Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The post otherwise known as "Is the UP College of Arts and Letters really Homophobic / Transphobic?"

Below is another documentation of a similar case of homophobia that occurred at the UP College of Arts and Letters as narrated by Libay Linsangan Cantor. Cantor is a Palanca-award winning fictionist and scriptwriter of children's TV shows. Lifted from POC. Follow Libay Linsangan Cantor at www.leaflens.blogspot.com.

Feel free to comment and share your opinions. ANONYMOUS COMMENTS WILL NOT BE PUBLISHED.

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Nang mag-out si Prof. Hom O. Phobic
by Libay Linsangan Cantor.

Minsa’y nakakatuwang mag-aral nang mag-aral, lalo na’t may kakayanan kang gawin ito. Minsan, maraming humahadlang sa pag-aaral, at iba-iba ang karanasan ng bawa’t estudyante sa kani-kanilang buhay-eskuwela. Pero para sa aming mga LGBT, minsa’y may kakaiba kaming nakakasagupa, at nakakalungkot lang na ang kasagupa mo minsan ay ang propesor mismo – lalo na kung siya ay si Propesor Hom O. Phobic.

Habang isa akong guro sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas (UP), naging graduate student din ako. Isa akong creative writing
major at ang aking thesis ay koleksiyon ng maiikling kuwentong puro lesbianismo ang tema. Dahil sa iba’t iba ang larangan sa pagsusulat ng bawa’t faculty sa kolehiyo ko, kailangang magtugma ang thesis mo sa larangan ng faculty na magiging thesis adviser mo. Isa pa, dapat—kahit papaano—ay nakakaintindi o nakakaunawa ng mga isyu sa thesis mo ang kukunin mong adviser. Bilang lesbian feminist ang framework ng aking thesis, ang mga una kong nilapitan para kuning adviser ay ang mga guro-manunulat na nakita kong nakakaintindi at nakakaunawa ng ganitong mga isyu. Sa kasamaang palad, iba ang larangan nila – kung hindi tula ang sinusulat nila, sanaysay naman. O kaya’y ang iba ay wala sa bansa noon o may mabigat na trabaho. Kaya natuwa ako nang may isa akong kaibigang kapwa-manunulat na nagmungkahing kunin ang kakilala naming kuwentista rin, na pumayag nang akuin ako bilang thesis advisee. Kahit lalaki siya, sa palagay ko noo’y makakatulong siya dahil sanay na siya sa mga uri ng kuwentong sinusulat ko (puro tungkol sa LGBT community) bilang naging kaklase ko siya sa isang fiction class noong una akong nagsimulang mag-aral. Kilala naman akong openly out na lesbian sa unibersidad at dati pang nalalathala ang mga kuwento kong may mga karakter na LGBT kaya pamilyar na siya sa akin.

Nang una kong lapitan si Prof. Straight Adviser, nagpasalamat ako dahil kinuha niya ako bilang advisee. Nilinaw ko rin kung ano ang balak ko sa aking thesis, at tinanong ko kung sigurado siyang kaya niyang hawakan ito. Oo daw, walang prublema, sabi niya. Alam naman daw niya ang tungkol sa mga LGBT. Saka sa dami ng baklang manunulat sa kolehiyo namin at sa sirkulo namin—ang ilan ay kaibigan pa nga niya/namin—ay nakampante ako na kahit papaano, makakatrabaho ko siya ng maayos sa paghulma ng aking thesis.

Mali pala iyon.

Matapos ang ilang buwan, nakalap ko na ang mga kuwento ko at magpapatulong na ako sa kanya sa pagpili ng sasalain at rerebisahin pa. Maayos kong binigay ang makapal kong manuskrito at naghintay na lang ako ng abiso niya kung kailan kami muling magkikita.

Pero nang lumipas ang ilang linggo—mga apat o limang linggo mahigit na yata—ay naisip ko nang tanungin siya sa estado ng aking thesis, kung tapos na niyang basahin o anuman. Pinatawag niya ako sa opisina niya at nag-usap kami. Di ko lang alam na noong araw na iyon, si Prof. Straight Adviser ay magkakaroon ng ibang anyo sa harap ko.

“Nabasa mo na?” tanong ko.

“Yeah, I want to talk to you about it. So ‘yung gagawin mo pala ay may erotica, ano?” sabi niya. Medyo nag-iiba na ang ngiti niya pero di ko pinansin iyon.

“Oo, pero hindi lahat ng stories. ‘Yung iba lang. Iba-iba ang themes.”

“Okay. Kasi doon ako may prublema.”

Nabahala ako sa sinabi niya. Baka marami siyang ipapatanggal. “Ah, okay. Bakit?”

“I think I can’t handle this thesis anymore. Nahihirapan akong hawakan ito,” nangingimi niyang sinabi.

Ay, iba pala ang prublema niya. “Ah talaga? Bakit naman?”

Dapat pala ay kumapit ako sa silya dahil tumambling ako sa sinagot niya. “Kasi… I’m a Christian.”

Patlang.

Kakaiba. Sa tagal ko na bilang out lesbian, marami nang nag-out sa akin bilang LGBT para makakuha ng panibagong pananaw at perspektibo. Pero ito ang kauna-unahang pagkakataon na ang isang taong di ko naman inuurirat ang relihiyon (dahil hindi ko naman talaga ugaling uriratin ang relihiyon ng isang tao) ay nag-out na relihiyoso pala.

Matapos ang ilang sandali, wala, patlang pa rin. Mahirap sundan ang pag-out na ito. Ano ang sasabihin ko? Di rin niya yata alam kung ano ang susunod na sasabihin niya. Pero sumubok naman siya, kaya lang tumbling pa rin ako sa sinabi niya.

“Plus you’re also using some feminist and queer theories, right? I’m not really familiar with those theories. Maybe you need to ask someone who’s familiar with them.”

Tumbling ito talaga, dahil bilang graduate students, lahat kami ay kailangang kumuha ng literary theory course kung saan kasama na doon ang pag-aaral sa feminist at queer theories. Saan kaya niya hinuhugot ang mga sinasabi niya? O baka absent siya nang ang mga teoryang ito na ang pinag-aaralan sa klase niya.

Pero sabi nga sa infomercial – But wait, there’s more!

“So to solve the problem, I asked Miss Genre-Crossing Writer to be my co-adviser. Maybe she could handle the erotica part since she already taught erotica-writing classes before. Pumayag naman siya.”

Ganda. Ako ba, pumayag? Di ba dapat ako ang una niyang tinanong? Saka bakit ‘yun ang tinanong niya, e makata iyon at sanaysay ang sinusulat? “Um, sige… Kakausapin ko siya... Salamat…”

Natawa na lang ako nang kausapin ko na nga itong writer-prof. na ito, at laking gulat niya nang malaman ang tunay na dahilan ni Prof. Straight Adviser – ang pagiging Kristiyano nito. Ni hindi nga rin daw niya alam na Kristiyano ito. Ganda.

Buti na lang at nasa isang gradwadong komite pala si Miss Genre-Crossing Writer kaya naisalang niya ang isyung ito sa kanilang kolehiyo. Iminungkahi niyang sana’y di na maulit ang ganitong karanasan dahil malinaw na mali ito. Lahat ng pagkuwentuhan kong guro sa unibseridad ay sumasang-ayon sa pananaw na iyon – na mali ang paggamit mo ng relihiyon bilang hadlang sa pagtulong sa isang estudyante. Ang isang guro pa nga ay nagsabing walang puwang sa Unibersidad ng Pilipinas ang ganitong klase ng guro, dahil di naman Katoliko ang eskuwelahan. Inaykupo, naisip ko, kung ginagawa ito ni Prof. Straight Adviser sa mga graduate students, paano pa kaya sa mga kawawang undergraduate students na kadalasa’y walang lakas ng loob na labanan ang ganitong kamalian? Tsk. Kaya mula noon, kinilala ko na siya bilang si Prof. Hom O. Phobic.

Matapos ang halos isang taon ng pagkabagabag, tinulungan na lang ako ni Miss Genre-Crossing Writer na kausapin ang isang kapwa guro na kunin ako bilang adviser. Itong gurong ito ang talagang gusto kong maging adviser noon pa man dahil isa siya sa pinakamahusay kumilatis ng maikling kuwento at sanaysay, at mahusay rin siyang sumulat, siyempre. Buti na lang at naintindihan niya ang implikasyon ng kaso ko, at kahit marami siyang trabaho, inako niya ako – at masaya namang nairaos ang thesis ko, sa isang mas mabuting porma pa nga. Blessing in disguise? Baka blessing in the skies! Hulog talaga siya ng langit sa panahong iyon.

Habang tinatapos ko ang aking thesis, di pa rin maalis sa akin ang kalungkutan ng homophobia na bumiktima sa akin. Nilapitan ko ang isang kaibigang kapwa guro din, kapwa manunulat at isa ring bakla. Humingi ako ng abiso dahil sa nahihirapan ang kalooban ko sa pangyayaring ito.

“Mamu, ang hirap. Di ba dapat labanan ko ito? Advocate tayo, e.” Oo nga naman. Para saan ba ang pag-martsa-martsa namin sa Pride March kung di namin ipaglalaban ang karapatan namin dito?

Tinaasan ako ng kilay ni Prof. Bakla. “Madz, pagka-graduate mo na lang… saka ka magreklamo. Para sure. Mahirap na. Tapusin mo muna. Alam mo na…”

Minsan pala, ang pagiging advocate ay kailangang isantabi para sa mas praktikal na paggalaw sa mundo. Kahit sa akademya. “Hm, oo nga. Sige, fine.”

Pero siyempre, mabigat pa rin ang loob ko, noon. Ngayon, okay na ako, dahil graduate na ako, sa wakas.

Pero hindi, teka. Hindi pa ako okay. At hindi yata ako magiging okay. Habang alam kong malayang nakakapagturo si Prof. Hom O. Phobic at ang mga kauri niya sa unibersidad – at sa iba pang eskuwelahan sa buong Pilipinas – ay di yata ako matatahimik. Ayokong maranasan ng ibang estudyanteng tulad ko ang naranasan kong iyon. Dahil lamang sa kakulangan ng pag-intindi ng isang Kristiyanong tao sa mga karanasan ng taong kakaiba sa kanya, magpapalaganap na siya ng mga baluktot na isipin at gagawa ng baluktot na gawain laban sa mga LGBT? Teka, di yata puwede iyon.

Natawa pa nga ako nang isumbong ko ito sa kaibigan kong nagmungkahi na kunin si Prof. Hom O. Phobic bilang adviser. Kaming tatlo ang magkakaklase noon sa fiction class na nabanggit ko, at ang kaibigan kong ito ay heterosexual din, pero iba siya. Tulad nga ng sabi sa isang Pride March placard, siya ay “Straight, but not narrow.”

“Uy Chong, ayaw na ni Prof. Straight Adviser sa thesis ko.”

“Huwat? Bakit naman?” sagot niya sa SMS text.

“Kasi daw, Christian siya. Alam mo ba ‘yun? Ako hindi, e.”

Natawa ako sa kaibigan ko nang sabihin niyang “Ha? Nasira naman ang ulo ko sa sinabi mo! E di ba ang dami ngang erotica at malalaswang kuwento sa Bibliya? Hindi ba siya nagbabasa nito?”

Marahil ang binabasa lang niya ay ang mga berso na nais niyang gustuhin. Natawa na lang ako at pinasalamatan ko ang aking kaibigan.

Kaya ngayong naibahagi ko na ang kuwentong ito, magsilbi sana itong aral sa lahat ng nagtuturo. Sana nama’y mas buksan pa natin ang ating isipan bago tayo magturo. Sana’y magturo tayo nang walang kaakibat o bahid ng diskriminasyon laban sa mga taong kakaiba sa atin. Kung sarado ang isip ninyo, paano kayo mahusay na makakapagturo?



8 comments:

malditera said...

I don't understand how CAL can be homophobic when most of the people I know there are gay (or secretly gay). Now wonder people are trooping over to CMC just to let loose. Hihihi.

Daydreamer said...

Dear Babaylan,

I am still undecided on the issue regarding Hender, but the title is totally unfair.

The College of Arts and Letters is one of the most accepting and understanding when it comes to gender issues. Sa CAL din itinuturo ang PanPil 19 under the Filipino Department.

Please revise the title at once. Nakakalungkot lang kasi that just because certain people from the college have been identified as 'homophobic' eh naging 'homophobic' na yung buong college.

Have you actually done a survey in UP, particularly among straight men who use the term 'bakla' and 'tibo' in a way na panlalait? Please approach the issue as an isolated incident involving certain people only because the college as a whole definitely do not share a homophobic stance.

moody said...

Dear Babaylan,

Please dont change the title.

As long as the college refuses to implement policies that will protect the rights of students and their chosen sexual orientation and gender identity, as long as the college faculty continues to turn a blind eye on this case and remain silent, as long as the lgbt members of the faculty and studentry of this college refuse to call for policies that will secure the rights of the lgbt community in this academic institution, as long as they keep mum about how UP should be void of religious bias, as long as this college abuse bureaucracy and delays justice, as long as the college refuses to pass judgement on this discrimination case, the title very much describes what this college truly is, homophobic and transphobic.

Interestingly, people say that CAL is one of the most LGBT friendly college in UP. They say that CAL has a relevant ratio of lgbt students and faculty, and yet, they dont have policies that protect the rights of this community?

This discrimination will never be an isolated incident. Discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation always happen. This one in particular is highly relevant because it is one of the VERY FEW documented cases. In an academic setting like UP, it is very difficult to push for policy reforms when all you have are anecdotes and narrative accounts. You need proof. Discrimination is very difficult to prove. That is why i think the department head is refusing to include details in his reply to Hender. Its obvious naman diba? or you havent read the letter?

Here it is:

http://upbabaylan.blogspot.com/2011/02/below-is-update-on-ongoing.html

Daydreamer said...

Dear moody and Babaylan,

Yes I've read the letter. I've even asked everyone I could possibly ask regarding the matter. I even asked Heart Dino earlier what the developments are since I can't ask Hender herself.

I'm from the College of Arts and Letters and I feel offended by the title for the very reason that it puts the institution I've been a part of in a rather negative light. I agree there is a sizable community in the College of Arts and Letters who will attest that such discriminations do not occur on a day-to-day basis and these isolated cases are the ones highlighted because they're documented. Yes, I concede to the point that the college doesn't have particular guidelines in specifically addressing homophobia/transphobia because this is (probably) the first time such a case has been brought up but to say that the act of one department represents the whole college is just unfair to the four other departments who have consistently valued and respected the integrity of the members of the LGBT community, with or without guidelines that protect the rights of the LGBT community.


I get where you're coming from and I support your cause, but demonizing the institution to which I belong to is I think, unnecessary. You can make your point come across without being offensive or falling into the trap of hasty generalization. CAL is composed of five departments - Department of Art Studies, Department of English and Comparative Literature, Department of European Languages, Departmento ng Filipino at Panitikan ng Pilipinas, and Department of Speech Communication and Theater Arts.


If your endeavor is to call for a more responsive college in addressing these issues, tagging it as homophobic or transphobic wouldn't accomplish anything other than antagonize would-be supporters who could have joined your cause in the first place. Sometimes it's not just about the content, it's also about the manner by which your positions should be delivered. If you demand respect, you should also prove capable of exhibiting it.


===================
P.S.
I'm just curious, and this is not to further my argument because I'm really curious - what institutions or colleges implemented politicies that protect the rights of students and their chosen sexual orientation and identity?

I'm willing to be educated on this issue if it means that we can keep an air of healthy discourse without resorting to name-calling.

laundrogenous said...

Dear Babaylan,

It is just plain curious how people could still say that the certain incident at hand "will never be an isolated incident" and yet persist to address ONLY "the college" (CAL) in the light of this issue. If it is indeed a widespread discrimination, I think it should be reiterated that IT IS NOT JUST THIS PARTICULAR COLLEGE that's getting cases like this. If there are indeed problems with the policies, then it should be a problem to be addressed by the University, AS A WHOLE.

It is very distasteful to harp about CAL's homophobia as if CAL is the ONLY homophobic college in UP, which I think is totally not the case.

I am definitely sure that most of the people from CAL are willing to talk about this issue and come up with decisions that would satisfy the needs of the parties involved. Which is why I agree with the sentiments of those who are saying that the title is unfair.

upbabaylan said...

We appreciate your comments. With your comments, we feel that there are people who strongly think that the UP College of Arts and Letters is not Homophobic and Transphobic. We look forward to seeing how the College of Arts and Letters will prove through actions and beyond words how truly they are not Homophobic/Transphobic and instead a bastion of advocating gender equality. Also, we would like to see how you, the one who think that CAL is LGBT friendly, are helping in this advocacy. Kindly share links so we see how you have helped in this online campaign for gender justice. Finally, we would like to invite you and your friends to attend the round table discussion UP Babaylan is organizing for March 11. We want you to be heard.

upbabaylan said...

The Round table discussion is organized to draft policies for the protection of gender minorities in UP. Hopefully, this policy will be adapted by other academic institutions.

Title: “Understanding LGBT: Drafting Gender Sensitive School Policies”

Roundtable Discussion (March 11, 9-12nn, Claro M. Recto Hall)


*Panel Members:
o STRAP ( TG situationer)
o Dr. Neil Garcia (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities [focusing on TG] from a socio-cultural perspective)
o Atty. Venir Cuyco (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities [focusing on TG] from a legal perspective)
o Sir Eric Julian Manalastas (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities [focusing on TG] from a psychological perspective)
o Diliman Gender Office (Existing Relevant University Policies on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identities [focusing on TG])
o Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Student Affairs
o Centre for Women’s Studies
o University Student Council
o Law Student Government Central Board
o European Languages Department (Ma’am Nikki Del Corro)
o Hender Gercio

Daydreamer said...

Hi Babaylan,

Thank you for your response, although you still haven't done anything to address OUR concerns.

Regarding your challenge of posting 'links' to show how I personally promote this case, I have nothing to show since none of your members are included on my Facebook account.

But to answer your challenge on how I address homophobia/transphobia in general, you might find that I live the principles I espouse. You see, this campaign goes beyond online petitions and providing statements. One must also exhibit the capacity to address these issues through concrete manifestations and actions.

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