Archive | November, 2016

Filipino Freethinkers Meetup, Sunday, November 27, 2016

Filipino Freethinkers Meetup, Sunday, November 27, 2016

 

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CHANGE OF VENUE

Venue: Simcas Apartelle, 5048 P Burgos, Makati, 1210 Metro Manila, Philippines
Google Maps Link
PWD Friendly? Not really
Date: Sunday, November 27, 2016
Time: 2:30PM – 5:30PM

This is a special meetup. We will be having free HIV testing, courtesy of HASH – HIV & AIDS Support House, Inc. Please arrive early.

Topics:
Do people have a right to food?
Should children be allowed to join protests?
Should private citizens be accountable for their public comments?
– Raunchy Topic of the Week (18+)

After the meetup we usually go for dinner and drinks somewhere nearby. If you’re not a meetup regular and can’t make it for the meetup but would like to go for the post meetup, please indicate on a post in the wall or comment so we can contact you.
Got questions about the meetup? Contact us at 0928 872 0020 / 0920 975 0092

* Newbies are welcome, and admission to the meetup is free. (Note: this does not apply to the food and other activities we may be having)
* Early birds get to play board/video/party games with the group.
* Look for the FF sign (or the group of smart, sexy people).
* There is no required age, religion, philosophy, or IQ level.
* Discussions are informal yet intelligent (most of the time).
* You don’t have to talk; you can just sit in and listen.

Posted in Announcements, Meetup0 Comments

Imperialism of the Tagalog-Filipino

Filipino, which is largely Tagalog-based, can be just as imperialistic as English is, and probably more in its own way. Speaking Filipino does not automatically you maka-Pilipino or nationalistic.

Hear me out: Filipino (being mainly Tagalog) is a language that was imposed on the rest of the country. Just because almost everyone in the country speaks it now, does not mean it was not forced on them through education, necessity or practicality over the decades. The Tagalog territories being the dominant center of economic activity for so long did much to make learning Filipino advantageous at best, or necessary at worst.

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Can you truly claim you are maka-Pilipino if you use Filipino as a tool of elitism over other Filipinos, or tout its primacy over the rest of the Filipino languages? Before you go “English is the language of the colonizers and foreigners!”, remember that you probably take for granted the fact that anyone in this country can speak Filipino, even if it may not be their own beloved or native tongue.

True, most Filipinos may be familiar with Filipino, even intimately, but that does not necessarily make the language their own. In some cases, they even appropriate it for use in their own way. But, how different is that for Filipinos who appropriate English, because that is what they grew up with or it was practical for them? I was born and raised Tagalog and it took staying in Bikol for years to realize this. The look in people’s eyes when you have to tell them that they must speak to you in Tagalog (because you do not know their language) is not hostile, but it is certainly strange and possibly uncomfortable even if they do not say so.

Most of the time they just carry it in stride or not recognize their discomfort themselves. But sometimes, you get a nervous laughter of sorts or an embarrassing moment where you’re left with a lingering feeling that they think you’re just trying to one-up them.

Some people, like myself, would try to learn the local language, and you can see people appreciate it. It is difficult to learn another Philippine language, but it helps you get a measure of what you’re asking non-Tagalog speakers to set aside for you (probably without a single thought).

It’s when you realize that you simply cannot learn all the Filipino languages though, that you end up with a dilemma; we do need to efficiently and effectively understand each other, after all. You realize that Tagalog/Filipino is fine, English is fine, Bikol is fine, any other language is fine, so long as you can understand each other. However, it’s the change of mentality that comes with the realization that’s important.

I understand that some people use language as a tool of elitism (whether that be Tagalog or English), but that’s part of the problem I’m trying to speak against: if you somehow accept the primacy of Tagalog among Filipinos (or worse, actively using imposing it), then you are as elitist as someone who uses English to step on other people.

We need to treasure our Filipino languages and make them grow, that is true, but perhaps there is a better measure of what makes a Filipino a Filipino. Maybe it’s better if we can look past the language used, see the use of the language, and stop using it to superficially judge our fellow citizens.

Posted in Language, Society0 Comments

What We Can Do in the Age of Fascists

As the world watched the meteoric rise of eventual presidents Duterte and Trump, Filipinos could not shake the pair’s family resemblance. Both were seen as clowns who only lacked the ridiculous facial hair to complete the cartoon villain caricature. But, when Duterte cussed and bullied all the way into Malacañang, that should have been a clue to us that Trump would do a lot better than what the polls were saying.

Now that Trump has won despite all the ridicule and naysaying, there has been a lot of finger-pointing and self-flagellation among liberals and Democrats. Chiefly, we shouldn’t have been so smug, painting Trump supporters as racist inbreds.

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Frequent users of the SJW epithet were quick to blame progressives for being overly sensitive to the Trump campaign’s overt racism and misogyny. Anti-globalists with particular disdain for the United States pointed to “neoliberalism’s” neglect of the American working class. Political nihilists blamed Hillary’s being a corrupt Washington insider for failing to convince independents to vote against Trump.

It is true to some extent that odious self-righteousness is a turn off and does little to convince fence-sitters. But, just like Ken Bone, people who were on the fence about Trump and about the values he validated weren’t fence-sitters for lack of reasonable arguments for either side. Breaking down the Trump voter demographics, it is clear that his base was not full of people left behind by eight years of Obama.

The median yearly income for Trump voters is $72,000, above the $62,000 median for Clinton’s.  Singling out Trump’s poorer voters, only 14% earned less than $50,000. And, as Trump whipped up anti-immigrant sentiment, a Gallup study showed that his average voter was “no more likely to be unemployed or exposed to competition through trade or immigration.”

This false narrative of revenge-against-the-elites should remind Filipinos of the lie that the Duterte vote was an anti-elite, anti-oligarch vote. As with Trump, the wealthier you were, the more likely you would have been a Duterte voter. Rather than being victims of the Aquino administration’s “neoliberal” economics, Duterte’s supporters flourished more than their countrymen. Add to that, among Filipinos living abroad, Duterte and Marcos polled highest.

Rather than an uprising of the victims of capitalism and globalization, the wave of nativism and fascism sweeping the world: from Duterte to Brexit to Trump, is a backlash from the privileged classes: the male segment, in particular. It used to be that men could comfortably make misogynistic, homophobic, and racist comments without much pushback. Now, progressives can be relied upon to cast light on what used to be socially acceptable but bigoted behavior. In response, there is resistance from the privileged class against “political correctness,” which has now become shorthand for, “I’m not allowed to speak my mind about people outside my group.”

Progressives have been playing identity politics for much of the past ten years, and it has finally blown up in our faces. We forgot that the ruling class can also play identity politics, and play it they did.

We have to realize that though we think we are right to call out oppression, the other side, well-to-do (white) men, are still the ones in charge. And though we feel empowered as the momentum in the politics of language is on the side of progressives, politics itself is still largely out of the hands of the underprivileged, women, and people of color.

To be sure, moralizing has not worked. Even before the elections, Duterte critics unceasingly reminded Filipinos of the carnage he had wreaked on Davao and would wreak on the rest of the Philippines. Every day now, we see photos of people, generally poor, murdered in the streets. Over 4,000 Filipinos have been killed so far and his support has not wavered. And this is on top of Duterte’s misogynistic behavior. In the US, liberals constantly picked apart Trump’s misogyny and his supporters’ racism and racial resentment.

It may seem to many of us that state-sponsored killings, misogyny, and racism are self-evidently wrong, but 2016 should show us that, no, they are not. And, we should have known this from the start.

We were seduced by the religious certainty of moralizing. Yes, you can probably argue from many moral frameworks how homophobia is wrong or how vigilante justice is a net negative on our social institutions, but politics on either side is rarely about reason, but emotions.

Duterte’s key supporters are richer than their neighbors, and so are Trump’s. They are largely isolated from those most affected by murders and racism, respectively. As long as the oppressed remain hypotheticals to them, they will not empathize.

Like Harry Potter’s Dudley Dursley complaining about having 36 presents when he had 37 last year, the privileged classes are lashing out against having fewer words to say and, dare I say it, fewer pussies to grab. It doesn’t matter what you think is fair. If the privileged classes experience the insecurity of their status, they will reliably lash out in the way they have in electing Duterte and Trump.

Schadenfreudists have been satisified in calling liberals smug, and saying that Clinton/Roxas/Poe/etc. offered no alternative, while Trump/Duterte at least offered something new and different. And yet, schadenfreudists have offered no alternatives either.

So, what is left for progressives to do in the face of obvious oppression? If calling bigots bigots and fascists fascists does not work, do we just let Duterte call diplomats white monkeys and faggots (the more appropriate translation of “bakla” when said in contempt)? Do we just let him ogle the Vice President’s legs and cat-call reporters? Do we just let him threaten our right to due process? Do we just let American racists tell non-white citizens to go “home”?

I believe that there is room for multiple approaches. And though we shouldn’t stop pushing back against fascism and call it out when we see it, we must also recognize that it is not a given that our opponents share our values for fairness. This is a lesson we should have learned when we were on its receiving end from religious conservatives. They call contraception murder and secularism immoral. To them, these issues have consequences as heavy as heaven and hell. But, these concerns are incomprehensible to secular progressives.

Some people have called for constant dialogue, though I think that this is not as effective as it makes us feel better about “going high.” What is left to say on the matter of state-sponsored murders? What is left to say on the matter of barring Muslims from the US? I believe that the strongest argument against the fascistic urge, rather than play their winning strategy of populist dishonesty and demagoguery, is quiet perseverance.

We organize. We defend our institutions, our environment. We stop congratulating ourselves over recognizing our faults. We have to fight against the normalized fascism we already see in the Phlippines and will soon see in the United States. And, critically, we have to do better than Hillary Clinton. We have to do better than Mar Roxas or Grace Poe. We have to offer something better than status quo.

Trump’s and Duterte’s voters did not vote against a better future. They believed they were making the best choice available. And, I am sure both administrations will improve on the previous in some, perhaps many ways. Nevertheless, a vote for a fascist is a vote to define who gets to share and who does not in that better future.

Yes, quiet and continued perseverance is not sexy. It’s not noisy. And it’s not going to promise anything big by 2020 or 2022. But, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. In the long view, the world is only getting better. Let’s not forget that over a million people more voted for Clinton than Trump and Duterte won by plurality, not by majority. We just have to make sure the world exists long enough for it to get even better.

Posted in Politics, Society0 Comments

Filipino Freethinkers Meetup, Sunday, November 13, 2016

Filipino Freethinkers Meetup, Sunday, November 13, 2016

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Venue: Church of the Holy Trinity Episcopalian Church, 48 McKinley Road, Forbes Park, Makati
PWD Friendly? Yes
Date: Sunday, November 13, 2016
Time: 2:30 PM to 5:30 PM

Topics:
Trump is the next US President
Can software be unethical?
Should Mocha Uson be given a platform?
– Raunchy Topic of the Week (18+)

After the meetup we usually go for dinner and drinks somewhere nearby. If you’re not a meetup regular and can’t make it for the meetup but would like to go for the post meetup, please indicate on a post in the wall or comment so we can contact you.
Got questions about the meetup? Contact us at 0928 872 0020 / 0920 975 0092

* Newbies are welcome, and admission to the meetup is free. (Note: this does not apply to the food and other activities we may be having)
* Early birds get to play board/video/party games with the group.
* Look for the FF sign (or the group of smart, sexy people).
* There is no required age, religion, philosophy, or IQ level.
* Discussions are informal yet intelligent (most of the time).
* You don’t have to talk; you can just sit in and listen.

Posted in Announcements, Meetup0 Comments


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