Posts by manangbok

Thirty something who is still groping around finding her place in the world. I thought that by the time I'd reached 25, I'd know what my life is all about but I was wrong.

Blood and Soil

This morning I am thinking of US Senator John McCain, and of his last words to the country he loved and served for the better part of his life.

Nations live on long after individual lives have perished. And if living a meaningful life is all about loving something greater than yourself then loving one’s country would fit the bill.

But what is a country? What is a nation?

I am not a professional anthropologist or a sociologist or a political scientist. I haven’t read all the required texts on the subject. But John McCain’s letter brought home to me  two conflicting ideas about what it means to be a “nation”.

A nation of ideals versus a nation of blood and soil.

It’s like what does it mean to be a mother – giving birth to a child that is genetically related to you or raising a human being that may/may not be genetically related. It would be great if those two conditions exist at the same time; but what if they don’t? What takes precedence?

What is a country? What is a nation?

Is a country an amalgamation of people who may or may not look like each other, who may have been born in different land masses or continents but have been brought together by ideals and ideas that they share with each other?

Or are we a country just because we were born in the same place with parents who probably shared a common ancestor?

According to a review, this is the “book from hell”. If  we are in the Harry Potter universe, this book will be in the Forbidden Section. A veritable stockpile of Nazi and fascist bullshit.

Blood and soil versus ideals.

In the 1940’s Germany was almost torn apart because a political faction insisted that being a German was about “blood and soil,” hence lebensraum was an acceptable policy.

In the United States, Americans with dark skins had to fight tooth and nail for their right to equality in a country that they have invested in with their sweat and blood.

In my country, there are presently two types of Filipinos: those who believe that an autocratic/dictatorial government is ideal and those who disagree. Are we part of the same nation?

Just thinking.

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So here is a full text of McCain’s last letter before his death. Eat your heart out Barack Obama, McCain’s got style.

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My fellow Americans, whom I have gratefully served for sixty years, and especially my fellow Arizonans,

Thank you for the privilege of serving you and for the rewarding life that service in uniform and in public office has allowed me to lead. I have tried to serve our country honorably. I have made mistakes, but I hope my love for America will be weighed favorably against them.

John Sidney McCain III, RIP, 1936 – 2018

I have often observed that I am the luckiest person on earth. I feel that way even now as I prepare for the end of my life. I have loved my life, all of it. I have had experiences, adventures and friendships enough for ten satisfying lives, and I am so thankful. Like most people, I have regrets. But I would not trade a day of my life, in good or bad times, for the best day of anyone else’s.

I owe that satisfaction to the love of my family. No man ever had a more loving wife or children he was prouder of than I am of mine. And I owe it to America. To be connected to America’s causes — liberty, equal justice, respect for the dignity of all people — brings happiness more sublime than life’s fleeting pleasures. Our identities and sense of worth are not circumscribed but enlarged by serving good causes bigger than ourselves.

Fellow Americans’ — that association has meant more to me than any other. I lived and died a proud American. We are citizens of the world’s greatest republic, a nation of ideals, not blood and soil. We are blessed and are a blessing to humanity when we uphold and advance those ideals at home and in the world. We have helped liberate more people from tyranny and poverty than ever before in history. We have acquired great wealth and power in the process.

We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been.

We are three-hundred-and-twenty-five million opinionated, vociferous individuals. We argue and compete and sometimes even vilify each other in our raucous public debates. But we have always had so much more in common with each other than in disagreement. If only we remember that and give each other the benefit of the presumption that we all love our country we will get through these challenging times. We will come through them stronger than before. We always do.

Ten years ago, I had the privilege to concede defeat in the election for president. I want to end my farewell to you with the heartfelt faith in Americans that I felt so powerfully that evening.

I feel it powerfully still.

Do not despair of our present difficulties but believe always in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here. Americans never quit. We never surrender. We never hide from history. We make history.

Farewell, fellow Americans. God bless you, and God bless America.

 

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A Tribute to Ursula

I have never liked the name “Ursula”; especially after I watched “The Little Mermaid” which had that octopus-woman that took Ariel’s voice named Ursula. I have always thought it sounded sinister and well, villain-ney.

However, there is one Ursula which I love because she gave the world such amazing books like “The Dispossessed” and “The Left Hand of Darkness”.

The former talks about capitalism and anarchy; while the latter is a mind-bending story about a world where there is no gender.

Today, Ursula died at the age of 88.

I have yet to read her Earthsea novels,  but now I will have to, since I have seen this quote from one of the books in that series:

“Nothing is immortal. But only to us is it given to know that we must die. And that is a great gift: the gift of selfhood. For we have only what we know we must lose, what we are willing to lose …. That selfhood which is our torment, and our treasure, and our humanity, does not endure. It changes; it is gone, a wave on the sea. Would you have the sea grow still and the tides cease, to save one wave, to save yourself?”

What can be a better way to remind us of death, and yet comfort us in the thought at the same time?

“The Last Jedi” Does Not Need Another Rave Review

(+++ warning, if you are sensitive to swear words please do not read this)

So I will not make one. But my article today will use Rian Johnson‘s baby as a starting-off point to talk about sexual harassment, creative/artistic efforts and James Damore.

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Picture from Wikipedia

Looking at Mr. Johnson’s facial hair and the fact that according to Wikipedia, he is presently in a relationship with a woman, it is safe to say that he is a heterosexual white male.

Heterosexual white males have traditionally been privileged creatures in Planet Earth. Yes, they still have their own pecking orders as in:  Jewish heterosexual white males are picked upon by  Italian heterosexual white males, who are picked upon by the Irish who are picked upon by the British who are picked upon by the Nords (??) — ad infinitum.

The point is, in the Grand Scheme of things, these guys should think twice first before claiming to be a discriminated minority — BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT. Another point is, I have just had enough of their whinings which they can express in pseudo-reasonable or creative ways.

Then Mr. Johnson came along and created “The Last Jedi” — and it restored my faith in male humanity. To anybody who has not watched that movie, in a nutshell, the takeaway message of TLJ is: “guys, for fucking Christ’s sake, listen to women.”

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Because if you do not listen to us, one day you may just wake up and learn that once upon a time you were a rapist.

Yes darlings, when a woman says NO, it DOES NOT mean yes; and no: yes does not mean anal. If you have chosen to believe otherwise, then you are an asshole.

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Women have been sidelined or worse, harassed in the workplace long before Mira Sorvino agreed to tell her all to Ronan Farrow (Ronan, Mia Farrow’s son, who may or may not have been Woody Allen biological child — yes, Life is Ironic).

I was watching Ms. Sorvino’s performance in “Mighty Aphrodite” just now; and she is wonderful. She carried the movie, despite Woody Allen’s clueless-ness (Allen, by the way, was the one who inspired Rian Johnson to become a film-maker, after watching “Annie Hall”).

A very sad thing that Allen was able to thrive despite his crimes. But as Oprah said in the Golden Globes Awards this year … a new day has come girls!

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Despite Oprah’s speech, I am still pessimistic. It will be an uphill climb for human beings with XX chromosomes to achieve the same respect as human beings with XY chromosomes.

And that is mainly because women will never (or rarely ever, at the very least) kill their sons.

If women are as cutthroat and efficient  (and I say “efficient” in a disparaging way) as men, then misogynists like James Damore will not live long enough to write his fucking memo.

Yes, James, you are a misogynist. And do not give me that “I make reasonable, evidence-based, rational arguments” crap. You do not.

As Cynthia Lee has pointed out — your memo is nonsense.

If you had the reason that god gave a petunia, the first thing you will do is to have a uterus transplant on yourself, carry a baby the full 9 months, breastfeed that baby, raise it up to be a decent human being — without killing yourself in the process.

Then you will have a right to write your memo. Because, James, darling, men like you is the reason why I do not want to become a mother.

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On a positive note (yes there is one as I refuse to end my piece like Nietzsche), all this ranting has made me realize that I do not want to be a male, and thank God she made me a woman.

Who am I kidding? God definitely is not a woman. It would be a different world if god is a she. But then, if alternate universes are possible, maybe in one of those — God is a SHE.        Image from: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3108477/If-God-woman-Church-feminists-say-God-wittiest-wisest-writers-imagine-world-higher-female-power-helm.html

 

 

 

 

A Failure of Imagination

This Patrick Henry guy must have been a real macho. I don’t care much about his looks (Alexander Hamilton is more my type);  but his resume would give a girl pause.

Patrick Henry — lawyer, politician, orator, planter, slaveholder, a typical 18th century macho, who had the gall to say these words: “It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death.” I am rolling my eyes.

Girls, FYI, Patrick was that guy in the American Revolution who said these famous words: “Give me liberty or give me death.”

Yep, I know … he is the typical guy who thinks the world is only composed of apples and oranges.

I mean, really … there are worse things than death (being tortured out of your mind; a 36-hour labor that results in intrauterine fetal death and genital fistula; seeing everyone you love die before your eyes like what is happening to a lot of Rohingyas, etc etc) … and things that can be preferable to freedom depending on one’s circumstances (i.e if I am on the verge of starving I would probably be willing to go to jail where the meals are assured anytime).

The problem with guys and their  and/or view of the world is a failure of imagination.

But hey, we can’t blame them so much, right girls? It is a very rare male who will ever experience what it feels like to be the minority, the second sex, the one who will be harassed by Harvey Weinstein. For them, freedom is something to fight for above anything …

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Women are the ones who have been trained over and over on how to crouch and wait and endure that which are unendurable. We were trained by our mothers — those women who preferred their sons over their daughters because, what is the point of favoring the daughter who will just eventually turn out a slave? (Our mothers did have a point you know.)

 

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Women can imagine … and we do it a lot.

This is the reason why we are sooo hopeful — because we can imagine alternate realities to our destitute situations.

This is the reason why we fall for bad boys … because we can imagine how he can be a better man (As if! Men NEVER change, not if they can get away with being assholes, what would be the point of changing? … if girls can get the fact of men’s unwillingness to reinvent themselves through our frontal lobes, we would be so much better).

This is the reason why the world has not dissolved into the self-destruction of mass suicides — the fact is  the Universe will end someday, so if women are anything like Woody Allen, neurotic pessimist that he was, then we would all shoot ourselves or fling out bodies into the nearest cliffs by now.

But we don’t do that. Because we are women.

Go figure.

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References

Give me liberty, or give me death!

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/958077/filipinos-of-the-year-2017-pinoy-ako-blog-and-other-voices-vs-fake-news

http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2017/05/it-is-really-important-to-humanize-evil.html?mid=fb-share-scienceofus

https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/06/lolas-story/524490/

Searching for Antidotes to Bad Places

One should not love something that one cannot own. Loving entails dreaming for that which one loves. And what would be the point of expending energy dreaming for  that which one will never be a part of?

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Alice stares at Jonas while he was sleeping. She cannot help feeling like a voyeur; but since  this is the only time she can permit herself to be with him without being defensive or guarded, she relishes such moments.

She stares at his eyelashes — the ones she had, once upon a time, found so entrancing — resting peacefully against his wasted face. She still loves his eyelashes; and as she remembers how he used to get annoyed when she teased him about them, she smiles.

Alice wonders how a man who possesses such lovely eyelashes can turn (wittingly or unwittingly) into a monster.

*****

She remembers the time he held her hand, that far-off time; a stormy June at the faculty lounge. 

He brought her lunch at 4 pm: siopao, dimsum and chinese noodles. She was grateful, nervous and hungry. And he was looking at her with a mixture of fondness and amusement as she was eating.

He was telling her about Helen. His ex-girlfriend who was a drug addict.

“I haven’t heard from her for years. Then she called the university looking for me.” Jonas was tracing random figures on her palm. It felt ticklish but he was so absorbed in it that she let him go on.

“She was in trouble,” he continued. “She got into a group that was really bad for her. She quit her job and was not living in their house.”

“Where was Helen staying?” Alice asked, not that she was particularly interested.

“A bad place,” Jonas answered simply. “They uhmmm, they were blackmailing her. She had photos with them and they were threatening to release those photos and humiliate her and her family.”

“Why did she go to you for help?”

“I don’t know. She just did.”

“Do you always remain  friends with your ex-girlfriends?” she teased him.

He smiled, “I try.”

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Years later, after that conversation, when Alice was Jonas’s pseudo-ex-girlfriend, he told her that he really really wanted to kiss her then, in that faculty lounge. But he was afraid that she might bolt or slap his face. Given the person she was, Alice agreed with his conclusion.

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How often can a person  change in one lifetime? Now Alice wonders.

She so wants to reach out and touch Jonas.

But she is afraid that he might bolt, slap her face. Or worse.

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Author’s comments (not that I matter in this story): I have always been  more partial to Nat than to Betty. So I choose to believe that Alice will turn into Scarlett Johansson and save Jonas from himself. Or, will it be the other way around?

 

Better Late Than Never

Yesterday, December 10, was International Human Rights Day.

Sixty-nine years ago yesterday, this document was signed by 48 states including my beloved country.

The creation of the document was mainly a reaction (horrified, deeply saddened, remorseful, resolute) of the world to the atrocities that happened in World War II (which is just a sequel to World War I; just in case someone becomes interested in making a superhero-movie out of it — there’s your marketing strategy people.)

Image from TheHumanist.com

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Jesus was probably the 1st (well-documented) human rights advocate. John the Baptist was also maybe a human rights advocate too; but we do not know that much about him — King Herod beheaded him upon the request of Salome in behalf of her mom Herodias  whose  marriage to Herod was criticized by John the Baptist as unlawful because Herodias was already married to Herod’s brother. Yeah, this was the soap opera during Antiquity.

From Pinterest

I am not really sure about Gautama Buddha’s position on human rights; he was a proponent of The Noble Eightfold Path which emphasized a lot on doing the “right” things, but I bet he would relegate “human rights” into the background if it derailed the Eightfold Path.

As for Confucius —  naah, definitely not a human rights advocate. Someone whose worldview emphasized believing in your parents (and other authorities) even after they are dead would not a human rights advocate make.

I will not say anything about the Prophet Mohammed at this point out of respect for my adoptive country. (But … note to myself: write an article about how lip-smackingly delicious forbidden sex can be, consensual sex of course, once you are out of Dune.)

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In any case, the concept of human rights, and its subsequent adoption as a basis for human relations, changed the world as we know it. It’s much like the Eukaryote Revolution, but on a smaller scale.

Because of human rights, people do not have to worry about being killed arbitrarily — the law is supposed to protect them from that; which is why “murder” is a crime and the state is the only one with the authority doing the killing (ooops, this is still a muddlesome subject in human rights circles).

Human rights, supposedly, should prevent authoritarian regimes from having absolute power over their people.

Human rights made us recognize women’s rights (which are creatures who are also human, you know, even if they do not have a Y chromosome).

Human rights made us more sensitive to persons with disabilities (PWDs). So now, PWDs do not have to secure online appointment and can just walk-in to the Department of Foreign Affairs Office to secure a Philippine passport.

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So there are many reasons to love International Human Rights Day … hence I wrote this blog post even if it is a day late.

On a side-note, related to my country’s present predicament (and maybe related to women’s rights? and state rights? and uhmmm s-e-x!!!? ehem there is such a things as sexual and reproductive health and rights or SRHR boys and girls) one of my favorite bloggers just said this, and I quote: “Saying ‘I love you’ to get a good lay is not right.” Wow … 🙂

Image from PhilNews.ph

 

Just Because Today is Feast of the Immaculate Conception*

I have always been a Mommy’s girl.

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When I was 5 years old, my brother got sick; so my mother would not let me sleep beside her because I might disturb my brother who had the privilege to sleep with her in view of his illness (that malingering twerp!). So Mommy told me to sleep beside Daddy instead. I erupted into a humongous insufferable fit of tantrums which resulted in a particularly vicious spanking. (When I related this tale to G, he just laughed and said that I totally deserved the punishment. G is another rascal, in the same league as my brother.)

I hated my Dad because he did not speak my language (Ilokano); he always wanted me to hug him (which seemed so needy and hence uncool); and he had all these hair on his face that made him look like a villain (see Max Alvarado, Paquito Diaz et al; all self-respecting Pinoy movie villains have moustaches).

So I loved my mother more (sorry Daddy). Given the choice between being a slut and being an old maid, I would have chosen the latter, not because of any deep abiding principle or a lack of proclivity — but out of love for my mother (who, after she died, I learned had been a slut after all, but that’s another story — courtesy of my Dad).

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from Reporter.ph

I got into all that personal introduction because of Leila de Lima. 

Yup, that Leila de Lima — the one with the alleged sex video and who was an alleged drug lord and is now imprisoned without bail.

I love Ms. de Lima, the same way I loved my mother.

I do not care if she fucked the whole basketball team and made a documentary out of it. (I mean, really, Mocha Uson and Sass Sassot have probably done worse.)

I do not  care if she was a strict, by-the-rules, priggish marmalade who was into human rights in ways that are impracticable in a slave-country like the Philippines.

I do not care if she is fat (although she lost weight after a year in prison and now she looks really great — eat your heart out Digong!), has boring outfits (fashion sense borrowed from Dinky Soliman; Ms. Leila, you should borrow Kris Aquino’s stylists more often), and a pedestrian taste in men (Really? Your driver?).

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from pinterest

I love her for all that she reminds me of my Mom — the steadfastness, the tenacity, the you-don’t-give-me-no-bullshit attitude.

I love that when she testified during the impeachment of Renato Corona, she brought her aging father who was a former government servant into the august halls of the Senate.

I love that she went after human rights violators who ordered the killing of children in their bailiwicks because of drug use — only a woman with true sense of compassion can understand that no, KILLING A CHILD IS WRONG. The child became a monster because of the adult. And if anybody should be blamed and gutted here, it should be the adults that allowed these kids to go out into the world in the first place. Only a mother can understand a mother’s heartbreak when that same child (no matter how Lucifer-like he/she is) dies.

I love how she carried herself during the time in the Senate when every self-righteous so called anti-drug-wannabe in this world ganged up on her. On the other hand, maybe I do not love her that much during that time — she appeared shrill and harpy-ish. But then, with all that stress, can we blame her?

And now, I love her while she is in prison, because of the patience and grace with which she handles this ordeal.

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from Pinterest

When she died, my mother gave me the most precious gift — my freedom.

Fact is, I do not consider her giving me life (as in allowing her egg to be fertilized, going through almost 9 months of gestation and expelling me out of her vagina) as something she gave to me; rather, it was something she gave to herself.

(I did say in so many words, somewhere in this blog, that wanting to be/being a biological parent entails a bit of narcissism.)

But my mother’s dying was another matter. It set me free; in every way a person can be free.

It is probably morbid of me to thank her — but here it is: Thank you Mommy.

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*This is such a looong post, but the point of it is (as the title suggests): It irks me no end that the only time we consider women to be heroes is when they go through Virgin Births. I mean, seriously!?