Thursday, December 27, 2012

Who's afraid of NFP?

Philippine Daily Inqirer/OPINION/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

I HAVE issues with both the pros and antis on reproductive health, who have been in fierce debates until recently when the pros in the House of Representatives and the Senate prevailed and married their respective versions now littered with the term “non-abortifacient.” But my issues aren’t anything that cannot be addressed by whichever side prevailed, if only there will be, to borrow a Church official’s words, “attentive listening.”

Alas, there still are more incendiary remarks from some antis that are unbecoming of their statures. A Catholic prelate was reported as saying that the passing of the RH bill and the Aquino administration’s support of it could be likened to the recent massacre of 20 young children and six adults in Connecticut. Or something to that effect. What hole-y hyperbole.

And because tomorrow is Holy Innocents’ Day, it won’t be unlikely for the likes of him to liken the RH bill to Herod’s order to slaughter the innocents.

But I have heard and seen worse. Last Sunday morning, in a church in Quezon City, the new parish priest, for shock effect, complemented his homily with a video clip showing mutilated fetuses, tissues being dissected, an eyeball falling out of a socket, severed limbs, innards spilling out. If you had tocino for breakfast and retched, your vomit might have looked similar to what was on the altar screen.

I have watched some true-to-life gut-churning scenes, among them a couple of autopsies and a convict being exterminated by lethal injection—part of a journalist’s day—and I can say that my guts are steel-hard. But images of mutilated fetuses being shown near the altar at Sunday Mass?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

An RH bill (board) I'd like to see

Philippine Daily Inquirer/OPINION/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

Billboards from hell have been this column’s objects of ire for the longest time. But as they say, if you can’t lick them, you might as well join them. Anti-billboard advocates might as well put up their own to replace some of the unsightly and distracting ads that obstruct our view of the sky.

What’s this got to do with the RH (reproductive health) bill? More on this later.

Many thoughts have been running through my mind these past months that the RH bill was being debated in both the House of Representatives and the Senate and by the pros and the antis who have vigorously, relentlessly and heroically defended their respective positions according to the dictates of their consciences and hopefully not because of the urgings of their party, religious or industry affiliations.

Kudos to both sides. In the end only one side wins, though it is not necessarily winner-takes-all. There have been and will be more give and take, as exemplified by the last-minute amendments that a principal author, Sen. Pia Cayetano, accepted magnanimously. But not Sen. Tito Sotto’s proposal to strike out the word “satisfying” in the phrase “safe and satisfying sex” (that women are entitled to). Cayetano held her ground, with RH bill coauthor Sen. Miriam Santiago declaring that any man married to her must give her safe and satisfying sex. Knowing Santiago, I thought she would add that “satisfying” was an understatement.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bottomline: Were they consulted?

Philippine Daily Inquirer/OPINION/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

When the 120 farmers and members of the indigenous groups Dumagat and Agta marched 340 kilometers for three weeks from Casiguran, Aurora, to Manila to amplify their opposition to the Aurora Pacific Economic Zone and Freeport Authority (Apeco), they were not wearing headbands and carrying placards that said: “We are open to negotiations” or “We have open minds.”
When you oppose, you do not say, “Let’s meet halfway,” and hope for crumbs. You give it your mighty all until the other side and the leaders-that-be sit down to talk and settle—reasonably and justly.

When the marchers reached Metro Manila and met the press, supporters and, later, President Aquino and some members of his Cabinet, all they wanted was to air their fears of displacement from their ancestral domain, loss of livelihood, as well as their disappointment at the lack, if not absence, of consultation. And their total opposition to Apeco. That is from their point of view, because of where they are coming from.

Apeco is a 12,923-hectare “megaproject” touted to usher in a new era of economic progress in the province of Aurora. Apeco came into being through an Angara-father-and-son-sponsored law. Sen. Edgardo Angara, his son Rep. Juan Edgardo Angara (a senatorial wannabe), and the senator’s sister Gov. Bellaflor Angara-Castillo were behind Apeco’s creation. But the advocacy group Task Force Anti-Apeco says Apeco has been accused of “transgressing a series of asset reform laws, such as the Indigenous People’s Rights Act, the Carper law and the Fisheries Code.”

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Today's 'singing nuns'

Philippine Daily Inquirer/OPINION/by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

The 1960s movie “The Singing Nun” starring Debbie Reynolds was inspired by a real singing nun named Sr. Janine Deckers. The Dominican nun from Belgium popularized the French song “Dominique” and many other compositions. I had a book of her songs that came with piano scores, guitar chords and ink drawings. The semibiographical movie, with Reynolds playing Sister Ann, became a hit. It’s on YouTube.

(Let me just mention here that the real singing nun’s life would later take a downward spin and end in tragedy in 1981. I read this in Wikipedia.)

The movie’s timing was ideal. Vatican II had just ended and religious orders were headed for renewal, examining their original charisms and breaking doors open to let fresh air in. Real-life nuns toting guitars, proclaiming God’s love by singing in public and even in “The Ed Sullivan Show,” were no longer taboo. Atrocious religious habits were being shucked and simpler lifestyles were becoming the ideal. Things began going farther from there. It was also the era of anti-Vietnam War protests.

A little later, in other parts of the world like the Philippines, nuns would join protest movements against repression and wade into uncharted waters. Many were frontliners in the freedom movement, if not grassroots agents of change who left the comforts of the cloisters to heed the call of the marginalized.