Sunday, May 31, 2009

Imagine Philippines Movement: 'Pearl in a Parol'

The launch started with a documentary film of Dewitt Jones titled "Celebrating What's Right in the World". I was affirming every picture caught in his film especially that of a dandelion sparkling and dancing with lights. I thought "yes, it really depends upon one's perception of how the world would like!" Thus, despite the heavy rains, the launch was attended by more than a hundred people (including Sr. Mary John, Jun Lozada, Nicki Perlas, Sixto Rojas and others) who would like to see a better Philippines in the future, way beyond the 2010 elections. As SAIDI is known for, the Appreciative Inquiry approach was used in the workshop to envision a better Philippines. Two guide questions were answered: one's stories that make one "proud to be Pinoy!" and one's vision of an ideal Philippines.

During our group discussion, I caught the answer (or a sort of it) to a question which has been bogging me yesterday, this comes in the metaphor we arrived at of what we would like our country to be in the future. The metaphor was a pearl inside a parol (star) or vice-versa. A pearl is always produced through constant and intense irritations and the parol produced multi-colored lights especially during Christmas. For me, those 'irritations' that produced the pearl can be likened to the chaos that beset our country. Eventually, these chaos would strengthen us and produce the best in the Filipino people. The sparkle of lights which comes from the inside of any 'parol', on the other hand, show that our country must always appreciate what it is our culture or the 'inward-looking development' so that the beauty of each localities will contribute in the enhancement of what we call holistic and multi-colored development.

I hope that wonderful workshop can be replicated in the different work areas or places each of us can be found. In my case, I would love to hear my former high school classmates talk about or share their stories of being proud Pinoy in the different countries they are in right now as well as in the fields they are working at present. Hope we can craft our hopes and dreams for a better Philippines through the website we have created. I'll tell you about it later...

Friday, May 29, 2009

Sexualities and Sexual Identities

In the morning, we had 35 participants for this GST training. I was assigned to discuss about sexualities and sexual identities. The group was mixed in terms of age and genders. One was openly gay. Two other young males asked about "the danger of identifying young gays as gays" because they are still 'in transition'. My curt reply was "even children are socially competent to identify themselves as 'baklitas' (that was the term they used when interviewed in a TV series)". I noted what is more dangerous is to belittle them as "gays" when they do not yet identify themselves as such.

My lecture started with a series of pictures showing different 'masculinities' and 'feminities'. I intentionally picked 'metrosexuals' (who politically do not identify themselves as 'gays). Yet the common response of the audience was that they are gays. Then I proceeded with the different perspectives on sexuality: as a an attraction, energy, continuum/spectrum and as power struggle. I was able to add the different types of masculinities and bisexualities, for instance. In this, I got a lot of insights from Hernandez' study of male sex workers. He pointed out the usefulness of the framework of 'pagkatao' and concepts such as 'labas' (outside), and 'loob (inside). For him, male sex workers were active sexual agents who are still caught in ambivalence: while serving sexually male clients, they are still forming their own family (with wife and children) which for them is the 'natural' sexuality of men. From his framework, I believe that the notion of 'lalim' (depth) must also be added because this is where the struggle of the mind and body takes place (producing ambivalence). It is where the core of one's humanity is being produced (part of which is one's sexuality). I was also able to cite historical gender resistances (UP Masaya, Lesbond, etc.) in and out of the country.

What made me laughed was the comment: "if we allow LGBTs to come out, would it result to a more chaotic world?". Definitely, answer/s to this requires a lot of contextualization: historical, biological/evolutionary. Off hand, I thought of saying, "species like the seahorse exemplifies a 'reversed' world because the male of the species reproduce". If that is so, would that result in a chaotic world among the animal kingdom?

I don't know how to arrive at a more satisfying answer to the question. Evidently, that question was framed with fears and under the pretext that we are living in a 'natural' order of things. Would being a member of the 'lesser sexualities' result in confusion? But our developmental pathways as gendered human beings also undergo the same process of gender 'dysphoria' or chaos especially when we transition from one stage to the next: from childhood to adulthood, or from being reproductive to menopausal. So, from an individual point of view, we have been in chaos all our lives because chaos result to changes, for better or for worse. Change is the only constant thing in this world. And by changing our norms (e.g. polarization of gender), it will definitely spells 'chaos' and chaos which will also lead to a better world because it intends to address our changing needs and aspirations which we hope will bring about that society/ies we dreamed of...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dance Movement Therapy (DMT): 'My Body Can't Lie'

I participated in one and half day training on DMT with Sharon Chaiklin as our resource person. But I was not able to finish the half day because I suffered from "bad cough". This was not new to me because the first time I had a DMT session, I also suffered from "fever". I guessed my whole body was telling me that DMT opened up a lot of body issues that I was not prepared yet to address. The first time was about incest and this time, it was about the 'bad break up' I had with a former lover. When Sharon requested us to find a place where we wanted to surface memories of a painful experience, I chose a place by the window. I also did not expect that the pain was lodged at the back shoulder blades. I was trying to breathe in to those parts but to no avail. It just aggravated my condition. I did'nt share that to the big group because it would take a lot explanation. I realized I was not yet ready for that 'secret' information (just like the dilemma of the kid in the movie "The Reader") to be divulged.

At the beginning of the workshop, somebody touched my back (in the "Blind Walk" activity) and it felt so warm. I believe it probably indicates the warmth of that woman. Another one led me to a 'flying' dance towards the porch and I put my head on her shoulders. Perhaps, it differs when one was being led by somebody whom one trusts so much (e.g. a friend) compared to just an acquaintance. We also had a 'mirroring' exercise. This time my partner was a stress management consultant. She was really sincere in my mirroring my movements, even with the bent of my head and my emotions seen through my eyes. I was a little bit hesitant of those movements so I was trying to engage her in a conversation. But at the back of my mind, truly movement speaks very powerfully. In my case, I cannot yet face that power inherent with my body. When such power can be communicated to others, it will truly create a genuine dialogue, and that what makes DMT a very complicated and powerful tool for healing. I have yet to explore it myself...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Reworking Peer Facilitation

Actually, we have been doing this since the time I was employed here in the University. We gathered at least five members of the USC (representing different genders: lesbian, gay, TG, straight women) and oriented them on women and gender issues. At night, these USC group accompanied us to orient 'dormers' around the university on the said issues. What attracted these youths to join us in our campaign I believe is our analytical frame (feminism). This frame allowed them a broader understanding of the gendered relations they were experiencing (having 'outed' themselves at this 'early' stage in their lives) in campus. Though personally, I believe that these issues are too late for their schooling careers, it must have started in pre-school.

But what constraints us from continuing with this laudable activity? First, it was tasking for both the facilitators and the participants. It can only be done after 6pm when most of the dormers are at their dorm taking rest or studying. Second, the peer facilitators term last only for a year. We recruit members of the peer gender educators mostly from the fourth year class. Concomitant to the second, the unit itself did not design any continuing education program for the peer educators. It was just a one-shot orientation on the issues. This same orientation they will echo to the 'dormers'.

Reworking on the concept of peer facilitation may address our concerns. We can possibly post (manually or virtually) advertisements for those who want to become peer educators on gender issues so that we can recruit from all levels and colleges. Also, we can design a continuing or ladderized educational program for the peer facilitators. Of course, we will strengthen our analysis on the gendered process and relations between and among students and how these are recreated in campus setting using feminist lens. What we can't change is the time (after 6pm) the sessions are conducted. Or we can devise a more interactive session/s with them to lighten an enliven the activit/ies. Hope we can take off again using this approach this first semester...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Refreshing Freshie Orientation

Last week, a co-worker and I was part the University-wide Freshie Orientation. It was truly a refreshing experience for me! Laughter filled the auditorium as the two hosts (a woman and a gay student) mimicked stereotypes of students from different colleges (e.g. a College of Science student would even identify the stone thrown at him by his girlfriend as "igneous" rock with some mineral content and a CHK student would do some acrobatic rounds before giving the ballpen to another student). They also did some segue ways before introducing our unit such as saying "is there a female version of the Oblation". So, I gave some trivia before elaborating about our unit such as the female Oble resides at UP College of Medicine. She is also naked; only one breast showing because she wears a sablay. The male Oble used to be totally naked but a former president placed a leaf on his organ for moral purposes. The whole auditorium was also filled with laughter when I noted that there are already twenty more genders and we only knew seven of them. In their age now, they must have known only two but later in their college years, they would be expressing other gender preferences. Another exciting part of the Orientation was the UP Street Dance. They taught several dance steps such as "jump (2x), shrug (2x), roll (2x), beat (2x)". The next day, the UP Pep Squad taught the students several UP chants like the "UP Fight', "Hey", "Hey, Hey" and the most difficult was the 'pagbabaybay ng UP'. But the one I loved most was the rendition of the UP Singing Ambassador of Leo Valdez's 'Magsimula Ka'. Oh! I could not ask for more. I hope those activities somehow inspired them to be the best persons they could be.