Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sue Vice Ganda

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

For the topic of today’s column I had to choose between the land mines (internationally banned in warfare) that the communist New People’s Army laid to kill policemen en route to a hospital in Cagayan or the disgusting, distasteful and hurtful antiwomen rape jokes that ABS-CBN’s TV host Vice Ganda cracked during his recent live show at a huge venue. I chose the latter which, I fear, many might dismiss as “just jokes.”

I watched on YouTube a video clip that showed the popular gay TV host making a laughing matter of what is considered a sensitive subject and showing his disregard for victims of rape, a most crushing crime against women, men or children. And worse, he did this at the expense of a respected, hardworking, multiawarded TV journalist from rival TV network GMA-7, Jessica Soho.

I also read on Facebook the posts by shocked and angry netizens.

You can view on Facebook or YouTube the video footage that shows Vice Ganda wearing a glittering swimsuit-style costume with faux enormous breasts cum enormous nipples, the evidence of his vanished manhood tightly tucked away from sight to make him look like pop singer Madonna.

No gay-bashing here. Vice Ganda could have been a macho man and still deserve censure for his hurtful jokes against rape victims and those with health problems. Because he’s gay who mightily projects himself as feminine, we expect him to have empathy for rape victims who are women. Pardon my thinking Freudian here, but was his thoughtlessness a case of v-envy? Seriously, he better explore his subconscious with the help of a psychologist.

Cruelty and viciousness were what Vice Ganda unleashed—with thousands watching—when he conjured up a gang-rape scenario where Jessica was the victim. It had to be gang rape, Vice Ganda suggested, to stress Jessica’s weight condition. He also made jokes about a talking weighing scale and, nauseatingly, his imagined victim’s underwear. All these, while a high-ranking executive of his home network, Charo Santos-Concio, was shown laughing in the audience. (She should have walked out.)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Becoming the world's most bullied

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

In 2000 I covered the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal in Tokyo that investigated and tried atrocities against women in countries occupied by Japan during World War II. This was some 60 years after the war crimes were committed. The trial was initiated by civil society, human rights and women’s groups from Asia, Europe and the host country, Japan.

The Philippine delegates, some 20 former sex slaves/comfort women, all in their twilight years, had suffered rape and other cruelties in the hands of Japanese soldiers. I had written about this in the Inquirer (“Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal,” Dec. 5, 2000) and the piece is included in my latest book (“Human Face: A Journalist’s Encounters and Awakenings,” Anvil Publishing and Inquirer Books, 2013). I need not repeat here what I had written.

What I did notice then was how delegations from countries with emerging economies or going up the world’s center stage—for example, South Korea and China—brought in their women survivors with dramatic aplomb, festering rage and showiness. In contrast, those from the Philippines, Indonesia, East Timor, Malaysia, North Korea and Taiwan were more subdued, but no less zealous in their quest for justice.

If the complainants did not get direct profuse apologies and material compensation from the Japanese government, they had at least poetic justice when documents previously hidden were presented for the first time to prove that unspeakable crimes had indeed been committed. This, despite the postwar Japanese government’s deliberate attempt to destroy war documents that had to do with violations of international laws and its refusal to make documents available.

Now what do we make of Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto’s statement that the use of comfort women was “necessary” to keep battle-stressed soldiers in fighting form? His comments sparked outrage among Asian countries and even drew US criticism. Agence France-Presse cited a survey showing that a large majority of Japanese disagreed with the mayor’s position.

This is the 21st century, we are in the third millennium, and Hashimoto does not know that having sex slaves is a crime against humanity?

Shouldn’t Filipinos file a protest?

Lola Tomasa Salinog of Antique and Lola Rosa Henson of Pampanga, two of the most vocal former comfort women who had emerged from the shadows to tell their stories before they passed on, must be turning in their graves. Salinog was present at the Tokyo tribunal and refused compensation if it was not from the Japanese government.

Our country and people have been trashed these past months—through words and deeds—by bullies or bully countries that think they can get away with it. China suddenly extends its boundaries and claims the Philippines’ Panatag Shoal. It also wants for itself the entire Spratly island chain that is being claimed wholly or partly by several other countries including the Philippines.

Throwing away diplomatic protocol, Taiwan’s leaders would want our President no less to grovel before them, to apologize and make amends on their own terms, for the death of one Taiwanese fisherman during an encounter between a Taiwanese fishing vessel and the Philippine Coast Guard at the Balintang Channel. Philippine representatives have been sent to Taiwan but they were treated badly despite ongoing investigations. The belligerent Taiwanese want to call it murder.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Unless the poor...

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

The late feisty lawyer Haydee Yorac, when approached by distraught persons complaining about their mayor (newly elected or reelected, I don’t remember), stared down the complainants and, with characteristic brusqueness, said: “Bakit, ibinoto ko ba ang mayor nyo (Why, did I vote for your mayor)?”

                                                                                                                                                                       Inquirer photo
Ouch. The subtext of her acerbic quip was: You get what you deserve, now you complain? Oh, but don’t we miss her, this frizzy-haired former chair of the Commission on Elections whose fave invocation was “Fiat justitia ruat caelum (Let justice be done though the heavens fall)”?

Here are my postelection ruminations. With the midterm elections just over and the results out so fast, thanks to automation, grumbles can now be heard on why certain corrupt and undeserving candidates won, or how a perceived cad of a reelectionist could get a new mandate, or how babes in the woods came out victorious simply because they had money to burn.

Self-styled political analysts suddenly emerge from the woodwork with their good two cents, opinion makers hog the airwaves, caf├ęs are abuzz with morning-after discussions. We all have something to say about the conduct of the elections, how TV campaign ads worked or didn’t work, the so-called Catholic vote (if there was or wasn’t), the mounds of trash from candidates, the wanton disregard for election rules, etc., etc.

But an oft-repeated refrain is: The masa kasi. The poor masses are blamed for not voting right, the poor whose votes were bought by candidates with immense power and wealth, the poor who owe the candidates debts of gratitude (utang na loob), the poor who, because of need, fear or ignorance voted wrong, the poor who voted not with their head but with their outstretched palm, the poor who are ignorant and who can see only as far as their next day’s meals.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Gutsy moms who know but don't approve

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

Quoting Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poem “Dirge Without Music” was how Lydia de la Paz, mother of slain physician Dr. Remberto “Bobby” de la Paz, began her speech that became a classic during the dark days of martial rule. She was speaking these words to fellow mothers, who had lost their sons and daughters to the excesses of the Marcos dictatorship, at the 1985 founding of Mothers and Relatives Against Tyranny (Martyr):

“Down, down, down into the darkness of the grave/ Gently they go, the beautiful, the tender, the kind/ Quietly they go, the intelligent, the witty, and the brave./ I know. But I do not approve. And I am not resigned.”

No, she was not resigned.

“No, I am not resigned to Bobby’s sudden, brutal, horrifying death,” she said. “How can I, when I know that he went to Samar—a brand new physician with a brand-new wife, vibrant with life, brimming with energy, joyous…”

A 1976 graduate of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine, Bobby de la Paz was killed by soldiers in April 1982 in his small clinic in Catbalogan, Samar. His death caused national outrage. His widow, Dr. Sylvia de la Paz, as well as his mother Lydia and next of kin, found refuge in the movement for justice.

“Suddenly he is no more. Why? He went there because he wanted to serve the people,” the grieving mother said of his son, who was killed during a medical mission for the rural poor. “He was shot repeatedly because he did not ask his patients to pay what they could not afford; he was brutalized because he could go into any barrio, distant or near, morning, noon or night alone; ‘to relieve often, to heal sometimes, to comfort always,’ he treated military and rebel alike and for that, he had to die.”

As the country celebrates Mother’s Day today, we remember the mothers who fought hard and without letup during the years of terror—1972 to 1986—to achieve justice for their offspring and freedom for the motherland. Today’s mothers are often pictured as warm, sweet-smelling and cuddling types or as superwomen at home and at work; women of glamour and substance who deserve pampering at this time of year; great providers, innovators, carers, givers; and the kind for magazine covers and who can sell milk supplements, instant noodles and condominium units.

There are mothers and there were mothers.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Sainthood for Archbishop Oscar Romero

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

While many Filipino Church leaders are now on the campaign trail to openly and blatantly discredit candidates whom they consider “antilife” and anti-Catholic because these candidates went against the official Church stand on the Reproductive Health Law and supported it, I don’t see a groundswell that would spell the ultimate doom of these pro-RH candidates in the May 13 polls. Meaning, candidates will rise or fall not on RH issues.

A backlash may even result from Negros Bishop Vicente Navarra’s divisive “Team Patay-Team Buhay” campaign tack of separating the heaven-destined from the hell-bound. I know some scandalized Catholic voters who plan to vote only for those that the Church has officially maligned in order to boost their chances of winning.

What these powerful male bishops and their zealous followers do not know is that the more they divide, the less likely they will conquer. For those Catholics they have scandalized (including me), the issue is not so much about whether one is pro- or anti-RH as about their crass manner of dividing this country. What experts in division and alienation. They have reduced everything to pro-RH and anti-RH. They even “up yours-ed” the Comelec by cutting in half their oversized campaign posters. A lesson on how to go around the law.

What these powerful male bishops and their zealous followers do not know is that many religious women and lay workers who have made it their business to immerse among the poor (the “laylayan ng lipunan,” as President Aquino referred to those in the margins of society) are secretly pro-RH (not proabortion, for heaven’s sake). As one of them so succinctly quipped and turned the RH issue on its head: “We are not against reproduction and we are not against health.”

I have long suggested that to rid themselves of the prochoice=antilife mislabeling, they should go a step farther than the prolife=anti-RH and work on being “proquality life.”

What many anti-RH, natural-family-planning-only advocates do not know is that the Iglesia ni Cristo, known for its solid-voting style, is in fact against natural family planning. The INC considers natural family planning unnatural and morally unacceptable. So if the INC voters will base their voting choices on the RH issue only (and I hope this is not the case), they will, of course, be pro-RH candidates. A great balancing force against the anti-RH Catholics, who do not comprise the majority anyway.

Once more with feeling: As one who values her Catholic beliefs, I am absolutely scandalized by the divisive maneuverings of the male hierarchy and their zealous followers. I do not want to use strong offensive adjectives to describe them and their actions because otherwise, their agenda to divide wins.
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While this election side show is going on, there are developments in the Church that deserve to be noticed. Among them is the reopening of the “long-stalled” canonization of martyred Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador. Gunned down in 1980 while celebrating Mass, Romero was openly sympathetic to “liberation theologians” and those who fought political repression and injustice.

Wrote David Gibson for Religion News Service: “But the news that Pope Francis, just six weeks on the job, has cleared the way for the long-stalled canonization of [Romero] is a stunner that sends another important signal about the new pope’s priorities.”

Gibson quoted Jesuit theology professor Fr. Harvey Egan: “Sainthood is often as much about politics and image as anything else. It’s not surprising to me that this present pope, being from South America, having the same inclinations as Romero, would unblock the process and say, ‘Push his cause through,’ and I think rightly so.”

Romero championed the poor and human rights during the bloody war in El Salvador. A right-wing death squad gunned him down while he was at the altar. There is a famous black-and-white photo that shows Romero slumped on the floor, surrounded by nuns. Being proliberation had its price.

Although Romero was instantly hailed as a martyr, his cause did not sail smoothly, partly, it is surmised, because then Pope John Paul II and his doctrinal enforcer Josef Cardinal Ratzinger (who would later become Pope Benedict XVI) were not too fond of left-leaning liberation theology.

In the 1980s, here in the Philippines where many militant clergy, religious and Church workers fought against the excesses of martial rule, Romero was an icon. He was an inspiration to priests, nuns and bishops who strode the fine line. And then the name Romero seemed to have vanished in the Church firmament.

The good news is that two weeks ago, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, a Vatican official who is in charge of Romero’s cause, announced that he and the Pope had met on the matter and that Romero’s case was now “unblocked.” In other words, proceed.

Martyrdom, in Church parlance, means dying for one’s faith and not for some ideological or political reasons. Martyrdom can be a fast path to beatification (the process before canonization). The usual requirements can be waived and only one miracle—instead of two—is required for sainthood.

There is no Catholic San Oscar yet, but there is a Saint Ansgar (German for Oscar).

If there is “The Last Lecture” by Randy Pausch, there is “The Last Sermon” by Romero, a bloody one, I must say, because he spoke of actual cases that happened within that month that he was himself killed.

These lines are worth remembering: “[T]he Church, the people of God in history, is not attached to any one social system, to any political organization, to any party. The Church does not identify herself with any of those forces because she is the eternal pilgrim of history…” #