19 December 2011

Life Cannot Be Destroyed for Good...

..neither can history be brought entirely to a halt. - Vaclav Havel (1936-2011)

Playwright, warehouseman, political dissident, former President, Vaclav Havel dies at 75.

14 December 2011

The Guilt of Corona...

You already have the information. All the names and dates are inside your head. What you want, what you really need, is a story.

A decade ago, Estrada was impeached and on trial. The Senate holds the constitutional prerogative to try impeachments of senior political office holders, including the president and chief justice. Yet, the Senate was unable to conclude the trial and people took to the streets with the support of former presidents, the business community and others to force the ouster of Estrada.


This came to pass. And the up-and-coming politician, little Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was declared President. This act was not constitutional. Regardless of your feelings towards Erap or the hirap, Arroyo did not ascend to the presidency through constitutional means. This was eventually legitimized by the Supreme Court through the legal fiction that Estrada had resigned. Even in my interest to have Estrada out, I turned a blind eye.

But the seeds of the present cancer were planted at that time. Then, Macapagal-Arroyo nurtured these seeds and eventually was able to remain in power for a decade. In the process, she and her group were able to corrode the democratic, political institutions of our country and politicize and corrupt the judicial institution of our country -- which was desperately and slowly trying to rebuild its credibility after two decades of Marcos.

Then, after probably stealing the 2004 presidential election, she apologized for it and spent the next six years plundering the country and enriching herself and her allies. Having packed the Supreme Court with her allies, she put icing on the cake, by making an unconstitutional midnight appointment of Renato Corona, her former chief of staff, as Chief Justice.

Although he whined, Noy Aquino did not challenge this immediately upon taking office. So, when it came time to begin prosecuting the corruption of Arroyo -- which has been very painfully slow -- suddenly the Supreme Court with the Chief Justice at its head, starts moving mountains (and travel documents) for Ms. Arroyo.

Well certainly there are those more responsible than others, and they will be held accountable, but again truth be told, if you're looking for the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.

And that is how we have ended up now, with the situation we have. The purging of the Supreme Court by means of impeachment and removal trials is the only democratic and constitutional process by which the President and Congress have to check the power of an illegitimate, partial, biased and corrupt Supreme Court. No matter how uncomfortable it is, we again find ourselves where we were decade ago in a removal trial of an impeached senior office holder. Right where we began this story. There's no certainty — only opportunity.

Today, instead of the people marching, we have judges canceling their calendars and marching to support Corona as though they were political activists, in violation of their ethical duties as judges and judicial officers to avoid politics and even the appearance of political involvement. We can only see the corrosive effect of ten years of Arroyo lawlessness and the corrosive effect it has had on the judiciary and how that corrosion has affected our judges and our country.

It is to Madame Justice that I dedicate this concerto, in honour of the holiday she seems to have taken from these parts, and in recognition of the impostor that stands in her stead.

Fairness, justice, and freedom are more than words, they are perspectives. So if you've seen nothing, if the crimes of the last government remain unknown to you then I would suggest that you allow this to pass unmarked. But if you see what I see, if you feel as I feel, and if you would seek as I seek, then I ask you to support the constitutional process for removing Corona and other justices who have breached their trust to the public as the final arbiters of the law.

13 December 2011

Movie Review: Breakfast with Scot

This movie is in the genre of stable, established gay couple introduces a young tween or adolescent into the mixture and are forced to confront the various defense mechanisms that have made the stability possible. Here's the official summary:
Eric and his lover, Sam, are pushed into becoming temporary parents to an 11-year-old boy with a fondness for gold chains, lace and the color pink while Eric's brother -- the boy's father -- is out of the country. Neither man ever saw himself as a father, but having such an undeniably colorful child around the house has a funny way of changing their minds.
This movie is no exception except that its budget is probably the biggest of any movie made in this gay subgenre that I've seen. So, its a nice date movie. Light hearted and barely scratches the surface of anything too painful or dramatic. Coincidentally, the boy who plays Scot, Noah Bernett, is exactly what I would think Shelley Duvall would look like if she were a 11 year old gay boy, really.

12 December 2011

Hinding hindi ng binabaeng porn-artista si Tagle

Not a European Transvestite Porn Star

Bishop Tagle's installation will be broadcast on the internet. According to the original press release from the Archdiocese of Manila, you should go to tvmaria.com. See original at Google Webcache here.

Oops! tvmaria.com is a porn site for a European transvestite (hence TV) porn star. Apparently, the correct site for Tagle's installation will be tvmaria.org. See the current press release here which may have changed.

08 December 2011

The Curious Case of Mariano del Castillo

I wonder what GMA was thinking

It was reported yesterday that the impeachment complaint against Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo in the House of Representatives is moving forward. The Committee on Justice determined that the use of the phrases and sentences from a foreign law review article without referring, acknowledging or citing to the other article is an impeachable breach of the public trust.

In the War Rape Victims Case, also known as Isabelita Vinuya et al. v. Executive Secretary et al, del Castillo used a variety of phrases from a law review article from the Yale Journal of International Law written by Evan Criddle and Evan Fox-Descent (both law professors). Although Criddle and Fox- Descent argued in their article that victims of rape during war should be entitled to damages/compensation/restitution, del Castillo used their phrasing and theoretical framework for the opposite conclusion.

The part that caught the attention of the victims and the media was that del Castillo did not cite to or refer to the Criddle and Fox-Descent article in his opinion. In the normal academic world, this would be considered plagiarism. However, in the realm of the law, the purpose of court opinions is to provide the reasoning upon which it makes decisions. Most cases that come before courts are not exactly the same as previous cases and some level of analogizing and referencing to similar, previous cases decided is necessary. When the court gives its opinion, that opinion together with the holding in the case, is the law. No one can claim a copyright on the law and a law giver, whether judicial or legislative, is under no obligation legal or customary to cite to someone who elsewhere formulated their opinion or description when it subsequently becomes law. The point of a judge citing another case is to lend credibility to the present opinion under the doctrine of stare decisis. A foreign law review article can lend no such credibility.

I did not read the Supreme Court's decision regarding del Castillo's absolution of plagiarism but I suspect it was founded on similar ideas and principles since these are basic and fundamental understandings of the law. It would highly be appropriate for lower court justices to make full and adequate citations to scholarly works since they are not ultimately the controlling authority and their citation can help support an affirmation of their decision if appealed. But for the high court, no such citation is necessary. The fact that the justices are not subject to the same rules as those they oversee does smack a bit of medieval monarchical thinking regarding a ruling position.

Nevertheless, in our constitutional scheme, it is not a justices' peers on the Court or armchair jurisprudent commentators like your blogger here, but the people's representatives that get to decide ultimately what conduct constitutes a breach of the public trust at the level of an impeachable offense. It is for this reason that I believe the House of Representatives is fully within its powers to impeach del Castillo and send his impeachment to the Senate for trial and removal. If this occurs, then it becomes clear that in the Philippines, the people have decided that correct citation to the works of others is necessary when one uses their previously formulated phrases for "public trust" reasons -- because plagiarism is generally a breach of trust.

So long as del Castillo is afforded due process, that is, notice of the standards upon which he is to be judged and an opportunity to prepare and present his defense, then the decisions of the House and Senate, ought to be final in the matter.

The impeachment mechanism or a similar process ought to be used to determine with finality the legality of Corona's chief justiceship. An opinion by the Supreme Court need not be the final word on the matter. In my opinion, he would not be able to retreat back to his associate justiceship because of the constructive resignation (ala Estrada) in order to act as the de facto chief justice.

07 December 2011

Book Review: The Red Thread, Buddhist Approaches to Sexuality


Bernard Faure is the Kao Professor in Japanese Religion at Columbia University. He published this book over a decade ago as the first part in a two part series, the other book being The Power of Denial: Buddhism, Purity and Gender.

The first time I read this book I was very young and naive and was mostly confused by it. This is, in part, because unless you have some background in comparative Buddhist Studies and/or a rudimentary knowledge of the various Buddhist spiritual cannons, at some point the extensive use of Sanskrit, Pali, Tibetan, Japanese and Chinese will confuse a reader. It confused me when I read it in 1998.

But I'm glad I chose it again to read. This book has as its mission to survey how Buddhism dealt man to man sex. You see, like the original form of Christianity, the original form of Buddhism was not of this world. Early Christianity and Buddhism both called for a rejection of the family, familial piety, etc.,. The only way to break the bonds of karmic, cyclic existence is to step out of the stream of karma. The easiest way to do this (logically) was to not have children. However, in traditional societies, this is about as abnormal as it gets.

Faure overviews very closely the Vinaya, which are the monastic codes of behavior. You see, while in Christianity, there is one true doctrine and every other school is heretical, schismatic or apostatic, Buddhism is not committed to a unified doctrine. Instead, we distinguish schools primarily by the Vinaya they follow, that is the methods by which they believe one may direct his heart and mind towards enlightenment.

Early Buddhism rejected desire complete as one of the three main causes of cyclic existence. Then came along the great schism in Buddhism between the Southern schools and the Northern schools. I've written a book review about this point in Buddhist and sexuality history elsewhere in this blog. But the book focuses on how Buddhist philosophy was interpreted and understood to reverse what eventually came to be a rejection of the Indian legalism of the older Southern school understanding of sexuality.

Early Buddhism rejected desire. This remains one of the underpinnings of the Southern Buddhist schools. However, the Northern schools (Vietnam, China, Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, Japan, Korea, Mongolia), Buddhistized the doctrinal rejection of the rejection of desire and said that desire and passion can be used on the path to transcending cyclic existence! It also reincorporated notions of filial piety. The earlier Southern school focus on the individual attaining liberation, the Northern school focused on the individual attaining liberation for the community!

In the written record that Faure reviews, it is in the Northern schools where man to man sexuality explodes. In Japan, it moves to its extreme where Buddhist priests spiritualize and glorify the ritual and institutional sexual abuse and rape of children. This persisted in Japan for over a thousand years and eventually spread into non-religious areas of life (including the samurai and merchant classes). I have written a review of a book about the Tokugawa era homosexual and pederastic traditions in Japan.

Reading this book did make me think more about the extent of institutionalized sexual abuse of young men and boys in Japan over such a long time and how the Buddhist churches in Japan and their association with moral decline (including homosexuality) played such a significant role in the Meiji-era modernization of Japan and its present extreme homophobia.

I was less interested in the Japanese angle on this story as I was about two different facets that the book didn't delve too deeply into. Monastic sexual or non-sexual experience in other Northern schools monasteries (like Tibet and China) and in the other Northern schools, what their advice was to householders (the Buddhist term for lay practitioners). Since the Northern schools changed the nature of the householder and its relationship to liberation (householders could be a valid path toward liberation in the Northern schools, whereas in the Southern schools, householders are neutral since their alms offerings and donations to monasteries is at best, a karma neutralizing activity), the advice of Buddhist monks and abbots takes on a new significance which isn't well explored.

One of the overall themes of the book, which is important, is that various forms of homosexuality flourished, in part, because of the patriarchical and misogynistic approaches to gender adopted by the early Buddhist community -- and part of the ambivalence the Buddha demonstrated on the question of gender.

The version I read was a 324 page paperback published by Princeton University Press (October 26, 1998), ISBN-13: 978-0691059976. It is written in English. The lowest price I found online was used at abebooks.com.

06 December 2011

Movie Review: Let's Go To Prison

When I put this movie in the queue to watch, I didn't think much of it except that it was likely to be another gay comedy. I had to keep asking myself where the "gay & lesbian" part of the movie was. Here is the summary:
John Lyshitski gets his chance for sweet revenge when Nelson Biederman, the son of the judge who sent Lyshitski to jail, is wrongfully convicted of a crime he didn't commit and sentenced to time in the slammer. The scheming Lyshitski deliberately gets tossed back in the clink, where he does everything in his power to ensure that his new cellmate -- Biederman -- experiences all the wonders of prison life.
I had assumed that this would be a film about gay sex in prison, but actually, that's just something that you get teased with. I'm still trying to figure out the moral of the story here or non-moral, that the case may be. Perhaps its that love prevails over the power drive? It's light and makes fun of the American criminal justice system.

05 December 2011

Book Review: Colonizing Hawaii

Sally Engle Merry is a professor of Anthropology at New York University. She wrote this book over a decade ago regarding how the cultural power of law transformed native Hawaiian understandings of sexuality and gender.

I can't tell you how many books I've read in my life where there are claims that colonialism remakes gender and sexuality in its image upon the bodies of the natives. Ngugi wo Thiongo's famous quote from Decolonizing the Mind, for example, states: "the night of the sword and the bullet were followed by the morning of the chalk and blackboard."

It's something that is so obvious. Yet, it is an area that is woefully understudied and under analyzed. I have reviewed a few of books that in various ways scratch the surface. Merry, however, goes right to the heart of it. She goes through meticulously how the cultural significance of the law and religion were used, in a series of historical accidents almost, by those in power that created the conditions upon which the law courts of the Hawaiian kingdom became the ultimate site where native Hawaiians would end up if they could not conform to the colonial understandings of sexuality and gender.

When the law courts weren't forcing immigrant laborers back into their slave-like conditions, they were convicting native Hawaiians on adultery prosecutions. Through this process, sexuality and gender were regulated until the new rules of gender and sexuality and privacy and concealment and shame were firmly in place. Then, the adultery prosecutions disappeared. There is also an extended look at how a patriarchal American system of law dealt with spousal violence and the role of women in the ideal colonized family.

One of the benefits of Merry's work is that both the colonizer and the colonized in Hawai'i were adamant and diligent writers documenting anything and everything. In the Philippines, however, we have primarily the Spanish and mestizo elite who wrote and as Neil Garcia and others have noted, the written record is woefully inadequate which would make Merry's method significantly more difficult for sexuality studies in the Philippines. Filomeno Aguilar Hr was able to use scant written record to construct the colonization of Negros in the late 19th and early 20th century -- but the discussion on cockfighting and spirituality can hardly be considered a meaningful inquiry into gender and sexuality.

The version I read was a 364 page paperback published by Princeton University Press (December 21, 1999), ISBN-13: 978-0691009322. It is written in English. The lowest price I found online was used at amazon.com.

04 December 2011

Movie Review: Strapped


I was not expecting much from this movie. Strapped idiomatically refers to several things: not having money, having a gun, or having a large cock. The summary was provided as follows:
A handsome young hustler moves almost effortlessly through the world, modifying his persona to fit the needs of each client, even though it leaves him with little self-knowledge. That changes during one night of unusual encounters. After trysting with a shy Russian, the young man tries to leave the apartment building but is stymied by its maze-like structure and meets a string of quirky inhabitants who teach him about himself.
But was I totally surprised! This was definitely a thinking movie.

The encounter with the Russian was so-so but when he leaves and begins the labyrinth journey to the end. There is the one apartment scene where I feel like if I had dropped acid, I would have been at one of the coffeebabies inuman parties in the land of Oz. There were also a few gay Ernest Hemingway types characters in my life (although I never slept with any of them). There were the crazy bi-married father/silahis types.

And then, of course, the last apartment he encounters presented me with the two primary fragments of my own adolescent self: the tortured lonely poet romantic who has spiritualized intimacy to an ascetic non-sexual extreme and the hustler who has dismissed intimacy to a hedonistic sexual extreme.

But what comes of such an encounter? I'll save the ending for you to watch. Maybe you will feel sad? Maybe you will be happy? But this is definitely a date/cuddle-up-with-partner movie.

01 December 2011

Manila Pride March

(from the 2009 Pride March)

December 3, 2011

Pride March

Meeting Place: Remedios Circle, Malate, Manila

Registration: 1:00pm - 4:00pm

Parade: 4:15pm

Program: 5:00pm-8:00pm, Orosa Nakpil



Task Force Pride, a non-profit network of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders (LGBT) groups will organize the 17th Annual Pride March in Manila. The aim of the march is to gather different LGBT groups, allies and individuals in solidarity, as well as provide positive visibility to the community.

This year's theme, "Pride of the Orient", recalls the community's achievements with regard to advancing LGBT human rights, such as... organizing the first pride march in Asia in 1994 and the formation of Ladlad party list, the only LGBT-oriented party list in the world, and extensive HIV/AIDS Awareness campaigns nationwide .

"Pride of the Orient" calls on LGBT Filipinos to reclaim these milestones and look forward to more victories they've yet to achieve.

For Organizations, please confirm in this link:
http://taskforcepride.blogspot.com/2011/11/2011-confirmation-form-organizations.html

For Individuals, please confirm in this link:
http://taskforcepride.blogspot.com/2011/11/2011-confirmation-form-individuals.html

(If you have difficulties with the links provided, please reply to this email with your Name, Organization's Name, and Contact Number.)

Please check the TFP page regularly for updates on the program line-up and the venue.

For more information you can visit this FB Event Page:
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=241089652610923

Visit the official website:
http://www.taskforcepride.blogspot.com/

email us at:
taskforcepride@gmail.com


or SMS us at 09163089903 (Globe), 09333049795 (Sun)

Thanks, and see you all on December 3, 2011 at the Pride March!