Privileges **

** (noun) a special right, advantage, or immunity granted or available only to a particular person or group of people — as defined by Google

a book without women is often said to be about humanity but a book with women in the foreground is a woman’s book. — Rebecca Solnit

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In an ideal world, we would all have the same privileges irrespective of race, gender or social class.

But it is not an ideal world. Privileges (even by definition) are conferred based on what you are, not what you have done or what you can do.

Men have certain privileges by virtue of the fact that they have a Y-chromosome and a penis; while women do not.

Recently, I can’t help but wonder if these privileges are conferred only on certain types of men while excluding others. Maybe privileges are conferred not on the basis of anatomy but about society’s perception about your person-hood (specifically, male-hood or female-hood).

I have come across the blog of a man who is a self-described introvert, pessimist, mediocre, 30-year-old virgin. Dateless and bothered about it, he took it upon himself to start a blog chronicling his (mis)adventures — I find his voice articulate, engaging, somewhat depressing, but a great read anyway.

He reminds me of G, actually. I wonder if G would have ended up sounding like him if G had not met me — the love of his life (or so I think) 🙂

 

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Sex and the RH Law

From slideshare. Dr. Darleen Estuart's slides: "Reproductive Health and Responsible Sexuality", presented at the Mindanao Young Women Leader's Congress, 2011

From slideshare. Dr. Darleen Estuart’s slides: “Reproductive Health and Responsible Sexuality”, presented at the Mindanao Young Women Leader’s Congress, 2011.

The wonderful thing about blogging is that after a draining day at work, you find a post that gets your blood pressure up again.

So Tito Sotto and Loren Legarda have made budget cuts against the Reproductive Health Law. Somehow I am not surprised.They will both claim “personal/religious convictions” and “prioritization of other more important matters” in their decision; but the truth is, they find it easy to undermine a law that would give more reproductive freedom for women because they have never been …

  1. A 35 year old multigravid with a pedicab driver for a partner who depends on free RH services at the health center to limit her pregnancies …
  2. A doctor/nurse/midwife who works as a frontliner in said health center who feels helpless when the multigravid comes to her and the only thing you can offer is “counselling on natural family planning” — which does not work, by the way; the 35-year-old-multigravid has tried it before ….
  3. A 16 year old teenager whose parents both have lover number 2; the teenager wants to leave the family house to live with her 18 year old “kargador” boyfriend who at least has a job ….
  4. A barangay health worker (BHW) who wants to help this teenager but is feeling very demoralized because the program for teenage pregnancy prevention will not take off because of lack of funds. Imagine, there has been a so-called Adolescent health program for years, but it’s all on paper. So BHW is embarrassed with the community because this program is just a bunch of crap …. because the policy makers wouldn’t put their money (which is actually not their money, but the people’s money) where their effing mouths are ….
  5. A 40 year old multigravid who wants a bilateral tubal ligation and (at the moment) can’t get it for free because the hospital says she has to buy this and that medication for the procedure. Ah yes, Philhealth did say BTLs are free — well Philhealth kindly have discussion with hospital regarding the definition of “free” ….
  6. A  nurse working for PopCom (Population Commission) who has just been told by the district health officer that no we are not offering  the very effective contraceptive implant at the moment because there are no supplies coming from the central office. Poor PopCom nurse, who has to explain this to the young mothers who just want to space their pregnancies and want to use a convenient way to do it.

…. etc etc

It can be very hard to empathize with women who want reproductive health services because hey, it wouldn’t kill them not to have sex, right? They would just have to abstain or use natural family planning methods or the withdrawal method. Yes I am being sarcastic. And by the way, the withdrawal method is not a reliable form of contraception, having a failure rate of more than 20%.

Seriously! Has Tito Sotto tried withdrawal before? Has Loren? Have they tried calendar, Billing’s, BBT;  and do they know how much commitment and effort is required of a couple who wants to use these methods?

I mean … is sex such a luxury in this country? If you are poor, better forego sex and be celibate if you don’t want to get pregnant?

I find it ironic: in a world where sex is so common (in television, in movies — commodities that we sell to poor women, and which they buy, because hey it is entertainment and some of us really need to be entertained to forget the drudgery of our lives), it is also a world that deprives women of opportunities to have freedom over their bodies.

If I am a girl ( oh fuck! I am one) I would like my government to help me achieve the maximum amount of freedom I can have with my body. A lot of people (mostly men) would not agree. They would say, reproductive health and all things related to sex are private that should not be meddled with by the government. But …. love and marriage are also private things, a compact between two people, but we all know the government has a lot to say about them.

 

Words

I have never learned how to speak Bisaya.

Not surprising; since 99% of my life was spent in Luzon. There are over 150 languages spoken in this country that I call home. And I only know 2 of them! Shame on me.

We did have a culture before King Philip of Spain and Uncle Sam invaded our land. We were a hodge podge of many tribes; one of those tribes were the Tagalogs; and this was their ancient language called alibata. Blame the Spanish friars for eradicating it from modern society. How's that, Pope Francis! Another historical fact, the Catholic Church should say mea culpa for.

We did have a culture before King Philip of Spain and Uncle Sam invaded our land. We were a hodge podge of many tribes, not so different from the different Scottish clans before the English invasion. One of those tribes were the Tagalogs; and this was their ancient language called alibata. Blame the Spanish friars for eradicating it from modern society. How’s that, Pope Francis! Another historical fact the Catholic Church should say mea culpa for?

Once upon a time, when I was a student, the topic of National Language was an emotional and personal pet crusade. I would debate someone, anyone who would dare to malign Filipino and insist on English’s superiority as a medium of expression. Blame it on the university where I graduated. It insisted on equating “love of country” to “love of national language”.

I was (and still am) an expert Filipino speaker. My first articles and stories were in Filipino. The stories I love passionately (Edgardo M. Reyes and Lualhati Bautista’s novels; Gerardo Sicat and Genoveva Edroza Matute’s short stories, to name a few) and the poems that I used to emulate (Francisco Balagtas’s “Florante at Laura”, Jose Corazon de Jesus’s “Ang Pamana”, Teodoro Agoncillo’s “Republikang Basahan” etc.) were all in Filipino.

It was Mr. F. Sionil Jose that made me realize that the Filipino language (much as the Philippine’s official Language Commission would try to deny it) is actually the Tagalog language with some variations.

 

There is nothing inherently wrong with the Tagalog language. Half of my genes are Tagalog; that must be a reason for my affinity with it. However, I have been traveling to the southern parts of my country for several years now; and I found that a lot of people that I would consider my own, do not even understand me when I speak this language that the academics call “Filipino”.

I first read this book, the life story of a Manila high class prostitute when I was 19 y/o. Re-reading it for the 2nd time was week was an enlightening experience. I learned: 1. This book's values was terribly old-fashioned and Mr. Jose is probably a male chauvinist pig, but I love him anyway!; 2. This book's heroine should have been introduced to Anabel Chong, the pornographic performer who once held the record for the most men fucked in a gang bang; then this book's heroine would have learned something like "she doesn't have the corner on suffering in this world; 3. Virginity is overrated.

I first read this book, the life story of a Manila high class prostitute when I was 19 y/o. Re-reading it for the 2nd time last week was an enlightening experience. I learned: 1. This book’s values are terribly old-fashioned and Mr. Jose is probably a male chauvinist pig (but I love him anyway!); 2. This book’s heroine should have been introduced to Anabel Chong, the pornographic performer who once held the record for the most men fucked in a gang bang; then this book’s heroine would have learned something like she doesn’t have “the corner on suffering in this world”; 3. Virginity is overrated.

Traveling to Cebu, a city in the Visayas, I realized how woefully inadequate my so-called education was because I couldn’t adequately converse in Bisaya! I had to speak to taxi drivers and fishermen in Oslob beach in English!

(Nothing terrible with English … my blog is in English, for one. It is the world’s lingua franca at the moment, true. Scientific and medical journals are written mostly in this language. My favorite writers write in English!

But the roots of this language has nothing to do with my geography. And it is useful and fun and I love it but …

Sunrise in Oslob. Oslob is a southern town in Cebu island. And what's remarkable about it is that every morning, huge whalesharks would swim very near the beach and go so near the fishermen that they would feed them.

Sunrise in Oslob. Oslob is a southern town in Cebu island. And what’s remarkable about it is that every morning, huge whalesharks would swim very near the beach and go so near the fishermen that they would feed them.

Tumalog Falls. a very charming, very pretty waterfall, also in the town of Oslob.

Tumalog Falls. a very charming, very pretty waterfall, also in the town of Oslob.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

.. but it is not … entirely mine.

And there is something heartbreakingly sad when a person from Kansas cannot converse with a fellow American from New York because they don’t have the same language, and they have to talk using German to understand each other.) 

***

So these are just words.

And someday, if I’m really bad, they will be forgotten.

***

By the way, the term “I love you” in Bisaya is “Ginihugma ako ha nimo.”

Okay, Cebuanos and other Bisaya-speakers  can shoot me now.

 

Some Random Teachers Found Through Blogging

I found myself some new teachers today. And I didn’t even have to pay a tuition fee!

Professor Scott Long teaches Sociology and Statistics in Indiana University; and I saw in his blog that he also dabbles in activism. Looking at his university’s website and the curriculum he teaches just gave me a headache. Regression models. Data analysis. Statistical research. Gender Differences in the Careers of Doctoral Scientists and Engineers.

paper bird2

This is the picture in the banner of Prof. Long’s website. Nice huh! The Prof explained in this page (http://paper-bird.net/about-the-art-scott-long/) that the illustration on his website were made by a 19-year old Egyption artist named Adam Dot. Cool! Image from http://paper-bird.net/

The problem with being a real student is one has to pay attention; and hence, do some real work. Been there, done that … have drank my share of chinese energy drinks to stay up til 2 am to study for an exam or write a research paper. Which reminds me … I really have to finish my research for my fellowship. Ugggh!!! I hate vegetables!!!

i-never-promised-you-a-rose-garden

Another interesting find is Kelsey Osgood, a sometime-anorexic, who wrote an article on “I Never Promised You  A Rose Garden”, one of my favorite books by sometime-schizophrenic Hannah Green (aka Joanne Greenberg). Osgood’s explorations are about anorexia, something that she personally dabbled on.

I would have to thank Charlie Hebdo’s staff for their deaths because I would not have seen the links for Osgood’s and Professor Long’s pages if I wasn’t reading web articles about some French cartoonists/satirists who were gunned down by Muslim extremists in Paris.

 

Oher References:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/09/world/europe/raising-questions-within-islam-after-france-shooting.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/09/opinion/david-brooks-i-am-not-charlie-hebdo.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/10/arts/an-attack-chills-satirists-and-prompts-debate.html?action=click&contentCollection=US%20Open&region=Article&module=Promotron

Some website that with an address that looks like this  https://medium.com/ @asgharbukhari/charlie-hebdo-this-attack-was-nothing-to-do-with-free-speech-it-was-about-war-26aff1c3e998. When I initially copied/paste the website article’s URL, it wouldn’t appear on my blog so I had to write it longhand. Go figure.

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/08/world/europe/charlie-hebdo-broke-taboos-defying-threats-and-violence.html?action=click&contentCollection=US%20Open&region=Article&module=Promotron

An Explanatory Note

The past few weeks, I found myself consumed by a certain story.

I was being badgered by voices inside my head with their yammering conversations and their monologues and soliloquys.

No, I am not schizo (at least, I hope not) but the truth is, last Sept 1, I had a hankering to write down a kind of flash-fiction which would start with a line from the 1973 letter of Ninoy Aquino to his son Noynoy, and would end with the lines from the song “Walang Hanggang Paalam” by Joey Ayala.

The name “Jonas” came to me almost out of the blue. And the name “Alice” — well I like that name for a girl. Or maybe that name came from Alice Paul, the American sufragette who was portrayed by Hilary Swank in “Iron Jawed Angels”.

I love this movie! I understand why it may seem boring but Hilary Swank just took my breath away. And I am not a lesbian.

I love this movie! I understand why it may seem boring, but Hilary Swank just took my breath away.

When I made my attempt to write some kind of fiction,  I knew vaguely of two issues: 1. Jonas Burgos was abducted several years ago by the military and 2. Dr. Gerry Ortega, an environmentalist, was killed in Palawan by (what everyone believes) a powerful political personality. I do watch the news and would occasionally pay attention, especially the parts on Janet Napoles and the pork barrel scam. (I  just found that there is an article on  JLN on Wikipedia — wow, the lady has gone a long way!)

This morning, I was surfing the net (a pre-breakfast ritual) when I thought to google “Jonas Burgos” who,  it turns out, is still missing — after 5 years!

 

Directed by Joel Lamangan and screenplay by Ricky Lee. I still haven't watched the movie ... arrrgh!!!

Directed by Joel Lamangan and screenplay by Ricky Lee. I still haven’t watched the movie … arrrgh!!!

A movie was made about him and his family’s search. The movie was shown in the recent Cinemalaya, where Jonas’s wife also spoke up after 5 years of silence. In Youtube, one can listen to her interview, which was was titled, “The Unheard Voice”.

Conrado de Quiros said that we ( and hence, I) live in a magic-realist country.

The truth, dear reader, is I think I am being haunted.

By the spirit of a man who may or may  not be dead?

... a few days after abduction (?) Photo from inquirer.net

… a few days after abduction (?) Photo from inquirer.net

Jonas Burgos, before abduction. Photo from bulatlat.com

Jonas Burgos, before abduction. Photo from bulatlat.com