Archive for December, 2008


When I was young(er), I wanted to grow up to be Jamie Robinson. When that proved difficult, my ambition changed to something slightly less fanciful—transnational feminist scholar activist.

No, I didn’t use that term until years later, when I needed to name it for the grad school application. And now, it’s the end of the year, and I’m in a reflective mood. Transnational feminist scholar activist? It sounded good enough to get me back into school, but I’m struggling to get my bearings.

From Servetus via Professor Zero, being a scholar:

* is about having a question or questions you need to answer. Not want, need to answer. For you or for the world. Not for your tenure committee or to fill out your vita. To inform the world. To change the world. To find the truth. Your truth, whether continent or eternal.

* is about watchfulness, about seeing the detail that changes the meaning of the picture.

* is about seeing the big picture. Your big picture, no one else’s.

* is about telling people who need to know. They might not be the people who “matter,” but they still need to know.

* is about integrity, about craft, about fashioning a perfect thing.

* is about joy, about the delight in watching the mind work, about delight in watching the minds of our interlocutors work, about delight in the process of seeing students’ synapses–or our own–connect and lightbulbs go on.

* is about power. Power to determine what is real, what is important. Power to tell our OWN stories as we see fit.

I’ve been thinking about this for the past week, especially in the context of combining teaching and research here in the US when my heart is with Filipina women back home. I’ve been thinking of all this in light of the growing corporatization of the University of the Philippines, my alma mater—a corporatization that, despite key challenges, many others are uncritically welcoming.



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I left Catholicism in fits and starts, the way a smoker keeps reaching for one last cigarette. But I did leave for good three years ago. And though I don’t identify as Catholic anymore, Sudy reminds me of teachings that resonate.

Love one another. Whatever you do to the least of my brothers. Ministering to the poor–the prisoners, the blind, the oppressed. Striving to be compassionate.

Unfortunately, as my feminist shero Sr. Mary John Mananzan points out, the Philippine Catholic malestream emphasizes aspects such as the contraception and divorce bans and the “sins of the flesh.” This is still the dominant Catholicism in the Philippines, the strand that eventually led to my departure.

It’s also a strand that obscures how Catholic tenets on love, service, and compassion could form powerful basis for transnational feminist coalitions.

In her essay “Globalization and the Perennial Question of Justice,”* Mananzan applies a faith-based approach to highlight globalization’s injustices on indigenous populations, the urban poor, displaced farmers. She critiques the new “religion” of consumerism, globalization, and capital that gives rise to this suffering. In its place, she advocates a spirituality that is responsive to the suffering wrought by globalization.

Mananzan writes

Just as we proclaim an integral salvation, we also have to develop an integral spirituality that transcends dichotomies such as body-soul, sacred-profane, contemplation-action, heaven-earth, and so on. We need to integrate our relationships with God, with ourselves, with others, and with the planet. It is inclusive and resists exclusion of peoples for any reason, be it class, race, gender, or any other.


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Mga Kasama!

Sa mga mambabasa sa Pilipinas:

Paki-check niyo ang Racialicious. Mahusay na blog.

May mga post ako at umiinit ang diskusyon.

Baka gusto niyong sumali.

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And kamusta to all my regular online friends. Yes, all six of you 🙂

Wow, thanks for visiting and the wonderful conversations we’ve been having. I am learning a lot a lot from your insights, salamat for sharing.

I’m still thinking about many of the questions raised in discussions in Racialicious and at Womanist Musings. So in the coming weeks, I’ll be writing more about:

  • “double racialization” of Pinoy first-generation and second-generation immigrants
  • how  factors like religion affect one’s racialization experience
  • What does WOC mean? How do we form platforms for solidarity?
  • What does it mean to use “Third World” as a categorization?

I’ll be thinking more about these, and I hope you could drop by so we can continue the conversation.


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There have been news stories of fetuses found around Manila, including three found at the Manila Cathedral, Santa Cruz Church, and Quiapo Church. The Quiapo Church fetus was concealed in a basket of offerings. It was wrapped in a rosary and placed inside a bottle.

This phenomenon has become more frequent—thirteen over just the last two months if reports are to be believed, with more found in sewers. A moral panic is growing over a supposedly anti-family culture in the Philippines, a discourse that includes debates over abortion (criminal), access to contraception (severely limited) and divorce (illegal).

I am struck at how much of the coverage is sensationalized and, of course, by what gets left out.

There has been a steady rise in abortion rates in the Philippines, from an estimated 400,000 in the 1990s to as high as 800,000 as of 2005. The knee-jerk reaction has been to rail against how Filipino culture is “westernizing”and “turning away from god.” The more insightful reports cite the lack of sex education/access to contraception.

But there is something more at work contributing to the spike in abortion rates in this heavily Catholic country.


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In the Philippines, we start anticipating Christmas in the “ber” months. As in October. So you’ll appreciate the effort it took for me to hold back from posting holiday stuff all over the blog pages.

What’s your favorite holiday song? And if you’re Pinoy, when did you start singing?

It’s not easy to feel holiday cheer given the state of the world, though. Which is probably why I find myself turning to Stevie Wonder.

But for what it’s worth, from this blog to fellow activists in the fight for a just world, Maligayang Pasko. Kapayapaan at pagmamahal.

Peace and love. Someday.

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