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Tag Archive | "prejudice"

FF Podcast (Audio) 41: Alex Gonzaga and Anti-Atheist Bigotry


This week, we talk about Alex Gonzaga and her prejudiced rant on Pinoy Big Brother about atheists.

You may also download the podcast file here.

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Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) feed

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

Filipino Freethinkers Podcast (Audio) on iTunes

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Pride and Prejudice (and outgrowing both)

Racism has and will always be a hot-button topic, more so for anybody who has survived the infamous Jim Crow era of the United States.

From 1877 to the 1960s, African-Americans were treated as literal second-class citizens. They couldn’t vote, they couldn’t use any facilities reserved for Whites, and couldn’t shake hands with Whites. Given the heavy restrictions imposed on their civil rights, it’s no surprise that a gesture as small as refusing to sit in the back of a bus sparked a firestorm of civil activism.

Brief history lessons aside, how would you feel about going to a museum whose express purpose is of displaying artifacts from this era?

A former sociology professor has used his 2,000-piece collection of racist memorabilia to start a museum dedicated to the worst excesses of the segregation era. The exhibits range from a full-size replica of a lynching tree to a T-shirt that reads “Obama in ’08,” accompanied by a cartoon monkey holding a banana. On one wall, a poster shows four young black children sitting by a river, with the caption “Alligator bait.”

The objects “should either be in a garbage can or a museum,” according to David Pilgrim, founder and curator of the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia. The former professor at Michigan’s Ferris State University started the collection as a teenager in Alabama during the 1970s and donated it to the school in 1996. Now, thanks to donors, it has a permanent home in an exhibition hall on campus. The venue will have its grand-opening ceremony on April 26, the Associated Press reported.

To say the museum is awkward is an understatement. Taking this story into a more local context however, would you agree to setting up a local museum for racism, or prejudice, for that matter?

Personally, I’d love it.

Don’t get me wrong – I abhor bigotry of any color (no pun intended), and would love nothing more than to see the human race as a whole to outgrow it. However, I also strongly believe that for us to get past our prejudices, we will need to take a more critical look at out own history, and not just necessarily gloss over the triumphs that puts the fire in our nationalistic fervor. Less of a regurgitation of fairy tales, and more an unbiased eye to reality, if you will.

After all, NOT talking about the problem of LGBT discrimination hasn’t really helped spread awareness (DADT comes to mind), has it? And NOT talking about women’s issues certainly hasn’t done anything to help uplift their lack of access to medicines and other relevant services. If anything, pretending to be mum about these issues has only aggravated the problem. Not to mention that it leaves us incredibly onion-skinned when somebody does raise a stink.

Opening up discussions on our prejudices doesn’t necessarily mean we have to defend or justify them, after all. It can be as simple as us acknowledging that we’ve been ignorant over the matter of LGBT hate crimes, for instance, or that we’ve been insensitive pricks over women’s issues. It’s definitely going to be a very awkward first step to talk about our prejudices (let alone immortalizing them in a museum) openly, but then again, so was puberty, right?

Pinoys really need to realize that facing our own inner prejudices is a show of control: It means that we’re developing a mastery of our inner conflicts, and using our cognitive abilities to weaken decades of misconceptions and false assumptions. In martial arts-speak, understanding your own weaknesses and striving to correct them is a show of strength in itself.

Since I promised the presiding overlords to keep this short, I’m encouraging the readers to visit our FB page, or to post their two cents on the comments below.

As a parting note, here’s a question for you: If you could set up a museum for one particular type of bigotry in the Philippines, what would you choose, and what sort of memorabilia would you have on display?

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Why I Do Not Have School Spirit

There’s this blog entry that’s been making the rounds lately, entitled “What Ateneans Do Wrong after Graduating,” and the further I read the piece, the more dismayed I felt. And it’s not just because the author drops more cliches than Paolo Coelho writing Rick Warren a yearbook dedication. While it is grating to read someone dispensing advice like achieving success by working hard and being nice to your boss, as if this thought never occurred to anyone else in all of human history, it is unfortunately more grating that the author has the gall to address the entry to all Ateneans in general.

Among the red lights were:

“[Ateneans] NEVER would want to report to someone who came from a school which they think is too low for their standards.”

“ARteneans always expect job to be convenient.”

“He used to have the Atenean attitude of being so mayabang, complaining too much…”

“We Ateneans always want the SHORT-CUT.”

“We Ateneans, are SO opinionated that we believe so much our opinion would change the course of the world.”

“I hope I wouldn’t be bashed for this post. You know naman some Ateneans love correcting grammar and seeing faults on the opinion of others.”

She signed the end of the post with AMDG.

Spirited away

Now, if you think I’m going to continue this piece by defending the Atenean community with vigor, invoking my magises and halikinus over a blue and white flame, you are wrong.

I wasn’t irked by the fact that Ateneans were generalized so negatively. What irked me was that there was generalization going on in the first place, that some people continue to box others in according to what school they came from when, in truth, it is glaringly obvious that all people are different. No, I’m not naïve; I know full well that school spirit is a thing, and that for quite some time students from Ateneo, La Salle, UP, UST, and other relatively known schools have been bestowed with respective stereotypes. But it is the year 2012, and many undeserved stereotypes, from the impure homosexual to the hateful atheist, have become less potent.


Admittedly, the Philippines, in particular, does have a ways to go in terms of shedding these bigoted beliefs, no thanks to the likes of the CBCP and local mainstream media. But at least there are movements — composed of a goodly number of people, and gradually gaining public attention — that are dedicated to making such beliefs a thing of the past. Shouldn’t getting preferential treatment or being judged just because you came from a particular school — regardless of your accomplishments — be something worth eradicating as well?


Some may say this is going a tad overboard, arguing that such a bias could not possibly compare with the biases against one’s gender, one’s race, one’s religion or lack thereof, etc. They may argue that school stereotypes exist to encourage students to mold themselves according to certain lofty, worthy ideals, such as Ateneo’s “man for others,” or UP’s thrust for social change. But the problem I see with this is that it is unfair to automatically brand people with characteristics they may not necessarily have. Yes, there will be a few who will truly epitomize what it means to be a Thomasian or a La Sallian or what-have-you, but what about everyone else? Last I checked, schools don’t inject an instant school spirit serum that forces them to think and behave a certain way. Do you seriously enjoy having people make false assumptions about you once you’ve mentioned where you graduated from?


In certain ways, school spirit is very much like one’s religious beliefs. If you’re Atenean, does it immediately mean that you get chauffeured around in your daddy’s SUV? If you’re Muslim, does it immediately mean that you’re going to bomb the next person who draws a Muhammad cartoon? If you’re from UP, does it immediately mean that you’re a Communist? If you’re Catholic, does it immediately mean that you think wearing condoms means killing babies? We need to stop thinking like this. School stereotypes may seem quite petty compared to other stereotypes, but it is still very much part of the problem. It is still very much a sign of our tendency to close our minds and insist that we shouldn’t bother getting along with certain people.

Alma don’t matter

The last thing anyone should want is the inability to think and act for themselves because they’ve been branded a certain way from the start. Schools are supposed to open you up to the world, to introduce you to all its diversities and intricacies, and not to limit you or box you in. In the end, what school you came from does not, and cannot, define you. How you dissect, analyze, and apply the knowledge you’ve gained — from your school, from your loved ones, from your life experiences — is what does.

Images from and

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Hate Crimes: Definitions and a Call to Action

Over the past few months, the Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch has compiled records and reports of the violent deaths of LGBT Filipinos from 1996 to the present. As we continue to share these data with fellow LGBT activists and human rights advocates, we have encountered recurring questions, including: How do we know if these acts are hate crimes? What are hate crimes, anyway?

According to Preventing and responding to hate crimes,1a publication from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, an act can be considered a “hate crime” if it (1) “constitutes an offence under criminal law”; and if (2) “in committing the crime, the perpetrator acts on the basis of prejudice or bias.” Perpetrators of such crimes select their victims because of their negative opinions, intolerance or hatred towards the members of a social group on the basis of any of the following characteristics: race, ethnicity, language, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, gender identity or other status.

Hate crimes are also known as bias crimes. The U.S. Department of Justice Training Guide for Hate Crime Data Collection2underscores the role of bias in the following definition of hate crime: “a criminal offense committed against a person or property which is motivated, in whole or in part, by the offenders’ bias against a race, religion, disability, ethnicity/national origin, or sexual orientation.”

Stonewall UK’s publication, Homophobic hate crime: The Gay British Crime Survey 20083, presents yet another definition of hate crime taken from the UK’s Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO). It is: “any hate incident, which constitutes a criminal offence, perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by prejudice or hate.” The document further clarifies that “hate incident” is defined as “any incident, which may or may not constitute a criminal offence, which is perceived by the victim or any other person as being motivated by prejudice or hate.”

Unfortunately, our Pilipinas has neither official policies nor rigorous studies on the issue of hate crimes. Prejudice, bias, or hate towards any minority group (such as LGBT Filipinos, Indigenous Filipinos, Filipinos of Foreign Descent, Filipinos from non-major religions) are not at all considered when investigating crimes. The absence of an established mechanism in our country to prevent, identify, or resolve hate crimes does not mean they do not happen. It does mean that, if and when hate crimes happen to members of a minority group, the authorities do not recognize them and deal with them as such.

The alarming number of LGBT Filipinos who have been killed in recent years is strongly indicative that hate crimes may indeed be happening. As of this year alone, twenty-eight LGBT Filipinos have been murdered. Twenty-nine were reported to have been murdered last year. Looking at available reports for the past twenty-five years, we found that 103 LGBT Filipinos have been murdered from 1996 to the present.

The brutalities done to the murdered LGBT Filipinos also suggest that they were victims of hate crime. Thirty-six of the victims were stabbed multiple times. Six were tortured before they were killed. Others were raped, or killed with a blunt object, or suffocated, or dismembered, or burned alive.

It is important to note that hate crimes are not limited to murder. There may be an even greater number of crimes—theft, assault, rape–committed against members of minority groups because of the prejudice, bias, or hate against them.

Now is the time to uncover the truth. We call on our government to conduct a national inquiry on crimes involving victims who were known or perceived to be a member of a minority group, and to investigate the possibility that these crimes were motivated by prejudice.

The Philippine LGBT Hate Crime Watch is thankful to all its members, advisers, and supporters. We are also grateful for Rep. Teddy Casino’s call for a congressional inquiry on the murders recorded in the Watch’s database. That is a start.

But for this advocacy to succeed, we call on all elected officials,  individuals, advocates, and organizations who value human rights above all. People who will do all they can to protect, promote, and fulfill eveyone’s human rights without prejudice, bias, or hate against any sector or group. Despite all that divides us, we must unite so that all of us will live and grow in liberty, equality, and justice.

There is hope that the nature, occurrence, perpetrators, and targets of hate crimes in the Philippines will be better understood. Greater hope still that marginalized and stigmatized sectors of Philippine society will be protected and given justice when victimized. And this hope may come to fruition if all of us work together.

You may download resource materials on hate crime and human rights from this link:

[1] Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. (2009). Preventing and responding to hate crimes: A resource guide for NGOs in the OSCE region. Retrieved from

[2] U.S. Department of Justice. (1996). Training guide for hate crime data collection. Retrieved from

[3] Dick, S. (2008). Homophobic hate crime: The Gay British crime survey. Retrieved from


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