There’s going to be a storm of seriousness beginning today as opposing camps in the issue of the Reproductive Health Bill still pending in Congress—still pending after 13 years!—are expected to up their efforts in getting congressmen to do what each side wants. This drives home a very important lesson: congress does not always result in reproduction or health.
(I suspect that other things, like snoring, smoking, staring blankly at the ceiling, worrying about utility bills, and occasional yelps of “What the !&@# just happened?!?” are more frequent post-congress outcomes.)
The matter of the RH Bill, if you think about it, is really an issue between the Catholic Church, our lawmakers, and women. Let’s imagine, for example, what would happen if, tomorrow, biology plays us the ultimate prank: we wake up and suddenly only the men got pregnant instead of the women. This would entirely change the course of the RH Bill debate in Congress. It would radically alter the perspective of the Catholic Church hierarchy.
Sen. Bong Revilla, for example, would have to start worrying over his sons getting pregnant. The bishops would have to worry about priests lactating in front of the congregation.
This is the reality: a male-dominated Congress and a male-dominated Catholic Church would have difficulty understanding and supporting the rights of women.
Women hardly ever get a break in the Bible, as well. In order for Eve to exist, she had to be created from Adam’s rib by God the Father (not God the Mother). When the Angel of the Lord told Mary she was pregnant with God’s son, he/it wasn’t asking her permission. He/It was telling Mary that she was already pregnant—her consent was presumed to be unnecessary—and worse than that, she had to be the one tell this to Joseph, her fiancé.
This situation between God, Mary, and Joseph later on led to an awkward family reunion:
Just because Mary’s a woman, and her reproductive system, her entire being, is subject to the authority of God and men, she gets to experience morning sickness, breast soreness, pain in her legs and her back, silly food cravings (“I want bagoong ice cream NOW, served on a pink flip-flop”), and the excruciating pain of childbirth inside a barn, smelling all that donkey-goat-sheep-whatever excreta… without having experienced the joy of sex in the first place. And if Catholic Church teaching is true, she never had sex after giving birth to Jesus. Ever.
In short, this is the ideal woman: a woman who never has sex but gets pregnant nonetheless. Of course, since there are usually no immaculate conceptions nowadays, women just have to settle on having bad sex and getting pregnant by a man.
And women are okay with this situation? I’m not a woman, so I really can’t speak for them. I can, however, speak for many husbands when I say this:
“Now that we have kids, honey, I don’t really want more kids. The endless, high-pitched whining (“Daddeeeeeee! Sinuntok ako ni Kuyaaaaaaa!!! Bad siya!!! Waaaaaaaaahhhhh!!!) just drives me nuts. So all I want is sex without the pregnancy, okay?”
But what does the wife say? She’s tired. She has a headache. She says, “Sorry, my dear husband, but you’ve become old and fat and unattractive and you have bad breath. Why don’t you go to the gym and get abs like Piolo Pascual, etc.”
No. Wait. Wives don’t really say that. They want to say it but they don’t, out of compassion for their husbands.
Certainly, one of the most irresponsible signs and ideas to come out of the Anti-RH Bill rallies is this:
“No to safe sex” is just terribly irresponsible, not to mention homicidal, in the face of a pandemic like AIDS. It’s like you’re willing to let thousands of people die just because a condom doesn’t fit your small… world view.
(The DOH reports 9,964 HIV-positive cases in the country from 1984-2012; of these, 1,061 are full-blown AIDS—as of June this year. Source: http://www.doh.gov.ph/sites/default/files/NEC_HIV_June-AIDSreg2012.pdf)
Just what is saved sex? Is it sex between people who are “saved”? So if you’re saved and your husband is not, any sex you have will be “unsaved”?
From what does sex need saving from? Okay. Let’s take a few guesses. 1) Sex needs saving from people who want sex a lot. Is it because if you have sex too often, it runs out? 2) Sex needs saving from people who use condoms. Hmmm. So this means that only people who don’t use condoms should have sex.
But why? What does condom use do to sex? If you have sex with a condom on, you are not getting someone pregnant and you are being protected (not totally, but very significantly) from getting an STD. Sex without a condom means you are getting a woman pregnant and you could get sick from a painful, or even life-threatening disease. Which is the better scenario?
Of course, abstinence is the best option. No sex means no pregnancy and no disease. I’m actually not against this idea. Presumably, this abstinence is being voluntarily chosen for the sake of some transcendent reason. For example, the abstainer is renouncing sex for a more abstract, non-sexual union with God, the universe, the Gross Domestic Product, etc.
The problem with that idea is this: condoms are NOT for only one person—among ten thousand people—who abstains from sex. Condoms are meant for the 9,999 people who do have sex with each other.
If we say that only saved people can have saved sex, we have to define what a saved person is. Let’s take another guess. A saved person is: 1) Someone who believes condoms are an occasion of sin; and 2) Someone who believes that sex is only for procreation, not pleasure or recreation; 3) Someone who has been consecrated and, therefore, blessed to have sex.
Oh no, wait, there’s something wrong with that…
After seven days of wet gloom, the sun seems to be shining a bit outside our house. But it could still rain later on. How long will all this rain continue? One interesting thing I learned during this rainy week is that the Filipino expression “siyam-siyam,” which translates literally to “nine-nine” in English, is actually a weather-related term.
“Siyam-siyam” is commonly used to mean that someone is taking an unreasonably long time to finish a task. For example, a Filipino could say, “Inabot ka na ng siyam-siyam sa pagme-make up mo, Bruno.” Bruno, of course, will stomp out of his room, muttering with agitation, worried about having rushed putting on his eye-liner and blush-on.
It turns out that “siyam-siyam” actually refers to “nine days of rain”. So yes, going through nine days of rain can really seem like a long time. If the sun doesn’t shine today, we might be going through siyam-siyam, after all.
This past week, all stormy and monsoon-drenched, turned out to be an opportune time to read Under the Storm: An Anthology of Contemporary Philippine Poetry, which is edited by filmmaker, poet and fictionist Khavn de la Cruz with his co-editor, poet Joel M. Toledo.
Both of the editors are recipients of international awards for their works, and presumably know what they’re doing, so it was interesting to see their choices for the 150 poets/poems featured in the book.
More (or less?) interestingly, I have to be honest about the fact that a poem of mine, “bullet.X.press,” is included in the anthology. How do I write a decent, credible review of this book? The answer is simple: I won’t. I’ve had the book for months but I’ve only started reading it these past few days, and I’ll simply share what the experience has been like.
It’s not easy to read 150 poems, much less talk about them, but I can say that what I like about “Under the Storm” most is how it gathers many voices (and perspectives) speaking about what it’s like to live in the Philippines and to be a Filipino today.
There’s wit, farce, and nostalgia in Frank Cimatu’s “The Yoyo Routine”; horror, madness, and mysticism in Mikael de Lara Co’s “Kundiman”, and even celebrated indie film legend Lav Diaz intones numinous in his “In Memoriam”; veteran journalist Jose Pablo Salud finds lyrical consolation amid the savagery of nature’s (and society’s) indifference to beauty and poetry; while government employee and nerd Andrea Teran discovers what happens when grief and physics intersect in “Weight without Gravity”.
The intersection point is poetry of course. And poetry—full-blooded, imperfect, hairy, wild, wanton, bitter, mocking, silent, loving, killing, dying, all over the Philippines—is what you will get from this book, a survival companion through the psyche’s moments of deluge, gloom, and doom.
For more information about where to get a copy of the book, go to the publisher’s website at http://www.theantithesiscollective.com.