Tuesday, August 19, 2008

What it takes to love

I was reading a past article titled "dharma of relationships". I realized it really takes two to succeed in a relationship. It's worth noting that the concept of romantic love pertains to something like spiritual love 'personified' in the 'beloved'. So, if one projects the 'ecstasy' of having a romantic partner, it actually or essentially pertains to a longing for a more fulfilling or 'spiritual' love. Three models of a relationship were noted: one is two egos satisfying each self in a relationship, another is two egos plus love at the center of a relationship and the last one is loving for the sake of love. Perhaps most of us can relate with the the first model. That of two equal persons sharing 'mutual' love. But the politics of this is when one of the partners is not satisfied with the relationship and then decided eventually to separate. The second model is an ideal of sort. We can find this among couples who see a God or something spiritual in between them. This 'being' or guide is the one guiding the relationship. So anything which happens in the relationship will be attributed to the will of 'heaven'. The last model can only exist, I believe, as of this time, in our creative imagination. It speaks of individuals who go into a relationships with the purpose of growth (in all aspects) of each 'other'. I say it is not yet happening because most of us believe in the concept of romantic love where one or both are swept under their feet by that feeling of 'falling in love'. Thus, in the course of their relationships, each partner is stripped off of her/his 'true' colors which the other might found wanting. So, the reason of staying in the relationship to let each other grow in all aspects of being may be far out...there goes my and most of our frustrations...

Friday, August 8, 2008

Disempowering the Disempowered

8.08.08 was supposed to be a 'great' day. Not in our case. I attended to the needs of a young woman who was battered by an uncle. We went to the Infirmary hoping that she could access free medical services to support her case. Nope! every step of the way, we have to pay a corresponding sum. Even for a single mefanamic medicines which have been given for free has to paid! The worst came when we have to ask for a medico-legal certificate from a "national" something hospital. Guess what? The woman has to be exposed once again to an x-ray which she has just recently underwent an hour ago because the present doctor cannot "read" the x-ray film of the first health unit. I did not accede to that request because the woman is breastfeeding her child. As a hindsight, I was thinking what could have been the proper time "empowering" interventions should have been done. The woman told me that their barangay captain even requested her to deny that her abuser was present or can still be found in the area so they can have some sum from the congresswoman. Another incident of dis-empowerment was when a female doctor even asked: "nakipagbugbugan ka ba?" Whew! i coould almost feel my tears rolling down for this woman. How can this insensitivity abound in places where they are supposed to heal and cure patients? The last incident was when we asked once again from a national hospital for the same medico-legal certificate. The female doctor also proudly said: we cannot possibly give you that because it was almost a week since the incident. That was my breaking I told the woman, "we better find another option..." As i was riding on a jeep, I cannot contain anymore my tears. I thought these women mustered their courage and overcame their poverty and everything just to say "I was abused!" but nobody wants to give her a single piece of paper which she can possibly hold on to file a case against her abuser. What about those who were abused way back several years and only now that they have come out to say they were abused? How can they access justice and healing? Yes, my heart still pulsates...I know I have a very long journey to walk or run perhaps to be able to change this kind of thinking...

Monday, August 4, 2008

"Boses" (Voices)

My women friends invited me to a premier showing of a cinemalaya film. Actually, I knew beforehand that a male friend was involved in that film. So, without knowing the storyline, i already guessed that it was about children and music because those two things are dear to his heart. When the movie opened, the first scene already struck me. The father was being interrogated as to whereabouts of his own child (boy). My heart was pounding when the camera drew close to a sort of cabinet. And that was the beginning of engagement in the movie. Goose bumps arose when I saw pockets of cigarette burns on the boy's back and skin. He was delivered to a shelter where he met a supportive friend (girl) and a bully (boy). The friendship developed while the bullying intensified. Audiences at my back (students) made fun of the friendship by turning it into some sort of 'puppy' love; so they twittered as the scenes of 'getting to know you' were shown. Perhaps, i surmised they just do'nt want to feel sad for the boy. Onyok, the boy's name, was mute. He suffered from throat trauma because something was forced to it (according to the film). I guessed it is more of psychological trauma than physical (insertion of something). Remember that the boy always hide inside the cabinet whenever his father got angry and looked for him. The fact that one has to suppressed one's tears and even any sound coming from the mouth and nose will surely caused 'trauma' to the organs. Another thing that seemed 'wrong' about the plot was when the father was able to visit the child in the shelter. This is a 'no-no' among shelters especially the father was the abuser. The shelter and the administrative office are usually separated (geographically). Though i gave it a benefit of the doubt. The movie was so moving that I was also in tears while watching it, from the beginning up to the end. What I missed or the movie missed was the point when the father really underwent a 'real' change. Of course, it showed that the father persistently visited the boy in the shelter. But outside of that, no scene of how 'internally' he acquired that mode for change was depicted. Though the movie excellently depicted the boy's memories of how he was abused by the father and how he was able to differentiate a 'good' and 'abusive' touch. The role of Ariel, the crazy man, was terrific. When the boy and Ariel performed duo in violin, it was heavenly! The scenes on Ariel and his former deceased wife were neatly woven, i love it! The movie's contribution, i believe, is its alternative imagining of a father's role. Perhaps, it is a long journey for most abusive fathers i knew...but it's worth the try (though the movie failed to show how the father arrived at the point in his life).

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A second look at women's dynamics

The first time i witnessed a group of women fight each other (literally hitting each other) was in 1995. This time the same situation arose between my co-workers. I was unable to do anything to stop one from hurting the other (though verbally). So, what i did was to listen to the one left behind. The next day, i also talked with other women in the office who witnessed the verbal infightings. The following day, I spent some time with one of them, threshing out the roots of their conflict. Funny, because it was not due to 'negative past encounters'. It was more of an emotional thing: one rejects the other in their first encounter. Then, I also spent some time with the other party. The other woman was pointing to 'professionalism' and 'ethics' as issues sans the emotional thing. Between them, the latter was more straightforward in saying what she feels. the former was more of the 'demure' type or one who does not show her feelings publicly. Afterwhich, yesterday we had a meeting (formal one) among us. i was at the middle. guess what happened? i was so afraid that the meeting would never take off because of the contention if it must be taped or not. Of course, just to let the meeting proceed, we did not tape it. For the simple reason that one wants to bring home the tape and transcribe it (using the term 'professional transcribers). Fortunately, the other party gave in. So, she did not respond violently to the following remarks: "I am pulling ranks"; "I am the coordinator, I will the parameters; if you don't want to obey, you can consider your options". I never imagined hearing those threats from a woman leader. I tried to resist the urge of arguing because I knew that was not our goal. Our goal was to move the unit forward so that we can proceed with our job or service to other women. If we will argue with her, it will hamper our day-to-day operations. So, at the close of the meeting, we produced SOPs of doing things. A second look at this kind of women-to-women dynamics also bring me to a deja vu because this was the same dynamics that I faced then; but now, I knew enough: 'quitting' the post is not a sustainable solution to the 'power' problem. It pays to stay and strategize of how the surface the 'truth' or wisdom of leading people, particularly women, in a more creative, open, and expansive ways. Kudos to both of us and may the Force of truth be with us and for those who dare to imagine different ways of handling 'normative' lifework like running a group of women...