st. scho, inquirer, pugad baboy

on facebook i expressed dismayed surprise at  pol medina’s june 4 pugad baboy comic strip.  nagulat ako that he singled out st. scho, accused the nuns of condoning lesbianism among students, even, of probably being lesbians themselves.  i thought he went too far, i wondered what his experience of st. scho was — baka na-busted ng isang pretty kulasa who had a girlfriend?    i was glad when @inquirerdotnet tweeted that “pending investigation” inquirer was “pulling out” pugad baboy.

but except for a very few fb friends who quietly “liked” my statuses, most internet peeps turned out to be big fans of pugad baboy and were screaming censorship! and demanding freedom of speech! for the artist, many saying it’s-true-naman, others insisting it’s-just-an-urban-legend, but mostly agreeing that st. scho and inquirer over-reacted.

fortunately u.p. prof. neil garcia, who’s into queer studies, saw fit to weigh in:

the simple truth is that the comic strip in question isn’t so much poking fun at an urban legend, as expressing the popular but rarely rigorously articulated understanding that all exclusive schools, whether for girls or for boys, are eminently liable to the ‘homo’ charge since, well, they really are ‘homo’ environments, after all…

the question, then, is: just how closely does ‘homosociality’–the same-sexual bonding, interest-sharing and identity building that the exclusive school system, as well as institutions like fraternities, sororities, seminaries, and exclusive gender-coded clubs, requires and promotes–come close to the homosexuality that so many in this country supposedly notionally tolerate (when formally interviewed or asked to answer a questionnaire) but are simply all too ready to lose sleep or go ballistic over, when the issue comes close to home or turns particularly personal (such as when it’s one’s own children or parents that are involved, or when it’s been ‘insinuated’ that one’s own beloved alma mater is a fertile breeding ground–a veritable ‘finishing school’–for lesbians or gays)…

in other words, what really differentiates homosociality from homosexuality, other than the fact that the latter is abominated while the former, in patriarchal societies, is amply privileged and encouraged–the better for male supremacy to continue across generations unimpeded, since this system of exchange keeps the power in the hands of men, and reduces women to mere commodities being passed from one group of men (fathers) to another (husbands)? indeed, faced with this touchy issue, we simply need to ask the question of what makes homosocial bonding essentially different from homosexual love, when both are all about the same-sexual investment of emotions and the same-sexual promotion of mutual interests…

the most logical answer is, of course, the following: unlike in homosociality, in homosexuality same-sexual affection presumably becomes expressed in genital terms. this answer seems clear and self-evident enough, but once we remember the fact that–as psychology all too eagerly tells us–sexuality is more about individual feelings and personal fantasies or imaginings than actual behavior, then the situation becomes fuzzy and distressing, once again. indeed, we need to realize that, because sexuality is about the ‘inner truth’ of individuals, there’s absolutely no way we can tell whether homosexuality is present (or not present) anywhere. this is another way of saying that there’s really no way we can screen it out of any environment (least of all homosocial ones), short of policing its inhabitants’ most intimate thoughts, affects, and dreams. hence, as far as sexuality is concerned, the body’s genital activity isn’t even the most crucial aspect. rather, it is the body’s desire that’s the real game-changer (and, as we know, desire, as the index of our subjective agency, is by definition practically impossible to legislate or control).

and so, the bottom line isn’t that schools must avoid discriminating against lesbians or gays (as minorities). rather, they need to recognize the truth that lesbianism or gayness is simply part and parcel of all human potentiality. it is precisely for this reason that schools have no right to demonize or thwart homosexuality in their students, in the same way that they have no right to demonize or thwart their students’ individual aptitudes, talents and ‘differences.’

finally, all this forces us to ask the frankly urgent and all too practical question of: so what if st. scho or any other exclusive school has lesbians or gays amongst its students or faculty? why should this affect its essential character as an (excellent) educational institution? why should any of this matter at all?

me: if parents of st. scho students were all as sophisticated as this in their thinking and perception, i’d say, and they’d say, indeed, so what if st. scho or any other exclusive school has lesbians among its students and faculty. but the reality is that most parents, who have just invested in their kids education in st. scho for a new schoolyear, are far from sophisticated in their thinking on sexual matters, and that comic strip could only be causing them undue anxieties about their daughters’ sexualities-in-the-making, and the really conservative ones would be wondering where to transfer their daughters next year, thinking that st. scho must be the worst since it was singled out in that comic strip.

and what about the effect on the girls themselves, all this talk about lesbians among them.  the innocent ones will get curious, the knowing ones will feel affirmed, maybe before it’s time, before they’re ready.  i grew up in st. scho, kindergarten ’55 to highschool ’66, and, yes, in high school i knew of a few relationships that were more intense than best-friendships, but it’s much like kate natividad tells in her charice piece:

…recalling my days as a high-school student in an all-girls’ school, I do recall some of my friends hooking up with self-proclaimed “tomboys”. Back then tomboys didn’t really come across as all that too convincing. For one thing, not too many of them had the resources or wherewithal to take on the full lifestyle and look. For another, many of them were just plain and simple confused. That’s easy for me to say as hindsight comes in handy in those cases. I know now that many of these high school tomboys now pretty much lead straight ladies’ lives. Those friends of mine who were the “girls” in these “relationships” remain the girls in their relationships with their husbands and boyfriends today.

the good news is, the artist has come around and apologized, he was testing inquirer‘s limits, he overstepped the bounds of good taste, he regrets naming st. scho, he regrets using the word “condone.”  now all that’s left is for inquirer to share the results of its investigation: the strip had been rejected back in april when first submitted; why then was it archived rather than trashed?  and why, how, did it get past the paper’s editors?  whoever erred should be named and suspended, too, in fairness to medina.  then st. scho just might be appeased.


        • I’ll give it a shot for you Gabby. But I suppose you will still not feel enlightened.

          The comic artist probably didn’t even have to apologize. The establishment wanted a piece, and insists on it. And perhaps he wanted to be politically correct.

          Vice Whatever didn’t even apologize. So, here, there was nothing to accept. This makes just about all the rest of us look like chumps.

          Cheers and best regards..

          • GabbyD

            “The comic artist probably didn’t even have to apologize.” i think you and angela disagree here. i agree with angela, he should.

            i have a super simple rule: apologize if you accuse someone of something FACTUALLY INCORRECT. its is factually incorrect that st scho condones lesbianism. di ba simple lang? what you learned in kinder type arguments?

            “Vice Whatever didn’t even apologize.” see, right there is another factually incorrect statement. cmon man, you know better right?

            but thanks again, i dont mind disagreeing. i just want to understand other people’s thinking. isnt that the bedrock of democracy — trying to understand each other?

  1. jojie

    May I know the stand of Ladlad Party list??????? I cannot believe that a respected media, guardian of what is socially redeeming values, is making fun of an old educational institution producing popular, multi-awarded personalities such beauty queens like Gloria Diaz, TV host Hontiveros, Tina Monzon and many more leaders and business executives whose list of names will run hundred of pages?? Like Angie, i have family members and relatives who graduated from this school but they all successful and are not affected by this gender issue.

  2. BrianBro

    Obviously, behavior that society doesn’t deem normal has been repressed from the very beginning. Homosexuality, because it jeopardizes the all important marriage as a major bargaining tool between families and tribes, has always been repressed. Man and woman can produce offspring, who are necessary elements in this bargaining tool.

    Society has never denied the potentiality of individuals for homosexual behavior, as Garcia eloquently and mistakenly put it. In fact, it has always been feared, and so never denied.

    To repress morality is not to be universally moral in various philosophical sense. It does not directly cause pain, on the contrary, unlike murder of theft.

    We can all logically agree that it is a potential in all. We can also agree that homosexuality is traditionally suppressed for social reasons (morality and religion are merely the handsmaiden here serving society’s purpose).

    Now what liberals want is for this potentiality to be recognized and its fruits embraced or accepted.

    The traditionally POV on this is ver consistent since time immemorial. It’s the progressives that are flipping and flopping. Some say homosexuality is a potential, while others say you are born with it. Both have a case. To say it is mere potential, society can therefore effectively resist this potentiality by instituting behavioral control and other means of repressing behavior.

    For those who say special people are born homosexual, well society simply has a right not to wish this of every newborn and therefore create an environment with a lot of implied resistance to homosexuality.

    Lumang debate na ito, mag back read nalang kayo sa mga magazines, dahil yng mga thesis nyo medyo kulang at amateurish.

    Link old and scholarly sources, hindi yung mga lokal na konti lang alam.

    • BrianBro

      Correction, baka ma misread na naman:

      3rd para: To repress morality is not to be universally moral

      That’s to repress HOMOSEXUALITY…

      Di yan Freudian slip, lumundag lang talaga browser.

      • and what’s this about going to old and scholarly, and apparently foreign, sources, and insulting prof garcia who is as scholarly as they come re pinoy homosexuality? what makes you such an expert?

      • BrianBro

        Read my comment through please.

        Lumang debate na ito eh, pero flip-flopping pa rin mga pro-gay.

        May recent news dyan na gay friendly daw pinas in comparison. Ang gusto nila perfect society para sa kanila, eh maski totoong lalaki daming prejudices satin, Kaso lang ka mas may kabuluhan ang mga straight sa tinging ng society.

        They want to change things pero di man lang nila alam kung ano gusto nilang baguhin. Puro adhoc opinion nila and sumusunod lang sa trend sa ibang bansa, eh iba naman sitwasyon nila dito sa pinas.

        At kung api sila, Manuel, bakit di sila bumoto. Talunan na naman ang ladlad at nakakahiya resulta sa nakaraang eleksyon. Mga inaaping farmers 500 km pa nilakad, eh sila konting pila ayaw.

        • manuel buencamino


          Ikaw ang tinatanong ko kung may problema ka sa LGBT. Tignan mo sarili mo huwag ang LGBT, ano ba ang pananaw mo sa kanila. At bakit issue ang sexualidad nila sa iyo? May problema ka ba sa kanila?

          • BrianB

            Spoiled, walang perspective, cultural slanderers. Ang daming opprtunidad nila dito sa pilipinas and because they are minorities and looked upon as “special” masyadong open sa kanila ang culture natin. They can be whatever they want to be.

            Look at them. Many of them hold high positions in corporations and even in government. Filipinos are prejudiced but we are prejudiced towards everyone. Gays actually get a leg up more often than not.

            Yes, mas manlolo, dami nakong narining na inutangan at hindi binayaran o niloko ng bakla.

            As for old published articles, I believe gay groups in the West have already decided to adopt the “we are born gays” policy instead of “sexual flux” or gayness “sexual potential” twist. The former is more politically viable for reasons I have already stated and will repeat: if it’s mere potential, then society will have all the opportunity to repress it from the cradle up. Evidence of homosexuality in adults will be seen as a failure of social control.

          • GabbyD

            “Yes, mas manlolo, dami nakong narining na inutangan at hindi binayaran o niloko ng bakla.”

            oh! well, as long as you don’t generalize based on secondhand information, eh? :)

            but i do agree with you that i’m not sure what the political goal of ladlad is. i went to their site, and its not clear to me what their political issues are.

          • manuel buencamino


            Why is sexuality even an issue in a pluralistic democracy?

            Nga pala ayus yung mga stereotypes mo. Imagine just get rid of homosexuals and society will be safe. Ayus ka!

  3. Gays, lesbians and bakla marginalized? Holy cow, too funny.

    Dito sa lugar namin, at sa iba pang lugar na napuntahan ko dito sa Pinas, sila ang hari-hari. They dominate the environment, and do as they please, and normal people just treat them as they are.

    • Just like “academic freedom” or artistic freedom one has the license to poke fun and elicit a intellectual jokes for the fun of it and apology is the remedy to atone for un-intended crime. So, why censure Vice ganda for his(her) entertainment jokes??? To me, it doesnt look fair.