Kerima Polotan’s “The Hand of the Enemy”

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Kerima Polotan’s book entitled “The Hand of the Enemy” is a story of a woman who realized she has to struggle as a daughter, a mother, a wife and a woman. Emma Gorrez, the protagonist of the story, suffers with her relationships with men: her father, her husband and her employer who wanted to become her lover.

In the first part of the book, the reader is introduced to the main character working in the city. She recalled the time when she was still in college, working to support herself because her father cut her allowance. It was a conflict between the father and the daughter and the first time she went home was when she was to attend her father’s funeral with her half brothers and sisters and her stepmother.

She applied for a job as a teacher in Tayug, a barrio, and there she met Mr. Rividad, a married man who confessed he loves Emma days before she got married to Domingo Gorrez. Mr. Rividad had a wife whom the people of Tayug considered a whore because she slept with different men but Mr. Rividad learned to mind the rumors no more and still accepted Norma as the mother of his children.

Another female character then enters the scene. Nora Cosio arrived in Tayug, causing much curiosity to the people, giving away free shirts to earn their votes for the election. She charmed the people and made friends with Emma and Domingo. Weeks after Nora Cosio went back to the city, Doming decided to live the city life and established a printing press to start a new living. But the business was a failure and their marriage too was in danger. But Doming never wanted to go home. It was their first major fight and Emma chose to go back in Tayug with her children.

Emma struggled to raise the children on her own and Doming would give them financial assistance every month. It was a fight she never expected that would lead the marriage to its bitter end.

It started when Doming seemed not bothered at all with the distance and he did not dare visit the family even once. And she, who could not endure such a distance, came to the city to settle the problems. But she never expected to see a woman in Doming’s apartment. The woman was younger than her, and claimed to be Doming’s girlfriend. And it was the sign of the end of their marriage life. She bought home a jacket and some things for her kids, pretending they were from Doming’s.

Out of desperation, she went out with Mr. Rividad, whom she now called by his first name, Rene. But she could only show the same sympathy towards the marriage that they both suffered. And the story ended with Emma going home and Rene feeling so hopeless for his love for Emma. Marriage became each other’s funeral. Marriage gives authority for men to rule and for women to suffer.

The story did not only revolve around the main character’s life but to the other women characters in the story as well. Nora is portrayed as a whore because she is occasionally  going out with different men and people began to misjudge her.  Nora, Mr. Rividad’s wife, is under the power of the phallus. She has conflicts with her relationship with her father, the same case with Emma. When she was younger, she longed for her father’s love and attention, but her father had been too distant with her. He went around with different women and she met different sisters and brothers from her father’s different wives.

Manifestations of Filipino Machismo in Selected Philippine Contemporary Literary Works

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Years ago, the Filipino sitcom “Palibhasa Lalaki” brought the viewers to their own seats. The Pinoy audience was then exposed and introduced to the lighter side of Filipino machismo. The writers and cast of the sitcom only showed humor reflecting the real lives of the actors involved in the series such as Richard Gomez, Joey Marquez, Anjo Yllana, and Gloria Romero. But then, there were still images of sexy girls wearing shorts and fit shirts who were not entitled to speak more lines because they were only needed in the series to somehow show emphasis on the male actors’ masculinity. Indeed, there can be no theory of the subject that is not masculine.

Today’s Pinoy sitcoms are not making any difference at all to “Palibhasa Lalaki.” Even the Philippine Literature could not escape the visible trend of Filipino machismo, then followed its influence on Pop Literature. The music, the movies and even the Tagalog romance novels still could not go against the molecular influences of machismo, even in the contemporary times. Literature is indeed political.

Tracing back the manifestations of machismo in traditional literature, in the time of Estrella Alfon, Paz Latorena, and Ligaya Victorio Reyes, most of the unified depiction of their male characters was influenced by an ideology about Filipino men constantly asserting their masculinity and power over women. That was the early emergence of the Feminism movement. Such women writers were writing their literary works so as to present what were the society’s views on women during 1970’s and on. The presence of a female character so to understand the actions of machismo is a way to put the lack in the absent. The important thing to say is not that feminism is accusing individual men of being oppressors. Feminism is asking men to own up the ways that they have been privileged by those systems and structures.

Today, feminist writers created strong women characters in their literary works, even the men writers. Jessica Zafra, in most of her short stories showed the strong personalities of modern women in different situations. Lakambini Sitoy presents the conquests of women over men. And so, with the growth of feminism in its full bloom, machismo is at most overpowered, if not, buried in the fingertips of the writers. But then, it would be such a dangerous thing to conclude that our contemporary literary works are safe from the grounds of machismo. That is not always the case. In Ladlad: An Anthology of Filipino Gay Writing, there is a need to show machismo in the personalities of the male characters dominating the whole stories so to present the binary opposition of masculinity and homosexuality in the personalities of such characters. In a Structuralist way of thinking, the ideology that there is an existence of the subject and the other could be applied in the study. Among the selected texts to be discussed further are the works categorized as a form of gay writing, still following the concept of present and absent by the Structuralist Jacques Derrida so to discriminate the manifestations of machismo in the Filipino setting. And so, in order to grasp the object, it must be present.

Philippine Literature is indeed male. To read, listen and watch even those who don’t belong in the canon are poisoned by the forces of machismo. In a certain tribe featured in The National Geographic, men measure their manliness by jumping from a high building to the ground with no wounds at all, not even broken bones. And so, only by performing such a risky ritual that they could then call themselves as real men. In the Filipino setting, however, being a “macho” is to learn how to curse, to be an alcoholic and to talk about sex in the middle of an inuman session. One concrete example of this macho persona is Stan Kowalski in A Street Car Named Desire by Tennesse Williams in which the male character submits to the idea of beating his wife, continuing his drinking habits and the ironic thing is, he is physically a macho. This concept of machismo also perpetuated in early Filipino society.

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It is machismo’s relationship to alcohol, violence and homosexual desires that shape the male characters in Edzel Cardil’s story entitled “Par” taken from the compiled gay stories of Ladlad. Par is actually the short version of Pare. The central characters are the male figures, Andang being the gay character manipulating the story and the two other “macho” characters somehow giving a concrete binary opposition of personalities. Par is the name addressed by the gay lover to his so called “siga” live in partner in Caloocan.

“ Astig ‘no, dahil sa lugar namin, siga itong asawa ko, marami na siyang bodyguard, tipong Robin Padilla. Lalaking-lalake, Chang.”

He is the stereotyped figure of a Filipino macho who performs physical violence against his lover to assert his masculinity and sovereignty. He is experimental in terms of sexual conquests that he even tried homosexual affairs, somehow suggesting that his own definition of being a tunay na lalaki is achieving both gay and women. His own penis won’t mind giving pleasure to both anyway because men had always thought of their male organ as their pride of being a man.

“ Marami na raw siyang nakaka-do, pero ako lang talaga ang nakukursunadahan niya.”

And so, when the macho character died because of a fight with another guy to show that he is still the bandido ng Caloocan , Andang, the gay speaker, then spoke to his lover in silence:

Par, mali kasi ang pagkakaalam mo sa salitang macho. Di komo marami kang chicks at may mga bakla pa, basagulero’t siga, ay macho ka na. Ang tunay na macho ay ‘yung marunong gumalang sa bawat tao.”

Other male characters also exhibit typical manifestations of machismo. One concrete example is Panchang, the gay lover’s best friend who happens to belong in an army. He accepts the invitation of Andang to have a one time homosexual affair with him and is even proud, in silence, that he had shared the same lover with his own best friend. It is somehow a conquest for him to prove his manliness. When his best friend, Chris, found out, they both agreed to have a one on one basketball game, somehow a duel, to determine who will own Andang to save one’s male ego so to speak. Both characters are portrayed as men who have very heavy drinking habits. Their nightly drinking sessions were de rigueur among men and husbands.

Another character is Rey, who killed Chris to get his revenge after Chris humiliated him in public by breaking shells of balut on his head. Male ego is really an issue to men that they would even kill only to save his face after humiliating his male pride. It still follows to a male ideology stating that to be male one had to be tough and even behave like a brute.

The work of Cardil could also be a fact to prove that machismo is often observed and practiced by those men who belong in rural communities, especially in slum areas.

Men dominate in the world, women dominate in the bedroom. Alfred Yuson has another specific concept of manliness. In his “A Hill of Samuel,” he focused on how men applied the influences of machismo against the female species. Dignos, the central male character in the story, could be seen as the seducer of women and is the sole reason of their madness. He would rape every woman, married or not and they would then worship him in the hill. He asserts his personality being a macho man by his conquests over women. Based on the responses of the male respondents on the study of Bob Pease on Postmodern Masculinity Politics, among the other manly things to do so as to redeem manhood is to have an active sex life. That is another test of manliness according to them. Men tend to rape women as an act of punishment for arousing them. In the case of the story, Dignos used his sexuality as a weapon to conquer women.

“….He was mad and he made our women mad…”

“….as the man with the black locks and the terrible eyes pressed hard against her. And the laughter came strongly and savagely upon her…”

“…Lumen gasped, and dug her nails into his nape. Then she felt the fever departing, but now the coldness turned severely into iciness in her womb. And slowly Dignos slid away from her and stood erect, surveying his prey naked and prostrate. And the laughter mounted, as the hill echoed its approval..”

Men “require” women’s sexual power to remind them of their heterosexuality and to reaffirm their own masculinity, although they are likely to experience women’s sexual power and their own response as “natural.” Men need women to define their manhood. The more women he gets and conquers, the more macho he becomes to his other male friends. This is visible in our own culture, considering the fact that men metamorphosed themselves into strutting cocks, macho in language and behavior.

Machismo is exhibited differently according to socioeconomic class. Angelo Lacuesta’s “Stigmata” has its lighter exposition. The main character in the story is a rich married banker who is having an affair with a steward in one of his flights. He has sexual affairs with Lene and is never guilty about it. He justified his actions by believing that every rich banker has them, a woman is a part of a lusty weekend and on Monday she will only be a part of the history. He is an epitome of a typical macho who would not submit himself to romantic relationships because it would make them less a man. Being labeled as a womanizer would not even make them less human. In the Filipino setting, married men who have mistresses are not such a disgrace to the eyes of the society, in fact, other men take pride of it. Well, each element of the male gender stereotype is revealed, as in fact, sexual.

Obedient and devoted husbands in Philippine Society are often regarded as “under the saya” by most unenlightened folks especially in rural societies. When the former president Joseph Estrada exposed his lifestyle of having a wife coexisting with three other mistresses, people never questioned such action. As they put it“lalaki naman siya e”. Therefore, he is a true Filipino male, tunay na lalaki. Machismo and all that went with it.

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In the story of “I Hope It Won’t Scar,” a college male student nearly killed someone in a boy’s fight when the gang decided to get their revenge for a friend who is in the hospital. The central character conforms to such actions so as to belong to the world of men whose definition of being a true macho is to be able to fight and get even. That’s what will then label them as basagulero’t siga- the stereotyped standard of masculinity.

The other male character’s sister is a complete opposite to the manly personality of his brother so as to characterize his maleness and his sister’s femininity. In a male dominated society such as ours, men are not entitled to be gentle and soft because ever since Adam, men should be then ones who are not ruled by emotion, rather than reason.

A male member of Philippine society is always told by the same distorted version of the concept of machismo. But then, is there such a right word to defend machismo? The selected texts have unmasked the prevalent machismo which underlies Philippine culture. The social model predicated on machismo has been revealed, considering the fact in the case of our society, our political and historical traditions could also be one of its major factors.

Consciousness is power. To create a new understanding of our literature is to make possible a new effect of that literature on us. And to make possible a new effect is in turn to provide the conditions for changing the culture that the literature reflects.

Machismo is defined and based upon the Philippine context. Macho men are everywhere. He could be loitering in the streets, in slum areas, in heavy drinking sessions until the wee hours of the morning, in gang wars,  sleeping in someone else’s bed or he could be sitting on a comfortable couch after beating his own wife. They identify their identities as men by their actions influenced by our own male society.

Contextualization is one way of studying the condition of machismo in Philippine society. Men are merely victims. Ernest Hemingway had always been studied by scholars as to how masculinity operates in Hemingway’s life and works, replacing the celebrated macho persona motivated by various psychosexual desires. It is only apparent that in all kinds of literature, such manifestations of machismo only reflect the society each has.

It as if machismo had infected the entire society that we see in literature and in our own society as well.

Filipino machismo has infected literature in one way or another. As the song says:..”macho, macho man! I want to be a macho man….”

List of Works Cited

Garcia, Danton Remoto. Laldlad 2: An Anthology of Philippine Gay Literature. Manila; Anvil Publishing, 1996.

Lacuesta. Life Before X and Other Stories. Manila; Anvil Publishing, 1997.

www. Google.com

Hymn of the Thoughts of Men

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Food for the spirit rather than the yearning of the flesh or an act of spirituality, strengthening the ethics of morality and texts integrating religion and daily life and literature-such elements covered the features of the Indian literature. And the Hymn of the Thoughts of Men is definitely not an exemption. It involves discussions about the moral development of an individual and the realities of life.

The lines from the poem are suggesting an idea that the poet is setting his own parameters between the essences of the spirit than that of the mind. This fact is visible in the role of the kavirao [poet] in sustaining order in the world, thus, his poems should be the creations of what is right and moral. It actually follows the statement that “life imitates art”.

The poem is the translated version taken from the Rig Veda, which was the oldest section of the Vedas and the most sacred texts of the Hindu religion. Notice the influence of Hinduism in the development of Indian literature. This perception is evident in their poems [actually hymns], which directly concentrate in the essence of human nature. At the same time, such works subordinated the realms of human experience to the ethical ideals of dharma and the Hindu religious goal of moksha, liberation from karma and rebirth. Dharma is basically the Sanskrit for “duty” or “the right way to live.

The Indian philosophy could be related also to their own literature. It has broad philosophic questions—such as, “Why is the Veda sacred?”— which came to be addressed, and, in general, a realist view of nature (the belief that a world exists independent of the mind) and a common-sense view of knowledge (human beings know things by directly perceiving them or by deducing from other known things) become part of the basis of the philosophic system. Even to literature.

Chinese

Tao-te Chi

The right over left, God over Lucipher, male and female- these are the building blocks that structured the verbal communication of the Chinese which aids for the normalization of the society since it seeks to set things in place and to decipher the distinction that separates the line between good and bad. This is visible in the Taoist philosophy, the order and wisdom of individual life, and the way that this harmonizes with the universe as a whole. Chinese poets, in some point, adopted this philosophy and applied it in some of their poems. One poet, Lun Wen, suggested that your poem should emerge from your Qi because that would be the reflection of your cosmos, this is relative in the Taoist philosophy, the universal energy that makes and maintains everything that exists. Tao Te Ching expresses the basic beliefs of Daoist philosophy. It teaches the fundamental oneness of all things. It operates in terms of the opposing principles of yin and yang. These two principles or forces have combined in varying proportions to produce everything in the universe.

During the 4th century bc, naturalism offered an analysis of the workings of the universe based upon certain cosmic principles. The best known of these principles were yin and yang, which represented the interacting dualities of nature, such as female and male, shadow and light, and winter and summer.

The language of Tao Te Ching sets it apart from other works of Chinese poetry; it frequently employs poetic devices such as rhyme and parallel sentences.

Sober Thoughts

It is a fact that philosophy began when humans’ curiosity and wonder caused him to ask questions “What are things really like?” and “How can we explain the process of change in things? ” What prompted these questions was the gradual recognition that things are not exactly what they seem to be, that “appearance” often differs from “reality.” In the time of Socrates, he seeks facts and truth asking people, leaving no written documents of those revelations at all. This Socratic method continually evolved and developed by those who are in search of truth, the other generations of Sophists. This is basically to go beyond the limits of discovery and finally, knowledge. And with these facts, the research phenomena began.

What is research? In recent years the word has filtered out of the ivory tower and spread like an epidemic in the market place. Loose popular usage has worn the sharp edges from its meaning and threatened to deface its value. It is definitely factual that to many people, research refers loosely to the act of looking up or checking up on anything, anywhere, in any way. Political polls, television ratings, the detection of factual errors in unpublished magazine articles, traffic counts at intersections, questionnaires on consumer habits, comparison shopping to price silk stockings-all are called research.

Research works, undeniably give us the power to go beyond the indefinite and boundless realm of discovery and knowledge, eliminating the unknown. To philosophize, according to Parmenides and Zeno, one must not look at the world but must also think about it in order to understand it that is why there is this so called “research.” Just imagine living without any single idea of our existence just because Charles Darwin did not research about those flinches in Galapagos Island or if no scientific research done by some scientists, Armstrong would not have the chance to land on the moon and right now, there is a slim impossibility we are still living in the dark tunnel of the unknown. And so, generation-to-generation, they would feed our system with knowledge and we would continually crave for more. Our hunger of discovering more about things enabled us to do research and learn.

In the academic side of research, the intellectuals including the students do research so for the learning process of these individuals to be effective. Nowadays there are actually many different types of research in the field of science, sociology, literature, etc. And it is evidently clear that as the world revolves, we are definitely still halfway on the verge of satisfaction.

A Review of the Film “Pusang Gala”

Remember fictional romance. The tone of the narration in the opening scene of the movie is basically used as a technique to emphasize an air of fictional romance. In “Pusang Gala” women became its central characters. The movie emphasizes gender roles. It suggests how gender becomes performative.

The first scene of “Pusang Gala” shows Irma Adlawan carefully washing her body with water scented by rose petals, surrounded by candles. While on the other side of the house, Ricky Davao, the gay character, is shown writing his next romance novel, facing his computer. The camera constantly shifts to the two characters to show emphasis that they are two separate characters.

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The story of “Pusang Gala” revolves around the idea of characters waiting for their loved ones who seem lost in their own homes. The camera slowly moves to the characters, slowly making a connection between the two. The female character hears a car engine in the streets, desperately thinking it’s her lover, who comes only when he feels like coming home to her.

The next scenes still highlight the idea of waiting for the lost souls who still haven’t find their way home, lurking in dark streets. And so, a new character is then introduced. He is the lover of the female character who loves to surprise her with his unexpected arrivals. Another macho character is also depicted in the movie. Here we see the gay character’s lover going home to him after weeks of not showing his face around. The two main characters finally gave in after fighting at them and accepted their lost lovers into their own homes.

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“Pusang Gala” reflects a society wherein the only escape from reality, mostly in the part of women, is their illusions of romantic fantasy. They desire to believe in the tales that they read from romantic novels. And so, in the first parts of the movie, there is an attempt of the gay writer, one of the main characters, to relate his novel to the life of his female friend.

Eventually, the later parts of the story change from its romantic atmosphere to a closer look of reality. The red roses no longer symbolize love and romance, like the way it is represented in the opening scene of the movie. The red roses become the representation of bleeding hearts and sweet death. The idea of romantic fantasy dies, and a new birth of reality finally grows like the red roses they plant in front of their house.

Pusang gala- a Filipino term for stray cats

Peter Griffin Kills Hitler

<After watching X-Men First Class, remembering Magnetto as one of the boys in the death camp>

World War II, until now, is still an interesting subject. Seth MacFarlane is having a good time making fun of Hitler . It’s so easy to take down Hitler in Family Guy, Peter can fart on his face for the Jews to get their revenge. Let Peter Griffin and Seth MacFarlane do the job. Let Hitler wear pink boots or make him talk the gay language. Let the Jews laugh at him. But then, the holocaust is another serious piece of history too strong to be forgotten. And so, we think of death camps and Dr. Mengele, gas chambers and crematoriums and we think of the holocaust.

Take a look at this young Nazi soldier, with an ideal Nazi look:

If he were alive today, with this masculine look, he could be a Holywood actor or he might be chosen as one of Lady Gaga’s naked Nazi soldiers in her music video. But like any other Nazi soldiers who killed thousands of people everyday in Auschwitz, he was also considered as the holocaust monster. Look at Hitler’s photos. How can you find a monster in his face? He was well respected and he was able to conquer nations during his time. He was well educated and I guess not really a misanthropist. But he ordered extermination of the Jews, sent thousands of them to gas chambers and let them became human guinea pigs.

Here is another image of Nazis, another proof that they are ordinary human beings like us- they could smile, attend parties and drink wine. These are the happy faces of Nazis who were enjoying their time at the death camp, probably having parties while bodies were burnt all day.

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The idea of producing a pure Aryan dominated country is a sign of inferiority. Such ideology also led to human experimentations of Dr Mengele, as directed by Hitler, to produce a pure Aryan race. Nazis considered Jews to be a threat in the economy both as Communists and Capitalists. Judging Hitler’s physical appearance alone, as a 5 ft 8 inches (173 cm) man, I think he was physically inferior. Today, we are only left with memories of walking human skeletons, barbed wires and death camps. When you think of Hitler, you think of him as a charismatic Nazi leader. You do not think of him as a murderer or a criminal who kidnapped thousands of Jews.

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Thank you Peter Griffin for continuously annoying Hitler in his shows. And yes, Jews should watch some Family Guy episodes. I remember this one episode where Peter accidentally shots his brother, Hitler, while playing with his gun, and then shooting Eva Braun. In most episodes, Hitler would always appear gay, incompetent and very irrational. To you Seth, continue humiliating Hitler and the world will always enjoy viewing Family Guy instead of watching The Simpsons!

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As long as Peter Griffin is alive, he will continue to enjoy killing Adolf Hitler. End of story.

religious discrimination you’re ugly

religious science fiction by ~jaykers113

Racial discrimination is no longer discussed today. I must say Martin Luther King did well- no more lynching no more white robes no more hatred among races.

Racism might be just another violent human reaction that is no longer considered visible- no Ku Klux Klan and black Americans struggle to become presidents, thus people think it’s safe to assume that racial discrimination is another thing of the past. But what we do not know is that there is another form of discrimination far more dangerous and sensitive- and that is religious discrimination.

Religion is a sensitive topic and people are too sensitive not to think about it. We only think, but we do no speak about it. We refuse to speak about religious beliefs because we are not comfortable sharing our religion among people with different religious influence. And so, I want to acknowledge the character of Khan in the movie My Name is Khan, a man with strong Muslim faith who made the world realize that terrorism isn’t always defined by religion. Terrorists are not Christians. Terrorists are not Buddhists. Terrorists are not Muslims. Terrorists are human beings. Human beings have the ability to choose and understand the consequences of our actions. Before we were introduced to religion we were introduced to choices and consequences. Crusades and wars in the past were influenced by the thought of achieving power, money and resources. And it’s just so sick to realize that religions are being considered by some as the reason of all the negativity in the world such as racism, hatred and wars. What we fail to realize is that religion is man made, only guided by the power of the divine.  And we go back to the original sinners, the gods living here in the city of man- humans.

Religious discrimination is ugly. Forget that love of freedom to hate and discriminate. Let’s go grab some yogurt and change the world.