Friday, December 31, 2010

Stopping hate (2)

The pink community, after closely examining hatred brought about by the inherent characteristics of the economic and social status of an individual, another major breeding ground for hatred to flourish is the cultural and political institutions, both are superstructures that rest upon an economic base that defines beyond the so-called gender and sexual identity hate. They are not just breeding grounds; they are attachment to and part of an entire web of a single system that continues to destroy the essence of an individual and society.

Such institutions not only institute hatred, but stigma and discrimination in all its forms just so a system so exploitative can still be maintained at the expense of the pink community, including those deprived of their day-to-day right to survive.

Despite its macho pronouncements claiming that the members of the pink community can join the armed forces, the military as an institution aimed at maintaining a status quo that breeds stigma and discrimination cannot claim to represent in all its glory the right to accommodate members of the pink community in its ranks.

It should be noted that the current stronger armed institution is meant to destroy any force that advocates a progressive view and alternative system that is friendly to the pink community. While laudable at face value promoting “equality” among its armed forces, the pink community once enlisted in the reactionary armed forces will be used to destroy its class origin, trained to become traitor and thus becomes a representative of a deplorable system that encourages and breeds hate, stigma and discrimination.

Positioned as a major propagator and defender of a social and economic system, religion is an institution not only encourages hate, stigma and discrimination but an instrument to enable the oppressed and exploited people (including the pink community) to be contented being exploited and oppressed. And for the pink community to be contented being maimed and hated, discriminated and demonized, anyway the supposedly Kingdom of Heaven is reserved for those who experience the brutality of a brutal system. Acting that way, it solidifies an individual to be forever hated and exploited.

Educational institutions, too, are not just there to teach us how to read, write and count, but how to defend the stigma, hate, and discrimination. A banking concept of education run that way will surely encourages more hatred and bias, like what the pink community experienced in sectarian and non-sectarian schools.

So don’t expect that stigma, hate and discrimination will be eliminated overnight like a contest involving hapless individuals eager to earn the right to fame even just a blink of an eye. Such is the case of a selective, onerous and one-sided campaign to end or stop hate anchored solely on gender and sexual identity.

Stopping hate (1)

An illustrious campaign is in the offing and is going on with no end in sight – yet. It is a campaign to threat each other fairly, equally and justly, a campaign to look at each other as children of God, a campaign for oneness, a just and morally upright cause to stop hate.

So what is hate? Why are some people, institutions and states going to kill or hate other people on the basis of their sexual orientation? And why should hate, in fact beyond gender identity and sexual orientation, be stop?

Just recently, with the prodding of the US, anti-hate advocates the world over succeeded in eliminating a UN General Assembly's human rights committee approved an Arab and African proposal to cut the reference to killings due to sexual orientation from a resolution on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions

It was a victory for all. I was a victory for common sense. But the proponents of the now hated UN General Assembly’s human rights committee proposal cried pink.

"We will not have it foisted on us," said Zimbabwe's UN ambassador Chitsaka Chipaziwa slammed the US amendment, added, “there was no need to refer explicitly to sexual orientation.”

The inclusion of killings due to sexual orientation should be banned in all walks of life. We asked, given the advancement of human understanding, why should countries adopt such a policy killing people by virtue of their sexual orientation which they did not in fact decide on?

Killing people due to their gender identity is actually a product of the current socio-economic system eliminating individuals whose existence deviate from their imposed male dominance. Still, the deciding factor, no matter what their sexual category is their hold to power and influence.

For until now, we may succeed in eliminating sexual and gender hate in world’s statutes and laws, but so long as the people, most of them are deprived in their day-to-day struggle to survive, remains subject to massive economic exploitation, a much deeper hate remains. In fact, a significant portion of the pink community are actually oppressed and exploited.

How we are going to eliminate a deeply rooted socio-economic and political hatred which divided people since the beginning of countries and states is a challenge even to the pink community.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Credible witness, corrupt judgment

Perennially accused for passing unlawful judgment to the victims of the Philippines’ judicial system, the Supreme Court recently declared that mental retardate can be credible as witness. The decision penned by Associate Justice Jose Perez of the tribunal’s First Division, gives justice to the human rights of individuals no matter what their status in life.

It is a different story how the state ensures that persons with physical (mental) disabilities are provided and given a more humane and suitable life. Without that, they will continue to experience the injustice befall upon them.

Putting a more humane context and perspective to the decision, Associate Justice Perez said, “While it is true that the credibility of one who is a mental retardate may be difficult to determine, still, it can be ascertained by deducing from the manner she testifies in court as to the surrounding facts of the crime committed. For as long as her testimony is straightforward, candid and unflawed by inconsistencies or contradictions in its material points, and her demeanor is consistent with one who has been a victim of rape, bolsters her credibility with the verity born out of human nature and experience, thus, must be given full faith and credit.”

The decision of the First Division, added, “Moreover, mental retardation per se does not affect credibility. A mentally retarded may be a credible witness. The acceptance of her testimony depends on the quality of her perceptions and the manner she can make them known to the court.”

Qualified justly and correctly, I must say.

I am glad decisions like that happened even in the face of a court tainted with historical corruption, partisan politics whose judgment always delivered lethal blows to the oppressed and exploited people. I need not mention judgments favorable to the poor, for the poor cannot even afford huge court fees just so the cases they are involved with will proceed. Or if given a slim chance of litigation, another obstacle is to have a favorable decision, if ever decisions are made.

Now that the court has given a green signal for the credibility of individuals with mental disabilities, they remain incomplete and ignored members of our society given by the fact that the existing state cannot even give or provide the most basic of their need. Just examine our hospitals and medical institutions catering to people like them. Or do we have a program that will ensure a lifelong respect for people with mental disabilities?

Beyond making them credible witness in court litigation, we, as a people should also be a credible witness to their suffering, and the government, has the credibility to ensure their rights are protected, their mental problem medically examined and the entire community of people are well taken care of.

Going by the decisions of the Supreme Court lately favoring dishonored accused because of their economic and political connections in life proved that even a truthful “mental retardate” is an obstacle for coming out with a just and rightful decision.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Web log

“Utilize the blog while it is free,” said an editor of a local newspaper a few years back.

I learned to blog almost half a decade ago. First as a depository of my old and not-so-good articles published in some student publications, Voice of Talamban (VOT) and Today’s Carolinian (TC), during my university days on the early and late 1990s.

(I served as editor of VOT, official student publication of the University of San Carlos (USC) College of Engineering and TC, official publication of USC students.)

Now dead, both campus papers demised were also the time of the popularity of web log and online journalism.

Writing for campus paper then was the only visible and effective means for aspiring writers and critical thinkers to propagate their influences, prior to the advent of web log. It could have been different if blog was visible during those days.

Second, as the public figure of several progressive organizations (i.e., Anakbayan) during the late 1990s until the middle of the decade of the first decade of the current century, I wrote the progressive stand of the organization and submitted it to local newspapers for publishing.

So, I needed an online space to ensure a wider audience as well as a depository of published opinion pieces. Hence, the birth of binignitogchopsuey.

Until I realized web log is beyond depository of old and assorted ideas.

Though not often, I write some of my most important commentaries here. Since my exposure and social practice derived from the fact as a political and social activist, most of the articles here are a complete expression of the dialectical relations of economic, political and cultural analysis to issues as complex as societal change and as “shallow” as vacation and traveling.

I am writing this because, lately, I was able to take a look and awed by the elements of which I found interactive and provided self-fulfillment.

For example, I found “Stats” as an important tool of my web log to monitor my audience, posts and traffic sources.

Surprised, my audience are scattered in ten countries. Still counting, topping the list is the Philippines with 658 audiences, following the colonial connection the US ranks second with 137. Counting countries instead of individual audience, my blog is present in European countries with Germany - 43, Turkey - 31, Russia - 18, and France and Italy with 15 each.

Latin America is represented by Colombia and Mexico, 20 and 13 audiences respectively. Surprisingly, the presence of China ranks last with 9 audiences. I wonder where my South East Asian readers are.

Most read posts are also included. Page views by Browsers and Operating Systems used provided a detailed statistics.

Like any “lazy” writer, I rarely re-write. I just write in a way that comes naturally, perhaps a glaring limitation of my blog. Not to mention some grammatical, sentence structure and language problems.

Beyond syntax, blogging is serious – dead serious. A blogger should use it to propagate not just the whims and caprices of individuals, but also our collective desires for a truly free and democratic society (and cyberspace) – while it is still “free.”

Sunday, December 19, 2010

(Red)efining the Pink Community and the Elements of Genuine Pride

December 20, 2010, Message to the Pink Community - Baguio City on the occasion of its First General Assembly

Dinuyogan sa walay kabutangan nga kalipay, akong ipaabot ang among hul-os nga panaghi-usa sa inyong Unang Heneral nga Assembliya sa ProGay Metro Baguio nga gihi-usa sa panawagan ug tema, “Strengthen our unity, empower the gay community.” Ang inyong panag-hiusa karon nagtukmod kanamo nga mas-maglig-on pa atubangan sa tibuok bahin nga mga kapakyasan ug kadaugan.

Your call to strengthen your unity is timely and relevant. It emphasizes the urgent need to collectively dare for a more firm and committed pink community. Though late, indeed what better time to strengthen your unity than these days of deepening economic crisis, decaying political structure and the culture becoming more irrelevant, materialistic and mystified idealism – making our current socio-economic conditions worst, and our gender and sexual orientation threatened.

Furthermore, your longing to empower our community is both a tactical and strategic aspiration for the eventual fulfillment of a truly consolidated pink community. You cannot empower the pink community without first strengthening the ties that bind us internally. But that is an incomplete “unity.” Truth is, that is no unity at all. Unity means uniting with other oppressed and exploited sectors in our society. Making them understand beyond our gender and sexual orientation.

Beyond such “gender and sexual orientation” unity, we should develop a more precise and scientific unity, our class unity with other sectors of society. This involves understanding our common economic, political and cultural conditions and making ourselves fully aware of our past. Drawing important lessons from yesterdays in order to adjust to the present and confront the future with full of vigor and hope in a militant and progressive way. This is the greatest unity of all.

However, I would like to re-emphasize that the strength of the gay community is useless so long as the gay community is limited only to itself. We should link firmly with the basic masses equally for all of us are victims of the current social system. We cannot strengthen and empower our community if we will only work for our sector. Doing so is isolationism and elitism and will brought unparalleled catastrophe and consequences within our ranks and to the society. If that will happen, we cannot claim to be empowered nor united.

The Pink-market and Globalization

I always believe, in order for us to truly understand and comprehend our current conditions and woes, and sometimes to adjust to the western “imposed” labels and definitions (which I will discuss later) we are in dire need to study the positive and negative impact of globalization and its implication to our community and to the society as a whole.

In the course of unlimited knowledge courtesy of a globalized and wired world, we are being buried with a galaxy of data and information never before seen in the history of the world’s peoples’. This enables us to take a cursory look for informations which is beneficial to us, network with organizations friendly and supportive to our cause on mutually acceptable terms, and join protests actions simultaneously.

Join protests actions simultaneously? Yes! Like I said before, we now live in an era of unparalleled and deepening economic crisis on a global scale. The collapse of the financial centers of the world and the massive unemployment of the world’s peoples’ (including our community) is a clear sign of monopoly capitalism’s dying days. Our organizing efforts should adjust to that condition and ask ourselves why and what are we organizing for and where are we going.

Recent round of incidents in Europe and the USA point to the fact that the people’s of the world are clamoring and fighting for social justice and peace within the context of their current unfathomable misery. In the United States of America, unemployment is still at an all time high and the marginalized Americans are fighting for their life and limb. Again, our community included.

In Europe for example, the British and French students are fighting against education budget cut and in support to their parents other concerns. Such organized efforts involving young people offers light at the end of the tunnel. We can always count on how many young gay people in these protests actions joined. And we can always count them among the multitude of the entire community of oppressed and exploited people.

The abovementioned struggles of the world’s people’s should never pacify us to just organize for organize sake. Our organizing efforts are a seed that will make a strong and deeply rooted forest of pink community determined to pursue the historical mission of the oppressed and exploited people.

The deepening economic crisis also resulted in an all-round development of homophobia, stigma and discrimination towards the pink community. It is unfortunate that too many young gay people in the West are committing suicides at a very young age. Homophobia, stigma and discrimination are cultural malice attached to the current capitalist system. It is the system’s way of cutting the throats of the unjustly labeled “weaker-sex” as compared to the stronger sex of, well, straight men.

The industrialized worlds are inflicting its macho and patriarchal culture in order to maintain a system doomed to collapse while at the same time encouraging the so-called “weaker-sex” to participate in the exploitation process. It holds true with the women sector. And much visible among us, the people belong to the margin.

Adding salt to our already wounded soul, the current economic system has given a “free-space” for us in order to consume our entirety and drive us to their eternal foothold by providing a “space-and-a-name” for our community to further our exploitation. Hence, the name pink market and pink community as a new market for slavery and exploitation, haven’t you wondered the emerging of metrosexuals? They did not just expand and wage unjust war to the people of the Philippines, Iraq, Afghanistan, Cuba and North Korea. While we are being bullied and demonized, they take advantage of our community as a new market for surplus products and capital.

Thus there is a crying need for a more objective and conspicuous study of the emerging conditions and trends that we can take advantage of while maintaining our progressive stand, viewpoint and method.

Between Red and White, the Local Pink

The past few years, the local pink community has been out of the closet, albeit in a dimly lit room. Perhaps it is due to the fact that in 1994 the First Gay Pride in Asia organized by ProGay Philippines succeeded in breaking an insurmountable cliché. It was a historic and happy occasion breaking new grounds for unparalleled growth in the years that passed by.

It is also worth mentioning, although unsuccessful for the second time, Ang Ladlad Party-list attempt to be the first mouth-piece of the pink community in the House of Representatives.

All these excites us all, where are we going from where?

The bottom line is, the local pink community has emerged even before ProGay launched its First Gay Pride in Asia or even before Ang Ladlad will claim a seat in the party-list election. Careful examination in far-flung areas, mostly in the rural mountains and countryside, you will notice groups of gay men and, although rarely women with their own organizations anchored on their desire to make their presence felt in the most feudal of all conditions – highly exploitative, backward, pre-industrial and agrarian.

To top it all, your launching today of your First General Assembly, though late is a welcome respite in this miserable times. It consolidated the historic and determined efforts of those ahead of us several decades fold. It gives recognition to those who discreetly organized their own pink community. It gives honor to efforts unnoticed. It gives justice to our (gay)story.

The past several years, several foreign entities entered our shores to spruce-up “our” understanding (and identity?) of the local pink community. In fact, an on-going study by the Health Action Information Network (HAIN) funded by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) aimed at determining the Risks and Vulnerabilities of the Men-having-Sex-with-Men (MSM) and Transgender (TG) in three major cities in the Philippines (Metro Manila, Cebu, Davao) is also noteworthy to follow.

Depending on which lens we are using, the outcome of the research will bridge the gap between our local initiatives and understanding of the sub-populations of the pink community vis-à-vis the outcome of the nationally conducted research.

So here we are now, perhaps painful to academics but we are living with it: determining and understanding the sub-populations in our midst. I believe the sub-populations are a product of abject poverty. I encourage our pink community in Baguio City to conduct its own social investigation and class (and gender) analysis to the different sub-populations we encountered and lived as we open the closet in a dimly lit room. This will encourage more closets opened and more rooms lighted.

Because academics, though not all, are not living with the pink community daily, did not experienced the brutality of the semi-feudal system, may be on the wrong track of labeling us, or may be right. No one knows except the validation of the local community.

Thus I encourage you to deepen your understanding of the terms like “sexual minorities,” “men-having-sex-with-men,” “lesbians-gay-bisexual-transgender-queer-inter-sex,” and others that adds confusion instead of clearing the dust in the closet.

The Elements of Genuine Pride

1. Human rights advocacy and support for the peace talks
As a political organization of the pink community in Metro Baguio, we should always remind ourselves the need to fully understand the class context of human rights. It is not always safe and helpful if our understanding of human rights is limited only to our understanding of our gender and sexual orientation.

On the other hand, we should also work on improving our human rights documentation to the violated rights of our community. We should also be visible in fact-finding missions, help in the documentation of human rights (HR) cases and assist in whatever way on the basis of our capacity.

We should also support the peace process between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to emphasize to them our deep commitment for social justice and peace.

2. Reproductive Health Bill and Anti-discrimination Bill
We should initiate efforts and form alliances and networks in our communities to support the rights-based and Comprehensive Reproductive Health Bill and the Anti-Discrimination Bill now being filed in the House of Representatives. Fully aware that the current social system dominated by a macho-feudal and patriarchal culture is a threat in itself, only a strong mass movement of people will ensure the passage of both bills.

3. Confronting Morality and Religious Bias
We can only claim to be morally upright if we are in support of and in cadence with the struggle of the marginalize peasants and workers. Let our voices be heard on the standard issues of the day because that is the most moral thing to do.

4. Understanding the social context of HIV/AIDS, beyond biological
We should develop a program that will not just limit to the prevention of the disease but also its social and economic prevention. The epidemic is a social disease that needs to be confronted holistically.

5. Fight for genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization
We should remember, a significant portion of our population belong to the peasantry followed by the working class. Therefore, it follows that a significant portion of the community are scattered in that order. We support and fight for genuine agrarian reform on the basis of its economic, political and cultural significance in our struggle for gender equality. Because, before a member of the community cries pink, he/she will look for security in his/her livelihood and respect for his/her innate human rights.

Only through militant struggle can the brightest pink emerged. Only through resolute and determined efforts can we gain respect and admiration in a bias and exploitative society.

In between red and white, lies pink! Long live the pink community in Baguio City!

About the author: Former chair of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines – Cebu (1998-2000), Founding Vice-President for the Visayas – Anakbayan and Chair of Anakbayan – Cebu (2000-2002) and Founding President – BisdakPRIDE 2005 – present. He has been a community organizer in peasant areas, urban poor communities and workers. But exposed first and found material- passion organizing the youth and students during his engineering days at the University of San Carlos in Cebu City.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

“Promoting Human Rights in the Context of HIV/AIDS”

(Below is the power point presentation I prepared for the series of forums for Southwestern University and University of San Carlos. I expanded the one I presented at Salazar College of Science and Institute of Technology)

I. Understanding the principles of human rights

Human dignity is the notion that all individuals, regardless of age, culture, religion, ethnic origin, color, sex, sexual orientation, language, disability or social condition deserve to be respected and esteemed.

The equality concept expresses the notion of respect for the inherent dignity of all human beings. As specified in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is the basis of human rights: "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights."

Non-discrimination is an integral part of the concept of equality. It ensures that no one is denied the protection of his or her human rights based on visible factors.

Certain moral and ethical values are shared in all regions of the world, and governments and communities should recognize and uphold them. The universality of rights does not mean, however, that they cannot change or that they are experienced in the same manner by all people. The principle of universality is often paired with inalienability of rights. Both principles mean that rights apply to all people and they cannot be given up or taken away.

A person’s human rights cannot be taken away, surrendered, or transferred. The principle of inalienability is often paired with universality of rights. Both principles mean that rights apply to all people and they cannot be given up or taken away.

Human rights should be addressed as an indivisible body. That means that all rights, whether civil, political, social, economic, cultural, or collective rights have equal status. The principle of indivisibility is often paired with interdependency of rights. Both principles mean that all rights be seen as having equal importance and are related to each other

Human rights should be addressed as an indivisible body. That means that all rights, whether civil, political, social, economic, cultural, or collective rights have equal status. The principle of indivisibility is often paired with interdependency of rights. Both principles mean that all rights be seen as having equal importance and are related to each other

Human rights concerns appear in all spheres of life — home, school, workplace, courts, and markets— everywhere! Human rights violations are interconnected; loss of one right detracts from other rights. Similarly, promotion of human rights in one area supports other human rights. The principle of interdependency is often paired with indivisibility of rights. Both principles mean that all rights be seen as having equal importance and are related to each other.

Human rights are not gifts bestowed at the pleasure of governments. Nor should governments withhold them or apply them to some people but not to others. When they do so, they must be held accountable. The government is duty-bound to promote, protect and uphold the rights of their citizens


Every individual has a responsibility to teach human rights, to respect human rights, and to challenge institutions and individuals that abuse them.

Every organ of society, including corporations, nongovernmental organizations, foundations and educational institutions also shares responsibility for the promotion and protection of human rights.

II. Principles of Human Rights in the Context of HIV / AIDS

HIV/AIDS and Human Rights

HIV and AIDS impacts not only physical health of individuals but also their identity and condition. It could cause personal suffering and loss of dignity for people with HIV/AIDS.

Human rights are denied when…
1. There is inadequate information
2. There is lack of accessible and affordable medicines to protect their right to
life and health
3. There is discrimination and denial of the right to employment
4. There is lack of privacy, confidentiality and loss of dignity

Promoting human rights in the context of HIV / AIDS
1. Prevent discrimination and stigma
2. Prevent further infection
3. Reduce vulnerability to infection
4. Empower individuals and communities
5. Lessen the impact on those infected and affected

Rights-based approach is important in HIV/AIDS The incidence and spread of HIV/AIDS is disproportionately high among groups that already suffer from lack of human rights protection and from discrimination, or marginalized by their legal status.

HIV/AIDS is also affected by issues of:
Gender violence and discrimination
Inequality (access to treatment, education, justice, etc)
War and conflict

HIV / AIDS as a development issue
HIV/AIDS and development is a two-way process, where lack of development increases susceptibility and vulnerability to HIV/AIDS while the disease negatively impacts on development

Social and macro-economic effects
1. Increased expenditures needed for HIV /AIDS
2. Government funds on social services are very limited
3. The prevalence of HIV increase among the local labor force will result to an increase in absenteeism, exacerbating underemployment in the country, which may result in a reduction of economic growth
4. With the returning HIV-positive OFWs, stress would be placed on the resources of the country’s health care system

Effect on the health care system
1. Many PLWHAs (People living with HIV/AIDS) do not have access to basic drugs to treat HIV related infections and other conditions
2. High price of other related drugs, especially anti-retroviral drugs

Effects on Families and Individuals
1. Its impact on households, families and communities threaten social cohesion and solidarity among families and communities
2. A family with an afflicted member suffers increased financial, social, and psychological stress
3. Suffers possible job loss

HIV/AIDS and the Charter for Health HIV/AIDS should be looked at in the context of public health and human rights, with political-economic and socio-cultural angles. It is not just a biological issue.


“Person with HIV”, not “person with AIDS” – unless it is used to describe the medical condition.

“People living with HIV infection”, not “HIV infected” or “HIV or virus carriers” because the emphasis should be on people and not the virus or the infection.

“People living with AIDS,” not “dying of AIDS” or “AIDS sufferers” – because the emphasis should be on the people and not the medical condition. Furthermore, the terms “victim and sufferer” suggest powerlessness.

“Living with AIDS,” not “dying of AIDS” as it stresses the fact a person continues to participate in life’s activities.

“Men who have sex with men,” not “homosexual.” “bisexual,” or “gay” because many who have sex with men do not identify themselves as homosexual, etc. It is also inappropriate to label people by virtue of their sexual orientation.

“Women who have sex with women,” not “lesbians” because many women who have sex with women do not identify themselves as lesbians. It is also inappropriate to label people by virtue of their sexual orientation.

“Commercial sex worker,” not “prostitute” as this is a term used by women who do this work. The nature of “prostitution” differs from country to country and culture to culture. The term “sex worker” is inadequate because some sex workers operate for money and some “non-commercial sex workers” operate for security.

“Person with hemophilia,” not “hemophiliac” because a person should not be identified by his/her disease.

“Us” not “them” as all of us are living within the epidemic.

Daghang Salamat!

For more information about us, please visit:
Facebook : Bisdak Pride
Tweet us : @bisdakpride
Skype: bisdakpride

“Decade to overcome violence (DOV) 2005”, published by the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP)

“HIV/ AIDS in the Philippines,” Dr. Delen P. de la Paz, Coordinator PHM – Philippines, Executive Director, Health Action Information Network.

Nancy Flowers (2005), The Human Rights Education Handbook: Effective Practices for Learning, Action and Change, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Human Rights Resource Center

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