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FF Podcast 105 (Audio): Sex Workers in the Philippines

FF Podcast 105 (Audio): Sex Workers in the Philippines

FF Audio Podcast 105 Sex Workers in the Philippines

This week, researcher Sharmila Parmanand joins us. We talk about sex workers and their strange position in Philippine society as both “victims” and “criminals” in the eyes of the law.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Posted in Advocacy, audio podcast, Gender Rights, Religion, Society0 Comments

Sex Workers in the Philippines | FF Podcast

Sex Workers in the Philippines | FF Podcast

This week, researcher Sharmila Parmanand joins us. We talk about sex workers and their strange position in Philippine society as both “victims” and “criminals” in the eyes of the law.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Advocacy, Gender Rights, Media, Podcast, Society, Video0 Comments

Are Women Equal in the Philippines? | FF Podcast

Are Women Equal in the Philippines? | FF Podcast

This week, we celebrate International Women’s Day with sociologist Nicole Curato. We talk about whether women are really equal in the Philippines and discuss the horrors of denied reproductive health care.

Posted in Advocacy, Gender Rights, Media, Podcast, Society, Video1 Comment

FF Podcast 77: Is Marriage Equality Really an LGBT Victory?

FF Podcast 77: Is Marriage Equality Really an LGBT Victory?

Red Tani and sociologist Nicole Curato explore the implications of the recent US Supreme Court decision that made same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states.

Posted in Advocacy, Gender Rights, Media, Podcast, Religion, Society, Video0 Comments

Tony Meloto and Faith in the Filipino

wec-tony-melotoWith Independence Day upon us, the controversy around Tony Meloto’s University of Hawaii speech reveals much about the racial inferiority complex and machismo culture still deeply entrenched in the Filipino psyche. It reveals how even someone pro-Philippines, pro-poor, and pro-women can succumb to these. More importantly, it reveals how we as a people see ourselves.

Here and then, something comes up and reminds us how our society has a long way to go with nationalistic awareness and racial sensitivity. A while back, I wrote on the blatant “white skin is good, dark skin is bad” message of an FHM cover. Then there was the BAYO campaign that advocated “mixing and matching of different nationalities with Filipino blood” as a “sure formula for someone beautiful and world-class” with a “fighting chance to make it in the world arena in all aspects.”

I wasn’t thinking to write another one; Meloto’s statements have been reported and commented on a lot. But I look up to his achievements. My family patronizes the projects of social entrepreneurs like him, down to our Bayani Brews and Human Nature toiletries. I get a lot of mail from young readers of my blog who feel insecure about their skin color or nose or some other thing that makes them wish they were white instead. I see how a lot of us view Filipino-white marriages as success stories, how perfectly acceptable it is to say, “She hit the jackpot with a foreigner. Her kid should be an artista so she can be rich and high-class!” and elicit agreeing nods rather than looks of discomfort. In light of all these, I feel I have to weigh in.

Meloto is a hero and an inspiration to many, myself included. As one commenter pointed out, his life’s work fills gaps that current government policies are unable to address. Many of us see the country’s problems and do little beyond complaining. Some choose to leave, some choose to look out only for their families. Every day, Meloto chooses to do something. Gawad Kalinga has made a huge contribution towards sustainable development and have spurred others into taking action.

When news of his speech broke out, my initial reaction was that I wanted to see the transcript and hear from people who were there. In an age of political correctness, one can’t be too careful with their words lest they be taken out of context. The Internet mob can be cruel. Things can be exaggerated for sensationalism. Verdicts can be readily passed without hearing all testimonies. Surely we could cut slack a man who serves the poor and the homeless, chalk it up to a lapse in judgment?

Then again, a few who attended his other speeches claim that it wouldn’t be the first time his statements were peppered with sexist and racist punchlines. If this is true, then I’d be inclined to see his words in Hawaii as a reflection of his long-held opinions rather than a one-time blip that could be easily forgiven. Not that he asked for it. In lieu of an apology, his response to the criticisms was to express hurt, reason that he was just trying to be funny, and remind people of the good he’s done.

Say we give Meloto the benefit of the doubt.

He reportedly called the poor hopeless and violent, and practically typecast the men as criminally inclined. Perhaps he developed this way of thinking over two decades of working around them, and it was an off-hand expression of his growing jadedness given several unfortunate incidents he has witnessed through the years.

He reportedly expressed that white men could come here to inspire poor Filipino men to be better. Perhaps he sees their potential to become decent husbands, caring fathers, and effective providers, if only there were white role models to show them how. Perhaps he sees the good traits of foreigners like his two sons-in-law and wants more Filipinos to emulate them, like when we see efficient transportation systems abroad and wish our government would follow suit.

He reportedly said that the beauty of Filipino women is one of the country’s best assets. He recommended that we use this asset to entice foreigners to come here and help make our nation prosper. With the image of a poor Filipino man as hopeless and violent—a chain-smoking, womanizing, compulsive-gambling, alcoholic bum who makes his family’s life hell, perhaps Meloto only wants our beautiful women to be saved by the white knights.

The “success story” can go two ways: rich foreigner rescues Filipina from poverty, or handsome foreigner helps Filipina produce what Meloto jokingly called “cappuccino babies.” He is not alone in believing there is a higher success rate for them, and a lucrative market particularly in the local entertainment industry. Beautiful Filipino women are assets, and cute cappuccino babies are commodities. To that effect, women like me could contribute towards a better Philippines by securing for ourselves a suitable Caucasian husband, nowithstanding our education, skills, and determination.

In all likelihood, the motivation behind Meloto’s statements is good. After 20 years, the ripples of change that he started have yet to make tidal waves. Perhaps he so desperately wants to see our nation rise above our difficulties, to finally be able to go toe-to-toe with the First World, and as far as he can see, the things he mentioned would work. Perhaps this is why he is unapologetic about his words being sexist, racist and elitist, maintaining that his deeds go toward the opposite of these.

Whatever the case, the reality is that many Filipinos share these beliefs, learning from their elders and passing on to their children. Most of them do not even recognize the implications, and thus the need for a paradigm shift.

Among those who do, this may be the reason for the outrage: Meloto was the last person expected to be expressing such notions. As Builder of Dreams, it is his responsibility to advocate not only change, but also hope. Hope is the last thing you bring to the table when you suggest that your people aren’t good enough to make it on their own. Dreams are not what you build when you perpetuate rather than challenge the idea that the success of your country lies on its dependence to foreigners.

Bringing lasting change includes fighting against the things have kept us from growing into our own as a nation: our largely patriarchal culture, our racial insecurity, and our tendency for white worship. These are the ills have oppressed the Filipino people for centuries; poverty and corruption are merely their symptoms.

Many are called, few are chosen. As one of the few, changemaker Tony Meloto has both power and passion to lead this fight. His work inspires us to believe we can turn things around for ourselves.

It would help if he continues to believe it, too.

 

Image Source: http://philnews.ph/2012/10/29/tony-meloto-wins-social-entrepreneurship-award-in-france/

Posted in Gender Rights, Personal, Politics0 Comments

FF Podcast 72: Trigger Warnings

FF Podcast 72: Trigger Warnings

This week, we talk about trigger warnings for rape and other topics in fiction. We discuss which topics should have trigger warnings and whether they should exist at all.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Gender Rights, Media, Podcast, Society, Video0 Comments

FF Podcast 69: Lee Kuan Yew and Duterte

FF Podcast 69: Lee Kuan Yew and Duterte

This week, we talk about the late Singaporean leader Lee Kuan Yew. We discuss comparisons between him and Davao’s Rodrigo Duterte, as well as the popularity of benevolent dictatorships.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Freedom of Expression, Media, Podcast, Society, Video0 Comments

Gov’t May Choose to Hide Findings of New UN Report on Filipino Women

Through our research it has come to our attention that the Philippine government has been constantly delaying its decision on whether to make public the findings of a recent United Nations (UN) inquiry regarding the state of reproductive rights in the city of Manila. The deadline for its decision is March 6, and requests to the Office of the President for a definitive answer by women’s rights groups have apparently been ignored, leaving one to wonder if the government may be hoping the issue might simply blow over quietly.

IMG_1074

An inquiry into women’s reproductive rights violations allegedly perpetrated by the Manila city government was conducted over the period of July to November in 2013 by members of the UN CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women) Committee. However, under the terms of the segment of that treaty termed the Optional Protocol, national governments are allowed to choose whether or not to publicly disclose the inquiry’s findings and recommendations for action.

According to the proceedings of the committee published in the website of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, a member of the CEDAW Committee, one Pramila Patten, met with the Permanent Representative of the Philippines to the UN Office in July of 2014 in Geneva to discuss the Philippine government’s response to the inquiry findings. In the absence of a positive response from the government, the CEDAW Committee decided to defer the decision for publication of the report until the CEDAW committee’s current session this year, which runs from Feb 16 to March 6 2015.

Given this administration’s publicly stated commitment to transparency and woman’s rights, and the support such a report would provide for the speedy and effective implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act of 2012 (colloquially known as the RH Law), the Filipino Freethinkers wishes to join in the call for the government to make the CEDAW Committee’s findings public before March 6.

Sources:

United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights CEDAW page, session reports

United Nations CEDAW Protocol On State Participation

Imposing Misery, original basis for request of inquiry

Original Philippine Commission on Human Rights statement on Manila City Gov’t

Philippine Star Piece reporting on initiation of original report

Posted in Advocacy, Gender Rights, Organization, Press Releases0 Comments

FF Podcast 63: Paint Their Hands Black?

FF Podcast 63: Paint Their Hands Black?

This week, we talk about the Bench billboard that showed a gay couple holding hands and how it was censored.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Freedom of Expression, Media, Podcast, Society, Video0 Comments

#JeSuisCharlie

#JeSuisCharlie

The Filipino Freethinkers unequivocally denounce the recent violence that befell the people of Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France. We uphold that speech, however offensive it may seem, should not be met with violence, as protected under freedom of expression. The spirit of this principle is captured in the words of Evelyn Beatrice Hall, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

We offer our deepest sympathies to the bereaved.

cyberscooty-jesuischarlie-remix

Les Filipino Freethinkers condamnent explicitement la violence récente qui est arrivée aux gens de Charlie Hebdo à Paris en France. Nous faisons respecter que l’expression, si offensante soit-elle, ne devrait pas être affrontée avec la violence, comme protégée par la liberté d’expression. L’esprit de ce principe est capté dans les mots d’Evelyn Beatrice Hall, « Je désapprouve ce que vous dites, mais je défendrai jusqu’à la mort votre droit de le dire. »

Nous offrons nos sympathies les plus profondes aux endeuillés.

 

Nous sommes Charlie.

#JeSuisCharlie

Posted in Advocacy, Freedom of Expression, Organization, Press Releases2 Comments

FF Podcast 59 (Audio): UK Bans Kink Porn

FF Podcast 59 (Audio): UK Bans Kink Porn

FF Audio Podcast 059: UK Bans Kink Porn

This week we talk about the United Kingdom’s plans to ban kinky porn, including but not limited to displays of female ejaculation and face-sitting. We also discuss some BDSM basics with an honest-to-goodness BDSM practitioner.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Posted in audio podcast, Entertainment, Freedom of Expression, Society0 Comments

Men are Cheaters; Women are Gold Diggers (Part 1 of 2)

This article was inspired by a post on the Filipino Freethinkers updates and announcements Facebook group page. One group member casually asked the question, “If all the single men and women left are either philanderers or gold diggers would you look the other way, commit to them and live in delusion because you don’t want to die lonely? Or would you stay single forever?”

The scenario, in my opinion, forces us into what we might call a “false dilemma.” For one it implies that one must “commit” to someone in order to not die lonely, and that loneliness is the reason for why people choose to be in a relationship. But that’s beside the point.

What I found interesting was my own interpretation of the question. I’m not sure if it was intended by the person who posted, but it seemed to me that when the person said “philanderers,” he was referring to the single men; and when he said “gold diggers,” he was referring to the single women.

This is a common association a lot of people make: Men are cheaters; women are gold diggers. I felt that these were rather unfair generalizations. However, I don’t make conclusions based on what I “feel.” I decided to take a quick look at the available information on the subject.

Upset TeenagersDo men cheat more than women? Quick answer: yes. Is it because men are inherently “philanderers”? Nope.

Zach Schonfeld, in a report for The Wire from 2013 writes that, “Wives Are Cheating 40% More Than They Used to, but Still 70% as Much as Men.”

According to Schonfeld, “According to recent data from the National Opinion Research Center’s General Social Survey, American wives were nearly 40 percent more likely to be cheating on their spouses in 2010 than in 1990. The number of husbands reporting infidelity, meanwhile, stayed constant at 21 percent, meaning wives are now cheating 70% as often.”

There are many theories as to why women are, as it seems, suddenly deciding to cheat. Some think it’s because of increased female independence. In other words, women can now afford the consequences of having an affair.

Other people attribute this rise to the cultural shifts happening due to the Internet. There are actually extramarital meetup services like, Ashley Madison, to help facilitate such endeavors.

Schonfeld reports that the data from Ashley Madison confirms the trends revealed by the survey:

“The ratio of males to females is greatest among users older than 65, with 14 men for every woman. The ratio is 4-to-1 among users in their 50s, 3-to-1 for spouses in their 40s, and evenly divided among people using Ashley Madison in their 30s.”

In other words, those whose culture have been influenced by Internet trends, and whose career options and access to resources are not as limited by their sex, are as equally likely to cheat. As the economic gender gap between men and women closes, so does the “cheating gap.”

Based on this information, I think that the reason why men seem to have a higher tendency to cheat is not entirely because of biological reasons (although there are correlations), but rather because society is more permissive of male cheating.

For one, men, especially in the past, often find themselves economically equipped to deal with the consequences. Secondly, when men cheat, they are not publicly shamed as much as women are. At the very least, men are not stripped naked and beaten senseless in public like the poor girl:

CEN_ConcubineBeating_03.jpg

 

In part 2, we’ll take a closer look at the myth that women are “gold-diggers.”

 

Image Sources:

Image 1: https://veronicagraham.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/cheater_1.jpg

Image 2: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2791108/mob-rule-chinese-adulteress-stripped-naked-beaten-senseless-latest-attack-kind.html

Posted in Gender Rights, Science, Secularism, Society0 Comments

FF Podcast 58 (Audio): That Abstinence Video

FF Podcast 58 (Audio): That Abstinence Video

FF Podcast 58: That Abstinence Video

Are you a bobo boy or a gaga girl? This week, we talk about the Department of Health’s abstinence dance video.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Posted in audio podcast, HIV/AIDS, Politics, RH Bill, Science, Society0 Comments

FF Podcast 58: That Abstinence Video

FF Podcast 58: That Abstinence Video

Are you a bobo boy or a gaga girl? This week, we talk about the Department of Health’s abstinence dance video.

You may also download the podcast file here.

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast feed

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers podcast on iTunes

Posted in Advocacy, HIV/AIDS, Podcast, Politics, Religion, RH Bill, Society1 Comment

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