An Overview Of Kerima Polotan’s “The Hand of the Enemy”

An Overview Of Kerima Polotan’s “The Hand of the Enemy”

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Kerima Polotan’s book entitled “The Hand of the Enemy” is a story of a woman who realized she has to struggle as a daughter, a mother, a wife, and a woman. Emma Gorrez, the protagonist of the story, suffers from her relationships with men: her father, her husband and her employer who wanted to become her lover.  

In the first part of the book, the reader is introduced to the main character working in the city. She recalled the time when she was still in college, working to support herself because her father cut her allowance. It was a conflict between the father and the daughter and the first time she went home was when she was to attend her father’s funeral with her half brothers and sisters and her stepmother.

She applied for a job as a teacher in Tayug, a barrio, and there she met Mr. Rividad, a married man who confessed he loves Emma days before she got married to Domingo Gorrez. Mr. Rividad had a wife whom the people of Tayug considered a whore because she slept with different men but Mr. Rividad learned to mind the rumors no more and still accepted Norma as the mother of his children.

Another female character then enters the scene. Nora Cosio arrived in Tayug, causing much curiosity to the people, giving away free shirts to earn their votes for the election. She charmed the people and made friends with Emma and Domingo. Weeks after Nora Cosio went back to the city, Doming decided to live the city life and established a printing press to start a new living. But the business was a failure and their marriage too was in danger. But Doming never wanted to go home. It was their first major fight and Emma chose to go back to Tayug with her children.

Emma struggled to raise the children on her own and Doming would give them financial assistance every month. It was a fight she never expected that would lead the marriage to its bitter end.

It started when Doming seemed not bothered at all with the distance and he did not dare visit the family even once. And she, who could not endure such a distance, came to the city to settle the problems. But she never expected to see a woman in Doming’s apartment. The woman was younger than her and claimed to be Doming’s girlfriend. And it was the sign of the end of their married life. She bought home a jacket and some things for her kids, pretending they were from Doming’s.

She did not know how to cope with the breakup. Out of desperation, she went out with Mr. Rividad, whom she now called by his first name, Rene. But she could only show the same sympathy towards the marriage that they both suffered. And the story ended with Emma going home and Rene feeling so hopeless for his love for Emma. Marriage became each other’s funeral. Marriage gives authority for men to rule and for women to suffer.

The story did not only revolve around the main character’s life but also on the challenges of women characters in the story as well. Nora is portrayed as a whore because she is occasionally going out with different men and people began to misjudge her.  Nora, Mr. Rividad’s wife, is under the power of the phallus. She has conflicts with her relationship with her father, the same case with Emma. When she was younger, she longed for her father’s love and attention, but her father had been too distant with her. He went around with different women and she met different sisters and brothers from her father’s different wives.

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Hymn of the Thoughts of Men

Hymn of the Thoughts of Men

Food for the spirit rather than the yearning of the flesh or an act of spirituality, strengthening the ethics of morality and texts integrating religion and daily life and literature- such elements covered the features of the Indian literature. And the Hymn of the Thoughts of Men is definitely not an exemption. It involves discussions about the moral development of an individual and the realities of life.

The lines from the poem are suggesting an idea that the poet is setting his own parameters between the essences of the spirit than that of the mind. This fact is visible in the role of the kavirao [poet] in sustaining order in the world, thus, his poems should be the creations of what is right and moral. It actually follows the statement that “life imitates art”.

a_spirit

The poem is the translated version taken from the Rig Veda, which is the oldest section of the Vedas and the most sacred texts of the Hindu religion. Notice the influence of Hinduism in the development of Indian literature. This perception is evident in their poems [actually hymns], which directly concentrate in the essence of human nature. At the same time, such works subordinated the realms of human experience to the ethical ideals of dharma and the Hindu religious goal of moksha, liberation from karma and rebirth. Dharma is basically the Sanskrit for “duty” or “the right way to live.

The Indian philosophy could be related also to their own literature. It has broad philosophic questions—such as, “Why is the Veda sacred?”— which came to be addressed, and, in general, a realist view of nature (the belief that a world exists independent of the mind) and a common-sense view of knowledge (human beings know things by directly perceiving them or by deducing from other known things) become part of the basis of the philosophic system. Even to literature.

Chinese

Tao-te Chi

The right over left, God over Lucipher, male and female- these are the building blocks that structured the verbal communication of the Chinese which aids for the normalization of the society since it seeks to set things in place and to decipher the distinction that separates the line between good and bad. This is visible in the Taoist philosophy, the order and wisdom of individual life, and the way that this harmonizes with the universe as a whole. Chinese poets, in some point, adopted this philosophy and applied it in some of their poems. One poet, Lun Wen, suggested that your poem should emerge from your Qi because that would be the reflection of your cosmos, this is relative in the Taoist philosophy, the universal energy that makes and maintains everything that exists. Tao Te Ching expresses the basic beliefs of Daoist philosophy. It teaches the fundamental oneness of all things. It operates in terms of the opposing principles of yin and yang. These two principles or forces have combined in varying proportions to produce everything in the universe.

During the 4th century bc, naturalism offered an analysis of the workings of the universe based upon certain cosmic principles. The best known of these principles were yin and yang, which represented the interacting dualities of nature, such as female and male, shadow and light, and winter and summer.

The language of Tao Te Ching sets it apart from other works of Chinese poetry; it frequently employs poetic devices such as rhyme and parallel sentences.

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My BPI ePrepaid MasterCard Review

My BPI ePrepaid MasterCard Review

A friend who is living in a first world country was a bit shocked when I told her I don’t have a credit card. Then she started telling me how weird it is for people to survive without credit cards. Maybe she just overreacted.

Years ago, it was difficult to buy things online without credit cards. Paypal is another best option and here in Philippines, you can’t have Paypal funds unless you’re working for a US based company or your employer is a foreigner. One of my employers was an American and I was lucky enough to have Paypal funds. However, some sites won’t allow Paypal transactions, especially sites selling Chinese or Korean products. Before Zalora, there was Multiply and other Philippine sites that let you pay through Globe Gcash or bank deposits. I don’t have enough patience when it comes to bank to bank transactions. I don’t like long lines with a bunch of strangers – I feel obliged to smile and engage in small talks.

I like buying cheap tickets online though I don’t travel much. Cebu Pacific offers really crazy ticket prices. It’s a tough competition actually. You have to be quick in booking tickets. The website is always down and you need to have extra patience. Cebu Pacific accepts Paypal and credit cards so it’s convenient for those who have one.

I’ve always wanted to have my own credit card because I shop online. My friends didn’t really have good experiences with credit cards. As for me, I don’t like buying things on credit. Also, I have issues with money management so I have to stick to debit cards.

Last month, I got excited when I got my ePrepaid MasterCard from BPI. It’s a prepaid card and it’s reloadable, no credits. It’s definitely for those people who love shopping online. You can even use it when you buy at department stores or even supermarkets. It’s also possible to connect your card to your Paypal account so you can make an online purchase to sites that require Paypal accounts. You can also check your balance online or through text, making it easier for you to keep track of your money from time to time. The best thing about it is it guarantees 100% application approval so it’s hassle-free.

card

 
How to apply for BPI ePrepaid MasterCard (from their website):
 
I. At BPI Express Online
 
    1. Go to the Apply for products and services here
 
    1. Select Prepaid and Gift Cards
 
    1. Completely fill-out the BPI Prepaid Card Purchase Agreement form.
 
    1. Nominate a branch where you want to pick-up your card by clicking the Branch Locator button
 
    1. Click Submit
 
    1. Print-out a copy of the BPI Prepaid Card Purchase Agreement form.
 
    1. Bring the following to your nominated BPI/ BPI Family Savings Bank Branch, five (5) banking days for
      GMMA branches or seven (7) banking days for branches outside GMMA, Visayas and Mindanao after submission of card application:
       
        • Print-out of the BPI Prepaid Card Purchase Agreement form
       
        • Payment for the card processing fee (P500 for GMMA, P600 for outside GMMA, Visayas and Mindanao)
       
        • One (1) valid ID.
       
      Note: GMMA consists of NCR, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, and Rizal.
 
II. At BPI Branches
 
    • Visit any BPI Branch or BPI Express Banking Center nationwide.
 
    • Fill-out a BPI Prepaid Card Purchase Agreement form
 
    • Submit the BPI Prepaid Card Purchase Agreement form, present one (1) valid ID, and pay the card processing fee (P500 for GMMA, P600 for outside GMMA, Visayas and Mindanao) at the branch teller.
 
    • Claim your My ePrepaid MasterCard® at the same branch after five (5) banking days in GMMA or after seven (7) banking days outside GMMA, Visayas and Mindanao. Simply present your copy of the BPI Prepaid Card Purchase Agreement, and bring one (1) valid ID.
 
For more information on BPI credit card processing, BPI credit card application or other concerns, visit https://www.bpiexpressonline.com/
 
The Drawbacks
 

1. You can’t get your money back once you’ve transferred funds from your debit card to your ePrepaid MasterCard through ATM. That means over the counter withdrawal is not possible. And you can’t send the funds back to your debit account through BPI express online.

2. Your ePrepaid MasterCard funds can be viewed online since it’s connected to your BPI express account and as stated in their website, you can transfer funds from your debit account to your ePrepaid MasterCard account online. This is so not true. I went to the bank a couple of times to check and complain but I still couldn’t transfer funds online so I finally gave up. I already enrolled my BPI ePrepaid account but it’s still not added in my enrolled accounts so each time I plan to buy something I have to go to the machine just to transfer funds.

3. You can only book and buy Philippine Airline tickets with your BPI ePrepaid MasterCard. Sadly, Cebu Pacific is not included in the list.

Overall, I’m satisfied with my ePrepaid MasterCard. It’s a debit card that works like a credit card so it’s highly recommended for online shoppers like me.

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Why You Should Wear Dreamcatchers

Why You Should Wear Dreamcatchers

 

No matter how modern our ideas are, we still go back to old ideas, old beliefs though we live in different societies.

I grew up in a small town influenced by different stories about aswangs (vampire-like mythical creature in Filipino folklore), anting- anting (a Filipino word for “amulet” or “charm”) and other supernatural beliefs. Such stories evolved through the years, told and shared from generation to generation. Now, the aswang stories are gone. But our strong belief in the power of charms or amulets is still alive and we are consciously unconscious about it. We even buy golden frogs in Chinese stores for good luck. And dream catchers, in some cultures, could be a reflection of how humans feel the need to believe in something to survive, to adapt and to be at peace.

 

The History of Dream Catchers

 

Dreamcatchers (dream catchers) originated in some Native American cultures and adopted by other neighboring areas through intermarriage and trade. A dream catcher can be decorated with what they consider “sacred” such as feathers and beads. Ojibwe people created dreamcatchers to protect infants and sleeping people. They trap the good dreams in the web, filter them while bad dreams would stay in the net and would then disappear in the morning. While dreamcatchers hold symbols and meanings to most Native Americans, non-Natives started to copy dreamcatchers for commercial reasons- a negative form of cultural appropriation.

While cultural appropriation is considered negative and commercialization of dreamcatchers is unacceptable for most Natives, dreamcatchers continue to become a trend in modern societies which could also be influenced by the New Age movement.  Well, I think cultural appropriation is just too complicated to understand. And we are all guilty.

DIY dreamcatchers may look complicated at first glance but if you want to spend time making one, you can try by searching for dreamcatcher tutorials online.

Here’s my DIY dreamcatcher made by my friend, Loki.

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Manifestations of Filipino Machismo in Selected Philippine Contemporary Literary Works

Manifestations of Filipino Machismo in Selected Philippine Contemporary Literary Works

marlboro_man_ii_by_signarkp-d4qw4rg

 

Years ago, the Filipino sitcom “Palibhasa Lalaki” brought the viewers to their own seats. The Pinoy audience was then exposed and introduced to the lighter side of Filipino machismo. The writers and cast of the sitcom only showed humor reflecting the real lives of the actors involved in the series such as Richard Gomez, Joey Marquez, Anjo Yllana, and Gloria Romero. But then, there were still images of sexy girls wearing shorts and fit shirts who were not entitled to speak more lines because they were only needed in the series to somehow show emphasis on the male actors’ masculinity. Indeed, there can be no theory of the subject that is not masculine.

Today’s Pinoy sitcoms are not making any difference at all to “Palibhasa Lalaki.” Even the Philippine Literature could not escape the visible trend of Filipino machismo, then followed its influence on Pop Literature. The music, the movies and even the Tagalog romance novels still could not go against the molecular influences of machismo, even in the contemporary times. Literature is indeed political.

Tracing back the manifestations of machismo in traditional literature, in the time of Estrella Alfon, Paz Latorena, and Ligaya Victorio Reyes, most of the unified depiction of their male characters was influenced by an ideology about Filipino men constantly asserting their masculinity and power over women. It was the early emergence of the Feminism movement. Such women writers were writing their literary works so as to present what were the society’s views on women during 1970’s and on. The presence of a female character so to understand the actions of machismo is a way to put the lack in the absent. The important thing to say is not that feminism is accusing individual men of being oppressors. Feminism is asking men to own up the ways that they have been privileged by those systems and structures.

Today, feminist writers created strong women characters in their literary works, even the men writers. Jessica Zafra, in most of her short stories, showed the strong personalities of modern women in different situations. Lakambini Sitoy presents the conquests of women over men. And so, with the growth of feminism in its full bloom, machismo is at most overpowered, if not, buried in the fingertips of the writers. But then, it would be such a dangerous thing to conclude that our contemporary literary works are safe from the grounds of machismo. That is not always the case. In Ladlad: An Anthology of Filipino Gay Writing, there is a need to show machismo in the personalities of the male characters dominating the whole stories so to present the binary opposition of masculinity and homosexuality in the personalities of such characters.

In a Structuralist way of thinking, the ideology that there is an existence of the subject and the other could be applied in the study. Among the selected texts to be discussed further are the works categorized as a form of gay writing, still following the concept of present and absent by the Structuralist Jacques Derrida so to discriminate the manifestations of machismo in the Filipino setting. And so, in order to grasp the object, it must be present.

Philippine Literature is indeed male. To read, listen and watch even those who don’t belong in the canon are poisoned by the forces of machismo. In a certain tribe featured in The National Geographic, men measure their manliness by jumping from a high building to the ground with no wounds at all, not even broken bones. And so, only by performing such a risky ritual that they could then call themselves as real men.

In the Filipino setting, however, being a “macho” is to learn how to curse, to be an alcoholic and to talk about sex in the middle of an inuman session. One concrete example of this macho persona is Stan Kowalski in A Street Car Named Desire by Tennesse Williams in which the male character submits to the idea of beating his wife, continuing his drinking habits and the ironic thing is, he is physically a macho. This concept of machismo also perpetuated in early Filipino society.

atonement-writing

It is machismo’s relationship to alcohol, violence and homosexual desires that shape the male characters in Edzel Cardil’s story entitled “Par” taken from the compiled gay stories of Ladlad. Par is actually the short version of Pare. The central characters are the male figures, Andang being the gay character manipulating the story and the two other “macho” characters somehow giving a concrete binary opposition of personalities. Par is the name addressed by the gay lover to his so called “siga” live in partner in Caloocan.

“ Astig ‘no, dahil sa lugar namin, siga itong asawa ko, marami na siyang bodyguard, tipong Robin Padilla. Lalaking-lalake, Chang.”

He is the stereotyped figure of a Filipino macho who performs physical violence against his lover to assert his masculinity and sovereignty. He is experimental in terms of sexual conquests that he even tried homosexual affairs, somehow suggesting that his own definition of being a tunay na lalaki is achieving both gay and women. His own penis won’t mind giving pleasure to both anyway because men had always thought of their male organ as their pride of being a man.

“ Marami na raw siyang nakaka-do, pero ako lang talaga ang nakukursunadahan niya.”

And so, when the macho character died because of a fight with another guy to show that he is still the bandido ng Caloocan , Andang, the gay speaker, then spoke to his lover in silence:

Par, mali kasi ang pagkakaalam mo sa salitang macho. Di komo marami kang chicks at may mga bakla pa, basagulero’t siga, ay macho ka na. Ang tunay na macho ay ‘yung marunong gumalang sa bawat tao.”

Other male characters also exhibit typical manifestations of machismo. One concrete example is Panchang, the gay lover’s best friend who happens to belong in an army. He accepts the invitation of Andang to have a one-time homosexual affair with him and is even proud, in silence, that he had shared the same lover with his own best friend. It is somehow a conquest for him to prove his manliness. When his best friend, Chris, found out, they both agreed to have a one on one basketball game, somehow a duel, to determine who will own Andang to save one’s male ego so to speak. Both characters are portrayed as men who have very heavy drinking habits. Their nightly drinking sessions were de rigueur among men and husbands.

Another character is Rey, who killed Chris to get his revenge after Chris humiliated him in public by breaking shells of balut on his head. Male ego is really an issue to men that they would even kill only to save his face after humiliating his male pride. It still follows to a male ideology stating that to be male one had to be tough and even behave like a brute.

 

Marlboro man smoking

 

The work of Cardil could also be a fact to prove that machismo is often observed and practiced by those men who belong in rural communities, especially in slum areas.

Men dominate in the world, women dominate in the bedroom. Alfred Yuson has another specific concept of manliness. In his “A Hill of Samuel,” he focused on how men applied the influences of machismo against the female species. Dignos, the central male character in the story, could be seen as the seducer of women and is the sole reason for their madness. He would rape every woman, married or not and they would then worship him in the hill. He asserts his personality being a macho man by his conquests over women. Based on the responses of the male respondents on the study of Bob Pease on Postmodern Masculinity Politics, among the other manly things to do so as to redeem manhood is to have an active sex life. That is another test of manliness according to them. Men tend to rape women as an act of punishment for arousing them. In the case of the story, Dignos used his sexuality as a weapon to conquer women.

“….He was mad and he made our women mad…”

“….as the man with the black locks and the terrible eyes pressed hard against her. And the laughter came strongly and savagely upon her…”

“…Lumen gasped, and dug her nails into his nape. Then she felt the fever departing, but now the coldness turned severely into iciness in her womb. And slowly Dignos slid away from her and stood erect, surveying his prey naked and prostrate. And the laughter mounted, as the hill echoed its approval..”

Men “require” women’s sexual power to remind them of their heterosexuality and to reaffirm their own masculinity, although they are likely to experience women’s sexual power and their own response as “natural.” Men need women to define their manhood. The more women he gets and conquers, the more macho he becomes to his other male friends. This is visible in our own culture, considering the fact that men metamorphosed themselves into strutting cocks, macho in language and behavior.

Man drinking

Machismo is exhibited differently according to socioeconomic class. Angelo Lacuesta’s “Stigmata” has its lighter exposition. The main character in the story is a rich married banker who is having an affair with a steward in one of his flights. He has sexual affairs with Lene and is never guilty about it. He justified his actions by believing that every rich banker has them, a woman is a part of a lusty weekend and on Monday she will only be a part of the history. He is an epitome of a typical macho who would not submit himself to romantic relationships because it would make them less a man. Being labeled as a womanizer would not even make them less human. In the Filipino setting, married men who have mistresses are not such a disgrace to the eyes of the society, in fact, other men take pride in it. Well, each element of the male gender stereotype is revealed, as in fact, sexual.

Obedient and devoted husbands in Philippine Society are often regarded as “under the saya” by most unenlightened folks especially in rural societies. When the former president Joseph Estrada exposed his lifestyle of having a wife coexisting with three other mistresses, people never questioned such action. As they put it“lalaki naman siya e”. Therefore, he is a true Filipino male, tunay na lalaki. Machismo and all that went with it.

robin-thicke-blurred-lines-unrated

In the story of “I Hope It Won’t Scar,” a college male student nearly killed someone in a boy’s fight when the gang decided to get their revenge for a friend who is in the hospital. The central character conforms to such actions so as to belong to the world of men whose definition of being a true macho is to be able to fight and get even. That’s what will then label them as basagulero’t siga- the stereotyped standard of masculinity.

The other male character’s sister is a complete opposite to the manly personality of his brother so as to characterize his maleness and his sister’s femininity. In a male-dominated society such as ours, men are not entitled to be gentle and soft because ever since Adam, men should be the ones who are not ruled by emotion, rather than reason.

A male member of Philippine society is always told by the same distorted version of the concept of machismo. But then, is there such a right word to defend machismo? The selected texts have unmasked the prevalent machismo which underlies Philippine culture. The social model predicated on machismo has been revealed, considering the fact in the case of our society, our political and historical traditions could also be one of its major factors.

Consciousness is power. To create a new understanding of our literature is to make possible a new effect of that literature on us. And to make possible a new effect is in turn to provide the conditions for changing the culture that the literature reflects.

Machismo is defined and based upon the Philippine context. Macho men are everywhere. He could be loitering in the streets, in slum areas, in heavy drinking sessions until the wee hours of the morning, in gang wars,  sleeping in someone else’s bed or he could be sitting on a comfortable couch after beating his own wife. They identify their identities as men by their actions influenced by our own male society.

Contextualization is one way of studying the condition of machismo in Philippine society. Men are merely victims. Ernest Hemingway had always been studied by scholars as to how masculinity operates in Hemingway’s life and works, replacing the celebrated macho persona motivated by various psychosexual desires. It is only apparent that in all kinds of literature, such manifestations of machismo only reflect the society each has.

It as if machismo had infected the entire society that we see in literature and in our own society as well.

Filipino machismo has infected literature in one way or another. As the song says:..”macho, macho man! I want to be a macho man….”

List of Works Cited

Garcia, Danton Remoto. Laldlad 2: An Anthology of Philippine Gay Literature. Manila; Anvil Publishing, 1996.

Lacuesta. Life Before X and Other Stories. Manila; Anvil Publishing, 1997.

www. Google.com

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Staying Human In An Engineered World

Staying Human In An Engineered World

__Genetic_Engineering___by_bmorehouse

(After watching a documentary entitled DNA: The Promise and the Price)

 A hundred years ago, the myth about Dr. Frankenstein having spawned a new human life etched a hint that Frankenstein’s creation would linger as an imaginative story only written by  Mary Shelley with no evidence at all to believe it could be possible.

But that was years and years ago. It is amazing to think that science continually move on to a different limelight where everything could be possible beyond our imagination-genetic engineering, gene therapy, human cloning and more advances in the field of science and technology. After all these amazing features, what’s next to be looked forward?

As stated by the Center for Genetics and Society, many applications of human genetic technology are benign and hold great potential for preventing disease and alleviating suffering. Other applications open the door to a human future more horrific than our worst nightmares. We need to distinguish between these, and support the former and oppose the latter. The two technologies of most concern are human cloning and inheritable genetic modification. And it was because of Dolly, the first cloned sheep, that the cloning obsession in science started.

Genetic engineering refers to a set of technologies that are being used to change the genetic makeup of cells and move genes across species boundaries to produce novel organisms. The techniques involve highly sophisticated manipulations of genetic material and other biologically important chemicals. In 1976 George Wald, Nobel Prize winning biologist and Harvard professor commented that Recombinant DNA technology [genetic engineering] faces our society with problems unprecedented not only in the history of science, but of life on the Earth. It places in human hands the capacity to redesign living organisms, the products of some three billion years of evolution…. It presents probably the largest ethical problem that science has ever had to face. Our morality up to now has been to go ahead without restriction to learn all that we can about nature. Restructuring nature was not part of the bargain. For going ahead in this direction may be not only unwise but dangerous. Potentially, it could breed new animal and plant diseases, new sources of cancer, novel epidemics.

Genetic_Engineering_by_JediMSieer

Of all the given advantages of genetic engineering, in the overwhelming number of cases, the price seems too high. In order to ensure mega profits for multinational corporations into the next century, we will have to mortgage the biosphere, seriously compromise life on the planet, and even risk losing what it means to be a human being. Genetic engineering poses serious risks to human health and to the environment. It raises serious ethical questions about the right of human beings to alter life on the planet for the benefit and curiosity of a few.

Maybe we had explored science enough. We have gone a long way and I think we have proven how intelligent and different we are as compared to other organisms. It is definitely amazing to think that we can create a new life within our hands and manipulate genetics. But this all about knowing our limitations as human beings.

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