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Monday, December 24, 2012

Questions For Future Beauty Contestants

Her answer didn't wow the judges enough.
(Courtesy of starmometer.com)

Much has been made in the local press and social media of how our representative to the Miss Universe 2012 contest, Janine Tugonon, answered her "final question", and how she "should have won" over Miss USA for the coveted title of Ms. Universe. Yes, Filipinos love beauty contests - as evidenced by the intensity of the responses when Janine was announced as 1st runner-up.

Beauty contest answers are colloquially seen as a varition of a "standard" response that can be summarized in two words: World Peace. Janine actually answered very much in this vein with her question, not ruffling any feathers, and prevailing everyone to join hands, possibly for a rendition of Kumbaya, making this world a better place.

In an effort to shake things up and not make any answer predictable, may I suggest the following questions for future beauty pageants.

1. We now live in an age where women are world leaders and trailblazers. Given that, how do you think judging women on the basis of looks and a single question contributes to the women's movement?

2. Most people would agree that focusing on what's outside is focusing on the shallow. What does your participation in this contest say about you, you think?

3. Someone commented that the beauty industry makes billions in revenues by telling people "you're not good enough". How would you defend this contest in the face of this criticism?

4. How does this, and any other beauty contest, contribute to humanity?

5. If an alien race were to arrive and see this pageant first thing, what can they conclude about humanity?

6. Many kids and teenagers are bullied worldwide for having "imperfect looks" - buck teeth, large ears, overweight issues. What is your message to these young people?

7. Would you have considered competing for Ms. Universe if there were no cash prizes, modeling contracts, constant press presence and zero publicity?

8. An observation made about pageants like this is that it is no different from a wet T-shirt contest held in beaches everywhere. Do you consider them vastly different or essentially the same? What makes the Ms. Universe contest different?

9. Would you advise women who are genetically incapable of looking as "perfect" as you to get plastic surgery to approximate your looks, since any contestant here is seen as the ultimate gold standard in beauty?

10. If you believe that God made everyone perfect and a reflection of His image, would He approve of a contest like Ms. Universe, which basically is an admission that we are essentially unequal, and should be ranked by looks?

Now, how do I get these to Mr. Trump?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

20 Years After

My high school is having a reunion tonight, and I won't be there.

Aaah. Romy and Michelle.
(Courtesy of thundertix.com)

Not because I don't want to go, but work-related concerns and deadlines are keeping me from leaving to join in what I imagine to be a lot of fun - and surprises.

Who here will admit that after 20 years, some of your high school classmates stunned you with how they turned out? Thanks to social media, we now get a peek into how everyone else is doing, and I will be the first to say some people surprised me - in a very good way.

Classmates and batchmates who I had dismissed as "coasting along" back in high school are now doing more than just quite well, some are excelling in fields generally recognized to be difficult to make a mark in. On the flip side, some people who were always expected to just be successful in whatever they chose to do ended up looking like they "lost their way".

It underscores something I've had to learn over and over again, never underestimate people and their willingness to change their lives. And for those people I sometimes looked up to, some of them just may "disappoint" from previously held expectations and prove to you that, like everyone else, they can be mortal, prone to the dreaded word called failures.

Everyone will be a work-in-progress until our last breath.

Everyday is a chance to either say I'm better than this, I will make this day count, instead of counting the days and asking where the time went because nothing seems to be happening.

My hope for everyone in my batch is that, regardless of where we find ourselves 20 years after, we are a little wiser, bruised by life and how its' promise can sometimes be blunted by the harshness of reality, and have relaxed from our rigid misconceptions growing up that there is only one way of doing things, or that there is only a single road to success, however we all individually define it.

But most of all, I hope everyone has found some measure of happiness.

The Sandy Hook school massacre, the recent deaths from Pablo and countless other events this year alone underscores one fact: sometimes, the unexpectedness of life is characterized by brutality, cruelty and outright senselessness, it becomes imperative that we eke out a little corner, alone or with loved ones, to validate our being here, somehow alive, and manage to not give in to despair and destruction that seems to be never ending and all around us.

And we laugh. Laugh at ourselves, laugh at the silly mistakes - true, some of them weren't silly at all -  and recognize that the only way we can give despair the finger is by enjoying the ride, staring it in its' face and saying, "no, you are not breaking me or my spirit down today."

We have lost some people - good, decent people - along the way. I don't mean metaphorically, but literally lost to us, unable to say "we made it to the 20th!". Let's remember them, and may this give us the realization that everyday is really a gift.

While we breathe, we can still do something with our lives. Let's make it count.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Do They Just Hate Women?

Remember when there was a brouhaha about male athletes or models in skimpy underwear, plastered on large billboards along EDSA? There was a politician or lawyer who raised a stink about it, claiming that his child or nephew/niece "complained" about the spectacle and that's why he was also doing his part in having it taken down.

Fast forward to the amendment proposed yesterday by Sen. Sotto, about removing the phrase "safe and satisfying sex". He made the case about how our culture is supposedly "unique" and that we are largely "conservative".

(See http://www.rappler.com/nation/18112-senators-approve-rh-bill-on-final-reading for more of the senator's statements.)

Sotto, a known opponent of the RH Bill, was an entertainer long before he entered politics. In fact, he still hosts the noontime show Eat Bulaga (I imagine on an irregular basis if he is supposed to be a legislator - something I've tackled in previous posts, government service being a full time job and not a "hobby") so I find it curious that this picture is now circulating over Facebook, a shot of what transpires in the said show.

Are we redefining "conservative"?
(Courtesy of the Facebook photo/page of Keisi Casey)

Juxtaposed after Sotto's claims that we have a "conservative" culture, it becomes laughable because his continued presence in this show lends it an air of acceptability - and his tacit approval - as far as his moral code is concerned, akin to having an animal rights activist going to a show honoring the best fur designers.

If he is such a "conservative" advocate, why isn't he railing against Viagra?

Why doesn't he propose laws that would close down all girly bars in the country?

Why doesn't he propose laws that would ban skimpy clothing on dancers in local shows?

And yet, the first sign that women can express that they are not satisfied with sex sends him into a tailspin and twists his boxers - or briefs - into such knots that he wants to make amendments banning that very phrase.

Which shouldn't be surprising because he is against a bill that would allow anyone, especially the poor and women, to have correct, factual and scientific knowledge regarding reproductive health as well as the means to access them, empowering women to decide regarding their own bodies, mindful of their economic status and their religious convictions.

Tying these two men together - the politician/lawyer complaining about men in skimpy underwear ads as well as Sen. Sotto calling our culture "conservative" - is a mysogynistic streak. One that is silent when women are objectified, made to dress in almost nothing and gyrating for "entertainment". 

A deafening silence when the pleasures of (straight) men, in the form of  bars and lingerie ads and other such "delights", are questioned.  

And all of a sudden becoming shrill - something I imagine they would lovingly label the women who complain in any way - whenever men are forced to respect a woman's decision and choice, or when men are being objectified the way women have been treated for centuries by a culture that has largely been dictated upon by (straight) men.

They are okay if women parade in their panties on national TV, in billboards, and have no say regarding their own bodies and reproductive health, but heaven forbid there be men in almost nothing on print ads or if women can be on equal footing with men in making decisions.

Do they really hate women that much?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Stumped

That, in capsule form, is what I felt hearing our legislators defend their opposition to the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill until the wee hours this morning.

That's your defense?
(Courtesy of wondrouspics.com)

I must say, though, their "defense" kept me awake, for all the wrong, and patently hilarious reasons.

The first one that grabbed my attention was from Rep. Almario, who wanted in essence to send Filipinos to every part of the world, and maybe, in her lifetime, see this planet "Filipinized".

And I thought one of the charges of the anti-RH camp was that approving the bill would mean "Western" domination of our laws. Tayo pala ang may planong sakupin ang mundo, Rep. Almario? And what does that even mean, "Filipinize"? Is this some hommage to ethnic cleansing, popularized by that moustached man from Germany?

And who could miss the pronouncement of recently defeated boxer Rep. Manny Pacquiao, who claimed that because of his recent bout with Marquez in Las Vegas, it strengthened his resolve for the sanctity of life...could the boxer/representative still be reeling from that fateful, devastating punch that Marquez used to decide the outcome of their match?

To use current vernacular jargon, nasaan ang konek?

What does his decisive loss have to do with the "sanctity of life"? How does boxing even come close to the concept, when the entire fighting profession is built on the idea of beating another man black and blue, with money exchanging hands and crowds cheering for more blood? Where's the "sanctity" in this scenario? After we teach our children that violence is wrong, we cheer on Manny trading blows, and he thinks it's somehow because of "sanctity"?

And, unless we forget it, we are a "Catholic country" - we must be, since an overwhelming majority of these legislators used this particular concept as their defense.

"The bishops guide us."
"We're going against the (Roman Catholic) Church."
"I cannot turn my back on my (Catholic) religion."

These are essentially what they are saying - maybe not in those exact words - but yes, they claim these, which effectively means we are now a theocracy, not a democracy.

What a sad day for democracy, when the right to choose one's religion is spat on by our own lawmakers.

When our very own Congress goes against the very document that founded its existence, the Constitution, that proclaims the separation of state and church to be "inviolable".

When they attempt to make everyone Catholic by force - let's call it what it is, because that is the effect of legislating Catholic teachings and belief into our SECULAR laws.

I do not want to be hearing from these particular legislators how bad it is for people in Afghanistan, where people can be executed - justifiably - for offending the state religion. They shouldn't cluck their tongues when they hear of Female Genital Mutilation in certain parts of the world who insist on the barbaric practice because "it's a part of our religion!". They are just as equally guilty of enforcing, or wanting to enforce, a state religion, if they had won last night.

And then there were the sob stories: about how a legislator had trouble conceiving with his wife. About how, even after using the pill, a legislator went on to have many children. Or how it was a lawmaker's parents' dying wish. And the ones that go back, all the way to the baptism of their first child.

Excuse me, what is this, Dregs Of Our Lives? 

Why am I seeing a telenovela, or worse, a series of mini-telenovelas, being discussed by Congress and why are legislators acting like scriptwriters pitching for a storyboard?

Pati ba naman sa Kongreso, may drama dramahan na?

But just as my attention was starting to wane, my mind went into full salute when I started to hear a prayer being uttered by Rep. Syjuco as his "explanation" for opposing the bill. As a non-Catholic, I had to rely on what people online were saying, and that Syjuco (from what I could gather) was praying either the rosary or the Apostle's Creed...how is this relevant to ME? And to the millions of other people of this archipelago who do not claim to be Catholic?

Is that what passes for intelligent discourse from our honorable legislators?

I had hoped that with so much time and energy having been expended on this bill - which, to my mind, was mostly needless if they had just put this immediately to a vote and not wasted so much effort trying to prevent it from being voten upon, and quite noticeably, even if the amendments from the bloc opposing it were inserted, they still ended up voting No - that we would see better arguments from our supposed representatives as to why they voted in the negative.

Instead, Congress was mistaken for being a branch of the Catholic Church.

No, anti RH legislators, you do not get to hijack the laws of this land to suit your religious preference. There is no "religious oppression" against you, the CBCP and Catholicism. On the contrary, it is you who continue to disrespect the right of each citizen to choose their own beliefs, and would like to see nothing more than a Catholic theocracy come into fruition, a fact that those in the hierarchy do not even bother hiding as their most desperate desire, claiming this country to be the "only Catholic nation in Southeast Asia!"

We could have done away with nominal voting. You could have given authentic, valid and factual reasons to oppose the bill. Instead, you chose to use the most winding of roads, leaving me and many others feeling the same way even before the debates began:

Stumped.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The Day I Officially Became A Bully

I'm now the guy on the left?
(Courtesy of whywesuffer.com)

Let me start off by saying that bullying is a serious, serious offense, one that can cause devastating effects. Whether it is of the physical, or emotional variety, it is unacceptable, and reflects more on the perpetrator than the victim. As a minority, I know fully well what it's like to be on the receiving end of this act.

With that said (and hopefully clearly stating where I stand in it), this is, thankfully, a humor piece.

Many of those who know me personally can characterize me by many things, but one "standout" fact is that I seem to be challenged where the vernacular is concerned, a fact I readily admit. Even back in the day, one of my most hated test items was when I had to choose between hulihin, ihuhuli  and huhuliin, and the Filipino subject in school was always my Waterloo. Whether it was the definition, the usage, the accent, or the emphasis, I seem to make it my goal (unintentionally) to make others laugh when I speak in Tagalog.

I "blame" that squarely on my mom, who penalized us at home for ever speaking Tagalog (we had to pay one peso to her for every Tagalog word spoken). She was determined to make us excellent English communicators, so the only languages "allowed" at home were English and Chinese. So it's no surprise that I am at ease with English, which brings us to how I was accused of doing something I am against.

Yes, someone actually pointed a finger at me and called me a bully.

And how did I manifest this? By speaking in English.

A disclaimer: I don't have an "American accent", the way employees of call centers say it, even though they are off duty, and giving their fare to the jeepney driver. (True story: a friend of mine witnessed a just-off-work call center agent, with her ID card still on her neck, saying "Mama, here's my bayad, I'm going to Kyey-Poh! (Quiapo)" which prompted everyone else in the jeep to look at her.)

Excuse me, but if you feel inadequate about your own mastery of English, don't turn around and say "Eh, sya eh! Nam-bu-bully sya!"

When I heard this accusation thrown at me, I swear time stood still, and the words no, this isn't really happening, this is a weird space-time gap I have fallen through formed in my head, but when I saw the other people in that conversation look at me, and we all had the same expression that said what the hell is this moron smoking, I was, for once, glad that stupidity was the minority in that group of people.

I somehow raised my jaw from the floor, only to do a shrug, with a look that I will admit must have reeked of condescension. My accuser squeaked in a "Bully!" before someone else spoke up: "Wait, wait, how is he being a bully? I don't get it."

"Eh, kasi! Gagamit gamit sya ng English!"

Silence from everyone in the group.

"Hindi ko sya maintindihan no! Kung ano man yung mga terms na ginagamit niya, kailangan ko pa minsan hanapin sa dictionary, sinasadya nya yan! Sigurado ako! Sinasadya nya para di ko sya maintindihan!"

This time, everyone else's jaws dropped to the floor, and I decided to end it - not for my accuser, haha, but because I had no time to waste on buffoons who are afflicted with low self-esteem and mataas na pagtingin sa sarili at the same time.

"Look, if you're mad or feel left out, because someone else speaks in English, blame it on the education you received. While you're at it, blame your parents for sending you to a school that allowed you to exit their corridors without ensuring that would be competent enough to be in the workforce, one that uses English on a daily basis."

What is laughably infuriating is that I would never dream of accusing anyone who spoke to me in malalim na Tagalog that s/he was bullying me, I would take that as a challenge to try to understand what it is I just heard (I usually stop the person right at that moment and say "I'm sorry, I really didn't understand the last word you said, what does that mean?") 

So, that's how I came to be known as a bully.

The one and only time.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Worst Diet Possible

Which makes sense, because this is one of the worst conditions anyone can have. This picture pretty much "crystallizes" my current condition.

Parties? What parties?
(Courtesy of uvahealth.com)

Now, on to that horrid diet.

One that disallows the usual suspects: lechon, anything beef-related (which pretty much rules out any kind of steak and especially bulalo), palabok, chicken skin, peanuts, chicharon and any and all internal organs (which thankfully I'm not a fan of, so it seems like no great sacrifice).

That staple of Filipino celebrations - nada.
(Courtesy of everythingcebu.com)

The above list seems like a "normal" list of things to avoid if you went to a cardiologist. And here's where the infuriating part comes in.

If you had a heart condition, I am guessing a doctor would encourage the following items: vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, and cauliflowers; seafoods like tuna, sardines, salmon, and shrimps; alternative protein sources like legumes and soy products, in place of meat and animal products.

These are evil?
(Courtesy of diettogo.com)

Guess what? These items, traditionally considered as healthy choices, are also prohibited in my current diet.

Welcome to the wonderful world of gout.

Did I say wonderful? I meant despicable.

How else would you describe a pain so sensitive, that the mere wind from a passing breeze or the brush of a blanket can render you unable to move and shedding bitter tears? If there was a candidate for which pain could possibly compete with a toothache - long considered the "worst" kind of pain in some circles so as to immobilize you - this would be it.

So, I'm barred from the good things (good for health and heart), as well as the "good" things (the ones that could block your arteries but make you smile ingesting them).

A diet that lumps bean sprouts and consomme in the same category as fatty loin of pork and roast beef.

So, if I'm extra ornery and irritable, you have been warned.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Theology Of Mommy D.

Judgement from above?
(Courtesy of hbo.com)

Hours before the fight of Manny Pacquiao and Juan Marquez, I read an article in Rappler that highlighted one of the biggest changes in Manny's pre-fight rituals: he no longer went to a Catholic Mass, but instead went to a Christian service, highlighting his change of religious allegiance.

(See: http://www.rappler.com/sports/192-all-sports/boxing/17590-pacquiao-ditches-catholic-mass-for-christian-service)

Even before I finished the first paragraph, a singular thought already formed in my mind: If Manny loses, I can imagine some quarters blaming this change of faith to be the "culprit".

I'm not sure if I can even derive some measure of satisfaction from being right.

True enough, after the country collectively gasped when Manny was knocked down,  consequently losing the match, it took mere moments before I started seeing posts in social media with my prediction:

"Hindi kasi nag sign of the cross!"

"If only he remained loyal to the Catholic faith, he would have won."

"Ayan, pinarusahan ng Diyos kasi tinalikuran niya ang Simbahang Katoliko!"

It's easy enough to dismiss these remarks as detached commentaries from what my friend, journalist Alan Robles, calls "Katolitrolls" (religious zealots of the Catholic faith, characterized by intolerance to other faiths and expressing this every way they can), appropriating for themselves some pecuiliar "moral authority".

And then Mommy D. spoke.

Mommy D. is, of course, Manny's mother, also known as Aling Dionesia, a celebrity by osmosis. (Although, from what I have seen, her "entertainment value" seems to be personally evoked, needing only her son to introduce her to the public, and taking it from there all by her lonesome.) As she was interviewed right after Manny's loss, she minced no words in assessing the reason why her son lost.


"That's what he gets for changing religion. Since the Protestant pastors came into his life, he had not focused on his boxing. They always prayed, with Manny losing sleep."

"I hope he listens to me when he returns and be a Catholic again."

(See http://sports.inquirer.net/75919/mommy-dionisia-urges-pacquiao-to-be-catholic-again)


A problematic position to take, if we are to tackle these questions:

1. Juan Miguel Marquez has been a consistent Catholic, why has he never won against Manny until now?

2. As a legislator, Rep. Pacquiao has been steadfastly anti RH Bill. Recently, a bishop floated the idea (without categorically stating, which seems to be a manifestation of a sterling "Filipino mechanism", magparinig) that typhoon Pablo, which killed hundreds of people, was due to the bill being discussed in Congress. Using that same "logic" - where God is seen as expressing displeasure at those who support the bill - what could God be "implying" by making Pacquiao lose?

3. If the loss was because of his religion - also implying that it is the "wrong faith" - how come there are many "successful" religious leaders who practice the same religion? And by success, I mean they head large organizations, have a sizeable amount of followers, and if the American versions of this religion are to be the standard, wield considerable wealth which has been criticized as being used to influence secular legislation there?

4. If all boxers turn Catholic, who loses? (tangent to question 1)

5. I have heard of a local priest say that his faith disapproves of violence, alluding to the sport of boxing as being "not favored" by Catholicism. Should his view prevail, or Mommy D.'s, who gave birth to the Pambansang Kamao, traffic exterminator, archipelago time-stopper and the definitive rags-to-riches story of this country?

Until these questions are answered, Pacquiao has a plethora of career options to choose from. But will these also suffer the same fate if he does not revert back to Catholicism?

Abangan.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Petty Weather Report

Divine forecasting?
(Courtesy of countryliving.com)

Brought to you by the most ardent factions who oppose the Reproductive Health (RH) Bill. And, by ardent, I mean "wait...you were serious?"

As the country is starting to feel the effects of typhoon Pablo, (some) opponents of the RH Bill have revived their wistful theory: the meteorological phenomenon is actually "God's" response to the RH Bill being so dangerously close to passing, or at least being brought into a vote.

The reason I put it in quotes is because, quite frankly, there are some obvious problems and questions if we are to proceed from this premise.

(1) A god who is into micromanaging strikes me as silly, to say the least. Shouldn't he at least have some lower-level demigods to do the nitty-gritty?

(2) Why doesn't this god just wipe out the people who support the bill? The unsaid assumption is that this god is so powerful so as to conjure up weather disturbances when something displeases him - why not strike directly at the humans who dared to "defy" him? Bakit nagpapaligoy pa? Could it be...that this god is also Filipino, and cannot say and do things directly, being saddled with the cultural value called hiya?

(3) If you have to destroy vast areas of land, uproot various living beings from where they are, and cause countless deaths just to make a point, doesn't that reek of inefficiency? Granted, the drama factor is high - and this being the place where telenovelas make a killing, both in advertising earnings and the national IQ, it seems apt to use the "showtime" card. But from a business point of view, there are better, smarter ways of solving the problem.

(4) This country, by virtue of its location, is lovingly visited by about twenty typhoons, each year, every year, without fail. All one needs to do is research for historical records for proof of this annual occurence. This year, the RH Bill gained some kind of "movement" in Congress in August - when this "God is angry, here's a typhoon" theory was circulating in social media - and, just this December, when the President made it known that he wanted a vote on the matter. That's 2 out of 20 typhoons. Question: in the 18 other times a typhoon hit the country, when the RH Bill was not "moving", which implies that the anti-RH side was getting their way, why did this same god still send these typhoons?...Anyone?

(5) If this god deems this issue of great import, why does he have funny looking and speaking representatives broadcasting his "wishes"? You would think that credibility would be of paramount consideration here.

(6) The typhoon is expected to move out of the country by the end of this week, plauging other places as it goes on (its expected, natural course). Question: bakit nadamay ang mga ibang bansa sa RH Bill natin? Ang labo naman.

(7) Why do we bother investing in weather forecasting equipment? If this theory is true, then we know all we need to know to have eternal sunshine-filled weather.

(8) Speaking of other countries, an oft-repeated statement circulating is that we are the only country in the world without a nationally encompassing reproductive health legislation in the world. If this is true, how come there are places in the world that never see typhoons?

(9) Abortion, modern contraception, divorce: all three are legal in Italy. In totally unrelated news, it's also where Vatican City is located.

(10) If you think I'm acting irreverent and petty, you're mistaking your own projection of your god as something of my own doing. Frankly, I'd be insulted to be portrayed and thought of as a god who got overtly and overly concerned with trivialities.

Get a mirror, get a grip and get a life.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Let's Celebrate Our Choices

Enter freely and willingly.
(Courtesy of weddingtv.com)

A recent post in Facebook got me to thinking about life choices.

In a "status update" of  a page I "liked", the moderator opened the topic of the opposition to same-sex marriage, with the common objection being that "you can't reproduce!" and because the page had an admittedly liberal slant, the reactions of everyone were more or less the same: not having children, whether by circumstance or choice, is not an acceptable reason to deny people marriage.

I am sure that those with a conservative bent have the completely opposite view: isn't that the reason why the DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) was instituted? That the reason why marriage is supposed to be "only" between a man and a woman is because the supposed end goal of the union is to produce offspring.

The subject of children is a particularly touchy one in a country like ours, where we see ourselves as pro-family, pro-child and matriarchal. Our entire culture is such that when young adults reach a certain age - if you've managed to escape having a teenage pregnancy - everything around us seems to conspire and pressure one message: hindi ka na bata, magpakasal ka na para magkaroon ka na ng anak. (You're not getting any younger, get hitched and make babies already!)

We have conflated and confused the terms marriage and parenthood.

The uncomfortable truth is, one can exist without the other. A marriage does not have to produce children. And you do not have to be married in order to bask and cringe, simultaneously, at the experience of parenthood.

I've always held marriage to be a legal contract, probably in opposition to what most people "dream" of it to be. An understanding to cohabit, make a home, be with each other, for purposes of getting legal benefits and protections. Which gives rise to yet another uncomfortable truth.

Having children is optional.

I've heard the arguments that try to shame this state in marriages: "you're afraid of responsibility"; "who will take care of you when you grow old?"; "how can you be so selfish?" and the proverbial mainstay, "do not go against the natural order, what God wants!"

After years of hearing these kinds of "arguments", it might be helpful for the next person to ever bring them up to remember that:

(1) I am responsible for my life, you for yours.
(2) We should take care of ourselves, period.
(3) Having children when you don't want them is selfish, just to satisfy some cultural expectation, or to have a "caretaker" is the real selfish thing.
(4) Your religion is your choice. Mind your own beeswax.

We certainly have a propensity to makialam. (get into someone's business) That goes for both the personal (parents asking when the baby is due) or the political (religious leaders telling our President what to do). If we are truly supposed to make our own choices in our own lives, then it is time that we draw a line in the sand, cut the umbilical cord, however that is manifested, and stand by our own decisions.

No one said that independence was easy. But it is worth it.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Schmalent

What talent?
(Courtesy of entertainment4media.com)

Mediocrity.

That, in summary, is what is shown on our noontime variety shows daily.

That, in its distilled, purest form, is what we have for "entertainment". I find it offensive, on behalf of real artists and performers everywhere, to see these abominable acts parade and present themselves as something worthy of emulation.

Let's get one thing clear, though: Almost all of these "performers" riding the noontime circuit (and even the early evening variety) are of the physically superior variety. They have alabaster, smooth skin, long black "silky" hair (as most shampoo commercials tout this word to be the pinnacle of hair perfection), a body that can balance coins while in an upright position; on the men, incredibly bulging pecs that would make women have breast envy, an ability to landi (flirt) every other woman, man and inanimate object if need be, and embracing their new position as today's "sexual objects", thinking that it enhances their macho image.

In fact, that is the only card they have.

Who cares if they can't sing, or reach notes so convoluted that it sends cute little bunnies into homicidal tendencies?

Who cares if their version of "acting" is an endless homage to Kristen Stewart, she who is routinely ridiculed as having one expression regardless of what the scene requires her to portray, and is seen as the ultimate master of the term "poker face"?

Who cares if they think dancing is a "cute" way to "move", and resort to motions that should never be seen on individuals past 4 years old, or are so spatially challenged that they would make Stephen Hawking look like a serious contender for this season's So You Think You Can Dance? (one of the few reality shows that values talent over looks)

What these shows demand is that you strip, and you better have excellent bone structure to go along with it. And if it came into a showdown between body and looks, it's no problem if your looks betray your simian heritage, as long as your body can make gods weep.

Talent, schmalent.

People who can actually sing, act or dance are given the boot, or aren't even allowed in the front door so the boot can be administered, all because a "hot thing" professes a desire to cut a record deal or gyrate lasciviously "but innocently".

Why the hell do you think reality shows are all about following you around, 24 hours a day, even in the shower or in your nighties? What matters is how your body, then face, appears from all angles of the ever-present camera.

What we have become is a culture that celebrates genetic fortuitousness.

There is no longer any initiative, no impetus to find real talent, and to nurture the talent itself as well as the work ethic to make that talent come into its full potential.

In place, we have "talent shows" that determine the winner based on "text voting", a way for companies to earn money while determining mass appeal, at the audience's expense.

We certainly get what we pay for.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Lazy Parenting 101

No time to explain, okay?
(Courtesy of moms.today.com)

Having had to work on a Sunday, I decided to have coffee at the mall's Food Court before logging in for work. I got to the area smack in the middle of lunch time, and given the particular day of the week, it was filled with families doing their weekly ritual of having a meal, most probably after attending some form of church service.

I should probably qualify that as traditional families, which can be explained by what happened next.

Given the space limitations, I decided to bring myself (and my caffeine fix) to one of the "stool" areas, designed with "singles" in mind, meaning if you were all alone going to the food court: high table, high chairs, arranged loosely. From a management point of view, it was desirable to have this set up, rather than having one person occupy a "regular" table that could seat 4 or 6 people.

There I was, happily buzzed with my coffee, along with many other "singles", when we all heard a boy of about 8 years old asking his mom "why are they all alone?" and obviously referring to us on the high chairs.

The mom, probably not past 40, took a quick glance, and told him "that's because they have no families, and are probably single...kain na, Nico. You still have lumpia on your plate."

Nico remained fixated on us, probably feeling pity as to why we would have "no families".

I rationalized the mom's answer as the easy way out. It's probably easier than explaining to her son some facts of life, many of which I refuse to consider as "modern", because they have existed long before I was born, and are probably just being discussed more openly now.

(1) Some people are single, by choice. It's not easy to live that out, especially in a culture as family-oriented as ours, where everyone is expected to settle down, have kids, and be a picture perfect representation of the ideal pamilyang Pilipino.

(2) Some people have to work on weekends. Not everyone has a nine to five job.

(3) Some people do not feel the need to follow the "Sunday ritual", especially if it is one put on for show, when the rest of the week, everyone in that family acts crappily towards each other. Or if a family isn't particularly religious, then Sunday would just be another day. Period.

(4) Some people prefer to rest - and I mean nakatihaya all day - on the weekends, and if someone from the same family didn't feel the same way, then they could just go out and go to a movie, eat out, or see friends on their own. Shocking, yes, but people can actually decide freely what to do on their spare time without feeling like they have "betrayed" their own flesh and blood.

(5) Some people have a different family structure - e.g. non-traditional, both in form and substance. It may be three siblings, living apart, because both parents have passed away. Some people have friends and friendships, non blood relations, that would put those affiliated by marriage to shame by their devotion and affection to each other. Some people have a husband or wife, but without legal recognition of being declared as one.

I feel bad for Nico, who may grow up thinking there's only one way to be and have a family.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

In Daddy And Mommy's Name

I'll tell! Momeeeeee!
(Courtesy of abovethelaw.com)

Passing by Landmark Department Store the other day on the way to work, I decided to buy some supplies from their grocery, and had a deja vu of an acquaintance who had a "scene" right where I was.

Apparently, his mom had been a loyal customer of Landmark, so much so that she had some kind of credit account with the grocery, that she would be able to purchase items, and not pay a single cent at the checkout counter because the bill would be sent to their house (just like a credit card statement).

My acquaintance, the son, found himself having to shop there one day (at almost 40, still living with his mom, which explains why he had to do her bidding and had no choice in the matter). He forgot his mom's grocery card, so when he went to the counter, he relayed to the counter girl that his mom had a standing account and that he didn't bring the card, expecting fully that he could leave the store without paying a cent.

The employee, thinking only of job security, did not accept that explanation and required that he show his identification as well as that of his mom, in order to corroborate his claim of being the son and so she could check the so-called arrangement his mom had with the store.

"Excuse me! Don't you know who my mom is?!? Na-bale wala lang ang years of loyalty namin dito! How dare you treat me this way! Nasaan ang manager?!? Tawagin mo! I've never been treated this disrespectfully, ever!!!"

I was stunned (to say the least) while this acquaintance was relaying his story, for the following reasons:

(1) The cashier didn't know him from Juan dela Cruz.
(2) The cashier probably didn't know his mother, by the same reasoning.
(3) He was just a "regular" customer, as far as she was concerned.
(4) She subjected him to the same protocol as she would any other customer.

And even if all these reasons were rendered null, the biggest reason in my mind was:

(5) You are not your mom. Why are you expecting to be treated as if you were her?

Of course, I never voiced this out - why should I, when I can transform it into another post?

It's the misplaced sense of entitlement, by some osmosis, or principle of transference, that grates on my nerves. So just because your mom was a "loyal shopper", it follows that you are? And you be accorded the same "treatment"? Whatever happened to being your own person? Have you no identity apart from your mother?

It then dawned on me that this is exactly how our political dynasties come to be: the same misplaced sense of entitlement. My dad was a congressman, therefore, I should be voted as one as well, after his term expires! How dare you question my qualifications?!?...(altogether now) Don't you know who my dad is?!?

I used to think that the supermarket incident was isolated. Not anymore. And like that acquaintance, it seems to be an affliction of those who belong to the upper economic class. Or those who wield political power.

Until today, I have yet to hear anyone outside those "classes" bellowing "Don't you know who my father is?!?"

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Nakiki-join

Scanning my Facebook Wall, I am seeing tons of posts about Thanksgiving, which is not at all surprising, since it is that time of the year, for the USA. Can I repeat that, for the USA.

Count us in?
(Courtesy of enchantedlearning.com)

Which is why I was stunned to pass by a local restaurant that was celebrating the patently American holiday. I'm also receiving many offers online and through my email that American style turkey is being sold, available in time for the "holidays".

I had to check to see if I was still in the Philippines. I don't get it: why the need to ingratiate ourselves into a holiday for the USA?

I know, I know. There's nothing wrong with being thankful. Heck, I'm thankful everyday, for so many things, I can't even begin listing them all here lest I bore you into a comatose position. But it's the fact that those who do it here time it exactly when America celebrates it. So, obviously, there is this attempt to include ourselves in their holiday.

Do most Filipinos even know the term 'Plymouth'? More importantly, do we care? Or is this just another attempt by marketers to squeeze every last inch of holiday moolah from consumers, whether or not we know what it is we're celebrating?

See, our grasp on our "national identity" is tenuous, at best. We've all learned from our Social Studies classes how many times we've been colonized, to the point that we always seem to be the odd man out in Asia, so different from our neighbors. Long after all our colonizers have left, here we are, pining to place roasted turkey on our table, come November, when a majority of us would never know a Pilgrim if one passed right by us.

And before you start commenting, "there he goes again, yammering on about something insignificant, something most people won't care about" I know one sector that will rejoice at the point of this post, proving that they have made the right decision, they are doing the right thing, in a country with a psyche and predisposition like ours:

Manufacturers of skin whitening products.

Monday, November 19, 2012

To Delay And Decay

That, in a nutshell, is what some legislators wish for the Reproductive Health Bill.

Not so incidentally, the title of my post is what some netizens are calling Senators Enrile and Sotto, two of the most powerful men in the Senate (Senate President and Majority Floor Leader), who see eye to eye as far as the bill is concerned.

Round and round and round...
(Courtesy of njuice.com)

It may be time to impress upon these two men, as well as all our legislators, that we have had enough. And by we, I mean both sides of the RH debate, colloquially called the Pros and the Antis. One look at any online forum with the RH Bill as the topic will betray a singular fact, one perpetuated by the inaction of Congress, which is in a similar position: We have been going around in circles.

The Pros have repeated the same defense: it is a reproductive health issue, a free choice with no coercion, it respects the individual's right to choose according to their religion, it is a universal human right, you can choose to plan your family the modern or natural way, we do not have unlimited resources, the various rates concerning maternal and infant mortality would give anyone pause, female empowerment in a culture like ours, it will not prevent women with no financial resources to make the same choices as those who "can afford", and so on.

The Antis have repeated the same defense: it is an affront to life, artificial contraception is tantamount to abortion, it is coercive, it will force families to have fewer children, it is against religious rights, it is disrespectful to (the Catholic) faith, it negates the importance of what the (Catholic) religious leaders say and demand of its followers, there is no such thing as overpopulation, it is a conspiracy from well funded foreign lobby groups to make us their slaves, and so on.

Paulit ulit nalang.

Yun at yun nalang.

Lumampas na tayo sa isang dekada sa kakahimay ng isyu na to.

Many of us, when the debate started, were still in elementary, or high school. Today, at the twilight of the year 2012, my contemporaries are juggling the demands of making ends meet, whether to have both parents working, while trying to send their child or children to the best schools they possibly can.

We have already moved on to the next generation, a generation that is already approaching their 20's (I was so thrown when one of my best friends told me that her son is off to take a scholarship grant for his master's degree, and I froze on the spot thinking, Gaaaaad, I'm OLD).

We have wasted so much time debating endlessly, that while we were all bickering, the next generation is already here, and some of them have unplanned pregnancies to deal with already.

It is time to put this matter to some form of conclusion, at the very least.

Whether you are for or against the measure, vote on it already. The time that we have consumed with so much non-productivity with this issue is such that Enrile is now fielding his son for the next senatorial elections. Do we even need clearer proof of how much time has passed by, with there being no end in sight?

Akala ko ba paglilingkod sa bayan ang ginagawa niyo sa Kongreso?

Only you, members of Congress, will have the force of law to place a finite point on it.

Yes, it will have repercussions to your political mortality, that is definitely true. So even if expediency and longevity are the only words you subscribe to when you hear the term "public service", it is in your best interest - the selfish variety - to vote on the measure. Recognize that I am not appealing to any lofty concept like the common good, public interest, welfare of women and children, doing the right thing.

Having lived this long, I know these are not the terms that you will respond to as legislators.

But I am certain that once your future in your current position will be compromised, we will have your undivided attention.

This is not a threat, but a wake up call to reality. We will vote based on your action or inaction on this much debated measure.

Vote on the RH Bill. It does not matter which side of the matter you have aligned yourself with, but for goodness' sake, MAKE A STAND. For or Against. No more games, delays, legalistic maneuvers or subterfuge.

VOTE ON THE RH BILL.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Not My Slice Of Pie(ty)

There seems to be a growing trend for keeping your tongue in check (especially if you plan to say something tongue in cheek), in being more circumspect about comments, and in holding back.

Easy peasy? Not quite.
(Courtesy of customsense.com)

I'm not buying it.

A particular episode in Sex and the City tackles this briefly, in an exchange between the lead character Carrie and her (gay) friend Stanford. The subject of judging others comes up, and Carrie is incredulous when Stanford points out the times that she was caught doing it.

"Judge? Judge? Do I judge?"

"Yes, we judge. Some people do arts and crafts, we judge."

The local version which I hear quite often is the line "sobra naman to, napaka-judgemental". The funny thing is, that in itself is a form of judgement, of trying to say "you're just as dirty as the rest of us".

Look, we all judge. It may be ingrained in our DNA, it may be something we have processed as a matter of evolving, as some kind of "warning system", because our very mortality depended on making a correct assessment. On top of that, it's practically impossible to stop doing it.

How many times have we dismissed someone we were just introduced to, simply because they didn't dress to your standard? Why would the beauty and cosmetics industry be worth billions if image is something to be considered as "fluff"? Granted, these can be argued as "shallow" reasons, but a study done by two people I know personally - which won them the best thesis in UP, beating graduate level research - ties this "judging" with work opportunities: given more or less the same credentials, the candidate perceived to be more attractive would be the overwhelming choice for the job.

What baffles me, however, is when it is the pious elements of our society (which almost always happen to be of some religious sect) that will stoop to the "that's so judgemental" defense...I mean, really? Seriously?

Why should they act so surprised when "everyone else" starts to chime in when these characters start their fall from (pious) grace?

Who was it that paraded their piety credentials, waving it like some badge of pride?

Who was it who said, implied or announced, to one and all, what a virtuous life they led?

Who was it who continued judging everyone else as "dirty", "sinful", "immoral", "unclean" and other words deemed unprintable, giving the impression that they alone had the matter of ethical conduct concluded, with a deity listening to their every word?

If you can afford to rub in our faces how "proper" and "moral" you are even when no one was asking or needed to know, then you should be able to take it whenever you are caught with your hand in the cookie jar, or literally having your belt around your ankles.

So stop the faux gasp, the horrified expression when someone "judges", it seems to me as human an activity as one can do. Stop acting like a reality television star, begging for attention, but when the sh*t hits the fan, expect everyone to turn away and mind their own business.

You gave up that luxury the moment you tried to force your version of morality down everyone's throats, which, similarly, is another form of judgement, of saying that everyone would be lost without your supposed guidance.

So I think Stanford's statement should be tweaked: Some people do arts and crafts, but everyone judges.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Planning For A Planner

Slurp.
(Courtesy of geog.queensu.ca)

Yes, it is that time of the year: when people of a certain economic class (or want to be perceived as being a member of it) start ordering drinks from their favorite coffee house, all in pursuit of a daily planner.

Truth be told, I tried it once (and was actually successful in obtaining one using the drink-64-orders method), and my lame-ass excuse was because while I did not smoke, my work colleague who I was constantly with did and because we both love coffee and he had to smoke, we would hang out at Starbucks which would satisfy everyone, and get a free planner, to boot.

I really shouldn't be saying "free" because (1) not even water is free and (2) have you sat down and tried to compute what it would actually cost to get the "free" planner? (The miser in me never looked back once I did the math.)

A disclaimer, first: I am not an enemy of capitalism. I think this is a shining example of creating a need where none existed before, it taps into a human need, both for tradition and inclusion, and it is most certainly legal while earning big revenues for the coffee companies.

My biggest disclaimer has to do with economic status: if you can afford it, then by good golly, go right ahead. Do not apologize for your financial success or capability (though this shouldn't apply to those who just "inherited" their money), splurge on it, the same way I don't mind people placing odd sounding chemicals on their faces or getting "cut up" in an attempt to look younger. It's your life, your body.

But the stingy part of me always raises the alarm, especially for those who are "wannabes": do you need to pay thousands of pesos for a planner, and gaining truckloads of calories in the process? (Not to mention sleepless nights with that much caffeine running in your bloodstream)

I'm talking about the people who need to go to Starbucks and other similar coffee houses because it's cool to be seen in these places, as far as perception goes.

If the defense is "bakit? masama ba mangarap?" then the answer is an unequivocal "no". Everyone is trucking along hoping to get a better future, and if you've somehow managed to do so, tastes do change. But not if you're not there yet. I know someone personally who tries to keep up with her amigas by shelling out hundreds of pesos on a drink and some desserts but actually has a problem with the amortization of her home, and needing to utang just to get a ride home.

It's people like her that seem so easily lured into the "planner mentality": I have to get it to maintain my (illusory) social status.

It's been my observation (unscientific, but there it is) that we seem to be obsessed with appearances, and not substance. As long as the guests are well-fed, who cares if we blow out the monthly budget.

We have actors and singers who can't act nor sing, but because they have washboard abs that can grate cheese or breasts that would make watermelons blush, they get the contract.

No one should know that we are in debt, so we have to keep making extravagant renovations on our house, which can be taken away any time now.

There is a preoccupation with seeming, instead of being.

Of seeming well off, instead of being financially secure.

Of seeming glamorous, instead of being happy.

Of seeming to prefer aspiration, instead of being authentic.

There is, of course, that cultural value of hiya, or shame, one we share with our other Asian neighbors. The loss of face, the gossips that might result, the judgmental stares - something that social scientists have recorded and dissected. And while it can sometimes be useful as a pseudo-warning device for propriety, I can't help but wish that there more substantial, more meaningful things to be ashamed for, and of.

Besides, where a planner is from is nowhere as important as what's inside it.

So, maybe it would be a nice question to ask, once you get the snazzy looking date book:

What, now?


Thursday, November 15, 2012

It Will Always Be Fashionable

The recent events of the past few months surrounding the "main players" around the Reproductive Health Bill - which is currently congregating around the letter of someone bearing the name of America's version of royalty to one of our own legislators - have made one thing patently clear.

Always hip.
(Courtesy of gq-magazine.co.uk)

Some things will never go out of style.

Honesty. The ability to say, bask in and propagate the truth.

Integrity. Being able to live with yourself, to sleep soundly at night, knowing that while life demands you compromise some things, you do not compromise what makes you you.

Giving credit where it's due. It's fun to watch reality show stars sulot everything in sight, and this happens rather often in the competitive workplace (meaning in every job imaginable), but it's never the right thing to do. It's alright to feel envious that someone beat you to it - it should be your cue to do something better or different, but not to steal it and pass it off as yours. It goes back to honesty.

Age does not necessarily mean wisdom. It may just mean you've had a lot of experience - of twisting the law to your own ends, mastering the art of delaying legislation by claiming "I'm not ready pa, huwag niyo ako madaliin", elevating the obnoxiously disgusting into a dubious art. It also means that sometimes, the wisest or best things and ideas may come from those who are termed "fresh blood" derogatorily, as if it was the worst thing to be labeled as.

Morality cannot be separated from the person. Even though they claim to stand for an organization, a group - or a religion. This is something I have given some thought to, this propensity of these so-called "leaders of the flock" to resort to cheating, outright lying, threats, deception, the list goes on. My only conclusion is they were that way long before they were peddling the idea that they were some sort of "moral arbiter" representing the so-called values that we "should" all abide by.

Tolerance and acceptance. Even though someone may have a different view than yours - in politics, religion, social graces or anything else. We should move past "tolerating", which translates rather nicely into tinitiis in the vernacular, clearly not conveying a positive state, more like a punishment to be endured. While the opposite term, translated as pagtanggap, implies an opening up of oneself and bringing the other into the fold.

It's time for all of us to be stylish, with concepts that will never grow old.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Congress Has New Jobs, Philippines!

Calling all plagiarists, copycats and like-minded citizens: Good News!

Yes, you are wanted.
(Courtesy of www.careersearchtoday.com)

There is now a haven for members of the populace incapable of thinking for themselves!

If you spent your time in school resorting to cheating off a seatmate's paper, poring over term papers a decade ago to pass off as your own "research", mumbling your way through during recitation and when asked to enunciate better, end up saying "what she said", you may just be what Congress is looking for!

A place where copying is not only seen as "not illegal", it is encouraged and even defended!

This is especially victorious "bragging rights" news to those of you who were shamed, ridiculed, pinagsabihan ng titser, or even expelled by your teachers for deigning to take someone else's work and passing it off as your own, in order to pass a subject or course!

Nek nek niyo, mali kayong lahat!

As we all should be aware of by now, our lawmakers actually celebrate copying!

(http://www.rappler.com/video/16070-sotto-copying-highest-form-of-flattery)

Remember, our own Senate President has stated that legislators have immunity and "cannot be questioned".

(http://www.rappler.com/nation/15980-sotto-on-apology-call-huh,-for-what)

Happy day for all job seekers! If you have the qualifications, do send in your resume, show up at Congress, and chances are, you will leave with a job in the bag! It's your chance to give the _________ finger at all those goody-two shoes who made your life unbearable, berating you with concepts like "dishonesty" and "taking credit", as well as trying to impose funny sounding phrases like "unquestionable integrity" or "taking pride in your own words and work".

They can all suck it.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Ten Commandments For Plagiarists

I'd like to take an ethics class under him.
(Courtesy of facebook.com)

1. Laugh. Portray the accusation as a vendetta, poo-pooh it by saying things like "they're just jealous of me". Make it seem insignificant, the way diarrhea can be.

2. Act imperious, and do it with conviction, as if you are coming from a place of moral certainty: remember, you're only acting.

3. Utilize the Bart Simpson defense/tactic: No one saw me do it, you can't prove it, you can't be blamed. In short, channel your inner belligerent kid. Unless you are the belligerent kid, in which case you only have to be more of yourself.

4. Denial should be part of your DNA, a mantra to be applied daily. Like moisturizer.

5. Have a lackey who you can blame: "tinext lang naman sa akin eh!" or "blame my staff!" are popular catch-all lines that absolve you of any responsibility.

6. Portray all internet users as no-good, shiftless and aimless morons, who, surprisingly, are adept at fact checking (insert audible gasp here) and for calling out your BS, but despite this, find time to make you the center of their world.

7. Push for legislation that will punish people for saying what's on their mind. So, freedom of speech will be impaired. A basic democratic tenet will be rendered useless. It will gag people, most especially the truth-tellers. WHO CARES. As long as they all shut up, which is what you wanted, everyone can suck it, right?

8. Remember, if you translate something, it becomes original. Better if you translate it from English to Tagalog. It will soon be a college degree: B.S. And no, not Bachelor of Science. The other meaning of B.S.

9. Petition for all schools to remove plagiarism as an academic offense: why should anyone demand students to have integrity in their work? What conceivable purpose does "giving someone proper credit" do? Will you be rewarded for being "honest"? Kailangan ba lahat orig? As long as something isn't declared "illegal", game lang yan!

10. Run for any legislative post. You decide what passes for legal, you have "parliamentary immunity", you can make bombastic speeches all day long uninterrupted - who cares if they are devoid of any thought, original or otherwise - and most importantly, you are called "honorable".

Sweet deal, huh?

Monday, November 12, 2012

Don't Force Your Niqab On Us, CBCP

It's supposed to be a personal choice.
(Courtesy of onislam.net)

Did you hear about the woman in Egypt who was assaulted and whose hair was forcibly cut?

On Sunday, a Christian woman had her hairstyle forcibly changed by two women in Egypt (who happened to be wearing niqabs), in an apparent attempt to instill the notion that ALL Egyptian women should be wearing the niqab when in public.

(See http://www.egyptindependent.com/news/women-assault-cut-hair-christian-woman-metro for more details.)

The niqab is the veil or face covering that Islam requires of its' female members to wear in certain instances. (Not to be confused with the burka.)

The Christian woman was called an "infidel", and was pushed off the train (they were in the metro/train station) which broke her arm.

It brought to my mind what the CBCP is doing in our own country.

Specifically, with the RH Bill.

You see, the niqab wearing women confused their religious choice as being the standard to follow for all of Egypt - it has been established that the woman they assaulted was a Christian, but that didn't matter one whit to them: all they can think of was, if you are a woman in Egypt, you should wear a niqab.

Similarly, our bishops are confusing the entire Philippines as being Catholic.

They don't seem to care that under our form of government, a democracy that is secular in nature, anyone is free to choose their religion. It means you can choose to be a Catholic. It also means you can choose to be a non-Catholic, however that fact is manifested (one chooses another religion or no religion at all).

Once these facts are clearly established, it becomes incomprehensible why the CBCP is so adamant in insisting that their view on the RH Bill - particularly as to which forms of contraception they deem "acceptable" and "moral" - is the only "way to go".

I think it's because they have gotten away with it for so long, this "unchallenged" position that they have occupied in this country as the religious majority.

They don't care that this country has a sizable religious minority. They make threats - both veiled and obvious - to our lawmakers regarding their political mortality if they will approve of the RH Bill. The lawmakers who are against the bill have reasons like "it is against our faith", clearly a statement of intolerance, one that presumes and assumes that we have a uniform faith and a singular religion.

Being the religious majority does not give you the right to run roughshod over everyone else, the way these two Islamic women in Egypt broke the arm of the Christian woman.

Being the religious majority does not give you the right to assault our beliefs or non-belief as "immoral", the way these two Islamic women in Egypt thought of the Christian woman for not wearing a niqab..

Being the religious majority does not give you the right to change the laws in this land to suit your taste, the way these two Islamic women in Egypt tried to change the Christian woman's hairstyle.

Don't force your niqab on us.