Nuffnang ad

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"World Peace" According To Miriam

As a country obsessed with beauty pageants, I have little doubt that most Filipinos know the stock answer of every beauty pageant contestant, should a "difficult" question come up during their Q and A portion, oftentimes the deal breaker, determining who gets to be coronated as the winner in the said contest.

"World Peace."

I have made my feelings patently clear about these sorts of pageants, in my previous posts - anyone who uses physical attributes to replace the concept of their own self worth must not have a very substantial emotional or mental life - and while the issue of "allowing" transgenders in the Miss Universe contest is all the "rage" these days, I paid nominal attention to it as beauty contests are as relevant to my life as Mikey Arroyo claiming to be the representative of tricycle drivers and security guards.

Getting home late last night, I come in to find Arthur watching Tonight with Arnold Clavio, and the show's topic: Transgenders and beauty pageants.

I internally started rolling my eyes, but then he said: "I don't like what she (Miss Universe 1st runner up Miriam Quiambao) is saying and how she's saying it. It reeks of condescension."

To those who argue that beauty contests are "substantial", I rest my case.
(Courtesy of

Which immediately laid my eye-rolling to rest: A fortunate receipient of the adulation of this country's obsession with physical appearances finds something to be condescending about?

The guests that night were Quiambao and STRAP (Society of Transsexual Women of the Philippines) Chairperson Naomi Fontanos.

As I am watching the show almost near its end, I really only have the segment I viewed to comment on, so the context will be based purely on that. (I am giving no weight to either participants' statements before the part I did catch.)

Fontanos talks about how she knows she was born with male organs, but that she has always felt a woman on the inside. And when Clavio cheekily asks whose "fault" it was for her predicament (of feeling like a woman despite being born a man organ wise), she responds humorously "yung doktor".

Later, Miriam takes the hand of Naomi, and starts off her "We Are The World" monologue: how she understands where Naomi is coming from, how in Naomi's mind these feelings are perfectly valid, and then she begins to veer away from it by saying that there are only two classifications of human beings: man and woman, and that her "beliefs" validate this view. (She's not saying the word "religion" although it is clear this is what she meant, and she will reveal this later.)

Fontanos responds by saying that she also respects Quiambao's view, and is hoping that Quiambao will return the same respect when she states how she feels internally. In short, she - paradoxically - is the better representative to espouse that oft-quoted "World Peace" line, where she advocates allowing people to have their own belief systems and not to let one's personal beliefs dictate how and what others should do in their own lives.

Alas, Miriam does not take this sitting down - I imagine the dialogue in her head to be something along the lines of "How dare this transgender talk to me, and lecture me about acceptance and tolerance! I, an almost-Miss Universe winner in 1999, who recently posed for the cover of Playboy, who knows and was trained how to verbalize World Peace in more than one way, being schooled about the "World Peace" concept!"

She does the next "logical" thing: she invokes her God.

"Pero, hindi naman yan katotohanan ko, katotohanan yan ng Diyos." (But it is not my truth, it is the truth of God.)

And as we all "know", once a person invokes "God", you supposedly cannot make any more rebuttals or criticisms, as that would be akin to "attacking" a person's religion.

I'd laugh harder at this kind of "reasoning", if only the consequences weren't so dire for us who have to live with this level of intolerance whilst those who claim "religious freedom" as their cornerstone for sprouting hateful missives adopt some illusory mantle of moral superiority and continue - pun intended - lording it over everyone else they deem inferior by the mere fact that others choose not to believe in the same god they do.

Hey, Miriam, religion is a choice. Get over yourself. Get off your soapbox.

I will not delve into the pros and cons of "allowing" transgenders into superficial pursuits. Even Naomi admits that beauty pageants are shallow and demean women. That pro-and-con list has been dissected over and over and most everyone has give their 5 (Philippines) pesos worth of opinions on.

You may have your own religious beliefs, Miriam, that is guaranteed under our Constitution, and under the laws of any democratic country. It is the very reason why - sorry, CBCP (Catholic Bishops's Conference of the Philippines) - there is no "state religion" in any democracy, as it infringes on an individual's right to choose what belief systems would be most compatible with their particular, individual lives.

In the same breath, you do not have the right to impose your own beliefs onto someone else, and force them to conform to something you have elected to subscribe to as a matter of personal faith. You may think Naomi is "lower" than you, that she is "not a real woman", and I'm sure your religion says much more delightful things about her, more than I can think of if I had to spend a whole day thinking of demeaning things to say under the imprimatur of "religious righteousness".

You're not an actress, Miriam, so don't bother trying to pass this off as a "misunderstanding" of your stance. The fact that you can smile while sprouting off such intolerant statements makes me cringe, but then again, we've had our local CBCP, Falwell, Santorum, Palin, Bush and many other religious zealots giving us practice on this very act: having an innocent, plastered grin while telling those who don't believe "in the same way as I do" that they will be put to death "in the next life".

One of the "heavy" arguments mentioned to me against allowing transgenders to join beauty pageants is that a popular question of this circuit is "what is the essence of a woman?", and the most deemed "correct" response is "to be a mother", and since transgenders are biologically unable to do so, then they should be barred from the contest.

So barren and reproductively challenged women are not "real women" as well?

And a woman who clings to her "religious beliefs", the ones that tell her that sex outside of marriage or artificial insemination are "sins", who do not have children given their particular situations, they are also "not real women"?

Should Miriam herself be declared "not a real woman" since, you know, she hasn't given birth? (Strangely, as Jessica Zafra pointed out in her recent piece, beauty pageant winners are stripped of their titles if they become pregnant during their "reign". Talk about mixed messages.)

And if you're going to be all huffy about being "right with God", you better make sure you've never signed divorce papers, effectively having your marriage "torn asunder".

Was this approved by your religion, too?
(Courtesy of

Hey, if you can dish it, you should be able to take it. And the fact that you can't even uphold your own religious guidelines (I don't think getting a divorce and appearing on the cover of a "men's magazine" qualify you for your religion's Best Representative position..unless there are loopholes, yet again?), that's just a bonus.

Akala ko pa naman "world peace" ang isinusulong ng mga contests na to. (And here I thought "world peace" was a central thrust of contests like this.)

Just more magnificently applied lipstick-covered lip service.


  1. heavy reading that is!.. but come to think of it.. you've said your piece! point taken! :)

  2. I believe in the Bible and feel that the fundamentals of Christianity are really good. But what happens is when you get into the details, everybody gets mixed up. Some say homosexuality is a sin, others say Jesus never healed a homosexual. And the Old Testament is full of stuff many would object to. So stick to the fundamentals and leave some slack for the details.