condoms

Journalism as barbarism

Image of World of Warcraft orc by Flickr user Snowball1210. Used under the terms of a Creative Commons License.
Image of World of Warcraft orc by Flickr user Snowball1210. Used under the terms of a Creative Commons License.
The furor that continues to rage around the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) exhibition “Kulô”, and specifically Mideo Cruz’s installation Poleteismo, one of the works featured in said exhibition, has taken the form of a battle between blasphemy and censorship—an unfortunate development, in my view, as both positions seem predicated on a clear-cut, straightforward duality between how the public has responded to the work and how it ought to respond to the work. Whether the situation will shape-shift into something more capable of accommodating a greater, more complex range of possibilities remains to be seen, but that it has been reduced to such crude terms can be attributed in part to the manner that the mass media thoroughly maltreated the relevant issues.

It is highly likely that this ruckus would not have swelled to its current proportions—might never have happened in the first place—had Pinky Webb, host of the ABS-CBN current affairs show “XXX”, refrained from framing Poleteismo, diminished to its details, as a commentary on the contentious RH Bill. (The sense of the verb “frame” as pertaining to false incrimination is useful here.) As someone who has seen Poleteismo for himself, I find that interpretation completely untenable: the only element of the work that could be said to have a connection to the bill would be the condoms, and I saw no compelling reason to draw that connection—not least because the proposed measure is concerned with more than just prophylactics.

But the burden of the blame for the frenzied character of the dispute is not only for Webb, “XXX”, or ABS-CBN to bear. Understanding, no doubt, that anything related to the controversial piece of legislation would serve as a reliable magnet for rapid, even rabid, reactions, which would then translate into increased ratings, several prominent members of the fourth estate wasted no time jumping into the fray in order to whip the public into a state of hysteria.

Granted that these journalists might have been offended by the installation themselves, and were thus less motivated by profit than by piousness, their personal feelings do not excuse or exempt them from their responsibilities as gatekeepers of information. What could have been a teachable moment—that art can be unbeautiful and demanding; that any work has to be experienced in its entirety before being judged; that approval of a thing is not a necessary prerequisite for engaging or understanding it; that the production of transgressive images has a long (art) history; that the CCP has mounted similarly challenging exhibitions before; that the male genitalia in cultures past and present are emblematic of the divine; or that “Kulô” had 31 other, perhaps richer, offerings—was instead exploited for its explosive potential.

Surely there is a world of difference between calling public attention to alleged offense and sensationalizing said alleged offense to the point of extremism. Yet instead of sounding a call to careful contemplation and sober reflection, broadcasters and columnists, with monstrous insouciance and bestial impunity, presumed to think, speak, and act on behalf of their readers, listeners, and viewers. In the process, they did not only betray—as well as encourage in their audience—a false sense of entitlement to spew opinions, no matter how baseless, but also they fueled and inflamed various fears that served as barriers to dialogue, including, among others, iconophobia, homophobia, and phallophobia. (The last could be an especially interesting area of investigation for sociologists and anthropologists, considering that at least half of the outraged commentators are male and presumably have penises of their own.)

Two particularly appalling examples of the foregoing come to mind. The first is “‘Artist’ daw, binaboy si Kristo” a piece in Abante where entertainment reporter Marc Logan passive-aggressively suggests the different ways that a lynch mob of ostensibly devout Catholics could deal with Cruz—by beating him up, stabbing him, hanging him, throwing him into a creek, forcing him to drink muriatic acid, or shooting him—and warns the artist against seeking assistance from the media. The second is “Art as terrorism” a Philippine Daily Inquirer editorial that, though exponentially more intelligent than Logan’s article, contains a tacit apologia for the vandalism undertaken against Poleteismo—not to mention a nearby, unrelated painting, Love to Move by Lindslee—and, by virtue of its title, performs the callous and insensitive rhetorical maneuver of trivializing the indescribable shock and trauma with which any experience of terrorism is bound up, while at the same time implying that Cruz’s installation requires a radical riposte.

Given that both articles clearly intend to stage a defense of the Catholic faith and faithful, is the appropriate, ethical response to Cruz’s supposed symbolic violence the incitement of further violence? Will Abante, Philippine Daily Inquirer, or any other media outfit hold itself accountable should any of the threats that have been made against the CCP, its officers, and Cruz—threats apparently grave enough to warrant the closure of “Kulô”—be carried out?

The media community should take its cue from the arts and culture sector: this is as good a time as any for its denizens to begin the task of taking stock, of questioning themselves and their practices, and of upholding the emancipatory values on which such practices are founded. “The practice of journalism,” as the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) declares, “involves the use of power: the power to influence the way people look at themselves, their societies, and the world; the power to help shape the attitudes and values of others; and the power to help liberate men and women from the shackles of ignorance so they may exercise their sovereign human right to decide their destinies.” This power should not be used to perpetrate and perpetuate barbarism.

*This article was slightly modified on 15 August 2011, 4:50 AM (GMT +8).

Ayala Alabang secedes from the Philippines

By Robin M.S. Sage

Reports of condom sniffing K-9 units seen patrolling Ayala Alabang

The Barangay (village) council of Ayala Alabang is embroiled in a new controversy. It just became the first in the Philippines to secede from the Republic. The Barangay council prompted to act after Interior and Local Government Secretary Jesse Robredo’s statement calling on all local government officials to refrain from enacting ordinances that prohibit the promotion, sale, distribution, and purchase of contraceptives such as condoms and pills.

“This is harassment!” An Ayala Alabang council official, and spokesperson Mike Insal declared. The council held an emergency closed door meeting way into the night. Early this morning, after a marathon session, the Barangay spokesperson announced their “declaration of independence.”

“When in the course of human events,” Insal began, “it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands, which have connected them with another, and to assume among the People’s of this Free Earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of God, entitle them.  We hold this truth to be self-evident that all men are created by God.  That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the People  to alter or abolish it, and institute new Government.  We so now declare that the village of Ayala Alabang shall now henceforth be the Holy Republic of Ayala Alabang.”

The Council also declared that their government shall be Ecclesiastical sacerdotal-monarchial, with the Archbishop of Ayala Alabang as its head of state. The position has been offered to the President of the CBCP, but as of this writing the bishops have not replied to the request of the secessionist group.

Following the announcement the Secessionists took possession of Sports Utility Vehicles, and began taking possession of all drug stores in the former village.

Condom sniffing K-9 units have been called into action!  K-9 units have been sniffing for condoms all over Ayala Alabang.  All those in possession will be charged with illegal possession of an abortifacient, and will be subject to 1 year in prison, and 50 lashes.

The Alabang Council also ordered all security guards to patrol the perimeter of Ayala Alabang.  Scores of refugees began leaving the once and former village.  The religious were seen onboard SUVs, chanting prayers.  The village council declared that for now, a state of martial law is in effect.

The President meanwhile is en route back to Manila from his trip in Iloilo when news of the secessionists reached him. The Palace has announced that helicopter gunships have been patrolling the skies over Ayala Alabang. A marine detachment is standing by to intervene on the order of the President.

 

MISCELLANY: Whether or not Alabang has truly seceded from the Republic or just gone bonkers is less the point than whether Alabang should secede from the Republic. The reasons behind such secession is especially harmful to the gullible. The fading Catholic Church (according to Wikipedia, it claims to be infallible when teaching dogmatic faith or morals) has once again found refuge in the Philippines, where church leaders have found it far more convenient to keep parishioners mangmang than let them have the God-given free will they themselves preach, so Jose Rizal wrote about this 100 years ago. Unfortunately, the country’s greatest columnist believes we Filipinos are the most gullible people on earth. And so on and on it goes.

 

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About the author
Robin M.S. Sage – Robin Marie Sanchez Sage is a single, 24 year old Filipino American computer specialist currently on sabbatical from pursuing a doctorate in Biological Engineering at MIT. She graduated from Oxford’s University of Cornwall-Somerville (UniCornS) with a degree in mathematics and computer science. She is open to first dates, but wimp boys need not apply. And oh, she is currently living with her German Shepard named, Fluffy.

 

The Daily Roundup: 28 January 2011

Tetangco given second 6-year term as BSP governor | Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—President Aquino has given Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco a new six-year term after the end of his current tenure in July, Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda said Thursday night.

Fed gives BSP room on rates | BusinessWorld

THE US FEDERAL RESERVE’S decision to maintain its policy rate at near zero supports the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas’ (BSP) current stance of keeping its own rates at a record low, the central bank chief yesterday said. “The Fed move relieves some pressure off the consensus that has been building up that the US economy is at a pace of recovery which may lead the Fed to change its policy stance, and the effect of such development on inflation expectations and portfolio rebalancing out of EMs (emerging markets),” BSP Governor Amando M. Tetangco, Jr. said in a text message yesterday.

US monetary authorities cautious on recovery | BusinessWorld

Inflation fears overblown | BusinessWorld

‘P50-M send-off gift for Reyes’

Colonel explodes bombshell in Senate | Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—A retired lieutenant colonel on Thursday made a surprise appearance at the Senate and disclosed how he and his ex-bosses allegedly amassed wealth, with a large portion of the loot taken from soldiers’ salaries.

Angie: I’ve never been corrupt | Philippine Star

Massive corruption in AFP traced | Malaya

No need for Palace to draft new RH bill–Lagman | Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—There is really no need for Malacañang to draft a new responsible parenthood bill for endorsement to Congress as a consolidated bill with identical provisions is now on third and final reading at the House of Representatives, according to Minority Leader Edcel Lagman.

Witnesses recall death fall from Makati building | ABS-CBN News

MAKATI CITY, Philippines – Images of human bodies bent and broken like ragdolls are haunting witnesses and emergency workers who were among the first to respond to a construction site accident in Makati City on Thursday.

Economic officials head for Japan to pitch projects | BusinessWorld

ECONOMIC OFFICIALS will leave for Japan on Sunday in a bid to drum up interest in six key sectors pushed by the Aquino administration as well as promote public-private partnership (PPP) projects, officials said yesterday. Trade Secretary Gregory L. Domingo said he will be joined by Finance Sec. Cesar V. Purisima, Energy Sec. Jose Rene D. Almendras and a Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) official, who BSP Investor Relations Office Executive Director Claro P. Fernandez identified as Deputy Governor Diwa C. Guinigundo, on a visit to Japan from Jan. 30-Feb. 2.

Economy expected to grow by 5.2% in ’11

Hike in key rates may take place in Q4 | Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines – The global economic crisis is pushing more people into poverty, and the picture is even more grim in developing countries like the Philippines, according to the Asian Development Bank.

UN agency sets new guide in fight against high food prices | BusinessWorld

ROME — The UN’s food agency published a guide on Wednesday for policy makers in developing countries to help address negative impacts of high food prices but said there was no one solution for all countries effected. The Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warned countries to carefully reflect before launching into policy actions that may appear useful in the short term but could be harmful in the long term.”The experience of the 2007-2008 food crisis shows that in some cases hastily taken decision by governments to mitigate the impact of the crisis have actually…aggravated its impact on food security,” Richard China, head of FAO’s Policy division, said in a statement.

Aquino says Filipinos’ innate talent fuels nation’s progress | Manila Bulletin

MANILA, Philippines, Jan. 27 (PNA) — President Benigno S. Aquino III cited the innate talent among Filipinos, particularly their creativity which, he said, fuels the progress of the nation. In his keynote address during the 13th Cycle Philippine Quality Awards (PQA) Conferment Ceremony on Thursday at the Rizal Hall of Malacañan Palace, the Chief Executive noted the Filipino workers’ natural talents that make them exceptional among others in the world.

Aquino should take opportunity for Charter change — Marcos | Manila Bulletin

By MARIO B. CASAYURANJanuary 27, 2011, 7:00pmMANILA, Philippines — President Benigno S. Aquino III has all the chances of seeing the 1987 Constitution amended during his six-year term with the people believing he is not personally interested in any changes after stating he won’t run for office again, according to Senator Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr.

Bishops will fight HIV, but won’t endorse condoms | Malaya

ARCHBISHOP Angel Lagdameo, president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, yesterday said the Church has told the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) that it would be lending a hand in the fight against the disease by focusing mainly on the social aspect of the problem.

Daily Pill Greatly lowers AIDS risk, study finds

Donald McNeil Jr., for the New York Times wrote:

In the study, published Tuesday by the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that the men taking Truvada, a common combination of two antiretroviral drugs, were 44 percent less likely to get infected with the virus that causes AIDS than an equal number taking a placebo.

But when only the men whose blood tests showed that they had taken their pill faithfully every day were considered, the pill was more than 90 percent effective, said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, head of the infectious diseasesdivision of the National Institutes of Health, which paid for the study along with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“That’s huge,” Dr. Fauci said. “That says it all for me.”