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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

This "Bulaga" Doesn't Come From Sotto

Just when we thought we had heard it all from the anti RH camp.

Now comes the news, really more a nasty surprise (which is what the Filipino word bulaga would approximately mean) from Senator Alan Peter Cayetano, who, as of last count, was one of the senators against the RH Bill. (Ironically, his sister, Pia, also a senator, is one of the two main proponents in the Senate of the same bill. The title of this post is a reference to vocal anti-RH Senator Sotto, who was a mainstay of the noontime variety show "Eat Bulaga!", before heading out to more, uhm, legislative pastures.)

(Photo courtesy of

Cayetano wants the RH Bill to be "supported" by the Catholic Church, on the grounds that the Philippines is "a country where majority of the population is Catholic". (See the article here: )

The senator is lighting the fuse on something that should not even be on the table.

In a way, I am "glad" he brought this out, as it gives everyone a chance to see, once and for all, why he is hideously wrong in bringing this point up. And I am coming from the perspective of someone who has never been a Catholic, which makes my voice the perfect counterbalance to what the senator is suggesting.

To Senator Alan Cayetano:

I am a citizen of this country.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe this country has a democratic form of government. One of the basic tenets of democracy is the Separation of State and Church, and one of the freedoms we enjoy is the freedom of religion. I would think that you, a Senator of this Republic, would know this first hand, seeing as the position you now enjoy is a result of a largely convoluted but still democratic process.

Your contention that the RH Bill should be "supported" by the Catholic Church is thrusting an unnecessary spear into my freedom to choose a religion of my own. If what you want should come to pass, you will unwittingly make me, nay, FORCE me to become a Catholic, against my wishes. Why should I be subjected to rules and regulations that, supposedly, are only under the jurisdiction of a particular faith - the Catholic one, specifically - when I do not wish to become a Catholic in the first place?

Many belief systems, faiths and paradigms do not find it "immoral" to use artificial contraception. But with your proposal, you would be empowering the Catholic Church in this country to dictate and impose its own religious views onto those who have elected - freely, under a democracy - to follow other faiths. That is a clear contravention into my right and freedom to have my own faith.

Also, this position of yours blurs the line between State and Church. Aren't religions, in a secular, democratic form of government, supposed to follow our secular laws? I would think that if any religion were to practice cannibalism or child molestation, and claim that these were not "answerable" to secular authorities, under the perverted mantle and guise of reasoning out that "our religion calls for it, we only answer to OUR God, we have freedom of religion!", not only would we find this monumentally laughable, but extremely offensive and of the highest disrespect for the secular laws of our land as embodied in the Constitution, particularly those that seek to punish murderers and pedophiles.

But this is exactly what you are doing, by saying that before the RH Bill is to be passed, that it should be "supported" by the Catholic Church. On what grounds should we consider the Catholic position on this, and any other matter, superior to the stand of other faiths, when the entire point of having freedom of religion is to enforce the legal truth in a democracy that no faith should be given preferential treatment, and should not even be a "deciding factor" when it comes to discussing secular matters? Should President Noynoy Aquino now pay homage to our bishops and subsume his decisions in deference to their preferences?

Your suggestion is, at its core, proposing a radical shift in our form of government; if you cut out any rationalizations, you are essentially endorsing a Catholic theocracy, where what Catholic leaders say become the law of the land, where no bill can be passed without their "support".

If that is what you wish, you may renounce your citizenship to this democratic country and move to the Vatican.

Until we officially become that theocracy, you would be well reminded of the FACT that this is still a democracy, and are a direct beneficiary of that form of government. You do not have the right to disregard me, or any one else who does not share the Catholic faith, on account of Catholics being the majority. In fact, BECAUSE this is a democracy, you actually have to make sure that those in the minority are to be heard and are to be included in any and all secular decision making laws and agenda.

You work for the citizens of this country, the Republic of the Philippines. You DO NOT work for the Catholic Church. You are obligated to us, not to them.

Do not just hear these words.


Monday, September 26, 2011

Debate The RH Bill - In Any Language

Last week, the major dailies were all abuzz with one particular news about the RH (Reproductive Health) Bill debates: Actor-turned-Senator Manuelito "Lito" Lapid publicly acknowledging his weakness in English, and therefore his hesitation to go further into the RH Bill debates, since English will be considered "the" language to be used for questioning and interpellation. (See

(Photo courtesy of

He is particularly hesitant to go head to head with two lady senators who have been at the forefront of chamipioning the RH Bill, Senators Miraim Defensor-Santiago and Pia Cayetano. Santiago, in particular, is well known for her sting with the use of the English language.

I say go ahead and let him debate in Filipino (which is Tagalog in terms of dialect, much to the frustration of the other dialects in the country).

Language should not be used to hinder someone from participating in something of such importance. That sounds to me as something "elitists" would do, and this Bill concerns ALL Filipinos, so the more people involved in the debate, the better. As a Senator - one I did not vote for, but he is one - he should make his voice known, if only to represent the people who did vote for him.

Both Santiago and Cayetano have said that they find no issue if he decides to use Filipino to engage them in debates.

Personally, I welcome it because I admit as well my weakness in the national language (one of them, since both Filipino and English are considered our national languages). I do not like learning it from inane telenovelas and local dramas, because while some of them may use terms I have never heard before, the insipid plotlines and endless caterwauling make my teeth literally hurt, and it's all I can do to stand through 5 minutes of the same drivel in every channel, every night, over and over.

I welcome the chance to learn it, as it will be used in discussions of a bill that I have great interest in - and most Filipinos should have that same interest as well, given how almost everyone I know has an opinion or something to say about it, nowadays.

One of the considerations switching from language to language is that some of the nuances and "hidden meanings" may be lost as they try to communicate in different ways. But that works both ways: an English speaking senator like Santiago would also find it hard to put her points across in Filipino without losing some of its intended meaning in English - that is both the bane and boon of languages.

And while I remember being punished severely as a youngster for speaking in "Taglish" (a bastardized form of speaking in English and Filipino intermittently) - my mom would always reprimand us that we should either speak in straight English or Filipino - this is one instance where the form should pay homage to substance, and if using "Taglish" will be something that will communicate an idea better without losing much of the translation for what the speaker intends to say, then I am all for it.

What would be deplorable, given this leeway, is if there is no substance behind the form.

Our senators should remember that the RH Bill is also a measure that respects ALL religions - and I know this acutely well, being a non-Catholic. I know exactly when something is being imposed on me, it is something I have lived with all my life in a country that proudly carries its "we are true blooded Catholic" credentials. (My past blogposts already relay this in more detail.) An overwhelming amount of the opposition to the RH Bill had been based on religious views, specifically the Catholic view that is it "immoral" to use or promote artificial contraception.

Our senators would do well to remember that our government is still a democracy, NOT a Catholic theocracy. The tenets and practices of one religion should NOT be forced  and enforced on others who do not share this particular faith. Many Catholics themselves are supportive of the RH Bill, if we go by current, scientific surveys. How they resolve this with the statements of their anti-RH leaders is a matter of personal choice, faith and conscience. I find it odd that that those who are rabid in opposing the RH Bill based on their faith keep invoking the "freedom of religion" as their basis for opposing it - while seeing nothing hypocritical about what they wish to happen as being disrespectful to others who do not share the same faith and see nothing wrong with using artificial contraception.

The RH Bill is a PUBLIC HEALTH issue. Period. Our lawmakers should keep this in mind when they make their debates and their decisions about the bill.

In whatever language.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Vote Already!

This is an open letter to our senators, many of whom I did not vote for, but nonetheless wield the power to either enact the RH (Reproductive Health) Bill into law or consign it to even more years languishing where it has been all these years: the back burner, never to see the light of day.

(Image courtesy of

Listen to the people, Senators.

Survey after survey have stated the same thing: Majority of this country wish to see the RH Bill approved. ( These are polls done by reputable surveying organizations, not those hired by religious groups with a stake in these RH discussions.

As OUR representatives, you are REQUIRED to take all of our voices into account whenever you craft your pieces of legislation. You must consider what will benefit most, if not all of the people that you are serving.

I will take this moment to remind you: you are PUBLIC SERVANTS.

You are not in your positions to enrich yourselves at our expense. You are not there to lecture us about the particular tenets of your personal religions. You are there, imbued with power and being accorded respect based on your position, a secular one, on the assumption that you will do what will benefit this country. You are there to ensure that no particular religion gets to railroad this process into what suits their particular "morality" the best.

Let me also remind you: you are there to PROTECT freedom of religion.

The choices you make and the decisions and bills you will vote upon must predicate on this basic tenet of democracy and of our Constitution. There should be no establishment of a particular religion as supreme or revered when laws are made. They should respect the right of people to have their own religion while making decisions freely based on their own volition, in matters relating to reproductive health, planning their family size, and having correct, scientific and factual information regarding their own health and their own bodies.

This bill has been an "almost" for years. We cannot go by a discussion of the RH Bill without mentioning, even in passing, the Catholic Church, particularly its arm known as the CBCP (Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines), which has been leading the charge in opposing the RH Bill. They are entitled to their own opinion, but kindly remember, they do not have the monopoly on the word "morality". Many of the stances that this particular religion embraces are considered offensive by other people who draw their morality from other, equally valid sources. They are certainly not the authority when it comes to medical information and scientific facts, so do not use studies conducted by the CBCP as your "be-all", especially with something as important as the RH Bill.

More than anything, the RH Bill recognizes the many dangers that women face in childbirth, induced and illegal abortions, as well as maternal deaths. This bill will provide services and personnel that will address many of these concerns. There is no "perfect" bill, everything can still be further improved. But the longer you wait to "continue discussing and listening to other arguments", mothers are continually dying needlessly from dangerous childbirths. Teenagers are risking both their bodies and their futures with unintended pregnancies. Many of our citizens, particularly those at a financial disadvantage, engage in dubious and questionable practices because they do not have access to correct and factual information.

Population is our greatest resource, say those who oppose the bill. They even cite the remittances of the OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) as proof of this. Do you think our people wish to be away from their families in order to improve their station in life? There are not enough jobs to offer our people, and even if they are available, the wage they will provide is not enough to cover even the most basic of necessities for a family that has more than 6 members. And how can a person contribute to this country's development if they are suffering from malnutrition because there is no money to feed him and his 9 other siblings? Even if education is covered by the government, children are forced to stop schooling because parents need the older ones to help provide enough income for the entire family, which continues to grow day after day.

This is not a picture of a population that contributes to our country.

But this is what is happening right here, right now. Just take a look at the children scrounging around for trash or selling sampaguita flowers by the road, when they should be in school. Only the most callous of people will say they haven't seen one of these children.

You have had enough time to study the merits and the disadvantages of this bill. Do not bide your time, just to see how the political climate will sway. Do not "protect" your vote in an attempt to incur favor with a particular religious group. At the end of the day, we are in a secular society with a democratic form of government.

(Photo courtesy of

You are there to serve ALL Filipinos, regardless of religious affiliation.


A Citizen of this Country

Wednesday, September 21, 2011


How many times have we seen this kind of driving from our "lovely" bus drivers?

(Photo courtesy of

For readers who are not familiar with Tagalog, the title is a pun and play on the word bastos, which essentially means no manners, no breeding, bereft of propriety.

My thoughts go to these drivers, both of buses and jeepneys, especially when they are raising a ruckus over the plan of the Aquino government to suspend their "gas allowance", which was given as a result of their protest against the gas prices. Apparently, the allowance was to no avail, because they pushed through with their protest this past Monday, making the LRT and MRT trains look like a giant sardines can.

I have no sympathy for them whatsoever.

And I'll tell you why: It's because they're bastos.

The way they drive doesn't indicate they think they're king of the road, they think they're the only ones on the road. They have no concept of "right of way", especially the buses that ply the EDSA route, who think that that they are in Daytona whenever they go looking for passengers.

I personally had a harrowing experience years ago. I usually stay on the first or second lane (from the left) for real fear from these buses who have been known to run over people and then run away from the scene. If you think I'm exagerrating, just read this link, which details a recent accident involving three buses on EDSA, resulting in 2 injuries. (

EDSA is, what, 5 or 6 lanes? I was merrily going on the 1st lane (the fast lane) when all of a sudden, this bus came from the last lane (rightmost), swerved the bus at a diagonal into the first lane, and I had to stomp through my brakes in order to prevent a collision. Not content with that, the driver (male, of course) then decided to play "weave the road". The bus then swerved to the 3rd lane, then back to the first lane, then all the way back to the last lane, and then back to the 1st lane.

As expected, it resulted in very cross motorists. The bus came to a halt when there were passengers to pick up; if looks could kill, all the motorists affected had already blown him to pieces. And the driver's reaction? He started picking his teeth.

I'm embarrassed that this person has the same nationality as I am.

And reckless bus and jeepney drivers are the norm in this country, at least in Metro Manila. Buses use their size to "command" the road space, while jeepney drivers use their "cheapness factor" to do the same - I mean, if you had a collision with a jeepney, it isn't worth the hassle and the hand wringing where they play the poverty card - and you'd be better off just writing it off as an insurance expense.

And if you ever had the misfortune of getting into an accident with either one - I will include taxis in this group - what do they immediately say? "Mahirap lang kami, maawa ka. Kailangan ko pa pumasada para may makain ang pamilya ko." ("Have pity, we are poor. I still have to finish my route so I can feed my family.)


We are all working to earn a living.

We all have to feed ourselves and our families.

But I don't make that an excuse to literally run over people and cars.

It seems that our public transportation drivers must devour telenovelas in their spare time, as I have encountered at least 2 of them who could shed copious tears when needed (a.k.a. when the traffic enforcer or police is present) to make a sob story stick.

Unfortunately, that isn't going to work with me.

Does anyone have any concrete steps on what to do with these drivers? I for one am sick of them. I am sick of their disregad for everyone else but their pockets. I am sick of the drama involved whenever you have to face them after an accident - which they caused in the first place. I am sick of the way they swerve and cross the roads, as if we were riding bump cars. I am sick of them taking the government for a ride, getting subsidies and free gas allowances, and yet still have the nerve to stage rallies and complain that the government is not doing enough.

Enough is enough.

Revoke their licenses if it is warranted. Throw them in jail. Fine them so much that they would rather shut down their operations. This is not the time to invoke awa (pity). Something which we, as a culture, tend to emphasize in dealing with others, in order to get what we want or need.

To the Aquino adminstration, stop pandering to these transport groups. They are not the only votes you have to consider, not the only voices to be heard.

We, the silent ones, who sit idly by while these agents of death ply their business on our roads, we are sick of them. Of it. Of the entire situation.

And by the way, I am a taxpayer: Where's my subsidy?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Trivial Pursuits

The recent "debacle" about Ms. Supsup's third runner up finish in the 2011 Ms. Universe pageant seemed like one giant circus to me: online beauty pageant junkies going racist on Ms. Angola for winning, Pinoys blaming Lea Salonga for making it easy for the winner to clinch the crown, Supsup having to defend her answer... I thought we were done with this last week, and yet, I open my online newspaper and the first thing I see is Supsup plastered all over giving a "conference".

What is it about us as a nation that we seem to be enthralled with matters that, frankly, have little to absolutely no importance in our daily lives and how we fare as a nation? Are we really THAT shallow?

I seem to remember P-Noy (President Noynoy Aquino) telling reporters in the not-too-distant past that they desist from asking him about his lovelife (him being the first Bachelor President) because he would like to concentrate on more "important" things.

But the week before the Ms. Universe pageant, you couldn't open your nightly newscast on TV without seeing a clip of P-Noy being asked about a "possible" romance blooming between him and a lady mayor or governor, who happened to be single and in her 30's. (That is a topic for another post, when women of a certain age are being pressured into marrying, because there are few things worse than an unmarried woman in her 30's in this country. RIGHT.)

I would have written it off as the fault of insipid news reporters who had nothing better to do, or ask the President, but the kicker was: it was P-Noy himself who opened the topic. In his speech for whatever official function he was supposed to be conducting, he used the local dialect to "appreciate" the beauty of the women of that particular place, with a "special mention" of the lady executive as a standout - in terms of beauty.

Is this a sampling of something "important"?

I know many of you will think of me as a grouch and a scrooge, for berating P-Noy on this. I can hear the defense now, people saying things like "he was just being carinyoso/malambing" (affectionate). But what worries me is that this overtook the news item: I don't even recall what P-Noy was there in that province for, the reporters took their cue from him and dwelled on the "romance" angle, and it segued right into his former girlfriend Shalani, who also arrived in that place and they crossed paths, prompting reporters to speculate about their relationship status, and even interviewing P-Noy about it.

(Photo courtesy of

And now, a week after the Ms. Universe non-win, we have the candidate still splashed over the (online) papers.

What is it, Philippines?

Is there nothing else to talk about?

Why do we persist in focusing on things that are, to put it bluntly, trivial?

Who cares if P-Noy gets a girlfriend or not?

Who cares if Supsup won or not?

I would rather know why until now, more than a year from his election, the promise of charging officials from the past adminstration for alleged fraud, corruption and decption is going at a glacial pace?

I would rather know what the new Department of Tourism head honcho plans to do about the fact that tourist arrivals in this country are a pale shadow of what our other Asian neighbors are receiving, translating to more revenue generation for them and not us?

One look at the TV shows that pervade the idiot box is enough to convince me that we really are a nation that prides in being masters on inutile things: entertainment shows that require you to gyrate lasciviously to get a sum of cash, serial dramas with the same "I've been wronged, I'll have my revenge" plots, or importing more of the same from other Asian or Latin American countries.

What will it take to elevate the Filipino mind and consciousness into a higher level of discourse? How long before we stop being an Asian Tiger cub, if we can even be considered as one at this point in time? Is this another attempt to "laugh our hardships away", the way I hear people defend their anti-RH (Reproductive Health) Bill stance, saying things like "it's OK that we're poor with 9 children and no means to feed or clothe them, as long as we're one big, happy family"?

How much further before we can see that the pursuits we've been so passionate about are sadly, painfully, trivial?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Alien Goes To The Chinese Embassy

In preparation for our upcoming trip to Beijing, Arthur and I decide to do two things differently from our previous trips there: Go on a tour group, and get the Chinese visa ourselves.

(Photo courtesy of

I'll let you know how the tour group experience turns out after the trip. We normally "wing it" - meaning we do everything ourselves in arranging for the trips we take: book our own flight, reserve our own hotel, read up on a lot of books and resources about the must see sights of the country where we're going as well as information on the "it's-our-secret-foreigners-out" places and things to do while there. There is a trade-off: Safety can be compromised and the chances for being conned are great, but the exhiliration of finding things out by yourself, and especially discoveries made off the beaten track, make up for some inconveniences of doing it ourselves. (Nothing makes a more indelible imprint than discovering things on your own. Much of the trip's hilarity comes from mistakes.)

This time, we have the convenience of being chauffered around for the whole trip, as well as having set meals so we don't worry about the "essentials". (Of course, I like going to the street stalls and sidewalk eateries in other countries, regarded by travelers as real local food, instead of the restaurants being propped up by tourism agencies.) I'm not liking the fact that the itinerary is not in our control, but we'll see how it goes.

Now, on to the visa application.

On our two previous trips there (one to Guangzhou, the next one to Shanghai), we asked a travel agency to facilitate the processing of our visa applications to China. The normal visa application costs PhP 1,400 (Philippine Pesos), and having an agency do it for you will add another PhP 1,000 or more, depending on how fast you need the visa.

We decide to reverse what we usually do, and we "winged" it, meaning we went to the embassy ourselves to line up for a visa.

Here's what the Alien (AKA me, as I am considered "so not Filipino" by many, and I outline this in a previous blogpost: discovered along the way.

1. We can be early if we want to.

Granted, we arrived later than the opening of the embassy, as we had to juggle our schedules, and arrived there at 10AM. But there was a line waiting for us just to enter the embassy. A long line. A long, snaking line. A long, snaking line that extended from the second floor of the building (where the embassy is) to the first floor. And when we got our "queue numbers" we were 348 and 349.

Obviously, these people came here way ahead of the opening time, if by 10AM, they were merely serving 300 people - and by serving I mean just giving numbers. If it's something that we have to do, Filipinos make the effort and wake up and line up on time, and don't add to the popular notion of being "fashionably late" (I heard someone call it "late sa arrive").

It may have everything to do with the fact that the embassy accepts visa applications only until 10:45AM, and then you have to come back the following day if you don't make it by then.

2. Knowing a "pare" (friend) gives you license to cut in line.

While we were lining up on the stairs, the person right behind me starts hollering to the person in front of Arthur, saying "Pare, kumusta na?" ("How are you, friend?"), and they start talking over us, which is annoying as it is, but when Arthur went to the john, he starts inching closer to me -as if I was some obstacle - and physically overtakes me by resting his hand on the shoulder of his "friend" while talking. He proceeds to start pushing me with the other side of his body - albeit on the sly, so that no one can accuse him of "cutting" - but I was having none of it, and refused to budge. Only when he saw that I wasn't having any of his "I'm his friend" crap did he go back to his proper space in line.

3. Bring a book. A novel. Your DVD player. Your yoyo. Anything, everything.

You'll need it to stave off your boredom, your frustration and your angst at having to wait. And wait some more. Just to give you an idea of how "fast" we were going, we arrived at 10AM and were assigned 348 and 349; when we got in, we saw that the counter for visa applications was already serving 115 or thereabouts. I thought to myself, great, they've served 100 people already one hour after opening, this will be fast.


By 4PM, they were only serving number 280. I had to leave by then because I had a class to conduct. Arthur cancelled his appointments for the day. We were both spent just waiting for our turn at the line. I had to write a letter of authorization so that Arthur could give my visa requirements without question. And when our numbers were called (which he says was around 6PM), it took him less than a minute to finish transacting.


4. A funny thing happened in the bank. The supermarket. And now the embassy.

Lining up in the bank can be frustrating. The tellers aren't working as fast as they can, but aside from that, the line is deceptive. You could arrive in line and see three people ahead of you and think that you will be out of the bank in 15 minutes, 20 tops.

Wrong again.

You didn't factor in one tiny thing: that mousy man in front of you is holding 25 passbooks, because everyone in the office asked him to update their bank data. And in the supermarket, in the "express lane", where it specifically states that only baskets or carts with 10 items or less can be served, a customer who orders 30 bags of rice will go to that same line, under the "supposed" premise that it is "just" one item -just a bag of rice, only in bulk.

Remember when I mentioned that we used to have an agency do the "work" for us in getting a visa? There were many "liaison officers" from these agencies, all holding bulks of passports. The one guy we saw transacting (when we started observing why it was taking so long) had at least 50 passports with him to transact at the counter. That was one person. Multiply that to at least 20 of these officers and you can see why the number you were assigned does not necessarily mean you will be served "at the appointed time".

5. As always, for Pinoys, rules are there to be broken.

Clearly posted on the walls were these words: "Keep Quiet. The Embassy has the right to refuse entry to disruptive/impolite applicants. You will not be served and will have to come back the next day."

Also posted were pictures of a cellular phone with a cross in front of it, much like traffic signs, that there are no cellular phones allowed, by ordinance, because it was an embassy.

And what did the Alien witness?

A group of people huddled sharing the latest gossip about their friend who got pregnant. Liaison officers converging and discussing how much backlog they would be enduring because of the slow process. People talking loudly on their cellular phones because Ms. Supsup was "crowned" third runner-up in the Ms. Universe pageant.

I felt sorry for the embassy guard - who was Pinoy, by the way - for doing his job. He repeatedly had to go around and go "Sssssssh!" (we counted at least 10 times that he had to round up the naughty children), and say things like "Malinaw naman ang mga nakapaskil, diba? Di ba kayo nakakabasa o nakakaintindi? Sabi diyan, Keep Quiet. At bawal gumamit ng cellphone." ("The signs are clearly posted, right? Can't you read nor understand? It says "Keep Quiet". And no using of cellular phones.") At least three times, he had to go to certain people just to embarrass them. They would stop making noise/using their cellphones, and when the guard leaves them, they would mutter how yabang (arrogant) the guard was for berating them in public. And then proceed to make the same noise or make the call once again.

Wherever we go, Filipinos must show foreigners our particular brand of "hospitality" and "cultural identity".

Mabuhay ka, Pilipino! (Long live the Filipino!)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Have We Redefined The Words "Honor" And "Hero"?

I looked at for the definitions of these two words, and for everyone's perusal:

Honor - honesty, fairness or integrity in one's beliefs and actions.

Hero - a person of distinguished courage or ability, adnired for brave deeds or noble qualitites.

So it comes as a complete shock when people are now relating those two words with one Miss Shamcey Supsup, Ms. Universe 2011 Third Runner-Up.

(Photo courtesy of

What comes to my mind when I see beauty pageants is one word: Meat.

Alternately, I also think of cattle. Or expanding on it, a meat market. For a certain, uh, segment/demographic of the male population. (When I first heard of Donald Trump buying the Ms. Universe organization, all I could think of was "What? He needs his own stable now?")

Let's call it what it is. Enough of the flowery words, or the supposed goodwill.

A candidate's score is based on how she looks in a swimsuit and a nightgown.

HELLO. (Hypocrites, you may desist from reading further.)

Anything that is based on one's looks, or how one's body is shaped in clothes - minimal and otherwise - can never be included in any definition of the words "honor" or "hero".

And yet, the internet and traditional media are all abuzz with how Supsup brought us "great honor" as a nation. And some comments in those reports have called her a "hero" and that she may somehow help us "regain our country's dignity".

Excuse me?

How does having a 36-24-36 figure, long held as the "ideal sexy body measurements", bring honor?

Is it heroic to possess a beautiful face or body?

And the physical attributes of one person regains our dignity as a nation?

Calling on the DECS (Department of Education, Culture and Sports) and CHED (Commission on Higher Education): We need to strengthen the vocabulary of our students. As well as of our lawmakers, apparently.

Even they think that Supsup has brought "honor". And one lawmaker, Rep. Lani Mercado-Revilla, wants to file a resolution to that effect. ( Good grief. I suppose it comes as no surprise, because our lawmakers are still referred to as "honorable" (as in The Honorable Congressman from so-and-so province), even if many of them are anything but what that word suggests and undeserving of any kind of respect. With so many pieces of legislation that need pressing attention, this is what they choose to focus on?

And for beauty pageant defenders, stop the hilarious justification that candidates' intelligence levels are also tested, with a single question.

I will concede that the nerves of a person are indeed tested, as it can never be easy for anyone to be placed on the spot, especially if you have to answer a question in front of millions of people while dressed next to nothing.

But to say that this is an effective gauge of one's intelligence is an insult to people who value it.

As well, the use of the words "honor" and "hero" are an insult to those individuals or groups that embody these concepts in their very lives.

A child who rushes back to her burning house to save her siblings - THAT'S a hero.

Firefighters and health workers who rushed into the attacked building on Sept. 11, 2001 to see who they could save, THAT'S heroism.

Equating an almost-win in an international beauty pageant to what these heroes risked for out of conviction and ideals is a monumental slap to them. Beauty pageants serve to glorify all the worst parts of humanity: an obsession with beauty, equating this obsession with same reverence we should be having for scientists who are constantly looking for ways to combat HIV, cancer and other life-threatening diseases, valuing a woman for her looks and only for that alone, the obvious treatment of these contestants as commodities, mere objects and toys to shine and parade around with, the utter degradation of women as well as setting back all the gains that women have achieved in their (it seems never-ending) quest for equality and to be seen as equals. (Even today, a tough man in business is called "a great boss" while a woman with the same temperament is labeled a "bitch".)

Which I am sure is what Ms. Supsup will be doing when she arrives back home: Be in an actual parade as she is paraded around as a testament of this country's "honor" and "dignity", a new "hero".

You'll excuse me if I don't show up, as I don't see any reason to be festive. I try not to be in places where IQ is not only devalued, but seen in a derisive light.

Just when I thought it was once again cool to be a nerd.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Why Science Inspires Faith In Me

The recent discovery of the fossil named Australopithecus sediba, found in a cave in South Africa, is generating considerable excitement in the scientific community, and rightfully so. It is said to be the oldest known fossil that is tied with our genus Homo, and speculations and arguments have arisen whether or not this strengthens the "missing link between apes and humans" idea or whether this discovery will lead us to another, entirely new path about the origins of man. (See

(Photo courtesy of

In either case, I welcome the discovery, as well as the ensuing discussions that will no doubt come, because all it does is strengthen my faith in science, in a way that no religion ever could.

You see, science never stops asking questions.

If it did, we would never wonder about gravity, nor have found out on which body our solar system is anchored on. We would just readily submit having cancer as our "fate", or as a "punishment" of sorts. We would never discover that all our emotions are somehow tied to chemical reactions in the body, and that what we think can ultimately affect the body itself. We would never think that humans could one day actually fly out into outer space - or even merely fly, period.

Science is never arrogant.

It demands proof, hard evidence, before it accepts something as truth or fact. It doesn't ever have the audacity to ask anyone to believe in a concept "because I said so!". Once a new discovery is laid on the table, it is open for anyone to challenge, as to how this discovery came to be, how it works and what to make of it. It invites everyone to be part of its' scrutiny, because facts have to withstand any and all questions, no matter how intense or "unfair", in order to be accepted into our body of knowledge.

Science changes with each and every new revelation.

It is not stagnant - for if it was, we would never have cars, computers or contact lenses. And in so short a span of time, they have transformed into space shuttles, tablets and laser surgery. Whenever changes, tweaks, improvements or entirely new ideas come our way, science embraces it with open arms. It doesn't shut anything out, just because "we like how it's always been done, we stick with the old ways!"; instead, with each new revelation, it builds upon what it already knows, and furthers our species and our lives with this attitude.

Science does not have a titular figure.

Instead, anyone is able to bring their own expertise into the equation. Scientists - in general - have this burning desire to make unknown things known, and to share this knowledge with anyone who cares to listen. Voltaire, Curie, Einstein - these are but three in a long list of scientists who have made their mark felt, known, and beneficial to humanity, making the field of science richer the day they left us than the day they entered it, and this heritage has not stopped, it is a continuous process that, in the truest sense of the word, evolves before our very eyes.

Science readily admits it doesn't have all the answers.

How could it? Even when talking about the brain alone, we have barely begun to scratch the surface of what its true potential is. Science is in awe of what it doesn't know, but instead of being frightened by that realization, it forges on with the desire to understand the what, the how, the why. It is never content with what it does know, knowing fully well that what we know now doesn't begin to compare to what we still don't know. It does not panic at the thought of uncertainty, it is challenged and fortified with each new uncertainty that is practically begging for comprehension.

I am excited at what new discoveries there are in our genetic code. I am excited that the stuff of science fiction have not just become scientific facts, they are fast becoming obsolete. Science is compelling, and it doesn't do it in a forceful way; it doesn't beat you on the head, it naturally invites curiosity, wonder and even amazement. It is inspiring, beautiful and wondrous.

Science is something that I appreciate more and more, its value only increasing with time. In an age of useless and empty rhetoric, blind adoration and allegiances, and idiotic forays and emasculation-caused displays of violence and superiority, I cling to the belief that science will surpass all of this, and continue to guide our people, to a hopeful, more enlightened future.

I will always have my faith in science.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Birthday Ni Mama Mary, Noh!"

(Photo coutesy of

These things have to happen first thing in the morning.

What joy.

After my class this morning, I had to sign something in the front desk of where I work. The form had no dates, and I readily admit I always forget what day/date it is on a constant basis. So I turned to the receptionist and asked, "Ano nga ba petsa ngayon?" ("What's the date today?")

She looked at me as if I swallowed an infant, rolled her eyes, and said, "September 8! HELLO! Birthday ni Mama Mary, noh!"

In a singular sentence, she has concisely encompassed my problem with how some Catholics act, talk and think. In my mind, the two words that flashed were: What arrogance.

Let me state, clearly, for the record, before anyone imputes something twisted into my statements and my past blog entries: I have no problem with Catholics practicing their faith. To each his/her own, live and let live. I am a fan of all those sayings. Not just because they're stated in popular expressions, but because it is the right thing to do.

We are all familiar with the Golden Rule: Do unto others what you would others do to you.

I would never imagine telling someone that "based on MY faith, you are doing something wrong!". Yet, day after day, I see Catholics who have no problem doing the exact same thing, and frighteningly, on a national scale. They see it as their "business" to meddle with someone who doesn't share the same faith at all!

What arrogance.

It is arrogant to presume that the things you believe in as a matter of personal faith are the exact same things I would also believe in. Who gave you the right to make that unfounded, ridiculous assumption? When I was still in elementary and high school, the one thing I remember clearly being taught was that "no special position/place is to be assigned to Mary. She is merely a vessel for Jesus. She is also human. We only worship God, not other humans."

As a teenager, I always found it odd when Catholics prayed to "Mama Mary", based on what I was taught in my religion. But I would never dream of ever going up to any Catholic and say, "You are wrong to pray to Mary, she is nothing special!". That is what your faith professes and practices, and I will always respect that.

Unfortunately, you do not return the favor.

Instead, you feel it your "right" to tell me, and anyone else who doesn't share your faith, to "follow our way, we are holding 'the truth'!".

You expect us to know who your saints are.

You expect us to know their birthdays.

You expect us to also pray the rosary.

You expect us to be silent when a priest says mass.

You expect us to follow your stance of viewing women as inferior to men.

You expect us to view gay people as abominations.

You expect us to hate the people your religion "allows" you to hate.

What arrogance.

This is exactly why I strongly support keeping the discussion of religion out of the public sphere. Matters of faith and religion are intensely private affairs, they are decisions that are based on personal beliefs.

I need to emphasize the word personal.

That is a decision you come to on your own. And if that is the case, you need to ackowledge the fact that each and every person is different. It is only right, therefore, to keep matters of faith to yourself.

Using your faith to claim some illusory mantle of moral superiority reeks to me of false entitlement and haughtiness. No one faith is "better" than another. (It always goes back to it being a personal choice. You choose what is best for you, and no one else.) It doesn't matter if there are 100 million in one religion and just 2 million sharing 55 other faiths. Numbers do not give you the right to judge another person's religion as being "inferior" to yours.

Back to this morning, I finished signing, then turned to the receptionist, and said: "File this, and file it in your brain that not everyone is a Catholic."

Something that bears repeating in a country that assumes everyone is.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Life As A Minority In Asia's Vatican City

Years ago, I needed to go to the BIR (Bureau of Internal Revenue) to file something-or-other. It pains me to have to go through this country's bureaucratic, uhm, processes, but some things are just unavoidable. I remember going mid-afternoon because of the stifling heat, and wanted to minimize my exposure to it. (I'm one of those unfortunate beings who, when attempting to get a tan by the beach, end up being red and prickly all over, then going back to my original color. No tan.)

The guard directed me to the main office where the general transactions are filtered. I forget now if there was a queue or a number system, but I was waiting to be served. Suddenly, there was an announcement over the PA (public announcement) system, saying "It is now 3 O'Clock. Please stand up for our midday prayer."

Dumbfounded, I searched for the insignia that said "Republic of the Philippines - Bureau of Internal Revenue."

I was in the right place, at a government office that I needed to be in.

Why was I suddenly in the middle of a prayer meeting?

This is my life as a non-Catholic, in what has long been touted as "the only Catholic nation in Asia".

Back at the BIR, most everyone stood up, and recited what seemed to me like a rehearsed prayer, but apparently something they've been doing all their lives, because even as they "prayed", some were combing their hair, some were passing snacks around, still others were fiddling with their computers or documents on the table, all while "praying". Talk about multitasking.

There were 2 other people in that area who also remained seated, like me. Our eyes glanced at each other, and I remember the older gentleman shrugging his shoulders as our eyes met, as if to say "Wala tayong magagawa." ("We can't do anything.") We obviously were the non-Catholics in the room, and saw no reason to pray - certainly not a prayer that wasn't one of our choosing or one we didn't even know the words to!

This exclusion from the religious majority is something that I have had to deal with all my life. I have never been a Catholic, nor had the desire to be one, even though we lived in a village that had their more-than-plain-pious Catholic badge stamped all over. The village church would always broadcast its' prayers so that the entire neighborhood could hear them, and when the announcer always came to the part that said "pray for us, now and in the hour of our death", my mom would always cast a frown, because in the religion that we were taught, once you're dead, no more intercessions can be made, you will be judged on how you lived, period. She would always say that if we could "pray our way into heaven", then there really is no point in doing/being good, because people on earth could still "pray" for you to get into heaven anyway, which made a lot of sense to me back then, and even until now.

I was pretty much shielded from the exclusion up until my high school years, because we went to a conservative Protestant school, and boy, was religion pounded into us rigorously. We had Sunday school, church services, one of our required subjects was Bible class, and every school activity started with prayers, invocations, and a smattering of Bible readings and verses. As you can tell, I was never a stranger to religious indoctrination or preaching. So I am well aware when a religion is trying to extend its' influence in my life.

Only when I entered college did I slowly but surely start feeling that I was a very small part in the religious mix of this country. As is the case with most freshman classes, they usually assign "blocks" which made sure that you would have the same classmates subject after subject. When they started introducing themselves, they were all from Saint something-or-other school. And there would be the ever-present "preachers", who would ask if I wanted to join them in Bible study or some prayer meeting (I don't really know what it was called). Whenever the block would meet socially or for homework/assignments, there would be a rosary and a corresponding prayer present. One of them asked why I didn't seem to be praying, and when I said that I wasn't Catholic and I didn't know what they were praying, she said, "Oh...that's right. You're a Protestant." Then she looked at me with a mixture of pity and ridicule.

Outside of school, in other social gatherings like parties of our relatives, the same thing would happen over and over. Most of my relatives are Catholics, and we would be forced to go along with whatever rituals it was that they did.

The biggest difference between what I experienced in my formative years in school, and now that I have become the minority, is that the Protestant indoctrination happened in a private setting, either in a church or a school that was clearly affiliated with that religion. And my parents chose that school - children don't really have a say yet where to study in the elementary and high school years - it was freely chosen out of their own religious convictions.

It was, therefore, a big surprise that even in a supposedly non conformist and secular environment such as UP (the University of the Philippines), the Catholic influence is so pervasive and intrusive so as to force people to do things that are clearly counter to one's religious convictions or preferences. True, it wasn't a police state situation, where there were armed guards ready to beat the daylights out of me if I failed to pray a rosary. But the ensuing judgement and pressure to act Catholic - in appearance only, which is what truly matters - is something even more potent than if it were a stick threatening to beat me for not conforming.

A well-meaning (Catholic) friend did listen to me harping on this point, and her response was something that I have heard countless times as the "bleeding heart" response: "I know it's hard, pero ano ba naman mawawala sayo kung mag rosaryo ka, o magpakitang tao ka na nagdadasal ka din? Ilang minuto lang naman yun, tapos back to regular programming na, diba?" ("I know it's hard, but what will you lose if you do the rosary, or just show people that you are also praying, just for show? After a few minutes, we're back to regular programming, right?")

I suppose I could let it "slide", but what about the concept of freedom of religion?

Last I looked, we have a Constitution that guarantees that "no law shall be made respecting an establishment of religion" and "no religious test shall be required for the exercise of civil or political rights". (Section 5, Article 3, Bill of Rights, 1987 Philippine Constitution. See for full entry.)

Which is what has been weighing on my mind as a response to that: Why should I be forced to do it? Why should I be forced to follow Catholic doctrine when I am not a Catholic by faith nor choice?

In the current debates about the RH (Reproductive Health) Bill, it is rather clear to me that despite all the secular arguments that the anti-RH camp has come up with, the "fire" that keeps them burning with the intensity to oppose the RH Bill is because their religion (and religious leaders) dictates to them that artificial contraception is "immoral". Note, however, that they are not against contraception per se - withdrawal, rhythm method, abstinence, there are all forms of contraception. (For those foaming at the mouth at this last sentence, kindly check the meaning of the word "contraception", because it includes any method that prevents the sperm from meeting the egg.) So, as long as the kind of contraception has the "Catholic-approved" seal stamped on it, they see nothing "wrong".

This intrusion has gone far enough.

The "fire" that gives me my intensity to fight for the RH Bill is because this is symptomatic of what I have had to fight for all my life: The freedom to choose my own religion, and be free from attempts to undermine that choice, by clerics who would have their religious doctrines - Catholic, of course - be inscribed into law, subverting the concept of freedom of religion. This is essentially what the battle lines have become: Which side will you be on? One which honors and respects everyone's religious preferences, and even the absence of one, as not everyone needs religion to have a fulfilling, meaningful life? Or the side that forcefully abrogates a singular religious doctrine, so that all will be forced to follow, regardless of religious preference?

I was never against Catholicism. I still am not. (Even though I find its mysogynistic and homophobic stances horrible.) Most of my friends are Catholics. This doesn't hamper our friendships because they have never sought to forcefully induct me into their religion, neither do I wish for them to change their religions because I don't share the same one as theirs. We live and let live.

But when my rights as a non-Catholic are being readied to be trampled on, you can expect me to be uncompromising in defending my rights to the last. Stay out of my life, religious or otherwise. Why can't we learn to respect each other's preferences? Are tolerance and respect such alien and difficult concepts, that men who claim to be the arbiters of morality cannot comprehend them on any given level?

Until the day that we officially turn into a Catholic theocracy, I will not be silenced.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Beware The Zombadings: You Might Miss It

If you're in need of laughs, this film provides it. In spades.

Framed with ribbons.

Arthur has been asking me to block off a date for us to watch Zombadings 1: Patayin Sa Shokot Si Remington, and we finally did after I got off work today. I knew that there was considerable buzz on the net about it, and one of my favorite writers/bloggers has been promoting it constantly - Jessica Zafra.

I'm glad we did. It's hilarious and plays on a controversial topic with such panache that the "are we really talking about this?" factor is stripped away.

The pink elephant is now the sparkly elephant in the middle of the room that everyone gathers around.

Two things stood out for me. Let's go for the negative first.

The premise for what "caused" Remington (Martin Escudero) to "become gay" was a curse bestowed upon him by an older gay man (Roderick Paulate), as the young Remington was making fun of Roderick's character, who was in mourning at the time. The "resolution" of the "curse" was for the "exorcism" of the "gayness" from Remington, and it "had" to be "passed on" to someone who is "totally straight".

Concepts that I am clearly uncomfortable about (to put it mildly) for very obvious reasons. This "theory" of how "gayness" originates certainly comes from the same thread that spawns the ideas that you can either "pray the gay away" or that you can beat the living daylights out of a young child so that his or her homosexuality can be arrested. In either scenarios, there is an element of "outside intrusion" that is seen to make someone "abnormal" (in this particular instance, homosexuality as defined by conservatives).

The only way I can accept that "theory" if there is also a "spirit" that makes people straight.

I realize that the writers of the film may be playing this up as a poke to people who believe in this theory. However, given how some people take things literally, I am sure this either produced an "ahh, ganun pala yun!" moment in some, or served to reinforce the beliefs of those who take this theory to heart.

Now, the positive: The part that resonates with what I've observed in life is that most homophobic men are often revealed to be gay themselves, but unable to accept this fact, they direct their frustration and their anger at those who do have the freedom, the courage, or both, to live their (gay) lives openly. In the movie, the "villain" has a "special gun" that identifies men as "gay" if he points it - and he is revealed to be gay himself in the end.

I did blog about Senator Larry Craig last month (, someone who is staunchly opposing any legislation that is labeled "gay-friendly", but who was caught soliciting sex from a male officer in an airport bathroom. So, I applaud the film makers for succinctly capturing this truth about those who seem so virulently homophobic. (Yes, I know, there are people who are homophobic purely because of bigotry, or because their priest/pastor told them that homosexuality is "of a demonic nature". But it's often my experience that men who are self-assured in their own (heterosexual) sexuality have nothing to fear from any manifestations of homosexuality.

The film has a steady stream of "laugh pockets" (as I call these episodes where people continually laugh, broken by quieter scenes). Watch out for Roderick's scene with the candle, the confrontation of Remington and Roderick's character, and the dance extravaganza by Remington. (My favorite was when Remington was in the toilet providing "gay translations" for the pail, sink, etc.)

I am also grateful for the film makers for providing translations for the "gay-speak" that was used liberally throughout. The ones used were much too convoluted to be understood in one go. (Hinting for the DVD release, please.)

All in all, I enjoyed the film immensely.

Watch it. NOW.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

From Now On, I Am Known As Nona

Maybe I should explain.

I was getting through the usual pleasantries before a family dinner tonight - taking a shower, shaving, cutting my nails, the works - when the phone rings. Persistently. (I usually give it 3 rings before I say that a caller is persistent.) Jolted by the thought that the ringing won't stop until I go out the front door, I decide that the less painful option would be to answer it and get rid of the call quickly.

"Hi, Sir." A pleasant female voice, at least.


"Sir, may I know if this is Mr. Ramirez?"

(My mind raced: If I prolong the conversation, I would be hopelessly late for the family dinner - a big no-no. When you're late, everyone never lets you forget through dinner that you held them up. If I was curt, I would come off as rude, and I didn't want that for her, she sounded like a nice person just doing her job. So I did the cop-out: I made a fib.)

"Wala sya dito. Sino to?" ("He's not here, who is this?")

"This is ___________ (name of agent), from PLDT, sir. Sir, are you related to Mr. Ramirez?"

" No relation."

"Sir, I just wanted to let you know of a promotion we have. Does Mr. Ramirez have an SM Advantage Card?"

"I don't know. Teka. (Wait up.) I thought you said this is PLDT?"

"Yes, sir. May tie-up kasi ang PLDT with SM Advantage Card, you can earn points..."

"Miss, I'm sorry, I have to cut this short, I'm late as it is, can you call back when Mr. Ramirez is here?"

"Oh. (She sounds dejected.) May I know who this is please and what relation you are to Mr. Ramirez?"

"No relation. I really have to go..."

"Sir, can I just have your name?"

"No na."

She pauses briefly, in which time I assume she was writing down any pertinent information from the call she was making.

"OK, sir...Mr. Nona. Did I get that correct?"

I was stunned for a second, until it hit me, what just happened.

"No, no, no...I mean, No. (I pause briefly.) Na."

"Ok, sir No-na. (She imitates my deliberate spacing between the two syllables.) So your first name is No and your last name is Na, right, sir?"

"WHAT?!? What kind of person would name their children No? I meant no, huwag nalang."

"I understand, sir, but I just need to confirm which is your first and last name."

I hung up.

I figured, I should have just let the darned phone ring. It would have been a less painful experience.

Why does the universe persist in giving me these types of phone calls?

Friday, September 2, 2011

James Soriano Would Love These Alabang Moms

Barely a week ago from the time that James Soriano unleashed a firestorm over social media with his, uhm, thought-provoking column/discourse on Filipino (the language), I have the distinct (dis)pleasure of seeing his very, er, analysis in action. (For those who need a refresher, please click on this link:

At 7AM in the morning.

There are days when you wish you didn't get up so early.

I made an early start going to Alabang (for work) so as to avoid the hideous traffic that usually adorns the routes to and from Alabang during mid-mornings. That also meant skipping breakfast at home in order to beat the traffic, so I was famished when I got to Alabang and immediately looked for a place to have a meal and a much-needed caffeine fix.

I settled for an established local coffee shop chain that had wifi access.

When I got in, I noticed a pair of moms (the only customers in the shop), yapping loudly over some domestic problem one of them had to contain. In English. More specifically, colegiala English - when they pepper their English statements with "yeah nga, eh" (First red flag.) This was the statement that initially got my attention: "I told nga yaya why naman did you use that detergent, eh I already told her that si ___________ (name of hubby) hated the smell and yung mga bata, they itch all over when that brand is used. Kakainis talaga our yaya."

She sounded like one of those pa-English starlets on local TV.

I thought that would be the extent of my unpleasant jolt. Oh, no. Not quite yet.

They then began discussing the grades of one of their kids (from their conversation, I deduced that they sent their kids to the same school, since familiar teachers' names kept cropping up without introduction.) The central point in their discussion was that ____________ (name of child) was flunking in Filipino.

"So, what did you say?"

"Hay, naku. I just wrote another letter to that teacher no. I said, what's this? 1 over 10 in the short quizzes, tapos 4 out of 25 lang sa periodic exams! And she is obviously disregarding my letters! I have sent her at least 3 other letters, I keep noticing him (the child) flunking only in one subject, Filipino! Of all the things naman, of all the subjects, yun pa?"

"What was in the letter that you wrote ba?"

"I said, what's happening? Why are you not paying attention to my son? And why didn't you come to me with a stronger notice? Eh bumabagsak na pala ang hijo ko! I told her that I expected his grades to be up next quarter, dapat may special attention to my son kasi Filipino isn't spoken at home, how can you blame the child?"

"And what did she say?"

"Wala! As in, wala!"

:"What will you be doing now, mare?"

"I'm asking my unica hija to write a letter. Maybe that teacher needs a letter that's written better, with better sounding words."

(Right on cue, her cellular phone rings.)

Mommy Dearest to Unica Hija: "Finally! Help me, hija! Your brother is flunking! That's not the tutor's fault...Regardless!....Yes! Yes!...I already sent her letters....No, use the big words you like using, I think that will be more impressive...Yes! Just like that! OK, I'll see you later, hija."

(Mommy Dearest hangs up and talks to her friend once again.)

"Hay, naku. That letter better do the trick. I don't know what else to do!"

"And to think, in Filipino."

"Exactly! I mean, who needs that? I'm very sure when he works abroad, he won't be needing it naman! Tapos this will be the reason that he flunks a year in school? Hindi pwede no! I am so inis! I would understand if he flunked Math, or something else, the hard things, pero this?!"

"I guess wait and see pala to, mare."

I'm having difficulty believing this conversation really took place just now. I'm assuming these moms were blissfully unaware (maybe they imbibed the "ignorance is bliss" statement too much?) of Mr. Soriano's current brouhaha. Or, like Mr. Soriano, they envisioned themselves as "learned". After all, they don't speak Filipino, the "language of the streets". Only when in colegiala mode.

Lady, first thing: It is not the teacher's responsibility to keep your son's grades up. You are responsible for that and he is also responsible for that. What is this, another McDonald's-coffee-so-hot-I-burned-myself-I'll-sue-you moment?!? Grow a pair, take THE responsibility!

And if he is flunking in Filipino, are you really amazed? Really? Your assessment that "he'll never use it anyway" tells me so much about how you view our language. Mind you, you don't have Caucasian or other foreign lineages in your physical makeup. You're purong Pinoy - light brown skin, wide eyes, flat nose, thick lips - so your appearance alone makes your statements sound so much more baffling than they already are. Maybe you married a foreigner, hence, the deep seated assurance that your son will be working abroad. Maybe it's because you're rich.

Whatever it is, you should NOT be surprised that your son is flunking Filipino. Your disdain for it makes it clear to your son that he should assign no importance whatsoever in learning it. What for, to be ridiculed by you? To be looked down by you - and your (limited, in more ways than one) circle of friends? What possible incentive does he have to do better in it? (I suppose you're the type who would dangle the possiblity of not getting his trust fund to get better grades.) Your very attitude signals to him that it is perfectly okay to overlook Filipino as a subject, and sadly, you are also giving him permission to turn his back on his culture, his history, and our future as a nation.

For what nation can exist if its' citizens cannot even identify itself through its' own language? Or are ashamed at how it stacks up against the rest of the world's languages?

We had no choice in being born in the Philippines. But it is a choice to shun our culture and our heritage.

And for your son, and for our country, I feel nothing but pity and shame that this is how we've come to view our very own language.


(And just as I was about to leave, a pair of older women come in, with one of them saying, "I have to send some money to Samar". And her emphasis is on the last syllable in Samar, reminding me of basketball commentators saying "ag-wire" when reading Aguirre while locally we say "a-gi-re". Is there something in the water in Alabang that makes its' residents feel that they are in a foreign country, far, far away from the "madness" (in their book) that is the Philippines?!?)