In 2012, I published Of Love And Other Lemons, a book that’s deceptively about love, but which is really about growing up Pinay in a country like the Philippines, where womanhood is difficult and painful and confusing, and feminism is not a word I use thoughtlessly. In 2013, in a talk with the Unyon ng Manunulat ng Pilipinas, I was asked if I considered myself a feminist. I said no, not because I do not believe in the principles of feminism, but because I know my place in the context of Filipino feminists who are out on the streets, organizing on the ground, talking to real women who represent the majority who are impoverished, and fighting for their basic rights to live decently just as human beings. I had said then: nakakahiya to call myself a feminist given what they do, dahil para sa’kin sila ang tunay na peminista.

Six years after, in 2019, and I still believe much of what I said then. I still think that the form of feminism that is most important in a place like the Philippines where class and privilege are the crucial markers of difference, is feminism that’s out on the streets, that is in touch with the lives of the majority of women on the ground, that is fighting for basic human rights, that demands justice for the oppressed and disenfranchised, that seeks change and development that includes the majority who are poor, that refuses to see them as burdensome, as collateral damage, as charity work. The task is simply for people’s basic rights. And that can only be women’s rights, too.

What has changed though, is this: I dare call myself a feminist now. (more…)

Wrote this for the book launch of “Na Kung Saan” by Teo Marasigan, February 6 in UP Diliman. The task was to talk about intellectuals in the time of Duterte, na nakapaloob sa forum na “Kamalayan at Kultura sa Panahon ng Pasismo.”  

I met Teo in college, in the 90’s, but only built a relationship with him in the Gloria years, in the late 2000s, when so many of us, my Nanay Angela and myself included, ended up using the internet for blogging. This was pre-Mocha, pre-paid mob, pre-Facebook boosting and trolling.  Then, people were still writing long-form articles, well-threshed out yet open to discussion, in fact begging for a discussion, naghahanap ng makakausap tungkol sa mga isyung panlipunan. May biruan pa, may collegiality. These were the years of the Arroyo presidency, before Facebook and Twitter took over the internet — and a chunk of our intellectual culture.

But of course there were many other reasons for the death of blogging and critical-political thought. There was the fact that many of the critical bloggers during GMA’s time were absorbed into PNoy’s three-headed communications team. I remember two years into PNoy’s leadership, being told by one of those writers who had ended up in Malacañang: kayo na lang ng nanay mo ang hindi pa namin nakukuha, ang hindi pa bilib sa’min.” Or something to that effect.

Natawa ako, na nadismaya: ‘yun pala ang ginagawa ng gobyerno, “kinukuha” “pinapabilib” ang mga kritiko-intelektuwal, isang paraan ng pagpapatahimik. (more…)

It was bad enough that Bato dela Rosa had the gall to have a film made about his life — after all, it was under his leadership at the PNP that we saw THOUSANDS of Filipinos killed in a bloody drug war that he insisted was necessary because his god … este, his President believed it to be so. Of course a film that is blatantly propaganda via hagiography is nothing new. Neither is the admission that this film is about getting him a Senate seat. Let’s not even get into whether or not he has the credibility and credentials for it (and no, Jimmy Bondoc, insisting Bato’s loyalty to the President is enough is just idiotic, also: anti-nation).

Let’s just talk about the fact that he is already an administration candidate, which means that he already has the benefit of using government resources for his campaign. And then he makes a film about his life, which he need not declare as a campaign expense, even when he himself admits it’s supposed to help him win the elections. Imagine? It’s like getting campaign ads aired without having to declare it as part of your campaign. It’s getting away with spending millions on your campaign without having to declare any of it. 

But it gets worse. Enter Liza Diño’s Film Development Council of the Philippines(more…)

Here we talk about the tax evasion case versus Rappler, as an off-shoot of its defense versus the SEC order to close it down. Also whether or not the support for Rappler and Ressa have died down, whether or not they are being singled out by the Duterte government, and getting some perspective on the notion (spin?) of dissent that Rappler uses to fashion itself as hero. Part 1 is here.

Do you have any observations or reactions on how other local newsrooms have responded to the tax evasion charges against Rappler and Ressa? Do you think that they’ve lent enough support to them, or otherwise?

I do think the support for Ressa and Rappler has died down compared to early 2018 when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ordered its closure. I’d imagine this to have been brought on by a number of things. There’s the possibility that mainstream media entities feel they have no choice but to fall silent about freedom of the press issues lest they become Duterte’s next targets. I’d like to think that to some extent many media practitioners can see right through this spin that fashions Rappler and Ressa as heroes, even as so many others are doing the same work they are — if not better work than they are. I’m sure there’s also the part where media entities just make that decision about which issues matter more — after all in the time of Duterte, when impunity, oppression, misogyny, and incompetence are on the rise, what to use our energies on is the first decision we make. (more…)

At the end of 2018, Washington Post’s Regina Cabato and Kristine Phillips sent me questions about Rappler.com and Maria Ressa for a story they were doing. A bit of that long-ish set or responses landed in their profile on Ressa. I asked if I could publish their questions and my answers on my site, and they said yes.

I always welcome the opportunity to flesh out my thoughts, especially at a time when too much is happening, and we can barely keep our heads above water. This is Part 1: On Ressa, Rappler, mode of production, its claims of independence, and global attention.

One of the things you wrote was Rappler “has fashioned itself internationally as the bastion of independent journalism in the country,” and it is “seen by the international community as the only local media company that’s worthy of mention in the time of Duterte.” What makes you say this, and what are other local media companies that you think also deserve the spotlight?

Even before Duterte, and obviously ever since, the real source of independent reporting would be the alternative media of the Left: Pinoy Weekly, Bulatlat, Manila Today, AlterMedia, Kodao. These are media practitioners and writers who have been doing the stories that are not covered by mainstream media, across the different Presidents, and yes, mainstream media includes Rappler. Some of these alternative media sites were already online long before Rappler even went live, and are the true “independents” if we are to use the word at all: they are not funded by a huge capitalist, they are covering the stories of the people, the ones that don’t make it to TV or radio news, and they are on the ground covering stories that no one else is covering. (more…)