Wednesday, March 19, 2008

In Search for the Truth (?)

It was a date I have secretly marked on my planner, making sure I would be free on that particular day. But most of the time, we are not in control of our lives and so I found myself, just as when the program was just starting, in front of the computer, trying my best to figure out how those torrents will work (and they did to my utmost relief). Well it was rather late when I have finally obtained what I need (for that classical mechanics stuff) and off I went to fulfill the plan I had.
There were those certain awkward feelings I felt rumbling inside me as I tread the streets to the Student Union Building yesterday. For one, I am in a sort of 50-50 thinking about the dialogue/forum. I just tried to content myself with the expectation that well I could see for myself if there was anything worthy in that activity.
And so I found a throng of heads outside SU. It was still small ‘numerically’ but in relation to the size of the SU outside grounds, I could say that it’s good that a substantial number of people came – to ask, to get involve, to listen. For all I know, the pervading goals for most, if not all, of the people there was to see in person the man behind the noise about the ZTE-NBN Controversy; none other than Jun Lozada. (A classmate of mine told me he is called around the campus as JLo…well huli ako lagi sa mga ganyang bagay.)
The part of the program in which I have found myself is the ‘question and answer’ portion. The organizers
gathered questions from those who came and these were then read on the microphone on the stage and Jun would answer. Now what about his answers?
Most of them, I think he answered as sincerely as he could, taking careful note of what the questions really are and providing coherent responses in return. Well he turned some into humorous jokes (which resulted to a number of photos sessions to those who asked the question) but did not at least diminished the flow of that portion.
Every one is entitled to his or her opinion right? Well there were those questions that he answered quite unclear, mostly starting to pretty related answer and then diverging somewhat and finally giving statement outside the line of the question. Well there questions that were quite silly not just to answer but even to hear and there were some that were really hard to answer publicly, too sensitive to put it in a nice word.
The awkward feelings? It
was born on the first time I joined a rally in Calamba (woah there were ABS-CBN cameras there at that time!). It seems some parts of those activity (rally or forum or dialogue) gets beyond what is/are expected of them. Unreasonable to a large extent. I personally do not have anything against such activities. I myself want to get involved in their ‘search’ for the truth, for the eradication of corruption in the public offices (I am a staunch dreamer you know) etc. But heck, there are limitations, distinct or implied. If we really are for the truth we must not speak of things that we are not quite sure as well. We may be throwing stones at the wrong persons. We could shout until out lungs dry out but there must be some logical basis for those actions. We do not want to be compared or line up with those we profess we detest (i.e. corrupt public officials, liars etc), do we? And please vandalism is big no no! (I know I am guilty of scribbling stuff on school chairs but at least I am trying to change that habit). To deface the Oblation is a big disappointment on the part of the students. (Of course, who would paste those posters there expect those who are more likely to be involved in demonstrations or similar things. I do not expect an ambulant vendor pasting OUST GMA stuff, haha). Anyway, let us just be cautious and clean in our ways, I mean in organizing activities like that.
I am personally happy that the forum/dialogue pushed through. I once heard Satur Ocampo on the radio and he said that discussions are one of the ways of enlightening the people especially about the events happening around us, perhaps more particular to the government.
In Search for the truth? Count me in. But let us know to what extent we must be in. =)

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Revering the Filipina Image through the Keyboards

Entry to the WikiPilipinas Filipina Writing Contest

A statue of a young beautiful woman stands in the midst of our local park named Doña Leonila*. Placed at the center of a small pool, there’s so much to be observed from that attractive piece of art. She wears the Filipina costume, the famous baro’t saya and the timeless bakya on her feet. She holds on one hand a basket while the other one keeps a bilaoº steady on her head, objects commonly associated with the so-called ‘traditional’ Filipina.
I’ve witnessed most, if not all, of the changes made upon this figure beginning in my childhood days. It has undergone many repainting for reasons such as the weather and peeling of the paints. And so she would then be seen in a red saya, sometimes in a concoction of bright colors. Her baro would then be switched from white to yellow. Her skin would also be in white, sometimes in cream. Whether the pool is full or emptied, it has never diminished the attraction and curiosities that this Doña Leonila park character has mustered. Her story is essentially the same with our Filipina women.
Descending from the lines of those who experienced the fierce force of the Spanish conquistadors, they have been placed into a strict and definite class of those who are only fit to do menial domestic works, bear children for the continuance of their family name among other. Though given the privilege of education, the knowledge was limited and the areas only covered those which were deemed only necessary for themˆ.
The war years have included in their casualties the dignity, if not innocence, of our women. Japanese soldiers, despite the raging wars, did have the time to feast on our Filipinas, thus earning the scornful title of comfort women.
The present times has not been excused from such degrading events. Through the use of modern technologies, our women, voluntarily or not, are now being sold on the internet, either as a permanent partner or simply for other people’s pleasures. On a more saddening case is our Pinay OFWs‡ taking flights into foreign lands to earn money for their families in exchange for hard works, only to be subjected into maltreatments, sometimes into the hands of molesters, and worse meeting their death.
Taking these numerous actions that have been done to taint the character of our kababaihan† would give the outside world a very grotesque image of them: a teary-eyed Filipina, thrown in a corner dirty and full of stain; afraid; easily cowered; wholly fit for the jobs of rags and mops and easily taken for one’s own delight. The projection of such an icon is too much for me to bear and too pressing for me to allow it to mature into false meanings and connotations of a Filipina.
We, as fellow Filipinos, know the plight of our women, and would gladly pin down the progress of this degradation of our women that has surprisingly penetrated through modern times. Let then the identification of such a problem be followed by a definite action in return, however hard or long-termed the case may be. And we are in charge here, all of us.
It would then be vital in choosing the weapons that would be efficient and effective all at the same time; instruments that are capable of sending the missiles of truth to our targets in just a click of a mouse or a hit on the keyboard. Indeed the internet is a powerful tool for us to use and writers and bloggers alike are all entitled to take the front lines in this.
The rapid emergence of blog sites on the internet has moved pen users into keyboard users, typing those thoughts away and taking pleasure in seeing them published online. Topics vary, from personal to political to philosophical. And so every living Filipino maintaining such a site would be a hero in his or her own way if he or she could spare considerable amounts of time in writing about the real image of our Filipina, the Filipina of the modern times.
That would be an opportunity for us to give an account of our history, how Filipinas dominated most of its pages most notably in the revolution period. Who would not be proud that we have Teresa Magbanua who bravely fought the invaders in the Visayas, Gabriela Silang in Ilocos, and Trinidad Tecson in Biak-na-Bato? How about Tandang Sora, that brave woman who, despite her age, still rendered her service to the Katipunan? Beauty is a gift that can be used and a Filipina has shown just that. Gregoria de Jesus, the Lakambiniˇ of the Katipunan, went beyond just having a beautiful face; she became the principal custodian of the important documents of the underground movement. Marcela Agoncillo offered her talents to put into existence what is now considered as our first Philippine flag. Japanese occupation paved the way for Josefa Llanes Escoda to show her support for the fighting Filipino soldiers by nursing them, not to mention the other nurses who braved the treacherous times of war. Certainly there is much to offer to the blog readers out there, Filipinos or not Filipinos.
Contemporary times contain equally bright and laudable Filipinas: Honorata ‘Atang’ dela Rama in the performing arts, Jovita Fuentes in the promotion of Philippine music, Francisca-Reyes Aquino in Philippine folk dances, Lea Salonga for her stage acting, Corazon Aquino in politics, the list is quite literally endless. We can never run out of topics to deal with.
The ills of the country that has compelled or perhaps put our women into some regretful states is not a curse, we have just the right time to strip away those ugly news about them off the walls grazing the world. With the use of words, of blog entries published in our respective blogs, we could scrape off the dirt that has accumulated on the image of the Filipina over the years. It has to be constant writing and blogging in order for people to continue seeing the real image, as small stains and the like would tend to be easily observed. And we don’t want that to happen. We want the whole world to see just what a Filipina, a Pinay, really is - no more, no less. And from that, we owe to keep it brightly painted, clean and free from any harm.
The Filipina is an integral part of the Philippine society. Not just because it has been attested by the past generations but is also evident in these modern times. Baro’t saya, bakya, a basket, or bilao, may be ceaselessly associated with them, but they do not in any way render the Filipina image naïve and incompetent. The changing times has made them strong and resilient. The placement of their image in the rightful pedestal will not only be the triumph of the Filipinas, but also of the whole country as well.

* Doña Leonila Park, San Pablo City, Laguna
º bilao- a circular tool, usually made of bamboo, used in threshing palay
ˆ Even our national hero Jose Rizal lamented on the system of education that the Spaniards imposed in the country
‡ Overseas Filipino Workers
† a Filipino collective term for women
ˇ Lakambini literally means “muse”


Simple Citizens

I woke up rather late this morning owing to the strenuous works this week has given. I was not able to finish the Wikipedia article about Macbeth as it was still there right in my face as I struggle to sit up from my rather curled position in which I have found myself.
It is quite a fruitless attempt to deny even to myself the mountainous works that lay ahead for me but still I chose, over the raging skirmishes of thoughts in me, to just go outside and have a breath of a Saturday air.
The first sound that greeted me was a fire alarm, resounding throughout the length of the eskinita I was traversing. Yeah, I realized, start of the Fire Prevention Month. I emerged into the ground of our Post office hoping to find the fire truck but was nowhere to be seen.
And so I continued my walk up to the mini-park put up by Kiwanis. Beauty indeed is the first thing that came into my mind as I looked over the lake and the cloud-covered mountain in its background. Peace, peace, peace! I looked around and saw how peace was painted on the faces of those early-morn joggers and strollers around the perimeter of our famous lake. But then I cannot help but swept my thought into the streets of Makati, where yesterday hundred thousand people were moved to be together to express their angst into the events that have put veils of doubt into the credibility of the present government. Much of the country seems to be at peace, and when there is a national concern, most of us, if not all, are in such places of peace: a majestic lake, with the sunlight bounding and playing with its waters, a morning scene which could actually intoxicate us.
As much as my heart wants to be side by side with those seeking to find the truth, there seem too much to do first: school stuff, extra curricular jobs, among other. And I think that is the same with a large number of Filipinos. I thought, if one chooses not to do something about the haunting issues concerning our higher officials,that would sound okay given his own personal reasons. But what if suddenly, one day, all of us decided to do just the same thing, where would we find ourselves?
In the sidelines watching the fruits of the toils of the people spent and used by those who stole them?
In the junk places as in Payatas hoping to find our possessions, perhaps ourselves, which have been nabbed by those greedy ones?
I may be concluding too early. The outcomes of the investigations, or future trials maybe, would be the ones to confirm these nagging thoughts.
And that is why I wanted to put an end into all of these inquiries. If there are things hidden from the public, to which the government and the whole of its elements are accountable after all, then they must be revealed now. If there are people that must be held responsible for the wrongdoings, let them have the rightful punishments. Exceptions are hard to give out when delicate and important themes are involved, the people and the country’s future.
If we don’t invest the effort and time, if I don’t invest the effort and time, then such scenes of peace would be sadly relegate into the realms of fairy tales, which I personally would not want to happen.
Let us do now our own ways of urging the present administration to come and face the allegations put against them. These are not signs of rebellions. We are simply citizens and in times such these, we are but searching for the truth we need.
Phoyo Credit: