A world of readers

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BY Danton Remoto
Remote control
Views and analysis section
http://www.abs-cbnNEWS.com
December 30, 2008

“Read to lead” is a soundbite that we hear more often these days. Happily for us, the National Book Development Board (NBDB), the government agency tasked with doing this, is working hard and fast to make sure that our people – especially the young and those glued to their YouTubes – would also find the time to read.

But words need not be fixed just on the page. The NBDB, under the inspired leadership of executive director Andrea Pasion-Flores, has taken the act of reading into the 21st century.

Proof number 1: their “Tulaan sa Tren” project in the LRT Line 2 station that runs from Recto in Manila to Santolan in Marikina. It is a take-off of the poems read and posted at the Tube (subway) of London, but who cares?

In partnership with the Optical Media Board and the Book Development Association of the Philippines, the NBDB chose poems from some of the country’s best writers, asked a host of celebrities to read them, and printed the poems on small posters. The readings are broadcast on the LRT stations every morning and late afternoon, in time for the rush hours, and also at noon.

And the poems? Printed on coated paper and set beside colorful photographs by Jay Alonzo, the poems are posted on the LRT trains, at the eye level of our harried commuter.

Our lawyer and fiction writer who now heads NBDB said: “We hope that people who will perhaps encounter our poetry for the first time in this novel way will realize that Philippine literature is something that we can all be proud of. I hope that they will also look up the authors, whose works we featured, so that they could discover more treasures.”

Among the readers of the poems were Edu Manzano, Miriam Quiambao, Nikki Gil, Matt Evans, Lyn Ching-Pascual, Romnick Sarmenta, Harlene Bautista, Chin-Chin Gutierrez, Rhea Santos and Christine Bersola-Babao.

And the list of poets is headed by National Artist Virgilio Almario (a.k.a. Rio Alma), Jose Corazon de Jesus, Cirilo F. Bautista, Gemino Abad, Benilda Santos, Marjorie Evasco, Jose Lacaba, Vim Nadera, Conchitina Cruz and myself.

When they were asking my permission for my poem “Rain” to be included in the “Tulaan sa Tren” project, I teased the NBDB by saying: “ I have written nationalistic poems and religious poems, why do you want an erotic poem?”

“Rain” is my most anthologized poem, written a thousand years ago, and I am glad that Harlene Bautista did a great job of reading it. Several students of mine sent me text messages when they heard the poem inside the train, or being broadcast on the LRT stations. They said it was, uhh, kinda sexy and one of my fellow teachers at Ateneo said that now, you are a public poet, à la Pablo Neruda, because your poems are no longer read just in the solitude of one’s library carrel.

So on that sunny afternoon, celebrities and poets took the LRT train from Santolan to Recto and back, then launched Rio Alma’s latest book of poems, the appropriately titled Mga Biyahe, Mga Estasyon (Journeys, Junctions), with luminous translations by Marne Kilates and published by Anvil.

One of the assigned readers failed to make it to the event, so Karina Bolasco of Anvil asked me to read one poem in Filipino with an English translation. I promptly said, “Yes,” and read the two works en face. Anvil gave me a free copy of the book, and the one I bought I cheerfully gave to my fellow Ateneo teacher Danny Reyes.

And if you think that was clever enough, NBDB then sponsored a reading of Jose Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere from Nov. 8 to 9. Yes, an all-night reading that continued well into the next morning. We read from Virgilio Almario’s excellent translation of the Noli, which was a winner of the National Book Award, handed out by the Manila Critics Circle.

I was assigned to read the hilarious chapter on the neighbors who outdid each other in counting their accumulated rewards in heaven. It just convinced me that, indeed, Rizal is not just our national hero but a great writer as well. He could X-ray the very motivations of the characters, and then show to us their shadow and light against the sun.

Proof positive of Rizal’s timeless novel is the Penguin Edition of Noli Me Tangere, whose first and second printings have sold out. The third printing is also selling briskly, proving that Rizal’s timeless novel still has a home in the hearts of readers in the 21st century. A hundred years ago, one man wrote two novels that led to his death – and to the precious freedom that we now all enjoy.

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A kingdom of colors

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BY Danton Remoto
Remote Control
Views and analysis
http://www.abs-cbnNEWS.com
December 23, 2008

One bright spot in the bleak national landscape is the writing and production of children’s books. Recent harvest shows that the bumper crop continues, and will likely to do so in the next years. The best of these books introduce values without the leaden moral lessons and pieties that deaden one’s sensitivity. And the illustrations not only blaze but also sing!

The Cat Painter by Becky Bravo, with illustrations by Mark Ramsel Salvatus III (Adarna Books) is a witty story that teaches the importance of diversity. Miral, the chief cat painter, has decreed that cats can come only in three colors: black, white, and yellow. But one day, a playful and young angel, a painter named Rahal, comes along. He asks: “Has a cat ever been colored partly black and partly white? Or partly white and partly yellow? . . . [or] in all three colors? In brown? In grey? In stripes and patches? In spots.”

With words seemingly graven in stone, Miral says no. “They have always been only black, white, or yellow.” Undaunted, the young angel begins to paint a rainbow of colors for the cats. “He borrowed a jar of red paint from the angel in charge of birds and a jar of green paint from the angel in charge of frogs. When they asked him why, he said he needed red to add to green to make some brown, and that he needed red to add to yellow to make some orange. . . ”

This book is a painless introduction to the mixes, tones, and textures of colors. The shocked old angel turns to God for arbitration. He was sure that God would punish the young subversive. And pity the young angel, his wings begin to quiver in fear.

The angel “Rahal adjusted his halo and nervously waited for the storm to break. God looked at the mewling three-colored cat in the palm of His hand, which he thought looked as if it had been pelted by a torrent of paintballs . . . and He laughed. In a deep, hearty sound that rang through the chamber like church bells at Christmas.”

God was so pleased with the cat that He asked the young painter for more cats with in various colors. “I know a good, little child who would be very happy to have him. And I know many other people who would love to have cats as pretty as this. . . . A single color is a beautiful thing, but two or more can be beautiful as well.”

Colors in Mindanao

The beauty of colors is also found in Tony Perez’s interactive children’s book, Inang Bayan’s New Clothes (Mga Bag-ong Sinina ni Inahang Nasod) illustrated by Frances C. Alcaraz (Anvil Publishing). The book is funded by a grant from Ambassador Kristie Kenney of the U.S. Embassy, which help was acknowledged by the Manila Critics Circle’s National Book Awards in its awarding ceremony at the book fair last year. I am one of the members of the Manila Critics Circle.

The setting is Mindanao and the characters are the young girls Feliza (Christian) and Nurhana (Muslim). If you think this is one of your mindless we-are-sisters-we-are-one tra-la-la, think again. Perez is one of our best writers, and this book shows us why.

Feliza and Nurhana meet Inang Bayan on the road, the implication being that Inang Bayan’s journey is never done. Inang Bayan is wearing rags for clothes, and all her accessories come from foreign places. They bring her to a dress show and make new clothes for her.

“Feliza created a flower-printed skirt from Quezon with a matching tapis from Iloilo, to go with wooden clogs from Quezon and a salakot from Cavite. . . .” They also give her the three other dresses she has request. A black dress, “to remember those who experienced violence, those who faced danger, and those who suffered for their country. . . a second white dress for my children who are noble of heart, who believe in peace, who encourage religious tolerance, and who are blessed by their Creator.”

The last dress is the one I like best: “blue, red, and gold, for my brave children who believe they can live united in peace under one great Philippine nation. And so Feliza and Nurhana created for Inang Bayan a dress in blue, red, and gold. Nurhana’s blue was like the sky and sea. Feliza’s red was like roses, and rubies, and ripe apples. Their gold was like the fiery power of the sun, of dignity, of royalty.”

In war-torn Mindanao, such stories deserve to be told, and re-told.

Fernando Zobel

The rainbow of colors curve and shimmer too in the book Fernando Zobel: The Man Who Painted Ideas by Maria Elena Paterno, illustrated by Marcus Nada (Ayala Foundation). The story’s frame is that of Marco, a young student writing a report about the great painter Fernando Zobel. The book traces the growth and development of the artist, from his sketches, to Harvard studies, and his early works on watercolor and oil. Then we reach the high point of his works.

“Fernando’s next series of paintings was the Saetas, lines on a colored background. Some people say they were inspired by the bamboo scaffolding on buildings. Other people say that they look like lines made by a rake in a Japanese garden. Saeta is a Spanish word for dart, or arrow. Whichever meaning you choose, they make you think of something moving fast.”

I like this book because, like the works of Zobel, it wrestles with ideas, but told subtly, simply, and well. That paragraph points out the multiple meanings that art can generate, and highlights the importance of the reader and the viewer’s response. For after all, a work is a dead until it has been read, or seen, and has created ripples of meanings in the viewer’s mind and heart.

In 1961, after working as a businessman with the Zobel empire and painting in his spare time, Fernando Zobel left Manila. He donated his whole collection of modern Philippine art to the Ateneo Art Gallery, whose former curator was my excellent Literature professor, Emmanuel Torres. Imagine reading poems and discussing creative writing in an art gallery whose walls are aflame with colors!

In Spain, the good painter established the Museo de Arte Abstracto Espanol – now a landmark in Spain – and created luminous paintings until 1984, when he died at the age of 60.

Fernando Amorsolo

We end with The Boy Who Lost a Father and Found the Sun: The Life of Maestro Fernando Amorsolo. Written with sensitivity and grace by Rene Villanueva, the original art work for this book was done by Beth Parrocha-Doctolero (Ayala Foundation).

Narding’s father died when he was young. His mother brought them all to Manila, where he apprenticed under his uncle, the noted painter Fabian de la Rosa. “The young lad imagined his father watching over him. He felt his father’s presence as the sun that shone brightly above him. His father was like the brightness from behind the lush caballero trees or the light that filtered through clumps of bamboo.”

Amorsolo is famous for capturing the shimmering brilliance of the Philippine sun – and rightly so. He painted rural scenes to remind him of his boyhood. The poet Dr. Gemino H. Abad said that “Memory is the mother of all writing,” and rightly so. The clearest, vividest work I’ve read or seen are those drawn from the wells of the artist’s memory.

Later, Amorsolo painted portraits and historical figures, but it was his landscapes that will always grip the viewer – brilliant evocations of a time now past. “Like the father he lost early but as a presence throughout his life, the sun continued to be a presence in the artworks of Fernando Amorsolo, National Artist of the Philippines.”

If you’re thinking of gifts for your kids this Christmas, grab a cool book for children written by the Philippines’ finest!

Explanation of Vote: Extending CARP Until 30 June 2009

NO Vote
Joint Resolution No. 29
17 December 2008
Rep. Lorenzo R. Tañada III

Mr. Speaker,

I am constrained to vote against the Joint Resolution before us, which, on the surface seeks to extend CARP, a social justice and poverty alleviation program, until June 30, 2009. While at the barest minimum, I am for extending the program, I would have wanted a more responsive agrarian reform program. I, together with other members of the Liberal Party here in the House of Representatives, have actually filed HB 4085 which likewise seeks to amend CARP to fine tune it given the developments and frustrations in the program.
However, Mr. Speaker, what we shall be doing, if ever we pass this Joint Resolution is decimate the whole program. It takes away Compulsory Acquisition among the modes by which land will be acquired and distributed.

Mr. Speaker,

We are now in the tail end of the Agrarian Reform Program where lands that are actually difficult to acquire and distribute are the ones lined up for acquisition and distribution. I’m talking about commercial farms and huge tracks of privately-owned lands. To my mind, these are the types of land which should have been prioritized in the land acquisition and distribution program. But if we would go back to Section 11 of RA 6657, the law even provided for a reprieve from compulsory acquisition of commercial lands and they will only be covered by compulsory acquisition ten years after the law is enacted.

Mr. Speaker,

By removing compulsory acquisition from CARP in this Joint Resolution, we are in fact removing from the State the power to use the most progressive instrument of the program. By removing compulsory acquisition, we shall be denying the very farmers who have long yearned for real ownership of the land they till, a chance to develop, a chance to get out of poverty, and for the State to deliver a much-delayed social justice program. The six-month extension that this Joint Resolution gives would in fact create a condition for landlords to preposition themselves to eventually evade CARP coverage.

Mr. Speaker,

I would have easily supported a Joint Resolution that merely extends the program by another six months and does not tinker with any of CARP’s provisions but the one before us is downright unacceptable.

As such Mr. Speaker, I vote NO to this Joint Resolution.

Manila Pride March 2008

By Danton Remoto
Views and Analysis Section
http://www.abs-cbnNEWS.com

It was time once again to paint the whole country pink last December 6. Occasion: the annual Pride March of the Philippine lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Filipinos at Remedios Circle, Malate, Manila. The march is organized by Task Force Pride Philippines, an organization of LGBT groups and individuals. After the march, the Miss Queen Philippines Beauty Pageant was held at 5 p.m., followed by a street party at Maria Orosa Street with techno DJs at 10 p.m. Celebration was the theme of this year’s Pride March. And as before, we are still pushing for the passage of the Anti-Discrimination Bill that I helped write in 1999, and which is still pending in the lethargic Congress, nine years after it was filed.

This year’s Task Force Pride was co-chaired by Miss Sass Sasot of Society of Transsexual Women Philippinnes (STRAP) and Miss Pau Fontano of STRAP and Ang Ladlad, the national organization of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Filipinos. Changes in this year’s Pride March included a colorful website, http://www.manilapride2008.com, more floats, and the march done by new members of newly organized LGBT groups, including guys who climb mountains (Brokeback Mountain?) and lesbians who raise families. I was happy to see that we the veterans could now go behind the scenes and work at the sidelines while the young, the fabulous, and the organized got the work done, and done generally well.

This year’s Pride March was also different in that it was the first time that LGBT Pride was celebrated nationwide, in Luzon (Manila), Visayas (Cebu), and Mindanao (Lanao del Norte). In Manila , the 2008 Manila Pride March turned the streets of Malate into one big and colorful space for celebration, even if a small group of Born-Again Christians – and foreign at that! – tried but failed to rain on our parade.

In Cebu, the Visayas Pride Network, a network of LGBT organizations and individuals promoting LGBT human rights led by Joseph Patrick Uy held the first ever Pride Day in the Queen City of the South. In Lanao del Norte, the Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders United for Peace and Solidarity (GUPS) led by Ang Ladlad member Bong Enriquez celebrated LGBT Pride by conducting a reflexology and therapeutic massage training for Mindanao LGBTs on 6-7 December 2008. As part of the training, participants got free foot reflexology, foot spa, and back and head massages to NGO workers on Dec. 8 and 9.

As Chairman of Ang Ladlad, I also introduced the Yogyakarta Principles of LGBT Rights signed in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, last year as the framework for the rights of LGBT Filipinos. Grace Poore of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) explained the context of the Yogyakarta Principles.

The Yogyakarta Principles collate all the international human-rights laws and applies these legal standards to issues concerning sexual orientation and gender identity. They were put together by a distinguished group of human rights experts who met at Yogyakarta in November 2006. It has since been introduced formally to the United Nations (UN) system, translated into the six official UN languages, and launched in several countries.

The launch of the Yogyakarta Principles in Manila is part of Ang Ladlad’s response to IGLHRC’s 16 Days of Activism campaign to end violence against Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender (LBT) women. Ang Ladlad – along with other groups in Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, China and India – launched the Yogyakarta Principles in their respective countries, helped create a banner consisting of panels of fabric representing Asian LBT activism, and sent a representative, Pau Fontanos, to the gathering of LGBT activist and groups in Yogyakarta, Indonesia for the 60th anniversary celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). For more information on the Yogyakarta Principles, please visit http://www.yogyakartaprinciples.org.

But the Pride March done during Human Rights Week was not a one-shot affair. The five months leading up to the Pride March were hectic, indeed, with LGBT-related activities. They included a forum on transfemale rights, the dyke dialogues, UP Babaylan’s medical mission, the launching of a new LGBT magazine called Invoice as well as the launching of GALANG, or Gays and Lesbians Activist Network for Gender Equality. Club Government in Makati Avenue also had its 4th anniversary party, while Ang Ladlad held literary readings at Mag.Net Katipunan on the second Mondays of October and November, courtesy of its owner, the painter Rock Drilon.

One Bacardi, a group of young gay men, held their 2nd anniversary at Bed Malate Bar and Club, while Circle of Friends held a Fright Nite, Pride Nite Halloween Costume Party. GALANG also held a month-long festival of LGBT films at Mag.net Katipunan. A Manhunt fund-raising party was held as well at Club Government, while an LGBT Bloggers’ Night launched the Rainbow Bloggers’ Philippines group at Red Box in Greenhills 3. Bed also held its Pride Nation fund-raising party while another Trans Dialogue was held at UP, jointly organized by Ang Ladlad, Rainbow Rights, and STRAP.

My latest book, Rampa: Mga Sanaysay, published by Anvil, was launched at Powerbooks Greenbelt 3. Powerbooks also chose me as Author of the Month for November, putting up a display stand of all my books in their branches. A pre-Pride party and launch of Miss Queen Philippines was held at Palawan 2 Bar in Cubao, while a Task Force Pride Meet-up was held at UP Diliman. A World AIDS Day Form was also organized by Girls, Woman, and HIV-AIDS Network (GWHAN) and a Pride March victory party was held at Club Government last Saturday. As you can see, it was a beehive of activity, made possible by the sheer hard work of organized groups under the fairy wand of the the three fabulous trans divas – Sass, Dee, and Pau.

As one of our international participants, a guy from Malaysia whose name I will not disclose, said: “I am still stunned at this Pride March. We do not have something like this in Malaysia. This is called freedom.”

Only, as they say, in the Philippines. But said this time, with a wide grin on the face and the rainbow colors of pride.

Gloria Should Always Be Alert Following Bush Experience

San Juan City Mayor Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito yesterday warned President Arroyo should be always on the alert nowadays following the shoe-throwing incident at a farewell press conference of US President George W. Bush.

“Arroyo should avoid being in public or she might have a worse experience than the shoe-throwing incident of Bush,” Ejercito said in an interview with reporters.

Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi jumped up as Bush was holding a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki last Sunday and shouted: “It is the farewell kiss, you dog” and threw a pair of shoes at the US President.

Bush ducked and the first shoe hurled at him hit the American and Iraqi flags behind the two leaders while the second was off-target.

Zaidi was immediately wrestled to the ground by security guards and frogmarched from the room shouting: “You are responsible for the death of thousands of Iraqis.”

An Iraqi lawyer said Zaidi risked a minimum of two years in prison if he is prosecuted for insulting a visiting head of state and could face a 15-year prison term if he is charged with attempted murder.

Ejercito revealed that Mrs. Arroyo actually got a similar gesture in Mindanao, a pre-dominant Muslim community, when at the height of the 2007 senatorial campaign, her convoy was showered with rotten tomatoes when they passed by a public market.

“During the 2007 campaign people in Mindanao threw rotten tomatoes at her group while they passed by a public market,” Ejercito said.

He added this is “an indication of how the people disdain her.”

He suspected that the incident was not reported by media because Palace officials covered it up.

“Napagtakpan lang sa media pero marami ng incident na nabato ang convoy ni GMA ng bulok na kamatis. If I am not mistaken pati sa Divisoria,” he said.

Ejercito added he is expecting the Palace to immediately deny his revelation, so he challenged Mrs. Arroyo to prove him wrong by walking alone at a public market in Divisoria with his father, former President Joseph Estrada, to see who is more loved by the masses.

“If she wants to find out the real feelings of the people, I challenge her to walk in Divisoria without her PSG with President Estrada,” he said.

Soles of shoes are considered the ultimate insult in Arab culture. After Saddam Hussein’s statue was toppled in Baghdad in April 2003, many onlookers beat the statue’s face with the soles of their shoes. Jason Faustino

Adel Tamano’s Speech for UNO at December 12 Rally

MAGKAISA TAYO!

– ni Atty. Adel A. Tamano

Bismillah Hi Rahman Hi Raheem. Asalaamu Alaikum.

Isang mainit na pagbati ng kapayapaan sa ating lahat.

Halos hindi ko magbikas ang aking kasiyahan dahil nagkaka-isa tayong lahat sa ating pagtutol sa Charter Change.

Maraming nagsasabi na watak-watak ang oposisyon. At gusto ni GMA na magka-watak-watak tayo. Divide and conquer ika nga. Ang mayaman kalaban ang mahirap; Muslim laban sa Kristiyano; Edsa Dos laban sa Edsa Tres.

But today we have shown GMA that on this issue of charter change, we can unite and stand here – for this brief shining moment – as one nation and as one people.

Do not forget this moment because if we can unite against charter change, then we can unite against the other problems that are destroying nation – Corrupsyon. Kahirapan. At ang bulok na sistema at gobyerno ni Ginang Arroyo.

Kailangan natin ng pagbabago. We need change, pero hindi charter change. Ang kailagan natin ay CHARACTER CHANGE. Pagbabago ng mga namumuno at pagbabago nating lahat.

If the Filipino people can unite as one family and one country, then nothing – absolutely nothing – can stop us from becoming a great nation.

Dahil Muslim man o Kristiyano, mayaman o mahirap, tayo ay isang dakilang bansa at tayong lahat ay Pilipino na naghahangad ng tunay na pagbabago.

MAGKA-ISA TAYO AT MABUHAY ANG PILIPINAS.

Editorial of Malaya

Ang Pahayagang Malaya
http://www.malaya.com.ph

It’s about time the fight against the plot of Gloria Arroyo and her allies in the House to amend the 1987 Constitution be brought to the streets. The people are overwhelmingly against tampering with the Charter at this time. The efforts to railroad changes by the House, specifically via constituent assembly sans the participation of the Senate, are patently unconstitutional.

Gloria and her allies, however, are no longer open to honest dialogue and reasoned arguments. They have a demonstrated history of disrespecting the Constitution, violating the laws and transgressing moral norms. It is wishful thinking to expect them to start playing the game by the rules in the twilight of their reign.

The organizers of today’s anti-Charter change rally in Makati are correct. The people must send Gloria and her allies a message via the only language they know. She was carried into Malacañang on the shoulders of the people who had had enough of the abuses of Joseph Estrada. She should be reminded that the people could bodily carry her out of Malacañang just as well.

We understand that some sections of the broad anti-Arroyo alliance are worried that carrying the fight to the streets might be premature. The rally might not attract enough warm bodies. Such a “failure,” it is feared, might only further embolden Gloria and her confederates.

Such attitude is self-defeating. Today’s rally might not be attended by the people in the hundreds of thousands. But such a “failure” should be viewed as just a dress rehearsal for more actions to come. At the height of the “Hello Garci” scandal, the mass actions calling for Gloria’s resignation were as widely attended as those mounted against Estrada in the months immediately preceding his ouster. The difference was that Gloria had no compunction in unleashing the full might of the police and the military against protesters.

She followed this up with additional measures – the preempted calibrated response and the declaration of a state of emergency, among them – aimed at sustaining her crackdown against dissenters.

No doubt Gloria would do the same if and when street protests reach a critical mass that would threaten her rule. But if there is any lesson to be learned from history, it is that repression should be met with heightened defiance. The alternative – to keep silent – is to be complicit to the very crimes committed against us.

The Pinoy bagets speak

By Danton Remoto
Remote Control | 12/10/2008 10:08 AM
Views and Analysis Section
http://www.abs-cbnNEWS.com

The Association of Asian Social Science Research Councils takes credit for the conference whose papers have been collected in a book called Youth in Transition: The Challenges of Generational Change in Asia.

Joseph H. Puyat of UP Diliman’s Department of Psychology draws a sketch of the Filipino youth in the 21st century. Philippine laws say that youth ends at age 21, when a citizen can already get married. The Department Health, meanwhile, stretches youth into the age of 24 while the Department of Education and Culture says it ends at 30. Likewise, the National Youth Council agrees youth ends at 30, while the United Nations Educational, Scientific Organization (UNESCO) says youth starts with the teen years and ends at age 44. Bless the United Nations, then, for including us in this category.

But whether youth ends at 21, 24, 30, or 44, the facts exist. The youth vote is the biggest in the country, pegged at 70 percent. Maybe that is why, as some quarters insist, inadequate info was given about voter registration last year because the Filipino youth vote is a thinking vote. As this school of thought suggested, if the thinking vote gets to vote, indeed, they might choose the young and the bright and the candidates whose faces are not too oily with corruption and greed.

A 2003 study by Raymundo and Puyat also shows that the Filipino youth value high self-esteem. “About 7 to 10 Filipino youth are quite satisfied with them selves or feel they are capable of doing many good things or take a positive attitude towards the self.” What is the importance of this? Aside from having lesser pimples because one doesn’t worry too often and having a better posture because one stands up straight and tall, having a good self-esteem has its other bonuses. “Young people who feel good about themselves tend to be less vulnerable to pressures from various sources to engage in high-risk behavior.”

All those books we read in college and graduate school about Philippine history and colonialism seemed to suggest that the pervasive effect of colonialism was completely negative. But in the postmodern and postcolonial age, and certainly in this new century, we have seen otherwise. Our collective and racial experiences with different colonial masters and authority figures have shaped us to be more malleable. We could shift shapes and mould ourselves into different phases and faces depending on the situation and the person we are dealing with.

An additional study by Miralao in 2003 suggests that the Filipino youth are comfortable with being individualistic and unique. That thumb mark of individuality is not a sign of weakness but of strength. “Likewise, the Filipino youth of today are able to continually fuse diverse and distinct roles and expectations into a coherent whole that defines who they are in their everyday interaction (Pena, 1998). A typical Filipino youth tends to have a well-rounded personality and is able to seamlessly shift from one role to another (i.e., brother/sister, son/daughter, friend, student, leader, athlete, musician) depending on the demands of the situation.”

What about God?

This reminds me of that long, famous poem “Like the Molave” of Rafael Zulueta da Costa that won the Commonwealth Literary Prize in 1940. Strong, sturdy and stubborn, the Filipino youth will stand tall and proud in the 21st century. Aside from individual strength, whence comes nourishment?

From spirituality and from the family. Admit it, many of us would rather go malling on a Sunday than sit it out in Mass with a priest droning on and on about Saint Paul’s Letter to the Philippines (Philippians, please, Phillipians). But fully 99.6 percent of the respondents believe in God or a Supreme Being. “Though many of them are less familiar with the teachings of their church compared to their parents, most of them still believe that how they conduct their lives today would have a bearing on what would happen to them in the hereafter, in heaven or in hell.” (Raymundo, 2003)

And would one be a Filipino without the family? What accounts for the popularity (still) of Big Brother is the sight of grown-up men and women bawling at the sound of their parents’ voices on the phone, or the sight of their siblings on the screen telling them they are much missed. In spite of the negative social costs of migration and the OFW phenomenon, 83.2 percent of those surveyed were raised by both parents living together.
“Even in families that have only the mother or the father (due to economic reasons) to supervise the household, adverse effects on the youth’s socialization have not been reliaby established. In many cases, the reason for a parent’s absence and not the absence itself is more determinative of whatever behavioral problem the youth may develop (Philippine Social Sciences Council, 2003).”

But in this postmodern age, we now know that strengths are also weaknesses. Faith and family might be fortresses, but they do not offer enough windows of opportunity to discuss the important issues of sex and sexuality. Until now, a coherent sex-education program is not in place in the schools. I still remember, with vividness enough to make me blush even today, the sight of my Religion teacher in high school, the spinsterish Miss Zamora, bravely talking about masturbation to a class of high-schoolers. Although we had galloping gonads and all, we could not look at Miss Zamora talking about something that we would not even discuss among ourselves in Practical Arts class.

Fast forward to 2008 Philippines. My nephew’s mother is working abroad, like a million others, and his dad is dead. He stays with my parents in the sunny suburbs. He turned 12 this year and one day last summer, I wanted to talk to him about the birds and the bees and the silent trees. I tentatively began with, “Hijo, uhhmm, let us talk about, uhmmm, sex.”

He looked at me with his big, wondering eyes lit with innocence. I looked at him, at that face wreathed with sunlight, and I high-tailed. “Ay, ahhh, I will just buy you the book, Boys and Sex.” End of the sex-education lesson. For, really, it is difficult to talk about sex to young people who are like your children. I was the one who carried this infant from the hospital to the house (his mother too scared to carry him because he looked so red and so frail). I would leave my classes and run to the hospital when he would have convulsions. And now, now he is 12 and I have to talk to him about sex?

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pride march December 6

MEDIA RELEASE

Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
Filipinos hold grand parade

The annual Pride March of the Philippine lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Filipinos will roll on Saturday, December 6, at 3 p.m. Venue is Remedios Circle, Malate, Manila. The march is organized by Task Force Pride Philippines, an organization of LGBT groups and individuals. After the march, the Miss Queen Philippines Beauty Pageant will be held at 5 p.m., followed by a street party at Maria Orosa Street with techno DJs at 10 p.m. Celebration is the theme of this year’s Pride March.

In what is being anticipated as a historic first, events celebrating LGBT Pride will happen simultaneously in Luzon (Manila), Visayas (Cebu), and Mindanao (Lanao), making this year’s LGBT Pride festivities nationwide. In Manila , the 2008 Manila Pride March is expected to turn the streets of Malate into one big and colorful Pride festival.

In Cebu, the Visayas Pride Network, a network of LGBT organizations and individuals promoting LGBT human rights, is gearing up for the first ever Pride Day in the Queen City of the South. To join and for more information, visit the Visayas Pride Network website at http://www.cebupride2008. webs.com.

In Lanao, the Gays, Bisexuals and Transgenders United for Peace and Solidarity (GUPS), will celebrate LGBT Pride by conducting a reflexology and therapeutic massage training for Mindanao LGBTs on 6-7 December 2008. As part of the training, participants will offer free foot reflexology, foot spa, and back and head massages to NGO workers on Dec. 8 and 9. To join and for more information, visit the GUPS website at http://www.gupsi.org.

Danton Remoto of Ang Ladlad will also introduce the Yogyakarta Principles of LGBT Rights signed in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, last year as the framework for the rights of LGBT Filipinos. Grace Poore of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Council based in New York will also explain the context of the Yogyakarta Principles.

More information about the Pride March can be accessed at http://www.manilapride2008.org or from Danton Remoto at danton_ph@yahoo.com

I CHOOSE NOT TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS IMPEACHMENT PROCESS

A Manifestation
Rep. Lorenzo R. Tañada III
4th District, Quezon Province
2 December 2008

Mr. Speaker,

Friends from both sides of the aisle and outside the halls of this august chamber have asked why I did not participate in the Committee of Justice during the impeachment proceedings.

Mr. Speaker,

I purposely boycotted the impeachment proceedings in the Committee of Justice. After having witnessed and participated in three impeachment proceedings, it is my humble opinion that no sitting President, present or future, will ever be impeached by the House of Representatives through proceedings in the Committee on Justice. As a matter of fact, I do not even see any future impeachment complaint hurdling the obstacle of “sufficiency in substance”. The only avenue left for a sitting or future President to be impeached is through the “fast-track” model that is if 1/3 of the Representatives affix their signatures as endorsers of the impeachment complaint or vote against the Committee Report dismissing the impeachment complaint which seems to be an impossibility nowadays when this or any President in the future commands tremendous power and influence.

Mr. Speaker,

Sumasangayon ako na ang impeachment ay isang political na proseso kung saan ang tanong na dapat sagutin ng impeachment court sa Senado ay kung tatanggalin ba o hindi ang Pangulo. It is not the duty of the House of Representatives to act as an impeachment court. Sad to say, in my humble opinion, the House of Representatives has been over-stepping its duty and has been acting as an impeachment court by the sheer force of numbers and not out of reason and fairness.

I believe that the Truth will never be ascertained in a political process where numbers are used as a basis on determining whether a President should be held accountable for his or her actions. As I explained my vote in previous impeachment proceedings, impeachment proceedings do not automatically find a President guilty but may also declare him innocent.

Mr. Speaker,

When will we ever take the task to impeach public officials seriously so much so that we take time to hear and appreciate testimonies and evidence?

How do we view our sole and sacred duty as members of the House of Representatives to hold the President accountable as enshrined in the Constitution?

Is the Article on Accountability of Public Officers regarding the Office of the President rendered inutile by sheer numbers?

Is this the message that we want to send the youth? That numbers can hide the truth.

Mr. Speaker,

I can feel our youth’s disenchantment with political institutions and their sense of helplessness and hopelessness. We may pat ourselves in the back and be proud of what we accomplished today. I feel we just proved to the youth of the land that we the House of Representatives have failed to inspire them to love our country more beyond self and beyond party affiliation.

Mr. Speaker,

Paumanhin sa mga kaibigan sa mayorya at sa minorya na alam kong ibinigay ang panahon sa napakasalimuot na isyung ito. Ayokong maging bahagi sa isang proseso na nagbibigay ng maling pag-asa sa hinahanap nating katotohanan. Tiyak ako na ito ang ikakasira na naman sa imahe at kredibilidad ng Mababang Kapulungan kung may natitira pa.

And so, I choose not to participate in this process. I choose to boycott and not take part in the vote that we are about to cast tonight.

Thank you very much.