Monday, July 28, 2008

Two Different Gatherings

I was at the Capitol estates area in Commonwealth listening to the speeches of progressive groups during the SONA. I walked past over the bridge leading to Sandiganbayan. I also walked up the overpass and guessed what I saw? Planks of military men in different uniforms (light blue, dark blue, all black, dotted, etc). And when I gazed at the street leading to Congress, not even a single activist was there marching on the streets. The military was very successful in controlling and cordoning the masses. But the distance between the masses, the military and Gloria speaks of how far this government is from the people. Hope Gloria rethinks her position of using the military to the hilt just to extend her term...

Contrast this with another gathering that I attended today. Lots of students converged to learn about the Japanese culture: sushi, kimono, ikebana, calligraphy. There was also an alibata session at the sides. People were so happy learning and sharing about each others' culture. i found out that my name means "elegant" and that the ikebana arrangement must always reflect a 'triangle' shape; as to why, I can only surmised that it is a more stable shape. Another observation I had was the expansiveness principle of Japanese flower arrangement. It creates a sense of openness and welcoming spirit to anyone who sees the flowers. Perhaps, our leaders can learn something from these two different gatherings; though they may be of different nature-- at least it tells us that the more the spaces are open for participation, the more creative people can become. And life becomes more meaningful for both the 'leaders' (facilitators) and the 'led' (participants)...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Men's Realities

We had a three-hour GST at the Ipil dorm. About 30-50 young men attended this late night session. Three intriguing questions cropped up that made me realised there were realities uniquely from men's perspective. First, one young man observed that it was "fair" to debar Nancy Navalta from joining the women's run since she is a hermaphrodite. Another added it may be due to the hormonal secretions that made Navalta a more advantaged player compared to other women athletes. While their observations may present 'half-truths', the fact that Nancy was raised as a woman should have qualified her to run for the women's division (since there was also no competition level for 'transgendered' people). So, it must have been unfair for Nancy to be barred from the sports competition. Second observation was in a man-man intercourse, the penetrated might be the one who is exploiting the penetrator. This is in the context of rape. The law on rape stated that the penetrator is guilty of the crime, so this only pertains to women's rape. Men's rape is another reality that must be exposed. But nobody wants to stand up and point out that "hey, we men are also vulnerable to sodomy" which is a crime in Muslim countries. Third observation was about sexual harassment. A graduate student asked if sexual harassment that happened not in educational or work setting can be considered as such. We had a case where the professor invited his student to a party where the student was introduced as his boyfriend ( a lie). Will this incident constitute an SH case? Of course! but the excludes such setting. Another recent incident was when a first year woman was sexually harrased by her co-passenger in a Katipunan jeep plying from UP to Katipunan. Will this also constitute an SH case? The fact that the harasser is non-UP excludes it from the law; another fact is that it involves verbal abuse ( a less grave act). So, our recourse was to file it under Child Abuse law. But if the law covers even public harassment, all those incidents of gender violence maybe easily filed. It is high time the law must be expanded or redefined, for the sake of all genders.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Day of Revelations

Yesterday was something special for our friend and 'boss' Sario and for me: it was a day of revelations! It was my first time to hear about the "alims" of Ifugao. Alim, according to Sario, is a ritual sang by all-male singers/chanters to heal a sick member of the community and for 'wooing' a woman. It depicts the story of a husband (name of whom I forgot) and his wife, 'bugan'. That name sounds familiar because it was the character played by Ai-ai in 'Kapitan Kidlat' TV series. So, Bugan wanted to separate from her husband which the latter resisted so much because he love her very much. So, to his dismay he went on a head-hunting streak (popular during those times) to vent out his anger. Another version of this is he chopped the grasses in Bugan's garden. What interest me most was Bugan connived with her mother-in-law to be able to separate from her husband. and it took her eight separations or partners before she succeeded in having a child. That was sexual freedom during those times! Ifugao women can separate from their husbands and found another family or partner. The husbands do not also engage in finding other wives (in their local places because they can be traced and punished) but visited lots of places to have sex with 'kabulean' (prostituted women). Perhaps, they were freer during those times. Another interesting aspect is there were several men who were dressed up in women's clothes and danced like women (transgendered). If these rituals depict the context of their times, truly, women were a lot freer to choose their partners and men have also choices like being transgendered people. Then, i looked up the meaning of "alim" in my Arabic book. Its says, one can become an "alim" if she or he has no more secrets in his/her hearts and soul. Thus, he or she becomes a luminous being. So, those rituals perhaps if the origin of the word is Arabic may truly depict the secret yearnings of both men and women to have choices in terms of choosing their identities or sexualities. And it is a continuous process that rendered Bugan eight or nine times of separations before she was able to find a 'right' partner to bear a child. Or the man in turn shifted from being a violent man to a gentle dancer and found that transformation more humane (just speculating). Hearing those community rituals makes me think that ideologies which are embedded in oral traditions can easily be changed just by mere rendering of various versions of the story. And here media can do a lot in transforming our society's binary treatment of sexuality. As my colleague whispered, "Prescy, your idea of sexuality as expression of creativity is historically-based". If I may add, indeed the highest force/form of creativity is our expressions of sexualities.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Dynamic Meditation

At the Gender Office, we held a three hour session titled 'dynamic meditation'. Wow! it was really a revelation that there is such a thing as dynamic or moving meditation (of course, aside from the one that I was doing: running while meditating). We did a five-step thing that I thought were usual rooutines for some people but done in an exaggerated manner. First, we exhaled vigorously for 10 minutes using our nose/s. Second, we jumped with the heels touching the ground, while saying the word "Ho" (also for 10 minutes). Then, we contorted our faces while saying 'things greek to us' (like a little theater exercise. Then, we meditated (at last!) in a standing position (which I can't help but sleep). After that, we danced in different beats. All those exercises were back-upped with different sounds and music. The session wrapped up with some insights from the participants. My take was the same nauseous things came out of my nose and mouth (it was like my regression session 10 years ago) sans the tears. I thought these are the residual 'bad things' of the past memories. As I was doing those exercises, I was thinking still that these are good exercises for the kids and a useful and safety way of releasing tensions and other 'stuck' energies in the body. And late in the evening we did some drumming. Initially I enjoyed it but the loudness of the beating of other big drums led me to conclude that I would rather do those moving meditations I mentioned earlier. Hope we can offer these things to the women and children especially...