I Support the RH Bill: A Speech I Would’ve Delivered if I were a Legislator

Reproductive health supporters and volunteers

(NOTE: This is a speech I would’ve delivered if I was a member of the House of Representatives. I just wanted to share what’s on my mind.)

Mr. Speaker,

As a Centrist Democrat, my world view tells me that I should craft legislation to provide people with equal opportunities; opportunities for them to live, work, and be contributors to nation-building. I am obliged by my world view to legislate with the end goal of providing my constituents not only with choices, but with opportunities as a result of their choice, however it may swing. It’s not only my obligation to my belief but to constituency which I serve.

For more than a decade, this Congress has attempted to pass legislation that provides women with choices, and the opportunities that shall bring fullness to their choice. For more than a decade, we have been attempting to pass legislation that shall provide women with choices on how to control family-size based on their physiological and economic contexts; and to support their choice with state-sponsored opportunities to back their choice.

Mr. Speaker, let it not be believed that I am against the divine and natural obligation of birthing children. I believe that children are the hope and the future of our nation. Let it not be believed as well that I am in favor of curtailing the freedom of choice for Filipino families. I am in favor of them; thus, my support for this legislation.

Our constitution has vowed to protect the interests of women by making it a matter of principle to recognize women’s role in nation-building. And true nation-building can only be achieved if a state makes itself a conducive seedbed of free choice and opportunity. The state has an obligation, under a democratic system, to ensure that women are actively involved in affairs of the state; and with that said, I’m sure the Constitution wants our active women to be healthy.

Mr. Speaker, I am one with the anti-RH supporters in the view of their right to life. I share their view that life begins with conception, and that abortion is a crime. I am a Catholic, a believer in the Judeao-Christian concept of life.

In my view, I see no provision on the measure supporting or condoning abortion. In fact, the RH Bill does not only protect one life, but two. The RH Bill protects the life of the child and the mother. Through the assurance of pre-natal and post-natal health services to mothers, the RH Bill is one with our cause and obligation to protect life.

As to the allegations of the bill promoting abortion, I ask this back: since when did free choice lead to abortion, Mr. Speaker? Since when did informed and educated choices lead to death? Since when did empowerment and education led to an immoral decision? Mr. Speaker, our legislative duty to provide alternatives and choices must not be misconstrued to lead a certain type of life or lead towards a certain type of decision. I oppose abortion, Mr. Speaker. But I also support the RH Bill. Who can tell me I cannot support both at once?

The RH Bill presents a medical approach to contraception, which welcomes the aid of artificial contraceptives such as condoms, pills, and injectibles. But the bill does not outlaw the calendar method, to which I personally believe on. The bill provides the people with choices, and opportunities to undertake their choice. The issue of how the family should be controlled is a personal and familial issue. Many may opt to use calendar method, but that does not eliminate our obligation to provide other choices. A democracy values the presence of several alternatives; there is no single way out all the time.

Mr. Speaker, if we ask our conscience to weigh in on the matter of reproductive health legislation, should we not also consult reason and facts? If we were to make choices for our constituents, as I believe we are empowered to make, will we not give our constituents the choice to control the way they put gaps between births in search of a comfortable, decent life? Will we not give our youth the opportunity to learn that sex is a natural phenomenon that entails responsibility? Will we not give the poorest Filipino women a fighting chance to live and rear for their newly-born children? Will we deprive our constituents with the constitutional guarantee of their right to life, their right to living, and their right to choose?

My conscience, my belief, and my object reality is one, Mr. Speaker. I believe in the right to live. And I believe that I am obliged to protect it against any element that will prevent it from its fullness.

I support the RH Bill.

Sendong

I can still remember how Ondoy spat at the streets of Cainta with unimaginable amounts of water. The rains, which have been non-stop for one full day, began filling the streets and sank one-third of our municipality in deep and murky water. There was no electricity for days in Cainta, and it took my mother two days to go home from Central Market in Manila to Valley Golf in Cainta.

Our mayor and Vice Mayor, Mon Ilagan and Atoy Sicat, were quick to respond to the needs of their people. The local government was quick to organize civil defense personnel to respond to residents on the roofs of their homes, while the rest of the employees began packing relief packages for the hardest-hit. Our mayor and Vice Mayor, whose homes were in the lowlands of Cainta, were there to respond in spite of the damage to their own home.

Due to the heavy rains in Metro Manila and the floods that came with it during “Ondoy”, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took the MRT to get to Camp Aguinaldo, where she directly coordinated civil defense efforts in most, if not all, of the provinces hit. Not long after, she went to Cainta and presided the NDCC meeting in Cainta’s Municipal Council Session Hall with Vice President de Castro, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, Rizal Governor Junjun Ynares, then Rizal 1st District Congressman Jack Duavit, and Cainta Mayor Mon Ilagan.

If Ondoy taught something to the people of Cainta, Marikina, and the rest of Ondoy victim places, it’s that the mere presence of the Chief Executive serves as a big moral boost in the direst situation. The Chief Executive is our source of strength and our source of hope in the worst of disasters.

Which leads us to the question: Where was President Noynoy Aquino on the night when Sendong was pounding on Cagayan de Oro, Iligan, and the rest of the Visayas? Answer: In a party.

The President has all the right to go to a party, more so, in the party of his closest guards, the PSG. But at such a time that a storm is approaching, the President can do better. As the servant of his “boss”, he should’ve ensured that Northern and Western Mindanao, as well as the entire Visayas, are cushioned to withstand the impact of Sendong.

The true character and strength of a leader is measured on the manner and speed to which he responds to the worst tragedies. In this case, we have seen the President with almost conscious non-desire to respond to the disaster in the South.

As of this writing, Cagayan de Oro and Ilagan City have 600 people dead, with funeral parlors not having the sufficient capabilities to service the bodies all at the same time. The Secretary of Social Welfare, Dinky Soliman, was a guest at DZRH this morning. Meaning, most of the officials are still in Imperial Manila when the disaster happened 800 kms. down south. They said they’re letting the Army do the work. So does this mean that they’re left here to go finish the parties in the President’s schedule?

The funny part is that the Aquino sisters tried to defend their brother’s action. That’s easy to say for people living in the secured abodes within Forbes Park, Valle Verde, and Times Street.

If there’s one thing that Sendong left us as a lesson, it’s the reality that our President is incapable to govern, and that he is out of touch with his boss, the people.

50 Reasons Not to Date a Photographer | From Tumblr

‪1.‬They rather hold their bulky camera, than hold hands with you.
‪2.‬On a romantic date, you’ll watch the sun go down and think “Wow this is gorgeous” and they’ll go “mirror lock, tripod, and stop down f/8 at 1/125.”
‪3.‬You’ll never be able to enjoy tv, movies, or magazines because they’ll point out all the visual flaws.
‪4.‬They like to sit in obscure coffee shop and voyeuristically watch people for great lengths of time.
‪5.‬If you’re taking a walk outside and you come across some “interesting light” they will make you sit/stand/pose in public so that they can take a photo.
‪6.‬You’ll never get to enjoy freshly cooked meals because they’ll spend 15 minutes taking 20 variations of the same dish with their iPhone.
‪7.‬They get angry when your friends go up to them and say “I am interested in photography, can you recommend a good camera for me? Nothing professional I just want to take pretty pictures.”
‪8.‬You’ll wait longer for them to finish analyzing art in a museum than you’ll wait at the dmv
‪9.‬Same goes with old used bookstores.
‪10.‬When you think they’re giving you their undivided attention, they’re really wondering how they could fix you with a little Clone Tool and Patch Tool.
‪11.‬Or they are actually using you to not look so creepy as they people watch everything going on around you.
‪12.‬They rather drop $1,000+ on new glass than a purse for you.
‪13.‬You can’t take a photo with them without taking at least five more.
‪14.‬If you ask them if you look fat, they’ll say “don’t worry I can photoshop you later.”
‪15.‬They’ll never photoshop something simple for you if the content is not up to their “standards.”
‪16.‬That photo they randomly took of you yesterday? Good luck getting them to send it to you.
‪17.‬They spend all their time on the computer (and not for porn.)
‪18.‬They can’t have a normal conversation with throwing acronyms and random numbers.
‪19.‬They still use film cameras.
‪20.‬They spend a lot of time with people cooler than you i.e. models, actors, musicians, successful rich people.
‪21.‬They’ll be fussy over the position of a common household object, like a coffee cup.
‪22.‬They won’t return your calls or text messages, but you can bet they’re still posting pics on Instagram.
‪23.‬They like watching old films that you’ve never heard or will ever understand.
‪24.‬They like looking at weird things in general.
‪25.‬Instead of having penis-envy, they have camera-gear-envy.
‪26.‬If there’s a natural disaster in a far away land, they’re already on a plane going over there.
‪27.‬Everything is watermarked.
‪28.‬They think everyone else’s photos suck.
‪29.‬They want to color correct a lot of scenes from Twilight and Jersey Shore.
‪30.‬They hate rainbows, especially ones spinning in a circle.
‪31.‬Whenever you’re in a group talking and the conversation goes deep, they’re taking notes in some form of Moleskin.
‪32.‬They use over priced Moleskin notebooks.
‪33.‬They like trespassing into old abandoned buildings filled with health hazards.
‪34.‬They always want to show a new photo they took, but don’t really care if you like it or not.
‪35.‬They hate your n00bie friend’s new artsy profile picture.
‪36.‬Bright, sunny days make them sad, but cloudy, overcast days are apparently great!
‪37.‬They’ll take you into places that have “culture” as well a high chance of getting mugged.
‪38.‬Your birthday present will be a portrait that they’ve taken of you.
‪39.‬You can’t go anywhere new without them stopping to take a photo of everything and anything.
‪40.‬They will always bug you to be a test subject.
‪41.‬Nothing can ever be naturally pretty, everything must be fixed in Photoshop.
‪42.‬Bringing their camera means, bringing 50lbs of equipment.
‪43.‬If you break any of their things on accident, you’ll owe them thousands of dollars.
‪44.‬You can’t get them a birthday/Christmas present without spending at least $500
‪45.‬They are natural hoarders, collecting and keeping piles of old newspapers, packaging, magazines, and other things that “inspire” them.
‪46.‬They are weird and geeky.
‪47.‬They have hard drives of photos, but probably have printed 10 images.
‪48.‬They are always secretly judging your creativity.
‪49.‬If you’re ever in auto mode, they laugh at you.
‪50.‬They orgasm every time they learn a new lighting technique.

November 20 is Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR)

The transgender pride flag

The TransGender flag

Friends,

November 20 of each year is tagged as a Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), a memorial paying tribute to transgender homosexuals violently killed, though not exclusively at present. In the Philippines, this was commemorated by the Society of Transgender Women in the Philippines (STRAP) at their office in Quezon City.

We live in a modern world. We live in a world where nobody should be killed or even hurt on the basis of anything, most especially their chosen lifestyle. We live at a time when everyone must reap the rewards of freedom; living it in its fullness without fear for their life or livelihood. It is our social obligation as citizens to help others live the fullness of freedom, regardless of our own personal beliefs or theirs.

It’s never too late to remember our LGBT siblings. We will never forget, we will always remember.

Our Right to Travel.

 

“The liberty of abode and of changing the same within the limits prescribed by law shall not be impaired except upon lawful order of the court. Neither shall the right to travel be impaired except in the interest of national security, public safety, or public health, as may be provided by law.” – Section 6, Article III, 1987 Constitution

The Supreme Court has issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against DOJ Department Circular 41, impairing Pampanga Congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (CGMA) to go overseas for medical treatment. I thank the SC for clarity of m

Secretary De Lima once said that she is putting CGMA on the watch-list oder in the spirit of national interest, a phrase clearly not in the provision stated above. The constitution is clear about the potential restrictions to this right: NATIONAL SECURITY, PUBLIC SAFETY, or PUBLIC HEALTH.ind and objectivity in disposing of this matter.

I was browsing through arguments of legal luminaries on the right to travel and I found it extremely worth the nation’s time. UP College of Law Dean Pangalangan said that the right to travel is not absolute because if it was so, no travel ban to war-torn nations may be issued. I am not a lawyer but perhaps my reply to this contention would suffice: travelling to war-torn nations by our migrant workers may cause danger to them (PUBLIC SAFETY), may bring them to the brink of war-related illnesses (PUBLIC HEALTH), and may drag us unnecessarily to that war by being stubborn (NATIONAL SECURITY). While these do not directly affect all Filipinos, it has a national implication.

This administration’s major fear is about to be realized. Once PGMA has left the country for medical treatment, the people will focus its energies on examining if this administration has even at least attempted to find solutions to the true problems of the nation rather than placing blame on people. While I go for the current administration’s fight for accountability, they must now begin to channel their energies in doing more meaningful things for this country.

If this administration can hinder the travel plans of a former president based on text messages that, based on their standards, they consider credible, then I begin to fear what they can do to ordinary citizens.

Let us fight for our right to travel.

[Pacquiao-Margarito] Who will prevail?

Less than 24 hours and the Philippines will once again be a ghost town with a zero crime rate. Thanks, of course, to Manny Pacquiao’s boxing matches that grind the country to a screeching halt everytime.

I would like to believe that when I go back to work tomorrow it will be a traffic-free C-5 and Ortigas Ave. Extension, which reduces my travel time to almost half of the time I spend during regular days. Office earlier, Overtime, more money for me, Thanks, Manny.

Though I’m not a fan of calibrated violence such as boxing, I am one with the nation in wishing Cong. Manny Pacquiao all the best. I am praying not for his sake, but for the sake of the people of Saranggani who elected him to Congress as their representative. If he is badly damaged, then Saranggani will not be represented. And that worries me more than him just losing per se.

Based on what I see, the battle will delve on speed (Pacquiao) versus size (Margarito). I don’t want to say that one is stronger because I’m sure that their strength is equal given their body proportions. But Margarito’s height and grasp (way longer than Manny’s) can spell the difference.

Let’s see tomorrow. Everybody will be glued to their seats (except me).

Good luck, Manny.

The Party of the Adverb of Time

Former DEKADA Chairperson Tyrone Jann Nepomuceno (AY 2007-2008) once told me that the reason why DEKADA has never waned despite extreme political adversity is it being named after an adverb of time. Then, I had no full grasp of the chairman’s words, considering that I was also in the middle of recalibrating my senses back to student politics.

DEKADA (“decade” in English) is an adverb used to denote ten (10) years. Though, in essence, it denotes a specific timeline, a decade is eternal; eternal in a sense that everytime ten years has gone to pass, a decade is completed. I never knew the wisdom of founder Prof. Rey Trillana nor of his peers in 1991 in naming our party as such, but I had an inkling that they may compare the party’s life into a decade: ever-recurring and yet is defined by a limited span of time. I may, of course, be wrong.

For almost two decades now, DEKADA has been at the front line of students’ issues in AB. From our ranks have been heard the voices of dismay and disappointment over issues and student concerns. But our focal point was our capability to rebound to victory after almost 4 years of victory drought, which shook the party to its very root; even to the extent opf the thought of its euthanasia. But DEKADA has gone on, more fierce in heat as ever like the sun that represents it.

From our ranks have risen great leaders and people who have dedicated their profession to the development of their fellowmen. Some may have chosen another path of life, but never deviated from the values instilled by the party in them. Some have changed the party; but many were changed by it. In AB today, DEKADA is the sole party with a stash of former members in relevant posts in government, NGOs, and the private sector.

DEKADA’s greatest challenge today is relevance. Time changes, and so do people. The challenge for DEKADA today is how to maintain its relevance amidst the growth of apathy in the AB students. DEKADA’s major challenge is how to ensure that the party continues to be sensitive of new issues without neglecting other issues that form the core of our advocacy.

The response to this challenge is simple, but not easy to undertake. DEKADA must now explore constant dialogue with its constituency, and make its members become active livers of its values and principles. The party must now begin to look beyond the nature of apathy itself, and investigate on the causes of its occurrence, eventually hoping to find a cure to this human condition. DEKADA must set its eyes higher to new horizons of student governance, and must exude its examples to other parties and colleges. How? By ensuring a TRUE, WORKING, and SYSTEMATIC internal governance reflected in the way we do business in the student council. DEKADA must begin to professionalize its profile, molding its members to be true defenders of the party and its principles, and dependable brothers and sisters to each other. DEKADA must realize that it cannot win all its battles completely, and value the art and virtue of compromise.

It is high-time for our current party leaders and elected officials to look into these issues, which may be key to our continuous relevance to the AB community. When we lose our relevance, we lose our ability to become AB’s voice. It’s like a mouth without a larynx.

And so today, after our 17th General Assembly, I have realized Chairman Tyrone’s definition of DEKADA as “the party of the adverb of time”. We are eternal though measured in a span of time, but we hold the key to our eternity. We all are nothing but time points in the party’s existence, but we comprise the whole. We are… DEKADA.

Again, as I have been saying for 6 years now, it is with great pride to be a fiber in the tapestry of DEKADA, the party of the adverb of time.

Our slogan now: “ALL OUT FOR AB! NO EXCEPTIONS, NO EXCLUSIONS… DEKADA!

For me: “DEKADA. Leadership. Principle. Forever Indivisible.”

Peace.