Mindanao Times » Jhoanna Lynn B. Cruz http://mindanaotimes.net Tue, 25 Sep 2018 16:00:42 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.25 Lugar Lang: The stragol is trifling http://mindanaotimes.net/lugar-lang-the-stragol-is-trifling/ http://mindanaotimes.net/lugar-lang-the-stragol-is-trifling/#comments Wed, 19 Sep 2018 01:50:50 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=62267 ]]> Let’s face it. Most of us have, at one point or another, made fun of someone’s use of a language, and not just English. My own children make fun of the way I speak Binisaya, saying it is “lain paminawon” or hard to listen to. I never feel offended by this observation. And it doesn’t stop me trying. I think journalist Raissa Robles was genuinely surprised when a Twitter frenzy arose from her seemingly innocuous tweet on September 11: “Duterte just now said that the communists are engaged in ‘armed stragol’.” She didn’t see it coming.


She was inundated with replies offended by her insulting the Bisaya communities because she is a Tagalog and from (imperial) Manila. She was accused of making fun of the “accent” of all the Filipinos from the Visayas and Mindanao who speak Cebuano or dialects of Cebuano by pointing out the way the president from Davao pronounced the word ‘struggle.’ I silently witnessed the brutal exchanges, shaking my head, especially when the DDS trolls jumped in with their usual barrage of meaningless ad hominem attacks not even related to the issue. I commiserated with Robles, who had to explain that she did not intend to offend the Bisaya communities, and even later apologized for her tweet.


To be honest, I myself cannot stand listening to any of Duterte’s speeches. Yes, because of his diction in English, which is so distinct, I can barely understand it. I wish news coverages would provide subtitles for him. But more so because of the substance (or lack of), which I always disagree with entirely. Not to mention the violent misogyny he spews, and which the adoring crowd laps up and even applauds. It is excruciating to witness. So I agree with the Twitter user who was surprised at the “faux outrage” inspired by the tweet of Robles, but not by the rape jokes attributed by Duterte defenders consistently to ‘Bisaya humor’.


Why the outrage over diction? Why did those people, especially those who noted that they were not supporters of Duterte, suddenly identify with him in his struggle with the schwa in English? The fact is, no Filipino languages have the schwa sound naturally, so when we encounter it in our second language, English, we enunciate it as a full vowel, /stragol/ or /stragel/, depending on our first language. Only those who have won the struggle of neutralizing their regional accents for some pragmatic reason or other will pronounce it in the standard way. But what a trifling matter, this unstressed syllable.


What is not a trifle, on the other hand, is how language is in fact connected to cultural identity. All language users draw pride and strength and power from the distinct ways that we use language: accent, vocabulary, discourse patterns. It gives us a sense of belonging and social importance when we use the language of our community. In fact, Filipino-Canadian entertainer Mikee Bustos (among others) has built his entire career on making fun of the peculiar “Filipino accent” and culture as it plays out abroad in immigrant communities. And don’t we find him adorable? (Or is it just me?) We know we don’t all speak that way or think that way as Filipinos, but we like the idea that we get the joke. We belong. And he is able to make fun of it because he, too, belongs.


The so-called Bisaya outrage against the Robles tweet arose from the sense that Robles is an outsider who just doesn’t get it, thus ascribing to her the intention of “cultural totemization,” by which one dominant language group imposes its standards on others. It is totally overblown, I think. But it is also possible Duterte deliberately uses this distinct ‘Bisaya accent’ in order to assert his cultural identity and show solidarity with the greater number of Filipinos who do not speak Filipino as a first language. But if this were the case, I really wish he would just do his speeches in Binisaya, instead of English. It really doesn’t make sense for a Philippine president to deliver his addresses to the nation in English anyhow. And for those who don’t understand Binisaya, the PCOO can simply and immediately publish online an English translation.


Speaking of which, where is the public outrage against the latest video posted by Assistant Secretary for Communications Mocha Uson featuring Drew Olivar mocking sign language? The deaf community has spoken up about how offensive and discriminatory the video is, where Olivar uses monkey sounds to mimic the sounds deaf/mute persons make when they communicate and even signs profanities. Shouldn’t the rest of us be speaking up in outrage over this, instead?


Follow or message me on Twitter @jhoannalynncruz



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Lugar Lang: Inflation for dummies http://mindanaotimes.net/lugar-lang-inflation-for-dummies/ http://mindanaotimes.net/lugar-lang-inflation-for-dummies/#comments Mon, 10 Sep 2018 16:00:19 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=61934 Read more ›]]> Yesterday my daughter, who is in Grade 12, asked me to explain inflation and why the current 6.4% rate is alarming everyone except the staunch (or blind) loyalists. I admit I told her to ask a tita with an Economics degree so she’d get accurate information. (It takes a village, after all.)

Then we saw Secretary Ernesto Pernia of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) say in the news that there’s no need to worry and that the situation is still manageable. And I realized that the deluded economists in government are part of the problem; one doesn’t really need to have a PhD in Economics to see the country’s dire economic state clearly.

If the economic managers continue to deny the problem, the government will continue on the downward spiral it is taking all of us in. Sadly, this administration has been consistently presenting altered news and misinformation from key social media “influencers” and other spokespersons to manage its image. Much like Marie Antoinette saying, “Let them eat cake” to the impoverished people. But the reality on the ground will speak for itself and no amount of false assurances will put food on the table. And no, it’s not because we are lazy that we are poor.

To be honest, the only thing I remember from Aggregate Economics class in college was my seatmate, who was the real reason I came to class. I got a low grade and deserved it, too. I didn’t know at that time that I was actually in love with a woman for the first time, and I expressed it by laughing at every side comment she made about imports and exports. Our professor probably thought I was laughing at him. So sorry for the aggravation, sir. Those were the days. But I assure you that I do understand inflation better today than when I was a giggly college girl. And I hope you have stopped smoking because your local Marlboros, which cost P25 at that time now costs P90 per pack. Am sure you know why. Read my lips: excise taxes.

Anak, inflation is defined as “the rate at which the general level of prices of goods and services is rising, and consequently, the purchasing power of currency is falling.” You could have Googled that yourself. What I know for sure is that the nine-year-high inflation rate of the Philippines was not caused by Trump. And that while global factors like the price of petroleum does affect inflation because the Philippines relies mainly on importing these products, the government cannot wash its hands of accountability. Solely in the government’s power is putting a halt to the additional excise taxes on petroleum that it has been collecting since the passing of its pet tax reform program, TRAIN this year. It doesn’t take a college degree to see that when oil prices increase (or decrease), it has a snowball effect on the prices of basic commodities.

Economists who are not in the government payroll have pointed out various ways by which the Duterte administration can alleviate the impact of inflation on the ordinary consumer. JC Punongbayan lists stopping the next rounds of TRAIN tax hikes on petroleum, reviewing the “Build, Build, Build” infrastructure program to lessen the amount of imports of raw materials like iron and steel in order to narrow the trade gap and strengthen the peso against the US dollar, and directly addressing the rice crisis by importing more and distributing more quickly. Those are well within the purview of government.

What is less obvious is managing people’s expectations and behavior. Punongbayan culls this insight from a recent IMF study that showed how the increased demand caused by panic buying and hoarding does drive prices higher by depleting supplies unnecessarily, among other effects. Yet this can only be done by those who have the means to buy (and the space to store). What about the rest who survive on a limited budget for daily living expenses? Let them eat cake? Or as Duterte put it, “Magtiis kayo sa hirap at gutom, wala akong pakialam?”

Perhaps the best illustration of the effect of this inflation rate is indeed our own groceries. Yesterday, my P2,000 went only to two bags, not even including chicken, of which there were no more stocks. And sorry, we can’t afford to take a taxi home either, because what used to cost P250 now costs P400, which can instead go towards purchasing about seven kilos of bukbok-free rice this week. And that, anak, is all you need to know for now.

Follow or message me on Twitter @jhoannalynncruz

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Lugar Lang: Time to call out your Tatay D http://mindanaotimes.net/lugar-lang-time-to-call-out-your-tatay-d/ http://mindanaotimes.net/lugar-lang-time-to-call-out-your-tatay-d/#comments Tue, 04 Sep 2018 01:25:26 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=61673 ]]> I’ve been thinking about family lately. Every time I lose my househelp in Davao City, I come unhinged. It’s not the housework, really.

It’s more about not having anyone to stay with my children, who are still minors, when I have to travel. Well-meaning friends say, “But don’t you have relatives who can stay with them while you’re away?” Nope, no relatives in Davao or neighboring towns. It’s just my children and me.

It’s a consequence of choices I’ve made. My freedom was more important to me than a family network that I had to please in exchange for support. I had hoped I would find a partner and friends that I could rely on in emergency situations, and sometimes I did. Ultimately it’s just me and my wonderful kids, who are independent and low maintenance. I wonder though if they sometimes consider me a burdensome mother.

The thing about family is that we cannot abandon it. Or at least we shouldn’t.

That’s why even though I’ve been estranged from my husband for 10 years, we still see each other when he visits the children every year. We have each learned to adjust to this unconventional family, because that’s what we need to do. Couples may break up but we don’t break up with the children. If we were truly a family.

And that’s probably why those who consider President Duterte their father—“Tatay Digong”— continue to stand by him despite all the consequences of his foibles. See for instance his own biological daughter, Sara, who despite her own confession that she had been raped continues to accept his cold response that he doesn’t believe her, calling her a “drama queen.”

She even defends his consistent ‘jokes’ about rape, the latest of which reflects her own governance of Davao City. The city’s “Tatay Digong” dismissed the high number of rape cases in Davao as a consequence of its many beautiful women, and his daughter defends him by asking, “What have you done to help?” It is a weak “Tu quoque” fallacy, which deflects attention from the main argument by focusing on the opponent’s seeming hypocrisy and inability to solve the problem. Clearly she misses the point critics are making about how the president’s misogynistic remark pins the blame on the victims and perpetuates rape culture.

Moreover, it shows a childish response to a societal problem that is in fact, the responsibility of her office, not the audience. It prompted some locals to reply that we have indeed done our part by paying our taxes so that she can do her job. And by the way, those of us who called out the sexist remark have also done our part by not committing any of those rapes. Yes, I know I’m fighting a fallacy with a fallacy. In these times where nothing makes sense anymore, we fight with what we can.

“Kaya pa ba?” We ask those who remain loyal to their “Tatay Digong” and his administration after listing the various forms of suffering we are all facing: inflation is at an all-time high, large volumes of drugs are still being shipped into the Philippines, China is taking over the West Philippine Sea, weevil-infested rice is being forced on us, imported galunggong fish is flooding the market, the Marcoses are back in power, Mocha Uson is still alive and kicking. “Kaya pa ba?” Can you still take it?

Is that what family means? Always accepting and making excuses for the mistakes of our members, especially our parents? I’m not saying abandon your loyalties just because someone’s promises have not been fulfilled. But I do hope there is a time when being family means seeing each other clearly and demanding that we make things right.

Follow or message me on Twitter @jhoannalynncruz

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Lugar Lang: The chief injustice of it all http://mindanaotimes.net/lugar-lang-the-chief-injustice-of-it-all/ http://mindanaotimes.net/lugar-lang-the-chief-injustice-of-it-all/#comments Mon, 27 Aug 2018 16:00:35 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=61418 Read more ›]]> Writing this piece on National Heroes Day begs the question: in this dastardly Duterte administration, what good is it for them to commemorate heroism?

Every day in this country we see only (blind) loyalty to those in power rewarded; those who continue to fight for justice are sent to jail or otherwise persecuted. Thus, the president’s statement on Ninoy Aquino Day to “reflect on his sacrifice as we honor the courage and patriotism that Ninoy demonstrated during his struggle” sounds like mere lip service. And his suggestion that this serve as guidepost to “our current leaders in government as they advance the welfare of our people, especially the oppressed and marginalized,” the biggest irony.

Two years into his term, Duterte has proven consistently that the “oppressed and marginalized” and their welfare are not high on his priorities. Instead, we are seeing #BayadUtang schemes materialize before our eyes in such a way that isn’t even shocking anymore. Regardless of qualifications, most of the celebrities who had campaigned for him have now been appointed to various high-profile government positions. Many loyal local officials or staff members from Davao City have also been rewarded with various positions in the national government, with all the concomitant benefits. But no matter how much we harp on the lack of delicadeza of these people who accept their appointments regardless of credentials, we cannot change the fact that they do seem to be having the time of their lives.

As the controversially incompetent Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson reiterates, “They can say whatever they want, basta I’m here doing my job for the president!” But nobody really can ascertain what job she is doing for him. And that is the kind of b*llsh*t we are being forced to accept in this administration. Imagine the collective damage that can be caused by all these incompetent appointees whose only qualification is how well they kowtow to the orders of their big boss. To top it all off, we are paying for all their salaries and other benefits with our taxes.

Of course no one can take a bigger cake than the newly appointed chief justice of the Supreme Court: Teresita de Castro. She’s trending in Twitter and she deserves it. She’s being called “Cheap Justice,” “Chief Injustice,” “MisChief Justice,” and even though I normally would consider name calling verbally abusive, I understand that this is probably the only way some of us can feel better about a situation we cannot change. We think if we can call it names, we have power over it. Better yet, a viral meme of the enemy—my favorite of which is de Castro’s face morphed into Gollum from “The Lord of the Rings.”

Does she deserve the vitriole? For serving the Court since 1973, it seems only fitting that she be appointed chief; as Duterte himself explained, his choice was based only on seniority. In fact, it seems like poetic justice that she replace the ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, who had been appointed instead of her, who was next in line based on seniority in 2012. And because of the Quo Warranto voiding Sereno’s appointment, de Castro is now being called the first female chief justice of the Philippines. But with de Castro’s track record of votes in the current dispensation, it is not difficult to see her appointment as a reward for her service: in favor of the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the arrest of Senator Leila de Lima, the constitutionality and extension of Martial Law in Mindanao, and the ouster of Sereno.

Whether #BayadUtang is true in her case or not, the facts are clear, she will only be serving as CJ for 45 days (thirty days of which she could take officially as a terminal leave to prepare the paperwork for her retirement). With such a short term, what kind of judicial legacy can she leave? For her to accept the appointment shows us what she is: she is there for the prestige and the financial retirement package that comes with it. According to a post by Ding Velasco, this package will cost the Filipino people an additional Php1.8 million plus an additional Php12,000 per month for her pension until the day she dies. Clearly a reward, but not for service rendered as chief justice. This one is not cheap, either. It cost her integrity.

That said, what we must watch out for now is who will be appointed after de Castro retires in October. That one might be able to do the real damage.

Follow or message me on Twitter @jhoannalynncruz

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Lugar Lang: Cayetano as a battered (running) mate http://mindanaotimes.net/lugar-lang-cayetano-as-a-battered-running-mate/ http://mindanaotimes.net/lugar-lang-cayetano-as-a-battered-running-mate/#comments Mon, 20 Aug 2018 16:00:29 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=61230 Read more ›]]> Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte announced that he is tired and will step down if he is assured that Senator Bongbong Marcos or Senator Francis Escudero will succeed him. Aside from the blatant unconstitutionality of the statement, the public was not particularly shocked by his open support for the son of dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Even during the campaign, he had mentioned admiration for the elder Marcos and it is clear now that he is batting for the same team that plundered the nation and set a world record.

But people also noticed that Duterte did not even mention Alan Peter Cayetano, who is currently secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and was his running mate in the 2016 elections. To which Cayetano replied, “I don’t know why he didn’t mention me, and it doesn’t bother me. Whenever he mentions possible successors it is simply what was on his mind at that particular time, and I respect that.” This prompted the Superficial Gazette to tweet that Cayetano is in an abusive relationship because: “ginagago araw-araw, hindi na mahal ng partner, alam na marami itong kabit, puwedeng makipaghiwalay anytime, pinipili pa ring magstay.”

True enough. In fact, you could say the same of the way Duterte treats the Filipinos. Fortunately, many former supporters of Duterte have since realized that the change he had promised in the campaign was not forthcoming, and have broken up with him and “joined the resistance.” But many others, like Cayetano, stay with the abuser because they don’t know where else to go. Or maybe they still appreciate the benefits of the abusive relationship. For instance, their positions in government and other opportunities, which may never come again.

To help them gain clarity about their situations, here are some patterns of abuse and how to respond.

PATTERN 1: “The interaction which upsets, hurts, or confuses her is unexpected.”

It seemed that all was well in their relationship because Cayetano was appointed as DFA secretary, which is a powerful position indeed. They also agreed on such serious matters as China’s encroachment on our territory. He has been obeying the president dutifully. Then suddenly, he is not even in the anomalous vision of succession.

PATTERN 2: “In some way she is isolated…from their own families or from like-minded friends.”

Because of Cayetano’s subservience to Duterte, his father, former Senator Rene Cayetano, who used to chair the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, may be turning in his grave. On the other hand, he is probably now closer to his sister, Senator Pia Cayetano, who, like him, continues to serve at the table of Duterte. Cayetano’s flaccid stand on our “dispute” with China on the West Philippine Sea has surely isolated him from Filipinos who demand that we assert our sovereignty over the matter.

PATTERN 3: “Her mate defines her, the relationship, himself, and most often, the upsetting interactions.”

That’s self-explanatory. After this relationship with Duterte, which he sealed when he agreed to run as his vice president, no one will see him for what he is. People will only see that he was used by Duterte, who doesn’t even think highly enough of him to include him in his fantasies. And now that Duterte has shown the public what he thinks of him, Cayetano even accepts and justifies it. He can take comfort in the benefits of his position as DFA secretary anyway.

It’s tragic. I want to empathize with the battered persons in this administration, like I do battered women. But really, I can’t wait to see what will happen to these lackeys if Duterte indeed does not finish his term and the constitutional successor Vice President Leni Robredo takes over. Meanwhile, if you suspect you are in an abusive relationship, please seek help. Better yet, get out of there quickly!

Source: Evans, Patricia. The Verbally Abusive Relationship (1992).

Follow or message me on Twitter @jhoannalynncruz

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Lugar Lang: How to deal with flooding http://mindanaotimes.net/lugar-lang-how-to-deal-with-flooding/ http://mindanaotimes.net/lugar-lang-how-to-deal-with-flooding/#comments Mon, 13 Aug 2018 16:00:36 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=61049 ]]> Only after 10 years of living in Davao did I learn the Binisaya saying, “Kapugngan pa ang baha, dili ang biga” through famous last words by a woman angry enough to make this judgment.

I wondered then about the values of this community I had chosen to rebuild my life in with my children. Because where I come from, we know we can surely stop lust; it’s the floods that we have no control over.

I grew up in Pasay City, which has always been notorious for regular flooding and narrow streets. By the time I left in 2005, it had gotten so bad that two hours of constant rain even when there is no typhoon brought flooding inside our house. We were fortunate to have a second floor, but I had gotten tired of bringing our stuff up and down each time there was rain. I had grown too traumatized from going to sleep at night and waking up in a flooded bedroom. I was finished with Pasay City. There must be a better option, I thought. And there was no turning back.

Davao is not in the usual path of typhoons in the Philippines. I didn’t believe it but living here showed me that it was true. While we have also begun having massive flooding in certain areas, I still feel grateful that most of us enjoy relatively easy monsoon seasons, characterized normally by rain in the evenings and sun in the daytime. In fact, sometimes I feel guilty watching news of flooding in other areas of the Philippines while we hang our laundry out in the sun to dry.

With the recent flooding in Luzon and the National Capital Region (NCR) brought about by Typhoon Kardo, news outlets have tried to bring hope by featuring the so-called “resilience” of Filipinos during times of disaster.

A photo of a man smiling while walking in a chest-deep flood in Marikina and captioned, “The Filipino Spirit” has actually backfired, with many netizens expressing disappointment at the message being promoted, asking whether this resilience is meant to excuse the inefficiency of the government. The feature adds, “Filipinos are known for their resiliency especially since the country is hit by more than 20 typhoons every year.” One would think that knowing this, the government would have done something about the situation. But disasters hit various parts of the country year after year, and we still aren’t seeing sufficient preparedness.

Another feature being replayed in news programs and shared widely online is the wedding held in a flooded church in Bulacan. In his Facebook post, a friend of mine captioned it, “Mapugngan pang baha, di gyud ang gugma.” There the saying went again. But at least this time it wasn’t meant to be insulting. But shall love really save the day? Does being able to wade through murky floodwaters in a wedding gown make the marriage bond stronger? Will it stop the expected flooding and other disasters throughout the year, year after year?

Environmental planner and mapmaker David Garcia tweets, “no amount of drainage work/trash cleanup/megaproject/relocation/planting trees/hard work/positive thinking can save us if we fail to define and address the flooding problem systematically and with a social justice perspective.” To substantiate this, he also posted diagrams based on disaster resilience and vulnerability models by Wisner, et al, suggesting that a systematic approach must look at disaster in a wholistic manner, examining “root causes, dynamic pressures, unsafe locations” vis-à-vis various hazards. Let’s hope someone in power notices the fact that some people have studied the matter seriously. Or should we ask Garcia to compose a jingle instead?

Meanwhile, #NasaanAngPangulo is trending on Twitter. I wonder why they’re looking for the president. What can he do anyway if he and his disaster team haven’t already done it? Is he some kind of hero who can swoop down and blow the floodwaters out, or turn it into wine? Clearly the hashtag is trending simply to point out the terrible inefficiency of the Duterte administration, as symbolized by the absence of its leader, who has consistently shown disdain for the poor and marginalized.

Where is President Duterte indeed? He’s in Davao, where the sun is out and the durian is laid out on the streets for Kadayawan festival this weekend.

Follow or message me on Twitter @jhoannalynncruz

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Lugar lang | Speaking from and for the heart http://mindanaotimes.net/lugar-lang-speaking-from-and-for-the-heart/ http://mindanaotimes.net/lugar-lang-speaking-from-and-for-the-heart/#comments Tue, 24 Jul 2018 01:51:00 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=60554 ]]> I forgive you. And you. And you. Yes, you, too.

In the spirit of President Rodrigo Duterte promising he will speak from the heart in his third State of the Nation Address (SONA), let me speak from mine. Never mind that Spokesperson Harry Roque and Special Assistant Bong Go did not agree about what the speech will contain.

By the time this piece is published, we will have all found out who was right. And what Duterte’s heart said aside from his usual message, “F**k you all.”

Many disgruntled netizens asked, “Does he even have a heart?” Surely none of us has the right to judge. And I’m sure the physical exam he took the day before the SONA proved he does have one. Nothing like an instrument like an electrocardiograph to prove the existence of someone’s heart. That’s what got me interested in the HeartMath system.

Last weekend, I participated in a seminar dubbed, “The Heart Connection and Human Potential,” facilitated by Rowena Ebdani-Suarez. I was interested in the HeartMath promise that there is a scientific way to activate the heart in such practical applications as stress management and creativity. There wasn’t any math involved, but she did have an instrument that measured heart activity to show that the meditation techniques actually worked. It’s a system for the doubting Thomases of this world, who need to see and touch before they believe.

In these highly ‘triggering’ times, each of us must find a way to quiet the heart so that we can stop the release of the stress hormone cortisol and prevent the long-term diseases caused by it. Also, there must be a way to stop the aggressive energies we feel when we scroll through our social media news feeds (aside from totally giving it up). HeartMath does provide these easy and quick techniques that can help save our relationships. The secret is “heart coherence,” which is achieved “when the heart, mind, emotions and body are all working in sync.” Through this, we are able to quickly take charge of our emotions and maintain a calm composure even in the heat of the moment. Practiced consistently, we won’t need to use the #triggeredt anymore.

But on a deeper level, when we are triggered by things, situations, or people, it is because we are carrying around a whole lot of garbage in our hearts. So much inner drama from our past relationships and experiences that we continue to hold on to in the process of grasping for control in this chaotic world. Our HeartMath batch was blessed to have in company four pranic healers, one reiki healer, one cranio-sacral healer, an anthroposophist, and some medical professionals, who all brought into the safe space what they knew about keeping the heart coherent.

At the end of the seminar, and as an unexpected gift, Arhatic yogis and pranic healers Karen Horton, Dinah Tolentino-Fuentes, and Maya Vandenbroeck performed pranic psychotherapy healing on me to help me break through what was blocking me in my work and my life. I am myself a pranic healer, but I have not taken this particularly advanced module, which aims to treat the root causes of illnesses. Like many alternative healing modalities, we believe that physical illness has its root in emotional ‘dis-ease,’ which can be addressed directly at the energetic level.

Having gone through very difficult relationships (including with my mother), I knew I needed it. Sure enough, my healers found dark energies congesting my chakral system, some of which were the negative emotions I had been holding on to for so long. They cut the energy cords still connecting me to the past offenses. And I chose to forgive. It’s not enough to ‘unfollow’ in the digital or real lives. I let you go. I set myself free.

No healing system promises a panacea, but I am grateful to have this pranic psychotherapy option to add to the other ways I am learning to heal myself from within. If you are suffering from depression, anxiety, grief, addiction, or doing a PhD, you are not alone. Visit the Mindanao Pranic Healing and Training Center on Palma Gil St. Or you can book a session online confidentially at pranichealing.com.ph.

If you are interested in learning the HeartMath system, another run will be held in Davao on August 25-26. For details, contact 09175700790.

Follow or message me on Twitter @jhoannalynncruz

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Lugar Lang | What would you have done? http://mindanaotimes.net/lugar-lang-what-would-you-have-done/ http://mindanaotimes.net/lugar-lang-what-would-you-have-done/#comments Wed, 18 Jul 2018 01:17:03 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=60339 ]]> I ADMIT it. I have failed you. I had the opportunity to change the course of events but I didn’t. I just sat there, imagining what I could do. By the end of dinner, I realized I never had any power in the first place in that situation. I sat in a restaurant in Bonifacio Global City at a table beside Imee Marcos for two hours and allowed her to live.

I confess I am still imagining what I could have done. I wanted at least to tell her, calmly, “Isoli mo ninakaw niyo,” referring to at least $13 billion the Marcoses had plundered from the country during the Marcos regime. Even though I know it wouldn’t have made her feel guilty and return any of their ill-gotten wealth, I wanted her to know that I was not on her side. But even when we bumped into each other at the restroom, I didn’t say anything. I was afraid.

In my passive-aggressive mode, I also wanted to take a photo with her to be able to turn it into a meme of protest. Or even steal a photo of her. But my companion wouldn’t allow it. She thought it would be embarrassing to be seen taking a photo with Imee Marcos. Come to think of it, she was right. If I wanted to make a meme, I could just download an existing photo. I didn’t have to stain my reputation. Instead we took 147 selfies of ourselves just to make the point that we didn’t want to take a photo with her. And that made her look. At least.

Being in that small space with the daughter of the dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos filled me with rage. I wanted to confront her about her blatant lie that she was “batang-bata” or too young to know anything during Martial Law. I wanted her to know that I knew she was 21 years old in 1977 when the college student Archimedes Trajano was tortured and beaten to death by her bodyguards after asking her a question about why she was chair of the Kabataang Barangay youth organization. I wanted to tell her there is no “moving on” for the thousands of human rights victims during her father’s Martial Law until justice is truly served. That no amount of compensation can give back the dignity of the more that 75,000 claimants documented by the Human Rights Claims Victims Board. And what of the more than 3,000 lives lost? Their family has not even acknowledged all these abuses, and they continue to exert efforts (and provide funds) to revise history.

She sat there, idly fiddling with her churros con chocolate and her smartphone, while in my head I recited the different brutal forms of torture employed by military interrogators: electrocution, water cure, dunking the head in a toilet bowl full of urine and excrement, hanging like a bridge between two cots and being beaten, being used as an ashtray, being made to lie naked on blocks of ice, rape, sexual degradation, solitary confinement, etc. I imagined her being made to suffer the whole boodle. I wondered if she would have felt true remorse for the Martial Law atrocities after that. I confess I didn’t think so. And it is clear to me that that is not what justice means.

I shot glances at her butch bodyguard across our table and I wondered what she would do if her boss were attacked with a table knife. But I don’t suppose that has ever happened. Imee Marcos has begun doing the rounds in the country, being the “guest of honor” at various commencement exercises spewing empty speeches about nation-building and peace, and no one has ever attacked her. Lately she even went around a market in Quezon City, pretending it was within her jurisdiction to inspect prices. I wonder what her security did to all the butchers’ knives in the area.

I am sorry I didn’t do anything in that restaurant. This piece is my way of rectifying it. After all, this is the only way I really know how to fight back. Please don’t vote for her when she runs for the Senate. #NeverAgain

(Source: Robles, Raissa. Marcos Martial Law. Never Again. Quezon City: Filipinos For a Better Philippines, Inc. 2016.)
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Lugar Lang | Selfies with God http://mindanaotimes.net/lugar-lang-selfies-with-god/ http://mindanaotimes.net/lugar-lang-selfies-with-god/#comments Tue, 10 Jul 2018 16:00:14 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=60114 ]]> As usual, I didn’t want to make patol because it’s so cheap, but here I am, engaging that Duterte issue of God’s existence and stupidity. I think it’s my Catholic schoolgirl that feels she has to stand up for God, unlike Peter who denied it three times. Yet I also know my God does not need to be defended. And that Peter became a saint despite his failings. But because he dared anyone to show him a selfie with God and promised to resign, here are mine.

SELFIE 1: In this selfie, I caught God creating the world. Don’t ask me how, but that’s our first lesson in catechism: Who made you? God made me. As a child, I simply accepted that a supreme Being created me and everything else in the universe. As an adult, I learned about the Big Bang theory and evolution, and yet I still believed in the Creator (but I abandoned hardcore creationism). The First Cause. Why not? If you can’t disprove it, then don’t disbelieve it. It’s the cosmological approach to God’s existence. In fact, many agreed that the obvious proof that God exists and is stupid is that this same God created Rodrigo Duterte.

SELFIE 2: In this one, I caught God watching with amusement as I pored through books seeking answers. I took up Philosophy as a minor in college, and learned about ontology and epistemology and existentialism, all big words that raised more questions than answers. They say that part of every person’s identity crisis in the teenage years involves questioning God’s existence. When I was 13, I was deeply involved in our parish church’s efforts to renew the faith of Catholics in response to the growing numbers of “Born-again” Christians. I went to Mass every day, doing various services like offertory and reading, I sang in the choir, I participated in “Life in the Spirit” seminars. I memorized Bible verses and bought paraphernalia from this little Christian bookshop in Makati.

Then I went to college and realized how foolish it was to swallow religion without thinking. So I studied God enthusiastically, reading the old philosophers Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, and those who were against: Kant, Hume, Nietzsche, Russell. I admit I was more compelled by the arguments of the Existentialists. I was 19, who can blame me? But even then I did not abandon my belief in God. I suppose John Calvin was right about sensus divinitatis—the innate knowledge of God despite the absence of proof. The Force was strong in this one, thank God. Later, I learned from contemporary philosopher Alvin Plantinga that this sense does not work properly in everyone because of the effects of sin. Proof of this can be Duterte himself.

SELFIE 3: In this one, God is laughing at me asking, “Are you there, God?” every day since the beginning of the Duterte administration. S/he is laughing because of the irony that the worse things get, the closer the faithful cleave to God. In these desperate times when evil seems to reign, some of us may lose faith, asking for instance, “If there is a God, why does s/he allow all these unjust killings?” On the other hand, these same times make some of us more steadfast in God because WTF, what else can we believe in? Soren Kierkegaard was right: the fact that God’s existence cannot be proven makes it necessary to us, requiring the “leap of faith.” I am now not surprised that the word “cleave” means both ‘to split’ and ‘to stick’. The difference lies in which death-defying leap we are willing to make.

Because in these times of selfie-or-it-didn’t-happen, it will happen. The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines has reached out with a message of peace and rejoicing despite the blasphemy of this narcissistic president who thinks he is God. But the Catholic schoolgirl in me prefers to believe that the Old Testament God is still out there, waiting to smite the evildoers. The image of fire-and-brimstone is sheer poetry for me. It keeps me going.

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Lugar Lang | Yes to Ligaw-Tingin http://mindanaotimes.net/lugar-lang-yes-to-ligaw-tingin/ http://mindanaotimes.net/lugar-lang-yes-to-ligaw-tingin/#comments Mon, 02 Jul 2018 16:29:07 +0000 http://mindanaotimes.net/?p=59771 Read more ›]]> Still reeling from Pride Month activities and energy, and as a kind of post-script, I delved into a world a barely understand—komix—through the new anthology, Ligaw-Tingin published by the independent and progressive Gantala Press. I came to learn about the book only because I was attracted to the cover painting with the same title by Katrina Pallon, which I had chanced upon in Twitter early this year. Through her, I learned about this komix collection of lesbian stories, the first one in the Philippines. I eagerly awaited the copy I had ordered, which finally arrived the day after my birthday. What an unexpected gift it was.

It is balm for a broken heart. Described by editor Emiliana Kampilan as seven komix “ng pagnanasa at pag-ibig na kitang-kita sa pagsulyap, pagsipat, at pagmasid ng babae sa kapwa babae,” the stories rely on exactly the idea of ligaw-tingin, literally “courtship with the eyes” or better yet, the look of love. While traditionally, women have been viewed in art with the objectifying male gaze, female artists have continually subverted this oppression by asserting their own gaze at themselves or each other. It is an act even more powerful when a lesbian artist wields it, if I may say so myself. Kampilan adds that this look is “nakayayanig, nakaliligalig, at nakakakilig.” It jolts, troubles, and thrills. For that alone, I would say, “Yes.” But for me, for a woman to look upon another woman with love is to somehow heal wounds by seeing.

The provocative stories by Patricia Ramos, Joanne Cesario and Michelle Bacabac, Jasmin Sambac, Betina Continuado, Nikki de Chavez, Trisha Sanijon, and Emiliana Kampilan use the language of komix deftly to explore varied aspects of lesbian love. While I found myself struggling with the tropes of a genre that I am not familiar with, it did not hinder my appreciation for the tension between what is said and unsaid. While Kampilan had earlier described komix as an art without pretense, it certainly remains an art, as well as a way to shape consciousness. I was surprised to see, initially through this anthology, how the genre demands more from the reader. And how can we not oblige?

What Ligaw-Tingin achieves is not so much the easy satisfaction of a clear narrative arc in the pieces, but the opening up of possibilities between the characters. This can be glimpsed in the revisioning of myth, in the melding of past and present, in the power of women’s laughter, in the effortless dance between real and fantastic or otherworldly. This merging of two worlds is initially expressed physically in the lesbian world through the accidental or deliberate touching of hands, a gesture which is highlighted in two of the stories in the book.

In her introduction, Kampilan asserts, “Rebolusyonaryo ang pagtingin ng babae: mapagpalaya, nanunuyo, nagbibigay-lakas. Sa madaling salita: nanliligaw…At kung may inaangkin man ito, wala nang iba kundi ang kalayaan at kapangyarihang magpalaya sa sarili at sa kaniyang kapwa.” In this, she firmly places the female gaze in opposition to the male in our patriarchal world, as well as asserts the role of art in the fight for freedom from various forms of oppression. Thus, the anthology joins other feminist works in an ongoing revolution to liberate and empower women, and sexual orientation is only one of the aspects of the larger struggle.

I clearly have much to catch up on in the genre. And maybe I don’t have to. But the first komix anthology published by Gantala Press has surely done its job. Ito ang matamis kong “Oo.”

For orders, directly email gantalapress@gmail.com.

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