Preparations-A A +A
Friday, July 6, 2012
LAST night I was telling my partner how as a child I understood inflation. Every Sunday my paternal grandparents would take me to the Baguio Cathedral to hear mass. After mass we would walk down Session Road. I used to feel like it took forever. Later on I figured that those numerous talks with people that we met going down ate up a good three minutes or more. And then finally we would get to the market and buy two big brown paper bags of apples. So on that Sunday they were to talking to the owner (I don’t remember who it was, but definitely old Baguio folk) about inflation. I was curious about everything as a kid, so I asked what inflation was. My grandfather explained saying that because of inflation it was going to take more centavos to buy one apple because our money was not the same value as the dollar. Or something like that. I understood that everyone needed more money than usual to buy food. I was also taught the value of working hard for money. I used to supplement my allowance shining shoes for my lolo. He taught me how to spit-shine the army way. I think if I wanted, I could have given the shoe-shine boys in Malcolm Square a run for their money. I was taught when I was five years old that washing dishes was not just about washing dishes, it was about helping out with keeping house. Making your bed in the morning was about discipline and my grandfather was the perfect example of that. You could bounce a coin off lolo’s well-made bed, military style. I was taught about respecting other people. As a young girl, it was all good that there were different kinds of people living in my city. It was okay if I could not understand their words, I just knew that they would not hurt me. I learned that when I ran away from home at five years old (“running away” means walking out from my lolo’s house to walk across town to go to my tita’s house), no harm would come to me, nothing unspeakable would happen to me.
Growing up, I was not prepared for certain realities; like violence, like people killing men who fight for other people. I was taught when I was younger that it is noble to be a missionary, it is unselfish. It is God’s work. For a missionary to be gunned down is so mind-boggling for me. How could anyone think of doing that? How could anyone be so evil? And before his death, there were 11 people who were slain in Quezon province. In all my life, I was not prepared for realities like rape and sexual harassment. Experiences that all women are afraid of everyday, as they go to and from home, school, work, the market and everywhere else a woman needs to be to answer the needs of her family. I was never prepared for discrimination and homophobia, especially from family. I grew up thinking that because we were related by blood, love would be unconditional. Instead family-members take it upon themselves to pass judgment maybe because they’re older, or they are male or just better than you in their eyes. Of course there are family members who are loving and accepting, if you are lucky. I was not prepared by teachings growing up that it was dangerous, even life threatening to be different, to be free in your expression of your love, commitment and devotion. I was not prepared for the reality that if I get married with another woman, I cannot invite my parents because they will think it is wrong. I never thought I would tears for strangers, men I never knew or met. I only know of them as champions of people that the government have forgotten and screwed over.
One thing that needs to happen here at the least is that we should choose better leaders. We have been given examples, men who have served the people unselfishly, who have been willing to lay down their lives for the people. No matter how we were brought up and what lessons we learned in the past, this one thing we have to learn fast- it is up to us. We have the power to change things, especially because we are different. Being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer is not a weakness, it is strength. And we can make a difference, and that is what we have to be prepared for – prepare to make a difference. Every day.
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Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on July 06, 2012.