Tuesday, August 29, 2006

DEAR MR. GOKONGWEI


(This piece was published in the Sept. 10th issue of Newsbreak Magazine)

August 16, 2006

To: John Gokongwei
Fr: John Silva
Re: Your donation



You’ve made the over 10 billion peso donation for education. You got the well-deserved press and raised the marker on Philippine philanthropy. Your legacy and good name is ensured.

Now, for the hard part. As someone involved in education reform and philanthropy let me share with you pitfalls to avoid and challenges to face in order that your donation truly makes a difference.

1. Take charge of your giving. In the beginning at least, when a strategy begs visionaries like you. In the past, philanthropists wrote the checks and went off thinking they’ve done their share. The reason why you are able to give so much is because you have a business skill that non-profits need. Address education like you would a new company you founded. Research the problem, listen to education experts, listen to your own employees about the school conditions of their children. Current philanthropy engages the funder to be part of the solution thereby ensuring results. After all, it’s your hard earned money.
2. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Don’t start up a new foundation or add more administrative overhead that will drain your donation. In your research, look for non-profits in education reform that have a track record and successes to boot. Fund them and be part of their boards. Oftentimes, the successful organization is good on outreach and weak on fundraising. Give them a financial shot in the arm and see results.
3. Look at alternative education resources. One of your grantees will be the University of San Carlos in Cebu. That university has a wonderful museum and could use major renovation. There are over 200 underutilized museums throughout the country. Research studies show that children with an arts/culture exposure outpace their classmates in science and math scores, are more literate, and more inclined to do community service. A child learns not just in a classroom but in museums, libraries, art centers, and heritage sites. Give to these as well and watch children’s intelligence and emotional quotients and their love for country rise.
4. Beware of the numbers game. At the recent League For Corporate Foundation expo, company representatives were still extolling their social corporate responsibility by ticking of the number of computers they’ve put in schools, the number of books they donated, the number of scholarships given, and so forth. The numbers may be impressive but they have not halted the deterioration of education. Take an education organization like Synergeia. They believe engaging the local government officials, teacher training, and reinvigorating parent-teacher associations as key factors in turning student performance around. The result? In the over one million children under their outreach program, they’ve been posting higher reading and comprehension scores than previously tested. Without a single computer donation.
5. Couple your support by giving to family planning organizations. The Philippines has a high student drop-out rate and the remaining children go to school malnourished, hungry and can’t focus with their studies. The math is simple. A poor parent with two children can afford to put a child to school with food in his stomach than a parent with five children. We are not going to lick the education problem if birth rates are not lowered.

You’ve decided a very wise legacy giving to education. You must know how increasingly difficult it is to recruit qualified graduates for your business empire. Duplicate this a thousand more times in all Philippine companies and we are facing a national crisis.

But let’s not cloud the moment. Accolades are in order for John Gokongwei. You could have celebrated your 80th whichever way you pleased. Instead you put the rare spirit of giving in the forefront of public consciousness. Congratulations and you can start inspecting schools tomorrow.

Friday, August 25, 2006

WE WON'T CELEBRATE JUST YET!


The Philippine Inquirer got a lot of mail about the homophobic columns of their writer Isagani Cruz. Mine are below in response to his columns.

By Tuesday, Aug 22, 2006, the Inquirer published the piece below. It was not a disavowal but a step in the right direction.

Today, August 24, 2006, they published my response in the Letters to The Editors piece.

It’s not over. So many responses from friends all over the world bombarded the Inquirer. It should continue. Also check out my partner, Jonathan Best's response to Isagani's pieces.

Please do not stop letting the Inquirer know your feelings on the matter (feedback@inquirer.com.ph). I will ask permission from all the writers who copied me on their letters and put them in this blog. Many thanks again


EDITORIAL
Editorial : Born free and equal
First posted 11:59pm (Mla time) Aug 21, 2006
Inquirer

Editor's Note: Published on Page A10 of the August 22, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

A COLUMN written last week by Inquirer columnist Isagani Cruz on homosexuals stirred a tempest among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups not only in this country but also in other parts of the world. Scores of e-mail letters and telephone calls were received at the Inquirer the day after the publication of the column and they have not stopped coming.
Cruz's column placed homosexuals in a negative light and it is only understandable that the members of the group should protest violently against it. But we believe that the controversy may yet result in something good for the homosexual community, in that it may focus attention on and lead to the alleviation of their plight.
The Conservative Right and the Religious Right have traditionally viewed homosexuals as immoral, perverse, sinful, queer and causing harm to themselves, to others and to society as a whole. But do homosexuals choose to be so? Are homosexuals born or bred?
Scientific studies the past 20-30 years do not support the claim that homosexuality is genetic. The studies covered such areas as the hypothalamus, genes, finger length, inner ear differences, eye-blinking and neuro-hormonal differentiation. The studies that purportedly provide "proof" that homosexuals are "born that way" are inconclusive at best and, as one scientist has said, "largely correlational in nature."
Probably the best way to describe the situation is this paraphrase from Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, author of "Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth": Some people may be predisposed because of genetic, prenatal hormonal influences or other physical or brain differences to have personalities that make them vulnerable to environmental factors that can elicit homosexual desires.
But whether born or bred, the fact is that homosexuals are gaining acceptance in many parts of the world, including the United States and the Philippines. A national survey of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders made by the Kaiser Family Foundation in the US in 2000 found that a large majority believes that there is more acceptance today compared to a few years ago. Significant numbers, however, reported that they experienced prejudice and discrimination, including verbal abuse and physical violence, based on sexual orientation. A companion survey found generally high levels of acceptance of LGBTs in many professional roles.
We do not know if similar surveys have been done in the Philippines, but there seems to have been a change in the general public attitude toward homosexuals in the past 50 years. As a matter of fact, many homosexual professionals are held in high esteem in various sectors of society today.
And yet the discrimination continues. The rich, the prominent and the influential may not be victims of discrimination, but the poor and the underprivileged are. Discrimination against homosexuals may be a cause of, and may accentuate, poverty. A study made in Sweden in 2005 showed that homosexuals all over the world are to a large extent subjected to violence, insecurity, isolation and exclusion from decision-making functions.
The study said that LGBT people suffer from repression in the form of cultural injustice (being rendered "invisible," being maligned, harassed, violated and disparaged in everyday life) and legal injustice (being denied rights and equal protection under the law). As a consequence, they also suffer economic injustice, such as being denied employment or being summarily dismissed from work and being denied family-based social welfare benefits.
The discrimination and the violation of human rights that LGBT people suffer often diminishes their self-esteem and makes them feel helpless, powerless and unable to do anything to improve their situation.
Louise Arbour, UN high commissioner for human rights, in a recent speech, said, "Neither the existence of national laws nor the prevalence of custom can ever justify the abuse, attacks, torture and indeed killings that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons are subjected to because of who they are or are perceived to be."
Like women, who have suffered discrimination for ages, homosexuals are also human beings like the rest of us. Those who would discriminate against LGBT people and treat them less kindly should perhaps be reminded of the first sentence of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights."


Sympathizing with gays, letting Isagani Cruz off the hook
Inquirer
Last updated 01:14am (Mla time) 08/24/2006
Published on Page A12 of the August 24, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
THE editorial "Born free and equal" (Inquirer, 8/22/06) concedes that Isagani Cruz's columns on LGBT persons invited angry reader response. It acknowledged further that we still suffer discrimination and outright violence. However, it didn't link hate-literature, like that of Cruz's, to the violence committed against us but it's a step that the editorial
finally came around to talking about it.
The editorial is, at best, a declaration of the Inquirer's sympathy with lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT). At worst, it somewhat gets Cruz off the hook. But we won't let that happen. We still demand an apology from him. We still want the Inquirer to disavow itself from Cruz's hate-columns.
But let's not sound so grim and determined. In just over a week, our collective angry voice made a difference with the Inquirer and Cruz, and I want to thank all those who called, e-mailed and wrote on our behalf. This is the fundamental lesson, time and time again, in my advocacy work. When you appeal to your friends and they agree with your message, and they do something about it, too, you create a wave that cannot be stopped.
About two years ago, there were stories about blogs and the Internet becoming a tool for political and social change. In this fight, I started "trawling" through the Internet, reading blogs, reading comments on the blogs and reading other people's perspectives.
Now I know what those stories I read years back meant. The blogs and the Internet have truly widened democratic discussion and given us additional weapons of collective wisdom to get our points across.
John L. Silva

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Jonathan Best's Reply to Isagani Cruz

(This is my partner Jonathan Best's reply to Isagani Cruz's Aug. 12, 2006 editorial. It was published two days later in the Letters To The Editor but was they had cut out the last and important paragraph. Here is the full letter.)

Isagani A. Cruz is a Bully and a Gay Basher.
by Jonathan Best

There he goes again, Isagani A. Cruz (PDI
Saturday Aug. 12, 2006), sounding off about the
terrible vulgarity of gay hair dressers and
effeminate school boys and how the Philippine
nation must be warned lest it loss its masculine
virility. In 2003 he was targeting gays on TV in
a somewhat less hysterical article. Cruz waxes
nostalgic for the simpler days of his youth when
hardly a gay could be spotted on the streets of
Manila. Was he born during the Spanish
Inquisition in the Seventeenth Century?
As an opener Cruz wrings his hands in
apology to the respectable “decorously discreet”
homosexuals he respects, for the harsh words he
feels compelled to write. He sites “less than
manly” dress designers as acceptable, as long as
they manage to repress their “condition”. If he
had the guts he would also have apologized to the
distinguished heads of several major Philippine
corporations, Catholic and Protestant priests,
movie stars, famous athletes, military men and
millions of average Filipino men and women who
are active homosexuals and lesbians enjoying
their “condition” just fine.
What Cruz launches into, despite his
crocodile tears for well behaved homosexuals, is
plain old fashioned, bullying and gay bashing. He
is trying to pass off hate-speech as respectable
journalism. Social commentators are welcome to
criticizes gay culture all they want, we
criticize ourselves mercilessly at times, and
accept the same from straight friends and honest
critics when appropriate. But Cruz is not a
friend or thoughtful critic, he is a bigot and a
hate monger.
He singles out the most vulnerable members
of the gay community, the youth and
transgendered, the marginalized working class
gays who have few options when dealing with their
sexuality. Cruz proceeds to name call and
arrogantly spew sophomoric theories about
Philippine religion, gender and sexuality. He
growls about “homos” in religious processions and
asks will the Philippines become “predominantly
pansy” will we be converted into a nation of
“sexless persons”. He fumes that some people are
advocating that homosexuals be given equal rights
as “male and female persons”. In a spasm of
vitriol he declare, “let us be warned against the
Gay population,” even the national flag is in
danger. What a lot of hateful rot.
He menacingly boasts how gays were “mauled”
in the 1970s when his five “macho” sons were in
school. Despite being a former lawyer he
conveniently ignores the fact that violent gay
bashing is considered a serious hate-crime in
most civilized nations. I guess he also forgets
it was the gay music group The Village People,
who popularized the term “macho”, singing about
the macho, macho men, down at the YMCA getting it
on with each other.
Sadly, the direction Cruz’s self righteous
tirade points, is where so many demagogues and
hate groups have gone before. The Church in the
dark days of the Spanish Inquisition proclaimed
homosexual an abomination in the eyes of God and
sent hundreds of thousands to be tortured and
burned alive. Offending men were tied together
and burned like faggots of wood, hence our modern
day nickname “faggots”. Twentieth Century Nazis
used gas chambers, Communist Red Guards in
Shanghai used baseball bats, they felt bullets
were too expensive to waste on “bourgeois
degenerates”, the American Klu Klux Clan were
fond of castration and lynchings, and now Islamic
Fundamentalist death squads in Iraq and Iran are
beheading gay men and lesbians in the name of
their “all merciful” God.
One might ask the fundamentalists why God
just keeps turning out more and more homosexuals
if he dislikes them so much. Maybe it’s a gentle
reminder to the heterosexual community that they
have taken the “go forth and multiply”
commandment a bit too far?
Yes, Isagani Cruz the world is not the place
it was when you were a boy, it’s a much better
place, thanks to the basic human rights
homosexuals and other minorities have fought for
and won over the span of your lifetime. With a
bit of luck my partner John and I might even be
able to legaly tie the knot before we celebrate
our thirty-fifth anniversary in a couple of
years, no thanks to you I am sure.

Jonathan Best
Tambo, ParaƱaque

Monday, August 21, 2006

NURSE, YOU FORGOT THE ENEMA!

By John L. Silva

There goes Isagani Cruz again, spewing his homophobic sputum all over the printed page. (Philippine Daily Inquirer August 20, 2006, his full text below). He’s having a bad hair day because fellow columnist Manuel Quezon III called him a bigot. If he’s read the enormous amount of e- mail the newspaper has received and the blogs on the internet, he’ll come to his silly senses and realize Manuel was actually quite diplomatic in fencing with him.

I sense though a slight sobriety in Isagani’s writing today. He’s cut out the epithets (I think he’s been warned), and he no longer boasts about the virtues of macho-hood. He must have gotten so much ribbing about having declared and certifying all his five sons to be macho.

Despite his feebled bombast, he’s decided to take the legalese route and cloak himself in the Freedom of Speech mantle. He pleads his right to say what he wants even an “…unorthodox view hostile to or scorned by others.” Enough with the cheap rhetoric Isagani, and read your employer’s Philippine Inquirer Manual of Editorial Policies particularly Section VIII of the Journalist Code of Ethics. The section cautions its columnists about the dangers of bigotry and “In no case should they criticize or ridicule another person on the basis of his or her religious beliefs, race, sexual preferences etc.

The same manual also conforms to Section VII of the same Code of Ethics which states that journalists “shall not in any manner ridicule, cast aspersions on or degrade any person by reason of sex, creed, religious belief, political conviction, (or) cultural or ethnic origin.”

Translation: Isagani Cruz is a bigot and broke company rules.

Alas, it’s been a week and two bigoted editorials later, yet we haven’t heard a peep from the Inquirer publisher and editors. Their ombudsman and readers advocate, Lorna Kalaw-Tirol, has cited the above sections and agreed on national television that Isagani broke the rules. Does the ombudsman really get listened to or is the title just a wall plaque and nothing more?

What were some of Isagani’s repulsive remarks in today’s editorial? He says he wouldn’t have written the first one if he knew Manuel was gay.

How sensitive of him. And hypocritical.

Isagani wrote his anti-gay tracts despite the common knowledge that other columnists are gay and that many in the Inquirer are of the same persuasion.
Manuel counters in his column that he could not “…embrace him (Isagani)…much less shake his hand…” because of his remarks. Isagani, the paranoid, scoffs Manuel’s gentlemanly remarks. Instead, Isagani calls on God, thanking him that he won’t be embraced by the likes of Manuel. His manhood unblemished, his attraction to the opposite sex secured.

Today’s appearance of yet another offensive piece by Isagani Cruz without editorial disavowal causes many to believe the newspaper does not uphold its own standards and rules and therefore is a party to spreading hate and homophobia in this country.

I ask everyone to write to the Inquirer (feedback@inquirer.com.ph) and tell them what they should do with Isagani Cruz and how the newspaper should portray gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals, and transgenders. Lorna Kalaw-Tirol has conceded on television that the complaints they received about Isagani was the largest recorded ever. The Inquirer has in the past suspended errant writers for violating the PDI manual. They should do no less for the likes of Isagani.

The Inquirer is a corporation and adheres to corporate social responsibility practices. That means being cognizant of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders who work for and supply the newspaper. They don’t want a columnist that fans editorial hatred against them which reaches out to hundreds of thousands of readers. Will the Inquirer ever hire, tolerate, and abet a fundamentalist who will attack religious beliefs? Will they hire a columnist espousing the oppression of women due to free speech? It’s a no-brainer.

The majesty of Free Speech shines best when it is used to push the cause of the unheard, the dis-inherited, the pained, the novel, the yearnings for peace. Free Speech as articulated by Isagani is the right to bully, to hurt, to maim, divide and provoke violence.

The homophobic rant that comes out of the Inquirer’s Isagani Cruz must stop immediately. Isagani Cruz must apologize. The Inquirer publisher must go on public record disavowing homophobic journalism and must take action on Isagani based on their own editorial manual.

The newspaper’s failure to do this means complicity to homophobia. We will not take inaction lightly. We are everywhere.



SEPARATE OPINION
Neither here nor there

By Isagani Cruz
Inquirer
Last updated 08:41am (Mla time) 08/20/2006
Published on page A10 of the August 20, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer
IF I had known that Manuel Quezon III was gay, I would have desisted from writing that column last week on homosexuals out of respect for a fellow columnist. But now that he has retorted angrily and called me a bigot among other names, I have no choice but to reply.
I started that column with the caution that it was not intended as an attack against homosexuals in general and did not include “those who have behaved in a reserved and discreet manner unlike the vulgar members of the gay community who have degraded and scandalized it. I offer abject apologies to those blameless people I may unintentionally include in my not inclusive criticisms. They have my admiration and respect.”
As Mr. Quezon himself does not consider himself among the exceptions, he would be what we lawyers call a “proper party,” or one who is directly injured. In fact, he appears to be severely wounded by my remarks and is hemorrhaging profusely. He, therefore, has a right to react to my “insults” in the waspish manner he saw fit.
He calls me a hate-monger for deriding the vulgar practices of his kind and says I have no right to say what is tasteless and intolerable. Who has—he? Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes said that freedom of speech includes not only the right to express the thought that agrees with us but also the thought that we abhor. Voltaire was grandiloquent: “I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Criticism is normal in the free society and is available to everyone right or wrong. The ideas that may be expressed under this freedom are not confined only to those that are sympathetic or acceptable, for that would make the freedom more shadow than substance. To be really meaningful, it should permit the articulation of even the unorthodox view, though it is hostile to or scorned by others. One of the purposes of this freedom, in fact, is to invite dispute.
If I do not appreciate the paintings of Picasso, any one who disagrees with me may say so and explain his reasons. But he cannot attack me personally for criticizing his idol. Mr. Quezon compares me to the tyrants in the police states where unacceptable identity or thought is systematically exterminated. In the free society, ideas are countered with ideas, not pejorative names. For criticizing his kind, Mr. Quezon likens me to the Nazis and the Reds and brands me a hate-monger.
Hate is not per se objectionable as Mr. Quezon may imply. Jesus Christ hated sinners and angrily drove the merchants and money changers from the holy temple they were desecrating. Was he a hate-monger for doing so? When Winston Churchill called on his countrymen to resist the enemy with all their blood, sweat, toil and tears, was he a hate-monger in the despicable sense of the phrase? That is what Mr. Quezon would call me for criticizing his kind.
I am a hate-monger against grafters, murderers, rapists and other criminals, but I only dislike the coarse homosexuals he defends, as is his right. Also disagreeable to me are straight persons who wear loud clothes, flunkies, hypocrites, humbugs and other unpleasant figures, male and female, in our imperfect society. I have the right to criticize them even as they have the right to reply in the common exercise of our freedom of expression.
It all depends on what and whom you hate. If I criticize homosexuals who disgrace their sex with their tasteless practices and appearance, any one among them can rise in defense and say why they should not be called obnoxious. But not in an obnoxious manner.
Mr. Quezon faults me for disagreeing with some practices of his kind that I find intolerable and insists that they have the fundamental right “to those we choose to love, to have relationships with and with whom we aspire to share a life marked by a measure of domestic bliss and emotional contentment.”
Who’s interfering with your romances? As long as you are not violating the law, you are free with your liaisons, and I for one do not pry into your amorous affairs. Nor do I want to.
The important thing is that you have no right to demand that I agree with your pleasures or to forbid me from criticizing your “emotional contentment” if they offend the public interest. You cannot claim a preferred treatment because you are what you are even as you say you should be treated like the rest of the people despite what you are.
Finally, rejecting my reservation that my criticisms are only for the distasteful among you, you piously declare: “I will not embrace him, not for that, much less shake his hand or offer him the opportunity for civilized disagreement.” That opportunity is not yours to give, Mr. Quezon, and as for not embracing me—thank God.


IT’S TIME FOR YOUR ENEMA, ISAGANI

By John L. Silva

Weekend newspaper reading should be elevating, forward thinking and inspiring. But Isagani Cruz’s gay-bashing editorial (PDI August 12, 2006) today only makes you understand why old geezer columnists, if they don’t keel over, need to be put to pasture for their own good.

Cruz can actually write and when he reminisces about old Manila he’s fine. But his nostalgia also pines for behavior and mores that just doesn’t cut it these days. He makes a point about excluding gays “…who have conducted themselves decorously” from his bombast. He can’t stand “timorous” and “audacious gays” and is frightened by the growing numbers. He yearns for elementary school days when there was only one, (Really?) one, queer person in his entire school. Must have been about the same time he needed glasses. And, most certainly, before Gay Pride.

Recently he freaked out overhearing one queer student telling another he’s off to get his nipple sucked. Cruz pines (wishes?) for these queers to be beaten up if they were overheard in a school his “five macho sons” went to. This is where Cruz goes over the line.

There are newspapers, including the Inquirer, who take on opinion writers with a bent different from the company’s own views. It makes for variety and a certain level of maturity. But when the writer gets past dissenting and starts to recklessly, and without basis, charge that there is a homosexual agenda to convert this nation into “..sexless persons…” it may seem silly and innocuous, but it is classic hatemongering. And the Inquirer with its socially committed journalism should be the first to distinguish between freedom of expression and fascist talk.

Every day, gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals, and transgenders face discrimination and oftentimes, outright violence from a society that still holds the most ignorant and baseless notions about our population. Isagani Cruz’s crude portrayal of gays coupled with homophobic nostalgia continues these notions thereby validating the oppression inflicted on us.

The Inquirer, like many other newspapers, have expanded their Lifestyle and Entertainment sections to gain more revenue. In doing so, many gay oriented, gay friendly, and gay written pieces appear in these sections. Some of it can be silly and gossipy but otherwise, they make for interesting reading and they seem to satisfy the advertisers.

Add to that the regular columnists in the Inquirer stable who are gay identified and pro-gay and take up the cudgels for gay rights. (Many gays and lesbians have honored Rina David as an Honorary Lesbian). With gay Filipinos buying the Inquirer, Cruz needs to be reminded that his salary comes partially from gay pesos.

On behalf of many outraged gays, I demand that Isagani Cruz write a public apology over this editorial. The Inquirer Editor and Publisher should go on record to censure Cruz and this sort of writing and not allow anymore hateful articles about gays to appear in its newspaper.

Why should gays and people of good will patronize a paper with a columnist that demonizes us, telling us we reject “propriety and morality” and, absurdly states that we are a “compromise between the strong and the weak?” It’s not only hogwash, it’s pretty loony stuff unbecoming of a supposed world-class newspaper.

To the pasture Isagani Cruz. Write your antiquated dribble there where you hurt no one. A word about your macho sons. Eyebrows do get raised when one boasts needlessly about macho sons. Remember, we are everywhere.



'Don we now our gay apparel'
By Isagani Cruz
Inquirer
Last updated 02:14am (Mla time) 08/12/2006
Published on Page A10 of the August 12, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily
Inquirer

HOMOSEXUALS before were mocked and derided, but now they are regarded with
new-found respect and, in many cases, even treated as celebrities. Only
recently, the more impressionable among our people wildly welcomed a group
of entertainers whose main proud advertisement was that they were "queer."
It seems that the present society has developed a new sense of values that
have rejected our religious people's traditional ideas of propriety and
morality on the pretext of being "modern" and "broad-minded."

The observations I will here make against homosexuals in general do not
include the members of their group who have conducted themselves decorously,
with proper regard not only for their own persons but also for the gay
population in general. A number of our local couturiers, to take but one
example, are less than manly but they have behaved in a reserved and
discreet manner unlike the vulgar members of the gay community who have
degraded and scandalized it. I offer abject apologies to those blameless
people I may unintentionally include in my not inclusive criticisms. They
have my admiration and respect.

The change in the popular attitude toward homosexuals is not particular to
the Philippines. It has become an international trend even in the so-called
sophisticated regions with more liberal concepts than in our comparatively
conservative society. Gay marriages have been legally recognized in a number
of European countries and in some parts of the United States. Queer people
-- that's the sarcastic term for them -- have come out of the closet where
before they carefully concealed their condition. The permissive belief now
is that homosexuals belong to a separate third sex with equal rights as male
and female persons instead of just an illicit in-between gender that is
neither here nor there.

When I was studying in the Legarda Elementary School in Manila during the
last 1930s, the big student population had only one, just one, homosexual.
His name was Jose but we all called him Josefa. He was a quiet and friendly
boy whom everybody liked to josh but not offensively. In the whole district
of Sampaloc where I lived, there was only one homosexual who roamed the
streets peddling "kalamay" and "puto" and other treats for snacks. He
provided diversion to his genial customers and did not mind their familiar
amiable teasing. I think he actually enjoyed being a "binabae" [effeminate].

The change came, I think, when an association of homos dirtied the beautiful
tradition of the Santa Cruz de Mayo by parading their kind as the "sagalas"
instead of the comely young maidens who should have been chosen to grace the
procession. Instead of being outraged by the blasphemy, the watchers were
amused and, I suppose, indirectly encouraged the fairies to project
themselves. It must have been then that they realized that they were what
they were, whether they liked it or not, and that the time for hiding their
condition was over.

Now homosexuals are everywhere, coming at first in timorous and eventually
alarming and audacious number. Beauty salons now are served mostly by gay
attendants including effeminate bearded hairdressers to whom male barbers
have lost many of their macho customers. Local shows have their share of
"siyoke" [gay men], including actors like the one rejected by a beautiful
wife in favor of a more masculine if less handsome partner. And, of course,
there are lady-like directors who are probably the reason why every movie
and TV drama must have the off-color "bading" [gay] or two to cheapen the
proceedings.

And the schools are now fertile ground for the gay invasion. Walking along
the University belt one day, I passed by a group of boys chattering among
themselves, with one of them exclaiming seriously, "Aalis na ako.
Magpapasuso pa ako!" ["I'm leaving. I still have to breastfeed!"] That pansy
would have been mauled in the school where my five sons (all machos) studied
during the '70s when all the students were certifiably masculine. Now many
of its pupils are gay, and I don't mean happy. I suppose they have been
influenced by such shows as "Brokeback Mountain," our own "Ang Pagdadalaga
ni Maximo Oliveros" (both of which won awards), "Queer Eye for the Straight
Guy," and that talk program of Ellen Degeneres, an admitted lesbian.

Is our population getting to be predominantly pansy? Must we allow
homosexuality to march unobstructed until we are converted into a nation of
sexless persons without the virility of males and the grace of females but
only an insipid mix of these diluted virtues? Let us be warned against the
gay population, which is per se a compromise between the strong and the weak
and therefore only somewhat and not the absolute of either of the two
qualities. Be alert lest the Philippine flag be made of delicate lace and
adorned with embroidered frills.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

IT'S TIME FOR YOUR ENEMA, ISAGANI CRUZ

Weekend newspaper reading should be elevating, forward thinking and inspiring. But Isagani Cruz’s gay-bashing editorial (PDI August 12, 2006) today only makes you understand why old geezer columnists, if they don’t keel over, need to be put to pasture for their own good.

Cruz can actually write and when he reminisces about old Manila he’s fine. But his nostalgia also pines for behavior and mores that just doesn’t cut it these days. He makes a point about excluding gays “…who have conducted themselves decorously” from his bombast. He can’t stand “timorous” and “audacious gays” and is frightened by the growing numbers. He yearns for elementary school days when there was only one, (Really?) one, queer person in his entire school. Must have been about the same time he needed glasses. And, most certainly, before Gay Pride.

Recently he freaked out overhearing one queer student telling another he’s off to get his nipple sucked. Cruz pines (wishes?) for these queers to be beaten up if they were overheard in a school his “five macho sons” went to. This is where Cruz goes over the line.

There are newspapers, including the Inquirer, who take on opinion writers with a bent different from the company’s own views. It makes for variety and a certain level of maturity. But when the writer gets past dissenting and starts to recklessly, and without basis, charge that there is a homosexual agenda to convert this nation into “..sexless persons…” it may seem silly and innocuous, but it is classic hatemongering. And the Inquirer with its socially committed journalism should be the first to distinguish between freedom of expression and fascist talk.

Every day, gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals, and transgenders face discrimination and oftentimes, outright violence from a society that still holds the most ignorant and baseless notions about our population. Isagani Cruz’s crude portrayal of gays coupled with homophobic nostalgia continues these notions thereby validating the oppression inflicted on us.

The Inquirer, like many other newspapers, have expanded their Lifestyle and Entertainment sections to gain more revenue. In doing so, many gay oriented, gay friendly, and gay written pieces appear in these sections. Some of it can be silly and gossipy but otherwise, they make for interesting reading and they seem to satisfy the advertisers.

Add to that the regular columnists in the Inquirer stable who are gay identified and pro-gay and take up the cudgels for gay rights. (Many gays and lesbians have honored Rina David as an Honorary Lesbian). With gay Filipinos buying the Inquirer, Cruz needs to be reminded that his salary comes partially from gay pesos.

On behalf of many outraged gays, I demand that Isagani Cruz write a public apology over this editorial. The Inquirer Editor and Publisher should go on record to censure Cruz and this sort of writing and not allow anymore hateful articles about gays to appear in its newspaper.

Why should gays and people of good will patronize a paper with a columnist that demonizes us, telling us we reject “propriety and morality” and, absurdly states that we are a “compromise between the strong and the weak?” It’s not only hogwash, it’s pretty loony stuff unbecoming of a supposed world-class newspaper.

To the pasture Isagani Cruz. Write your antiquated dribble there where you hurt no one. A word about your macho sons. Eyebrows do get raised when one boasts needlessly about macho sons. Remember, we are everywhere.