Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Eggplants, Peanuts and Same-Sex Marriage

A cyberspace friend named Nelia Angeles pos(t)ed a timely topic at Facebook : “What is your opinion on same-sex marriage?”. I am one of the early birds who posted a comment and I said that this presently hot issue in the Philippines boils down to our individual and collective concept of what a family and a marriage are.

Last night, TV Patrol, an ABS-CBN Channel 2 news program featured a story from its bureau in the US about the legalization of gay marriage in New York City thus becoming the sixth state in said country to do so. Here at home last Sunday, eight pairs of lesbian and gays tied knots in Baguio City. The ceremony was held by a Metropolitan Community Church, which is obviously one of the Protestant churches in the country, insisted that the wedding was legal. Also on that same day but in another forum, the Baguio Pride Network, lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender (LGBT) group, celebrated its anniversary by holding a protest action and demanding equal rights. The group of militant LGBT also called on the government to stop the killings of their members in the whole country. The group likewise claimed that 104 LGBTs have been killed from January to June only of this year. (I just do not know if the two cases of the recent killings of gay people here in San Jose are included in their list) Sadly (?), also last June 27 when those lesbians and gays exchanged “I do’s” in the Summer Capital of the Philippines, my wife and I celebrated our 19th Wedding Anniversary!

Nonetheless, Bayan Muna Rep. Teodoro Casiño came to support the Baguio Pride Network and said that his priority right now is to push for the passage of his anti-discrimination bill instead of passing a resolution making same-sex marriage in the country legal. I completely agree with Rep. Casiño’s prioritization of his current bills. To emphasize, I am for the basic rights of our LGBT brothers and sisters but against any move for the legalization of same-sex marriage. Call me a hypocrite if you wish but for me, assering for it is "over" already. By the way, under our present legal system, we cannot marry same-sex couples without revising our New Family Code. Told you, this issue goes down to cultural, social, legal and political realities and orders concerning marriage and family in our present context and what our faith and the law say about the essential public purpose of marriage. Our laws and our faith are one in saying that marriage is a natural institution where a man and a woman give themselves to each other exclusively for life in a sexual relationship that is open to procreation. It is publicly recognized, honored and supported because of its unique capacity to generate new human life and to meet children’s deepest needs for the love and attachment of both their father and their mother.

Addressing the Minnesota House of Representatives in May 2010, Dr Jennifer Roback Morse said, “Same sex marriage redefines marriage. Redefining marriage redefines parenthood. Redefining marriage affects the balance of power between the state and civil society”. Saying "yes" to same-sex marriage means major revision of the Family Code would end to redefinition of marriage from the “union of a man and a woman” to “the union of any two persons”. It consequently turns into garbage the “golden” law of marriage changes the law for every for everyone. Redefining marriage is a radical, if not moronic, social experiment or adventurism. Redefinition of marriage is no doubt a subtle attack on the family.

I do not mind at all if same-sex individuals live together as a couple. All of us, gay or straight, have no business in minding what other people, including LGBTs, do as long as they are done in private. Any loving couple can rightly claim that every sexual acts that they do - like anal sex, oral sex, heterosexual intercourse, or even if they practice BDSM or any sexual position they prefer - is also an expression of love whether they are straight or not. The Church has no reason to force them to stop such “expression of love” but just to give precautions and reminders that we can all disobey if prefer to do so. And at the same time our religious leaders will not discriminate the LGBTs in any way in public especially when they are doing their religious functions or receiving the sacraments. Again, our priests and pastors will not intervene in any way in our private affairs on such “caring” practices or sexual relationships with our partners. But when it comes to marriage, it’s different. It is because of marriage’s permanence, its natural orientation to life, and the way it brings together and expresses the fullness of humanity in male and female.

Changing the definition of family and to jettison the elements of male and female will profoundly change us as a nation constantly giving high importance to our rich culture. There is unique, divine and beautiful about these gifts (being a woman and a man) we receive from God. We are all created with a purpose as a man and woman, despite our physical, emotional and spiritual brokenness. Allowing same-sex marriages would involve a radical change in our definition of marriage itself, from life-giving and sexually complementary union to a personal, romantic relationship where there is no genuine communion or connection to procreation.

Just few days from now I am sure, media will be prioritizing news on same-sex marriage and the issue will again dominate the halls of our legislative branches. That’s for sure after that news we all watched last night somehow emphasizing that we are lagged behind as a nation because we do not have such a law.

But I believe no social institution- whether party-list groups and the rest of the legislators, the faith community, or any instrumentalities in our society- have no power to change what marriage and family are. Even if they alter the definition, it cannot change the reality.

A same-sex union cannot be a marriage. Planting a combination of certain variety of eggplants and peanuts cannot produce a flower garden….

(Photo : mccbaguio)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

China Connection

One of the most prominent Chinese residents in San Jose during the pre-WWII era was Co Yan Sio and he was married to my mother’s aunt, Juana Monsobre of Mamburao. Historically, hundred of years before that war, due to its favorable geographical location, Mindoro was an important trading center of Chinese goods during pre-Spanish time. For local products such as beeswax, pearl and sandalwood, Chinese goods such as porcelain, silk or tea were bartered. No doubt, Chinese influence haunts every one of us as a people or as an individual.

Then lately, the territorial conflict between Manila and Beijing over the Spratlys' once again gained the limelight. Pundits even claimed that this is the first acid test on the Aquino administration’s foreign policy. This coming June 28, the Philippines and the United States will conduct a joint military exercise called CARAT or Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training which was programmed since last year. Officials said the exercises were in accordance with the 1951 Philippines-US Mutual Defense Treaty (MTD) and aimed at testing the capabilities of the two navies to undertake "freedom of navigation operations". God forbid, but the real trouble comes when Philippines is caught in a crossfire between China and America. It’s one big of a hell… for us!

Just this morning, Anakpawis party-list Rep. Rafael Mariano called for the immediate abrogation of the MDT between Manila and Washington. "The United States government is not interested in the conflict between the Philippines and People's Republic of China because it doesn’t serve the interest of the US and its people," Mariano said while reportedly lambasting the so-called US intervention.

But I am just wondering why the Filipino militant organizations and party-list groups, ASIDE from discouraging US intervention did NOT protest against alleged Chinese intrusion in that part of the sea claimed in whole or in part by Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam? A protest just like the one staged by hundred of demonstrators, mostly group of young people, in front of the Chinese embassy in Hanoi last week. This was participated by young militants wearing Vietnamese flags t-shirts and carrying signs that read, "Stop Chinese invasion of Vietnam's islands." Maybe, just maybe, Rep. Mariano do not believed in Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin’s accusation that China is undermining peace and stability in Asia by allegedly sending naval vessels to intimidate rival claimants in the disputed islands. Or their (Philippine militant’s) meaning and definition of patriotism and nationalism is truly that selective?

For me, this should be rooted down to a peaceful action or a principled negotiation towards a solution acceptable to all claimants and the rest of the countries in the world, taking off from the declaration called "Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in South China Sea", a pact signed in 2002 by China and the members of the ASEAN or the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. All of the claimants other than China should report this supposedly bullying to the United Nations (UN). The Philippines should not let the United States fight for us for, as they say, there’s no such thing as a free meal. Besides, it would entail bigger trouble. Believe me.

As a people, we must not be too emotional, irresponsible and careless about these latest events. On the other hand, our government must stand firm to our ground (or is it “waters”?) and be diplomatic but firm. Let us show them how brave we are. They might hurt us but certainly we will not give up.

Me? I will be relaxing in the beach this weekend and I will enjoy the sight of the sea closest to my heart: the South China Sea now called West Philippine Sea….

(Image : Reuters)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Che at Rizal

Una ay ang pag-amin na ang isang picture profile dito sa Facebook (na kilala ninyo tiyak kung sino) ang nagtulak sa aking isulat ito. Kabilang ang kuwento ng isang kaibigan na halos mamatay daw siya sa katatawa nang makita niya ang isang kakilala niyang CAFGU na naka-suot ng t-shirt na may mukha ni Che Guevara sa harapan. Alam kaya ng mamang may baril na ito kung kaninong mukha ang tila ibina-bandila niya? Hindi ba niya alam na martir at idolo si Che ng mga Sosyalista (Komunista) kagaya ng CPP-NPA-NDF? O baka naman hindi lang ang ating lonely para-military. Baka pati ang mga kabataang nagsusuot ng anumang kagamitan,- bag, sando, pitaka, sombrero, at iba pa, na may mukha ni Che ay hindi siya kilala. Isa lang ang tiyak ko, ang Che na ating nakikita ngayon sa mga kagamitang iyon ay HINDI ang Che sa tunay na buhay.

Mula kay Ernesto “Che” Guevara, sa susunod na Linggo nga pala, Hunyo 19, ay magarbong ipagdiriwang ng bansa ang ika-150 kaarawan ni Gat Jose Rizal kaya hayaan ninyong iugnay ko kay Che ang ating pambansang bayani sa sulating ito. Ito ang ikalawang bagay na nagtulak sa akin.

Wala rin itong ipinagkaiba sa mga kumakalat na larawan ni Jose Rizal sa internet, mga babasahin at maging sa mga kagamitan ating binibili at isinusuot. Akala marahil natin, sa pagsusuot lamang nang mga ito ay maaari na rin nating maipakita na tayo ay kanyang mga taga-sunod, na naniniwala tayo sa kanya, na tayo ay makabayan na. Kahit suotan natin siya ng Ray-Ban at pagdamitin ng parang hip-hop upang maka-angkop at mapag-balingan ng atensyon ng ating mga kabataan at ng modernong panahon. Hindi ganap o tunay na Rizal ang ating makikita at masasalamin.

Ano ba ang parehong meron si Che at si Rizal? Sa palagay ko, kung nabubuhay lamang sila ay hindi rin nila magugustuhan ang mga pagtatampok nang labis at nahahaluan na nang labis na exposure na sagad sa komersyalismo at overly showbiz ang kanilang pagkatao. Ang pagdakila at pagkilala sa dalawa ay hindi lamang sa pagsali sa mga concert at rakrakang ibinabandila ang kanilang larawan, talambuhay, pangarap at adhikain. Ang higit na mahalagang diwa nito ay ang batid nating sina Rizal at Che ay PINATAY ng mga kaaway ng kalayaan, katarungan, kapayapaan at pag-ibig sa bayan at paniniwala. Dumaan sila sa lupit ng mga kampon ng kasakiman, pagmamalabis at panunupil. Kapwa sila kaaway ng pamahalaan, ng gobyerno.

Ang tunay o “essensiyal” na Rizal at Che na dapat na ibahagi sa atin ng mga kinauukulan at ng kasaysayan ay ito : gumawa ka nang isang bagay para sa iyong bansa at sa ‘sangkatauhan na maglalagay sa iyong buhay sa alanganin at pagbuwisan nito kung kinakailangan.

Ang mga tunay na kabayanihan ay pagsuong sa panganib para sa makatao o/at maka-Diyos na layunin. Hindi tayo maaring maging bayani kung ang gusto lang nating gawin ay yaong mga bagay na hindi natin itinataya ang ating buhay. Hindi lahat tayo ay maaring maging bayani sapagkat kakaunti at pili lamang ang maaaring dumating sa ganitong katayuan. Sabi nga ng iba, aksidente rin daw madalas ang pagiging bayani kagaya sa pelikulang “Hero” ni Dustin Hoffman. Huwag rin tayong magkakamali na ang “pagiging bayani” at “pagiging mabuting mamamayan” ay iisa. Halimbawa, ang pag sunod sa batas trapiko, para sa akin, ay pagiging mabuting mamamayan at hindi kabayanihan. Maging ang pagtatapon ng basura sa tamang lugar. Walang extra ordinary doon para sa isang law-abiding citizen. Bagama't aaminin ko na mahalagang sangkap ang huli sa pagsasakatuparan ng una.

Pero ano ang nangyari sa ala-ala ni Che? Si Che na simbolo sa marami ng kalayaan at rebolusyon ay ginawang instant pop icon of fashion and marketing na, maaring mali ako, labag sa kanyang paniniwala at personal conviction. Bunga nito, tunay na naka-pasok na ang kapitalismo maging sa kaliit-liitang himaymay ng tunay na imahe ni Che Guevara. At kay Rizal ay wala na tayong dapat ipagtaka. Si Che ay isang rebolusyunaryo samantalang repormista naman si Rizal na bukas sa ideya ng kapitalismo. Hindi ba't inayawan ni Rizal ang alok na pamunuan niya ang rebolusyon?

Siyanga pala, bagama’t hindi pareho ng pamamaraan at idolohiya, sina Che at Rizal ay parehong duktor ng medisina. Na kapwa manggagamot at seruhano rin pala ng sakit ng lipunan….

(Photos : GoogleImages)