I’m not a fan of Nancy Binay but I’m going to have to take issue with this.
First of all, this is a sorry excuse for political satire. Is this supposed to be our equivalent of The Onion or The Daily Show? Because this witless, poorly written drivel is inexcusable, especially considering the wealth of comedic material that Philippine politics has to offer.
Second, that the piece was presented as a fake TIME Magazine feature suggests that we should be ashamed of international ridicule. What is with our constant need for international acknowledgement/validation? Being taken seriously by other countries is least among the reasons to uplift ourselves.
Third, Nancy was avoiding substantial issues but she wasn’t the one steering the discussion towards her skin color. We have our ignorant, racist countrymen to thank for that. Our national obsession with skin lightening and our screwed-up standards of beauty have no place in a discussion of Nancy Binay’s worthiness as a senator. If the worst thing you can say about Nancy Binay is that she’s dark and ugly, you’re not even trying. You’re equally to blame for the extremely low level of public discourse.
“You may not agree with a woman, but to criticize her appearance — as opposed to her ideas or actions — isn’t doing anyone any favors, least of all you. Insulting a woman’s looks when they have nothing to do with the issue at hand implies a lack of comprehension on your part, an inability to engage in high-level thinking. You may think she’s ugly, but everyone else thinks you’re an idiot.” – Jezebel
Fourth, this “20-Year OJT” business. People seem to think being an assistant is, in and of itself, lowly and shameful. It isn’t.
While Nancy Binay’s work experience isn’t enough to make her qualified as a senator, I don’t think it’s necessarily something to sneer at. In theory, the 20 years she spent as assistant to the mayor of Makati could have resulted in many achievements. Assistants to powerful people can be powerful themselves. (Take for example Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s aide of 17 years, who is regarded as one of the rising stars of American politics and whom Ms. Clinton refers to as her “secret weapon.”) If, in those 20 years, Nancy’s work was integral to the success of the mayor, if she wielded great influence in city hall such that initiatives in Makati would not have flourished if not for her, if she had personally taken charge of specific programs that had benefited the city, those would be qualifications she could boast about.
It’s valid to criticize her for not having accomplished anything, but I don’t think it’s valid to simply dismiss her position as a “20 year OJT.” I can compose a long laundry list of people with fancy titles (Chairman of the Board, President and CEO, Executive Director, etc.) who have nothing to show for themselves. Your designation is less important than what you’ve actually done.
Fifth, dismissing the people who voted for Nancy Binay as categorically stupid makes you sound a lot less educated than you think you are. If you were truly “enlightened,” you would have a more nuanced appreciation of the social conditions that led to Nancy Binay’s election.
The “masa” whom you regard with so much derision are trying to make the best decisions they can with the limited information and limited capacity they have. They’re not all simply bought or blinded by celebrity status.
I’ve seen comments on Facebook about denying people below a certain income bracket their right to vote or killing all the poor people. Such comments are so appalling that perhaps those who are capable of making them should be denied their right to vote. There are college graduates who can’t reason their way out of a paper bag and there are high school dropouts who can impress you with the depth and clarity of their insights. The quality of one’s vote isn’t necessarily a function of one’s educational attainment or socio-economic class. Don’t turn this into a class war.
Which is not to say that education isn’t a factor, because of course it is. Over 50 percent of those who enter Grade 1 do not finish high school and our educational system promotes rote memorization over the development of higher-order thinking skills. How can we expect sophisticated reasoning from our electorate?
Education is a necessary precondition for a functioning democracy, and by education I’m not only referring to academic learning. Education should also be about learning attitudes and values that enable people to act as responsible citizens. You can can hold multiple degrees and still be a lousy citizen.
Lastly, as you lament the stupidity of the Filipinos and the dire straits our country is in, perhaps you could also reflect upon what you have done to improve the situation.
Social media is a useful tool, but if you’re serious about social change your civic participation can’t begin and end with the click of a button. If you want to make an impact you still need to get involved the old fashioned way (i.e. offline). I think the results of this election prove that the rest of the Philippines couldn’t care less about what’s being said on Facebook.
If you’re not happy about the outcome of this election, there are things you can do to make the next one better. You can join the campaign of a candidate you believe in. You can volunteer with groups who are doing voters’ education programs and working to get more people, particularly the youth, to register and vote. You can organize a townhall meeting in your local community or school. You can join an election watchdog group. And your civic participation needn’t (nor shouldn’t) be limited to election season. There are so many ways you can contribute to worthy causes all year round.
Change is incremental and we can’t expect to see results overnight. We’ll win some, we’ll lose some. But if more ordinary citizens decide to get involved in meaningful ways, we’ll have a fighting chance. Filipinos need to realize that we all must share the burdens and benefits of living together as a people and as a society.
“We do not need another EDSA… for our country to move ahead. EDSA must be everyday. That means everyone understands he has an obligation to serve. That means reform is an every day activity. That means the daily grind is more important than the one-time heroic moment.” — Hon. Jesse M. Robredo
The RH Bill does not legalize abortion. Abortion is a crime under the Penal Code and it will remain so. Read the bill and see for yourself.
Contraceptive pills do not induce abortions. They prevent or delay ovulation. They take effect before conception, not after. If there’s no conception, there’s no abortion.
Pro-life groups argue that contraceptive pills prevent implantation (the fertilized egg’s ability to attach to the uterus) and they equate this with abortion. Both regular contraception and emergency contraception do not prevent implantation.
The pill, when used correctly, is more than 99% effective. Natural family planning methods typically have a 24% failure rate.1 More than half of the Philippines’ 3.4 million pregnancies are unintended and 92% of them occur to women who either use no method or use a traditional method. Unwanted pregnancies result in 560,000 risky illegal abortions a year.2 Providing the pill to women who want it (and only to those who want it, because the RH bill does not force any particular family planning method on anyone) will actually reduce the number of abortions in the country.
Contraceptive pills aren’t used just for preventing pregnancy. The pill is basically hormone therapy and is used to treat a wide variety of medical conditions including seizures, severe dysmenorrhea (which is extremely painful and even forces some women to miss work/school during their monthly periods), endometriosis (which untreated can lead to infertility), and that’s just to name a few. Some pills lower the risk of certain diseases, including a number of cancers. Scientists even say that nuns should be on the pill, because women who never bear children are more likely to develop breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer.
Like any other kind of medication, the pill may have side effects, especially depending on your medical history (pre-existing health conditions, sensitivity to certain medications, etc.) and lifestyle (e.g. smoking while on the pill increases risk of heart attack), which is why you see a doctor before going on the pill and see your doctor regularly. This World Health Organization document on the Medical eligibility criteria for contraceptive use summarizes the risks and benefits of various methods of artificial contraception, including the pill. The RH bill is important because it will empower women and families to make informed decisions on which method is best for them. With the guidance of a competent medical professional and with proper use, artificial contraceptives can have enormous benefits and minimal risks.
The medical risks connected with contraceptives are infinitely lower than the risks of an actual pregnancy and everyday activities. As Rep. Edcel Lagman points out, you’re more likely to die from riding a car than you are to die from taking the pill. The risk of dying within a year of riding a car is 1 in 5,900, while the risk of dying within a year of using pills is 1 in 200,000. The worldwide risk of dying from a pregnancy is 1 in 10,000, but in the Philippines the risk is an alarming 1 in 100.
The CBCP and other pro-life groups have been deliberately spreading misinformation about the content of the RH Bill and the actual effects of contraceptives. (How is lying to protect “morality” moral?) They use dubious sources/outdated data or misinterpret/misrepresent scientific findings to support their claims. (As a friend pointed out, “[This] is like saying seat belts are ineffective since people die from car accidents anyway, yet no one accuses it or any other safety/precautionary tool as existing solely to push a moral-political agenda.”) Between the World Health Organization and the CBCP, the WHO is a much more credible authority on the facts. I’m sure Batman would agree.
1 Ponzetti, J.J. and Hoefler S. “Natural family planning: A review and assessment,” Family and Community Health 1988)
2 Guttmacher Institute and UP Population Institute “Meeting Women’s Contraceptive Needs in the Philippines” 2009
So this poster is making its rounds of the social networks and it’s starting to get on my nerves, especially because the lack of funding for education is a problem that I’m much more invested in than the average Facebook pundit.
First of all, the RH bill is about so much more than condoms. It encompasses a whole range of reproductive health services.
Second, as someone who works in the public education sector, I would like to argue that kulang na nga ang pondo sa edukasyon, and bilis pang dumami ng mga mahihirap na mag-aaral na kailangan suportahan ng pampublikong edukasyon.
Third, You’re worried about the budget? You should also be worried about the rapidly growing number of people who rely heavily on public funds for their basic needs such as education and health. Poor families who have more children than they can properly care for need more publicly provided goods and services (which, by the way, means more taxes for the rest of us). In contrast, parents who have only their desired number of children and are able to practice birth spacing are more likely to bear the cost of raising and educating their kids.
You’re concerned about what an RH law will cost us? Consider the costs of NOT having an RH law: the increased risk of illness and premature deaths for both mothers and children that results from having too many babies and births that are too closely-spaced (162 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births which translates to 15 women dying due to birth complications everyday1 and 23 infant deaths per 1,000 live births2), unwanted pregnancies that result in 560,000 risky illegal abortions a year 3(54 percent of all pregnancies are unintended4 but poor women have more unwanted pregnancies than rich women, on average the poorest women have 2 more children than they actually want while rich women only have 0.4 5), 54 teenage pregnancies per 1,000 girls6 (teen mothers are more likely to drop out of school, less able to provide for their children, and more likely to pass the burden onto the government), plus a whole slew of unintended social costs.
1 Family Health Survey 2011
2 UNICEF, WHO, World Bank, UN DESA, UNPD, Level & Trends in Child Mortality Report 2011
3 Guttmacher Institute and UP Population Institute, “Meeting Women’s Contraceptive Needs in the Philippines,” 2009
5 Family Planning Survey 2006
6 Family Health Survey 2011
I am the product of centuries of my archipelago’s exposure to foreign influences. I have a Spanish friar, a Chinese pirate, a Muslim prince, and an assortment of Indios Bravos in my family tree. I am conversant in Filipino but English is my first language. I do not subscribe to many so-called traditional Filipino values. I am a voracious consumer of western popular culture. My world view is heavily influenced by my travels around the world. I have had all the opportunities to leave the Philippines but I choose to stay. I feel like I have a stake in this country and I feel an affinity for my countrymen, however different I am from what might be considered the “typical” Filipino. The desire to serve my country has always been the driving force behind all my academic and professional pursuits. I continue to do my part in nation building. I am Filipino and who I am cannot be quantified in neat percentages.
I think maybe Bayo was trying to make some kind of statement about celebrating racial/ethnic diversity (e.g. Benetton, Uniqlo) but failed because the copy was so terribly written. (I mean, really. “It’s” is a contraction of “it is” while “its” is a possessive pronoun. So much for being world class. Bayo does not have a fighting chance in the world arena of copywriting.) If that was their intention, Bayo should’ve done away with the notion percentages and just said, whatever your mix is, you are 100% Filipino. Filipinos come in all colors, shapes, and sizes and the “mixing and matching” of cultures throughout our history makes us eclectic and interesting and unique.
I think it’s poor taste to equate the intermingling of races with the pairing of plains with prints, but I don’t have a problem with the notion of mixing and matching per se. I’d argue that the process of mixing and matching various foreign influences is precisely what makes Filipinos who they are. Some of our countrymen seem preoccupied with returning to the “uncorrupted” or “original” Filipino. The implication is the more we return to what is native and the more we abolish what is foreign, the more truly Filipino we become. To loosely quote Nick Joaquin, is culture simple addition and identity subtraction? Remove all the imposed layers and we’ll end up with the basic and true Filipino identity?
I had a short exchange about this with my former history department chair.
Of course, we should not condone poor taste, but isn’t the notion of racial or ethnic purity — whether one celebrates it, promotes it, defends it or simply gets defensive with it — the sort of thing that motivates Nazis and other would-be ethnic cleansers (?). I mean, is there even such a thing as a pure Filipino? Or a pure American or Indian for that matter? Most nations today are ethnic mosaics cobbled together by history. The chief architect of Filipino nationalism, Jose Rizal was a Tagalog – Chinese mestizo who in the course of his rather short and intellectually frenzied life learned to love and express himself in Spanish and German. One cannot imagine somebody more “mixed” than this one, although he did label himself “Indio puro”. The BAYO ad may have been in bad taste, but let’s be mindful too of the dangerous notions hiding beneath the surface of our day-to-day utterances
Most of the reactions I saw didn’t have anything to do with racial or ethnic purity. It was the way the ad was worded, which made it sound like a Filipino necessarily needed to be infused with foreign blood to be someone/produce something of value.
That’s the problem, Ice. The implied desirability of foreign mixing need not have been so offensive if people did not subscribe to notions of purity and instead embraced their own hybridity.
I don’t think it’s the implied desirability of foreign mixing per se that (some) people found offensive. I think what’s problematic is the notion that hybridity equals superiority, i.e. the greater the “percentage” of your foreign ethnicity the better you are vis a vis someone whose mix is “more Filipino.” Most of us are hybrids, some are more hybrid than others, but the greater hybrids are not better than the lesser hybrids.
Once we celebrate hybridity — to make it the starting point of all our identity projects — the controversy ought to lose steam. Talk of percentages (which is also implicit in your notion of being “more” or “less” hybrid) necessarily imply an idealized purity, 50% as quantity logically presupposes the existence of 100% (or 10% or 20%, and so on…). I think we simply should define our Filipino-ness in terms of an irreducible hybridity, and look to everyone else in similar terms.
I don’t think the notion of being “more” or “less” hybrid necessarily implies an idealized purity, at least not from a genetic standpoint. Genetic analysis can trace the geographic ancestry of a person and the degree of ancestry from the different regions of the world. (So I guess Bayo could’ve employed the use of percentages if they’d hired a geneticist to analyze their model’s DNA.) Some people are more hybrid than others, i.e. some people’s genetic heritage is more diverse than others. It’s neither good nor bad, it just is. But of course one’s “Filipino-ness” is much more than one’s genetic makeup.
The first Filipinos weren’t even natives. The Creole (Philippine-born Spaniards) delegates to the Cortes, were the first to call themselves Filipinos. Though they were Spanish by blood, their affinity was to the islands, and they fought in the Cortes for what they thought was in the best interest of the archipelago and its people, both Creoles and natives. Once the idea had spread, the Creoles could no longer keep it to themselves. The Tagalog and the Pampango barons began appropriating the term Filipino for themselves. Now we’re all Filipinos.
Mainstream history doesn’t acknowledge the process that made the Filipino; it assumes the Filipino was always there. But he wasn’t, he was a product of the 16th and 17th centuries, a product of colonization. Given the diverse regional identities that make up the Philippines, it’s a marvel that we identify as one people. What do we have in common to unite us? How do you explain how we went from warring pagan tribes to a Filipino people fighting for its nationhood? The nation is an imagined community. It was the waves of colonization that forged us into one nation. We are the product of our experiences. The Filipino identity was (and continues to be) shaped by historical forces and Filipino culture is the unique way that we Filipinos have interpreted and combined our various influences and applied them to our lives.
Or, “In which Block and White’s attempt at viral marketing backfires”
Block and White would have young girls believe that if they want boys to like them they need to conform to society’s screwed-up standards of physical beauty and that any complexion darker than chemical bleach white is unattractive. Your personality (e.g. a sporty skater girl who has fun in the sun) doesn’t matter, females are ornamental and only as valuable as they are aesthetically pleasing, and white is the only acceptable skin color. This TVC isn’t just misogynistic, it’s also racist.
B&W’s Facebook post racked up comments and shares all right, but not in the way they intended.
I’d like to think that we live in a world that is moving towards greater cultural understanding, where diversity isn’t just tolerated, it’s celebrated. Ads like the above TVC feel so outdated but they still resonate with large portion of Philippine society. B&W isn’t the only one capitalizing on racial inferiority and the Filipino obsession with white skin. Skin care is a Php 22 billion industry in the Philippines, and 40 percent of total sales come from whitening products. Consumers are constantly bombarded with negative messages about race and self-image. Women are told that that they should aspire to be “kutis mayaman” or “kutis artista” or that they will be happier, more confident, more successful, more socially accepted, and more desirable to men if they lighten their skin. (Can anyone refer me to a whitening ad with a positive message? I’d be surprised if such exists.)
As a morena who was made to feel inferior to mestizas as I was growing up, I’m glad people are now coming out and saying, “Beautiful women come in all colors, shapes, and sizes. You do not need to conform.” Attitudes towards beauty are changing. Social media amplifies opposing views in a way that wasn’t possible when I was of an age with those girls in the commercial. I hope the reactions sparked by B&W’s TVC pave the way for meaningful dialogue on what it means to be a beautiful Filipina and encourage more women to feel comfortable in their own skin.
I support Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, though I don’t think her detractors are necessarily “yellow zombies.”
I love this feisty woman and will defend her unto death. She has balls of steel. She tells it like it is, and only someone as brilliant and accomplished as she can get away with biting witticisms such as these. They say there’s a fine line between genius and insanity and perhaps she’s teetering on that line. But even when she’s having a “Brenda” moment she is still far more intelligent than most.
Her outbursts in the impeachment court were provoked by the bumbling of the prosecution. Her behavior has prompted some groups to call for the reconsideration and rejection of her election to the International Criminal Court.
Our sassy senator is the first Filipino and first Asian from a developing country to sit in the tribunal and I believe she will do us proud. She was “overwhelmingly elected” for good reason. Do these petitioners think that the state parties had no idea for whom they were voting? That they did not scrutinize each candidate and that they had no idea that she had this penchant for colorful speech? She is a legal luminary highly esteemed by the international community. Apparently they believe, as I do, that her qualifications far outweigh her lack of tact.
If these petitioners are concerned about politicians who are damaging the “image and reputation” of the Philippines, there are so many others who are more deserving of their ire, e.g. officials who are tamad/bobo/incompetent/corrupt/sleazy/all of the above.
These women are not sluts.
Photo from Allianz.com
According to Rush Limbaugh, a woman who advocates for a health care plan that covers contraceptives “essentially says that she must be paid to have sex. What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? Makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.” (He’s since apologized, but only after corporate sponsors pulled their ads from his show.)
Not only is such a statement misogynistic and offensive, it’s also extremely ignorant. Contraceptive pills aren’t used just for preventing pregnancy. The pill is basically hormone therapy and is used to treat a wide variety of medical conditions, e.g. seizures, as was mentioned in the article; severe dysmenorrhea, which is extremely painful and even forces some women to miss work/school during their monthly periods; endometriosis, which untreated can lead to infertility, and that’s just to name a few. Some pills lower the risk of certain diseases, including a number of cancers. Scientists even say that nuns should be on the pill, because women who never bear children are more likely to develop breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer.
Providing women with contraceptive pills isn’t about allowing them to have as much sex as they want (which is entirely their business, by the way). It’s about ensuring the health of the 50% of the population who happen to have ovaries. Our own legislators need to keep that in mind during RH bill debates.
On a related note, “Why Patriarchal Men Are Utterly Petrified of Birth Control — And Why We’ll Still Be Fighting About it 100 Years From Now” is a great read. It’s a little shocking to me how controversial birth control still is in the United States. You’d expect it to be hotly debated in the Philippines, but you’d think that in the US it would be a non-issue by by now. A look at the broader historical context makes you realize that “the fight for contraception is not only not over — it hasn’t even really started yet.”