Watch Me Entertain Myself!

Sacha Guitry once said, "You can pretend to be serious, but you can't pretend to be witty." Oh yes, I'm the great pretender.
(pilot episode: 20 January 2004)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

On Marriage, Gay Or Otherwise

The remaining Fabcasters and members of the peanut gallery who were staycationing in the metro met up at Casa De CC last Holy Thursday to enjoy pizza, get drunk on wine and harder spirits, and shoot the breeze atop CC’s rooftop balcony. We even saw a double rainbow before we started seeing double, thanks to all that alcohol.

But sometime before everyone got too tipsy, CC posed a question for everyone: Do you believe in gay marriage? And will you marry your current partner?

In the next few paragraphs, I’m not out to convince anyone to think the way I do. I’m just stating what I believe and don’t.

I do not believe in happy ever after. Happiness isn’t a constant state that remains with you and your partner the moment you two make it official. One day it’s there, the next day, it’s threatened. Happiness is something that the individual chooses and that the both of you work on.

I do not believe in everlasting love. Everything ends in death. When the two of you die, what’s left is only the memory of the love—and perhaps an offspring, a pet, or a piece of property—shared.

I believe civil marriage should be made available to everyone who wants to enter into such an arrangement, regardless of sexual preference. I may not necessarily get married, but I want those who desire marriage the opportunity to marry.

Having said that, I prefer that divorce should be made available too. There must be a way to dissolve a partnership, especially if both parties agree to the dissolution. I don’t believe in the quote, “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” That quote is applicable only to the faithful. But why apply the same norms to non-believers? My eyebrows also fly off their handle when I hear the argument: “But divorce will weaken the institution of marriage by making divorce available even to the faithful.” First of all, the institution is still thriving despite divorce being available in almost all countries. Second, it is not the institution that’s weak; rather, it speaks more about the weakness of a couple’s faith should they allow themselves to succumb to divorce.

So will I want to marry D? Funny thing is, had I been asked the same question almost 3 years ago, when D and I first started out, my answer would have been no. But after hearing Suze Orman explain clearly the advantages and benefits of marriage, I revised my initial decision. Yes, so long as we can also opt out of such an arrangement.

As for those who point to their parents as shining examples of sticking it out through thick or thin, in sickness and in health, ‘til death do them part, I say, “Good for them. But again, not everyone will want that.

At the end of the day, it’s all about allowing personal choices and upholding personal responsibilities for making choices.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Horny Net

So there’s this new app targeted to gay men that wants to unseat Grindr. Hornet is available on both OS and Android, and its interface is easier to navigate compared to Grindr.

But what sets it apart from other gay hook-up apps is this:

Ooh yeah, a gay hook-up app with a conscience! Actually it just encourages you to know your status, a.k.a. have yourself tested. But going beyond it, it has a feature wherein you can announce your HIV status on your profile: positive, negative, or not sure. You also have the option to leave it blank.

So I take Hornet out for a spin, and so far it’s all very Grindr-like. But aside from a few who placed “negative,” most everyone kept quiet about their HIV status. How come? That led me to think of several possibilities:
  1. The person hasn’t taken the test yet, so he doesn’t know his status. But because he doesn’t want people to know that, he keeps it blank instead of declaring, “Not sure.”
  2. He knows he’s positive, but doesn’t want people to know.
  3. He knows he’s negative, but doesn’t want people to know.

In example #1, why would he prefer to keep mum instead of outright declaring, “I don’t know”? By stating clearly that he is “not sure,” he may give one of two impressions: (a) he’s scared of taking the test and knowing his status; or (b) he prefers to be ignorant because ignorance is bliss. One makes him look like a coward, the other makes him look stupid. Despite the fact that it’s very human of us to be scared or to be ignorant, most people will want to avoid being tagged as either.

In example #2, it’s likely that he’s afraid of the stigma associated with people living with HIV. Fearing such stigma from others, he chooses not to declare anything.

In example #3, perhaps he doesn’t want to flaunt his negative status. Or perhaps he doesn’t want to pressure others, thus he’d prefer to keep his negative status to himself. It can be seen as a form of humility, regardless of whether it’s genuine or misplaced.

Either way, I am disappointed though totally not surprised that many choose not to state their status. For the positives, perhaps it is not yet time, given the current stigma surrounding HIV. But for the negatives, it is an opportunity to encourage others that having themselves tested is both necessary and, given the opportunities for free testing these days, not a big deal. It also helps lessen the stigma if HIV is discussed out in the open, whether in local media or even in your smartphones.

What’s my take on all this? Until all the #3s start declaring their negative status, I will take the cautious approach and assume that everyone else is either positively scared or blissfully ignorant. And it’s still a personal responsibility to always play safe.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Many Sides Of Suicide

“UP student kills self over unpaid tuition.”

“Unable to pay tuition, UP student commits suicide.”

Those were two of the headlines that appeared online on March 15. Upon further reading of the news articles, and the subsequent stories that came out after, the following are what we can clearly establish:

[1] Kristel Tejada, 16, taking up Behavioral Sciences at UP Manila, was forced to file a leave of absence (LOA) because she could no longer pay her tuition fees.

[2] In an interview in The Philippine Collegian, official student publication of UP-Diliman, professor Andrea Bautista Martinez of the Department of Behavioral Science claimed that Kristel was extremely affected by her LOA. According to Ms. Martinez:
[a] “We texted each other and she told me how sad she was and how much her taking an LOA affected her life and her family.” [b] “Since February, she has not been going to school. She was always texting me, telling me she couldn’t handle the problem.” [c] “She was ashamed that she had to file a leave of absence and work to earn money and pay for her tuition in June.”
[3] Excerpts of the contents of a suicide note were revealed yesterday, March 17. The note was allegedly found in the pocket of Kristel’s pants. Most of the excerpts focused on love:
“I love my family very much, and all those who love me. I just could not take it anymore. I hope that they will forgive me and pray for me. Thank you for everything and we will see each other again. Sorry but I really need to do this. Remember: Without true love, we’re nothing.”
[4] In a press conference on March 18, UP Manila Chancellor Manuel Agulto, M.D. revealed that Kristel was unable to give supporting documents that would allow her to get to a bracket more favorable to her family’s financial situation.

[5] And according to records, UP Manila officials allowed Kristel three extensions to pay for her P6,377 student loan incurred during the first semester. The deadline for the payment was moved to Nov. 30, Dec. 7, and Dec. 19 after several appeals from her parents. That’s almost three weeks.

I personally am taken aback at how a lot of people have simplified the story: UP student is unable to pay tuition. UP forces her to go on LOA until she is able to pay for tuition. Student gets depressed and commits suicide. Therefore, UP caused her death.

Meanwhile, I like to ask questions:

[1] Did Kristel clearly mention in her suicide note why she was taking her life? What was she referring to when she said she “could not take it anymore”?

[2] Did the family allow the full contents of the suicide note to be revealed? If not, what were the stuff left out?

[3] Prof. Martinez’s statements are her personal conjectures. Sure, it sounds reasonable that Kristel’s anguish over her failure to enroll may have caused her to end it all. But is that the only reason?

[4] Prof. Martinez also said that Kristel “...was always texting me, telling me she couldn’t handle the problem.” Did Kristel actually mention suicide to Prof. Martinez, and did the professor do anything about it?

[5] The people who claimed that Kristel killed herself because she couldn’t enroll were Prof. Martinez and her parents. How are we sure that these people aren’t mistaken? Or worse, what if they have other agendas in mind?

[6] Why were Kristel’s parents unable to give supporting documents when such documents are essential to the application process? And why were they still remiss in paying for the student loans, despite three extensions given by UP Manila?

Suicide is a complicated issue. Sometimes it is not just one reason but a combination of several factors which can push someone to end her life. To simplify the cause to the failure to enroll is unfair. And for the media that initially reported the story using that particular spin, it was sloppy journalism and a downright irresponsible act.

It is understandable why people with agendas will use Kristel’s suicide as the impetus to question, reconsider, or review the Socialized Tuition and Financial Assistance Program (STFAP). And maybe STFAP is a flawed program that deserves to be improved. But let us refrain from saying that a flawed program and a school administration strictly following its rules should be blamed for a student’s suicide.

If you really want to point blame on someone’s suicide, remember that suicide is self-inflicted.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Random Musings At 47

Drift Would

It’s funny how easy it is to drift apart. Once your interests diverge, and your priorities become one’s option, it’s so easy to slip into “I’m not sure” and “Perhaps” and “I’ll see.” And from there the slope slides precariously. It’s true with hobbies, friends, and blogs. And the only thing that will keep you hanging on is your personal decision.

They say everything is cyclical; unfortunately that’s something beyond our control. Commitment, fortunately, is within our control.

Papa-Rape-Papa, Lab Ko ‘Toh

The whole Catholic world is watching as the conclave of cardinals convenes to convict, err, elect a new pope, just as the Catholic Church is reeling from being repeatedly rocked by scandal after scandal.

Ironic then that the CBCP still acts as if they have the moral high ground on all things—politics, sexuality, women’s bodies, etc. The Inquisition is so 1200-and-late. Man has already discovered the God Particle. And yet here in the Philippines, it seems like the Spanish friars are back. Who the hell do they think they are?

I’m not rooting for our very own Cardinal Tagle. No, I’m not being unnationalistic. He’s interesting, but I do wish a more forward-thinking priest be put in place. Wishful thinking, yeah, I know. In fact, I’m not even sure if such a priest actually exists. If the Church is to change from within, it’s going to take more conclaves and decades.

But I’m not waiting for that. I’ve moved on a long time ago.

Nearing 50

So in several years, I’ll be half a century old. Funny, it doesn’t feel like what I imagine turning 50 would be. My generation is definitely different from my parents’. I thought at 50 I’d be physically weaker, I’d look older, and I’d be less busy. Well, my body isn’t the same as it was 20 years ago, but I definitely am not sickly yet. And I’m busier than ever, although now my tasks have moved on from menial to managerial. Still, I don’t necessarily see myself as staying in this business or this company ‘til I retire—if I even decide to retire. I think I’d prefer to be busy until I kick the bucket.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

The 2013 New Year Fabcast, Part Two

Here is the second of the two-part Fabcast.

Here we turn hopeful and look to the future, as we also say goodbye and thank you to the year that was. We especially take note of all things new for 2013, from looking forward to new jobs to new investments, new friendships and relationships, and a new appreciation of the phrase “tempered exuberance.”

Music credits:

“Don’t You Worry Child” by Swedish House Mafia feat. John Martin
“Love Is Strange” by Everything But The Girl
“Gimme Hope Joanna” by Eddy Grant
“Why Do Fools Fall In Love” by Diana Ross and the Supremes