Category: ina

Criticism: not (fun) in the Philippines

By Katrina Stuart Santiago

The world knows of the Philippines by now, for reasons other than a senator who refuses to admit to plagiarism, being the setting for the bustling Asian city in “Bourne Legacy,” and a cybercrime law that might be the worst piece of legislation against freedom of expression since the world wide web.

Read on…

The Manila Review interviews Katrina Stuart Santiago


Last April, literary critic and essayist Katrina Stuart Santiago wrote a controversial polemic about patronage and cliquishness in the Philippine writing establishment. MR editors Caroline S. Hau (CSH) and Miguel Syjuco (MS) probe deeper.

CSH: Your article, “Burn After Reading” (Rogue Magazine, April 13, 2012) is critical of the “us-vs-them” cliquishness of the Philippine writing establishment. You talk about “an unspoken/unconscious/unexplained set of rules” for gaining entry into the writing community, rules that you say have nothing to do with literary merit. What are these rules?

Read on

“The Filipino is Worth Blogging For” and indie publishing

The Filipino is Worth Blogging For is the title of a book katrina and i are self-publishing and launching on thursday july 19, along with the main attraction, katrina’s first book: of love and other lemons, essays personal and political about being girl-woman-pinay, otherwise known as ka-women-an (hyphens mine), in this day and age in this macho-pa-rin country, the kind of essays i would have wanted to write for my generation but never had the courage to, just because my parents and sibs would have disowned me.  a must-read for all girls, young and old, and their fathers sons brothers lovers too.  the essays are illustrated with new and previous works of artists met, friends made, in the last two years.

… an honest, moving portrait of a young woman who cannot but train her critical eye on the world even as her life splinters around her and who realizes, not without cost, that “the most personal things that informed our real lives, kawomenan could not respond [to].” Where the writer breaks into a lyrical mode, the reader becomes privy to the intimate and the hidden that the persona shares with a beloved. No mere intermissions, these privacies serve as yet another act of resistance when held in counterpoint to the weight of the public and political that inform her life, small acts but no less significant. By turns brave, bewildered, unsparing, and vulnerable, the essays strive to reinvigorate kawomenan by accommodating the experiences and aspirations of a new generation of Filipinas. — from the foreword by Mabi David

while katrina was wrapping up of love…, this second book happened on the side.  the title had come first, inspired by the slogan “The Filipino Is Worth Designing For” on t-shirts of the cobonpue-layug-pineda group at the height of the naia-1 controversy.

joel remembers when it came to him, The Filipino is Worth Blogging For! that at once he bought the domain name, for a support marketing website.  then we sat on it, haha, naghintayan, until i realized that it was i who had the luxury of time while awaiting the foreword and blurbs for my edsa uno book, so i plunged in.

the hard part was going through more than a thousand blogposts over 4 years and choosing the events / issues / people that katrina and i had both blogged about (without repeating each other), and finding that with some rearranging, under new categories and in chronological order (rather than newest blogpost first), narratives are revealed of recent and current history, social and political, as it unfolds in natural time.  a leap from the computer screen into the pages of a book, and it works (if i may say so myself who shouldn’t)!

… this collection fairly crackles with inquisitive and insightful electricity, and serves as engaging, persuasive testimony regarding the merits of following the writings of these authors in venues online or otherwise.  — from blurb by blogger Jaime Oscar M. Salazar

Binabasag nila ang pagkamanhid na namamayani sa lipunan, ipinaparamdam ang samu’t saring porma ng pang-aapi at panlilinlang. Kung hindi ka man sang-ayon sa isang tindig, hindi mo naman maikakailang may punto ang kanilang pag-iisip.  — from blurb by blogger Teo Marasigan

why indie publishing

mainstream publishing houses can make it easy for you, in a sense, put out your book at little cost to you, if any, but usually you have to make pila for who-knows-how-long — unless you’re part of the canonized circle, or very well-connected — but you get only a rather small share of sales, far from commensurate to all the time and energy and creativity you poured into your work, unless of course you’re already a sikat bestseller, in which case you get a better deal, someone correct me if i’m wrong.

the alternative is to do it yourself.  you put out your own money to pay artists who will layout your book and design your cover.  meanwhile you find a printing press, preferably one that’s known to do good work for indie publishers, like benny jalbuena’s corasia, and you choose the paper you like or can afford, and you negotiate prices, and talk serious deadlines, so you can plan your launch.

of course you’ll try to keep expenses low.  you’ll make tawad the artists — helps if you know them personally, mga kindred souls ‘yan — but make sure they’re also into digital technology, because the printing press will expect a usb stick or hard drive containing all the book data.  you’ll choose cheap but presentable paper; you might even keep the number of pages down as the cost per book goes up the thicker the book, and the fewer the number of copies you want.  if you’re lucky the printing press will ask for 50 percent down lang, the rest to follow as the book sells.

you’ll get your money back naman , and possibly turn a small profit in the long run depending on how you price your book — what profit margin you’ll be happy with — and, most important, how you sell it.  you could get into the bookstores, directly or through a distributor, but they’ll want anywhere from 40 to 55 percent of sales (yes, without any puhunan on their part, at least the ones we checked out) which would mean your book gets quite expensive, unless you’re willing to forego profit and just make bawi your puhunan, then it gets just a little expensive.

the alternative is to sell it yourself, which means turning on your most shameless and yabang self — your book is worth buying and reading, you’ll even sign every copy, who knows it might become a collector’s item!  at the launch, get as many of your family and friends and friends of friends to come and buy.  it helps a lot if you give away copies to writers and columnists in the hope that one out of ten comes up with a rave review for the papers and/or the internet.  it helps a lot, too, if you have a website for your book, where you can promote it and  post contact numbers for orders.

we learned all that when we published lola concha’s book, revolutionary routeslast year.  i didn’t want to be edited by a publisher whose concerns would be different from mine, and i wanted to be sure it would look exactly as i envisioned it, which meant katrina working closely with the artists to the very end.  and i wanted to price it cheap while making a little for my work, so i did the index myself, and a cousin did the editing, gratis et amore, and i asked for and got donations from family that covered printing costs and a sosyal launch sa filipinas heritage in makati, lots of food and drinks, lola concha style.

in contrast, of love and other lemons is a katrina project — sampid lang ang the filipino is worth blogging for — all expenses ours, so we’re doing it the way katrina’s indie-publishing friends do it.  in a launch-friendly venue, chef’s bistro in q.c, which doesn’t charge for events in the hope that those who attend will order some of their good food.  katrina’s buying the first 100 or so bottles of beer to get the ball rolling. :)

the good news is, mang benny has texted, tapos na katrina’s book, and worth blogging for is almost done, delivery on wednesday, what a relief!   see you at the launch!

The truth about sexual harassment #azkals

By Katrina Stuart Santiago

Is that it happens to the best of us. It happens to every Pinay who commutes and suffers through a “miss miss miss!” from the tambay in the kanto or the kuya construction worker; it happens to every Pinay who has had to deal with a policeman looking at her legs through the window of her car. It happens to us even when all it might be is a lewd gaze from a random commuter, or a guy at a restaurant, or a student, or a teacher, or a boss. Or talk of the size of our breasts in a roomful of male athletes.

Cristina Ramos’ complaint of sexual harassment against the Azkals is all too familiar to me, and I don’t need to be a Sports Commissioner tasked with doing a pre-match inspection for me to sympathize. If you’ve experienced sexual harassment in any form, then you know how it can bring you to tears, how it can make you feel so small, and how it can only be a threat to you as a woman. And it’s the same whether you walk the streets on the way to work, or you enter the national football team’s locker room because you are so required by your job.

It is the same: sexual harassment is sexual harassment is sexual harassment.

Of course this complaint against the Azkals can only be larger than the manong throwing a lewd glance my way. The latter is a random daily occurrence of sexual harassment which one doesn’t get used to but which one expects. The former is within a set of circumstances that should have been controlled, within which decency was expected, during which respect should have been default. Ramos after all was in that locker room on official business, she had the right to expect a team dressed and ready for inspection, she had a right to expect a halt in testosterone and boisterous machismo, at least for the duration of her official presence in that room.

She had a right to expect that all the members of this team would be properly dressed, i.e., why would most of the team be in uniforms and one guy be in his underwear still? She had the right to expect proper decorum at the very least. Certainly the statement “Must be a B cup”delivered to the laughter and amusement of the rest of the all-male team that was there, could be nothing but sexual harassment, could be nothing but an assessment of the one woman in the room based on how large her breasts are. There was no excuse – no excuse at all – for those words to have even been articulated as if it’s a punchline to some running testosterone-driven joke.

And it is ultimately unfair to say that Ramos was imagining things, or wanting to “get attention” as one of them Azkals insinuates, or that the B-cup was referring to something else as another says. These excuses, along with having the more famous captain of the team saying that this is something that’s been blown out of proportion, are brush-offs that no one, least of all Ramos, needs to hear. These are brush-offs that hit at the victim’s credibility, excuses that shouldn’t even be on the table at this point.

Here is where Arnold Clavio was so right: the thing to do at the point of being accused of committing sexual harassment was to apologize. Clavio was en pointe: bakit kayo nagpalusot pa? Why could this not have been a sorry, quick and easy, the kind that any respectable Pinoy man would do, with head bowed, pasensya na, na-offend kayo Ma’am. Even the most macho of our stereotypical men, from Robin Padilla to Joseph Estrada, all of them, would know to raise their hands in surrender, and on bended knee say sorry for their inappropriate behavior, never putting into question how the woman felt, how she had taken offense. As per Clavio: “Lagi nating ilagay do’n sa nagrereklamo, siya yung na-offend eh. Sa sexual harassment laging binibigyang-diin diyan, kung naramdaman mong nabastos ka.”

It’s the same way that I know when a man stares at my breasts, or my legs, or looks me in the eye as we converse; in the same way that any woman would know when she is being ogled versus being treated with respect. The Azkals are in no position to question Ramos’ statements that she felt sexually harassed in that locker room; the woman who cries sexual harassment is articulating a feeling, a sense of being belittled, of being maltreated based on her gender. The proper response was a sorry, full stop.

Ah, but apparently in third- world patriarchal Philippines, we can take sexual harassment and make the men look like the victims – especially when those men are part of a well-loved Philippine sports team. Apparently here, we will re-focus all our energies on crying racist! Even when all that’s being pointed out is the fact that these boys did not grow up here, and therefore had no sense of the Robin Padilla respecting-women-while-being-a-bad-boy school of ironic gentlemanly behavior. Here, we will all fall silent instead of supporting the woman who dared point a finger at bad behavior; and then in the next breath we will judge anyone who criticizes the adored pretty-boy-athletes .

Here in this instance, we prove that instead of a collective disgust at those accused of sexual harassment, we will be more certain about vilifying the woman, whose intentions are questioned, her reasons for crying foul seen as foolish or presumptuous. And here we are all reminded about how patriarchy is so deeply ingrained in our psyches that we are still being told that we ask to be harassed because of how we look, what we wear, where we go. We forget that it is our fundamental right to live free of harassment, sexual and otherwise. It is our fundamental right to freedom that is being denied us when we are told not to do certain things because kabastusan is just around the corner.

Republic Act 9262 or the “Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004″ exists in this day and age precisely because men have yet to prove that they can deal with women’s freedoms. Meanwhile, sexual harassment exists because men continue to think of women as objects: body parts to be assessed in terms of size, body parts to jack off to, body parts period. Sexual harassment happens not because the woman is in the wrong place at the wrong time: it’s because the man continues to conform to the stereotype of being a chauvinist pig, unable to look a woman in the eye and see her as an equal because she is a person, full stop. The act of sexual harassment is always and necessarily one that puts the woman in her place: it’s a place that puts her beneath the man.

I don’t know about you, but men who get a kick out of kabastusan and belittling women in this day and age? They are nothing but boys. And I don’t care how many medals the Azkals win for this country, it seems that for them the more difficult task is looking a woman in the eye, treating her as an equal, and apologizing for having offended her. Seriously boys, get some balls and man the fuck up.