On the 30th anniversary of the EDSA revolution, our countrymen are campaigning for would-be dictators. Some opine that democracy has failed us.
I don’t think they understand what democracy means.
If democracy has failed us we cannot simply point to the government because we are all complicit in that failure. The rights of citizens come with responsibilities. Governance is too important to be left solely to those in government.
In his Politics, Aristotle said, “If liberty and equality, as it is thought by some, are chiefly to be found in democracy, they will be attained when all persons alike share in the government to the utmost.” We all must share the burdens and benefits of living together as a people and as a society.
Perhaps some prefer a dictator because they are unwilling to do their share. It’s easier to be passive beneficiaries of the government; responsibility entails hard work. It may be tempting to give up your rights for the false promise that one person can make everything better, if you just let him/her.
But we’ve been down that road before, and 30 years after EDSA we have numerous examples all over the country of ethical, empowering, and effective leaders who engage citizens not as beneficiaries but as partners in development. There is a better way.
“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
I’m two-thirds into the 50 Shades of Grey trilogy and this is the digital equivalent of scribbling in the margins of my (e)book:
For someone who’s supposed to be emotionally unavailable, Christian Grey is awfully needy. Constantly begging for affirmation is not hot. How are you supposed to take seriously a bad boy who whines about open and honest communication?
Christian Grey makes mixed tapes. This is far weirder to me than any of the kinky stuff so far.
Got a song stuck in my head: “I try to say goodbye but you choke me…” #50ShadesofMacyGray
Christian thinks he has the right to dictate the birth control method Ana uses. “It’s my body!” she protests. “It’s mine too,” he responds. And then she gives in. What! Ladies, I don’t care if your “libidinous inner goddess” is doing “triple axle rotations,” you do not let a man (or anyone) bully you into these decisions.
Christian tells Ana that he likes to hit dark-haired women like her because they look like his crack whore mother, then asks her to marry him, then they have a midnight snack of macaroni and cheese. This all happens in the span of like 10 minutes.
Especially when he’s given you reason to suspect that he is batshit insane.
“We can get to know each other [when we’re married]… I want you, body and soul, forever.”
Brilliant plan. Legally bind yourself to someone you barely know, because if it turns out to be a disaster, it’s no trouble at all to get a divorce. Oh wait, IT IS. Crap! Especially when you don’t have a pre-nup! And since when does signing a marriage contract mean signing away your body and soul? Who are you getting married to, Hades?
Christian is upset that Ana showed too much skin on the beach. His solution: mark her body with hickeys and bruises so that she can’t wear her bikini for the remainder of their honeymoon. But he’s sorry he bruised her wrist, so he buys her a diamond bracelet to cover it up.
This story is dark and twisted but not in the ways the author intends. There’s nothing wrong with BDSM but there is something horribly wrong with intimate partner violence and manipulative and controlling relationships. It’s troubling that the truly awful subtext seems to be glossed over by a lot of readers who are just enamored of the grand romantic gestures. It’s kind like how parents trick their kids into eating vegetables by disguising the broccoli in the mac and cheese.
The BDSM depicted in the books/movie is not representative of BDSM. BDSM practitioners have respectful discussions on boundaries and safe words. Anyone who goes beyond their partner’s limits, ignores safe words, or forces themselves upon their partner is an abuser. Christian repeatedly violates Ana’s boundaries. That is abuse. That is not BDSM, that is not sexy, that is never acceptable.
When a guy threatens to “beat the shit out of you,” you leave. Especially when you know that he has anger management issues plus a history of violence against (15) women (who, like you, all look like his crack whore mother). You don’t try to convince a deeply disturbed psycho that deep down inside he’s actually a cute cuddly bunny.
“He swathes the towel around my head so that I look like I’m wearing a veil… [I] put my arms around him. Gazing at us both in the mirror — his beauty, his nakedness, and me with my covered hair — we look almost Biblical, as if from an Old Testament baroque painting.”
I’ve been trying to convince my husband to recreate this portrait with me in the bathroom mirror.
Ana’s “inner goddess” has an “inner bitch.” The woman suffers from Inception-like levels of dementia.
Christian is angry because Ana insists on using “Ms. Steele” instead of “Mrs. Grey” at work. He charges into her office in the middle of the workday for a confrontation.
“I’m looking over my assets. Some of them need rebranding.” (Context: Because Ana refused to work for him, Christian bought the publishing company that Ana works for so that he is effectively her boss’ boss. This purchase happened within the week that they’d just officially started dating.)
“Why is it so important to you?”
“I want everyone to know you’re mine.”
“I am yours. [Why is it] not enough that I married you?”
“I want your world to begin and end with me.”
Ana is not the brightest bulb in the chandelier (despite having graduated valedictorian) but she at least has the good sense to want to establish a career without her rich and powerful husband’s interference. She is making an effort to distance herself from Christian by using her maiden name. She doesn’t want people to think she was made Commissioning Editor after working for a couple of weeks as mere assistant because her then-boyfriend-now-husband bought the company (although she was).
Christian is a self-made man. You’d think he’d be able to appreciate — and even admire — his wife’s drive to make it on her own. Instead, he makes the situation even worse by renaming the company “Grey Publishing” and then making her its CEO.
Ana is three months out of college and her work experience at this point consists of a part-time job as a cashier at a hardware store. She wants to learn the ropes and work her way up in the publishing industry.
Her husband doesn’t understand or doesn’t care. His need to posses and control her are more important than her dreams and aspirations. He confuses what she wants with what he wants for her.
“I just want to give you you the world, Ana, everything and anything you want. And save you from it, too. Keep you safe. But I also want everyone to know you’re mine.”
He doesn’t even want her to work in the first place. He would rather she stayed home and just “twiddled her thumbs.” But since she insists on working, railroading her career is the next best thing.
While Ana is supposedly strong-willed, all her resolve seems to evaporate after an orgasm. Christian just needs to sex her up and the argument is forgotten and she eventually concedes to whatever he wants.
ANA, WHY? WHY DO YOU WANT THIS? Is mind-blowing sex with Mr. Libidinous Moneybags worth giving up your personal autonomy and agency?!
To be continued.
There are many atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, and “nones” of various stripes who want to believe that Pope Francis represents a more progressive and inclusive Catholic Church. There’s a reason this meme is so popular:
It would’ve been nice if the Pope had actually said such a thing, but he didn’t. It appears that the 22 May 2013 homily of His Holiness has been interpreted by some to mean that atheists can achieve redemption through good deeds without belief in God. Fr. Thomas Rosica has since cleared up the confusion with an “explanatory note” that basically says according to Catholic teachings, atheists are still going to hell.
We, believers and non-believers alike, need to stop projecting our hopes and desires onto the Pope. It’s of far greater utility to examine his public relations image vs. his policies. Though he’s styled a populist, he’s actually a conservative who maintains nearly all of the social policies of his predecessors. He seems like a genuinely nice guy, but no different from the rest of the Vatican in terms of ideology. He’s maintaining the status quo; he’s just friendlier about it.
The local LGBT community wants to believe he is their ally. They welcomed the Pope by waving rainbow flags. I saw a banner that read,”LGBT loves Pope Francis.”
In 2013 Pope Francis said that homosexuals should not be judged or marginalized. Rather, they should be integrated into society. The LGBT community celebrated this, even though the Pope said in the same breath that homosexual acts are still a sin.
And since then he’s said a lot of things that sound like judgement to me.
I understand that figuring out how to integrate LGBT people into society is difficult for Catholics and Christians who have very deeply-held beliefs about gender, sexuality, and marriage. As a way of accommodating LGBT people, I’ve often heard the faithful say, “love the sinner but hate the sin.” And I guess that’s better than “God hates fags.” I like the Pope’s messages about mercy and compassion. But can you really show mercy and compassion and at the same time label a group of people “sinners” and deny them basic rights?
As part of his visit, Pope Francis addressed a large gathering of families. He warned, “The family is threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage. These realities are increasingly under attack from powerful forces which threaten to disfigure God’s plan for creation.”
As I was reflecting on “ideological colonization,” I remembered the film If These Walls Could Talk, which tells the stories of three lesbian couples across different time periods. The first story is about an elderly lesbian couple in 1961 and if it doesn’t make you a supporter of marriage equality, I don’t know what will. I question your capacity for mercy and compassion if you are unmoved by this.
I am all for redefining the institution of marriage, not just to recognize the rights of LGBT couples but also to revise laws that discriminate against women. I am a happily married heterosexual woman, and I am for marriage equality and am pro–divorce. If that means I’m threatening to disfigure God’s plan for creation, so be it.
In Slovakia, Pope Francis recently gave his blessing to a referendum that would ban marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples. I cannot for the life of me reconcile mercy and compassion and choosing to uphold heterosexual marriage vs. granting same-sex couples the right to adopt children and give them loving homes.
Scientific research consistently shows that gay and lesbian parents are as fit and capable as heterosexual parents, and their children are as psychologically healthy and well-adjusted as those reared by heterosexual parents. Major associations of mental health professionals in the U.S., Canada, and Australia have not identified credible empirical research that suggests otherwise.
The Pope also issued a strong defense of Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, which upheld the Church’s traditional ban on birth control. He did say that there’s no need to breed “like rabbits,” but one should only use “licit” ways to regulate births.
I work to increase access to sexual and reproductive health education and services, especially for poor women who need it the most and for whom it is literally a matter of life and death. I’m staunchly in the birth control camp.
Here’s another woman’s take on the issue, a married Catholic mother who actually practiced natural family planning, who argues that the Pope’s recent comments on limiting family size were not actually “compassionate.”
‘What I find most ironic in all of this is that the pope is seen by so many as being compassionate for calling a woman who had eight children irresponsible and at the same time barring her from using the most effective and user friendly methods of birth control… Natural Family Planning is incredibly difficult to do correctly. It involves monitoring body signs, including temperature and cervical mucous—a dangerous proposition in a country with hazardous sanitation, I might add. It requires complete cooperation from the male partner, who has to be willing to go for without sex during a woman’s fertile days. It involves keeping careful records of body signs, charting fertility, and determining when ovulation has occurred (based on sometimes conflicting signs). Think you [sic] that it is compassionate to expect this of women in poverty, struggling to put food on their children’s plates?”
And while we’re on the subject of women, Pope Francis said that men need to listen to women more:
“Women have much to tell us in today’s society. Sometimes, we’re too machistas (chauvinistic). We don’t allow room for the woman… But women are capable of seeing things in a different angle from us, with a different eye. Women are able to pose questions that we, men, are not able to understand.”
Ironically, the Vatican is currently holding an assembly to discuss women’s issues… to which no women are invited. Well, women were invited to make presentations, but since the members of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture are all men, no women will participate in the actual discussions. The Vatican has described the process as “women directing the dance,” with men performing the steps.
The Pope has lots of positive soundbites about women, but to me these are empty words from the male CEO of a gargantuan global entity whose leadership positions are occupied all by men. It’s pretty clear that the Pope maintains a highly patriarchal view of the value and traditional role of women. I mean, he thinks women theologians “are the strawberries on the cake.” When women priests, bishops, and cardinals finally break through that ancient stained-glass ceiling, maybe then we can have a real conversation about gender equality and the role of women in society. Till then, I’ll be rooting for the feminist nuns.
Nothing about what the Pope has said or done so far surprises me. Catholic teachings about male and female roles, homosexuality, marriage, divorce, sex, contraception and abortion are all integrated with what Catholics believe about God, humanity, redemption, heaven and hell. I don’t expect those to change, under this Papacy or in my lifetime.
I can’t reconcile Church positions on social issues with the policy reforms I believe are needed for social justice. I don’t think it’s possible to address the social structures causing poverty and marginalization without addressing gender and power, for example. And I don’t think you can remove contraception and abortion from a discussion on gender and power. As a development worker I seek to address social inequality, and advocate for the rights of people who deprived, excluded, and marginalized. I do care for the poor, as Pope Francis implores us to do. I just disagree with the Church on specific points about how to do that.
I have a pretty good sense of humor. But I’m getting sick of feigning laughter at all the NGO jokes in wake of the pork barrel scam. Especially when those jokes are directed at me personally by people who work cushy corporate jobs and make so much more money than I do.
You know what, screw you. NGO work is not easy and for most of us, there is no monetary reward. We chose this line of work because we want to serve our country. We do it because in many respects the government has failed and we’re picking up the slack.
Yes, there are bogus NGOs that benefit the corrupt. But do not make light of the significant contribution that legitimate NGOs have made in fighting for the rights of the marginalized and deprived, providing public goods to those who do not have access to government services, and transforming the politics of this country one community at a time.
I’m a little late to the party, but a former student of mine recently posted the article “A lot of decent Filipinos are getting fed up with arrogant squatters” on Facebook with an affirmative comment and I felt the need to respond. I didn’t want to get sucked into this argument, but I’m fond of this kid and I’d like to think he’s simply misinformed and not completely
hopeless elitist. I said:
This list is a good place to start: “8 Mind-Blowing Realities No One Told You About Informal Settlers”
I’ve spent 5 years as a development worker immersed in poor communities in Tondo, and my experience validates this list. It’s a good summary of how the issue of informal settlers isn’t just black and white. The author’s sources came from Benjamin de la Peña, who is the Associate Director for Urban Development at the Rockefeller Foundation.
Re: the notion that the poor are lazy: “Hunger Makes People Work Harder, and Other Stupid Things We Used to Believe About Poverty”
“…We’ve gone from thinking that poverty is a necessary ingredient for economic development to thinking that poverty constrains it. Numerous related assumptions have (mostly) fallen along the way: The poor were at fault for their own poverty (through moral weakness, alcoholism, laziness, a penchant for making too many babies). The poor were born that way, and nothing could be done about it. Besides, poverty had its own utility: If people weren’t hungry, they wouldn’t work. Thus, poverty was a social good.”
Except in the Philippines, where apparently lots of people still think that way.
If the poor really were lazy, we would not have janitors, garbage disposal workers, street sweepers, construction workers, masahistas, food stall vendors, mechanics, gas attendants, sales ladies, security guards, delivery boys, and a multitude of other services providers who earn minimum wage or less. Where do you think these people live? They live in the slums, close to their area of employment, where rent is cheap.
No one’s disputing that there are “professional squatters” who are milking the system for all its worth. But I think it’s unfair to make the blanket statement that the poor can get themselves out of poverty if they just try hard enough. Yes, there have been many success stories. But for every success story there are thousands of failures, because there are so many factors involved, many of which cannot be overcome simply by trying. Poverty is an inter-generational cycle that is not so easily broken, especially not without help.
“The government is giving free housing to poor people paid for by my taxes when I don’t even have my own house yet! It’s so unfair!” It’s so unfair that you’ve never had to live in squalor? It’s so unfair that you don’t live hand to mouth and that you don’t need social safety nets? Instead of being outraged, we should feel relieved and grateful that we don’t need to rely on the government for our sheer survival.
Democracy means equality of opportunities, not equality of outcomes. There are precious few opportunities for those who live below and dangerously close to the poverty line. The government should be leveling the playing field, and props to the Aquino administration for trying (I guess), but we’re not there yet (despite the much-reported economic gains, we’re still ranked 114th for the 5th straight year in the Human Development Index).
Of course there need to be mechanisms in place to try to keep people from abusing the system, but we shouldn’t begrudge the poor for needing social safety nets, nor the government for providing them.
Here’s the pragmatic argument: The urban poor are a great resource waiting to be tapped. Giving them real opportunities to improve their situation may seem unfair to those who feel like they pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps, but the benefits of integrating the urban poor into the fabric of the city far outweigh any initial cost.
This article by Benjamin de la Peña underscores the importance of investing in urban opportunities: “More Urban Growth = Less Rural Poverty”
“If history is any guide, large-scale migration to the cities is part and parcel of the transformation economies must go through if they are to grow quickly…
“Research by physicists and mathematicians shows that bigger cities are more efficient and create more innovation and opportunities…
“As we invest in our cities, we need to get them right. We must make sure that they are inclusive and that they expand opportunities.
“The key to getting our cities right is to transform policies that, at the moment, are dominated by the practice of social exclusion and anti-poor policies.
“We need to make sure our cities can provide opportunities for everyone. We need to create cities that are efficient engines for moving people out of poverty.”
And for those for whom pragmatism is not enough, the moral argument professed by many great leaders and philosophers is that the true measure of a society is how it treats its weakest members. For a nation that prides itself on our religiosity we can be so utterly lacking in human compassion.
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