Thursday, March 26, 2015

Help for poor, despairing college students

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

It is graduation season. Financially challenged students and parents must be in distress because of unpaid school fees and other expenses that need to be met in order for these students to be on the official roster of graduates and receive their diplomas—and on stage if possible. What they go through is different from school opening woes. This is the last hurdle, so to speak, and to be denied the long-awaited moment on the stage because of unmet payments can cause a student’s emotion to spiral down to the dark depths.

Today’s kids, how fragile they are, one might say, compared to poor, rural students of yore who went to school barefoot with little or no food in their stomachs, or their urban counterparts who toiled in sweat shops and dingy basements in order to send themselves to school. They feel no shame or diminishment for having gone through all that, only pride that in the end they reached the summit of their humble dreams and proceeded to make a life different from where they came from. And even giving back.
Despondency gets the better of students who are not able to continue what they have begun or are denied participation in school activities such as graduation because of financial issues. But there’s hope for these haplessly situated students.

I recently learned the good news that Pasig City Rep. Roman Romulo has urged the Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) and the country’s 112 state universities and colleges (SUCs) to establish a “fast-acting financial aid program” for students in dire need of help to pay for their cost of living and schooling. Romulo is the chair of the House committee on higher and technical education.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Gang rape of 75-year-old nun

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

(PHOTO CAPTION: Local people of Nadia district protest on the streets condemning the gang rape. Source: Express Photo by Partha Paul)

What kind of men are these? From what depths of hell did they come?  In the news is how a group of men who burglarized a convent in West Bengal in India also gagged and gang-raped a 75-year-old Catholic nun who lived in that convent. India has not yet gotten over the much-publicized case of a young woman who was mercilessly violated by a gang of rapists in December 2012 and now this, and during International Women’s Month at that.

Enraged local residents have taken to the streets to condemn this despicable crime. TV footage showed an Indian church official condemning that act and also stressing the fact that this nun had vowed virginity or something to that effect, and so for her to be violated in this way…

I couldn’t help retorting that while the rape committed was indeed a horrific crime, it should not matter whether the victim was a saint, a sinner, a nun, a nanny, a street walker, or a socialite. It has nothing to do with the victim’s status in life. It has everything to do with the violators.

At least in our laws, rape is no longer a so-called private crime against chastity but a crime of violence. The state versus the accused: Someone is violated, someone has to pay for the crime.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Her journey, her voice

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

         LAUNCHED last week at Ateneo Library of Women’s Writings (Aliww) was “Many Journeys, Many Voices” (Anvil), a beautiful book (the concept, the stories, the design) that focuses on Filipina Overseas Workers (FOWs) from “the perspective of three interdisciplinary studies: sociology, literature and art.”

On the back cover is a blurb that was gently wangled from me by Edna Zapanta-Manlapaz, one of the book’s authors and Aliww founding mother. “Their lives, their stories, narrated in their own distinct voices. Reading—or rather, listening to—individual FOW stories is like accompanying them in their often lonely journeys in distant lands. We sense the uncommon courage, we feel the heartbreak, we also glimpse the hope. These women serve, sweat and strive to give their best while in strange climes and on unfamiliar terrain. For family and country, for good or ill, in health or sickness, in fair weather or foul—till they come home again.”

The 10 stories in the book were chosen from the oral narratives of FOWs gathered by the Institute of Philippine Culture (IPC). The book’s mothers, Zapanta-Manlapaz, Czarina Saloma and Yael A. Buencamino, carefully handled the stories so that they ring as genuinely as when they were told in mixed languages (Filipino languages, English). It goes without saying that the 10 women whose stories are included in the book are coauthors.

Other “midwives” who helped in the book’s birthing were noted artists Ofelia Gelvezon-Tequi (for the cover), Imelda Cajipe-Endaya and Brenda Fajardo, as well as Aliww, IPC and Ateneo Art Gallery, institutions that supported the project. That’s why the book sells cheap at P295.

“Many Journeys,” the authors explain, “chronicles the “feminization of Filipino migrant labor and surveys the singular challenges faced by Filipino women compelled to work overseas.” The FOWs speak about their lives and their journeys that will elicit compassion and respect for their indomitable spirit and sympathy for their cause.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Teen girls joining ISIS jihadis

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

Psychologists, sociologists, political analysts and experts on religion and spirituality should be outdoing one another to find reasons why female teenagers barely out of their childhood years are leaving home and country to join Isis (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). This group is considered to be a terrorist threat with intent to rule the world by creating a global caliphate.

Isis, through mainstream media, continues to show the world the cruelty and barbarity it inflicts on those it considers antipathetic to its cause, especially Christians who, simply because they were Christians, were beheaded for the world to see. These Coptic Christians were not even armed fighters against Isis.

But social media is where recruitment happens. Vulnerable, impressionable and disaffected teens can get fascinated by the idea of joining and fighting for a bloody cause that attaches a religious value to it, an eternal one at that. (Twitter recently removed Isis accounts and, as a result, received threats from Isis.)

I found a recruitment video on the Internet, one that showed armed jihadists with gentle faces and modulated voices repeatedly invoking the name of God and speaking persuasively about why joining Isis would give meaning to one’s life (lush greenery and soft chanting in the background). The gist of the message is this: Jihad does not need you, you need jihad, and God does not need you, you need God. The recruiters also mention the countries where their recent recruits are from.

Compared to Isis’ beheading videos, the recruitment video is not blood-curdling but a soft-sell. But listen to the words.