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...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Injustice to the LGBT by the COMELEC's 'Three Kings of Lies'

It is only November and yet the 'three kings of lies' from the COMELEC (read as Commissioners Nicodemo Ferrer, Lucenito Tagle and Elias Yusoph) are saying that LADLAD is "immoral" and "a threat to the future of Filipino youths" (with quoted Bible (Romans 1:26) and Koran (Surah 29) verses); thus, they should not be accredited as a political party.

The quoted religious verses in their decision to bar LADLAD from party list system has provided an excuse to deprive LGBT people of their rights. Their interpretation only reinforce the already existing homophobic beliefs that LGBT people are 'sinful' and 'sick'. These same homophobic beliefs continue to deny us access to our most basic needs such as health services, employment, access to education, housing, among others. Thus, the negative impact of that COMELEC decision will surely touch every aspect of our lives. Those homophobic beliefs wrongly backed in religious verses and penned down by the 'three kings of lies' only expose the true reasons why up to now LADLAD is being denied of the right to political representation.

Those 'three kings of lies' surely had done a grave injustice to the LGBT peoples and communities. They are using their authority to bar a marginalize group from participating in a democratic space. Where is now the government commitment to "equality for all" and respect for all people "regardless of sex" as stated in Art 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:
"Everyone is entitled to all the rights set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such"?

How come those 'three kings of lies' used religious texts to cover up for their hatred of the LGBTs? The truth is they are hiding behind their cloak of authority and religious verses to spread homophobia which had long been damaging to society and to the LGBT communities. The "three kings of lies" should have optedto interpret the holy teachings to promote the idea of non-discrimination. But what they penned down was their macho and homophobic interpretation and they chose to discriminate LGBT people. Hence, they are guilty of committing grave injustice towards LGBT people.

They used the quoted verses in the Bible and Koran to justify injustice to LGBT. LGBTs are also humans and humans were created by the same God. Furthermore, those verses quoted by the 'three kings of lies' contradict our own belief that all are equal in the eyes of God. And how come they overlook a bible verse from the same Old Testament which pertains to the equality of all sexes, such as Galatians 3:28 that: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male or female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."

Moreover, though we understand that at this crucial time, when 2010 elections is just around the corner, some politicians maybe reluctant to step in the issue. Some people, including some religious groups and even some LGBTs maybe reluctant to challenge religion because it is a powerful area to challenge.

But the UP Diliman Gender Office (UPDGO) is committed to challenging injustice in whatever form we see it. We are a unit responsible for ensuring gender equality among genders and promotion of human rights. If we believe that "women's rights are human rights"; it goes the same with LGBT rights.

The UP DGO found it unacceptable to discriminate LADLAD or not to accredit it as a party list just because of quoted Bible and Koran verses which were quoted out of context. In this regard, we are also calling on all progressive religious groups to challenge and and possibly change the harmful effects of those homophobic beliefs quoted in religious verses. Progressive religious groups must also challenge the 'three kings of lies' wrong use of the sacred texts. We hope that they will also be there to intervene and promote the idea that "everybody is equal in the eyes of God" and "all human beings are equal in dignity and rights."

Somehow, those same homophobic beliefs may proved to be self-defeating to any nation that discriminate 10% of its population. LGBT people are productive members of society. We are workers, farmers, teachers, guidance counselors, writers, activists, athletes, among others. Indeed, we are shapers of the future of this nation. A country which denies 10% of its population will not also grow to its fullest potentials. The least of our hope is for the government to respect our rights...


Sunday, November 15, 2009

'Elderly wisdom'

This was the second time I witnessed a familiar scene. One of the participants asked if he could lecture on a topic because the session was becoming 'boring' and 'futile'. So, the elderly speaker let him lecture. This already seasoned writer talked about the basic elements of scriptwriting, from short story to teleplay, stageplay and screenplay. I appreciated that very much because I'm just a beginner in this field. But one of the organizers lamented this uncalled for intervention. According to her, the elderly speaker already prepared an activity for the day's workshop. But tracing back the whole session from morning till the afternoon, the organizers did not give any hint as to what activity will occur for the day. It was also not clear from the elderly speaker if he is still interested to conduct an activity. All he was saying was that we could talk with him in his house to critique or polish our stories. So, that says it all. No activity or workshop will occur.

The first time I witnessed this scene was when I attended a counseling workshop. As I noted in my earlier post, the speaker also hinted that she did not prepare anything for the afternoon workshop and in the morning workshop we were inundated with 'pre-school' schools. I would like to see this as failure of the organizers to provide some alternative activities if the speaker failed to deliver. Of course, the experiences of the speakers may be tremendously rich and important but if these wisdom remain with them and cannot be conveyed in a systematic and digestible fashion, who would benefit?

Perhaps, a mentoring program would best fit elderly speakers/teachers. They need not go out of their homes and expend considerable energies in sharing their wisdom. Students must be the ones to go and visit them in their most convenient time and place, one at a time. If not, training or sharing of learnings would only lead to similar cases of frustrations and dissappoinments. Hope I will not encounter the same scenes again...

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"Youth is Wealth"

This was according to Pablo S. Gomez. Last saturday, i attended a workshop on comics scriptwriting. We were given each a sample scriptwriting in comics. I got hold of a series on "Mga anghel na walang langit" (angels with no heaven) and it was more than 200 pages. Whew! The session started with the life story of the writer himself. He is now 80 years old but he does not look his age, as if he is just turning 60. He already produced about 80 novels and hundreds of short stories. For him, a writer can be madel; thus, this training. Though very quite uninspiring, he said that he writes whenever he needs money. Now, his script commands a whopping P400k per script. He was once a millionaire. That was during the times when FPJ bought his script at P35k and all of those scripts were instant hit when made into movies. But for one to become a prolific comics writer, s/he be a "tsismoso/a"(gossiper); for every word counts in a comics script. One has the ear/s and the eye/s to absorb everything around him/her. As to writing titles of script, it depends on the given context. At present, titles tend to be one-liner. But for him, titles should be so interesting that readers would want to read the story/script. Every word should be interesting so that readers will turn from one page to the next. Now, he lamented the addiction of youths and children in the internet. Thus, the decline of comics reading caused his publications to collapse and now he is left with nothing. He is building from scratch again (but with the help of Susan R.). All of us enjoyed his lecture. I was personally expecting a frail and slow walking man but on the contrary, he was full of life and humor! So, I am very eager to attend the next saturday session on comics scriptwriting. Till then...