Saturday, July 17, 2010

Nationalism...where, from here?

I was a student of Development Studies way back in the '80's. After more than 20 years of struggling to contribute something for my country's development, I am still disheartened that the same 'systemic' problems persist: 'dependency', violence, poverty, among others. At this point in my life, I am still searching for paths that would allow me to contribute to the upliftment of my fellow Filipinos. Thus, I enrolled in this peace studies. True enough, I have attained a wider perspective in seeing the problem of 'underdevelopment'. Now, I understood it better from the point of view of class dynamics, from 'dependency' theories and from the perspective of international relations. But it made the task more daunting.

Now, I am quite sure that nationalism has something to do with it. I was touched when a classmate of mine said, "maybe Filipinos do not claim their country enough that they are willing to do something to contribute to its development". I must say, "enough" must not be the word instead "one passion" for one's country must be cultivated so much so that it can not be easily eroded in time. Of course, colonialism has been running in our history for more than four centuries now (and perhaps, in our blood) that saying it must be supplanted with nationalism is easily said than done. How to go about conceptualizing nationalism in this time of globalization proved to be a much harder task.

But I know that being born in this piece of island called 'Philippines', being raised with this kind of people and context allows me to claim something that I felt more like 'power of identity'. I believe nationalism must take off from here: this identification to one's land and one's people and that desire to see them develop holistically in the years to come must be the single passion of both the leaders and the led. How to initiate and sustain this desire is the more difficult process to start with...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Abortion in the Philippines

The Philippines is hitting half million induced abortions since 2005. Why? because of sheer lack of reproductive choices. GMA is hell bent on implementing the NFP policy. Cory had sealed the unconstitutionality of abortion in her 1987 Freedom Constitution. Only Ramos had managed to put in substance to the RH concerns of the women by defining the Ten Elements of RH and one of them is the PMAC policy which up to now meet rough sailing in government hospitals.

The Roman Catholic is worst. It construed conception as starting from the meeting of the sperm and egg. St. Augustine and Aquinas were not even sure when is the start of hominization of humans but our great bishops were very confirmed on their stance. Whereas the medical field says that conception starts upon fertilization or when the zygote had been formed. Morowitz & Trefil even said that formation of cerebral cortex which at the last term of pregnancy was the likely start of being human (capable of acting as a unit or as a person).

This belief in the beginning of humanity or being human is very crucial in the debate because the RC offer no exceptions in case of abortion: whether you were raped, or there was a threat to your health, or there was fetal impairment. No woman is exempted: a woman who aborts a fetus is a criminal, "worse than a murderer" says our parish priest.

Thus, the realpolitik of the abortion debate is being molded primarily by the Church, not the presidency, not the legislative or the judiciary.

So what is the chance of passing a law on comprehensive RH? Perhaps, it would not come in our lifetime. But changing the 1987 Constitution by striking this Art 2, Sec 12 on the "right of the unborn" might be the first step...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Why Gender and Peace Building?

As a woman who longed to live in a peaceful society, as a sister, an aunt and counselor who wants to protect my nieces and nephews and my counselees and as a human being who knows that peace is possible...These are the simple reasons why I want to pursue a gender and peace building course. One really takes off from one's personal stake in the process.

Of course, there are bigger issues such as less visibility and non-recognition of women in the peace process, lack of support and other nurturance to make women peacebuilders in her own society, non-recognition of gender issues in peace and human rights advocacies, women takes on secondary role in interfaith dialogues, and non-visibility of women in the peace zones.

With those issues, there are needs of women that must be addressed such as: women's overall empowerment with mentoring and training, highlighting what women contribute to the peace process, more links among women's groups and the overall peace movement, women also need self-healing and re-conceptualization of peace and security, and women must be able to share their perspectives and processes in creating a just, diverse, peaceful and free society that co-exists and co-regenerates with nature.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

LGBT as a new social movement

This forms part of my report on "women's rights" subject. I intend to tackle how the LGBTs as sexual identities become politicized and was moved into collective actions by using Edelman's concepts of political opportunities, mobilizing structures and framing processes. Various social institutions have different takes on sexuality. The religious institution promotes "procreational ideology", that is sexuality can only done through marriage, with the goal of having children. Thus, it also exalts abstinence from sexual pleasures as virtuous. Now, the Church has been polarizing the presidentiables into "pro-RH bill" and "anti-RH bill". On the the other hand, with the people earning more than enough money, some of them engage in extramarital affairs and even in same-gender sex. Also, with it comes the commodification of goods, even of sexual images and gratification. Another institution, the family, teaches children how to become masculine and feminine. The concept of love, marriage and sex is also taught in this institution. But during the '70s, with the "flower power" revolution, sex was delinked from love and marriage. So, it becomes permissible; so as with same-gender sex.

Moreover, the medical institution also medicalize sexuality. Before 1973, it regards homosexuality as a an 'abnormality'. But after that, the APA delist homosexuality from the list of abnormal disorders. The law, on the other hand, seeks to control sexual behaviors by regarding it as 'illegal' (e.g. rape, exhibitionism, etc.). But all these institutions promote heterosexuality as the norm.

So, two critiques surfaced: compulsory heterosexuality and queer politics. Both seeks to debunk the primacy of hetersexuality. According to Rich, heterosexual preference is not a real choice because women were socialized to that. While according to Blasius, sexuality is more fluid. One can choose from a continuum of sexual choices. From this redefinition of sexualities, come the birthing of various lesbian groups, with the support of the women's movements. It started out as 'cliques' or clandestine groups. Then, in 1993, the lesbians declared a statement in the Mendiola March condemning discrimination against lesbians. Since then, lesbian issues were tackled in various conferences around the country and even in Asia.

At this point, the Left forces also recognized the lesbian and gay issues; thus, two ND groups were created: LesBond (lesbians fro national democracy) and Pro-GAY. In the second phase of the LGBT struggles, it become closer now to the LGBT groups. LAGABLAB, Lunduyan and LADLAD were born. The last one now attempts to participate in the electoral politics. But that was not an easy struggle. In 2007, the group was rejected due to lack of constituency. So, they organized all over the country. Now, they were rejected still, due to 'immoral doctrines". This
becomes part now of the re-framing process especially when CHR director De Lima branded the COMELEC action as 'patently discriminatory'. LADLAD won this time because the Supreme Court enabled them to run for this May 2010 elections as one of the party list group.

Emerging issues and concerns are a lot: conservatism, fundamentalism, etc. But the LGBT groups can still count on various rights as specified in various UN documents(CRC, CEDAW, UDHR, etc). Most of all, the LGBT movement can count on the dynamism of its own. Padayon!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Proposed Electoral System for the Philippines

This topic was very new to me but I found it exciting and inspiring for several reasons. First, it was here that I learned various electoral systems such as the SMP, AV, TRS, PR and MES. Whew! those were lots of acronyms but to tell you the truth, it was only in this class that I met the hardest question ever posed: which electoral system would be best for your country. I started my report citing the positive points about Philippine elections: high voter turn out (70-80%), increasing women elected in national offices (10-12%) and having experienced two women presidents. From there, I said I was alarmed when I read about an editorial saying, GMA will be seizing the speakership of the Lower House by massing 159 votes to her favor. So, given those reasons, I would like to propose two goals: a strong government and viable party list system.

The presidential elections would be conducted using AV (alternative or preferential voting). Here, we will use an ordinal ballot structure where voters rank order their candidates. As to counting, it involves two round: first round would be counting votes for first preference. Those with the least votes will be rejected and their votes will transfer to the second preference candidates. The process continues until the winner got an absolute majority vote.

For the Lower house, I proposed for a 70:30 ratio where the former is the constituency candidates using SMP or single member plurality and the latter use PR closed list for the party votes. I was thinking it would be very hard for the "president" to mass up a 70% votes. The closed list would be zipped, women nominees would amount to 50% of the party nominations. I also would like a 30% quota legislated for women elected in the House. I am retaining the bicameral structure, the senators would be voted using SMP. In essence, I am just refining the present mixed electoral system of the Philippines.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Democratic Activism

The event on "Online Memory Bank" project by the AFT and PSLINK proved to be very inspiring especially for a former teacher like me. It started with a short film on student activism in Iran, South Africa, Burma and China. I was awakened by the convictions of the young speakers on why they dedicated themselves into student activism. The next speaker talked "democratic classrooms". I believed I was applying those principles when I was a teacher way back in the late 90's. But what inspired me most was the sharing of a student leader who is now holding a key post in a political party. He said he was inspired by a poem written by another fellow student and his mentor for 30 years was his grade school teacher who was present in this gathering. What a very inspiring relationship between teacher and student!

Another inspiring moment in this activity was when an indigenous leader talked about how IPs view nature as very nurturing similar to what our modern day hospitals, markets among other services which cater to the needs of the people. He said his activism emerged from that love of nature which bless them with all the bounties of life. And he was wondering how come leaders believe that they have the right to appropriate those blessings for themselves.

The wisdom imparted by another speaker affirmed my convictions about education. That genuine education is life-giving. The world is our classroom and all experiences emanating from life should be discussed from different points of view so that learning and insights can be maximized to serve as guideposts for a better world. He view life and learning as "tensions between honesty and hope" and that democratization can be a spectrum of resistance, of participation and democratic ways of doing things. The project on "Online Memory Bank" aim to capture all those experiences and insights in a democracy by using internet technology. What a bounty!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Feminist Counseling & CSA

I was a resource person for CSA regarding setting up a women and children crisis center somewhere in Pampanga. The venue was wonderful! A three storey Japanese inspired building, with 15 minimalist bedrooms; nude women paintings by no less than Araceli Dans were hanged on the wall. The training hall was accented by billboard of old films such as "Gone with the Wind", "Bus Stop", among others. Oh, I really loved that place! In the morning, we had our shibashi exercises and in the evening, some STRT moves. All this comfortable ambience contributed to a very lighthearted discussion of a very sensitive and heavy topics like CSA and VAW.

The crisis center is on its initial phase of setting up; thus, we were requested to share our experiences on the said topics. This center will be funded by the city government and there were already two full staff, a working Board and a battery of volunteers from the police, health and other agencies. At the end of the training, they were able to come up with a "score card" on how to measure the effectiveness and implementation of this intervention.

The whole three-day session was truly a soulful discussion. With my topic, I started the session with a short documentary film titled, "Daughter". Afterwhich I asked them how did they feel. A mother cried a lot especially with the scene when the younger daughter was also being abused by the father. Another mother was almost in tears because she could not understand how a mother cannot believe about the abuse when the eldest daughter disclosed about it. A very inspiring discussion ensued afterwards.

Also, a case of child physical abuse was presented. The social worker and the police woman was in a dilemma whether to withdraw the case or not. The child's perpetrator was also her mother. The latter showed no remorse on what she did to her child. I personally opined that the damage and consequences inflicted by the mother to her child must be meted out with commensurate punishment. Perhaps, a better rehabilitation program for perpetrators should also be installed.

A child sexual abuse case was also shared by a medical doctor. She was also wondering how come a mother can possibly side with the perpetrator. The mother even let another daughter be the one examined for a medico-legal examination. It resulted in a double case of sexual abuse when the younger daughter was also found positive of genital trauma. Now, the mother was in shambles. So, I discussed how come mothers could not readily support their daughters and the crucial alliance with the mothers (to believe in their daughters) will proved to be the first step with the daughters' healing.

Furthermore, a topic on the "history of women's oppression" and "gender and socialization" which was given earlier by an advocate against VAWC also proved to be crucial in the acceptance of why a feminist approach to counseling must be taken. This, I believed, demonstrated that counselors who desire to effectively address problem such as VAWC must also be willing to embrace feminist counseling. Because only FC can make a counselor understand the depth and breadth of why VAWC happens and will in the end give her all the patience she needs in journeying with the women and children towards a more humane and gender-equal society for all...