A lot of my guy high school classmates are fathers now. It’s interesting. They were such goofballs back in the day 1 that seeing that they are now responsible for actual living beings is impressive stuff. Many of them have daughters, and things like “Rules for dating my daughter” 2 appear on my Facebook feed every now and then.
I get those rules. They’re a laugh. They’re supposed to be speaking in the voice of a father who is deathly afraid that his daughter will get hurt and will do anything to prevent that from happening. And maybe I’m just a dour, humorless bitch, but what gets my goat about those rules is that they don’t encourage a guy to respect a girl because she is a person and it’s the right thing to do. They tell a guy to respect a girl because he should be scared of the male defender in her life and what that male defender can do to him. It’s “Treat her right or you get hurt,” which is actually kind of selfish, as opposed to, “Treat her right because you shouldn’t hurt her.” 3
TJ and I caught a snippet of a conversation between a male DJ and a female DJ on the radio earlier. The guy was saying that women can’t complain if they get sleazy comments “kung naka-damit taputs sila.” 1 The girl, to my horror, agreed with him.
I probably shouldn’t be reacting at all given that my outrage will be based solely on that short snippet and I don’t have the complete context of their conversation. But that mere snippet is problematic. Essentially, the guy was saying that if you dress like a slut/prostitute/whore/whatever, you should expect to receive sleazy comments.
Problem #1: What is considered slutwear can be pretty arbitrary. Some people think a sleeveless top is already pretty slutty. Some won’t give miniskirts a second glance, while others will immediately whisper about the person who is wearing one. A woman could wear a top that fully covers her torso, but if she has large breasts, there are people who will still think she’s slutty just because of her breasts. You could wear pants, but if they hug your hips and rear, you’re going to attract unwanted attention from people who are helplessly drawn to your curves.
Of course, there are those who will say, “Just don’t wear anything that exposes your flesh and you won’t be subjected to lewd comments.” Initially, it sounds like a reasonable suggestion–until you remember that even women who dress modestly are also subjected to catcalling and sexual harassment.
Worse still, there will also be people who will say, “Well, they’re men. They’re really like that. They can’t help themselves.” It’s one of those comments that give men a free pass, allowing them to be ferocious horndogs who will slobber and paw anyone who catches their fancy. The idea that men are always easily sexually aroused and highly prone to acting upon that arousal is not a hearty salute to men’s manliness; it’s an insult as it suggests that men have no self-control and are animals who are unable to think before acting.
Problem #2: The male DJ’s comment that women should expect catcalls and lewd attention signifies a larger problem: that women and our bodies are considered public property that anyone is free to comment on or touch. Basically, the attitude is that “It’s there, so it’s fair game.” It’s even more insidious when you realize that the same idea applies to objects.
Problem #3: As I said previously, the female DJ agreed with the male DJ’s point of view. I don’t know whether she just didn’t want to argue or she just didn’t have very strong opinions on the matter, but I was disappointed that she didn’t call him out on what he said. It’s a great indicator of how ingrained the virtue of societally imposed modesty is, and how important it is to be a “good girl” and distance yourself from anything that society traditionally associates with being a “bad girl.”
We sat through the radio show for a minute before I turned off the radio in a rage. I was strongly tempted to call the station and tell the male DJ, “Women can wear whatever we want, and it is not your or anyone’s place to judge us or treat us poorly because of what we choose to wear. No one has the right to make unwanted advances toward anyone under any circumstance. Nothing, not even our clothes, gives you the right to disrespect others.”
And while women can expect to be catcalled or harassed, it’s not because of what we are wearing. Rather, it’s because people are essentially trained to react in that manner when they see the slightest hint of flesh and to treat women scornfully if we are deemed vulgar and immodest.
- “Damit puta,” just so you know. ↩
I’m not religious, but I enjoy the heck out of Holy Week. I like the constant reminders for people to reflect on what the week signifies, and I like seeing that people are making the most of their time off. I even like observing the rituals. One of my most favorite things to do is the Visita Iglesia, specifically, driving my parents to their churches of choice. My favorite Visita Iglesia has to be the one we did when I was about to enter my third year of high school. We decided to go all out and do 14 churches, starting at the Manaoag Shrine in Pangasinan. We had to stop at the 13th church, but all in all, still a good roadtrip. 1
What I really love, though, is how quiet the city gets. But that is nothing compared with the Holy Week quietness we used to get years and years ago, when everything practically shuts down at the beginning of the week, there’s nothing on TV, and there’s no music at all. You couldn’t wait for the long, somber week to be over that when Easter Sunday finally comes, it truly feels like a blessing.
And after a while, we learned how to beat boredom during Holy Week. My sister and I would go to Video City and ACA Video to stock up on movies that we could watch while waiting for the world to come back to life. And eventually, we got cable, which meant we no longer cared that network TV had nothing to offer.
These days, stores and businesses remain open until Wednesday, shutting down only on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, with a lot of them reopening on Black Saturday. TV shows continue. Some radio stations stay on the air. My younger self would have been thrilled about that, but me, I somewhat regret not relishing all the quiet as much as I should have.
- Yeah, the Visita Iglesia to me is one cheery roadtrip and one of the rare times I set foot inside a church. ↩
It is highly likely that my blog is going to turn into a semi-birding blog.
Anyway, TJ and I took a couple of weeks off birding and resumed only yesterday. We returned to La Mesa Ecopark, modest gear in tow and hoping that we’ll be able to take some nice pics and see new birds. The trip didn’t disappoint. We managed to take pictures of the pied fantail at last. For the past month, it had been eluding us and taunting us with a wave of its tail.
We stopped frequently in the mini-forest, and at one point, TJ suddenly started taking pictures of a bird I couldn’t see, even though he said it was right in front of me. Turned out to be a mangrove blue flycatcher, and it had a snack in its mouth. What’s even more amazing is that it didn’t budge the whole time we were there.
We didn’t expect to see any more birds, though we heard plenty of calls. After stopping for a couple of minutes to observe tiny birds flying at the top of a nearby tree, we started walking again–and saw a strange bird cross right in front of us. It then hid in the underbrush, and very slowly and carefully, we tried to track its movements. It came to rest on a mound of soil, eventually climbing up a tree that produces berries and chattering to what we assumed was its mate. After a while, it swooped past TJ, and we didn’t see where it went.
Later on, we found out that it’s an ashy thrush, which is a rare bird endemic to the Philippines.
All in all, it was a satisfying trek capped off by a sighting of a rare, elusive bird.
Yeah, so TJ and I have been going around the city and taking as many pics of birds as we can. It hasn’t quite yet reached the level of obsession yet, but we’ve gotten to the point where we stop and look around whenever we see something flying around or hear birdsong. Oh, and we’ve finally figured out what kinds of birds are the ones that hang out by shopping malls at night: They’re swallows.
So here are some of the pics of birds I’ve managed to take so far. Spotted these in different places, mainly, UP Diliman, La Mesa Ecopark, and our neighborhood.
We took a pic of a white-collared kingfisher perched high up on a tree, but we’re hoping for better pics soon. We also spotted tawny grassbirds, a yellow-bellied flyeater, and a pygmy woodpecker, but have yet to get great pictures of them. TJ also spotted pied fantails and a colasisi near his workplace.
Basically, we’ve run through the list of 10 most common urban birds, and we can’t wait to see what other birds are out there.
Check out TJ’s awesome pics here.
So TJ’s actually been hinting about his interest in birding over the past few years, but I just failed to take his hints seriously. Oops. To make up for it, I asked my yoga classmate Rissa, who often goes birding with her husband, if we could tag along with them on a trip to the Candaba bird sanctuary at some point. A few days after, she messaged me that she and her husband were going birding on a Sunday morning and if we’d like to join.
TJ and I were at the Shell station on NLEX at 5 a.m.; Rissa and her husband arrived several minutes later. We trailed them on the way to Candaba which we reached probably 30, 45 minutes later.
I’ve never gone birding nor have I ever been interested in it. But my interest was piqued when I saw different kinds of birds in Candaba.
There were great and little egrets, purple swamphens, little kingfishers, zebra doves, shoveler ducks, and terns, among many other birds that I didn’t even know existed. Rissa said she initially wanted to tell us to manage our expectations because it was likely that we wouldn’t get to see anything. I suppose we got lucky, because we must have seen more than a dozen types of birds that morning.
Taken last night at 8:09 p.m. Really nothing special and right now, the pics I’ve been taking are pretty…discouraging. That will change.
Taken a few minutes ago. I’m wondering what the cluster near the middle is.
Taken from our front yard tonight at 9:01 p.m and 9:04 p.m. Part of my attempt to get into astrophotography, which is something I’ve been wanting to try for ages. Of course, this isn’t perfect, but the number of stars in this picture astounds me.
Yesterday, TJ and I went on the first of hopefully many mini-trips for 2014, in line with my goal to go to at least one new place every month. Our destination: Sundang Island in Cavinti, Laguna. I heard about the place last year, and of course, the thought of having a whole island to myself is alluring. I wanted to stay overnight or for a couple of nights, but I’m currently out of leaves at work, so that will have to wait until another month or so.
So I wrote to them to ask if it’s possible for me and TJ to stay there only for the day and take pictures. Fortunately, they said yes, and we were given a guests’ guide to the island, including rules and regulations and directions. The directions had me rattled for a few days prior to the trip, as it recommended taking the Manila East Road, a road on which I’ve never driven. The directions mentioned “go down a zigzag road” and “winding mountain road,” too. I have a strong fear of downhill roads (whether I’m walking, biking, or driving), but what the hell, it’s a new year, let’s try something new.
At 6:30 a.m., TJ and I were on our way, immediately getting stuck along Katipunan; we had no idea traffic in that area gets so bad so early in the day. Once we got past that, we headed up to Antipolo and made our way down to Teresa on the aforementioned zigzag road. The entire drive was interesting and an adventure in itself, as it took us around areas we’ve only heard of but never been to, like Pililla, Tanay, and Morong, and saw signs to other places we’ve only just heard of, like Jala-Jala. We also saw lovely views of farms, mountains, and Laguna de Bay. It was tempting to stop and take photos, but there wasn’t much by way of parking, as far as we could tell. A great deal of roadside stalls sold jugs of vinegar 1, jugs of lambanog, furniture, baskets, and an awesome array of knives. “Knives” doesn’t do them justice–itak and tabak are much better.
We didn’t go to Sundang Island immediately upon reaching the landmark in Lumban. Not having had breakfast yet, we ate at Jollibee in Pagsanjan 2 and bought chicken and rice from Andok’s. Then we drove back to Lumban and up to and past Lake Caliraya, where Tony, the caretaker of Sundang Island, was waiting for us at the parking area. The boat ride took about 10 minutes, and we were greeted by two dogs, Panda and Big Boy, when we stepped off the boat. Panda seems to be at an advanced age, still friendly and keen, but not quite as energetic as Big Boy. We were directed to the house, where we settled in and hoped for clearer weather.
Long story short, it was a very gray, gusty day with a bit of drizzling all throughout, dashing our plan to go on a boat ride to take pictures of the area. Given the weather, we were both very happy we brought jackets, because the place is a lot colder than Manila.
We ended up spending the day just walking around the island, taking random pictures 3, eating, chatting, and napping on the hammock 4. The island is easy to explore, and you’ll find a fair number of plants and unusual insects there, including a butterfly that looked like a leaf. There were also some interesting decor and details around the house.
The house itself is very roomy and homey, and it has everything you would need if you’re staying there for a day or more. We weren’t allowed in the bedroom, but we had a good nap anyway in the living room.
It may not have been the photography trip we planned, but it was a very relaxing day, and the island was the perfect place for it. Definitely looking forward to coming back and staying longer.
In the past, I would make grand New Year’s resolutions and then get very unhappy if I’m not able to fulfill most of them. Fortunately, I’ve learned to keep it simple. Last year’s resolution was very brief: do new things. And I exceeded that.
This year’s resolutions are a bit more ambitious than that, but still very much doable, I think:
1. Watch at least five movies a month.
2. Read at least one book a month. 1
3. Drink Coke only five days a week. 2
4. Walk 30 minutes a day.
5. Go someplace new at least once a month.
6. Draw something new at least once a month.
7. And of course, keep learning and doing something different.