National Museum

Better than going to the movies or spending time in malls around the city, this adventure was truly a breath of fresh air for me. Since we’re on sembreak and have time to kill, my friends and I decided to take advantage of National Museum’s free admission month. My friend, Mawi, also had to shoot photos for this article on Katipunan Magazine, so the visit was well worth the trip.

There’s nothing like revisiting my country’s heritage with a few close friends and my trusty camera–I’d definitely want to do this again soon! All photos taken by Kara Santiago; October 30, 2012 (Manila, Philippines)

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I’m glad that I was able to shoot during our trip to the museum. Since my PCP plans have failed (the workshop’s apparently going to clash with three school days), I better brush up on photography by practicing as often as I can. Since I still don’t have the means to go on another wave of formal training, I will just have to make do with online tutorials and photo walks in my free time. Since the last official class I took was over a year ago with Sir Jimmy Domingo, I hope I find another workshop / class that will fit my schedule soon. I really, really, really need to work on my skills because I want to x-out ‘frustrated’ from ‘frustrated photographer’ very soon–or at least before this year ends.

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.