Namfrel to hold voters’ registration

By Anna Valmero
First Posted 17:53:00 02/26/2009

MANILA, Philippines – The National Citizen’s Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) will hold a registration for first time voters at San Beda College Friday, an official said.

Namfrel and Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) chairperson Henrietta de Villa said in a phone interview that the special registration aimed to encourage about 200 students and out-of-school youth from the fourth and sixth districts of Manila, along with other students from nearby schools, to enlist so that they could be able to participate in the 2010 polls.

“I hope this special registration of voters on Friday will signal proactive engagement of our nation’s “bagond bida” [new heroes] – the Filipino youth voters,” she said.

De Villa added that there would be a voters’ education campaign as part of the registration to promote awareness among the youth on the importance of participating in the elections.

The activity is timely for the National Service Training Program week, which encourages volunteerism among the youth, she said.

Albert Oasan, San Beda College NSTP facilitator and head of Namfrel Manila Chapter, said in a statement the activity aimed to encourage students to be involved in community initiatives that would promote volunteerism and vigilance in safeguarding the electoral process.

For the project, Comelec will setup a satellite registration center at San Beda College in Mendiola, Manila. A data capturing machine will be available to capture biometrics information (photograph, signature and finger print) of first time voters.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said there were about 9 million youth voters aged 18-35 years old in the 48,190,702 registered voters in October 2007.

If 2 million of the 5 million new eligible voters will register by yearend, there will be at least 11 million youth voters for the 2010 elections, Jimenez said.


Rizal for our times

By Danton Remoto | Remote Control | 02/17/2009 7:00 PM

I am old enough to remember watching the plays of Philippine Educational Theater Association (PETA) at the Rajah Sulayman Theater, in the ruins of Fort Santiago in Intramuros. After watching a highly controversial play during the darkest days of martial law, we would go home but would quietly watch our backs, lest some secret marshal would be following us.

Last year, I watched Ateneo teacher Christine Bellen’s play, Batang Rizal, at the new and lovely home of PETA in New Manila. It’s a nifty musical about the young Rizal, and on the way there, the playwright said that what pleased her most was the audience the day before – a gaggle of around 50 tykes who had filled up a small van. As they say, if you can please such a young – and certainly most difficult – audience, you can please the most makunat of them all.

And pleased they certainly were, and so were we, when we watched the musical unfold before our very eyes. A small stage and a low-tech production did not hamper the unraveling of this memorable work directed by Dudz Teraña. The setting is now. The young Pepito (the talented Christian Segarra) of Jose Rizal Elementary School breaks the face of Jose Rizal’s statue newly commissioned by Mayor Ishmael Rapcu (played with pitch-perfect, idiom-breaking English by Wilfredo Casero). The indignant mayor then threatens the teacher (Bernah Bernardo with the funny, rubbery lips) that he would shut down the school unless the statue is fixed. The poor, hapless Pepito – butt of jokes for his matchstick-thinness and poverty, then stumbles upon a big book containing the biography of Jose Rizal. He enters the realm of the book, and is transported to 19th-century Philippines, during the time of the young Rizal.

This device, of course, is nothing new. It was employed in a variety of texts, notably in The Never-Ending Story. But it works seamlessly here. For when Pepito and Pepe (the young Rizal) meet, past and present clash (What does the word English “wow” mean? asks Rizal’s sisters). Not only language, but the great horse of politics is in fine fettle and form here. Pepe gives Pepito a seven-day tour of his time, starting with Domingo (Sunday). The bells ring and the fraile come, punishing the Indios for the smallest mistake.

When Pepito said to Pepe (in my English translation): “So during your time, the authorities punish those who they think defy them and make them disappear?” Pepe nods. And the Pepito said something that made our blood run cold: “Oh, it’s the same with us. Nothing has changed.”

As the song Pag-asa ng Bayan, written by the prize-winning musical director Vince de Jesus, goes: “Sa dami ng nagbuwis ng buhay/ Alang-alang sa bayan/ Ang kalayaan ba’y ating nabantayan?/ Tingnan mo ang paligid mo/ Ang lahat ba ay malaya/ Tingnan mo/ Malaya ba’ng mabuhay nang payapa,/ Malaya ba’ng magsabi ng gusto/ Ang lahat ba ay pantay-pantay ang turing/ Walang nasa ibabaw/ Walang nasa ilalim.”

I like this play because it shows you that history should never be a bitter pill to take for our children. The young people in the audience had a merry time watching. They rocked and rolled to the rap song of “The Monkey and the Turtle,” with shadow-play animation by Don Salubayba. They sat entranced when Dona Teodora Alonso Rizal sang to the young Pepe, telling him not to be like the moth that came too close to the candle flame, burning its wings. But when the young Rizal (played with wide-eyed wonder by Abner Delina Jr.) said, “Yes, mother, but the light! How bright the light!” another shudder ran down my spine.

Later, it is the young Pepe’s turn to go the 21st-century Philippines, with its color and cruelties. The stage becomes a rainbow of colors coming from the students’ costumes and the play of light; but the very same children could also be source of such cruel lines against the poor. It is not heavy-handed because it is sung, or danced, or shown through gestures (the sticky Spider man act of one of the young bullies, complete with a hissing like that of a snake’s).

In the end, the play interrogates the notion of a hero. Is he the one only cast in stone? Or venerated blindly by people who do not really know him? How to be a hero in a society that hails the ignorant and rewards the corrupt? Are these questions that come closer to the bone, in this Age of the Graft-Ridden and the Corrupt?

One answer lies in breaking time and space and bringing us back the young Jose Rizal – who also gets upset, is lazy, proud, fearful, friendly and in the end, lonely. But even if the young Rizal knows he would die, he still returned to the past so this would happen, we would all be free. From the shadow of his fear he vaulted into the light, like the moth with its wide-open wings, into our hearts.

Batang Rizal was shown at the Luce Theater in Dumaguete last week. It is currently having a series of campus tours in the country. Information about Ang Batang Rizal at PETA Theater and its mobile shows are available at tel: 410-0821, 407-1418.

Pagbabago at hustisya, bago ang rekonsilyasyon!

Reaction on GMA’s statement about reaching out to President Estrada and President Aquino:

Hindi si Pres. Erap, hindi rin si Pres. Cory ang namatayan ng mga kamag-anak sa extra-judicial killings & abductions na naganap sa panahon ng rehimeng GMA.

Hindi sila Pres. Erap at Cory ang nawalan sa pagkaka-ubos ng sequestered Marcos Wealth habang walang napapala ang bansa.

Hindi lamang si Pres. Erap ang nakulong at kinamkaman ng pag-aari ng dahil sa political persecution.

Hindi rin lamang sila Pres. Erap at Cory ang nakaranas ng walang kaparis na patuloy na pagtaas ng mga bilihin at bayarin.

Hindi rin lamang ang boto nila ang nasalaula noong 2004. Kung hindi ang boto ng buong bayan.

Nag-sorry na si Pres. Cory sa nangyari sa Edsa Dos. Marahil nagsisisi rin si Pres. Erap dahil hinayaan nya ang Edsa II. Marahil nagsisisi na rin ang maraming naging kabahagi nito.

Ang Edsa Dos at hindi ang Edsa Tres, ang hindi mapapatawad ng sambayanan at huhusgahan ng kasaysayan na pinakamalaking pagkakamali.

Nasa sambayanang Pilipino na ang pagpapasya kung patatawarin nila si GMA.


HS students speak on leadership: “I can make a difference”

By Lei Chavez,
February 13, 2009

I am a leader, I can make a difference.

With this premise, 12 senior high school students delivered speeches on
true leadership in the recently held grand finals of the Voices of
Leadership Elocution Competition on Wednesday.

The public speaking contest is a corporate advocacy of Volvo Philippines
launched last November 2008. It was organized by Viking Cars Inc (VCI), the
authorized dealer of Volvo cars in the Philippines, and Scandinvian Motors
Corp. (SMC), the official importer of Volvo cars in the country.

As varied as the schools the contestants came from, each speech gave
numerous definitions: from the universally known concept of “A leader is a
servant” to endearing ones as “Ang lider ay isang salmon” to serious
notions as “Leadership is a way of life.”

For Chinese-looking (but purely Filipino) John Xavier Valdez from Ateneo de
Manila High School, “Leadership is not about power or charisma. It is not
social class or distinction. It is not about job experience or education.”

In his grand prize-winning piece, Valdez said that leadership is “something
that transcends age, class, social distinction, gender, even the shape of
one’s eyes. Leadership is about influence, nothing more, nothing less.” He
added that, “Under this definition, every man, woman, child, in this nation
of 90 million is a leader in his own right.”

Regina Isabelle Jaimee Ranada of Miriam College, the first runner-up,
played with the concept of the word yes. “Yes is a response. Leaders must
be responsive. A leader should care not only for the task at hand, not only
for the members of her team, but also for herself. Second, yes signifies
acceptance…you have to accept the fact that you are not perfect. Yes, is a
positive reaction. Leaders should react positively no matter the situation
may be. She should be ready to give affirmation,” Ranada explained.

As for second placer Christian Earl Castañeda of La Salle Greenhills who
brought the house down with his quirky speech, he compared a leader to a
tree. “Ang puno ay nagbibigay buhay at pag-asa sa ating lahat. Ang puno ay
nagbibigay lilim sa atin kapag tayo ay naiinitan o nauulanan. At higit pa
dun, ang puno ay nagbubunga ng masasarap na prutas, ngunit hindi para sa
kanyang sarili.”

Regardless of the many metaphors, the majority of the speakers agree on one
thing: everyone can be a leader and everyone should start to create
positive and substantial change in their little ways.

“Marami kang matutulungang tao at pag-ibayuhin mo ang iyong talento. Kung
magaling kang kumanta, maaaring kanta mo ang sunod na kakantahin ng mga
Filipino ngayon. Kung magaling ka sa sports, malay mo, ikaw na ang
kauna-unahang mag-uwi ng gintong medalya sa Olympics,” Castañeda said.

Being a good leader, as Ramada puts, “is about saying yes to being a role
model, which ironically enough, encompasses a lot of Nos.” She adds that
“One yes inspires more Yeses.”

Valdez further encourages that, “If we recognize the fact that we are all
leaders, and that we all have influence, and really use that in our daily
lives, we will bring out change. And we will become the very Messiah our
country desperately needs.”

The other finalists are: Rebecca Ambil (St. Paul University Quezon City),
Anna Pizarro (St. Scholastica’s College Manila), Maldova Marcos (OB
Montessori), Senando Santiago (UP Integrated School), Geraldine Felicio
(Assumption College), Miguel Roman Perez (Colegio de San Agustin), Beatrice
Sheena Tan (Saint Jude Catholic School), Joseph Chan (Xavier School), and
Marinella Belen (De La Salle Santiago Zobel).

Only the first

“It’s the first and it’s an advocacy that we’d like to continue,” Albert
Arcilla, VCI president and chief executive officer, said after the event.
According to him, the results of the first batch were positive and

“We were very surprised, these students are very much in tune with reality.
They want to share their thoughts and their ideas. I think this is one
forum that will correct a lot of misimpressions about the youth,” Arcilla

The mechanics of the competition are quite simple. After receiving an
invitation, interested schools are will choose three representatives and
send these students to a two-day leadership seminar. During the seminar,
students are trained in different skills that enhance leadership and
responsibility among the students. They are also guided in the art of
public speaking and writing their pieces for the competition.

“We trained them in skills that we think are important for their own
personal growth and their contribution to society. When they came back to
their respective schools, they have their own respective competitions,”
Arcilla explained.

The winners in the internal school competitions will become the official
school representative in the grand finals, that way, every participating
school is represented.

Speeches should “best articulate the concept of “true leadership” inspired
by integrity of heart and excellent skills, God-centeredness, and
accountable and responsible stewardship,” according to Arcilla.

The grand prize winner received P50,000 and a Voice of Leadership plaque.
The first and second runner-up each received a Voice of Leadership plaque
and P40,000 and P30,000, respectively. The winners’ home schools also
received the same amount to support a school program to propagate the true
character of leadership among the faculty and staff. But the remaining
finalists didn’t go home empty handed. Each received a Voice of Leadership
medal and P10,000 while their schools received P20,000.

Kaya Natin! creates chapters nationwide

By Karla Pastores
The Manila Times

More than 100 student leaders and professionals came together in the first ever Kaya Natin! Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship Training Seminar held last February 7 (Saturday) at the Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City.

The participants came from different places all over the country including Ilocos Norte, Laguna, La Union, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Rizal, Zambales, Camarines Sur and Davao. Facilitating the seminar were Kaya Natin! Convenor Harvey Keh, who also serves as the Director of the Youth Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship program of the Ateneo School of Government, Simon Mossesgeld, organizer of the Ayala Young Leaders Congress, and Atty. Arnel Casanova, faculty for Social Entrepreneurship of the Ateneo School of Government.

The training seminar aims to develop leaders for nation building, particularly through the Kaya Natin! Movement. The participants organized themselves into Kaya Natin committees and brainstormed about possible activities aimed at promoting good governance and ethical leadership to all Filipinos. The seminar marks the first step towards an empowered movement with young leaders all helping towards changing Philippine politics.

“We want to be able to empower more Filipinos to take the lead and help bring about positive change and effective governance in the Philippines through their own small ways,” Keh said.

Mae Paner, who plays YouTube sensation Juana Change and is a core group member of Kaya Natin, was also present during the event to promote her latest videos and encourage the participants to take a more active role in fighting corruption in the government. Mayor Sonia Lorenzo of San Isidro, Nueva Ecija also gave a talk on how she as a leader was able to transform the small municipality of San Isidro into an empowered community with responsible and enabled citizens.

During the day-long seminar, Keh, Casanova, and Mossesgeld lectured on the Kaya Natin! leadership framework as well as leadership through social entrepreneurship. The participants were then given a chance to develop their own strategies for leadership according to the framework through the five different Kaya Natin committees—Communications, Membership, Research and Recommendations, Marketing and Fundraising, and Special Projects, as well as a separate group to manage Kaya Natin chapters that the organization is forming all over the country through the initiative of volunteer members.

This will be the first of a series of leadership training seminars that Kaya Natin! will hold around the country.

The next seminar is targeted on February 28 in Cabanatuan City, Nueva Ecija, while the second Manila session will be held on March 14.

The Kaya Natin! movement was initially convened by Keh. Its founding leaders include Lorenzo, Mayor Jesse Robredo of Naga City, Gov. Grace Padaca of Isabela, Gov. Ed Panlilio of Pampanga, and Gov. Teddy Baguilat Jr., of Ifugao.

website, or send an e-mail to

Netiquette for the cell phone and cyberspace age


By Prof. Danton Remoto
Views and analysis section
02/09/2009 11:50 PM

The Philippines is the texting capital of the world, with at least 70 million text messages sent every day. Internet usage in the country is also rising, with at least 20 percent of the population having access to the Internet, whether at home, in the office, or in the Internet cafes.

Thus, it behooves everybody to know etiquette for the Age of the Cell phone and Cyberspace. We can telescope them together and call them Netiquette — a portmanteau of “network etiquette” that can be the convention on electronic forums (Usenet, mailing lists, live chat, and Internet forums). It can also be extended for use of the cell phone users.

The fact that 70 millions text messages are circulated in the Philippines suggests that we are comfortable with this medium. The cell phone is like a third party between us and the receiver of the message. Therefore, since we Filipinos are most comfortable when messages are sent through an “intermediary,” we feel a certain kind of freedom in sending even highly emotional or personal messages via the cell phone.

Moreover, the rising use of the Internet as a form of communication has short-cut the time needed for the response to be received. But we need to have Netiquette, because faster does not necessarily mean better. The point here is that we would rather have friends than enemies in the Internet. Following a few basic rules will make the newbies – those new to the medium – navigate better this brave, new world. These rules come from Virginia Shea’s book called Netiquette.

The first rule is that remember you are texting or writing to people. When we communicate electronically, we see only a screen. No facial gestures, expressions and vocal inflections would guide us. Thus, we run the risk of misinterpreting someone else’s comment.

Writer and MacIntosh evangelist Guy Kawasaki has a useful test for anything you want to send via the cell phone or the Internet: “Would I say this to the person’s face?” If the answer is no, we have to rewrite and read the message again. Send only the message or mail that you would be most comfortable with. Moreover, remember that when you communicate through cyberspace, your words are written and stored somewhere, where you have no control over them. This is true also with blogs and electronic discussion groups. So be careful with those words. And remember that there is not one person reading your message; perhaps there are thousands, and possibly millions.

Online, real life

The second rule is to follow the same standards of behavior online that you would follow in real life. In short, in both your real and virtual lives, you should have the same pattern of behavior. Because the chance of getting caught in the Internet is slim, some people use this as a license to violate the standard of ethics or behavior.

The third rule is to respect other people’s time and bandwidth. We must make sure that the time people spend reading our text messages or e-mail is not time wasted. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said that you never stand on the same river twice. Time has elapsed the moment one second has ticked past.

What does bandwidth mean? It is the “information-carrying capacity of the wires and channels that connect everyone in cyberspace. . . {It} is also sometimes used to refer to the storage capacity of a host system.” Therefore, if we press a button and send the same message ten times to the e-group, then we are wasting the bandwidth. Moreover, do not forward messages indiscriminately because it is a cheap and fast way to send information. Think first if the recipient would welcome the e-mail and find it useful.

Look good

The fourth rule is to make yourself look good. Unless you have a 3G cell phone and using a video call to your friend, he or she cannot see you. The same goes for the Internet. Therefore, you will be judged by the quality of your writing. This means being concise, sensible and correct in both spelling and grammar. For these qualities, you may have to review and read The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, available at most good bookstores.

Avoid long words and, therefore, avoid reading a thesaurus. And Anglo-Saxon words are still the best, because they are crisp, short, and to the point. Moreover, you must be polite and pleasant. This will also shield you from being a flame-bait, or the subject of abuse in the Internet. Moreover, avoid using ALL CAPS, which is the equivalent of shouting and yelling just to gain attention.

The fifth rule is positive: share your expert knowledge. Virginia Shea is right on the dot when she wrote: “The strength of cyberspace is its numbers. The reason asking questions online works is that a lot of knowledgeable people are reading the questions. And if even a few of them offer intelligent answers, the sum total of world knowledge also increases. The Internet itself was founded and grew because scientists wanted to share information. Gradually, the rest of us got in on the act.”


The sixth rule is to help keep flame wars under control. “Flaming” is the term used when people express strong opinions without holding back on their emotions. A flame is alike a mail bomb. Flaming has a place in the Internet, which after all is a democratic space. But Netiquette frowns on the perpetuation of flame wars – two or three people venting their ire on each other, making the other people in the e-group bored. It is also a waste of bandwidth.

The seventh rule is to respect other people’s privacy. Do not forward cell-phone numbers and e-mail addresses without asking the owner. This goes the same, of course, to text messages and e-mail. Corollary to this is the eighth rule: do not abuse your power. The keeper of the keys in cyberspace are the system administrators, experts in every office, and the wizards on MUDs (multi-use dungeons) of every system. Private e-mail is sacred, and should never be read by those with access to them.

The ninth rule is to forgive other people’s mistakes. Mistakes are like noses: everybody has them. So we must forgive the network newbie, or sender of the e-mail sent by mistake. Whether it is a spelling or grammar error, a hare-brained question or opinion, or an overly long answer – have the patience of Job. If it’s a small error, let it slip, like water down the back of a duck. If you feel you must respond, please do so with tact and good manners. You may send the correction by private e-mail rather than in public. And never be self-righteous or arrogant, even if you are right

The tenth rule is to know the recipient of your text message or e-mail. You may send a fragmented text message, with words and spelling broken down, if the recipient is a young person or somebody used to receiving it. If the person sends you a text message with complete words and iron-clad grammar, then by all means, you must respond in the same vein. Otherwise, they might think you do not know your manners and manners – as we all know – make the man, or the woman.

Ang Tunay Na Lider



Ang pamumuno ay hindi lamang kapangyarihan at karangalan, manapa’y isang tungkulin at pananagutan sa bawat taong sakop ng pamamahala ng isang pinuno o lider.
Mayroon akong natutunan sa tunay na kahulugan ng pamumuno sa ilang panahon ng aking panunungkulan bilang pangulo ng PAMANTASAN NG LUNGSOD NG MAYNILA at bilang tagapagsalita ng UNITED OPPOSITION, marahil din sa aking pagiging ama ng maliliit ko pang mga anak o kaya’y dahil sa kawalan ng mga lider na makapagpapabago ng sistema ng ating pulitika.
TATLONG katangian ang dapat taglayin ng isang tunay at tapat na lider, batay sa aking mga karanasan:
1.Kilala niya ang kanyang nasasakupan
2.May pangitain siya o vision
3.At mahigpit siyang kalaban ng katiwalian (corruption)
Bagamat, hindi bagay sa isang pangulo ng pamantasan, ayon sa tingin ng iba, ang aking ginagawa araw-araw na magtungo sa mga class room, rest room, mga pasilidad at buong bakuran ng PLM, mag-interview ng mga istudyante, professor,kawani at mga manggagawa, nakita ko naman na mabunga ang aking mga sakripisyo, sapagkat nakilala ko ang lahat na uri ng tao na aking pinaglilingkuran. Nakita ko rin ang tunay na kondisyon ng PLM, nalaman ko kung anu-ano ang mga dapat ipaayos, nabatid ko kung sino sa mga kawani, guro at pati na mga karaniwang mangagawa ang tunay na nagtratrabaho , nagkukunwari at higit sa lahat ang mga tamad. Napag-alaman ko rin kung ano pang mga bagay ang dapat kong gawin bilang lider. Lahat ng ito ay nakatulong nang malaki sa pagbibigay ko ng mga desisyon
At dahil sa pakikihalubilo na aking ginawa, ngayon ay napalagyan ko na ang PLM ng libreng INTERNET ACCESS, mayroon ng modernong pasilidad tulad ng air-condtioned class rooms, library, cafeteria, hi-tech equipment at iba pa.
Lubos akong naniniwala, na isa sa mga dahilan kung bakit bigo ang pamumuno sa Pilipinas, dahil ang ating mga lider ay hindi makapaglaan ng kahit maikling oras upang alamin kung papaano nabubuhay ang mga Pilipino. Paano ka mamumuno, kung hindi mo kilala ang mga taong iyong pinamumunuan o hindi mo alam ang kanilang pangangailangan?
May pangitain o vision ang isang lider. Kailangan, higit at malawak ang saklaw ng kanyang pangitain kaysa sa kanyang nasasakupan. Dapat, mayroon siyang nakikita na hindi nakikita ng kanyang mga tao, sapagkat kung hindi, anumang grupo o organization ay hindi susulong lalong hindi uunlad. Ang tunay at tapat na lider ay hindi lamang nakatanaw sa magandang kinabukasan bagkus naipapaliwanag pa niya ang kanyang mga magaganda at makabuluhang pangitain o vision sa mga mamumuhunan at tuloy maganyak na makamit, makamtam ng mga tao niya ang wagas na mithiin.
Maraming hinirang na lider na naging tau-tauhan lamang dahil sa kulang o walang pangitain o vision para sa bayan, kaya’t hindi nakapagtataka kung mabusabos ang bansang ito.
Malugod at labis kong ikinasisiya kapag naririnig ko na marami akong nagawang pagbabago at pag-unlad sa PLM, inuulit ko tulad ng magandang pasilidad, fitness center, shuttle service, bonuses at iba pang mga benipisyo para sa mga kawani,guro at manggagawa. Lahat nang ito’y naging posible dahil sa aming mahigpit na patakaran laban sa katiwalian o corruption.

Hindi tiwali ang isang tunay at tapat na lider, dapat lumalaban sa katiwalian.

Sa PLM ay ipinatutupad namin ng tahas ang “Law of Procurement”. Idinadaan namin ang lahat ng pamimili sa tamang proseso at tinitiyak na may nakalaang pondo sa isang makatwiran at malinaw na pamamaraan. May pera ang PLM para sa kanyang panagangailangan.
Ang totoo niyan, hindi naman ganoong kalaki ang aking nagawa, simple lang ang aking ipinatupad. Bawal magnakaw ng pera ng bayan.

Kitang kita ko na sa isang maliit na yunit ng organisasyon ay maaring umusbong ang katiwalian at kayang sirain nito ang buong institusyon. Ito rin ang eksaktong nangyayari nang malawakan sa ating bansa. Kailanman ay hindi makapagbibigay ng mga kaayusang infrastructure, kalusugan, edukasyon at mga reformang panginstitusyonal hanggat may isang lider na tiwali o corrupt.

Bilang pangwakas, lahat ng aral na ito ay bunga ng marubdob na pagmamahal ko sa aking pamilya, na kung tutuusin ay pangsarili lamang; ngunit bilang isang karaniwang ama na may maliliit pang anak na si Santi, 6 na taon at Mike 3 taon, nababahala ako sa kanilang kinabukasan, kung ang ating bansa ay hindi magkakaroon ng mga lider na makakapagpapabago ng anyo ng ating lipunan, mga lider na may puso at damdamin sa kanyang kapwa; lider na may pangitain o vision, at mga lider na matapat at malinis sa kanilang mga tungkulin na ginagampanan.

Ang aking dalawang anak, ang inyong mga anak, ang mga anak ng bawat Pilipino; saan sila patutungo kung walang tunay na lider na mamumuno sa kanila?

Marami pong salamat.

Voices from the margins


BY Professor Danton Remoto
Views and analysis section

Many thanks to the people who take time out to send me an e-mail. One of them is Jack, a 22-year-old gay man from Cagayan de Oro City. Now working in Manila, Jack seems to typify the twenty-something gay man—based in the city, with a slew of friends for company, and leisure to read the books dealing with the life he has chosen to lead. His letter was written in Tagalog. With his permission, I’ve translated some passages.

“Unlike your family, my family was not supportive of my sexuality. I come from a broken family and I wasn’t able to finish college because of financial difficulties. I left Cagayan de Oro City to strike out on my own. Life in the city is a combination of beauty and pain. I want to write about all of this, but being a writer is like something I cannot reach. So, I am now just contented with reading books, like the ones you write. But one day, I hope that the things I write can reach their intended readers. As of now, I’m saving money so I can go back to school. I also have a partner for the past five months. I hope this relationship continues. He is a tower of inspiration for me, a source of strength – something that I also feel when I read your books. . . .”

Another e-mail I received was from a reader who also came from the south. Now a student at University of the Philippines in Diliman, N.D. wrote to me about the Baha’i faith and its open-arms policy regarding homosexuality.

“I belong to the Baha’i faith, one of the fastest-growing religions in the world. I like this religion because it promotes unity and diversity. It teaches us to be understanding and prohibits discrimination and prejudice of all kinds – be they caused by differences in race, religion, gender, and ethnicity. One day, I sent to a copy of the Baha’i Faith’s stance on homosexuality to my parents in Mindanao. My parents read it and later became supportive of my sexual orientation. They even gave me some pieces of advice, especially my father. It wasn’t hard to come out to them, because they already know me well. I wanted my parents to know something that was deeply important to me, and they did. Many Baha’is around the world are coming out, too. Whenever I feel lost and depressed, their website and your books give me the inspiration and strength that I need.

These are the tweetums letters, and they fill the heart with joy. But we must remember that out there, in the wilderness, homophobia still exists. One such discrimination was reported to me by Potch, a college student in one of Manila’s exclusive colleges. The incident happened to one of her best friends.


“Let us call my friend John. He used to teach in a school run by a rich but conservative Catholic group. This is an exclusive school for boys in Quezon City, with an all-male faculty. My friend is gay and proud of it. He doesn’t hide his sexual orientation. When he applied to teach in the school, the principal immediately sensed he was effeminate so he asked my friend outright, ‘Are you gay?’

“My friend answered ‘yes.’ But he also assured the principal that his gayness would not affect his teaching. The school authorities must have been impressed with my friend because they hired him. My friend is a very good English teacher and he became an asset to the school. He was the moderator of the school paper, he led projects, and he trained students for contests. His being gay never interfered with his work. In fact, he was given a high performance rating for that school year.

“Unfortunately, the following school year, there was an incident involving another teacher who was in the closet. The closeted gay molested a student. Right there and then, the discrimination started. It’s like there was this witch hunt for gay teachers in that school. At the end of the school year, seven of them were terminated just because they acted in an effeminate manner. There was no investigation and due process was not observed. The authorities just suddenly felt like weeding out all the gays as if they were lepers or something.

“Even my friend – who was given a good performance rating for that school year – wasn’t spared. I think he was just given something like P30,000 so he would not complain. This seemed like the height of absurdity. As if a trigger had been pulled, suddenly all the administrators became homophobic. Hypocrisy also became the order of the day. I told my friend to complain or file a case against these people. But he said ‘no,’ because this conservative Catholic group is composed of rich and powerful people. He said he wouldn’t stand a chance against them. Right now, my friend is teaching at another school, a college this time, to be safe from intrigues and discrimination.

“I hope your advocacy against the discrimination of gays and lesbians would continue because I believe in giving equal rights to everybody. In fact, my closest friends are all lesbians and gays. I love them dearly and it pains me when unfortunate things happen to them.”

As with other cases like this, I tried to contact the aggrieved party, but he did not want to file a legal case against those who pushed him on the margins of the page. The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender movement in the Philippines has made great strides, but more needs to be done.

On another tangent, the films Jay and Milk will begin showing this Thursday, February 4. These are brave and eloquent testimonies on why we will never be on the margins of the page.