Archive of ‘gogirls’ category

pop goes the world: random act of coffee

NO COLUMN FOR March 28, Maundy Thursday

 POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  4 April 2013, Thursday

Random Act of Coffee

Buying coffee for the needy can be as easy as paying for an extra one the next time you buy a cuppa for yourself.

Last Holy Wednesday, a meme about the “pending coffee” charity concept went viral after it was widely shared on Facebook.

Caffe sospeso (literally “suspended coffee”) is said to be a long-standing custom in Naples and an “old tradition in Italy,” later adopted by “150 cafes in Bulgaria,” according to Examiner.com. Customers pay not only for their own coffee and food, but also in advance for one or more extra orders to be given, at the restaurateur’s discretion, to a needy person.

It’s a variation on the “pay it forward” concept, doing a “random act of kindness” for a stranger that that I’ve read about it being done in many places, where someone pays the toll fee of the car behind her, or for coffee for the next guy in line at Starbucks.

The “pending coffee” idea is different in that the act of charity is institutionalized through the cooperation of the restaurant. You don’t need to be there when it happens, but people get the same warm fuzzy feeling of having been generous without the awkwardness that besets some in that situation.

Within days after the concept was heavily promoted on March 27, I heard of at least one restaurant in the Philippines that will do this.

Blacksoup Café + Artspace in Sikatuna Village, Quezon City, announced on their Facebook page last Saturday that they will implement this concept on a 30-day trial basis from March 31 to April 30 this year. They will accept advance payment for coffee, sandwiches, and meals, and issue stubs for the “suspended” food, which can be claimed by those who need them.

If there are unclaimed stubs after two days, “Blacksoup will go around on a bicycle to give out unclaimed [stubs] to street people/families” who will then sign “tracking papers” which will be posted on the restaurant’s FB page, along with photos if possible, to document that the exchange actually happened.

Blacksoup’s general manager Avic Ilagan says on their page that they anticipate certain cultural norms will not make it feasible for homeless people (the truly needy who deserve to benefit from this concept) to step inside their restaurant, so they “will bring the coffee, sandwiches, and meals to the street people na karaniwan walang kain o isang beses lang kumain.”

This system also will prevent fraud and abuse.

To children, she says, they “will give milk tetra packs instead of coffee.”

As of yesterday afternoon, the post has been liked by 373 people and shared 429 times. Customer support in the comments on Blacksoup’s page has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic.

Blacksoup reports that as of April 3, they have on their “suspended” tally 19 sandwiches and 19 bottles of C-2, “plus a bank deposit from Australia.” They add, “two volunteers will distribute the unclaimed suspended items on Saturday at 5pm, and and Excel file of suspended items bought and their recipients will be posted and updated every week for all to see and check.”

For this to work, there has to be follow-through by customers and a certain dedication on the part of the restaurateur. Duplication by other establishments would be something to look forward to. Giving and sharing are traits highly valued in Philippine culture, and there is no reason why something like this can’t be adopted on a large scale, meaning nationwide.

This is a positive initiative that brings charity straight to the recipient and addresses an immediate need – hunger.

Sometimes a small act that one doesn’t even remember afterward can be the huge difference between hope and despair or life and death for another person, because some say everything and everyone are connected somehow, the way a butterfly flapping its gauzy wings in the Brazilian rainforest might set off a chain of events that culminates in a tsunami in Indonesia.

A smile, a “good morning,” a free coffee: who knows what kind gesture will touch another soul and kindle a flame of inspiration and transformation?

Check out Blacksoup’s page on FB, as well as a new page – Suspended Coffee PH – and “be a blessing to someone.” *** 

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pop goes the world: women’s reproductive rights

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  10 January 2013, Thursday

Women’s Reproductive Rights 

There’s a helpful flowchart on the Internet on “how to have an opinion on women’s reproductive rights”:

“Do you have a vagina?” “Yes.” “You may express your opinion.” If “no,” then “Shut up.”

women's reproductive rights meme

Image from Facebook here.

Too many men without vaginas have been controlling women’s reproductive rights throughout history, and one would think that in these technologically advanced times decisions that impact an individual woman would be left to her alone, and not meddled in by other people or groups.

For instance, with the recent signing by the President of the Reproductive Health Bill, which has already been published in the Official Gazette and will officially become a law a couple of weeks after, the Roman Catholic Church as represented by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines has said that they will continue to fight against it by exploring options such as filing a case in the Supreme Court.

This was done recently by lawyers James and Lovely Ann Imbong, who are seeking to have the measure declared “null and void.”

The overpopulation of the Philippines is in fact beneficial to the country, at least according to Bishop Gilbert Garcera of the Diocese of Daet, Camarines Norte.

He said that the great number of Filipinos contribute to the influx of remittances from abroad, while caring for the elderly of other countries and spreading the Catholic faith, adding that Filipino women “would make good wives” for foreigners in low-population growth nations.

This is the thinking of the Church, at least of some prelates: that women are brood animals, and that Filipinos are fodder for the world’s economic mill. The OFW phenomenon is an artificial boost to the economy that sags when recession hits, and has brought many social ills besides, such as children growing up without one or both parents.

Here’s another example: Senator Juan Ponce Enrile was revealed to have granted P1.6 million in year-end bonuses to most of his fellow senators but only P250,000 to Senators Miriam Santiago, Pia Cayetano, Alan Peter Cayetano, and Antonio Trillanes IV.

Enrile had a spat with Trillanes over a bill to divide Camarines Sur province, while the other three are strongly identified for their support of the RH Bill, which Enrile fought against.

The passage of the Reproductive Health bill allows the state to grant women, who cannot afford contraceptives on their own, access to such means and methods that will permit them to limit the number of children they bear, if they so wish.

It is the individual woman who will become pregnant and carry the baby for nine months, with the responsibility of eating the right foods and taking the right supplements to ensure the health of the baby. Once it is born, she has to take care of her child’s basic needs and education until it is an adult, and, in our culture, even beyond. If the woman’s husband or domestic partner should leave her without support or be unable to support her, she shall have to find the ways and means to care for her child in all aspects.

mothers in the philippines

Mothers in the Philippines. Image here.

If a woman, after careful consideration of her resources and situation, deems that she can comfortably take care of only a certain number of offspring, or even none at all, is that not her choice? Not even her husband has a say, because she is not his property, and she is not livestock like a bitch dog or thoroughbred mare. Naturally, a couple must discuss this issue, with honesty and candor, before they enter into a permanent domestic relationship such as marriage.

So why do men of the church and men of politics still insist on controlling women’s reproduction, even their right to “safe and satisfying sex”? Why should only men be able to enjoy this?

Anyway, despite Church strictures against premarital sex and adultery, Filipinos still have a swinging good time, and have learned to cloak their sexual behavior with hypocrisy and various forms of compensatory social norms, cognitive dissonance be hanged.

Not only is the Church against contraception, it is also against divorce, and has vowed to combat any divorce bill that comes up for consideration. Being guided by blind faith, it is blind to the plight of desperately unhappy couples who have resorted tocohabiting with new partners because they do not have the chance of being able to legally cut ties and move on, hopefully to better and happier lives.

Life is too short to spend with the wrong person, and it will not do anyone any good who is forced to live in untenable situations that are for some marred by infidelity, violence, and abuse.

(To be fair, not all who belong to the Church think like this. A priest-psychologist who gave me counseling in a therapy session was actually the influence for my filing a marriage annulment.)

In 1993, during her confirmation hearing, the Senate Judiciary Committee asked United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg justice ruth bader ginsburgabout her “thinking on equal protection versus individual autonomy, in relation to the issue of abortion:

“My answer is that both are implicated,” she said. “The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her well-being and dignity. It is a decision she must make for herself.”

Let the ones with vaginas decide on matters that concern them.  ***

Justice Ginsburg portrait here.

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pop goes the world: and a little child shall lead them

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today18 October 2012, Thursday

And A Little Child Shall Lead Them

A 14-year-old girl was shot in the head for wanting to go to school.

Something that our children take for granted and even complain about – an education – is to another child who does not have it a precious thing to fight for and die for.

Malala Yousafzai was shot last week by Taliban assassins because she defied a Taliban ban against female education in the Swat Valley of Pakistan.

Also injured were her schoolmates Kainat Ahmed and Shazia Ramzan.

“I don’t mind if I have to sit on the floor at school. All I want is education. And I’m afraid of no one,” Malala has said before.

The young activist first came to public attention in 2009, in a documentary about the shutdown by the Taliban of the girls’ school she attended.

Her father operated one of the last girls’ schools in the area, and since then she and her family have been the target of Taliban ire.

The world erupted in indignation and anger after her shooting. Among the comments on Facebook were those of Curt Olsen – “Only a coward would shoot an unarmed child” – and Edward Clements – “She should be awarded the Nobel Prize for such bravery.”

Others pointed to the need to bring the Taliban to account for the human rights abuses they continue to perpetrate in the name of religion.

“A very brave girl,” Facebook commenter Andy Poljevka called her. “The world needs to rise up against this craziness.”

Sudhansu Jena lauded Malala’s courage: “No words to appreciate the ‘fight for right.’ The cowards who shot at her are highly condemnable.”

Roger Greatorex opined, “She could be the turning point in the struggle against the so-called ‘Taliban.’ How ironic that ‘Taliban’ means ‘students’ in Arabic.”

 Salt Lake Tribune editorial cartoon here.

The Pakistani government will pay for Malala’s treatment at the Queen Elizabeth hospital in the United Kingdom, where she arrived last Monday for the removal of a bullet lodged in her brain.

Meanwhile, as Malala was being airlifted to the United Kingdom for medical treatment, Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner jumped from the edge of space to freefall down to earth, breaking his 24-mile fall with a parachute and, in a show of incredible skill, landing on his feet.

This, said some netizens, comparing the record-breaking skydive to the shooting of Malala, shows the difference between science and religion.

That is too simplistic a comparison. Islam condemns the murder of innocents. The Taliban are extremists and in no way represent the whole of the Islamic world. But what the two events do show are the triumph of science over religious fundamentalism, of curiosity and the quest for knowledge over intolerance and fanaticism, and of the human desire to explore new frontiers against the human need to cling to old traditions even when they are cruel and destructive.

Malala is the same age as my younger daughter, who is a high school sophomore, now taking her quarterly exams and preparing for the annual school play and cheerdance competition.

Halfway around the world, a girl who could have been her classmate and friend is on the Taliban hitlist for wanting and striving for what my daughter has, an education and a normal life, the chance to be what she can be, perhaps even a spacejumper like Baumgartner.

What is clear is that the abuse of women and children around the world must stop. Malala na ito. (This is at its worst.) This is a battle that must be waged, with constancy and vigilance, on the platform of public opinion so that people may be made aware and changes come about.

Activists denounce the attack on Malala. Image here. 

This is a fight, and those who care about the rights of women and children are all its defenders.

There are many cultural and political attitudes that were once thought to be ineradicable, such as apartheid and its policy of white supremacy in South Africa and totalitarian communism in Soviet Russia and East Germany. But both were slowly eliminated over time and through fervent struggle.

Religious intolerance will be harder to conquer. Hatred, one of its manifestations, will always lurk in a corner of the human heart.

The way to evolving into a better society that treats all its members with equality and respect is to prevent hatred and injustice from winning.

We need to be brave enough to keep on fighting for the rights of women and children, because if a child like Malala has the courage, then so must we.  *** 

Image of Malala here. Image of Felix’s record-breaking jump here.

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nancy milford: savage beauty

Nancy Milford’s Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay (Random House, New York: 2002)

Once in a while you stumble across a gem of a work so well-written and meticulously researched that you thank all your stars of fortune for such a book falling with serendipity into your grateful grasp.

Nancy Milford’s biography of American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay draws on previously unpublished family-preserved material – letters, photographs, drafts – to paint a realistic and highly detailed picture of her subject.

The trade paperback cover of Nancy Milford’s excellent biography of Millay. Sharing the spotlight is a Dancheron fountain pen. 

The title comes from Millay’s “Assault” (1921), portraying Beauty as a threat and menace, upsetting the usual convention of the poet paying tribute to it as a virtue.

Millay (b. 1892) was precocious, a genius; the muck of obscurity and poverty failed to conceal the blazing light of an intellectual beacon. Growing up unconventionally during the tail-end of Victorian times with a single parent (her mother, Cora, had sent her gentle but irresponsible father Henry away) and two sisters (Norma and Kathleen), “Vincent”, as she was called, entertained herself with books and writing. From her youth, her works regularly saw print in the children’s magazine St. Nicholas and in other publications; at twenty, her poem “Renascence” placed fourth in a literary contest and was included in an anthology, although many critics said her work should have won.

On the strength of the publicity of this occurrence, Vincent gained a scholarship to Vassar, and later settled into a life of writing poetry, plays, and prose. She was a free spirit, married to Eugen Boissevain until his death, but both of them openly engaged in affairs, she with lovers of both sexes. Her later life was marked by medical problems and addiction to alcohol and morphine.

Writing in 1929 to her lover, George Dillon, she begs him to visit her and Eugen at Steepletop, their home on a blueberry farm in New York state:

Sweetheart, what it means is: will you please come to visit me in my crazy, unfinished, half-finished, disorderly house, where there is a place for nothing, & nothing in its place, except the only important things in the world. – I want to show you the tiny pool we built, absurd, nothing at all, & the hut in the blueberry pasture where I wrote The King’s Henchman, I want to sit on the edge of your bed while you have your breakfast – I want to laugh with you, dress up in curtains, be incredibly silly, be incredibly happy, be like children, and I want to kiss you more than anything in the world.

Vincent lived life on her own terms, staying true to her core philosophy expressed in her “First Fig” (1918):

My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night. But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—. It gives a lovely light!

Beyond the text, the book itself is of interest as an artifact. It has a story. It is pre-loved. I bought it a couple years ago from a poet, University of the Philippines creative writing professor Chingbee (Conchitina) Cruz, when she culled her library prior to leaving for New York to take up doctoral studies.

 The half-title page of the book bears her chop – a rubber-stamped “C” in sapphire ink, ornamented with scrolls and foliage.

She must have bought it second-hand too, or received it as a gift from someone else’s library, because the inside front cover bears a dedication from “Kate” to her “Mama”.

“Kate” lives in Los Angeles now, and gives the book to her “Mama” who might be living in Pennsylvania, where the “brown-gray” landscape is a “desolation.”

Too bad the dedication is not dated, but it must have been written between the publication date, 2002, and the date I acquired it from Chingbee, perhaps in 2010 or 2011.

This pre-owned copy has an interesting dedication written on the inside front cover. Once more the Dancheron makes an appearance.

The book as text and the book as artifact: I think Vincent, who spent her life writing, would have appreciated the many ramifications of presenting the written word.

All photos taken with an iPhone 4S, edited with Snapseed.

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pop goes the world: whole lot of mansplainin’ goin’ on

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  30 August 2012, Thursday

Whole Lot of Mansplainin’ Goin’ On

When will men get off telling women what’s best for them?

From celibate priests to overbearing lawmakers to some of the men in our own lives, women all over the world are subjected to the unsolicited pronouncements of those who believe they are the final arbiters on issues that affect women.

It’s called “mansplaining.”

As far as I can find out, the term has been around since at least 2010. A post of February that year by “Fannie” at fanniesroom.blogspot.com says mansplaining is a result of “males possessing the privilege whereby they are largely assumed to be both default human beings and automatically competent at life.”

Rebecca Solnit, award-winning author of 15 non-fiction books, in an article posted last August 20 at motherjones.com calls it “the problem with men explaining things,” that “billions of women must be out there…being told that they are not reliable witnesses to their own lives, that the truth is not their property, now or ever.”

It’s not solely a male thing, she said, because “…people of both genders pop up…to hold forth on irrelevant things and conspiracy theories…”

However, Solnit added, “…the out-and-out confrontational confidence of the totally ignorant is in my experience, gendered.”

In the United States, just to provide one example out of a great many, Republican congressman Todd Akin recently said that women could not become pregnant in the case of “legitimate rape,” saying that their bodies “shut down” to prevent it. Apart from displaying an abysmal ignorance of basic science, this also shows a male-oriented notion that there are cases when rape – by its very definition an act of force – isn’t a crime.

I won’t even mention any local examples. Just open any newspaper on any day and read for yourself the abundance of conspiracy theories (that the RH Bill is a ploy to sell more contraceptive medicines and devices and prevent the poor from reproducing, etc.) and blanket pronouncements (such as that a secular world will promote all sorts of immorality, as if our present society isn’t already rife with it).

I wonder why some men believe they know what’s best for women, despite not having a vagina, uterus, nor a menstrual period. It’s what Solnit calls “men’s unsupported overconfidence” and the “archipelago of arrogance.”

Therefore there are some men who deride outspoken, opinionated women as “feminists”, like it’s a bad thing. How? Because feminism rejects patriarchal hegemony? Because feminists think for themselves? Because feminists see through the mansplaining and have decided to take their lives back?

Our society is still patriarchal; protection for women is inadequate and slow in coming. It wasn’t until 2004 that the Violence Against Women and Children Act (RA 9262) was passed. The Magna Carta for Women (RA 9710) wasn’t enacted until 2009, only three short years ago, after being delayed for seven years.

All women’s and minority groups’ rights are hard-fought. The struggle for reproductive rights is no exception. We now see the usual pattern in such matters playing out – the conservatives and reactionaries are up in arms, kicking and screaming against any change to their status quo, while the progressives are out there making themselves heard and felt.

But as in the issues of slavery and votes for women, in time we will get to a better place. Women nowadays recognize when they are being mansplained to, when they are being condescended to instead of being engaged in genuine dialogue coming from respect and love.

True manhood lies not in having as many children or wives and mistresses as one can, nor in control and aggressiveness, but in respecting other people and acknowledging their right to live their lives in the manner they wish, and in caring properly for the people one is responsible for.

I am grateful for the men in my life who are not mansplainers, who see me as an equal, as a fellow human being – friends, relatives, university professors, colleagues. First among them is my late father, who told me when I was a teenager, “Do not allow yourself to be limited by the double standard.” I asked, “What is the double standard?” He said, “You’ll find out,” and sure enough I did, and duly rejected it as unfair and demeaning.

Because beyond gender, we are all human. And it takes all humankind working together to make a world that is kinder, one that is egalitarian, just, and free.  *** 

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pop goes the world: hypocriciety

 POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  30 March 2012, Friday

Hypocriciety

The other day I received a forwarded email. The subject was “Dump Starbucks”, and turned out to be a link to an online petition to boycott the global chain for allegedly supporting same-sex marriage in the United States.

The debate on same-sex marriage is raging in that country. The issue gained prominence in the media, with high-profile celebrities either bashing or advocating same-sex marriage.

The cons include Carrie Prejean (2009 Miss USA candidate), actor Kirk Cameron (Growing Pains), and Mel Gibson (‘nuff said).

Among the advocates are actors George Takei (Star Trek) and Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother), who are gay, and George Clooney, who is not; they focus on the issue as being concerned with equality in general, with same-sex marriage being a part of equal rights for all.

In the United States, the states that allow same-sex marriage are: Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Washington DC, Iowa, and Washington. California recognizes the marriages it previously performed when it still allowed them, while Maryland recognizes out-of-state marriages.

The ten countries that allow full marriage equality nationwide are Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, and Sweden. Denmark is expected to pass a bill on same-sex marriage in June this year.

In Brazil, they are performed in some states although allowed in theory; in Mexico, they are allowed only in Mexico City. Israel recognizes same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, while there are ongoing debates to allow it in Australia, Finland, Uruguay, and France.

How relevant is all this discussion in the Philippines, when we remain the only country without a divorce law? While our intellectuals and advocates are immersed in the global discourse on social issues related to marital, sexual, and gender rights, the rest of the country has lagged behind.

With the local Roman Catholic church still heavily sustaining the majority’s patriarchal mind-set, divorce and contraception remain bones of contention while many laws favor men over women (such as those on adultery and concubinage).

In order to cope with the dissonance between norms and actual behavior, people employ mechanisms such as dedma, or turning a blind eye.

Spousal infidelity is rampant across society; among the elite, recall the public exposure of Paqui Ortigas and his wife Suzie Madrigal Bayot’s private lives, and the Aleli Arroyo-Grace Ibuna-Iggy Arroyo triangle. Multiple families are a fact of life, as are the concomitant problems that everyone concerned, including the children, have to deal with.

Aleli Arroyo and Grace Ibuna. Image here.

Here’s an example of the difficulties that arise: last weekend, the 7-year-old daughter of my ex-husband by another woman asked me, “How are you related to my dad?” Now, how do we answer questions like that without causing trauma to the child?

My ex told me that she asked him last year, when she was introduced to our daughters, “How come I met my ates only now?” A divorce law would have spared us, and many others in unhappy marital situations, a measure of the anguish that arises from unfaithfulness and separation.

As for LGBT rights, much more needs to be done. Our society is generally tolerant of gays – many are prominent businessmen, showbiz celebrities, world-famous designers and artists, and successes in other fields – but they do not have equal rights when it comes to marriage. Though they live together and behave as married hetero couples do, and the fact is accepted, it is unfair that they do not have the same marital rights under the law.

Pride March in Manila, Philippines, Dec 2011. From a private Facebook page. 

Cultural norms and values are socially constructed, meaning that they are generally shaped through consensus or agreement among the members of society. Sometimes these are imposed through force (war) or guilt and threats (religion).

All these rules, whether codified as law or unspoken as norms, are determined by man. If society is to serve its members, rather than the other way around, people must be responsive to historic shifts in thought and perspective that seek to find solutions to old, recurrent problems. With the discourse gaining even more prominence globally, now is the time for us to face this too.

The choice is between the hypocrisy our society has resorted to as a coping mechanism, or laws that reflect the current social condition and provide the means to properly deal with present-day situations.

We have evolved a hypocriciety. When will we accept that not all marriages work, and that people need the chance to start new lives? When will we throw away biological distinctions and gender-based prejudices and think of ourselves and each other simply as humans, all entitled to the same rights and privileges? *** 

George Takei image from his Facebook Page. Paqui Ortigas image here.

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thank you, UP masscomm

The University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication celebrated its 47th founding anniversary week, “Magpasiklab, Plaridel!” last March 5 to 9 with various activities. Among them was a recognition (pagkilala) ceremony where certificates were awarded to students, faculty, and staff who had earned achievements the previous year.

It was my honor to have been one of those chosen to be recognized (for my Palanca Award win in 2011) and to deliver a short message as one of the graduate students so honored (I am still a dissertation away from receiving my PhD Communication degree).

With UP-CMC dean Roland Tolentino and college secretary Patrick Campos. 

My deepest thanks go to Dean Roland Tolentino and UP-CMC for this signal honor.

Here’s the brief message I delivered that morning. I am proud to report no one fell asleep during my speech.

Message at the UP College of Mass Communication

Pagkilala sa Mga Natatanging Guro, Kawani, at Mag-Aaral recognition ceremony

CMC Auditorium, 9 March 2012 

Magandang umaga sa iyong lahat, Dean Tolentino, Dean Encanto, faculty, fellow students, staff, alumni, and guests.

Ipagpaumanhin nyo na po na hindi sa wikang Tagalog ko ibibigay ang aking mensahe. Chabacano ang tatay ko, Ilongga ang nanay ko, kaya sa wikang Inggles ko po ito isinulat.

First of all, thank you for bestowing this honor on me. I appreciate it even more because it is given on a very special occasion – the commemoration of UP CMC’s 47th founding anniversary.

CMC occupies a significant corner of my heart. I was an undergraduate here in the ’80s, under Dean Encanto. I used to hang out with other members of the UP Journalism Club on the steps of Plaridel Hall till 2am. I would like to assure Dean Encanto that we were not drinking. We were poor students on a budget; we couldn’t afford to.

MassComm itself back then couldn’t afford a lot of stuff. Much of the equipment and furniture was old. We students had to make do with few resources. During MassComm Week or rallies, we’d create makeshift placards or decorations from newspapers, scrounged materials, and paste made from leftover rice that we begged from the canteen. There were few communication textbooks and journals available – we had to borrow or photocopy.

After graduating with a degree in Journalism, I wrote sports articles for the Manila Chronicle, got married. That marriage failed, but it produced the joys of my life, my two daughters. When my husband left us, I had to go back to work, after ten years of being a housewife.

The horseracing industry gave me a break, out of pity. I was apprehensive, having been out of the professional scene for a decade.

At this point, my undergrad experiences in MassComm came to my rescue. It was here that I learned to produce much with the least of resources, to produce something out of practically nothing, and always at the very highest standards of excellence. It was at MassComm that I learned to be maabilidad, madiskarte, and marunong magtrabaho under pressure. (Sa katunayan po, sinulat ko ang mensaheng ito 30 minutes bago dumating dito.)

Twenty years later I was faced with a choice between this college and another one on the other side of the campus for my PhD studies. I chose MassComm, of course. It is my alma mater, my comfort zone, my home. The first sem I was back, I was struck by how so many things had changed – more students, more and better facilities.

But some things stayed the same. While the faculty cohort now is not the same as that of 20 years ago, I am happy to say that the present group of professors carry on the MassCom legacy – of training you to do more with less, to identify the boundaries of your discipline – and shatter them, to think for yourself and define for yourself who you are and who you want to be.

Thank you, UP College of MassComm, for this recognition of my humble writing achievement of last year. I will treasure this certificate, and this moment, always.

But the greatest things you have given me, that I can never thank you enough for, are the skills I’ve used to support my children; the knowledge I employ in building my career and life; and the freedom of mind and thought, a freedom that knows no limits.

Again, thank you, and good morning. Magandang umaga sa inyong lahat.

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pop goes the world: no such thing as mixed signals

POP GOES THE WORLD  By Jenny Ortuoste for Manila Standard-Today,  16 February 2012, Thursday

No Such Thing as Mixed Signals

Ah, Valentine’s Day. For couples in a relationship, it’s a happy romantic time, roses and chocolates blah blah.

But for some singles, it’s bleak – feeling alone even when in the company of friends, wondering when the Universe will get its act together and drop your soulmate in your lap.

It’s downright painful for other singles, especially women, who are waiting on a beloved to say, “Yes, you’re the one I love. I can’t imagine life without you. Marry me.” And are still waiting. And waiting…

The man will often have an excuse – I have to take care of personal issues first, I don’t make enough money yet for us to set up together, istrik ang ferents ko. The woman will wait, hoping things would get better.

This happened to me, not too long ago. I’d been clinging, hoping for a change, rationalizing to myself that the mixed signals he was sending stemmed from his personal challenges. That it was just a matter of me being patient and giving him the space to work things out then hey, maybe, our time would come.

An older gentleman at work – a lawyer, rational and logical – hearing my story, said with extreme kindness, “He’s not sending mixed signals. He’s being very clear. He won’t commit. Now can you bear that? If yes, then let it go on the way it has been. Otherwise, the next step is up to you. It’s not up to him, because he’s already told you where he stands – and it’s not in your corner.”

I’d fallen into the trap most women do. We hang on hoping he’ll come to his senses. That he’ll wake up, as if from a dream, and transform into kind of the man you’ve always wanted to have by your side. That he’ll realize we’re the love of his life and he can’t bear spending the rest of his life without us.

But for men, it is often quite clear. They’re not the ones sending the mixed signals – it’s the women in their lives who won’t accept what they trying to say – “I won’t commit to you”.

Comedian and now relationship guru Steve Harvey says in his book “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” that a man doesn’t show his love the way a woman does. Women will sacrifice and endure all for the sake of love. Their love is boundless, unconditional, and encompassing.

A man’s love, says Harvey, is no less powerful but expressed differently, in three ways – profess, provide, protect. First, profess. He’ll tell everyone you’re his lady, his woman, the love of his life. “In other words, “ says Harvey, “you will have a title – an official one that far extends beyond ‘this is my friend’ or ‘ this is (insert your name here).” A man who professes you as his own claims you as his, that “he has plans for you. He sees himself in a long-term, committed relationship with you.”

Next, provide. It’s ingrained in a man’s DNA, says Harvey, that “a man who loves you will bring that money home to make sure that you and the kids have what you all need. That is our role – our purpose…[that] the people we love need want for nothing.”

Last, protect. “When a man truly loves you, anybody who says, does, suggests, or even thinks about doing something offensive to you stands the risk of being obliterated. Your man will destroy anything and everything in his path to make sure that whoever disrespected you pays for it.”

So, ladies, wake up. If he doesn’t call you his lady, if he’s not by your side right now, if he didn’t put a ring on your finger, then he’s not the one. Accept that, thank him for the good times, and move on.

You deserve much better. You deserve the title, the bacon, the protection. You deserve to spend the next Valentine’s Day in someone’s warm embrace, the kind of hug that won’t let you go.

* * * * *

Poets Joel Toledo, Karen Kunawicz, and others will read poetry at the Freelance Writers’ Guild of the Philippines’ OpenBook event tomorrow night, Friday, February 17, at Chef’s Bistro, 94 Sct. Gandia, Quezon City. Entrance-plus-drink is P200. A portion of the proceeds will help fund projects for Typhoon Sendong victims.

FWGP founder Ime Morales convinced me to read a couple of poems. I don’t fancy myself a poet. But all I can do is try my best. Feel free to bring eggs and tomatoes to hurl at the stage. I can always make an omelette. ***  

Carabineers here. Steve Harvey book image here. FWGP logo here.

taste more:

on the brony phenomenon

This is perhaps the best Christmas gift ever – my eldest daughter Alexandra Ma. Alcasid gets published for the first time on 26 December 2011!

Her piece, “Ponies and Bronies”, appeared in the “Everyman” column of the English-language daily broadsheet Manila Standard-Today. It’s on page 4, part of the Opinion spread.

Alex’s piece explores the “brony” phenomenon – why adolescent and young men adult men have become the unexpected fanbase of the remake of the ’80s “My Little Pony” cartoon series.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Philippine Bronies group on Facebook is very active, with around 277 members and still growing. Asking around, I learned of quite a few reasons why the male members were attracted to such a colorful cartoon aimed at little girls.

At the core of it are the characters. The show’s first season starts with Twilight Sparkle, an introverted unicorn who has trouble making friends. She is sent to Ponyville in an attempt to make friends. While there, she meets the pegasi Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy, the unicorn Rarity, and the Earth ponies Applejack and Pinkie Pie. These six ponies are the center of the show and it is through their antics and adventures that Twilight Sparkle, and the viewer, learns a valuable lesson about friendship.

Mis hijas: Erika and Alexandra Alcasid, 24 Apr 2011, Makati City.

Alex is a gamer, K-pop fan, and fiction writer – watch for her forthcoming YA novel, The Agency. Here’s a taste. In this scene, Vash introduces the protagonist, Lilah, to the members of the band “Hell’s Garden”:

“This is Pride.” Vash gestured to the girl, who smiled pleasantly back at him and Lilah. “She’s the leader of the group, and coincidentally the shortest. She may look carefree, but she’s the most responsible. Also, Pride is the lead singer. Makes sense seeing as how the lead singer is always the center of attention in a music group. Next is Wrath.”

Wrath was the most oddly dressed of the group, wearing a long sleeve white jacket that covered the neck, and it had short belts strapped along the arms and the whole thing was reminiscent of a strait jacket. Wrath also wore black cargo pants and high top sneakers, and a biker mask that covered the nose and mouth. Wrath glared at the opposite wall so intensely, Lilah thought it might catch fire.

“Wrath is the drummer of the group. Her jacket and mask are symbolic of rage held at bay to the raw emotion that is released to the beat of the drums.” Vash explained.

“Wait wait…’Her’? Wrath is a girl?” Lilah looked to Vash, then back to Wrath, and was taken aback as her eyes met Wrath’s. Her eyes were cold and her expression was of pure anger. Lilah shrank back but Pride just put a hand on Wrath’s shoulder. “Your eyes. Softer…Softer…” she said, and Wrath shifted her expression. “Okay, that’s good.” Pride let go and tapped Wrath on the top of her head. Wrath now wore a blank expression which was, to Lilah, much better.

I’m a proud mom – can you tell?

taste more:

shoe up! by nielette’s doll shoes

Trying out the new trends in shoes is a simple way to get a fashion fix. There are trends I like, there are those I love (platform sandals, wedges, bakya). There are those that leave me cold – gladiator sandals? Blecch. Stilettos? Foot and calf pain, owww.

This particular design and brand, I love.

These “doll shoes” from Shoe Up! by Nielette, a proudly Filipino brand, are so comfortable and affordable that I own three pairs, in all the colors available at present – black, bronze, and gray. (I’m hoping they’ll come out in red.)

I’ve always had respect for the experience of air travel so I never wear flip-flops on my trips. On my most recent trip abroad (last month), I wore the gray pair; I looked neat and put-together. I managed to walk through the MNL, SFO, and LAX airports searching for my boarding gates and hauling my luggage without experiencing a single moment of foot strain nor pain, while still being able to easily slip in and out of the shoes during the security searches, being on my way in seconds while others were still fumbling with laces and straps.

I used to wear high heels all the time but with age advancing and work getting more hectic, I need comfort more than style. Shoe Up! doll shoes give me both. I wear these shoes exclusively to work now, and can face whatever the day might bring – a meeting at a fancy hotel? an inspection of office branches? Whether walking on plush carpet or crunchy gravel, these are the shoes that get me through.

Shoe Up! by Nielette reflects the personality of its owner/designer – fun, fearless, funky Nielette Tupas (daughter of former governor Niel Tupas of Ilo-ilo City). She is extroverted, outgoing, and interested in fashion to the extent of translating her ideas into reality through the shoes and dresses she designs and sells at her shops.

Shoe Up! shoes and handbags and Dress Up! fashions are available online and at her stores. (In Manila, at Glorietta beside the Landmark entrance and at Megamall; there are also stores in Ilo-Ilo City and in other locations in the Visayas and Mindanao.)

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