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!"

Sunday, June 28, 2009

combating racism

Despite widespread efforts by many sectors to build a world without borders, the problem of racial discrimination still persists. The white/colored binary hardly disintegrates although it has drawn flaks since the heydays of Exploration, Conquests and Slavery, even from within the Caucasian society to which the white masters belong. Half a millennium since and yet the seeds of postcolonial independence are still bearing bitter fruits, with the white people remaining dominant over the colored folks. Today’s racism consists of seemingly harmless slurs up to the extreme form of racially instigated hate crimes.
We Filipinos, with claims of pride in belonging to the Malayan race, are both guilty of and victimized by this racial sting. Perhaps learning much from the Spanish and American colonizers, we tend to look down on people darker than us, laughing at who we refer to as “negro-negra” whenever we see them on television, comedy bars, even the academe—a supposedly ideology-free institution. Probably displacing our own resentment for not being white unlike our colonial masters, we mock our own Aeta brethrens, or deride our black brethrens for no other reason than their complexion. We lump them together under a sweeping category of being Africans, whether or not they indeed are. This, of course, is nothing but a case of colonial overload, a sign that we still subscribe to the false consciousness of white complexion being the universal standard of beauty. And as if the symptom is not enough, we have not spared our very skin. We have not become comfortable with our brown pigmentation that we slather many sorts of whiteners all over our bodily surface. We want to be like the white people, our very oppressors, the ones who peg us under racist categories such as “flips,” “mail-order brides,” “servants,” “whores,” “brown savages,” “pygmies”. The list goes on, but this has to stop because it defeats the purpose of racial understanding and, ultimately, of world peace.
There is no substitute for political correctness. Hence, let us cease calling each other by racially-charged names, because our skin color does not define our abilities. Not because one is black or brown, one’s skills are limited to menial jobs. Slavery was long abolished; it does not hold any more to treat the colored people as if they are at their best when they are maids or prostitutes only, as stereotyped perpetually in media. There are non-white engineers, scientists, professionals who might have been unable to ward off racist remarks while creating their personal spaces, but did not allow the same to prevent them from achieving much. If we look beyond the complexion, we will see that the non-whites in our midst are more than their value-laden skin is worth.
Let us remember that beneath our skins are muscles that are uniform in all human beings. Thus, the beauty of the pigment is just skin-deep.

Friday, June 26, 2009

no to con-ass!

allowing the constituent assembly to materialize is no different from opening pandora's box: all sorts of plagues from human rights violations to death of democracy will bedevil the filipino citizens. the possibility of president gloria macapagal-arroyo's rule beyond 2010 is not unfounded, given the grim and determined behavior of her congressional allies in railroading the con-ass. she may not mete out a marcos-style martial law, but once her congressional plan works out and a parliamentary shift in government makes it possible for her to be installed as prime minister, it is as if the '70s were being relived. the perpetual dictator in marcos gets resurrected in arroyo, so fear the worst.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

the life that's job application

Job applications are breeding grounds of life experiences. More than the accumulation of knowledge and the honing of skills necessary for the applied position, values must be acquired in order to survive that uncovering of career opportunities. Life is like that too: it is pointless to know lots of information and to be able to apply the same in one’s context if related values are lacking in order to make the knowledge application helpful in the development of the human race.
So it is no coincidence that the manner of dressing up, the examination and the series of interviews all seem like ways for one to philosophize one’s suitability in a job as well as one’s capacity to make fullness of a life. In what way can one impress people? In what way can one encourage oneself in order to overcome the threat of a competition? How can one endure the mental and psychological tests in order to triumph over challenges? How can one make people believe that one has achieved the best form through which one can carry out tasks in the best way one can?
If one comes to think about it, job applications are small versions of this thing called life, because at some points one gets unlucky after being rejected in the much-desired position, and at some other points one’s star smiles to one after being hired. Whether one gets accepted in the position applied for or one has to start job hunting anew, job applications teach one of the hard fact that life is always worth giving a try, because nobody knows what’s in store for one unless one begins exploring.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

sexism through language

It is possible that sexist attitudes are perpetuated through language. Since humans use language to speak of consciousness and culture, this medium can articulate and send cultural meanings and values, underpinned assumptions and prejudices included such as devaluation of members of one sex. For instance, the seemingly harmless, all-encompassing use of the male pronoun reference, i.e. man, he, and other masculine-related permutations already discriminates against women by making them invisible or subordinating them while simultaneously reproducing ideas of male dominance. While in the Philippine context, the third person pronoun references “siya” and “sila” appear to be exempt from the abovementioned promotion of gender inequality, the derogatory “putang ina” oppresses women not only by associating them to a socially-perceived low occupation but also by specifying the position to women only.
Changes may be instituted in order to make for less gender-biased language. One way is by choosing to use a more neutral gender reference than the singular masculine pronoun, say using the third person references “one” or “they.” Another way is by substituting gender-neutral terms for terms ending in man. Yet another way is by avoiding the use of the generic masculine in order not to make men the universal representation of humanity, while other-ing the women at the same time. Also, feminine suffixes like -ess, -ette, -trix and -enne must be prevented as these tend to render the female occupants of such positions inferior or insignificant. Furthermore, sex-linked modifiers like “lady,” “women,” “girl,” “mother,” “wife” and “female” must be neutralized in order not to imply that certain occupations are specifically feminine. Finally, terms that bring attention to a person’s sex in assigning roles and the like must be prohibited, such as houseboy, governess, or the pejorative “putang ina.”

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

art and mozart

Peter Brown’s “Amadeus and Mozart: Setting the Record Straight” presents an analysis of the play Amadeus set against the known biography of the man being referred to in the play’s title. Thrown somewhere in the middle of the criticism is the question “Does the biography support the music or is there no relationship between the man and the art?”
Brown answered the second part of the question, positing the playwright’s argument that given the context in which Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart lived as a composer, the artist was detached from his art. He might be unusually rapid in producing compositions, but all others like him were. He, like the rest, must show “craftsmanship and the ability to provide new music appropriate to an occasion” in order to qualify as a composer. Besides, his genius was non-existent, basically because he lived ahead of his time. Such a quality, as well as the “assertion of an individual artistic personality” would be the standard for an artist not until the next century following his.
And so if Mozart were to be uprooted from his milieu and his works to be assessed by their universality in time and space, it is safe to say that yes, his biography supports the music and yes, there is a relationship between the man and his art. This is so because the way he lived his bohemian life—“free from the daily obligations of court appointments, but encumbered by the quest for financial stability”—showed that he did not get hindered by the need to work nor the need to survive organically, but went on to produce “one work after another that seemed divinely sponsored as they transcended his own personality.” An artist for art’s sake is like that: willing to die for his craft, not bothered if his social or physical death would get the better of him. What seemed important for him was to be able to live life the way he wanted to be: as a creator who put his craft on top of his priorities, an artist who lived his art because it was his life. In such a case, the assertiveness as well as the genius were embodied by Mozart. His posthumous reputation showed the universal appeal of his “godlike gifts as a composer.” Judging how positively his works are being received even among diverse quarters is an indication of “Mozart’s improvisational and performance skills were exceptional.” Brown’s parting words, “the phenomenon of Mozart transcends explanation,” cannot be denied: the artist that Mozart was/is continues to be high-brow and esoteric.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

arts fine and practical

Fine arts and practical arts are two disciplines that may be distinguished from each other. The two arts are distinct by way of their development as form. On the one hand, fine arts are developed mainly for aesthetic or conceptual purposes. As an expression, this art form is usually produced visually and performatively such as in painting, photography, sculpture, architecture, printmaking, creative writing, music, dance and theater. Owing to the inherent quality of pureness in fine arts, artists of this type argue that their works are a notch higher than popular crafts, making these endeavors special, mysterious and exclusive.
On the other hand, practical arts are developed basically for utilitarian purposes. As an applied form, this art carries socialist sensibilities like industrial arts, agricultural arts, business or commercial arts, home economics or homemaking arts, fishery arts and distributive arts. Owing to the inclusion of the masses’ more ordinary crafts in practical arts, artists of this type argue that their works possess a more humanitarian function.
There may be a point at having to choose in favor of either fine arts or practical arts, but there is no argument that both art forms civilize human beings by way of stroking the genius of their makers.

Friday, June 12, 2009

defining filipinoness

Seriously, defining Filipinoness is a difficult task. It is so because I believe that the activity involves looking beyond the surface value of things considered Filipino. In other words, being a Filipino goes more than the issues of geographical location, of blood and marital relations, and of physical features. To be defined Filipino, one may be born and may live permanently in any of the 7, 107 islands of the country, but then, there are Filipinos displaced by migration across the globe and remain Filipinos by citizenship despite the case. In the opposite vein, there are Filipinos who have never gone out of the country and seem foreigners to their own lands by way of their gestures, language or thinking. Likewise, to be defined Filipino, one may be related to kin of Filipino descent or marry someone with Filipino lineage; then again, there are Filipinos who, for some reason or another, abhor such relations that they hide the fact. Finally, to be defined Filipino, one has to possess the common physical characteristics associated to people with Malay features: brown skin, black hair, chinky eyes, slender body, upturned nose, high cheekbones, full lips. Then again, Filipinos have intermarried with their colonizers and in effect, acquired mestizo features like light skin, doe eyes, brown hair, patrician nose, thin lips. With all the variations affecting the definition of Filipinoness, I can only think of the conventional meaning of the term as a process continuing to evolve over time.
This process nonetheless, the Filipinos have created and must sustain such as a created identity through other sensibilities such as the social, cultural and the political factors. Whether or not the Filipinos are defined by way of geography, blood and marriage ties and/or physical looks, the Filipino consciousness may still emerge out of the values Filipinos manifest socially, culturally and politically. The extended family orientation, the regionalistic association, the Catholic conservativeness, the hospitable and smiling disposition, the industriousness, the love for fiestas and certain things stateside, the prowess in gossiping and videoke matches, the starstruck complex, the people power attitude—these are just some of the characteristics that define the Filipino sensibility. Filipinos possessing any or all of these features are Filipinos in the real sense of the term.
Now, the question: are you a Filipino?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

unlocking the door: on frye's "oppression"

In Marilyn Frye’s “Oppression,” even the very act of a man’s opening the door for a woman is considered part of oppressive structure. The argument is that it deems women too incapable of doing so, with the action turning into a ritual instead of being a circumstantial performance of good manners.
In the interest of gender fairness, I believe that women should be allowed to do the door opening on their own because despite men and women’s physiological differences, women are not so weak that they cannot open the door themselves. They should not be made to appear helpless, so they should freely enact the event instead of rendering them dependent on the physiologically stronger men to perform the act. As a symbol, the door opening is a way for women to crush oppression as well, since they get liberated by their stepping out from their dark, cage-like enclosure, by their mobility, and by their access into the unlocked world.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

so what is abortion?

It is indeed extremely hard in any government's part to create policy solutions to address morally enveloped issues, all because of the anticipated clash between polar oppositions, from religion versus state, the right-winged versus the leftists, to the machos versus the feminists. As it is, consensus will never be arrived at since the subject involves an ethical item. Abortion is one such issue too difficult to develop policy solutions for, because prioritizing the rights of the expectant mother is necessarily subordinating those of the carried fetus, and vice versa. As of the moment, democratic countries protect the rights of women in the initial phase of pregnancy until later on when the rights of the unborn are recognized, the mother's decision notwithstanding.
Conscious of women's freedoms to privacy and choice—rights that are enshrined in the supreme law of the land, I resolve that abortion be legalized provided that the operation is therapeutic in nature and performed under “medical supervision in approved hospital settings” (Smith). If carrying a human inside one's womb entails risking the very life of the pregnant woman, then it must be the woman's choice to eradicate that danger by opting to have the baby aborted. In the end, the argument of the defeated pro-life move after the fetus is aborted should be settled by the redeeming value of saving the mother's life instead—a pro-life manifestation all the same.
It is better to allow women to have abortion as a pro-choice decision because as it continues to remain illegal, it will not prohibit operations from happening nonetheless. This renders pregnant women into helplessly having unauthorized operations performed on them in hazardous, unsanitary manners, causing their eventual deterioration. Also, by having doctors hold the women hostage regarding their reproductive decisions, the legal accountabilities of these medical practitioners as well as the objective of the state in normalizing the procedure will not be clarified unless the legislation is exercised (Brodie, Gavigan and Jenson). Abortion's incriminating repercussions crubs women's right to choose, defeating their autonomy (Brodie, Gavigan and Jenson).
The unsettled conflict between pro-life and pro-choice movements regarding abortion will rage and rage unless the legislators break the silence of the laws and the government adopts an unambiguous position on the issue (Tatalovich). This floating condition causes this abortion issue to wreak more extended constitutional controversy than it deserves (Steiner). It must be pointed out too that the ambiguity of the legislation and the careless enforcement of the same contributes to the gravity of not knowing what is authorized and what is not (Gentles). The Charter does not speak clearly of abortion and the right to privacy (Morton), hence the responsibility of the legislature to define thoroughly the provisions of the Charter in order to have its purposes served to the fullest extent.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

the stuff men and women are made of

Males and females are different from each other foremost through their developmental and anatomical differences, with women maturing earlier than men. Also, they have chemical and hormonal differences, with women having estrogen whereas men, testosterones. Likewise, they differ in functions and emotional processing, with women responding to more emotive and sensual stimulants than males. Finally, they have different learning styles, with males being more concrete and spatial while females being more verbal and mobile.
The abovementioned differences tell that indeed, men are different from women but this difference should not be the cause of the oppression of one by the other, historically and hegemonically the dominance over women by men. They should be treated as equals despite their difference; their structural, chemical, functional or educational differences should be known and accepted in order to make a better understanding of both sexes.

Monday, June 01, 2009


it was bad enough that L's commercial for a telecom gets aired on TV rarer than the previous months, so imagine a worse scenario when one of those once-in-a-blue-moon opportunities descended the planet and i missed L's adorable boobtube appearance. I was safely couched in the car just this lazy Friday when a classmate called me up to ask if I will grace another classmate's weekend party. I had the mobile phone's loudspeaker on, so when L's commercial jingle served as my classmate's sudden background noise, I grew so red that the driver thought I incurred a bodily ache or something. He asked what was wrong, but i only shrugged. At the moment, the car was wheeling along C-5 in order to fetch my friend who waited in Market! Market! My eyes got fixated in a particular billboard, and when the brightly-lit picture loomed in my full view, it was L's telecom ad. His ad's jingle played on and on in my mind, like a chant in a fantasy universe. You lose some, but you also win some.