My Predominantly Catholic Country Perpetuates Rape Jokes and Rape Culture

Here are a few things you should know about the religions in the Philippines.

  1. We take pride in being the only Christian nation in Asia
  2. 86 percent of our population are Roman Catholics
  3. 6 percent are Christian
  4. 2 percent are Protestant
  5. 4 percent are Muslim, and
  6. 2 percent follow non-Western, indigenous beliefs and practices

Source: Center for Global Education, Asia Society

Here are some things you should know about the modern culture of the Filipino people:

  1. We are still pretty conservative: although more and more young couples live together before/without getting married, they are still subject to gossip, mostly in the province. Our parents still expect girls to be virgins until they are married, a bun in the oven before the wedding is still frowned upon. Young millennials, despite their more liberal outlook, still attach themselves to the culture of pretend chastity thrust upon them by their parents.
  2. We abhor anything religion adheres as wrong: We are the only country in the world that does not allow divorce, other than the Vatican. Domestic abuse cases be damned, you’re going to be married to an apparent abuser for life. Not really, there’s annulment, but annulment and divorce are two very different, very messy things.
  3. Our society is stricter than our “liberal” Pope: Earlier today, the Pope announced that he’s extending indefinitely the power of Catholic priests to forgive abortions (CNN) but here, never EVER admit to having one, even for a good reason. Abortion is illegal in the Philippines, too, the only excuse being if the pregnancy is a risk to the mother’s life. So yes, if you get raped, you can’t legally abort the child of your rapist.

Speaking of rape…

Long before Rodrigo Duterte became our president, and long before Donald Trump said that “grab the pussy” remark, the Philippines as a nation have been very candid about rape culture.

In fact, for a country that’s almost backwards in its Catholicism, we’re more than okay with making rape jokes and harassing women and LGBTIQ on the streets.

So no, non-Duterte folks can’t put that on him. Although I am not sure if it’s just gotten worse because of how he portrays himself in public. I’ve actually seen girls cry as of late because of men wolf-whistling them, or harassing them on the streets. And no, they are not really being subtle about it.

I even heard a man tell a girl once (probably a high-school or college kid) to sit on his lap, baby, because the jeep is already full. It was horrifying. The sad part? This is an everyday occurrence.

Have you ever been told by your own parents not to ignore the men who catcall you on the street and just be nice to them because offending them might lead to worse things for you? I have. And I still refused to smile at any men who whistles or catcalls to me or my friends.

For all the “friendliness” of the Filipinos to foreigners, they rarely extend it to their own. And I used to think this happens only because a vast number of our population are uneducated, but apparently, that is not the case.

The 2016 Political Turmoil

This year had been particularly noisy in its political aspect. As a non-partisan, I found that I was actually waiting for particular issues to hit for me to force to take my stand. Early this year, I found that I am the only one in my family voting for my president. She may have already gone on, but my respect for her remained unceasing.

Post-election, doubters remained doubters, a massive number of supporters became practically fanatics, while some lost their confidence in the president they voted for. (I tend to talk to taxi drivers especially when we get stuck in traffic, and a few of those who I spoke with actually used the term “regret”, but like I said, SOME.)

Then, there was the issue about former president Ferdinand Marcos being buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery).

I applaud the projects done by the Marcoses under their regime, I do, but I also do not believe that he has to be buried at the LNMB because, well, first and foremost, he was a dictator who was ousted from office due to the thousands of human rights violations that was done during the time of the Martial Law, not to mention taking away the freedom of speech that most people enjoy today.

The fight between the pro- and anti-Marcos groups, however, elevated far too much and far too fast — and the heated argument has become quite violent online. While I won’t toss this off as the norm, there are a lot of them — online and off — that we can’t call them a “small” minority either.

Take a look at some of these misogynistic comments:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FMadamClaudiaAko%2Fposts%2F1812454819009990&width=500https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FMadamClaudiaAko%2Fposts%2F1811915879063884&width=500Okay, those are pretty vile, but what does religion have anything to do with it?This is where I bring back the statements regarding the religions in the Philippines. Remember the Ten Commandments?

In the Exodus 20:14, it was outlined as one of the commandments:

“Thou shalt not commit adultery.”

Remember that adultery applies to a person having sex with another while married. Besides, as explained in the gospels, Jesus Christ himself affirmed the statement, adding in Matthew 5:28 that:

“But I say to you, anyone who looks on a woman to lust after her
has committed adultery with her already in his heart.”

Maybe this new law, if passed, could be the answer to this problem:

https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FCNNPhilippines%2Fposts%2F1818845428355348&width=500

Not a safe space

Again, not a generalization. I have friends and know so many people who have been raised right and are also fighting for the rights of women and the LGBTIQ community, but this is the Philippines that I see today:

I live in a country of misogynists, where harassment of women is tossed off as “boys will be boys” and that we have to be responsible for myself so as not to get raped.

I live in a country where parents teach girls to hide their bodies, and to not exert our beliefs, in order to keep “men” from sin.

I live in a country where attacking women and threatening us with rape when they cannot argue with their logic is perfectly logical.

Remember, we, women have more than enough on our plates without machismo privilege adding another notch of the things we have to burden ourselves with.

We are a country that cries Christianity without our sense of humanity.

There has to be something wrong with that.

PS in case the embeds don’t work here are the links as they appear:
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Love Your Tatas 2016

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Question: Why would a person in her twenties be supporting a cause like breast cancer awareness?
Answer: Well, I don’t know if it’s obvious to you, but I have breasts.

Breast Cancer Facts:

Breast cancer affects as many as 99 in 100,000 women in the US alone, and numbers vary greatly. According to the Philippine Society of Medical Oncologists in a report from 2013, the breast cancer is so common that one of every 13 Filipino women are expected to develop it in her lifetime.

Breast cancer is also the most common cancer in the Philippines, with at least 16% of all the 50,000 cases of those diagnosed with cancer, according to a 2010 estimate. It is also the leading cause of cancer among women, and accounts for 28% of their total cases.

One in four women diagnosed with breast cancer die within the first five years, and 40% and above die within a decade.

Although it is highly treatable and have as high as 80% survival rates in developed countries like the US, Canada, Sweden, and Japan, these numbers decrease greatly depending on the income of the country. I live in a third world country, so survival rates here are pretty low.

People at Risk

The chances of getting breast cancer increases as age increases, so the older you get, the more likely it is for you to develop the disease.

However, there are also other factors other than age, for instance, family history. The risk is higher for women who have relatives who also had the disease, and if said relative is a close one, like a mother, sister, or daughter, then the risk doubles.

Some women develop benign breast conditions like atypical hyperplasia in their younger years, and unfortunately this also means that there is an increased risk for breast cancer.

Of course, lifestyle also plays a part: being overweight is also said to increase the risk of breast cancer, as does alcohol consumption, although exercise is said to seemingly lower the risk of the disease.

Photo Credit: Elyse-xo.tumblr.com

Signs and Symptoms of Breast Cancer

The American Cancer Society noted that in the early stages, breast cancer does not show symptoms, especially if the tumor is still small and easily treated, which is why it is necessary to follow recommended screening guidelines.

Once the tumor is large enough to be felt, it can be seen as a painless lump, but there are times that even before the original breast tumor is large enough to be felt as a lump, the cancer already spread to underarm lymph nodes, which can cause lumps or swellings as well.

Other signs include breast pain or heaviness; persistent changes to the breast such as swelling, thickening, or redness of the breast’s skin; and nipple abnormalities like spontaneous (possibly bloody) discharge, erosion, or retraction.

That’s scary, but what can we do?

Well, the breast cancer awareness campaign is a start.

If you’re a woman in her thirties or forties, you should start getting your annual screening and testing. Breast self examinations (BSEs) are a start, but there is a lot that you could miss — or there is a lot that you can overthink, so get a clinical breast exam as part of your regular checkups.

If you’re at a higher risk of getting breast cancer, think of getting an MRI and a mammogram every year.

Remember that breast cancer is not one, but several different kinds of diseases, so each treatment is individualized, and your case is likely different from that of someone you know.

Think Pink.

Love your tatas.

Save your boobs.

And So I Kept Living

It’s that time of year again. Suicide prevention was a cause that I thought I fought for from way back in high school. It wasn’t until five years ago that it became real to me.

Five years ago, a person whom I loved very much tried to take his own life. I have been doing my part — or I thought I was — to help stop suicide prevention, but it was more of a mechanical thing. It wasn’t until someone I loved tried to take his own life that suicide, depression, and all these things became real to me. Death may put you six feet under, but it will leave the people who love you wounded, and reeling from a devastating loss.

It certainly changed me. I didn’t know what broken felt like until I saw it in front of my own eyes: first in the eyes of a person I loved, and second, in the eyes of a person who wanted to save a broken boy — who left her in shatters.

It’s been five years, and I’ve seen different versions of soul-crushing brokenness. In a girl who didn’t feel she can be loved. In a girl who can only see darkness. In a boy who felt he needed to prove himself.

In a girl who lost herself in the process of trying to save others.

We feel the weight on of the world on our shoulders sometimes. And often, it’s heavier than what we think we can carry. But we’re still here. We’re still alive. And the world is a messed up place. Beautiful, but messed up. Still, it’s our world. And it’s our life.

And so we keep on living.

 

“Wannabe” Gets an Awesome Remix

So Victoria Beckham shared this song from when she was a Spice Girl — and it was remade to empower women.

Okay, if you’re a 90s kid, this was totally your jam (in a rather inappropriate way) but this remake video as a move to end violence against women and children, as well as a call for equal rights — this made the song that more awesome.

In case you did not get the messages because you were singing along, here they are:

END VIOLENCE AGAINST GIRLS

1

QUALITY EDUCATION FOR ALL GIRLS

2

END CHILD MARRIAGE

3

EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK

4

These are great messages, especially considering how many countries do not have these rights for women, and for people who have to remember that having these rights make them privileged compared to a significant number of women on the planet.

So what do you really, really want?

Let’s Stand Against LGBTQ Oppression

When will this hatred stop?

In the early hours of June 12, 2016, a gunman killed at least 50 members of the LGBTQ community in a place that they should have felt safe.

Love was supposed to win. Love should always win. So why is there so much hatred for a community that only wanted to be themselves in this world? If straight people have the right to be themselves in a world that set standards of beauty, intelligence, and status, why can’t we afford the same for those who already found who they are and only wanted to live their lives as they know and accepted themselves to be?

You may not agree with the LGBTQ community, but does that give you a right to take these lives out of hatred? Let’s stand against this pointless hatred against our fellow human beings. We are more than that.

#LoveAlwaysWins