga api’t nagtitiis, ng mga dinuduhagi at inaalipin” (p.344) ay hindi na matutupad. Ang apoy na magpapawala sana sa espasyo ng mga naghaharing-uri ay kauri rin ng apoy na nagbura sa espasyo ni Luis. Hindi naging demokratiko ang apoy sa pagtrato sa espasyo ng mga nasa ibabaw at mga nasa ilalim ng hirarkiyang pang-ekonomiko.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

"only so much time:" pondering on gregorio brillantes' "faith, love, time and dr. lazaro"

“…Like love, there was only so much time” is a line that reassures one of the ample moments for important things. Anything rushed consumes time that is always just not enough. That is why there is no adequate time for cramming during exams, shuttling late for work, getting trivialities done through multitasking—activities that are, admittedly and relatively, less significant than spending quality hours with one’s family, bonding with friends, or communicating with God. The latter activities can be savored with so sufficient time that it becomes practically a sin for one to invoke being dead busy,for instance, just so one can skip doing these important rituals.
Certain things cannot be hurried. There is only so much time to spend anticipating the sunrise with one’s beloved, expecting a baby inside a mother’s womb, or watching one’s kid take the first baby steps. These are the very moments that seem to be framed forever because they matter most. They are so precious to one enough to make that one wish that there were seconds, minutes, hours more before the moments expire. Every opportunity available will be called forth in order to delay the ending, because happiness gets embodied not in the end but in the duration of the moment itself. One affects happiness not when the sun has risen but when one, together with the beloved, is anticipating the sun’s rising. Not when the fetus is finally ejected into the world, but when the mother’s womb is growing full while the baby inside is nourished with food and love. Not when the baby finally reaches the finish line for his early steps, but when he slowly goes about, tumbling almost, in his first attempt to walk along the world.
Yes, the end is inevitable, and while one cannot make the world stand still to freeze time, it is the fullness of a life that lends the magic of seemingly prolonged moments. To cite an example, it is not important how many years one has invested in love since that cannot be the basis for that love’s greatness. Time may be fleeting, but in the brief minute that one has shown one true act of love:sacrificing materially or emotionally for one’s beloved, caring for the sick, looking after the welfare of the elderly, needy or weak, and the like—that is when life’s fullness comes into existence, when there is so much time.
Certain things indeed, when done considering the non-wasting of precious fractions of a lifetime, can transform into eternity.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

chinese woman, doubly bound

Inequalities of race-ethnicity and gender, among other categories, shape daily life, all social institutions, government policies and laws. These systems of inequality are the cause of many insecurities. Because of the complexities of these inequalities, an integrated and simultaneous way of looking at these categories is required to be able to understand clearly what inequalities are going on. This presentation will focus on the phenomenon of doubly binding or intersectional forms of discrimination or subordination faced by many Chinese women in the Philippines based on their gender and race or ethnicity. The combined effects of racism and gender discrimination, in particular on migrant, immigrant, indigenous, minority and marginalized Chinese women in the Philippines, has had devastating consequences for their full enjoyment of equality and fundamental human rights in both the public and private spheres. When a nuanced and multi-layered understanding of racially- and gender-instigated social inequalities is achieved, the development of a more accurate and effective response or solution is possible. Working for peace and genuine security means working for women’s liberation, an antiracist, multicultural society, and an end to economic exploitation and social inequality.
Using the framework of L. McIntyre’s “Inequality and Ascription,” I will explore the idea that being a Chinese woman in the Philippines is being in the aforementioned double bind, one bind being perpetuated by an inequality in ethnicity while the other bind by an inequality in gender. First, I will investigate the history behind the discrimination against women as just the second sex. Second, I will investigate the history behind the discrimination against the Chinese as a marginalized sector of the Philippine society. Third, I will interpret how being a Chinese woman in macho Philippines is being in a twofold stricture. After this interpretation, I will attempt to debunk the myths surrounding this combined discrimination against women of ethnic background. Lastly, I will offer ways by which to subvert the prevailing ideologies that discriminate against sex and race.
The Myth of the Second Sex
Based on the prevailing ideology, the male is interpellated and is assigned the dominant identity in the society: the patriarchy. He is not forced to embrace this mechanism of recognition he responds to, but merely accepts as natural the position given him. The material apparatuses in which are associated the system of meanings position the male with the patriarchal condition of his existence. Ideological State Apparatuses (ISAs) like the school, church, family, media, among others, are institutions that help ideology work for the male to act accordingly or °consistently with the values of society by inculcating in them the dominant versions of appropriate behaviour” as prescribed and as expected of him by the society, °to enable [him] to work within the existing social formation.”
Meanwhile, the female is obligated to take the dominated identity. A velvet-covered iron hand mechanism also makes the female accept the role assigned to her, as propagated by the same ISAs that put the male on top. For instance, in a largely patriarchal society like the contemporary Philippines, the male makes and enacts the final decision while the female succumbs to this decision. He has the last say on everything, inasmuch as he is predetermined to be a wise decision-maker, being a male whereas the female remains silent, being determined to decision follower. Even when a consensus is arrived at between sexes, the male’s ultimate judgment has apparent influence on it, not the female’s.
Likewise, the male is viewed as the master whereas the female, the slave. He is the supreme authority over everyone—someone not to be questioned, much less disobeyed especially by the female subordinate. Corollarily, he is unyielding to anyone, especially to a female. He wields power in order to perform his role as outright ruler; thereby, he is made a classic macho. The female, on the other hand, yields to the power of the male. She is the ruled, and must perform the male’s order in her capacity as the slave.
Also, the male is deemed the home’s breadwinner while the female, the homemaker. He is the prime provider for the family while the female stays home to raise his family. Because of him, the family is well-fed, dwells comfortably at home, and grows an integral, normal part of the society, productive conditions that are not accorded to the female partner who rules the home.
In addition, the male is an important/special being while the female, ordinary, unimportant. Between a male and a female, the female is considered less important to the patriarchal society. The works of intellect, strength, technology and such are attributed to his genius, her genius being considered inferior.
Finally, the male is considered an emergent winner in most disciplines and endeavors, if not everything. He is not expected to lose out a portion of his undertaking, especially to a female. Whatever it is that she engages in, be it sports, politics, business, profession, science and the like, the female is not set out to conquer it, only the male can and will.
The aforementioned examples are manifestations that the society is subjected to phallogocentrism, a concept that “rests on the dubious metaphor of a penis having some equivalence with a quest for unity, totality and monologism, and hence totalitarianism and repression.” Because the concept spells violence against the female sex accompanying said quest, it is necessary to point out that this is male violence, which is to show the domination of patriarchal society.
French feminists Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray and Helene Cixous concur with the perception that basically, the hegemonic Western culture is oppressive because it is phallogocentric. Whereas the singular center of the universe is the male, the otherwise uncharted rest of it is the collective other, the female. In which case, the female is already violated by this other-ness by means of the construction of male as the father and possessor of the phallus, the ultimate symbol of patriarchy. As mentioned earlier, the penis symbolizes a search for °unity, totality and monologism, and that penis differentiates the male form the penis-lacking female. However, the female is also a human being; thus, she must be accorded the same respect and equal footing given to the male. It may be that all along, this penis-signified quest is the exploration of the one, harmonious co-existence of the male and the female. Then again, the gendered subject that is the female assumes her societal role with a different power than that of the male.
The ideology of patriarchy has had a decisive influence on the fate of women in most cultures across the world. Male dominance has been made legitimate in law and custom. The political, professional and corporate worlds have been presumed to be natural environments for men while for women, if only to have a space or place of their own, the natural environment was presumed to be the privacy of the home. Different cultures or religions might allude to this category of roles on the toughness and nobility needed for professional, public and corporate service—the need for males to have a sense of the big picture—as opposed to females whose horizons and loyalties were limited to the family and clan. Hence, the private family role forced on most women formed part of the standard for making them ineligible for political, corporate and professional roles. In effect, there is a prejudice against women because the males are accorded the meatier roles in the society based no the notion that they are the more productive citizens and the most women can do is play second fiddle to them.
The Marginal Chinese in Pinoy Country
After a discussion of how social inequality happens between sexes, a discusion of how another social inequality happens by virtue of race or ethnicity, taking into consideration the plight of the Chinese people in the Philippines. Pejorative terms like “Intsik,” “Beho” and “Tsekwa” are but some samples of discrimination against the Chinese in this country. These derogations are made not only because of looking down on the Chinese race but also because of envy over its capability to survive the most impoverishing times as well as its thriftiness and business expertise. History has compelled the Chinese to isolate themselves in order to safeguard themselves from extrinsic risks and social injustices, among other threats experienced by migrants. This has resulted the racial tension emanating between the Filipinos and the Chinese. Since this is the Filipino country, the Chinese are, territorially, the marginalized.
The Filipino prejudice against the Chinese is prevalent. First, the Chinese are depicted as very rich although the source of this wealth is doubtful. They are frugal store owners hiding as unprincipled capitalists. In order to acquire power albeit illegally, they are pictured to corrupt political personages. Second, the Chinese are frequently pictured as abnormally sexual beings. Chinese males are supposed to be forcing women to submit to them. Also, the very first signs of Sinophobia in the country was rooted to the banishment of the Chinese by the Spaniards owing to the rumors that they were the ones who had taught sodomy among Filipinos. Third, the Chinese are said to be ill mannered and ignorant, loathsome for their opium addiction, and a butt of jokes.
The Doubly bound Chinese woman
In “Inequality and Ascription,” social inequality involving race and gender had been prevalent across cultures and history. The struggle against it became apparent after the effects of industrialization had been felt. No matter the intensity of the struggle to become equal with everybody else, not everyone succeeded. For example, not all who garnered money as a result of their industry got to access rights and privileges. Most of them were misjudged or discriminated because of their stereotyped ethnicity or gender. They were considered just too different and no matter how they approximate the power wielded by others, they will only manage to become second-class.
This is not entirely untrue to the experience of Chinese women in the Philippines. Marginalized as they are, they are located at intersections by virtue of their racial and gender identities and must negotiate the traffic that flows through these intersections to avoid harm and to gather resources for the normal activities of life. This can be dangerous when the traffic flows simultaneously from many directions. Injuries are sometimes created when the impact from one direction throws victims into the path of oncoming traffic, while on other occasions, injuries occur from simultaneous collisions. These are the contexts in which intersectional injuries occur—when multiple disadvantages or collisions interact to create a distinct and compound dimension of disempowerment. In the case of Chinese women in the Philippines, the intersection of their Chinese identity with that of their gender is no exemption.
Take the example of a relative who was forced into arranged marriage to another Chinese after her parents discovered that she was having an affair with a non-Chinese. She even had to sacrifice her stellar scholarship in a premier university in the Philippines because her beloved belonged there, too. The ideologies that informed her in school did not help a lot when she was grounded initially, and then compelled to be betrothed to a man she barely knew. She said, “it was very difficult to assert my opinion just because it weighs less than that of my father. His decision prevailed, and I got married to someone I did not love.” Notice that the last part of her final sentence is in the past tense, which could mean that she has learned to accept her fate of having to love her husband even against her will—a proof of dehumanization on her womanhood. This occurred in the context of the Chinese culture of marrying only one’s own race, presumably to preserve the cultural heritage if not the economic enjoyment. Against the will of the patriarch, the Chinese female’s will cannot prevail, even if it involved her own destiny. She is disempowered as she has no equal right to the Chinese men, who relish the notion that they can marry non-Chinese women since they are men—dominant, intelligent, capable—anyway. The same is not accorded to Chinese women, so they are trapped into marrying Chinese men only, lest they be ostracized by the Chinese community for marrying a huanna (native Filipino) or some other nationality.
Or the example of the Chinese woman who had to give way to a younger brother in inheriting their business, since the sibling is male and she, while the eldest, is disqualified for being a female. “I feel that my business degree was useless,” laments the interviewee. “I thought that the modern world has thought my father to flow with the radical change, but to no avail, ” she adds. She went on to say that getting married to a business-owning Chinese man did not help change her plight, for the husband just let her rule the home. She claimed that her business acumen cannot be applied anymore, for it has been 15 years and the husband overlooked her plea to participate in the corporate management. She felt that she was atrophying for her children have since grown up and she has lots of time to do productive works, except that she was not offered the opportunity to do so.
Or take the example of my Chinese schoolmates’ experiences when they ventured outside their cloistered existence in their exclusive Chinese girls’ school into the different universities they got admitted in. Rarely have they not been confronted by slurs like they are “dominating” the campus, “denying other Filipinos the privilege of getting slots in the State U[niversity],” “crowding too much,” driving away the mestizas or simply “intsik.” While they all underwent a democratic process of college admission, criticisms still flew left and right since they, discriminators argue, have better chances because of their resources and, objectionably, connections. They are perceived to be less beautiful compared to mestizas whereas beauty is relative and, historically, the Chinese were the original mestizo titleholder. They have failed to perceive that owing to their assimilation into the Philippine setting, they have become more Filipino than Chinese. They seem so much of a threat to men and non-Chinese in terms of academic competition, among other social aspects.
This structural discrimination wherein policies intersect with underlying structures of inequality creates a compounded burden for particularly vulnerable women like the Chinese. Hence, the Chinese women in the Philippines may experience specific forms of gender discrimination where they are vulnerable because of their race or ethnicity. On the other hand, marginalized women may be subject to specific forms of racial discrimination simply because of their gendered location within their communities. Thus, the racism they experience may affect them in ways which are different from that experienced by men in their communities. Yet another manifestation of structural discrimination happens when the policy in question interacts with background structures thus creating burdens that disproportionately affect marginalized women. Structural adjustment programs within developing and transitional economies, although not specifically targeted at women, can lead to increased poverty for marginalized women. The Chinese women can possibly experience this when, for instance, the Philippine government will implement a law prioritizing native Filipinos for employment or for owning businesses. Neither they nor their husbands or fathers will have an economic access within the country, then. It may be far-fetched, but possible. It had happened before when the Chinese were banished in the parian during the Spanish colonial period; the isolation could happen again. Whatever the type of intersectional discrimination, the consequence is that different forms of discrimination are more often than not experienced simultaneously by marginalized women. But the reality of their lives shaped as it is by disadvantage and social injustice is ignored and lies unaddressed within the traditional framework of understanding gender and racial discrimination because of a lack of a holistic approach to gender and racial discrimination.

Subverting the macho and racist ideologies
Feminism as a political and social movement emerged out of a specific socio-historical condition that had prescribed a subordinate position for women. The society’s mono-sex system had played a pivotal role in validating men and repressing women. Feminism set as its agenda the overthrow of this oppressive condition which had curtailed women’s psychological development. Women must assume, as all subjugated people tend to, that access into conventional arenas of power would correct the structural gender inequities of the mono-sex system. In attempting to wrest control of their lives from men, women must view whatever men did as representing power, and seek inclusion as the only viable option to be empowered. Equality means access in the domain of men.
Likewise, racism must not proliferate. The Chinese as capitalist exploiter must be interpreted not in terms of ethnicity but in terms of class. The Chinese are not solely the exploiters, nor are the victims solely Filipinos. Even the poor Chinese experience exploitation by their rich compatriots. Being compradors is not tied up to race but instead, tied up to class. Also, lust is not a problem of ethnicity. That the Chinese is an abnormally sexual race is not backed up by any scientific study. Finally, while vices are not dominated by a single race, neither are virtues. The Chinese have virtues worth emulating. A more balanced view of the Philippine Chinese must be stressed.
A succession of freedom movements expressing the human striving for liberation in Western society has already brought its influx into these islands. As an oppressed majority, women point to a basic and persistent form of domination which is expressed in the various social customs regarding the man-woman relationship. As they strive to break the peculiar chains of sexism, they must become aware of their solidarity with all those who aspire for full human liberation. Learning from others, they must also contribute their own perspective to what is happening in the rapidly changing institutions of society. Also, human liberation means new consciousness of oppression and rising expectations concerning the future. Oppressed people such as the Chinese in the Philippines must begin the process of liberation by negating the negative of the present situation. It is this discovery that frees them to discover their humanity. This is a phenomenon which points to the growing awareness that humanization involves freedom to participate in shaping one's own destiny. It is at this critical juncture that the broad perspective of sexism and racism must converge. It is critical that the perception of the nature of oppression, and the vision of the new freedom not be one-sided. For when analyzing the nature of past oppression it is quickly realized that part of the disease has been the inherent one-sidedness of the definitions of social reality.
A collective struggle against sexism has real implications for racism and vice versa. The struggle for liberation is a struggle toward a new humanness, and that anti-discrimination based on either dare not happen apart from any other struggle. The seeds which spawn the racist mentality also spawn the sexist mentality, though the results differ in both their historical manifestations and degree of oppression. Strugglers must reflect upon the general nature of oppression and the context which it sets for human liberation. It is critical to any group of women working toward liberation to take a careful look at sexism and racism in order to build an understanding of their similarities and differences. If institutional change is to be effected, there is a need to capitalize upon the similarities but to acknowledge and be sensitive to the differences realistically. This will enable the Chinese woman to build a community of trust with the rest of the society and also affirm the nature of pluralism within a context of unity. Any attitude, action or institutional structure which systematically subordinated a person or group because of their Chinese ethnicity or because of their female sex should be stopped.

Friday, October 12, 2007

of crabs and butterflies

Someone has brought me to hospitals like the Quirino Memorial Center and National Kidney Transplant Institute, but in effect brought me to farther places.

Both QMC and NKTI have the certain aura of the hospital. Both smell of antiseptic, which takes away the microscopic dirt, renders the place clean. The dominant color is white, which makes the appearance of everything pure, immaculate. The faces are serene, as in angels’. But why is it that in the purity, something is missing? Is it the possibility that the smell permeates in the food, making the patients lose their appetites? Is it with the whiteness that matches the wan faces?
We arrived there in batches. Though we are characteristically noisy, we had to pay homage to the hospitals’ sanctity. We were told from the very beginning that we have to be quiet, lest we want to add up to the inconvenience felt by the patients who are asleep in brief interludes. Sometimes, places like these become eerily quiet, they’re almost resembling the cemetery. In a moment’s separation from the outside reality, everything fell in a sudden hush. It seems to me that pain and illness and discomfort all have to be enveloped in silence.

I was told that the kids have cancer. For so young a life, their joy had to be short-lived. I imagine the portion of flesh, mimicking an invisible crab. When it hurts, does the crab pinch the flesh? When the body twists in pain, does the crab want to spill out of the skin? When the patient howls in earnest, does the crab laugh or cry with him? When the back hurts, are the kidneys being invaded by little crabs trying to house themselves into the bean-shaped organs?
I like to think a butterfly instead floats atop a cancer patient’s head. That way, I need not think of pincers piercing through the flesh when attacking. There is no carapace making the comfort elusive to the patient. When a butterfly moves about, it flutters its wings noiselessly. Does it land on a patient’s hair? But he’s asleep now, so maybe the butterfly is not to keen on torturing the patient. He is peaceful, the face of a cherub registering on his countenance. The universe of his world is at peace.
Others seem ordinary kids: they chatter, except that they cannot move about listlessly. They are warned not to move around lest they hurt themselves. Fancy thinking they have arms, legs, yet they cannot run, tumble, play as ordinary boys and girls do. A young boy reads from a list which looks like a medical prescription of all the pills he has to take in. He looks away, face in a pensive mood. He is young, and yet he effects a pilgrim who has wearily traveled across the globe.
We brought them cakes. For the first time, we see their eyes glisten. Smiles become plastered on their faces. Some had become ashamed since tears stood in their eyes. Is the crab hurting her again? Is the moan of pain too much for the boy to bear that he can’t even smile despite the black forest resting next to him? Some kids shared their cakes with somebody else. It is touching to see that in the throes of death, even friendship does not even care to blink. They spoon a slab of cake and feed each other. Some have the desire to join us in our singing, but their voices were long lost, as in a violin that refused to sing. They sit next to us and do a lip synch: their mouth with remnants of sweets, they appear innocent yet their sickness makes them seem like veterans in the game of life.
Visiting the cancer-stricken children is one of the life-learning and memorable experiences I have had not only because it is my first time to take part in this kind of activity but also because it teaches me many values in life. I am able to see the two sides of life which makes me learn how to appreciate the promising life I have compared to that just as promising and yet early in getting life’s blow. I am able to feel how difficult it is to fight for your life when the enemy is inside you. Thus, as a healthy person, I wish the kids would have better chances at recovery in order for them to enjoy their lives. Also, this activity teaches me on how to appreciate life in whatever length or lack thereof. What is important is that life is lived to the fullest, no matter how long or short.
Stepping onto the hospital premises has sent me to a place farther removed from reality. This is where life and death meets. People want to ask why there should be life if it is going to be short after all. But that must be the point why God sent the crabs crawling and the butterfly fluttering: that however brief life can be, it can be lived to its fullness. Life can still be doled out of this brevity. There is no point at having to live to a hundred when no other life has touched yours. There is no sense in living a long life that is devoid of love and care and concern from others.
Being able to share a portion of my lifetime to kids who won’t enjoy it as much as they wanted makes me feel like I am responsible not only for myself but also for others. It would have been easy to say I can live as an island, but that is an exercise in futility. I will always be a life in tangency with other lives and in this case, these are my siblings whom I am spending a part of my life with. While they still belong to the earth, it is my duty to be with them, to make them happy before the crabs take them away from me.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

sugal: isang kuwentong kutsero

Pabaling-baling na ako sa aking kama kakaisip kung anu-ano pang materyal na bagay ang mabibili ko sa pagkamal ng malaking halaga ng pera. Malapit nang magbukang-liwayway nang dalawin ako ng antok dahil para akong uod na binudburan ng asin sa kalikutan ko sa kamang iniilusyon kong punung-puno ng perang papel na may iba’t ibang kulay. Hangad kong sa pagkapanalo sa sugal, mahihiga ako at hahalakhak na parang baliw sa kamang nalalatagan ng sandamakmak na pera gaya ng napapanood ko sa ilang pelikula.
Puyat man nang nagdaang gabi at nangangalumata, napansin ko sa pagpasok ko sa paaralan na maraming estudyanteng tulad ko ang tumataya sa sugal base sa ending ng laro sa NBA. Naibulong ko sa sarili kong normal na ang kalakaran ito sa paaralan namin. Lohikal na kilos ko ang magpatianod sa agos ng normal kaya lumapit ako sa isang bookie at nagpalista ng aking taya. Binuklat ko ang aking pitaka at siniguradong nakaipit pa rito ang ang pao na nakuha ko sa nakaraan kong kaarawan. Sinilip ko at nabilang ang laman sa isip: dalawampung malulutong na bughawing tig-iisang libo. Nagkibit-balikat ako dahil kaya ko namang bayaran ang talo ko pero ang mahalaga, nakatuon ang pansin ko sa paghawak ng makapal na bungkos ng salapi matapos maianunsiyo sa Internet ang resulta ng basketbol sa Amerika.
Ngunit natalo ako, kaya lumipad mula sa mga palad ko ang regalong natanggap ko. Matiim ang desisyon kong mabawi ang talo ko, kaya nga sa mga sumunod na araw, madalas akong kumonsulta sa bookie para tumaya sa sugal. Ang masaklap, limang beses na akong tumaya, ni minsan ay hindi ko pa naranasang masayaran sa kamay ng makapal na bungkos ng pera tanda ng pagkapanalo. Nag-aalala na ako sapagkat nabawasan na ng P180,000 ang laman ng aking libro sa bangko. Naalarma ako kung anong bugso ng emosyon ang magrerehistro sa mukha ng aking mga magulang kung matuklasan nila ang kalokohan ko, kaya nahati ang loob ko kung tataya pang muli o hindi na.
Minsan na lang, napgdesisyunan ko. Isang tayaan na lang, kaya lalakihan ko na. Nagtuos ako sa papel at lumitaw na dapat akong maghain ng P250,000 taya para magbalik sa akin ang talo ko. Habang nasa kainitan ng klase hanggang sa biyahe pauwi ng bahay, okupado ang isip ko kung paano magkakaroon ng ganun kalaking pera.
Sa paglinga-linga ko sa loob ng bahay pagdating mula sa paaralan, lumapag ang tingin ko sa relong Audermars, nakapatong na parang nag-aanyayang damputin ko mula sa tokador sa kuwarto ng mga magulang ko. Gusto kong ibenta ang relong ito ng nanay ko para magkaroon ng perang sapat na pantaya sa sugal. Kaya ko namang palitan iyon ng class A o fake na Audemars para hindi mahalata ng nanay ko kung isusuot niya ito para sa mga okasyon sa labas ng bahay. Nagtalo sa isip ko ang demonyong sumususog na kunin ko ang relo at ang anghel na nagpapaalaalang masama ang magnakaw. Inisip ko ang malaking talo ko at ang halagang kailangan kong mapanalunan para makabawi. Sa huli, tumalikod na lang ako pabalik ng aking kuwarto dahil hindi ko nagawang magnakaw para sa pansarili kong interes. Masyado nang brutal na ikompromiso ko ang aking dignidad para lang magkapera.
Paglatag ng katawan ko sa ibabaw ng kama, pumikit ako para magdasal na sana, manalo na ako sa susunod kong pagtaya, Tutal, huling pagkakataon ko na ito, dahil ayokong malulong sa sugal. Hindi ko direktang sasabihin kung natupad ang pakikipagtawaran ko sa tadhana para makabawi sa pagkatalo ko, pero mas mainam ang buhay ko ngayong hindi na ako nakikipagsapalaran sa sugal. Kung ayaw mong maniwala, pustahan pa tayo.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

empty: a fictional vignette

It’s not about my height. It’s not the about his being vegetarian. It would have been easy to blame the alignment of stars or the personal temperaments, but I guess the latter would count more than the reading of zodiac signs. The guy I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, is now the same guy I wanted to get a life and leave mine undisturbed. And to think he may not be knowing at all how I felt toward him as of the moment.
I am faithful to many things. People who went to some special place would leave me stones or twigs or paper pieces which they believe to have been touched by the mysterious forces of nature, turning the lifeless things into amulets. I keep them all now in a fishbowl, and ask favors from them as I would from a miniature Buddha figure or a wooden cross. If I did not trust in their supposed powers, they would have long belonged to the trash bin. Also, the culture in which my family raised me up in has me putting faith in this superstition or that, so even when an obsessive house help accidentally dropped the house’s bagua, I asked my parents to keep the chipped mirror in my room if they wished to replace it with a new one, if not replace the erring maid with another, more careful one. Finally, long-lasting things such as my romantic relationship had to be treated with fresh faith every once in a while. I had such trust in my boyfriend that it cannot be another girl (or worse, another boy) that caused our falling out. He must have gotten tired of losing ground over me.
My boyfriend first complained about our different schools. Our rival universities’ basketball fanaticism notwithstanding, he protested that in his free time, I had classes and in mine, he had compulsory field training in football. I arranged for a visit in his campus one lunchtime, practically dragging my driver away from my parents’ earlier appointments, only to be dismayed that my boyfriend has left two hours before to interview a controversial politician for his Political Science course. I got so pissed off, I never allowed him to touch my tear-smeared face with his floral-printed handkerchief when he rushed to my house to make amends. Not as if I planned to get back, but when he himself surprised me with a call telling he was in a restaurant along Katipunan straight from faraway Taft, I braved the stares and angered whispers of the audience of the play I was watching just so I might send my apologies to my boyfriend. In the middle of the act where the epic character had his body dirt cause river pollution and fishkill, I imagined my boyfriend muttering his disappointment over the phone receiver and dabbing his eyes with his flowery hanky just so the tears would dry.
Next complaint was our sets of friends. Hard as we try to be kind with our respective barkadas, we end up being kind of what-have-you to them. His male friends must have been the bad influence to him, since one time, he smelled like a goat with his cigarette smoke odor. I confronted him when he started puffing tar sticks, and he dramatically replied: “Since you drifted away.” Meanwhile, he turned his nose against my girl friends, most of whom, he suspected, were actually advising me to leave him for another guy. “How could you be so paranoid about these people who never show you any disgust even when you are in a foul mood?” He would stand to leave, but not before telling me that he got my set of barkadas for his rival. “You’re so into them,” he would accuse me. I wish I could defend myself or my friends, but I feared he would get so unreasonable that he would sense I was carrying a lesbian relationship with any of my girl friends.
The last protest consisted of false illusions about each other. While he was courting me, he was extra sweet, exerting effort to find out my favorites and offer them every time he visited. It got me to wondering how he was able to find out my love for chick flicks because the first time he invited me to watch the premiere screening of “Bridget Jones’ Diary,” I knew I have to love this person as well. Several months after reciprocating this guy’s love, I was back to being alone in my movie watching, he tagging along only when it gave him the opportunity to fall asleep in the middle of the screening. Meanwhile, he blamed me for the same fault too: he said I was sugar-like the first few months of answering him, but sweet turned sour when the relationship reached half a year, according to him. Thinking it over, the first semester of our love was eventful because I had not many things to occupy me. I suddenly realized that by the second half, I entered organizations, my academic load got heavier, my reading fare got bulkier, and so, how could I possibly plaster an innocent smile in the face of all school-related works?
When he proposed a cool off, I was rather relieved, thankful even. That meant there would be fewer chances for us to hurt each other now that we were giving one another more time and space to reflect and breathe on. I was about to take one step ahead by proposing a breakup when he beat me to it—he asked for a complete separation when he did not feel my pain over having to recover our previous tempers for a while. I was affirmative; I thought his absence would do wonders in my life because I could focus more on my studies, and that I had time to reassess my feelings, which could very well placed for a better guy than my immediate past boyfriend.
I was wrong. The day he went away, I believed I should have stuck to my previous belief that this guy was the one with whom I was going to spend my whole lifetime. I felt that no other guy could have been sweeter, more caring, more surprising than he. As his absence grew, I had a feeling not so unlike the time I lost my phone. All the directory entries I have lost access to, all the multimedia items I cannot browse and laugh at once more, all the messages I cannot go back to when I want them. I could only call on my imagination to bring the phone’s memories back to me, how would the case be with the person who actually caused most of these remembrances extraordinary? I have driven him away, and now it’s difficult to relive again the good old times, when my side of the bench is empty, empty with the person I could spell the memories back to life.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

a trek to the national museum

Going to the National Museum of the Philippines is an exhilarating experience especially when I consider it as a fortress of my country’s natural and cultural wealth. My visit to that stronghold of my nation’s heritage infused me with pride and nationalism and made me aware of my cultural identity.
Built in 1901 and presently housed in the Old Congress Building at the heart of Manila, the National Museum boasts of galleries featuring Philippine ethnographic, historical, artistic, scientific and cultural resources, all of which crystallize the Filipino body, of which I am an integral part. Seeing the San Diego china and pottery wreckages in Galleries I, IV and V left me in awe because of the richness of my country’s history, all the more when I saw the best of Philippine visual arts featured in Gallery 2, which made me conscious of the natural Filipino talent. Gallery III which showcases my islands as a vital pre-colonial link of sea-trading East Asian countries fills me with pride because of the importance my country played during the ancient times. The Pinagmulan Gallery amazed me because I was given an alternative story of my Filipino origin. The next gallery, aptly named Kahihinatnan, gave me a better understanding of the diversity of the present Filipinoculture. The cloth and object theater gallery primed me with the textile tradition in my country as well as the odyssey the Filipinos have undergone and continue to undergo.
The National Museum is the collective pride of the Filipinos, and my becoming more conscious of my cultural idiosyncrasy adds to that pride all the more. It serves as a window to the national horizon.

Monday, October 08, 2007

sa loob ng chatroom

Narito pero hindi narito. Hindi kabilang pero kasamang-kasama. Nag-iisa ngunit maraming kahalubilong lumilisaw-lisaw, nakaupo, nakatalungko, nakahiga, nakikipagkuwentuhan, nakikipagligawan, nakikipaghuntahan o nakikipagbangayan sa loob ng chatroom. Sa kalagitnaan ng mala-limbong komunidad ng pandaigdigang Internet, nawawasak ang mga pader na bumabakod sa maraming teritoryo. Binago ng modernong aparatong ito ang konstruksyon ng mga relasyong sosyal, sa pananalasa ng makabagong ideyolohiyang impluwensiya ng Kanluran sa dakong ito ng ating pinaliit na planeta.
Sa pagpasok sa isa sa mga silid sa birtuwal na Pilipinas, maliwanagan sa pasintabing hindi sagutin ng tagapamagitan ang mga kabastusan o kabalahuraan sa wika o kontekstong lilitaw habang nasa chatroom. Dito pinaigting ang kawalang moral sa kapwa tao dulot ng paggamit ng makabagong karunungan. Pumili sa mga ‘di-punong kuwarto upang makapasok nang mabilis; kahit sabihin pang handog ng modernismo ang tulin sa birtuwal na mundo, hindi ito perpektong aparato. Nakikita at nakakausap ang kasama, madarama ang kahulugan ng ngiti at kakintalan ng pangmukhang ekspresyon, ngunit alam na wala talaga siya. Sa kanyang pakikipagtipan, maaaring nasa kabilang kanto lang siya, nasa kanugnog na siyudad, o nasa isang lugar sa katimugang bahagi ng kapuluan.
Gaya sa nalagas na dahon ng kahapon, aasta siyang may interes sabihin mang kaakit-akit lahat ng tao sa paligid, mababae man, malalaki, at kabuuan ng kasarian sa pagitan. Maari naman siyang pumili sa mga ito, ngunit lalapit siya, makikipagkilala, makikipaghuntahang animo walang tumatakbong oras sa bagong mundong ito. Kung dati, kinakailangan pang magsibak ng kahoy, mag-igib, magbataris ng kung anu-anong gawaing-bahay at mag-usap lang sa sulat, ayos na ngayon ang magkasama, magkakilanlan habang nakaupong magkatabi, magpalitan ng kuru-kuro bilang paraan ng ligawan, magsabihan ng mga bagay-bagay tungkol sa sarili, pag-aaral, karera, interes, paboritong kulay, artista at bilang ng naging kasintahan, walang pigilan, walang batas na kailangang iobserba. Relatibong walang hirap basta mahusay mangusap. Bilangin ang mga magkakasama, babae man sa lalaki, kaparehong kasarian o samu’t saring samahan, at mahihinuhang sa tagumpay ng mga silid-tagpuang ito, ano pa ang magiging bago sa talastasan sa pagitan ng mga Filipino?
Sa isang sulok ng kuwarto, mamamasdan ang kabuuan ng kuwartong pinasok. Mistula itong sala kung saan magaang lahat ng usapan at Gawain, kumpleto sa mga upuan, kutkutin, plorera, malamlam o maaari ring buhay na buhay na ilawan. Sa kalapitan nito sa reyalidad, matitikman ang tsitsaron o adobong maning pinagsasaluhan, masasamyo ang halimuyak ng rosas na nakapalumpon sa makitid na baso, at maginhawa ang pakiramdam sa malakutsong lambot ng sopa. Panatag ang loob sa silid na itong hindi tambayan ng iilan lang at hindi kung sinu-sino. Sa ibang chatroom kaya, sa kabulgaran at katapangan ng maraming panauhin, mas masahol pa kaya sila sa mga asong walang kahihiyang nagtatalik sa maruming kalye? Kung isinasaalang-alang man nila ang pagkakaroon ng kahalintulad ng simpleng batas panlupa, hanggang saan nila nalilimitahan ang sarili sa pipiliing birtuwal na pananamit, ayos ng sarili, porma ng mukha, isasa-katauhang personalidad? Sa chatroom, puwede kahit anong maaabot ng imahinasyon; lamang, hindi ito totohanang mahahawakan, mapipindot, malalasahan, masisinghot, o maririnig. Nandito nga, pero wala talaga rito.
Ito ang lipunan ngayon: birtuwal, nakapalaman sa esensya ng mahihipo-‘di mahihipo. Walang teritoryong maghihiwalay sa isa’t isa dahil ang dagat-dagatan ay matutulay na. May sapat na kalayaang pumasok sa alinmang bakuran, dahil wala naman talagang bakuran kung tutuusin. Sa loob ng chatroom, imposible ang posible ngunit posible pa rin ang imposible.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

eco’s echo: the strike of conscience in a civil action

Some people are willing to sell their souls to the devil for the love of money. What’s worse in this materialistic pursuit, they can go the length of sacrificing not only innocent people within their immediate sphere but also the environment from which their much of their lives depend on.
Such is the case of the giant food companies that allegedly caused the various fatal cases of leukemia in the Steve Zaillan 1998 film A Civil Action. The companies mentioned had poisoned the water supply of a small town, and when the families of the deceased children sought the legal advice of Atty. Jan Schlichtmann (John Travolta), it was to force the companies to clean up the contaminated areas even as they were the town’s main employer.
The dilemma appeared as soon as the environmental issue did: for the companies to cease operation when their engagement was an income-generating one, or for companies to proceed with their money-making goal at the expense of the people who would suffer illnesses due to the company operation. When they choose the former, that would mean affecting the employment of not a few workers in the area. When they choose the latter, they would be at the risk of incurring diseases as a result of the continued ill-inducing operations of the companies. In the movie, the companies were slapped with suits demanding for the deceased’s compensation, but the attempts to get away imply how more valuable it was for these companies to amass money than to appease the victims of their toxic chemicals. It was beyond these companies’ efforts to help reduce the environmental hazard by rechanneling their wastes; after all, their profit would not be slashed if they simply vomit their toxins into the waters. The companies were not conscience-stricken that their gathering of wealth has a price to pay, but then again, they do not have conscience to begin with.
The movie points a steady finger at us that if the concerned would not budge from the seat of complacency, then it’s about time that we take a civil action just like what the orphaned families and, eventually, Atty. Jan did. For as long as we allow our ecology to be raped and for this violation to create serious repercussions on us, then their will be more companies to generate environmental problems until such time it’s too late to perform an action. Represented by the complaining families, our conscience needs to be answered so we can try to unburden Mother Nature of her woes if greedy companies would not. After all, helping revive the very source of our lives is a gift we can give not only to ourselves who are sustained by Nature but also to the next generations who deserve to share their part of God’s bounty.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

liquefied petroleum gas: an alternative fuel

This paper is about Liquefied Petroleum Gasoline as a good alternative fuel for vehicles. While still unpopularly used in the Philippines , Liquefied Petroleum Gasoline has beneficial effects to the country and people in terms of economy, sustainability and safety. However, LPG is still less preferred than other vehicle fuels. Nevertheless, LPG can be used as an alternative fuel for vehicles. As such, LPG use can bring economic boost to the country. With LPG's benefits, it should be used at a more comprehensive scale.

Alternative fuels for cars are a consuming issue across the globe. A cursory inspection of any city in the world will make one realize that a common problem emanates: exhaust fumes from petrol- or diesel-powered engines have produced smogs and decreased the quality of air that humans breathe. Hence, alternative fuels for vehicles have become so vital in human life. In the recent decades, leaders in many nations have put a step forward to control the amounts of noxious exhaust emissions hanging in city atmospheres. In the Philippines , the air is so dirty that vehicular exhausts can actually be seen in their dark, filthy glory. A practical alternative to these car fuels has to be discovered. It seems inevitable that with the terrible way humans have messed with Mother Earth, restrictive rules will be used more comprehensively in the near future and that drivers will need to be more conscious and conscientious of the ways they can remain plying the major thoroughfares. Worldwide acceptance of alternative fuels is the cleaner manner ahead, so here leads Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), the most versatile of the alternative fuels. Historically, LPG has been used as a motor fuel by tens of thousands of fleet users, agricultural machinery, and materials handling equipment for over eighty years. LPG powers innumerable school buses, taxis, police cruisers, forks lifts, farm tractors, among other vehicles. Although still unpopularly used in the Philippines , LPG has beneficial effects to the country and people in terms of economy, sustainability and safety.
While among the alternative fuels ready to be swapped with the more expensive and more air pollution-causing conventional gasoline, the LPG is less preferred than other vehicle fuels. For one, motorists are still accustomed to using other vehicle fuels. Klima Climate Change Center (2007) views that gasoline and diesel constitute about 99% of consumed transport fuels across the globe and relish wide support and dedicated infrastructure for their extraction, refining, distribution, and eventual consumption. All major gas stations carry mostly, sometimes only gasoline and diesel. Motorists use diesel gasoline. Motorists also use unleaded gasoline. Pedrasa (2007) asserts that the mindset of Filipinos remain concentrated to gasoline or diesel. Frontline (2007) quotes Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla that even with alternative fuels around, vehicles will still depend primarily on old-fashioned gasoline and diesel. The small figures of gas stations serving LPG as vehicle fuels show that autogas has yet to relish the popularity being enjoyed currently by diesel and gasoline (Pedrasa, 2007). The country has yet to manifest a commitment to autogas in rendering motor engines running (Pedrasa, 2007). This is despite the fact that oil prices in the world market are always steep whereas their exhausts are so harsh that they cause respiratory ailments, air pollution and unsightly surroundings. Another reason for LPG’s unpopular preference is that motorists cannot access LPG in most gasoline stations. LPG is not yet listed in most oil offerings in many gas stations. Likewise, motorists' doubts about the safety of using LPG overshadow the positive view on LPG as an alternative vehicle fuel. LPG is associated with that used in cooking, which is known to cause many domestic hazards. Salazar (2003) sees that LPG would always sow fear when used as fuel in vehicles. Ho (2007) reports that this is not unfounded, since LPG can be highly flammable. An image is conjured up wherein the bulky LPG tank that crowd the home kitchen is found inside vehicles, causing panic among passengers. Damaged tanks or tubes could leak gas and fill enclosed rooms, all the more dangerous when someone lights up a cigarette (Salazar). Obviously, the cases of exploding LPG tanks and conflagrations originated from unattended LPG are not divorced from this image. Motorists believe that only natural fuels such as bioethanol and biobutanol are the only safe alternative fuels, discounting LPG. The prefix bio- makes them seem safer than LPG which, as said, is a permanent massive fixture in the kitchen.
This exaggerated depiction notwithstanding, LPG can be used as an alternative fuel to vehicles. LPG works well on vehicles, not only in the home where it is associated with cooking. LPG should not be confined to the notion of cooking since it can be used to run a car and actually assists motorists cut ascending gas budgets significantly (Pedrasa, 2007). LPG works well in private vehicles. Cars, vans, among other private vehicles, can run using LPG. Likewise, LPG works well in public utility vehicles. Buses, jeeps and other public utility vehicles can be run using LPG. The agricultural and industrial sectors have used LPG in tractors and forklifts for years. Many school buses presently operate on LPG. These LPG vehicles are usually dedicated, meaning they are not dual fueled. As should be, the safety potentials of LPG outweigh its hazards. LPG is a clean and convenient source of fuel energy. Yalung (2006) comments that the LPG has environmental and cost benefits when used as alternative fuel for vehicles. For one, LPG reduces car emissions. For instance, Transport Zone (2007) reports that LPG-fueled vehicles are plying Metropolitan Manila owing to the alternative fuel’s excellent safety global records as well as transportation. Also, autogas is contained in custom-made tanks made of carbon steel that is twenty-fold more puncture-resistant, nontoxic and easily detectable when leaking (Pedrasa, 2007). Tests assure that LPG tanks are less likely to explode than petrol tanks owing to the presence of pressure relief valves (Transport Zone, 2007). As it is, LPG is a good choice for the reduction of noxious, poisonous gases and greenhouse pollutants (Transport Zone, 2007). Likewise, it is widely used across the globe, from Australia to The Netherlands to former Soviet Republic Armenia, as a “green” fuel for vehicle engines because it downgrades exhaust and replaces chlorofluorocarbons as an aerosol propellant and a refrigerant to slash damage to the ozone layer (Yalung, 2006). While associated with gas used in cooking, LPG is referred to as autogas when used in vehicles, eliminating the hazard mindset. Therefore, autogas divorces the idea of LPG as something that is used mainly for kitchen purposes, and gives the gas a novel idea altogether that is solely devoted to transportation. Apart from the home, in farming, and at the factory, LPG may be used on the road because it is clean burning, according to Shell Oil Company. LPG Philippines informs that the LPG known as autogas is strictly for automotive use only and is a mixture of mainly propane and butane, entirely different from other grades, with which it is not interchangeable. Autogas is a mixture of gases, the foremost being propane and it is a by-product of the oil refining process and is also found as an associated gas in natural gas fields. The terms propane and butane make autogas a little closer to the alternative fuel that it really is, owing to the fact that the biogases are also made up of these chemical compounds. After all, all fuels are made up of a complex of Hydrogen and Carbon. This is burnt off to form water which is harmless to the atmosphere, and Carbon dioxide, which, in large quantities, is not. While diesel and petrol are the main road fuels in the world in a multi-billion fuel industry, there is a growth in the use of autogas. Like most gases like petrol and diesel, LPG is a by-product of the refining of crude oil, from which other gases originated.
LPG use can bring economic boost to the country. Adopting the new technology involving LPG can help alleviate the economic crisis. The US Department of Energy (2007) summarizes that capitalizing more on alternative fuels and less on imported petroleum will improve energy security and standardize fuel prices, among other benefits. The war in the Middle East has affected oil prices by making bit fluctuate depending on the stability of the war-involved countries where the fuels are being harnessed. Hence, importing countries like the Philippines are reluctant hostages to these economic anomalies involving fossil fuels. LPG can reduce or totally eliminate importation of fossil fuels. News of the government tapping companies and agencies into looking for locations where gas may be mined run aplenty. Harnessing LPG in the country may provide employment opportunities. With the country’s high unemployment rate, the prospect of mining natural gases for fuels is a welcome reprieve since quarrying for LPG will involve labor manpower. LPG's availability can eclipse the more costly, imported vehicle fuels. LPG is mostly made from by-products of oil refining and is kept artificially cheap as a result. While oil prices are far from being standardized, LPG is significantly cheaper than diesel. In the same vein, LPG is significantly cheaper than unleaded gasoline. Autogas costs only P24 a liter as opposed to P40 or so for regular unleaded gasoline, making the former a lot more of a saver (Yalung, 2007). LPG’s price is 15-20% lower than that of diesel or unleaded. Ho (2007) reports that at current prices, autogas as opposed to other gasoline products costs about P8 less per liter. Using autogas would create an impact of 20% fuel cost savings apart from savings on oil change and tune-up (Ho, 2007). Buses running on LPG will help reduce the Philippines ' general diesel consumption as well as decrease harmful emissions and improve ecological conditions (Ho, 2003). Research explains that autogas has lower sulfur, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide content compared to gasoline so it is good to use emission-wise (Pedrasa, 2007). That being the case, the air pollution index of Manila may possibly depreciate significantly. Also, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism reports that LPG as a “green alternative” not only reduces vehicular fuel expenses by at least half but also gives less environmental threat by posing around 20% less ozone forming potential, 15% lower greenhouse emissions and 80% less toxic emissions. There may just come a time that butterflies will be seen fluttering in the air again, a condition that disappeared since heavy vehicular exhausts caused by diesel- and unleaded-fueled vehicles have upset the balance of nature. Likewise, LPG's availability can open exportation opportunities for the country. LPG can be exported to countries that are largely dependent on expensive petrol fuels. Since the Arab world practically dominates the oil market, LPG exportation can possibly help developing countries from being victimized by the Middle East ’ oil monopoly. LPG exportation will provide a significant boost to the country's Gross Domestic Product. Exporting LPG is a prospective endeavor since that can give the higher-priced oils some competition. PCIJ reports that LPG is introduced as a fuel alternative in order to cut the country's dependence on imported oil. A forum in the Philippine government's official website claims that LPG for car use is currently much cheaper than gasoline yet provides an equal mileage.
With LPG's benefits, it should be used at a more comprehensive scale. As the most versatile of the alternative fuels, LPG should get ahead of its 60 years of commercial viability and should start giving diesel and leaded gasoline a run for their money. Most if not all gas stations should render this kind of gas available throughout the Philippines . Public and private vehicles should consider using the LPG before anything else since it’s cheaper and more environment-friendly. With its impressive safety record, there is no doubt why it is the first choice among alternative fuels. With less greenhouse and particulate emissions, LPG can extend engine life in such a way that no other alternative fuels may match this performance. Since the potential of this cleaner source of fuel can been realised, it should gain an increasing support as an environmentally-friendly automotive fuel, both in reducing global warming and improving air quality, particularly in Philippine towns and cities where vehicle emissions cause specific pollution problems. There is a need to look after the environment, and for the people who cannot give up on the use of cars, the impact these cars have on the environment can only be reduced. LPG conversion is a way to use car as needed to and to keep the conscience clean regarding eco-friendliness. Whether for private or public transport, the alternative fuel that is the LPG is here to stay. With its offering of a practical, cleaner alternative to petrol or diesel, LPG can make a difference.

“Alternative fuel vehicles.” US Department of Energy. September 24, 2007. Accessed September 25, 2007.
“Federal Energy Management Program.” US Department of Energy. November 28, 2006. Accessed September 23, 2007.
Ho, Abigail. “Gas-fed taxis start plying major cities.” Philippine Daily Inquirer. May 7, 2007, 1-3.
__________. “LPG use in transport get push.” Philippine Daily Inquirer. September 18, 2003, 1-4.
__________. “Rules on sale of LPG as car fuel readied.” Philippine Daily Inquirer. April 19, 2007, 1.
Lucas, Daxim. “Breaking down the cost of gasoline, diesel and LPG.” Philippine Daily Inquirer. October 31, 2005, B1-10.
Margolis, Jayson. “Philippines: The Coconut Cure.” From Frontline World. July 3, 2007. Accessed September 23, 2007.
“Metropolis welcomes Autogas.” Transport Zone. March 27, 2007.
Nicolas, Ayvi. “A second look at LPG.” From Klima Climate Change Center . January 18, 2006. Accessed September 24, 2007.
Pedrasa, Ira. “Autogas conversion to ease fuel price woes.” Business World. March 20, 2007, 8/S2.
Salazar, Tessa. “Is ‘LPG car’ a safe, wise alternative?” Philippine Daily Inquirer. January 9, 2003, B11-12.
Yalung, Gibi. “LPG for cars? The idea’s simmering and ready to be served.” Philippine Daily Inquirer. September 29, 2006, N1-2.

Friday, October 05, 2007

making leaders from other people

John Maxwell's Developing the Leaders in Others is about developing others as leaders. The previous time, it was I who was taken for a leader. It is easy to see that others are not different from me in the potential to become leaders. In all organizations, leaders emerge. I hope that these leaders are good. If I were one, my most important task is to get and keep good people. Most importantly, I have to make leaders out of them. Making leaders out of others is a good mission to do. I remember that people are the only assets in any organization with the unlimited appreciation. All others depreciate, from systems to machines to buildings. On the other hand, persons grow, develop and become more productive and effective. There must be a leader who understands these persons’ value in order to make leaders out of them.
This is important because not all people get appreciated. Some have probably never been appreciated at all in their whole lives. If this is allowed to happen, there will be some who will not be able to show their capability. They may feel inferior all their lives. They may not be able to tap other skills which they excel in. They are not so different from me because we are alike in having strengths and weaknesses. If I have the potential, others have theirs too. If I can do things well, others may do the same, or perhaps even better. If others are conscious that people believe in them, they will have the drive to show what they got. They can develop their leadership capability. They will not be ashamed of what they can do and do well. They will not hesitate to ask help from me and other people who can help them fulfill their duty. They will not remain as nameless personnel because they can accomplish complicated tasks too. They can create and can grow as leaders.
An important insight from the book is that there must be a lifelong commitment to developing potential leaders. This is what people and experiences do to me as well as others. With teachers, I and others get to learn lessons and values that are essential to life and profession. With friends, I and others grow in understanding of one another. With family, I and others recognize more who we are. With different persons dealt with from day to day, I and others become aware of different human conditions. These people and my experiences with them affect my decisions which soon become my character. Some traits from this character build a leader. I believe that the lifelong interaction with people will develop leaders in me and others. Therefore, as our daily experiences form the persons that we are, the people around us must be there for always to achieve a level of leadership.
This insight may help me in school, personal life and work because in all areas, I will nurture, equip and develop others. In school, classmates are characterized by individual differences. Some are brilliant while some are average. It helps to nurture not only the clever students. It is likely that they have been leaders in the past. Their brilliance can carry them on in problem solving, a part of leadership abilities. On the other hand, average classmates just need the right timing to be recognized. They, too, can be leaders. It helps to nurture the possible leader within them. Believing in their capacity to deliver is already inspiring them to become leaders. In my personal life, I have friends who somehow fear shouldering responsibility. Equipping them with the right positive attitude helps them believe in their might. Everyone is capable of becoming leaders. It helps that I trust them in their capacity. However, it helps more if they trust themselves foremost of all. In the future work, there will be colleagues who need time to shine. They need to be recognized for their effort in work. Hence, it is essential to motivate them to come out and shed their shyness. It will be a matter of time when they get recognized, and it should be soon. I hope that my own self will be a model leader for others.
The school, the home and many places besides teem with leaders waiting to be discovered. I have been given the opportunity to prove my worth. It’s now high time to see what others can do as leaders once they are recognized as such. Anyway, everyone is gifted by God with all the potentials to become the best person that he can be.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

kaligayahan at pagmumuni-muni: isang tingin sa kubrador

Puwedeng mabuhay ang isang tao na hindi niya namamalayang masaya siya. Sa pelikulang Kubrador, anak ni Amelita ang makapagpapasaya sa kanya. Kaya lamang, namatay ito, kaya hindi na siya masaya. May malay siyang hindi siya masaya, sapagkat lagi niyang nasasaisip ang kamatayan ng anak na siyang dahilan ng kawalan niya ng saya. Laging may aparisyon ang anak niya dahil patunay iyon na hindi siya makawala mula sa alaala ng isang bagay na nakapagbibigay-ligaya sa kanya sa gitna ng buhay niyang habulin ng mga pulis at umiinog sa pagapapataya sa jueteng. Kung magawa niya sanang makahulagpos sa mapapait na alaala ng kamatayan ng anak, disin sana ay may pagkakataon siyang maramdamang maligaya pa rin siya kahit sa anumang bagay. Hindi naman kinakailangang mabuhos lamang sa anak ang kaligayahan niya. Puwede pa rin naman siyang maging maligaya, at maging maligaya na hindi niya alam. Bakit hindi? May pagkakataon sa buhay ni Amelita na hindi na niya hinahagilap ang kaligayahan. Maaring dahil malimot na niya ito sa kalaunan. Mahalaga na sa kanya na makahanap ng tataya sa kanya sa jueteng. Kung gayon na umuusad pa rin ang buhay niya, maaaring masaya na siya, hindi nga lamang niya namamalayan. Baka kung malaman niyang masaya siya, doon na huminto ang kaligayahan niya. Ang kasiyahan kasi ay dapat pinipilosopiya; samakatuwid, dapat na ginagawa ito kaysa sinasabi. Kung anak niya ang kasiyahan niya, na siyang tunay, hindi na niya kailangang sabihing “ito ang anak kong kinalulugdan ko,” dahil sa pagkakataong sabihin niya iyon, hindi ba nababawasan ang esensya ng salitang kaligayahan? Nagiging malaking katanungan na kung totoong masaya siya base sa pagkakaalam niyang masaya siya. Mabuti nang isagawa niya ito nang mawala siyang malay kaysa ipamarali niyang masaya siya ngunit hindi naman talaga. Kaya nga ganun ang simbolo ng anak: ang ligayang nawala, kaya puwedeng hindi na masaya si Amelita, o naging masaya na rin sa latagalan kahit hindi na niya ito namamalayan.
Sa kabilang panig, maraming magagawa ang pagmumuni ng isang tao. Una, dahil dito, nakakatagpo siya ng kaliwanagan. Pangalawa, dahil dito, nahahalungkat niya ang mga tanong sa buhay na hindi man niya masagot bagkus ay magpasalimuot pa sa kalagayan niya, ay nagtuturo naman sa kanya ng pagbalik ng tingin sa sarili. Pangatlo, dahil dito, nadadalumat ng tao ang mga bagay na totoo, mabuti, at maganda paea sa kanya. Sa kaso ni Amelita, ang ikatlo ang pinakatugma sa kanya. Nagagawa ng pagmumuni-muni niya ang maunawaan ang bagay na magbibigay-saya sa kanya. Ang anak niya ang nagbibigay-kaligayahan na ito. Nang mawala ang anak niya, tila wala nang totoo, mabuti at maganda pa. Nawalan na siya ng kasiyahan. Paulit-ulit umuukilkil ang alaala ng anak kaya ibig sabihin ay hindi siya makalaya. Sa pagmumuni-muni, nagkakaroon ng kaligayahan. Kung gustong makatakas ni Amelita, dapat niyang pagmumuni-munian kung nakatutulong ba sa kanya ang kawalan ng anak/saya. Oo man o hindi, may natutuklasan ang isang namimilosopiya: sinasagot ang katanungan at sana , naliliwanagan.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

batas militar, sining at ang panlipunang panata

Sa pulong na pinamagatang “Shooting Disquiet and Rage: Transgression in Philippine Cinema after the First Quarter Storm,” tinalakay ang mga pagganyak at karanasan ng naunang henerasyon ng mga artistang nagpasimuno ng radikalisasyon sa pelikula noong Batas Militar ng diktaduryang Marcos. Ginawa ito sa gitna ng kalagayan at patutunguhan ng kasalukuyang mga direktor ng tinatawag na mga pelikulang indie (dinaglat na independent) habang nanalasa ang iba’t ibang isyung pulitikal at sosyal sa rehimen ni Gloria Arroyo. Sa isang banda, ang disin sana ay paglalabas ng serye ng mga anunsyo hinggil sa karapatang pantao ng mga bagong-dugong direktor ay nagkaroon ng aberya dahil sa pagkaka-X ng mga anunsyong itinuturing na hindi makatarungan sa bahagi ng pamahalaan dahil pinapalabas na wala umanong tiwala rito.
Tunay ngang inuulit-ulit lamang ng kasaysayan ang kanyang sarili, sapagkat sa panggagagad ng kasalukuyang rehimen sa diktadurya ni Marcos, niyuyurakan na naman ang karapatang pantao ng maraming mamamayang Pilipino. Sa pagdami ng mga umaayaw sa pagmamalabis ng pamahalaan sa larangan ng pangungurakot, ng kawalang-kakayanang puksain ang kahirapan at ng pagdusta sa demokrasya, nauulit-ulit na naman ang penomenon ng mga desaperacidos. Bukod sa mga dinudukot na mga aktibistang ito, marami ang tinatakot, pinapahirapan o kaya ay pinapatay para mawalan ng tinik sa landas ang pamahalaan. Ngunit totoo sa kanilang panlipunang panatang maging budhi ng bayan, inuulit-ulit din ng mga artista ang kanilang pag-alsa upang pangunahan ang bayan sa pagtuligsa sa mga pagyurak sa karapatang pantao. Ginagamit ng mga artista ang kanilang pelikula, panitikan, at iba pang midyum ng sining upang salaminin ang mga nangyayari sa lipunan, sa pag-asang imulat sa tamang pagkilos ang bayan. Sa pagkakabalam nga ng pagpapalabas ng serye ng mga anunsyong pinamagatang “Rights,” hindi lamang ito ang na-X bagkus ay pati na ang dinustang karapatan ng mga mamamayang dinukot, pinatay, pinahirapan at inabuso ng mga galamay ng kinakalabang rehimen. Gayunpaman, hindi ito isang pagkagapi sa bahagi ng mga tagasuporta ng karapatang pantao at panlipunang katarungan dahil paulit-ulit mang magmalabis ang nasa kapangyarihan, paulit-ulit ding babangon ang bayan upang ipagtanggol ang kanyang sariling kalayaan.
Kaya nga tugmang ipinalabas kasunod ng pulong ang pelikulang Sakada ni Behn Cervantes dahil sinasalamin ng pelikula ang mga pagmamalabis ng kontekstong pinagmulan nito: ang panahon ng Batas Militar. Sa pelikula, inihayag ang mga pang-aabuso at kawalang-katarungang ginagawa ng mga panginoong maylupa kasabwat ang mga militar sa pagkitil sa pag-aalsa para sa mas mataas na pasahod at mas mabuting trato ng mga sakada o manggagawa sa hasyenda ng mga tubuhan. Habang patuloy na yumayaman ang panginoong maylupa, nababaon sa utang ang mga mangagawang siyang instrumento niya para magkamal ng pera. Kung may magtangkang kumalaban sa pamamagitan ng pagbabangon ng unyon, pinapatay at binabayaran ang pamilya upang manahimik. Dahil walang nagtagumpay na propaganda sa pelikula sa pagkamatay ng aktibistang anak ng hasyendero, sa pagkaulila ng aktibistang nangamatay ang pamilya sa kaguluhan sa tubuhan, sa pagkalunod sa putik ng pagpuputa ng dalaga sa pamilya ng sakada at sa kawalan ng magagawa ng paring Heswita, ipinaparating sa mga manonood ang pagkaparalisa ng pag-asang magkaroon ng pagbabago. Kung gayon, ano pa ba ang magagawa ng bayan kundi siya mismong kumilos para tapusin ang adhika ng mga aping makahulagpos sa kahungkagan ng opresibong buhay sa ilalim ng pyudal at, bilang ekstensyon, ng diktaduryang kalagayan? Hindi lamang ito nararapat sa panahon ni Marcos bagkus ay sa kasalukuyang panahon din kung kailan napapabayaan ang uring manggagawa habang yumayaman ang mga kapitalista.
Sa Museo ng Batas Militar sa Bantayog ng mga Bayani, ipinakita ng mga memorabiliang inipon at iniilak mismo ng mga aktibista ang isang lingon sa kahindik-hindik na panahon ng Batas Militar, ng pag-aalsa ng mga tao at, kalaunan, ng tagumpay ng rebolusyon. Kapanabayan ng mga larawan ni dating Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos ang mga larawan ng mga masaker, mga binabaril na mga nag-aalsa at iba pang porma ng pagpapahirap. May sipi rin ng diyaryong hindi na naisapubliko pa dahil kinumpiska na ng militar ang mga kopya at kinandaduhan ang imprenta. May mga kalatas din si Fr. Jerry Aquino at mga libro ng tula sina Jose Lacaba at Rogelio Mangahas, na pare-parehong ikinulong dahil sa pagtuligsa sa rehimeng Marcos.
Sa paghandog ng museo para sa kabataan, naipapakita ang Batas Militar at nakapagtuturo ng aral kahit pa malabo ang alaala sa represibong panahong ito. Bakit hindi, kung nakikini-kinita ng mga kabataan ngayon ang napipintong pagbabalik ng Batas Militar? Mahalagang malaman kung paano maliligtasan ang Batas Militar at kung paano hindi mapayagang mangyari uli ito. Sa pagkakita ng kalunus-lunos na mga pangyayari noong diktaduryang Marcos, hindi basta hahayaan ng mga kabataan ngayon na basta na lang maideklara muli ang Batas Militar nang hindi man lang lumalaban. Maraming naapektuhang mamamayan para kumilos at maraming naganyak na mga artista upang salaminin ito sa kanilang sining. Sa mukha ng mala-diktaduryang gobyerno ni Gloria Arroyo, tagpuan ang museo ng iisang pag-aalsa, ng natutunang aral, ng pagkilala sa lumilikha ng pagsupil at ng paraan para makapagtaguyod ng mas mabuting buhay.

Sa pangkalahatan, panahon ng tagsalat sa sining ang panahon ng Batas Militar. Bakit hindi, kung ang intelihensiyang burgis na kalimitang kinabibilangan ng mga artista ay nalilimitahan ang mapagpipiliang mabuhay sa pamamagitan ng pagsisilbi sa nag-iisang institusyong nag-aalok ng trabaho, ang pamahalaan? Dahil sa terorismo ng Batas Militar, halos patayin ang kultura dahil hindi maaaring isapubliko ang mga produktong lantrang tinutuligsa si Marcos. Mapanganib ikalat sa madla ang mga kuwento, tula, awit at iba pang akdang makasining ng maraming makakaliwang pambansang samahan pangkultura dahil maaaring damputin ng mga pulis at militar. Kinailangang mag-“underground” ang produksyong pangkultura upang maisapubliko ang mga balita at komentaryo hinggil sa pagyurak sa karapatang pantao ng Batas Militar. Hindi naman singdaling magpakita ng dula sa mga lungsod hindi tulad sa lalawigan na malayo sa abot ng militar at ng mga pulis. Samantala, propaganda naman ng Bagong Lipunan ang mga malikhaing pagsulat, dulaang palabas, pelikula at komiks na nagtatampok sa mga adhikain ng Bagong Lipunan. May mga pintor at iskultor na ginagawang imortal ang imahe ng mga Marcos sa kanilang mga sining. May mga epikong isinulat para ipagbunyi ang mag-asawa. May mga sining ding maganda sa labas upang palitawin sa buong mundo na ang Bagong Lipunan ay isang nakangiting Batas Militar. Sa isa pa ring banda, mayroon namang tinatawag na propaganda laban sa Batas Militar. Sa pagsilang ng welga sa La Tondeña na siyang unang pagkakataong may tumuligsa sa diktadurya, lumitaw muli ang kultura ng paghihimagsik. Mula rito, mas malakas ang loob at mas kritikal sa mga krimen ng rehimen ang mga sining at kulturang tumutuligsa sa diktadurya. Sa mga ito, pinakaepektibo at pinakamatapang ang teatro. Sa pagka-ban ng pelikulang Sakada, makikita ang naidulot na epekto nito sa tinamaang diktadurya. Karamihan ng mga produksyon, mula sa mga produksyon sa University of the Philippines-Diliman at Philippine Educational Theater Association.
Pinakadirektang kritikal at pinakamakulit ang larangan ng panitikan sa kilusang anti-Marcos. May mga tula at awiting sumisigaw ng “Marcos, Hitler, Diktador, Tuta.” Kumalat sa panahon ng Batas Militar ang maraming kanta at tulang nag-aalsa sa diktadurya ni Marcos, mula sa hanay ng mga magsasaka hanggang sa mga estudyanteng nawalan na ng pag-asang magkakaroon pa ng katuparan ang isang mas mabuting lipunang malaya at demokratiko. Sa isang banda, nailathala naman ni Lualhati Bautista ang isang subersibong nobela hinggil sa Batas Militar, ang Dekada ’70. Kuwento ito ng isang babaeng namulat sa pagkadiskubre ng kanyang kapangyarihan bilang babae at nagtanda sa pagiging maybahay at ina nang sa panahon ng Batas Militar ay kinailangan niyang pakitunguhan ang patriyarkal na asawa at pagtugon ng limang anak sa kalagayang pulitikal at panlipunan ng panahon.
Para sa napiling sipi, produkto ng Batas Militar ng Diktaduryang Marcos ang “Generations” ni Nitochka Rosca, isang batambatang aktibista mula sa UP-Diliman noong dekada ‘70. Kuwento ng isang pamilya sa nayon sa panahon ng Batas Militar ang pinaghuhugutan ng “Generations.” Nagsimula at nagtapos ang panimula at panghuling talata ng kuwento sa pagbulung-bulong ng lolo, tila pahiwatig ng kawalan ng saysay ng buhay nila bilang pamilya. Nabubuhay sila sa pakikisama sa isang panginoong maylupa, kaya nga sa kawalang-pag-asa ng padre de pamilya na makaahon mula sa pagkaalipin sa lupa, naglalasing na lang ito pagkatapos magtrabaho sa bukid. Minsang umuwi itong lango sa alak, inistorbo niya ang pagtulog ng pamilya at nanapak na lang at sukat. Asawa niya ang nakatanggap ng suntok kaya ang dalagitang anak niya ay nanlaban ngunit naibalya rin ito ng ama. Nang mapagtanto ng ama na pamilya niya ang napagdiskitahan, lumayas ito at nawala sa karimlan ng gabi. Inutusan naman ng ina ang anak na dalagita at ang sumunod ditong batang lalaki para sundan ang ama bago madampot ng mga militar na nagpapatupad ng curfew sa kanayunan. Sumunod ang dalawa ngunit huli na ang lahat: sa isang checkpoint, nakita nilang hinuli na ang ama para dalhin sa presinto. May naisip na paraan ang dalagita kaya pinauwi na niya ang kapatid.
Pagdating sa presinto, nakiusap ang dalagita na pakawalan ang ama ngunit humingi ng kapalit ang mga militar: ipapaubaya niya ang mura niyang katawan kapalit ng kalayaan ng ama. Nagtagumpay ang dalagita sa balak niya: ang sulitin ang kanyang ganda. Praktikal lamang siya sapagkat ibig niyang hindi militar ang makapatay sa ama kundi siya mismo. Nang mapalaya niya ang ama at tila may pahiwatig na gusto rin siyang gamitin nito, hinambalos niya ng kahoy ang ulo nito hanggang mapatay. Ito ang dulot ng represibong panahon ng diktadurya ni Marcos: ang kahirapang nagpapabrutal sa magkakapwa-tao. Dahil sa walang ibang maipampiyansa sa ama, katawan ang naialay ng dalagita sa mga ‘di-makataong sundalo. Naisip tuloy ng dalagita na siya ang may karapatang pumatay sa ama dahil sa pangyayari. Nangyayari ang mga ganitong karahasan dahil sa pang-aabuso ng kapangyarihan: ama sa pamilya, mga sundalo sa mga sibilyan, panginoong maylupa sa sakada, diktador sa kanyang nasasakupan. Bilang pagtugon, brutalisasyon ng tao sa kapwa ang ginagawa kung para lamang makalaya. Nauugnay ito sa Kastila at Amerikanong kolonyalismo sa pamamagitan ng lolong naging kasapi ng Katipunan noong kanyang kabataan. Tumugon ang lolo sa kanyang pambansang tungkuling palayain at ipagtanggol ang bansa sa mananakop. Nauugnay naman ito sa diktaduryang Marcos sa pamamagitan ng paglaban ng dalagita sa patriyarka ng ama at pagsakripisyo ng sarili sa mga sundalo. Ganito ang mamamayang may adhika sa bansa: hamunin ang nasa kapangyarihan at magsakripisyo kung kinakailangan. Nauugnay naman ito sa kasalukuyang panahon ng Human Security Law sa pamamagitan ng presensya ng militarisasyon hindi lamang sa kanayunan kundi pati na rin sa kalunsuran. Sa alinmang tagpuan, may makikitang pamilyang tulad ng sa kuwento: mga henerasyon ng api na pilit nilalabanan ang sistema ng opresyon sa iba’t ibang panahon upang sa wakas ay makalaya ngunit lagi pa ring bigo. Tulad ng sa Sakada, hindi ito ginawang propaganda upang sa pagkaduhagi ng mga tauhan, makaugnay ang mga mambabasang gaya ko para sikaping huwag mangyari ang kaapihang nangyari sa kuwento at kumilos bago pa man gawin ng nasa kapangyarihan ang pang-aabuso sa mga mahihina at api. Nauugnay ito sa akin sapagkat lahat ng panahon ay may potensyal na maging panahon ng karahasan. Dapat na mag-ingat, maging mapagmatyag at magbantay upang hindi maetsa-puwera ang panlipunang katarungan.
Ang panahon ng Batas Militar ay halimbawa ng panahon ng karanasang dapat tumugon ang mga alagad ng sining bilang konsensya ng kanilang lipunan. Sa pagkakatuklas natin ng pamamaraan ng pananakot sa diktadurya ni Marcos, may alam na tayo kung paano lalabanan naman ang napipintong diktadurya ni Gloria. Hindi dapat siya hayaang magpatuloy sa pagdungis sa pantaong mga karapatan.