Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Feminist 'Blues'

Our training specialist and I had a brainstorming regarding GST conducted among workers in the university. I posed a lot of questions which up to now I don't have the answers. One was this effect of GST. We trained a group of workers from the College of Law and another batch from the Campus Maintenance Office. To our surprise, one of the participants in one batch committed a statutory rape and another participant from another batch committed a double rape. Both were incarcerated. Based on my hindsights, I would like to believe that training on women and gender issues are not enough to prevent committments of such crimes. Those men (one of them was openly gay)committed rape because of the various factors (personal and societal), a mere one-shot training would have no impact at all to deter them from committing those crimes.

Another mind boggling paradox with regard to training was that remark from a fellow counselor that 'there's no such thing as feminist counseling'. She is a middle-aged woman who has been doing counseling twenty years or more. She already got her doctorate in counseling. But here she is with that cutting remark. I was a bit terrified because she is already an institution in counseling. But this dissappointment can also be traced from another incident. I also knew of a counselor who claimed to be a feminist. But when her book on counseling was written, there was no mention of feminist counseling. I thought, " who would want to be labelled?" To arrest this dilution of the historic word 'feminist, I believeit needs more than destigmatization: it must be something like historicization or contextualization (high fallutin words that also need to be explained in popular terms.)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Empowering and Disempowering Women

I was shocked at this morning's open conflict between my women co-workers. Really, I could not react the way I used to react whenever men are in conflict with other men. This is because I cannot explain how another woman disempowers another woman. Disempowerment between and among women may arise from positions of power (e.g. boss-empoloyee) or from the style of communication (e.g. one is more assertive than another), or from resources (e.g. rich-poor women),or from other sources that cannot be easily seen or measured. Whether in big or small women's organizations, conflicts such as what I witnessed this morning, arise. From my own point of view, a confrontational approach really does not work for women. I tried that many times before, even in intimate relationships, and it often led to disengagement. Thus, creating barriers or divide between and among women.

For the purpose of immediately addressing these conflicts, perhaps, we can always try other methods such as mediation, organizational development or cultivation of values such as peace and harmonious relationships among leaders and members of an organization. When I say mediation, it means having a third party who can patch up differences between and among 'parties in conflict'. A mediator must be unbiased, a person that is respected by both parties. Another method would be an OD workshop on conflict resolution. The groups or persons in conflict must be able to face each other in an environment that would tackle their issues at work. And perhaps instilling values on harmonious or peaceful relationships must be cultivated even on day one at work. These are just some proposals which must be tested. Perhaps, in the long run, we may know which will work for an all-women's organization.

These conflicts in women's organizations actually inspire me to search for meanings why women whether in big or small organizations often end up in intense conflicts and almost often lead to disengagement. For me, it is a big challenge if we can find some the factors that led to the intensity of the conflict: what predispose the women to engage in such rage? what triggers women to openly attack another woman? These are some of my questions. Perhaps, some answers to these questions will strategically address on what will create a truly nurturing women's movement/s for women...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

'Crucify Me'

That was my friend's plea when she underwent her first chemotherapy. I cannot imagine how painful it was for her. She is a medical doctor and nobody from his parents' line suffered from cancer. It was her who broke that line. She was diagnosed positive of 'ashimoto lymphoma' last year (October). She always had this annual general check-up when her oncologist noticed that she has an enlarged lymphnode near the throat area. She advised her to go for further examination but she missed that because of work. It was December and the nodes grew larger. So, she was immediately taken to the OR for biopsy. Her oncologist was also her former student in medicine. She was able to identify only a cancer cell taken from her throat biopsy. So, the family had to be sure of that final diagnosis. They sent the biopsy to the University of Maryland in the US. The experts from UM were able to identify 6 strands. The same treament was recommended: RSHOCK (?). Each letter stands for a chemical. And it is worth P80,000 per letter per cycle. So, the family offered to take her abroad to undergo that treatment. She opted to stay in the Philippines. Now, she was able to survive the first cycle of chemotherapy. She suffered from hair loss. According to her, the black hairs which fall first, then the 'white'or gray hair follows. Three times she almost lost her life during that ordeal. First, when it was only a suspicion that she has lymphoma, she almost choke to death with a bit of chicken that blocked her throat. It was fortunate that a nurse was with her. Another incident of near death was when they were having a medical treatment, the doctor cannot find her trachea. She already turned blue for several minutes and her friends were already praying for her life. Luckily, the doctor was able to find her trachea. Third incident was when she has to undergo a citi-scan from neck to stomach. The medical staff was about to introduce a dye, which nobody knows if she will have adverse reactions to it. The staff cannot find her veins four times so they can introduce the dye. Another stroke of luck came when the senior doctor came in the operating room and stopped the 'dyeing' process. So, the medical treatment was held without the use of the dye. Next week, the opening on her throat would be closed so that she can be prepared to undergo the next cycle of chemo. I just can't take it when we have to be interrupted from our conversations because she has to cough and remove the secretions coming from her throat. She even admitted having incontinence because of the whole process. I can only pray at this time for God to give her more courage to face this painful challenge in her life. I believe she is the most courageous woman I have ever met in my whole life. Allah will take care of her...

Monday, April 6, 2009

First High School Class Reunion

At first I was not sure why do we need to reunite after 26 years. But after that three-day reunion, I felt I was drinking an overflowing cup of joy, so filled to the brim that I cannot contain my joy and it let everybody drink from it! On the first day, we had an informal gathering in the morning: setting up the site for the reunion (formal) at 5pm. I made some banderitas (which I learned from a Japanese paper cutting class) till wee hours of the morning. The decorations committee arrived iniatially. We hang the banderitas around the site to create a "fiesta effect". We came in by batch. Some came with their families. A table was set up for lunch (pot luck). The afternoon was so delightful because of the videoke. Jill started singing "We've only just begun". I also interviewed her in front our gigantic tarpaulin (because she could not make it in the evening, she is bound for Indonesia the next day). The tarpaulin were full of high school memories. At the topmost left was our speech choir picture. I was wearing a red bandana and a red-dotted sleeveless dress. I remembered we were performing as "Filipinos working abroad" (I was supposed to be a DH?). At the other side was our class picture (45 classmates). I was sitting on the second row and was hugging my bestfriend Julie. The LCD projector was set up by Jojo. He initially featured highlights from our past meetings. We had our first preparatory meeting at La Mesa Grill (MOA). Then, a second one at Max's and another one at Tsoko Nut. Those meetings were full of fun, laughter and of course we were able to decide on major things such as funding or cost-sharing, tasking and 'who will locate who'. We were able to locate 40 of our classmates. But two of there were not able to sign because one was on-board and the other was just "too busy" (?).

The evening proper started with introduction of one self and their family members. Only two were not able to make it: Edlegs and Ferdie T. I shed some tears because I cannot understand why is it that they valued more their jobs than this once-in-a lifetime gathering. There were revelations during the introductions. Some were delightful and some were saddening: one of my classmates suffered from "lupus" but she was able to recover; our class adviser suffered from a debilitating stroke. Next was the AVP. Funny because it featured my "crush" and I dancing. Some were asking if i had a crush on him (hehehe). The whole presentation were littered with "ohs" and laughters. The background music "high school life" and "this is me" perfectly fit the atmosphere. We also huddled in groups while eating our suffer. The program proper ended with recognition of our teachers and distribution of our memorabilia.

The second part of our reunion proved to be more exciting. We went to a road trip from Tarlac to Pangasinan all the way to Olongapo City. Roy J. invited us to his wonderful house and welcomed us with a sumptuos lunch. Wow! the walls of his house featured flowing fountains and the third floor was where the antique paintings hang. We took a group photo at the terrace. From there, we proceeded to Monasterio de Tarlac. A big statue of the Risen Christ stood at the entrance of the site. My grandnephew Noknok (4-year) was with us and he referred to Christ as "bro" (from famous TV series). So, I took pictures of him, together with "bro". We attended the Holy Mass. Most of us were tearful when we got out of the Church (it was like attending a Cursillo).

Along the road, we shared stories and lots of laughters inside each car. Two of our classmates suffered from hoarse voice because of the 'unlimited' jokes (hehehe) of Roland and everybody. We were also greeted with thunder and lighting and heavy rains while proceeding to Pangasinan. Surprisingly, on our next turn, there was not even a single mark of raindrop. So, the children and I shared a pleasurable evening playing with patintero and sharing jokes while sitting on the stone mandala. Surprisingly, I was amazed at the intelligence of how they delivered their jokes (hehehe) because they even beat us with our canned jokes (hehehe).

Also, ten of us had a meeting till wee hours of the morning. Fortunately, we arrived at crucial decisions such as changing our domain name (based on to be-conducted site poll) and creation of 4 committees (membership, finance, audit and special events). Revelations about "crushes",struggles about work and life were also shared.

Luckily, the next morning, sunrise greeted us. My "apo" and I fed the fishes on the pond. Most of us walked along the beach. You should have seen how Romeo and Paz hugged each other like Vi and Bot. Rory, Ting and Osy continued chatting while walking along the beach. We ate eggs, longganisa de Vigan, chicken and ripe mangoes for breakfast. Then, we went to another long trip to Olongapo to meet Rory's father. Earlier, Inan brought the group to his "salt farm". Only one group brought Rory to her father's site. The other three vehicles proceeded to a certain restaurant in Subic. We ate roasted chicken, pork chop and ice cream. Wow! the view was terrific! It was overlooking the Subic Bay dockyard. There was, at that time, people who were flying/sea gliding hooked on a big balloon. Some were enjoying banana boat ride. So, what we did was to maximize this background and took some photos where we were like jumping or flying. It was truly a very wonderful trip! (Because we were overjoyed, we forgot to buy some 'pasalubongs' for our families back home, so we ended up searching for fruits and other kakanins at SM centerpoint (hehehe)).

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Basic Pottery

Pottery is similar to molding one's life. You take a piece of it one at a time, feel it, smell it, and throw away anything that is harsh and unmanageable. Next is to put it all together, create a one big mold out of the separated pieces. Feel it up and down trying to create a circular shape in the process. Then, carefully use your thumb to push a hole inside the circle. To widen that hole, one has to use the other hand as support from the outside while the thumb is pushing from the inside. Cracks usually happen. To smooothen that, use a little water and gently rub those parts.

I made a medium sized mug that day. I also a created a cover for it. The design was inspired by my name in Alibata and the infinity symbol. Later, we will have a session on glazing clay pot/s.