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!"

Saturday, May 31, 2008

quoting the queer latinas

Last night’s fever vanished but the vacuum it left is now occupied by a splitting headache. Having read at least twenty-five literary texts (including half a travelogue book by Caryl Phillips and the Nobel lecture of Toni Morrison, lest I be accused of racism) and covered my latest book acquisitions, I had no choice but battle it out against my personal writing demons. Of late, I was on a roll collecting steamy confessions from straight males but since I cannot post their very personal notes under the pains of scandalizing the faint-hearted, I decided instead to dish out twenty quotable quotes from the same number of gay friends.
The number of quotes these friends (or non-gay ones, for that matter) churn out is by no means limited to twenty, given the extraordinary capacity of gays to restate old truths with a hilarious twist. Nor is the number of gay friends limited to only twenty—people who don’t find themselves here need not perform a lupasay since my grogginess renders my memory uncharacteristically untrustworthy. I am offering this sampling because the present statements come with the context in which they emerged. Sit back, enjoy and feel free to throw a fit.
Allan J: “Thank you for the compliment!”
This is my childhood friend’s response to the pejorative “BAKLA!” hollered by a barrio lad while we swished our way to a high school classmate’s house tucked at the provincial boundary. I remember laughing hysterically at the proud manner AJ uttered his response; it is not a mistake to put this foremost inasmuch as it was the earliest counter-homophobia stance I could think of.
Bimbo: “Ate, buntis ako.”
I overheard this while the high school boys were busy drawing architectural blueprints (yes, we gays were prevented from enrolling in crocheting class), to which AJ replied, “’Di ba pinagbilinan kitang mag-pills?”
Carl: “…Chicharong Coroza.”
I take the term chicharon to mean fat, since chitterlings—those crunchy pieces that taste delicious when dipped in spicy vinegar—are produced out of the fatty skin of (mostly) pigs. Gays’ obsession with beauty (and youth) is implied here, as calling someone stout is a reminder that plumpness is an anomaly to the body that’s the social cultural capital, and gays can be fashionably critical if this body shows little absorbed culture.
Celyong: “Bakit kailangan pa ng talent fee samantalang Best in Talent naman kami?”
This came about when this childhood friend and I cruised the benighted streets of Marikina during the power outage resulting from the onslaught of typhoon Milenyo. Two young studs from a renowned Catholic high school were surprisingly obliging to Celyong’s seductions, until they turned me off with the question, “Magkano ba ang talent fee namin?”
Edwin Buraga: “Binabalahura mo na ang mga lalaki, tinatawag ka pa rin ng ‘Sir.’”
This fact of life was uttered by my professional colleague when I told him of someone who ministered on a gorgeous guard, who in a few delirious minutes exclaimed, “Malapit na ako, Sir!” Edwin added that even as he already made verbal advances on truck drivers, sales clerks or other such straight men, they unanimously revere him through the title “Sir.”
Edwin Sanchez: “Walang himala! Ang himala ay nasa bibig ng bakla!”
During a discussion of gay beauty pageants, Papa Edwin told this one hell of an introduction. For the uninitiated, I refer you to men who have had miraculous moments with gays.
Gelli: “Propesora, mahalimuyak na ang mga paminta ng Makati kaya turuan mo na sila ng leksiyon!”
Gelli stood witness to numerous times when the straight-acting guys he and other brazen gays had been cruising would instead ask to be introduced to me, the more paminta among the block. The reference to lecture, of course, goes beyond the lessons I teach in class.
Genesis: “Kapag hindi guwapo ang nag-aapply as entertainer, huwag mo na silang bigyan ng false hope.”
cf: context of Carl’s statement. I was in Genesis’ managed gay bar when a relatively handsome guy went in to apply as macho dancer. I readied myself to ogle at the guy’s body once Genesis asked him to strip to his barest, but he dismissed him instantly, telling that all the items for entertainers had been filled up. It figured that Genesis did not find him attractive enough.
Jernon: “Kinuha ng Tatay ko ang bote ng 1.5 L Coke at hinampas niya ang ulo ko.”
This, of course, is revolting for its filial homophobia, but Jernon’s courage in confronting this truth represents all the gays’ bittersweet reaction to our constructed image in the eyes of the heterosexual world, a necessary means to accept our true selves unapologetically and, hopefully, to help combat the irrational fear for our kind.
Jerome: “Magre-reunion e saan mo ba hahanapin sina Janet Muena, Edlyn Verueco, etc?”
Gays have this funny manner of pointing out the ridiculous and this is captured in Jerome’s realization of the futility of finding our obscure batch mates whom I myself hardly remember, just so they can attend high school reunions.
Jobben: “Mababait na nga ang mga GRO sa White Bird, pag-uwi mo may dala ka pang manika.”
Methinks that gay bars seriously formulate corporate strategies because giving away dolls patterned after macho dancers is a way of getting customers to renew ties with their girlish preoccupations.
Jobert: “Bakla, ayoko sa kanya, mukha siyang hindi sincere.”
This friend of mine is the hardest to please basically because his standards rival the ever-shifting nature of tectonic plates. At one point, he told me to match him with a hung guy but that entails conducting a phallic inspection. All the cute guys he met through me are either too ripped or “gugot” (with milkteeth despite the age). Once when we were browsing the online photos of men I intend to arrange a date with him, he accused one of looking insincere.
John: “Ganyan sa office: trench coat kung trench coat, boots kung boots, turtle neck kung turtle neck ang labanan!”
John works for a call center so his and his kind’s large pay can afford them a fashion that sometimes dislocates them from the tropical setting of the Philippines. Well, to each his own gay fashion sense.
Joni: “Iharap mo sa lalaki ang pinakamagandang bakla at ang pinakapangit na babae, pipiliin pa rin ang pechay Baguio.”
I assume that our greenhorn film director’s point of reference here is a true-blue straight male who won’t subscribe to negotiable homosexuality for as long as his heterosexual desire may be fulfilled by a biological female, notwithstanding if she is ideologically ugly. I would have wanted to quote Joni’s views on drag/camp or B-actresses, but let me just lead you to
Larry: “Nalilibugan ako kay Mr. Tarlac!”
This statement is actually translated from the original Ilocano and the object of desire was a dashing Mr. University whom I had seen before in trunks, and who became Larry’s immediate superior in the mall he worked for. What’s striking in this line is the ground of universality of desire: that it can be spoken in whatever language.
Robert: “Siyempre, pinagod ko na nga ang mga boylets, hindi ko ba naman sila iti-treat ng hamburger?”
Of my childhood friends in Tarlac, Robert is the most timid and being that, he let his money talk in his behalf in order to get something that the more convincing of us can get for free. I, Larry and Celyong faulted him for it, since it was better for him to keep his hard-earned pink peso because his youth, beauty and confidence are enough to charm a potential lay. He lacked self-belief, and while he regaled me with pictures of alluring Pampango boys, I knew too well that outside the panel, these boys must be holding half-chomped Big Mac.
RR: “Kung ikaw si Antonio at Tiyuhin mo si Marc Nelson, magdala ka na ng chichirya kung maliligo siya.”
When this professional colleague mentioned that he already watched the soft porn Ang Lihim ni Antonio, he made special reference to the voyeurism scene. I did not get attracted to the actor who played the lecherous uncle, so I asked if Antonio may have Ian Veneracion, Bobby Yan or Marc Nelson for the hottie of a consanguine relation.
Ruel: “Nagpaganda ako, nagpabango at rumampa sa buhanginan kahit malamok at lampas hatinggabi na, tapos tutulugan lang pala ako?”
When I and my former teaching colleagues went on an excursion to pristine Mindoro, it was inevitable that the gays’ choices of conquest would be limited to elusive straight men, who are secondary to my colonial priorities. My friend who would eventually write for a giant media network has a more bakla sensibility, so he arranged to have the sexy straight driver accompany him at the moonlit beach when everyone else retired from travel exhaustion.
Tantan: “Halika na, bakla, may bilat nang kasama ‘yung otoko; laglag na tayo sa finals!”
When we were single, Tantan and I took on the 3 o’clock (AM) habit of cruising the streets of Guadalupe. One time, we found a metrosexual strategically waiting at a corner. Wondering that the ritual of parading ala-beauty contestants was being ignored, we discovered that the guy had been waiting for his girlfriend, meaning we do not stand any more chance at getting a straight to engage in circumstantial homosexuality.
Zazu: “Ako nga ang pinakamaganda sa Pilipinas, pero Latina na naman ang mananalo sa Miss World!”When he immortalized this line, my friend Zazu was still recuperating from a domestic breakup. I grew desperate consoling him that he’d bag a new, cuter partner soon, even alluding to the many fish in the ocean and, finally, invoking his resemblance to Binibining Pilipinas Carlene Aguilar, who was that time’s current toast among Miss World bookmakers. Never to be fooled by the fact that international beauty pageants are almost always won by beauties from Latin America, he said his piece and let one teardrop fall from his left eye.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I am blessed. Yes, I really am. Why not, when I eat complete meals, take shelter in a homely place, wear nice clothes? I go to a highly reputable school and I have a good set of friends, who are equally good as citizens of this country and we all make comfortable lives with fulfilling jobs, pay our taxes, exercise our electoral duties. I go to Church, pay my tithe, listen to God’s Words in complete awe as I listen to pronouncements of my salvation. Indeed, I am blessed…or am I?
I have perfect senses of sight, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling, so I am not blind to what I see, not deaf to what I hear, not ignorant to what I smell and taste, and not numb to what I feel. Beyond myself, the lack of blessedness runs the spectrum in varying degrees. I browse the Net, surf through television channels and watch movies, and images of poverty, strife and other manifestations of ungodliness assail my sensibilities. The radio blares with and eavesdropped conversations reveal lamentations of how loss of lives can visit so early in others at so tragic a manner. My nose complains when decomposing trash litters everywhere; my tongue reacts to the blandness of artificial food. My skin creeps from the lash of the angry sun, the spatter of acid rain, the chill of the rotten wind, the begging of street children everywhere.
I reconsider: I am not entirely blessed, given the fact that I cannot live in isolation. My brethren are not blessed, and if they are supposed to serve as my reflection, then I cannot be truly blessed. How can I call myself so, when around me, the world has taken a radical departure from its original state since God created it during Genesis?
The more contemplative in my midst claim that all these sufferings are the Lord’s wakeup call for everybody, but not all have responded favorably. Some have remained callous to the anguish of people who lost their family’s lives and properties to the strike of typhoons, earthquakes or other such unforgiving acts of nature, the cries of despair for the departed because of shipwrecks, air crashes, land transportation collisions, civil wars or other such merciless tragedies, the gnashing of teeth for the weekly escalation of oil rates in the world market, the skyrocketing prices of basic goods and services, the exploitation of the working class, the heathen ways of terrorists, the harassment made on missionaries, the lingering poverty, everything. Everything.
It hit me: the way the world slowly dies today under the conspiracy of the very creatures it is entrusted to means God tries to say something. We are agonizing today because we have neglected our spirituality. Driven by our false sense of blessedness, we abandoned our morals and pursued our earthly desires at the expense of the poor, the mourning, the meek, the hungry and thirsty, the merciful, the pure-hearted, the peacemakers, the persecuted. They will see better days in the afterlife, we are inclined to believe.
Knowing this plight and not doing anything about it is betraying God’s own people, further alienating myself from God because of the sinfulness of the very act. There is something that can be done by me, and the heedless rate the world is approaching its apocalypse spells the urgency the action must take place. This action, it is clear to me, is hearing God’s voice in the midst of this wilderness of depression. It means turning to the side of God’s blessed people even if it means an extraordinary scale of sacrifice in me. What do I lose, when what I have now are meaningless in the face of my suffering brethren? True Christians then and now have demonstrated their unanimous way of heeding God’s spiritual call: to carry their own crosses and imitate the redeeming stance of Christ. Given the world’s ailing condition, I think that my personal cross is to steer away from the side of the persecutors, the unrighteous and the evil revelers in their dizzying array of manifestations, because only when I have stopped to be spiritually sterile will I be able to bridge the gap separating me from God. Doing good deeds, I understand, is not sufficient to save me, but it is a starting point in becoming one with the minoritized children of God. It is my initial attempt to be Christ-like, having to die symbolically as this self-sacrifice is needed to give life to others.
It does not matter if I become poor. If the kingdom of heaven is reserved to the poor, I want to be like them. The material riches are not important to me, because they cannot be brought with me to the grave and they are even among the very causes of people’s spiritual distraction. Self-denial through living sparely has been done by God, and I want to follow His example by setting my sight beyond earthly possessions.
It does not matter if I mourn. If comfort is reserved to the sufferers, I want to share their misery. I cannot stand to rejoice while the greater lot anguishes because of desperation, tragedy or wickedness done unto them. Christ mourned too while praying for enlightenment at the Garden of Gethsemane, and I want to follow His example by grieving as a part of my self-sacrifice.
It does not matter if I become meek. If the silenced are the inheritors of the earth, I want to be like them. Much noise had been made a fanfare that muffled the voices of the poor, the marginalized, the exploited. God will not deny these silenced people their deserved place on earth despite the unholy works of their oppressors, and I want to follow Christ by remaining placid in spite of noisy distractions from false prophets and evildoers.
It does not matter if I go hungry and thirsty. If soon, the rioters for food and water will be gratified, then I will likewise be filled by God. Christ has become a shepherd to man, and following my shepherd I shall not want.
It matters to be merciful. If the merciful among us will be shown mercy, I want to be like them. Pity is a rare commodity today, with only a few people touched by their conscience to help the needy. God Himself is merciful, and I want to be like Him in extending mercy to the wanting in order to be shown mercy as well.
It matters to be pure in heart. If the pure-hearted gets to see God in due time, I want to cleanse my heart in preparation for my meeting with my Maker. The world teems with people possessing ulterior intentions, unwitting that naked motives separate them eternally from God. Christ has a pure heart, and I want to follow His pure-heartedness in order to be one with Him in His time.
It matters to champion peace. If the peacemakers reserve the right to be called God’s children, it is my intention to promote peace, too. Wars, hunger and other man-facilitated human tragedies are rooted to the absence of peace, so it must be restored in the manner God meant it when He gave us paradise. To join God’s lot on Judgment Day, I must follow Christ in His example as the Prince of Peace: be diplomatic myself, especially in the context of these violent, turbulent times.
Finally, it matters to be righteous despite persecutions, insults and false accusations. The kingdom of heaven is reserved to those who do what is right in God’s eyes, and I want to be righteous too. Only when things are done right that I get to fulfill God’s commandments, so I must persevere especially when people demonize me for not doing the popular that’s disgusting for God. Becoming a true Christian means standing up for one’s faith no matter what, because after all, God rewards with a place in heaven.

Monday, May 26, 2008

zsa zsa zaturnnah 2: unang patikim

the first six pages of the zsa zsa zaturnnah sequel are already in the offing. please visit for the rest of the posted panels. this particular page's text calls to mind that beautifully entitled gabriel garcia marquez novel of love and other demons. gora na at malurky sa pakikipagsapalaran nina ada at dodong sa kagubatan ng lungsod!:)

Friday, May 23, 2008


Even slumbooks get updated,
You see, this one
Reads like a Friendster testi:
My character is qualified as (1) hilarious,
(2) geeky, (3) flirtatious, (4) crazy
But stats are inescapable
For you have my first name (Cesario, Jr.),
Last name (Minor),
Addresses (Tarlac and Nueva Ecija),
I half-expect adding my suking tindahan
And proof of purchase.
No date of birth, zodiac or favorite shade (which,
By the way, is never white—a non-color, technically)
But my age (27),
Sex (M, which does not stand for "Madalas")
Height (5’, 5”, whether lying or
Erect—my body, I mean),
Built (slim),
Complexion (brown),
School (UPD),
Course (I’m an English Major).
Nobody bothers to ask
Why I love literature,
Or would I die to see Latin America,
Or what makes Juday a pop icon.
Always it’s about how much I earn,
How many times (hint…hint),
How many lays.
Numbers—these are human fancy.

I wish I could simplify
And just say, “This is me,”
But this outrageous world is obsessed with statistics,
Boxing up everything oh so neatly
Without me putting up a fight
Though armed with a keyboard
With a functioning DELETE key.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

a textual explication of marjorie evasco’s origami

Marjorie Evasco’s Origami is about getting a message across to a distant beloved. The poet uses the image of an origami shaped in such a manner that “[t]his poem is a crane” (line 7), a winged symbol with the capacity to reach a faraway person if only through a poem.
The use of the word “Origami” for a title makes perfect sense because what paper folding is to art, poem is to literature. Both art and literature, specifically in their concrete forms taken into account in this paper, origami and poetry, wield power in order to render things possible; it is not a wild improbability that a poem, highly imagined as a crane acting as a messenger of the persona to the addressee, can send messages.
The poem’s first three lines manifest the persona seeing “this world unfold, gather up wind/To speed the crane’s flight” (lines 1-2), alluding to his/her opening mind, gathering up ideas in order to crystallize rapidly a message that must be known to the beloved “North of [his/her] sun” (line 3). It can be surmised that persona misses the beloved, and that this longing motivates him/her to conjure up a poem for the lover, evident in the succeeding lines.
The next three lines show the persona “shaping this poem” (line 4) as someone would produce an origami “[o]ut of paper, folding” (line 5) in order to seem to shorten the “distances between [the persona’s and the addressee’s] seasons” (line 6). They are on separate points of the world, experiencing different seasons, and in the persona’s yearning for them to seem to be near each other, he/she, in a way an origami practitioner does in order to make things happen out of potent creativity, composes a poem to unite him/her and the addressee even if only in thoughts.
What the persona creates at length is an origami of a poem, “a crane” (line 7) with “wings [that] unfold” (line 8), poised for flight, ready to communicate the poem’s content from the composer to the distant lover. “The paper will be pure and empty” (last line) when the poem consummates its purpose of getting its message across, as in an analogy when the paper bird finally discharges its mission of the persona’s keeping in touch with the addressee.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

sa ngalan ng iba:pagsusuri sa etimolohiya ng mga salitang aswang at maharlika

Ang salitang "aswang" at "maharlika" ay dalawa sa mga salitang hindi lubos na nauunawaan ng mga Pilipino. Maaaring laganap ang paggamit sa mga salitang ito, ngunit sa kabila nito ay mapagpasantabi ang mga pinagsimulan ng mga kahulugan nito. Isang kabalintunaan na ginagamit ang mga salitang ito upang maging repleksyon ng ating kultura dahil tulad ng marami sa ating mga kasulatan ay nakabase ito sa imperyalismo na dinulot ng pagkakasakop sa atin ng mga Kastila at pati na rin ng mga Amerikano.
Kilala ang taguring aswang bilang panawag sa mga kampon ng kasamaan na bukod sa layuning maghasik ng lagim sa sangkatauhan ay hangad ding mabuhay at palakasin ang kapangyarihang itim sa pamamagitan ng pagkain ng tao. Tanging sa Pilipinas matatagpuan ang ilang paniniwala hinggil sa aswang gaya ng manananggal: isang babaeng kalahati ang katawan mula baywang pataas, lumilipad sa pamamagitan ng mga malahiganteng pakpak ng paniki, may gulu-gulong buhok, mapupulang mata at matutulis na pangil at nanginginain ng mga batang nasa sinapupunan pa lamang sa pamamagitan ng dilang nagiging mala-sinulid kapag inihuhugos mula sa bubungang pawid. Samantalang salitang "tanggal" ang pinagmulan ng pangalan ng aswang na ito gawa ng kanyang kakayahang magtanggal ng sanggol buhat sa inang hindi pa nagluluwal dito, "asu-asuan" ang pinanggalingan ng salitang aswang gawa ng kakayahan ng nilalang na ito na mag-anyong aso o iba pang hayop mula sa pagiging tao.
Sa pagdaong sa ating dalampasigan ng mga Kastilang may balak na ilagay sa mapa ng Imperyong Espanyol ang Pilipinas, napag-alaman nila na ang prekolonyal na bayan natin ay pinamumunuan ng mga lokal na paring tinaguriang babaylan. Gamit ang kanilang mga animistikong ritwal sa panggagamot at pananambahan, misteryoso at malalakas ang kapangyarihan ng mga babaylan sa mga napaiilalim na mga katutubo. Kung gayon, balakid sila sa matagumpay na pananakop ng mga Europeo sa ating mga isla. Gamit ang diskursong Katolisismo, ipinakilala ng mga prayle ang Kristiyanismo bilang "tunay" na kaligtasan ng mga paganong katutubo at lahat ng ‘di-akma sa relihiyong ito, gaya ng paniniwala sa babaylan, ay may kapangyarihang mula sa demonyo. Inakusahan ng mga pari ang mga babaylan na mga aswang dahil sa hindi galing sa Diyos ng mga Kristiyano ang kanilang kapangyarihan. Ipinalaganap ng mga Kastila sa mga katutubo ang mga katatakutang kalakip ng pagkakaroon ng anila ay majica negra, gaya ng kakayahang mag-anyong aso, o mag-asu-asuan. Sa pananagumpay ng mga Kastila sa pananakop sa pamamagitan ng relihiyon, nagawa rin nilang itaboy ang impluwensiya ng mga babaylan sa mga nabinyagang katutubo.
Bukod sa hindi makatarungan ang maling paratang sa mga babaylan, hindi rin makatarungan na sa tuwing lilitaw sa mga usap-usapan ang mga aswang, lagi nang naiuugnay ang mga lalawigan sa Visayas partikular ang Capiz dahil lamang sa heograpikal na pagkakataong sa panggitnang mga islang ito ng ating bayan naging maimpluwensiya ang mga babaylan noong panahong prekolonyal. Idagdag pa, karamihan sa mga babaylan ay mga babae kaya masasabing ‘di katanggap-tanggap sa patriyarkal na mga Espanyol ang pagiging makapangyarihan ng mga babae. Ang mga paliwanag na ito ang magsasaad na purong pulitikal ang pinag-umpisahan ng salitang "aswang."
Samantala, noong rehimeng Martial Law kung kailan naging maskara ng Bagong Lipunan ang pagpapaibayo ng kulturang Pilipino, hinangad ng diktador na si Ferdinand Marcos ang pagpapalit ng pangalan ng bansa mula Pilipinas tungong Maharlika. Ani ng dating pangulo, dapat na palitan ang pangalang Pilipinas dahil ito ay halaw sa pangalan ng (baliw umanong) Kastilang haring si Felipe II, na siyang namuno sa Espanya noong masakop nito ang ating mga isla sa kalagitnaan ng 16 dantaon.
Gayong makatwirang baguhin ang Oryental na patakarang ito ng Eurosentrikong imperyalismo dahil nagpapakita ito ng pagtrato sa mga kolonya bilang mahina (kaya pambabae ang pangalan—samakatuwid, patriyarkal), pagano, di-sibilisado, mabangis at iba pang derogasyong magpapatindi ng pangangailangan ng kolonisasyon, hindi kinakailangang akma ang balak ipalit na pangalang Maharlika.
Sa puntong ang Maharlika ay mula sa dalawang salitang "mahar" at "lingga" na kapwa Malayo-Polynesian, tama lamang na gamitin ang mga salitang itong galing sa punong wikang pinag-ugatan din ng lahat ng ating diyalekto. Lamang, "malaki" ang ibig sabihin ng salitang "mahar" samantalang "titi" ang ibig ipahiwatig ng salitang "lingga." Nagsimula itong ikabit sa mga dugong bughaw gaya ng mga datu at raha noong panahong prekolonyal dahil itinuturing na akma sa kanila, bilang mamamayang pinakamataas ang ranggo, ang lahat ng superlatibo—pinakamagaling, pinakamatapang, pinakamalakas, pinakamatalino, pinakamakisig, at iba pa. Hindi na nalalayo na kahit ang tagong parte ng iginagalang na pinuno ay pinakamalaking bagay sa katawan niya, may katotohanan man o wala.
Bukod sa kaduda-duda ang pagkabit ng lahat ng superlatibo sa mga dugong bughaw dahil sa kasaysayan ng tao, may mahihina at maliliit ding mga pinuno, literal man o piguratibo, at may mga pinuno rin namang babae gaya ni Prinsesa Urduja, mali ring tawaging Maharlika ang Pilipinas dahil hindi naman pulos lalaki lang ang mamamayan nito. Magmamaktol hindi lamang ang mga peminista kundi ang mga babaeng muli ay isinasantabi dahil wala silang titi. Idagdag pa na hindi kinakailangang malalaki rin ang pribadong bahagi ng mga lalaking mamamayang ito, dahil may mga pananaliksik na nagsasaad na mas malalaki ang ari ng mga Kanluranin, mga Aprikano at mga lahing Arabiko kumpara sa mga Silanganin at Timog-Silanganing Asyano.
Samakatuwid, problematiko ang paggamit ng Maharlika bilang panibagong pangalan ng Pilipinas sapagkat hindi lamang ito misnomer o maling pangalan, presentasyon din ito ng isang lipunang nagtataas ng machismo at, sa proseso, nag-ietsa-puwera sa mga babaeng may kapantay na karapatan bilang mamamayan.
Bilang tugon sa mga salitang katulad nito dapat pag-aralan muna natin ang mga salitang ating binibigkas dahil hindi natin tiyak kung may natatamaan na tayo sa ating mga sinasabi. Kung papaanong hindi magandang pantawag ang Instik Beho o kaya Tsekwa sa mga Tsino, gayon din naman ay ayaw ko ring matawag na flip o "funny little island people". Mas malamang kaysa hindi ay sa pagdaan ng panahon nagawan na ng social constructionism ang konteksto ng mga salita. Dahil dito ay nakakaligtaan natin ang tunay at tama na kahulugan at pinagsimulan ng ating mga katutubong salita.
Sa panahon ngayon ay hindi na gaanong pinaniniwalaan ang mga aswang, kaya naman hindi na ito gaano nakakainsulto kapag ginagamit itong pantawag sa mga birubiruan ngunit sa kabila nito ay hindi maiiaalis ang pangit na imahen na ibinibigay nito. Sa kabilang palad, maaaring magbigay ng magandang imahen ang salitang maharlika. Ngunit lingid sa kaalaman ng karamian ay mayroon itong negatibong pahiwatig. Kahit na dugong bughaw ang ibig sabihin ng salitang ito ang literal na ibig sabihin nito ay tumataliwas sa mga babaeng may dugong bughaw. Ang wika ay makapangyarihan at dahil dito ay malaki ang bisa ng wika sa pagbuo at pagpapalaganap ng imahe, isang puntong tinalakay ni Edward Said sa kanyang akdang Orientalism. Kaya nga, mahalaga na magamit ng maayos ang kaniyang sariling wika dahil bukod sa isa ito sa mga repleksyon ng ating kultura, bumubuo ito ng ating pagkakakilanlan.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

corruption in the military: a postmodern study

News has it that nine rebel officers previously sentenced for the 2003 oakwood mutiny and sought for pardon were granted release from detention. congratulations! here's my tribute: an old piece of commentary which i haven't posted yet, but hopefully will serve as a reference to the infamous event. or a piece of nostalgia, for the waxing sentimental, haha.:)

Recent juggling of surreal events in the Philippine political circus led to the resurfacing in the Filipinos’ consciousness of the tentacles of political corruption, not in the Malacañang or in Congress, but not too set off to boggle our collective wild imagination: corruption in the military. While corruption is Webster-defined as “inducement to wrong by improper and unlawful means,” it cannot be denied that here in these islands, the most popular, most decadent, and most-often referred-to form is that which systematically infests the government and the bureaucracy at-large. I have taken to light the corruption in the military department, lest the short-memory-span suffering people begin to embed in their subconscious the decay emanating from this organized impairment of moral integrity when the ongoing Jose Pidal and Panfilo Lacson corruption cases finally get the better of their forgetfulness.
265 mutinous soldiers accused the Arroyo administration of corruption in a 22-hour standoff in Makati City last July 27, 2003. They demanded that President Macapagal-Arroyo “step down”, and accuse corruption among higher officials and those running the military. They never hoped to succeed in toppling the government and even faced the possibility of dying.
These mutinous soldiers who seized Makati last July 28 spilled the beans that star-rank officials are in the thick of corruption, among other allegations. In fact, recently resigned Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes was accused of being a “merchant of death” because of unscrupulous selling of armament and ammunitions to the enemies of the government like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and like rebels. In his master’s thesis at the premier University of the Philippines, Lt. Sgt. Antonio Trillanes IV, one of the leaders of the Oakwood putsch, proved that corruption in the form of lagay (grease money), under-the-table negotiations, padding and others is rampant in the military. Such an expose, although the nation has grown incredulous about the immaculate cleanliness of the military points an unerring finger at the common knowledge on widespread corruption even in this government department.
The war in Mindanao has been present for more than 35 years now. No matter how great the efforts of the government troops are to eliminate rebels and war in Mindanao, war is still ongoing. This is because of the alleged fact that the military is even the one sustaining them with ammunitions. Bullets of the military are found embedded in the dead bodies of military men. This just clearly shows that there are unscrupulous practices in the military. Top military officials are selling weapons and armaments for the benefit of money without even thinking of the harm this may cause their own brothers in the military.
Military corruption is relative to naked ambitions. Self-serving interests such as wielding material power, gaining access, to sensitive intelligence, maintaining private armies and the like will have to be supported financially, hence the likelihood of military men to resort to corruption in the military where funds are alluringly teeming (government’s big budget for defense as opposed to less budget for education will attest to that). For unprincipled excesses of ambitious leaders, military corruption becomes a strong foundation, as witnesses in the history of the universally relevant pre-imperial Roman Republic.
Power intoxicates, so corrupt military men shamelessly hold on to their “life-giving” ambitions to sustain such power. They got so entangled in the filthy system that they find it hard to seek way out, under the risk of getting liquidated or exposed to the public. In effect, they chose the lesser, more enjoyable evil of riding the crest of corruption, raking in more money than most of us will earn in a lifetime by engaging in various military mal-practices that spell lots and lots of money which can be translated to power and influence.
In conclusion, the corruption in the military has reached a point where it is putting us into a shameful limelight in the international community. If it does in the global case, how much more on our moral integrity as a nation? We may not be a part of it, but by remaining apathetic on such a grave misconduct unbecoming of public officials, we are not only tolerating corruption, but also sending a wrong signal that we are actually relishing this sadomasochistic affinity with this bureaucratic decadence. If we pass it off as “not our problem,” then whose problem is it?

Monday, May 19, 2008

song of ploning

Out in the sea,
The world’s reduced to the vast expanse
Of the ocean and the sky.
You sail endlessly,
Drifting like an iceberg
Longing for its destined shore.
Out there, new moons are slow to rise
While the sun forever lashes its rays,
Dampening your heart with terror
Of Circe stranding you on her island,
Or Charybdis drowning you in her whirlpool,
Or sirens scheming your shipwreck.
There is nothing more appropriate
Than this envelope of blue
To capture your loneliness:
You probe far and wide
But find just traces of sea squalls
And fearsome monsters of the deep,
Without familiar landscape
To tide you out of isolated state.
Keep navigating, sailor lover,
These waters shall soon transport your ship
Where the stable surface pacifies you,
And when the interminable evaporates at last,
Your Calypso is just home waiting for you.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

girl power: feminisms in osama, whale rider and mulan

The films Osama and Whale Rider are basically feminist stories that serve as bold comments on the harsh patriarchal ideology plaguing not only tribal communities (like the Maoris of New Zealand, where Whale Rider comes from) or dictatorial governments (like the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the origin of Osama), but also the rest of the male-dominated world. The protagonists of both films, Osama and Pai, are empowered to certain degrees in order to prove to their respective macho societies that they can assert their female identity by subverting the conventional wisdom that women are weak and disadvantaged. This, too, is the case in Mulan, an inspiring tale of a young Chinese woman named Mulan who passed herself off as a man in order to join the dynasty’s army.
Osama and Mulan took the risk of being found girls in the all-male institutions they infiltrated, for the love of their respective families. However, more than Osama’s providing food for her grandmother, mother and paternal aunt and Mulan’s sparing her father from the military task due the male of the Chinese family, their disguise was a reminder that women, like men, can undergo rigid training, work difficult tasks and do male-associated chores—all with success. The same ability is proven by Pai, who might not have to mask her feminine form, but had to perform the abovementioned things all the same as a retraction of her chieftain grandfather’s incredulity of her capacity to lead her Whangara people, as her family’s first-born males have inherited such leadership.
Osama, Pai, and Mulan are all girls with feminine spirit, and their courage inspires each woman to rise well above the low patriarchal expectation bearing that spirit.

Friday, May 16, 2008

an introduction to imagined community: tales about the hiligaynon country

Philippine Literature in English, because it is in English, carries with it the concept of colonialism. Even as it is so, it can reach the proportion of a “minor” literature only compared to the canonical European/Anglo-American masterpieces.[1] If this literary ideology is already revolting, it is more so with the peripheralization of “minority” literature—gay, women’s, prison, popular, etc.—in the Philippines.[2] The twice-removed Philippine Literature from the Margins, the literature in the vernacular included, is so neglected that in the last decades, commissions in the arts and education aiming to showcase the original beauty of Philippine culture have intensified contributions for the advancement and full flowering of this culture.[3] The University of the Philippines, for instance, completes the triumvirate of universities[4] tasked at publishing the Panitikan series in the hope of, first and foremost, presenting the richness and color of literature in the islands.[5]
All the same, Philippine Literature in English remains “the most vigorous as well as the most promising Philippine Literature”[6] primarily because of two reasons: the perceived prestige of its use of English as medium and the possibility of the Filipino writers’ works becoming integrated to the greater body of world literature. In the case of the choice of the short story genre, this “true representative and product of contemporary age…continues to reflect, to express, life in all its manifestations,”[7] beside the notion that it “is the most popular form of literature in the country….[T]he output in short stories is richer and more significant than that of any other form of literature.”[8] The decision to study the novel genre is influenced by the fact that “the novel [is] the most interesting genre in the considerable body of Filipino Literature in English today”[9] because it is the writers’ way of “confronting the historical crisis” bedeviling the nation, having been colonized and, therefore, “unable to either accept or to change [its] history.”[10]
It is inescapable that the Filipino writers in English, as in any Philippine language, will write about their country because they are writing as Filipinos, whether consciously or unconsciously. In the case of the authors of the fictions under study, Rosario Cruz Lucero was not just able to explore slices of Filipino life and Vicente Garcia Groyon, a larger picture of it; more specifically, these Negros-rooted[11] fiction writers were able to produce works that manifest the lushness and potency of the West Visayan culture, “a society whose milieu is largely rural, its rhythm pastoral and its concerns sometimes pre-technological.”[12] While Feast and Famine (Quezon City: UP Press, 2003) and Sky Over Dimas (Manila: DLSU Press, 2003) are both set in Negros Occidental, they capture nonetheless the imagination of a Hiligaynon country, an imagination that, having been articulated in the dominant language of the current lone world superpower, the US, may “situate Hiligaynon literature[13] in its niche in world literature.”[14] How is West Visayas imagined by two Bacolod-linked writers in English?
The origin of the Philippine Short Story in English may be traced in the UP, where the first crop of American English-bred Filipino intelligentsia, produced three ghost stories or tales in the maiden issue of the State University’s first literary journal, the College Folio, in 1910. The establishment of English as a vehicle for education and literary expression gained full ground by the 1920’s, and the “attrac[tion into magazines and writing organizations of] the most gifted literary men and women…hamper[ed] the technical development of writing in the native languages (i.e. Hiligaynon), and alienating the writers in English from the popular culture.”[15]
Jose Garcia Villa’s fiction anthology, Footnote to Youth, had by 1933 won accolade from American critic Edward O’Brien, and his annual project (until 1940) of selecting what he deemed as the best Filipino short stories in English served as a compass for the progress of the genre. While the derivation of style and elements was undeniably from the western patterns, the writers were aware of their necessity to veer away from their American and British prototypes. With the founding of Commonwealth Literary Awards in 1940, the same year when Salvador P. Lopez criticized Villa’s “art for art’s sake” through the socially-committed Literature and Society, this need for capturing a more Filipino short story in English with social utility was meeting destiny.
The likes of Manuel Arguilla of La Union, NVM Gonzalez of Mindoro and later writers who would attempt to lay claim on a certain locality in their fiction provided the vital element of location in the progress of the short story in English.
The publication of Nick Joaquin’s Three Generations in the Graphic marked 1940 as the onset of the new period in the literary scene, what with his fantastic weaving of English and dexterity at narration.
The ravages of the World War II for a while halted Philippine Writing in English, which was to be resuscitated after the US’ bestowing of Philippine independence, with such developments as more honesty in sensual expression, setting of a handful of stories abroad, and tackling of ethno-cultural minority issues. Long before Latin American texts became part of the literary canon being taught in Philippine schools, the trend of marvelous realism like that in Joaquin’s stories shied away from conventional realism (as Feast and Famine did). The Philippines Free Press and the Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards having been founded in 1949 and 1950, respectively, another development in the post-war era emerged, as both contributed to the formulation of aesthetics in the short story genre.
When the pre-Martial Law period ushered in, “the Filipino writer had mastered the English medium and familiarized himself with diverse techniques”16 as was evident in the works of Gregorio Brillantes, Gilda Cordero-Fernando, and Kerima Polotan. During this time when Ninothcka Rosca also began to emanate heat, the reigning themes included the quest for identity, crisis of illusion versus reality, and alienation.
The Martial Law Years motivated writers to set aside personal epiphanies and to shift to more political concerns, even as the Marcos dictatorship has virtually paralyzed literary production, especially those that were antagonistic of the regime.
The Ninoy Aquino murder in 1983 jolted Filipino writers from complacency about their role as social transformers, and that event that spiraled into the so-called People Power was a pre-cursor to the new flowering of Philippine Literature.
The present scenario boasts of the younger generation of writers whose “chosen issues tend to be those of gender and sexuality, the environment, cultural identity, and individual freedom.”17 As the trend brings the Filipino writer closer to the world via globalization and the Internet, developments such as children’s literature, writing in the Diaspora, 1000-word-or-less flash fiction or “fiction that can be consumed in minutes”18 and stories written in the texting language provide prospects for the future of Philippine Short Stories in English.
It is interesting to note that while the novel was mastered later than the short story, the former manifests a clearer position of imagining the nation than the latter, as may be gleaned in the fact that in the last quarter-century, many novels take the nation for a subject, albeit in varying degrees. From the naïve and sentimental A Child of Sorrow by Zoilo Galang in 1921, the historical novel The Filipino Rebel by Maximo Kalaw published in 1927 trail blazed what would be the theme and style of the post-war novels like NVM Gonzalez’ Winds of April in 1940, Stevan Javellana’s Without Seeing the Dawn in 1947, down to Kerima Polotan’s The Hand of the Enemy in 1962. The period saw the fiction in English taking three different courses, best embodied by the works of Bienvenido Santos, NVM Gonzalez and Nick Joaquin. Santos’ language approximates American English, Gonzalez’ is nuanced by the Philippine dialects and Joaquin’s flaunts the vivacity of Spanish.
As the novel traipsed into the contemporary scene, it carried with it the Filipino short story in English’ same commitment of becoming more and more Filipino for its English to become less and less American-sounding. In the 1987 Criticism book Major and Minor Keys, Ricaredo Demetillo stated that a critic must ascertain that a literary work must not only be “beautiful as a work of art” but also socially functional, thus heaping praises for Edilberto Tiempo’s To Be Free and F. Sionil Jose’s novels for their catalytic role of helping fashion the society. Meanwhile, what Soledad Reyes called the “aesthetic-historical approach” encompasses the criticisms of Bienvenido Lumbera and Cynthia Lumbera in Philippine Literature: A History and Anthology and Caroline Hau in Necessary Fictions. Both books judge contemporary novelists in English to be engrossed in thinking and feeling Philippine, as reflected in today’s crop of works (i.e. Sky over Dimas). In short fictions as in long prose, the ripples of the Filipino identity continue to be in the works.
In this study purposed at drawing connections between the Negrense/Hiligaynon psyche and milieu and the imagination of these in the two books, the reporter had to know that the Hiligaynon prose—one record of such culture—“aims to convey the theme of protest against the existing social structure.”19 What else? “…[R]ural poverty, children dying of malnutrition, desperate peasants burning sugarcane fields, violence both random and systematic, political ‘disappearances,’ lives warped by feudal values.”20 What more is said about it? “Most worthwhile stories deal with poverty strivings, sufferings, hunger, the gap between the rich and the poor, the lack of concern for one’s fellowmen, aspirations. Stories dealing with social involvement. Stories which can guide, touch the heart. Relevant themes leading towards a life under a democracy.”21 Who will escape the renowned impression that Hiligaynon is the Philippine counterpart of French as the language of love, what with its speakers’ characteristic as “cariñoso, or gentle and warm”22? “In general, the people of the Western Visayas are generous, kind-hearted, friendly, hospitable, indulgent, and liberal to a fault.”23

Arambulo, Thelma E. “Notes on the Short Story.” In Prism: An Introduction to Literature. Edited by Yolanda Tomeldan, et al. Mandaluyong City: National Bookstore, 1986.
Balarbar, Corazon V. “Philippine Literature in English in Perspective.” In Gems in Philippine Literature. Pasig City: National, 1989.
Bernad, Miguel A., SJ. “Philippine Literature: Perpetually Inchoate.” In
Dalisay, Jose, Jr. Y. “The Filipino Short Story in English: An Update for the ‘90s.” In The
Likhaan Anthology of Philippine Literature in English. Gemino Abad, Gen. Editor. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1998.
David, Milagros and Josephine Serrano. “The Philippine Short Story in English.” In English Communication Arts through Afro-Asian Literature. Quezon City: Phoenix Publishing House, 1976.
De Jesus, Noelle. “Introduction.” In Fast Food Fiction: Short Short Stories to Go. Pasig City: Anvil, 2003.
Groyon, Vicente Garcia. Sky over Dimas. Manila: De La Salle University, 2003.
Hidalgo, Cristina P. “The Philippine Short Story in English.” In an unpublished draft for a textbook to be used in the UP Open University, written 2003.
_________. “The Philippine Novel in English.” In an unpublished draft for a textbook to be used in the UP Open University, written 2003.
Hosillos, Lucila V. Hiligaynon Literature: Texts and Contexts. Quezon City: Aqua Land Enterprises, 1992.
__________. “Introduction.” In Bahandi-i. Marcella, Juanito, Editor. Manila: Lyceum Press, 1970.
Legasto, Priscelina P. “Literature from the Margins.” In Philippine Post-Colonial Studies. Hidalgo, Cristina P. and Priscelina P. Legasto, Editors. Quezon City: UP Press, 1993.
Lucero, Rosario Cruz. Feast and Famine: Stories Of Negros. Quezon City: UP Press, 2003.
__________. “Introduction.” Sugilanon. Manila: DLSU Press, 1991.
__________. Dulaang Hiligaynon. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1996.
Mojares, Resil. “Foreword.” In Feast and Famine: Stories of Negros. Lucero, Rosario Cruz. Quezon City: UP Press, 2003.
Villareal, Corazon. Translating the Sugilanon: Re-framing the Sign. Quezon City: UP Press, 1994.
Legasto, Priscelina P. “Literature from the Margins.” In Philippine Post-Colonial Studies. Hidalgo, Cristina P. and Legasto, Priscelina P., Editors. Quezon City: University of the Philippines Press, 1993, 46-49.
“Mula sa Pabliser.” In Dulaang Hiligaynon. Rosario Cruz Lucero, Collector. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University, 1996, vii.
[4]The other two are the Ateneo de Manila University and the De La Salle University.
“Mula sa Pabliser.” In Dulaang Hiligaynon. Rosario Cruz Lucero, Collector. Quezon City: Ateneo de Manila University, 1996, ix.
Bernad, Miguel A., SJ. “Philippine Literature: Perpetually Inchoate.” In http: //
Arambulo, Thelma E. “Notes on the Short Story.” In Prism: An Introduction to Literature. Edited by Yolanda Tomeldan, et al. Mandaluyong City: National Bookstore, 1986, 3-8.
[8] David, Milagros and Josephine Serrano. “The Philippine Short Story in English.” In English Communication Arts through Afro-Asian Literature. Quezon City: Phoenix Publishing House, 1976, 152-153.
Hidalgo, Cristina P. “The Philippine Novel in English.” In an unpublished draft for a textbook to be used in the UP Open University, written 2003, 3.
Dr. Lucero grew up and spent her pre-UP years in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental; likewise, Groyon’s mother, as told by Dr. Lucero to the reporter, hails from the said provincial capital. DLSU-Taft-based Groyon, according to the “Notes on Contributors” in the first Ladlad: Anthology of Philippine Gay Writing (Pasig City: Anvil Publishing, Inc., 1994), has taught in DLSU-Bacolod.
Villareal, Corazon D. Translating the Sugilanon: Re-framing the Sign. Quezon City: UP Press, 1994, 8.
The fictions under study being an imagination of the bewitchingly beautiful Hiligaynon culture, the reporter takes the liberty of considering them as Hiligaynon Literature in English.
Hosillos, Lucila V. “Preface.” In Hiligaynon Literature: Texts and Contexts. Quezon City: Aqua-Land Enterprises, 1992, v.
Hidalgo, Cristina P. “The Philippine Short Story in English.” In an unpublished draft for a textbook to be used in the UP Open University, written 2003, 8.
Balarbar, Corazon V. “Philippine Literature in English in Perspective.” In Gems in Philippine Literature. Pasig City: National Bookstore, 1989, xxvii.
Dalisay, Jose, Jr. Y. “The Filipino Short Story in English: An Update for the ‘90s.” In The Likhaan Anthology of Philippine Literature in English. Gemino Abad, General Editor. Quezon City: UP Press, 1998, 150.
De Jesus, Noelle. “Introduction.” In Fast Food Fiction: Short Short Stories to Go. De Jesus, Noelle, Editor. Pasig City: Anvil, 2003, xv.
Lucero, Rosario Cruz. “Introduction.” Sugilanon. Manila: DLSU Press, 1991, v. Translation by Dr. Villareal.
Mojares, Resil. “Foreword.” In Feast and Famine: Stories of Negros. Lucero, Rosario Cruz. Quezon City: UP Press, 2003, vii.
Hosillos, Lucila V. “Introduction.” In Bahandi-i. Marcella, Juanito, Editor. Manila: Lyceum Press, 1970, xi. Translation by Dr. Villareal.
Villareal, Corazon. Translating the Sugilanon: Re-framing the Sign. Quezon City: UP Press, 1994, 13.
Hosillos, Lucila V. Hiligaynon Literature: Texts and Contexts. Quezon City: Aqua-Land Enterprises, 1992, 4.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

isang round pa, zsa zsa

carlo vergara's sequel to the award-winning graphic novel zsa zsa zaturnnah is set to conquer the intricate maze of the cyberspace in the days to come. please visit for more information. nakakalurky talaga ang ate mo!:)

Monday, May 12, 2008

the epic quality of henry V

It is easy to evaluate William Shakespeare’s history play King Henry V as possessing an epic quality, given the episodic presentation of Henry V as king with exemplary performance and owing to the series of triumphs he gains after his undertakings. He is the quintessential hero, the victorious colonizer of France, the brilliant political operator devoid of Richard II’s ineptitude, Richard III’s evil inclination, or Henry IV’s Machiavellian character. As such, he seems to provide the solution to the problem of modern politics as characterized by his predecessors. The play itself is a living testament to the celebration of the clever manner in which he successfully ruled England.
This heroic highlight is expressed in the prominent appearance of Henry V throughout the play. In the prequels, no single character ever dominates by being made to utter a bulk of lines even when the spotlight is on him/her. Also, the previous plays juxtapose characters in such a way that they are contrasted in equal footing—Richard II’s incompetence as opposed to Bolingbroke’s excellence and Prince Hal’s relaxedness as opposed to Hotspur’s seriousness, to mention just two such side-by-side placements. Meanwhile, in the play under study, Henry V readily eclipses any other character because he is shown to be the most important figure in the action, notwithstanding if he pales compared to the dramatically interesting characters of, say, Pistol or Fluellen. Like the average epic hero, Henry V deals with insurgents at England or French enemies overseas fast and triumphantly. Furthermore, there is no instance in the play wherein Henry V’s ostentation of power is seriously threatened. Even his French opponents recognize how admirable Henry V is, and the conspirators to the plot against the king repent at once and hold no grudge against him. His success gets raves from everybody, from the nobles to the clergy to the commoners to the military.
Owing to Henry V’s unhampered victories and, therefore, the absence of complication in either character or plot, Henry V can be read as an epic that lacks the complex dramatic narrative required to provide the major character a powerful conflict with which this character can develop insights from experiences. It seeks only to celebrate the various capacities of King Henry in executing justice, dealing with the enemy, leading a military crusade, setting up a royal union, among others. He performs all his functions in an episodic series, and is successful and efficient in doing so. Compared to the earlier rulers of England, Henry V is peerless as a political power wielder. Without the dynamism, his character creates a mythic quality that somehow departs from his humanity—he is flawless as a hero, a figure to embody the national pride of England. He may be looked up to as a hero, but the sanitized versions of his human life and royal history seem too good to be entirely true. Nonetheless, if only for the unblemished record of this king and his colonial exploits, he may provide inspiration for his people long after he is dead, as may be gleaned in his immortalization in the Shakespearean tetralogy.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

the business of crossing social class boundaries

in the wake of heart evangelista's transfer to gma-7, of geoff eigenmann's strutting in sexy trunks in lobo, of anne curtis' forthcoming fantaserye entitled dyosa and of kris aquino's araw-araw na pagka-casino (alcohol, that is), let me post this old review of their well-received teleserye hiram.

Love transcends barriers. This cliché had been proven wrong by lovers who had been struggling against the odds of the world ever since. In our society today, people still cannot accept the union of two individuals coming from different social classes. There is this hegemonic reality that presumes the existence of the status quo --species of the same breed do not mingle with other kind. Even if they felt the pangs of their heart or the striking feeling up in their spine, logic always gets over one’s system. Is the power of the heart that weak nowadays? Will the merging of two people as one already be based on rationale? Is love’s rationality not enough? To evade from this substandard existing condition, television scriptwriters present the ideal love paradise one has always been dreaming of entering. This suspension of reality thus fascinates audience into viewing television soaps phenomenally known in the Philippines as teleserye.
ABS-CBN, the country’s leading media network, showcases big-budgeted, star-studded teleseryes, one of which is the highly-rated Hiram, currently televised weeknights at 9 to 9:30. With all its ingredients, Hiram tries but so far fails to provide its audience the necessary fix to realize--even on TV--that love indeed cuts across borders. The basic plot reads thus: Diana (Kris Aquino) “inherits” her dead friend Beatriz’ (Mickey Ferriols) daughter by the unknowing father Edward (John Estrada), Diana‘s long-time secret love. The rub, though, is that Edward is an absurdly rich haciendero and Diana used to work for him as household help. While it was made apparent that the guy’s heart has a soft spot for the maid, the love seems forbidden because of the gap in their social classes. The rags-to-riches experience of Diana--a result of her ascent to television stardom and partly of the guidance of her soul sister and potential love rival, Sofia (Dina Bonnevie)--closes the aforementioned gap and, in effect, makes Diana worthy of Edward’s romantic attention. To date, the soap is in full swing ratings-wise and the audience is left guessing who gets whom after the supposed “borrowing” (read: hiram) of lovers, but it is never lost to the viewers that Diana merits Edward’s love only because they hobnob in the elite society’s circle and the only time the former servant will bring a champagne glass to the master is to clink hers with his.
An interesting subplot is the potential love triangle involving Harry/Andrew (Geoff Eigenmann), Margaret (Heart Evangelista) and Stephanie (Anne Curtis). While there is a friction as to wealthy yuppie Margaret’s falling in love with the originally hideous-looking Andrew (who is really her beloved Harry, only amnesiac and surgically enhanced now), she cannot borrow him from his girlfriend and her soul cousin Stephanie. Andrew’s poverty is beside the point, since he is destined to match the moneyed Margaret with his designation as a high-ranking officer in Sofia’s giant corporation. The catch is that monstrous-faced Harry has to undergo the gorgeous Andrew transformation in order to merit Margaret’s love. Given that the scheming mother of Stephanie, Sofia, masterminded Harry’s operation in order to take Margaret away from him while his identity is lost, the general plot has allowed this to happen so the beast can evolve into a prince charming for the princess-like Margaret.
While it is understandable that the audience needs to feed on the star complex foisted on them by the capitalizing Kapamilya network (suffice it to say that the Kapamilya here is the Lopez family), hence the hiring of flawlessly beautiful actors and actresses, the elemental love binding the characters seems incapable of dissolving social borders: the poor has to become rich and the ugly has to become beautiful to make a perfect match. Only when one is able to cross classes is one rendered worthy of the beloved’s attention. It destroys the reality-bound illusion that members of various classes can intermarry despite many obstacles. It even puts forth the hilarious suggestion that the conventionally ugly guy can merit a pretty girl only if he goes under the knife, or that a governess like Rose Porteau cannot turn into a heiress because she can never marry a multimillionaire.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

video/audio/software piracy: isang postmodernong phenomenon

Ang pamimirata sa mga produktong video, audio at software ay maituturing na postmodernong phenomenon dahil ito ay hayagang panlalait sa modernong kalakarang nagbigay ng delusyong pag-asa ng utopia o kaginhawaan. Sa kapitalistang produksyon ng mga orihinal na produkto gaya ng video compact disks, cd-formatted computer programs at iba pa, ipinapasa ang mga produkto sa mahal na halaga upang matakpan ang gastusin sa means of production–kapital, pabrika, hilaw na materyales at lakas-paggawa. Ang surplus naman galing sa mga produktong ito ay nagbibigay-kasiyahan at maraming kita sa mga kapitalista, kaya malinaw na corporate interest ang pinangangalagaan nila sa halip na ipasa ang produkto sa murang halaga bilang konsiderasyon sa interes pampubliko. Samakatuwid, ang mode of production ay sumisira sa ilusyon ng modernismong magbigay-ginhawa para sa lahat maliban sa mismong produser.
Sa puntong ito, hinamon ang modernong phenomenon na ito ng isang postmodernong phenomenon: ang pamimirata na gayong lantarang pangongopya sa pag-aaring intelektuwal ng iba at tahasang paglabag sa batas ay tinatangkilik ng mga tao, unang-una, sa kadahilanang pang-ekonomiko; ikalawa, sa pagkamit ng ginhawa na hindi naibigay ng modernismo; at ikatlo, pang-insulto sa ginagawang komodipikasyon at komersyalisasyon ng mga produktong na sana ay mag-aangat sa estado ng sibilisasyon ng tao na ibinabandera ng modernismo.
Gawin nating halimbawa ang isang kinakalakal na orihinal na mga video cd/audio cd na ibinebenta sa halagang P250 hanggang P500, ngunit sa mga bangketa ng Cubao, Baclaran o Avenida at sa mga piling tindahan sa Greenhills, bina-bargain ang mga ito sa halagang P10 hanggang P50 lamang. Sa paghihigpit sa perang gastusin ng mga konsyumer, hindi nga sila mangingiming bumili na lamang ng peke kaysa sumuka ng daan-daan sa orihinal na produktong pareho lang ang nilalaman kumpara sa peke. Kung tutuusin, mas makakamura pa ng P10 minimum sa pagbili ng vcd ng isang pelikula kaysa pagkuha ng tiket sa takilya upang masaksihan ang palabas (P35 ang presyo ng piniratang pelikulang ipinapalabas sa halagang P100+ sa isa pang templo ng komersyalismo, ang mall). Kulit-kulitin man tayo ng mga korporasyon sa pagpapaalalang para sa interes natin ang pagbili ng mga orihinal na produkto, hindi maitatangi na iba ang corporate interest kaysa public interest. Iindahin ng mamimili ang pagkabawas ng daan-daang piso para sa isang bagay na kung madidiskubreng ang nilalaman ay pangit pala sa panlasa niya, ang mamimili ay mananatiling kawawang biktima. Samantala, ang kabawasang isang mamimili ang hindi magpapahirap sa mga kapitalista. Kung ang software na galing sa korporasyon ni Bill Gates, isang bilyonaryong ang yaman ay mula rin naman sa pangongopya sa Xerox Corporation, ay pinirata at ibinenta sa halagang hindi makapagpapataas ng presyon ng dugo, hindi mariringgan ng “Aray!” si Gates kung mabawasan ang kita niya ng 0.0000000001 (o dagdag pang zero). Sa pamamagitan ng pormang ito ng postmodernismo, napapamukhaan na bigo ang modernismo sa pangako nito at ang produkto ng postmodernismo ang “next best thing,” kung tutuusin, sa kaginhawaang di-natupad. Bukod sa mura ang mga piniratang ito, madali pang hanapin dahil sa konting paggala-gala sa mga lugar na pinaglalagakan nito, ang mga nagbebenta na mismo ang mag-aalok sa iyo, mula hard-core XXX hanggang MTV repertoire o larong PlayStation at programa sa kompyuter.
Kung ikukunsidera naman ang pagkawala ng sinulid na maghahati sa reyalidad at simulacrum (paghahawig o representasyon, kalimitan ay paimbabaw lamang), mula pa sa panahon ni Plato ay pinilosopiya na niya ito: ang lamesang ginagamit ko ngayong patungan ng gamit kong kompyuter ay representasyon lamang ng lamesang nasa langit, kaya kung gagawa ako ng tula patungkol sa lamesa, may isang baytang na nakapagitan sa reyalidad at simulacrum; samakatuwid, ito ay hindi totoo. Sa postmodernong pananaw naman, ang kultura ng media, pagsalit ng tunay na halaga ng exchange, kapitalismo, urbanisasyon at mga simbolikong lengguwahe at ideyolohiya ay nagtatalaban sa kamalayan ng mga tao upang ang kamay na bakal ng mga aparatong panlipunan na nakasuot ng malambot na guwantes ay maitatak sa mga tao kung anu-ano ang mga papel na gagampanan o mga bagay na tatanggapin, bahagi ng interpelasyon sa kanila. Sa puntong ito, ang pamimirata, na isang postmodernong phenomenon sa kadahilanang ito, kaakibat ang mga phenomenang nabanggit sa itaas, ay nagbuwag sa nakapagitang dingding sa reyalidad at simulacrum. Ang napapanood, naririnig, at naiproprograma sa mga napiratang compact disks ay kawangis lang ng tunay, isang baytang mula sa katotohanan, ngunit parehong-pareho o higit pa sa orihinal kung tutuusin ang epekto ng mga phenomenang parte ng nakalakhan na natin sa ating postmodernong panahon.
Panghuli, ang komodipikasyon at komersyalisasyon na isang kompromisong pangtali ng modernismo sa mga taong naghahangad ng kaginhawaang wala namang kasiguruhang matatamo, ay tahasang hinagupit ng satirikong produksyon ng postmodernismo. Tutal, ipinapasa na sa mga konsyumer ang kaginhawaan sa porma ng produktong napakamahal, sumabay sa alon ng popularidad ang mga pirata at nagbenta ng produktong kopya ng orihinal ngunit “‘di sing-mahal” para sa mga “wais” na mamimili. Sa halip na makita ang mga pirata bilang eksploytatibo at magnanakaw, may dekonstruksyon ang kanilang imahe bilang mga instrumento ng taumbayan sa “accessability” ng mga impormasyon at kasiyahan na nakakompromiso sa modernismo sa “tamang” halagang idinidisenyo ng mga kapitalistang nagpapagawa ng produkto.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

the machiavellian character in king henry IV, part I

One recurrent personality in Shakespearean plays is the Machiavellian character, a complex and interesting personality that is found in King Henry IV, Part 1. Here, Prince Hal personifies the Machiavellian principle by virtue of being educated of the lessons required of a would-be king, many of whose requirements are linked to the use of power exclusively for the security of his own ends.
This education of Prince Hal can be seen as something that transforms him until he rises to become the cunning, efficient and successful political ruler that his father Henry IV is. His exposure to the tavern teaches him the manner of understanding regular pleasures like drinking, the way his people work, and the manner of relating to his subjects. By imbibing these qualities, he achieves a mature understanding of life as a rebel and cultivates affection and warmth which permeate the atmosphere of the tavern. Prince Hal, then, is portrayed as a future ruler whose political leadership is growing responsibly by virtue of the common touch he develops for his subjects.
On the other hand, Prince Hal’s education can be seen as being decidedly Machiavellian through and through, using his friends as instruments to attain his political objective and, therefore, careless of these people’s feelings. He is the exact opposite of the warm and affectionate person mentioned above because he, on the contrary, is a cold, calculating, greedy and ruthless political manipulator. Prince Hal, then, is depicted as a future ruler whose political leadership is trained under a scheming game plan that shall mature into a necessarily notorious and cruel political operation.
In other words, Prince Hal’s training as a future king puts more premium on efficiency than on morality because he employs shrewd manipulation and power in order to secure those that will give him satisfaction, unmindful of the good conduct persons with moral ascendancy (like him) must do as expected. He believes that his exposure to the tavern is an appropriate task not for its own sake but as a means through which he can acquire those that will gratify his self-interest.
This is with a price to pay, of course, and the history plays following Henry IV, Part I will reveal that Prince Hal’s due is high. His commitment to the Machiavellian principle in the play under study spawns complex issues in relation to the kind of humanity Prince Hal’s personality is developing into as well as to those of the people who are affected of the evil trait of the Machiavellian ruler.
The Machiavellian character of Prince Hal, nonetheless, is possibly the royal son’s interpretation of personal survival even if the exercise of power proves to go beyond the conventional moral strictures. He must have the conviction that his assertion of his personal desires is more significant than the traditional manner in which rulers relate to their subjects. He is ready to perform the tasks it takes to accomplish his envisioned gains, even if it means sacrificing others as well as his own humanity in the process. The budding Machiavellian controller that Prince Hal is cannot be but a self-sufficient individual devoid of conventional principles regarding social accountabilities and morality. As a would-be ruler possessing an inherent trait of social disorder and trapped in a community investing much in social relations and moral scruples, Prince Hal does not fit the notion of the ideal king.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

the family: an institution under reconstruction

Two mothers fathering or two fathers mothering their adopted child is possible. Either setting is, considerably, a family setting, given the fact that despite present social debates, many studies show that there is no appreciable difference between children raised by homosexual parents and those reared by heterosexual ones. Recent experiments reveal that gay parents can raise well a family, challenging some prevalent notions that homosexuals have mental illnesses, that lesbians are less motherly than straight women, and that homosexual partners are more sex-obsessed than parenting-oriented and, as such, are unfit to be family heads.
Research investigations attest that the development of sexual identity will not be necessarily destroyed among children of homosexual parents, nor the development of these children’s psychological health and social relationships be negatively affected by the same-sex parents. These findings imply that children of lesbian parents, whether adoptive or not, follow gender-role templates not entirely different from those of other children, not wishing to be members of the opposite sex by showing satisfaction with their gender.This implication does not suggest increased rates of homosexuality among the children of lesbian or gay parents.
Similarly, children growing in stable gay homes are as adjusted as those growing in stable straight homes. In one sociological study, the gay fathers are seen to be more sensitive and responsive to the known need of children. This parenting behavior of gay fathers may be explained by the suggestions that gay fathers feel additional pressures to be more proficient at their parenting role and to be less traditional and more androgynous (or having the mixed feeling of male and female) than their non-gay counterparts.
Contrasting public scare, children raised by gay couples do not suffer crises on gender identity, role-playing or choice. In a psychological survey conducted in the US, children of lesbian couples born to them through artificial insemination exhibited similarity in mental and psychological functioning as those of their heterosexual counterparts’ children’s. Likewise, lesbian mothers are found to be more conscientious in child-rearing than their straight counterparts.
Family dynamics change based on the abovementioned unisex couple-led family contingency by virtue of this setting’s subversion of traditionally-accepted family composition that’s heteronormative. The conservative sectors of the society harbor a conventional structure of a family and as such, the very unconventionality of the parents being homosexuals is viewed as a challenge to the institution of Church-blessed marriages. The religious institution that invoke anti-gay scriptural references in defense of the traditionally-accepted family is interrogated by the libertarian attitude of the modern times, as manifested in settings that include living-in, single parenthood and, yes, unisex parenting. The State which sustains legal silence over the rights of gay couples already enjoyed by their heterosexual counterparts is also challenged by the clamor to recognize the pink members of the community as legitimate citizens worthy of according rights, raising a gay family included.
Therefore, what makes a family goes beyond the normally accepted notion of a nuclear family with gender-specific mother and father and their biological children. In the case of Little Miss Sunshine, the family of Richard—however dysfunctional—is a family because the members are drawn to one another in such a manner that even in the direst of times, they can cling to one another. This intimate relationship is that which is universal in conventional and modern alternatives of families: whether connected by affinity or consanguinity, the members have personal ties that cannot just expire, revoked, or be relinquished as in more formal groups like organizations, cooperatives, societies even. The dramatic comedy film features a family that is composed of a quirky bunch of characters, from the obsessive mother Sheryl who possesses a vigorous resolve to keep the family calm and rational, to the pathetic father Richard who poses as a motivational speaker desperate to land a book deal, to the Nietzsche fan Dwayne who resolves to stay silent until he realizes his ambition of becoming a pilot, to the fat and ideologically ugly Olive who joins Little Miss Sunshine despite being a beauty pageant outcast, to Sheryl’s Proust scholar brother Frank who reels from a suicide instigated by a broken gay relationship, to Richard’s father Edwin who got evicted from his retirement home for snorting heroin. Their weird characteristics naturally call for disasters, and indeed each of them falls in his or her personal tragedy: Richard fails to bag the deal and, eventually, to save the family from bankruptcy, Dwayne discovers his colorblindness so his dream disintegrates, Frank sees again the ex-lover that deters his romantic recuperation, Edwin dies midway of the family’s road trip, and the talent Edwin has taught his granddaughter costs Olive her inclusion in the pageant and lands the entire family in the security office.
These personal catastrophes are that which enriches the family theme in Little Miss Sunshine: a family may appear unconventional (like gay families), but the members will only have one another to rely on. In the face of extreme failures, the only hope yet abandoned is the family. Family members are anticipated to care and devote themselves mutually. This is true in consideration of the family as one cohesive unit that keeping loyalty to one another by virtue of blood or ties is a social expectation that’s inescapable. There is a social notion that the absence of stable domestic lives instigates individuals into engaging in an anti-social behavior that puts everyone else at risk. To some extent, the more solid (meaning, the more nuclear/less extended) a family is, the more capable the members are of reducing or avoiding violence, crime, poverty and other social evils. To uphold the family cannot be seen in any more utilitarian purpose but as an inherent good.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

who cannibalizes whom?

Waking up after my UP sojourn with partyphile, I felt a terrible itch to watch a cartoon (what nasty thoughts were you thinking of?). since my neighborhood lacks immediate access to my personal definition of amenities, i.e. fast food restaurant, internet café, laundry shop, lugawan that answers my craving for isaw, atm, video rentals, among others, I had to walk past three talipapas to find what I was looking for. I was rooting for aladdin because 1. it is a cinematic retelling of a part of scheherazade’s arabian nights, which I’m teaching in afro-asian class, and 2. the song “a whole new world” reminds me of someone special from the field of theater but unfortunately, other disney cartoons as well as hentais are the only available copies. I chose the little mermaid as an alternative because 1. I better watch arielle than that marian rivera in her “beri epektib” dyesebel stint, 2. there is no beauty and the beast, which pangga and I love (figure out the parallel), and 3. I can sing the gay anthem “part of that world.”
Returning home, I passed by a perya and decided to check out what the attractions were. a pathetic but well-attended carnival show claimed, “aniway, ang babaeng gubat. queen of the jungle from africa. wild woman cannibal eating live animals. [and if the announcement in english wasn’t enough to arouse curiosity from the gullible] kumakain ng manok na buhay at hilaw na karne.” the billboard, which showed a painted version of the supposed female “savage” in an animal skin attire reminiscent of forest people pictured in multimedia, ended with the maxim, “to see is to believe…”
of course, I did not have to go inside to prove that the hype was nothing short of exoticist exploitation. the invocation of the otherness was highlighted for the star attraction to sell. she supposedly hailed from the dark continent midway across the globe, she did not develop a culture in which food are cooked and eaten using implements, she was flushed out of her forest hiding to be entrapped as a circus freak, and she is a female. The motif of the wild woman was embodied by this cannibal, and she is being watched in order to be mocked by those who deem her inferior in terms of ideological civilization. the male patrons remarked on the possibility of the cannibal’s possession of milky-white skin and curvaceous figure, whereas the female ones lambasted her face for being too asian to fit their preconceived idea of an african countenance. it was easy for me to point out the more savage between the voyeurs and the object.
the male announcer dangled before the crowd a bloody chicken which aniway had gorged before her pervertedly delighted spectators. He proclaimed, “walang pinag-aralan ang mga african. sa matinding gutom, pati balahibo kinakain.” i was aghast at his pronouncements, first at deciding that africans are illiterate. i wonder what african literary giants like wole soyinka, nadine gordimer, jm coetzee, naguib mahfouz, doris lessing, alan paton, chinua achebe, ben okri, doreen baingana, ad infinitum would have to comment about this denigration, and i haven’t even mentioned stalwarts outside the literary circle. in light of the extreme hunger he mentioned, what if rioting for food happened out of the food crisis being experienced here as well as around the globe? if people would be reduced to eating vestiges, then freak shows will be out of business.
but it’s hard to tell whether these people were indeed being savaged by crisis, for if the low-class people owning fake mp3s were any indication, then people do not have any right to complain about the exorbitant price of rice. they were all around the fair, headsets plugged on their earlobes. whether they were inside the octopus cars swiveling in midair or they were tossing one-peso coins on game boards, they were enjoying the same music as that of their trendsetting economic superiors. How democratizing pirated new media technology can be, given the elite’s and the masses’ similar looks that seemed to me not entirely different from deaf people wearing hearing aids. it wouldn’t be far-fetched to think of my neighbors in the slums soon wearing cheap contact lenses in shades of opaque blue or emerald green.
my train of thoughts was interrupted by the sudden downpour and so, fearing leptospirosis, my feet skipped the streams of muddied rainwater as I headed home.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

the ugly stereotype in richard III

Early on in the history play Richard III by William Shakespeare, the evil incarnate of a king describes himself physically as “rudely stamp’d” and “deformed, unfinish’d,” someone who cannot “strut before a wanton ambling nymph.” He is further presented as a twisted hunchback possessing a shriveled arm, and is so awfully made that dogs growl at him as he passes them by. It is not surprising then that Richard should lament his physical attributes since his monstrosity and unattractiveness are conflated to his profound evil character, which is suggested by his response to his agonized condition with the resolve of an outcast: "I am determined to prove a villain/And hate the idle pleasures of these days."
However, deformity’s signification of an evil character is but a product of a superstitious age. Because this biased reflection is being propagated and reproduced up to the contemporary times when superstition had been superseded by science (which, arguably, is the new superstition), the ugly stereotype has caused prejudice and discrimination physically, economically and socially, i.e. persons who are deemed unattractive may be judged unfavorably versus a fellow job applicant who fit the prevalent ideology of the Caucasian-looking, able physique, may receive lower work benefits than superficially desirable colleagues, or may be mistaken for criminals or terrorists. The classical promotion of the true, the good and the beautiful also helped in concretizing the unfair notion of beauty being fixed under the rigid framework of the symmetrical, the unblemished and the athletic—things that supposedly please the eyes, the beholder’s myopic view notwithstanding.
While contemporary factual information proves that Richard III had not been disgustingly crooked in any physical way, the ugliness being metaphorized to his hideous soul in the text is a reliable testament of how prejudice works against those who do not pass the standards of the preconceived idea of beauty. Ugly people are culturally stereotyped as inferior, dispensable, unproductive, marginally reproductive, frail-bodied, among others, and this is just based on their appearance. They are already expected to sow all things evil more than their opposites. As such, their unattractiveness proves a disadvantage because negatively perceived unlike the attractiveness of their opposites, whose beauty is advantageous because positively perceived.
Lookism or the stereotyping based on the physical appearance is shown to be an appalling business because the oversimplified image representation overlooks the importance of what is inside in favor of what is on the surface. Its narrow and inaccurate means of justifying the existing paradigm, of making sense of the complicated world or of producing dramatic shorthand causes part of the troubles the world is struggling to untangle since the exact opposite of the lookists’ objectives are often achieved. Ugly (or beautiful, for that matter) people are not necessarily what they seem to biased individuals. If reflections and explorations are allowed before one makes quick stereotyping, then one is not misled by unfounded prejudices. As the cliché goes, “looks can deceive.”