Di mapigilang luha

Photo from the 2004 March for Women's Lives, t...
Photo from the 2004 March for Women's Lives (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Di Mapigilang Luha” (Tears that could not be held back)

I cried in my Feminism class today. I will forever hate myself for letting my emotions get the best of me, but for those who know me well, you’d know that I do not possess the ability to hold back my tears.

The class was talking about abortion and throughout the entire meeting, I was all clammed up. My values were being challenged and I was being put in a vulnerable state–I literally felt like I was sinning just by sitting in that room, or for some weird reason, God would strike lighting and punish me for absorbing these words. But then I decided I would not let the moment pass. Kabang-kaba ako, nilalamig at di mapakali (I was nervous, cold, and restless)–it was best for me to shut up but I knew that it was easier to forgive myself for breaking down than it was if I’d just shut up completely. I just knew I had to say my piece.

It was 5 mins before the bell rang and I was the last one to say my piece on the topic. The question went a little like, “Do you think it’s murder to kill a fetus? Do you think the fetus is a person? Do you think abortion is necessary and how does that protect the mother? Do you believe that women should have a choice?”

I immediately raised my hand and began my point of not having to have to label all these beliefs in black and white. While they use scientific arguments (e.g. the fetus is scientifically not a person because it does not have a brain, etc. etc.), I raised the point that before considering science as a basis for judgment, cultural backgrounds of certain groups of people must come into play. I was going to digress more about the upbringing that both religion and family ties impose on us, Filipinos, but my mind drifted off to thinking about my education and the education of the young people in Manila who were just like me.

I started tearing up and eventually went on to crying because I realized that my education did not give me the other side of the story. I was crying because I was shaken, yes, but a part of my tears were also because I was opened to the truth that the Philippines was not even close to being a progressive nation. In elementary and high school, Health class didn’t teach us anything other what we already knew and topics like sex, abortion, contraceptives and the like were discussed in passing and if the topics did come up, it was considered as taboo, or bad, or yes — a sin.

I do not denounce my religion because I am a firm believer of my faith. I just hoped that I learned more from my education without religion having to hinder the content of what I was to absorb. The class today taught me so much things not only about abortion, but also about the concepts of being open to a different perspective and knowing when to filter what you hear and learn. I wish I had a lot more knowledge on these things, rather than having a limited scope of ideologies now that I’m 20. As I am writing this, I realized that another reason for my crying was because I can’t believe I actually went on with life without questioning what’s given to me– I have passively assimilated that the idea of this is “wrong” and never bothered to look at the other side.

I know that my stance on the RH Bill is an inevitable question that may rise from this entry, so let me clear that I am pro-RH Bill with revisions (contraceptives and sex education) but am against abortion. However, I now respect the views and opinions of everyone on the latter as opposed to my earlier thinking that it was a “sin” mainly because I’ve received so much understanding from my class today. Although I still hold on to my faith and will forever do, I support the plight of these women all over the world to have a say to what their body goes through and fight for having a choice. I would personally not go through with an abortion because it is against my personal values, but I can proudly say that I’ve earned an entirely new level of respect for those who fight for it. ‘To each, his own’ and I’ve realized that we shouldn’t be quick to judge because we do not know the battles behind the faces we interact with.

As I was apologizing to my class and to my professor, I thanked them for giving me a whole new set of eyes to see the world in. Not only did I learn that abortion wasn’t only a matter of life or death but human rights and choice, but I also learned that I always need to look at the other side of things to make sense of the world. I have learned that issues like these stem from the fact that people, by nature, always want to have a sense of hierarchy between right and wrong– and abortion, in this example, further triggers conflicts in society because opposing parties refuse to meet in the middle and attempt to understand. The universe doesn’t revolve around me and I knew that, but it was only today that I fully felt like I had so much left to discover, learn, and explore that Manila and my education there, no matter how great it has been, is not enough to make me a citizen of humanity.

I’d like to thank my Feminism class for being there for me and receiving me with an open mind–I am sorry for not being an open-minded person to those like you in the past, Dr. Raeburn, for understanding that I come from a completely different cultural background and appreciating the effort I put into adjusting to the new ideologies presented in class, and to Fran, Debora, Natalia and Gracie, for making me feel like I wasn’t alone and that it was okay to be shaken once in a while.

*Comments are very much appreciated as I need more conversations regarding this topic.

**This entry was written in the rawest form, just hours after the incident happened, with emotions still very fresh. I apologize for any errors this piece may have.

Getting There —

April 7, 1992

This is probably my nth post on my ramblings about how I feel now that I’m in a phase that’s supposedly a woman’s ‘coming-of-age’. I may seem like a narcissistic writer who has nothing else to talk about but her innermost struggles and I apologize for finding it so hard to write about other things that are of interest to most of you.

Continue reading “Getting There —”

Downright Disappointed

Dear Kara,

What do you want to do with your life?

I know you’ve set some goals for yourself but you haven’t really followed through. When college started, you got yourself accepted into The GUIDON and that was one milestone I will never forget. Come your second year in the Ateneo, you finally landed that coveted spot in the Dean’s List — you made it, and again, I couldn’t have been more proud. You worked your ass off. You slaved reading endless chapters of the more-than-heavy Psychology book you never really got accustomed to carrying around, scheduling interviews, making it to the deadline, shooting for final projects, and basically grabbing so much more than your plate could fill. All these plus ACOMM work on another hand, I give you props for being a semi-super heroine.

But Kara, that full plate you hold in your hands isn’t going to feed you after stepping out of the university’s walls. Compared to the bigger plates out there, yours will seem like a minuscule, irrelevant pixel no one is even going to notice. Has this occurred to you, Kara? Well, I hope it has because a year and a half already passed you by — time won’t wait, and as Armageddon-istic as this may sound, the end (well at least for your time in college) is very much near.

Also, opportunities don't come to you. You look for them, and once found -- you hold on to whatever you can and pray for a great ride.

I know sometimes it scares you to try, but remember how liberating it felt like last July? Remember how the thrill of submitting your résumé gave you shivers down your spine? Why don’t you do something like that once more? Read more books, they will sharpen your writing prowess. Shoot more with Joe, he will show you what it feels like to see the world through his 55mm. Talk, talk, and talk more because there is absolutely no room for a quiet millisecond, even. Make yourself known, show them what you’re made of, and tell hesitance to go to hell.

You need this, Kara. You need to move forward and up the ante. This is your one sem Dean’s List-ing, Features Editor aspiring, job searching, no-meat eating self telling you to stand up and get moving. She is terribly concerned and downright disappointed.

You’ll be 19 in four months and I suggest that when I check up on you then, you’ll have my “to do” list for you scratched out and duly accomplished.

Here with you every step of the way, The ever-so-frustrated Kara

P.S. – Here’s a platter, not a plate. Fill it up — and fill it up real good.

I Stole Christmas

The Grinch? Yes, that would be me.

aka Kara Santiago

For as long as I can remember, I never really looked forward to my birthday, Christmas, or New Years Day. My family does not understand why, but they sure as hell make those three days the best for their grown up daughter. I owe my dad, mom, and brother for making me the happiest girl alive for those 18 years that have passed. But somehow, there’s something about those three holidays that make me feel uneasy and lonely, even. My friends have known this for quite sometime now and recently named me The  Grinch. I, of course, could not have agreed more. So hello to you reading this at the moment, please don’t judge me just yet.

Birthdays have been nothing to me but another passing day. I don’t find delight celebrating one’s being older if it means you’re a year closer to your end. As cynical as that may have sounded, don’t I also make a point when I say this? “Why wait for a year to rejoice for life when you could be living the life every time you wake up?”

I never ceased thinking about my grandfather’s passing nine years ago, how I could have done something to keep him alive. How I wish I was there when he said his last words because all I wanted was a proper goodbye. Typing this in brings tears to my eyes as if those long years were days away. Even though I really am not the type to let things go so easily, I think I owe myself a little healing considering the time that has already passed. It’s hard for me to move forward and it’s always easy to lie to yourself that you will be okay. But if there’s one thing this experience has taught me, this would surely be it. My Wowo’s death taught me to resent my birthdays — because until now, I never really saw the point. We live in a world where people often take each other for granted, and more often than not they realize it before it’s too late.

Speaking of my trait of not being able to let things go, this is where my Yuletide Cheer — or the lack, thereof — comes into the picture. I used to think my reason for disliking this time of year was the fact that although we are cooped up in our own homes with the warmth of our family’s love, there are some people who don’t have one to spend it with in the first place. Some don’t even have a roof above their heads, or food on their table. I am no Good Samaritan but when it comes to this, I think I aptly fall into the category of the Semi-s, at the very least. And although this reason is still one of my justifications why I find the holidays sad, writing this entry it made me realize that I’m more afraid to face a new beginning than I am to leave an embraced past.

Christmas and New Year mark the end of 365 days that we won’t get back, 365 days we won’t get to live again, and 365 days buried in the memory of yesterday. There are people we will be leaving behind, and thoughts we must soon forget. I know I sound irrational, but why can’t life be as it is? Why does life need to be a fleeting moment in space where our mere human existence can do nothing to stop it from running away? I’ll give it to you straight — I’m scared, afraid, and frightened for what is to come. I am, yet again, in that phase of paranoia and uncertainty where I run around with questions of what’s next for Kara Santiago. My Grinch front is something I keep to shield me from the vulnerability that I expose my self to. After all, what I do not know can’t hurt me.

No one knows where life will take us, but what I know is that I’m too much of a wuss to find out where the wind will drop me down. I hope its in a place where I’m not so Grinch-y anymore — a place of healing and celebrated birthdays, a place of courage and festive holidays to come.

“Sharing My Life”

Five minutes prior to writing this, I had a conversation with Lexie about our feelings on ‘sharing my life’ over the internet. She’s starting her own blog for requirement’s sake and the topic just seemed to be an appropriate jump off point to my entry today. But before I go on talking about me, myself, and my awful day, I’ll probably say yes to that question — although I can be quite selective just as I am going to be now.

As much as I would want to put in here every single detail of my bad afternoon, I won’t. And just as much as my emotions are dying to escape from myself, I won’t let them out. Outspoken as I may seem like, when conflicts are too heavy, I tend to shut up. I disappear from fear of not being able to stop myself once I get to proving my point and defending my beliefs.

If this was me talking two years ago, you’d hear me go on and on about my thoughts on the matter. But this is me now. The Kara typing in front of her laptop screen chooses to be silent, chooses not to create any trouble — she chooses the road often traveled — she chooses to brave life’s unfair whiplash without taking action whatsoever.

To be completely honest, this has bothered me for the past four hours already. I’ve had voices inside my head telling me to speak up but to no avail. I said to myself, no no no, and I’m planning to stand by my decision. I don’t know what it is inside me but it confuses me so much that I want to hop on to the next portal straight back to the South. I need comfort and a familiar place. And yes, I mean my home.

This then brings me to one of the questions I’ve asked myself over and over again, “Kara, kung kelan ka naging 18, dun ka natutong makisama even if it means sacrificing yourself.”

Cutting the looooong narrative of ramblings short, I just feel bad. I’m not even furious nor angry. Its really just me feeling really bad, really, really, bad. Period.

Yes, the entry has been showered with ‘just-s’ and ‘really-s’ but trust me, there’s no other way to say what I feel. This space on the web restricts me too much — I restrict me too much.

In other news, Lexie just showed me a photo on Tumblr. This makes me happy because its the top I wore today. God loves me so much He just had to send me happy pills over the internet!

The girl's skinnier than me though! (Well, duh)